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Iraqi Sunnis stage huge anti-govt rallies

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SAFAR 16, 1434 AH

Russian president signs law banning US adoptions

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Djokovic back to winning ways in Abu Dhabi

Kuwait’s Gulf War hero Schwarzkopf dies at 78 Amir sends condolence message to Obama

WASHINGTON: Norman Schwarzkopf Jr, the hard-charging US Army general whose forces smashed the Iraqi army in the 1991 Gulf War, has died at the age of 78, a US official said. The highly decorated four-star general died at 2:22 pm at his home in Tampa, Florida, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The cause of death was not immediately known. Meanwhile, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has sent a cable of condolences to US President Barack Obama and the former president, George HW Bush, on demise of General Norman Schwartzkopt, the former chief of the US Central Command. Amir acknowledged the general’s pivotal role in command of the “desert storm” operations for liberation of Kuwait in 1991 and his honorable stances that would remain implanted in memories of the Kuwaiti people. Identical cables were also sent to Obama by HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak AlHamad Al-Sabah to Obama and Bush, as well as to the family of the deceased. Schwarzkopf, a burly Vietnam War veteran known to his troops as Stormin’ Norman, commanded more than 540,000 US troops and 200,000 allied forces in a six-week war that routed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait in 1991, capping his 34-year military career. Some experts hailed Schwarzkopf’s plan to trick and outflank Hussein’s forces with a sweeping armored movement as one of the great accomplishments in military history. The maneuver ended the ground war in only 100 hours. Former US President George HW Bush, who built the international coalition against Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait, said he and his wife “mourn the loss of a true American patriot and one of the great military leaders of his generation,” according to a statement released by his spokesman. Bush has been Continued on Page 8

KUWAIT: In this Jan 27, 1991 file photo, US Army Gen Norman Schwarzkopf points to row of photos of Kuwait’s Ahmadi Sea Island Terminal on fire after a US attack on the facility. Schwarzkopf died on Thursday, Dec 27, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. —AP

Iran begins naval drills in Hormuz A message of peace? DUBAI: Iran started yesterday six days of naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz, the official IRNA news agency reported, maneuvers aimed at showcasing its military capabilities in what is a vital oil and gas shipping route. Naval commander Habibollah Sayyari said the “Velayat 91” drills would last until Wednesday across an area of about 1 million square kilometers in the Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf of Oman and northern parts of the Indian Ocean, IRNA said. Sayyari said the goal of the maneuvers were to show “the armed forces’ military capabilities” in defending Iran’s borders as well as sending a message of peace and friendship to neighboring countries. Iranian officials have often said Iran could

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block the strait - through which 40 percent of the world’s sea-borne oil exports pass - if it came under military attack over its disputed nuclear program. Iran held a similar 10-day drill last December and sent a submarine and a destroyer into the Gulf four months ago just as US and allied navies were conducting exercises in the same waters to practice keeping oil shipping lanes open. Sayyari was quoted as saying on Tuesday that the new drill would test the navy’s missile systems, combat ships, submarines and patrol and reconnaissance methods. A heavy Western naval presence in the Gulf is meant to deter any attempt to block the waterway. — Reuters

One killed as Saudi police, Shiites clash RIYADH: Saudi Arabian police shot dead a Shiite protester in the country’s oil-producing east late on Thursday, local activists said yesterday, bringing the death toll from clashes in the restive area to 12 this year. They said police had opened fire on protesters demonstrating over the detention of people from the Qatif district, killing 18-year-old Ali Al-Marar and injuring six others. The authorities confirmed in a statement that a man had died but contradicted the activists’ account, saying a security patrol had come under fire and shot back in self defense. The spokesman for the Eastern Province police said the routine patrol was attempting to intercept rioters who had blocked a road with burning tyres when it

came under fire from several sources, including the man they shot dead. Police said he had a handgun. Activists said security forces in two sportsutility vehicles had shot “indiscriminately” at the demonstrators in central Qatif and fired at people on rooftops. Qatif, one of two large Shiite population centers in the kingdom, has suffered unrest since early 2011, with protesters complaining of persistent discrimination in the Sunni-dominated state, and at the arrest of local people. The world’s top oil exporter and birthplace of Islam adheres to the puritanical Sunni Wahhabi Muslim school, which views Shiites as heretical. Continued on Page 8



KUWAIT: His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah received separately the newly-assigned Ambassadors of Austria, Japan and Tunisia on Thursday.

MPs draft fresh plan on interest write-off KAC privatization move picks up speed KUWAIT: Even as the parliamentary finance committee began two-month long sessions to study the proposals pertaining to the raging issue of bank loans and write off of interests, a number of MPs are preparing a proposal to write off interest of the loans and place the matter on a priorities list, sources said. The sources added that this can be achieved after an agreement with the government to solve the issue during this parliamentary session itself. MP Nasser Al-Meri said he presented the proposal to solve the problem with an intention to do justice to both debtors and non debtors. He said if

the present problem is not solved, it will hold up the much-needed economic growth. He said the proposal guarantees justice once the problem is solved. It relies on scientific basis through payment of an Amiri grant for each citizen from which state’s dues are deducted such as electricity, water and other dues. Then the rest will be given to the citizen. He said it is necessary to drop interest rates on consumer and commercial loans so that development can go ahead. He said the government is requested to cooperate with the assembly with regards to these proposals that deal with the living condition of the Kuwaiti family in addition to the


in brief

Drugs stolen from Amiri Hospital KUWAIT: Health ministry sources revealed that a large quantity of medicines were stolen from Amiri Hospital pharmacy and that the matter has been reported to police. Director of Amiri Hospital Dr Afrah Al-Sarraf confirmed the theft and said two committees have been formed to probe the theft. One of them is at the level of the hospital while the other one is from inspection administration of the ministry. According to initial assessment, the value of the stolen medicine would be around KD 5000, she said. Ministry to study retirement norms KUWAIT: Social Affairs and Labor Minister Thekra AlRashidi promised the President and members of the union of workers at the ministry to study the issue of retiring those who have worked for 30 years at the ministry according to the rules of the civil service commission. AlRashidi said following a meeting with the president and union members, that she asked for all decisions taken by former ministry Undersecretary Mohammad Al-Kandari to review them. She said she will not stand against the rights of employees in all ministry sectors, adding that the rights of employees in the ministry will not be lost. She said that she expressed readiness to meet all demands that are in favor of employees and asked for a full memo on allowances. Subsidized animal food KUWAIT: Chairman and Director General of the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources announced changes in the mechanism of dispensing subsidized animal feed. The new rules call for an approved request by PAAAFR and valid vaccination certificates. The feed will be handed over to person who holds the certificate or a power of attorney as his representative. The feed will be dispensed in one lot and cannot be divided.

economic development of the country. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Finance Committee discussed a proposal to amend the law 6/2008 in regards to transforming Kuwait Airways into a shareholding company. Committee Chairman Dr Yousuf Al-Zalzalah said a meeting was held with KAC Chairman Sami Al-Nisf, a representative of Kuwait Investment Authority, Engineers and Pilots Society and KAC union to discuss the issue of privatizing KAC and decided to postpone the vote until a meeting is held with the communications minister. Chairman of Foreign Committee MP Saleh

Ashour said the committee approved several agreements and were sent to the assembly including an agreement between Kuwait and Iraq to organize marine navigation in Khour Abdallah. Chairman of Human Rights Committee asked the official and other human rights groups to cooperate with the committee to ensure the success of its mission in sorting out the outstanding issues. He said the first meeting will be with the Chairman of the Central Department dealing with illegal residents and hoped that the department will cooperate with the committee to speed up the naturalization of bedoons who deserve citizenships.

Sheikh Salman lauds KFAS role KUWAIT: Kuwait Minister of Information Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Humoud AlSabah lauded here Thursday the role of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) in supporting and spurring investment in human development. Opening a workshop on applied sciences at the KFAS’S Sabah AlAhmad Center for the Giftedness and Creativity, Sheikh Salman, who also doubles as minister of state for youth affairs, said the KFAS is centered on backing basic and applied research and providing scientific scholarships.

He spoke highly of the KFAS’S Sabah Al-Ahmad Center for the Giftedness and Creativity for its care for gifted youth and creative figures as part of its support for societal development. The minister of information also commended Kuwaiti inventors who have achieved advanced positions and obtained awards in international competitions and events. Director General of the KFAS, Sabah Al-Ahmad Center for the Giftedness and Creativity Omar AlBanai said the workshop came at a

Kuwait MOC signs deal with Saudi’s ITC KUWAIT: The Kuwaiti Ministry of Communications signed a contract with the Saudi Integrated Telecom Company (ITC), a leading telecom provider to link the national fiber networks of the two countries. The contract is part of the ministry’s strategy to hook up with the fiber networks of neighborly countries via land cables and improve the internet services within and outside Kuwait, Kuwaiti Minister of Communications and Minister of Housing Eng Salem Al-Utheina said. “Under the contract ITC will be awarded a license to link the networks of the two countries by land cable through a border crossing point which will put information and data sharing on a fast track,” Al-Utheina, who attended the signing ceremony, told reporters. The move will create competition-friendly environment for the internet providers in the two countries and bring down the fees, thus serving the interests of internet users,” he added. The minister noted that the ITC, established in 2005, was the first Gulf telecom provider which hooked up with the Kuwaiti mobile and internet networks. —KUNA

time when classes for gifted and creative people were opened at the center. The newly created classes are mainly intended to revamp and develop curricula and boost the skills of gifted and creative people through supporting learning and guiding programs, he said. He thanked the ministries of information, education, KFAS, Kuwait University, Public Authority for Youth and Sports and Public Authority for Industry for supporting and helping the Sabah AlAhmad Center for the Giftedness and Creativity. — KUNA

Kuwait to develop education sector on Singapore model KUWAIT: Education Ministry Assistant Undersecretary for Planning and Information Dr Khalid Al-Rushaid said that the ministry has signed an agreement with Singapore’s National Education Institute to study and evaluate the education process in Kuwait and develop a plan to prepare teachers in accordance with Singapore academic standard. He said the study will take six months before the institute submits its final report. Al-Rushaid told journalists that Education and Higher Education Minister Dr Nayef Al-Hajraf formed a team headed by the Director of the National Center for the Development of Education to visit the National Education Center in Singapore to sign contracts with them. The team will also prepare a study on the educational situation in Kuwait and discuss the mechanism for preparing teachers and develop them in a way that contributes to enhancing their professional, technical and educational standards. Al-Rushaid said the Kuwaiti delegation observed that the Singaporean model of education has set a global benchmark on education as it focuses more on quality of teachers and develop their overall performance.



MEW manager sentenced to 3-month jail, deposed Al-Youm TV case adjourned By A Saleh KUWAIT: The criminal court has sentenced a general manager at the Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW) to a three-month jail and deposed him from office, said informed sources noting that the court justified its verdict by the fact that the manager has been

negligent and wasted a lot of public funds. Meanwhile, a Kuwaiti court on Thursday adjourned the case filed by Al-Youm TV channel against the information ministry to contest its decision of closing the channel and cancelling its license. According to Al-Youm lawyers, the ministry’s decision was unjust and baseless.

KUWAIT: The Security Strategic Studies Institute of the National Security College recently held a symposium titled ‘GCC Comprehensive Security Strategy’ from December 25-27, 2012 with participation of MOI and National Guard officers. The symposium was held under the auspices of MOI’s Assistant Undersecretary for Education and Training Lt General Ahmed Nawaf Al-Ahmed. It was attended by Colonel Hezam Al-Rasheedi of the Security Strategic Studies institute, the National Security College.

Fire drill to boost fire-fighters’ skills By Hanan Al-Sadoun KUWAIT: The capital governorate fire department recently conducted a fire drill at a building belonging to the minors authority in Mirqab in order to explore alternative and new firefighting methods such as pumping fire extinguishing water to the altitude of the 23rd floor in case the building’s system failed or broke down. In this regard, Kuwait Fire Services Directorate (KFSD)’s deputy director for firefighting and human resources, Brigadier Khaled Al-Mekrad said that the drill was part of a comprehensive plan set by KFSD to enhance firefighters’ efficiency through intensified training and adapting new strategies.

Lari promises probe MP, Ahmed Lari stressed that the government’s development plan was wrongly set and that its projects were only meant to benefit certain people. “The plan was set by influential VIPs, not the planning and development secretariat general”, he explained. He criticized the planning

council as well its intention not to pass the plan when voted in parliament. “I will file inquiries and form committees to investigate the fact that the two companies entrusted with the power project are owned by the same engineer who was executing the famous controversial calcified charcoal project”, he warned.



2 Iraqi brothers in mall murder case surrender Kuwait’s Ambassador to Armenia Bassam Al-Qabandi presenting relief aids to Syrian refugees in Armenia.

Syrian teacher damages student’s ear drum KUWAIT: A citizen accused a Syrian teacher of damaging his daughter’s ear drum. The man produced a medical report indicating that the injury was due to beating the girl with some solid object. Police summoned the teacher to hear her testimony. False charges Director of Jahra detectives Colonel Saad Al-Adwani sent a Kuwaiti youth to the public prosecution on false charges with an accusation that his two friends stole his camp. Investigations revealed that the two did not commit the theft. The official admitted that he leveled the charges in order to take revenge of the two for ‘kicking him out’ of the diwaniya. Expat’s car set ablaze An Indian expat filed a complaint with the Fahaheel police that his car was stolen and burned by some unknown person. The police were informed about a charred car that was found in a desert area. They found out that the car belonged to the Indian who reported the theft. Syrian arrested Sulaibiya detectives arrested a Syrian expat for cheating a female citizen by duping her of KD 300,000. A security source said the citizen was convinced by the Syrian about establishing a gravel factory. The woman sold a house she inherited from her father and gave the entire money to the Syrian. The woman was shocked when the Syrian began to avoid her. Investigations are under way.

KUWAIT: The two Iraqi brothers involved in the ghastly murder of a dentist last Friday at the Avenues Mall, who were still at large after the prime suspect and his Saudi accomplice were arrested, finally turned themselves in on Wednesday morning, security sources said. They said close surveillance of the two fugitives had left little alternative except to turn themselves in after detectives staked out every possible location they could have visited. Both the suspects are being interrogated and will be later referred to the public prosecutor. Girls arrested Women police recently arrested a number of girls in Shamiya, some of them acting like tomboys, for being involved in an ugly spat in which they pulled each other’s hair, security sources said. The suspects were arrested from a college where a girl student picked up a fight and six of her friends came from outside the college to join the scuffle in her favour. A case was field. Bikers ‘cursed’ In a rather peculiar complaint, a citizen complained to the police that two young bikers who harassed her at a traffic light in Salmiya lost control over their bikes and sustained injuries after she cursed them. She said her curse cast a spell on the duo. To add to her peculiar claim, the rather ‘gifted’ woman took umbrage at an office boy who was asked to bring water for

her as her testimony was being recorded, and looked at him angrily, causing him to stumble and fall down. Suicide bid A girl tried to commit suicide outside a famous beach front restaurant recently but was rescued by the coast guards, security sources said. The girl aroused suspicion when she was seen swimming too far away in the sea in very cold weather, case papers said. The police were informed and personnel from a coast guard boat managed to rescue her. Both the girl and a member of the rescue team were rushed to the Amiri Hospital for treatment. Drug dealers held An Asian was arrested for possessing 150 grams of heroin and 200 hallucination pills, security sources said. In another incident, a drug dealer was arrested in Mubarak Al-Kabeer for possessing three bags full of highquality marijuana, security sources said. Case papers indicated that a police patrol was aroused by the way the suspect drove and when signaled to stop, he tried to escape but was chased and nabbed. A search of the vehicle yielded the contraband. Police also found that the man was wanted in other drug-related cases, too. Assailant held A young man was arrested for harassing and assaulting a girl at a Salmiya mall, security sources said.

During initial interrogation, the girl said she knew the suspect but once she found that he was not serious about their relationship, she had stopped seeing him. However, the suspect kept stalking and harassing her. She added that at one stage, he pulled her out of her vehicle at a Salmiya mall and beat her up. She then gave him a chase all the way to Sharq where she forced him to pull over and called the police. A case was filed and further investigations are in progress. Worker killed An Egyptian construction worker was killed on the spot when he fell from the tenth floor of an under construction building in Hawalli. Sorcery case An Arab university professor working in a private university was recently arrested for sorcery, security sources said. Case papers indicated that a citizen reported that the professor had swindled her and convinced her that her house in Jabriya was haunted by an entire tribe of genies. The woman said she was gullible enough to give almost KD 95,000, gold rings and others valuables to get rid of the genies. She added that the professor gave her some water to drink claiming that it had been blessed with a recitation from the Holy Quran. A case was filed and the professor was referred to relevant authorities.

Cables stolen Thieves stole electric cables worth KD 20,000 from MEW’s warehouse in Fahaheel, according to an official from the ministry. Police are investigating. Worker assaulted A delivery worker informed Daiya police that a citizen attacked him and verbally insulted him for being late in delivering his order. The attacker is being summoned for questioning. Mall attack An unknown person snatched the purse of a Syrian woman in a Jahra Mall. A passer by ran after him but could not catch him. Detectives are investigating the case. Indecent advances A divorced woman accused her neighbor, a citizen of harassing her and urging her to commit vice crimes. A security source said a divorced woman told Sabah Al-Salem police that she was fed up with her neighbor who always stands in front of her house when she leaves and returns from her work. Each time he sees her, he showers her with flirts. The woman said that she informed his wife about his acts. However, the wife told her that she was also fed up with his childish behavior and could not stop him. The woman told the police that the man told her he wanted to marry her. The police summoned him for questioning. Drunken female held A drunken female citizen refused to show her ID to police who stopped her along with her boyfriend in Salmiya. The woman also insulted police verbally. Both were arrested and charged with public drunkenness and insult of a government official on duty.

KUWAIT: Under the auspices of the Ministry of Information Assistant Undersecretary for Education and Training, Maj General Ahmed Nawaf Al-Ahmed and with the attendance of the National Security College’s Assist Director, Brig Fauzi Al-Suwailam and the manager of the leaders center, Colonel Nasser Al-Houtti the leaders’ center on Thursday celebrated the conclusion of its ninth training course of Advanced Leaders Skills for MOI and MOD officers and employees.

Kuwait takes part in Alecso conference TUNIS: Kuwait’s Minister of Education and Minister of Higher Education Dr Nayef Al-Hajraf will attend the 21st conference of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) scheduled to start here today. Minister Al-Harjaf arrived at the air-

port, late on Thursday, and was received by Tunisian Minister of Education Abdellatif Abid, Kuwaiti ambassador to Tunisia Fahad Al-Awadi, embassy staff, Alecso Director-General Dr Mohammad Abdul Aziz Ibn Ashour and senior officials of the organization. Al-Hajraf said the meetings of the

organization are important in boosting pan-Arab cooperation in sectors of sciences, education and culture. The Tunisian minister stated that his country was pinning high hopes on boosting pan-Arab cooperation in the realms of education, culture, sciences and information technology. — KUNA



Gulf firms rework mobility strategies

KUWAIT: The business hub in Kuwait City. — Photo by Joseph Shagra

70% of businesses feel global mobility inadequate: Report KUWAIT: In a globally connected world, companies both in the Middle East and across the globe, are readdressing their mobility strategies; many surveyed organizations plan to review their global mobility strategies in 2013, says Maya Rafii Zaatari, director, Human Resources, Deloitte Middle East. Organizations are aware of both the requirements and the current limitations of their global mobility programs; however they are not translating that awareness into improvement and change, according to a new report by Deloitte. This is based on the latest annual survey of almost 200 HR, talent and global mobility professionals from companies around the world, entitled Strategic Moves. Findings in this study are particularly relevant to Middle East companies moving into regionalization structures, and international markets to compete effectively in these new markets and succeed in attracting and deploying employees and leaders to meet their business objectives. “As more and more companies expand their operations globally, and many companies based in the Middle East begin to operate across the region, the challenge to source the right talent and meet client needs is evidently growing. Many regional firms are seeking candidates with international experience to assume leadership posts in different industries,” said Zaatari. In many Middle Eastern countries, particularly in the GCC, it is integral that strategies to improve global mobility are put into place, to ensure the right expertise is being offered to clients when needed,” she added. Brett Walsh, Global Human Capital leader, DTTL, says: “The survey results show that organizations recognize the need for a global, mobile workforce to support their business strategies. However, despite a keen awareness of worldwide mobility issues, there is slow progress to make the relevant improvements. Where

organizations are taking steps, they appear to be aligning their international mobility strategies with functional needs, rather than also focusing on developing the next generation of global leaders with international experience required to run the global organizations of the future.”

business issues and support the business in addressing the top three strategy issues: emerging geographical markets, such as the Middle East (100%), increasing globalization (99%), and increasing competition (98%). However, on average, less than 30% are using mobility to completely address those issues.

As more and more companies expand their operations globally, and many companies based in the Middle East begin to operate across the region, the challenge to source the right talent and meet client needs is evidently growing.

According to the report, a mere 2% of organizations see their global mobility functions as world class, and only 12% perform assessments of their mobility practices and make clear links back to improvement efforts they need to make. The Deloitte survey also highlights that 70% of business and HR stakeholders believe that global mobility in their organizations is underperforming and needs improvement. Different requirements of global mobility Organizations recognize global mobility as an important tool to support the top strategic

“In a globally connected world, companies both in the Middle East and across the globe, are readdressing their mobility strategies. In fact, one third of the organizations surveyed say they are planning on reviewing their global mobility strategies in the next 12 months, including reviewing the alignment with business issues and goals,” said Zaatari. Perception of the global mobility function Survey respondents were asked whether they felt global mobility was a purely administrative function, a strategic value-add, or both. Those in business HR roles were most likely to see it as strategic (42%). However, in stark con-

trast, those tasked with high-level talent and reward responsibilities and the ability to elevate global mobility to the realm of strategy were most likely to see it as just administrative (42%). Assessment There is a widespread recognition of the need to improve the services that mobility teams provide; however the vast majority of organizations surveyed (88%) are undertaking only a limited assessment of the services that are currently being offered. The way forward In order to align global mobility strategies with business’ issues and goals in the longer term, global mobility will need to support business more effectively by providing global workforce management, where they manage an organization’s global supply and demand of skills and talent. This will require the mobility function to acquire new skills and capabilities. Brett Walsh concludes: “If positioned appropriately, by adding global workforce management capabilities to its suite of services, global mobility can be the key player in solving an organization’s long-term skill supply-anddemand talent gaps. This will require a departure from the current model and a strong vision of the future. “Organizations need to make two types of investments in order to achieve this. Firstly, they need to invest in their wider functional HR capabilities such as integrated HR, talent and global mobility technologies to facilitate global standard reporting across various employee metrics. Secondly, this initial investment will then allow them to invest ahead of the talent demand curve to create the required supply of talent to meet their future organization growth aspirations.”—Agencies


Syrian oppn rebuffs Russia call for talks


Egypt’s Mubarak has cracked ribs


South Korea retrieves North’s rocket debris


RAMADI: Iraqi protesters call for the release of prisoners they allege were arrested on sectarian grounds by Iraq’s Shiite-led authorities during a demonstration in Ramadi, Anbar’s provincial capital yesterday. — AFP

Iraqi Sunnis stage anti-govt rallies ‘Out, out Iran! Protesters burn Iran flag RAMADI: Tens of thousands of protesters from Iraq’s Sunni Muslim minority poured onto the streets after Friday prayers in a show of force against Shiite Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, keeping up a week-old blockade of a highway. Around 60,000 people blocked the main road through the city of Fallujah, 50 km west of the capital, setting fire to the Iranian flag and shouting “out, out Iran! Baghdad stays free” and “Maliki you coward, don’t take your advice from Iran”. Many Sunnis, whose community dominated Iraq until the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, accuse Maliki of refusing to share power and of favoring Shiite, nonArab neighbor Iran. Protests flared last week after troops loyal to Maliki, who is from the Shiite majority, detained bodyguards of his finance minister, a Sunni. Activists demands include an end to the marginalization of Sunnis, the abolition of anti-terrorism laws they say are used to target them, and the release of detainees. “I came to Falluja to express my support for their demands. I hope we proceed to Baghdad,” said 48-year-old Faiq Al-Awazi. Demonstrations were also held in the northern city of Mosul and in Samarra, where protesters chanted “the people want to bring down the regime”, echoing the slogan used in popular revolts that ousted leaders in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Speaking at a “reconciliation” conference

broadcast on television, Maliki said: “It is not acceptable to express something by blocking roads, inciting sedition and sectarianism, killing,

or blowing the trumpet of war and dividing Iraq”. The protests are likely to add to concerns the civil war in neighboring Syria, where majority Sunnis

Abbas threatens to disband PA JERUSALEM: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has warned that he would disband his Palestinian Authority (PA) if there was no Israeli movement toward renewing peace talks after Israel’s elections on January 22. Abbas, in an interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz, said that if such a situation arose he would hand full responsibility for the occupied West Bank to the Israeli government. “If there is no progress even after the election I will take the phone and call (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu,” Abbas said. “I’ll tell him... Sit in the chair here instead of me, take the keys, and you will be responsible for the Palestinian Authority.” “Once the new government in Israel is in place, Netanyahu will have to decide-yes or no,” Abbas said in the interview published on the paper’s website late Thursday. This was not the first time that Abbas had resorted to such threats, but the Palestinian Authority has found itself in a grave situation over the past few months due to an unprece-

dented financial crisis. Talks between the two sides have been on hold since September 2010, with the Palestinians insisting on a settlement freeze before returning to the negotiating table and the Israelis insisting on no preconditions. Following last month’s historic United Nations vote giving the Palestinians upgraded status in the world body Israel announced a new spate of settlement building in the West Bank and Israeliannexed east Jerusalem. In Thursday’s interview Abbas said that since then Israel had also reduced security coordination with Palestinian forces in the West Bank. He said he would be willing to renew negotiations with Netanyahu after the election but would demand that Israel freeze further settlement construction while they are being held, renew the transfer of Palestinian tax revenues that Israel has been withholding and release some 120 long-term Palestinian prisoners. —AFP

are fighting to topple a ruler backed by Shiite Iran, will drive Iraq back to the sectarian slaughter of 2005-07. Militants linked to Al-Qaeda appear to be regrouping in Anbar and to be joining rebel ranks across the border in Syria. Protesters in the city of Ramadi in Anbar province raised pictures of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who has lined up against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and has sparred increasingly often with Maliki. In Iraq’s Shiite south, a small anti-Erdogan protest was held in the holy city of Najaf, 160 km from Baghdad. Sunni complaints against Maliki grew louder a week ago following the arrest of Finance Minister Rafaie Al-Esawi’s bodyguards hours after Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd seen as a steadying influence, was flown abroad for medical care. For many, that was reminiscent of a move to arrest Sunni Vice President Tareq Al-Hashemi one year ago, just when US troops had withdrawn. Hashemi fled into exile and was subsequently sentenced to death in absentia. Maliki has sought to divide his rivals and strengthen alliances in Iraq’s complex political landscape before provincial elections next year and a parliamentary vote in 2014. A face-off between the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces over disputed oilfields in the north has been seen as a possible way of rallying Sunni Arab support behind the prime minister. — Reuters


Egypt’s Mubarak has cracked ribs CAIRO: Ousted president Hosni Mubarak has a build-up of fluid in his lungs and cracked ribs, Egypt’s official news agency MENA reported after he was transferred from prison to military hospital for treatment. The state prosecutor ordered Mubarak’s transfer on Thursday after his health deteriorated, a prosecution source had said, more than a week after he was briefly hospitalized after slipping in a prison bathroom and hurting his head. MENA reported late on Thursday that x-rays showed that Mubarak fractured several ribs in the fall and also had a

Kuwait’s Gulf War ... Continued from Page 1 hospitalized in Houston since late November. In a statement, the White House called Schwarzkopf “an American original” whose “legacy will endure in a nation that is more secure because of his patriotic service.” Schwarzkopf was a familiar sight on international television during the war, clad in camouflage fatigues and a cap. He conducted fast-paced briefings and reviewed his troops with a purposeful stride and a physical presence of the sort that clears bar rooms. Little known before Iraqi forces invaded neighboring Kuwait, Schwarzkopf made a splash with quotable comments. At one briefing he addressed Saddam’s military reputation. “As far as Saddam Hussein being a great military strategist,” he said, “he is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in the operational arts, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general, nor is he a soldier. Other than that, he’s a great military man, I want you to know that.” Schwarzkopf returned from the war a hero and there was talk of him running for public office. Instead, he wrote an autobiography - “It Doesn’t Take a Hero” - and served as a military analyst. He also acted as a spokesman for the fight against prostate cancer, with which he was diagnosed in 1993. Schwarzkopf was born Aug 22, 1934, in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Colonel H Norman Schwarzkopf Sr, the head of the New Jersey State Police. At the time, the older Schwarzkopf was leading the investigation of the kidnapping and murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s infant son, one of the most infamous crimes of the 20th century. The younger Schwarzkopf graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1956. He earned a masters degree in guided-missile engineering from the University of Southern California and later taught engineering at West Point. Schwarzkopf saw combat twice - in Vietnam and Grenada - in a career that included command of units from platoon to theater size, training as a paratrooper and stints at Army staff colleges. He led his men in firefights in two tours of Vietnam and commanded all US ground forces in the 1983 Grenada invasion. His chestful of medals included three Silver and three Bronze Stars for valor and two Purple Hearts for Vietnam wounds. In Vietnam, he won a reputation as an officer who would put his life on the line to protect his troops. In one particularly deadly fight on the Batangan Peninsula, Schwarzkopf led his men through a minefield, in part by having the mines marked with shaving cream. — Agencies

build-up of fluid in the membranes lining his lungs. The agency cited a medical report prepared at the prosecutor’s request. Mubarak, who is serving a life sentence for his role in the killing of protesters during the uprising that led to his resignation in February 2011, will return to jail after treatment, the prosecution source said. A court sentenced the veteran strongman to life in June for failing to prevent the killings of protesters during the 18-day revolt that ended his three-decade rule. Some 850 people died in the uprising. Since his fall from power, Mubarak’s health has

appeared to worsen significantly, and he has had repeated health scares. He spent nearly a month in hospital after falling unconscious on June 19, with state media declaring him clinically dead on arrival. Medical sources, however, said he appeared to have fallen into a temporary coma. During his time in power, the subject of Mubarak’s health was very much off limits. In 2004, he underwent surgery in Germany for a slipped disc, and he returned to Germany in March 2010 for the removal of his gall bladder and a growth on the small intestine. — AFP

Syrian oppn rebuffs Russia call for talks Death toll mounts as fighting escalates ALEPPO: Russia invited the leader of Syria’s opposition yesterday to visit for the first time, but the opposition swiftly dismissed a renewed call by Moscow for talks with President Bashar Al-Assad’s government to end the 21-month civil war. With the rebels advancing over the second half of 2012, diplomats have been searching for months for signs that Assad’s main international backer, Moscow, will withdraw its protection. So far Russia has stuck to its position that rebels must negotiate with Assad’s government, which has ruled since his father seized power in a coup 42 years ago. “I think a realistic and detailed assessment of the situation inside Syria will prompt reasonable opposition members to seek ways to start a political dialogue,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday. That was immediately dismissed by the opposition National Coalition: “The coalition is ready for political talks with anyone ... but it will not negotiate with the Assad regime,” spokesman Walid Al-Bunni said. “Everything can happen after the Assad regime and all its foundations have gone. After that we can sit down with all Syrians to set out the future.” But Moscow’s Middle East envoy, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, also invited National Coalition leader Moaz Alkhatib to visit, its first such overture to the head of the body formed last month and since recognized by most Western and Arab

states as Syria’s legitimate representative. Spokesman Bunni did not say whether Alkhatib would accept the invitation, saying Moscow’s intentions were unclear. UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, fresh from a five-day trip to Damascus where he met Assad, is due in Moscow for talks today. Brahimi has been touting a months-old peace plan which calls for a transitional government. That UN plan has long been widely seen as a dead letter, foundering at the outset over the question of whether the transitional body would include Assad or his allies. Brahimi’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, quit in frustration shortly after negotiating it, saying countries were not committed to a deal. But with rebels having seized control of large sections of the country in recent months, Russia and the United States have been working with Brahimi to resurrect the peace plan as the only internationally recognized diplomatic negotiating track. Bogdanov said further talks were scheduled between the “three B’s” - himself, Brahimi and US Undersecretary of State William Burns. Speaking in Damascus on Thursday, Brahimi called for a transitional government with “all the powers of the state”, a phrase interpreted by the opposition as potentially signaling tolerance of Assad remaining in a ceremonial role. “This transitional process must not lead to the ... collapse of state institutions. All Syrians, and those who support

One killed as Saudi... Continued from Page 1 Saudi Shiites say they lack the same job opportunities as Sunnis, that their neighborhoods receive inadequate state investment and that the authorities stop them building places of worship. Some Qatif activists accuse the government of crushing the protests by shooting at demonstrators, intimidating locals with constant armed patrols, and detaining people without laying charges or bringing them to trial. Saudi authorities say they do not discriminate against Shiites, pointing to King Abdullah’s efforts to include them in the advisory Shoura Council and to his foundation this year of a centre to study different Islamic sects. They also reject charges of heavy handed policing, saying all the shootings this year have occurred after police came under attack by rioters. They have accused rival Shiite power Iran of stirring up the unrest, a charge Iran denies. Although Saudi Shiites live mostly in the crude-producing Eastern Province, protests have not targeted energy production and both oil and gas facilities are heavily guarded. — Reuters

CAIRO: Protesters chant slogans and wave Syrian revolution flags during a rally after the Friday prayer at Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo yesterday. Syrian rebels are fighting a 21-month-old revolt against President Bashar Assad’s regime. — AP

them, must cooperate to preserve those institutions and strengthen them,” Brahimi said. But such a plan is anathema to the surging rebels, who now believe they can drive Assad out with a military victory, despite long being outgunned by his forces. “We do not agree at all with Brahimi’s initiative. We do not agree with anything Brahimi says,” Colonel Abdel-Jabbar Oqaidi, who heads the rebels’ military council in Aleppo province, told reporters at his headquarters there. “We will not allow anyone to trade in the blood of the martyrs of Syria and the sacrifices that Syrians have made by having someone propose any proposal that keeps Bashar AlAssad (in office).” Oqaidi said the rebels want Assad and his allies tried in Syria for crimes. Assad himself says he will stay on and fight to the death if necessary. DIPLOMATS IMPOTENT Diplomacy has largely been irrelevant to the conflict so far, with Western states ruling out military intervention like the NATO bombing that helped topple Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi last year, and Russia and China blocking UN action against Assad. Meanwhile, the fighting has grown fiercer and more sectarian, with rebels mainly from the Sunni Muslim majority battling Assad’s government and allied militia dominated by his Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Still, Western diplomats have repeatedly touted signs of a change in policy from Russia, which they hope could prove decisive, much as Moscow’s withdrawal of support for Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic heralded his downfall a decade ago. Bogdanov said earlier this month that Assad’s forces were losing ground and rebels might win the war, but Russia has since rowed back, with Lavrov last week reiterating Moscow’s position that neither side could win through force. Still, some Moscow-based analysts see the Kremlin coming to accept the need to adapt its position to the possibility of rebel victory. “As the situation changes on the battlefield, more incentives emerge for seeking a way to stop the military action and move to a phase of political regulation,” said Dmitry Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center. “I think that not only Moscow - which has so far been holding onto the idea that there were enough resources for Assad to hang on for a long time - is beginning to understand this, but also Damascus.” Meanwhile, on the ground the bloodshed that has killed some 44,000 people continues unabated.—Reuters



CAR leader appeals for help as rebels advance Regional leaders scramble for peace talks BANGUI: The president of the Central African Republic has appealed for France and the United States to help push back rebels threatening his government and the capital, but Paris said its troops were only ready to protect French nationals. The exchanges came as regional African leaders tried to broker a ceasefire deal and as rebels said they had temporarily halted their advance on Bangui, the capital, to allow talks to take place. Insurgents on motorbikes and in pickup trucks have driven to within 75 km of Bangui after weeks of fighting, threatening to end President Francois Bozize’s nearly 10year-stint in charge of the turbulent, resource-rich country. French nuclear energy group Areva mines the Bakouma uranium deposit in the CAR’s south - France’s biggest commercial interest in its former colony. The rebel advance has highlighted the instability of a country that has remained poor since independence from Paris in 1960 despite rich deposits of uranium, gold and diamonds. Average income is barely over $2 a day. The United States said on Thursday that it was suspending operations at its

embassy in Bangui and that the ambassador and other embassy personnel had departed the country. “This decision is solely due to concerns about the security of our personnel and has no relation to our continuing and long-standing diplomatic relations with the CAR,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in a statement. “The United States encourages all parties in the Central African Republic to participate in the dialogue to be held under the auspices of the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) to develop a comprehensive agreement that will offer a new vision of peace and security for the country.” Bozize on Thursday appealed for French and US military support to stop the SELEKA rebel coalition, which has promised to overthrow him unless he implements a previous peace deal in full. He told a crowd of anti-rebel protesters in the riverside capital that he had asked Paris and Washington to help move the rebels away from the capital to clear the way for peace talks which regional leaders say could be

held soon in Libreville, Gabon. “We are asking our cousins the French and the United States, which are major powers, to help us push back the rebels to their initial positions in a way that will permit talks in Libreville to resolve this crisis,” Bozize said. France has 250 soldiers in its landlocked former colony as part of a peacekeeping mission and Paris in the past has ousted or propped up governments - including by using air strikes to defend Bozize against rebels in 2006. But French President Francois Hollande poured cold water on the latest request for help. “If we have a presence, it’s not to protect a regime, it’s to protect our nationals and our interests and in no way to intervene in the internal business of a country, in this case the Central African Republic,” Hollande said on the sidelines of a visit to a wholesale food market outside Paris. “Those days are over,” he said. Some 1,200 French nationals live in the CAR, mostly in the capital, according to the French Foreign Ministry, where they typically work for mining firms or aid groups.—AP

Storms wreak havoc in US Arkansas still in darkness LITTLE ROCK: As a the muted ends of a powerful winter storm that has killed more than a dozen people plodded through the Northeast, many in Arkansas were seeking warmth and shelter against the cold prospect of life without electricity into the new year. A Christmas Day blizzard dumped more than 15 inches of snow on the state, causing massive damage to power lines that have affected more than 200,000 customers. With the bleak word from the state’s largest utility that the lights could be out until after the start of the new year, many residents who awoke snowbound Wednesday morning found themselves jamming the city’s hotel rooms by Thursday night. “I’m coping with hot toddies and peanuts,” said Lynda Johnson, who lined up a series of hotel stays through to make it at least through Saturday night. She has already been to the movies - she saw “Django Unchained” - and checked in with neighbors multiple times to see if the lights are back on. They aren’t. Deena Brazell spent a night in her car for warmth, though she hadn’t planned it that way. “Everything in the apartment is electric. I stayed in the apartment the first night. After that, it got cold really quick,” she said. “I went out to charge the phone and fell asleep, then I just decided to stay.” After the storm’s peak early Wednesday, homes and businesses from border-to-border had lost power. Johnson, and several others, said they were hoping the power would be back on Wednesday after spending Christmas night in the dark. Butut then the president of the state’s largest utility announced that some of the outages would persist at least into New Year’s Day. Little Rock was among the cities hardest hit. “We spent the first night at home and turned on the fireplace, but it doesn’t give off a lot of heat,” said Kathy Garner, who sought refuge at her sister and brother-in-law’s house in Maumelle, a Little Rock suburb. In a typical year, tornadoes bring Arkansas’ worst weather, but the damage is isolated and linemen have a relatively easy time fixing the power grid. This week’s storm was epic by comparison, and despite the jokes - “In Wisconsin, we call this Tuesday” - as of Thursday night there was more snow on the ground in Little Rock than Milwaukee. “You run out of money fast,”

Johnson said. “The things you had planned to do, you can’t do. You need food, clothing and shelter. Since I’m not home, I have to find someplace for shelter. Then you have to find something to eat.” The storm system responsible for the misery roared out of the Rockies early Tuesday with blizzard conditions in southwestern Oklahoma and tornadoes along the Gulf Coast. After sweeping across Arkansas, giving Little Rock its first white Christmas since 1926, it rolled into the Midwest and Northeast before moving on to Canada. Up to 20 inches of snow fell in the Adirondacks of New York; Indianapolis had 7.5 inches, its greatest snowfall in four years; and 46 inches fell in and around Concord, NH. “I’m going to be shoveling all day, just trying to keep up with the snow, which is impossible,” said Dale Lamprey, clearing the sidewalk outside the legislative office building near the New Hampshire Statehouse. Nationwide, at least 17 people died because of the ice, snow and wind. Deaths from wind-toppled trees also were reported in Texas and Louisiana, but car crashes caused most of the fatalities. A Michigan woman who was riding in a car that struck a tree and two people riding in a car that slid across the center line of a road in Arkansas and hit another vehicle. Two people were killed in Kentucky crashes, a New York man was killed after his pickup truck skidded on an icy road in northwest Pennsylvania, and an Ohio teenager died after losing control of her car and smashing into an oncoming snowplow. Forty-two students traveling to London and Dublin were stuck in the Nashville, Tenn., airport thanks to poor weather in the Northeast. The frustrated students, from universities in Tennessee and Kentucky, were supposed to leave Wednesday and arrive in London on Thursday. “It’s a two-week program, so it’s shortened already,” said Joe Woolley, spokesman for the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad. Farther east, the storm knocked out power to more than 7,000 homes and businesses in Maryland. In New Jersey, gusts of more than 70 mph were recorded along the coast, and the weather service issued a flood warning for some coastal areas. There were about 800 power outages in Vermont, but only a handful in neighboring New Hampshire.—AP

WASHINGTON: In this file picture, former US President Ronald Reagan (right) and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher pose for photographers on the patio outside the Oval Office, Washington, DC. — AFP

Secret British files lift lid on Thatcher-Reagan contacts Thatcher ‘taken by surprise’ by Falklands invasion LONDON: Britain’s former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wrote an emotional letter to US President Ronald Reagan during the 1982 Falklands War calling him the “only person” who could understand her position, formerly secret documents showed yesterday. Newly declassified files from 1982 lift the lid on contacts between the two leaders over the crisis and reveal the extent of the pressure Thatcher felt she was under when Argentina invaded the remote South Atlantic archipelago to reclaim what it said was its sovereign territory, triggering a 10week war. In one file, the tough, outspoken Thatcher called the build-up to the Argentine invasion the “worst, I think of my life”, while letters to Reagan from the time show her reliance on the US president and their close working relationship. “I am writing to you separately because I think you are the only person who will understand the significance of what I am trying to say,” Thatcher told Reagan in one letter, saying the principles of democracy, liberty and justice were at stake. Britain held its breath when Thatcher dispatched a naval task force to the British-ruled Falkland Islands following the Argentine invasion.

Despite losing several warships, the British eventually reclaimed the South Atlantic islands 74 days later. Some 649 Argentines and 255 British troops were killed. Elsewhere, the files show that Thatcher stressed the special relationship between the two countries as she requested Reagan’s help in a letter signed off with “Warm personal regards, Margaret”. “I also believe that the friendship between the United States and Britain matters very much to the future of the free world,” she wrote. The files provide a unique perspective on the first and only female British prime minister’s personal feelings as she waged war against Argentina, contemporary records specialist Simon Demissie said. “You really hear how personally strained she was, how surprised she was. Her voice really comes through - her sense of shock that she would have to send forces to the other side of the world,” Demissie said. “We get a sense that she is as decisive as ever and that is something which really appealed to the military officials close to her,” Demissie said in reference to minutes from the War Cabinet meetings ahead of the crisis, which were also released yesterday.—Reuters



Russia ex-defense minister stonewalls fraud questions Serdyukov remains witness in $100 million case

MOSCOW: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin looks on during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow yesterday. — AFP

Vladmir Putin signs law banning US adoptions MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin yesterday signed into law a ban on the adoption of Russian children by American families that activists slammed for making orphans pawns in a diplomatic row between Moscow and Washington. The law-retaliation for a US law punishing Russian officials implicated in the 2009 prison death of the whistle-blowing attorney Sergei Magnitsky-will come into force on January 1, the Kremlin said in a statement. The highly contentious law is seen as the toughest piece of anti-US legislation during Putin’s 13-year rule and has prompted objections not just from activists but even some cabinet ministers. A particular subject of concern are the dozens of Russian children who are now in an agonizing limbo. Having been prepared for US adoption they are now effectively banned from leaving for their new lives. The Kremlin children’s rights envoy Pavel Astakhov said a total of 52 Russian children who had been prepared for US adoption should now go to Russian parents specially selected by regional governors. “I believe they should be adopted in Russia,” Astakhov, a key backer of the legislation, told Interfax. The law had been passed in three readings by the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, and then at a session Wednesday held by the Federation Council or upper house. Putin had said on Thursday that he intended to sign it, ending days of speculation about his position. Rights activists and the Russian opposition slammed the law, accusing Putin of using children as hostages in a political disagreement. “Our poor children, orphans, will suffer because they are used as token coins in a political game between two countries,” veteran rights campaigner Lyudmila Alexeyeva told RIA-Novosti. “That is immoral, it’s cannibalism.” Pro-Kremlin lawmakers put together the bill in a matter of days in response to a new US law sanctioning Russian officials implicated in Magnitsky’s death. At first it was directed against Americans deemed guilty of violating the rights of Russians. However the Duma later added two tough amendments, one banning US adoptions,

and the other banning Russian NGOs that have members with US citizenship or financing from the US. Its passage revealed cracks in the Russian leadership between those who would prefer to get tough with the United States and ministers who back a more cautious approach. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the cabinet’s social affairs chief, Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets, both spoke out against it. Reports have said that the law was authored by Vyacheslav Volodin, the hawkish first deputy chief of Putin’s Kremlin staff who headed his presidential campaign. By apparent coincidence, a Moscow court yesterday also acquitted the former deputy chief of a Moscow prison where Magnitsky was held over causing his death by negligence. Dmitry Kratov was the only Russian official to still be facing charges over the Magnitsky case. Putin on Thursday had mounted a firm defense of the ban on US adoptions while accusing the United States of “acting brazenly and arrogantly” towards Russia. He said those who believed the law limited the opportunities of orphans failed to see the threats to Russian society posed by a steady outflow of children. “There are lots of places in the world where living standards are higher than they are here,” said Putin. “And what-are we going to send all our children there? Perhaps we should move there ourselves?” He also raised the specter of Russia going to “ruin” if it continued to allow foreigners to take care of its young. US families adopted nearly 1,000 Russian children last year and are the number one foreign destination of the country’s orphans. Putin also signed a decree yesterday on measures to protect orphans in Russia, part of a clear drive for all orphans in the country to be brought up in Russian families. Astakhov has raised the prospect of Russia banning foreign adoptions altogether once the new orphan support program is in place. “We will be ready to do that (eliminate foreign adoptions) after the adoption of the federal targeted program on orphans,” Interfax quoted Astakhov as saying on Thursday.— AFP

MOSCOW: Former Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov refused to answer questions from investigators yesterday in a $100-million fraud case that has snowballed into the biggest corruption scandal since President Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin. Serdyukov, who was fired by Putin on Nov 6, remained silent because his lawyer was unable to attend due to illness, Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the Investigative Committee, said in a statement. He will be called in again for questioning on Jan. 11 and remains a witness in a case that is seeking to prosecute his former subordinate Yevgeniya Vasilyeva for fraud and embezzlement over several deals involving Defense Ministry property. The case, one of several sleaze scandals to flare up since Putin’s return to the Kremlin for a third term as president in May, has raised questions over how much Serdyukov knew about the suspected fraud. Vasilyeva was charged on Nov. 23 over a string of cutprice deals in which prime real estate was allegedly sold off to insiders at a loss to the taxpayer of at least 3 billion roubles ($98 million). Serdyukov’s relationship with Vasilyeva, 33, has also

been the subject of speculation after reports he opened the door to police in his bathrobe and slippers when they launched an early-morning raid in October on her Moscow apartment, which is in the same building as his own. The ex-minister is the son-in-law of former Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov, a long-time political ally of Putin. A source close to the government has said Serdyukov may have paid the political price for his reported behavior. Serdyukov’s lawyer, Genrikh Padva, told legal newswire Rapsi that he had fallen ill and was unable to attend the questioning at the Investigative Committee, Russia’s equivalent to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. Padva is one of Russia’s most renowned defense and human rights lawyers, and previously represented Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the oil tycoon jailed in 2005 for fraud. Khodorkovsky is expected to walk free in 2014 after the sentence on a second conviction was cut on appeal. Khodorkovsky’s oil company, Yukos, was bankrupted by a series of controversial back-tax claims pursued by Russia’s Federal Tax Service, which was headed by Serdyukov from 2004 until 2007, when he was named defense minister. — Reuters

Running away from Putin: the New political refugees MOSCOW: In August, a group of Russian environmentalists were walking along a beach on the Black Sea, just outside the walls surrounding a majestic palace that has been linked to President Vladimir Putin. One of the activists, Suren Gazaryan, proceeded to take several photos of illegal yacht moorings built on the public shore, before a guard attacked him and tried to take away his phone. Four months later, Gazaryan is living in Estonia. Instead of spending the holidays with his family and friends, he is waiting for the authorities there to review his application for political asylum. If he goes back to Russia, he says he will be jailed by the officials whose illegal palaces he worked to expose. Two cases were brought against him, one of which ended in a hooliganism conviction and a suspended sentence. Gazaryan is only one of several Russian activists who has quit the country after facing prosecution and possible jail time following Vladimir Putin’s reelection to an historic third term in May. Several opposition activists are already in jail, others are facing multiple criminal probes. At least five activists are now outside the country for fear of being prosecuted over an anti-Putin rally on May 6 in Moscow, when police and protesters clashed. Gazaryan, a 38-year-old zoologist and an internationally recognized expert in bats of Russia’s North Caucasus, had been involved for years in environmental protests with Krasnodar-based NGO Environmental Watch on North Caucasus, focusing on violations surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He became a hero for Russia’s opposition movement after the group exposed illegal land seizures and luxurious villas along the Black Sea shore. One is believed to have been built for Putin, while documents suggest another belongs to Krasnodar region governor Alexander Tkachev, one of Putin’s staunchest regional allies. In June, Gazaryan and fellow activist Evgeny Vitishko received a three-year suspended sentence for hooliganism for writing protest slogans on a fence illegally built around the Tkachev property in a public forest. Human Rights Watch has denounced the charges against the activists. In a statement last week, it called on the Russian authorities to “end its blatant retaliation against government critics”.

So he knew the risks of a second criminal case after the guard from the “Putin palace” accused him of making death threats during the August beach altercation. A second conviction would turn a suspended sentence into a real one. “I didn’t want to live through the humiliation again. And I didn’t want to go to jail,” he said. He has now been charged with making murder threats, and declared a fugitive. Two combined convictions could land him behind bars for five years. “When a fabricated case is given a green light - that doesn’t leave much hope for justice,” he said. ‘I’m not going back to prison’-His case is overseen by the Investigative Committee, the powerful security agency also in charge of the May 6 rally probe, which turned suddenly violent one day before Putin’s inauguration. When police forced protesters into a bottleneck and chaos ensued, Anastasiya Rybachenko took a loud speaker and tried to reason with officers, asking them to release detainees. The loud speaker was what singled her out of the panicking, angry crowd as it pushed against the police ranks, she now believes. When police searched her apartment as she was in Europe, she decided not to come back. Her university expelled her after a police visit and she enrolled in a university in Tallinn. Although she is not applying for asylum, Rybachenko, 21, said she is not coming back to Russia unless she is sure her case is investigated fairly. “I am not coming back to go to prison,” she told AFP from Estonia. “But I am in school here to be useful for my country, and I see my future there.” Last week, Rybachenko, who is a member of Solidarity opposition movement, was charged with participation in mass rioting, a crime that carries up to eight years in prison. “Criminal probes are the language the regime is speaking with its people right now,” an editorial in Vedomosti daily said. “It is saying: don’t be too confident, even better, leave the country, or we will imprison you.” “Time is on our side: this regime is getting older and more decrepit. I will certainly outlive it,” Rybachenko said. Gazaryan was less optimistic when asked when he could be going back home. “Practically - maybe if Putin dies, or suddenly shows his mercy and our charges are dropped in the first case,” he said. “Both things are equally unlikely.” “I am out of Russia for a long time,” he said.—AFP



Murders hit new record in Venezuela Most violent country in South America CARACAS: Venezuela, already the most violent country in South America, recorded a new high of almost 21,000 murders in 2012, a non-governmental organization that monitors crime here said yesterday. “We can conservatively estimate that 2012 will end with 21,692 deceased victims of violence, a rate of 73 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants,” the Venezuelan Violence Observatory said in its annual report. “During 2012 there was a widespread increase of violence in Venezuela...

despite the various measures taken by the government,” the group said. Venezuela was already considered the most violent country in South America, with 50 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants last year, a total of 14,092 murders, according to official government figures in 2011. The Observatory, which put the 2011 figure at 19,336 - a rate of 67 murders per 100,000 inhabitants-said 2012 had seen another 12 percent rise. No officials figures have been published yet for this year. Unlike other Latin American countries,

Venezuela is not in the throes of a drug war or battling guerrillas. But most crimes in Venezuela are committed with guns. Between nine and 15 million legal and illegal weapons were in circulation in a country of almost 29 million people, according to official figures from 2009. “Killings have become a way of executing property crimes, a mechanism to resolve personal conflicts and a way to apply private justice,” the Observatory explained, pointing as well to a big spike in the number of kidnappings.

President Hugo Chavez has admitted Venezuela has a “serious” crime problem. The government created a national police force in 2009 and last year it launched special security operations and a disarmament program. Chavez, who is due to be sworn in for another six-year term next month, is currently in Havana recovering from a cancer operation and has left Vice President Nicolas Maduro in charge. Maduro issued his first decree on Thursday, extending a job security measure to all workers. — AFP

Gun lobby vows to fight arms trade treaty at UN Obama under intense pressure to tighten gun control

SALT LAKE CITY: A Utah teacher is shown how to handle a handgun by instructor Clint Simon (right), at a concealedweapons training class in West Valley City. — AFP

US teachers take up arms to prevent mass shootings LOS ANGELES: Several US states are considering allowing school teachers to carry weapons, and educators, determined not to allow a repeat of the Newtown massacre, are flocking to training sessions. As gun control advocates try to outlaw military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, gun enthusiasts, backed by the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), are taking a very different approach. The gun lobby argues that there is no way to stop crazy or evil people doing bad things and so the only sure-fire way to prevent mass shootings like the one at Sandy Hook elementary is to take down the shooter. In a rare press conference one week after 20year-old Adam Lanza shot dead 20 six- and seven-year-olds and six adults with a Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle, the NRA called for armed guards in every school in the country. But in Utah, one of the handful of American states that currently allows people to carry licensed concealed weapons into public schools, many teachers are unwilling to wait and see which political argument wins out. In response to Newtown, the Utah Shooting Sports Council (USSC) waived its fee on Thursday for educators wanting to participate in training sessions to gain permits to carry concealed weapons. More than half of the roughly 400 education professionals that showed an interest had to be turned away because there wasn’t enough room on the course. “We had about 400 that wanted to do it and we only had seating for about 180,” USSC board member Bill Scott said. The surge in interest was seen by organizers as a direct response to the shooting in Newtown, with teachers showing a heightened awareness that people are responsible for their own safety and wanting their own permits. “A lot of these people may have shot all their lives and some of them may have never touched a gun,” Scott said. “We’re not advocating that all teachers should be armed. We’re just saying that those that choose to be armed, that want to get the training, they have the right to do that in Utah, we’d like to facilitate that.” While teachers train themselves to try to stop the next Lanza, state officials like Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne are busily crafting legislation to make sure they can legally do so. —AFP

UNITED NATIONS: The leading US progun group, the National Rifle Association, has vowed to fight a draft international treaty to regulate the $70 billion global arms trade and dismissed suggestions that a recent US school shooting bolstered the case for such a pact. The UN General Assembly voted on Monday to restart negotiations in mid-March on the first international treaty to regulate conventional arms trade after a drafting conference in July collapsed because the US and other nations wanted more time. Washington supported Monday’s UN vote. US President Barack Obama has come under intense pressure to tighten domestic gun control laws after the Dec 14 shooting massacre of 20 children and six educators at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. His administration has since reiterated its support for a global arms treaty that does not curtail US citizens’ rights to own weapons. Arms control campaigners say one person every minute dies as a result of armed violence and a convention is needed to prevent illicitly traded guns from pouring into conflict zones and fueling wars and atrocities. In an interview with Reuters, NRA President David Keene said the Newtown massacre has not changed the powerful US gun lobby’s position on the treaty. He also made clear that the Obama administration would have a fight on its hands if it brought the treaty to the US Senate for ratification. “We’re as opposed to it today as we were when it first appeared,” he said on Thursday. “We do not see anything in terms of the language and the preamble as being any kind of guarantee of the American people’s rights under the Second Amendment.” The Second Amendment of the US Constitution protects the right to bear arms. Keene said the pact could require the US government to enact legislation to implement it, which the NRA fears could lead to tighter restrictions on gun ownership. He added that such a treaty was unlikely to win the two-thirds majority in the US Senate necessary for approval. “This treaty is as problematic today in terms of ratification in the Senate as it was six months ago or a year ago,” Keene said. Earlier this year a majority of

senators wrote to Obama urging him to oppose the treaty. UN delegates and gun-control activists say the July treaty negotiations fell apart largely because Obama, fearing attacks from Republican rival Mitt Romney before the Nov 6 election if his administration was seen as supporting the pact, sought to kick the issue past the US vote. US officials have denied those allegation. The NRA claimed credit for the July failure, calling it at the time “a big victory for American gun owners.” NRA IS ‘TELLING LIES’ The main reason the arms trade talks are taking place at all is that the United States - the world’s biggest arms trader, which accounts for more than 40 percent of global transfers in conventional arms - reversed US policy on the issue after Obama was first elected and decided in 2009 to support a treaty. Supporters of the treaty accuse the NRA of deceiving the American public about the pact, which they say will have no impact on US domestic gun ownership and would apply only to exports. Last week, Amnesty International launched a campaign to counter what it said were NRA distortions about the treaty. “The NRA is telling lies about the arms treaty to try to block US government support,” Michelle Ringuette of Amnesty International USA said about the campaign. “The NRA’s leadership must stop interfering in US foreign policy on behalf of the arms industry.” Jeff Abramson of Control Arms said that as March approaches, “the NRA is going to be challenged in ways it never has before and that can affect the way things go” with the US government. The draft treaty under discussion specifically excludes arms-related “matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State.” Among its key provisions is a requirement that governments make compliance with human rights norms a condition for foreign arms sales. It would also have states ban arms transfers when there is reason to believe weapons or ammunition might be diverted to problematic recipients or end up on illicit markets. Keene said the biggest problem with the treaty is that it regulates civilian arms, not just military weapons.

According to the Small Arms Survey, roughly 650 million of the 875 million weapons in the world are in the hands of civilians. That, arms control advocates say, is why any arms trade treaty must regulate both military and civilian weapons. Keene said the NRA would actively participate in the fight against the arms trade treaty in the run-up to the March negotiations. “We will be involved,” he warned, adding that it was not clear if the NRA would address UN delegates directly as the group did in July. The NRA has successfully lobbied members of Congress to stop major new gun restrictions in the United States since the 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. It also gives financial backing to pro-gun candidates. EXPLOSIVE ISSUE European and other UN delegates who support the arms trade treaty told Reuters on condition of anonymity they hoped Newtown would boost support for the convention in the United States, where gun control is an explosive political issue. “Newtown has opened the debate within the United States on weapons controls in ways that it has not been opened in the past,” Abramson said, adding that “the conversation within the US will give the (Obama) administration more leeway.” Keene rejected the idea of bringing the Newtown tragedy into the discussion of an arms trade treaty. “I find it interesting that some of the folks that advocate the treaty say it would have no impact whatever within the United States but that it needs to be passed to prevent another occurrence of a school shooting such as took place in Newtown,” he said. “Both of those positions can’t be correct.” Obama administration officials have tried to explain to US opponents of the arms trade pact that the treaty under discussion would not affect domestic gun sales and ownership. “Our objectives for the ATT (arms trade treaty) have not changed,” a US official said. “We seek a treaty that fights illicit arms trafficking and proliferation, protects the sovereign right of states to conduct legitimate arms trade, and meets the concerns that we have articulated throughout.”—Reuters



After decades muzzling media, Myanmar allows private dailies YANGON: Myanmar will allow private daily newspapers from April next year, the government announced yesterday, a big leap forward for a country that had barely any press freedom under its decades of military dictatorship. Before the military seized power in a 1962 coup, there were more than a dozen local private dailies in multiple languages. At present, only state-controlled newspapers, mostly considered dull, propaganda-filled mouthpieces of the government, are allowed to publish on a daily basis. “We can say it is the beginning of the third and final stage of the media reforms in the country,” a senior Information Ministry official told Reuters, asking not to be named. “We will accept applications in February and I expect there will be about a dozen applicants.” The decision comes as part of an astonishing relaxation of laws governing the media in Myanmar, among the most dramatic reforms introduced by Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government since it came to power 19 months ago. The

regime it replaced demanded every song, book, cartoon, news report and planned artwork be approved by teams of paranoid censors rooting out hidden political messages and criticisms of the junta. “We do welcome

this news,” said Wai Phyo, chief editor of the Weekly Eleven journal, one of four publications owned by the Eleven Media Group. “We’ve been waiting for it for some time.” The relaxation of controls started in June last year, when the

YANGON: Pedestrians pass near a roadside newspaper shop in Yangon yesterday. — AP

Japan PM to send envoys to S Korea Japan reaching out to its neighbor despite feuds SEOUL: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will send envoys to meet South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye next month, a spokeswoman for Park said, a sign of Japan reaching out to its neighbor despite feuds over territory and wartime history. Japan’s relations with South Korea frayed badly in August after outgoing President Lee Myung-bak visited a disputed set of islands known as Takeshima in Japan and Dokdo in Korea. Koreans also harbor bitter resentment of Japanese rule from 1910 to 1945. The hawkish Abe, who wants to recast Japan’s wartime history in less apologetic tones, led his Liberal

Democratic Party (LDP) to a landslide victory in the Dec 16 lower house election, putting the conservative party back in power after a three-year hiatus. The spokeswoman did not say who the envoys will be, but Abe told reporters last week he planned to send former finance minister Fukushiro Nukaga “to improve and develop Japan-South Korea relations”. Abe visits on Jan 4. Public broadcaster NHK reported on Friday that LDP senior lawmaker Takeo Kawamura would join Nukaga in the delegation. Despite their close economic ties, Tokyo’s relations with its East Asian neighbors Seoul and Beijing have long been overshadowed by

Japan’s militaristic past. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Thursday fell short of confirming Japan will uphold a landmark 1993 government statement acknowledging that Asian women were forced into sex slaves at wartime Japanese military brothels. “History scholars and other experts are conducting study (on the issue). It is desirable such research be continued,” Suga told reporters. But Suga has said the new government will stand by a historic 1995 statement by then-prime minister Tomiichi Murayama, apologizing for suffering caused by Japan’s wartime aggression. — Reuters

4 Thais jailed over 54 migrant deaths BANGKOK: Four people smugglers were sentenced to up to 10 years in prison by a Thai court after 54 illegal workers from Myanmar suffocated to death inside a seafood container, an official said yesterday. The 2008 incident was the deadliest in a wave of tragedies afflicting migrants making perilous journeys from impoverished Myanmar in search of work in neighboring Thailand, where they often end up exploited and abused. The victims were among 121 people crammed into the six meters by 2.2 meters container with a broken ventilation system for the journey to the resort island of Phuket to work as day laborers. Four Thais were convicted on Thursday of gross negligence resulting in death and of breaking immigration laws, an official from a court in the country’s southern Ranong province said. The owner of the container truck was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a second defendant received nine years and a third-who owned a jetty in southern Thailand where the migrants arrived by boat-was jailed

for six years. A woman defendant had her sentence halved to three years after confessing, the official said. “Three of them were granted bail of between $13,000 and $6,500 while they file appeals,” the official said, adding that one defendant had been held in custody after failing to meet bail terms. The truck driver, who fled the scene after discovering the tragedy, was jailed for six years in August 2008 having admitted to his role in the crime, the official added. Survivors have recounted desperately trying to raise the alarm as they fought for breath in the storage box. “No matter how many times we hit the container the driver did not pay any attention,” one female migrant who was on board told Thai television. More than two million migrant workers are registered to work in Thailand, most of them from Myanmar, labor ministry figures show, but as many as one million undocumented workers are believed to be in the kingdom. Thailand this week extended a deadline by three months for unregistered migrants to gain a work permit or face deportation. — AFP

Information Ministry allowed about half of Myanmar’s privately run weekly journals and monthly magazines to publish without submitting page proofs to censors in advance. Four months ago, the ministry scrapped all censorship and started giving a makeover to the state dailies, which routinely chided democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi while praising generals who kept Myanmar in dire poverty and fear for decades. Despite the changes, a degree of self-censorship is expected to remain as long as Orwellian laws like the Electronic Transaction Law exist, which threatens jail terms of 15 years for revealing “state secrets”. That term has been applied very loosely and at one point, it included any reference by journalists to the amount of money in circulation in Myanmar. Veteran journalist Pho Thaukkyar, a member of an interim Press Council appointed to draw up a new media law, said daily independent papers would be a new thing for most Burmese. “Will have to reintroduce the people to the taste of independent private dailies,” he said. — Reuters

Vietnam upholds blogger jail terms HANOI: Two prominent Vietnamese dissident bloggers on Friday lost their appeals against long prison sentences for “anti-state propaganda”, a lawyer said, despite international calls for their release. A court in southern Ho Chi Minh City upheld the convictions of Nguyen Van Hai, alias Dieu Cay, and former policewoman Ta Phong Tan, confirming their respective jail terms of 12 and 10 years. “They did not listen to us or the defendants,” Hai’s lawyer Ha Huy Son said. A third blogger Phan Thanh Hai, who had pleaded guilty to the charges at their trial in September, saw his four-year prison term reduced by one year on appeal, Son said. The convictions relate to political articles the bloggers posted on the banned Vietnamese website “Free Journalists Club” as well as their own blogs, which criticized corruption, injustice and Hanoi’s foreign policy. Rights campaigners say the bloggers are victims of the communist government’s efforts to muzzle dissent. Hai’s case has even been raised by US President Barack Obama, who said in May this year “we must not forget (journalists) like blogger Dieu Cay, whose 2008 arrest coincided with a mass crackdown on citizen journalism in Vietnam”. Worldwide attention grew after Tan’s mother Dang Thi Kim Lieng died in July after setting herself ablaze ahead of her daughter’s trial. When listening to the verdict, Tan shouted in objection and was immediately escorted out of the court room, according to her lawyer Nguyen Thanh Luong. The bloggers were convicted of conducting propaganda against the one-party communist state under Article 88 of the criminal code, which rights groups say is one of many “vaguely defined articles” used to prosecute dissidents. The convictions show “how the government’s control continues to be built on the systematic suppression of core civil and political rights”, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said on Friday. Such long sentences are “intended to deepen a climate of intimidation and fear”, he added. The appeal rejection sparked anger on online forums and blogs, which are hugely popular in the heavily-censored country, where the communist party tightly restricts political debate. “End of the year is end of hope?” one Facebook user posted in response to the verdict. Reporters Without Borders ranked Vietnam 172 out of 179 countries in its 2011-2012 press freedom index and identified the authoritarian state as an “Enemy of the Internet” because of systematic use of cyber-censorship. Vietnam bans private media and all newspapers and television channels are state-run. — AFP




Taleban will negotiate, but not disarm DERA ISMAIL KHAN: The head of Pakistan’s Taleban said his militia is willing to negotiate with the government but not disarm, a message delivered in a video given to Reuters yesterday. The release of the 40-minute video follows three highprofile Taleban attacks in the northern city of Peshawar this month: an attack by multiple suicide bombers on the airport, the killing of a senior politician and eight others in a bombing and the kidnap of 22 paramilitary forces on Thursday. The attacks underline the Taleban’s ability to strike high-profile, well-protected targets even as the amount of territory it controls has shrunk and its leaders are picked off by US drones. “We believe in dialogue but it should not be frivolous,” Hakimullah Mehsud said. “Asking us to lay down arms is a joke.” In the video, Mehsud sits cradling a rifle next to his deputy, Wali ur-Rehman. Military officials say there has been a split between the two men but Mehsud said that was propaganda. “Wali ur-Rehman is sitting with me here and we will be together until death,” said Mehsud, pointing at his companion. Pakistani officials did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment. The Taleban said in a letter released Thursday that they wanted Pakistan to rewrite its laws and constitution to conform with Islamic law, break its alliance with the United States and stop interfering in the war in Afghanistan and focus on India instead. Mehsud referred to the killing of the senior politician in his speech and said the political party, the largely Pashtun Awami National Party, would continue to be a target along with other politicians. “We are against the democratic system because it is un-Islamic,” Mehsud said. “Our war isn’t against any party. It is against the non-Islamic system and anyone who supports it.” Pakistan is due to hold elections next spring. The current government, which came to power five years ago, struck an uneasy deal with the Taleban in 2009 that allowed the militia to control Swat valley, less than 100 km (60 miles) from the capital, Islamabad. A few months later, the military launched an operation that pushed the militants back. The US military also intensified its use of drone strikes. Now the Taleban control far less territory and the frequency and deadliness of their bombings has declined dramatically. The Taleban’s key stronghold is in North Waziristan, one of the tribal areas along the Afghan border and the site of most of the hundreds of drone strikes by the United States. Mehsud said in his interview that although he was open to dialogue, the Pakistani government was to blame for the violence because it broke previous, unspecified deals. “In the past, it is the Pakistani government that broke peace agreements,” he said. “A slave of the US can’t make independent agreements; it breaks agreements according to US dictate.” Mehsud said that the Pakistan Taleban would follow the lead of the Afghan Taleban when it came to forming policy after most NATO troops withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014. “We are Afghan Taleban and Afghan Taleban are us,” he said. “We are with them and al Qaida. We are even willing to get our heads cut off for Al-Qaeda.” — Reuters

South Korea retrieves North’s rocket debris Photos show N Korea nuke readiness SEOUL: South Korea has recovered what it believes to be debris from the engine of the long-range rocket launched by North Korea this month, the defense ministry said yesterday. “If it is confirmed to be engine debris, it will be very useful for analyzing North Korea’s missile technology,” a ministry spokesman said. He said navy ships had retrieved six chunks of debris from the rocket that was launched-to international condemnation-on December 12. Pyongyang said the launch was a purely scientific mission aimed at placing a polar-orbiting earth observation satellite in space. Most of the world saw it as a disguised ballistic missile test that violated UN resolutions imposed after the North’s nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. Two days after the launch, the South recovered an oxidizer container, which had stored red fuming nitric acid to fuel the firststage propellant. After studying the oxidizer tank, military experts said the rocket launch amounted to the test of a ballistic missile capable of carrying a half-ton payload up to 10,000 kilometers. The success of the launch was seen as a major strategic step forward for the isolated North, although missile experts differed on the level of ballistic capability demonstrated by the rocket. North Korea has repaired flood damage at its nuclear test facility and could conduct a quick atomic explosion if it chose, though water streaming out of a test tunnel may cause problems, analysis of recent satellite photos indicates. Washington and others are bracing for the possibility that if punished for a success-

ful long-range rocket launch on Dec 12 that the UN considers a cover for a banned ballistic missile test, North Korea’s next step might be its third nuclear test. Rocket and nuclear tests unnerve Washington and its allies because each new success puts North Korean scientists another step closer to perfecting a nuclear warhead small enough to put on a missile that could hit the mainland United States. Another nuclear test, which North Korea’s Foreign Ministry hinted at on the day of the rocket launch, would fit a pattern. Pyongyang conducted its first and second atomic explosions, in 2006 and 2009, weeks after receiving UN Security Council condemnation and sanctions for similar long-range rocket launches. North Korea is thought to have enough plutonium for a handful of crude atomic bombs, and unveiled a uranium enrichment facility in 2010, but it must continue to conduct tests to master the miniaturization technology crucial for a true nuclear weapons program. “With an additional nuclear test, North Korea could advance their ability to eventually deploy a nuclear weapon on a long-range missile,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the nongovernment Arms Control Association. Analysts caution that only so much can be determined from satellite imagery, and it’s very difficult to fully discern North Korea’s plans. This is especially true for nuclear test preparations, which are often done deep within a mountain. North Korea, for instance, took many by surprise when it launched its rocket this

month only several days after announcing technical problems. Although there’s no sign of an imminent nuclear test, US and South Korean officials worry that Pyongyang could conduct one at any time. Analysis of GeoEye and Digital Globe satellite photos from Dec. 13 and earlier, provided to The Associated Press by 38 North, the website for the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said scientists are “determined to maintain a state of readiness” at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility after repairing flood damage. The nuclear speculation comes as South Korea’s conservative president-elect, Park Geun-hye, prepares to take office in February, and as young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un marks his one-year anniversary as supreme commander. Kim has consolidated power since taking over after his father, Kim Jong Il, died Dec 17, 2011, and the rocket launch is seen as a major internal political and popular boost for the 20-something leader. Some analysts, however, question whether Kim will risk international, and especially Chinese, wrath and sure sanctions by quickly conducting a nuclear test. The election of Park in South Korea and Barack Obama’s re-election to a second term as US president could “prompt North Korea to try more diplomacy than military options,” said Chang Yong-seok, an analyst at the Institute for Peace Affairs, a private think tank in Seoul. “I think we’ll see North Korea more focused on economic revival than on nuclear testing next year.” — Agencies

Indian gang-rape victim battles against the odds SINGAPORE: An Indian gang-rape victim was “struggling against the odds” to survive yesterday after suffering a heart attack and brain injuries, as medics criticized a decision to fly her to Singapore. In a bulletin issued the day after her arrival in Singapore, doctors at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital said the 23-year-old was battling an infection in her lungs and remained critically ill after the December 16 assault in Delhi. “The patient is currently struggling against the odds, and fighting for her life,” Kelvin Loh, chief executive officer of Mount Elizabeth Hospital where she was airlifted to from India, said in a statement. “Our medical team’s investigations upon her arrival at the hospital yesterday showed that in addition to her prior cardiac arrest, she also had infection of her lungs and abdomen, as well as significant brain injury,” he added. “A multi-disciplinary team of specialists has been working tirelessly to treat her since her arrival, and is doing everything possible to stabilize her condition over the next few days.” On Thursday night, the hospital revealed that the woman, who is a student in Delhi, had undergone “three abdominal surgeries and experienced a cardiac arrest in India” as it gave the first detailed rundown of her condition. The woman had been treated in Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital since she was thrown off a bus in the capital after six men took turns to rape her at the back of the vehicle. She also suffered severe intestinal injuries as a result of being assaulted with an iron bar, according to police and prosecutors. The decision to fly her in a special air ambulance was taken at a meeting of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet on Wednesday, the government having promised to pay all her

SINGAPORE: Two ambulances are seen parked in front of the accident and emergency entrance of the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore yesterday. An Indian student who was brutally gang-raped on a bus in New Delhi is fighting for her life” after suffering a significant brain injury. — AFP medical bills. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the government’s only concern was to ensure the victim received “the best treatment possible”. “The doctors of Safdarjung Hospital and those from Trauma centre, they were called and consulted,” he told reporters. However newspapers have suggested that authorities who have struggled to contain nationwide protests over the attack were keen to have her transferred out of the country. An unnamed doctor who was part of a team

of experts consulted about the transfer told The Hindu newspaper that they had only been asked whether it was safe to move her rather than if it was the best course of action. “The question was not whether there were any deficiencies in treatment that would be met by moving her... She was being given the best possible care.” Samiran Nundy, chairman of the organ transplant and gastro-surgery department of Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told the paper the transfer made little sense. — AFP

Italy keeps debt costs in check at 10-year auction


Weak Japan data boosts PM’s hand on stimulus



Change of guard at India’s Tata Group


French shipyard lands luxury liner contract



MANILA: Traders celebrate during the closing ceremony of the 2012 trading year at the Philippines Stock Exchange in Manila yesterday. Asian shares rose yesterday on hopes of a last-minute deal to avert the US fiscal cliff, despite warnings from a leading Democrat that an agreement is unlikely just days before a year-end deadline. — AFP

Last-ditch bid to avert ‘fiscal cliff’ Obama meeting congressional leaders at White House WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama and lawmakers were launching a last-chance round of budget talks days before a New Year’s deadline to reach a deal or watch the economy go off a “fiscal cliff.” Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were to meet congressional leaders from both parties at the White House on Friday at 3 pm EST (2000 GMT) to try to revive negotiations to avoid tax hikes and spending cuts - together worth $600 billion - that will begin to take effect on Jan 1. Members were divided on the odds of success, with a few expressing hope, some talking as if they had abandoned it and a small but growing number suggesting Congress might try to stretch the deadline into the first two days of January. In order to be ready to legislate if an agreement takes shape, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives convened a session for Sunday. And House Majority Leader Eric Cantor advised members to be prepared to meet through Jan 2, the final day before the swearing-in of the new Congress elected on Nov. 6. It “doesn’t feel like anything that’s very constructive is going to happen” as a result of the meeting with Obama, said Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker. “It feels more like optics than anything that’s real.” The two political parties remained far apart, particularly over plans to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans to help

close the US budget deficit. But one veteran Republican, Rep. Jeff Flake of Arizona, held out the prospect that if Obama came through with significant spending cuts, Republicans in the House might compromise on taxes. The coming days are likely to see either intense bargaining over numbers, or political theater as each side attempts to avoid blame if a deal looks unlikely. “Hopefully, there is still time for an agreement of some kind that saves the taxpayers from a wholly, wholly preventable economic crisis,” Mitch McConnell, the top Republican in the Democraticcontrolled Senate, said on the Senate floor. But the rhetoric was still harsh on Thursday after months of wrangling - much of it along ideological lines - over whether to raise taxes and by how much, as well as how to cut back on government spending. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the top Democrat in Congress, accused Republican House Speaker John Boehner of running a “dictatorship” by refusing to allow bills he did not like onto the floor of the chamber. Reid urged Republicans in the House to prevent the worst of the fiscal shock by getting behind a Senate bill to extend existing tax cuts for all except those households earning more than $250,000 a year. Both Reid and Boehner, as well as McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, were to

meet Obama yesterday. US stocks sharply cut losses after news of the House reconvening as investors clung to hopes of an 11th-hour deal. Even a partial agreement on taxes that would leave tougher issues like entitlement reform and the debt ceiling until later could be enough to keep markets calm. “I’m not convinced it will result in a deal, but you could get enough concessions by both parties to at least avoid the immediacy of going over the cliff,” said Randy Bateman, chief investment officer of Huntington Asset Management, in Columbus, Ohio. Obama arrived back at the White House on Thursday from a brief vacation in Hawaii that he cut short to restart stalled negotiations with Congress. He is likely to meet the toughest resistance from Republicans in the House, where a group of several dozen fiscal conservatives have opposed any tax hikes at all. But Flake of Arizona said his fellow Republicans in the House and Senate are resigned to seeing some sort of increase in top income tax rates. But they will push back if Obama does not offer spending cuts. “There will be resistance from a lot of House conservatives to a deal that does that,” Flake said. Strictly speaking, the fiscal cliff measures begin on Jan. 1 when tax rates go up but the House might stay in session until the following day if an

agreement is being worked out. “This January 1 deadline is a little artificial. We can do everything retroactively. We have to get it right, not get it quickly,” said Republican Representative Andy Harris. Another component of the “fiscal cliff” $109 billion in automatic spending cuts to military and domestic programs - is set to kick in on Jan 2. The House and Senate passed bills months ago reflecting their own sharply divergent positions on the expiring low tax rates, which went into effect during the administration of former Republican President George W Bush. Democrats want to allow the tax cuts to expire on the wealthiest Americans and leave them in place for everyone else. Republicans want to extend the tax cuts for everyone. In another sign that Americans are increasingly worrying about their finances as Washington fails to address the budget crisis, consumer confidence fell to a fourmonth low in December. Americans blame Republicans in Congress more than congressional Democrats or Obama for the fiscal crisis, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed. When asked who they held more responsible for the “fiscal cliff” situation, 27 percent blamed Republicans in Congress, 16 percent blamed Obama and 6 percent pointed to Democrats in Congress. The largest percentage - 31 percent - blamed “all of the above.” — Reuters



Italy keeps debt costs in check at 10-year auction Markets focus on Feb elections

SYDENY: A woman walks past a building in the historic rocks area of Sydney yesterday. International visitors to Australia are expected to increase from over 5.9 million in 2010/11 to nearly 8.2 million in 2020/21, an average annual growth rate of 3 percent as reported from Tourism Research Australia (TRA). — AFP

Brent climbs above $111 on US hopes SINGAPORE: Brent crude climbed above $111 per barrel yesterday as US lawmakers launched a last-chance round of budget talks to prevent the world’s largest oil consumer from slipping back into recession. Signs of a recovering American economy also supported US crude prices, which are on track for their biggest weekly gain since mid-August. Brent crude was up 45 cents at $111.25 per barrel by 0644 GMT, on course to post a weekly climb of about 2 percent and a full-year increase of about 3.6 percent, which would be its smallest gain in four years. US crude rose 43 cents to $91.30, set for its first yearly loss in four years, although it was on track to end the week about 3 percent higher. “The US fiscal cliff will continue to direct crude prices until it is resolved,” said Natalie Rampono, a commodities analyst at ANZ in Melbourne. US President Barack Obama will meet congressional leaders from both parties at the White House later yesterday to try to revive negotiations to avoid going over the “fiscal cliff” - tax hikes and spending cuts slated to take effect on Jan.1. Positive data from the US on Thursday highlighting the momentum building in the economy also supported oil prices. The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell to a nearly 4-1/2 year low and new home sales hit their highest level since April 2010. But capping gains in prices, US consumer confidence fell more than expected in December, dropping to a fourmonth low, as the fiscal uncertainty pushed back against the recent optimism on the economy. Oil also rose as Japan, the world’s third largest consumer of the commodity, sped up efforts to turn around its economy. New Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s repeated calls for “unlimited” monetary easing and policies aimed at reducing the yen’s strength have bolstered expectations of a sustained period of yen weakness. “The Japanese equity market has turned positive, providing good sentiment for global investors, with many making money and putting that money into commodity markets such as the oil market,” said Tetsu Emori, a commodity fund manager at Astmax in Tokyo. The American Petroleum Institute said in a report released late on Thursday that US crude inventories fell 1.2 million barrels in the week to Dec. 21, less than the expected drop. The US Energy Information Administration’s oil inventory report is due yesterday at 1600 GMT. The inventory reports were delayed because of Tuesday’s Christmas holiday. Concerns about potential supply disruptions in the Middle East continued to support oil prices and were reinforced after United Arab Emirates security forces arrested a cell of UAE and Saudi Arabian citizens that the UAE said was planning attacks in both countries and other states. The international envoy seeking a negotiated solution to Syria’s 21-month-old conflict said on Thursday political change was needed to end the violence which has killed 44,000 people. — Reuters

MILAN: Italy’s debt costs rose only slightly at its last auction of long-term debt in 2012, drawing a solid response from investors yet to be unnerved by the risks surrounding February elections and the exit of its trusted technocrat government. The treasury sold 3 billion euros ($3.9 billion) of its 10-year bond paying a yield of 4.48 percent, up from 4.45 percent at a similar sale one month ago. It also placed 2.87 billion euros of five-year bonds paying 3.26 percent, up from 3.23 percent at end-November sale. In very thin market conditions Rome was able to find decent demand for its bonds among investors searching for high returns, reflecting the easing of at least some concerns in the euro zone’s debt

crisis since August. “It seems that the result was better than expected, with the yield on the 10-year lower than in the secondary market,” said Emile Cardon, market economist at Rabobank in Utrecht. Markets are starting to focus on an uncertain Italian election campaign as the country approaches elections scheduled on 24-25 February. Investors, however, seem to be willingly to buy Italian debt while waiting for more clarity on domestic politics. “The biggest fear for the market is that political turmoil in Italy will return. But this outcome shows (investors) still have confidence that Italy will do the right thing and I think this has something to do with the comeback of (out-

going Prime Minister Mario) Monti.” The technocrat premier announced on Sunday he would consider seeking a second term as Italian prime minister if approached by allies committed to backing his austere brand of reforms. Monti resigned last week, just over a year after being appointed at the helm of an unelected government to save Italy from financial crisis. While it is still unclear which parties will support the outgoing premier, his commitment may bring economic reforms at the center of the political debate. Italy had planned to sell up to 6 billion euros of both issues after having placed 11.75 billion euros of short-dated debt on Thursday. — Reuters

Aramco to sell Jan-June 2013 jet fuel to at least one buyer SINGAPORE: The new trading arm of state-run Saudi Aramco has finalized a January to June 2013 term contract to sell jet fuel with at least one buyer, traders said yesterday. Saudi Aramco Products Trading Co has agreed to sell undisclosed volumes of the fuel at a premium of about $2.70 a barrel above Middle East quotes for the cargoes, to be loaded from Jubail, they added. That is nearly 30 percent higher than its current term contracts. Royal Dutch Shell is the likely buyer, the traders said, although this could not immediately be confirmed. Aramco is still negotiating the sale of term cargoes to be loaded from the Red Sea port of Rabigh, and may finalize these by year-end, traders said. The company was offering either 45,000-tonne or 65,000-tonne cargo lots for loading from Jubail and Rabigh, with a half-yearly term instead of its usual yearly term. Traders were surprised at the premium finalized for Saudi’s jet fuel term, which they said was too high at 15 to 20 percent more than those agreed by other Middle Eastern refiners. “Wow, why would anyone pay so much to Aramco? Those levels are crazy,” said a middle distillates trader based in Singapore. Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (ADNOC) finalized its 2013 jet fuel term premium at $2.35 a barrel above Middle East quotes, while Kuwait Petroleum Corp (KPC) and Bahrain Petroleum Co (Bapco) both settled theirs at $2.25 a barrel.A second trader said premiums might be higher for Aramco’s term as its Jubail port is able to receive larger vessels such as Suezmax tankers, which would allow traders to optimize their cargoes. “Shell owns Jubail as well, so together with their equity barrels and Saudi term, they can move Suezmax out of Jubail,” the trader added. The 305,000 barrels-per-day Saudi Aramco Shell Refinery company (SASREF) refinery in Jubail is 50-50 owned by Saudi

Aramco and Shell Saudi Arabia Refining. Traders expect the Middle East market to be flooded with supply of oil products when the new Saudi Aramco Total Refinery and Petrochemicals Company (SATORP) starts production at its 400,000 bpd plant at Jubail next year. But the refinery’s gasoil yield will probably be more than jet fuel, meaning supply of jet fuel is unlikely to increase too much, which could also be supporting term levels, said a Gulfbased trader. Term premiums for Aramco’s cargoes to be loaded from Rabigh are typically negotiated higher than those

from Jubail as freight charges are usually cheaper for cargoes to be sent from the Red Sea to Europe, rather than the Gulf. For its 2012 term, Saudi Aramco settled term premiums for jet fuel loading from Jubail at $2.10 a barrel on a free-on-board (FOB) basis to Middle East quotes and for jet fuel loading from Rabigh at $2.80 a barrel. Meanwhile, Aramco has finalised with at least 4 to 5 companies its gasoil term for next year, traders said. Sellers include Shell and Vitol, they added. Aramco Trading, which started commercial operations in January this year, is based at Aramco’s Dhahran headquarters. — Reuters

Japan crude imports from Iran decline TOKYO: Japan’s crude oil imports from Iran in November fell 20.3 percent from a year earlier, data from the trade ministry showed yesterday, as Japanese refiners continued to curb shipping in the face of sanctions on the Middle Eastern country. Japan, the world’s third-biggest oil consumer, imported 868,443 kilolitres (182,078 barrels per day) of Iranian crude last month, according to data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). The Islamic Republic is under pressure from US and European trade and financial restrictions imposed over its disputed nuclear program. The sanctions have led to a sharp drop over the past year in its oil exports, a major source of revenue for Tehran. The United States in September renewed waivers on Iranian sanctions for Japan and 10 European countries because they

cut their purchases of the OPEC nation’s crude oil. Tough sanctions from Washington and Europe to force Iran to curb its nuclear program have already cut Iran’s oil exports by more than half this year, costing it more than $5 billion a month. Tehran says the program is for civilian purposes. For the first 11 months of 2012, Japan imported 9,971,090 kl (187,212 bpd) of Iranian crude, down 40.0 percent from 16,556,375 kl (311,785 bpd) in the same period a year ago, according to Reuters calculations based on the finance ministry’s data. Japan’s oil imports from Iran may be about 15 percent lower next year, capped roughly at 160,000 bpd and may possibly be cut further, Yasushi Kimura, the president of Petroleum Association of Japan, who also serves as the chairman of JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp, told reporters last week. — Reuters



French shipyard lands luxury liner contract Rare good news for French economy

SYDNEY: A family carries a television set across a street in Sydney yesterday. Shoppers are flocking the retail stores across the city to take advantage of post Christmas sales and discount promotions. — AFP

EU clears latest Dexia restructuring plan BRUSSELS: The European Commission approved yesterday the latest, 90-billion-euros restructuring plan for Dexia, the Franco-Belgian bank bailed out at the height of the financial crisis and struggling ever since. The Commission said the plan will allow the core banking business to be wound up while the remaining assets-a development agency in France and the Belfius unit in Belgium-will be put on a sound base. “I am happy to finally be in a position to approve the resolution plan of Dexia,” EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said in a statement. The plan, drawn up by major shareholders Belgium and France, along with Luxembourg, includes state guarantees worth 85 billion euros ($110 billion) and fresh capital of 5.5 billion euros. With the main group closed down, Belfius, now owned by the Belgian state, will focus on its core banking and insurance business while Dexia Municipal Agency will be folded into a new development bank in France to provide local government funding. “The approved plan ensures that the continued market presence of some parts of the Dexia group is truly justified ... and that competition distortions resulting from the aid received are minimized,” Almunia said. “Finally, the plan brings the cost for the taxpayer down to the level strictly necessary to carry out the orderly resolution process,” he added. In early November, France and Belgium agreed to inject 5.5 billion euros of fresh capital into Dexia to keep it afloat during its restructuring after the bank had to be bailed out first in 2008 and then again in 2011. — AFP

France’s INSEE lowers Q3 growth figure to 0.1% PARIS: French national statistics agency INSEE revised yesterday its figure for the country’s third quarter economic growth down from 0.2 percent to 0.1 percent, making the government’s full-year target harder to reach. INSEE said the third-quarter figure was revised following new data with weaker activity in the transport services sector and lower investment in and consumption of services in the three months from July through September. INSEE had said earlier this month that it expected France’s economy, the second biggest in the euro-zone, to contract by 0.2 percent in the final quarter of this year. President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government, which is struggling to reboot a stagnant economy and straighten out France’s public finances, had forecast overall economic growth of 0.3 percent in 2012, but that now looks difficult to attain. On Thursday, labor ministry figures showed that French unemployment had risen by 0.9 percent on a monthly basis in November to 3.13 million people, closing in on the all-time record of 3.2 million set in January 1997. A separate INSEE statement on Friday indicated that French household consumption jumped by 0.2 percent on a monthly basis in November, and revised a decline in October to -0.1 percent, a slight improvement from its initial estimate of -0.2 percent. — AFP

SAINT-NAZAIRE, France: Officials hailed some rare good news for France’s struggling economy yesterday after an ailing shipyard landed a billion-euro contract to build a luxury liner for a US cruise company. The deal comes as a lifeline to the STX France shipyard at Saint-Nazaire on the Atlantic coast, which had struggled to secure major new orders in recent years. Miami-based Royal Caribbean International said it was ordering a sister ship to its two top-of-the-line cruise liners, the Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, to be delivered in mid-2016, with an option on a second vessel in mid-2018. Officials said the contract was worth in excess of one billion euros ($1.3 billion) and would represent more than 10 million hours in work over three years for the shipyard and its sub-contractors. Following a slew of recent announcements of job cuts, Prime Minister JeanMarc Ayrault said the contract was a sign that France’s industrial sector was recovering. “France is showing its capacity to win the battle for the recovery of its industry and exports,” he said in a statement, praising “the excellence of French know-how in naval construction”. “We are very satisfied,” STX France chief executive Laurent Castaing told France’s ITele. “The competition with Finland was fierce.” Speaking to AFP later, he said the company hoped to begin hiring technicians and engineers very quickly, though he did not want to give precise numbers, and that the order would help local sub-contractors. The contract is also expected to have knock-on benefits for other Francebased companies, including automakers PSA and ArcelorMittal-itself recently at the centre of a high-profile political row over the threatened closure of one of its steel plants in the east of France. The company’s two other Oasis-class liners, built in Turku, Finland, cost 900 million euros each according to the trade press. They were delivered in 2009 and 2010. The STX France yard employs 2,100 people, supporting another 4,000 sub-contractors. Studies will start in

January 2013 while construction is planned to start in September. “We are extremely proud to have been selected by Royal Caribbean International to build this third unit,” Castaing said. “The ship is a real exception in the cruise world as it is highly innovative and spectacular.” Royal Caribbean said its capital spending would be $1.3 billion for 2012; $700 million in 2013; $1.2 billion in 2014 and in 2015; and $1.3 billion in 2016. The two existing Oasis-class liners are the largest cruise ships in the world, boasting 16 decks and each able to carry 5,400 passengers. They have a range of facili-

ties including a swimming pool with a wave machine, rock climbing walls, a full-size basketball court and an ice skating rink. Both ships are based in Florida. STX France is two-thirds owned by STX Europe, which is a subsidiary of South Korea’s STX Shipbuilding. The other third is owned by the French state. Earlier this month, Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici had promised to save the Atlantic shipyards by bringing in new contracts. The Saint-Nazaire shipyard built the transatlantic liners Normandie in 1935 and France in 1960 and the Queen Mary 2 in 2002. — AFP

SAINT-NAZAIRE: View of the Europa 2 cruise liner under construction by STX France shipyards in Saint-Nazaire yesterday. Officials hailed some rare good news for France’s struggling economy after an ailing shipyard landed a billion-euro contract to build a luxury liner for a US cruise company. — AFP

Indonesia court fines palm oil giant for tax evasion JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Supreme Court ordered a major palm oil company to pay more than $390 million to the state for tax evasion, a judge said yesterday, in a case likely to set a precedent in the nation. The court found Asian Agri and more than a dozen of its subsidiaries guilty of “deliberately not filling tax forms properly between 2002 and 2005”, marking the country’s first prosecution in a major corporate tax case. Head judge Djoko Sarwoko told AFP said the company was ordered to pay back state losses of 1.26 trillion rupiah ($130.5 million) and was fined an additional 2.52 trillion rupiah to be paid within a year. The case is seen as breakthrough in Southeast Asia’s largest economy, where sweeping tax reforms introduced in recent years have been met with hostile resist-

ance from big business. Sarwoko said that the ruling-made on December 18 but only publicized this week-would set a precedent for at least nine major tax crime cases in the pipeline. Asian Agri is one of Asia’s biggest palm oil producers, exporting three million tons of palm oil in 2011 with more than 160,000 hectares of plantations on the island of Sumatra, according to its website. It is a subsidiary of Royal Golden Eagle (RGE), a Singapore-based conglomerate of palm oil, pulp and oil and gas firms owned by Sukanto Tanoto, Indonesia’s seventh-richest tycoon, according to Forbes. Environmental groups have also long accused RGE’s pulp and paper company Asia Pacific Resources International (APRIL) of logging on protected carbon-rich peatland in Sumatra. — AFP



Weak Japan data boosts PM’s hand on stimulus Data to keep BOJ under pressure for more stimulus

MADRID: The Bankia bank headquarters in seen in Madrid. Shares of Spain’s bailed-out bank Bankia plunged 13 percent on Thursday after officials with the nation’s bank bailout fund revealed the nationalized institution had a negative value of euro 4.2 billion ($5.6 billion). — AP

Foreign money returns to Spain for second month MADRID: Foreign investors put more money into Spain in October than they took out, marking the second month running the country has benefited from an influx of capital. Spain registered capital inflow of 12.1 billion euros ($16 billion) in October, the Bank of Spain said on Friday. The figure, which excludes central bank operations, was lower than the 31 billion euros of inflow in September. The figures are more evidence of the success of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s bond-buying plan for struggling euro zone governments, announced in September, in alleviating investor concerns about Spain. “It’s a bit premature to cheer. This confirms that ever since Draghi said he would do whatever it takes to save the euro, the capital flight has stopped and partially reversed,” said Martin van Vliet, senior economist at ING. “It’s a positive development...but Spain is not out of the woods yet and the situation can change overnight.” Before September’s inflows, Spain had registered 14 consecutive months of outflows. The Bank of Spain also said the country’s current account registered a surplus of 0.9 billion euros in October, compared to a deficit of 0.3 billion euros in September. The Bank partly attributed the surplus to the reduction of Spain’s trade deficit. The deficit stood at 955 million euros in October, compared to 3 billion euros a year earlier as exports have increased and imports fallen in an economic crisis. Spain is currently suffering its second recession in three years. — Reuters

TOKYO: Poor Japanese manufacturing data yesterday gave new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe more ammunition to push for big spending and easy money to salvage the world’s third largest economy from decades of deflation and its fourth recession since 2000. Japanese voters and the financial markets have welcomed the Abe government’s aggressive stance on pumping cash into the economy, pushing the benchmark Nikkei share average on Friday to its highest level since the March 2011 tsunami, despite the worse than expected drop in factory output. Opinion polls published by major newspapers yesterday showed half to two-thirds of the public supported Abe’s conservative government, with the stagnant economy the top priority. Top officials of the new government, sworn in just two days ago after a landslide election victory, say Abe’s administration is under pressure to achieve quick results. “(Public support) will drop if speculation mounts that we are unable to deliver,” Akira Amari, the minister in charge of reviving the economy, told a news conference after a Friday morning cabinet meeting. But many economists warn Abe’s emphasis on stimulus, rather than underlying structural reforms to boost competitiveness, may have only shortterm effects and could worsen bloated public debt, the worst among the industrial nations. The government is keeping up pressure on the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to step up its monetary stimulus, even after it loosened policy in December for the third time in four months. Finance Minister Taro Aso said he was paid a courtesy visit by BOJ Governor Masaaki Shirakawa yesterday in which the two agreed to hold talks on issues including coordinating policy. Abe has threatened to change the law which guarantees the central bank’s independence if it does not pursue more aggressive easing. Potentially adding more pressure on the BOJ was Japanese factory output data yesterday that fell a steeper than expected 1.7 percent in November, more than triple the median market

forecast for a 0.5 percent drop. That followed a 1.6 percent gain in October, the first rise in four months. Japanese manufacturing activity also put in a bleak performance in yesterday’s Markit/JMMA Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for December, which declined at its fastest pace in more than three years. Japan’s economy has slipped into a mild recession, hurt by weak global demand and slumping sales to China after a diplomatic row over disputed isles. Analysts expect growth to pick up early next year, although any recovery

to use its stimulus plan to support the recovery.” Under pressure from Abe, the central bank has also signalled it may set a higher inflation target at its Jan. 21-22 meeting than the current 1 percent goal, although market participants doubt it will have the means to achieve it. Separate data released on Friday showed Japan’s core consumer prices, which exclude volatile fresh food prices, edged down 0.1 percent in November from a year earlier, in line with the median market forecast. The markets have been focusing on

TOKYO: A couple watches yearend trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo yesterday. — AP will likely be slow and modest. The industrial output data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry included a survey showing that manufacturers expect output to rise 6.7 percent in December and increase 2.4 percent in January. “Today’s data confirmed that the economy remained on a downward trend and this could be a reason for the government to adopt an expansionary fiscal policy,” said Takeshi Minami, chief economist at Norinchukin Research Institute. “But if you look at data closely, there are also signs the economy will probably be bottoming out, so the data could simply offer the government a pretext

the prospects for further monetary easing and its impact on the yen, which has backed off from its long-running strength against the dollar and slipped to its weakest in more than two years. The yen dropped to 86.64 to the dollar on Friday, its lowest since August 2010. This has helped to fuel a rally in the shares of Japanese exporters, which were hurt by the yen’s strength. The Nikkei benchmark has risen more than 20 percent since mid-November and is on track for its best year since 2005. Bond yields have also perked up after being depressed, with the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond yield capped at 0.8 percent since the start of the quarter. — Reuters

Belgian KBC pulls out of Slovenia’s largest bank NLB

NEW YORK: Buildings and billboards in New York’s Times Square. —AFP

LJUBLJANA: Bailed-out Belgian banking and insurance company KBC is pulling out of Slovenia’s Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) and will sell its 22-percent stake back to the state, Slovenia’s finance ministry said yesterday. “KBC and Slovenia have agreed the sale of KBC’s 22-percent stake in NLB,” the ministry said in a statement. The 2.7million-euro ($3.6-million) deal includes all shares owned by the Belgian company and was in accordance with KBC’s strategic program agreed in 2009 with the European Commission, it added. KBC, which first invested in NLB in 2002 acquiring a 34percent stake, is being forced to divest assets under the Commission’s oversight after being bailed out by the Belgian government during the 2007-2009 global financial

crisis. “Slovenia is interested in buying that stake since it will allow a more efficient process of looking for a new longterm partner for NLB,” Slovenia’s finance ministry said Friday. The transfer would be carried out at the beginning of 2013, it added. Finance Minister Janez Sustersic had said in November that the government should consider selling its 59-percent stake in troubled NLB to a foreign investor. But the junior coalition partner, the Slovenian People’s Party (SLS), opposed the move. In October, parliament approved a bill setting up a “bad bank” to take over large volumes of bad debt held by stateowned banks that have raised fears the country may need a bailout. — AFP



Silicosis class action suits against S Africa gold firms JOHANNESBURG: A South African lawyer has moved to file a class action suit against over 30 gold firms on behalf of 17,000 former miners who say they contracted silicosis, a debilitating lung disease, due to negligence in health and safety. The companies include third-largest global bullion producer AngloGold Ashanti, fourth-largest Gold Fields and Harmony Gold. Also named is Anglo American’s South African unit, which owed gold assets in the past but no longer produces it. Attorney Richard Spoor said yesterday he had filed last week for class certification for an action for damages in

the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg. “We need to ask the court for permission to proceed on a class action basis. We filed the papers last week, and that matter will have to be argued in the court if it’s opposed,” Spoor said. He expected the matter to be heard in April or May of next year. The damages sought in what could be Africa’s biggest ever class action suit have not been disclosed but could be huge at a time when South Africa’s mining industry is battling with soaring power costs and wage costs as well as violent labour militancy. Spoor has signed up 17,000 plaintiffs so far from South Africa, Botswana and

Lesotho, the landlocked kingdom that has provided hundreds of thousands of migrant workers to South Africa’s gold mines over the past century, he said. Spoor said the number of plaintiffs was growing by around 500 a month. The planned suit, which has little precedent in South African law, has its roots in a landmark ruling by the Constitutional Court that for the first time allowed lung-diseased miners to sue their employers for damages. Silicosis is a chronic and progressive disease that cannot be cured. Miners contract it by inhaling silica dust from goldbearing rocks. African Rainbow Minerals,

one of the companies named, said it was “too soon to discuss the outcome of the matter as none of the merits of the matter has yet been established, let alone tested in court”. An Anglo American spokesman said, “We are aware of the case, but Anglo American has not yet been served, so it would not be appropriate to comment any further.” Officials at AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony and some other companies named in the filing could not be reached for comment. The companies named in the filing owned or operated 78 different gold mines from 1965 to the present. — Reuters

Change of guard at India’s Tata Group Quiet transfer on tycoon’s 75th birthday

SEOUL: A woman walks by a screen showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at the Korea Exchange in Seoul yesterday. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index closed the year’s last trading at 1,997.05. — AP

Lonmin seeks new CEO to revive fortunes LONDON: South African miner Lonmin opened the search for a new chief executive to revive it fortunes after a torrid 2012 as Ian Farmer, who is being treated for a serious illness, officially stepped aside yesterday. The absence of a permanent CEO has been a major concern cited by investors seeking a clear strategy from the company after months of financial pressure, weak platinum prices and a wave of deadly strikes at South African mines. Chief Financial Officer Simon Scott had ruled himself out of the job on a permanent basis, Lonmin said, but he would continue to fill the role until a replacement was found. Farmer was admitted to hospital in August, coinciding with a wave of unrest at the group’s Marikana mine that left 46 people dead and paralyzed operations. The strikes increased pressure on a company that was already being squeezed by high costs and weak platinum prices. It was forced to turn to investors last month to raise $817 million to avoid breaching lending terms. Its biggest shareholder, miner Xstrata, which holds a 25 percent stake, supported the rights issue but it said it wanted management changes. Lonmin chairman Roger Phillimore said the group would miss Farmer’s ability, commitment and drive at the company, where he worked for more than 26 years, including four as chief executive. Shares in Lonmin were trading down 1.79 percent at 280.4 pence by 1044 GMT, underperforming a flat mid cap index in London. The stock has gained some ground since Nov. 9, when it touched a 13-year low of 227 pence, but it remains 45 percent down on its level 12 months ago. — Reuters

MUMBAI: The head of India’s Tata Group, Ratan Tata, quietly handed over the reins of the business empire on his 75th birthday yesterday as he basked in the plaudits for turning the organization into a global power. Tata, who steered the group for 21 years as chairman, has been credited with transforming it into a streamlined conglomerate of more than 100 companies and earning a global reputation for eye-catching acquisitions of Western firms. There was no event scheduled to mark the transition, which will see Cyrus Mistry-a relative through marriage of Ratan Tatabecome the new supremo. A tight-lipped Mistry brushed his way past a gaggle of reporters as he arrived at the stone four-storeyed Bombay House, the Tata headquarters in South Mumbai since 1924. The famously media-shy Tata did not go to the office yesterday, insiders said, and was reportedly out of the city. From luxury cars to steel, Tata is India’s largest group with total combined sales of $100 billion in 2011-12, nearly 60 per cent of which came from business outside India, mainly the United States and Britain. During Ratan Tata’s time at the helm, the organization went on a global purchasing spree, acquiring major names ranging from Tetley Tea to Land Rover and the Anglo-Dutch steel firm Corus in 2007 for $13.7 billion. In addition, Tata Motors is India’s top vehicle maker while Tata Consultancy Services is its largest software outsourcer. The group’s progress over the past two decades has coincided with the rapid economic development of India, which observers say Ratan Tata played a major role in.”The Tata group has been the spearhead of India’s integration with the world economy,” said an editorial in The Hindustan Times yesterday. “The Tatas are ahead of the pack in aligning corporate governance with international practices and this serves as a springboard for a new

MUMBAI: India’s Tata Group’s new Chairman Cyrus Mistry (center) walks into the company head office in Mumbai yesterday. The head of India’s Tata Group, Ratan Tata, quietly handed over the reins of the business empire on his 75th birthday yesterday as he basked in the plaudits for turning the organization into a global power. — AFP

a generation of the the global Indian manager.” Pradip Shah, chairman of IndAsia Fund Advisors, said: “Tata led the group with vision, drive, tenacity and skill.” He added that Mistry’s challenge will be “inheriting people and building teams”. Tata Steel is the world’s seventhlargest steel producer but it now is having problems with downbeat business conditions in Europe. The group’s telecom, power, hotels and finance arms also face difficulties. The business daily Mint described the troubles facing the steel and telecoms divisions as “pockets of trouble that will need the immediate attention of Mistry. The 44-year-old Mistry was chosen as Tata’s successor in November last year. Both men hail from India’s tight-knit Zoroastrian community of Parsis, and have a fami-

ly link. Mistry’s sister is married to Tata’s younger half-brother Noel, who was initially tipped to be the group successor. Mistry is the son of Irish citizen Pallonji Mistry, whose construction firm Shapoorji Pallonji is the biggest shareholder of Tata Sons. Mistry successfully grew his family’s construction business turnover seven-fold to almost $1.5 billion since he became managing director in 1994. Tata, a bachelor with no children, won headlines as the driving force behind the creation of the Nano, billed as the world’s cheapest “people’s” car as well for the 2008 purchase of prestige British cars Jaguar and Land Rover. Tata, now “chairman emeritus” with the group, plans to remain head of the charitable trusts that own twothirds of main holding company Tata Sons. — AFP



Wall Street faces a test Ordinary Americans losing faith in stocks NEW YORK: Andrew Neitlich is the last person you’d expect to be rattled by the stock market. He once worked as a financial analyst picking stocks for a mutual fund. He has huddled with dozens of CEOs in his current career as an executive coach. During the dot-com crash 12 years ago, he kept his wits and did not sell. But he’s selling now. “You have to trust your government. You have to trust other governments. You have to trust Wall Street,” says Neitlich, 47. “And I don’t trust any of these.” Defying decades of investment history, ordinary Americans are selling stocks for a fifth year in a row. The selling has not let up despite unprecedented measures by the Federal Reserve to persuade people to buy and the come-hither allure of a levitating market. Stock prices have doubled from March 2009, their low point during the Great Recession. It’s the first time ordinary folks have sold during a sustained bull market since relevant records were first kept during World War II, an examination by The Associated Press has found. The AP analyzed money flowing into and out of stock funds of all kinds, including relatively new exchange-traded funds, which investors like because of their low fees. “People don’t trust the market anymore,” says financial historian Charles Geisst of Manhattan College. He says a “crisis of confidence” similar to one after the Crash of 1929 will keep people away from stocks for a generation or more. The implications for the economy and living standards are unclear but potentially big. If the pullback continues, some experts say, it could lead to lower spending by companies, slower US economic growth and perhaps lower gains for those who remain in the market. Since they started selling in April 2007, eight months before the start of the Great Recession, individual investors have pulled at least $380 billion from US stock funds, a category that includes both mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, according to estimates by the AP. That is the equivalent of all the money they put into the market in the previous five years. Instead of stocks, they’re putting money into bonds because those are widely perceived as safer investments. Individuals have put more than $1 trillion into bond mutual funds alone since April 2007, according to the Investment Company Institute, a trade group representing investment funds. Selling stocks during either a downturn or a recovery is unusual. Americans almost always buy more than they sell during both periods. Since World War II, nine recessions besides the Great Recession have been followed by recoveries lasting at least three years. According to data from the Investment Company Institute, individual investors sold during and after only one of those previous downturns - the one from November 1973 through March 1975. And back then a scary stock drop around the start of the recovery’s third year, 1977, gave people ample reason to get out of the market. The unusual pullback this time has spread to other big investors - public and private pension funds, investment brokerages and state and local governments. These groups have sold a total of $861 billion more than they have bought since April 2007, according to the Federal Reserve. Even foreigners, big purchasers in recent years, are selling now - $16 billion in the 12 months through September. As these groups have sold, much of the stock buying has fallen to companies. They’ve bought $656 billion more than they have sold since April 2007. Companies are mostly buying back their own stock.

On Wall Street, the investor revolt has largely been dismissed as temporary. But doubts are creeping in. A Citigroup research report sent to customers concludes that the “cult of equities” that fueled buying in the past has little chance of coming back soon. Investor blogs speculate about the “death of equities,” a line from a famous BusinessWeek cover story in 1979, another time many people had seemingly given up on stocks. Financial analysts lament how the retreat by Main Street has left daily stock trading at low levels. The investor retreat may have already hurt the fragile economic recovery. The number of shares traded each day has fallen 40 percent from before the recession to a 12-year low, according to the New York Stock Exchange. That’s cut into earnings of investment banks and online brokers, which earn fees helping others trade stocks. Initial public offerings, another source of Wall Street profits, are happening at one-third the rate before the recession. And old assumptions about stocks are being tested. One investing gospel is that because stocks generally rise in price, companies don’t need to raise their quarterly cash dividends much to attract buyers. But companies are increasing

weight on what you most recently went through in deciding how much financial risk to take, even if it runs counter to logic. Extrapolating from her research on “Depression Babies,” the title of a 2010 paper she co-wrote, she says many young investors won’t fully embrace stocks again for another two decades. “The Great Recession will have a lasting impact beyond what a standard economic model would predict,” says Malmendier, who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. She could be wrong, of course. But it’s a measure of the psychological blow from the Great Recession that, more than three years since it ended, big institutions, not just amateur investors, are still trimming stocks. Public pension funds have cut stocks from 71 percent of their holdings before the recession to 66 percent last year, breaking at least 40 years of generally rising stock allocations, according to “State and Local Pensions: What Now?,” a book by economist Alicia Munnell. They’re shifting money into bonds. Private pension funds, like those run by big companies, have cut stocks more: from 70 percent of holdings to just under 50 percent, back

NEW YORK Daniel Kryger (left) and Kevin Lodewick Jr (right) work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York. Defying decades of investment history, ordinary Americans are selling stocks for a fifth year in a row. —AP them lately. Dividends in the S&P 500 rose 11 percent in the 12 months through September, and the number of companies choosing to raise them is the highest in at least 20 years, according to FactSet, a financial data provider. Stocks now throw off more cash in dividends than US government bonds do in interest. Many on Wall Street think this is an unnatural state that cannot last. After all, people tend to buy stocks because they expect them to rise in price, not because of the dividend. But for much of the history of US stock trading, stocks were considered too risky to be regarded as little more than vehicles for generating dividends. In every year from 1871 through 1958, stocks yielded more in dividends than US bonds did in interest, according to data from Yale economist Robert Shiller exactly what is happening now. So maybe that’s normal, and the past five decades were the aberration. People who think the market will snap back to normal are underestimating how much the Great Recession scared investors, says Ulrike Malmendier, an economist who has studied the effect of the Great Depression on attitudes toward stocks. She says people are ignoring something called the “experience effect,” or the tendency to place great

to the 1995 level. “People aren’t looking to swing for the fences anymore,” says Gary Goldstein, an executive recruiter on Wall Street, referring to the bankers and traders he helps get jobs. “They’re getting less greedy.” The lack of greed is remarkable given how much official U.S. policy is designed to stoke it. When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke launched the first of three bond-buying programs four years ago, he said one aim was to drive Treasury yields so low that frustrated investors would feel they had no choice but to take a risk on stocks. Their buying would push stock prices up, and everyone would be wealthier and spend more. That would help revive the economy. Sure enough, yields on Treasurys and many other bonds have recently hit record lows, in many cases below the inflation rate. And stock prices have risen. Yet Americans are pulling out of stocks, so deep is their mistrust of them, and perhaps of the Fed itself. “Fed policy is trying to suck people into risky assets when they shouldn’t be there,” says Michael Harrington, 58, a former investment fund manager who says he is largely out of stocks. “When this policy fails, as it will, baby boomers will pay the cost in their 401(k)s.”

Ordinary Americans are souring on stocks even though stock prices appear attractive relative to earnings. But history shows they can get more attractive yet. Stocks in the S&P 500 are trading at 14 times what companies earned per share in the past 12 months. Since 1990, they have rarely traded below that level - that is, cheaper, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices. But that period is unusual. Looking back seven decades to the start of World War II, there were long stretches during which stocks traded below that. To estimate how much investors have sold so far, the AP considered both money flowing out of mutual funds, which are nearly all held by individual investors, and money flowing into low-fee exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, which bundle securities together to mimic the performance of a market index. ETFs have attracted money from hedge funds and other institutional investors as well as from individuals. At the request of the AP, Strategic Insight, a consulting firm, used data from investment firms overseeing ETFs to estimate how much individuals have invested in them. Based on its calculations, individuals accounted for 40 percent to 50 percent of money going to US stock ETFs in recent years. If you assume 50 percent, individual investors have put $194 billion into US stock ETFs since April 2007. But they’ve also pulled out much more from mutual funds - $580 billion. The difference is $386 billion, the amount individuals have pulled out of stock funds in all. If you include the sale of stocks by individuals from brokerage accounts, which is not included in the fund data, the outflow could be much higher. Data from the Federal Reserve, which includes selling from brokerage accounts, suggests individual investors have sold $700 billion or more in the past 51/2 years. But the Fed figure may overstate the amount sold because it doesn’t fully count certain stock transactions. The good news is that a chastened stock market doesn’t necessarily mean a flat stock market. Bill Gross, the co-head of bond investment firm Pimco, has probably done more than anyone to popularize the notion that stocks will prove disappointing in the coming years. But he says what is dying is not stocks, but the “cult” of stocks. In a recent letter to investors, he suggested stocks might return 4 percent or so each year, about half the long-term level but still ahead of inflation. And if America’s obsession with stocks is over, some excesses associated with it might fade, too. Maybe more graduates from top colleges will look to other industries besides Wall Street for careers. Of every 100 members of the Harvard undergraduate Class of 2008 who got jobs after graduation, 28 went into financial services, such as helping run mutual funds or hedge funds, according to a March study by two professors at the university’s business school. The average for classes four decades ago was six out of 100. Of course, those counting the small investor out could be wrong. Three years after that BusinessWeek story on the “death of equities” ran, in 1982, one of the greatest multi-year stock climbs in history began as the little guys shed their fear and started buying. And so they will surely do again, the bulls argue, and stock prices will really rocket. Neitlich, the executive coach, has his doubts. Instead of using extra cash to buy stocks, he is buying houses near his home in Sarasota, Fla., and renting them. He says he prefers real estate because it’s local and is something he can “control.” He says stocks make up 12 percent his $800,000 investment portfolio, down from nearly 100 percent a few years ago. After the dot-com crash, it seemed as if “things would turn around. Now, I don’t know,” Neitlich says. “The risks are bigger than before.” — AP


Holmes’ Broadway play ‘Dead Accounts’closes


Presley, The Beatles top list of most-forged autographs PAGE 26

Cody Mooney, visiting from Loveland, Colo, tosses his 17month-old daughter Willow in the air yesterday, in the Skagit Valley near La Conner, Wash. Bird watchers took advantage of a day without rain Thursday to gaze at some of the tens of thousands of snow geese that spend the winter near the mouth of the Skagit River there. —AP


Black sunbathes in a wet suit J

ack Black has been sunbathing in a wet suit on holiday in Hawaii. The ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ actor has been baffling other guests at the upmarket Four Seasons resort in Kona by donning a huge rubber suit, but never taking out a surfboard or even hitting the beach. An onlooker told the New York Post newspaper: “Jack was poolside in a surf suit down to his ankles, long-sleeved. Not surfing, just lounging with his wife and kids. He looked pretty funny. If that’s not a Christmas present, then I don’t know what is.” Jack, 43, is known to be a little conscious of exposing his flesh. Although he seemingly spontaneously rips off his shirt in the video to his band, Tenacious D’s track ‘Tribute’, he insists it was all meticulously planned. He said: “It was in the script. I would never expose my nips just for fun. That’s serious business.” Jack - who has sons Samuel, six and Thomas, four, with wife Tanya Haden - has also previously said he’d like to lose weight so he can appear in more nude scenes. He said: “When I saw my rear end in my nude scene in ‘Margot at the Wedding’, it actually had a double chin. I’ve joined a gym because the next time you see me naked I’ll be trim.”

Katona wants to open rehab centre

Carter not jealous of Tim and Johnny


elena Bonham Carter isn’t threatened by Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s friendship. The ‘Harry Potter’ actress doesn’t get jealous of her long-term partner’s close relationship with the actor and says the big screen hunk is a firm favorite with their children Billy, nine, and Nell, five. Asked if she gets jealous, Helena said: “No, because Tim is not having sex with Johnny! No, I rejoice in the friendship! Johnny is a marvelous man and a wonderful friend. “He is also godfather to our son Billy, and they have a wonderful relationship because Johnny is a dad himself. In Billy’s eyes, Uncle Johnny can do no wrong.”While she doesn’t feel jealous, the eccentric British star - who has been in a relationship with Tim since 2001 - struggles to understand American humor and often feels left out of the filmmaker’s conversations with Johnny. She laughed: “I don’t actually understand what Johnny and Tim joke about. Culturally, they have had the same childhood and I haven’t, so I don’t get a lot of the same telly references. They try and explain what the joke is and I just go, ‘huh?’ “ Helena and Johnny bonded over their mutual hatred of seeing themselves on screen and she can’t even bring herself to watch her own films. She admitted: “I can never ever watch anything. I’m in. I can’t stand it. Neither can Johnny. And if it’s all right for Johnny Depp to boycott his own films, I’m damned sure that it is totally OK for me.”


erry Katona wants to open her own rehab centre. The 32-year-old reality star wants to use her past experiences of drug use and bipolar disorder to help troubled women in similar situations and is planning to set up a facility to help people beat their problems. Kerry exclusively told BANG Showbiz: “I would love to set up a reborn centre, that’s what I want to call it, for women who can just find themselves again. For people who are on medication and try helping them get off it. It will be an exercise-based facility that’s for women who can sit there and discuss their problems and come away for a week. Like a retreat. I’d love to do that, but I haven’t got the money!” Kerry credits her own boot camp experience for helping her kick her cocaine habit and says she had her first “natural high” after a vigorous workout. She enthused: “Exercise save my life. I went to boot camp and coming off my medication it was like coming out of a coma and the fog being lifted and going on, ‘Oh my god, what’s been going on?’ I had my first natural high.”

Ozzy wants airport

named after him O

zzy Osbourne is set to have an airport named after him. The heavy metal legend’s moniker has been put forward to be the new title of Birmingham International Airport after council bosses decided to name it after a local hero. Record company boss Jim Simpson - who discovered Ozzy and his first band Black Sabbath - believes it would be a fitting tribute to the singer, who was born in Aston in the English city, and is backing the idea wholeheartedly. Jim said: “I believe it would be a master stroke that would instantly confound the cynics. “How does The Ozzy Osbourne International Airport resonate? The message says, ‘Hey world, we are proud of our own.’ Ozzy might not always have been a paragon of virtue, but he is a genuine, flesh and blood Brummie.” Councillor Philip Parkin has confirmed talks had taken place to change the name of the terminals and that a tribute to Ozzy or Black Sabbath has been considered. When asked whether he’d be prepared to change the title of the airport, he replied: “It’s an interesting idea and I’ve got an open mind. I would be interested to know what people thought about it.” Several airports in cities throughout the world have been named after famous people who were born there. Liverpool’s Speke Airport was renamed John Lennon Airport to honour the late Beatles star, while Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport in California was renamed the Bob Hope Airport in 2003.


Karl Lagerfeld:

I won’t slow down K

arl Lagerfeld has no intention of “slowing down”. The 79-year-old designer - who is notorious for his controversial comments - isn’t planning to retire in the near future and despite his reputation, insists he “can’t be that horrible” because some of his employees have spent their lives working under him. He told BBC News: “Why should I slow down? What a bore! I have a very

healthy life: I don’t smoke, I don’t eat too much, I don’t drink, don’t take drugs. My head is like a crystal ball and I have no need of slowing down.” “You know some people have worked with me for 30 years and never had another job, so I can’t be that horrible. “I am a hired gun, even in my own business.” The Chanel mastermind is particularly keen to remain in the luxury fashion industry because he believes it is still doing very well thanks to consumers’ desires. He added: “We created a product nobody needs, but people want. If you need an ugly old car, it can wait, but if you want a new fashion item, it cannot wait.”

Donna Karan exited about 2013 Donna Karan wants to find a “balance” in her work in 2013. The 64-year-old designer - who created clothing labels Donna Karan New York and DKNY - is “really excited” about next year and cannot wait to use the next 12 months to try out new styles. She told “My resolution, and something I’m really excited about this year, is finding the balance.” Donna isn’t the only fashionista keen to explore new ideas in 2013 as Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa is hoping to get some design ideas on a trip to Bhutan. He explained: “I am planning a trip to Bhutan. I have always wanted to go there. I’m fascinated by the traditional way of life there and think it would be a beautiful place to explore.” What’s more, Roksanda Ilincic - who won the Red Carpet Award at the British Fashion Awards 2012 - also plans to use 2013 to explore more of the world. She said: “I will be visiting Vancouver, and then New York, Los Angeles, and Beijing - just in the first few months. Busy but exciting!”

Garcia wants to work with Berg J

orge Garcia wants to work with Peter Berg. The ‘Alcatraz’ actor - who portrays Dr Diego Soto in the Fox prison drama - would love to team up with the ‘Friday Night Lights’ creator and director, who has inspired the 38year-old star to consider a future script writing career. He said: “I would love to do something with Peter Berg. I was a big fan of him in ‘Friday Night Lights’ and I like his movie, ‘The Kingdom’. “I met him once a long time ago and haven’t run into him since, but if I would love to see him again and star in something he’s written. “Starring in ‘Lost’ and ‘Alcatraz’ has been a really great experience, but I might even go into writing myself one day. He’s inspired me.” Although he is a big fan of watching ‘Friday Night Lights’ - which stars Taylor Kitsch and ran for five series in the US - Jorge is unsure of just how successful the American football show would be in the UK. He added to BANG Showbiz: “I don’t know how well ‘Friday Night Lights’ would play out in the UK. But there are some really good characters in the show. “It will be interesting to see how many people watch it. But we get more and more people in the US watching the soccer World Cup when that is on, so who knows?”

Pitt and Jolie

Caribbean Christmas B rad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are spending the Christmas holidays in the Caribbean. The couple, their six children - Maddox, 11, Pax, nine, Zahara, seven, Shiloh, six, and four-yearold twins Knox and Vivienne - and Brad’s mother Jane are staying at the home of fashion designer Donna Karan on the idyllic island of Turks and Caicos in the exclusive Parrot Cay area. The luxury home comes complete with an infinity pool lined with black volcanic stone and features 360-degree views of the tropical paradise, an open-air film screening room and a private spa. A source told the New York Post newspaper: “They are at Donna’s house, without Donna, and have been loving the island because it is so secluded. Angelina’s taken the kids to Karan’s yoga spa. They’ve been running around the island without a care in

the world and relaxing.” The engaged couple have also allegedly been joined on the trip by a team of nannies to help them care for the kids as they try and enjoy some down time. Architectural Digest editor-at-large Jeffrey Slonim posted on his blog on Christmas Day: “At lunch on a small island three away from Parrot Cay. A woman said she’d heard from a local that [Pitt and Jolie] were in town with two nannies per child. Count ‘em, 12 nannies! (sic)” Brad and Angelina and their brood are not the only stars relaxing on the island. Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards - who completed the band’s 50th anniversary shows just a few weeks ago - is enjoying a winter vacation with his family, while ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ director J.J. Abrams is enjoying a break with his loved ones.

Erin Heatherton is a ‘product hoarder’


he Victoria’s Secret model admits she’s always been into make-up, hair products and other cosmetics as she loves being pampered. She said: “I’ve always been a beauty addict. I love the process of getting my make-up and hair done, and I’m a real product hoarder. “My must-have gadget is the Clarisonic Sonic Skin Cleansing System - it has changed my life.” The blonde beauty also says it’s important that she washes her face at least twice a day as well as wearing a “romantic” smelling scent. She said: “Washing my face is a must - I wash my face at least twice a day - and I use Dr Colbert Facial Discs. I also use Rodin body oil after I shower to ensure my skin stays hydrated. “I’ve been wearing Love is heavenly by Victoria’s Secret ever since it launched in April. It’s light, feminine and smells so romantic.” — Bang Showbiz


File photo shows the Diane von Furstenberg spring 2011 collection being modeled during Fashion Week in New York. — AP photos

File photo shows Marc by Marc Jacobs spring 2011collection modeled during Fashion Week in New York.

Models walk the runway at the Monique Lhuillier spring 2013 show.

A model wears a design from the Rachel Zoe Spring 2013 collection.

Photo shows the Rachel Roy fall 2010 collection.


nation Vente-Privee. Of course, the Internet has played a huge role in this. Shoppers see new styles more or less at the same time as the retailers and editors sitting in the front row, so fashion has become more democratized. There’s still a role for insiders, but it’s more as style interpreters instead of final arbiters. Stores have a much bigger selling space with their websites, so they don’t have to choose between the wide-leg pants or the skinny ones. And consumers don’t have to wait for the big deliveries a few times a year. There’s always a rolling supply of new items and things headed for clearance racks. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for fashion.

It was a stretch for a designer long respected for career clothes to tout hot pants. The same could be said for the wunderkind doing embellished ballskirts. Now they don’t have to. This allows for more creativity, not less. No one has to look alike. No one has to squeeze into an unflattering must-have item just because a few fashion insiders deemed it must have. After years of the industry preaching personal style, it seems it’s taking its own advice, and designers seem more concerned with carving out their own look - and gaining fans of it - than jumping on an inauthentic trend. Women can approach fashion as if they have options, Zee says. Take colorblocking, for example. “I’ve said that’s a ‘trend’ for five seasons. This season I’ll say it’s black and white, and maybe last year I said it was red and pink, but the look hangs out, has a longer life, and that gives you a broader sense of style,” Zee says. When tastemakers began touting “personal style,” Zee says he’s not fully sure they meant it. But say something often enough, and people start believing it. “In the moment maybe it was a marketing ploy,” he says, “but then came ‘Sex and the City’- which I think was a tent pole of personal style - and then the Internet and the popularity of ‘street style,’ and now I think women are saying, ‘I’m going to do what I like to do.’” There’s also the importance of value in fashion now, and there’s not just a dollar sign attached to that. Quality, heritage and integrity are factors. Going into 2013, Salzman says consumers have developed a mindset that will focus on a bigger picture than one snapped at the end of a catwalk. “We’re going to spend more time thinking about what it means to buy something, and we’re much more engaged about what our clothing says as our signature,” she says.—AP

he biggest trend in fashion for the New Year might just be that there isn’t anything especially trendy. Based on runway and retailer previews, the must-have look in 2013 could be menswear-inspired and tailored, or ladylike chic. Colors are bold and bright, or graphic black and white; fabrics are slinky and silky, or textured and tough. And pick your silhouette: There are both short sexy minis and long flowing maxis to be had. Check off dressed-up shorts, jumpsuits and slinky mermaid gowns. It was largely the same story for fall 2012 and spring before that. 2011, too. “The problem with trends is that we are trended out. ... We are so exhausted by overload that we just don’t have a way to process anything new,” says trend analyst Marian Salzman, CEO of ad agency Havas PR North America. Remember the days when a new fashion season meant a new must-have and a corresponding closet purge? Out with boy-cut jeans, in with skinnies. Out with skinnies, in with bell-bottoms. Years ago, there was often a single muse who dominated the season. If she were a bohemian free spirit in the spring, she might be a tough biker chick in the fall. It seemed as if every designer was courting her at the same time. Now the models on one catwalk seem like they were dressed personally by the designer from his or her singular point of view. Looks aren’t stagnant, and you can see tastes evolving - right now there certainly is movement toward sophisticated, grown-up clothes in rich jewel tones and sultry touches but there isn’t a feeling that it’s being done frenetically. One style might be more “in” than another, but nothing is quite “out.” “When I started in this industry over 20 years ago, we’d be on the plane after the shows and talking about the trends of next season,” says Elle creative director Joe Zee. “We really lived in the bubble. You could say, ‘It’s all about the miniskirt,’ and immediately you’d hear, ‘Oh, well, there’s nothing for me.’ Now, I can say it’s all about the ‘60s and miniskirts again, but there are still a lot of palazzo pants, and jeans, and everything else, so you’ll find something.” Do a search for high-waisted bellbottoms on any given day, and you’ll find a million pairs out there - and that’s a season when they weren’t deemed “trendy,” says Zee, who also is curator for the online shopping desti-

File photo shows the Carolina Herrera Spring 2013 collection modeled during Fashion Week in New York.



ctress Amanda Seyfried is busily promoting her new film, “Les Miserables,”. The actress, who plays Cosette in the film, is treating fans to a whirlwind fashion tour as she walks red carpets around the globe. Over the years, we watched Seyfried go from a vapid blond in “Mean Girls” to leading lady in “In Time” and “Red Riding Hood.” She has also made quite the style transition over the years. Once a teen in boot-cut jeans and spaghetti straps, the actress now walks the red carpet in sophisticated gowns. Seyfried chose a ruffle-hemmed Balenciaga gown at the “Les Miserables” premiere in London, a gold Alexander McQueen bustier for the film’s New York premiere and a Misha Nonoo spring 2013 white dress with clear panel hem at a luncheon in New York City. The actress recently visited the Hollywood Walk of Fame for costar Hugh Jackman’s star ceremony wearing a Burberry belted trench, Heroine leather tote by Alexander McQueen, tights, suede booties and some killer red tinted shades. She looked sophisticated, classic and every bit the

movie star in stylish winter essentials. For a similar trench with piping, try the Merona water repellent classic trench coat in khaki with black piping from for $37.49. Suede booties come in handy for several seasons. Try the Lauren Tiara suede platform bootie for $74.99 from for a high heel and the tasseled zip booties with a wooden heel from Forever 21 for $22.96 for something a little shorter. Seyfried’s tote bag and retro sunglasses are fun accessories for her winter wear. For a similar bag, try the Urban Expressions flare bag in black from for $76 or the Ivanka Trump crystal top handle satchel handbag from for $175. For some shades, get the Quay retro sunglasses for $38 or the A.J. Morgan front row sunglasses for $24, both from — MCT

Photos shows AJ Morgan front row sunglasses from

Photos shows Lauren Tiara suede platform bootie from

A photo shows Pictured, tassled zip booties with a wooden heel from Forever 21.



ven though projections for “Les Miserables” and “Django Unchained” have been raised after their knockout Christmas debuts, “The Hobbit” An Unexpected Journey” could be back on top of the box office when the dust clears this weekend, It should be close. Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth epic will take in north of $30 million for Warner Bros, industry analysts predict, with Universal’s musical “Les Miz” at $29 million and the Weinstein Company’s “Django” doing around $24 million. Pre-release projections had “Les Miz” and “Django” at around $20 million for their first weekend, but both films exceeded that in their first two days. “Les Miz” is at $30 million after opening to $18 million on Christmas and Quentin Tarantino’s slave saga is at $25 million after debuting with $15 million. “I won’t be surprised if the order changes,” vicepresident and chief analysts Phil Contrino told TheWrap Thursday, “but that would be more of the same for 2012, when there’s been a lot of over-achieving.” Count the overall box office among the overachievers. While it’s had its ups and downs, the ups have been really strong and the downs manageable, Contrino said. The 2012 haul is on pace to finish at $10.8 billion. That would put it 6% ahead of 2011 in dollars and 5.9% ahead in attendance. It would also establish a new all-time record for the biggest yearly domestic box office on record. The previous highmark was the $10.6 billion in 2009. While “Les Miz,” “Django” and Bilbo Baggins are battling for the biggest bucks, several awards contenders will be vying less for dough than critical awards positioning and buzz at the specialty box office. Gus Van Sant’s “Promised Land,” which reunites the director with “Good Will Hunting” star Matt Damon, joins the fray Friday, just in time to qualify for this year’s Academy Awards. Focus Features is rolling

it out in 25 theaters in 14 markets, prior to expanding to 1,500 locations on Jan 4. That’s the strategy - opening small to build buzz and then capitalizing by going wide around the Jan. 10 Academy Award nominations- that has been employed for a number of awards contenders. The list includes Sony’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” DreamWorks’ and Disney’s “Lincoln,” Warner Bros.’ “Argo” and the Weinstein Company’s “Silver Linings Playbook.” The move by Focus signals the studio’s confidence in the film, which stars Damon and John Krasinski of “The Office.” The actors also co-wrote the film from a story by Dave Eggers. The critics are lukewarm, with Movie Review Intelligence giving it a 54 percent positive and Rotten Tomatoes at 55 percent.” “Lincoln,” with $122 million at the domestic box office, and “Argo,’ with $107 million, are ahead of the pack of Oscar hopefuls, while “Zero Dark Thirty” is setting a blistering early pace. “Silver Linings Playbook” has been flat. “Zero Dark Thirty” will cross the $1 million mark this weekend after playing in five theaters since opening on Dec 19. Kathryn Bigelow’s thriller about the manhunt for Osama bin Laden posted an $82,000 per-screen average in its opening weekend and has remained near that pace. It took in $87,036 on Wednesday. The Weinstein Company expanded “Silver Linings Playbook,” David O. Russell’s dark comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, to about 370 theaters on Nov. 23. It’s taken in more than $22 million since opening on Nov 16, but has declined since the weekend of its initial expansion, when it brought in $4.3 million. Also debuting this week on five screens is the Sony Pictures Classics documentary “West of Memphis,” Amy Berg’s documentary about the West Memphis Three. Fran Walsh and Jackson, of “Hobbit” fame, along with Lorri Davis and Damien Echols, are the pro-


File photo shows Fontella Bass dances with Vernon Harris and Curtis Berry on the stage as she sings her 1965 hit ‘Resuce Me’ at the St Louis Blues Heritage Festival. — AP


merican soul singer Fontella Bass, best known for her hit song “Rescue Me,” died Wednesday night at age 72, weeks after suffering a heart attack. Her family said the R&B, soul and gospel singer died at a hospital in her hometown of St Louis, Missouri after complications arose from a December 2 heart attack, according to a local newspaper. “Yes, sadly it’s true,” an employee of New York ad agency Universal Attractions, which worked with Bass, confirmed to AFP. The employee asked not to be

named. Born in St Louis in 1940, the artist achieved her first success in the mid-1960s with a recording of “Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing” by soul singer Bobby McClure. But she was most famous for the R&B anthem “Rescue Me,” which stayed at the top of the Billboard charts for four weeks in 1965. — AFP

ducers. Echols is one of the West Memphis Threeyoung men who were convicted of murdering three 8-year-old boys in Arkansas. The three were released from prison in 2011 after a private detective working on their behalf found evidence linking another person to the crime. The documentary, which debuted at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, chronicles the new investigation surrounding Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr. — Reuters

lvis Presley and The Beatles top the list of most-forged celebrity signatures in 2012, with less than half of their autographs for sale certified as genuine, memorabilia authenticators PSA/DNA said yesterday. The King and The Fab Four British rockers, who topped the list two years ago when it was last released, joined notable figures such as former US President John F Kennedy and late pop star Michael Jackson on the list of most-forged celebrity signatures. Late American astronaut Neil Armstrong landed at No3 on the list, after fake Armstrong signatures rose significantly after his death in July. One reason forgeries of Armstrong’s autograph soared was that he rarely signed for fans during his life, Joe Orlando, president of Newport Beachbased PSA/DNA, told Reuters. “Armstrong is someone who is very conscious of the value of his own autograph,” Orlando said. “Even before he passed away he was very tough to get...It really heightens the level of his market.” Secretaries and assistants responding to huge volumes of fan mail are one reason for fake signatures floating through the marketplace, said Margaret Barrett, director of entertainment and music memora-

bilia at Heritage Auctions in Los Angeles. “Back in the day, the kids would write to the movie studios,” Barrett said. “There was absolutely no financial gain 50 years ago and secretaries and assistants just wanted to make them happy. A lot of times people stumble upon an old box of signed photographs in grandma’s attic and don’t know they’re forged.” Barrett, whose specialty is late Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe’s autographs, said that official documents such as contracts and checks are reliable sources to verify whether or not a signature is forged. “A good rule of thumb is to compare it a signed contract,” she said. “Sometimes (celebrities) would have secretaries or other sign photos and letters but they couldn’t have a contract signed by a proxy.”-Reuters



atie Holmes’ return to Broadway will be much shorter than she would have liked. The former Mrs Cruise’s play “Dead Accounts” will close within a week of the New Year. Producers said Thursday that Theresa Rebeck’s drama will close on Jan 6 after 27 previews and 44 performances. The show, which opened to poor reviews on Nov 29, stars Norbert Leo Butz as Holmes’ onstage brother who returns to his Midwest home with a secret. Rebeck created the first season of NBC’s “Smash” and several well-received plays including “Seminar” and “Mauritius.” Holmes, who became a star in the teen soap

opera “Dawson’s Creek,” made her Broadway debut in the 2008 production of “All My Sons.” She was married to Tom Cruise from 2006 until this year. — AP

This undated file photo shows Nobert Leo Butz as Jack, left, and Katie Holmes as Lorna, in a scene from ‘Dead Accounts’ at Broadway’s Music Box theatre in New York.—AP


he hot-button topic of “fracking” has finally made its way to Hollywood in the new movie “Promised Land,” out in US theaters yesterday, with actors Matt Damon and John Krasinski teaming up to further the debate on the energy drilling technique. The film explores the social impact of hydraulic fracturing drilling technique, or “fracking,” which has sparked nation-wide environmental and political battles over its impact on drinking water, US energy use, seismic activity and other areas.

Matt Damon “Promised Land” will see Damon, 42, reunite with director Gus Van Sant for the third time, following their success with 1997 film “Good Will Hunting and 2002’s “Gerry.” In their latest film, Damon plays a corporate salesman who goes to a rural US town to buy or lease land on behalf of a gas company looking to drill for oil. He soon faces opposition from a slick environmentalist, played by Krasinski. In real life, Damon hasn’t shied away from getting involved in political and social issues, working with charities and organizations to eradicate AIDS in developing countries, bringing attention to atrocities in Sudan’s Darfur region, providing safe drinking water and stopping trees from being chopped and used for junk mail. Yet “Promised Land,” which Damon also co-wrote and produced, doesn’t take a noticeable stance on “fracking.” The actor would not publicly state his own views, telling Reuters that he didn’t think his opinion had “any bearing” on the film. “The point is that the movie should start a conversation. It’s certainly not a pro-fracking movie, but we didn’t want to tell people what to think,” Damon said. The actor said he and Krasinski never set out to make a socially conscious film, and “fracking” was added in later, as a backdrop to the story. “It wasn’t that we said we wanted to make a movie about ‘fracking’ as much as we wanted to make a movie about American identity, about real people. We wanted to make a movie about the country today, where we came

from, where we are and where we are headed,” Damon said. “‘Fracking’ was perfect because the stakes are so incredibly high and people are so divided. It asks all the questions about short-term thinking versus long-term thinking.” Hydraulic fracturing entails pumping water laced with chemicals and sand at high pressure into shale rock formations to break them up and unleash hydrocarbons. Critics worry that “fracking” fluids or hydrocarbons can still leak into water tables from wells, or above ground. From ‘adjustment bureau’ to ‘promised land’ At first glance, the pairing of Damon with Krasinski may not come across as the perfect fit, as Damon has primarily been associated with longtime friend and collaborator Ben Affleck, both of whom won Oscars for writing “Good Will Hunting.” Damon later becomes a colleague and friend to a number of key Hollywood players, including George Clooney and Brad Pitt, with whom he co-starred in the “Ocean’s Eleven” franchise. Krasinski, 33, is best known for playing sardonic Jim Halpert on NBC’s long-running television series, “The Office,” and has had occasional supporting roles in films such as 2008’s “Leatherheads.” Damon and Krasinski came together after meeting through Krasinski’s wife, Emily Blunt, who co-starred with Damon in the 2011 film “The Adjustment Bureau.” Damon said he and his wife started double-dating with Krasinski and Blunt, through which their collaboration on “Promised Land” came about. The duo’s busy work schedules forced them to moonlight on weekends to make “Promised Land.” “John showed up at my house every Saturday at breakfast and we would write all day until dinner,” Damon said. “Then we’d do it again on Sunday. I have four kids so he would come to me.” But Damon’s determination to make the film his feature directorial debut fell though when his acting schedule changed, making it impossible to direct “Promised Land,” so he turned to Van Sant. “My first inclination was to send the script to somebody I’d worked with before,” he said. “Gus seemed like the most obvious choice and I realized later that I’d never written anything that anyone else had directed, except Gus. I have a real comfort level with him.” Damon said he has not given up on his dream of directing movies and has his eye on a project at movie studio Warner Bros., which has a deal with Damon and Affleck’s joint production company, Pearl Street Films. With Affleck’s third directorial effort “Argo” becoming an awards contender, Damon joked that the film’s success can only be a good thing for his own budding directing career. “I now happen to be partnered with the hottest director in Hollywood!” he said, laughing. — Reuters


federal judge has reaffirmed his decision to dismiss a lawsuit accusing actor Sylvester Stallone of copying someone else’s screenplay to make his popular 2010 movie “The Expendables.” US District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan yesterday rejected claims of copyright infringement damages by Marcus Webb, who contended that the movie’s screenplay contained 20 “striking similarities” to his own “The Cordoba Caper.” Webb claimed that both works had similar plots, and involved hired mercenaries in a Latin American country that was home to a villain dictator named General Garza. But Rakoff said no reasonable juror could find that the works were so similar as to eliminate the possibility that Stallone crafted his screenplay on his own. Not even the general’s name was an automatic red flag, Rakoff said, writing that “Garza” was the 34th most common Hispanic nickname in the United States. “The court has carefully examined the entire litany of plaintiff’s proffered ‘striking similarities’ and finds none of them remotely striking or legally sufficient,” Rakoff wrote. “These are two very different screenplays built on a familiar theme: mercenaries taking on a Latin American dictator.” Other defendants in the case included Nu Image Films, which produced the movie, and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, which distributed the movie in the United States.—Reuters



A princess parrotfish is seen in the Saba Marine Park in Saba in the Caribbean.


he small propeller airplane lands quickly and softly, like a butterfly, on one of the world’s shortest commercial runways on the rainforest-capped island of Saba, which rises stunningly out of the Caribbean. It won’t take long for visitors to see why the sign outside declares: “Welcome to The Unspoiled Queen.” Saba’s Mount Scenery, at 2,877 feet (877 meters) high, is touted as the highest point in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. (The island became a Dutch municipality following the breakup of the Netherlands Antilles.) Still, some of the island’s most sought-after peaks are underwater near Saba’s sharply rising shores. The small island’s volcanic nature has sculpted the seascape for unique recreational diving, as its coral-encrusted pinnacles and seamounts top out within recreational diving limits of 85 to 120 feet (26 to 36 meters). Yellow sulfur deposits on the sand at the dive site known as Hot Springs shows volcanic activity continues. If you stick your hand in the sand, you can feel its heat. Forget the beach. There isn’t one. No casinos, either. After hiking and diving, one of the next best things to do is simply relax and wait for the symphony of whistling frogs that fills the night with song. Many who take the time to visit this remote and verdant island about a 15-minute flight from St. Maarten are scuba divers who come to explore some of the most colorful and vibrant underwater life on this side of the world. A main draw for divers are the pinnacle dive sites, where magma pushed through the sea floor to create underwater towers of volcanic rock that start at about 300 feet (91 meters) down and rise to about 85 feet (26 meters) beneath the surface. “There’s tons of color and, of course, because they are out in this blue oasis of water and then all of the sudden you’ve got formations, it attracts corals and sponges which, of course, attract the smaller fish, which of course attract bigger and bigger fish,” said Lynn Costernaro, who owns the Sea Saba Dive Center, during a presentation to divers who were visiting the island in May. The sponges, both in their variety and size, are one of the most noticeable features of the Saba Marine Park. Giant barrel sponges almost as big as some divers tower over the seascape, which is thick with striking red, purple, orange and yellow sponges. Sea turtles and stingrays are regularly spotted. Reef sharks can be seen on patrol. Spiny lobsters, crabs and moray eels hide in small openings in the corals. One of the park’s most thrilling dives, called Third Encounter, is on top of an underwater mountain. The top, which is about 100 feet (30 meters) deep, is covered in coral and sponges with deep, dark blue drop-offs along its sides. Soon after getting there, a dive guide will start moving off into the deep blue, seemingly toward nothing. A few heart-pounding moments after hovering over the blue abyss, a narrow towering spire suddenly comes into view again covered with colorful growth. The first known divers in Saba waters did not come until 1982. The Dutch government decided to create a marine park not long after, before much diving had started. The park was officially

established in 1987, but steps had been taken before that to protect the area, such as talking to fishermen and setting up homemade moorings for boats. About 150 species of fish have been found in the waters of the island. Measures are taken measures to protect them. For example, restaurants do not serve grouper. As a result, a variety of species of grouper that is harder to see around other Caribbean islands is commonly seen here. Other seldom-seen fish such as frogfish also can be found, and the dive guides know where to find them. After spending the morning diving, there’s plenty to do on land in the afternoon, if you’re not ready to relax by the pool. The island has six different vegetation zones, including rainforest and cloud forest at the very top, where there are orchids. There are more than a dozen trails of varying lengths and difficulty. Mount Scenery, at the top, takes an hour and a half each way to hike. Tour guides are available. Saba has more than 60 species of birds. There is even a lodge and restaurant in the rainforest. It takes about 10 minutes to hike along a trail to reach the restaurant, and a flashlight is needed at night. Frogs cling to the windows in the dining room. A slide-show presentation on the rainforest is given on Wednesday nights.

A hawksbill sea turtle snags lunch at the Man-Of-War Shoals dive site in the Saba Marine Park.

Photo shows a moray eel pokes up out of a reef in the Saba Marine Park in Saba, an island in the Caribbean. There is only one main road, steep and twisty, often providing exhilarating views over sheer cliffs down to the sea. Hitchhiking is common. Cars regularly roll along from one side of the island to the capital, known as The Bottom, a town of red-roofed white buildings with green shutters in a valley surrounded by lushly green and high-rising peaks. Even if you never go to the island’s highest points, just about anything you do on the island will require some significant hiking, because the terrain is quite steep. Some shops, such as JoBean Glass, which sells handmade glassworks, will even send a car to pick up someone interested in having a look without making the big walk uphill to the store. A road leading to one resort about 2,000 feet (more than 600 meters) above sea level is so steep, one cab driver boasts he is willing to make the trip, noting some of his colleagues won’t. — AP

A diver uses a magnifying glass to look for a shrimp inside an anemone during a dive at the Shark Shoal site.—AP photos


Pakistani visitors look at a painting at the Rohtas Art Gallery.


t may not seem the most obvious setting, but a squat building overlooking a slum is home to one of Pakistan’s leading galleries, which for 30 years has defied dictatorships and fundamentalists to champion cutting-edge art. Rohtas Gallery was founded in 1981, at the height of military ruler General Zia-ul-Haq’s martial law, as Pakistan was undergoing a program of Islamisation that imposed Draconian restrictions on culture and entertainment. With all but the most insipid forms of visual art officially banned as “un-Islamic”, architect Naeem Pasha and a group of friends decided Pakistan’s artists needed a space to express themselves freely.

Pakistani artist Tahir Ali poses with his paintings during an exhibition at the Rohtas Art Gallery in Islamabad. — AFP photos

“Abstract art was un-Islamic,” Pasha told AFP. “Calligraphy, landscape without even a crow or a goat or anything living in it, insipid crayon portraits of your gardener that the expatriates would take home and say ‘this is what Pakistanis look like’-they were allowed. “But we did what we had to do, and we showed nudes, we showed abstracts, we showed everything.” Maintaining the gallery’s commitment to showing progressive art meant a delicate game of cat-and-mouse with Zia’s powerful intelligence agencies-and taking advantage of Cold War rivalries. Diplomats would vie with each other for invitations to exhibition openings at Rohtas’ tiny original venue. “The American ambassador would make sure he came before the Soviet ambassador and the Soviet ambassador would try to beat him to it because they wanted to show they supported art,” Pasha explained. “Zia-ulHaq always gave you the impression he

Pakistani artist Tahir Ali during an exhibition.

was very magnanimous and non-interfering-at least that’s the impression he wanted to give to the diplomats, so they didn’t touch us.” But the secret police came calling after a picture appeared in a newspaper of the Soviet ambassador at an exhibition next to the drawing of a tailor’s dummy wearing a general’s uniform with a snake coming out of the sleeve. After a tipoff from a friend in the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, Pasha rushed to the gallery to take down the pictures-which the newspaper article said had all been sold. Fascism makes good art happen “Sure enough by 11, 12, o’clock these people came and they said ‘where are these pictures?’” said Pasha. “So I said ‘Well, you saw it in the newspapers, they’re sold, they’re gone.’ Usually if somebody buys the picture will stay on the wall for a month.” Rohtas helped launch the careers of many of the biggest names in modern Pakistani art, including Quddus Mirza, Rashid Rana and Irfan Qureshi, who has been named artist of 2013 by Berlin’s Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle. Pasha said the censorship of the Zia-era acted as an inspiration to artists. “Fascism becomes an instrument by default to make good art happen,” he said. “It is against that repression that the artist woke up and today what you see in Pakistani art-the breeding ground was in that 1980s martial law.” Mirza, who curated a show celebrating Rohtas’ 30th birthay in October, said the gallery had encouraged artists to follow their creative impulses free not only from political restrictions, but also commercial pressures. “Installation or sculpture or digital prints at one time were not sold. When you have that kind of show, it’s not going to be beneficial commercially but Rohtas supported it,” he said. “I think that role was important-it supported young artists and artists who were not given the chance anywhere else. “If there’s no place to show you amend, you censor, you clip your vision. In that way it was very important.” Demand for contemporary art among collectors in Pakistan is growing, particularly among the young, Pasha says, but shows sell 25 percent of the exhibits at most. His architecture practice supports the gallery financially and Pasha said he was proud to

have been able to maintain its commitment to progressive art without watering it down with more commercially friendly pieces. “We knew the type of art that we wanted to show, which is not economically viable, if our architecture practice doesn’t subsidise it, it will not last,” he said. “So it’s more madness, indulgence, a commitment that this is something that one must do. That’s how we survived and we still do. “If we were going to be commercial maybe we would have changed direction and not shown art of this calibre, mixed it with folk and trinkets and all this.”The overt oppression of Zia’s rule has long gone, but Pakistan remains a deeply

conservative country where religious extremists seek to impose limits on culture. Pasha says the fundamentalist religious movements are now inspiring artists. “Now we have got another fuel to make art which is the ‘fundo’ label and the ‘terror’ label,” he said. “A lot of work you see is coming out and in one kind or another it represents that.” Qadir Jhatial, 26, whose debut exhibition opened recently at Rohtas, said a show at the venerable gallery was something to which all young artists aspired. “Rohtas is really supporting young talent,” he told AFP. “In Pakistan definitely I will get good exposure, people will get to know my work.”-AFP

Pakistani artist Tahir Ali talks to a visitor during an exhibition.



LG seeks ban on Samsung tablet sales in Korea SEOUL: South Korea’s LG display said yesterday it had asked a Seoul court to ban the domestic sale of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet computer, citing alleged patent infringements. The company, in the injunction filed on Wednesday, accused Samsung Electronics of infringing three of its patents on the liquid crystal display (LCD) panels used on the Galaxy Note. “Through this action, LG Display seeks to completely stop the sale, manufacture and importation of the infringing Samsung product,” LG Display said in a press release.

LG Display also said it would request compensation amounting to 1.0 billion won ($933,000) per day in the event of continued non-compliance. The two companies have been in a patent row since September when LG Display one of the world’s top flat-screen TV makers-filed suits against Samsung Electronics and Samsung Display for allegedly infringing patents on seven organic light-emitting diode (OLED)-related technologies. LG said that five of Samsung’s products, including its global hit Galaxy S-series smartphones and tablet computer Galaxy

Tab, infringed its patents. Later the same month, Samsung filed a court complaint accusing LG of luring away senior Samsung OLED researchers even though they had signed contracts preventing them working for a rival. Samsung is no stranger to patent battles. The company and its arch rival Apple have filed lawsuits against each other in around a dozen countries for alleged patent violations over competing products, in particular the iPhone and Galaxy S smartphones, as well as tablet computers. Earlier this month, a US judge

Apple CEO’s pay takes big hit Cook’s 2011 pay package was historically large NEW YORK: Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook’s 2012 compensation package of $4.17 million is a huge cut on paper for the top executive of the most valuable US corporation, after a 2011 package fattened by more than $376 million in long-term stock awards. Cook received the largest single pay package awarded to a company CEO in about a decade when he replaced Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in August last year, shortly before the Silicon Valley legend’s death in October 2011. The maker of the iPhone and iPad made the 2012 compensation disclosures in a regulatory filing on Thursday. Cook, 52, has been with Apple since 1998. Virtually all of Cook’s $376 million stock bonus in 2011 was in awards that vest in two chunks - one in 2016 and the other in 2021. This structure was intended to keep Jobs’ longtime lieutenant at the helm for many years, as the value of the stock will depend on how well the company is doing in 2016 and 2021. Cook, who is credited with masterminding a sprawling but efficient Asian supply chain, has generally received high marks for his first year for shepherding several successful gadget launches, including the iPhone 5. But he was forced to make a public apology in September after the company launched a mapping service application riddled with glaring geographical errors. The Maps app fiasco contributed to the departure of fellow Apple veteran and software chief Scott Forstall. In addition, some analysts questioned whether Cook, whose only major new product since taking the helm was a smaller version of the iPad that Jobs propelled into the mainstream in 2010, has the vision to produce the next big product category and sustain historically stellar growth for Apple as global mobile competition intensifies. “The jury is still out in terms of the job he is doing,” said fund manager Tim Ghriskey, whose Solaris Group counts Apple stock as the biggest holding among the approximately $2 billion it manages. But he added that the company’s long-term prospects look strong, particularly if it rolls out oft-rumored televi-

San Francisco: File photo shows Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an introduction of the new iPhone 5. —AP sion products in the next few years. As of Thursday’s close, Apple shares were almost 37 percent higher than when Cook became CEO 16 months ago. However, since a record-high close of $702.10 on Sept 19, the stock has fallen almost 27 percent. Ghriskey said Wall Street remained nervous about the growing popularity of Google Inc’s Android phone software, used by global smartphone leader Samsung Electronics Co Ltd , and potential margin pressure from that intensifying competition. By the numbers In terms of base salary, Cook actually received a 50 percent increase to $1.4 million for 2012, and the same 200 percent non-equity bonus other top Apple executives like CFO Peter Oppenheimer earned, Apple said in the Thursday filing ahead of a Feb 27 shareholders’ meeting. Cook’s 2012 package includes a nonequity bonus of $2.8 million. Despite the increase, Apple said Cook’s target annual cash compensation is “significantly below the median annual cash compensation level for CEOs at peer companies.” It also said that Cook will not receive any stock awards for 2012. Cook’s latest compensation package also pales in comparison to his package in 2010, when he was chief operating officer. That package

was 14 times higher. A company spokesman would not comment beyond the filing. Jobs famously received $1 a year in salary in the three years before he stepped down, though in 2000 he too received a stock option that analysts say was valued at almost $600 million at the time. Looking beyond Apple, Yahoo Inc’s CEO, Marissa Mayer, and a former Google Inc high-flyer hired this year to try to turn around the struggling Internet icon, won a pay package worth more than $70 million. Despite her lack of a track record as CEO and Yahoo’s tiny size in comparison, her basic pay is comparable to Cook’s, with about $1 million in annual salary and up to $2 million in an annual bonus. Oracle Corp’s Larry Ellison, one of the most highly paid US chief executives - and also the world’s sixth-richest man, according to Forbes - received total compensation for the year ended May 31, 2012, of $96.2 million - almost all of it in stock options. That compared with $77.6 million in 2011. According to a study of the Fortune 500 conducted by Forbes this year, CEOs were paid a base salary of $1.1 million in 2011 on average, with the mean annual bonus at $2.4 million and average total compensation including stock awards - at around $17 million. — Reuters

denied Apple’s request to ban a set of Samsung smartphones from the US market after a jury found the South Korean electronics giant guilty of patent infringement. Samsung, the world’s top mobile and smartphone maker, was ordered by a US jury in August to pay Apple $1.05 billion (800 million euros) in damages for illegally copying iPhone and iPad features for its flagship Galaxy S phones. Samsung has appealed the ruling. Since then, two separate rulings by courts in Japan and The Netherlands have dismissed Apple’s claims of patent infringement. —AFP

Pope turns to Twitter, new allies to battle for faith issues VATICAN: Pope Benedict XVI has galvanized Catholics at the close of 2012 to go on the offensive over key faith issues, forging new alliances and fighting secularism in the West with a media campaign. Damaging sex abuse scandals and growing opposition to the Church’s attitude toward gay marriage and women priests have forced Benedict to rethink how to communicate with the modern world and stem the flood of deserting believers. The 85-year-old pope joined Twitter this month as part of efforts to disseminate the Catholic message worldwide, which also forced the professorial pontiff to reduce his usual reams of dense theological reflections to 140 characters. The Vatican in June hired American Fox News correspondent Greg Burke to help modernize its communications strategy and by December Benedict had sent his first tweet which went out in eight languages to thousands of followers. The pope’s tweets of faith may have sparked derision among some Twitter users, but they brought the Vatican widespread visibility among the digital generation, which was told that God is not dead but “knocking at the door.” The leader of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics also took the unusual step of writing an editorial for Britain’s Financial Times newspaper, urging business and political leaders to adhere to Christian ethics and moral codes in their daily lives. Benedict’s call to take a stand against what he views as society’s ills-such as consumerism and a willful disregard of “traditional” family values-was repeated in his stronglyworded Christmas message which slammed the selfishness of modernity. “We want ourselves. We want what we can seize hold of, we want happiness that is within our reach. We are so ‘full’ of ourselves that there is no room left for God. And that means there is no room for others either,” he said. The pope also began in earnest to follow through with one of the key ideas of his papacy, calling for dialogue with atheists, agnostics and others outside the Catholic Church who are nonetheless fighting the same battles. In a bid against gay marriage which is gaining ground in the West, he took the first steps in finding new allies. With France, Britain and the United States soon expected to join a dozen countries where same-sex couples can legally wed, Benedict reached out to religious and non-religious people alike who respect what he called the “law of nature”. Weighing into the heated debate, the pope cited France’s chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim, who has spoken out against gay marriage. Benedict has also mobilized top Catholic figures to beat the drum on the Church’s teachings on social issues, from the family to homosexuality and abortion. The Vatican’s new guardian of dogma, Germany’s Gerhard Muller, Milan’s Archbishop Angelo Scola, and Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the pope’s culture minister who is a keen Tweeter, are among those who have gone on the offensive. — AFP



US probes HP’s Autonomy fraud allegations WASHINGTON: US authorities are probing allegations by Hewlett-Packard that a British software firm it bought out had fraudulent accounts, the US tech giant said in its annual report released Thursday. On November 20, HP reported a write-down of $8.8 billion, including more than $5 billion it attributed to inflated data from Autonomy, acquired by HP in 2011 for more than $10 billion. The Californian demanded US and British authorities investigate Autonomy, saying “accounting improprieties” before the acquisition led to an “overvalued” acquisition price, which forced HP to take the huge write-down in value. “On November 21, 2012, representatives of the US Department of Justice advised HP that they had opened an investigation relating to Autonomy,” HP said, in its report filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. HP said it had also provided information to the UK Serious Fraud Office and the US Securities amd Exchange Commission “related to the accounting improprieties, disclosure failures and misrepresentations at Autonomy that occurred prior to and in connection with HP’s acquisition of Autonomy.” “HP is cooperating with the three investigating agencies,” it said. HP’s call for a probe came in November as it reported a $6.9 billion quarterly loss, of which $5.5 billion was linked to Autonomy and the rest to the slumping value of HP’s own share price. HP said at the time it had launched an internal investigation “after a senior member of Autonomy’s leadership team came forward.” As a result, HP said it believed “that Autonomy was substantially overvalued at the time of its acquisition.” Mike Lynch, founder of the software group Autonomy, has said that members of his management team are being unjustly blamed for the write-down. —AFP

Colleges help students scrub online footprints BUFFALO: Samantha Grossman wasn’t always thrilled with the impression that emerged when people Googled her name. “It wasn’t anything too horrible,” she said. “I just have a common name. There would be pictures, college partying pictures, that weren’t of me, things I wouldn’t want associated with me.” So before she graduated from Syracuse University last spring, the school provided her with a tool that allowed her to put her best Web foot forward. Now when people Google her, they go straight to a positive image - professional photo, cum laude degree and credentials - that she credits with helping her land a digital advertising job in New York. “I wanted to make sure people would find the actual me and not these other people,” she said. Syracuse, Rochester and Johns Hopkins in Baltimore are among the universities that offer such online tools to their students free of charge, realizing illconsidered Web profiles of drunken frat parties, prank videos and worse can doom graduates to a lifetime of unemployment even if the pages are somebody else’s with the same name. It’s a growing trend based on studies showing that most employers Google prospective hires and nearly all of them won’t bother to go past the first page of results. The online tools don’t eliminate the embarrassing material; they just put the graduate’s most flattering, professional profile front and center. “These students have been comfortable with the intimate details of their lives on display since birth,” said Lisa Severy, president-elect of the National Career Development Association and director of career services at the University of Colorado-Boulder, which does not offer the service. “The first item on our ‘five things to do

before you graduate’ list is ‘clean up your online profile,’” she said. “We call it the grandma test - if you don’t want her to see it, you probably don’t want an employer to, either.” After initially supplying BrandYourself accounts to graduating seniors, Syracuse University this year struck a deal with the company - begun by a trio of alumni - to offer accounts to all of its undergraduate and graduate students and alumni at no additional charge. About 25,000 people have access to it so far. “It’s becoming more and more important for students to be aware of and able to manage their online presence, to be able to have strong, positive things come up on the Internet when someone seeks them out,” said Mike Cahill, Syracuse’s career services director. Online reputation repair companies have been around for at least a couple of years, often charging hundreds or thousands of dollars a year to arrange for good results on search engine result pages. BrandYourself, which normally charges $10 a month for an account, launched two years ago as a less expensive, do-it-yourself alternative after cofounder Pete Kistler ran into a problem with his own name. “He couldn’t get an internship because he was getting mistaken for a drug dealer with the same name,” said co-founder Patrick Ambron. “He couldn’t even get calls back and found out that was the problem.” An April survey of 2,000 hiring managers from CareerBuilder found nearly two in five companies use social networking sites to research job candidates, and 11 percent said they planned to start. A third of the hiring managers who said they research candidates reported finding something like a provocative photo or evidence of drinking or drug use that cost the

candidate a job. “We want our students and alumni actively involved in shaping their online presence,” said Johns Hopkins Career Center Director Mark Presnell. Students are encouraged to promote positive, professional content that’s easily found by employers, he said. BrandYourself works by analyzing search terms in a user’s online profile to determine, for example, that a LinkedIn account might rank 25th on Google searches of the user’s name. The program then suggests ways to boost that ranking. The software also provides alerts when an unidentified result appears on a user’s first page or if any links rise or fall significantly in rank. Nati Katz, a public relations strategist, views his presence online as a kind of virtual storefront that he began carefully tending while in graduate school at Syracuse. Google his name and up pops his LinkedIn page with a listing of the jobs he’s held in digital media and the “500+ connections” badge of honor. His Facebook account is adorned with Katz smiling over an elegant Thanksgiving dinner table. There are a couple of professional profiles and his Tumblr link, one after another on the first page of results and all highlighting his professional experience. Before his 2011 graduation, he took the university up on its offer of the BrandYourself account and said it gave him a leg up with potential employers and internship supervisors. “Fortunately, I didn’t have to deal with anything negative under my profile,” said Katz, who used the reputation website while pursuing dual degrees in public relations and international affairs. “What I was trying to form was really a nice, clean, neat page, very professional.” — AP

China launches rival GPS satellite system BEIJING: China has launched commercial and public services across the Asia-Pacific region on its domestic satellite navigation network built to rival the US global positioning system. The Beidou, or Compass, system started providing services to civilians in the region on Thursday and is expected to provide global coverage by 2020, state media reported. Ran Chengqi, spokesman for the China Satellite Navigation Office, said the system’s performance was “comparable” to GPS, the China Daily said. “Signals from Beidou can be received in countries such as Australia,” he said. It is the latest accomplishment in space technology for China, which aims to build a space station by the end of the decade and eventually send a manned mission to the moon. China sees the multi-billion-dollar program as a symbol of its rising global stature, growing technical expertise, and the Communist Party’s success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-

stricken nation. The Beidou system comprises 16 navigation satellites and four experimental satellites, the paper said. Ran added that the system would ultimately provide global navigation, positioning and timing services. The start of commercial services comes a year after Beidou-which literally means the Big Dipper in Chinese-began a limited positioning service for China and adjacent areas. China began building the network in 2000 to avoid relying on GPS. “Having a satellite navigation system is of great strategic significance,” the Global Times newspaper, which has links to the Communist Party, said in an editorial. “China has a large market, where the Beidou system can benefit both the military and civilians,” the paper said. “With increases in profit, the Beidou system will be able to eventually develop into a global navigation satellite system which can compete with GPS.” In a separate report, the paper said satellite navigation was seen as

one of China’s “strategic emerging industries”. Sun Jiadong, the system’s chief engineer, told the 21st century Business Herald newspaper that as Beidou matures it will erode GPS’s current 95 percent market

share in China, the Global Times said. Morris Jones, an independent space analyst based in Sydney, Australia, said that making significant inroads into that dominance anywhere outside China is unlikely.

BEIJING: Global Positioning System (GPS) units are displayed at a shop. —AFP

“GPS is freely available, highly accessed and is well-known and trusted by the world at large,” he told AFP. “It has brand recognition and has successfully fought off other challenges.” Morris described any commercial benefits China gains as “icing on the cake” and that the main reason for developing Beidou is to protect its own national security given the possibility US-controlled GPS could be cut off. “It’s that possibility, that they could be denied access to GPS, that inspires other nations to develop their own system that would be free of control by the United States,” he said. “At a time of war you do not want to be denied” access, he said. The Global Times editorial, while trumpeting Beidou as “not a secondclass product or a carbon-copy of GPS” still appeared to recognize its limitations, at least in the early stages. “Some problems may be found in its operation because Beidou is a new system. Chinese consumers should... show tolerance toward the Beidou system,” it said. —AFP

TV listings


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

Animal Cops Philadelphia Buggin’ With Ruud Untamed & Uncut Adrift: 47 Days With Sharks Monster Bug Wars Earthquake: Panda Rescue Call Of The Wildman Animal Kingdom Michaela’s Animal Road Trip Wildlife SOS Talk To The Animals Dogs/Cats/Pets 101 Crocodile Hunter Baby Planet Dick ‘n’ Dom Go Wild Breed All About It Jeff Corwin Unleashed The Really Wild Show National Parks New Zealand Great Ocean Adventures Crocodile Hunter The Animals’ Guide To Survival The Animals’ Guide To Survival In Search Of The King Cobra National Parks New Zealand My Cat From Hell Ned Bruha: Skunk Whisperer

01:15 Baking Mad With Eric Lanlard 01:40 Baking Mad With Eric Lanlard 02:05 Come Dine With Me 02:55 Antiques Roadshow 03:45 Bargain Hunt 04:30 Masterchef: The Professionals 04:55 Masterchef: The Professionals 05:50 Baking Made Easy 06:15 Baking Mad With Eric Lanlard 06:40 Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is 07:25 Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is 08:10 Eating With The Enemy 08:55 Kirstie & Phil’s Perfect Christmas 09:45 Kirstie & Phil’s Perfect Christmas 10:35 Gok’s Clothes Roadshow 11:25 Baking Mad With Eric Lanlard 12:15 Come Dine With Me 13:05 Antiques Roadshow 14:00 Bargain Hunt 14:45 Masterchef: The Professionals 15:15 Masterchef: The Professionals 16:10 Baking Made Easy 16:40 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 18:00 Gok’s Clothes Roadshow 18:45 Baking Mad With Eric Lanlard 19:35 Come Dine With Me 20:25 Antiques Roadshow 21:15 Bargain Hunt 22:00 Masterchef: The Professionals 22:55 Masterchef: The Professionals 23:25 Baking Made Easy 23:50 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

00:00 Business Edition With Tanya Beckett 00:30 Football Focus 01:00 BBC World News America 02:00 BBC World News 02:30 Newsnight 03:00 BBC World News 03:10 Weekend World 03:30 Pick Of The Year 04:00 BBC World News 04:10 Faster, Higher, Stronger 05:00 BBC World News 05:30 Pick Of The Year 06:00 BBC World News 06:30 Pick Of The Year 07:00 BBC World News 07:30 Fast Track 08:00 BBC World News 08:30 Middle East Business Report 09:00 BBC World News 09:30 Click 10:00 BBC World News 10:10 Weekend World 10:30 Pick Of The Year 11:00 BBC World News 11:10 Football Focus 11:30 Pick Of The Year 12:00 BBC World News 12:10 Pick Of The Year 13:00 BBC World News 13:10 World Features 13:30 Newsnight 14:00 BBC World News 14:10 Weekend World 14:30 Our World 15:00 BBC World News 15:30 Talking Movies

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 06:45 CNN Marketplace Africa 07:00 The Situation Room 08:00 World Sport 08:30 Leading Women 08:45 Future Cities 09:00 World Report 09:15 CNN Marketplace Africa 09:30 Backstory 10:00 World Report 10:15 CNN Marketplace Middle East 10:30 Sanjay Gupta MD 11:00 World Sport 11:30 Winning Post 11:45 The Gateway 12:00 The Best Of The Situation Room 13:00 Amanpour 13:30 The Brief 14:00 World Report 14:30 Inside Africa 15:00 Talk Asia 15:30 I Report For CNN 16:00 World Report 16:30 On China 17:00 News Special 17:30 Backstory 18:00 International Desk 18:30 African Voices 19:00 CNN Marketplace Europe 19:15 CNN Marketplace Africa 19:30 The Brief 20:00 World Sport 20:30 Open Court 21:00 International Desk 21:30 Inside Africa 22:00 International Desk 22:30 Leading Women 22:45 Future Cities 23:00 The Best Of The Situation Room

THE REUNION ON OSN ACTION HD 16:00 16:15 16:30 17:00 17:30 18:00 18:10 19:00 19:30 20:00 20:30 21:00 21:30 22:00 22:15 22:30 23:00 23:10

BBC World News Sport Today Fast Track BBC World News Dateline London BBC World News Faster, Higher, Stronger BBC World News Our World BBC World News Final Score BBC World News Fast Track BBC World News Sport Today Click BBC World News Pick Of The Year

00:05 00:30 00:55 01:20 01:45 02:10 02:35 03:00 03:25 03:50 04:00 04:30 04:55 05:20 05:45 06:00 06:10 06:35 07:00 07:20 07:45 08:10 08:35

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 What’s New Scooby Doo? Taz-Mania The Looney Tunes Show Tom & Jerry Tales The Garfield Show

09:00 09:25 09:40 09:55 10:10 10:25 10:50 11:05 11:30 12:30 12:55 13:20 13:45 14:00 14:50 15:15 15:40 16:30 16:55 17:20 18:00 19:10 19:30 19:55 20:20 20:45 21:00 21:25 21:50 22:15 22:40 23:05 23:30 23:55

Baby Looney Tunes Bananas In Pyjamas Cartoonito Tales Ha Ha Hairies Jelly Jamm Gerald McBoing Boing Moomins What’s New Scooby Doo? Chill Out Scooby Doo Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries Taz-Mania The Looney Tunes Show Tom & Jerry The Garfield Show Pink Panther And Pals Pink Panther And Pals Tom & Jerry Tales Taz-Mania Taz-Mania Johnny Bravo Scooby Doo: Pirates Ahoy Looney Tunes Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries Taz-Mania The Looney Tunes Show Tom & Jerry The Garfield Show Pink Panther And Pals What’s New Scooby Doo? Moomins Puppy In My Pocket The Perils Of Penelope Pitstop The Addams Family Droopy: Master Detective

00:40 Chowder 01:30 Bakugan Battle Brawlers 02:20 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 06:55 Angelo Rules 07:00 Ed, Edd n Eddy 07:30 Casper’s Scare School 08:00 The Marvelous Misadventures... 08:25 Redakai: Conquer The Kairu 08:45 Grim Adventures Of... 09:35 Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated 09:55 Level Up 10:15 Batman: The Brave And The Bold 10:35 Transformers Prime 11:00 Ben 10: Omniverse 11:25 Thundercats 11:50 Regular Show 12:15 Adventure Time 12:40 The Amazing World Of Gumball 13:05 Johnny Test 13:30 Ben 10 14:00 Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm 15:15 Green Lantern: The Animated Series 15:35 Transformers Prime 16:00 Angelo Rules 16:50 Ben 10: Omniverse 17:15 Generator Rex 17:40 Eliot Kid 18:30 Regular Show 19:20 Adventure Time 19:45 The Amazing World Of Gumball 20:10 Johnny Test 20:35 Ben 10: Alien Force 21:25 The Powerpuff Girls 22:15 Grim Adventures Of... 23:00 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 23:50 The Powerpuff Girls

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

Dr G: Medical Examiner Ghost Lab Psychic Witness Evil, I Evil, I I Escaped Death Dr G: Medical Examiner Ghost Lab Psychic Witness Disappeared Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? On The Case With Paula Zahn Murder Shift Disappeared Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Forensic Detectives On The Case With Paula Zahn 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 The Haunted Ghost Lab

00:40 01:05 01:35 02:25 03:15 04:05 04:35 05:25 05:50 06:15 06:40 07:05 08:00

The Gadget Show The Gadget Show Mission Critical The Future Of... Thunder Races One Step Beyond Prophets Of Science Fiction How Do They Do It? How Do They Do It? The Gadget Show The Gadget Show Mission Critical Ten Ways

08:50 Tech Toys 360 09:15 Tech Toys 360 09:40 Head Rush 09:43 Stunt Junkies 10:10 Stunt Junkies 10:40 Man-Made Marvels Asia 11:30 The Gadget Show 11:55 How Tech Works 12:20 Gadget Show - World Tour 12:45 How Tech Works 13:10 Gadget Show - World Tour 13:35 How Tech Works 14:00 Gadget Show - World Tour 14:25 How Tech Works 14:50 Gadget Show - World Tour 15:15 How Tech Works 15:45 Curiosity 16:35 Things That Move 17:00 Head Rush 17:03 The Tech Show 18:00 Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman 18:50 Scrapheap Challenge 19:40 Ways To Save The Planet 20:30 Sport Science 23:00 Sport Science 23:50 Sport Science

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

Fish Hooks Fish Hooks Brandy & Mr Whiskers Replacements Emperor’s New School Brandy & Mr Whiskers Brandy & Mr Whiskers Replacements Replacements 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 My Babysitter’s A Vampire Good Luck Charlie Austin And Ally Gravity Falls Starstruck Austin And Ally Austin And Ally My Babysitter’s A Vampire Jessie Jessie Good Luck Charlie Good Luck Charlie Gravity Falls Gravity Falls Shake It Up Shake It Up A.N.T. Farm A.N.T. Farm Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure Good Luck Charlie Starstruck Shake It Up My Babysitter’s A Vampire Gravity Falls A.N.T. Farm Jessie Jessie Fish Hooks Fish Hooks The Suite Life Of Zack And The Suite Life Of Zack And Stitch

00:25 Holly’s World 00:55 Style Star 01:25 THS 02:20 E!es 03:15 Behind The Scenes 03:40 Extreme Close-Up 04:10 E!es 05:05 THS 06:00 15 Remarkable Celebrity Body Bouncebacks 07:50 Behind The Scenes 08:20 E! News 09:15 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 10:15 Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane 11:10 Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane 12:05 E! News 13:05 Scouted 14:05 Kourtney & Kim Take New York 14:30 Kourtney & Kim Take New York 15:00 Married To Jonas 15:25 Married To Jonas

TV listings

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2012 15:55 Opening Act 16:55 Opening Act 17:55 E! News 18:55 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 19:55 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 20:55 Married To Jonas 21:25 Fashion Police 22:25 E! News 23:25 Chelsea Lately 23:55 Holly’s World

00:40 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 01:05 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 01:30 Guy’s Big Bite 01:55 Food Network Challenge 02:45 Food Network All-Star 03:35 Food Network All-Star 04:25 Kid In A Candy Store 04:50 Unique Sweets 05:15 Charly’s Cake Angels 05:40 Chopped 06:30 Iron Chef America 07:10 Unwrapped 07:35 Unwrapped 08:00 Food Network Challenge 08:50 Food Network Challenge 09:40 United Tastes Of America 10:05 Barefoot Contessa 10:30 Barefoot Contessa 10:55 Cooking For Real 11:20 Cooking For Real 11:45 Charly’s Cake Angels 12:10 Unique Sweets 12:35 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 13:00 Iron Chef America 13:50 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives Special 14:40 Barefoot Contessa 15:05 Mexican Made Easy 15:30 Food Network Challenge 16:20 United Tastes Of America 16:45 Chopped 17:35 Barefoot Contessa 18:00 Barefoot Contessa 18:25 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 18:50 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 19:15 Kid In A Candy Store 19:40 Unique Sweets 20:05 Charly’s Cake Angels 20:30 Chopped 21:20 Iron Chef America 22:10 Iron Chef America Special 23:00 Chopped 23:50 Food(Ography)

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

Dr G: Medical Examiner Ghost Lab Psychic Witness Evil, I Evil, I I Escaped Death Dr G: Medical Examiner Ghost Lab Psychic Witness Disappeared Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? On The Case With Paula Zahn Murder Shift Disappeared Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Forensic Detectives On The Case With Paula Zahn 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 The Haunted Ghost Lab

00:45 01:40 02:05 02:35 03:00 03:30

Amish: Out of Order Naked Lentil Naked Lentil Naked Lentil One Man & His Campervan Food Lover’s Guide To The

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

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Food Lover’s Guide To The Amish: Out of Order Bondi Rescue: Bali Bondi Rescue: Bali Street Food Around The World Market Values Market Values Market Values Market Values Deadliest Journeys 2 Extreme Expeditions Madagascar Maverick Amish: Out of Order On The Camino De Santiago On The Camino De Santiago One Man & His Campervan One Man & His Campervan Exploring The Vine Exploring The Vine Amish: Out of Order On Hannibal Trail Finding Genghis Market Values Deadliest Journeys 2 Extreme Expeditions Madagascar Maverick Bondi Rescue: Bali Bondi Rescue: Bali Street Food Around The World Market Values Market Values Market Values Earth Tripping Earth Tripping On The Camino De Santiago On The Camino De Santiago Bondi Rescue

Hide And Seek-18 Thick As Thieves-18 Survival Of The Dead-18 Men In Black II-PG The Reunion-PG15

10:00 12:00 PG15 14:00 16:00 18:00 PG15 20:00 22:00

Judge Dredd-18 Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle-

01:00 03:00 05:00 PG15 07:00 09:00 11:00 13:00 15:00 PG 17:00 19:00 21:00 23:00

The Last Exorcism-18 Teen Spirit-PG15 Snowflake , The White Gorilla-

The Reunion-PG15 Faster-PG15 Charlie’s Angels: Full ThrottleMachete-18 Boogeyman-18

Soldier Love Story-PG15 Teen Spirit-PG15 Chasing 3000-PG15 Green Lantern-PG15 Marley & Me: The Puppy Years33 Postcards-PG15 Older Than America-PG15 After Life-18 Meet Monica Velour-R

00:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 01:00 The Colbert Report 02:00 South Park 02:30 Bored To Death 03:00 Raising Hope 03:30 30 Rock 04:00 Hope & Faith 04:30 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 07:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 08:00 Hope & Faith 08:30 Raising Hope 11:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 12:30 Hope & Faith 14:00 30 Rock 15:30 The Daily Show With Jon

Stewart 16:00 The Colbert Report 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 Raising Hope 18:30 30 Rock 20:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 Saturday Night Live 23:00 Bored To Death 23:30 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

02:00 05:00 07:00 08:00 08:30 09:00 16:00 18:00 18:30 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 23:00

00:00 01:00 03:00 06:00 07:00 07:30 08:00 09:00 11:00 12:00 12:30 13:00

Damages Good Morning America The Practice Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show Live Good Morning America Emmerdale Coronation Street Burn Notice C.S.I. C.S.I. Miami Strike Back Homeland

Fairly Legal Damages Six Feet Under Fairly Legal Emmerdale Coronation Street Criminal Minds Glee Alphas Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show

14:00 15:00 16:00 16:30 18:00 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 23:00

Criminal Minds Fairly Legal Emmerdale Coronation Street Criminal Minds Burn Notice C.S.I. C.S.I. Miami Strike Back Six Feet Under

01:00 Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown-18 03:00 Kill List-R 05:00 Unknown-PG15 07:00 Malibu Shark Attack-18 09:00 True Justice: Angel Of DeathPG15 11:00 Unknown-PG15 13:00 Rocky v-PG15 15:00 True Justice: Angel Of DeathPG15 17:00 Anaconda-PG15 19:00 Tupac: Resurrection-18 21:00 Boogeyman-18 23:00 Fertile Ground-18

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

A Little Help-18 Paul-PG15 Zookeeper-PG15 It’s Kind Of A Funny Story-PG15 Scooby-Doo-PG The Marc Pease Experience-

01:00 03:45 05:30 07:15 09:00 11:15 13:30 15:30 17:45 21:00 PG 23:15

Munich-18 Trader Games-PG15 Dear John-PG15 Bob Roberts-PG15 Shanghai-PG15 Lord Of The Dance-PG Miles From Nowhere-PG15 Shanghai-PG15 Hindenburg-PG15 Bobby Jones: Stroke Of Genius-

Zookeeper-PG15 The Winning Season-PG15 The Marc Pease ExperienceLife As We Know It-PG15 The Royal Tenenbaums-18 High Fidelity-PG15

Page Eight-PG15

00:00 The Rum Diary-18 02:00 Transformers: Dark Of The Moon-PG15 04:45 Rio-FAM 06:45 Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides-PG15 09:00 The Adjustment Bureau-PG15 11:00 Happy Feet Two-PG15 13:00 Marion Jones: Press PausePG15 14:00 The Prince And Me 4: The Elephant Adventure-PG15 15:45 The Adjustment Bureau-PG15 17:45 X-Men: First Class-PG15 20:00 Another Earth-PG15 22:00 Chloe-R

01:00 A Venetian Rascal Goes To America-FAM 02:45 A Monster In Paris-PG15 04:30 The Three Bears: The Amazing Adventurers-FAM 06:00 Princess Lillifee-FAM 08:00 Teo: The Intergalactic Hunter-PG 10:00 Cats Don’t Dance-FAM 11:15 Battle For Terra-PG 12:45 The Three Bears: The Amazing Adventurers-FAM 14:15 Cheaper By The Dozen-PG 16:00 Arthur And The Revenge Of Maltazard-PG 18:00 Cats Don’t Dance-FAM 20:00 Return To Halloweentown-PG 22:00 Arthur And The Revenge Of Maltazard-PG 23:45 Teo: The Intergalactic Hunter-PG


00:00 MSNBC Martin Bashir 01:00 MSNBC Hardball With Chris Matthews 02:00 MSNBC Politicsnation

03:00 Live NBC Nightly News 03:30 ABC World News With Diane Sawyer 04:00 MSNBC The Ed Show 05:00 MSNBC The Rachel Maddow Show 06:00 MSNBC Politicsnation 07:00 Live NBC Nightly News 07:35 ABC Nightline 08:00 ABC World News With Diane Sawyer 08:30 Live NBC Nightly News 09:00 MSNBC The Rachel Maddow Show 10:00 MSNBC The Ed Show 11:00 MSNBC Morning Joe 14:00 MSNBC Caught On Camera 15:00 Live NBC Saturday Today Show 17:00 MSNBC Up With Chris Hayes Saturday 18:57 Live MSNBC Hardball With Chris Matthews 19:38 Live MSNBC The Ed Show 20:19 Live MSNBC The Rachel Maddow Show 21:00 ABC 20/20 22:00 MSNBC News 23:00 MSNBC News

00:00 Angry Juror-PG15 02:00 Letters To Juliet-PG15 04:00 The Smurfs-PG 06:00 Bound By A Secret-PG15 08:00 Monte Carlo-PG15 10:00 Spy Kids: All The Time In The World-PG 11:30 Letters To Juliet-PG15 13:15 Michael Jackson: The Life Of An Icon-PG15 16:00 Monte Carlo-PG15 18:00 The Eagle-PG15 20:00 Another Earth-PG15 22:00 Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans-18

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ICC Cricket 360 Live Cricket Test Match PGA European Tour Weekly Trans World Sport ICC Cricket 360 Live Twenty20 Big Bash League Cricket Test Match ICC Cricket 360 Twenty20 Big Bash League

02:00 03:00 07:00 10:00 14:00 14:30 15:00 17:00 18:00 19:00 22:00

WWE Bottom Line Top 14 Twenty20 Big Bash League Darts ICC Cricket 360 Futbol Mundial Top 14 PGA European Tour Weekly Trans World Sport Twenty20 Big Bash League Live Darts

00:30 Top 14 Highlights 01:00 Golfing World 02:00 Spirit of Golf 03:00 PDC World Darts Championship 07:00 Top 14 Highlights 07:30 Trans World Sport 08:30 Futbol Mundial 09:00 Spirit of a Champion 11:00 Top 14 13:00 Top 14 Highlights 13:30 PGA European Tour Highlights 14:30 Trans World Sport 15:30 Futbol Mundial 16:00 Top 14 18:00 Spirit of a Champion 20:00 Top 14 Highlights 20:30 Live Pro 12

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WWE Bottom Line WWE SmackDown UFC The Ultimate Fighter UFC 153 WWE SmackDown WWE Bottom Line WWE Vintage PrizeFighter WWE SmackDown WWE Bottom Line V8 Supercars Extra UFC 155 Countdown UFC The Ultimate Fighter UFC UFC 154


Announcements Shirva feast Shirva Welfare Association Kuwait (SWAK) will be celebrating their Shirva Parish feast-2013 here in Kuwait. On this occasion there will be a mass offered at 9.15 am on February 8, 2013 at the Holy Family Cathedral. Kuwait and the celebration / gettogether with a of variety entertainment programme will he held from 4:30 pm - 9 pm on the same day at the Indian Community School, Salmiya. SWAK members or their children who would like to participate in the variety entertainment programme and show their talent are requested to contact any of the SWAK committee members listed below to avail the opportunity before January 10, 2013. Likewise if any of members children have excelled in academics or any other extra curricular activities in the past 1 year will be appreciated and hence are requested to inform any of the SWAK committee members listed below before the 10th of January. Last date for enrollment in the talent show is January 15, 2013. Arabic course AWARE has started 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. Charity show On the occasion of New Year Hangama 2013, which will be held on December 31, 2012 , from 6:00 pm to 12:00 am at Carmel School, Khaitan. Rak Dance Academy is conducting dance competition in Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Hindi. The winners will be rewarded. Goan Culinary Club The 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 The 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 AlAqsa 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.

Places of interest Sadu House Al Sadu House stands on Arabian Gulf Street near the National Museum, representing one of the last preserved pre-oil -era dwellings in Kuwait. Al Sadu House became a centre for Bedouin art and the sale of traditional goods In 1979. Visitors can observe Bedouin women weaving at their looms, handmaking carpets, camel bags and tent screens. Opening hours are Saturday to Thursday from 8:00 am to 1:00 p.m and from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m daily except Friday. (Tel: +965 2243.2395) Admission is FREE. Science & Natural History Museum A wealth of education awaits the visitor to the Science and Natural History Museum on Abdulla Al Mubarak Street. Each gallery contains either a collection or an exhibit covering a wide range of themes. Collections on display Include fossils, stuffed animals, skeletons, and dried flowers. There are exhibits on health, petroleum, space travel, and electronics, among others. Forming part of the National Museum complex, the wonderful, modern Planetarium In the museum complex has shows at around 18:00 daily: local children, convinced the room is spinning, clap In syncopated beats every time the accompanying music begins. A museum planetarium shows: Mornings: 1st Show: 10:00 a.m; 2nd Show: 11:00 a. m; 3rd Show: 12:00 p.m Evenings: 1st Show: 5:00 p.m; 2nd Show: 5:45 p.m; 3rd Show : 6:00 p.m. Note: Friday & Saturday no morning shows. (Tel: +965 22451195; +965 22456534). Admission is FREE. The Dickson House The house of the first British political agent In Kuwait is still standing. The Dickson House, located across from the dhow harbour east of Sief Palace, was originally a Kuwaiti home built in 1870, but was given to Britain to use as residential headquarters. The compound was expanded several times over the years, but stands as an excellent example of early Kuwaiti architectural styles. Opening hours are from Saturday to Thursday 8:30 a.m-12:30 p.m and 4:30 a.m-8:30 p.m Friday 4:30 a.m - 8:30 p.m. Admission is FREE. Al-Qurain Museum Located in the residential suburb of Qurain, This small museum is a memorial to a cell of young Kuwaiti patriots who tried to resist arrest in February 1991. Early In the morning, Iraqis bombarded the house for hours with machine guns, bombs and eventually a tank. Monday to Saturday 8.30 a.m - 12.30 p.m; 4.30a.m -8.30 p.m Friday morning off. Afternoon: 4.30 a.m-8.30 pm. Winter Visiting hours: 4-8.30 pm. 1st Day of Eid off. Tel: +965 25430343

TIES Centre programs 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. 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. 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 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.

Embassy 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. nnnnnnn

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, Email: The Embassy of Canada is located at Villa 24, AlMutawakei 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. nnnnnnn

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: nnnnnnn

EMBASSY OF MYANMAR Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar would like to inform the general public that the Embassy has moved its office to new location at Villa 35, Road 203, Block 2, 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, nnnnnnn

EMBASSY OF NIGERIA The Nigerian embassy has its new office in Mishref. Block 3, Street 7, House 4. For enquires please call 25379541. Fax- 25387719. or nnnnnnn

EMBASSY OF PERU The Embassy of Peru is located in Sharq, Ahmed Al Jaber Street, Al Arabiya Tower, 6th Floor. Working days / hours: SundayThursday /9 am - 4 pm. Residents in Kuwait interested in getting a visa to travel to Peru and companies attracted to invest in Peru are invited to visit the permanent exposition room located in the Embassy. For more information, please contact: (+965) 22267250/1.




erry Christmas and a happy new to our daddy and mommy in the lord Bishop Jonathan and Pastor Zinny. We appreciate your love and how God has been using you to bless people. May the good Lord continue to guide and bless you and your family Amen. Greetings from Life Abundant International Fountain Church (LAIF), friends and well-wishers.


hat’s more fun than clicking a beautiful picture? Sharing it with others! This summer, let other people see the way you see Kuwait - through your lens. Friday Times will feature snapshots of Kuwait through Instagram feeds. If you want to share your Instagram photos, email us at

Pakistan Academy School marks ‘Quaid-E-Azam Day’


graceful ceremony to pay tribute to the eminent jurist and statesman, nation builder and founder of Sovereign State of Pakistan ‘The Qauid-e-Azam’ was organized in Pakistan Academy School Ahmadi on the eve of his Birthday on 25th December. Prof Syed Zakir Ali presided over the program.

Maaz Imran grade 10 recited the verses from the Holy Quran while the Hadith of the Holy Prophet was recited by Muhammad Ahmed grade 8. The students of different grades paid high regards to the Quaid and highlighted various aspects of his life as a jurist, statesman and great leader of the Muslims

of the South East Asia. Prof Syed Zakir Ali, the Principal, in his address expressed that Jinnah was a versatile genius, a fascinating personality with inborn qualities of a leader which led him to success to achieve an independent and sovereign Country. ‘We must adopt his motto, unity, faith, discipline’.



WARSAW: A blind guide walks past the entrance to the ‘invisible exhibition’. (Right) Visitors play a game that stimulates the visitors’ senses and reveals the tools that the blind use in their daily lives. —AFP photos

‘Invisible Exhibition’ opens eyes to blindness ‘The visitors take on the role of the blind’ WARSAW: The darkness is total. Mundane gestures suddenly become complicated. How do you find the door to your room, cook a meal or cross the road? The “Invisible Exhibition” in the Polish capital Warsaw offers an opportunity to understand what it is like to be sightless, as blind guides steer visitors round in blacked-out rooms. “The visitors take on the role of the blind,” exhibition curator Malgorzara Szumowska told AFP. “Thanks to a series of sense-based installations, you experience what it is to live in the dark.” The hour-long tour requires a healthy imagination, as the sighted learn how smell, hearing, taste and touch work differently in this unknown world. “There are six rooms, all in utter darkness. Each one replicates a scene from daily life: an apartment, a street, a museum, and so on,” said Szumowska. The noise seems overwhelming in the street scene, where visitors must dodge cars and lampposts. Smells are a delight in a forest chalet, as is the sound of a stream under a small wooden bridge. The last stop is a loud cafe where the blind guide takes on the role of the barman. Along with the dark side, the exhibition has a section with light that offers educational games to stimulate the senses and demonstrates tools the blind use in their daily lives, such as braille. “Our goal is to show that the invisible world is beautiful and sumptuous, and that the blind have a sense of

Beijing to enact strict new food safety laws SHANGHAI: Beijing will introduce tough new laws to punish firms that flout food safety laws, the official Xinhua news agency reported, a significant move in China’s struggle to get its abysmal food safety record under control. The announcement follows a similar declaration by the city of Shanghai on Wednesday saying it would blacklist firms that flout food safety laws. Under the new Beijing regulations, to take effect in April, firms caught producing or selling unsafe foods will be banned from operating in Beijing for life, according to a municipal food safety regulation passed on Thursday, the report said. Employees found responsible for food safety problems and the executives of companies that commit food safety problems will not be allowed to work in the industry for five years after their firms’ licenses are revoked, the report said. China’s food safety problems have proven difficult to eradicate even after repeated government campaigns to enforce standing laws and change attitudes at Chinese companies. Frequent media reports refer to cooking oil being recycled from drains, carcinogens in milk, and fake eggs. In 2008, milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine killed at least six children and sickened nearly 300,000. On Monday, Shanghai’s food safety authority said the level of antibiotics and steroids in Yum Brands Inc’s KFC chicken was within official limits, but found a suspicious level of an antiviral drug in one of the eight samples tested. Yum faced criticism last week from China’s state-owned broadcaster, which said Yum’s KFC chickens in China contained an excessive level of antibiotics. — Reuters

WARSAW: A blind guide explains to visitors how blind people use computer during a introduction to the ‘invisible exhibition’. humor, with a life and passions,” said Szumowska. “Fate doesn’t exclude them from society.” ‘At first I was terrified’ The idea for the exhibition came from Hungary, where a woman blacked out her apartment to understand and share

the experience of her husband, blinded by an accident. Her experiment led to an exhibition-cum-social project in the capital Budapest. It caught on, and was followed by a version in the Czech capital Prague then another one in Warsaw, which opened a year ago. Some 30,000 people have visited “Niewidzialna Wystawa”, as it’s called in Polish. “It’s very powerful,” said Warsaw student Aleksandra. “At first I was terrified. I didn’t know what was going on around me. I felt lost. But luckily there was a blind guide.” The guides are paid, a boost in a labour market where options for the blind are often limited. “It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” said Pawel Kozlowski, one of the team. It’s also a challenge, said 31-year-old Pawel Orabczuk, a graduate in teaching and social work as well as a sound engineer and drummer in a heavy metal band who has been blind since birth. “The main thing for we guides is to ensure that everything feels fine and safe,” he said. You not only have to help visitors tap their four remaining senses but you must do so “only through words, because they can’t see your gestures in the dark.” “If only one visitor in 10 realizes that you should consider the blind as an ordinary person, that’s a success,” he added. Even “we can still say, ‘See you soon’,” he said at the exit. “How else can you put it?” — AFP

World smelliest, largest flower blooms in Brazil RIO DE JANEIRO: Hundreds of visitors are flocking daily to a botanical garden in southeastern Brazil to watch the rare blooming of the Titan arum, the world’s smelliest and largest tropical flower. Also known as the “corpse flower” because of a smell likened to rotting flesh, it began blooming on Christmas Day and is already beginning to close, botanist Patricia Oliveira said. The flower “has a lifespan of 72 hours, during which its stink and meat-coloration attract pollinators: carrion flies and beetles,” added Oliveira, who works at the Inhotim garden, about 445 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro, housing the massive flower. Titan arum, also known by its scientific name, “Amorphophallus titanum,” which means misshapen giant penis, is native to the rainforests of western Sumatra. It rarely flowers, is incredibly difficult to cultivate and takes six years to grow. Thursday, this Brazilian specimen reached 167 centimeters in height, but the species can grow up to over three meters tall. This “is the second time it bloomed. The first time was in December 2010,” Oliveira said. When it flowers, the bloom has the same temperature as that of the human body, which helps spread its pungent smell. The species was first described in 1878 by Italian natural scientist Odoardo Beccari. Ten years later, it bloomed in a London botanical garden and its next flowering occurred in 1926. —AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO: A titan arum (Amorphophallu s titanum), also known as ‘corpse flower’ or ‘corpse plant’ due to its odor, is displayed at the Inhotim Art Institute and Botanical Garden in Belo Horizonte. —AFP

























Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh












Hospitals Sabah Hospital


Amiri Hospital


Maternity Hospital


Mubarak Al-Kabir Hospital


Chest Hospital


Farwaniya Hospital


Adan Hospital


Ibn Sina Hospital


Al-Razi Hospital


Physiotherapy Hospital


Clinics Rabiya














Abdullah Salim




Industrial Shuwaikh






Bneid Al-Ghar






Ayoun Al-Kibla










Maidan Hawally




Room available, rent KD 65, near the big Jamiya, Bahrain St, Ghadeer Clinic building. Tel: 66792392/ 66282602/ 60421240. (C 4263) 25-12-2012 CHANGE OF NAME I, Jafar Mohammed Hussain Warekar, holder of Indian Passport No: E8758097 hereby change my name to Zafar Mohammed Hussain Warekar. (C 4266) I, Raguri Subbaiah Reddamma holder of Indian Passport No: F0419527 hereby change my name to Ravuri Reddamma Venkata Subbaiah. (C 4258) I, Mohammed Pervaiz S/o Mohammed Jahangir, R/o 194-281/A/30, Sanjeev Gandhi Nagar, Hyd. Passport bearing No: H1841911 hereby changed my name to Syed Parvez S/o Syed Jahangir Parvez. (C 4267) 27-12-2012 I, Suresh Dhanapal, Indian Passport No: E6840843 have converted from Hindu to Islam and changed my name to Barakath Ali Dhanapal (C 4265) 25-12-2012

MATRIMONIAL Proposal invited for a bachelor 29 years working as a secretary in a reputed company looking for a good fearing and well educated girls. Email: (C 4268) 29-12-2012

Automated enquiry about the Civil ID card is

1889988 Prayer timings

SITUATION WANTED Systems Engineer (2-3 years experience in Infosys Ltd) Configuration Controller and Release Management, UNIX, Oracle, B-Tech Electronics & Comm. Mob: 65015932. (C 4260) 24-12-2012

Fajr: Duhr: Asr: Maghrib: Isha:

05:14 11:47 14:36 16:55 18:17

REQUIRED Professional Nail Spa looking for Nail Technician (Manicurist) who can preform (manicure, pedicure, nail art, hand & foot massage). Requirments: - Female. - 2 years minimum experience. Applicants please e-mail us your C.V. to:

TUITION Learn Holy Quran in perfect way, private tuition available for elders and children by Hafiz-E-Quran. Contact: 66725950. (C 4262) Tuition available for Web Designing & Professional Graphic Designing. Learn to create your own website just in 3 months. Flexible schedule, join us to build your career as Web Designer. Call 60078629, 22403408. (C 4264) 25-12-2012 AutoCAD tuition available by Highly Qualified Experienced Teacher, Learn professionally AutoCAD 2D&3D with Projects, Flexible Schedule, and individual tutorial. Contact: 99302850 / 22467301. (C 4251) 20-12-2012

GOVERNMENT WEB SITES Kuwait Parliament Ministry of Interior Public Authority for Civil Information Kuwait News Agency Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affair Ministry of Energy (Oil) Ministry of Energy (Electricity and Water) Public Authority for Housing Welfare Ministry of Justice Ministry of Communications Supreme Council for Planning andDevelopment

The Public Institution for Social Security Public Authority of Industry Prisoners of War Committee Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kuwait Municipality Kuwait Electronic Government Ministry of Finance Ministry of Commerce and Industry Ministry of Education Ministry of Information Kuwait Awqaf Public Foundation

information SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2012



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Directorate General of Civil Aviation Home Page (

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Word Search

Yesterdayʼs Solution

C R O S S W O R D 5 3

ACROSS 1. An edge tool used to cut and shape wood. 4. A person who uses flattery. 12. The cry made by sheep. 15. A spring-flowering shrub or small tree of the genus Crataegus. 16. Derived from or imitative of Latin. 17. A unit of absorbed ionizing radiation equal to 100 ergs per gram of irradiated material. 18. A sweetened beverage of diluted fruit juice. 19. Of or relating to or characteristic of Ghana or its people or language. 20. A constellation in the southern hemisphere near Telescopium and Norma. 21. The second month of the Hindu calendar. 23. Decorated with designs of sprigs. 25. (Greek mythology) Goddess of the earth and mother of Cronus and the Titans in ancient mythology. 26. American Revolutionary leader and signer of the Declaration of Independence (1731-1814). 27. A light strong gray lustrous corrosion-resistant metallic element used in strong light-weight alloys (as for airplane parts). 31. Weapons considered collectively. 35. An Arabic speaking person who lives in Arabia or North Africa. 37. (of persons) Highest in rank or authority or office. 39. Cubes of meat marinated and cooked on a skewer usually with vegetables. 40. Reprehensible acquisitiveness. 43. (old-fashioned) At or from or to a great distance. 45. First or beginning. 46. Czechoslovakian religious reformer who anticipated the Reformation. 49. Fragrant resin obtain from trees of the family Burseraceae and used as incense. 53. To make a mistake or be incorrect. 54. Of or relating to or involving an area. 56. A white soft metallic element that tarnishes readily. 58. Extremely large treelike cactus of desert regions of southwestern United States having a thick columnar sparsely branched trunk bearing white flowers and edible red pulpy fruit. 66. Rounded like an egg. 67. In the same place (used when citing a reference). 70. (used especially of vegetation) Having lost all moisture. 71. An aggressive remark directed at a person like a missile and intended to have a telling effect. 72. Outstanding Italian operatic tenor (1873-1921). 73. An elaborate song for solo voice. 74. The sixth month of the civil year. 75. A port city in southwestern Iran. 76. A public area set aside as a pedestrian walk.

3. Austrian writer (1881-1942). 4. Primitive chlorophyll-containing mainly aquatic eukaryotic organisms lacking true stems and roots and leaves. 5. The capital and largest city of Bangladesh. 6. A state in the western United States. 7. United States sculptor and architect whose public works include the memorial to veterans of the Vietnam War in Washington (born in 1959). 8. Extinct order of jawless vertebrates. 9. Large highly venomous snake of northeastern Australia. 10. Type genus of the Otariidae. 11. A proteolytic enzyme secreted by the kidneys. 12. (informal) Exceptionally good. 13. A river in north central Switzerland that runs northeast into the Rhine. 14. (Babylonian) God of storms and wind. 22. South Asian deer with three-tined antlers. 24. Wheelwork consisting of a connected set of rotating gears by which force is transmitted or motion or torque is changed. 28. Feeling or showing extreme anger. 29. Give over. 30. (astronomy) The angular distance of a celestial point measured westward along the celestial equator from the zenith crossing. 32. Go into retirement. 33. A resident of Maine. 34. Someone who supervises the physical aspects in the production of a show and who is in charge of the stage when the show is being performed. 36. Lower in esteem. 38. A lever that is operated with the foot. 41. (law) Lacking any legal or binding force. 42. A domed or vaulted recess or projection on a building especially the east end of a church. 44. A soft silvery metallic element of the alkali earth group. 47. A genus of Mustelidae. 48. An official prosecutor for a judicial district. 50. A fighter who batters the opponent. 51. African tree having an exceedingly thick trunk and fruit that resembles a gourd and has an edible pulp called monkey bread. 52. Angular distance above the horizon (especially of a celestial object). 55. Any plant of the genus Erica. 57. State in northeastern India. 59. (often followed by `for') Ardently or excessively desirous. 60. An amino acid that is found in the central nervous system. 61. Flat tableland with steep edges. 62. A primeval personification of air and breath. 63. A three-tone Chadic language. 64. A barrier consisting of a horizontal bar and supports. 65. Using speech rather than writing. 68. A self-funded retirement plan that allows you to contribute a limited yearly sum toward your retirement. 69. Failing to detonate.

Yesterdayʼs Solution

DOWN 1. According to the Old Testament he was a pagan king of Israel and husband of Jezebel (9th century BC). 2. An informal term for a father.

Daily SuDoku

Yesterday’s Solution



Wild Oats win yacht race SYDNEY: Race favorites Wild Oats XI clinched their sixth Sydney to Hobart yacht race yesterday, beating their own race record. The Mark Richards-skippered super-maxi, which had been pushed along for much of Thursday by strong northerly winds, crossed the finish line in Tasmania at 0723 (2023 GMT). Their official time was one day, 18 hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds. Wild Oats set the previous record of one day, 18 hours, 40 minutes and 10 seconds in 2005 when they not only took line honours for the 628-nautical mile blue water classic but also won the overall handicap title as well. “It was a really tough, testing race for the team and the crew and the gear handling,” Richards told reporters at Constitution Dock after his team had initially thought they would miss the race record. “It was a very, very tricky night last night and we got here and after last year’s defeat the boys were on a real mission this year to redeem ourselves.” Last year’s winners Ragamuffin Loyal - who pipped Wild Oats to the line by less than three minutes in 2011 - were about 50 nautical miles from the finish in second place when Richards and his crew crossed the line. The Syd Fischer-owned Ragamuffin were mired in light winds and just after 0930 (2230 GMT) still had about 35 nautical miles to go to reach the finish. However, they will face a race jury later to determine whether they will be penalised for jumping the gun in Sydney on Wednesday. Super-maxi Lahana were in third place, about 50 nautical miles behind Ragamuffin. Wild Oats had been surfing at more than 24 knots down the east coast of Tasmania on Thursday and at one stage were more than 30 nautical miles ahead of her 2005 record pace before a westerly change. They rounded Tasman Island off the south-eastern tip of the island state at about 0330 (1630 GMT) and had been projected to finish about 50 minutes outside their record. A south-westerly wind, however, picked up just before they entered the Derwent River and propelled them to the finish where they were greeted by a flotilla of small boats escorting them to victory. Wild Oats’ victory moved them within one win of equalling the record of seven held by Morna/Kurrewa IV and owner Bob Oatley said they would be back in 2013. “We’ve never given up; we’ll try to do it again next year,” Oatley said. “New wings on the keel helped enormously I’m sure, so did the new jib. The design, the crew, the sails and the modifications are what makes the boat fast.” The start of this year’s race on Wednesday had been shrouded in controversy with the exclusion of 2003 line honours winner Wild Thing for failing to provide necessary documentation for modifications to the boat. Just two of the 76 boats to have started the race have so far been forced to withdraw, with Living Doll suffering a broken rudder while Primitive Cool damaged their mainsail. Both were heading back to Eden on the New South Wales coast for repairs, race organisers said. — Reuters

UFA: Canada defenseman Dougie Hamilton (left) is stopped by Slovakia goalie Adam Nagy (right) during the first period of the IIHF World Junior Championships hockey game. — AP

Canada beat Slovakia at junior hockey worlds UFA: Ryan Strome scored two goals as Canada rallied to beat Slovakia 6-3 at the world junior ice hockey championships yesterday. Goals in the first period from Marko Dano and Tomas Mikus put Slovakia 2-0 ahead before Strome narrowed the gap at 22:16 and Dano restored the two-goal margin on a power play midway through the second period. But Morgan Rielly, Ty Rattia and Mark Schiefele put Canada 4-3 ahead after 40 minutes. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Strome then scored a goal each early in the third period to seal Canada’s second victory after a 9-3 win over Germany in the Group B opener on Wednesday. Malcolm Subban made 25 saves for Canada, Adam Nagy stopped 24 for Slovakia. Canada leads Group B with six points. Slovakia has one point and Germany has lost both its matches. The United States was scheduled to play Russia later yesterday. Also yesterday, the Czech Republic scored its first victory at the event, beating Finland 2-1 through first-period goals from Marek Hrbas and Tomas Hyka in Group A. Teuvo Teravainen scored the only goal for Finland at 22:29 and pressed for

an equalizer but Patrik Bartosak made 29 saves to secure the victory. Joonas Korpisalo had 17 saves for Finland. Sweden was due to play Switzerland later in Group A. United States routed Germany 8-0 on Thursday at the world junior ice hockey tournament behind a goal and two assists each from Alex Galchenyuk and Riley Barber. This was the first Group B game for the Americans, who are tied for first place with Canada. The Canadians downed Germany 9-3 on Wednesday. US goaltender John Gibson stopped 19 shots through two periods. He was replaced for the third by Jon Gillies, who made seven saves. Sean Kuraly added a goal and an assist for the Americans, who were dominant throughout the game and forced German goalie Marvin Cupper to make 38 saves. Also Thursday, Switzerland beat Latvia 7-2 in Group A. The Americans were up 3-0 after the first period, thanks to goals from Kuraly, Jacob Trouba and Galchenyuk. They scored another three in the second - through Barber, Shayne Gostisbehere and Ryan Hartman. J.T. Miller then scored on a solo effort midway through the third and Seth Jones

completed the rout less than two minutes later. Earlier in the Group A match, Mike Kunzle scored two goals to help give Switzerland a winning start to the tournament. Nikolais Jelisejevs put Latvia ahead on a power play but Christoph Berschy equalized and Kunzle gave Switzerland the lead for good with 1:33 left in the first period. Lukas Balmelli made it 3-1 early in the second before Arturs Sevcenko pulled a goal back less than three minutes later. But Switzerland dominated the rest of the game, with further goals by Sven Andrighetto, Sandro Zangger, Kunzle and Alessio Bertaggia. Luca Boltshauser had 30 saves for Switzerland, while Elvis Merzlikins made 25 stops for Latvia, which fell to its second straight loss. Switzerland is tied for first on three points with Finland and Sweden in Group A. The Czech Republic is also in the group. The preliminary round continues Friday with Finland facing the Czech Republic and Sweden playing Switzerland in Group A at the Sports palace, while Canada will take on Slovakia and U.S. will face Russia at Ufa Arena. — AP

Le Cleac’h leads Vendee Globe

SYDNEY: In this image provided by Rolex, crew on Wild Oats XI prepare to cross the finish line at Hobart, Australia to take line honors in the Sydney Hobart yacht race. —AP

PARIS: French pair Armel Le Cleac’h and Francois Gabart continued to dominate the Vendee Globe roundthe-world yachting marathon yesterday with Le Cleac’h easing ahead once again in mid Pacific Ocean. The two sailors have been swapping the lead at regular intervals as they head towards Cape Horn at the south-

ern tip of South America where they will once again navigate into the Atlantic Ocean. Le Cleac’h is just 12.7 nautical miles clear of Gabart with third-place JeanPierre Dick 460.4 nautical miles back. The chances of a first-ever nonFrench winner lay with Welshman Alex Thomson, but he was over 800 nautical

miles off the pace. Thirteen yachts were left in the seventh edition of the race, which left Sables d’Olonne in western France on November 10, while seven had been forced out of the gruelling single-handed event. Organisers said they expected the leaders to round the dangerous waters off Cape Horn on January 1. —AFP



Cowboys, Redskins battle for division crown WASHINGTON: The battle for the NFL’s NFC East division crown will come down to the wire tomorrow when the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys in the last game of the regular season. For the Cowboys, winning is their only ticket into the playoffs, while the Redskins might advance as a wildcard even if they lose. But Washington’s sensational rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III doesn’t want to do it that way, and the Cowboys know it. Dallas defenders are focused on containing the versatile young starsomething they failed to do in a 38-31 loss to Washington on Thanksgiving Day last month. “I think one thing you have to do with him, especially when you have an option quarterback

who’s exposed: You have to inflict him with pain,” said Dallas linebacker Brady Poppinga. “Not that you’re trying to knock the guy out or anything, but you have to tackle him ... You want to get some good shots on him and you want to test his toughness.” Since the teams last met, Griffin has been sidelined by a knee injury, and may be less than 100 percent. Nevertheless, Dallas linebacker Ernie Sims said the Cowboys are preparing for Griffin’s best. “Stopping RGIII, that’s our goal,” Sims said. Offensively the Cowboys will be relying on quarterback Tony Romo and receiver Dez Bryant to continue the kind of inspired play that has seen the team claw back into playoff con-

tention after falling two games below .500 midway through the season. Romo must avoid the inopportune interceptions that led to defeats against Chicago and the New York Giants-something he has managed to do late in the season. “He makes a ton of plays,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s just not making very many bad plays. He’s done a great job with the football. His decision-making, his care of the football has been very good.” The Minnesota Vikings can lock up one of two remaining playoff berths with a victory over visiting Green Bay. The Packers, meanwhile, will be trying to secure a first-round bye and prevent Vikings running back Adrian Peterson from capping his remark-

able comeback from a torn knee ligament by surpassing Eric Dickerson’s NFL record of 2,105 rushing yards in a season. Peterson needs 208 yards to break the mark set in 1984. “I respect Adrian Peterson a lot,” said Packers cornerback Sam Shields. “He’s a great running back. But he’s a big threat. We need to stop him.” If the Vikings lose, it could open the door for the erratic Chicago Bears, who visit Detroit, and maybe even for the New York Giants, who maintained the slimmest of playoff hopes heading into their season finale at home to a Philadelphia Eagles team that will have Michael Vick back as starting quarterback-taking the reins back from Nick Foles for what is likely his last game as an Eagle. — AFP

Set your DVR for Pro Bowl. Now. Seriously NEW YORK: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell warned players a while back that he was prepared to drop the Pro Bowl if they didn’t pick up the level of play. Next thing you know, he’ll be threatening to hold his breath. Instead of calling his bluff, which is what anyone who doesn’t get the consolation prize of a week’s vacation in Hawaii should have done, they promised to try harder. At the time, it sounded like one of those things kids say just to get their parents off their backs. That seemed even more true this week, when cellar-dwelling Kansas City somehow managed to get five players selected to the AFC squad. That’s three more than the number of wins the Chiefs have posted so far this season - when they were supposed to be trying - which raises the question: Will anyone who tunes into the Pro Bowl on Jan. 27 be able to tell the difference? That’s the problem facing every pro sport that stages an all-star game these days: It’s tough to tell whether anyone’s heart is in it anymore. Most veterans would rather take the days off than whatever cash or exposure it provides, and nearly all of them can afford it. More than two dozen passed on an opportunity to show up for last year’s 59-41, do-no-harm win by the AFC over the NFC. By the end of that one, defenders were waving ballcarriers by with the kind of flourishes usually reserved for bullfights. Even a solid company man like Goodell had to admit it was an embarrassment. “If we cannot accomplish that kind of standard,” the commissioner said during a Roger Goodell radio interview in October, referring to the league’s high-intensity regular season, “I am inclined to not play it. It is really tough to force competition, and after a long season, to ask those guys to go out and play at the same level they played is really tough.” Impossible, though, is more like it. Because the Super Bowl is played at a neutral site, Goodell can’t follow the lead of baseball boss Bud Selig and try to coax players into caring about the outcome by awarding home-field advantage to the winning side. There’s nothing to be borrowed from the NBA’s version, either, because basketball - unlike football - can be entertaining without anyone actually playing defense, as fans of the Charlotte Bobcats can attest. And there’s no reason to even mention the NHL in this context, because nothing that Commissioner Gary Bettman has come up with during his tenure is likely to be worth stealing. So what should Goodell do? Exactly what he’s doing now: Pretend to be concerned, and leave it at that. — AP

CHARLOTTE: Cincinnatiís Greg Blair (51) reacts after defeating Duke in the Belk Bowl NCAA college football game in Charlotte. —AP

Bears overwhelm UCLA SAN DIEGO: Baylor’s Glasco Martin ran for three touchdowns while Nick Florence threw for two scores and ran for another as the Bears overwhelmed UCLA 49-26 in college football’s Holiday Bowl on Thursday. In the day’s other bowl games, San Jose State capped a big season with a 29-20 win over Bowling Green in the Military Bowl while Cincinnati capitalized on some bad late errors by Duke to beat the Blue Devils 48-34 in the Belk Bowl. Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk rushed 16 times for 138 yards and one score as the Bears outgained UCLA 494 yards to 362. The Bears came in leading the nation in total offense with 387.7 yards per game. Florence’s 188 yards passing gave him 4,309 for the season, breaking Robert Griffin III’s 2011 school season record of 4,293. Baylor’s defense came up big, too. The Bears sacked Brett Hundley six times, including two by Chris McAllister. Baylor won five of its last six games while UCLA lost its final three. The Bruins were never in this one. Baylor raced to a 21-0 lead by early in the sec-

ond quarter on Glasco’s 4-yard run and Florence’s TD passes of 8 yards to Antwan Goodley and 55 yards to Tevin Reese. In the Military Bowl, San Jose State quarterback David Fales, who led the nation in completion percentage in the regular season, went 33 of 43 for 395 yards and two touchdowns to beat Bowling Green. Fales led the drive that set up Austin Lopez’s 27-yard field goal with 4:43 remaining, and De’Leon Eskridge’s 1yard run with 2:34 left provided the insurance. San Jose State capped the year with a seven-game winning streak for its first 11-win season since 1940, a remarkable turnaround for a program that was 1-12 just two years ago in Mike MacIntyre’s first season as coach. MacIntyre left earlier this month for a bigger payday at Colorado, leaving defensive coordinator Kent Baer in charge for the bowl. Bowling Green had a similar turnaround, improving from 210 in 2010 under coach Dave Clawson. A defense that allowed only 15.8 points per game in the regular season - ninthbest among FBS schools - did a decent job against a San Jose State team that

was averaging 35.3 points. In the Belk Bowl, Duke let a seemingly certain victory literally slip through its fingers. Duke running back Josh Snead fumbled at the Cincinnati 5-yard line with 1:20 left and Bearcats quarterback Brendon Kay capitalized, throwing an 83-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce with 44 seconds to go. Kay threw for 332 yards and his four scoring passes were a Belk Bowl record. Duke appeared to have the game in hand and was driving for the go-ahead score - and its first bowl victory since 1961 - but the final 80 seconds proved disastrous. With the game tied 34-34 and the Blue Devils positioning themselves for a winning field goal, Snead fumbled with 1:20 left and Bearcats defensive lineman John Williams recovered. Kay then connected with Kelce down the middle for the go-ahead score. Cincinnati sealed it on the next series when Maalik Bomar crashed into Duke quarterback Sean Renfree, forcing a deflection that Nick Temple returned 55 yards for a touchdown. Renfree threw for 358 yards - another Belk Bowl record - for the Blue Devils.— AP



Clippers win, Thunder roll LOS ANGELES: Matt Barnes tied his season high with 21 points off the bench, Chris Paul had 11 assists and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated Boston 106-77 on Thursday night, becoming the first team to win 15 consecutive games since the Celtics four years ago. Fellow reserve Jamal Crawford added 17 points, Blake Griffin had 15 and Caron Butler 14 to help the Clippers improve the NBA’s best record to 23-6. Kevin Garnett scored 16 points for Boston, which never led in dropping to .500 at 14-14 with its fifth loss in seven games. Paul Pierce and Jeff Green added 12 points each to go with 10 apiece from Jason Terry and Rajon Rondo. Boston’s winning streak extended to 19 games in 2008-09. Thunder 111, Mavericks 105 In Oklahoma, Kevin Durant scored 40

points while Russell Westbrook added eight of his 16 points in overtime to help the Thunder beat the Mavericks for their 11th straight win at home. Serge Ibaka added 19 points and matched his season-high with 17 rebounds as Oklahoma City charged back from 10 points down in the final 7:17 of regulation and found a way to win after losing back-to-back games for the first time this season. Darren Collison scored a season-best 32 points for Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki scored nine points in his second game back after offseason knee surgery, showing some rust down the stretch. Westbrook turned the game around with six straight points after the Mavs had gone up 104-101 on Chris Kaman’s bucket inside midway through overtime.—AP

LOS ANGELES: Clippers’ Blake Griffin (center) is defended by Boston Celtics’ Rajon Rondo (right) and Paul Pierce in the second half of an NBA basketball game. — AP

And the winner is ... Time for the Newbys NEW YORK: Forget the Oscars or the Emmys. It’s time for the Newbys — my awards for the top people, moments and mishaps in sports from 2012. We’ll skip the lame banter on the red carpet and long-winded acceptance speeches (unless it’s Les Miles). Heck, we’ll even take a pass on handing out actual trophies (enough of those already). So, without further delay, the envelopes please. WORST DECISION: This is always a hotly contested category, considering the abundance of boneheaded calls, trades and signings that occur in any given year. The New York Jets acquiring Tim Tebow, for instance. But in 2012, the award goes to ... NFL replacement refs, for somehow concocting a way to give the Seattle Seahawks a game-winning touchdown on a Green Bay Packers interception. Though, to some, this might have been the best decision of the year because it forced the league to bring back the real refs. We never realized how much we missed those guys.

in 44 years. The fact that Man City edged crosstown rival Manchester United on goal differential only made the title that much sweeter for the Blues. COUNTRY OF THE YEAR — Carrying on with the royal theme, the award goes to ... Britain, for putting on a stellar Olympics that included perhaps the most inspiring races of the year — Mo Farah’s sweep of the 5,000 and 10,000 meters — among a bevy of gold medals for the host country. The British also claimed the Tour de France (Bradley Wiggins) and U.S. Open tennis championship (long-suffering Andy Murray), while contributing to Europe’s historic Ryder Cup rally.

HOTTEST SPORT — For its glowing presentation of the Daytona 500, the award goes to ... NASCAR. It helps to be a sport that relies on flammable liquids, but no one expected the biggest race of the year to turn into Devil’s Night. Juan Pablo Montoya’s car spun out during a caution period, colliding with a jet fuelpowered dryer and igniting a towering inferno. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt, and people who never paid a lick of attention to the good ol’ boys suddenly tuned it to see what all the flames ... uh, fuss, was about. BEST RANT — If he wasn’t a football coach, he might be a comedian. His garbled vocabulary

GENDER OF THE YEAR: Men are always tough to beat in this category, given their centuries-long head start. That said, the award goes to ... women! From Missy Franklin and Gabby Douglas lighting up the Summer Olympics to Serena Williams proving she’s still a tour de force with a tennis racket. And let’s not forget the small but monumental step of every country allowing women to compete at the London Games, which may turn out to be the biggest victory of all.

DUMBEST RULE — Who knew an NFL coach couldn’t challenge a call that was already subject to review, and if he did, not only would his team receive a 15-yard penalty but the call would no longer be checked for accuracy? Truly ridiculous. But not ridiculous enough. The award goes to ... baseball’s “outfield” fly rule. In a onegame playoff, the Braves hit a fly ball to left that dropped between the shortstop and an outfielder. The umpires called an automatic out, invoking the infield fly rule — even though the ball landed more than 200 feet from home plate. A potential Braves’ rally was cut short, Atlanta fans turned Turner Field into a garbage dump, and the Cardinals won the game. Even dumber, baseball has yet to amend the rule to avoid a similar debacle. MOST CALLOUS FRANCHISE — We’re long past believing that professional teams really care about the fans, but one franchise took its cavalier approach to new lows. The award goes to ... the Miami Marlins, who persuaded their city to foot most of the bill for a new stadium, signed a bunch of high-priced players, then promptly traded most of them away after one disappointing season. So far, there’s been no offer to settle up with the taxpayers, who were under the mistaken impression the Marlins would actually try to field a competitive team for more than a year.

BIGGEST FREEFALL — It’s hard to deny Felix Baumgartner, who leaped from a balloon at the outer edges of space with nothing but a parachute on his back, so with apologies the award goes to ... Bobby Petrino. The former Arkansas coach/Evel Knievel wannabe wrecked his motorcycle while on a ride with his mistress, lied about what happened, and lost his job when the truth emerged. Of course, we knew some school would give Petrino another chance, but it’s quite a plunge from the Southeastern Conference to Western Kentucky. MOST IMPROBABLE COMEBACK — The English Premier League put on a thrilling pennant race, the kind we used to have in baseball before they started letting everyone into the playoffs. The award goes to ... Manchester City, for scoring two goals in extra time on the final day of the season to capture its first premiership

already has inspired its own Web site. For that reason, the award goes to ... Les Miles, the LSU football coach who was really on his game after a win over Ole Miss. In a steadily rising voice, he defended his players and urged anyone who ran into one of them “to throw your arms around them and give them a big kiss on the mouth.” Then with a smile, he quickly added, “If you’re a girl.” Then, still smiling, he giddily proclaimed, “Wow, what a game!” Wow, indeed.

LONDON: In this July 27, 2012 file photo, the Olympic rings light up the stadium during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics.—AP

PERSON OF THE YEAR — Saving the best for last, the award goes to ... Chuck Pagano, coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Stricken with leukemia early in his first season as the head guy, he stepped away for three months to undergo treatment. Inspired by his struggle, a team that went 2-14 a year ago has won 10 games, clinched a playoff berth and made shaved heads a fashion statement. Pagano returned to work the day before Christmas, just in time for the postseason. He’s already a champion, showing us what’s truly important in life. And, no, it’s not sports.—AP



South Africa complete long road to the top MELBOURNE: South Africa celebrated their long-heralded arrival at the summit of test cricket in 2012 while West Indies enjoyed their first world title since the team’s 1970s heyday with a maiden Twenty20 trophy. The giddy heights proved too much for England whose year-long reign as the number one test nation ended at Lord’s with a 2-0 series thumping by Graeme Smith’s South Africa in August. The Proteas appear determined to build a dynasty as they backed up their coronation with a 1-0 series win in Australia to finish an exhausting year unbeaten in 10 tests, with nine of them coming on tour. Smith, who became the most-capped captain of all time during 2012, could rely on world-class performers throughout his side. The fearsome fast bowling trio of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander were supplemented by the evergreen all-round talents of Jacques Kallis while Hashim Amla can lay claim to being the most consistent batsman in world cricket. West Indies have had little to celebrate since their all-conquering

SCOREBOARD MELBOURNE: Scoreboard on the third day of the second test after Australia beat Sri Lanka by an innings and 201 runs at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday: Australia sealed the three-match series 2-0. Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bat Sri Lanka first innings 156 Australia first innings (overnight 440-8) D. Warner c Prasad b Mathews 62 E. Cowan c M. Jayawardene b Prasad 36 P. Hughes run out 10 S. Watson c Samaraweera b Prasad 83 M. Clarke c M. Jayawardene b Eranga 106 M. Hussey c Herath b Dilshan 34 M. Wade c Eranga b Prasad 1 M. Johnson not out 92 P. Siddle c M. Jayawardene b Eranga 13 N. Lyon c sub b Mathews 1 J. Bird b Eranga 0 Extras (b-9, lb-5 w-6 nb-2) 22 Total (all out, 134.4 overs) 460 Fall of wickets: 1-95 2-117 3-117 4-311 5-313 6315 7-376 8-434 9-451 10-460 Bowling: C. Welegedara 14.4-6-38-0, S. Eranga 27-2-109-3 (nb-2, w-5), D. Prasad 26-2-106-3 (w-1), A. Mathews 16-3-60-2, R. Herath 39-7-950, T. Dilshan 12-1-38-1. Sri Lanka second innings T. Dilshan c Cowan b Johnson 0 D. Karunaratne run out 1 K. Sangakkara retired hurt 27 M. Jayawardene b Bird 0 T. Samaraweera lbw b Bird 1 A. Mathews b Johnson 35 D. Prasad c Hughes b Lyon 17 R. Herath not out 11 S. Eranga c Cowan b Siddle 0 P. Jayawardene absent hurt 0 C. Welegedara absent hurt 0 Extras (lb-10, nb-1) 11 Total (for nine wickets; 24.2 overs) 103 Fall of wickets 1-1 2-1 3-3 4-13 5-74 6-102 7-103 Bowling: M. Johnson 8-0-16-2, J. Bird 9-1-29-2 (nb-1), P. Siddle 5.2-0-32-1, Lyon 2-0-16-1.

days ended in the early 1990s, but victory over hosts Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20 final gave the Caribbean side their biggest prize since the one-day championship in 1979. Marlon Samuels blasted a 56-ball 78 after flamboyant Chris Gayle failed with the bat in the 36-run win. But Gayle made amends with his rendition of the horseriding dance made famous by South Korean pop sensation Psy in his hit “Gangnam Style”. Sri Lanka’s master batsman Kumar Sangakkara was named ICC cricketer of the year in September after scoring 1,444 runs in 14 tests and Australia captain Michael Clarke became the first to score four double-centuries in a calendar year. Clarke started the year with an unbeaten 329 against India in Sydney, added 210 against the same team in Adelaide and torched South Africa with double tons in consecutive home tests. The captain’s heroics were not enough to defeat the Proteas whose 309-run win in the third and final test in Perth spoiled Ricky Ponting’s last international match. The hard-bitten 38-year-old signed off his

career with only eight runs in his final innings to finish with 13,378 runs in tests, the second-highest tally after Sachin Tendulkar. While Ponting strode off into the sunset after naming his final test, the 39-year-old Tendulkar hung on, his declining output of runs flattered briefly by his 100th international century in a one-day match against Bangladesh in March. With the retirements of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, the untouchable Tendulkar remained the last of a golden generation of Indian batsmen and, for growing numbers of frustrated fans, an impediment to the team’s regeneration despite quitting one-dayers. England’s 2-1 test series win in India in December, their first there since 1985 and India’s first home series defeat in eight years, underlined the point. Alistair Cook thrived as England captain with the bat and in the field after replacing the retired Andrew Strauss before the series. Match-fixing continued to haunt the game in 2012. Former Pakistan and Essex leg-spinnner Danish Kaneria was banned for life by the England and Wales Cricket

Board (ECB) after being found guilty of corruption. His Essex team mate Mervyn Westfield was jailed for four months and banned from cricket for five years after pleading guilty to the ECB charge of accepting money to underperform. India’s cricket board banned one uncapped player for life for corruption and handed out lesser punishments to four others in June. A TV sting by a broadcaster from the same country led to six umpires from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka being provisionally suspended by the International Cricket Council after appearing to agree to spotfix matches. There was better news for fans in Pakistan when the country welcomed back international cricket for the first time in more than two years, with two T20 exhibition matches in October. The Pakistan All Star XI played an International XI in Karachi under a security blanket of more than 5,000 police and paramilitary personnel, the first international match since militants attacked the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in March 2009, killing six policeman and a van driver. —Reuters

Aussies rout Sri Lanka to clinch Test, series MELBOURNE: Australia’s bowlers battered Sri Lanka’s batsmen to win the second Test by a humiliating innings and 201 runs before tea on day three and claim an unassailable 2-0 lead in their three-match series. Needing 305 runs to make Australia bat again, Sri Lanka surrendered at the Melbourne Cricket Ground after adding only 103 in their second innings, with a top order collapse and a raft of injuries leaving the tourists smarting ahead of Sydney’s dead rubber test next week. Sealing the series a match early was some consolation for Michael Clarke’s team after they conceded a hard-fought series 1-0 against the top-ranked test nation South Africa with a stinging defeat in the third and final test in Perth. “I said that at the start of the series that our goal was to win these three Test matches and really show that we learnt from the South African series,” Clarke, who scored a sparkling 106 at the MCG to cap a brilliant year with the bat, told reporters. “So far we’ve done that... My goal doesn’t change.” Seamer Mitchell Johnson was justly named man-of-the-match after taking six wickets and making an unbeaten 92 with the bat in an outstanding return to the team after being dumped from the first test victory in Hobart. Johnson took 4-63 in the first innings to lead the bowling as Sri Lanka were skittled for 156, but his bone-crunching menace may have Australia’s selectors pondering a more permanent role for the mercurial paceman. Johnson broke Prasanna Jayawardene’s thumb in the first innings to force the wicketkeeper to surrender the gloves to Kumar Sangakkara, then broke the replacement’s left forefinger in the second innings in a fiery bout of short-pitched bowling. Sangakkara came off the ground immediately after being struck on the glove by Johnson and the Sri Lanka team later confirmed their master batsman would be sidelined for six-to-eight weeks. “I think that intimidation factor definitely worked out there today,” the 31-year-old Johnson said. Johnson missed out on his second test century as Australia were bowled out for 460 in the morning session, but was immediately consoled by playing a direct hand in the first two wickets of the second innings, as Sri Lanka’s top order disintegrated. The tourists lost three wickets in the first 12 balls to be flailing at 3-3, and another within the next four overs. A horrible misunderstanding between openers Dimuth Karunaratne and Tillakaratne Dilshan led to the former run out for one on the third ball of the innings. After smart fielding from David Warner, Johnson lunged to throw down the stumps from point-blank range with Karunaratne well short of his ground following a mix-up between the batsmen over a second run. Dilshan was gone for a first-ball duck off Johnson’s next delivery when he tried to fend off a short ball, only to flick an edge onto his thigh pad that rebounded for a simple catch to Cowan at short leg. Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene was heading back to the pavilion for a duck in the next over, shaping to leave the ball but playing onto his stumps to give debutant Jackson Bird his first wicket of the morning. The 26-year-old seamer struck again in the sixth over of the day, trapping Thilan Samaraweera lbw for one. Sri Lanka lurched to

MELBOURNE: Australia players celebrate the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan caught by Ed Cowan off the bowling of Mitchell Johnson] during their cricket Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. — AP lunch at 43-4, and after losing Sangakkara, who retired hurt on 27, were quickly despatched. With seamer Chanaka Welegedara and Jayawardene absent injured, Johnson, fellow paceman Peter Siddle, and spinner Nathan Lyon shared the remaining three wickets. Angelo Mathews battled hard to top-score for Sri Lanka with 35, but was out playing onto the stumps off the bowling of Johnson when attempting a hook that rebounded onto the stumps. Dhammika Prasad struck two successive sixes off Lyon but was caught at cover by Phillip Hughes for 17 on the next ball. —Reuters



Money, not ranking, exposes players divide PARIS: Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova may have raked in a combined $100 million (75,658,378 euros) in prize money in their careers, but their rivals are struggling on the breadline. Recent estimates suggest that only 10% of the 1,800 male and 1,400 female professionals make a decent living out of the sport. “A player outside the top 20 often has no other source of income than their prize money,” said Ukrainian player Sergiy Stakhovsky, who is ranked 103rd in the world. It is a very different world to that inhabited by the top ranked players, as indicated by the figures in 2012. Men’s world number one Novak Djokovic won 9.7 million euros in prize money while his female equivalent, Victoria Azarenka won six million. Those earnings are multi-

plied by sponsorship deals, appearance money and exhibition tournaments. Sharapova earns an extra $20 million a year from endorsements. Players ranked between 90th and 100th in the world won on average 202,970 euros in prize money in 2012 while it dropped to 75,000 euros for the 150th ranked player and just 20,780 euros for the 200th-rated player. However, the expenses eat into those sums. Tax can deduct up to 30% while travel costs, food, hotels, and the price of a coach nibble even more away. Without the help of a federation, a patron or family, things can become stretched very quickly. For some players it requires playing team tennis in France, Germany or Switzerland. “It is with that money that I finance my

competing in Australia (which gets underway in January),” admitted Frenchman Marc Gicquel, who is ranked 152nd in the world. Even saving money for a rainy day or for when serious injury strikes can be tough. “In order to put money on the side, you have to be in the top 50, stay there for a while and pay attention to your finances,” said former professional player Arnaud Di Pasquale. But some tournament officials insist that the top players do not help their fellow players with sky-rocketing demands for appearance money. “They take at least 40% of the prize money and appearance money and when I say 40% I am being kind,” one tournament director told AFP. Whilst appearance money is officially forbidden on the WTA circuit it has been rein-

Nadal to miss Australian Open MADRID: French Open champion Rafa Nadal has been forced to withdraw from next month’s Australian Open because of a stomach virus that has disrupted his recovery from a long-term knee injury, the world number four said yesterday. “My knee is much better and the rehabilitation process has gone well as predicted by the doctors, but this virus didn’t allow me to practise this past week,” the Spaniard, who has also pulled out of the Qatar Open in Doha, said in a statement. “Therefore I am sorry to announce that I will not play in Doha and the Australian Open, as we had initially scheduled.” Nadal was due to make his competitive comeback after the knee injury sidelined him for six months at this week’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship, an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi that is not part of the ATP Tour. The 26-year-old won the event in 2010 and 2011 but withdrew on Dec. 25 citing the stomach virus. He has not played since June when he suffered a shock defeat in the second round of Wimbledon to Czech Lukas Rosol. He was subsequently diagnosed with a partial tear of the patella tendon and inflammation in his left knee and was unable to defend his Olympic title at the London Games. The 11-times grand slam singles champion also missed the U.S. Open and the season-ending World Tour championships before returning to the practice court on November 20. At last year’s Australian Open, Nadal was runner-up to Novak Djokovic after an epic five-set final that lasted almost six hours. It was the longest match at the event and the longest men’s grand slam singles final on record. “It is completely understandable and we really feel disappointed for him,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on the event’s website ( “But without any match practice and without sufficient lead up time on the practice court, it makes it virtually impossible for him to get his body ready,” Tiley added. “We just hope he gets better quickly and we

Czechoslovakia stars long for pre-split era

Spain’s Rafael Nadal see him back on the tour as soon as possible. Tennis fans across the world have been missing him. “I am confident we will see him back on the tour soon and back in Australia for 2014.” Nadal, who won a record seventh French Open crown in May on his favoured clay, said doctors had advised a period of rest without any sport for the next seven days starting on Friday. “As my team and doctors say, the safest thing to do is to do things well and this virus has delayed my plans of playing these weeks,” he said. “I will have to wait until the Acapulco tournament (at the end of February) to compete again although I could consider to play before at any other ATP event. “I always said that my return to competition will be when I am in the right conditions to play and after all this time away from the courts I’d rather not accelerate the comeback and prefer to do things well.” Nadal’s athletic, aggressive playing style places huge demands on his muscles and joints and he has been sidelined several times by injuries during his 11-year career. He said last week he does not expect to be back to full fitness and close to his best until the Masters event at Indian Wells in March. “Rafa Nadal suffered last week a viral process that provoked a gastroenteritis with high fever for four or five days,” doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro, the head of Nadal’s medical team, said on Friday. — Reuters

Djokovic, Venus to play at Hopman Cup PERTH: Top-ranked men’s player Novak Djokovic and seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams will represent their countries at the Hopman Cup team tennis tournament, although they won’t play each other unless Serbia and the United States advance to the final. Playing for the first time on blue hardcourts at the new Perth Arena, the eight-country event begins Saturday when Spain plays South Africa and Germany takes on Australia. Williams and her partner John Isner will see their first action tomorrow when the US plays South Africa, and Spain also plays France on the same day. Serbia, represented by Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic, plays Italy in the only match Monday. Each match consists of women’s and

troduced on the ATP, so as to avoid belowpar tournament line-ups. However, it comes at a heavy price. Former world number one Roger Federer can command an appearance fee of 800,000 euros at a tournament outside of a Grand Slam and the Masters series. The Swiss legend has made an exception for just one tournament in the past few years-his hometown one in Basel where 413,000 euros has been sufficient for him to play. Some media reports claimed that he asked for double for 2013. That was turned down and Federer has removed it from his schedule. Federer has just returned from South America where he played six exhibition matches, at one million dollars an appearance, according to the local media. — AFP

men’s singles followed by mixed doubles. Top-seeded Serbia, Australia, Italy and Germany will play in Group A while the No. 2 US, South Africa, Spain and France make up Group B, with the winners of each group to play in the final on Jan. 5. The tournament is one of six lead-up tournaments in Australia and New Zealand ahead of the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 14 in Melbourne. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who will represent France with Mathilde Johansson, is working with a new coach, Australian Roger Rasheed, in an attempt to improve his play against the top-four players. Tsonga, who lost the Australian Open final in 2008 to Djokovic, has struggled against the top four this year. — AP

PRAGUE: On the football pitch and in ice-hockey arenas, Czech and Slovak players still wear blue, red and white, just as they did when playing together for Czechoslovakia before it split into two 20 years ago. Since 1993, the countries’ sportsmen have fought each other hard many times, while their predecessors look back at the old days with a trace of nostalgia. “Czechoslovak football had more quality because of increased competition,” said former international Antonin Panenka, who invented the famous chipped penalty that bears his name. “And there was also healthy rivalry between the Czechs and the Slovaks,” smiled the star of the Czechoslovak team. His side won the 1976 European Championship after beating West Germany on penalties thanks to his spectacular kick. The starting team comprised eight Slovaks and three Czechs, including the playmaker Panenka. Fourteen years before that, the ratio was reversed on a team that lost to Brazil 3-1 in the 1962 World Cup final in Chile. Communication on the pitch was never a problem as the two languages are relatively close. Since 1993, the Czechs have shone at three football Euros, finishing as runners-up in 1996, bronze medallists in 2004, and quarter-finalists in 2012. The Slovaks, meanwhile, take pride in their performance at the 2010 World Cup, where they reached the last-sixteen phase after sending home defending champions Italy with a 3-2 win in the group stage. To qualify for the World Cup, the Slovaks beat the Czechs 2-1 in Prague, then drew 2-2 in Bratislava. “A single Czechoslovak team would be even stronger,” said the 64-year-old Panenka, who played 59 games for Czechoslovakia, scoring 17 goals. “The Slovaks have more temperament, they get more excited by things, and they are sometimes more ambitious,” he added. “The Czechs’ strength is their creativity and the ability to make use of specific situations,” he explained, pointing out that “a blend of the two styles was something extraordinary.”Vincent Lukac, a 58-year-old Slovak-born former ice-hockey forward, fully agrees. “The Slovak character and the Czech character, that created an unusual mixture,” said the former star of the other most popular game in former Czechoslovakia. “It was also the reason behind our generation’s success,” he said, referring to silver from the 1984 Olympics and the World Championships title a year later. Czechoslovakia won six world titles between 1947 and 1985. But the Czech Republic alone won six between 1996 and 2010, while Slovakia added one in 2002. Slovak ice-hockey players had to go a long way after the split as they had to start in lower divisions and fight their way back to join the elite. “In ice-hockey, Slovakia paid a bigger price for the split. — AFP



Hernandez hopes for Man United reward

Joe Hart

Hart warns City not to dwell on their Sunderland setback NORWICH: Joe Hart has told his Manchester City teammates to forget about their defeat to Sunderland and focus on getting their title ambitions back on track at Norwich today. The Premier League champions trail seven points behind leaders Manchester United after the 1-0 defeat to Sunderland on Wednesday and now face a tricky trip to take on giant-killers Norwich at Carrow Road. Norwich have already beaten Arsenal and Manchester United this season and another surprise win could deal a hammer blow to City’s title hopes. But England goalkeeper Hart insists it is still possible to win the title, as City clawed back a similar lead last term and eventually overhauled United on the final day of the season. “We’ve had leads, United have had the lead, it’s to-ing and fro-ing at the moment,” he said. “We’re a team of winners, it’s hard and it hurts but we’ve got to move on. It is hard to lead and it is hard to chase too. “We’ve clawed points back before, we proved it at the end of last year. We’ve just got to believe. “We are halfway through the season and there is still a very long way to go to the end. We have to go into the next game and give it our best as always. “You will get setbacks over the season but you have to overcome them and get on with the next match, which we will do. “It’s a very long campaign and there are still a lot of matches and a lot of points to be played for.” Hart shrugged off criticism after the Sunderland defeat that City have taken their foot off the pedal this season, but admits it is tougher as champions. Teams such as Sunderland have been defending much more against City now they hold the title and that makes it harder for Roberto Mancini’s flair players to thrive. “It’s how football goes sometimes. It’s not that we didn’t try, didn’t give 100 per cent, or haven’t shown qualities,” Hart said. “It just wasn’t there and we need to turn that round quickly. We weren’t lacking in effort. We gave it everything but couldn’t break through a Sunderland wall.” “We have dominated a lot of games but people play differently against us now. “We have to adjust to that and hopefully the second half of the season will be better for us.” Mario Balotelli missed the visit to Sunderland with illness and it is not known if he will return for the Norwich trip, while Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy are battling to overcome knocks. Norwich were beaten 1-0 at home by Chelsea on Wednesday, but Chris Hughton’s side will be confident of putting in a better performance against inconsistent City. “We need to make sure we are right in the game today,” Hughton said. “And if we are that gives us a chance. “Most people would have expected Man City to have won that game (at Sunderland) because of what they have got and the way they are pushing but Sunderland, on the back of some poor form, are now picking up a little,” he said. “City will want a reaction but we also want a reaction here because although the Chelsea game was a tight one and there is no shame for us in losing to a top, top team, it hurts. “We want to get back into winning ways and it will be a good opportunity for us.” —AFP

MANCHESTER: Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez is hoping his goalscoring heroics in mid-week will earn him a place in Alex Ferguson’s side for today’s meeting with West Bromwich Albion. The Mexican forward scored his sixth league goal of the campaign in just his fourth Premier League start this season to earn United three points in the dramatic 4-3 win over Newcastle United on Wednesday. Wayne Rooney will miss the home clash with West Brom and could be out for three weeks because of a knee injury, while Danny Welbeck missed the Newcastle game with illness and it is not known if he will have recovered in time. But even if Welbeck is fit, Hernandez feels he has done enough to prove he should start alongside Robin van Persie. Hernandez said: “You can ask all the players in the world and they will tell you they want to start every game. But when you are at the biggest club in the world, you have competition. “You have to be aware as well, there are five strikers here who want to be part of the game. The only thing I need to do is prove I am ready, in one minute or 90 minutes.” United defender Rio Ferdinand thinks Hernandez is a threat because he never gives up. “You don’t mind your forwards missing chances as long as they’re always in there getting the chances,” he said. “He doesn’t put his head down when he misses, he’s always got that will and desire to get in there and be there to make that mistake. You get your rewards sometimes, and he did that today (Wednesday).” Centre-back Nemanja Vidic was rested against Newcastle and is set to return

against West Brom as United look to shore up a leaky defence. Ferguson’s men have conceded 28 goals already this term-just five short of the total for the whole of last season-but still have a seven-point advantage at the top of the Premier League. Ferdinand said: “The lead means nothing. We’ve been in this position over the years, when we’ve been eight, nine, 10, 11 clear and not gone on to win it. “And we’ve been in positions of being behind and gone on to win it. So Newcastle was a great result for us but we have another big game coming up in a couple of days.” West Brom midfielder Chris Brunt has set his sights on finding the net on a more regular basis after scoring his first league goal of the campaign in his side’s 2-1 victory at Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday. “It has been a frustrating season for me as I’ve been in and out of

the team with injuries,” said Brunt. “I’ve had a few games recently but a goal has been a long time coming and I’m delighted to have got one. “The gaffer (Steve Clarke) had a bit of a joke with me the other day about me not scoring enough goals-but I knew he meant it! “It’s been a long time since I scored and I haven’t got enough goals from midfield over the last couple of years. “I try to get shots on target from outside the box and I knew as soon as I’d hit it that I’d hit it well enough for it to go in. “Obviously, getting the three points is the main thing, but I’m pleased I got a goal.” Albion have now earned two straight victories ahead of the daunting trip to Old Trafford. “We went off track a little bit with three successive defeats, but now we’re unbeaten in three and we’ve won our last two,” added Brunt. “It’s very important in this league to pick up back-to-back wins.” — AFP

Javier Hernandez

Arsenal will only improve, warns Cazorla LONDON: Santi Cazorla has warned Arsenal’s rivals that his midfield partnership with Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere is developing rapidly, ahead of yesterday’s home game with Newcastle United. The Gunners have strung together three successive Premier League wins, with the midfield trio starting together against West Bromwich Albion, Reading and Wigan Athletic, and contributing a total of six goals. Those results helped Arsenal briefly climb up to third in the table, although they now find themselves in seventh place after their fixture against West Ham United on Wednesday was postponed because of a transport strike in London. But with Newcastle next to visit the Emirates Stadium, Spanish midfield star Cazorla believes the best is yet to come from his compatriot and 20-year-old Wilshere, who signed a new contract to keep him at the club until 2018 earlier this month after 17 months out with injuries. “Every day that goes by, we understand each other better,” said Cazorla. “It is very easy for me to play with them. Mikel is more of a tactical player, a very important player in any side. “He always has to be well positioned, to cover the open spaces that we leave further up the field. And Jack is an amazing football player. “I did not know him well because when I arrived he was injured, but everyday that goes by I understand why he is so well rated here, and especially for what he brings to the team.” Cazorla added: “He (Wilshere) has amazing potential. Every day he is gaining more confidence, he is forgetting about the injury, and he is a key player that can influence the result in a game.” Wilshere has made eight Premier League starts since his comeback in October, although he has

yet to score in the league. Arsenal were dumped out of the League Cup by third-tier side Bradford City and go into the meeting with Alan Pardew’s Newcastle trailing leaders Manchester United by 16 points, albeit with a game in hand. Wilshere says he never doubted that he would extend his stay in north London and paid tribute to manager Arsene Wenger’s role in his development. “He’s always been there for me,” said the England international. “He (Wenger) showed faith in me when I was 18, and he stuck with me throughout the whole time I was injured. He knew the only thing that would get me better is games, and he stood by me. “I need to thank him for that, and yes, he was a big part of why I signed.” Alan Pardew admits injuries and suspension mean he will send out an inexperienced side at the Emirates. The Newcastle manager is without most of his first-choice midfield after Vurnon Anita and Jonas Gutierrez became the latest additions to an already over-crowded treatment room. Dutch international Anita left the pitch on a stretcher with ankle ligament damage during Wednesday’s 4-3 defeat at Manchester United, a result that leaves the north-east club still searching for an away win in the league this season. Argentina midfielder Gutierrez is sidelined for at least a week after an injection to cure a persistent knee problem, while Yohan Cabaye, Steven Taylor, Hatem Ben Arfa, Ryan Taylor, and Dan Gosling are already out long-term. Ivory Coast international Cheick Tiote returns from suspension, but that is offset by defender Mike Williamson starting a one-match ban after reaching five bookings. Midfielder James Perch is likely to drop into the back four to cover. — AFP



Celtic looking forward to winter rest GLASGOW: Celtic midfielder Scott Brown is confident his side can continue their winning run as they prepare to take on Hibernian at Easter Road today and then look ahead to enjoying the winter break. The Hoops defeated Dundee in midweek to make it five wins in a row and move seven points clear at the top of the Scottish Premier League. Neil Lennon’s side have two more SPL games before the winter break and Brown knows it’s coming at a good time for the Parkhead stars as they battle on the domestic and European front. First up for Celtic are Brown’s former club Hibs, who held the leaders to a draw at Parkhead in September. And the midfielder is hoping for a warm reception at his former stomping ground. “The rest will be more than welcome. It will do me good and that will be the same for some other players as we have a few niggles here and there,” the Scotland international said. “In the meantime we just want to continue playing as that’s five wins on the spin now. “We have two big games coming up before the break, Hibs away and then Motherwell at home. We know they’re going to be hard games but we’re looking forward to them. It would nice to be cheered going back to Easter Road at the weekend but we’ll need to see what happens.” Celtic were made to work hard for the points on Wednesday but Brown insisted it was a job well done against a Dundee side battling against the drop. “We’re starting to get up a bit of momentum,” the Celtic captain said. “It wasn’t the best performance but it’s another good result and that’s the main thing.” The Hoops will be without Kris Commons for the clash due to injury while defender Charlie Mulgrew will be assessed after having to be withdrawn early from the game against Dundee after picking up a rib injury. After a solid start to the season Celtic’s opponents haven’t won any of their past four league encounters. Pat Fenlon’s side now have a big week coming up with games against Celtic before travelling across Edinburgh to take on fierce rivals Hearts next Thursday. And the Hibernian manager is confident he won’t have to motivate his players for the important clashes. “Celtic at home and Hearts away are massive games, but they’re great games to look forward to,” Fenlon said. “We shouldn’t have to worry about getting people up for the next two. We feel we’re capable of getting something out of both games. “Retention of the ball against a team like Celtic is really important, your concentration levels have to be really high as well because they’ve got players in all positions that can cause you problems.” Elsewhere today, bottom of the table Dundee host Aberdeen at Dens Park,

Today’s matches on TV

English Premier League

SEMMERING: Austria’s Anna Fenninger competes during the first run of an alpine ski, women’s World Cup giant slalom. —AP

Anna wins World Cup giant slalom SEMMERING: Anna Fenninger of Austria had two near-perfect runs to win a World Cup giant slalom yesterday, while secondplace Tina Maze of Slovenia extended her lead in the overall standings. In difficult conditions because of snowfall, Fenninger posted the fastest time in both runs on the Panorama course and finished in a combined time of 2 minutes, 13.09 seconds to beat Maze by 1.10. Tessa Worley of France, who was second after the opening run, was third. American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin, who won her first World Cup race last week, was eighth for the best GS result in her career. She’s now 10th in the overall standings. Shiffrin had several mistakes in her final run but used a blistering second to finish2.68 seconds off Fenninger’s winning time. “I had some energy that run,” said Shiffrin, who struggled with a cold. “My energy level has been OK, or maybe I am just telling myself that’s OK - mind over matter ... Hopefully tonight I get a good night of sleep and come out tomorrow (for the slalom) and have some fun.” Shiffrin leads the slalom standings, the first time since 1982 that the U.S. women’s

team has three racers in the top 10. Defending overall champion Lindsey Vonn of the United States skipped the race. Vonn, who is fifth in the overall standings, is taking a break from the circuit to fully recover from an intestinal illness. Fenninger earned her second World Cup victory after claiming a GS on home soil - in Lienz - a year ago to the day. “I was very difficult to free my mind before the start,” said Fenninger, who had never led a World Cup race after the first run before. “I tried to tell myself that it’s just an ordinary race. I kept repeating that, and it worked.” Fenninger held a 0.90-second margin over Maze going into the final run but refused to hold back and managed to even increase that lead, to the delight of the home crowd. Maze, who won the first four GS events this season, accepted her defeat. “I am really happy with my skiing,” said Maze, who lost time early in her opening run as she struggled for rhythm in the first flat section. “I lost a lot of time there. I fought until the end but Anna really had a perfect day. She was unbeatable today.” Maze became the first woman skier to earn nine podium finishes in GS within one year, beating the record previously held by

Sunderland v Tottenham ...............................15:45 Abu Dhabi Sports HD

Aston Villa v Wigan..........................................18:00 Abu Dhabi Sports HD

Reading v West Ham ........................................18:00 Abu Dhabi Sports HD

Fulham v Swansea............................................18:00 Abu Dhabi Sports HD

Stoke v Southampton......................................18:00 Abu Dhabi Sports HD

Norwich v ManCity............................................18:00 Abu Dhabi Sports HD

Man United v West Brom..................................18:00 Abu Dhabi Sports HD

Arsenal v Newcastle ..........................................20:30 Abu Dhabi Sports HD

Ancelotti rules out Ronaldo swoop ROME: Paris Saint Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti has ruled out making a bid to bring Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo to the French capital, Turin daily La Stampa quoted him as saying yesterday. “This possibility is ruled out. There is not sufficient cash available and there also has to be a willing seller,” the Italian said. He was responding to a report in Spanish sports daily AS that the Portuguese striker might come to Paris in a scenario which would see Real

coach Jose Mourinho replace Ancelotti at the Parc des Princes. La Gazzetta dello Sport said two months ago that PSG was mulling a 100 million euros bid for Ronaldo and reported that officials from the two clubs had already held talks. The Gazzetta also claimed Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes had set up a meeting between top PSG officials, Real chairman Florentino Perez and Ronaldo himself to broker a possible deal. —AFP

Lise-Marie Morerod of Switzerland (1977), Deborah Compagnoni of Italy (1997) and Anita Wachter of Austria (1999). “It’s my skiing that makes me confident, I don’t look at the points or the records,” the Slovenian said. “I try to prepare each race as well as I can. It’s not always perfect but I am a fighter.” Maze finished runner-up to Vonn last season without winning a race. In the first 15 events of this season, Maze won five times and earned five more podium finishes. She tops the overall standings with 999 points, and is likely to surpass the 1,000point mark in Saturday’s slalom, the last women’s race of 2012. Maze already leads second-place Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany by 417 points. Vonn is fifth, trailing Maze by 585 points. “It’s still a long season, anything can happen,” Maze said. “If Lindsey comes back and she wins all the downhills, you never know. I am not calculating. I hope Lindsey returns to the circuit quickly, but of course her health is most important.” The only other racer besides Maze and Fenninger to win a GS this season, Olympic champion Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany, finished 1.91 behind Fenninger in fifth place. After six of nine events, Maze is a strong favorite to take the discipline title. She leads No. 2 Kathrin Zettel by 198 points, with each victory worth 100 points. There is one more women’s GS scheduled ahead of February’s world championships - in Maribor, Slovenia, on Jan. 26. The 2006 Olympic champion, Julia Mancuso, finished 25th on Friday, 4.16 seconds behind Fenninger. “I felt pretty well but somehow the time isn’t there,” the American said. “I was surprised that I was that far behind. I thought I had a pretty good section.” Mancuso switched her ski supplier in the offseason. Her best result so far in the discipline was sixth on Dec. 16 in Courchevel, France. “I am better when the snow is really hard,” Mancuso said. “I guess these are not quite my conditions.” — AP


Sports Djokovic back to winning ways ABU DHABI: World No.1 Novak Djokovic opened his season with an impressive 6-0, 6-3 win over David Ferrer in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition tournament yestrday. The Serb, who won the title last year, raced away with the first set of the semi-final clash before the Spaniard managed to grab an early break in the second. Ferrer served to go 3-1 up, but could not convert and it was Djokovic who once again took over the reins of what was a low-key match. After the match, Djokovic told ESPN: “I love this court and the conditions here. I wish all the tournaments in the world were played here. “It’s definitely a great surface. It’s not too warm here, not too cold, it’s ideal to prepare on. “I am surprised with my game considering it’s the first match of the official season. Hopefully I can play another good one tomorrow.” In the final Djokovic will play Spaniard Nicolas Almagro-a late replacement for Rafael Nadal who postponed his return to action after a six-month injury layoff due to a stomach virus. Almagro defeated Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic 2-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-2 in the other semi-final. “Please support me tomorrow because I am going to need it,” Almagro told the crowd. Meanwhile Andy Murray had a shaky start to his preparations for the 2013 season Thursday, losing in straight sets to Janko Tipsarevic in the opening match of the World Tennis Championship exhibition tournament. Two early breaks in each set helped Tipsarevic dispatch the third-ranked Murray 6-3, 6-4. The ninth-ranked Serb now faces Nicolas Almagro, a late replacement for Rafael Nadal who pulled out of the tournament with a stomach bug.

ABU DHABI: World number one tennis player, Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, serves the ball to Spain’s David Ferrer during their Mubadala World Tennis Championship match in Abu Dhabi. — AFP

“It’s not every day that you get to play a Grand Slam champion and an Olympic gold medalist,” Tipsarevic said. “I know it’s an early season tournament but I can tell you that the six of us take this very seriously. I knew I could beat Andy as I have beaten him before. He’s a totally different animal now as he won a Grand Slam and Olympic gold so beating him here has given me confidence. Both of us have very similar games so it’s great to come out on top.” In Thursday’s other match, fifth-ranked David Ferrer swept aside No. 6 Tomas Berdych 6-2, 6-4 to set up a semifinal against top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who won the tournament last year. Ferrer easily won the first set after jumping out to a 5-0 lead and broke Berdych early in the second to clinch the win. “I played well today and I was surprised as it has been a long time without playing a competition,” Ferrer said. Ahead of his title defense in Abu Dhabi, Djokovic said he was excited about the 2013 season and that he’s making the French Open - the only Grand Slam tournament he has yet to win - his top goal of the year. “I managed to have the best year of my career in 2011 and I knew that it was going to be difficult in 2012 to maintain No. 1 in the world and play consistently,” Djokovic said. “I did, and so this year was an even more successful year from a psychological aspect. ... Ambitions are always high and I want to win every Grand Slam and major tournament I play and this year is no different.”—AFP

Aussies rout Sri Lanka to clinch Test, series


29 Dec  

Kuwait Times