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NO: 15675

150 FILS


SAFAR 19, 1434 AH

World welcomes 2013 with a bang Sydney sparks global wave of New Year fireworks

Max 19º Min 10º High Tide 01:05 & 15:14 Low Tide 08:31 & 20:33

conspiracy theories

A dreamer By Badrya Darwish


magine a world without wars, bombings, poverty, discrimination and racism... This is my dream for 2013. But Friday the 13th (the famous scary horror movie) started in Iraq just before 2013 started. What a bloody end to 2012. One of the worst days full of explosions took place minutes before I wrote my story. Yet we have a few more hours till the end of the year. God have mercy on us! I have many wishes for the new year 2013. We have to walk our wounds sometimes and wish for the best. I wish peace for the Iraqis. They deserve it. It has been long years of bloodshed and destruction. I pray to God that 2013 will be a good year for the Iraqis and also the Syrians because Syria is in a serious civil war. I met a Syrian yesterday and he told me he went to convey condolences to his cousins, one of whom belongs to the opposition and one who belonged to Assad’s group. He said he could not understand the equation any more. I wish there will be finally peace in Palestine and there will be a peace agreement for Palestine. I hope there won’t be any more bombs pouring over Gaza. I wish I hear good news for Egypt too. I hope Tahrir Square becomes again a peaceful square and not one where demonstrations and killings happen. I wish there will be no more famine and death in Africa. I hope there will not be any more people running away from their land fleeing coups d’etat. I hope there won’t be no more toppling of regimes and tribal problems. I wish I see a peaceful and prosperous Africa. I pray that 2013 will bring tranquility and peace to the minds of everyone, be it in the US, Canada, Asia and everywhere. I hope there won’t be any more crime. I hope the crime rate in all countries goes down. I wish there won’t be any more religious disputes be it in the Arab world or elsewhere. I wish poverty vanishes from the whole globe. I wish loyal expats who have lived in Kuwait for a long time to get permanent residency and there will be at least one MP to defend their rights in parliament. In the political arena, I wish the opposition calms down and speeds up and joins in the building of the country. I wish there will be no more deaths related to poverty around the world. I wish the big powers allocate the trillions they spend on arms for research to prevent disasters, cures and help for the homeless and the less fortunate, if not somewhere else then at least in their country. I wish there will be more justice and tolerance in the world. I wish we become better human beings to each other, without discrimination, racist and xenophobic sentiments. Am I not a dreamer guys? Happy 2013!

SYDNEY: Spectator boats in Sydney Harbour look on as New Year’s Eve fireworks erupt over the Sydney Harbour Bridge early today. — AFP SYDNEY: Asian capital cities brought in the New Year in spectacular style after Sydney set off a global wave of fireworks, with long-isolated Yangon joining the pyrotechnic partying for the first time. Australia’s famous harbour city brought in the New Year on a balmy summer night with a US$6.9 million display curated by pop icon Kylie Minogue. To the roars of the crowds, the sky erupted at

midnight as fireworks shot up from barges and jet skis in the harbour and cascaded from the Harbour Bridge, bursting and glimmering overhead. “This is really putting Australia on the map in terms of welcoming people to the New Year,” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said. Officials were expecting up to 1.5 million people to gather in the city and

Qaeda in Yemen offers bounty for US envoy


crowds jammed all vantage points along the water front to watch the seven tonnes of fireworks ignite the sky. Three hours later in Hong Kong, the iconic skyline lit up with an eight-minute display, as an estimated 100,000 partygoers flocked to the Victoria Harbour waterfront. “I love the atmosphere here at New Year, but this is just the beginning of the night. We’re off to do karaoke now,” said

Iran test-fires missiles near Strait of Hormuz


Cop sentenced for beating journalist Salafists split, Democratic Forum meets Amir By B Izzak

Venezuela axes New Year party with Chavez sicker CARACAS: Venezuela called off public New Year’s Eve festivities yesterday and social media sizzled with worry after the government said cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez had taken a turn for the worse. The streets of Caracas were quiet as front-page headlines relayed that Chavez had developed “new complications” from a respiratory infection after undergoing his fourth cancer-related surgery on Dec 11 in Havana. His vice president and political heir, Nicolas Maduro, broke the news

from Havana on Sunday night, saying the condition of the Venezuelan leader was delicate and that he faced an uphill battle. Chavez, the face of the Latin American left for more than a decade and a firebrand critic of what he calls US imperialism, has been in power since 1999 in Venezuela, an OPEC member that sits on top of the world’s largest proven oil reserves. For many Venezuelans, a holiday season without Continued on Page 12

Hugo Chavez

Clinton remains out of sight in hospital

Hillary Clinton

Katie Chan, 26, among the crowds packed onto an open air walkway. In Myanmar, an estimated 50,000 people were flocking to Yangon’s revered golden Shwedagon Pagoda for the city’s first public New Year countdown and fireworks display, seen as further evidence of opening up after decades of junta rule. Continued on Page 12

NEW YORK: Top US diplomat Hillary Clinton remained in hospital yesterday after news her health had taken a turn for the worse with the discovery of a blood clot just weeks before she is due to step down. Her top aide Philippe Reines said Sunday the popular US secretary of state would stay at the New York Presbyterian Hospital for some 48 hours after being admitted so she could be monitored while on anti-coagulant medication. There was no immediate update on Clinton’s health early yesterday. With the latest health scare, the globe-trotting diplomat has not been seen in public since returning from a trip to Europe on Dec 7.

It’s a rare absence for the most popular member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet, who has been a highly-visible and loyal supporter of his foreign policy agenda, travelling almost a million miles during four years in office. But Clinton, 65, has made it clear she intends to step down in the coming weeks, once Senator John Kerry, tapped by President Barack Obama to replace her, is confirmed by the Senate. Clinton fell ill with a bad stomach virus on her return from her trip to Prague, Brussels, Dublin and Belfast, which caused her to become dehydrated. She fainted and suffered a concussion. “In the course of a follow-up exam today, Secretary Clinton’s doctors discov-

ered a blood clot had formed, stemming from the concussion she sustained several weeks ago,” Reines said in a statement Sunday. “She is being treated with anticoagulants and is at New York Presbyterian Hospital so that they can monitor the medication over the next 48 hours.” He refused to specify where the clot is, and on Monday would not give any further updates on her condition. According to one media report on the website Buzzfeed, she was being treated amid tight security on the hospital’s 9th floor, known as the VIP wing, where her husband, former president Bill Clinton had bypass surgery in 2004. Continued on Page 12

KUWAIT: In a significant ruling, the court of appeals yesterday overruled an acquittal sentence against a member of the elite special forces for beating a journalist and issued a one-year suspended term against the policeman, asking him to keep good conduct for three years. The policeman used a baton to beat up journalist Mohammad Al-Sandan more than two years ago when the journalist was covering a rally by the opposition at the diwaniya of former Islamist MP Jamaan Al-Harbash. Authorities had insisted that those attending the diwaniya must remain within the boundaries of the diwaniya or leave the place and began beating up those who did not abide by the orders. On that day, the special forces beat up a large number of people including several former MPs, and wounded scores including four former lawmakers. The police severely beat up professor of law Obaid Al-Wasmi, who later became a member of the scrapped 2012 National Assembly. The criminal court had acquitted the policeman, saying he was implementing orders he had received from his superiors, but the appeals court convicted him but only issued the suspended term against him. Other courts are still looking into complaints filed by Wasmi and two former MPs against the elite special forces. In another development, the liberal Kuwait Democratic Forum (KDF) said yesterday that its leaders met with HH the Amir and discussed the ongoing political crisis in the country. KDF said on its Twitter account that the talks tackled “the current political crisis in the country over the election system, political movements and issues related to freedoms”. It added that the talks also tackled “the weak government performance, weak educational, health and housing services and the need for the laws to be implemented in the country, and presented proposals and solutions”. Meanwhile, three former MPs from the Islamist Salafist Alliance have resigned from the group, apparently over differences about participating in the general elections. Continued on Page 2




When sweetness becomes dour A Special Report on Diabetes in Kuwait


ighting Diabetes is one of the biggest challenges the Gulf healthcare sector has to deal with. The Dasman Diabetes Institute aims to prevent and to mitigate the impact of diabetes in Kuwait. Dr. Kazem Behbehani, who is Director General of the Dasman Diabetes Institute, explains the clinic’s raison d’Ítre: “The Dasman Diabetes Institute was built in relation to a survey taken about 8 years ago where 150 physicians identified that the future need of Kuwait is to concentrate on diabetes. That is basically the beginning of it. It was built at the time of His Highness the late Amir, and it was opened on June 6, 2006 by His Present Highness of Kuwait.” “A lot of prevention is done. But the chronic diseases are the diseases that are going to be found more and more in the country, including diabetes,” said Dr Behbehani. “We have a 24-hour call center that people can call to ask questions and receive answers for Type I Diabetes. We have a lot of clinics - about 30. They open at 8:30 a.m. and close at 9:00 p.m. with a short lunch break in between.” On its website, the Institute defines its

mission with the following words: “Our aim is to prevent, control, and mitigate the impact of diabetes and related conditions in Kuwait through effective programs of research, training, education, treatment, and health promotion and thereby improve quality of life in the population.” The State of Kuwait has traditionally close relations with the United States of America. Unfortunately the northern Gulf state does not only import cars, clothes, and Coke from “God’s own country” but also imports manners that lead to health problems that can became almost epidemic. “The lifestyle has changed. The children are always out. Basically, food is becoming more available outside the house. There are a lot of places that offer wonderful food in large portions and the calories are not mentioned and education is not there.” Around half of the population is obese, although Dasman’s Director General Dr Behbehani warns: “With both diabetes and obesity, you can lose 15 years of your life.” Over 250,000 people in Kuwait live with diabetes. Due to the fast-food culture, Kuwait has one of the highest body-mass indexes in the world among men, and the oil-rich state

even beats the US in this regard. The near-epidemic spread of diabetes in Kuwait has many reasons. Well-known fastfood chains welcome Kuwait travelers at the airport. There is a “restaurant” near the immigration section where most Western nationals can obtain an entry visa on arrival. But the basic reason seems to be lack of sports and increasing time spent at home at computers. “Unfortunately, we are number 3 according to the IDF (International Diabetes Foundation) which was announced in December 2011”, said Dr Behbehani, whose institute works closely with universities in the UK and the US. “It is sad to hear this and I am very sad to have to mention it because it will have an effect that we haven’t seen yet since it’s in the younger generation as well as the old.” The tragic aspect in all this is the fact that Kuwait does not have a lack of state of the art-healthcare. The opposite is the case. “We have a very unique example of the health system in the country because we have general hospitals and we have close to over 94 primary health care centers, which are divided between these hospitals,” Dr. Behbehani explained. He and his team do not see their

Dasman Diabetes Institute roles as medical fire brigades. The Dasman Diabetes Institute also invests a lot in prevention, teaching people how to avoid obesity and diabetes. “It’s important to eat less food and better food. More vegetables than rice. More carbohydrates than others,” the team tells families, schools and companies. “When I was doing the e-learning materials, we actually tested the materials we developed in a couple of countries in the

region,” Dr Behbehani recalled. “In children of less than 11 years of age, you can train them and teach them and they will change their patterns. Parents listen to their children.” The government plans to increase the amount of hospital beds in general by 3,565 or 60%. Hopefully, as many patients as possible can leave the hospital healthy... and without being diagnosed as having diabetes. —

New Year, more than an occasion to celebrate? Families cautious on spending amid rising prices By Nawara Fattahova KUWAIT: The New Year is a special occasion and is also related to spending. Some people spend on shopping and buying gifts, others only spend on celebrating this occasion. However, there are many people who do not care about this occasion since it is a day like any other for them. Mohammed spent on both gifts and celebrations. “I bought two mobile phones, one for wife and one for my son, and both cost KD395. I will pay about KD 50- 60 for the dinner as we are used to gathering at the house of my brother and each family pays for the food that we order from a restaurant. I have to order two days in advance for this night as the entire country is dining out on this day. Every year, the prices go up and I will definitely have to pay more than I did last year,” the 52-year-old employee told the Kuwait Times. Becky, aged 41, is spending about KD 50 on this New Year eve. “I bought two gifts for my sons, each costing about KD 5 and one for myself at the same price. Then I have to buy some fruit for about KD 30 for the celebration to welcome the New Year. The entire family celebrates at home as it is our tradition. The prices are higher than last year, and I could buy fewer things for the same amount. Since my salary is only KD 250, and I have two children, it will affect my budget as everything is expensive,” she pointed

out. Yousef agreed that this year the prices are higher when compared to last year. “I bought my two children some outfits for about KD 80. As they are grown up, I cannot buy toys for them, and they do not need phones. So I bought clothes for them. We will spend the evening at a restaurant which I assume will cost about KD40. So my total expense will be about KD 120, and it will certainly affect my budget,” noted the 50-year-old employee. Abdulwahab, aged 32, has arranged a celebration as a gift for his family on this occasion. “I have prepared a camp where set up, lighting and screens cost about KD 4,000. I have spent an additional KD 300 for the party on this night where I will celebrate with my family and friends. This expenditure will not affect my budget and I do not think I spent more than last year. I think the prices are the same,” he stated. Some people choose to celebrate the New Year with a trip. “Last year I stayed in Kuwait and only bought gifts for my family. This year I decided to travel with my friend. So, I definitely spent more this year but, in fact, it was cheaper than I had expected. The ticket cost me KD 200, which was less than what it would have cost me last year. I will spend another KD100 for the one week stay and about KD 70 or 80 on gifts. It did not affect my budget since I had actually planned to spend more and had been saving in advance for this trip,” stressed 29-yearMariyam.


in brief

KUWAIT: Shoppers at a mall in this file photo. —Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat. Suzan, a 30-year-old single employee, only spent on shopping. “My family is not here this year, so I only bought for myself a cell phone for KD 148. My TV too broke down, coinciding with the occasion, and I found it a fit time to treat myself to a new one. There was an attractive offer and I bought one for KD 249. In all, I spent a little more than KD 400. I know it will affect my budget for the next two months, but then I needed these things. For dinner, I will go to my friend’s house and celebrate with her family. Hence, I would not be spending any money on food,” she said. John, 40, is spending this year far less than what he

used to earlier on similar occasions. “This year I plan to stay indoors and will simply celebrate at home with my family. I bought some food stuff for about KD 10 as we cannot afford eating outs. I know the prices of everything have gone up. It is a bit depressing, but what can I do? At least, it would not affect my budget,” he explained. Many others, when asked about their plans and planned expenses for the New Year eve said they were refraining from celebrating or buying any gifts, as it was just a day like any other for them or because they had not received their salaries yet.

Hepatitis patient denied entry at Kuwait airport Theft plot by maid thwarted KUWAIT: Authorities at the Kuwait International Airport refused to grant permission to a passenger to enter the country after records showed that he was previously deported on grounds of ill health. The Arab-European man had arrived in Kuwait on Sunday from a Gulf state on a visitor’s visa, but was sent back on the same plane after police discovered that a work permit he had previously applied in Kuwait was rejected as he was diagnosed with hepatitis. Meanwhile, a convict was held at the airport shortly after arriving from an Asian country after police discovered that he tried to use a forged passport to bypass a ban on his entry into Kuwait. The man was first placed under arrest and then sent back in the same plane after a fingerprint scan revealed that he was same person who was earlier deported over prostitution charges. Man dies in truck accident A man died and his coworker was seriously injured when their concrete mixing truck met with an accident at the Abdaly Road recently. The Egyptian driver was reportedly pronounced dead shortly after he was brought to the Jahra Hospital while his partner is still recovering in the intensive care unit. Investigations are underway to determine the circumstances which led the vehicle to lose balance and overturn. Drug overdose A man was hospitalized in a critical

condition after he consumed an overdose of drugs, according to preliminary tests. The 20-year-old Kuwaiti was brought in a state of coma to the Jahra Hospital by his brother who told doctors he found him unconscious in his room at their house in Al-Qasr. The man was admitted to the intensive care unit and a case was opened for investigations. Burglary Investigations are on in search of thieves who stole jewelry and cash worth KD62,000 from a Maidan Hawally apartment. A Jordanian man, who reported the robbery that happened last weekend, told the local police that the thieves stole KD1,000 and $4200 besides 12,300 Jordanian Dinars, 400 Saudi Riyals as well as different types of jewelry. Maid’s theft plot foiled A domestic worker trying to flee Kuwait after decamping with money stolen from her employer was arrested at the Kuwait International Airport. Police rushed to the airport after the Kuwaiti employer made an emergency call as soon as he discovered the disappearance of KD3100 from a safe in his bedroom. The theft came to light shortly after the family bid farewell to their housemaid who requested a leave to visit her family back home. Officers were able to arrest the woman 30 minutes before her flight’s time. She was referred to the proper authorities after the stolen money was found from her possession. —Al-Anba, AlRai

KTU happy with move on Iqama traders KUWAIT: The head of the expat labor office at the Kuwait Trade Union, Abdelrahman Al-Ghanim, expressed his satisfaction regarding the intentions of Social Affairs and Labor Minister Thekra AlRashidi to delve into complicated files at the ministry and identify their problems, in a bid to resolve issues surrounding iqama traders files. Al-Ghanim said this move indicates a positive direction in seeking to reform the social affairs ministry and eradicate iqama traders, adding that “We heard this rhetoric many times before, but nothing was actually done... We do not know about the actual reasons that prevented ministers from delivering on their promises. “ He said the long-term treatment of this subject involves abolishing the kafeel (sponsor) system, which created this class of iqama traders, and there is no need for new laws, but only enforcement of existing procedures. MOE allowance KUWAIT: Sources revealed that financial affairs at the education ministry are facing difficulties in entering into the computer system the teaching allowance of KD 200 for teachers. They added that the Civil Service Commission was asked to lift its restrictions, and its instructions are very clear in regards to paying this allowance. The restriction includes teachers leaves, whether for illness or maternity, in addition to summer breaks, as all are entered through the CSC.

Man arrested for possessing drugs KUWAIT: Drug enforcement agents arrested a Kuwaiti man for possessing drugs for trade and a loaded gun without any license after they received a secret tip-off about the suspect being active in drug trafficking. Based on the tip-off, agents made further investigations and after verifying the information and completing legal formalities, they arrested him. A search of his person yielded a piece of Hashish found in his pocket apart from some other drugs and a drug-laced cigarette ready for use. A search of his house led to recovery of more pieces of Hashish and some other kinds of drugs in addition to “AlShabow” drugs. Agents also found a gun without license which was loaded. The suspect confessed that the gun was for his own protection. He, along with the recovered contraband, was sent to the concerned authorities.

Cop sentenced for... Continued from Page 1 The three former lawmakers - Khaled Al-Sultan, Abdullatif Al-Ameeri and Mohammad Al-Kandari - said they decided to resign because the leadership of the group failed to adopt a collective decision-making process which eventually led to contradictions in a number of decisions. The alliance has been suffering internal differences for several years but the differences intensified before and during the controversial parliamentary election last month after the government amended the electoral law. The alliance had two contradictory opinions over the election - the first calling to participate in the polls while the second, led by the three former lawmakers, opposed it. Sultan, Ameeri and Kandari issued a statement declaring their resignation and hinting that the alliance was on its way for a major split. The faction that backed the polls fielded MP Ali Al-Omair who won a seat in the Assembly and contested the speaker’s post without success. Omair said yesterday that the participation in the election was correct. Also, the criminal court yesterday postponed the trial of former opposition MP Musallam Al-Barrak until Jan 28 for defense lawyers to make their arguments. Barrak is accused of undermining the status of the Amir for which he faces a sentence of up to five years in jail.



Govt to okay increase in housing loan cap By A Saleh

Amir receives NUKS US chairman, members KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received at Sief Palace yesterday Chairman and board members of the National Union of Kuwaiti Students, United States of

America branch. HH the Amir, during the reception, encouraged the students to put more effort and perseverance to achieve higher ranks and contribute effectively to the development of the country.

“HH the Amir gave us the moral push we needed, especially as overseas students, so as to achieve development for our countr y,” said chairman of the NUKS administrative board Saad

Al-Zamel. A commemorative gift was presented to HH the Amir on the occasion. The reception was attended by Deputy Minister of the Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah. —KUNA

KUWAIT: The government is likely to approve a proposal to increase the cap on housing loan from KD70,000 to KD100,000 but reject another proposal to increase the child support allowance from KD50 to KD100, said a source privy to the Cabinet’s thinking. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source explained that the government was seized with a study forwarded earlier by the Savings and Credit Bank “in which they found no obstacles in effecting a housing loans increase.” On the other hand, the government believes that the child support increase would result in extra financial burdens on the state since it was not in line with the recommendations of the Civil Service Commission on salaries and allowances. The two proposals are set to be discussed in the parliament after being approved by the legislative committee on Sunday. Meanwhile, the sources revealed that the Cabinet was likely to reject a pro-

posal that calls for naturalizing a maximum of 4,000 stateless residents in 2013 instead of 2000. The proposal was passed on Sunday by the parliament’s interior and defense committee and aims to end the dilemma about increasing the number of Bedouins who fulfill the conditions for naturalization by as much as possible. This comes in the wake of a Civil Service Commission statement denying allegations about files for stateless residents looking for jobs in the public sector being frozen. The CSC explained in a recent statement that several files were under study currently “before contacting state departments which were asked to hire candidates.” The Criminal Court adjourned a ‘state security ’ case filed against former MP Musallam Al-Barrak during its hearing yesterday, and set the next hearing for January 28th. Al-Barrak faces charges of undermining the status of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah during a rally organized by the opposition at the Iradah Square a few months ago.

An investment in maid turns out to be risky Kafeel kisses KD800 goodbye By Ben Garcia KUWAIT: An Arab expat and head of a six-member household paid KD800 to a recruitment agency to hire a Filipino housemaid who soon after landing the job ran away. The recruitment agency refused to return the money to the man - a case that has brought to the surface a prevalent problem about lack of protection for kafeels whose domestic helpers run

told that if any problem arose, the housemaid could be sent back to the agency,” he said, adding that the housemaid was good and wanted to stay with his family. The kafeel transferred her residency under his name. When the formalities were over, the maid decided that she no longer wanted to stay in his home. “The reason she gave was that she could not stand my children and decided to go back to the agency that found her

KUWAIT: A maid is doing household chores in Kuwait. Image used for illustrative purposes only. away immediately after being hired. “When I hired the housemaid, I was

the employment. “I did not wish to let her stay against her will, so I referred

KUWAIT: The head of the government performance follow up apparatus, sheikh Ahmed Mesh’al Al-Ahmed AlJaber touring the Jaber Hospital project site on Sunday.

Traffic flow on Jahra Road KUWAIT: Traffic department announced that it is inspecting Jahra Road site to monitor traffic flow after the closure of the exits of Shuwaikh industrial area from Ghazali road toward the city. The traffic department pointed out that there is a shortage of ‘no-entry’ signboards and the pavement separating the sides of the road is not demarcated properly. There is also a need to increase the height of the pavement to prevent cars from taking wrong side. Patrol cars will follow the cars who do not abide by the regulations and take all necessary precautions, it further said. The traffic department called upon drivers to be careful when passing from this road due to the ongoing construction work.

her back to the agency,” he said. The recruitment agency promised to return him the money when the housemaid was employed by a new kafeel. After a few days, however, the Arab expat received a call from the maid who informed him that she ran away from the agency and was under the embassy’s protection. Under these circumstances, the agency refused to return the money he had paid for the maid. “They informed me that it was not their fault that the housemaid left and that they cannot return my money,” he narrated. Even after the Arab expat threatened that he would complain to the ministry, the recruitment agency urged him to go ahead and file a complaint. “I filed a complaint with the overseeing body but have not received a positive answer. Instead, I was told to forget about the money I had paid. The body overseeing recruitment agencies informed me that I had hired a housemaid from an illegal agency,” the Arab expat said. An agency owner who spoke with this reporter on the condition of anonymity said that it was impossible to have illegal recruitment offices operating in Kuwait. The recruitment agency questioned the legitimacy of such an employer. If the sponsor goes to the Domestic Labor Department under the Ministry of Interior (Amala Mansiliya) they could help him. “The department will pay the amount taken by the agency in case the agency fails to do so though it may not necessarily be the entire amount but at least the amount paid to process the domestic helper’s visa,” the agency owner said. The agency owner explained that any agency

dealing with the Filipino domestic helper must be legal. “They cannot operate and hire Filipino housemaids if they are illegal. Our POEA is very strict when it comes to recruitment agencies, so I doubt whether they are illegal,” he opined. However, she told Kuwait Times that based on the law being followed/provided by the Domestic Labor Department here, any sponsor (in Kuwait, local or expat) is given at least 100 days (on probation) for the domestic helper. If the maid did not leave within this period, the local recruitment agency cannot be forced to return the cost of hiring domestic helper. “If the housemaids are hired locally, the sponsor is only given a 100 days period to observe the housemaid and decide whether she can manage the household work. If they hired the housemaid directly from the Philippines, our embassy requires us to watch and shoulder the responsibility (for the housemaid) at least until they complete the two year contract but that is not the case with the local law here,” the recruitment agency owner said. “I pity the employer but what can we do as it is their domestic law being followed in Kuwait,” the recruitment agency owner reiterated. The owner also called for immediate passage of Kuwait’s domestic labor law, which is pending with the National Assembly for years as it would help resolve such cases. “There are many reasons why a domestic labor law is needed but in particular it is required to solve issues related to domestic help once and for all, and perhaps clearly spell out the rights of employers as well,” she concluded.

KUWAIT: HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Sabah chairs a Cabinet meeting yesterday. — KUNA

KUWAIT: Ministers Rola Dashti and Dhikra Al-Rashidi attend the weekly Cabinet session.

Scores injured in traffic accidents By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: A car accident at the Airport near the 7th Ring Road Bridge left a 35-year-old Indian expat with pain in the back and other injuries. He was taken to the Adan Hospital. An 18-year-old Kuwaiti young man who was trying to cross the road at Muthanna Street in Hawally was hit by a passing car, leaving him with pain in the back and other injuries. He was taken to the Mubarak Hospital. A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman and a 13-year-old Kuwaiti girl were injured when they were hit by a passing car on Salem Al Mubarak Street in Salmiya. Both were taken to the Mubarak Hospital. A scuffle among a number of youth

behind Nugra complex left an 18-year-old Lebanese expat with an injured right hand. He was taken to the Mubarak Hospital. A 19-year-old Kuwaiti man suffered pain in the back in a car accident where Al Mansouriya intersects with Daeya. He was taken to the Amiri Hospital. A 24-year-old Saudi man was rushed to the Adan Hospital after he was injured in the right hand in a fight at Mina Abdullah, opposite Burger King Restaurant. A car accident on Jahra road, opposite the graveyard, left a 20-year-old Kuwaiti woman with a fractured right hand while a 17-yearold Kuwaiti man suffered multiple injuries in the same accident. Both were taken to the Sabah Hospital.


LOCAL Local Spotlight

In my view

From Ibn Battuta to Timbuktu

A Happy New Year to you, expat doctors

By Muna Al-Fuzai

By Labeed Abdal

he upcoming hike in expatriate doctors’ salaries was really a piece of good news for me. I have always felt sorry for the expats doctors. I do feel that they are contributing no less than any Kuwaiti doctor and yet they are not appreciated as much or receive sufficient salary that can cover their needs and the needs of their families. Life in Kuwait is hardly cheap and after all doctors, be they Kuwaitis or expatriates, are both doing the same job. Similar levels of performance and results are expected of them. Naturally, they are entitled to a salary hike. Working in any government hospital in Kuwait is a tiring prospect since these hospitals are very crowded, especially during night shifts. In fact, at the surgical department of Al-Amiri Hospital where all the doctors on night shifts are expats, they are doing a great job under conditions of immense pressure. Sorry to say that some Kuwaitis, especially the young ones, look down upon expat doctors as if they were their personal servants. These expat doctors save lives and we depend on them heavily in our hospitals. Not just doctors but many of the nurses are also expats on whom we all depend. Can you imagine a day in a Kuwaiti hospital without any expats on the staff? We need them all the time and they are providing an excellent service. Their services are priceless and they very much deserve our appreciation and a salary hike. Last year, I heard a comment about how a young Kuwaiti was treating the lady nurses in a completely unacceptable manner, shouting at them. There have also been cases of attacks on doctors by Kuwaiti residents. All doctors and nurses deserve our respect and cooperation. We must cooperate with them since they do their job nicely. The last thing a doctor should have to face is to be insulted or subjected to violence. Those who oppose the increase in doctors’ salaries should be ashamed because all doctors perform the same job, whether Kuwaitis or of any other nationality. I hope the salary hike comes soon as a New Year gift to reward all those doctors who are doing a marvelous job for all of us in Kuwait.

bn Battuta was a Moroccan Arab Muslim explorer who was able to travel in the 14th century to North and West Africa, Eastern and Western Europe and many areas in Asia safely and was considered one of the greatest travelers and explorers of all time. Strangely in the 21st century, the destruction of several tombs in Timbuktu by some radical Al-Qaida groups is an utterly regressive move on the extreme opposite side, ostensibly under the garb of imposing strict Islamic laws. It is to be appreciated that the UN Security Council took up the issue, given that the attacks were against traditional shrines of Muslims and other religions. The attacks, in which heavy armory and axes were used to destroy UNESCO World Heritage Site, were clearly intended as religious and cultural onslaught meant to increase hatred and radicalism among peaceful and moderate believers. It had become imperative to send forces to the old trading town of Mali to protect the people there and establish the rule of law, especially since around 400,000 people have fled the country and its ancient trading town. Similar incidents have been recurring in Afghanistan and other areas which need a unified response from the moderate Muslims, Christians and people of all religious affiliations, backed by the United Nations, since the shrines under attack are dear to many religions. Furthermore, a strong message needs to be sent out to these radical groups that the Holy Quran itself includes teachings about respecting other people’s beliefs and their choice of faith. Above all, the World Cultural Convention 1972, known as Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, must be properly applied and our heritage be protected. All organizations, whether working on profit or on nonprofit basis, and individuals, must lend a hand in preserving this heritage. There is a serious threat to many important international, cultural, religious and historic sites. All hands and voices must be raised to save Timbuktu, currently facing an uncivilized invasion and careless desecration besides being the victim of irresponsible ignorance about a heritage that belongs to the humanity at large.



kuwait digest

Wasted opportunity By Dr Abdullatif Al-Duaij t the time of writing this article, the state owned news agency KUNA is yet to release an apology about its protocol error when it undermined the status of the parliament’s speaker by placing his name fourth in line after the prime minister in its report. In fact, the cabinet has also not released any statement so far owning responsibility for the mistake. This can mean only one thing: the incident was not inadvertent but actually reflects an antipathy towards the democratic system and is part of the moves at continued undermining of the status of parliament. I still hope that the government or the people in KUNA are still to realize that a mistake was committed, but sadly that does not seem to be the case. Or they simply do not pay much regard to the parliament’s status to feel any need to apologize to the speaker and the Kuwaiti people for undermining his authority. The ball is now in the parliament’s court. Unfortunately, however, it seems that the parliament does not know how to play, or at least how to play properly. So far, a majority of MPs have only either fallen into submission or have adopted the illusory path of ‘tolerance and reconciliation’ in order to avoid being any accusations of creating tensions. Meanwhile, the speaker’s disregard about the tampering in the parlia-


mentary oath featured in the inaugural parliament is a clear indication that he is willing to overlook the insult directed against him personally and against parliament in general. More than any other lawmaker, he himself is trying to escape any confrontation with the cabinet. Under such circumstances, it seems that the parliament and its members are going to lose not only their status, but also their authority. Now, many will try to equate this incident with acceptance of the single-vote decree and the elections held on the basis of the amended electoral law. By saying that the latest development was a result of such acceptance, you would be ignoring the fact that the new voting mechanism provided a true outlet for isolated national groups, and a radical correction to the tampering that affected the electoral process over the past four decades. Furthermore, a person supporting the aforementioned theory ignores the fact that national groups which boycotted the elections have missed a golden opportunity to recover and reclaim their role that now stands snatched. Boycotting the elections has left the door wide open for the government to gain total control over the parliament and its politically inexperienced members. — Al-Qabas

kuwait digest

A cleaning march, need of the hour By Ahmad Budostoor itizens and expats are complaining about the most of those who run the companies are former garbage piling everywhere causing diseases, employees of the municipality, with one cleaning adding to the air pollution, emitting a foul laborer progressing fast enough to become a partsmell all the time and presenting a disturbing scene. ner in a cleaning company. It was a clear evidence We need a march for ensuring cleanliness, more of the rampant corruption, and was mentioned by than the dignity marches, so that the municipality municipal council member, Eng. Ashwaq Alofficials wake up from their deep slumber and real- Mudhaf, on TV. The legal department at the municipality lost ize their responsibility. They must do their duty as required. Clearly, the most of cases it filed against the cleaning companegligence is happening due to the lack of punish- nies, as well as the spoiled food companies, a fact ment. The municipality officials’ excuse for this state that only underlines the incompetency of the of affairs is worse than the problem as they hold department and the lack of any follow up of cleancleaning companies responsible and claim that ing contracts, allowing the companies to trade in since the contracts of old companies had expired, Iqamas and paying unearned salaries to cleaning workers for several months. Kuwait is passing through a We have hope in the new transition period until the new municipality minister, Sheikh companies take over. This The cleaning campaign Mohammad Al-Abdallah, who could possibly take three months. Apparently, these must also cover the “ille- said following the first meeting municipal council memcompanies are attempting to gal laborers” who turned with bers that he has found a soluimprove their image not by collecting garbage but by using towards brutal crimes, tion. Since it has been reiterated time and again that corruppink color containers. threatened society’s tion at the municipality is very The municipality signed conrampant, what is required is tracts worth KD 287 million, security and have no implementation of the law on equivalent to nearly $1 billion, respect for the law. The cleaning and on the sale of with 17 cleaning companies. stuff unfit for human conThese new contracts should Avenues Mall crime is food sumption. Action against wayhave become effective from evidence of that as a ward employees also needs to January 25th, 2012, when the be taken. old companies stopped operaSaudi and two Iraqi The law must also be applied tions but the new companies did not start work due to short- nationals were involved to all those employees and managers, who have spent more age of equipment and labor. What is worse is that the apart from the main sus- than 30 years in service. There is new equipment could not pect who is a bedoon. certainly a law in this regard, and we thank SAL minister enter residential areas due to its large size. Drivers lacked That is why we say that Thekra Al-Rashidi who began to this law and sent the knowledge about addresses Kuwait is in need of a implement ministry Undersecretary into and streets since they were new and needed some time for cleaning march so that retirement. There are many othofficials who also must be training. The old companies it is purged of all the er retired compulsorily because were supposed to continue they have contributed enough until new companies put into dirt, corruption and and are no more required. place their equipment and illegal laborers. The cleaning campaign workers. must also cover the “illegal By this time, the penalties laborers” who turned towards should have reached a point where canceling contracts becomes imperative but brutal crimes, threatened society’s security and the cleaning committee at the municipality that have no respect for the law. The Avenues Mall crime overlooks compliance failed to hold these compa- is evidence of that as a Saudi and two Iraqi nationals were involved apart from the main suspect who is a nies to account. The committee that deals with the equipment bedoon. That is why we say that Kuwait is in need of a also did not do its job. The cleaning companies and some officials are in cleaning march so that it is purged of all the dirt, cahoots with each other. It is worth mentioning that corruption and illegal laborers. — Al-Watan




NBK Academy shares moments with children at NBK Hospital KUWAIT: National Bank of Kuwait’s (NBK) family and trainees of NBK Academy paid a visit to NBK Hospital at Sabah Medical district to share happy moments with children suffering from permanent and incurable ailments. “NBK staff have always devoted a considerable part of their time to comfort the children and present them with felicitations and gifts as part of NBK’s corporate social responsibility program,” said Yaqoub AlBaqer, NBK Public Relations Officer. “Sharing the happy moments with children is our pleasure. We are proud that NBK devotes such attention to supporting Kuwait society and provid-

ing compassion and support for those in need, including sick children. NBK’s commitment to shoulder its corporate social responsibility was the basic motive that led NBK to build its children hospital at Sabah Medical district many years ago,” added Al Baqer. The visit to the hospital was emotional and overwhelming for both the children and NBK staff. NBK’s visits to hospitals and care centers reflect the Bank’s high sense of duty and responsibility towards all those in need from different sectors of society. It is a well rooted tradition that has been carried out by NBK each year in its efforts to continuously have an active role in the Kuwait society.

Tunisian ambassador meets Info minister KUWAIT: Information Minister and Minister of State of Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem AlHumoud Al-Sabah discussed ways of

strengthening media relations with Tunisian Ambassador to the country Lisghier Al-Fitnasi yesterday. The meeting addressed a number of

issues concerning youth affairs, a ministry statement said. Al-Fitnasi congratulated Sheikh Salman on the new post, wishing him well. — KUNA

Kuwait donates $24,000 to scientific research in Jordan AMMAN: Kuwait has donated $24,000 to the University of Jordan, given in the name of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah, for the best scientific research for higher studies. Kuwait’s Ambassador to Jordan, Dr Hamad AlDuaij handed the donation to the president of Amman University Dr Khlaif Al-Tarawneh, at a meeting at

Printer’s devil and property statistics KUWAIT: The Ministry of Justice announced in a recent statement that a typing error was behind unjustifiably large sale rates for certain properties featured in a statistical report released by the property registration department on its website recently. It said the employee responsible for the mistake has been identified and is being investigated. The issue had raised a controversy after a local newspaper on Sunday highlighted the ‘error’ and hinted that potential corruption could be involved in the sale of properties to investors. ‘One of the errors found in the report was in the case of a Salmiya building which was sold for KD7,700 million but mistakenly appeared in the report to have been sold for KD77,000 million,’ read the statement released by Undersecretary Assistant for Property Registration Affairs, Dr Badr Al-Zamanan. Al-Rai newspaper released a statement in the meantime asking for the original sale documents that could ìproveî the ministryís justifications. The case had elicited prompt reactions from lawmakers, many of whom released statements on Sunday demanding immediate investigation into the allegations, and going so far as to call for a special parliamentary session to discuss the subject. —Al-Rai

the embassy headquarters. Dr Al-Tarawneh said that this donation constituted “support from the State of Kuwait in the name of His Highness the Amir” for the best scientific research by a postgraduate student in University of Jordan. Dr Al-Tarwaneh also stressed the importance of the support in strengthening the bonds of relation-

ship between Kuwaiti and Jordanian peoples, indicating that it would prompt the students to appreciate efforts of Kuwait towards peoples in the Arab and Muslim worlds. He also said the tender is not new in record of Kuwait government and people, where Kuwait is permanently supportive of causes of the nation in general, and Jordan in particular. He also praised the role of the Kuwaiti diplomatic mission in Jordan and its contributions in strengthening cooperation between the two countries to serve interests of both peoples. Dr Al-Tarawneh added the Kuwaiti assistance covers all Jordanian areas, provinces, villages and cities, due to this unique relationship. Ambassador Al-Duaij said that the donation was within the framework of the Kuwaiti support to brotherly countries-under the patronage of the political leadership namely HH the Amir. The handover ceremony was attended by Kuwaiti cultural attache to Jordan Dr Mohammed Dhaim AlDhafeery, Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Jordan Dr Suhair Adib, and Dean of Scientific Research Dr Khalid Al-Fawares. — KUNA

MOH surgeon performs rare sleeve gastrectomy surgery KUWAIT: Minister of Health Dr Mohammed Al-Haifi participated yesterday in a sleeve gastrectomy surgery for an overweight patient weighing about 180 kilograms. A statement issued by the Ministry of Health said the size of the body mass of the patient (BMI) was 61 percent and the operation was done at Al-Amiri

Hospital. The proportion was “very high in the scale of obesity,” and it was one of the rare cases admitted at the hospital. The minister Al-Haifi, a surgery consultant specialized in laparoscopic operations and obesity, has conducted several operations to many patients. — KUNA


9 killed in tour bus crash along Oregon highway

23 killed in wave of Iraq attacks Page 7

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TIMBUKTU, Mali: In this Aug 31, 2012 file photo, fighters from Islamist group Ansar Dine stand guard as they prepare to publicly lash a member of the Islamic Police found guilty of adultery. —AP

Mali: Qaeda’s own country Rooting out extremists could prove more difficult than Afghanistan By Rukmini Callimachi eep inside caves, in remote desert bases, in the escarpments and cliff faces of northern Mali, Islamic fighters are burrowing into the earth, erecting a formidable set of defenses to protect what has essentially become Al-Qaeda’s new country. They have used the bulldozers, earth movers and Caterpillar machines left behind by fleeing construction crews to dig what residents and local officials describe as an elaborate network of tunnels, trenches, shafts and ramparts. In just one case, inside a cave large enough to drive trucks into, they have stored up to 100 drums of gasoline, guaranteeing their fuel supply in the face of a foreign intervention, according to experts. Northern Mali is now the biggest territory held by Qaeda and its allies. And as the world hesitates, delaying a military intervention, the extremists who seized control of the area earlier this year are preparing for a war they boast will be worse than the decade-old struggle in Afghanistan. “Qaeda never owned Afghanistan,” said former United Nations diplomat Robert Fowler, a Canadian kidnapped and held for 130 days by Qaeda’s local chapter, whose fighters now control the main cities in the north. “They do own northern Mali.” Qaeda’s affiliate in Africa has been a shadowy presence for years in the forests and deserts of Mali, a country hobbled by poverty and a relentless cycle of hunger. In recent months, the terror syndicate and its allies have taken advantage of political instability within the country to push out of their hiding place and into the towns, taking over an enormous territory which they are using to stock arms, train forces and prepare for global jihad. The catalyst for the Islamic fighters was a military coup nine months ago that transformed Mali from a once-stable nation to the failed state it is today. On March 21, disgruntled soldiers invaded the presidential palace. The fall of the nation’s democratically elected government at the hands of junior officers destroyed the military’s command-and-control structure, creating the vacuum which allowed a mix of rebel groups to move in. With no clear instructions from their higherups, the humiliated soldiers left to defend those towns tore off their uniforms, piled into trucks and beat a retreat as far as Mopti, roughly in the center of Mali. They abandoned everything north of this town to the advancing rebels, handing them an area that stretches over more than 620,000 sq km. It’s a territory larger than Texas or France - and it’s almost exactly the size


of Afghanistan. Turbaned fighters now control all the major towns in the north, carrying out amputations in public squares like the Taleban did. Just as in Afghanistan, they are flogging women for not covering up. Since taking control of Timbuktu, they have destroyed seven of the 16 mausoleums listed as world heritage sites. The area under their rule is mostly desert and sparsely populated, but analysts say that due to its size and the hostile nature of the terrain, rooting out the extremists here could prove even more difficult than it did in Afghanistan. Mali’s former president has acknowledged, diplomatic cables show, that the country cannot patrol a frontier twice the length of the border between the United States and Mexico. AlQaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM, operates not just in Mali, but in a corridor along much of the northern Sahel. This 7,000-km long ribbon of land runs across the widest part of Africa, and includes sections of Mauritania, Niger, Algeria, Libya, Burkina Faso and Chad. “One could come up with a conceivable containment strategy for the Swat Valley,” said Africa expert Peter Pham, an adviser to the US military’s African command center, referring to the region of Pakistan where the Pakistan Taleban have been based. “There’s no containment strategy for the Sahel, which runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.” Earlier this year, the 15 nations in West Africa, including Mali, agreed on a proposal for the military to take back the north, and sought backing from the United Nations. Earlier this month, the Security Council authorized the intervention but imposed certain conditions, including training Mali’s military, which is accused of serious human rights abuses since the coup. Diplomats say the intervention will likely not happen before September of 2013. In the meantime, the Islamists are getting ready, according to elected officials and residents in Kidal, Timbuktu and Gao, including a day laborer hired by Qaeda’s local chapter to clear rocks and debris for one of their defenses. They spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear for their safety at the hands of the Islamists, who have previously accused those who speak to reporters of espionage. The Qaeda affiliate, which became part of the terror network in 2006, is one of three Islamist groups in northern Mali. The others are the Movement for the Unity and Jihad in West Africa, or MUJAO, based in Gao, and Ansar Dine, based in Kidal. Analysts agree that there is considerable overlap between the groups, and that all three can be considered sympathizers, even extensions, of Al-Qaeda.

The Islamic fighters have stolen equipment from construction companies, including more than $11 million worth from a French company called SOGEA-SATOM, according to Elie Arama, who works with the European Development Fund. The company had been contracted to build a European Union-financed highway in the north between Timbuktu and the village of Goma Coura. An employee of SOGEA-SATOM in Bamako declined to comment. The official from Kidal said his constituents have reported seeing Islamic fighters with construction equipment riding in convoys behind 4-by-4 trucks draped with their signature black flag. His contacts among the fighters, including friends from secondary school, have told him they have created two bases, around 200 to 300 km north of Kidal, in the austere, rocky desert. The first base is occupied by Qaeda’s local fighters in the hills of Teghergharte, a region the official compared to Afghanistan’s Tora Bora. “The Islamists have dug tunnels, made roads, they’ve brought in generators, and solar panels in order to have electricity,” he said. “They live inside the rocks.” Still further north, near Boghassa, is the second base, created by fighters from Ansar Dine. They too have used seized explosives, bulldozers and sledgehammers to make passages in the hills, he said. In addition to creating defenses, the fighters are amassing supplies, experts said. A local who was taken by Islamists into a cave in the region of Kidal described an enormous room, where several cars were parked. Along the walls, he counted up to 100 barrels of gasoline, according to the man’s testimony to New York-based Human Rights Watch. In Timbuktu, the fighters are becoming more entrenched with each passing day, warned Mayor Ousmane Halle. Earlier in the year, he said, the Islamists left his city in a hurry after France called for an imminent military intervention. They returned when the UN released a report arguing for a more cautious approach. “At first you could see that they were anxious,” said Halle by telephone. “The more the date is pushed back, the more reinforcements they are able to get, the more prepared they become.” In the regional capital of Gao, a young man told AP that he and several others were offered 10,000 francs a day by Qaeda’s local commanders (around $20), a rate several times the normal wage, to clear rocks and debris, and dig trenches. The youth said he saw Caterpillars and earth movers inside an Islamist camp at a former Malian military base 7 km from Gao. The fighters are piling mountains of sand from the ground along the dirt roads to force cars onto the pavement, where they have checkpoints every-

where, he said. In addition, they are modifying their all-terrain vehicles to mount them with arms. “On the backs of their cars, it looks like they are mounting pipes,” he said, describing a shape he thinks might be a rocket or missile launcher. “They are preparing themselves. Everyone is scared.” A university student from Gao confirmed seeing the modified cars. He said he also saw deep holes dug on the sides of the highway, possibly to give protection to fighters shooting at cars, along with cement barriers with small holes for guns. In Gao, residents routinely see Moktar Belmoktar, the one-eyed emir of the AlQaeda-linked cell that grabbed Fowler in 2008. Belmoktar, a native Algerian, traveled to Afghanistan in the 1980s and trained in Osama bin Laden’s camp in Jalalabad, according to research by the Jamestown Foundation. His lieutenant Oumar Ould Hamaha, whom Fowler identified as one of his captors, brushed off questions about the tunnels and caves but said the fighters are prepared. “We consider this land our land. It’s an Islamic territory,” he said, reached by telephone in an undisclosed location. “Right now our field of operation is Mali. If they bomb us, we are going to hit back everywhere.” He added that the threat of military intervention has helped recruit new fighters, including from Western countries. In December, two US citizens from Alabama were arrested on terrorism charges, accused of planning to fly to Morocco and travel by land to Mali to wage jihad, or holy war. Two French nationals have also been detained on suspicion of trying to travel to northern Mali to join the Islamists. Hamaha himself said he spent a month in France preaching his fundamentalist version of Islam in Parisian mosques after receiving a visa for all European Union countries in 2001. Hamaha indicated the Islamists have inherited stores of Russian-made arms from former Malian army bases, as well as from the arsenal of toppled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, a claim that military experts have confirmed. Those weapons include the SA-7 and SA-2 surface-to-air missiles, according to Hamaha, which can shoot down aircrafts. His claim could not be verified, but Rudolph Atallah, the former counterterrorism director for Africa in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, said it makes sense. “Gaddafi bought everything under the sun,” said Atallah, a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel, who was a defense attache at the US Embassy in Mali. “His weapons depots were packed with all kinds of stuff, so it’s plausible that AQIM now has surface-to-air missiles.” Depending on the model, these missiles can

range far enough to bring down planes used by ill-equipped African air forces, although not those used by US and other Western forces, he said. There is significant disagreement in the international community on whether Western countries will carry out the planned bombardments. The Islamists’ recent advances draw on AlQaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s near decade of experience in Mali’s northern desert, where Fowler and his fellow UN colleague were held captive for four months in 2008, an experience he recounts in his recent book, “A Season in Hell.” Originally from Algeria, the fighters fled across the border into Mali in 2003, after kidnapping 32 European tourists. Over the next decade, they used the country’s vast northern desert to hold French, Spanish, Swiss, German, British, Austrian, Italian and Canadian hostages, raising an estimated $89 million in ransom payments, according to Stratfor, a global intelligence company. During this time, they also established relationships with local clans, nurturing the ties that now protect them. Several commanders have taken local wives, and Hamaha, whose family is from Kidal, confirmed that Belmoktar is married to his niece. Fowler described being driven for days by jihadists who knew Mali’s featureless terrain by heart, navigating valleys of identical dunes with nothing more than the direction of the sun as their map. He saw them drive up to a thorn tree in the middle of nowhere to find barrels of diesel fuel. Elsewhere, he saw them dig a pit in the sand and bury a bag of boots, marking the spot on a GPS for future use. In his four-month-long captivity, Fowler never saw his captors refill at a gas station, or shop in a market. Yet they never ran out of gas. And although their diet was meager, they never ran out of food, a testament to the extensive supply network which they set up and are now refining and expanding. Among the many challenges an invading army will face is the inhospitable terrain, Fowler said, which is so hot that at times “it was difficult to draw breath”. A cable published by WikiLeaks from the US Embassy in Bamako described how even the Malian troops deployed in the north before the coup could only work from 4 am to 10 am, and spent the sunlight hours in the shade of their vehicles. Yet Fowler said he saw Qaeda fighters chant Quranic verses under the Sahara sun for hours, just one sign of their deep, ideological commitment. “I have never seen a more focused group of young men,” said Fowler, who now lives in Ottawa, Canada. “No one is sneaking off for R&R. They have left their wives and children behind. They believe they are on their way to paradise.” —AP



23 killed in wave of Iraq attacks BAGHDAD: A wave of bombings and shootings across Iraq killed 23 people yesterday as the country grappled with anti-government rallies and simmering political crises ahead of major Shiite commemoration rituals. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in more than a dozen towns and cities that wounded 83 people, but Sunni militants such as Al-Qaeda’s front group in Iraq regularly target officials and security forces in a bid to destabilise the government, and also often attack Shiite pilgrims. The violence comes after anti-government protesters blocked a key highway to Syria and Jordan, amid political tensions between Shiite Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and a secular Sunni-backed party in his fragile national unity government. Much of yesterday’s violence targeted Shiite pilgrims, ahead of Arbaeen commemoration ceremonies due this week. In the deadliest attack, seven people three women, two children and two men - were killed when three houses were blown up in the town of Mussayib, south of Baghdad, police and a medic said. Four others were wounded. The victims were apparently targeted because they were Shiites, the officials said. Shiite pilgrims embarking on the traditional walk to the holy shrine city of Karbala for Arbaeen commemorations were hit by three mortar strikes south of Baghdad that killed one worshipper and wounded nine others. A series of attacks in restive Diyala province, north of Baghdad, wounded 19 people, including 10 Shiite pilgrims who were walking to Karbala. Arbaeen marks 40 days after the Ashoura anniversary commemorating the slaying of Imam

Hussein, one of Shiite Islam’s most revered figures, by Finance Minister Rafa Al-Essawi on charges of terror- further heightening tensions between the two sides. the armies of the caliph Yazid in 680 AD. Sunni mili- ism. Essawi, a senior member of the Iraqiya bloc that is Violence in Iraq is down from its peak in 2006 and tants often use the rituals as an opportunity to part of Maliki’s unity government but frequently criti- 2007, but attacks still occur almost every day across increase attacks against Shiites. Attacks in Baghdad cises him in public, has called for the premier to resign, the country. — AFP and north of the city, meanwhile, killed 12 people. In the capital’s central commercial district of Karrada, a car bomb detonated by a suicide attacker left at least four dead and 20 others wounded, security and medical officials said. Authorities quickly cordoned off the scene of the blast and barred journalists from entering or taking photos and videos. A series of bombings in the ethnically mixed northern city of Kirkuk and nearby towns killed five policemen and wounded 11 other people, local officials said. And in the main northern city of Mosul, two policemen guarding an election centre were gunned down, while one policeman was killed and another wounded by a roadside bomb in Tuz Khurmatu. South of Baghdad, a car bombing outside government offices killed two people as the provincial governor was arriving. “I saw a huge fire and heard a loud explosion,” said Kadhim Jawad, who was at the scene of the attacks in the city of Hilla. “I saw shops near the explosion were badly damaged and there was a man lying on the street. He was covered in blood.” The blast also wounded 19 people, including a guard for the governor of Babil province and one of his photographers, a policeman and a medic said. The governor himself was unharmed. The latest violence comes on the ninth consecutive day of anti-government protests in mostly-Sunni areas over alleged attacks against the minority community SAMARRA, Iraq: Iraqis wave their national flag during a sit-in by citizens, clergy, tribal leaders by the Shiite-led government. The demonstrations and MPs in this northern city in Salaheddin province close to the Razzaq central mosque yeswere sparked by the arrest of at least nine guards of terday. — AFP

Syria backs ‘any initiative’ for talks to end conflict Dozens of tortured bodies found in Damascus

BANGUI: Central African Republic soldiers patrol in a street of Bangui yesterday. — AFP

Rebels threaten Bangui, say president must go BANGUI: Rebels in the Central African Republic vowed yesterday to take the last key town before the capital and renewed their call for the president to stand down, voicing scepticism over his pledge to make concessions. Rebel coalition Seleka, which has seized much of the country in a three-week advance to within 160 km of the capital Bangui, said its renewed call for President Francois Bozize to leave power was in response to an advance by government troops toward rebel positions. “Bozize must go, it’s clear. We are demanding his exit, that he step down,” said rebel spokesman Eric Massi. “A column of eight vehicles has left Damara to attack our positions in Sibut,” about 100 kilometres to the northeast of the key town, he added. “We are going to neutralise that column as we always do, and we are going to secure Damara.” After talks in Bangui on Sunday with Bozize, African Union chief Thomas Boni Yayi had said the former general was ready to negotiate with the rebels in Gabon and to form a government of national unity in the resource-rich country with a long history of instability. He also said the president had pledged not stand for office when his current term expires in 2016, after speculation that he would try to modify the constitution to be able to run for re-election. But both the rebels and the political opposition said yesterday they did not believe Bozize’s promises. “There is no longer any doubt that the sincerity of the promises made by Francois Bozize is not real,” Massi told AFP. Seleka, which has carried out a southward offensive from near the border with Chad, also accused Bozize’s regime of persecuting political foes and urged multinational African peacekeeping force FOMAC to take action to stop atrocities. “We call on the African peacekeeping forces to intervene immediately in the capital to stop the abuses and murders of prisoners, or see that they don’t prevent us from doing so,” Massi said. Massi made no mention of Bozize’s offer of talks, while the president did not respond to a ceasefire offer by the rebels.

Leading opposition figure Martin Ziguele - who was prime minister under Ange-Felix Patasse, the president Bozize toppled in a 2003 coup - also said he had little faith in Bozize’s pledges. “The problem is Mr. Bozize’s promises. He makes promises and doesn’t keep them,” Ziguele said, accusing the president of having a “credibility problem”. Seleka began its insurgency on December 10 on the grounds that Bozize’s government had failed to abide by the terms of peace accords signed with various rebel groups in 2007 and 2011, which provided for disarmament and funding the reintegration of former rebels into society. The rebels have taken several major towns, including the diamond-mining hub of Bria. French President Francois Hollande spoke yesterday with Bozize by telephone and called for talks with the rebels, his office said. Hollande said the former French colony should hold “a dialogue between the Centrafrican authorities and all parties present, notably the rebellion”, the French presidency said in a statement. Bozize has appealed for help from France, which propped up previous regimes in the chronically unstable country of five million people, but Paris has refused to intervene. Central Bangui was lively yesterday, as workers in both the public and private sectors queued outside banks to get their monthly pay. Troops were deployed in force in the city for the first time since the crisis began. A civil servant who earns 80,000 CFA francs ($170) a month and asked not to be named expressed concern over the conflict. “What we earn is insignificant. The salary is slim and the cost of living is high. Prices have risen. All this hits us hard. I’m more afraid of famine for my children than of rebels.” A teacher named Marc expressed disappointment in France. “I don’t think the rebels will arrive in Bangui, but why has France abandoned us? Why won’t France let us exploit our mineral wealth?” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius earlier said Bozize’s pledges to make concessions “go in the right direction” and called for negotiations “without delay”. —AFP

DAMASCUS: Syria’s government yesterday welcomed any initiative for talks to end bloodshed in the country, after UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said he had a peace plan acceptable to world powers. The regime’s stand, expressed by Prime Minister Wael Al-Halaqi, came amid a flurry of diplomacy led by Brahimi to find ways to end the 21-month conflict. But the violence still raged, with activists reporting the gruesome discovery of dozens of tortured, headless corpses in a Damascus district, adding that nearly 90 percent of the 45,000 people killed so far died in 2012. “The government is working to support the national reconciliation project and will respond to any regional or international initiative that would solve the current crisis through dialogue and peaceful means and prevent foreign intervention in Syria’s internal affairs,” Halaqi told parliament. He said the revolt against President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime must be resolved only by the Syrian people, “without external pressures or decrees”. Halaqi said the country was “moving toward a historic moment when it will declare victory over its enemies, with the goal of positioning Syria to build a new world order that promotes national sovereignty and the concept of international law”. Brahimi said Sunday he had crafted a ceasefire plan “that could be adopted by the international community”. The proposal involved a ceasefire, the formation of a government, an election plan, and was based on an agreement world powers reached in Geneva in June. The opposition has already rejected that accord, and insists Assad must go before any dialogue can take place. Russia and China have so far vetoed three UN Security Council draft resolutions seeking to force Assad’s hand with the threat of sanctions. The violence has escalated, with activists reporting the discovery of 30 tortured bodies in a flashpoint district of Damascus, while a gruesome video emerged of a separate slaying of three children in the capital. “Thirty bodies were found in the Barzeh district. They bore signs of torture and have so far not been identified,” said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Syrian Revolution General Commission activist network gave a higher estimate of 50 bodies, saying “their heads were cut and disfigured to the point that it was no longer possible to identify” them. The video posted online by activists showed the bodies of three young boys with their throats slit open and hands bound behind their backs. Their bodies were discovered yesterday in Jubar. The Observatory also reported the killing of the boys, who activists said were kidnapped the day before at a checkpoint on their way home from school. Regime warplanes, meanwhile, bombarded rebel positions on the outskirts of Damascus, killing eight civilians including two children, said the Observatory. Fighting erupted in Daraya as army reinforcements massed in the contested town where more than 500 people were reportedly killed in the conflict’s bloodiest massacre in August. In central Syria, the army shelled the town of Halfaya in Hama province, where an air strike on a bakery last week

TAL HASSIL, Syria: A pro-government fighter poses next to the body of a rebel killed during clashes at an air defence base 15 km from Aleppo airport on Sunday. — AFP

killed 60 people, and Houla in Homs province, where proregime militiamen are suspected of killing more than 100 people in May in another major massacre. The Observatory said nearly 90 percent of the 45,000 people killed in the conflict died in 2012, putting this year’s toll at 39,362 people, mostly civilians. The uprising began in March 2011 with peaceful protests inspired by the Arab Spring, but morphed into an armed rebellion following a brutal government crackdown. The sharp increase in fatalities was due to a fierce escalation in the methods of crackdown by the regime, which included air raids on densely populated areas, said the Observatory. Though rebels now hold vast swathes of territory and have struck the heart of Damascus, the regime has so far stood firm despite Western predictions of its imminent fall. — AFP




Blood-stained Mexico tries gun swaps MEXICO CITY: Fed up with rampant crime, a Mexico City district is pressing locals to swap personal firearms for bikes, tablet computers and even cash, in a desperate bid to get guns off the streets. Francisco Aro proudly showed off his 32-caliber Smith & Wesson, a collector’s item. “It belonged to my great granddad. He was in the revolution,” explained Aro, who - sentimental value aside - opted for the swap set up by Mexico City authorities trying to disarm dangerous Iztapalapa. “Now, at least I’ll get some exercise,” smiled the 33-year-old as he patiently waited his turn to make a deal. There were about 60 people, all with pistols in hand, in the line snaking out of a church. When they reached the front of the line, a small team of police and military staff collected their weapons anonymously. And the swappers got their choice of rewards, from shiny new bikes to electronics and, always popular, money. The Mexico City program, called “Voluntary Arms Trade-in: It’s For Your Family,” just kicked off on December 24 for a week of work. “For every day of the program,

we are spending 300,000 pesos” ($23,000), said a city government source, who spoke on condition they

not be named. Though officials so far have collected more than 200 weapons, improving

MEXICO CITY: A citizen leaves carrying a bycicle after exchanging it for a weapon in Iztapalapa on Dec 26, 2012. —AFP

safety in the midst of an organized crime nightmare that has rocked the nation is the tip of the iceberg. And the authorities still have an uphill battle ahead of them. President Enrique Pena Nieto, who took office Dec 1, has vowed to improve public safety in the face of a relentless drug war that has killed more than 60,000 people in the last six years alone. Drug cartels are ruthlessly jockeying to control lucrative trafficking routes. So swaps from these folks aren’t necessarily going to solve the country’s biggest problems. “The bad guys normally have several weapons. So they might just swap one that doesn’t work, or one they don’t like, and keep the rest,” said Augusto Martinez. At 79 years young, he traded in a Colt 80 revolver for a bike and some cash. Skeptics also include the army personnel sent out to collect the swapped guns. “Look at the shape this stuff is in. Most of these guns are out of order, or very old,” one commander said privately. “Most of the people who bring them in are middleaged family men who inherited these from their grandparents.”

Though it is illegal to carry weapons in Mexico - unlike in the United States the country has to battle with a steady influx of illegal weapons from its northern neighbor. The weapons make their way into the hands of drug traffickers and organized crime. The federal government says, however, that it has seized more than 107,000 weapons just from 2006-2012 - 90 percent of which were trafficked in from the United States. Still, lawmaker Jesus Valencia has had enough of crime in Iztapalapa - the second most violent part of the federal capital. He said it was worth a try to get some guns off the streets, so that fewer lives would be lost to stray bullets. In November, a 10-year-old boy lost his life in just such a tragedy, as did a woman on Dec 13. Authorities have also reached out to kids. As part of the program, they can swap violent toys for new ones that are not. Suriel Guadalupe, a four-year-old dressed up as Spider Man, lined up and took two plastic pistols out for a trade. “I don’t want them anymore,” he said, swapping them for a basketball. —AFP

9 killed in tour bus crash along Oregon highway Bus careens into ravine PENDLETON, Oregon: The stretch of rural Oregon interstate where a tour bus crashed through a guardrail and plummeted 100 feet down a steep embankment is so notorious that state transportation officials have published a specific advisory warning of its dangers. Nine people were killed and more than

through a translator that they were seated near the rear of the bus when it swerved a few times, hit the guardrail and flipped. They described breaking glass and seeing passengers pinned by their seats as the bus slid down the hill. Both said that they feared for their lives.

PENDLETON, Oregon: Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a multiple fatality accident where a tour bus careened through a guardrail along an icy Oregon highway and fell several hundred feet down a steep embankment Sunday. —AP two dozen injured when the charter bus veered out of control around 10:30 am Sunday on snow- and ice-covered lanes of Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon, according to the Oregon State Police. The bus crashed near the start of a 11-km section of road that winds down a hill. It came to rest at the bottom of a snowy slope, landing beaten and battered but upright with little or no debris visible around the crash site. The East Oregonian said it spoke with two South Korean passengers, ages 16 and 17. Both said

The paper said that the teens, one of whom injured a knee and the other suffered a broken collarbone, were staying at a hotel arranged by the Red Cross. More than a dozen rescue workers descended the hill and used ropes to help retrieve people from the wreckage in freezing weather. The bus driver was among the survivors, but was injured and had not yet spoken to police. Lt Gregg Hastings said the bus crashed along the west end of the Blue Mountains, and west of an area called Deadman Pass.

The area is well known locally for its hazards, and the state transportation department advises truck drivers that “some of the most changeable and severe weather conditions in the Northwest” can lead to slick conditions and poor visibility. Drivers are urged to use “extreme caution and defensive driving techniques,” and warned that snow and black ice are common in the fall through the spring. The bus had been carrying about 40 people. St Anthony Hospital in Pendleton treated 26 of them, said hospital spokesman Larr y Blanc. Five of those treated at St. Anthony were transported to other facilities. Blanc did not elaborate on the nature of the injuries but told the Oregonian that the hospital brought in additional staff to handle the rush of patients and did a lot of X-ray imaging. I-84 is a major east-west highway through Oregon that follows the Columbia River Gorge. Umatilla County Emergency Manager Jack Remillard said the bus was owned by Mi Joo travel in Vancouver, British Columbia, and state police said the bus was en route from Las Vegas to Vancouver. A woman who answered the phone at a listing for the company confirmed with The Associated Press that it owned the bus and said it was on a tour of the Western U.S. She declined to give her name. A bus safety website run by the US Depar tment of Transportation said Mi Joo Tour & Travel has six buses, none of which have been involved in any accidents in at least the past two years. A spokesman for the American Bus Association said buses carry more than 700 million passengers a year in the United States. “The industry as a whole is a very safe industry,” said Dan Ronan of the Washington, DC,-based group. “There are only a handful of accidents every year. Comparatively speaking, we’re the safest form of surface transportation.” Sunday’s Oregon bus crash comes more than two months after another chartered tour bus veered off a highway in October in northern Arizona, killing the driver and injuring dozens of passengers who were mostly tourists from Asia and Europe. Authorities say the driver likely had a medical episode. —AP

Annual list of words to ban has ‘fiscal cliff’ DETROIT: Spoiler alert: This story contains words and phrases that some people want to ban from the English language. “Spoiler alert” is among them. So are “kick the can down the road,” “trending” and “bucket list”. All are on the 38th annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness. The nonbinding, tongue-in-cheek decree released Monday by northern Michigan’s Lake Superior State University is based on nominations submitted from the United States, Canada and beyond. “Spoiler alert,” the seemingly thoughtful way to warn readers or viewers about looming references to a key plot point in a film or TV show, nevertheless has irritated many, including Joseph Foly of California. He argued in his submission the phrase is “used as an obnoxious way to show one has trivial information and is about to use it, no matter what.” The phrase receiving the most nominations was “fiscal cliff,” banished because of its overuse by media outlets when describing tax increases and spending cuts that economists say could harm the US economy in the new year without congressional action. “You can’t turn on the news without hearing this,” said Christopher Loiselle of Michigan in his

submission. “I’m equally worried about the River of Debt and Mountain of Despair.” Other terms coming in for a literary lashing are “superfood”, “guru”, “job creators” and “double down”. University spokesman Tom Pink said that in nearly four decades, the school has “banished” around 900 words or phrases. Nominations used to come by mail, then fax and website, and now most come through the university’s Facebook page. That’s fitting, since social media has helped accelerate the life cycle of certain words and phrases, such as this year’s entry “YOLO” - “you only live once”. Rounding out the list are “job creators/creation”, “boneless wings” and “passion/passionate”. Those who nominated the last one say they are tired of hearing about a company’s “passion” as a substitute for providing a service or product for money. Andrew Foyle, of Bristol, England, said it’s gotten to the point where “passion” is the only ingredient that keeps a chef from preparing “seared tuna” that tastes “like dust swept from a station platform”. “Apparently, it’s insufficient to do it ably, with skill, commitment or finesse,” Foyle said. “Passionate, begone!” As usual, the etymological exercise - or exorcise - only goes so far. Past lists haven’t eradicated “viral,” “amazing,” “LOL” or “man cave” from everyday use. —AP

YANGON: People enjoy the last sunset of 2012 at Kandawgyi Lake yesterday. —AFP

Myanmar fetes 2013 with first public countdown YANGON: Myanmar is ringing in 2013 with its first public New Year’s Eve countdown and a grand fireworks display, a celebration unprecedented in the former military-ruled country. The party is the latest, and perhaps most exuberant, example of the country’s emergence from decades of isolation. Thousands were expected to attend the celebration at a large field in Yangon, where the Myanmar public will get a chance to do what much of the world does every Dec 31. Against a backdrop of the city’s famed Shwedagon Pagoda, a large screen will show live New Year’s Eve countdowns in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand leading up to a 60-second countdown to 2013 in Myanmar. Singers, celebrities, light shows and other festivities were planned for the public party, which would have been unthinkable under the former military regime, which banned public gatherings. Until this year, New Year’s Eve was celebrated privately or inside hotels, but there was no open celebration. Under the military regime the only grand fireworks display was traditionally in honor of Armed Forces Day, an annual celebration of military might. The reformist government that took office last year urged the public to go out and have fun. “This event is a very good outlet, particularly for young people,” said presidential adviser Ko Ko Hlaing, adding that celebrations like this can “help build mutual understanding between the people and the government.”

President Thein Sein has freed hundreds of political prisoners, abolished direct media censorship and allowed public protests as part of a democratic transition that has surprised the outside world. Many in Myanmar, however, remain skeptical. While people in big cities say they live more freely, they also say the reforms have not improved their livelihoods. People in rural areas of grinding poverty cite continuing human rights issues, abuse of power and abysmal healthcare. “People are feeling insecure psychologically, but a public celebration will make people feel light and happy and ease the tension,” Ko Ko Hlaing said. Organizers billed the event as “the first time Myanmar celebrates with the world”. The celebration was arranged by local Forever Media group and Index Creative Village, a Thai event organizer. “We are planning this public New Year’s event because we want residents of Yangon to enjoy the public countdown like in other countries,” said Win Thura Hlaing, a spokesman for Forever Media group. Ahead of the countdown, revelers said they had seen parties like this only on TV. “I’ve seen the ball drop at Times Square in New York but I never expected that we would celebrate like this,” said Sai Toe Makha, a 31-year-old singer who planned to attend the celebration with 10 friends. Male model Ye Min Thu, 21, called it “an unforgettable moment, where people can feel the first experience of celebrating the new year in public.” —AP

Gang targets Brazil gem-cutting plant

TAIPEI: A firework display explodes off Taiwan’s tallest skyscraper Taipei101 to usher in the New Year early today. —AP

BRASILIA: Military police killed the leader of a gang that had spectacularly blasted its way into a gem-cutting plant Sunday, traded fire with police and made off with nine hostages who were later safely freed. Three of the assailants died in the assault in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, a military police official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The dead included Elisandro Falcao, 31, one of the state’s most wanted men. He led a gang that specializes in robberies using explosives to target banks and automated teller machines, reports said. Surviving attackers fled with their hostages - one of whom was a 12-yearold girl - into a wooded area of the town of Cotipora, with police pursuing in cars and helicopters, the official said. At least 100 military police, backed by helicopters, worked into the night in the search for five assailants and their captives. After an hours-long operation, police freed all nine hostages safely, but also exchanged more fire with the assailants, killing three more of them, while two police were injured, officials said. The area where the strike was carried out is in the heart of the gem-cutting

industr y in Brazil, which is a world leader in exporting many semiprecious stones such as topaz, aquamarine and amethyst. The robbers detonated dynamite to storm into the plant, then ran into police on their way out, the military police official said. “ There was an intense firefight. Three assailants died and two police were injured,” Rio Grande do Sul state military chief Sergio Abreu told reporters. Police have recovered part of the loot, but gave no figure for its value. As they made their escape, the attackers split into two groups. One took two people who were in a bar hostage, and the other broke into a home and abducted seven people, apparently all members of the same family. The forest where the gang fled is thick and hard to navigate, but police surrounded it, said state deputy military commander Altair de Freitas. Helicopters and special operations teams with sniffer dogs took part in the search, he added. News reports said the remaining gang was made up of nine men armed with rifles. Governor Tarso Genro stressed that the hostages’ lives were the top priority. —AFP



In student’s gang rape, murder, two worlds collide NEW DELHI: One of hundreds of attacks reported in New Delhi each year, the gang rape and murder of a medical student caught Indian authorities and political parties flat-footed, slow to see that the assault on a private bus had come to symbolize an epidemic of crime against women. In the moments before the Dec 16 attack, the 23-year-old woman from India’s urban middle class, who had recently qualified as a trainee physiotherapist in a private Delhi hospital, and her male friend, a software engineer, were walking home from a cinema at a shopping mall in south Delhi, according to a police reconstruction of events. A bus, part of a fleet of privately owned vehicles used as public transport across the city of 16 million, and known as India’s “rape capital”, was at the same time heading toward them. Earlier that day, it had ferried school students but was now empty except for five men and a teenage boy, including its crew, police said. Most of the men were from the city’s slums. One of the six - all now charged with murder lured the couple onto the bus, promising to drop the woman home, police have said, quoting from an initial statement that she gave from her hospital bed before her condition deteriorated rapidly. A few minutes into the ride, her friend, 28, grew suspicious when the bus deviated from the supposed route and the men locked the door, according to her statement. They then taunted her for being out with a man late at night, prompting the friend to intervene and provoking an initial scuffle. The attackers then beat him with a metal rod, knocking him unconscious, before turning on the woman who had tried to come to his defence. Police say the men admitted after their arrest to torturing and raping the student “to teach her a lesson”. At one point, the bus driver gave the wheel to another of the accused and dragged the woman by the neck to the back of the vehicle and forced himself upon her. The other five then took turns raping her and also driving the bus, keeping it circling through the busy streets of India’s capital city, police said. The woman was raped for nearly an hour before the men pushed a metal rod inside her, severely damaging her internal organs, and then dumped both her and her friend on the roadside, 8 km from where they had boarded it, police said. Robbed of their clothes and belongings, they were found half naked, bleeding and unconscious later that night by a passerby, who alerted the police. Last year, a rape was reported on average every 20 minutes in India. Just 26 percent of the cases resulted in convictions, according to the National Crime Records Bureau, which registered 24,206 rapes in 2011, up from 22,141 the previous year. At first, authorities treated the assault on the medical student as one crime among many, and they were not prepared for the furious public reaction that led to

running battles between protesters and police near the heart of government in New Delhi. The woman, whose identity has been withheld by police, gave her statement to a sub-divisional magistrate on Dec 21 in the intensive care unit of Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital, according to media reports. She was undergoing multiple surgical procedures and her condition later began to rapidly worsen. Ten days after the attack and still in a critical condition, she was flown to Singapore for specialist treatment. She died in Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital two days later. Her body was flown back to Delhi and cremated there on Sunday in a private ceremony. Family members who had accompanied her to Singapore declined to speak to reporters, but relatives told the Times of India newspaper she had been a role model to her two younger brothers. Unlike most traditional Indian families who only send their sons to fee-paying colleges or universities, her parents pinned their hopes on the daughter and took loans to fund her studies. She was born and brought up in a middle class Delhi neighbourhood after her family moved to the city more than 20 years ago from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. Her male friend recorded his statement to a court days after the attack and helped police identify the six accused. He left for his hometown in Uttar Pradesh late on Saturday, missing the woman’s funeral, media reported. Four of the accused, all in custody, live in the narrow by-lanes of Ravi Das Camp, a slum about 17 km from the woman’s home in southwest Delhi. Inside the slum - home to some 1,200 people who eke out a meagre living as rickshaw pullers and tea hawkers many demanded the death penalty for the accused. “The incident has really shocked all of us. I don’t know how I will get my children admitted to a school. The incident has earned a bad name to this place,” said Pooja Kumari, a neighbour of one of the accused. Girija Shankar, a student, said: “Our heads hang in shame because of the brutal act of these men. They must reap what they have sown.” The house of one of the accused was locked, with neighbours saying his family had left the city to escape the shame and anger. Meena, a 45-yearold neighbour, said she had wanted to join the protests that followed the rape, but was too scared. “You never know when a mob may attack this slum and attack our houses. But we want to say we’re as angry as the entire nation. We want them to be hanged,” she said. Two of the six alleged assailants come from outside Delhi, according to police. One is married with children and was arrested in his native village in Bihar state and the other, a juvenile, is a runaway from a broken home in Uttar Pradesh. In India, murder is punishable by death by hanging, except in the case of offenders aged below 18. —Reuters

Trauma turns to anger over gang-rape killing NEW DELHI: Horror at a deadly gang-rape that appalled the nation has turned to anger in New Delhi, where a leaden-footed government is accused of being out of touch and out of ideas in handling its latest crisis. On Sunday evening, as dusk descended on an area of the Indian capital where protesters have assembled daily since the December 16 rape of a 23-year-old medical student, a group ran through the crowd with an effigy. It depicted Sheila Dikshit, the 74-year-old chief minister of New Delhi blamed by many for failing to prevent Delhi becoming known as India’s “rape capital”. The victim was repeatedly raped and violated with an iron bar on a bus before being thrown off the moving vehicle. She suffered horrific injuries and died last Saturday. “Tomorrow it could be my sister or me,” Soumya Tandon, a 26year-old marketing executive, told AFP. “I take a bus from near my office and every day my mother is worried if I will reach home safely. Why should we live in constant fear?” Under the watchful eye of hundreds of riot police, Dikshit’s effigy was burnt to cheers, underlining the ugly mood among young urban voters who are increasingly vocal in denouncing their leaders as too old and too complacent. “We are the future of this nation, they need to connect with us,” said 32-year-old Mayuri Goswami, a chartered accountant carrying a banner that read “Time to engage, not disconnect. Wake up, leaders”. “They need to involve us more, try and understand our emotions and anger,” he said. Dikshit, who once said a female journalist murdered in Delhi should not have been so “adventurous” as to be out on her own late at night, is not the only target amid a chorus of calls for change. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, an 80-year-old former academic who struggles to connect with voters, called for “dispassionate debate” in a brief statement after the woman’s death as the nation was consumed by grief. As politicians of all stripes struggled to measure the mood and find the right language,

the Minister for Women Krishna Tirath failed to make herself heard. Heavy-handed policing and insensitive comments only stirred more anger. The president’s son, Abhjit Mukherjee, called the protesters “painted ladies”, while others blamed provocative clothing and suggested withdrawing skirts at school to curb harassment. Another protester’s poster took aim at Rahul Gandhi, the 41year-old “youth leader” of the ruling Congress party who is expected to be a prime ministerial candidate in 2014 national elections. The aloof Oxford graduate - the latest in the Gandhi political dynasty - has made few public comments on the crime, which brought simmering anger over widespread abuse of women to boiling point. “I am not Rahul Gandhi. I have guts to save my sisters,” read one banner. Commentary on the victim’s ordeal has tended to place the assault at the centre of forces churning up one of the world’s most diverse countries. Economic growth of nearly 10 percent over the last decade has led to hectic urbanisation that has brought changed moral codes and lifestyles, a more global outlook and globalised trends, as well as simmering class and gender tensions. Many reasons have been posited for the assault, a commonplace crime in India. A recent poll found it to be the worst in the G20 group of nations for women because of infanticide, child marriage and abuse. Analysis has focused on India’s deeply patriarchal society, in which misogyny runs deep and women are at best second-class citizens and at worst mere objects to be owned, enjoyed or abused by men. But did the country’s gender imbalance as a result of female foeticide play a role? And what about frustration among young Indians in an increasingly sexualised society? “In our attitudes to sex, we are midway between the liberal democracies of the West and fundamentalist Islamic societies,” wrote Palash Krishna Mehrotra, author of “The Butterfly Generation”, this week. —AFP


Family of India gang-rape victim want killers hanged Congress party pushing for tougher punishments NEW DELHI: The family of an Indian gangrape victim said yesterday they would not rest until her killers are hanged as police finalised their investigation before charges are laid against suspects this week. As the ruling Congress party reportedly pushed for tougher punishments for sex crimes, including chemical castration, authorities in New Delhi launched a hotline to improve safety for women in a city dubbed “India’s rape capital”. Around 400 university students gathered in central Delhi yesterday, vowing to continue their “movement” until better safety measures are put in place and the guilty punished. The dead woman, whom friends say was planning to marry in February, died of her injuries on Saturday in a Singapore hospital, nearly two weeks after being savagely attacked by men on a bus in New Delhi. She was cremated on Sunday. “The fight has just begun. We want all the accused hanged and we will fight for that, till the end,” her brother told The Indian Express in an interview published yesterday. Delhi police said their probe was almost complete, pending the arrival of an autopsy report from doctors in Singapore and the conclusions of forensic experts, with charges to be unveiled on Thursday. “It is up to the court to decide when the trial would begin,” said police spokesman Rajan Bhagat. Six men will face murder charges after allegedly luring the 23-year-old medical student onto a bus on December 16, and then taking it in turns to rape her and assault her with an iron bar before throwing her out of the moving vehicle. The man whom she was hoping to marry, a 28-year-old software engineer, was also left with serious injuries after he too was attacked and dumped on the roadside. Relatives told The Indian Express he had taken part in an identification parade of suspects at New Delhi’s high-security Tihar jail. While the country returned to work after a weekend marked by candlelit vigils and street protests,

few people were in the mood to celebrate New Year. Many bars as well as the armed forces cancelled or toned down festivities. Seeking to assuage anger at police and local officials for failing to prevent widespread violence against women, the Delhi government announced compensation of 1.5 million rupees ($27,348) for the family of the murdered woman and promised one of her relatives a job. The young woman’s father spoke of the impact of the tragedy on the family. “My

house. Her books, clothes, they are all here,” he said. The attack has led to widespread calls for rapists to be executed in a country where the crime is so commonplace that it rarely gets a mention in the papers. India does have the death penalty for “the rarest of rare” crimes although executions are only occasionally carried out. Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the only surviving gunman of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was hanged last month but it was the first execu-

NEW DELHI: An Indian girl shouts during a protest yesterday. —AP wife had hardly eaten in the last two weeks,” he told the newspaper. “She was exhausted... I think she was not ready to face the shock of our daughter’s death, despite doctors always telling us that she was serious. She cried intermittently all of Saturday, but it got worse on the flight back home.” The father, who was at his daughter’s bedside when she was pronounced dead in Singapore, said he too was struggling to accept the news. “It is too painful. I have not gone inside her room. She was born in this

tion for eight years. Rattled by the angry protests, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has ordered a retired judge, J S Verma, to lead a review of laws on sex crimes. According to reports yesterday, Singh’s own Congress party may propose in its submissions to Verma’s inquiry that rapists serve up to 30 years behind bars and be chemically castrated. “Certain proposals have been made but we cannot officially comment at this stage because the draft is not ready as yet,” said a party spokesman. —AFP



Indonesian helps turn page for literacy with library PEMAGARSARI, Indonesia: Kiswanti went to great lengths to get people to read in Indonesia, a nation addicted to social media but with a lacklustre interest in books. For six years, as she cycled on bumpy village mud tracks in western Java as a door-to-door herbal medicine vendor, Kiswanti would carry a stack of books on the back of her bike to lend to children. Her humble efforts have snowballed and her modest village is now home to a library, a rare sight even in Indonesia’s biggest cities. “Reading gives you knowledge and knowledge is power. Nobody, no matter how poor, should be deprived of reading,” Kiswanti, 46, told AFP. Kiswanti gave up her days as a “mobile librarian” in 2005 when a liver illness struck, confining her to her tiny concrete block house in Pemagarsari village, where narrow dirt trails lead off the main road. As a neighbour kept the mobile library on its wheels, international and local donors caught wind of the initiative and fronted the cash to start the Lebakwangi Reading House, which now boasts a collection of 5,000 titles. “This library is a dream come true. I had to pinch myself many times to make sure it was real,” Kiswanti said in the library, set up in the house next to hers. The library gets around 100 vis-

itors a day, mostly students, and Kiswanti is plotting ways to expand her reach, already touting her library to teachers and students at schools in three villages. Indonesia has an impressive literacy rate for a developing nation - nine out of 10 adults can read, the World Bank reports - but books are considered luxury items for many of its 240 million people, half of whom live on less than $2 a day. The country has a much richer tradition of oral storytelling, with age-old shadow puppet shows and plays still popular. Libraries are few and far between, and many are run by foundations, like the Yayasan Usaha Mulia which has two libraries, in west Java and central Kalimantan. “There are also very few public libraries, and most stock encyclopedias, not novels or books for pleasure reading,” the foundation’s executive director Noriyana Parabawati said. Indonesians, however, read volumes of text every day online - they make up the world’s third-largest Facebook community and fifth-largest on Twitter, and they are avid text and messaging users. Tom Ibnur, a lecturer at the Jakarta Institute for the Arts, said that social media, as well as TV, have “become something like a drug and encourage

people to watch and listen more than they read”. There is also a history of distrust in books in Indonesia, where dictator Suharto used them as a vehicle for propaganda under his iron-fisted New Order regime. “One reason people don’t like to read is that they feel that books are force-feeding them information about the New Order. Other aspects of history, especially concerning important figures and heroes, have been deliberately removed,” Ibnur said. But Kiswanti is still hopeful she can get her community to pick up books, and her spirit has rubbed off: 16 volunteers, mostly graduate housewives, help her run a pre-school in the same building that holds the library, teaching English and mathematics. The twostorey library houses children’s books, novels and non-fiction books, as well as self-help books, mostly in Indonesian. English titles include works by popular writers Paulo Coelho, Sidney Sheldon and Agatha Christie. “What will make me happier now is Tintin in my library,” she said, her voice rising and eyes sparkling with excitement as she raved about the hugely popular Franco-Belgian comic series. Born to a trishaw rider father and herbal medicine vendor mother, Kiswanti was the eldest of five children

PEMAGARSARI, Indonesia: This picture taken on Feb 2, 2012 shows Indonesian woman Kiswanti (left) teaching children on the first floor of her library in this village near Bogor. — AFP was forced to drop out of school at the tion worker Ngatmin. Ngatmin, 57, who now works as age of 12. She spent her childhood removing peanut shells and picking swimming pool maintenance worker, fruit for a pittance, which she would said he had to agree to let her buy as spend immediately on books. As an many books as she could afford. “It’s adult, she washed and scrubbed expa- obvious my wife loves books more triates’ homes in exchange for rare nov- than me. She goes to bed with one and els. Her passion for reading even reads until she falls asleep,” he said. prompted her to place an unusual pre- “But because I love her, I don’t mind condition for her marriage to construc- being her second choice.” — AFP

E Timor bids farewell to peacekeepers after 13 yrs Calm has been restored to half-island nation

BEIJING: In this image made from video, Liu Xia, wife of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, reacts to an unexpected visit by a group of activists at her home on Dec 28, 2012. The person on the left is Xu Youyu. — AP

Activists break security cordon around Liu Xia BEIJING: Dramatic video footage emerged yesterday of one of China’s top dissidents breaking through a security cordon to reach the wife of jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, who is herself under house arrest. The fourminute 12-second video, posted on YouTube, is shot in Liu Xia’s apartment building in Beijing and represents a daring affront to the authorities. It also illustrates the level of fear under which she lives, according to activists who say her detention is illegal. A security official is shown telling leading dissident Hu Jia, who first came to prominence fighting for the rights of victims of an HIV scandal, and two other activists: “Who are you looking for?” Told they want to see Liu Xia, who has been held under house arrest since her husband won the peace prize in October 2010, he replies firmly: “No, no, that’s not possible.” “Who are you to tell us it’s not possible?” comes the response, before the group push past him, forcing their way through to the staircase before climbing to her apartment. It was the first time in more than two years that friends have been able to see Liu, who has not been charged with any offence. She appears emotionally shaken by the visit and is seen asking the visitors to leave, apparently out of fear of retribution from the authorities. “You have to go, or they will come and bring trouble,” she says at one point. Mostly she whispers in the ear of one of the activists so that the camera will not pick up her words. In between sobs and smiles, the rights campaigners - including Hu and respected academics Xu Youyu and Hao Jian - agree after a brief stay to leave. All three signed Charter 08, a bold petition for the protection of human rights issued in 2008. “Let’s be quick, we have to leave before they come up,” says one, as pounding on the door signals the arrival of security guards. The visit took place on Friday, Liu Xiaobo’s birthday. Hu said in a posting under the video that a fourth activist, Liu Di, was also present. She is not related to Liu Xia. He added: “The thousands of words we wanted to say all

turned into tears and choked cries.” He later told AFP that after leaving the apartment the group were detained momentarily by the guards but eventually allowed to leave. “The video is all about fear and anxiety,” Hu said. “She has already lost a lot of hope. The authorities are making her fearful. What she is afraid of is her family will come under pressure. “Imagine people come to visit you after two years under illegal house arrest and all she feels is fear that the authorities will crack down further.” Liu Xiaobo was arrested and sentenced to 11 years in prison for subversion after spearheading Charter 08. Chinese authorities tried to block news of his Nobel award in 2010 and put his wife under house arrest. The activists who visited Liu Xia have long sought political reform and greater respect for human rights in the one -party state. “For two years, they have only allowed Liu Xia to visit her parents and go see Liu Xiaobo, no one else. She is like a political prisoner, when she meets her husband it is a meeting between prisoners,” Hu said. “I went to visit her as friend, I have the right to visit her. The authorities know who I am, I have done nothing wrong. Her house arrest is illegal.” Meanwhile, a group of Chinese intellectuals has called on the government to implement urgent political reforms, respect human rights and rule the nation in accordance with the law or risk “violent revolution”. In an open letter 71 top academics warned that growing economic imbalances were fuelling social unrest and an uprising could erupt if reforms were not implemented immediately, Hu Xingdou, one of the signatories, told AFP yesterday. “If urgent systematic reforms needed by Chinese society continue to suffer setbacks and stagnate, then official corruption and social dissatisfaction will boil up to a crisis point,” said the letter, posted on the Internet last week. “China will once again miss the opportunity for peaceful reform, and slip into the turbulence and chaos of violent revolution.” —AFP

DILI: The UN ended its peacekeeping mission in East Timor yesterday after 13 years in Asia’s youngest nation following a bloody transition to independence as the country faces the challenge of tackling rampant poverty. UN forces first entered the territory around the vote for independence from Indonesia in 1999 that gave way to political unrest and bloodshed, and around 1,500 peacekeepers were based there since. The final batch of troops and logistics staff left in the morning as the mission prepared to take down its flag, departing from a country struggling with widespread malnutrition and maternal mortality rates among the world’s worst. Calm has been restored to the half-island nation of 1.1 million, and leaders said they were excited about their nation’s new direction despite the many problems that lie ahead for the fragile democracy, officially called Timor-Leste. “In the end we have to say goodbye to the UN with... high appreciation for what they have been doing in Timor-Leste,” Deputy Prime Minister Fernando La Sama de Araujo told AFP at end-of-year festivities outside the government palace Sunday night. He said East Timor would first focus on improving schools, hospitals and human resources in the public sector. “But we’re optimistic that in 10 years, coming together with many friends around the world including UN agencies for development, we can overcome these challenges,” he said, as a jovial Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao entertained with hundreds of children. The government plans to fuel development from the country’s significant but depleting offshore oil and gas reserves that critics say benefit urban Timorese more than the regional poor. The streets in the capital Dili, once dominated by UN fourwheel drives, have returned to a sleepy pace with rickety yellow taxis moseying along the streets

DILI: A UN official (left) hugs an East Timorese local UN employee before getting on her plane to leave at Dili’s airport yesterday ahead of the closure of the UN’s peacekeeping mission at year-end. — AFP for a $2 flat-rate fare. “I usually drive my taxi until midnight. I’m not scared anymore because there hasn’t been any conflict, like there was years ago,” Angelo Ulan, 25, told AFP, welcoming the UN’s end of mission. “Now we must unite to achieve prosperity and develop our country. I hope out leaders are united.” The UN has expressed faith in the national police force, which resumed responsibility for security in October, though observers show concern for the long term. International Crisis Group analyst Cillian Nolan said the government’s method of paying cash handouts to ensure peace and making stern but empty threats had undermined real long-term police reform. Prime Minister Gusmao in November was filmed by a reporter warning: “Once the UN are gone... if you continue to hurl (stones) at one another, I will arrest you and not give you any food.”

In a recent blog post, Nolan described these tactics as “trickery”, saying “the trick will not last forever. And then what?”. “What we’ll probably see after the UN withdrawal is an unor thodox approach to policing,” Nolan told AFP. “We’ll likely see some strongarm tactics to ensure public order, and they’ll be looking for non-policing ways to strengthen what is still a relatively weak police force.” The current UN mission was established in 2006, when a mass desertion among the armed forces prompted fighting between military factions and police, and street violence left at least 37 people dead and tens of thousands displaced. The final day of the mission has been mostly administrative. Despite new challenges, East Timor will celebrate the new year with several notches on its belt from 2012: it marked a decade of formal independence and held largely-peaceful elections, voting

in a new president and parliament. “ This is a historic day, because on the 31st of December at midnight, UN peacekeeping missions will finish in Timor-Leste, and this is after more than 13 years of such UN involvement,” UN mission chief Finn Reske -Nielsen told AFP. “Timor Leste has now reached a stage in its development, politically and developmentally, where it can in fact stand on its own feet.” The UN-administered referendum in 1999 ended Indonesia’s brutal 24-year occupation, in which around 183,000 people then a quarter of the population - died from fighting, starvation or disease. The global body oversaw East Timor until 2002, when an independent government took over. The only major violence since 2006 was a failed assassination attempt on thenpresident Jose Ramos-Horta in 2008. — AFP

Local police uncertain player in Afghan future GOSHTA, Afghanistan: The Afghan Local Police, branded by some critics as an incompetent Taliban-linked militia, is one of the many security challenges facing the country as international troops withdraw. Only founded in 2010, the ALP is tasked with community-level policing to suppress violence in some of Afghanistan’s most dangerous and remote areas, and despite its many opponents it has had some success. In Goshta district, two hours’ drive from the eastern city of Jalalabad and 40 km from the Pakistan border, one unit of 200 ALP men has been in position for two months and has already been making its presence felt. Its members, selected by local elders, were sent for just three weeks’ training by US special forces and then further instruction under the Afghan national police. “This is the entry route from Pakistan, but now the Taleban are welcome to come,” Shinak, 40, a new member of the ALP, joked as he brandished his machinegun. “I want to do the best for my community. I was chosen to serve by my village leaders because I don’t have a criminal record and because I don’t use drugs.”

The ALP is often accused of thuggery and operating outside the law, and its reputation was further damaged by an attack on Dec 24 when an officer shot dead five of his colleagues. But US supervisors of the ALP say its 18,000 men nationwide provide practical, lowcost protection from the insurgents, and they dismiss suggestions that its ranks are halfhearted, criminals or Taleban sympathisers. “The enemy has declared the ALP their number-one threat,” Colonel Don Bolduc, who is in charge of the training project for the US military, told AFP. “The army and police see them as an asset. “People come with this preconceived idea that local defence forces are unruly, not accountable to the government and will be violent. “But they are relevant, resilient, accountable and cost-effective. Those things weigh heavily on how the Afghan government will see the local police 10-15 years from now.” Bolduc said a recent case in which four officers were jailed for rape in Kunduz province actually proved that legal standards were being enforced. A truer sign of the ALP’s com-

mitment to Afghanistan’s future, he suggested, was that 353 men had died in action since 2010. The 30 latest recruits in Goshta appeared young, clumsy and lacking in experience, “but when they fight, they fight good”, said Shakrullah Amanzai Dagarwal, the district chief of Goshta. “The ALP operate in their local communities, so they have the support of the people,” he told AFP. “They are ready 24 hours a day, and these men are given information by villagers.” The ALP, a flagship policy of former commander General David Petraeus, was designed to be a homegrown force of locals ready to take on Taliban hardliners in places where the national police and army were scarce. “The main goal of ALP is to involve people securing their own people and also to build trust towards the government,” Ali Shah Ahmadzai, the Afghan general in charge of the ALP, told AFP in Kabul. “ We can see a 60 percent decrease in security problems after the establishment of the ALP,” he said, adding that he was being assailed by districts who want local ALP units to be set up.—AFP





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Gun debate revives enduring US fight By Liz Sidoti n the eve of a new year, a libertarian strain pulses through America - a get-government-out-of-mypersonal-life sensibility that cuts across ideologies and is driven by a younger generation’s cultural attitudes. We’ve seen it in gay-marriage legalization and marijuana decriminalization. And in the fact that, four decades after Roe vs Wade allowed abortion, there’s little appetite among most for overturning it. Perhaps we’ve also seen this play out with guns, with a more limited role for government in regulating firearms. But today, a mourning nation must square that shift toward fewer gun restrictions with a series of fatal mass shootings in the past few years, the latest claiming 20 elementary school students among the dead. And the pendulum may swing just as quickly back toward curbs on gun rights: A country that’s become more tolerant on other cultural issues may end up bucking the trend on this subject. Here’s why: It can’t be boiled down to “my body, my decisions.” The gun issue doesn’t fit neatly into the libertarian lane in which the United States has been driving when it comes to gay marriage, abortion and marijuana - the belief that people have the right to make their own decisions about how they live their lives, as long as they respect the rights of others to do the same. And that’s because while it may be your right to own a gun, you can use it to harm others, thereby taking away their right to live their lives as they want. This is not a new tension in America, a republic founded by men with libertarian leanings that has always struggled to strike the right balance between rights for one and safety for all. The first settlers fled the big hand of Mother England, seeking a smaller government to protect basic freedoms - and founding a nation built on the “inalienable” rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The Declaration of Independence acknowledged the stress in America’s foundation, saying the new country’s government would secure those rights, but people would have the authority to alter or abolish it if it were to become “destructive of these ends.” In modern times, libertarianism, which draws from both liberal and conservative influences, has reared its head often in American history - most recently in today’s tea party, which is uncompromising in pursuing a smaller government role in fiscal matters. These days, 16 to 18 percent of adults in various surveys identify themselves as libertarians. But many more have libertarian views on individual issues even as they call themselves Republicans, Democrats or independents. It also can be a generational thing, with a Pew Research Center poll in December 2011 finding that 50 percent of Americans under age 30 had positive reaction to the label compared with only 25 percent of senior citizens. The debate now under way underscores how different guns are from other social issues - how this topic is not just about you, but about us. There is a thicket of considerations. The fact that many people view gun ownership as a foundational right. Mental health. Urban vs rural matters. Sports. Crime. Violence in video games and movies. Parental responsibility. “We know,” President Barack Obama said, “this is a complex issue that stirs deeply held passions and political divides.” The multiple factors at play - and the loss of young innocents - could explain why, despite the nation’s recent libertarianism on cultural matters, the Newtown, Conn., killings quickly spurred calls from across the political spectrum for at least a discussion of whether new limits should be placed on guns. This suggested a possible expansion of government in this realm. “This awful massacre of our youngest children has changed us, and everything should be on the table,” said Democratic West Virginia Sen Joe Manchin, a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. And Iowa Sen Charles Grassley, the senior Republican on the committee that would take up any legislation, said: “You’ve got to take all these things into consideration.” The NRA, the nation’s largest gun-rights lobby, has promised opposition to more regulations, just as it helped ensure the federal assault weapons ban wasn’t renewed in 2004 and state gun laws were loosened by legislatures. Advocates for gay marriage, marijuana legalization and abortion rights also all have made significant recent strides. Each has pushed legislation in states with friendly political environments while also taking advantage of the country’s changing mindset.—AP


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Maghreb nations take different reform routes

(From left) In this Feb 18, 2012 file photo, a protester from Morocco’s pro-democracy “February 20” movement holds a placard in front of the City Hall in Casablanca. In this April 30, 2012 file photo, Algerians walk by posters for election lists displayed in front of the main post office in downtown Algiers. In this Jan 18, 2012 file photo, ultraconservative hunger striking women students of the Manouba Arts and Humanities raise one finger to mean “There is only one God” in an apartment outside the university near Tunis as classes and exams at Manouba University’s humanities department have been put on hold by a sit-in demanding students be allowed to attend class in the niqab. — AP By Paul Schemm wo years after an itinerant Tunisian fruit-seller set himself on fire to protest government injustice and ignited uprisings across the Middle East, the three nations of the Maghreb - the former French colonies of North Africa - have taken vastly different paths. Tunisia has seen wholesale political change. In oil-rich Algeria, it’s business as usual. Somewhere in the middle is Morocco, which has trumpeted what it describes as a third way of controlled change as a model for the region. These outcomes sum up much of the Middle East’s disparate reactions to the Arab Spring - and their success or failure may hold lessons for the whole region. Morocco and Algeria seem remarkably stable, despite the social tensions boiling beneath their calm facade. Resource-strapped Tunisia seems to have fared poorly, with a struggling economy and dire predictions of chaos. Yet it’s also the country that has made the most progress toward a more open society.


Morocco On the surface, Morocco seems to be the Maghreb nation that has fared the best in the Arab Spring, with massive protests by the pro-democracy February 20th youth movement bringing a swift promise by the king to reform the constitution, devolving more powers to elected officials. A referendum on the amended constitution was approved by 98 percent of the people and in early elections, a moderate Islamist party long in the opposition won the right to head the new governing coalition. Abdelilah Benkirane of the Justice and Development Party became the strongest prime minister in decades and promised to root out corruption, while working to help the country’s most needy. “Our government is working in cooperation with the other institutions under the leadership of his majesty,” Communication Minister Mustapha Khalfi told The Associated Press. “It’s what we call a gradual reform with stability, a third path between revolution and the old way of governing.” Yet on Nov 18, in Morocco’s capital Rabat, a few dozen activists attempted to rally in front of the parliament to protest the king’s $300 million personal budget, one of the largest for a monarchy in the world and a

serious burden for the struggling economy. Even before the protesters could gather, they were set upon by club wielding riot police and chased through the elegant art-deco streets of the capital. Yet, just a week earlier, thousands had been allowed to protest against the prime minister. Despite a new constitution and promises of reform, the hereditary monarchy ruling this nation of 32 million for the last 350 years remains in charge and above criticism. None other than the king’s first cousin, Prince Moulay Hisham, now a professor at Stanford, disputes the monarch’s vision of Morocco finding the middle path to reform. In a recent interview with France 24 news channel, he argued that the monarchy only changed the constitution under heavy pressure from the pro-democracy demonstrations and as the movement faltered, so did reform. “In the absence of true, strong democratic force to carry on the project and guarantee that it was a stage and not a final step, the spirit of the new constitution has been frozen,” he said. After the elections, demonstrations petered out and a year and a half after the constitution was passed, most of its amendments have yet to be implemented. Abadila Maaelaynine, an activist with February 20, said the economy and social inequalities haven’t improved, and there are still daily human rights violations, especially against demonstrations. “So the promise of real change on the ground is not yet there.” Algeria The energy giant has been referred to as the exception to the Arab Spring. Early protests calling for reform fizzled and were quickly repressed by highly vigilant security forces. While President Abdelaziz Bouteflika went on to promise a host of reforms, including in the laws governing the media and political parties, little has been achieved over the past two years. Dozens of new parties were legalized but it made little difference in parliamentary elections in May 2012 or November’s municipal elections, which were poorly attended and just strengthened the ruling party. For the most part life has returned to the way it was before the Arab Spring. With its enormous oil and gas reserves, Algeria also has vast financial resources lacking to most Arab Spring countries, allowing it

to douse potential unrest with large amounts of cash. “There was an attempt to buy a social peace - don’t ask political questions and we’ll sort out your economic needs,” said Algerian sociologist Nasser Djabi. “The government ... played for time and it seems to have worked.” The ruling party has only widened its control over the various elected bodies, and as neighboring Tunisia and Egypt looked more and more unstable, Algeria has come under increasingly less pressure from Europe and the US to reform, he added. The rise of radical Islamist groups in the Sahara and especially northern Mali has also made Algeria and its powerful military an attractive partner in the war on terror. Meanwhile, talk of amending the constitution has been shelved for the near future. According to Nourreddine Benissad, head of Algeria’s main human rights group, political freedoms are on the wane and the elections have been far from free and transparent. “It’s practically illegal to demonstrate or even gather,” he said. “There is no real political will to carry out social, political or economic reforms.” Instead, any change in Algeria is expected to come only in 2014 when President Bouteflika’s latest term ends and he is expected to step down. At that point, there should be an opening for a new political generation, and a power struggle between the military and members of the ruling party is expected. Tunisia Of the three Maghreb countries, the birthplace of the Arab Spring has appeared to be closest to the brink of violence and even a new uprising. Over the past few weeks, there has been a rising confrontation between the main labor union and the moderate Islamist party that won elections after the overthrow of the dictator. There were days of rioting in one regional city that nearly culminated in a nationwide general strike on Dec 13, which had been expected to degenerate into further violence until the two sides negotiated a last minute compromise. Tunisia, a largely middle class republic of 10 million, was once one of the most repressive police states in the region under the 23year rule of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, until his overthrow in Jan 2011. After a relatively rocky transition, Tunisians surged to the polls in record numbers on Oct 23 and gave the

most votes to Ennahda, a moderate Islamist party that had been an implacable foe of the old regime. The Islamists went on to form a coalition with two other secular parties and promised democracy and jobs. A year later, political tensions have soared to new heights. There is constant talk that the coalition is set to fracture; disaffected youths demanding jobs riot in town after town; and radical Islamism is on the rise. Ghazi Gheriari, a political analyst at Tunis University, said the post-election period marking the second phase of Tunisia’s transition - while having more popular legitimacy has been marked by less consensus and more bickering. There has also been the rise of an aggressive ultraconservative Islamist movement known as Salafism that has increasingly resorted to violence. “With the new government, Tunisia is seeing more tension and problems with freedoms,” said Gheriari. Part of the problem is that political opposition in the elected assembly has been weak, with little real support in the population, meaning it presents little effective counterweight to the ruling coalition. Instead, the real opposition has been the unions and civil associations that have stood up to the government over issues such as putting references to Islamic law in the new constitution and describing women, in one clause, as complementary rather than equal to men. In both cases, the Islamist government backed down. This, in fac t, has been perhaps the redeeming hallmark of Tunisia’s transition: Even amid periodic riots, political crises and standoffs, the tension has always been defused and a compromise reached between the feuding parties. That contrasts with Egypt, where each side seems at every stage to be ready to carry their stand over the brink and into violence. The ability to achieve agreement amid searing acrimony may be what saves Tunisia’s experiment in democracy. Kamel Labidi, a long time campaigner for human rights and freedom of expression, attributes this strength partly to high education levels and the military’s historical lack of a role in the country - as well as the presence of a labor movement to balance out the Islamists. “The Islamists understood it was in their interest to make concessions,” he said. — AP



Pakistanis look at the last sunset of 2012 at a lake view point in Islamabad yesterday. — AFP

Qaeda in Yemen offers bounty for US envoy DUBAI: The Yemen-based branch of Al-Qaeda has offered a bounty for anyone who kills the US ambassador to Yemen or an American soldier in the impoverished Arab state, a group that monitors Islamist websites said. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) said it was offering three kilograms of gold for the killing of the US ambassador in Sanaa, Gerald Feierstein, the US-based SITE Intelligence Group said, citing an audio released by militants. AQAP will also pay 5 million rials ($23,350) to whoever kills any American soldier in Yemen, it said. The offer, valid for six months, was made “to encourage our Muslim Ummah (nation), and to expand the circle of the jihad (holy war) by the masses,” SITE said, citing the audio. AQAP, mostly militants from Yemen and Saudi Arabia, is regarded by the United States as the most dangerous branch of the network founded by Osama bin Laden. In September, AQAP urged Muslims to step up protests and kill US diplomats in Muslim countries over a film denigrating Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which it said

was another chapter in the “crusader wars” against Islam. The film provoked an outcry among Muslims, who deem any depiction of the Prophet (PBUH) as blasphemous and triggered violent attacks on embassies in countries in Asia and the Middle East. Four US officials including the ambassador to Libya were killed in the aftermath. The Pentagon said it had sent a platoon of Marines to Yemen after demonstrators stormed the US Embassy in Sanaa. A US ally, Yemen is struggling against challenges on many fronts since mass protests forced veteran leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down in February after decades in power. President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government is trying to re-establish order and unify the army. Washington, which has pursued a campaign of assassination by drone and missile against suspected al Qaeda members, backed a military offensive in May to recapture areas of Abyan province. But militants have struck back with a series of bombings and killings. — Reuters

Iran test-fires missiles near Strait of Hormuz TEHRAN: Iran’s navy said yesterday it test-fired a range of weapons during ongoing maneuvers near the Strait of Hormuz, the passageway for one-fifth of the world’s oil supply. IRNA quoted Adm. Amir Rastgari, spokesman for the exercise, as saying the Iranian-made air defense system Raad, or Thunder, was among the weapons tested, along with various torpedoes and underwater and surface-to-surface rockets as well as anti-ship missiles. The Islamic Republic said it also deployed domestically-made hovercraft during the operation. The Raad system was on show during a military parade in Tehran in September for the first time. Iran says is more advanced than its Russian predecessor and is designed to confront fighter jets, cruise missiles, smart bombs, helicopters and drones. Iran said the system fires missiles with a range of 50 km, capable of hitting targets at 22,000 m. Tehran has tried to build a self-sufficient military pro-

gram since 1992. It frequently announces technological breakthroughs, most of which cannot be confirmed independently. Iran’s military leaders have recently said they believe future wars will be air- and sea-based and Tehran has sought to upgrade its air defense systems and naval power in anticipation of such a possibility. The drill began on Friday and ends tomorrow, one of a number of exercises Iran holds annually. The maneuvers come as the West increases its pressure over Iran’s nuclear program. Iran has said in the past it might close the strait over Western sanctions or military threats against its nuclear facilities, but has stepped back from those threats in recent months. Both the United States and Israel have not ruled out a military strike against Iran’s nuclear program, which the West believes is aimed at weapons development. Iran denies the charge, insisting its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes like power generation and cancer treatment. — AP

Venezuela axes New Year party with Chavez... Clinton remains out of sight in hospital Continued from Page 1 The Clinton Foundation, set up by her husband, did not reply either to an AFP request for comment on Hillary Clinton’s health. In 1998, as first lady, Clinton suffered a blood clot in her leg which she called “the most significant health scare I’ve ever had”. “That was scary because you have to treat it immediately - you don’t want to take the risk that it will break loose and travel to your brain, or your heart or your lungs,” she told the New York Daily News in October 2007. Although once seen as a deeply divisive figure, she now has approval ratings in the 60s. And many believe she will run again for the White House in 2016, despite being narrowly defeated by Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008. Clinton’s lengthy absence from public life had sparked claims from some of her fiercer

critics that she was faking illness to avoid testifying on Dec 20 before lawmakers investigating a deadly attack on a US mission in Libya. The Sept 11 assault on the US consulate in eastern Benghazi, in which the US ambassador and three other American officials were killed, sparked a political firestorm in the United States. A subsequent State Department inquiry found that security at the mission was “grossly inadequate”. Before the news of her latest health scare broke, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Sunday it was “absolutely essential that she’d testify”. He also told Fox News Sunday Republicans would not conduct Kerry’s nomination hearing - which he is expected to sail through - until she has appeared before them. “I’ve been told by Senator Kerry he wants that approach also. He needs to hear what she says... It makes sense to have her go first.” — AFP

Continued from Page 1 their ubiquitous comandante just wasn’t the same. “I do not know what will happen to Chavez, but we have never had a Christmas like this. Only God knows what will happen with him and with us,” said 70-year-old retiree Miguel Enrique as he prepared to attend Mass. Authorities canceled a New Year’s eve concert in a downtown plaza and Information Minister Ernesto Villegas urged “families in Caracas and Venezuela in general to ring in the New Year at home, praying and expressing hope for the health” of Chavez. On Twitter, which is extremely popular here, hashtags translating into expressions such as “Chavez will live and conquer” and “I love Chavez” were all the rage. A person who signed as NeriColmenares described the loquacious former paratrooper in practically messianic terms. “Chavez will live and will conquer because he is a man who turned into a nation, into spirit, into struggle. He has the power to confront all the torments of life,” this person wrote. But Chavez is also deeply polarizing, even though he

has ruled for nearly 14 years, and his detractors spoke out too. “I do not want Chavez to die. We would look really bad as a country if a disease had to do our job of removing him from power,” one Enrique Vasquez wrote. Chavez, 58, won another six-year term in October’s presidential election, and is scheduled to be sworn in on Jan 10. But his ill health has raised concerns that he won’t be well enough to attend his inauguration. Under Venezuela’s constitution, a presidential election must be held within 30 days if the president is incapacitated or dies before his inauguration or within the first four years of his term. But Chavez’s government has said that the inauguration can be postponed if the president is not fit enough to be sworn in. Not so, said Veppex, a Miami-based association of 25,000 Venezuelans living outside their country as refugees or political exiles. It insisted the constitution must be respected verbatim and that new elections must be held within 30 days if Chavez cannot be sworn in on the scheduled day. It said all signs were that he will not be. — AFP

World welcomes 2013 with a bang Continued from Page 1 “I came here to have fun and leave disappointment behind,” said 27-year-old reveller Sithu. Meanwhile, in Russia, President Vladimir Putin used a traditional New Year’s address to call for unity following a year of protests against his return to the Kremlin for a third term. Revellers in New York will celebrate the stroke of midnight with the traditional New Year’s Eve ball drop over Times Square, where South Korean pop sensation Psy will join a host of American music stars. In Rio de Janeiro, officials have promised a bumper 16-minute, 24-tonne display opposite Copacabana Beach while in Germany, fireworks will cap a party at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate with the Pet Shop Boys, Bonnie Tyler and Blue. Vying to become a permanent fixture on the planetary map of New Year celebrations, the Gulf city state of Dubai is planning a lavish gala at the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. Fireworks will engulf the spike-like tower, accompanied by a soundtrack performed live by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. In Paris, however, the authorities issued a reminder that all fireworks are officially banned for the night. The crowds that gather on the Champs-Elysees and around the Eiffel Tower will have to make do without any display. And in Caracas, the mayor cancelled the city’s traditional end-of-year concert in Bolivar Square, instead ask ing Venezuelans to pray at home for ailing President Hugo Chavez, who suffered a new setback

after cancer surgery. In regions devastated by Typhoon Bopha which hit the southern Philippines in early December killing at least 1,067 people, many survivors said food, work and permanent shelter topped their priorities for the New Year. In the capital Manila, authorities had been bracing for the annual rush of injuries as families celebrated with do-it-yourself firework displays and shot celebratory bullets into the air. Seoul ushered in 2013 with a ritual ringing of the city’s 15th-century bronze bell 33 times, reflecting the ancient practice of marking a new year. Millions visited temples and shrines in Japan for “ninen-mairi” two-year prayers, gathering at family homes to feast on soba noodles and watch the New Year variety show “Kohaku Uta Gassen” or the Red and White Song Contest. Fireworks also went up in cities across China. And In Taiwan, hundreds of thousands defied chilly winds to pack the square in front of the Taipei City Hall for a concert featuring Taiwanese pop diva A-Mei and Hong Kong-based singer and actor Aaron Kwok. But in India, a country rocked by the deadly gangrape of a young medical student, the armed forces cancelled New Year celebrations while many hotels and bars scaled back parties out of respect for the unnamed victim. The New Year, celebrated with glamour across the world, passes unnoticed in ultraconservative Saudi Arabia where only the two Muslim feasts - Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha are celebrated. — AFP

Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts to a replay of a disputed line call after hitting a return against Andreas Seppi of Italy during their fifth session men’s singles match on day three of the Hopman Cup tennis tournament in Perth yesterday. — AFP (See Page 31)

Business TUESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2013

Merkel steels Germans for ‘more difficult’ 2013

Strong Asian gains overshadowed by US fiscal cliff

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Page 15

WASHINGTON: The moon rises behind the US Capitol Dome in Washington as Congress works into the late evening yesterday to resolve the stalemate over the pending ‘fiscal cliff’. (Inset) Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks to a closed-door GOP caucus as Congress meets to negotiate a legislative path to avoid the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’. — AP

Washington pushes US to edge of ‘cliff’ World’s largest economy limps towards induced recession WASHINGTON: US lawmakers pushed the country to the edge of the “fiscal cliff” yesterday as they struggled to reach a last-minute deal that could protect the world’s largest economy from a politically induced recession. Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate had hoped to clear the way for swift action that would avert sweeping tax increases and spending cuts due to kick in today. But with the two sides still at loggerheads in talks, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid postponed any possible votes and the Senate adjourned the meeting, leaving mere hours to pass any deal that may emerge through both chambers of a bitterly divided Congress. “There are still significant differences between the two sides,” Reid said on the Senate floor. Behind closed doors, the parties kept seeking a way to bridge deep divides over taxes and spending. But even if a deal emerges in the coming hours, under Senate rules any one of the 100 senators could prevent the chamber from acting quickly. Prospects are also uncertain in the House of

Representatives, where dozens of conservative Republicans could oppose any deal that includes a tax increase on the nation’s wealthiest households. As the hours ticked away, it appeared increasingly likely that Washington’s failure to act would deliver a $600 billion hammer blow to the fragile US economic recovery. “Something has gone terribly wrong when the biggest threat to the American economy is the American Congress,” said Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Americans could see a bigger bite taken out of their paychecks starting today as payroll and income tax cuts expire, while 2 million unemployed Americans could see their jobless benefits run out. Government contractors might be forced to lay off employees as $109 billion in automatic spending cuts kick in, and businesses could lose tax breaks for everything from wind power to research and development. The uncertainty has weighed on financial markets and forced businesses to slow hiring and investment. Market participants braced for more turbulence. “I believe investors

will show their displeasure tomorrow by selling stocks if there is no deal,” said Mohannad Aama, managing director at Beam Capital Management in New York. Though corporate chieftains have lobbied lawmakers to show flexibility, Congress also faces pressure from an array of interest groups urging them not to compromise core principles. Conservative groups have warned Republicans that a vote to increase any taxes could be held against them, while liberal and labor groups have pressed Democrats to resist any benefit cuts to popular retirement and health programs. Lawmakers may find it easier to act once the country goes over the “fiscal cliff” today, as any new legislation can then be portrayed as a tax cut rather than a tax increase. POINTS OF DISAGREEMENT Republicans floated a proposal on Sunday to slow the growth of Social Security retirement benefits by changing the way they are measured against inflation, but they backed

away after Democrats said they would not consider it. Still, there were disagreements over all the major aspects of the negotiation. Buoyed by his re-election in November, Obama has insisted that any deal must include a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans, who have seen their earnings rise steadily over the past decade at a time when income for the less affluent has stalled. Many conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives oppose a tax hike on anyone, no matter how wealthy. Obama has proposed raising income taxes on households that earn more than $250,000, but Republicans pushed to set the threshold between $400,000 and $500,000. Republicans also were resisting a Democratic proposal to raise inheritance taxes on the wealthiest estates. Republicans were looking for new reductions to replace the looming spending cuts, which would fall equally on military and domestic social programs. Democrats say the increased taxes on the wealthy would generate enough revenue

Spain faces $274bn headache MADRID: Spain defied the markets by averting a sovereign bailout this year but high interest rates could yet force Madrid to its knees as the nation confronts a 207-billion-euro ($274 billion) financing headache in 2013. The euro-zone’s fourth-biggest economy has skirted a rescue so far even after slipping into a recession in mid-2011 that has sent the unemployment rate soaring to 25 percent, the highest in Spain’s modern history. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government reached out in June for a euro-zone rescue loan of up to 100 billion euros to fix the balance sheets of Spanish banks, crushed by bad loans since a 2008 property crash. But even as investors fled Spain, sending its 10-year-bond yield above seven percent mid-year as they watched Madrid struggle to curb soaring public debt, Rajoy managed to swerve the politically costly option of pleading for international help. European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi gave decisive support in September when he announced the bank’s readiness to buy an unlimited sum of bonds to curb borrowing costs for mem-

ber states that accept strict conditions. The prospect of such intervention alone was enough to calm the selling of Spanish debt securities. A grateful Rajoy says he can get by for now without even seeking the ECB’s bond-buying intervention. Spain’s 10-year bond yields were trading below 5.3 percent in the past week. In his final news conference of the year, the prime minister warned that Spain’s economy faced a “very tough” year ahead. “Today we are not thinking of asking the European Central Bank to intervene to buy bonds on the secondary market but that is a very useful instrument that is available to all countries of the Union,” he added. “If Spain and its government believe that it is necessary to use it, let there not be the least doubt that we will do so. But in principle today we are not thinking of doing it,” the premier said Friday. That could change, analysts say. Spain’s budget for 2013 anticipates that the Treasury will have to issue 207.2 billion euros in gross debt in 2013, almost all through bonds and bills, to cover debt repayments and new financing needs. That compares to the

186.1 billion euros in gross debt that last year’s budget previewed for 2012. “The country is heading in the right direction in reducing its deficit. But in the end, it will all depend on the markets,” said Rafael Pampillon, head of economic analysis at Madrid’s IE Business School. Concern over a shift in Italian economic policy with February 2425 elections on the horizon, and

doubts over Spain’s ability to finance its debts or meet its deficitcutting targets could yet push up Spanish borrowing costs, he said. At one point in mid-summer, investors in Spanish 10-year bonds demanded a premium of 600 basis points in annual return over the safe-bet German equivalent. Since Monti’s offer to intervene, that has fallen to around 400 points, still a significant extra cost. — AFP

BARCELONA: A homeless woman sleeps surrounded with her belongings in Barcelona. Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that the crisis had been worse than he had anticipated and that the first half of this year will be ‘very hard’. — AP

to offset those cuts. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell talked several times to Vice President Joe Biden by phone in the hope of breaking the stalemate. “I’m willing to get this done, but I need a dance partner,” McConnell said. In a rare appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Obama accused Republicans of rejecting significant compromises several times already. He said he would try to reverse the tax hikes for most Americans if Congress fails to act. “If people start seeing that on January 1st this problem still hasn’t been solved ... then obviously that’s going to have an adverse reaction in the markets,” he said. House Speaker John Boehner rejected Obama’s accusations that his fellow Republicans were not being amenable to compromise. “The president’s comments today are ironic, as a recurring theme of our negotiations was his unwillingness to agree to anything that would require him to stand up to his own party,” he said in a statement. — Reuters

Fiscal cliff fiasco exposes dysfunction of Congress WASHINGTON: Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are on the brink of letting their nation slide over the so-called fiscal cliff-leaving senators to fume that nobody does dysfunction better than the US Congress. Americans would likely agree; the country’s elected representatives have long been derided as hapless slackers, but this year with a fiscal crisis now staring at Americans like a deer in the headlights-it’s different. The 112th Congress is being seen as the least effective in decades. On Sunday, during a rare holiday-week Senate session, they cemented that reputation, when the mood among many lawmakers inside the US Capitol reflected the wintry conditions outside: cold, dark, and somewhat unforgiving. With 36 hours before the US economy was to suffer a half trillion dollars in tax hikes and spending cuts in 2013, Senators shuttled between the chamber and their caucus lunches, unable to agree on a path forward to avoid a crisis that has been nearly two years in the making. Many of them said they had little knowledge of the horsetrading that was going on behind closed doors. “I haven’t heard there’s a deal,” Senator Barbara Boxer accurately pointed out to AFP. “It’s a little bit like choosing the new Pope,” she said. “The smoke comes out and it’s white and you know. But I haven’t seen any evidence of that.” Neither had anyone else, and with the fiscal cliff barely a day away, lawmakers were looking squeamish. Senator Barbara Mikulski, the longest serving woman in the history of Congress, sounded

nearly apoplectic, describing the gridlock as “one of the lowest points” in her 35 years as a lawmaker. “I have lived through 9/11, when we were attacked by outside forces. I’ve lived through the impeachment of a president, which was so enormously difficult. But this is what we’re doing to ourselves,” she winced.President Barack Obama and Republican House Speaker John Boehner hardly set the worthy example Sunday, pointing the finger of blame at one another as they explained away the lack of a deal. Lawmakers mulled over an alphabet soup of negotiating points such as the AMT, Medicare SGR, UI, and change to the apportioning of Social Security benefits known as “chained CPI.” Many offered conflicting details of what might or might not be in the parties’ deal offers. “Is this sloppy, is it frustrating, is it enough to make you want to tear your hair out if you’re watching from afar? Yeah,” posed Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri. “But on the other hand, we do it better than anybody in the world,” she added. “We don’t have armed coups. We just go to the ballot box, and sometimes the results are not the kind of thing that everybody holds hands and sings Kumbaya. This is definitely not a Kumbaya moment.” Republican Richard Lugar, a soft-spoken, 36-year veteran of the Senate who departs January 3 after losing a party primary challenge to a hardline conservative, spoke of the despair which comes with legislative problems “that seem to be veering out of control.” — AFP



Strong Asian gains overshadowed by US fiscal cliff Sentiment tempered by US budget gloom SYDNEY: Several major Asian stock indexes closed yesterday with the strongest annual gains in years, but these were overshadowed by the lack of progress in talks to avert the looming US “fiscal cliff”. Australian shares ended up 14.6 percent in 2012, the best yearly gain since the recovery of 2009. Yesterday the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 22.4 points to 4,648.9, according to the latest data. It rose 0.5 percent to 4,671.3 on Friday, its highest close since June 2, 2011. Hong Kong shares ended their best year since 2009 hovering near 18-month closing highs yesterday. The Hang Seng Index closed flat at 22,656.9 on the day, ending the session up 22.9 percent on the year, near its highest close since early July 2011. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended down 0.8 percent at 3,167.78 points, but it has gained 20.6 percent since the start of the year, its best yearly gain since 2009, when it surged 64 percent. Yesterday’s strong closes came during New Year market holidays in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, with half-day trading in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore. Japan’s Nikkei 225 ended 2012 trading on Friday up 23 percent, Seoul’s KOSPI 200 closed up 9.4 percent on the year, and Taiwan was up 9 percent. The gains drove the MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan’s to a 12.6 percent rise this year. Investors fear these gains may be short-lived as the US Congress and the White House struggle to find compromises that could avert the fiscal cliff - harsh tax rises and spending cuts that take effect from New Year’s Day. S&P 500 futures were up 3.7 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,387.70 in electronic trading at 0500GMT, but traders said the rise in the futures market did not necessarily bode well for a Wall Street rally yesterday after the cash market and futures markets closed far apart on Friday. “Hard to predict how or when there will be a deal, but I believe investors will

show their displeasure tomorrow by selling stocks if there is no deal,” said Mohannad Aama, managing director at Beam Capital Management, an investment advisory firm in New York. In Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would resume sitting at 11 am Washington time yesterday, to continue discussions, but there were still significant differences between the two sides. The US dollar last stood at 85.78 yen, having retreated from Friday’s high of 86.64 yen, which was the greenback’s strongest level versus the Japanese currency since August 2010. As the year draws to a close, the dollar is up about 11.9 percent against the yen, putting it on track for its

EXCEPTIONAL YEAR Commodities found some support from economic data in China, the world’s secondlargest economy and crude oil consumer, where factory activity expanded at its fastest rate in December since May 2011, reinforcing signs of a recovery. But slow economic growth and ample supplies are expected to keep a lid on prices next year, with crude prices gradually slipping. Brent crude will average at $108 a barrel in 2013, a Reuters monthly survey of 26 analysts showed. Supply is increasing, with the United States pumping the most oil in 19 years after shale oil discovery pushed production to nearly 7 million barrels per day. US crude imports slipped to the lowest in 12 years. Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia expects production increases by other oil producers to weigh on energy prices in 2013, potentially cutting into its fiscal surplus. Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf said on Saturday the kingdom ran a budget surplus of 387 billion riyals ($103.2 billion) in 2012 as high energy prices and strong output levels generated revenue of 1.24 trillion riyals. “The results of this year are exceptional,” Alassaf told Al-Arabiya television, but added, “The international conditions and the increase in production by some states (in 2013) will have negative effects on prices.” Political tensions in the Middle East, meanwhile, are expected to underpin oil prices. On Friday, Iran started six days of naval drills in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil and gas shipping route, the official IRNA news agency reported. —Reuters

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

.2740000 .4510000 .3680000 .3050000 .2800000 .2890000 .0040000 .0020000 .0761760 .7421590 .3880000 .0720000 .7275550 .0430000 CUSTOMER TRANSFER RATES .2807000 .4535550 .3706080 .3069940 .2821390 .0496650 .0431080 .2914930 .0362120 .2296300 .0032590 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0764540 .7448590 .0000000 .0748730 .7293750 .0000000

.2840000 .4630000 .3780000 .3130000 .2910000 .3020000 .0067500 .0035000 .0769410 .7496180 .4060000 .0770000 .7348670 .0510000 .2828000 .4569480 .3733810 .3092910 .2842500 .0500360 .0434310 .2936740 .0364830 .2313480 .0032830 .0051910 .0022300 .0029200 .0035670 .0770260 .7504310 .4000000 .0754330 .7348320 .0069430

Al-Muzaini Exchange Co. Japanese Yen Indian Rupees Pakistani Rupees Srilankan Rupees Nepali Rupees Singapore Dollar Hongkong Dollar Bangladesh Taka

ASIAN COUNTRIES 3.262 5.145 2.894 2.213 3.224 232.710 36.800 3.499

around 6 percent for the year and is on track for a 12th consecutive year of gains on rock-bottom interest rates, concerns over the financial stability of the euro zone, and diversification into bullion by central banks. US crude futures slipped yesterday for a third consecutive session on the budget crisis, with failure to reach a solution seen likely to cause a large drop in fuel consumption. US crude for February delivery was $90.83 a barrel by 0525 GMT. Front-month prices are on track to post an 8 percent fall in 2012, after three consecutive annual gains. Brent crude slipped 23 cents to $110.39 a barrel, but is set to post a 2.8 percent year-on-year increase in 2012, up for a fourth consecutive year.— Reuters

KARACHI: Pakistani stockbrokers interact in front of a monitor during the New Year’s Eve trading session at the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) in Karachi yesterday. The KSE-100 Index broke 17,000 points barrier on the last day of calendar year, gained 49 percent in 2012 and was placed among the top ten best performing markets globally. (Right) Lebanese walk past a shop window in Beirut’s ‘Souks’ shopping district in the center of the Lebanese capital yesterday. — AFP

Kosovo tries to shake off Wild West image among investors

Oil slips towards $110 LONDON: Brent crude oil slipped towards $110 per barrel yesterday on worries US lawmakers may not reach a last-minute deal to prevent a fiscal crisis, although remained on track to post a record annual average price. Brent has averaged more than $111.65 this year, its fourth successive year of annual rises and above the previous record of $110.91 in 2011. High oil prices have given oil producer cartel OPEC a bonanza, with oil export revenues hitting a peak of $1,052 billion, up 2.5 per cent from last year, US government data showed. But asset markets are worried the United States may fail to produce a workable budget deal, triggering a mandatory “fiscal cliff” of sharp spending cuts and higher taxes for all Americans. Failure to agree on a budget would risk plunging the US economy into recession, and the lack of a deal with the deadline just hours away kept a ceiling on the prices of riskier assets, including oil. Brent crude was down 40 cents to $110.22 a barrel by 0950 GMT after hitting a low of $110.02 earlier in the session. US crude slipped 10 cents at $90.70.”The negative consequences of the fiscal cliff appear to be too large to ignore, and overtures from both political parties have been increasing,” Jason Schenker, president of US consultancy Prestige Economics, said. “Significant market moves are likely when the deal gets done - or if no deal is done before the year-end ... In any case, neither outcome is fully priced in.”

biggest percentage gain versus the Japanese currency since 2005. The euro inched up 0.14 percent to 1.323 yesterday. An agreement on the US budget would be viewed as positive for riskier currencies such as the euro and Australian dollar, while a deadlock is deemed positive for the haven and highly liquid dollar. The Australian dollar was around $1.0383, from $1.0375 in late New York on Friday. It touched a one-month low of $1.0345 last week, but is on track to finish up 1.4 percent this year. The Aussie dollar was supported by a bounce in iron ore prices, which hit eight-month highs at $139.40. Prices are now up 61 percent from the lows hit in September. Gold was $1661.34 an ounce by 0525 GMT, up

Philippine Peso Thai Baht Irani Riyal - transfer Irani Riyal - cash Saudi Riyal Qatari Riyal Omani Riyal Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham

Young nation dogged by reputation for gangsters, graft ASTRAZUB: When Briton Christopher Gilbert and London-educated Etrur Albani teamed up to dig marble in Albani’s native Kosovo, they knew they were taking a gamble. For two years, Albani and Gilbert, who was better known in Britain as an entertainment industry entrepreneur, knocked on literally hundreds of doors in search of intrepid investors. They eventually turned up 12, convincing them that the risk associated with investing in this young Balkan nation was overblown and that the image of crime and corruption did not match the reality. One of the poorest corners of Europe, Kosovo is in dire need of outside investment as it tries to make a go of the independence it won from Serbia in 2008. By September, Gilbert and Albani’s Fox Marble Holdings was listed on the junior tier of the London Stock Exchange and had spent 1 million euros ($1.32 million) in readying five mines for business. Mining is seen as a potential driver of growth in Kosovo, a small country blessed with mineral deposits and Europe’s youngest population, but shackled with a damaging reputation for gangsters and graft. Now, Fox Marble’s dream is in tatters, its licenses to cut and sell Kosovo’s marble revoked and millions of euros of investment hanging in the balance. Whether the victim of over-zealous officials or something more sinister, Fox Marble has gone from investment trailblazer to cautionary tale in the risks of doing business in this country of 1.7 million people roughly half the size of Wales. “We

UAE Dirhams Bahraini Dinar Egyptian Pound Jordanian Dinar Omani Riyal Qatari Riyal Saudi Riyal

6.855 9.209 0.271 0.273 GCC COUNTRIES 75.230 77.515 733.750 749.300 76.818

EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer 282.000 Euro 376.750 Sterling Pound 457.690 Canadian dollar 287.320 Turkish lire 157.480 Swiss Franc 312.470 Australian dollar 295.540 US Dollar Buying 280.800 GOLD 311.000 157.000 81.500

SELL DRAFT 297.01 287.69 312.30 374.69 281.50 457.46 3.34 3.521 5.133 2.212 3.217 2.896

76.71 749.54 45.52 401.04 732.63 77.74 75.28

77.400 748.500 47.400 398.850 734.000 77.850 75.600

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

Selling Rate 281.850 283.480 456.305 373.085 309.060 746.190 76.715 77.365 75.125 397.310 44.735 2.213 5.144 2.900 3.496 6.847 691.380 4.270 9.370 3.695 3.370 92.045

Bahrain Exchange Company

UAE Exchange Centre WLL COUNTRY Australian Dollar Canadian Dollar Swiss Franc Euro US Dollar Sterling Pound Japanese Yen Bangladesh Taka Indian Rupee Sri Lankan Rupee Nepali Rupee Pakistani Rupee

‘VERY STRANGE’ Asked what was behind the decision, Gilbert, who was in Pristina trying to save the licenses, chose his words carefully. He said the mining authorities had acted outside the law, and suggested there was perhaps more to the matter than met the eye. The mines contain deposits valued by Gilbert and Albani at billions of euros. “It’s certainly a very strange situation for a company that is spending money in Kosovo. We don’t know what the realpolitik is behind this, but clearly there is something going on.” Asked about the allegations of political interference in the marble case, Kosovo’s minister of econo-

Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd

ARAB COUNTRIES Egyptian Pound - Cash 47.700 Egyptian Pound - Transfer 45.478 Yemen Riyal/for 1000 1.316 Tunisian Dinar 183.120 Jordanian Dinar 397.940 Lebanese Lira/for 1000 1.893 Syrian Lier 3.065 Morocco Dirham 340.990

20 Gram 10 Gram 5 Gram

spent two years convincing people that the country risk was not something that people needed to be concerned about and now everybody is turning to me and saying, ‘We told you so’,” Gilbert said. In December, Kosovo’s Mining and Minerals Commission (ICMM) revoked four of Fox Marble’s five licences, saying the firm had failed to start work within an agreed time frame. “It could take years for the work to start. How do we know?” the chairman of the ICMM board, Ahmet Tmava said. “Our resources must not be held hostage.” Gilbert said the firm had needed more time to raise funds but had already spent heavily on machinery, taxes and preparing the mines. He cited a Kosovo law saying that the ICMM is obliged to inform the company in writing and give it 2-4 months to address the complaint. Fox Marble got neither, Gilbert said. Tmava said the company was informed “verbally”.

SELL CASH 296.000 288.000 311.000 373.500 283.000 457.500 3.690 3.667 5.500 2.370 3.600 3.050

COUNTRY Australian dollar Bahraini dinar Bangladeshi taka Canadian dollar Cyprus pound Czek koruna Danish krone Deutsche Mark Egyptian pound Euro Cash Hongkong dollar Indian rupees Indonesia Iranian tuman Iraqi dinar Japanese yen

SELL CASH 296.600 749.820 3.840 286.900 553.700 45.900 50.900 167.800 47.740 376.400 37.070 5.490 0.032 0.161 0.242 3.380

SELLDRAFT 295.100 749.820 3.518 285.400

232.000 45.261 374.900 36.920 5.145 0.031

my and development, Besim Beqaj, said only: “I’m not aware of anything like that.” Britain’s ambassador to Kosovo, Ian Cliff, said the British government was “very concerned” and, in a written response to questions from Reuters, said he had heard of allegations of political interference. “I hope this is not the case,” Cliff said, adding that British Foreign Secretary William Hague had raised the issue with Kosovo “at the highest level”. The United States and the European Union have spent an estimated 4 billion euros in stabilizing Kosovo and encouraging good governance and growth since NATO went to war in 1999 to halt the killing and expulsion of civilians by Serbian forces fighting rebels from Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian majority. With ethnic tensions subsiding, Western powers formally gave up “supervisory” powers over Kosovo this year. But an EU police and justice mission retains some executive authority to investigate cases of organized crime, corruption and war crimes. NATO retains some 6,000 troops on the ground, mainly in the north where a small Serb minority still rejects Kosovo as a sovereign state. The government insists it is changing perceptions. There are positives: Kosovo’s legislative framework has been crafted to meet most EU standards; construction is thriving, driving average annual economic growth of 5 percent over the past five years; foreign direct investment was up 14 percent to 379 million euros in 2011; in October the World Bank lifted Kosovo from 126 to 98th place in a poll on ease of doing

Jordanian dinar Lebanese pound Malaysian ringgit Morocco dirham Nepalese Rupees New Zealand dollar Nigeria Norwegian krone Omani Riyal Pakistani rupees Philippine peso Qatari riyal Saudi riyal Singapore dollar South Africa Sri Lankan rupees Sterling pound Swedish krona Swiss franc Syrian pound Thai bhat Tunisian dollar UAE dirham U.S. dollars Yemeni Riyal

399.560 0.191 95.420 45.900 4.330 235.700 1.826 51.600 732.370 3.050 7.270 77.990 75.280 231.970 35.220 2.686 459.600 44.400 312.100 3.400 9.570 198.263 76.870 282.300 1.360

399.520 0.190 94.420 3.240 234.200 732.190 2.902 6.870 77.560 75.280 231.970 35.220 2.218 457.600 310.600 3.400 9.410 76.770 281.900

GOLD 10 Tolal Sterling Pound US Dollar

1,764.990 TRAVELLER’S CHEQUE 457.600 281.900

Al Mulla Exchange Currency US Dollar Euro Pound Sterling Canadian Dollar Japanese Yen Indian Rupee Egyptian Pound Sri Lankan Rupee Bangladesh Taka Philippines Peso Pakistan Rupee Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham Saudi Riyal *Rates are subject to change

Transfer Rate (Per 1000) 281.500 374.800 457.500 285.200 3.320 5.145 44.300 2.214 3.518 6.850 2.899 749.700 76.730 75.230



China stock slump highlights market flaws

NINGBO: Photo shows the soon-to-be-completed highest building in Ningbo, in eastern China’s Zhejiang province. The Global Shipping Square (left) nearly completed measures roughly 256 meters high, as more skyscrapers dot the skylines of Chinese cities. China’s manufacturing activity surged to a 19-month high last month , British bank HSBC said yesterday. — AFP

SHANGHAI: Chinese stocks in 2012 fell to levels unseen since the global financial crisis, as investors ignored a rebound in the world’s second largest economy and focused on fundamental problems with the market. China’s economic growth hit a more than three-year low of 7.4 percent in the third quarter, although recent manufacturing and other data have fuelled optimism that it has begun to recover. But for the country’s 168 million investors-an unusually high 99 percent of them individuals-an improving macro-economic picture cannot make up for weak company earnings, poor governance, oversupply of shares and a lack of liquidity, analysts said. On December 4, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index plumbed a four-year low of 1,949.46 points, its worst level since January 16, 2009. It has since recovered more than 16 percent and yesterday, the last trading day of the year, it closed at a seven-month high, up 3.17 percent on the start of 2012. But in contrast Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index powered ahead almost 23 percent in the year and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose by a similar amount. The S&P 500 on Wall Street was up more than 11 percent. The disconnect is stark-China is still by far the fastestgrowing major world economy-but there are fundamental reasons for the Shanghai market’s poor showing. “Just know this-the performance of the domestic

equity market is not so tightly correlated with the overall economy,” said Wang Tao, a Hong Kongbased economist for UBS. “Structural and governance issues remain and continue to plague China’s equity market,” she said in a report that described the country’s stock market as one of the worst performing in the world. Many listed Chinese companies are still majority state-owned, and so are largely indifferent to the demands of holders of their publicly-listed shares. China also has a massive share glut, with the total value of flotations over the past two years estimated at $1.3 trillion and hundreds more companies waiting to list as the government-not the market-decides which firms are allowed to do so. At the same time, while Chinese investors have few alternatives to the stock market many have opted for wealth management products offered by banks, or property purchases. “The fundamental issue of supply and demand imbalance needs to be solved, or even an economic recovery may not be able to reverse the downtrend,” said BOC International analyst Shen Jun. Shanghai-based Woo, a small luxury scarf retailer, would like to seek funding from the market but expects it will take three years to make it through the listing pipeline, starving the firm of the capital it needs for expansion. “So far, there are 800 companies queuing,” said its chief executive officer

Stephen Sun. Hopes that an annual government economic meeting would unveil steps to boost growth drove the Shanghai index rebound in December, including a rise of more than four percent the day before the gathering began. But the event yielded no new policies to reform capital markets, and some analysts remain pessimistic. “Before, everyone had fallen into the ice cellar, now everyone has reached bright sunny skies. The change shouldn’t be so fast; the recovery should be gradual,” said Shenyin Wanguo Securities analyst Qian Qimin. He forecasts the Shanghai market could once again fall through the key support level of 2,000 points. Officials say the authorities are considering allowing local pension funds now limited to putting their money into bank deposits and government bonds to buy shares and have already allowed foreign institutional investors greater access to the stock market. But foreign investors-who are often more positive about Chinese shares still have to abide by a quota system. “The market has been expecting new policies this year, but in fact there weren’t any good policies,” said BOC International’s Shen. Vague government affirmations of support for financial reform were meaningless without concrete action, he said. “Some policies were just like ‘old wine in new bottles’-nothing new there.”— AFP




Singapore slipping into recession SINGAPORE: Singapore likely slipped into recession in the three months to December, analysts said yesterday, as data showed growth in 2012 came in lower than expected. In his New Year’s message, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said “growth was slower this year, at 1.2 percent”, which is well off the official growth forecast of 1.5-2.5 percent. However, CIMB Research economist Song

Seng Wun said the figures for the year indicate the economy shrank 3.5 to 4.0 percent quarter on quarter in October-December, which followed a contraction of 5.9 percent in the previous three months. Two consecutive quarters of contraction point to a technical recession. “It’s basically just the magnitude of (the recession) rather than if,” he said. And Jason Hughes, head of premium

client management for IG Markets Singapore, said: “It would seem that the PM’s statement of 1.2 percent growth for 2012 would suggest that we’ve contracted in the fourth quarter which would put us in technical recession territory.” An official breakdown of the data will be released by the trade ministry tomorrow. Lee said growth had been hit by weakness in the city-state’s key export

markets of Europe, which is battling a debt crisis, and the United States and Japan, where economic recovery is sputtering. “The weak US, European and Japanese economies dampened our growth, but some industries have also had difficulty hiring the workers they need to grow. Next year we expect to grow by 1.0-3.0 percent,” he added. Singapore, widely regarded as a

bellwether for Asia’s export-driven economies, went through its worst-ever recession during the global financial crisis from the third quarter of 2008 to the second half of 2009. Unlike its bigger neighbors, however, Singapore is more vulnerable to external trade developments because it has a small domestic base of just over five million residents.—AFP

US extends farm bill Spike in milk prices averted WASHINGTON: The top leaders in both parties on the House and Senate Agriculture committees have agreed to a one-year extension of the 2008 farm bill that expired in October, a move that could head off a possible doubling of milk prices next month. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich, indicated the House could vote on the bill soon, though House leaders have not yet agreed to put the bill on the floor. In addition to the one-year extension that has the backing of the committees, the House GOP is also considering two other extension bills: a onemonth extension and an even smaller bill that would merely extend dairy policy that expires Jan 1. Expiration of those dairy programs could mean higher prices at the grocery store within a few weeks. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Americans face the prospect of paying $7 for a gallon of milk if the current dairy program lapsed and the government returned to a 1948 formula for calculating milk price supports. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday that Republican leaders had not decided how they would proceed on the farm extension, though a vote could come today. Boehner has pushed back on passage of a new five-year farm bill for months, saying there were not enough votes to bring it to the House floor after the House Agriculture Committee approved it in July. The Senate passed its version of a farm bill in June. The prospect of higher milk prices has motivated some action. The bipartisan extension also includes disaster assistance to farmers affected by a lingering drought this year, along with extensions to other farm programs that expired in October. Instead of just extending current dairy pol-

icy, the extension bill includes an overhaul of dairy programs that was included in both the Senate and House committee bills. The new dairy programs include a new, voluntary insurance program for dairy producers. Those who choose that new program also would have to participate in a market stabilization program that could dictate production cuts when oversupply drives down prices - an idea that hasn’t gone over well with Boehner. In July, he called the current dairy program “Soviet-style” and said the new program would make it even worse. Large food companies that process and use dairy products have backed Boehner, saying the program could limit milk supplies and increase their costs. Stabenow blamed Boehner for getting to the point where an extension is the only option. “ The lack of action by the House Republican leadership has put us in a situation where we risk serious damage to our economy unless we pass a temporary extension,” she said. One of the reasons Boehner has balked at bringing up a farm bill is disagreement within his caucus over how much money should be cut from food stamps, which make up roughly 80 percent of the half-trillion-dollar bill’s cost over five years. House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., has unsuccessfully pushed his leadership for months to move on the legislation despite the disagreement over food aid. On Sunday, Lucas said he hoped the extension would pass both chambers quickly as GOP leadership mulled their options. “It is not perfect - no compromise ever is - but it is my sincere hope that it will pass the House and Senate and be signed by the president by Jan 1,” he said. —AP

Morsi sees Egypt pound stabilizing ‘within days’ CAIRO: Egypt’s president held out hope that a weakening pound could stabilize within days under a new regime implemented to fend off financial ruin and safeguard reserves needed to ensure food and fuel imports in a political crisis. Hit by political turmoil in the last month, the currency weakened to a record low on Sunday in a new dollar auctioning system implemented by the central bank. The official rate worsened further at its second auction yesterday, with banks taking up the $75 million on offer at a cut off rate of 6.305, sending its traded market rate to a record low of around 6.35 per dollar. “The market will return to stability,” President Mohamed Morsi said in remarks during a meeting with Arab journalists on Sunday evening, the state news agency MENA reported. The pound’s fall “does not worry or scare us, and within days matters will balance out,” he added. The auctions are part of a shift announced on Saturday and designed to conser ve foreign reser ves, which the bank says are now at “critical” levels that cover just three months of the food, fuel and other goods Egypt imports. The head of the Egyptian banking federation said the new system of foreign exchange auctions was an “important first step” towards

a free float of the pound. Tarek Amer, who is also chairman of Egypt’s largest bank, state-owned National Bank of Egypt, said the new system was a success on its first day and had “significantly reduced” demand for dollars. The central bank accepted bids worth $74.8 million yesterday, with the cut-off price weakening from 6.2425 Egyptian pounds on Sunday. Before the first sale on Sunday it had traded as strong on the interbank market as 6.185 to the dollar. Political turmoil over a new constitution has sent worried Egyptians scrambling to turn their savings into dollars, prompting officials last week to impose controls on how much cash could be physically carried out of the country. The changes announced on Saturday include regular foreign currency auctions and commercial bank officials say they point to an orderly devaluation of the pound after the central bank spent more than $20 billion - or more than half of its reserves over the past two years to defend the currency. The currency crisis underlines the scale of the economic challenge facing President Morsi, who has been grappling with the fall-out of a political crisis ignited by his move to drive through a constitution written by his Islamist allies. —Reuters

NBK’s mobile banking, ATM and online services available today KUWAIT: National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) has taken all necessary measures to ensure providing customers with the best services during the New Year holiday throughout Hala Watani, Mobile Banking (BlackBerry, iPhone and iPad), Online and ATM services. All NBK branches will be closed today and will resume work tomorrow. Hala Watani, NBK Online and ATM will be available 24 hours and ready to serve customers. Customers can also conduct all their transactions through NBK Mobile Banking application.




Apple dominated tech news in 2012 But how much longer? Windows 8 launch Microsoft’s much-ballyhooed Windows 8 launch has been nothing short of a slowmotion belly flop. A secretive fall event this year to launch its new Windows-based Surface tablets came across as an effort to ape Apple’s marketing buzz. Microsoft missed a lesson: Apple makes devices available almost immediately. Microsoft didn’t. The tablet went on sale in late October. Microsoft hasn’t disclosed Surface RT sales figures, but estimates range around 1 million for the December quarter.

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple dominated tech news in 2012. Ho hum. Whether it was the maiden voyage of CEO Tim Cook in the postSteve Jobs era, new products, the absence of non-Apple products (see Google Maps) or a worldwide legal scrum, America remain riveted on Apple. How long it lasts remains a parlor game in Silicon Valley, as the company continues to cart out the latest iteration of iPhone and iPad while its stock sinks into the low $500 range. (The rest of techdom should have such concerns.) While Apple was a headline grabber, so were its chief rivals, Google, and Microsoft. What created ripples in tech this year: Tim Cook’s first year as Apple CEO, postSteve Jobs. Cook, 52, was No 3 in Time magazine’s person of the year vote (President Obama won) in his first full year as Apple CEO.

Tim Cook Cook’s year was punctuated by: a mea culpa about labor practices at Chinese factories pumping out Apple products; a smackdown in federal court with nemesis Samsung over patents; new iPhones and iPads; and charges of tax dodging by Apple. Cook ended the year with introspective interviews in Bloomberg Businessweek and on NBC. Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during Apple’s event introducing the iPad Mini in October.

District Court drew international attention to the case that went to a jury decision in the Mac maker’s favor. Jurors found Samsung violated six of Apple’s design patents covering iPads and iPhones. But the victory, handing Apple more than $1 billion in damages, was short-lived, because the judge denied Apple’s request to ban sales of Samsung devices. Apple has appealed the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Meanwhile, little has changed for consumers using Android-based devices from Apple’s bid to crush Google’s operating system. Apple and Samsung spent the year embroiled in more than 50 lawsuits in 10 countries. The globe-trotting lawsuits, from Apple against Android partners, and vice versa, are expected to continue unabated for years. The real winners: lawyers. The actual losers: consumers. Google Maps flap It started when Apple booted Google Maps as a built-in feature in iOS 6, the newest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, in favor of its own Apple Maps. It ended, in a sense, with the triumphant return of a fresh new Google Maps app in

December. Shortly after launching, Apple Maps was subject to howls of complaints from users about missing landmarks and inaccurate directions. It lacked features such as a panoramic street view of your surroundings, and public transit directions. The brouhaha prompted an apology from Tim Cook and contributed to management changes at Apple. For now, Apple continues to work on Maps. And the new Google Maps app scored 10 million downloads in the first two days after its release. iPad mini launch It lacked the flash and panache of the typical unfurling of an Apple product, but the introduction of the 7.9-inch iPad in October is likely to have packed a wallop in holiday sales. Still, the new iPad faces mounting competition from’s Kindle Fire, Google’s Nexus 7- and 10-inch tablets, and Microsoft’s Surface. Android tablets are making advances. Researcher IDC forecasts Android’s share of the worldwide market rose to 42.7% this year (from 39.8%), while Apple will decline to 53.8% (from 56.3%).

iPhone 5 launch Each and every iPhone that’s come out since Apple’s prized smartphone first appeared in 2007 has been greeted with enormous hype and pre-launch anticipation, perhaps none more than the iPhone 5, as many people were expecting it months earlier, when Apple instead unveiled the iPhone 4S. Though it might have arrived later than some rumors suggested, the iPhone 5 ($199 and up, with a two-year contract) kept Apple in front of the smartphone pack despite spirited competition from Samsung and others. Apple sold 5 million iPhone 5s the first weekend the device went on sale in September; it sold 2 million in the first weekend it went on sale in China in December. Apple-Samsung tilt in court Patent tussles between mobile rivals Apple and Samsung reached a crescendo in 2012. Apple’s suit against Samsung in US

What’s worse for Microsoft Since the release of Windows 8, US stores have sold 13% fewer Windows-based devices into the first week of December compared with the same period a year ago, according to researcher NPD Group. The radically redefined interface has caused some to pause over the new operating system. Early indications suggest Windows 8 won’t save the PC market from being eaten away by tablets from Apple and CEO Steve Ballmer will increasingly be under pressure in 2013. Facebook IPO The social-networking icon suffered a face-plant with its much-anticipated initial public offering in May, but it also raked in a ton of cash-some $16 billion. Yet, that wasn’t enough to assuage the hype-driven dreams of investors and hundreds of Facebook employees who expected much, much more. There is an upside, however: Facebook shares have bounced back the past few months amid increased advertising revenue and an aggressive-albeit belated-mobile ad push under the stewardship of Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. Kind of makes you wonder when she might ascend to the CEO throne. The saga of John McAfee The software pioneer was a man on the run for several weeks, after he was named a person of interest in the mysterious death of a fellow American in Belize. Through his personal blog, ever-evolving cellphone numbers and a tight-knit group of handlers, McAfee,

John McAfee

Facebook IPO

67, evaded capture. Until one of his cellphones betrayed him, leading to his arrest in Guatemala and eventual depor tation to the USA in December. Now, the founder of antivirussoftware company McAfee awaits his judicial fate. Whatever the final outcome, McAfee’s Kurtz-like journey-he spent three weeks in disguise and admitted to faking a heart attack-should make for a must read and TV

viewing. Oh yeah, did we mention that he sold the multimedia rights to a Canadian publisher? Instagram photo flap Faster than you can say “Cheese,” Instagram officials reversed their unpopular decision to change a terms-of-use agreement that would have allowed advertisers to use the photos of Instagram’s 30 million members. Public outcry was swift and deep. For Facebook, which acquired Instagram for $1 billion in April, the episode was the latest reminder that any attempt to monetize personal information at the expense of privacy will be met with widespread resistance. Yahoo and Marissa Mayer No one doubted Marissa Mayer would be CEO of a tech company. But the smart money was on her leading a start-up-not Yahoo, a

Marissa Mayer rival of Google, where she became rich and famous. Mayer, 37, hit the ground running, swiping executives from Google and beginning to shape Yahoo into the mobile Internet behemoth she insists it has to be to survive against Google, Apple, Facebook and She is the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and ranked No. 14 on Fortune magazine’s list of America’s most powerful businesswomen. Video games are still in play Beloved franchises such as Call of Duty and Halo can still be counted on for big sales. That’s despite flat revenue of $25 billion industrywide and the closure of several highprofile companies, including 38 Studios, a studio started by ex-major league pitcher Curt Schilling, with the help of artist Todd McFarlane and others. Call of Duty: Black Ops II, released in November, became the fastest game in the history of the series to top $1 billion in sales. Also in November, Microsoft relaunched its popular Xbox franchise with Halo 4, racking up more than $220 million in the first 24 hours. For an industry in flux, there are other good signs. The last time the industry began the move to new console systems, in 2005, retail video game sales were half that of today, says Liam Callahan, analyst with The NPD Group. “This really demonstrates the (the industry’s) long-term health,” he says. —MCT

Online adoption Avoiding a web of lies By Bonnie Miller Rubin CHICAGO: Jeanne Enright suffered multiple miscarriages and, at age 40, the window on having a second child was rapidly closing. So, the Glen Ellyn, Ill., woman and her husband, Bill, turned to an online adoption agency that promised her a baby quickly, bypassing the long waiting lists of traditional agencies — but also the legal and ethical safeguards. “What happened turned my stomach,” Enright said. “Within no time, they had a referral for us — a mother who was having twins. ... She was a heavy smoker, had no prenatal care.” But the real clincher was when Enright was told that the birth mother would receive appliances in exchange for her cooperation. “This stops just short of baby-selling,” said Julie Tye, executive director of The Cradle in Evanston, Ill. While the Internet has opened the adoption process, helping birth relatives contact each other and expediting the adoption of children with special needs, it has also ushered in an era of fraud and exploitation, according to a report released this month by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, a nonprofit organization that studies adoption policy. “There is a growing ‘commodification’ of adoption on the Web, replete with dubious practices and a shift away from the perspective that its primary purpose is to find families for children,” according to the report, a three-year project. “This is particularly the case in domestic infant adoption, where a scarcity of babies available to be adopted heightens competition.” Illinois law prohibits non-licensed providers from conducting adoption services. But some of these for-profit bro-

kers advertise aggressively online and are available to anyone who types in the words “Illinois” and “adoption” and has sufficient funds, experts say. The Illinois attorney general’s office said this month that it plans to send cease-and-desist letters to the most egregious operators. Some of these unregulated websites take a transactional approach, promising quick placements and incentives to pregnant women, such as free cellphones. One site boasts that most parents were selected by the birth mother “within four months of being marketed.” According to Tye, there are at least a dozen of these online brokers operating in Illinois. “They are like mushrooms,” said Tye, who praised the Donaldson report, which calls on states to do a better job of enforcing laws. There are plenty of reputable adoption agencies that offer their services online, child welfare professionals said. Knowing the right questions to ask — such as staff credentials and whether the organization is accredited — can help protect users. The Illinois Adoption Reform Act, which took effect in 2005, was designed to weed out unscrupulous operators and take the money out of adoption, experts said. “We have had a wonderful set of consumer-oriented laws on the books for more than seven years, and what we need now is to see those laws enforced,” said Bruce Boyer, director of the Civitas ChildLaw Clinic at Loyola University Chicago. In a country where abortions are accessible and single motherhood is accepted, fewer women place their babies for adoption. While youths are available in the U.S. foster care system,

those children are usually older, part of sibling groups or suffer from physical and emotional impairments. So, childless couples hoping to get a healthy newborn often seek unregulated avenues to fulfill their dream. On one site, there were 80 profiles of Midwestern parents hoping to be selected by a pregnant woman.

couple of false starts and a lot of pain. “We wanted a family so badly,” said Jeanne Enright, a marketing manager who also has a 12-year-old biological daughter. After the miscarriages, the couple turned to Guatemala and had completed background checks, references and reams of other documents.

Bill and Jeanne Enright right), of Glen Ellyn, wait for Metro train as she commutes to Chicago for work.—MCT Support is an issue for birth parents too, said Ruth Jajko of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. “In many cases, couples do not know the right question to ask to navigate such an emotionally charged situation: Do I want to see the baby? Hold the baby? Want the adoptive parents in the delivery room? We can provide those services.” The Enrights adopted their son from The Cradle in 2004. But it was only after a

Then, in 2003, the country shut down all adoptions after mounting evidence of corruption. The Enrights found themselves back at square one, and the Internet beckoned. They were presented with a two-tier system, which offered a faster track and a broader pool of prospective birth mothers if the couple were willing to pay more. There was no vetting of their qualifications, unlike the rigorous scrutiny of inter-

national adoption. “All kinds of bells and whistles should have gone off ... but they didn’t,” Enright said. It was only after she started asking questions that she could no longer ignore the sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach: Where does she live? What about the birth father? What counseling would be available to the birth mother? “That’s when I was told not to worry about her ... that she’d get a washer and dryer out of the deal. I said that I didn’t think this was the right match for us and was told, ‘This is your match ... take it or leave it.’” The couple walked away from the $10,000 fee they had paid, a small price for peace of mind, she said. “We considered ourselves lucky.” TIPS TO NAVIGATE THE ADOPTION PROCESS ONLINE How to protect yourself from fraud and misinformation: Like so much other information on the Internet, users need to know how to separate reputable sources from shady ones — and adoption is no different. Here are some tips to navigate the process. If specifics are sketchy online, the agency might be trying to force you to speak with a staff member who is paid a commission to lure pregnant women or prospective adoptive parents. Ask if that is the case. Counselors should have some advanced degrees in fields like social work, psychology or counseling. Look for agencies with accreditation from regulatory bodies or membership in groups such as the Child Welfare League of America. Choose an agency near you. Using an agency far away could make it difficult to get consistent, quality services. Make sure the costs involved are clear and straightforward. —MCT



health & science

Vomiting Larry battles ‘Ferrari of the virus world’ Highly infectious virus makes millions sick each year

BELGIUM: File photo shows US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arriving for a meeting of foreign ministers from the 28 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member-countries at organization headquarters in Brussels. —AFP

A blood clot’s danger depends on where it is NEW YORK: Blood clots like the one that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is being treated for following her recent concussion can occur for a host of reasons. How serious a clot is depends on where it is and why it formed. A Clinton aide would not say where hers is located. What they are: Blood pools and thickens into a clot after an injury or because of a heart problem, clogged arteries or other condition. Clots also can break off and travel to another part of the body. Where they occur: In leg veins (called deep vein thrombosis) or in blood vessels in the neck, brain or lungs. Leg clots are a common risk after someone has

been bedridden. Clots are most dangerous when they travel to the lungs, a potentially life-threatening situation, or to the brain, where they can cause a stroke. Risk factors: High blood pressure, diabetes, birth control pills, pregnancy, stroke, recent surgery, prolonged sitting, circulation problems and heart problems - especially an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation - raise the chances of developing a blood clot. Treatment: Sometimes a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin) is prescribed to allow the clot to dissolve by itself over time and prevent new ones from forming. — AP

Short and social workouts led fitness trends in 2012 NEW YORK: From mud races to sweat parties to CrossFit competitions, workouts turned smarter, shorter and more social in 2012, and experts say, as fitness was sweetened with a little help from smart phones and friends. “Everything is about making fitness fun,” said Jenna AutuoriDedic, senior fitness editor at Fitness Magazine. Even those grueling indoor cycling classes were a chance to mingle. “I truly think that spinning was one of the biggest things to come out of 2012,” said Autuori-Dedic. “They (fitness studios) made it fun. You can go with your friends, match your workout to the music. When you work out with friends, you don’t realize you’re working out.” She said 2012 also saw the rise of the sweat party. “Instead of hitting the bars for that bachelorette party or night out with the girls, women are going in groups to fitness studios,” she explained. “You don’t have to choose between working out and meeting your friends, you can do both.” Working women have begun treating clients to boot camp classes in lieu of happy-hour, she added, and more co-workers host conference room workouts at lunchtime. Mud runs were another 2012 trend that Autuori-Dedic expects to grow in the New Year, along with fun obstacle-type races in

general, during which participants can get blasted with paint or chased by “zombies,” often for charity. Donna Cyrus, senior vice president of programming at the Crunch national chain of fitness centers, said dance classes and short, results-driven workouts dominated group fitness. “Going into 2012 everybody was looking for the next Zumba,” said Cyrus of the Latin-based dance fitness craze. “We find that people are looking for fun easy-to-follow dance moves.” Crunch created 2FLY, a dance class based on music of the ‘80’s and ‘90’s that strives to feel more like a house party than a workout. The other big trend from 2012, according to Cyrus, is the 30minute workout. “Everybody is realizing that you can get results in 30 minutes,” she said, so this year was also about hard core, body-sculpting, CrossFit-type classes. CrossFit is an intense, constantly varied, strength and conditioning program. Autuori-Dedic said the CrossFit games, which are competitions that grew out of the workout regimen, mushroomed from only 4,000 participants to nearly 70,000 this year. Richard Cotton, national director of certification programs for the American College of Sports Medicine, said 2012 signaled a welcome shift back to the basics of training people to be prepared for daily living. —Reuters

NEW YORK: Poor Larry isn’t looking too good. He’s pale and clammy and he’s been projectile vomiting over and over again while his carers just stand by and watch. Yet their lack of concern for Larry is made up for by their intense interest in how far splashes of his vomit can fly, and how effectively they evade attempts to clean them up. Larry is a “humanoid simulated vomiting system” designed to help scientists analyse contagion. And like millions around the world right now, he’s struggling with norovirus - a disease one British expert describes as “the Ferrari of the virus world”. “Norovirus is one of the most infectious viruses of man,” said Ian Goodfellow, a professor of virology at the department of pathology at Britain’s University of Cambridge, who has been studying noroviruses for 10 years. “It takes fewer than 20 virus particles to infect someone. So each droplet of vomit or gram of faeces from an infected person can contain enough virus to infect more than 100,000 people.” Norovirus is hitting hard this year and earlier too. In Britain so far this season, more than a million people are thought to have suffered the violent vomiting and diarrhoea it can bring. The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said this high rate of infection relatively early in the winter mirrors trends seen in Japan and Europe. “In Australia the norovirus season also peaks during the winter, but this season it has gone on longer than usual and they are seeing cases into their summer,” it said in a statement. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say norovirus causes 21 million illnesses annually. Of those who get the virus, some 70,000 require hospitalisation and around 800 die each year. Profuse and projectile Norovirus dates back more than 40 years and takes it name from the US city of Norwalk, Ohio, where there was an outbreak of acute gastroenteritis in school children in

November 1968. Symptoms include a sudden onset of vomiting, which can be projectile, and diarrhoea, which may be profuse and watery. Some victims also suffer fevers, headaches and stomach cramps. John Harris, an expert on the virus at Britain’s HPA, puts it simply: “Norovirus is very contagious and very unpleasant.” What makes this such a formidable enemy is its ability to evade death from cleaning and to survive long periods outside a human host. Scientists have found norovirus can remain alive and well for 12 hours on hard surfaces and up to 12 days on contaminated fabrics such as carpets and upholstery. In still water, it can survive for months, maybe even years. At the Health and Safety Laboratory in Derbyshire, northern England, where researcher Catherine Makison developed the humanoid simulated vomiting system and nicknamed him “Vomiting Larry”, scientists analyzing his reach found that small droplets of sick can spread over three meters. “The dramatic nature of the vomiting episodes produces a lot of aerosolized vomit, much of which is invisible to the naked eye,” Goodfellow told Reuters. Larr y ’s projections were easy to spot because he had been primed with a “vomitus substitute”, scientists explain, which included a fluorescent marker to help distinguish even small splashes - but they would not be at all easily visible under standard white hospital lighting. Add the fact that norovirus is particularly resistant to normal household disinfectants and even alcohol hand gels, and it’s little wonder the sickness wreaks such havoc in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, cruise ships and hotels. During the two weeks up to Dec. 23, there were 70 hospital outbreaks of norovirus reported in Britain, and last week a cruise ship that sails between New York and Britain’s Southampton docked in the Caribbean with about 200 people on board suffering suspected norovirus.

Moving target The good news, for some, is that not everyone appears to be equally susceptible to norovirus infection. According to Goodfellow, around 20 percent of Europeans have a mutation in a gene called FUT2 that makes them resistant. For the rest the only likely good news will have to wait for the results of trials of a potential norovirus vaccine developed by US drugmaker LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals Inc, or from one of several research teams around the world working on possible new antiviral drugs to treat the infection. Early tests in 2011 indicated that around half of people vaccinated with the experimental shot, now owned by Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical Co, were protected from symptomatic norovirus infection. The bad news, virologists say, is that the virus changes constantly, making it a moving target for drug developers. There is also evidence that humans’ immune response to infection is short-lived, so people can become re-infected by the same virus within just a year or two. “There are many strains, and the virus changes very rapidly it undergoes something virologists call genetic drift,” Harris said in a telephone interview. “When it makes copies of itself, it makes mistakes in those copies - so each time you encounter the virus you may be encountering a slightly different one.” This means that even if a vaccine were to be fully developed still a big ‘if’ - it would probably need to be tweaked and repeated in a slightly different formula each year to prevent people getting sick. Until any effective drugs or vaccines are developed, experts reckon that like the common cold, norovirus will be an unwelcome guest for many winters to come. Their advice is to stay away from anyone with the virus, and use soap and water liberally. “One of the reasons norovirus spreads so fast is that the majority of people don’t wash their hands for long enough,” said Goodfellow. “We’d suggest people count to 15 while washing their hands and ensure their hands are dried completely.” —Reuters

US mentally ill, their families face barriers to care NEW YORK: Lori, a 39-year-old mother in New Jersey, would like to save for the usual things: college, retirement, vacations. But those goals are far down her wish list. For now, she and her husband are putting aside money for a home alarm system. They’re not worried about keeping burglars out. They need to keep their son in. Mike, 7, began seeing a psychiatrist in 2009, after one pre-school kicked him out for being “difficult” and teachers at the public school he later attended were worried about his obsessive thoughts and extreme anxiety. He was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder. As she keeps trying to get help for him, “I am learning firsthand how broken the system is when dealing with mental illness,” said Lori. (Surnames of patients and their families have been withheld to protect their privacy.) “We fight with doctors, our insurance company,

educators, each other; the list goes on and on ... It isn’t even a system. It’s not like there’s a call center to help you figure out what to do and how to get help.” Last week, the National Rifle Association blamed mass shootings such as that at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on the lack of a “national database of the mentally ill,” who, it claimed, are especially prone to violence. Dr Paul Appelbaum, professor of psychiatry, medicine and law at Columbia University, disagrees, however. “Gun violence is overwhelmingly not about mental illness,” he said. “The best estimate is that about 95 percent of gun violence is committed by people who do not have a diagnosis of mental illness.” But experts on mental illness agree with one implication of the NRA’s argument: families trying to get help for a loved one with mental illness confront a confusing, dysfunctional system that lacks the capacity to help everyone who needs it - and that shunts many of the mentally ill into the criminal justice system instead of the healthcare system.“Public mental health services have eroded everywhere, and in some places don’t exist at all,” said Richard Bonnie, professor of law and medicine at the University of Virginia. “Improving access to mental health services would reduce the distress and social costs of serious mental illness, including violent behavior.” Because mental health care is in such short supply, emergency cases receive priority. If a young man has a psychotic break and threatens his mother with a knife, “you can call the police and initiate an emergency evaluation,” said Bonnie. A psychiatrist called to the local emergency room may agree that the man is an imminent threat to himself or others, or cannot provide for his basic needs - the criteria for involuntary commitment in most states. Anything short of that and even someone with a diagnosis of severe mental illness cannot be involuntarily committed. Critics argue that this emphasis on civil liberties lets dangerous people roam the streets, and cite numerous cases where it has been fatal. In October, for instance, a Tacoma, Washington, man who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was in and out of mental hospitals for years confessed to killing his father with a hatchet. One lesson of such tragedies, experts say, is that psychiatrists’ ability to predict who will be violent “is better than chance, but not much better,” said Dr. Marvin Swartz, professor of psychiatry at Duke University. Another is that the shortage of inpatient treatment has led everyone from judges to mental health professionals to look for any excuse to avoid committing someone involuntarily. There is often no place to put them, and admitting one patient means discharging another who might be equally ill. “Getting people into hospitals is extremely difficult because of the shortage of beds,” said Columbia University’s Appelbaum. The shortage extends to out-patient services, too, largely as a result of continuing budget cuts. Since 2009, states have cut more than $1.6 billion from such spending, found a 2011 report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a nonprofit education and advocacy group. The

result is “significant reductions in both hospital and community services,” it said. Connecticut, where Newtown is, is an exception. Its mental health budget rose from $676 million in 2009 to $715 million in 2012. ‘They’re all psychotic’ More typical are Illinois (a reduction in spending on mental health of $187 million in that period), Ohio (down $26 million) and Massachusetts (down $55.6 million). “There’s a waiting list for our program (in Boston) and it’s hard to get in,” said psychiatrist and NAMI medical director Ken Duckworth, who treats mentally ill patients. There is room in his program for 60 people. The waiting list has 20, he said, “and they’re all psychotic.” It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Community Mental Health Center Act, passed in 1963, called for federal funding of outpatient psychiatric facilities in towns and cities “so people would at least know where to start” when they or a family member needed a mental health evaluation or treatment, said Appelbaum. “It was supposed to be a single point of entry.” But only about 650 of the 1,500 centers were built, and federal funding for staffing tailed off after four years when Congress did not appropriate more. As a result, of the estimated 45.9 million US adults 18 or older who had mental illness in 2010, some 11 million had “an unmet need for mental health care,” estimates the Alliance for Health Reform, a nonprofit advocacy group. One of those 11 million is Joseph. Even though he became violent, tried to jump out of a moving car, hit his wife and threatened to burn down their house, it was not enough to keep him in the psychiatric unit of their local New Jersey hospital. He “cycled through the system,” said his daughter. He went to the local emergency room five times, was arrested four times, went to the psychiatric unit three times, and spent 25 nonconsecutive days in a psychiatric hospital all in three months in 2010. Joseph’s psychiatrist and family believed he should be in a state mental hospital, but his doctor did not show up to testify at a commitment hearing and the main evidence presented was a threatening letter Joseph had written to his wife. He was not deemed a danger to himself or others, and was released. He did, however, cycle between jail and the psychiatric ward, making him one of many cases that “wind up in the criminal justice system instead of the healthcare system,” said the University of Virginia’s Bonnie. “Families watch their loved one unravel and can’t get assistance, and then they get ensnared in the criminal justice system and can’t get them out.” The difficulty getting outpatient care for the mentally ill is particularly widespread because most psychiatric hospitals were closed during the “de-institutionalization” of the 1960s and 1970s, an effort to provide more humane care than in the sometimes nightmarish wards. One facility that closed was Fairfield Hills State Hospital, which opened in 1933, housed just over 4,000 mentally ill, long-term patients at its peak in the 1960s, and closed in 1995. It was located in Newtown. “It’s a metaphor for what we’ve done about mental health treatment in this country,” said Duckworth. —REuters


he a lt h & s c ie n c e

Dried squash holds headless French king’s blood PARIS: Two centuries after the French people beheaded Louis XVI and dipped their handkerchiefs in his blood, scientists believe they have authenticated the remains of one such rag kept as a revolutionary souvenir. Researchers have been trying for years to verify a claim imprinted on an ornately decorated calabash that it contains a sample of the blood of the French king guillotined in Paris on January 21, 1793. The dried, hollowed squash is adorned with portraits of revolutionary heroes and the text: “On January 21, Maximilien Bourdaloue dipped his handkerchief in the blood of Louis XVI after his decapitation”. He is then believed to have placed the fabric in the gourd, and had it embellished. The sinister souvenir has been in the private hands of an Italian family for more than a century, said the team of experts from Spain and France which published its findings in the journal Forensic Science International. Two years ago, analysis of DNA taken from blood traces found inside the ornate vegetable revealed a likely match for someone of Louis’ description, including his blue eyes. But not having the DNA of any kingly relation, researchers could not prove beyond doubt that the blood belonged to Louis. Until now. Using the genetic material, the team managed to draw a link to another gruesome artefact-a mummified head believed to belong to Louis’ 16th century predecessor, Henri IV. In so doing, they provided evidence for authenticating both sets of remains uncovering a rare genetic signature shared by two men separated by seven generations. “This study shows that (the owners of the remains) share a genetic heritage passed on through the

paternal line. They have a direct link to one another through their fathers,” French forensic pathologist Philippe Charlier told AFP. The revolution in which Louis and queen MarieAntoinette lost their heads in public executions also saw mobs ransack the royal chapel at Saint-Denis, north of Paris-hauling ancient monarchs like Henri from their tombs and mutilating the remains which they tossed into pits. An individual was recorded to have rescued a severed head from the chaos. Long thought to belong to Henri, assassinated at the age of 57 by a Catholic fanatic in 1610, the head changed hands several times over the next two centuries, bought and sold at auction or kept in secretive private collections. Scientists in 2010 said they found proof that the head was indeed Henri’s, citing physical features that matched 16th century portraits of the king, as well as radiocarbon dating, 3D scanning and X-rays. The 2010 study, however, found no DNA and its findings have been contested by some. With the new evidence, “it is about 250 times more likely that the (owners of the) head and the blood are paternally related, than unrelated,” coauthor Carles Lalueza Fox of the Institut de Biologia Evolutiva in Barcelona told AFP by email. Taken together with all the physical and forensic evidence, historical records and folklore, it would be “extremely surprising” if the remains did not belong to the two assassinated monarchs, he added. “One can say that there is absolutely no doubt anymore,” about the authenticity of the mummified head, added Charlier. The DNA data obtained from Louis XVI could now be used to decipher the genetic code of France’s last absolute monarch and his living relatives. —

Fawzia Sultan Rehabilitation Institute holds workshop on Spine Foundation he Fawzia Sultan Rehabilitation Institute (FSRI) held a workshop yesterday at their training center in Hawally on ‘Spine Foundations, a Contemporary Diagnosis, Assessment and Management of Low-Back Pain and Leg Pain’. The workshop, conducted by Tamer Sabet, Director of Sydney Spine Physio, a specialist musculoskeletal physiotherapy service based in Australia, focused on contributing to the global development of musculoskeletal physiotherapy. Attended by physiotherapists throughout Kuwait and the Gulf, the workshop featured a program that included lectures, video presentations and group training, showcasing techniques for attendees to use in order to improve their abilities in day-to-day clinical practice. Attendees had the opportunity to review clinical problems and challenges which included low back pain and leg pain, contemporary


diagnostic triage, as well as lumbar spine conditions and red flags. During his workshop, Sabet also took the opportunity to explain the essential clinical examination components required for effective diagnostic triaging, and demonstrated the common physiological and non-physiological manual treatment options for the lumbar spine. He also highlighted the common motor relearning strategies used to identify a simple and effective intervention for back or leg pain associated with sitting and standing postures. Tamer is actively involved in undergraduate and post-graduate clinical education in Australia and the Asia Pacific. He was the former director of NonOperative Care at Spine-Service in St George Hospital Campus, and was proudly admitted to the Australian College of Physiotherapists as a Fellow in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy in 2008.

FSRI was pleased to welcome Tamer at the clinical training center as part of its medical continuing education program. On this occasion, Elham AlHamdan, President and Medical Director at FSRI stated: “We are committed to the provision of continuing education programs for clinicians involved in rehabilitation services in Kuwait and the Gulf region. We are fortunate to have Sabet agree to teach at our center as spine conditions are very common and it is important for physiotherapists to be able to update their knowledge of spine care.” Fawzia Sultan Rehabilitation Institute, a nonprofit organization provides high quality multidisciplinary rehabilitation services and care to its clients. In addition to physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, and nutritional counseling, the center also has a strong focus on research, education and community service.


W H AT ’ S O N

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. � � � ��� � �


Kuwait Municipality staff visited several kindergartens and elementary schools in the Farwaniya Educational District recently as part of an ongoing awareness campaign aimed at teaching students about the importance of public hygiene.

n 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, U.A.E. Individuals who are interested in working, studying, visiting or immigrating to Canada should contact the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, website: or, E-mail: The Embassy of Canada is located at Villa 24, Al-Mutawakei St, Block 4 in Da’aiyah. Please visit our website at The Embassy of Canada is open from 07:30 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. � � � ��� � �

The Hawally Governorate Department at the Kuwait Municipality held a ceremony to reward employee Nadiya Al-Falah for her efforts and dedication. The program was attended by coworkers and staff members from the Public Relations Department.

Kottayam Club Kuwait holds ‘Jayamanjari’


ottayam Club Kuwait organized a wonderful Carnatic classical concert titled “Jayamanjari,” which featured a renowned artist from Kerala Kalaratna K G Jayan. It was held at the United Indian School, Abbassiya. As part of the inaugural function of its 12th anniversary celebrations, Kottayam Club

dedicated the musical concert to the musical lovers from Kerala. Chief guests of the program were executive members of various associations of Kottayam in Kuwait, renowned musical teachers of Kuwait and well wishers of Kottayam Club Kuwait. The great musician Jayan chose a

selection of favored classical numbers and rendered them to the exhilaration of musical lovers who were present at the auditorium. His rendition reflected his mastery of Carnatic classical and devotional music and control over ragas. The four instrumentalists provided soothing support to the vocalist. The

program ended with a Gurupooja where many music students were blessed by K G Jayan. Sam Nanthiyatt, executive member of Kottayam Club Kuwait introduced the artists Jayan, Perunna Hari (mridangam), Karunagapally Balamurali (violin), Rakesh Ramakrishna (ghatam) and Manoj Mavelikara (mugarshankh).

ICSK hosts Jacob Punnoose

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

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

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


he Indian Community School, on December 20th, 2012, warmly received Jacob Punnoose, former Director General of Police of Kerala, for an interaction with the students. Dr V Binumon, Principal ICSK Senior said that it was a rare opportunity for the students of ICSK to be able to interact with a fine former officer like Jacob Punnoose. Rajan Daniel, the Honorary Vice-Chairman of the ICSK Board of Trustees, in his Presidential address, welcomed

Punnoose and said that Punnoose had done excellent work the field of law and order in Kerala during his service as IPS officer. Punnoose, in his interaction with the students of ICSK Senior, spoke at length about pursuing a career in the civil services. He advised the students to consider civil service as a career if they are willing to serve the country and want to be a part of nation-building. He informed the students that many great Indians have contributed

towards the development of the nation through different professions. He advised that the professional choice one makes should be based on one’s interest. He further added that the life of a civil servant in a developing country like India is tough as the challenges are aplenty and there are no immediate solutions. Despite these challenges, Punnoose informed the students, the civil services offer an excellent career choice for those who are proud of India and are willing

to work above personal gain. Punnoose, a 1975 batch IPS officer had a brilliant career in the Police department and is credited with changing the image of the police force in Kerala. Punnoose was on a visit to Kuwait and was extended a special invitation to interact with the students of ICSK by Rajan Daniel. The interaction proved highly motivating and enlightening as the students came to know more about career in the Civil Services.

EMBASSY OF NIGERIA The Nigerian embassy has its new office in Mishref. Block 3, Street 7, House 4. For enquires please call 25379541. Fax25387719. Email- or � � � ��� � �

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.



LIFESTYLE F e a t u r e s

Kuwait’s popular games

Al-derbaha, a famous Kuwaiti heritage game opular games are a part of any country’s heritage and reflect the cultural identity of its society and its lifestyle. While some may view these popular games as merely a way to have some fun or a form of entertainment in which children sought refuge in the past to escape the harshness of life, the reality is that these games carry deep meanings, values??and lofty goals. In fact, these games contribute to the development of various aspects of a child’s personality, such as social, emotional, educational, physical and linguistic. Being simple, popular games were


File photo shows children playing in Eid Al-Adha at Safat in old days. transmitted through generations of children automatically and without complex learning yet these were practiced in different environments and places. Popular games used to be based on physical skill, agility and maneuverability. Tools play Most of the tools used by the boys as part of these games are fashioned out of simple neglected material such as scrap metal, wood, glass or something not expensive at all and rather available free of cost. This is why children of different ages could practice these games, irrespec-

try to develop these while retaining their popular character and heritage. These games denote the metamorphosing of the Kuwaiti society from an era of diving into the sea for pearls to the oil age and modernity which also saw many features of the ancient heritage, including popular games, being lost. Why these games became extinct? With an influx of money, modern games were imported from abroad and replaced the popular games. The new games, given their variety and attractiveness, drew the children towards them. The older popular games relied only on personal, physical and motor skills. Also, with

would be declared the winner at the end of the race. Children celebrating Eid The ceremonies that would mark the festival of Eid in the past were far different from those we see today. The feast had a central place in the past and the joy was felt by everyone, unlike today when Eid celebrations have become limited to congratulating each other or go to a chalet or travel abroad. Family preparation for Eid In the past, the holidays were celebrated with more joy. Kuwaitis families would prepare to receive the Eid by cleaning their houses and decorate them befitting the occasion. Women would prepare popular desserts. They would be well dressed in their new clothes. The children and the young ones would also turn out in their best clothes to greet the Eid. Celebrated the first day of Eid On the morning of the Eid, all the family members would wake up early. If it was the Eid ul-Fitr, they would gather for breakfast with a few dates and then go to the mosque to offer the Eid prayer, which would be followed by everyone greeting the other and the young ones kissing and congratulating their relatives in order to get the Eidia which was spent in enjoying riding swings and donkeys, and buying different kind of sweets.

Mahmoud Zakaria Abdul-Raheem the families moving from old houses to modern neighborhoods made children strangers in their own new society, thus further adding to the disappearance of these beautiful games.

Location of a vegetable market ‘Al-Furdah’ at the seaside. tive of whether were rich or poor. Earn money The objective of these games is not just fun but sometimes some children would play these games to even earn some money. Young children used to sit cross-legged in the sand and hunt buzzards by using hooks tied with a stone. They would later sell their catch to rich kids who would like to walk around with these birds tied to the end of a cord, as one would do with a small dog. Places to play Popular games used to be usually played in wide squares that were called Baraha or in the streets of the village called “Fareej” or alleys passing between houses. Also, some games used to be played inside the courtyard of a house. These were specially games meant for girls. Playing times No particular time was allocated for playing. Children would gather randomly, often in the afternoon and after completing their homework if it happened to be winters. Winters were also known for a famous game like “Mahibs” or searching for a ring. Better known games played in the summer included “Alaadadel” which was a race along the beach for small boats made by young children with their own hands. During the hot summer season, the hours available for playing were so long that children would find these games as an outlet to escape from the heat inside their homes. There were no air conditioners or fans. That is how life was before oil was discovered and society evolved in a different direction.

A woman selling beans (Bagilla).

Changing times Given the importance of these games, we must preserve whatever we can and

AL-Derbaha ‘Rolling the tire’ This was a common game using disposed of tires called ‘Alderbaha’ in the vernacular Kuwaiti language. Kuwaitis used to refer to anything rolling along the ground as “tadarbaha” (to roll). The word “Alderbaha” was derived from it. It is a circular metal rod used in bicycle wheels. In the past, children would get ‘Alderbaha’ from dilapidated bicycle tires that were beyond repair, and used sticks to hit it and push it forward to move and drive in any direction. Many of the boys in the past used to have ‘Drabih’ (plural) and considered these important for them since they derived from these a sense of ownership roughly equivalent to owning a bike or a car these days. The children would often compete with each other using this Alderbaha, and would try to goad their ‘Drabaha’ to ram into someone else’s and then beat them in the race. The entire concept of the game underlines the simplicity of life and ease of having fun and enjoying the leisure in days of yore. Al-Aadadel Small boats competition An old Kuwaiti Game, it was so attractive for the boys, particularly those living in Furjan, that is, along the seafront. The young ones would find an easy folding metal sheet and fashion it into the form of a small boat. Then they would close any leaks using a sticky rubber material called “Tari”, a derivative of oil, to prevent water from entering the toy boat. They would then affix a small wooden post in the center of the boat to serve as its mast, and add a triangular piece of cloth to act as a sail. The game would begin with the children gathering by the seashore and the contestants heaving their boats on the water, the sails seeking wind to move. If a boat capsized, its owner would be considered out of the race. The owner of the last boat left in front and still right side up

Kids get the feast’s gift (Eidia) Both, girls and boys would look more resplendent as they would sport “henna”(Lawsonia) on the palms of their hands and feet, thus giving them a dark red color. They would sketch attractive circles on their hands and expected to gain some annas in Eidia or, if they were lucky, a rupee, the currency prevailing before the current Kuwaiti dinar replaced it. It was equal to 75 fils. In those days, it was a wild dream for a child to come into possession of that much money. Riding the colored donkeys The donkey owners who would normally use the beasts to transport water,

would paint them in bright colors and draw patterns on their bodies in the form of zigzag colored lines. They would hang bells around their necks which would chime, enticing the children to get a ride for a few paisas. Games in the yard Safa The Safat Square was considered a forum for young and old to get together in their new regalia. Some wooden games’ manufacturers would install these games called Dayaref in the Safat square or in large arenas. The baraha would feature swings. There would also be gllilbah or wooden horses called um al-hessn. Ardha ‘folk dance’ The celebrations were held everywhere in large squares especially Safat squares. There would be folk dances such as the Ardha which is famous for its artistic movements. It is a spirited dance and involves team play with swords to the beat of drummers. It should be noted that Kuwait’s ruler would also attend the celebrations and congratulate citizens on this happy occasion. Reviving the heritage games It is our responsibility to revive all these games and save them from extinction. The family and the State both have a key role to play. The State can help revive these games through festivals which may include games and prizes for all the participants. Schools should allocate time for students to practice these historical games. Resources Tv interview with DR/saleh Al-Egieri Dr/Adel Abdel-mughni, sor AL-Dera, Kuwait, 2001 Ayoub Hussain, with children in the past, kuwait,1969 Saief Marzouk Al-Shamlan, the poupulart games in Kuwait,1969 Dr/Mohamad Abdul-Hadi Gamal, interview, Kuna, 3/1/2011 Ayoub Hussain, Kuwaiti heritage in the portrait of Ayoub ussain, Kuwait, 2011

Children playing Al-Aadadel a small boats competition.

Photo shows people dancing a famous dance called the ‘Al-Ardah’.




F e a t u r e s

Indian revellers hold placards in Amritsar yesterday. — AFP

Take the

tuxedo test

The Tuxtest Many have worn it, few really know it. How much do you think you know about the venerable tuxedo? Wear your smarts on your sleeve like a 14-karat cuff link by taking our quiz. 1. According to legend (as well as the “Fairchild Dictionary of Fashion”), the tuxedo derives its name from which of the following? a) The last name of the original designer b) The Latin words for “formal breastplate” c) The town in New York where it was first worn d) An anagram of “Ox Duet,” the Broadway play in which it made its debut. 2. Who was US president the year the tuxedo made its debut at the Tuxedo Club’s autumn ball? a) Martin Van Buren b) Grover Cleveland c) William Howard Taft d) Abraham Lincoln 3. The man widely credited with introducing the tuxedo to the world, Griswold P. Lorillard, came from a wellto-do family that made its fortune in what commodity? a) Tobacco b) Furs c) Lumber

into the open pleats.

6. Which of the below accurately describes Sean Connery’s first tuxedo-clad on-screen appearance as James Bond? a) In “Dr No,” wearing a shawl collar tuxedo while playing chemin de fer b) In “From Russia with Love,” stepping out of the surf with a notch lapel tuxedo under a SCUBA suit c) In “Goldfinger,” wearing a double-breasted, gold-trimmed tuxedo while golfing with Auric Goldfinger d) In “Thunderball,” skiing down the Alps in a tuxedo ski suit

Happy New Year

7. Before opting for a Tom Ford tuxedo in “Quantum of Solace,” James Bond spent five films wearing which Italian label? a) Giorgio Armani b) Prada c) Ermenegildo Zegna d) Brioni 8. Which famed fashion designer created a tuxedo suit for women in 1966 that was dubbed “le smoking”? a) Coco Chanel b) Yves Saint Laurent c) Christian Dior d) Hubert de Givenchy 9. What does the slang term “Canadian tuxedo” refer to? a) A tuxedo without contrasting fabric lapels b) A hockey jersey worn over a traditional tuxedo c) An outfit consisting of denim pants worn with a denim jacket d) An orange prison jumpsuit 10. What distinguishing feature gives the shoe known as a “tuxedo pump” its name? a) The patent leather material on both vamp and sole b) A two-tone black-and-white construction c) Grosgrain bow ribbon detail on the vamp d) Satin side stripes between the sole and vamp

300 dpi Wes Bausmith stylized illustration of a tuxedo. —MCT d)


4. What simple-but sensational-modification did Lorillard and friends make to the prevailing formalwear style at the time to create the tuxedo? a) Put a satin side stripe down the outside of the trouser leg b) Add contrasting fabric lapels to the jacket c) Had the tails cut off a tailcoat d) All of the above 5. What is the traditional reason often given in explaining why a pleated cummerbund should be worn with the creases in the pleats facing upward? a) It makes the jacket lay flat while standing. b) It makes it easier for the wearer to sit at a dinner table. c) If caught in the rain, it helps channel the water to each side instead of down the middle of the crotch. d) Historically, men would tuck theater tickets

Answers: 1. c) The tux is named after Tuxedo Park, NY, a town about 40 miles north of New York City. (The Latin words for “formal breastplate” are “formalis loricam.”) 2. b) The tuxedo can be traced back to 1886 — during the first of Cleveland’s two non-consecutive terms as US president. 3. a) The Lorillard Tobacco Co, founded in 1760, is the third largest US manufacturer of cigarettes, with brands that include Newport, Old Gold and True. 4. c) There are differing opinions as to whether the idea first started with Lorillard or his father-or even someone else altogether-although Lorillard was the first to wear a tux. But it was the trimming of the tails that made the silhouette stand out. 5. d) so the pleats can hold tickets. (Although some cite the upward pleats as a way of catching crumbs at the dinner table, no tux-wearing man would show enough lack of breeding to need such a thing.) 6. a) Bond has been sporting his signature tuxedo since the very first film in 1962. 7. d) Brioni had the distinction of providing the tuxedos-as well as other garments-starting with Pierce Brosnan in “GoldenEye” and ending with Daniel Craig in “Casino Royale.” 8. b) It was Algerian born Saint Laurent whose “le smoking” caught fire with women the world over. 9. c) (And “Tennessee Tuxedo” is a cartoon character voiced by Don Adams.) 10. c) It’s the broad, flat grosgrain bow that characterizes the tuxedo pump.—MCT

Indian youths make an installation to welcome the New Year at the banks of the Brahmaputra river in Guwahati. —AP/AFP photos

Indian artist Harwinder Singh Gill displays a sculpture in Amritsar.

Tourists pose as they carry umbrellas with numbers to welcome the New Year 2013 on the terrace of a hotel in the backdrop of Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

A Myanmar worker puts up a sign to bring in the New Year ahead of Myanmar’s first public New Year countdown celebration at the Myoma grounds in Yangon.

A Filipino vendor sells firecrackers in downtown Manila, Philippines.



kyfall,” the 23rd James Bond adventure, has surpassed $1 billion at the worldwide box office. Jeff Blake, chairman of worldwide marketing and distribution for Sony Pictures and Gary Barber, MGM’s chairman and chief executive, made the announcement Sunday. The film, from Albert R. Broccoli’s EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Sony Pictures Entertainment, is the most successful Bond film of all time. It is also the highest-grossing film at the worldwide box office in Sony Pictures history. “Skyfall,” starring Daniel Craig as 007, took in $4.6 million this weekend in North America for a total of $289.6 million. Overseas, the film grossed $10.3 million for an international total to date of $710.6 million and a worldwide total exceeding $1 billion and growing. It has yet to play China, where it will open on Jan 21. “Skyfall” is the 14th film in history to hit the $1 billion plateau. The list includes two movies from earlier this year, Warner Bros.’ “Dark Knight Rises,” which is No. 13 with $1.004 billion, and “Marvel’s The Avengers,’ which ranks No. 3 all-time with $1.5 billion.


Two James Cameron films, “Avatar” with $2.7 billion, and “Titanic,” with $2.1 billion, top the list. “To see a film connect with audiences is always gratifying but the success of this film is nothing short of extraordinary,” Blake said in a statement. “We couldn’t be more excited for (producers) Michael Wilson, Barbara Broccoli, (director) Sam Mendes, Daniel Craig, and especially the fans who put James Bond in this very rare and very exclusive billion dollar box office club.” “It is truly thrilling to reach this incredible milestone,” said MGM’s Barber. “With tremendous gratitude to Barbara and Michael, Sam, Daniel and our partner Sony, and to all of the dedicated distributors and fans across the globe, we are so proud of both Skyfall and our 50 year association with James Bond.” —Reuters

Kim Kardashian, right, and Kanye West, left, are shown before an NBA basketball game between the Miami Heat and the New York Knicks in this Dec, 6, 2012 file photo taken in Miami. — AP

kid for Kimye: Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are expecting their first child. The rapper announced at a concert Sunday night that his girlfriend is pregnant. He told the crowd of more than 5,000 at Revel Resort’s Ovation Hall in song form: “Now you having my baby.” The crowd roared. And so did people on the Internet. The news instantly went viral on Twitter and Facebook, with thousands posting and commenting on the expecting


music awards show dubbed the “African Grammys” was hit by an embarrassing series of hitches culminating in the absence Sunday of star Chris Brown and an apology by the organiser. The show had been delayed from Saturday to enable rapper Brown to attend, with organizer Ernest Adjovi initially blaming the delay on Brown missing his flight but later saying heavy rains and other logistical hiccups were behind the postponement. Brown finally arrived with singer Rihanna in the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan on Sunday, when he was due to perform at the glitzy Kora Awards that recognize musical achievements from around the continent. But while the Koras were going on at a luxury hotel, the US singer was a few minutes away in the national stadium performing at a much-delayed concert for “Peace in Africa.” Benin businessman Adjovi later apologized for the numerous “dysfunctions” that had occurred during the three-hour ceremony. R&B star Brown landed overnight in Abidjan, the Ivorian economic capital. Rihanna, who hails from Barbados, was by his side, wearing dark glasses. The pair have a tumultuous history, and celebrity watchers obsessed about whether they are an item again after Brown admitted assaulting Rihanna in a case dating back several years. Brown was sentenced to five years probation, a year-long domestic violence program and 180 days of community labor after pleading guilty to assaulting Rihanna on the eve of the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles in 2009. Ivorian quartet Magic


Dancers perform.

rving Saraf, an Oscar- and Emmy-winning documentary film director, editor, cinematographerand producer, died Saturday at his home in San Francisco. He was 80 years old and had been battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for three years. Saraf helped start the Special Projects department at San Francisco public television station KQED and was tapped by Saul Zaentz to help form Fantasy Films. With his wife, Allie Light, he made the Academy Award winning documentary “In The Shadow of the Stars,” and the Emmy Award-winning “Dialogues With Mad Women.” Born Ignatz Szcharfertz in Lodz, Poland, in 1932, he and his family escaped the Nazis in 1939 and, after passing through Italy, Malta and Egypt, they settled in Palestine. He was one of the first citizens of the new nation of Israel and became an active member in the youth movement, Hashomer. Later he served in the


couple. Most of the Kardashian clan also tweeted about the news, including Kim’s sisters and mother. Kourtney Kardashian wrote: “Another angel to welcome to our family. Overwhelmed with excitement!” West, 35, also told concertgoers to congratulate his “baby mom” and that this was the “most amazing thing.” Representatives for West and Kardashian, 32, didn’t immediately respond

to emails about the pregnancy. The rapper and reality TV star went public in March. Kardashian married NBA player Kris Humphries in August 2011 and their divorce is not finalized. West’s Sunday night show was his third consecutive performance at Revel. He took the stage for nearly two hours, performing hits like “Good Life,” “Jesus Walks” and “Clique” in an all-white ensemble with two band mates. — AP

System won the Kora award for best African group of the year while best artiste from the continent was DJ Arafat, another Ivorian. Chidinma from Nigeria enchanted the ceremony and won the award for best musician from west Africa, while Algerian rai singer Cheb Khaled was best north African artiste, and French rap group Sexion d’Assaut took the award for the “African diaspora” in Europe. Chris Brown, whom fans call “Breezy”, won the US equivalent. “Mama” Patience Dabany, former first lady of Gabon and mother of current head of state Ali Bongo, was proclaimed “woman of the year.” Past Kora ceremonies have been attended by South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela and the late “King of Pop” Michael Jackson. For Ivory Coast, which is still recovering from four months of post-election violence that ended in April 2011 after claiming some 3,000 lives, the event signals a return to normalcy. But the awards have drawn fire over the price of admission, with tickets costing one million CFA francs (1,500 euros, $2,000) for a seat in the luxury hotel for the ceremony. Such a sum is far from the reach of people in this poor west African country, the world’s top cocoa producer.—AFP

Dancers perform during the Kora Awards ceremony.

Ivoirian artist DJ Arafat receives the award for Best African Artist of the year from football star Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko and Kora’s producer Erneste Adjavi during the Kora Awards ceremony, the African music awards, yesterday in Abidjan. — AFP photos

Israeli army as a lieutenant. While still living in Israel, he changed his last name to Saraf. In 1952, at age 20, he emigrated to the US to attend San Francisco State University and took Irving as his “American sounding” new first name. After graduating from UCLA with a cinema degree, he married Hedi Saraf (Lowell) and they settled in San Francisco and had three children. The marriage ended in divorce in 1970. After college, Saraf landed a job at the brand new public television station KQED. Along with Dick Moore, Phil Greene and later Bob Zagone, he helped form the well-known Special Projects department and embraced the emerging verite style of documentary filmmaking. He made a number of films documenting the times, including an examination of the civil rights movement and a series on American poets. In 1965, he returned to his native Poland to film a portrait of people living under a communist government at the

Nigerian artist Chidinma receives the award for “Best Female West African Act” from football star Didier Drogba.

height of the Cold War. In 1968, he traveled to Cuba to co-produce and co-direct a film about Fidel Castro. Other films from Saraf included “Take This Hammer,” about James Baldwin; “From Protest to Resistance,” about the political activists Mario Savio, Stokley Carmichael and David Harris; and “Losing Just The Same,” about an AfricanAmerican family in Oakland. In 1971, Zaentz asked to him to help start Fantasy Films, an offshoot of his successful music company Fantasy Records. Saraf headed the company when it produced “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Amadeus” and the original animated “Lord of the Rings,” directed by Ralph Bakshi. He was instrumental in the launch of the Saul Zaentz Film Center post-production facility in Berkeley.—Reuters Irving Saraf

West, Kardashian expecting 1st child



These pictures taken during an exhibition in Lagos show paintings by Wande George depicting the corrupt lifestyles of affluent Nigerians. — AFP

ith a drink flute pressed between his fingers, the Nigerian oligarch stares out with a self-satisfied grin on his bulbous face, not bothered by the desperate masses behind him. Artist Wande George said the inspiration for the painting, called “The Ruling Class”, is visible everyday in the posh Lagos district of Victoria Island where his work was recently displayed. Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, has long been regarded as one of the world’s most corrupt nations, where enormous oil wealth has been siphoned off into the bank accounts of a select few. Its richest sometimes cruise in chauffeur-driven 4X4 vehicles and sleep in ostentatious mansions, while its teeming poor crowd into slums and eke out a living where they can. But such inequality and adversity can spawn provocative and creative work, and Nigeria is certainly contributing its share. “We deal with it,” said artist Joseph Eze, whose work has explored the destruction of slums that have forced poor residents to abandon their homes, among other issues. “Otherwise, we would have just gone to ashes.” Visual art, including with a political bent, appears to be blossoming here, particularly with stifling military rule having come to an end in 1999 — though the famously raucous country was hardly culturally mute when it was led by soldier-dictators.


elgium is rightly proud as producer of some of the world’s finest chocolate but changing tastes and new markets in Asia and the Arab world are shaking up its somewhat predictable chocolate scene. “Belgian traditional chocolates? Some people still do them really well, such as the major brands,” said Laurent Gerbaud, one of the new generation of chocolatiers trying to keep up with a discerning clientele. In his workshop in the centre of Brussels, a customer will find few traces of the Manon, the praline filled with coffee-flavored cream and covered in white chocolate which has been the industry mainstay for decades.


Nigerians such as late afrobeat musician Fela Kuti and Nobel literature prize winner Wole Soyika have long made their mark with politically focused work. Many painters and other visual artists working today are carrying the same torch. “Local artists are looking more and more at how to express themselves,” said Marc-Andre Schmachtel of Germany’s Goethe Institute cultural organization, one of the judges at a recent national art competition in Nigeria. “People are thinking outside the box now. Already from last year to this year, the level of competition has improved a lot,” he added, attributing the progress to changes in Lagos. The sprawling city, despite being one of the world’s most chaotic, has in some ways become an easier place to pursue creative work, with its slowly growing middle class and growing number of art venues. George, 50, told AFP that several of the pieces in his Re-Emergence series were inspired by the tawdriness with which some flaunt their wealth in a city where much of the roughly 15-million population is extremely poor. ‘Nameless, overstuffed aristocrat’ Of the nameless, overstuffed aristocrat in the portrait, George said, “he doesn’t care about the people around him.”

Gerbaud instead offers small chocolates made with exotic and unusual flavorings-figs from Izmir in Turkey, the bitter berries of the Barberry tree, Cape pears or Yuzu, a citrus fruit from Japan. “My priority is clear, simple flavors, using the best ingredients possible. My chocolates use less sugar and fat in response to increasing demand,” Gerbaud said. Such chocolates with a bitter and sharp edge were first made in France in the 1990s as artisan chocolatiers came onto the scene. In Belgium, the trend has been slower to get off the ground in an industry dominated by such illustrious names as Leonidas, Godiva, Cote d’Or or Neuhaus. But that

His work was exhibited at a trendy Lagos complex that includes a small gallery, a pricey restaurant serving a full range of local dishes, a library and stage venue that hosts theatrical and musical performances. At the national competition hosted at a conference centre overlooking the Lagos lagoon, Eze, one of the finalists, used the foam from flip-flop sandals that he found discarded on a beach to assemble a large panorama showing the effects of urban development on slum residents. Eze said he was seeking to chastise the powerful interests whose construction plans have forced thousands to leave their homes, including a recent case at a water-top slum built on stilts in Lagos. The piece also saluted the ability of impoverished Nigerians to manage the adversity heaped on them by powerful interests, the 38-year-old artist explained. Not all the finalists were pre-occupied by the hardships inflicted on the poor by the powerful Alafuro Sikoki, 32, who won the $9,500 second prize, said her work is partly aimed at forcing Nigerians to confront the worrying traits that many here have accepted as normal. Her 2012 prize-winning conceptual work “Cog” offered a theory to explain the immense popularity of the country’s Nollywood films, where outlandish plots, maximum drama and very, very loud performances are the rule.

Nollywood, she suggested, serves a “confessional” role in a country where many have suffered devastating trauma, but where discussing such incidents is often taboo. “We don’t really talk about things,” she said. “Really horrible things have happened to people or their families and the only way for them to know that it’s not crazy or strange is to experience it on TV as well.” This focus on concrete, modern issues is part of a trend emerging among many young Nigerian artists, who increasingly “reject any form of exoticism and Africanism” that many of their predecessors sought to highlight, said Eve Therond, a New York based artist and competition judge. Of late, “Lagos has certainly drawn the attention of international curators and collectors,” she added. One of Sikoki’s pieces, called “African Time,” featured a series of clocks set to different hours that criticized Nigerians’ propensity to arrive for appointments whenever they please. “Why do we perceive time differently than everybody else?” she said. “We’re not on the moon!”—AFP

is beginning to change, with new brands coming through, even if progress is slow and Belgium’s some 400 artisan chocolatiers remain wary of getting carried away. “It is extremely difficult to establish a brand, to build up a clientele and to be profitable. After 11 years, I still do not have profits,” says Gerbaud, one of the best in the business. Traditional brands fight back For the established brands, the challenge is different, needing to find new markets if they are to expand beyond their home base. Leonidas was founded after the 1913 International Exhibition by Leonidas Kestekides, a Greek pastry maker who decided to settle in Belgium, and the company is using the 100th anniversary celebrations to update its offering. Kestedides’ descendants still run the business, with the Leonidas brand known worldwide through some 1,300 outlets in 50 countries, selling 6,000 tonnes a year or one million chocolates a day. “It is clear that our potential for development lies more in the emerging economies rather than in the mature market here in Europe,” said Hugues Moens, commercial director for Leonidas. China, already home to 40 Leonidas shops, and the Arab world are now the priority for the company. In Belgium as in France, with some 350 shops in each country, Leonidas has to find the right balance between tradition and innovation so as to keep its old customers and attract new ones. “We do not forget that our success is based on the loyalty of customers who hold to traditional chocolates such as the Manon, our best-seller,” said Claude Seneque, master chocolatier at the company. To attract new customers, to cater for changing tastes, Leonidas must also have something for those who find the brand “a little old-fashioned”, according to Pauline Vervoort, 26, from Brussels. So as part of its anniversary celebrations, Leonidas has made new pralines, smaller and even more chocolate packed, and plans to spruce up its shops. “In Belgium, to succeed in chocolate is harder and harder. You have to be tough but also creative all the time,” Gerbaud says. — AFP

File photos show chocolate maker Laurent Gerbaud working at his workshop in the center of Brussels. —AFP photos


stars CROSSWORD 56

STAR TRACK Aries (March 21-April 19) Hold to your commitments and discipline your imaginative energy towards realistic goals. This tends to be your ambitious time of year when you are likely to seek more professional or political power. You may deal more with authority figures and you may be able to enhance your personal recognition and public reputation. Your creative accomplishments may be a new source of income. Others watch and learn from your actions. One of the reasons most of us have trouble with some self-indulgent problem is that we do not maintain that positive frame of mind. You teach these things through your actions. You may also help give a bit of insight to others through your creative abilities—you have ways to open their eyes.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) Money is an important factor in setting goals for next year’s successful business maneuvers. Get a positive agreement from all concerned individuals before making any final decisions if you are considering making a presentation soon. This may concern an investment of other people’s money. The reformer, the inventor, the engineer, the revolutionary—these are important archetypes for you as a new cycle gets underway in your life. These are icons of the ambitions that stir you at this time. Independence, freedom from past patterns and a daring readiness to innovate—such are the paths of achievement now. A social affair this afternoon can create future contacts for networking; don’t talk business but ask for business cards. Enjoy the party.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

ACROSS 1. Type genus of the family Myacidae. 4. An Italian poet famous for love lyrics (13041374). 12. An enclosed space. 15. A graphical record of electrical activity of the brain. 16. Relating to bees or beekeeping. 17. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. 18. The syllable naming the sixth (submediant) note of a major or minor scale in solmization. 19. The removal of covering. 20. (of complexion) Blemished by imperfections of the skin. 22. An Indian tree of the family Combretaceae that is a source of timber and gum. 24. English essayist (1775-1834). 25. A river that rises in central Germany and flows north to join the Elbe River. 26. A ductile silvery-white ductile ferromagnetic trivalent metallic element of the rare earth group. 28. Any of various hard resins from trees of the family Dipterocarpaceae and of the genus Agathis. 35. (possibly Roman) Goddess of horses and mules and asses. 37. The 3 goddesses of fate or destiny. 40. Cassava with long tuberous edible roots and soft brittle stems. 43. A deceitful and unreliable scoundrel. 44. Fiddler crabs. 45. An official language of the Republic of South Africa. 46. The blood group whose red cells carry both the A and B antigens. 48. A European river. 49. Provide with a new seat, as of a chair. 53. A river in north central Switzerland that runs northeast into the Rhine. 54. A member of a seafaring group of North American Indians who lived on the Pacific coast of British Columbia and southwestern Alaska. 57. The large trunk artery that carries blood from the left ventricle of the heart to branch arteries. 59. A Loloish language. 62. The cry made by sheep. 64. An unbroken or imperfectly broken mustang. 71. A plant hormone promoting elongation of stems and roots. 72. A rare soft orange mineral consisting of arsenic sulphide. 75. A Hindu prince or king in India. 76. The sense organ for hearing and equilibrium. 77. The state of being behind in payments. 78. (Islam) The man who leads prayers in a mosque. 79. Marked by skill in deception. 80. Large family of important mostly marine food fishes. 81. Acid gritty-textured fruit. DOWN 1. A form of rummy using two decks and four jokers. 2. Not only so, but. 3. Title for a civil or military leader (especially in Turkey). 4. A metabolic acid found in yeast and liver cells. 5. A federal agency established to coordinate programs aimed at reducing pollution and protecting the environment. 6. Depleted of strength or energy.

7. A barrier consisting of a horizontal bar and supports. 8. Used especially in treating bruises. 9. Port city that is the capital and largest city of Latvia. 10. A white metallic element that burns with a brilliant light. 11. Squash bugs. 12. The capital and largest city of Yemen. 13. Norwegian mathematician (1802-1829). 14. (of a young animal) Abandoned by its mother and raised by hand. 21. A card game in which cards face up on the table are taken with eligible cards in the hand. 23. A choice or delicious dish. 27. A member of a Mayan people of southwestern Guatemala. 29. With rapid movements. 30. A singular metaphysical entity from which material properties are said to derive. 31. An Indian side dish of yogurt and chopped cucumbers and spices. 32. Any of numerous local fertility and nature deities worshipped by ancient Semitic peoples. 33. A warning against certain acts. 34. A range of mountains (usually with jagged peaks and irregular outline). 36. Aircraft landing in bad weather in which the pilot is talked down by ground control using precision approach radar. 38. (informal) Being satisfactory or in satisfactory condition. 39. Measuring instrument in which the echo of a pulse of microwave radiation is used to detect and locate distant objects. 41. Profane or obscene expression usually of surprise or anger. 42. An informal term for a father. 47. A heavy brittle diamagnetic trivalent metallic element (resembles arsenic and antimony chemically). 50. A feeling of strong eagerness (usually in favor of a person or cause). 51. A federal agency established to regulate the release of new foods and health-related products. 52. Open-heart surgery in which the rib cage is opened and a section of a blood vessel is grafted from the aorta to the coronary artery to bypass the blocked section of the coronary artery and improve the blood supply to the heart. 55. On a ship, train, plane or other vehicle. 56. A state in midwestern United States. 58. God of the underworld and judge of the dead. 60. A village of huts for native Africans in southern Africa. 61. Showing characteristics of age, especially having gray or white hair. 63. Analyze syntactically by assigning a constituent structure to (a sentence). 65. A steep rugged rock or cliff. 66. Queen of the Olympian gods in ancient Greek mythology. 67. God of death. 68. Fabric dyed with splotches of green and brown and black and tan. 69. Slightly open. 70. Young sheep. 73. Flower arrangement consisting of a circular band of foliage or flowers for ornamental purposes. 74. An anxiety disorder characterized by chronic free-floating anxiety and such symptoms as tension or sweating or trembling of light-headedness or irritability etc that has lasted for more than six months.


Deal with the important issues first today; the rest of the day will follow. You can return to some earlier projects when the time is more appropriate. You may discover some new methods in which you can carry out some fun communication, a new toy perhaps. A concentrated effort to adjust to the trends now will help you to see a balance soon. The ways you get around and stay in touch at the everyday level are changing by technology or social circumstances. Now could be the beginning of a successful personal program. Humor is sometimes all we have. Looking at a particular situation from a distance could help to restore your humor. Unusual ideas and novel ways of expressing them play a big in your life now.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) You and a co-worker friend may be enjoying long conversations over the phone today. You support one another and help give each other encouragement. Independence, freedom from past patterns and a daring readiness to innovate are the paths of achievement for you next year. Your career could assume a much more determined and solid form—a firm foundation. Today you could spend a little time in the art of planning your future. Much of the healing in your life now comes from your willingness to direct your attitude into positive avenues; this is something for which you are pleased to partake. You will help a friend today.

Leo (July 23-August 22) This is a very good day for all types of mental work and communications. Your mind is sharp and you are able to work out puzzles, quandaries, mysteries or just have fun with family or friends playing games. Of course, if you are newly dating, a trip to the park may be enjoyed. This is a wonderful time of year to cuddle and enjoy the company of a loved one. If the weather is bad, you may find time in the afternoon for a good book or a dive into the backlog of paperwork you have been meaning to attack. Phone calls and visiting with friends is an easy activity. When discussing a hot subject with a friend, make sure you are dealing with facts.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) You may be able to enjoy and value your own life situation today. You have made great progress in the work world this past year and now it may be time to concentrate on the nurturing of family and social and political goals. You desire mental stimulation and so this afternoon you may decide to take up a new course of study, begin reading a book, visit a museum or just explore some new ideas with a friend. Make some plans to take a trip or to visit some place new this winter. You have a sense of being in touch and in harmony with others. You have all the drive and energy you could want and it should be easy to channel—the path is open. Spend some time in deep communication with your loved one this evening; enjoy the companionship.

Word Search

Libra (September 23-October 22) Instant gratification is one of the temptations to which you are subject to at this time: you want things and you want them this instant. This is a practical and materialistic kind of focus—one that emphasizes the making and spending of money. Authorities and red tape may stand between you and your goals—patience. Take steps to help your company grow, whether it is your own company or the one you work for just now. A new advertising idea may be just bursting at the seams to be heard; take notes. Your power seems to be in words and you do well today in persuading others to work toward your advantage. There are some monetary rewards coming your way; patience is priceless. A young person needs your guidance; listening is the secret.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) A new idea for your professional life could be held under wraps until you see if it will work. Your ideas could win you additional respect. This is a high-energy day and much can be accomplished but perhaps not all in the workplace. There are some old traditions that you are reminded of today—you may have these traditions in your own past and you want to reinstate them in your own family traditions now. Talking to your loved ones this evening can make it happen. Your sense of value is sharp and you may decide that now is a good time to pick out the furniture for a particular room, purchase a piece of property or plan a trip. This is a great time to just sit back and enjoy friends or family. A good book, movie or games make for a fun time.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) Memories of times past fill your thoughts this morning. You could be thinking about past loves and fun places. Communication with others will be more productive this afternoon. With patience and the right questions, you may find out how you can help someone feel more secure or at ease. A revision or two around the house this afternoon may help someone create a little personal space that has been needed. A friend may be asking your advice, again. You may be noticing a dependency that is building between you and a friend. It could be time to push this person into a more independent place—his or her growth is fun to watch. Plans may begin toward a swimming pool or landscaping for a garden, etc.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) A financially favorable period is in the works. Social life is going to increase, but pick and choose carefully—plenty of rest is important as this year comes to an end. If you have decided on a move, you will make great headway during the afternoon hours toward settling into a new place. You have a knack for organizing things and people, as a sense of ambition and practicality takes hold. The desire to achieve and the ambition to do so is strong throughout next year—success means a lot to you. People are never inspired when nothing is asked of them. People are inspired by expectations and challenges, some of which are self-motivated. In coming to grips with challenges, we learn our potential.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) This could be a frustrating morning and you may be feeling blocked from any complete train of thought. Pay attention to details—there could be some pertinent information that you will not want to miss. You are able to cut through the unnecessary information and discover important things that are relevant, thereby eliminating a lot of wasted time. Becoming more practical and conscientious takes on special importance. You could be a doctor or a detective. This afternoon is the perfect time for dreams and creativity, a little time away from your work. This, together with the ability to put your thoughts into words, allows you to captivate and spellbind. Have you thought about writing, creating cartoons, music, cooking a special recipe?

Pisces (February 19-March 20) Some see your witty side and some see your serious side—then others see the adventurous side. What do you see? A balance may be needed today as the emotional roller coaster of business could create more stress than the body or mind would want to handle. Emotional security and independence are a parts of life that you hold dear. Insights will come, little by little. If you mentally think about a balance each day, you will eventually find a reference point for altering your emotions. This will help you to think things through before getting aboard the roller coaster, emotional or mechanical. Strive for this balance every day and be aware of this point of change. The evening provides you with a relaxing atmosphere. Use a hobby to help you relax.

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


Amiri Hospital


Maternity Hospital


Mubarak Al-Kabir Hospital


Chest Hospital


Farwaniya Hospital


Adan Hospital


Ibn Sina Hospital


Al-Razi Hospital


Physiotherapy Hospital


Kaizen center














Abdullah Salem




Industrial Shuwaikh






Bneid Al-Gar






Ayoun Al-Qibla










Maidan Hawally




Sama Safwan Abu Halaifa Danat Al-Sultan

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

23915883 23715414 23726558


Modern Jahra Madina Munawara

Jahra-Block 3 Lot 1 Jahra-Block 92

24575518 24566622


Ahlam Khaldiya Coop

Fahad Al-Salem St Khaldiya Coop

22436184 24833967


New Shifa Ferdous Coop Modern Safwan

Farwaniya Block 40 Ferdous Coop Old Kheitan Block 11

24734000 24881201 24726638

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

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

25726265 25647075 22625999 22564549 25340559 25326554 25721264 25380581 25628241



Te el.: 161




Viisibility isibil will improve gradually with light variable wind changing to light to moderate north westerly wind, with speed of 10 - 32 km/h and some scattered clouds will appear


Cold with light to moderate north westerly wind, with speed of 12 - 35 km/h and some high clouds will ap appear No Current Warnings arnin a


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cool + high clouds

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cool + scattered clouds

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All times are local time unless otherwise stated.

SE 25 km/h 00 mm V1.00

31/12/12 03:06 UTC


PRIVATE CLINICS Paediatricians

Plastic Surgeons Dr. Mohammad Al-Khalaf


Dr. Khaled Hamadi

Dr. Abdal-Redha Lari


Dr. Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rashed

Dr. Abdel Quttainah


Family Doctor Dr Divya Damodar


Psychiatrists Dr. Esam Al-Ansari


Dr Eisa M. Al-Balhan


Gynaecologists & Obstetricians DrAdrian arbe


Dr. Verginia s.Marin

2572-6666 ext 8321


25665898 25340300

Dr. Zahra Qabazard


Dr. Sohail Qamar


Dr. Snaa Maaroof


Dr. Pradip Gujare


Dr. Zacharias Mathew


(1) Ear, Nose and Throat (2) Plastic Surgeon Dr. Abdul Mohsin Jafar, FRCS (Canada)



Dr. Fozeya Ali Al-Qatan


Dr. Majeda Khalefa Aliytami


Dr. Shamah Al-Matar


Dr. Ahmad Al-Khooly


Dr. Anesah Al-Rasheed



Dr. Abidallah Al-Amer


Dr. Faysal Al-Fozan


Dr. Abdallateef Al-Katrash


Dr. Abidallah Al-Duweisan


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Dr. Salem soso General Surgeons Dr. Amer Zawaz Al-Amer


Dr. Mohammad Yousef Basher


Internists, Chest & Heart Dr. Adnan Ebil Dr. Mousa Khadada Dr. Latefa Al-Duweisan

22666300 25728004

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Dr. Mobarak Aldoub


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Dr. Abd Al-Naser Al-Othman

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Gastrologists Dr. Sami Aman


Dr. Mohammad Al-Shamaly


Dr. Foad Abidallah Al-Ali


Kaizen center 25716707


Dr. Ahmad Al-Ansari 25658888 Dr. Kamal Al-Shomr 25329924 Physiotherapists & VD Dr. Deyaa Shehab


Dr. Musaed Faraj Khamees


Rheumatologists: Dr. Adel Al-Awadi

Dr Anil Thomas

Soor Center Tel: 2290-1677 Fax: 2290 1688

















Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh












Expected Weeather for the Next 24 Hours

20 °C

Psychologists /Psychotherapists




Issue Time


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





Ext.: 2627 262 - 2630


Fax: 24348714






Dr. Khaled Al-Jarallah


Internist, Chest & Heart DR.Mohammes Akkad

24555050 Ext 210

Dr. Mohammad Zubaid MB, ChB, FRCPC, PACC Assistant Professor Of Medicine Head, Division of Cardiology Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospital Consultant Cardiologist Dr. Farida Al-Habib MD, PH.D, FACC Inaya German Medical Center Te: 2575077 Fax: 25723123


William Schuilenberg, RPC 2290-1677 Zaina Al Zabin, M.Sc. 2290-1677

Afghanistan 0093 Albania 00355 Algeria 00213 Andorra 00376 Angola 00244 Anguilla 001264 Antiga 001268 Argentina 0054 Armenia 00374 Australia 0061 Austria 0043 Bahamas 001242 Bahrain 00973 Bangladesh 00880 Barbados 001246 Belarus 00375 Belgium 0032 Belize 00501 Benin 00229 Bermuda 001441 Bhutan 00975 Bolivia 00591 Bosnia 00387 Botswana 00267 Brazil 0055 Brunei 00673 Bulgaria 00359 Burkina 00226 Burundi 00257 Cambodia 00855 Cameroon 00237 Canada 001 Cape Verde 00238 Cayman Islands 001345 Central African 00236 Chad 00235 Chile 0056 China 0086 Colombia 0057 Comoros 00269 Congo 00242 Cook Islands 00682 Costa Rica 00506 Croatia 00385 Cuba 0053 Cyprus 00357 Cyprus (Northern) 0090392 Czech Republic 00420 Denmark 0045 Diego Garcia 00246 Djibouti 00253 Dominica 001767 Dominican Republic 001809 Ecuador 00593 Egypt 0020 El Salvador 00503 England (UK) 0044 Equatorial Guinea 00240 Eritrea 00291 Estonia 00372 Ethiopia 00251 Falkland Islands 00500 Faroe Islands 00298 Fiji 00679 Finland 00358 France 0033 French Guiana 00594 French Polynesia 00689 Gabon 00241 Gambia 00220 Georgia 00995 Germany 0049 Ghana 00233 Gibraltar 00350 Greece 0030 Greenland 00299 Grenada 001473 Guadeloupe 00590 Guam 001671 Guatemala 00502 Guinea 00224 Guyana 00592 Haiti 00509 Holland (Netherlands) 0031 Honduras 00504 Hong Kong 00852 Hungary 0036 Ibiza (Spain) 0034 Iceland 00354 India 0091 Indian Ocean 00873 Indonesia 0062

Iran 0098 Iraq 00964 Ireland 00353 Italy 0039 Ivory Coast 00225 Jamaica 001876 Japan 0081 Jordan 00962 Kazakhstan 007 Kenya 00254 Kiribati 00686 Kuwait 00965 Kyrgyzstan 00996 Laos 00856 Latvia 00371 Lebanon 00961 Liberia 00231 Libya 00218 Lithuania 00370 Luxembourg 00352 Macau 00853 Macedonia 00389 Madagascar 00261 Majorca 0034 Malawi 00265 Malaysia 0060 Maldives 00960 Mali 00223 Malta 00356 Marshall Islands 00692 Martinique 00596 Mauritania 00222 Mauritius 00230 Mayotte 00269 Mexico 0052 Micronesia 00691 Moldova 00373 Monaco 00377 Mongolia 00976 Montserrat 001664 Morocco 00212 Mozambique 00258 Myanmar (Burma) 0095 Namibia 00264 Nepal 00977 Netherlands (Holland) 0031 Netherlands Antilles 00599 New Caledonia 00687 New Zealand 0064 Nicaragua 00505 Nigar 00227 Nigeria 00234 Niue 00683 Norfolk Island 00672 Northern Ireland (UK) 0044 North Korea 00850 Norway 0047 Oman 00968 Pakistan 0092 Palau 00680 Panama 00507 Papua New Guinea 00675 Paraguay 00595 Peru 0051 Philippines 0063 Poland 0048 Portugal 00351 Puerto Rico 001787 Qatar 00974 Romania 0040 Russian Federation 007 Rwanda 00250 Saint Helena 00290 Saint Kitts 001869 Saint Lucia 001758 Saint Pierre 00508 Saint Vincent 001784 Samoa US 00684 Samoa West 00685 San Marino 00378 Sao Tone 00239 Saudi Arabia 00966 Scotland (UK) 0044 Senegal 00221 Seychelles 00284 Sierra Leone 00232 Singapore 0065 Slovakia 00421 Slovenia 00386 Solomon Islands 00677

Classifieds TUESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2013

ACCOMMODATION Room available, rent KD 65, near the big Jamiya, Bahrain St, Ghadeer Clinic building. Tel: 66792392/ 66282602/ 60421240. (C 4263) 25-12-2012 FOR SALE Jeep Honda CRV - 2007, green color, full options, km 47,000, KD 2,950. Tel: 66729295. (C 4272) Toyota Prado 2003, white color, 4 cylr, excellent condition, km 1,52,000, KD 3,100. Tel: 50994848. (C 4271) 31-12-2012 CHANGE OF NAME

as a secretary in a reputed company looking for a good fearing and well educated girls. Email: (C 4268) 29-12-2012 Marthomite parents in Kuwait, invites proposals for their daughter (28/160/Fair), B/B in Kuwait, Masters from UK and currently working with Global PR in Bangalore as senior account executive, from well qualified and employed MARTHOMA/ CSI/ ORTHODOX boys preferably in Kuwait/Dubai with good family background and clean habits. Contact: Email: (C 4269) 30-12-2012

I, Jafar Mohammed Hussain Warekar, holder of Indian Passport No: E8758097 hereby change my name to Zafar Mohammed Hussain Warekar. (C 4266)

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

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

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

SITUATION VACANT Required cook for house, good knowledge of cooking all kinds of food, good salary, good facilities, full time or part time. Phone:

23901053, 66519719. (C 4273) Looking for a part time cleaning lady, 1-5pm 6 days/week. Contact: 96942874. (C 4274) Looking for a part time nanny to help care for 2 young children. (4 1/2 + 1 1/2) 1pm - 6pm, Filipino preferred. Contact: 96942874. (C 4275) 1-1-2013

Prayer timings Fajr: Shorook Duhr: Asr: Maghrib: Isha:

Kuwait Parliament

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Supreme Council for Planning and Development

Kuwait Awqaf Public Foundation

MATRIMONIAL Proposal invited for a bachelor 29 years working

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

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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


05:18 06:42 11:51 14:42 17:01 18:23

Automated enquiry about the Civil ID card is

Ministry of Interior website:



No: 15675




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Directorate General of Civil Aviation Home Page (


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sp orts Milan hoping to keep both Brazilians strikers MILAN: AC Milan are still hoping to keep at least one of their two unsettled Brazilian strikers, Alexandre Pato and Robinho, club president Silvio Berlusconi said in a radio interview yesterday. Pato is involved in negotiations for a move to world club champions Corinthians and Robinho has also been the subject of speculation over a return home with his former club Santos among the contenders. “I hope that only one of them leaves,” Berlusconi told Radio Lombardia. “I’m especially sorry about Pato because until he started this incredible sequence of injuries, he was Milan’s number one player for the future, a true champion.” Pato, signed as a 17-year-old and now 23, has suffered an extraordinary 16 muscular injuries in the last two years, costing him, among other things, a place in Brazil’s squad at the 2010 World Cup. Brazilian media have reported that he has agreed terms to join Corinthians in a deal that is expected to be finalised on Thursday. — Reuters

Deportivo sack coach Oltra

Suarez rebuilding reputation

MADRID: Deportivo La Coruna have sacked coach Jose Luis Oltra after the club’s poor start to the season left them bottom of the La Liga standings going into the Christmas break. “We decided that now was the ideal time for a change,” Depor president Augusto Cesar Lendoiro said on the club’s website ( “In the coming hours, or perhaps tomorrow, we hope to present the new trainer,” he added. Spanish media reported that former Sporting Lisbon coach Domingos Paciencia was poised to take on the task of preventing Depor from going straight back down to the second division after Oltra led them back into the top flight last term. The Galician team have fallen a long way since winning La Liga in 2000 and are one of many Spanish clubs crippled by financial problems. Lendoiro said this month they would be forced into administration unless a deal with the Spanish tax authorities on outstanding debts could be hammered out before the end of the year. With 17 matches played, Depor have managed only two wins and are bottom on 12 points. Their opening game of 2013 is at home to fourth-placed Malaga on Jan. 5. —Reuters

LONDON: Striker Luis Suarez sparked life into Liverpool’s stuttering Premier League campaign as they thumped Queens Park Rangers 3-0 on Sunday in a match that highlighted the brilliance of the unpredictable Uruguayan. In the opening 16 minutes, the 25-year-old almost single-handedly secured Liverpool’s victory as he sliced through some feeble defending to score a superb individual goal before adding a second six minutes later. It was vintage Suarez, the reason Liverpool paid more than 22 million pounds ($36 million) to acquire his services, and Queens Park Rangers simply could not contain him. Life has not, however, been all joy and success for Suarez since he arrived from Ajax Amsterdam in January 2011 and the south American’s two-year stint on Merseyside has been controversial. The Uruguayan was handed an eight-match ban and 40,000-pound ($65,000) fine for racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra last year and subsequently refused to shake the Frenchman’s hand before a game at Old Trafford to reignite the row. — Reuters

NBA results/standings

Clippers and Spurs advance

Detroit 96, Milwaukee 94; San Antonio 111, Dallas 86; Sacramento 118, Boston 96; LA Clippers 107, Utah 96. American League Eastern Division W L PCT GB NY Knicks 21 9 .700 Brooklyn 16 14 .533 5 Boston 14 16 .467 7 Philadelphia 14 17 .452 7.5 Toronto 11 20 .355 10.5 Central Division Chicago 16 12 .571 Indiana 17 13 .567 Milwaukee 16 13 .552 0.5 Detroit 11 22 .333 7.5 Cleveland 7 25 .219 1 Southeast Division Miami 20 8 .714 Atlanta 19 9 .679 1 Orlando 12 18 .400 9 Charlotte 7 23 .233 14 Washington 4 24 .143 16

Western Conference Northwest Division Oklahoma City 23 6 .793 Denver 17 15 .531 7.5 Minnesota 14 13 .519 8 Portland 15 14 .517 8 Utah 15 17 .469 9.5 Pacific Division LA Clippers 25 6 .806 .677 4 Golden State 21 10 LA Lakers 15 15 .500 9.5 Sacramento 11 19 .367 13.5 Phoenix 11 20 .355 14 Southwest Division San Antonio 24 8 .750 19 8 .704 2.5 Memphis Houston 16 14 .533 7 Dallas 12 19 .387 11.5 New Orleans 7 23 .233 16

US trounce Slovakia 9-3 UFA: The United States advanced to the quarterfinals of the world junior hockey championships yesterday with a 9-3 win over Slovakia. The Americans’ prospects of reaching the knockout round had looked dicey after losing to Canada a day earlier, but they dominated the Slovaks almost from the start. Cole Bardreau opened the scoring in the fourth minute but Slovakia’s Matus Matis equalized just 14 second later. But the Americans gradually built up an insurmountable lead, helped by two goals apiece from Vince Trocheck and John Gaudreau. In Group A, the Czech Republic beat Switzerland 4-3 in overtime. Tomas Hertl scored the game-winner on a pass off the backboards from Dmitrij Jaskin. Group leader Sweden plays Finland later Monday in a game that will determine if Switzerland makes the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan Strome scored in the first period for Canada to beat the United States 2-1 Sunday and advance to the next round at the junior ice hockey world championships. The victory gave Canada provisional top spot of Group B, one point ahead of Russia ahead of their meeting on Monday. The top team in each group gets a bye into the semifinals. Jacob Trouba scored for the US in the 51st minute. But the Americans drew several

penalties thereafter to give Canada two consecutive five-on-three advantages. The US can finish third in the group and advance to the quarterfinals if it beats Slovakia on Monday in their fourth and final game of the preliminary round. Slovakia stayed alive in the group on Sunday by beating Germany 2-1 on an overtime power-play goal by Peter Ceresnak. Tobias Grieder opened the scoring for Germany midway through the second period, but Bruno Mraz equalized in the third. In Group A, Finland beat Switzerland 5-4 thanks to a shootout goal by Markus Granlund, who also scored twice in regulation time. Switzerland sped to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Lino Martschini and Sven Andrighetto that were just 61 seconds apart, but Granlund and Tervo Teravainen put Finland level in the second. Switzerland then went up 42 in the third on goals by Alessio Bertaggia and Dario Simion, but Treavainen scored again and Granlund sent the game into overtime with a goal with less than two minutes left. In Group A’s other game, the Czech Republic beat Latvia 4-2 to seal an advance to the next round. Martin Frk scored twice and Petr Beranek and Dmitriij Jaskin added one apiece. Roberts Lipsbergs and Nikita Evpalovs scored for Latvia, which is winless in the tournament. —AP

LOS ANGELES: Clippers guard Willie Green (right) goes up for a shot as Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson defends during the first half of their NBA basketball game. —AP LOS ANGELES: Jamal Crawford scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 107-96 on Sunday night for their 17th consecutive victory, becoming the third team in NBA history to record a perfect month. The Clippers went 16-0 in December to join the 1995-95 San Antonio Spurs and 197172 Los Angeles Lakers as the only teams to go undefeated in a month. Their franchise-record winning streak is the longest in the NBA since Boston won 19 in a row four years ago. Caron Butler led the Clippers with 29 points, making all six of his 3-pointers. Chris Paul added 19 points and nine assists to help them maintain the league’s best record at 256. Al Jefferson scored 30 points - one off his season high - to lead Utah, which lost for the third time during the Clippers’ streak. Gordon Hayward added 16 points as the Jazz lost their third in a row and seventh in the last nine games. Spurs 111, Mavericks 86 In Dallas, Tony Parker had 21 points and

nine assists, Manu Ginobili had several key baskets among his 20 points and the San Antonio Spurs handed the Dallas Mavericks their sixth straight loss. Dirk Nowitzki had eight points on 3-of-9 shooting a week after making a surprise return in a 38-point loss to the Spurs in San Antonio. The Spurs led all the way, with Tim Duncan helping a 20-6 start by hitting several jump shots. He finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Darren Collison scored 18 points to lead the Mavericks, whose losing streak is their longest since January of their championship season in 2010-11. Kings 118, Celtics 96 In sacramento, Isaiah Thomas scored 27 points and made one of Sacramento’s two four-point plays in the second half as the Kings handed Boston its third consecutive lopsided loss on a California road swing. John Salmons added 23 points off the bench, Jason Thompson scored 20 and DeMarcus Cousins had 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his first career

triple-double for the Kings, who ended the calendar year by winning their sixth home game out of the last seven. The Celtics are going in the other direction after handily beating Brooklyn on Christmas Day. They followed that win with a trip to California to face the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State and Sacramento and got outscored by 69 points in losing all three. Paul Pierce and Jason Terry both scored 20 points for Boston. Pistons 96, Bucks 94 In Auburn Hills, Tayshaun Prince made two free throws with 10.9 seconds left to give Detroit a victory over Milwaukee after the Pistons blew a 14-point lead. Prince scored 20 points, and Greg Monroe added 14 points and 10 rebounds for Detroit, which had five players in double figures. Charlie Villanueva and Brandon Knight added 11 points apiece, and Jason Maxiell scored 10. Monta Ellis had 30 points and nine assists, and Erson Ilyasova scored 24 for the Bucks. Both teams were coming off wins over the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. —AP

Uchiyama defends WBA title

UFA: United States goalie John Gibson (bottom) battles for the loose puck against Slovakia during the first period of an IIHF World Junior Championships hockey game. —AP

TOKYO: Japan’s Takashi Uchiyama pulled off a technical knockout victory over Bryan Vasquez of Costa Rica to win a unification bout in the World Boxing Association (WBA) superfeatherweight title yesterday. Uchiyama piled up the points by pummelling Vasquez with lefts and rights to the stomach, and finished off the fight three minutes into the eighth round, unloading punch after punch. “My opponent had never lost a match before and never suffered a knock down, so I really wanted to win the match in a good style,” said Uchiyama, 33. “This champion’s belt is just a formality. My top priority is to become stronger,” he added. It was Uchiyama’s sixth defence of the title, which he wrested from Juan Carlos Salgado of Mexico in January 2010, maintaining his unbeaten record at 19 wins, including 16 KOs and one draw. The 25-year-old Vasquez now has 29 wins, including 15 KOs and one defeat. —AFP

TOKYO: Japanese champion Takashi Uchiyama (left) and Costa Rican challenger Bryan Vasquez exchange punches in the fifth round of their WBA super featherweight boxing title bout. —AP


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NZ face S African mountain to climb CAPE TOWN: New Zealand have done absolutely nothing to suggest they can upset South Africa in the first Test of the two-match series beginning at Newlands tomorrow — and that may be their greatest weapon. Not for generations have expectations been lower before a test series. The hosts hold a commanding fivepoint lead at the top of the world Rankings while New Zealand languish in eighth place, ahead only of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. The last time the Black Caps were in South Africa, in November 2007, they were humiliated in both test matches, failing to reach 200 in four innings and losing by margins of 358 runs and an innings and 59 runs. South Africa fast bowler Dale Steyn began his ascent to the top of the world bowling rankings by taking 20 wickets at a little over 10 runs apiece. Steyn is still top of the world rankings but now he has two team mates for company in the top 10, Vernon Philander in second place and Morne Morkel in sixth. New Zealand’s 38year-old seamer Chris Martin is the leading Kiwi in 17th place. A look at the batting rankings is even more bleak for the touring side. Not only do South Africa have another three men (Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers) ranked in the top 10 - with Graeme Smith at number 13 - but the tourists have just one, and he is not on the tour. The saga of Ross Taylor’s embar-

rassing sacking as captain is still haunting the management team and further holes in the first-choice XI have been created by injuries to allrounders Daniel Vettori and Tim Southee. But filled they will be, and by men who will take to the crease with bat or ball in the knowledge that even the optimism of their closest friends and family will be based more on hope than expectation. The same cannot be said of the home side. Such is the weight of expectation on them that one suspects they cannot satisfy it. Certainly, victory alone will not suffice. South Africa fans have not seen their test team on home soil in 2012 and they are expecting to see them now in all their glory. Coach Gary Kirsten, understandably, has tried to play down those expectations. “The success of our team in 2012 was based on the fact that we remained humble in our play, we never took any situation or any team for granted,” Kirsten told reporters. “We made sure that our preparation was spot on and that, when we got into test match time, we set up solid foundations to give ourselves the best chance of success. We will treat this series no differently.” The Proteas need to win both matches simply to maintain their lead in the test championship. A drawn series would see them lose ground to second-placed England while an unlikely defeat would drop them to second. —Reuters

Rougerie out for six weeks after Boyet’s sliding tackle LYON: Clermont captain Aurelien Rougerie will be out for up to six weeks after suffering a badly sprained ankle in a shocking sliding tackle by Benjamin Boyet in weekend Top 14 action. Rougerie sustained the injury when Boyet slid in, football style, and connected studs full on with the France international’s right ankle in Clermont’s 48-3 victory over Bayonne on Saturday. The centre, who was cleared of any fracture, will notably miss two European Cup matches away to Exeter and Scarlets. Meanwhile, Jonny Wilkinson was in imperious form as he kicked 26 points and set up two tries to help Toulon consolidate their lead of the Top 14 with a convincing 46-13 victory over Perpignan on Sunday. The former England fly-half was on target with six penalties, five in the first half, and four conversions for a 100 percent kicking ratio as Toulon turned on the power after the break with four tries. But the player who won the 2003 World Cup for England with an injury-time drop-goal also showed the full array of his passing skills with two monster misspasses to set up Samoa-born winger David Smith for a brace of tries. “We worked hard tonight,” said Wilkinson. “In each match, from the start of the season, we’ve given everything we’ve got. “But we know that that continues from tomorrow morning. This win is a good way to finish the year but we await the next match and we’ll have to win that one as well.” It was Perpignan who had taken the early lead, winger Joffroy Michel pouncing on a chip kick from Wales international James Hook that evaded Rudi Wulf. Wilkinson pulled back a penalty, with counterpart Hook missing two in the meantime. The Englishman then knocked over a second, David Mele responding for Perpignan in place of Hook, who went off injured to send a further wave of panic through depleted Welsh ranks ahead of the Six Nations. Top French referee Romain Poite was then forced to threaten to call the game off if lasers pointed at him and Perpignan

players from the crowd continued. From then on in, Wilkinson bossed his side home, Smith taking his season tally to six tries when he crossed in the corner after a looping Wilkinson pass out wide. And the winger went over for his second of the game after another trademark long Wilkinson pass-measured at 29 metres-following good work from Maxime Mermoz and Matt Giteau. Replacement flanker Pierrick Gunther muscled his way over late in the game for a brace of tries of his own, the latter of which handed the home side a crucial bonus point. The result means Toulon sit atop the French league after 14 matches on 56 points, with Clermont, who had earlier notched up a runaway 48-3 win at home over lowly Bayonne for a 52nd straight home win, in second on 49. Tries from Wesley Fofana (2), Fiji winger Napolioni Nalaga (2), Jean-Marcellin Buttin and Kiwi centre Benson Stanley gave the on-form Auvergne side the full five points. Bayonne started well and were still level at 0-0 after the first quarter, but a Morgan Parra penalty broke the deadlock and two tries from Fofana after 25 and 31 minutes, both converted by Parra, opened the floodgates. Clermont were 20-3 ahead at half-time and it was more of the same in the second half as a brace from Nalaga, and tries from Buttin and Stanley rounded off an impressive win. France international scrum-half Parra was flawless with the boot, kicking all the penalties and conversions that came his way with Brock James and David Skrela stepping in when he went off. In other games, third-placed Toulouse snatched a vital 18-16 away victory at fourth-placed Castres, the home side’s South African scrum-half Rory Kockott missing a penalty three minutes from time. Fifth-placed Montpellier were in impressive form with a 54-16 demolition of Stade Francais, whose defence was woeful in the six-tries-to-one defeat, Argentina winger Martin Bustos Moyano claiming 29 points from a try, six conversions and four penalties. — AFP

DHAKA: Bangladesh Cricket board President Nazmul Hasan (center) addresses journalists in Dhaka. Bangladesh said it had shelved plans to become the first cricket team to tour Pakistan since a 2009 attack on Sri Lankaís bus, with the head of the board saying there were fears for playersí safety.— AFP

B’desh shelves Pakistan tour DHAKA: Bangladesh said Monday it had shelved on safety grounds a planned cricket tour of Pakistan, which would have been the first by an international team since a 2009 militant attack on Sri Lanka’s bus. The two teams had been scheduled to play a Twenty20 and a one-day international on January 12 and 13 respectively, both in Lahore. But Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Nazmul Hassan told reporters the proposed tour had been put off indefinitely amid fears over players’ safety, following protests by Bangladeshis and a Facebook campaign against the visit. Anti-Pakistan sentiment still runs strong in the country, which was part of Pakistan until 1971 when it won independence after a ninemonth war. “Bangladesh will not visit Pakistan for now. We’ve made the decision after considering the overall security situation in Pakistan and the concern that our people have expressed over the safety of their players,” Hassan said. “We made a commitment to

visit Pakistan and it’s almost mandatory for us to tour the country. But we believe safety of players and officials are of highest importance. It’s a national issue.” Pakistan have had to play their “home” matches in venues ranging from Dubai to London ever since gunmen shot dead eight people and wounded seven Sri Lankan players in an audacious attack near the stadium in Lahore in March 2009. The Bangladesh board had indicated two weeks ago that it was ready to send a team, albeit only after a final security review. Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Zaka Ashraf had said on December 22 that Bangladesh had confirmed the tour was definitely on. Hassan said Bangladesh had informed the Pakistan board of its change of heart and added that the team would visit Pakistan if security improves. “We have noticed the security situation in Pakistan has not improved significantly, rather deteriorated,” he said. “We’ve sent a

BRIDGETOWN: In this April 29, 2007 file photo, Australia’s Glenn McGrath (center) Adam Gilchrist (right) and captain Ricky Ponting show off the Cricket World Cup trophy during a photocall in Bridgetown, Barbados. McGrath will be inducted into the International Cricket Council’s Hall of Fame during Australia’s third Test against Sri Lanka in Sydney, his home ground during a first-class career that included 124 tests and three consecutive World Cup titles. —AP

NHL players ponder latest offer

Aurelien Rougerie

letter to Pakistan three days ago explaining our position. We’ve decided to wait and see.” Bangladesh had earlier agreed to tour Pakistan in April 2012 but the visit was blocked by the Dhaka high court. Hassan said that he feared Pakistan might now bar its own cricketers from playing in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) in response to the decision. The BPL is the Bangladeshi answer to the Indian Premier League-the hugely popular Twenty20 tournament which has fused cricket with show business. In the first edition back in February, 20 Pakistani players featured in the tournament, with all-rounder Shahid Afridi fetching $700,000 in an auction of starsthe highest amount paid. More than 50 Pakistani players have already been bought at an auction for the second edition of the tournament, beginning on January 17. Officials said the BPL would go ahead even if Pakistan did not allow its cricketers to play. —AFP

NEW YORK: Representatives of the NHL and the NHL Players Association met Sunday to talk about the league’s latest proposal to strike a contract deal and salvage a shortened season. reported Sunday’s informal talks lasted two and a half hours and that the sides planned to meet again late yesterday. Team owners have already wiped out 625 games through January 14, just over half the planned schedule that was to have started in October, and vow they will not stage a season with less than 48 games per team. That means a deal by mid-January is essential if the league isn’t to lose the entire season to the lockout that began in September. On Friday, league officials confirmed they had made a new “comprehensive” contract proposal to players. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly declined to go into specifics, but the proposal was reported to include a six-year limit on player contracts-up from the five years the league had sought previously-along with movement toward the players on issues including year-to-year salary variance and contract buy-out regulations. — AFP

Test fans urged to wear Greig, Hussey tributes SYDNEY: Fans at this week’s final Australia-Sri Lanka Test in Sydney have been asked to wear tributes to the late Tony Greig and retiring batsman Mike Hussey, officials said yesterday. Wide-brimmed hats were suggested to recall the memory of former England captain and television commentator Tony Greig, who died of a heart attack aged 66 on Saturday. Fans will also be urged to don the trademark white nose-protective zinc sunscreen synonymous with retiring Australian cricketer Hussey, who will be playing his last Test starting Thursday. Both teams will observe a minute’s silence before the start of the game and will sport black armbands in honour of Greig. Greig was instrumental in the formation of late Australian media tycoon

Kerry Packer’s breakaway World Series Cricket from 1977-79, which sent shockwaves through the sport. Greig was also a strong supporter of Sri Lankan cricket and enjoyed a high profile in both countries. “He was a great human being and a great voice for Sri Lanka,” Sri Lankan batsman Thilan Samaraweera said yesterday. Hussey continues in good form at age 37, just months younger than Ricky Ponting who called it quits earlier this month. But Hussey has said he wants to spend more time with his four children, who are all aged under eight. The left-hander has scored 19 hundreds in 78 Tests and averages 51.52. Australia have already clinched their series against Sri Lanka by winning the opening two Tests. —AFP



sports Roberto Mancini

Mancini keeps eye on the ball ahead of Stoke visit MANCHESTER: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes the league table is irrelevant until February, ahead of his side’s home game with Stoke City on New Year’s Day. City head into today’s match with Stoke seven points behind leaders Manchester United after both teams secured victories on Saturday. Mancini’s side lost two of four league matches, including a defeat by United, in December. But they responded to a surprise 1-0 loss at Sunderland to pick up a 4-3 win at Norwich City that was all the more impressive due to an early red card for Samir Nasri. Ever since the 3-2 loss to United, Mancini has maintained that, with half of the season remaining, there is no need to panic and that Alex Ferguson’s team’s Champions League commitments will affect them in the new year. His task is set to grow even harder, with Yaya Toure and Kolo Toure departing for the Africa Cup of Nations after the FA Cup tie with Watford on Saturday. But Mancini has set his sights on still being in touch with United by the time the Ivory Coast duo return, and the Italian is adamant that even United’s current advantage should not be seen as intimidating. “It’s not important to look at the table because it’s not final, but we need only to work, to win and then maybe we’ll look again at the table in February,” he said. “With 10 players, it’s difficult. Norwich are a good team but we showed we are there for the title. We fight for every game. The guys were fantastic against Norwich.” Edin Dzeko scored a brace in the victory at Norwich and the Bosnian international believes the victory showed City’s staying power. “There’s still a lot of games to play,” said the former Wolfsburg striker. “We lost the last game against Sunderland. We were unlucky, we couldn’t

find the goal, but against Norwich we fought from the first to the 90th minute. “Everyone wants to play and I was back (against Norwich) and I gave the maximum.” Jack Rodwell and Micah Richards remain on the injured list for Mancini, while Maicon is also out with a knee problem and Mario Balotelli is doubtful with illness. City have not won at the Britannia Stadium in six visits since the Potters were promoted to the Premier League, but Mancini’s side have found Stoke a much easier proposition at home, with four straight wins against Tony Pulis’ men. Stoke striker Kenwyne Jones hailed his side’s team spirit after they came from 3-1 down with 10 men to draw 3-3 with Southampton on Saturday and he believes they will now travel to Manchester on a high. Jones scored Stoke’s first goal on Saturday before Matthew Upson and Cameron Jerome helped Pulis’ side claim an unlikely point, which extended the Potters’ unbeaten run to nine matches. “We had a few slip-ups, but credit to the team, manager and the fans for the run we have been on,” said Jones. “The next game is the most important game for us because we’re going to the home of the champions. We’re going to prepare again, try and be solid, and see what happens. “Everyone knows what Stoke City is about and they have seen it time and time again for however long. “Why would we feel sorry for ourselves? We’ve never done that in games, so why would we do it now? “Here at Stoke City, we play for 90 minutes. If we get beat, we get beat, but we’ll never give up. “That comes from pride. This is our job. No-one wants to lose, so you’re not just going to stand there and accept defeat.” Rory Delap and Marc Wilson remain long-term absentees for Pulis.—AFP

Premier League sparkles in European limelight LONDON: While the rest of European soccer has downed tools for a mid-season break, the Premier league has stepped into the limelight in style, underscoring its reputation as the most exciting league in the world. As Champagne corks have been popping throughout the continent, the Premier League has been fizzing on the field typified by Saturday’s goal-laden action. So often pilloried for shunning the virtues of a winter break and blamed for England’s failure at major tournaments, the league has demonstrated that the fast and furious nature of its Christmas fixtures can deliver unparalleled levels of entertainment. Playing for the third time in eight days, many Premier League sides lacked the freshness required to put in a high-intensity rearguard action and the result was a flurry of goals, thrills and spills. The chaotic excitement of tired players turning out for matches in quick succession was perfectly distilled at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium where the home team conceded three times but still came out on top in a 10goal avalanche. When Theo Walcott, whose prowess as a central striker evoked memories of Thierry Henry, netted his hat-trick it was the 35th goal to hit the back of the net on Saturday, a record for a single day this season, and the sixth highest ever in the Premier League. While Newcastle became the first team to score three in successive Premier League matches and lose them both, having been stung 4-3 by Manchester United last week, there was a sense they had played an equal part in an end-to-end encounter and were unlucky to end up with a drubbing. It was a similar story at Norwich City, where the hosts pushed champions Manchester City all the way before losing 4-3 in a match that included excellent finishes from two of the world’s top striking talents in Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko. It is a perennial argument that the English football calendar is too punishing to get the best from players and this is often highlighted at World Cups and European Championships where England usually flatter to deceive. But while this may be true for those who rely on fitness to stifle and contain, attacking talents frequently flourish when heavy winter pitches take their toll on tired legs. The fans at Loftus Road who saw Luis Suarez tear man-size holes in the Queens Park Rangers defence or at Old Trafford where the Premier League’s top scorer Robin van Persie curled home an unstoppable left-foot shot were not bemoaning a lack of quality.

If Suarez was jaded having featured in all but one of Liverpool’s Premier League games this season then he hid it well. “He’s a magician,” was England captain Steven Gerrard’s assessment of the Uruguayan’s form. “He’s been brilliant since he’s come to the club. These players (QPR) only have to play against him twice a year - we have to train with him every day. Week in, week out, he shows his value.” Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson was equally fulsome in his praise of Van Persie who has featured in every Premier League game this season and came on as a late substitute to seal a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion. “(Van Persie) changed the game for us,” the United boss told the BBC. Whether or not quality is determined by entertainment is a contentious and perhaps superfluous philosophical debate. The fact that only two Premier League teams have made the knockout stages of the Champions League this season, compared to four from Spain and three from Germany is a strong piece of evidence for the prosecution. However, the reigning European champions are Chelsea and English clubs have won the competition three of the last eight seasons, parity with Spain and better than Italy with two and Germany none. Ultimately, the record 3 billion-pound ($4.85 billion) rights deal the Premier League struck in June, suggests the product on offer is more enticing than it has ever been. —Reuters

Evra vows to banish United’s Wigan ghosts WIGAN: Manchester United defender Patrice Evra has promised there will be no repeat of last season’s debilitating defeat at Wigan Athletic when the sides meet again on New Year’s Day. Alex Ferguson’s side were beaten 1-0 at the DW Stadium at the start of a run of just one win in four matches that led to Manchester City regaining control of the title race on the way to winning the Premier League. Although United have endured defensive problems this season, they have picked up six wins from their last seven matches and begin 2013 seven points clear of City. Shaun Maloney scored the only goal of that defeat in April and Evra, 31, has vowed that United will not experience similar emotions this time around as they look to maintain consistency over the busy holiday period. Evra is also adamant that with the options that Ferguson has available, tiredness cannot be an excuse. “I think about the 4-3 win over Newcastle-last year we lost at this time, 3-2 against Blackburn,” said the French leftback. “I think we have to use the bad experiences we had last year. I remember last year we lost 1-0 at Wigan and we showed nothing. It was a really bad performance for Manchester United. “This year there will be no excuse. We will just go there, play like Man United, and make sure we get the three points, because it’s really important we do that. “I always say to myself that I’m lucky to get to play in so many games. I will say to the boss I am ready to play, but if he says I need a rest, then I will have a rest. “I just want to keep going. I will rest when I retire. That’s the name of

Patrice Evra

my game.” Defenders Phil Jones and Rafael should return from injury for the game at United’s north-west rivals. But England striker Wayne Rooney is set to miss out again with a knee problem, while Anderson and Nani are both struggling with hamstring injuries. Ferguson believes the changes he made for the 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday will also have a positive effect against a Wigan side who picked up a 3-0 victory at Aston Villa. The United manager said: “Phil could be ready and Rafa will be ready. “We rested Robin (van Persie), Chicharito (Javier Hernandez), Ryan (Giggs) and

Paul (Scholes) against West Brom, so we’ve got enough freshness to bring in. “Wigan had a great result and it’ll be a hard game today.” The Latics have been beset by defensive injury problems but after recalling Gary Caldwell earlier in the festive period, manager Roberto Martinez was able to include Spanish defender Ivan Ramis at Villa for the first time in more than a month after knee trouble. That win at Villa Park ended a miserable run of five defeats in six games for Wigan, who had also conceded at least two goals in eight of their previous nine matches. After finally keeping a clean

sheet Martinez feels his team have now come through a difficult time and look more imposing at both ends of the pitch. “At Aston Villa, their intensity was magnificent and meant the quality we had going forwards could open up the pitch and create opportunities,” he said. “We were dominant in both boxes, which is what has been missing in recent games, and we’ll aim to take that into Tuesday’s game against Manchester United.” Antolin Alcaraz is still out with a groin problem and Antonio Lopez, Ben Watson, onloan Arsenal winger Ryo Miyaichi and Albert Crusat are also absent.—AFP

Wenger clings to Arsenal’s faint title hope SOUTHAMPTON: Arsene Wenger feels Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes are still alive after a recent revival, but says they have little margin for error if they are to sustain their challenge. The Gunners’ campaign has been reignited by a run of four successive league wins and they travel to Southampton on New Year’s Day hoping to break back into the top four. They will head into the game at St Mary’s Stadium three points behind their north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, who lie fourth, and backed by the momentum generated by Saturday’s thrilling 7-3 victory over Newcastle United. Wenger had refused to rule out his side’s hopes of forcing their way back into the title race even when Arsenal’s season was in danger of falling apart and pressure was growing on the manager’s position. However, a daunting gap of 16 points still exists between Arsenal and leaders Manchester United, who have also played a game more, and Wenger believes his side must maintain recent standards if they are to close the deficit. “We come from far and we need to be consistent if we want to have the chance to come back,” said the Arsenal manager. “What is at stake is that we must show we are consistent from game to game.” Consistency has certainly been Arsenal’s problem this season and despite the onesided scoreline, there were enough signs of defensive weakness against Newcastle to give Wenger cause for concern. Newcastle repeatedly recovered after falling behind before running out of legs late on and the way Alan Pardew’s side exposed Arsnal’s full-backs will not have gone unnoticed by Southampton manager Nigel Adkins. Wenger admitted he was worried by his side’s defensive display and said: “Yes, because we were three times in front and three times they came back.” And he insisted he will not underestimate a Southampton

Arsene Wenger

side who remain in the bottom three. “They are a team who has learned to play in the Premier League now,” Wenger said. Theo Walcott’s hat-trick against Newcastle reinforced the view the England international is ready to make the switch from winger to central striker and the 23-year-old is expected to lead the line against his former club. But the return of Olivier Giroud from injury has increased Wenger’s forward options. “(Giroud) came on (against Newcastle) and looked very sharp, dangerous on crosses and technically sound,” said the manager. “He had an impact when he came on.” Southampton have strengthened their hopes of survival after losing only one of their last four games and face Arsenal on the back of successive away draws at Fulham and Stoke City. That record might have been more impressive had they held onto a 3-1 half-time lead at Stoke, but Adkins drew positives from the fact

his side found the net three times against a team that had conceded only four home goals before Saturday’s meeting. “We have come away from home and got a point-that is hard to do in the Premier League, especially at the Britannia,” the manager said. “We score goals consistently, but to do that against a very mean defence is very positive for us. “We showed a resilience and team spirit and a desire to hang in there when everything was getting thrown against us, so that is really positive for the rest of the campaign.” Midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin agrees that recent performances should fuel the Saints’ belief that they can spring a surprise against Wenger’s side. “We showed both here (Stoke) and at Fulham that we can win games,” Schneiderlin said. “We know we can score goals and defend, so we will make sure that we take as many points as we can in the second part of the season.”—AFP

Djokovic dodges injury as Serbia thrash Italy Matches on TV (Local Timings) ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE West Brom v Fulham 15:45 Abu Dhabi Sports HD Swansea v Aston Villa 18:00 Abu Dhabi Sports HD Tottenham v Reading 18:00 Abu Dhabi Sports HD Wigan v Man United 18:00 Abu Dhabi Sports HD West Ham v Norwich 18:00 Abu Dhabi Sports HD Man City v Stoke 18:00 Abu Dhabi Sports HD Southampton v Arsenal 20:30 Abu Dhabi Sports HD

PERTH: World number one Novak Djokovic escaped serious injury in an incident with over zealous fans after helping Serbia beat Italy at the mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth yesterday. Djokovic, who only arrived in the city on Sunday evening after winning an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi, was too good for Italian Andreas Seppi, defeating him 6-3, 64. After the match, Djokovic made his way to sign autographs for youngsters at the side of the court. But as fans clamoured to get the Serbian star’s attention the barrier holding them back fell onto his legs. Djokovic spent a few moments on his haunches before gingerly walking off the court and cancelling his post-match press conference to get treatment. However the 25-year-old showed no signs of discomfort when he returned to the court for mixed doubles a short time later and played down the incident. “I am good,” he said. “It was a

bit of a shock and I am glad that the children involved are okay. I am fine.” Djokovic, aiming for a third straight Australian Open title in Melbourne next month, made it 10 wins from as many matches against Seppi, in their first meeting since the Serb came from two sets down to win at this year’s French Open. Monday’s win secured the tie for Serbia with his team-mate Ana Ivanovic, the top seeds for the eight-nation event and playing the event together for the third time. The Italians won the dead mixed doubles rubber. Ivanovic gave the Serbians the lead with a commanding straight sets win over fellow French Open winner Francesca Schiavone in the women’s singles. In an impressive start to her new campaign, Ivanovic won 6-0, 6-4. Having been in Australia for more than a week, Ivanovic showed she was in good shape for next year’s first Grand Slam by

overpowering Schiavone. Ivanovic went into the match with wins over the Italian in their only four previous meetings, and continued that dominance. Schiavone held break points in the first game, but Ivanovic steadied and then won the first seven games of the match. Her only hiccup came when she was broken while serving for the match at 5-3, but she immediately broke back to secure the win. Ivanovic, ranked 13th in the world after a solid 2012, said she was trying to play more aggressively as she seeks to recapture the form that took her to number one in the world earlier in her career. “I felt like I played well,” the 2008 French Open champion said. “I feel I have a lot more on the ball and I am playing the way I used to play before, setting up the points and using my forehand. “The things I worked on during the off-season are paying off.”—AFP

Evra vows to banish United’s Wigan ghosts

Uchiyama defends WBA title




Djokovic dodges injury as Serbia thrash Italy

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LANDOVER: Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris (46) is tackled by Dallas Cowboys strong safety Eric Frampton (27) during the second half of an NFL football game.—AP

Redskins win first division title LANDOVER: Robert Griffin III ran for a touchdown, and fellow rookie Alfred Morris rushed for 200 yards and three scores Sunday night as the Washington Redskins won their first division title in 13 years by beating the Dallas Cowboys 2818. The Redskins are 10-6 and will host the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday, having won seven straight since their bye week. Washington is the first NFL team to rally from 3-6 and make the postseason since the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996. The Redskins would have been out of the postseason with a loss. Instead, the Cowboys will miss the playoffs for the third straight year. Dallas finished 8-8, stumbling in a do-or-die, end-of-regularseason game for the third time in five years. Colts 28, Texans 16 In Indianapolis, the Indianapolis Colts made Chuck Pagano a winner in his return to the sideline. Andrew Luck threw for two touchdowns and Deji Karim swung the game with a 101-yard kickoff return in the third quarter, giving the Colts victory over Houston. It was Pagano’s first game back as coach since starting treatment for leukemia Sept. 26. Indianapolis (11-5) heads into the playoffs as the No. 5 seed and on a roll. The Colts will open the postseason next weekend against the Baltimore Ravens. Slumping Houston (12-4) won’t know its playoff seed until later Sunday. The Texans lost three of their last four games, and J.J. Watt failed to break Michael Strahan’s single-season sacks record. The game turned on two big plays: Karim’s kickoff return, which wiped out a 16-14 Houston lead, and Luck’s 70-yard TD pass to TY Hilton. Bengals 23, Ravens 17 In Cincinnati, Carlos Dunlap returned an interception 14 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Ravens (10-6) had already clinched their second straight AFC North title, and they will open the playoffs at home against Indianapolis, which defeated Houston on Sunday. The opponent for the Bengals (10-6) was to be determined later Sunday. The Ravens let quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice play only two series. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver A.J. Green sat out the second half. Broncos 38, Chiefs 3 In Denver, Peyton Manning threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns to lift Denver into the No. 1 seed for the AFC playoffs. Manning finished the season

with 4,659 yards, 41 short of his career high. He finished with 37 touchdown passes, and none will be more memorable than the last two - circus catches by Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas that turned the game into a blowout. Denver (13-3) won its 11th straight and leaped past Houston for the top seed after the Texans lost to Indianapolis 28-16 earlier in the day. The Chiefs gained only 119 yards all day and finished their season 2-14. They will get the top pick in April’s draft. Vikings 37, Packers 34 In Minneapolis, Adrian Peterson came within 9 yards of Eric Dickerson’s rushing record, finishing with 199 yards and powering Minnesota into the playoffs. The result forced a rematch with the Packers next weekend in a wild-card game - this time at Lambeau Field. Peterson rushed for 36 yards on the last drive, plenty for rookie Blair Walsh’s 29-yard field goal as time expired to put the Vikings (10-6) in the postseason. The Packers (11-5) fell to the NFC’s No. 3 seed. Aaron Rodgers completed 28 of 40 passes for 365 yards and four touchdowns and no turnovers, connecting with Jordy Nelson from 2 yards to tie the game with 2:54 remaining. But Christian Ponder threw for three scores, including one to Peterson. 49ers 27, Cardinals 13 In San Francisco, Michael Crabtree caught touchdown passes of 49 and 7 yards as the 49ers won a second straight NFC West title. Colin Kaepernick threw for a career-best 276 yards and two TDs as the Niners (11-4-1) earned a No. 2 seed thanks to Green Bay’s loss to Minnesota. Frank Gore ran for a 2-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter for his franchise-best 51st touchdown rushing. Brian Hoyer went 19 of 34 for 225 yards and a late TD toss in his first career NFL start as Arizona’s fourth quarterback. The Cardinals (5-11) lost for the 11th time in their last 12 games in what might have been Ken Whisenhunt’s final game as coach. Seahawks 20, Rams 13 In Seattle, Russell Wilson tied Peyton Manning’s record for most touchdown passes by a rookie with 26, and his 1-yard TD run with 1:39 left allowed Seattle to finish as the only unbeaten team at home. Seattle (11-5) entered the day with hopes of still winning the NFC West and getting a home playoff game, but those dreams were dashed when San Francisco beat Arizona. Seattle will be the No. 5 seed and face the NFC East winner -

Washington or Dallas - next weekend. The Rams (7-8-1) sacked Wilson six times, but couldn’t come up with their first winning record since 2003. Patriots 28, Dolphins 0 In Foxborough, Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes and New England earned a playoff bye. Stevan Ridley ran for two touchdowns as the Patriots used a ball-control offense and a defense that racked up a season-high seven sacks. Now, seeded second in the AFC, they have an extra week to savor the win and prepare for their postseason opener. The Patriots (12-4) led 21-0 at halftime on Brady’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Wes Welker and Ridley’s runs of 1 and 2 yards, capping drives lasting 14 and 13 plays. They ended the scoring on Brady’s 23yard scoring pass to Rob Gronkowski, who missed the previous five games after breaking his left forearm. The Dolphins (7-9) finished with a losing record for the fourth straight season. Buccaneers 22, Falcons 17 In Atlanta, the Falcons couldn’t follow through with their plan to gain momentum for the playoffs as Josh Freeman threw a touchdown pass to Mike Williams and Doug Martin ran for 141 yards. The Falcons (13-3) had little to play for as they already have home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs. Coach Mike Smith said he wanted to “finish the

regular season the right way,” and he stayed with his starters through the game. The danger to Smith’s strategy was losing a top starter to an injury. Defensive end John Abraham, Atlanta’s best pass rusher, left with an apparent left ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Dunta Robinson suffered a head injury in the first quarter and did not return. Bears 26, Lions 24 In Detroit, Jay Cutler threw for 257 yards and a touchdown and helped seal the game with a late scramble. Chicago (10-6) needed a Minnesota loss to Green Bay to reach the postseason. The Lions (4-12) lost their last eight games and turned the ball over four times in the finale. Calvin Johnson fell short in his attempt to become the first player with 2,000 yards receiving in a season. Cutler’s 19-yard run on third down helped Chicago run out the clock late in the fourth quarter. Giants 42, Eagles 7 In East Rutherford, there will be no Super Bowl repeat for the Giants. Not even a playoff berth despite Eli Manning’s career-high five touchdown passes. The Giants (9-7) playoff hopes ended minutes after routing the Eagles. Chicago’s win over Detroit ended New York’s long-shot playoff chances. Eagles coach Andy Reid is out after 14 years at

Philadelphia, three people familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The official announcement could come Monday. The loss means that it will be seven straight seasons that the Super Bowl champion has failed to win a playoff game the following year. Philadelphia closed the season 4-12.

skid. Both AFC East rivals had already been eliminated from playoff contention. The Bills finished last in the AFC East for a fifth straight season amid speculation about coach Chan Gailey’s job security. Sanchez may have started his final game for the Jets (6-10), who closed the season with three consecutive losses amid all sorts of turmoil.

Steelers 24, Browns 10 In Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger threw three short touchdown passes, and Pittsburgh avoided its first losing season in nearly a decade. Antonio Brown, Leonard Pope and Plaxico Burress scored for the Steelers (8-8). Pittsburgh’s top-ranked defense forced four turnovers as the Steelers won for just the second time in the last six weeks, a slide that knocked them out of the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Cleveland’s third-string quarterback, Thaddeus Lewis, passed for 204 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his first NFL start. But the Browns (5-11) dropped their third straight in what is likely coach Pat Shurmur’s final game.

Titans 38, Jaguars 20 In Nashville, Tennessee became the first NFL team with two players scoring twice on returns in closing out the season with two wins in its final three games. Darius Reynaud scored on two punt returns and rookie linebacker Zach Brown returned two interceptions for touchdowns. The Titans finished 6-10 and await owner Bud Adams’ decision on whether to keep coach Mike Munchak, who has two years left on his contract. The Jaguars (2-14) wrapped up their worst season with their 12th loss in 13 games, and now owner Shad Khan has to decide on the futures of general manager Gene Smith and first-year coach Mike Mularkey.

Bills 28, Jets 9 In Orchard Park, CJ Spiller scored on a 66-yard catch and run in helping underachieving Buffalo, while Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez had two more turnovers. Safety Bryan Scott also returned an interception 20 yards for a touchdown for the Bills (6-10), who snapped a three-game

NFL results/standings Cincinnati 23, Baltimore 17; Pittsburgh 24, Cleveland 10; Indianapolis 28, Houston 16; Tennessee 38, Jacksonville 20; NY Giants 42, Philadelphia 7; Buffalo 28, NY Jets 9; Chicago 26, Detroit 24; Tampa Bay 22, Atlanta 17; Carolina 44, New Orleans 38; Denver 38, Kansas City 3; San Diego 24, Oakland 21; San Francisco 27, Arizona 13; Seattle 20, St. Louis 13; Minnesota 37, Green Bay 34; New England 28, Miami 0; Washington 28, Dallas 18. American Football Conference AFC East W L T OTL PF New England 12 4 0 0 557 Miami 7 9 0 2 288 NY Jets 6 10 0 1 281 Buffalo 6 10 0 0 344 AFC North Baltimore 10 6 0 1 398 Cincinnati 10 6 0 0 391 Pittsburgh 8 8 0 1 336 Cleveland 5 11 0 1 302 AFC South Houston 12 4 0 0 416 Indianapolis 11 5 0 0 357 Tennessee 6 10 0 1 330 Jacksonville 2 14 0 3 255 AFC West Denver 13 3 0 0 481 San Diego 7 9 0 1 350 Oakland 4 12 0 0 290 Kansas City 2 14 0 1 211

PA 331 317 375 435

PCT .750 .438 .375 .375

344 320 314 368

.625 .625 .500 .313

331 387 471 444

.750 .688 .375 .125

289 350 443 425

.813 .438 .250 .125

National Football Conference NFC East Washington 9 6 0 0 408 NY Giants 9 7 0 0 429 Dallas 8 7 0 1 358 Philadelphia 4 12 0 1 280 NFC North Green Bay 11 5 0 0 433 Minnesota 10 6 0 0 379 Chicago 10 6 0 1 375 Detroit 4 12 0 2 372 NFC South Atlanta 13 3 0 0 419 New Orleans 7 9 0 1 461 Carolina 7 9 0 1 357 Tampa Bay 7 9 0 0 389 NFC West San Francisco 11 4 1 1 397 Seattle 11 5 0 0 412 St. Louis 7 8 1 0 299 Arizona 5 11 0 1 250

370 344 372 444

.600 .563 .533 .250

336 348 277 437

.688 .625 .625 .250

299 454 363 394

.813 .438 .438 .438

273 245 348 357

.719 .688 .469 .313

Panthers 44, Saints 38 In New Orleans, Drew Brees made more NFL history, but so did the Saints’ porous defense in a loss to Carolina. DeAngelo Williams rushed for 210 yards, including touchdown runs of 54 and 12 yards, for Carolina (7-9), which closed the season with four straight wins. His 65yard gain set up the first of three 1-yard scoring runs by Mike Tolbert. Brees passed for 396 yards, giving him 5,177 this season. That makes him the first player to eclipse 5,000 yards three times. His four TD passes gave him 43 in 2012, and he’s the first player with 40 TD passes in consecutive seasons. The Saints (7-9) also gave up 530 yards, raising their season total to 7,042 to break the record of 6,793 allowed by the 1981 Baltimore Colts. Chargers 24, Raiders 21 In San Diego, Micheal Spurlock returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown on wet, gloomy day in what’s expected to be Norv Turner’s final game as Chargers coach. Turner and general manager A.J. Smith are expected to be fired because the Chargers (7-9) missed the playoffs for the third straight season. The Raiders finished 4-12. Spurlock became the first Chargers player to have a kickoff and punt return for touchdowns in consecutive weeks. He returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown a week earlier in a victory against the New York Jets.—AP

1 Jan 2013  
1 Jan 2013  

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