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Cabinet dismisses plans to amend constitution

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Mali Islamists vow to hit ‘at heart’ of France Rebels counter attack, promise long war

in the


PARIS: A soldier patrols under the Eiffel Tower yesterday after Islamist forces based in northern Mali vowed to avenge France’s fierce military offensive against them on French soil. — AFP

Amir congratulates Tunisia on revolution TUNIS: Kuwait’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled AlHamad Al-Sabah met Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki yesterday during his attendance of Tunisia’s second revolution anniversary celebrations. “I am honoured to represent HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sheikh Sabah Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah on Tunisia’s second anniversary of its revolution,” he told reporters, adding that he was also honoured to have met the president in a meeting where he had delivered to him the greetings and congratulations of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on the occasion. Bilateral relations between both countries over 50 years were described as “deep-rooted” by the Kuwaiti minister, who also met Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem to discuss the formation of a joint relations committee between both countries. The committee will aim to address “cooperation on issues related to investment, trade, tourism, education, health, sports and whatever may be beneficial to the two countries,” he emphasised.

Kuwait top provider of organs in region KUWAIT: Kuwait is top in the Middle East in securing transplant organs and tissue through post-death donation, Head of Ministry of Health Organ Procurement Unit and Transplant Society (KTP) Deputy Chairman Mustafa AlMousawi said yesterday. He said that there are six organ Al-Mousawi donors for every million people in Kuwait, followed by Iran and Saudi Arabia. The source for 40 percent kidneys transplanted at Hamed Al-Essa Center for Organ Transplants in 2012 was brain deaths at Kuwaiti hospitals, which is a great increase from previous years, he added. The Organ Procurement Unit succeeded in doubling the number from 9 to 18 donors in this category, he pointed out. Mousawi said that a total of 36 kidneys, 31 corneas, and two pancreases from this source were transplanted in Kuwait, while 13 livers, 10 lungs, and eight hearts were transplanted in Saudi Arabia within the framework of the Gulf transplant cooperation network. “The ultimate aim is to reach the European standard of 16 donators in a million people,” Mousawi said. As part of the Gulf organ exchange program, the Saudi Center for Organ Transplantation received 74 livers from Kuwait, besides a large number of lungs and hearts. Kuwaiti patients without possible donors among relatives meanwhile benefited from livers provided by the Saudi institution.

Fast food linked to child asthma PARIS: Children who frequently eat fast food are far likelier to have severe asthma compared to counterparts who tuck into fruit, a large international study published yesterday said. Researchers asked nearly half a million teenagers aged 13-14 and children aged six and seven about their eating habits and whether in the previous year they had experienced wheezing, eczema or an itchy, blocked nose when they did not have cold or flu. The questionnaires completed by a parent or guardian for the younger children - were distributed in scores of countries. It marks the latest phase in a long-running collaborative program, the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), which was launched in 1991. The investigators filtered out factors that could skew results, such as maternal smoking during pregnancy, sedentary lifestyle and body-mass index, in order to focus purely on diet. They found that fast food was the only food type that could be clearly linked to asthma severity. Three or more weekly servings of fast food were associated with a 39-percent increase in the risk of severe asthma among teens and a 27-percent increase among younger children. It also added to the risk of eczema and severe rhinitis. Continued on Page 13

Max 15º Min 05º High Tide 01:19 & 15:02 Low Tide 08:05 & 20:13

BAMAKO: Islamist forces yesterday seized control of a town in a fresh attack on Mali’s government-held south and vowed to strike “at the heart” of France as it waged a fourth day of airstrikes against them. French warplanes hit Islamist positions in Douentza, 800 km north of Bamako, residents reported, after bombing munitions and fuel stockpiles as well as bases in the key cities of Gao and Kidal over the weekend. Mali’s Foreign Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly said yesterday that the aim of the offensive was to drive out the jihadists, and not merely halt their push southwards. “I think in the last four days these jihadists have suffered heavy losses with more than 100 deaths,” Coulibaly told BFMTV after meeting with French counterpart Laurent Fabius. “We cannot simply push them back, we have to chase them away,” Coulibaly said. “We simply now cannot allow a time out for these forces to reorganise.” France launched an offensive alongside the Malian army on Friday as the insurgents threatened to advance on Bamako after months of torpor over a planned African military intervention, which experts had said could only get off the ground in September. After clashes with Malian soldiers, the Islamist rebels yesterday seized the town of Diabaly, some 400 km north of the capital Bamako, according to a local government official. French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed the Islamist victory in a town which lies on the road leading directly to the capital. “We knew there would be a counter-offensive towards the west,” he told BFM Television. “They have taken Diabaly, which is a small town, after heavy fighting and resistance from the Malian army, which was insufficiently equipped at that exact point.” He earlier told journalists that while the Islamists had “retreated” in the east of Mali, French forces were facing a “difficult” situation in the west where rebels are well armed. Local residents of Douentza said one of the rebel groups, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), had had fled their positions there by the time the French struck yesterday. “Planes repeatedly bombed the Islamists’ headquarters in Douentza. It was destroyed but the Islamists were not there,” said a resident on condition of anonymity. The insurgents are reported to have suffered heavy losses. Residents of Gao, one of the three main northern cities along with Timbuktu and Kidal, reported at least 60 killed on Sunday which was confirmed by a security source. A French helicopter pilot was also killed in the first day of fighting on Friday, according to the French defence ministry. A leader of MUJAO vowed revenge against France, which has stepped up security on home soil in fear of reprisal attacks. “France has attacked Islam. We will strike at the heart of France,” said Abou Dardar of the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) offshoot. Another MUJAO leader Omar Ould Hamaha, nicknamed “Redbeard”, warned on radio Europe 1 that France had “opened the doors of hell” with its intervention and faced a situation “worse than Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia”. Continued on Page 13

Tabtabaei sees strikes as new oppn tool Sabah Al-Nasser rioters arrested • MPs propose new electoral bill By B Izzak KUWAIT: Former Islamist MP and leading opposition figure Waleed Al-Tabtabaei said yesterday he will propose to the opposition resorting to general strikes as a new instrument in the opposition’s moves. Tabtabaei said he will propose that government employees in certain sectors resort to work stoppages as new means to apply pressure on the government to dissolve the National Assembly and scrap the controversial amendment to the electoral constituency law. Opposition groups and youth movements, which boycotted last month’s election, have been staging demonstrations and rallies to

demand dissolving the Assembly, which they describe as illegitimate, and repealing the amendment. The latest protest was staged late Sunday night as hundreds of opposition supporters marched on the streets of Sabah AlNasser and police did not interfere. But after the demonstration ended, several dozen youth activists marched on the Sixth Ring Road, interrupting traffic on the highway and then damaged a number of police cars. Sources said police have arrested a few of the activists. The action was strongly deplored by opposition figures as well as by MPs who demanded a curb to demonstrations. But opposition figures said that they too were dismayed by the violence as they have been insisting that

the protests must remain peaceful even in case of police atrocities. In a related development, five MPs yesterday submitted a new electoral constituency draft law which stipulates that voters vote for only one candidate under a new distribution of the five constituencies. The new bill was submitted by MPs Saadoun Hammad, Hussein Al-Qallaf, Hammad Al-Dossari, Khaled Al-Shulaimi and Abdulrahman Al-Jeeran. Other MPs have already made similar proposals. The new bill proposes a different distribution of residential areas in the five constituencies. The rush to file draft laws based on a singlevote mechanism, which was rejected by the opposition, is believed to be related to the large

number of petitions filed against the single-vote decree issued by HH the Amir ahead of the election. Some supporters of the single-vote law believe that the constitutional court may rule against the single-vote decree and subsequently order the dissolution of the Assembly. The new draft law must be approved by the legal and legislative committee and the interior and defense panel before it goes to the floor for voting. MP Abdullah Al-Tameemi meanwhile said that he believes that waiving the interest on the loans of Kuwaiti citizens is almost “inevitable” after the Amir called on the Assembly and the government to cooperate over the issue. The Central Bank has opposed the measure, saying this will cost state coffers around KD 1.7 billion.

Shabaab say second French soldier dead MOGADISHU: A second French commando has died from wounds suffered during a failed attempt to rescue a French agent in Somalia held hostage by Al-Shabaab since 2009, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated militant group said yesterday. Shabaab said the French commando had died in their custody and posted photos of what it said was his body on the Internet, according to the SITE monitoring service. The insurgent group also said it had made a decision on the fate of hostage Denis Allex and that a message conveying its verdict would be forthcoming. France says it believes Allex was killed during the rescue operation. The militants put up fierce resistance when French special forces went into southern Somalia by helicopter under the cover of darkness on Saturday to try to free Allex. There was some confusion over the exact outcome of the mission, with the French government saying at one point that one commando had died and the other gone missing, Continued on Page 13

BEVERLY HILLS, California: (From left) Daniel Day-Lewis, winner of Best Actor for ‘Lincoln’, Ben Affleck winner of Best Director for ‘Argo’ and Jessica Chastain, winner of Best Actress for ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ are seen with their awards during the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday. — AFP/AP (See Pages 36-39)



New system to reduce housing waiting period Housing exhibition opens By Nawara Fattahova KUWAIT: A variety of new building materials, products, services and systems are on display as the 16th Housing Exhibition took off to a flying start yesterday at the Kuwait Regency Hotel with 35 companies and institutions participating in it. The exhibition will continue till Thursday. Visitors to

tors, paintings, kitchens, glass, shades, air conditioning etc. The exhibition also features construction and contracting services such as soil research, swimming pools, lightening and voice controlled systems, smart houses, electrical contracting and others. The fair also includes housing services such as financing, invest-

and Electricity, Ministry of Public Works, Public Institution for Housing, Kuwait Finance House, Al-Kharafi Group, United Steel Industrial Co. GTC Paints, Al Wazzan, Carrier, Gulf Cables and Electronical Industries, Refrigeration Industries, Gulf Systems, and BLK, the exhibition will remain open from 9:30 am till 1:00pm, and then again from

KUWAIT: Minister Salem Al-Othaina cutting the ribbon and launching the fair. —Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

the exhibition will find a wide range of building materials such as cement, aluminum, metal, floors, ceramic, and others, besides dÈcor and finishing materials such as lights, eleva-

ing, security, maintenance, consulting and other services. Organized by the United Marketing and Organizing Exhibition ‘UNIEXPO’, and sponsored by the Ministry of Water

4:30pm till 9:00pm. The Minister of Transportation and State Minister for Housing Affairs, Salem Al-Othaina, who inaugurated the exhibition yesterday, said it has brought a vari-

ety of products under one roof, and that results in bringing down the prices. On the housing issue, he noted that during his short period in this post, he was optimistic about soon fulfilling the aspirations of citizens waiting for houses. “The automation system that will be made applicable soon will fasten the process of receiving the demands. Submitting applications will also be faster through this system. We are not able to meet all the demand currently but we will reduce the waiting period,” he pointed out. “Future plans for housing will be announced soon. There are many issues that we need to resolve. People do not want promises, but actual solutions. We are working to find ways to provide best housing, ,” he added. There are about 8000 to 9000 new applications for houses submitted every year. “We need to study whether this can be resolved through building new cities. Hopefully, this approach will solve most of the problem. We are currently meeting consultants to shorten the waiting period as many families are waiting for their house,” Al-Othaina pointed out. Regarding the new GCC joint cable, Al-Othaina said this project is almost ready to be signed in the next three to five months, and then the ministry can start working on it.

Azhar keen on cooperation with Kuwait CAIRO: Grand Imam of Egypt’s AlAzhar Dr Ahmad Al-Tayib said yesterday Al-Azhar was willing to reinforce cooperation with Kuwait in religious affairs. Speaking to KUNA on the sidelines of an international scientific forum on teaching Arabic to non-Arabic speakers, Al-Tayib commended Kuwait’s great contribution to building the Sheikh Zayed Center for Teaching Arabic to NonArabic Speakers, an affiliate of AlAzhar. The center does not only teach Arabic to non-Arabic speakers but also seeks to disseminate the

teachings of Islam, he said. He also lauded the “pioneering role” played by the Kuwaiti Office for Charitable Projects in catering for AlAzhar University students from Egypt and other countries by giving them monthly donations in order to help them complete their university study. The office also contributes to restore Al-Azhar schools and to build new ones nationwide, he added. Chairman of Kuwait-based International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) Abdullah AlMatouq spoke highly of the role of

Dr Ahmad Al-Tayib Egypt’s Al-Azhar in religious education and enlightenment. Over the last decades, students worldwide

have travelled to Al-Azhar in order to learn religious subjects, he told KUNA. It is not unusual for Al-Azhar, the sponsor of Islamic moderation worldwide, to attach much attention to teaching Arabic to nonArabic speakers, he pointed out. It is the responsibility for all Muslims, rather than Al-Azhar alone, to strive to disseminate Arabic. He revealed that his charity has donated over $30 million to help Syrian refugees and has built 3,000 shelters for Syrian refugees in Jordan and Turkey. — KUNA

ALGIERS: Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika (left) receives at the Djenane El Mufti residence Kuwait’s Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah who handed him a letter from HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. Sheikh Nasser said the letter dealt with the strong and excellent relations between Kuwait and Algeria. The Amir called for making good use of Algeria’s expertise in development and long-term plans, he added. — AFP

Bahrain releases Kuwaiti prisoner By A Saleh KUWAIT: Bahraini authorities released a Kuwaiti citizen several days after he was apprehended on charges of fanning insurgency in the island kingdom. Kuwaiti MP Khalid Al-Shatty who broke the news expressed gratitude to the “great Kuwaiti diplomatic efforts led by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah” which led to citizen Hassan Karam’s release. Verdict overruled The Appeals Court overruled a court order sentencing former MP Musallam Al-Barrak to a suspended six month jail term on charges of verbal assault pressed by Minister of Planning Dr. Rula Dashty. Instead, the court ordered Al-Barrak yesterday to pay a KD3000 fine for accusing Dashty of making illegal profits when she was an MP in the 2009 parlia. Worst demonstration MP Nabeel Al-Fadhl strongly condemned the demonstration organized on Sunday night which he dubbed “the worst in the history of night demonstrations in Kuwait as it featured bandits.” At least 50 people assaulted a police patrol

after blocking their path at the Sixth Ring Road. The attack came after the procession held in Sabah Al-Nasser had come to an end, according to local newspaper reports. “These demonstrations are illegal as they are unlicensed and therefore every person who took part in them is a criminal, especially since it involved violence,” Al-Fadhl said yesterday. Moreover, Al-Fadhl criticized former MPs Musallam Al-Barrak and Mubarak Al-Wa’lan for allegedly shifting the venue of the demonstration held against the parliament and the single-vote system to Sabah Al-Nasser instead of their own place of residence in Al-Andalus. In other news, MP Yousuf Al-Zalzalah sent queries to Minister of Information Sheikh Salman Al-Sabah about any existing plan to spread awareness through the media against violence, as well as the ministry’s procedures to monitor state TV and radio stations against sectarian instigations. Also, Parliament Speaker Ali Al-Rashid received a request submitted by a number of MPs to allocate a parliamentary session to discuss the citizens’ loans issue. Meanwhile, MP Saad Al-Bous called for investigations to determine whether a team representing the Queen Margaret University has committed to the terms of its contract signed with the Ministry of Health to train staff at the Makki Jum’ah Cancer Center.



Sub-zero temperature affects fish prices Shrimping season officially closed

KUWAIT: Some file photos of shrimps and fish vendors at Souq Sharq Fish Market.—Photos by Ben Garcia

By Ben Garcia KUWAIT: The ‘shrimping season’ is officially closed from today amidst sub-zero temperature, rendering the product even more expensive, an official at the Mubarakiya market said yesterday. The Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR) bans the sale of local shrimp every year to allow the shrimp to multiply and mature since the only source of shrimps is found about 20 miles from Kuwait Bay.

Kuwait bans harvesting local shrimp from Jan 15 till mid-August, but one can find shrimps from Iran, Saudi Arabia and other sources in the market during the period of ban, though in limited amount. Jalal Majid, an official at Mubarakiya Market, confirmed that the ban came into effect today. “The last day of selling local shrimp will be today. Starting tomorrow, we will have to display and sell shrimps from other sources,” he said. Majid also reminded customers to expect

higher prices in the coming days due to cold weather prevailing in the past three to four days. “Everything has gone up compared to previous days. Just two days ago, shrimps were selling at KD3.5 per kilo for jumbo size, compared to today’s price of KD5,” he said. “Same with the Zubaidi which till three days ago was selling for only KD10-12 but is now fetching KD14-15 already,” Majid disclosed. “There is a shortage of stocks but this is

nothing new for the fish market. We usually have somewhat limited sources of marine products,” he added. About 20 percent of Kuwait’s market needs are obtained from Kuwaiti waters, while the remaining 80 percent are imported from neighboring countries such as Iran, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Thailand. Press reports claimed PAAAFR is contemplating a ban on fishing in the entire Kuwaiti water for at least two years to re-populate all its marine life which is currently being

Cabinet dismisses reports on plans to amend constitution KUWAIT: The Cabinet yesterday categorically denied reports on plans to amend the constitution, reiterating the Kuwaiti leadership’s abidance and protection of the constitution. “The Cabinet confirms that the issue of amending the constitution had been neither discussed nor even thought about,” said Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah AlMubarak Al-Sabah following the weekly Cabinet meeting held at Sief Palace under the chairmanship of HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah yesterday. “More than once, HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah has reiterated abidance by the constitution and that his responsibility for protecting it and guaranteeing the right application of its articles to achieve the higher interests of Kuwait and strengthen the state security a nd s t a b i l i t y,” h e a dded. The Cab inet warned citizens against heeding such

rumors, which are meant to cause tension and instigate sedition. Earlier, the ministers reviewed the letters addressed to Sheikh Sabah from several world leaders. HH the Amir received a letter from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, inviting him to the third Arab S ocial, Economic and Developmental Summit, slated for Jan 2122. He also received a letter from Somali President Hassan Sheik h Mohamud on bilateral ties and means to strengthen them. The Cabinet was also briefed on a letter sent from French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to the PM Sheikh Jaber on special relations between the two countries and means to bolster investment cooperation. The ministers mulled and approved a number of draft laws and referred them to the Amir to send it to the National Assembly for deliberation and approval. They approved a bill on a draft agreement between Kuwait

and Romania to act in kind with regard to the possession of the land of the embassy and diplomatic missions. Th e Cabin et en d or s e d t wo b i l l s on approving the project of electricity linkage with Gulf Cooperation Council member states and amending I nternational Monetary Fund agreement. It also ratified a draf t law to penalize the ac t of public humiliation of the GCC flag. Seeking to upgrade youth contribution in the development of the society, the Cabinet approved the formation of a permanent ministerial committee on youth affairs. The ministers also touched upon the items on the agenda of the National Assembly this week, before concluding with discussion to the latest developments on the Arab and international levels. In this regard, they lauded Saudi King Abdullah’s recent decision to allocate 30 seats of the Shura Council to women to enhance their role in the Saudi society. — KUNA

‘Arab world can help solve Palestinian financial problem’ CAIRO: Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil Al-Araby said Arab countries can provide the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) with all money it needed as Israel was reluctant to release Palestinian tax funds. Speaking at a joint news conference with visiting Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayadh and Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour following the conclusion of the Arab ministerial meeting, Al-Araby said since he, together with the Egyptian foreign minister, visited Ramallah, he has received “encouraging replies” from seven Arab countries to help in resolving the Palestinian financial crisis. He said the Arab ministerial meeting discussed the reflections of the Syrian crisis on neighboring countries. He added that UN-Arab Envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi will present a report to the UN Security Council,

which could include “positive matters”. The ministerial meeting has adopted a resolution delaying an international conference on nuclear-free Middle East, he pointed out. For his par t, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayadh warned of the financial crisis of the PNA. “There is a financial crisis haunting the PNA, which could seriously jeopardize the situation in the occupied territories and impoverish 1.5 million Palestinians,” he cautioned. Therefore, he called for putting in place an earlier resolution adopted in Baghdad’s Arab Summit establishing an Arab safety network worth USD 100 million. Meanwhile, he believed that Palestine’s UN observer membership was not the end of everything. He added that Israel had responded to this resolution by punishing Palestinians by means of building more settlements in occupied

Jerusalem, freezing Palestinian tax funds. The Palestinian prime minister said a delegation comprising the secretary general of the Arab League, the Lebanese foreign minister, who is the chairman of the current session of the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers, and the Iraqi foreign minister whose country holds the current chair of the Arab Summit, will tour Arab capitals to look into the resolution establishing a financial safety network for Palestine. The Lebanese foreign minister told the joint news conference that Lebanon had presented a memo on what it needs to host Syrian refugees. He said his country preferred to keep away from the current Syrian crisis due to its special relation with Syria. He believed that continuing violence in Syria was due to fragmented groups and flow of weapons and money into Syria. However, he maintained, Lebanon had to deal with the dossier of Syrian refugees on the basis that “we are brothers”. “Due to Lebanon’s weak and moderate potential, we have asked for a meeting of Arab foreign ministers as we cannot answer the needs of Syrian refugees,” he noted. Meanwhile, the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers regretted the delay of nuclear-free Middle East region as a breach of commitments made by the organizers of the conference. The council said in a release: “The postponement is a violation of the final communique of the 2010 NPT Review Conference.” It also rejected the justifications made by the organizations for putting the conference on the back burner. It called on the organizers to set a new date for the conference and to make consultations in this respect under the UN umbrella. I t even warned that should no new date was set for the gathering, then Arab countries have to meet together to look into an appropriate response, including moves through the 2015 NPT Review Conference. —- KUNA

harvested by people. Fishermen in Kuwait have welcomed the suggestion while demanding to be ‘fully compensated’ if ever the ban is implemented. “While we do not know whether they are serious about the ban, but many of us in the Fishermen’s Union will abide by it if the plan was to be implemented. However, we will need a reasonable compensation if it happens,” a source from Fishermen’s Union told Kuwait Times when interviewed for the subject.

CSC ‘Online Training’ portal launched KUWAIT: “The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has launched an “Online Training Portal” project with the aim of keeping abreast with the latest in the field of techniques and applications used in distance training, said a senior commission official, yesterday. At a ceremony hosted on this occasion, CSC Undersecretary Mohammed Al-Roumi said the distance training possibilities first came under consideration in 2007. The commission had since cooperated with a specialized company to enable this service, to better serve the field of training state employees. “The new portal is in Arabic and offers administrative, executive, supervisory, and other programs. “Also unique to this portal,” the official added, “is that state employees could

register for the courses online without the need for paper forms. They can start the course from wherever they are and the material offered is the latest in the field.” Whereas 150-200 trainees is the norm for the past few years, this development is hoped to bring up the number to an annual 350-400, the undersecretary emphasized. Representative of the company designing the portal and program, Ayad Al-Kayyali said the greatest strong points are the flexibility in time and location which suits the needs of most trainees, along with the offering of the material in both Arabic and English. Along with the subject material, a forum would be accessible for trainees to discuss the issues of interest and debate possibilities relating to the course at hand. —- KUNA


LOCAL Local Spotlight

In my view

Misleading opposition

Formulate clear rules on visas By Labeed Abdal

By Muna Al-Fuzai


ifting the visa ban on people belonging to six nationalities while imposing certain conditions has partially solved a long overdue, and quite annoying problem. Kuwait became an independent country in 1961, having existed since 1751 and the six nationalities in question which faced the ban have been coming to Kuwait for over a hundred years. People hailing from some of those countries have been coming here for work for decades in schools, hospitals, oil sector, electricity, construction etc. I totally consider the right to enter a country or to deport someone a completely sovereign right of that country but there is also in existence an international right to free movement and the right to cross borders safely. As we enter the 21st century, we need to come up with more integral solutions to visas and residency issues without discrimination and /or segregation. The constitution of Kuwait mentions in Article 29 that: “All people are equal in human dignity and in public rights and duties before the law, without distinction to race, origin, language, or religion.” Therefore we really do not want such halfway solutions as the expats involved are also humans and have families that want to come together and choose Kuwait as a better place to live. I remember very well an important quote of Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the former Amir of Kuwait, when he addressed the global community via the United Nations at the height of the 1990 invasion of the country and described Kuwait as a ‘shaded oasis in the middle of the desert’ where everyone can come to find his destiny. This is exactly what must be done. We must formulate clear rules, conditions and even restrictions about the country of origin. Such conditions must be fair and applicable equally and also in keeping with the international standards and human rights.

kuwait digest

Reveal names of culprits! By Iqbal Al-Ahmad


parliamentary session specially devoted to discuss the law and order situation in the light of an increasing crime rate in Kuwait was held behind closed doors. Despite that, whatever was discussed was later leaked to the media, a habit that current lawmakers seemed to have inherited from their predecessors. However, all such information turned out to be singularly unimportant.

Failure to reveal such crucial information shows disregard not only to MPs, but also to the people. It further proves that serious efforts were not being made to address the reasons that led to the deteriorating state of law and order in the country. The Interior Minister, rather the cabinet, had insisted to discuss the state of affairs in a secret session on the pretext that releasing the information that was about to be discussed was not in public interest. While this decision made sense, the only issue that could have warranted for the discussion to be held behind closed doors, did not even feature in the session. The supposed cooperation between Muslim Brotherhood’s members in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait no longer shocks anyone. You wouldn’t find too many people raising their eyebrows while reading headlines to that effect nowadays. Certain important details were not revealed despite the general belief that it was primarily because of them that the session was held in secret. HH the Prime Minister reportedly indicated during the session that it has now been proven that a Muslim Brotherhood network recently caught in the UAE has connections with certain “Kuwaiti personalities” who provided them “financial and logistical support.” This in my opinion hardly adds anything to what we already knew. What would have added to our knowledge was to reveal the names of these people or foundations as it would have not only given people new information, but would also have justified why the session was kept secret. I believe that failure to reveal such crucial information shows disregard not only to MPs, but also to the people. It further proves that serious efforts were not being made to address the reasons that led to the deteriorating state of law and order in the country. We have not heard any clarifications from the Interior Minister or any other ministry official about possible new security measures to deal with the increasing crime rate, or solutions addressing the root causes of the problem. I think the time has come to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Authorities need to reveal the name of any person or foundation about whom they have proof about indulging in any activity threatening the security of Kuwait or any other country. At least they should announce that proper legal measures have been put into place. I do not think the authorities have any excuse left, particularly now that they have said they have assumed responsibility in this regard. — Al-Qabas


he sixth so-called ‘Nation’s Dignity’ march was carried out two days ago. The opposition group launched this new demonstration calling for cancelling the new National Assembly which it claimed only came into being due to one-vote per voter electoral decree. The opposition also claims to chart a different destiny for Kuwait claiming that it knows the country better. I know this may seem crazy but we need to analyze what did this opposition achieve when it was in power and why some of its key leaders are facing the prospect of spending years in jail now?

In my view

Who rules Egypt? By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed


either imams nor members of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist movements will be able to protect the Egyptian presidency from the anger of the people when the banks decrease Egypt’s currency exchange rate compared to the dollar. Every single citizen will pay a dear price for this, not just the protesters in Tahrir Square, the Nasserites or the Copts. At this point, neither the International Monetary Fund [IMF] loan nor aid from Saudi Arabia and Qatar would be of any use. The only solution is for the regime to restore relations with its opposition and try to reach a broad-ranging reconciliation that includes all factions. Following this, they will be able to confront future crises together. However before this can be achieved we must recognize that the Egyptian political scene has become extremely puzzling. President Morsi slams the opposition in every possible manner then appears on CNN to say that he believes in democracy. Following this, Egyptian Defense Minister, General Abdul Fatah Khalil Al-Sisi, headed to Sinai to meet with the Bedouins there wearing a traditional cloak over his khaki uniform. Prime Minister Hisham Qandil received an IMF official, attempting to talk him into approving a five-billion-dollar loan to Egypt after imposing a set of socialist laws that ban Egyptians from travelling abroad with more than $10,000 and tourists from entering the country with the same amount. The Egyptian intelligence chief visited the UAE in an attempt to resolve the problems that have arisen following the arrest of an “Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood cell”, with fears growing that the Brotherhood want to export its movement into the Gulf region in precisely the same manner that Iran sought to export its Islamic revolution. As for Essam el-Erian, the Muslim Brotherhood’s most famous media figure, he dropped a bomb that distracted the people from both the constitution and the referendum, calling for the return of Egypt’s Jewish community “who were unjustly expelled by late President Gamal Abdel Nasser.” Whilst at the same time that he is calling for the return of 250,000 Jews to Egypt, the Egyptian armed forces arrested a single Israeli who had sneaked across the border! Who is ruling Egypt? In the past, they said that Mubarak’s wife and son were interfering in the presidency’s decisions. Now, they are saying that the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide and his deputy decide what happens and even have the power to cancel the president’s decrees. This was reportedly demonstrated when Morsi’s statement greeting Egypt’s Coptic community was withdrawn from the official news agency just one hour following its publication. Rumours claim that Egypt is ruled by a triumvirate, namely the President, the Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide and “the investor”. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badie, is similar to his Iranian counterpart in the sense that he has the final say and

issues weekly statements that are no different than those issued in Tehran, namely putting forward his view and attacking those who oppose the government. As for the second member of this partnership, it is claimed that this is none other than well-known Egyptian businessman and deputy Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Khairat el-Shater. Many people believe that el-Shater is the real ruler, and that he was responsible for selecting both Egypt’s cabinets. Whilst we all know that he was the Muslim Brotherhood’s original presidential candidate but the courts banned him from taking part in the elections due to his criminal record. Some have even accused him of running the Brotherhood’s cells abroad including those in the Gulf. Since the Brotherhood, the ruling party and indeed the presidency are working in secret it is difficult to tell truth from fiction. The long silence of the Egyptian Armed Forces have given the impression that they have either been hibernating or been hampered by the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the recent public dispute that took place between the military and the Supreme Guide a few weeks ago, not to mention the Defense Minister’s visit to the Sinai Peninsula, have given the impression that the army is like a tiger that sleeps with one eye open. It is clear that Egypt is now witnessing a fierce battle between different powers, both within and outside of government. This is what happened after the 1952 revolution in addition to when Sadat came to power following Nasser’s death. However the situation is very different now because this power struggle is no longer confined to the presidential palace. Some argue that diversity in the country’s centers of power represents one of the key features of democracy. This is true, however the problem is that many of these struggles are now taking place outside a democratic framework, whether we are talking about the presidency, the legislature, the judiciary or even the media. Members of the elite are not the only ones who are worried, and this anxiety has extended to average Egyptians who can see the impact of a weakening currency and a crippled economy on their daily lives. The average citizen is an influential power in Egypt, whilst money sent back to the country by Egyptians abroad constitutes one third of the country’s revenue, exceeding the revenues generated by industry, agriculture, and the Suez Canal. When these Egyptians who left their families to work day and night in foreign countries see their earnings losing value, they will either stop transferring money back to Egypt or stop dealing in the Egyptian pound. At this point, attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood to reassure the people would be completely futile, as would their attempts at following the Iranian example and excluding their opponents. There may come a difficult time when the Brotherhood find themselves being pursued by the Egyptian general public.

Earlier this week, the demonstrators were threatening a change in their strategy, and were hinting at use of force against the police or any power. They called for chaos, scaring people and destroying public priorities. Today, I want to analyze those who call themselves members of the opposition and also their demands. Some may be fooled by their claim that all they want is cancellation of the current National Assembly elected on the basis of one vote per voter system. I do not believe that this demand is a bonafide one. Here is why. Does anyone at the opposition believe or trust the constitution or the country’s laws? If yes, then where was the necessity to run into the streets calling for violating the laws and threatening to damage public and private properties? Also, since every crime has a motive. So, what was the motive behind this protest? The motive is clear. It is to garner power and money. In my old days, I have served many men in power and saw them in tears when they were shunted out. Clearly, power can be like a magic potion. I have not seen anyone wishing to live without power. It makes things easier but people do not use power to deliver justice. Instead, they abuse power. Earlier this week, the demonstrators were threatening a change in their strategy, and were hinting at use of force against the police or any power. They called for chaos, scaring people and destroying public priorities. Does all this make them a decent opposition? Not for me, and surely, not for many others either. The crowd shouted about “Freedom with a popular government” and “No to an oppressive government.” If they were actually under an oppressive government, they would not have dared raise their head and would be dead already by now, not shouting in the streets. A placard read, “Dissolution is the only solution.” That’s how things are formulated in their minds and their thinking is being impacted. The issue of one vote is already under adjudication in a court of law and if that decree is ever scrapped, it would not be because of their exertions. They may call themselves by any number of names but they are not an opposition. As long as some of their key figures are facing allegations about attacking the Amir and they feel the country laws would not be able to reach them, it is clear that reform is not their objective. With orange scarves, banners and flags, protesters gathered to reiterate the opposition’s demand for “a full parliamentary system.” They wanted the one-vote election decree scrapped and the newly-elected National Assembly to be dissolved. The demonstration ended without spilling any blood or resulting in any arrest contrary to the wishes of the organizers who wanted to defame the police. I would assume that the police must have watched these people closely but without interfering. Two police cars were damaged with some cameras and I hope the Ministry of Interior will wake up and realize that something is seriously wrong with the state of law and order in Kuwait. We need to enforce the law against such people and not allow them to go scot free. No one should be allowed to break the law.

In my view

Spend money the right way

kuwait digest

The not-so-secret session By Dr. Hassan Abbas


do not blame anyone who accuses us of political idiocy out of frustration about Kuwait’s internal politics. If an action is not based on a sound principle, it can only be called ‘idiotic.’ The chaotic political laws in Kuwait make everyone right and wrong at the same time. Take a look at Article 69 of the parliament’s internal regulations which states that “parliament sessions are originally supposed to be held publicly and can be turned into secret sessions.” ‘Secrecy’ here means making everyone has to leave the parliament’s main hall except the parliament members and others who have permission of the parliament. In short, a secret session is held to make sure that no one outside the parliament becomes aware about the discussions inside. During last Thursday’s session, the decision to keep the session secret divided the MPs into two groups, one opposing it and the other supporting it. I believe that those who approved the request should be held accountable for violating the aforementioned article which says open sessions should be the rule while secret ones are the exception. I say so because in this particular case, there is absolutely no reason to deprive the public from information that pertains to their own lives and the lives of their families. But I do not intend to talk more about those who approved the request. What I want to talk about are those who objected to

the request, then created chaos without any logic. You said you were against the request for a secret session out of respect for the people. This was wonderful, and I thank you very much. But once you found that you were outnumbered, should you not have accepted the parliament’s majority vote? You can either walk away from the session out of commitment to your position, just as MPs Ahmad Al-Mulaifi and Faisal Al-Duwaisan did, or you can accept the democratic decision and honor the secrecy which the parliament voted on to enforce on the discussion. What happened afterwards is that the information about the secret session leaked out even more than what would have appeared usually in the newspapers if the session was held openly. Social media soon exploded with all kinds of information about the session including the recommendations made, the ‘threats’ that the MPs made against the Interior Minister, not to mention the details provided by MP Hesham Al-Baghli (who voted against the request) about the discussion. Not only does that show clear contradiction, but also a lack of respect for the parliament’s internal regulations. The Cabinet and MPs did disrespect the public when they closed the parliament’s doors in people’s faces, but lawmakers who leaked details of the secret session also blatantly violated the country’s regulations and constitution. — Al-Rai

By Saad Al-Harbi


ersonal income tax issue is back again, but this time in the absence of the MPs who could disturb the government in the National Assembly which has made it clear that the tax will be definitely imposed. However, the proposal has come casually inserted in a statement about Kuwait trying to avoid its dependence on only one source of income and the need to diversify the sources of income and rationalizing government expenditure. Honestly speaking, it is a correct point of view. There is no point to talk merely on paper. We must analyze the facts in order to understand why the tax is being imposed. In the beginning, the main reason for imposing tax in any country in the world was to improve public services like health, education, housing, construction of roads etc. All of these were areas which required huge amounts of money. Therefore, countries used to resort to taxes to diversify their means of income and increase it to help the state perform its duties. But things in Kuwait are completely different from those states which impose taxes. When we mention, for example, education, we find that state allocates a huge budget for education year after year, still the results remain poor as every one knows. Same argument applies to all other services. This is actually the core problem. It is the administration which does not spend the money in the right way. Some countries which are not considered as advanced countries and have very humble budgets, spend less than half of what we spend on education. Still they do better. For example Taiwan is far ahead of us and other Asian countries. Therefore, the problem is with the administration in the first place. This is the problem that requires a solution first of all. — Al-Anbaa



Kuwait pays tribute to late Amir Sheikh Jaber ‘Patron of Kuwait Renaissance’

KUWAIT: The “Reform and Change from the Islamic Perspective” Conference in progress.

Reform, change ‘duty of society’ KUWAIT: Minister of Justice, Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Shareeda Al-Mousherji noted that reforms are the duty of the society as a whole. “All human communities are in desperate need of reform and change for the betterment of both individuals and societies as a whole,” Minister Al-Mousherji said in the opening session of the “Reform and Change from the Islamic Perspective” Conference, held in Kuwait under the patronage of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yesterday. “We all have to purify our souls and effectively contribute to the building of our societies,” he added. The minister underscored that people have to pursue reform thorough legitimate means and approaches to avoid actions that could cause chaos or instigate sedition. AlMousherji noted that the conference comes at a critical stage of the history of Arab and Muslim countries and there are high hopes pinned on the outcome of the event. Meanwhile, Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Undersecretary Dr. Adel Al-Falah urged

participating scholars to clarify the meaning and tools to approach the two concepts of ‘reform’ and ‘change’ from the Islamic perspective. For his part, Mauritania’s Mufti Dr. Ahmed Al-Murabit underlined that Islamic scholars have agreed that reform and change are human and Islamic necessities, but societies and communities have different ways to achieve them. Al-Murabit lauded the Kuwaiti government and people’s abidance by Islamic teachings in their work to make change and introduce reforms. A host of prominent scholars from different Muslim countries are participating in the two-day conference. In addition to the Mauritanian Mufti Dr. Al-Murabit, Saudi scholar Dr. Suleiman Rehaily and Kuwaiti scholar Dr. Walid Al-Rabei’a are set to deliver speeches at the conference. A number of workshops will be organized on the sidelines of the conference on the definition of the two concepts, their legitimate tools, objectives and the Islamic rules related to the implementation of these ideas. — KUNA

Kuwait top provider of transplant organs KUWAIT: Kuwait is top in the Middle East in securing transplant organs and tissue through post-death donation, Head of Ministry of Health Organ Procurement Unit and Transplant Society (KTP) Deputy Chairman Mustafa Al-Mousawi said yesterday. He added that there are six organ donors for every million people in Kuwait, followed by Iran and Saudi Arabia. The source for 40 percent kidneys transplanted at Hamed Al-Essa Center for Organ Transplant in 2012 was brain deaths at Kuwaiti hospitals, which is a great increase from previous years, he added. The Organ

Procurement Unit succeeded in doubling the number from 9 to 18 donors in this category, he pointed out. The specialist said that a total of 36 kidneys, 31 corneas, and two pancreases from said source were transplanted in Kuwait, while 13 livers, 10 lungs, and eight hearts were transplanted in Saudi Arabia within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) transplant cooperation network. The Ministry of Health’s Organ Procurement Unit had recently hosted a workshop for doctors, intensive care nurses, and organ procurement coordinators. — KUNA

KUWAIT: The late Amir His Highness Sheikh Jaber AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was one of the great personalities of Kuwait who contributed to the making of the country’s history, its renaissance and promoting its status among nations of the globe, said the Minister of Information. His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad was deeply devoted to the homeland and its natives, giving abundantly in their service, leading the country skillfully, thus proving “an exemplary leader whose patronization covered all citizens,” said Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem Al-Humoud Al-Sabah, on the seventh anniversary of the demise of the late Amir, which coincides today. The 28-year rule of His Highness Sheikh Jaber was distinguished with many achievements in all sectors, Sheikh Salman said, also underscoring the full-scale development in the fields of health, education, and construction, as well as his efforts in cementing relations with other states. His Highness Sheikh Jaber’s accomplishments were felt and esteemed not only in Kuwait but also in a large number of Arab and Muslim nations that would always remember him with appreciation. In his lamentation of the late Amir, Sheikh Salman recalled that he was a leader distinguished with wisdom, insight, visionary ideas, and his era witnessed launch of many and various projects that made strides on the path of development. In his somber recollection of Sheikh Jaber’s legacy, Sheikh Salman noted great efforts that had been exerted by the late Amir, along with the late Father Amir, His Highness Sheikh Saad Al-

Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, and His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad AlJaber Al-Sabah for solidifying foundations of Kuwait’s renaissance and bolstering its global status. Moreover, the Ministry of Information lauded the great role, played by Sheikh Jaber “with aid of his companions during ordeal of the blatant Iraqi aggression in 1990 to rally international support and force occupation forces to withdraw from Kuwaiti territory.” His Highness Sheikh Jaber held on his shoulders throughout his life causes of the homeland and was keen on being aware of people’s needs and realizing their aspirations and meeting their expectations. “It is ever with the greatest feeling, appreciation, and respect that we remember the late Amir His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad AlJaber Al-Sabah, and our words could never do justice to his bravery, skilled leadership, and fatherly attitude as he served his beloved homeland and countrymen,” said KUNA Chairman and Director General Sheikh Mubarak AlDuaij Al-Ibrahim Al-Sabah, yesterday. The chairman’s remarks came as the state marks the seventh anniversary of the 13th Amir of Kuwait’s passing. “The date Jan 15 would forever be one of loss for Kuwaitis. The era of the leader deservedly and affectionately known as ‘Amir of Hearts’ was one of great development in all fields during which Kuwait assumed an esteemed international standing and acquired much economic and political weight. “Upon assuming post of Amir, His Highness Sheikh Jaber started strengthening ties with all world states, went

Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on many tours and visits, sought to benefit from other countries and regions’ experiences, and urged openness to the advancement and new innovations and developments in the world so that the country stay abreast of it all.” The KUNA chairman noted the Amir was particularly known and esteemed for his stress on human development as priority and key factor for overall development. “He considered the human resource the state’s true wealth and development of Kuwaitis’ skills and education and culture essential if they are to be up to the challenge of the time and the expectations of the nation.” Beyond local concerns, the late Amir was also in the lead whenever support was needed for Arab and Islamic causes, as he believed that Kuwaitis and other Arabs and Muslims are brethren and it is a duty to lend a hand where needed. He also stressed again and again that charity was an innate trait of the Kuwaiti people and one which must ever be nourished and expressed. Recalling darker times, the chairman recalled “the great effort and wisdom of the late Amir which enabled him to

lead the nation to safety after the 1990 Iraqi invasion and occupation, with the help of his right hand and crown prince the late Father Amir His Highness Sheikh Saad AlAbdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah. The great respect he earned throughout his life had enabled him to bring about

an international coalition that liberated his homeland in an international precedent. “Although his 28 years as leader brought much achievement, the greatest accomplishment is without doubt bolstering the state’s sovereignty and independence, in the face of the greatest calamity a state could suffer.” Sheikh Mubarak Al-Duaij remarked that the loss of a leader of such merit, caliber, and compassion, was felt as a great loss by the Arab and Islamic world. “However, Kuwait still seeks to serve the causes it believes in through the diligent and sincere effort of its citizens under the wise leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad AlJaber Al-Sabah. — KUNA



Mom tries to smuggle drugs to inmate son Two stabbed in football fight KUWAIT: A woman was caught smuggling drugs into the Salmiya police station where her son was incarcerated, and later claimed it was to alleviate his sufferings. Officers, who had found a syringe used by drug addicts from a cell where four young inmates were being held in a case connected with a scuffle, had kept the visitors under watch. When the middle-aged woman, mother of one of the four, came visiting, they searched her bag containing ostensibly some food and clothes for her son, but found some heroin, hashish and drug paraphernalia in it. The Kuwaiti woman was immediately arrested and admitted that she wanted her son and his friends to receive the contraband as it would have “alleviated their sufferings during imprisoned.” She was referred to the Drug Control General Department to face charges. Football fight Two people were hospitalized with stab wounds after fans of rival teams clashed as soon as a Gulf Cup football match between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia ended. Kuwaiti and Saudi men scuffled and exchanged fisticuffs on Saturday night in Saad Al-Abdullah after they argued about the performance of their respective national teams. Two of the young men used pocketknives to attack their rivals before police arrived and broke up the quar-

rel. The two were taken to the Jahra Hospital for treatment. Jahra fumes A man died and two others were hospitalized in a critical condition after they suffered suffocation due to fumes inside a camp in Jahra. Paramedics and police rushed to the Jahra Stables Camping Area where a Kuwaiti man reported finding his camp’s keeper and two of his friends unconscious. The three Asian men had reportedly fallen asleep without completely extinguishing a charcoal fire they had lit for heating. One man was pronounced dead on the scene while two others were rushed to the Jahra Hospital in a critical condition. A case was filed. Attempted suicide A Jahra resident apparently tried to commit suicide at home by consuming an overdose of prescription medicines and was hospitalized in a critical condition. The Egyptian man was brought to the Jahra Hospital in an ambulance where he was immediately admitted to its intensive care unit. It was initially reported that the man had fallen sick but later, the preliminary diagnoses revealed that he was suffering complications from an overdose of medicine. A case was filed for investigations.

Officer arrested A police officer who harassed a civilian while being under the influence of alcohol now faces charges. The officer, who was off duty at the time of the incident, started chasing a Kuwaiti man who eventually decided to turn towards the Fahaheel police station for help. The officers there swiftly arrested their comrade who verbally assaulted them all the way to the cell. He remains in custody pending further procedures. Baby abandoned Investigations are on to ascertain how a newborn was left abandoned near a mosque in Abdullah Al-Mubarak recently. Police and paramedics had reached the scene on Sunday after a Kuwaiti man reported finding a healthy baby boy near the mosque. The newborn was taken to the Farwaniya Hospital for further medical examination, while a case was filed at the area’s police station for investigations. Search for thieves Thieves broke into a shop in Abdullah Port by ramming their car into its front door and made good their escape after stealing KD26,000. The shop’s owner said the suspects ran away with a safe that contained cheques worth KD21,000 and KD5,000 in cash. A case was filed for investigations.

NBK celebrates graduation of first batch of Shabab program KUWAIT: National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) celebrated the graduation of the first batch of newly hired young Kuwaitis from the new Shabab Training Program. The program is specially designed to develop the skills of newly recruited diploma holders as part of NBK’s strategy to attract and develop young Kuwaitis.NBK organized a special ceremony for

the graduation of the newly hired young Kuwaitis. The ceremony was attended by Mazin Al-Nahedh, NBK General Manager, Consumer Banking Group and Emad AlAblani, NBK Deputy General Manager, Human Resources Group, along with senior leaders from the bank. Al-Ablani said: “Shabab program is the first initiative of its kind in the private sector in

Kuwait designed to develop the skills of diploma holders, and is part of NBK’s strategy to attract young Kuwaitis by offering them a range of career and professional development opportunities.” “I congratulate the graduates of Shabab Training Program and call on them to exert every effort in order to continue their path of professional excellence,” Al Ablani

added. “This program marks the start of what will be a continuing process to nurture and grow our young talents.” NBK Shabab Training Program extends over a period of two and a half months and is specially tailored to provide trainees with theoretical and practical skills covering the different aspects of the banking industry.

Al-Qurain seminar debates Egypt revolution KUWAIT: The third seminar of the 19th session of Al-Qurain Cultural Festival, held here Sunday evening, discussed the revolutionary experiment of Egypt in the political context of the so-called Arab Spring events. The seminar focused on two papers raised by the Egyptian academics Nevin Musaad and Tharwat Al-Khirbawi. In her presentation, Dr. Musaad, professor of economic and political science at Cairo University, addressed what she called “the constitutional setback in Egypt after January revolution.” She divided her research into four chapters dealing with; the constitutional declarations issued since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak’s regime; the causes of the constitutional stalemate; critical analysis of the new constitution; and the possible impacts of the enforcement of

the constitution. “Eight constitutional declarations had been issued to govern the political process during the stage of transition; these documents led the country to the trap of constitutional illegitimacy either because the issuer was an illegitimate party or the issuer intervened in the work of other state authorities,” she argued. “Till the Egyptian revolution finds a constitution that lives up to its aspirations, the future of the country will remain open to all probabilities,” Dr. Musaad affirmed. In his “analytic study of the eruption of the earthquake - the quake and the aftershocks,” AlKhirbawi reviews the early heralds and junctures of the revolution as well as the results. “The youth who ignited the revolution on Jan 25, 2011, belonged to no political party and had

no clear-cut agenda; it was just a spontaneous action to protest against the criminal practices of the police,” he said. “Later on the protests interacted with the economic, social and political grievances of the people. The Friday of Wrath, on January 28, was a crucial turning point in the revolution as almost all walks of life in Egypt, notably the middle class and the political opposition forces, joined the revolutionaries,” he added. Organized by the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters (NCCAL) under auspices of His Highness the Prime M inister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Al-Qurain Cultural Festival was opened by Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Sabah AlSabah on Jan 7. — KUNA

CFC sponsors ‘Heavy Target’ by students KUWAIT: Commercial Facilities Company (CFC), the leading facilities company in Kuwait, has recently sponsored the “Heavy Target” project presented by Kuwait University (KU) students at the 21st Engineering Design Projects Exhibition. The KU sponsorship initiative by CFC is regarded as its third, which comes in line with the company’s corporate social responsibility program promoting the importance of educational development and science in Kuwait. The “Heavy Target” project was presented by Manar Al Otaibi, Hiba Al Adwany, Hanan Abu Shehri, Ahmed Hassan and Omar Karbouj, winning the “Best Project” award by Kuwait University ’s Engineering and Petroleum Department. Commenting on this sponsorship, Abdullah Ahmed Al - Hilal, Marketing Coordinator of CFC, said, “Supporting education and scientific innovation plays a vital role in building up the students’ positive perspectives and energies towards sustaining a better future. The project showcased by

the KU students was a sign of the quality work we can actually receive from gifted minds by showing our support. I would like to congratulate the group for receiving the ‘Best Project’ award and for their outstanding efforts.” “Heavy Target” included an integrated evaluation of key aspects to appraise the possibility of improving the production of heavy oil reser voirs using enhanced oil recover y techniques. Moreover, the project also won the Kuwait International Petroleum Conference and Exhibition (KIPCE) Sub Regional Paper Contest, qualifying the students to join the KIPCE Regional Paper Contest in April. On their part, the students of “Heavy Target” expressed their appreciation towards CFC’s support and said, “Receiving the award and recognition by KU and KIPCE means a lot to us. We have been working on this project wholeheartedly with the aim of coming up with an innovation that would add to Kuwait’s scientific sphere. We are glad we have

KU Students with Abdullah Al-Hilal

reached this stage, and would like to thank Kuwait University, KPICE and CFC for their continuous support towards the development of ‘Heavy Target’.” Co-organized by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and KU, KIPCE combines a multi-disciplinary technical conference with a cutting-edge exhibition, bringing together regional and international professionals from all sectors of the oil and gas industr y. Commercial Facilities Company (CFC) was established in 1977 as the first Kuwaiti closed

shareholding company with an initial capital of KD 3.8million (US$ 12.7million). It specializes in providing installment credit facilities to finance consumer and commercial products. CFC plays a major role in the development of the financial and consumer goods industry. It is one of the leading companies in offering installment credit facilities, car financing, and personal cash loans. Branching out in strategic locations, CFC has over 200 employees across its five branches and 21 representative offices.

Kim Jong Un makes New Year address PYONGYANG: The dear respected Kim Jong Un made the New Year address recently in celebration of the New Year 2013. He said: “Last year we celebrated the centenary of the birth of President Kim Il Sung as the greatest national holiday and reviewed the 100-year history of Juche Korea with pride. We held up Kim Jong Il as the eternal leader of our Party and people, realizing the cause of immortalizing the leader. Last year our service personnel and people achieved historic victories by waging a general offensive to put the intentions and instructions of Kim Jong Il into practice. Our reliable scientists and technicians successfully launched the artificial earth satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2, carrying out the instruction of Kim Jong Il with credit and fully demonstrating the high level of space science and technology and overall national power of Juche Korea. Through the parade held in celebration of the centenary of the birth of the President, our revolutionary armed forces demonstrated the inexhaustible might of the powerful revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu steadfast in ideology and faith and equipped with Korean-style modern military hardware capable of defeating any formidable enemy. And they reliably safeguarded the security of the country by resolutely smashing every war provocation and anti-DPRK smear campaign of the enemy. We put the Huichon Power Station and Tanchon Port into commission, built many Juche-oriented and modern factories and enterprises and reconstructed major production bases in key industrial sectors on the basis of advanced science and technology, thus further consolidating the material and technological foundations of our economy. Monumental edifices including Changjon Street and Rungna People’s Pleasure Park sprang up in Pyongyang and many cultural facilities for the promotion of the wellbeing of the people were built in different parts of the country, changing its looks. Last year, the superior socialist education system was further consolidated through the adoption of the law on enforcing universal 12year compulsory education. He said the new year 2013 is a year of great creations and changes in which a radical turnabout will be effected in the building of a thriving socialist country on the road of the onward march in the new century of Kim Il Sung’s and Kim Jong Il’s Korea. He added: We should march forward along the road of independence, the road of Songun and the road of socialism to the end upholding the banner of KimilsungismKimjongilism. This year we will be greeting the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the great Fatherland Liberation War. In this significant year we should add brilliance to the immor tal achievements of the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and make persevering efforts to build a thriving socialist country and carry out the cause of reunifying the country. The building of an economic giant is the most important task that comes to the fore in the present stage of building a thriving socialist country. “Let us bring about a radical turn in the building of an economic giant with the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in conquering space!”-this is the fighting slogan our Party and people should uphold this year. All economic undertakings for this year should be geared to effecting a radical increase in production and stabilizing and improving the people’s living standards by solidifying and making effective use of the already-built foundations of the independent national economy. By adopting decisive steps to shore up the vanguard sectors of the national economy and the sectors of basic industries, we should develop coal-mining, electric-power and metallurgical industries and rail transport on a preferential basis and provide a firm springboard for the building of an economic giant.We should make innovations in coalmining and metallurgical industries in particular so as to revitalize the overall economy of the country.

Kim Jong Un We should direct great efforts to bolstering up the sectors and units that have a direct bearing on the people’s livelihoods and increasing production there, so as to give them more benefits in living. Agriculture and light industry remain the major fronts for economic construction this year, too. We should fulfill this year’s plan for grain production without fail by concentrating nationwide efforts on farming and raising the efficiency of agricultural production by dint of scientific and intensive methods. We should take concrete measures for the supply of raw and other materials to light-industry factories and thus increase the output of quality consumer goods. We should decisively bolster up livestock, fish and fruit farming to provide the people with a better, more bountiful diet. Like the satellite scientists who conquered outer space we should wage a dynamic campaign to push back the frontiers of science and technology so as to develop the country’s overall science and technology to the world standards as soon as possible. We should hold fast to the socialist economic system of our own style, steadily improve and perfect the methods of economic management on the principle of encouraging the working masses to fulfill their responsibility and role befitting the masters of production. We should invariably carry forward the proud tradition of singlehear ted unity, the tradition of adorning the red flag of the revolution only with victories on the strength of the harmonious whole wherein the Party believes in the people and the latter absolutely trust in and follow the former. We should put continued stress on increasing our military might under the great banner of Songun, reliably safeguard the security and sovereignty of the country and render services to assuring regional stability and global peace. The sector of defence industry should develop in larger numbers sophisticated military hardware of our own style that can contribute to implementing the Party’s military strategy, thereby fulfilling its mission as the arsenal of the powerful revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu. We should spur the building of a civilized socialist nation to usher in a new era of cultural efflorescence in the 21st century. Officials should strive with devotion, upholding the slogan “Ever ything for the people and everything by relying on them!” All the Korean compatriots in the north, south and abroad should launch a dynamic struggle to carry out to the letter the June 15 Joint Declaration and the October 4 Declaration, great reunification programmes common to the nation in the new century and milestones for peace and prosperity. The reunification issue should be solved by the concerted efforts of our nation in an independent manner. All the members of the Korean nation in the nor th, south and abroad should subordinate and orientate ever ything to the great national cause of reunifying the country from the standpoint of giving priority and attaching importance to the nation and achieving its unity. By holding fast to the ideals of independence, peace and friendship, we will, in the future, too, strive to develop relations of friendship and cooperation with the countries that are friendly to our country out of their respect for its sovereignty, and safeguard regional peace and stability and make the whole world independent. (From the Embassy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the State of Kuwait )


Millions plunge into the Ganges for ‘Royal Bath’

Obama, Netanyahu: Bad blood between key allies Page 8

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Gang rape, violence rock Syria Air strike kills 20; War envelops region in ‘staggering’ crisis BEIRUT: Syria’s civil war is unleashing a “staggering humanitarian crisis” on the Middle East as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee violence including gang rape, an international aid agency said yesterday. Opposition activists said an air strike on rebel-held territory southwest of Damascus killed 20 people, including women and children, adding to the more than 60,000 people estimated to have been killed in the 21-month-old conflict. Over 600,000 Syrians have fled abroad - many to neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan - as violence has spread and international efforts to find a political solution have sagged. Refugees interviewed by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) cited sexual violence as a major reason they fled the country, the New York-based organization said in a 23-page report on the crisis published yesterday. Gang rapes often happened in front of family members and women had been kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed, it said. “After decades of working in war and disaster zones, the IRC knows that women and girls suffer physical and sexual violence in every conflict. Syria is no exception,” the group added. Rebels and government forces have both been accused of human rights abuses during the conflict, which began with peaceful protests against President Bashar Al-Assad in March 2011. The unrest turned violent after government forces fired on demonstrators and has since become a full-scale civil war. Fierce winter weather has worsened the plight of hundreds of thousands of refugees. The IRC urged donors to step up planning and funding in the expectation that more Syrians will flee. “Nearly two years into Syria’s civil war, the region faces a staggering humanitarian disaster,” the IRC report said. AIR POWER Despite advancing in Syria’s north and east and winning support from regional powers like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the Syrian rebels have been unable to break a military stalemate with government forces elsewhere. They have struggled to counter government air power in particular, making it hard for them to take and hold territory crucial to Assad’s grip on power, including major cities. An activist in Moadamiyeh, a rebel-held town southwest of Damascus, said an air strike there killed 20 people yesterday. Activist video footage showed images of the limp body of a boy being pulled out from broken concrete, his back covered in dust and his front in blood. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said at least 13 people had died in the air raid but the toll was likely to rise. Syrian state television said “terrorists” - its word for rebels - had fired a mortar from the Damascus suburb of Daraya on a civilian building in Moadamiyeh, killing women and children. The reports could not be independently verified because of government restrictions on independent media in Syria. Syrian warplanes also bombarded the strategic Taftanaz air base that rebels seized last week,


in brief

Promotion sparks outrage BEIJING: A Chinese bank’s offer to automatically transfer most of a husband’s income to his wife’s account has provoked fury, with some calling it “the most atrocious banking service against men in history”. On its website China Merchants Bank (CMB), a major financial institution, describes its “capital accumulation” service as a “time- and energy-efficient” way for a couple to save money. Using fictional newly-weds Xinyan and Wenhao as an example of a couple struggling to save for a home, an advertisement for the service reads: “CMB will check Wenhao’s account balance on a daily basis. “Once it goes over 1,000 yuan ($161), the bank will automatically transfer the excess into Xinyan’s account. “Ever since they started using CMB’s capital accumulation service, Xinyan and Wenhao have got on with each other even better and lived in happiness,” it added. Traditionally women have taken charge of household finances in China, but as the country modernizes, attitudes have changed, especially among the young, and the advertisement set off a firestorm of controversy. One mobile phone news service described it in a headline as “the most atrocious banking service against men in history”. Singapore pastor charged SINGAPORE: A Singaporean pastor was charged yesterday with having sex with a 15-year-old girl who belonged to his congregation, police and local media said. No details were released by the police but the Straits Times identified him as a 45-year-old father of three. His name was withheld in order to protect the identity of the 15-year-old girl with whom he allegedly had intercourse in a public park and oral sex inside the church premises in 2011, according to the report. Under Singapore law, it is an offence to engage in sex with anyone under the age of 16, even if it is consensual. The offence is punishable by up to 10 years in jail or a fine, or both. Singapore, better known in the past as a straitlaced society that bans sexual content in the media, has been rocked by a slew of sex scandals since last year. A former narcotics police chief is on trial in a sex-for-contracts case involving a technology supplier. Fifty-one men including civil servants, businessmen and uniformed officers were brought to court last year for paying for sex with an underage prostitute. Former Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer stepped down last month and quit the ruling party after confessing to an extramarital affair.

the Observatory said. In another sign of escalating bloodshed, Human Rights Watch said it had evidence that government forces had used multi-barrel rocket launchers to deliver Egyptian-made cluster munitions in recent attacks. “Syria is escalating and expanding its use of cluster munitions, despite international condemnation of its embrace of this banned weapon,” it said. DEADLOCK Syria’s rising death toll has brought international intervention no closer. The United States and Russia have been deadlocked over how to resolve the crisis. Moscow - which has continued to back its long-standing ally and arms client Assad - urged the opposition on Sunday to make its own proposals in response to a speech by Assad a week ago. The speech, which offered no concessions, was criticized by the United Nations and United States. Syrian rebels described it as a renewed declaration

of war. Talks between Russia and the United States in Geneva on Friday failed to produce a breakthrough. As diplomatic efforts have stalled, the conflict has continued to draw in Syria’s neighbors. A mortar round apparently fired from Syria crashed in a field in Turkey overnight close to a refugee camp housing thousands of Syrians along the border, Turkish state media said. NATO troops have begun deploying Patriot defense missiles in Turkey against a potential attack from its southern neighbor. The missiles are expected to be operational by the end of the month. Turkey is a strong supporter of the Syrian rebels. NATO said Syrian government forces had launched a shortrange, Scud-style ballistic missile on Sunday, bringing to more than 20 the number launched in the past month. The missiles, apparently fired against opposition targets, landed in Syrian territory, mostly in northern Syria, a NATO spokeswoman said in Brussels, but IDLIB: Photo shows a dead Syrian soldier loyal to Syrian some of the missiles landed “quite close” to the president Bashar Assad, on the ground next to a destroyed helicopter at Taftanaz air base, that was capTurkish frontier. —Reuters

tured by the rebels, in Idlib province, northern Syria. —AP



IAEA meeting kicks off crunch year for Iran diplomacy VIENNA: Tehran hosts the UN atomic agency for talks tomorrow, marking the start of a new and perhaps last-ditch diplomatic push aimed at resolving the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program peacefully. The visit comes ahead of the first talks since June between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council-the US, China, Russia, Britain and France-and Germany, possibly later this month. Some observers suggested that Iran is waiting until after the International Atomic Energy Agency meeting before responding to the six powers’ proposal to meet in January. Hopes were however not high that the IAEA and Iran would reach a deal, with

the UN body’s head Yukiya Amano saying on Friday that he was “not necessarily optimistic”. “It doesn’t seem likely that an agreement will be reached,” one Western diplomat said. “Despite Iran’s statements to the contrary and the IAEA’s previous cautious optimism, there still remain some pretty big disagreements.” The IAEA conducts regular inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites but it also wants Tehran to respond to what the Vienna-based body calls “overall, credible” evidence of nuclear weapons research work until 2003 and possibly since. Iran denies seeking or ever having wanted the bomb and says that the IAEA’s conclusions are based on forged docu-

ments provided by foreign intelligence services such as the CIA and Mossadmaterial that it has not even been allowed to see. Even if, against the odds and after a year of trying, the two sides do manage to cut a deal, many IAEA member states fear that the deal may tie the agency’s hands and prevent it from conducting a proper investigation. The mooted “structured approach” accord might include the IAEA agreeing to “close” an issue for good after it has been addressed or being able to visit a site-such as the Parchin military base-or interview a scientist only once, diplomats said. Parallel diplomatic efforts by the “P5+1” powers meanwhile are focused

less on the past and more on Iran’s current activities, in particular Tehran’s capacity to enrich uranium to fissile purities of 20 percent. Such material can be used for peaceful purposes-Iran says it is for producing nuclear medicines-but also when further enriched to 90-percent in a nuclear weapon, a relatively easy step. Iran rejected in a series of meetings in 2012 P5+1 demands to suspend 20-percent enrichment and take other steps because the six powers stopped short of offering relief from sanctions that last year began to cause it major economic problems. The six are since reported to have reworked the proposal, albeit not substantially.

Watching both the IAEA and the P5+1 meetings will be Israel, the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state, which has threatened to bomb Iran unless the expansion of its nuclear activities is halted. “If Iran continues on its current path ... we could be on a trajectory to military confrontation later in the year, possibly as early as this summer,” former US State Department official Mark Fitzpatrick, now at the International Institute for Strategic Studies said. He added though that he expected Iran to try to “forestall” this, either by converting some of its 20-percent uranium stockpile or “starting talks so that there appears to be some diplomatic progress.”—AFP

Tunisia marks Arab Spring revolution Violence plagues Tunisia’s politics 2 years later TUNIS: Two years after the revolution that overthrew an authoritarian president and started the Arab Spring, Tunisia is struggling with high unemployment and rising violence in its politics. After sounding the alarm for months over the rise of religious extremists, the opposition now warns that the new threat to this North African country’s democratic transition are vigilante

10 million. The country’s stability and prosperity came at the price of a brutal decades-long dictatorship that was finally overthrown in a popular uprising on Jan 14, 2011. In its aftermath, a lot of pent-up tensions have spilled out. Differences of political opinion or just demands for jobs and benefits are increasingly being expressed through violence, threatening

TUNIS: Tunisians demonstrate on Tunis’s main avenue to mark the second anniversary of the Revolution yesterday. Two years after the revolution that overthrew an authoritarian president and started the Arab Spring, Tunisia is struggling with high unemployment and rising violence in its politics. —AP bands allied to the elected government. Tunisia has yet to witness the almost daily clashes characterizing nearby Egypt’s rowdy politics or the rampant assassinations and kidnappings of militia-plagued Libya to the east, but the rise in violence is a shock for this once calm, largely middle class North African nation of

Tunisia’s efforts to become a democracy after a half century of dictatorship. Just last week, residents of Ben Guerdane, a border town with Libya, battled police and set fire to cars for three days protesting the closure of the frontier on which their livelihood depends. The violence is being exacerbated by the emergence of

radical groups, often religious, that seek to “impose their political and ideological model on society through a variety of means,” said Slahhedine Jourchi, an analyst of Islamist movements in Tunisia. Following the country’s first free elections in October 2011, a moderate Islamist party allied with two secular parties came to power and began the process of writing a new constitution, but the country is still plagued by economic woes and sporadic violence - often by religious extremists. The latest groups in the spotlight are the Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution, which the opposition claims are allied with the government and used to attack its opponents. Their rise comes just as the salafis, ultraconservative Muslims that often violently pushed for a more pious society, have gone underground following a government crackdown in the wake of their Sept 14 attack on the US Embassy over an amateur film made in the US attacking the Prophet Muhammad. Instead, the violence seems now to be coming from these new leagues, which have about 300 chapters throughout the country and have been implicated in attacks on the main union headquarters as well as several meetings of a new opposition party that includes figures from the previous regime. “They are a threat to the civil peace and the democratic transition in Tunisia,” said Samir Taieb, an opposition member in the legislative assembly. He said that many of the leagues’ members have been arrested committing acts of violence, only to be released because of their political connections. Many opposition figures are calling for the leagues to be dissolved. The groups were legalized five months ago and grew out of the neighborhood watch committees that sprung up in the chaotic days after the revolution to protect residential areas, explained Mohammed Maalej, the head of the leagues’ central body. “We are the conscience of the people and a pressure force to achieve the goals of the revolution, discover corruption and denounce its perpetrators - something the current political leadership has yet to accomplish,” he said. He maintained that the group has “never advocated violence” and if certain members were involved “we are the first to condemn them.” In October, league members in the southern town of

Libya investment hit by attacks on diplomats TRIPOLI: A weekend attack on an Italian diplomat in Libya caused no casualties but dealt a body blow to the government’s efforts to woo foreign investors to rebuild the war-ravaged North African country. The assault on consul Guido De Sanctis, which Rome denounced as a “vile act of terrorism,” came four months after militants torched the US mission in Benghazi and killed four Americans, including the ambassador. “This attack will certainly be a reason of concern for many oil companies who are operating in Libya or planning to return to Libya,” said Tripoli-based analyst Claudia Gazzini of the International Crisis Group. “It can have a negative impact on their decision to stay or return. This is negative because it comes at a time when the Libyan government is making a wholehearted effort to convince foreign companies to return.” Italy is Libya’s former colonial ruler and enjoyed close ties with the slain dictator, though it later joined NATO efforts to unseat Gaddafi. It is also the biggest foreign investor in Libya’s energy sector. In December after a post-revolution pause, Italian energy giant ENI announced it had resumed oil exploration in Libya, becoming only the second foreign firm to do so after Algeria’s Sonatrach. Benghazi-based analyst and historian, Mohammed al-Mufti, said the attempt to assassinate De Sanctis was “an embarrassment for the authorities who need foreign investment to boost the economy.” The shooting came two days after Mohammed Megaryef, president of the national assembly and Libya’s de facto head of state, travelled to Rome for talks with business leaders. European trade delegations visit Tripoli periodical-

ly but many businessmen have adopted a wait and see approach, keen to see whether the interim government, which took office in November, can get a grip on security. The French foreign ministry’s delegate for French nationals abroad, Helene Conway-Mouret, was in the Libyan capital last week to assess the situation and encourage French companies to do business. “Security issues weigh on our companies,” she said in an address to Tripoli’s French community, which remains small and male-dominated in the absence of wives and children. The French school is open but two-thirds of its pupils are Libyans. She told journalists on Sunday that although there is a great degree of optimism with regards to the opportunities ahead in Libya, many entrepreneurs are waiting for the security situation to improve. “Big companies have security protocols, but for small entrepreneurs who come alone, the motivation is not there because the images we see of Libya in France are not ones in which security is assured,” she said. Two hours of her trip were spent discussing security measures, she added. In the Libyan capital, diplomats and businessmen travel in armored vehicles with security advisers. Many governments advise against all but essential travel outside Tripoli. In 2012, several governments withdrew or scaled back their diplomatic presence in the eastern city of Benghazi, including Britain, France, the United States, Egypt and Tunisia, in response to attacks targeting their envoys. The deadliest was a September 11 assault by militants against the US mission, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. —AFP

Tataouine clashed with a local union, resulting in the death of union head Lutfi Narguez. The autopsy said the cause of death was a heart attack brought on by being subject to violence. Members of the league also allegedly attacked the home of Kamel Eltayef, a businessman with ties to the old regime that has since been working with the opposition. One of the main targets of their ire, however, is a new political party called Nida Tunis (Tunisia’s Call) led by Caid Beiji Essebsi, a veteran politician that ran the interim government until elections. Many figures associated with the previous regime have flocked to the party, prompting accusations that they seek to restore the old system. A political meeting of the party on the resort island of Djerba was besieged by hundreds of alleged members of the leagues on Dec 23, according to party members. In the face of what it describes as a lack of government concern, Nida Tunis has threatened to file a suit against the leagues with the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. The most serious incident involving the leagues, however, came in early December, when men described as being part of the leagues assaulted with clubs and stones a march at the main union headquarters in the capital Tunis. The powerful union, which has emerged in recent months as a focus of opposition to the government, threatened to shut the country down with a general strike until a compromise deal was finally struck. Jourchi, the analyst, warned that the leagues are “becoming a factor for instability,” pointing out that their job of “protecting the revolution,” should be the business of the state. The rise of violence and internal tensions in Tunisia couldn’t come at a worse time as the situation outside its borders deteriorates, with alQaida newly active in the Sahara, partly fueled by the weapons pouring out of Libya’s civil war. In December, police reported finding two militant training camps near the Algerian border, likely to prepare disaffected Tunisians to join the jihads south in Mali or neighboring Algeria. “With the situation in Libya, the Algerian border and in northern Mali, the threat posed by armed groups is likely to increase,” Jourchi said.—AP

NEW YORK: In this file photo, President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations. —AP

Obama, Netanyahu: Bad blood between key allies WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama heads into his second term weighed down by an American government snarled in partisan gridlock, but also by an unproductive relationship with the leader of Israel, the bedrock US ally in the tumultuous Middle East. And the puzzle that is the US-Israeli relationship under Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is only growing more complex. “It’s troubled. It’s the greatest dysfunction between leaders that I’ve seen in my 40 years in watching and participating,” said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center who served under six secretaries of state in both Republican and Democratic administrations. He was deeply involved in negotiations involving Israel, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinians. “I don’t think we are headed for a showdown,” he said, “but the relationship will continue to be dysfunctional.” Even so, the United States routinely backs Israel when much of the world is deeply critical of the Jewish state. For example, the US was among the few nations opposing the Palestinians’ successful bid for upgraded status at the United Nations and did not criticize Israel’s bombardment of Gaza late last year in retaliation for rocket attacks from the tiny Palestinian enclave. Still, an array of issues muddies the alliance. Netanyahu likely will win re-election on Jan 22, two days after Obama is sworn in for a second term. Netanyahu is a hardliner on making peace with the Palestinians, a goal that Obama said was foremost on his foreign policy agenda at the beginning of his first term. Beyond that, Netanyahu has been pressing Washington to adopt policy specifics that would trigger a military strike if Iran does not pull back on its nuclear program - widely believed to be aimed at building an atomic bomb. Iran claims its program is for generating electricity. A further complication is Obama’s nomination of former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as defense secretary. Known as a maverick when he represented Nebraska in the upper chamber, Hagel is viewed by many in Washington and Israel as insufficiently supportive of the Jewish state. He has castigated what he called the “Jewish lobby” in the US, prompting some to label him anti-Semitic. While he voted for billions in aid for Israel, he has also called for engagement with its Hamas and Hezbollah enemies. What’s more, he opposed unilateral

American sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program, which the Netanyahu government believes is an existential threat to Israel. Netanyahu’s office refused comment on Hagel when contacted by The Associated Press in Jerusalem. But Reuven Rivlin, parliament speaker and member of Netanyahu’s Likud party said that Israelis are worried because of Hagel’s “statements in the past, and his stance toward Israel.” But Ori Nir, a spokesman for Americans for Peace Now, a Jewish group that pushes for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, said fears of Hagel are wrongheaded. “Talk of anti-Semitism is unjust and overthe-top,” Nir said. Republican lawmakers’ opposition to Hagel is the latest in the partisan battles that have snarled the US government. Disputes over the budget almost led to major tax increases that neither party wanted. Other fights are pending over spending cuts and the government’s borrowing authority - both with potentially dire consequences for the economy. The newly elected Congress, with a Republican-led House of Representatives and a Democratic-led Senate, is similar to the previous one, which passed fewer laws than any Congress since the end of World War II. While most of the partisan disputes have been on domestic issues, Republicans have continually accused Obama of not doing enough to support Netanyahu’s government. The bad blood between Obama and Netanyahu began early. In their first public appearance together at the White House in 2009, Netanyahu pointedly rebuffed Obama’s call for Israel to stop building Jewish housing on land the Palestinians want in a future state. Obama dropped the issue after it became obvious that it was a waste of political capital at home and that Netanyahu would not budge. Netanyahu’s government has continued to announce plans for new settlements in the Palestinian West Bank. During the presidential campaign, Netanyahu hosted Obama opponent Mitt Romney in Israel as if he were already a world leader. Netanyahu denied backing either candidate, but his words and actions clearly showed favoritism for Romney. On Iran, Netanyahu called at the United Nations in September for the United States to draw a “red line” on Iran’s nuclear program, beyond which Iran would face military action. Obama continues to insist there is time for diplomacy, but has said he would not countenance a nucleararmed Iran. —AP

Jihadists seeking Islamic state in post-Assad Syria ALEPPO: Huddled around a fire in a bombed-out building in Aleppo, foreign jihadists say they are fighting for a radical Islamic state in Syria - whether local rebels trying to topple President Bashar Al-Assad like it or not. Among their fellow revolutionaries and civilians, these foreigners draw both respect for their iron discipline and fear that if Assad falls, they may turn on former allies to complete the struggle for an Islamic caliphate. One Turkish fighter in the devastated Aleppo district of Karm Al-Jabal expressed an unbending determination to achieve a state under Sharia Islamic law that worries many Syrians, the West and even regional backers of the anti-Assad rebellion. “Syria...will be an Islamic and Sharia state and we will not accept anything else. Democracy and secularism are completely rejected,” said the fighter, who called himself Khattab. Sporting a shaggy beard and with an AK-47 slung over his shoulder, he warned anyone who might stand in the way. “We will fight them, even if they are among the revolutionaries or anyone else,” said Khattab, who left his job as a driver to fight for two years in Afghanistan before moving to Syria six months ago. A member of the Jundollah rebel unit, Khattab has little

knowledge of Arabic - he spoke in the rubble-strewn building through a Syrian translator - and refused to be filmed or photographed for fear of being identified back in Turkey. The government of Turkey is itself Islamist but strongly opposes the radical ideology of Khattab and the militants who are rising among the rebel groups fighting

Assad in a conflict that has claimed at least 60,000 lives. The United States designated AlQaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Al-Nusra Front, as a terrorist organization in December after it claimed responsibility for bombings in Damascus and Aleppo. However, many rebels and Aleppo residents say fear of the jihadists is overblown. The West is exploit-

ALEPPO: A man helps carry the dead man killed after a mortar attack in the Saif Al-Dawlah neighborhood of Aleppo. —AP

ing it to justify not sending desperatelyneeded arms to the rebels, they say, prolonging Assad’s hold on power. In Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city, the radicals’ influence is obvious. Many rebels drive through the shattered streets in cars emblazoned with black Islamist flags carrying religious slogans. Accounts differ on how much radical groups coordinate with units of the mainstream rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA). Many rebels praise the skills of the jihadists often honed in Afghanistan or Iraq - saying they are among the bravest fighters although they tend to be reclusive. Some, however, are new recruits in the holy war in a country they call Al-Sham, recalling a greater Syria established after the Muslim conquest over 1,300 years ago. One such is Abu al-Harith, a stocky, fair, 27-year-old from Azerbaijan who spoke at a rebel base in Karm al-Jabal, a district so damaged it seems to have suffered an earthquake. “This is my first time to embark on a Jihad because ... there was no one worse than Bashar. Even Stalin was merciful compared with him,” said the young man, who wore a ski mask and had a black badge bearing an Islamic religious slogan sewn onto his green fatigues. —Reuters



Newtown weighs fate of Connecticut school Demolition or memorial site? NEWTOWN: Newtown residents are divided on what to do with the school building where 26 people were killed, with some favoring demolition and construction of a memorial and others encouraging renovations. Many passionately gave their opinions at an emotional public meeting Sunday about the fate of Sandy Hook Elementary. “I have two children who had everything taken from them,” said Audrey Bart, whose children attend the school but weren’t injured in the shooting. “ The Sandy Hook Elementary School is their school. It is not the world’s school. It is not Newtown’s school. We cannot pretend it never happened, but I am not prepared to ask my children to run and hide. You can’t take away their school.” But fellow Sandy Hook parent Stephanie Carson said she can’t imagine ever sending her son back to the building. “I know there are children who were there who want to go back,” Carson said. “But the reality is, I’ve been to the new school where the kids are now, and we have to be so careful just walking through the halls. They are still so scared.” The meeting at Newtown High School drew about 200 people. A second meeting is set for Friday. Town officials also are planning private meetings with the victims’ families to get their input. Police say Adam Lanza, 20, killed 20 first-graders and six adults in the Dec 14 massacre at Sandy Hook. They say he killed his mother at the home they shared in Newtown before opening fire with a semiautomatic rifle at the school and killing himself as police arrived. Although opinions were mixed at the Sunday meeting, most

agreed that the Sandy Hook children and teachers should stay together. They’ve been moved to a school building about seven miles away in a neighboring town that has been renamed Sandy Hook Elementary School. Mergim Bajraliu, a senior at Newtown High School, attended Sandy Hook, and his sister is a fourthgrader there. He said the school should stay as it is, and a memorial for the victims should be built there. “We have our best childhood memories at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and I don’t believe that one psychopath who I refuse to name - should get away with taking away any more than he did on Dec 14,” he said. Last week, residents around town expressed similar opinions about the school’s future. “I’m very torn,” said Laurie Badick, of Newtown, whose children attended the school several years ago. “Sandy Hook school meant the world to us before this happened. ... I have my memories in my brain and in my heart, so the actual building, I think the victims need to decide what to do with that.” Susan Gibney, who lives in Sandy Hook, said she purposely doesn’t drive by the school because it’s too disturbing. She has three children in high school, but they didn’t attend Sandy Hook Elementary School. She believes the building should be torn down. “I wouldn’t want to have to send my kids back to that school,” said Gibney, 50. “I just don’t see how the kids could get over what happened there.” Fran Bresson, a retired police officer who attended Sandy Hook Elementary School in the 1950s, wants the school to reopen, but he thinks the hallways and classrooms where staff

and students were killed should be demolished. “To tear it down completely would be like saying to evil, ‘You’ve won,’” the 63-year-old Southbury resident said. Residents of towns where mass shootings occurred have grappled with the same dilemma. Some have renovated, some have demolished. Columbine High School, where two student gunmen killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher, reopened several months afterward. Crews removed the library, where most of the victims died, and replaced it with an atrium. On an island in Norway where 69 people more than half of them teenagers attending summer camp - were killed by a gunman in 2011, extensive remodeling is planned. The main building, a cafeteria where 13 of the victims died, will be torn down. Virginia Tech converted a classroom building where a student gunman killed 30 people in 2007 into a peace studies and violence prevention center. An Amish community in Pennsylvania tore down the West Nickel Mines Amish School and built a new school a few hundred yards away after a gunman killed five girls there in 2006. Newtown First Selectwoman E Patricia Llodra said that in addition to the community meetings, the town is planning private gatherings with the victims’ families to talk about the school’s future. She said the aim is to finalize a plan by March. “I think we have to start that conversation now,” Llodra said. “It will take many, many months to do any kind of school project. We have very big decisions ahead of us. The goal is to bring our students home as soon as we can.” — AP

Weapon ban likely to fail in Congress: Gun groups

HAVANA: Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kichner (left) greets Venezuelan Vice-President Nicolas Maduro in Havana. Fernandez de Kirchner arrived in Cuba on Friday with a Bible for ailing Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who is recovering from cancer surgery in the Cuban capital. — AFP

Venezuelan Oppn demands ‘truth’ on Chavez condition CARACAS: Cancer-stricken Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s lung infection has been controlled and his medical state is improving more than a month after his latest surgery in Cuba, the government said on Sunday. “Despite his delicate state ... in recent days the general medical evolution has been favorable,” said the latest official health update, which was relatively positive compared to others but still illustrated the gravity of Chavez’s situation. “The respiratory infection is controlled, though the commander-president still requires specific measures to solve breathing insufficiency ... he is conscious.” The communique, which gave no more details on his condition, came as the three most powerful government figures after Chavez gathered in Havana to check on him and meet with Cuban allies. Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, Congress head Diosdado Cabello, and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez have been shuttling to and from Cuba since the 58-year-old socialist president’s fourth and most serious cancer operation a month ago. Chavez, who missed his own inauguration for a new, sixyear term last week, has not been seen or heard from in public since the surgery. Many Venezuelans are assuming his momentous 14-year rule of the South American OPEC nation could be nearing an end. “We are all Chavez!” and “Chavez will return!” were among slogans sang and chanted at numerous solidarity rallies, meetings and concerts across Venezuela over the weekend, which drew thousands of passionate and anxious supporters. ‘BATTLING FOR LIFE’ Venezuelan state TV on Sunday even split its screen into four to show events going on around the nation. “The situation is complex and delicate,” Elias Jaua, a former vice-president and ally of Chavez, told one rally. “He continues battling for his life.” Villegas said Maduro, whom Chavez has designated his successor, informed his boss of the outpouring at home. State media said Maduro, Cabello, Ramirez - who also heads the powerful state oil company PDVSA - and Attorney General Cilia Flores all met Cuban President Raul Castro over the weekend. But there were no details of the talks. The joint presence of top Venezuelan officials in Havana inevitably deepens rumors that Chavez is at death’s door - and draws opposition criticism that Raul and Fidel Castro are giving instructions behind the scenes. “We know which commander is giving the orders to Chavista leaders,” opposition legislator Maria Corina Machado tweeted sarcastically, in a reference to the Cuban president. Officials have been lashing “necrophilic” opponents for such criticism, and Chavez’s brother said on Saturday that he was improving daily and not in a coma as rumored. Another opposition leader, Julio Borges, said the secrecy around Chavez’s precise condition was unacceptable. “No one is asking for details of the operation or the president’s treatment, but that simply they tell the truth about his health prognosis,” said Borges, a right-wing legislator who wants Chavez formally declared absent from office. That would trigger the naming of a caretaker president, and an election within a month. But Venezuela’s Supreme Court has ratified that Chavez remains president with Maduro in charge as No. 2 until Chavez’s health situation is clarified. — Reuters

WASHINGTON: Gun rights groups on Sunday forecast that bids to ban assault weapons and highcapacity ammunition clips would fail in Congress, as Vice President Joe Biden prepares this week to give President Barack Obama proposals to curb gun violence. Even some congressional Democrats indicated that a bill to revive the US assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 would have a difficult time winning passage in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Democratic-led Senate. “An assault weapons stand-alone ban - on just guns alone ... in the political reality that we have today, will not go anywhere,” Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, himself a gun owner, told the CNN program “State of the Union.” National Rifle Association President David Keene signaled little appetite for compromise as the White House considers action on gun violence after the Dec 14 massacre of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school. “What we put the brakes on is anything that simply takes away a person’s Second Amendment right for no good reason,” Keene told the CNN show, referring to the US Constitution’s guarantee of the right to bear arms. “The likelihood is that they are not going to be able to get an assault weapons ban through this Congress,” Keene said. Asked about new limits on high-capacity ammunition clips, he added: “I don’t think ultimately they are going to get that either.” Biden, who heads a task force on gun violence due to give Obama recommendations as early as Tuesday, has said he will recommend universal background checks for gun buyers and new limits on the capacity of magazines like those used by the Connecticut gunman. Biden and three members of Obama’s Cabinet are to meet with members of the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives on Monday as he prepared recommendations on how to curb gun violence in the United States. The White House also has said it will try to revive the US ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004 after being in effect for a decade. Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein of California and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut are expected to introduce legislation on reviving the assault-weapons ban. MISS AMERICA The gun control debate has been heating up since the Connecticut massacre. The issue even came up during the Miss America pageant on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Miss New York, Mallory Hytes Hagan, the eventual winner, was asked during the competition whether armed guards should be put in schools. “I don’t think the proper way to fight violence is with violence,” Hagan said, indicating that she opposes the idea championed by the NRA after the Newtown massacre. The NRA has a long history of influence in Washington. It spends heavily on political races and says it has 4 million members. The group criticized the White House effort after meeting with Biden on Thursday. Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Larry Pratt, executive director of another gun rights group, Gun Owners of America, said: “We don’t think that there is much likelihood that the Congress is going to move on making gun-control laws worse than they are.” Pratt also touted a House Republican lawmaker’s proposal to get rid of “gun-free zones” around schools, and asked: “Are we really better off when we say, ‘No defense is a good defense?’” Representative Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, was cautious about the chances for a revival of the assault weapons ban. He told CNN: “I think that we have a possibility. But I think it’s going to be very difficult. I think the things that we do agree on, it seems, (are) the universal background checks and the (limits on) high-capacity magazines.” Biden has been meeting with people on various sides of the issue, including the NRA and gun owners’ groups, representatives of the movie and videogame industries and law enforcement. The background check requirement would extend to all gun purchasers. This would close the “gun-show loophole,” in which vendors at open-air gun sales events can sell without a background check on the purchaser. It would also extend to private sales such as those conducted over the Internet. — Reuters

HAVANA: Cubans queue outside the Mexican Embassy in Havana, to request visas yesterday. A law allowing Cubans to travel abroad without special exit visas took effect on the communist-ruled island for the first time in half a century. — AFP

Cuba govt relaxes travel restrictions ‘No exit permit or foreign invitation’ HAVANA: A law allowing Cubans to travel abroad without special exit visas took effect on the communistruled island yesterday for the first time in half a century. According to the statute published in the Official Gazette, Cubans can now travel abroad without an exit permit or a foreign invitation provided they have a valid passport. The reform was anxiously awaited by Cubans eager to travel after enduring painful restrictions since the Cold War era. Many Cubans have long been separated from relatives living in exile. About one in six Cuban nationals lives abroad. The law, which came into effect at midnight, is one of the most far-reaching reforms introduced by President Raul Castro since he took over from his ailing brother Fidel in July 2006. First announced last October, the measure does away with the reviled exit visas that have kept most Cubans from ever traveling abroad. The visas, and invitation letters from a host, cost up to $200 (150 euros) in a country

where the average monthly salary is less than $20. Rights groups slammed the previous system for impeding Cubans’ basic freedom of movement. Raul Castro’s government has ended several unpopular restrictions since 2006. Cubans can now stay in hotels geared to international tourism, sign cell phone contracts and buy electrical appliances. The new system also has allowed Cubans to buy and sell cars and private homes. But the change taking effect from yesterday-Raul Castro’s most dramatic to date-could be a stunning wake-up call to the United States, since it has the potential to set off a bilateral migration crisis. Under a policy dating to the Cold War, the United States still grants any Cuban who reaches US soil legal residency on request. No such US policy exists for nationals of any other country. With the US economy weak and the election cycle just over, the United States has not been planning for a potential influx of thousands of new Cuban immigrants arriving, legally, by

sea and by air. Dissidents however such as Berta Soler, leader of the opposition movement known as Ladies in White, have expressed skepticism over the measure. “The immigration reform is no different from all the others,” she said. “ There will always be some filter. In the end, the government will choose who can or cannot exit the country.” But she said she would be willing to test the law. Referring to the decision of the European Parliament in 2005 to give Ladies in White a human rights award named after the late Soviet dissident and rights champion Andrei Sakharov, she said she would like to go to Strasbourg to collect it. “Let’s see if the European Parliament can organize for us an award presentation ceremony,” said Soler. Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez said that, along with many other Cubans, she “hesitated between hope and skepticism.” “The migratory reform reflects more the wishes of the government than the desires of people,” Sanchez said in a tweet. — AFP



Mali crucible gives Hollande chance to forge new image PARIS: Francois Hollande’s decision to order French forces into battle in Mali represents a watershed moment for a president derided by his critics as a compulsive ditherer. A stagnating economy, a crippling debt crisis and a string of policy U-turns and abandoned promises have all combined to send the 58-yearold Socialist’s approval ratings into freefall in the eight months since he was elected as France’s head of state and commander-in-chief. A complicated private life in which his girlfriend has appeared to be influencing appointments because of a feud with the mother of his four children has not helped Hollande establish an air of authority around the Elysee Palace. The crisis in Mali however has offered him the chance to forge a different image in the eyes of French voters, albeit an opportunity fraught with risk. “With all militar y action there are risks involved,” Hollande’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius declared bullishly at the weekend. “But what we have seen with Francois Hollande is that when the time came for a decision to be made, his hand did not tremble.” Arguably Hollande was left with no decision to make after Islamist forces last week advanced into positions in central Mali that left the capital Bamako, home to 6,000 French nationals, vulnerable to attack. Nevertheless, the unleashing of France’s warplanes on Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic groups in the former colony has,

so far, won broad approval at home and around the world. The feeling in Brussels, London and Washington seems to be that France has taken on a task that, while potentially messy, is one that someone had to accept. Dissenting voices have been rare. Hollande came to power insisting that France’s days of meddling in the internal affairs of its former colonies in Africa were over. He has worked assiduously to build a new relationship with Algeria and there are signs that his efforts to consign decades of mistrust and misunderstanding to the dustbin of history have paid a diplomatic dividend. In perhaps the most surprising development of the Mali crisis so far, the government in Algiers on Sunday allowed French Rafale fighter jets to fly over the country’s airspace on their way to bombing Islamist bases in northern Mali. “Mali could be a turning point in his term of office,” said political expert Frederic Dabi of the Ifop polling institute. “Up until now every decision he took was systematically attacked or criticized by the opposition, but that is not an option in this case when national unity is required.” In the early hours of yesterday, it appeared that French airpower had stemmed the Islamists advance in the centre and inflicted significant damage on some of their northern bases. Those successes offered Hollande and his political lieutenants grounds to defend a

course of action that would appear to be at odds with the philosophy that led the president to remove French troops from counter-insurgency, anti-Islamist duties in Afghanistan as soon as he possibly could after being elected. But the weekend also offered a reminder of just how easily a resort to military force can go wrong. In the space of 48 hours, the French military suffered casualties in Mali and Somalia that critics will inevitably put down to naivete on the part of Hollande, his advisors and France’s security establishment. Hollande’s own aides have recognized that the Islamist fighters confronted in central Mali were better equipped, armed and trained than they had anticipated. Such candor is unusual and perhaps admirable but the admission that France had essentially failed to do its homework on the rebels is unlikely to have gone down well with the family of Lieutenant Damien Boiteux, the pilot killed after his helicopter was shot down by those unexpectedly well-armed militants. In Somalia, an operation aimed at freeing an intelligence agent held by Islamist militants there since 2009 ended with a disastrous scoresheet of one French soldier dead, another one missing presumed dead and the likelihood that the hostage-takers had executed their captive. It emerged on Sunday that the French special forces involved in the operation had been spotted as soon as

PARIS: French President Francois Hollande (center) leads a meeting focused on the Malian situation yesterday at the Elysee Presidential palace in Paris. — AFP they landed in Somalia, three kilometers from where the hostage was being held, ensuring the captors of their compatriot were tipped off and were waiting for them with more than twice the number of men. Even if France can steer clear of similar debacles in Mali, there is no guarantee that Hollande will reap the benefit at the polls. His predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy was widely praised as the archi-

tect of the NATO-backed campaign that led to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi being ousted from power in 2011. France’s involvement in that campaign was concluded without a single casualty but the voters still turned away from Sarkozy at the polls a year later. “Foreign policy,” Sarkozy was later to lament, “when it goes wrong you get the blame, when it goes right, you don’t get any credit.”—AFP

British oppn lawmakers liken PM to ‘Flashman’ Welfare cuts pose an image problem for Cameron

ATHENS: A police investigator walks outside the headquarters of New Democracy conservative party in Athens. Shots were fired yesterday near the offices of main Greek ruling party New Democracy in Athens. — AFP

Greek violence escalates ATHENS: Unidentified attackers opened fire on the headquarters of Greece’s governing New Democracy party with a Kalashnikov assault rifle yesterday, in what the government said was a worrying escalation in political violence. Police said a bullet pierced the window of the political office that conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras maintains in the building, but no-one was hurt. The early morning gun assault follows a spate of makeshift bomb attacks against journalists and political figures in the past week, some claimed by leftist groups angry at Greece’s deep financial crisis. Greece is in the sixth year of a recession that has fuelled anger against foreign lenders and the political class, blamed by Greeks for bringing the country close to bankruptcy. Government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou condemned yesterday’s shooting, saying even a symbolic attack on the prime minister was unheard of. “This is a new, worrying escalation of the effort to create terror in our society,” he said. Political violence is not uncommon in Greece but deadly attacks are rare. Officials said Samaras no longer uses his party office on Syngrou Avenue near the centre of Athens and was not present at the time of the shooting. “At about 3 AM, guards saw two men coming out of a black car and firing with a Kalashnikov at the building, which was empty at the time,” said a police official speaking on condition of anonymity. He said at least nine bullet casings were recovered from the scene and police were examining a burnt-out car

found a few kilometers away. Anti-terrorism police cordoned off the area and were checking security cameras near the party building. A spate of attacks recent have targeted public figures. On Sunday, the Athens home of Kedikoglou’s brother was hit by a petrol bomb and three New Democracy offices in Athens were targeted on Friday. No injuries were reported in the attacks. Police blamed Sunday’s attack on far-left protesters angry at a police raid last week that cleared a squat popular with antiestablishment groups. About 100 people were arrested. On Friday, a number of small homemade bombs exploded outside the Athens homes of five Greek journalists working for major media outlets. In an Internet statement, a group going by the name ‘Lovers of Lawlessness’ claimed responsibility, accusing the journalists of doing the bidding of politicians. The conservative-led coalition government has imposed harsh tax hikes and salary cuts in its six months in power to secure vital international cash for Greece, where unemployment has reached about 27 percent and living standards have plunged. The government says Syriza, the radical leftist main opposition party, tacitly backs anti-establishment groups and their attacks. Party spokesman Panos Skourletis denied that. “This is certainly a dangerous escalation of terrorist attacks of blind violence, which are completely condemned by Syriza,” Skourletis said of yesterday’s attack.— Reuters

Colombia and rebels try to mend fences BOGOTA: Colombia’s government and leftist FARC rebels resumed peace talks in Cuba yesterday after a three-week break, under pressure to finally end their decadeslong conflict. The longtime rivals launched the negotiations in October, their fourth attempt in three decades to end a conflict that has left 600,000 people dead, 15,000 missing and four million displaced since 1964. After a holiday break on December 22, the talks take on increasing urgency this year, as President Juan Manuel Santos has warned that the negotiations must conclude by November. Chief government negotiator Humberto de la Calle said Sunday that Bogota wanted to pick up the pace of its negotiations with Marxist FARC rebels. “We really need to get things moving. I want to make that known to people in general, as well as to the FARC,” former vice president de la Calle told reporters before his departure for Havana. The guerrilla group declared a unilateral ceasefire until January 20, but the government has accused them of failing to respect it by planting landmines and attacking civilians and soldiers. It has continued its offensive against the rebels.

“The Colombian public forces will continue to tirelessly pursue criminals, as the constitution and all the Colombian people demand,” Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said Friday. “It does not matter whether they are FARC terrorists” or criminal gangs, he added. The Marxist rebels have said they will not extend their ceasefire unless the government declares one too. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) took up arms in 1964 to protest against the concentration of land ownership in the country, but a string of military defeats has cut its ranks to 9,000 half of what it was in the late 1990s. The key issue in the dispute, rural development, will be on the agenda when talks resume. Christian Voelkel, an expert on Colombia at the independent International Crisis Group, said it was difficult to predict when the first preliminary agreements will be announced since the talks are behind closed doors. “But, without a doubt, pressure will increase in 2013 for the negotiation to show results due to the deadline given by President Juan Manuel Santos and the country’s expectations,” Voelkel said.—AFP

LONDON: A descendant of King William IV and an alumnus of Britain’s Eton College, British Prime Minister David Cameron has struggled to counter the charge he favors the interests of the wealthy minority into which he was born. An outspoken lawmaker in his own Conservative party has called him and his finance minister “two posh boys who don’t know the price of milk”, while opposition lawmakers and parts of the media have likened him to “Flashman”, a fictional upper class literary anti-hero of the nineteenth century. Cameron’s determination to push through a real-terms cut in state handouts for some of the most vulnerable groups in British society in an effort to cut the country’s large budget deficit risks compounding his image problem. Credit ratings agencies have said Britain’s triple A rating is in danger. Financial markets could swiftly turn against Britain if they sense the budget is veering off track, in the same way they turned on weaker members of the euro zone in recent years. Battling to make inroads into a deficit that stands at 8.0 percent of gross domestic product, Cameron, a graduate of Oxford University and the son of a wealthy stockbroker, has taken aim at the amount of money the government pays out in welfare benefits each year. His Conservative-led coalition government - with the Liberal Democrat party as the junior partner - is currently pushing through legislation that would cap the amount that welfare benefits rise by 1 percent between 2014 and 2016. The welfare budget includes pensions and tax credits as well as unemployment, sickness, housing, local tax and child support benefits. Such benefits have traditionally risen in line with inflation. Welfare is an appealing target for Cameron. The bill for Britain’s welfare state - the product of a post-World War Two Labor government - stands at just over 200 billion pounds per year, swallowing up more than one third of the state’s budget. At a time when politicians of all stripes say the public finances are “broken” and the govern-

ment is capping the pay of public sector workers as well as reducing spending in almost every area of public life, Cameron and his aides say that people who are out of work or who rely on state handouts for other reasons should also have to make a sacrifice. But in a country acutely attuned to people’s perceived class and background where people of aristocratic ancestry often try to hide their background so as not to alienate others, Cameron’s decision to tackle the welfare bill has exposed him to accusations he is out of touch with the electorate. His government’s move to simultaneously cut the top rate of tax from 50 to 45 percent - a step the opposition Labor party calls “a tax cut for millionaires” - has provided further ammunition to his critics. In a fractious debate on the proposed cuts to welfare last Wednesday, Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labor party and the son of a Marxist academic, accused Cameron of “trying to divide the country”. “The facts are these: he is cutting the top rate of income tax by an average of 107,000 pounds for ever yone earning more than 1 million pounds in Britain at the same time as he is raising taxes on everyone else,” said Miliband, whose party is 12 percent ahead of Cameron’s Conservative party in the polls. On Sunday, Miliband, 43, who could become the country’s next prime minister after a May 2015 election, stepped up his attack on Cameron. “We would not run this country in the interests of a few people at the top as this government is doing,” he told the BBC. “It would be a much fairer society.” Cameron, 46, has said he has no choice but to make what he repeatedly calls “difficult decisions” because of the record deficit he inherited from Labor and accuses his opponents of having no credible deficit-reduction strategy. He is under pressure from rating agencies who are eyeing Britain’s top notch credit rating with a view to cutting it. Anemic growth and disappointing tax revenues have reduced his room for maneuver still further. He says he has already cut the deficit by 25 percent and created more than 1 million private

sector jobs since coming to power in 2010. Speaking to his own party at its annual conference in October last year, Cameron addressed the issue of his privileged background and the perceived disconnect he has with the lives of ordinary voters. He admitted his had not been “a hard luck story”, but said his intention was not to defend privilege but to spread it so that everyone in society might benefit from the kind of help he had enjoyed. He accused the Labor party of trying to stoke class war. “Line one, rule one of being a Conservative is that it’s not where you’ve come from that counts, it’s where you’re going,” he said. “We’ve been led by the daughter of a grocer, the son of a music hall performer, by a Jew when Jews were persecuted, by a woman when women were sidelined. We don’t look at the label on the tin, we look at what’s in it.” But as Britain steams ahead with deeper cuts to public spending as it attempts to resurrect its holed public finances, the background of the person overseeing that painful exercise is likely to continue to be in focus. Critics have also accused the Conservatives of demonizing the unemployed by resorting to what they say is insulting rhetoric, portraying the jobless as people who lie in bed in the mornings as others are on their way to work. A contested episode last October in which one of Cameron’s ministers was accused of calling police “plebs” - an insult laden with class snobbery - deepened the Conservatives’ image problem, and George Osborne, the finance minister, found himself fighting accusations of snobbery the same month in an incident involving train fares. A YouGov/The Sun poll from Jan. 8 showed Cameron’s government is languishing in the polls and that its two constituent par ties would soundly lose a general election if one were held today. It put the Labor party in the lead with 44 percent, the Conservatives in second place with 32 percent, and had the Liberal Democrats trailing a long way behind with just 10 percent.— Reuters

Ruby appears in court for ‘Bunga Bunga’ trial MILAN: The young nightclub dancer at the centre of Silvio Berlusconi’s sex trial arrived in court to testify yesterday but the former Italian premier’s lawyer asked for the case to be suspended until after elections next month. Karima El Mahroug, 20, and better known by her stage name “Ruby the Heartstealer ”, fought her way through a jostling scrum of photographers as she arrived at the court in central Milan where Berlusconi is on trial on charges of paying for sex with a minor. El Mahroug, who wore a black jacket, black boots and a grey scarf for the court appearance, has stayed out of sight since having a baby girl a year ago with her nightclub owner boyfriend. She kissed him as she arrived inside the courtroom. El Mahroug had been due to testify in December but failed to show up, telling her lawyer she was on holiday in Mexico. The prosecution alleged this was a ploy intended to delay verdict in the sensational trial. Niccolo Ghedini, one of Berlusconi’s legal team, told the court Berlusconi would be too busy campaigning to follow the case or to attend hearings. He also wanted to avoid the trial being “exploited” against Berlusconi during the campaign, he said. Ghedini said any development in the trial would have repercussions in the media and the defense wanted “to avoid

the possibility of the trial influencing the campaign”. The judges retired to consider the request as the Moroccan-born El Mahroug sat smiling in the courtroom. Berlusconi is leading his centreright People of Freedom party (PDL) into national elections on Feb 24-25, although it is still not clear if he will be running for prime minister. Since he entered the campaign in December he has gradually improved his group’s opinion poll ratings but is still far behind the centre-left group that is expected to win. Berlusconi, 76, is accused of paying Mahroug for sex when she was under 18, which is the minimum legal age for prostitution in Italy. The billionaire media mogul denies all charges and Mahroug has said she never had sex with him. The trial, in which dozens of aspiring show girls have described so-called “Bunga Bunga” parties at Berlusconi’s residences, is the most sensational of his legal cases and has received huge media attention in Italy and abroad. Berlusconi is also accused of abusing his powers when he was still prime minister to have Mahroug released from police custody when she was briefly held over theft allegations. He could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison but would not serve time unless he also lost the two appeals allowed by Italian law, usually a lengthy process.—Reuters

MILAN: Moroccan-born Karima El-Mahroug - better known by her nickname as “Ruby the Heart Stealer” arrives to testify at Milan’s court yesterday.— AFP



Attack fuels Taleban comeback fears in Swat MINGORA: The worst bomb attack in years has fuelled growing fears of a Taleban comeback in Pakistan’s Swat valley, where schoolgirl rights activist Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head last October. The 2009 air and ground offensive that appeared to have crushed a twoyear Taleban insurgency in the scenic northwestern district was widely credited as Pakistan’s most successful operation to date against Islamist militants. It was a defining moment when almost the entire country united behind the army as it killed, arrested and expelled hundreds of Taleban fighters who had seized control of the former tourist destination once frequented by Westerners. But the main town in Swat was plunged back into shock and grief last Thursday when bombers killed 22 people and wounded more than 80 as a Muslim cleric addressed a meeting of the Tableeghi Jamaat preachers’ movement in Mingora. It was an unprecedented attack on an uncontroversial and widely respected religious organization with no political agenda. “People are scared. They even feel unsafe in mosques. This blast has brought severe fear. Now people prefer to pray at home,” said Mohammad Zaman, 57, who was visiting a relative wounded in the attack. Although Pakistan’s main umbrella Taleban faction denied carrying out the bombing, there is no doubt in the minds of local residents and of the security services

that elements of the Taleban are trying to come back. “They destroyed Swat and now they are targeting us again, but I ask them: Why? What is our crime?” Zaman said. It took hours for the authorities to confirm that the explosion, the deadliest in Swat since the Taleban were defeated, was caused by a bomb and not a gas canister. Three days later, there were still bloodstains on the floor of the centre and the acrid smell of explosives hung in the air. There are growing fears that the Swat attack is part of a renewed campaign of violence by militants, timed to coincide with the lead-up to general elections due by mid-May. Pakistan maintains that the leader of the original Swat uprising, Maulana Fazlullah and a band of loyalists escaped into eastern Afghanistan, from where they have staged cross-border attacks. First there were raids into the neighboring Pakistani district of Dir, and then last year targeted killings of anti-militancy campaigners resumed in Swat. In October 15-year-old Malala, a campaigner for girls’ education, was shot in the head on a school bus in an attack claimed by the Taleban. There may be no militants on the streets, as there were four years ago, but a security official confirmed to AFP that they have started to sneak back. “They have no visible presence but some support in the society, there are some silent sympathizers as they have in other parts of Pakistan,” he

said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. The centre in Mingora was a soft target. Preachers said they never imagined they would be a target, so there were no body searches and no searches of bags. Intelligence officials suspect the bomb may have been hidden in a sleeping bag, and detonated either by a timer or remote control. “We have foiled several of their attempts. It is a cat and mouse situation. The attack on Malala, targeted killings and the latest blast are part of this game,” the security official said. Life in Mingora had the usual hustle and bustle at the weekend. The markets were crowded, restaurants jam-packed and roads clogged with heavy traffic. But there are new checkpoints in the suburbs. Soldiers wearing bullet-proof jackets and standing next to machine guns mounted on pick-up trucks search vehicles by hand and with scanners. “My wife told me not to go to the mosque, because she fears the Taleban will bomb us again,” said Fazal Khan, a preacher in the Rahim Abad neighborhood. “I’m still going for prayers five times a day, but frankly I feel scared.” A police officer said that several suspects had been arrested for the Mingora attack, but as with Malala’s shooting, there is no evidence to charge anyone. The blast in Swat came on one of Pakistan’s deadliest days in years, as two

suicide bombers killed 92 people at a crowded snooker club in the southwestern city of Quetta, in an area dominated by Shiite Muslims. In another of a string of attacks Thursday that raised alarm over rising violence in the nuclear-armed nation, a bomb also detonated under a security force vehicle in a crowded part of Quetta, killing 11 people. Hundreds of Shiite

Muslims have protested for days in Quetta, refusing to bury their dead until the army guarantees security for the minority community. “The situation in the country is at its worst,” said Auranzeb Khan, a pensioner whose leg was fractured in the Mingora attack. “We thought the situation was getting better in Swat but again some people want to disturb the peace.” —AFP

MINGORA: A Pakistani policeman searches a car along a street in Mingora, the main town of Swat Valley. —AFP

Millions plunge into the Ganges for ‘Royal Bath’ Maha Kumbh Mela - ‘world’s largest’ religious festival

CHAKAN-DA-BAGH: Photo shows the Brigadier level officers from India (right) and Pakistan at a flag meeting at Chakan-da-Bagh, in Poonch. —AFP

India army orders ‘aggressive’ response to border shooting NEW DELHI: The Indian army’s chief of staff ordered an “aggressive” response yesterday to any cross-border firing by Pakistan as commanders from both sides met to discuss a recent deadly flare-up in disputed Kashmir. “We expect our commanders to be aggressive,” General Bikram Singh said ahead of the brigade-level talks along the de facto border in Kashmir known as the Line of Control (Loc). “The orders are very clear: when provoked, I expect my unit commanders should fire back,” Singh added. India says one of its soldiers was beheaded and another was killed by the Pakistani army on January 8, an incident that has rocked an already fragile peace process between the two sides. Pakistan denies its troops were to blame for any such incident and says that two of its own soldiers were killed in the last eight days along the LoC, where a ceasefire has been in place since 2003. Singh said the treatment of the Indian soldiers was “an unpardonable act”. “We want the Pakistani army to hand over the head of the soldier as soon as possible,” he said at a press conference in New Delhi. “We want to keep the dialogue process on and also explore the best ways to com-

municate with Pakistan, but the attacks must stop,” Singh added. The general said the attack which led to the beheading must have been planned for up to a fortnight and reiterated the claim that it was the work of the Pakistan army. “These kind of operations require planning of at least 10-15 days. You have to observe the activities, arrange the logistics, firepower. You have to have a plan and practise that plan. No one would like to leave tell-tale signs,” he said. “The clockwork precision, detailed planning and execution... is indicative of premeditated and pre-planned action of Pakistan.” The family of the decapitated soldier, Lance Naik Hemraj, has gone on a hunger strike as part of a campaign to ensure that his severed head is returned. “I want my husband’s complete body. He served the country and deserves respect,” his wife Dharmvati told the Hindi-language Zee TV news channel. Kashmir, a Muslimmajority territory, is divided into Indian and Pakistani-administered sectors but is claimed in full by both sides. It has been the cause of two of three wars between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947. —AFP

Pakistan protesters call for ‘revolution’ JHELUM: Tens of thousands of Pakistanis inched towards Islamabad yesterday, in a protest march led by an influential cleric calling for revolution but accused by the government of trying to sow political chaos ahead of elections. Tahir-ul Qadri, a Pakistani-Canadian who returned to his homeland last month after years in Toronto, accuses the government of being corrupt and incompetent, and says polls cannot be held until reforms are enacted. He claimed yesterday to be leading one million people into Islamabad, where they will camp out on the streets until their demands are accepted. But the significance of the rally will likely hinge on turnout, whether there is any violence at the gathering and to what extent the protesters are able to penetrate Islamabad, where shipping containers have been used to seal off the main approaches. Witnesses estimated that tens of thousands of people had joined the rally by the time it reached Jhelum, 120 kilometers south of the capital. In Jhelum, an AFP reporter saw men, women and children carrying Pakistani flags and piled onto the rooftops of buses, flashing victory signs as part of a five-kilometer convoy of cars, trucks, motorcycles and other vehicles. Anthems blasted out of loudspeakers as protesters danced to drumbeats and residents lined both sides of the road, showering the crowd with rose petals, a traditional welcome in Pakistan. Qadri wants an independent caretaker government to be set up in consultation with the military and judiciary when parliament

disbands in mid-March, and is calling for reform so that “honest people” can be elected at polls due by mid-May. “Come out of your homes to save Pakistan, save the future of your children, save your religion, save the honor of the country in the comity of nations, save the country from robbers, thieves and corrupt rulers,” he said. If held on schedule, the election will mark the first democratic transition of power between two civilian governments in Pakistan’s 65-year history, which has been marked by bloodless coups and extensive periods of military rule. Mainstream politicians fear that Qadri’s demand for the military to have a say in the caretaker set-up could be a ploy by elements of the establishment to prolong the interim administration and delay elections. Interior minister Rehman Malik has repeatedly warned that the Taleban could launch an attack on the march. Thousands of security officers deployed in Islamabad to help protect government and diplomatic areas as hundreds started to gather in the city. Many of those taking part in the protest are longstanding followers of Qadri and activists in his Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran movement, which has a network of religious and educational institutions in Pakistan and all over the world. “We are following him for bringing change into our country. We will stay in Islamabad till change comes,” said Faiza Iftikhar, a coordinator in the organization from the industrial city of Faisalabad. —AFP

ALLAHABAD: Upwards of a million elated Hindu holy men and pilgrims took a bracing plunge in India’s sacred Ganges River to wash away lifetimes of sins yesterday, in a raucous start to an evergrowing religious gathering that is already the world’s largest. Once every 12 years, tens of millions of pilgrims stream to the small northern city of Allahabad from across India for the Maha Kumbh Mela, or Grand Pitcher Festival, at the point where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet with a third, mythical river. Officials believe that over the next two months as many as 100 million people will pass through the temporary city that covers an area larger than Athens on a wide sandy river bank. That would make it larger even than previous festivals. After a slow start, police chief Alok Sharma said 1.5 million people had gathered by 8 am yesterday, with more on their way. Two dreadlocked men riding horses emerged from thick camp smoke before dawn, followed by a crowd of ash-smeared and naked holy men, or sadhus, one incongruously wearing a suit jacket. At exactly five minutes past six, they yelled and dashed dancing into the river. That the ancient festival grows in size each time it is held partly reflects India’s expanding population, but is also seen as evidence that spiritual life is thriving alongside the new-found affluence of a growing middle class. The ritual “Royal Bath” was timed to match an auspicious planetary alignment, when believers say spiritual energy flows to earth. “I wash away all my sins, from this life and before,” said wandering ascetic Swami Shankranand Saraswati, 77, shivering naked in the cold. He said he gave up a career as a senior civil servant 40 years ago to become a holy man, travelled on foot and for decades ate only nuts and fruit. The festival has its roots in a Hindu tradition that says the god Vishnu wrested from demons a golden pot containing the nectar of immortality. In a 12day fight for possession, four drops fell to earth, in the cities of Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujain and Nasik. Every three years a Kumbh Mela is held at one of these spots, with the festival at Allahabad the holiest of them all. More than 2,000 years old, the festival is a meeting point for the Hindu sadhus,

some who live in forests or Himalayan caves, and who belong to dozens of inter-related congregations. The sects have their own administration and elect leaders, but are also known for violent clashes with each other. Some naked, some wrapped in saffron or leopard-print cloth and smoking cannabis pipes, the holy men hold court by fire pits in sprawling camps decorated with colored neon lights, where they are visited by pilgrims who

had not sat down for a year, even sleeping on foot. “This is why I became a sadhu,” he said, steam rising from his body in the cold air and wearing nothing but two rings on his fingers. Baba Ram Puri was given to his guru by his parents when he was barely one year old. At 31, he is now a young spiritual leader himself and says Indians with disposable income want to support traditional holy men. “They earn a lot of money but they don’t get peace, so

become a sadhu, I want to be a cricketer,” said Gaurav Vashisht, 21, a business student from New Delhi, whose family gives money to support one of the sects. “It’s very important that this should survive, it’s a great Indian tradition and has been going on for so many years.” The festival attracts global followers too, with a number of foreigners ordained in the hierarchy of sadhus, including Baba Mangalannand, who is also a popular trance music DJ under

ALLAHABAD: A Sadhu or Holy Man comes up after dipping in the waters of the Sangham or the confluence of the Yamuna and Ganges rivers during the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad yesterday. —AFP proffer alms and get blessings. TECHNO BABAS Despite their asceticism, the sects, known as akharas, are moving with the times. Swami Avdheshanand Giri Ji, who leads one of the main groups, has a Facebook page. Some gurus advertise on billboards and posters to attract followers, others drive trucks and chat on cellphones. At the riverbank, men with dreadlocked beards to their feet vied for media attention with yogis supporting heavy weights with their genitals, while others holding golden umbrellas, flags and swords rubbed sand on their bodies after the dip. “I feel pleasure,” grinned Digambar Navraman Giri,” who said he

they turn to spirituality,” he said, sitting on cushions by a smoking fire. “That’s why we continue to grow in strength.” Jim Mallinson, a Sanskrit scholar and expert on sadhus, says that, while exact numbers are hard to come by, it appears the sects are growing in strength and size, and the fair is becoming more religious. “I suspect it is because the emerging middle classes are more than happy to spend their surplus cash on sustaining the sadhu tradition,” he said. Mobile phones and better roads also make the festival more accessible, while a thriving Indian media make the festival well known all across the country. There is even a smartphone app to guide pilgrims around the site. “I won’t

Baluchistan government fired after Shiite killings QUETTA: Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf yesterday sacked the provincial government in Baluchistan after meeting Shiite Muslim protesters demanding protection after a massive bomb attack. Members of the minority community have refused to bury those killed on Thursday in Pakistan’s worst sectarian bombings when suicide attackers killed 92 people at a crowded snooker hall in the provincial capital Quetta. More than 120 were wounded in the attacks claimed by Sunni Muslim militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in an area dominated by Shiites from the Hazara ethnic minority. Shiite leaders said protesters would not call off their sit-in and bury their dead until they see official notification about steps announced by Ashraf after day break. Local TV stations showed footage of them still protesting. “We will not end the protest until we see the notification,” Daud Agha, president of Baluchistan Shiite Conference said. There appeared to be a difference of opinion on ending the protest and burying the dead, however, as some leaders said that the protest would end at 0500 GMT after speeches by community elders. “The burial of bodies will start around 10:00am after the address by leadership,” said Jan Ali Changezi, another Shiite leader. The families have refused to bury loved ones until the authorities agree to put the security and administration of the

city under army control. The prime minister flew to Quetta on Sunday to listen to their grievances and announced live on television that he had accepted all their demands, including the sacking of the provincial government and the suspension of its legislature. “We have decided to impose governor’s rule in Baluchistan for two months, the provincial government will be sacked,” Ashraf said after offering his condolences to grieved families. “It is a national tragedy and the entire nation is saddened over it.” The governor can call on the army to help control the law and order situation whenever needed, the prime minister said. He also directed the authorities to arrest the culprits behind attacks against the Shiite community and urged families to bury their dead. Refusing to bury the dead is an extreme protest in Islamic society, where the deceased are normally buried the same or next day. The provincial government has been widely criticized in Baluchistan for being unable to control not just sectarian violence, but other attacks linked to a nearly nine-year separatist insurgency and to Islamist militants. The sacked chief minister, Aslam Raisani, was criticized for making a trip to London while security deteriorated. Shiites, who account for around 20 percent of Pakistan’s 180 million people, last year suffered record levels of violence according to Human Rights Watch. —AFP

the name Goa Gil. He first came to the festival in 1971. To cope with the flow of people, authorities in the state of Uttar Pradesh have installed 35,000 toilets, laid 550 km of water pipes and 155 km of temporary roads at the riverbank site. Mostly, though, the festival’s spirit does not change. Pilgrims make their way there without advertising, announcements or buying tickets. The sadhus show off yogic feats, catch up with old friends and discuss scripture, just as they always have. “The Indian people don’t change their attitude to spirituality overnight, we’re not like the West,” Ram Puri said, laughing. “That’s why in India the spirit is strong.” —Reuters

Afghans to decide on immunity KABUL: Afghan elders will decide on the key issue of whether American soldiers remaining in the country after 2014 will be granted immunity from prosecution, President Hamid Karzai said yesterday. US President Barack Obama warned last week that no American troops would remain behind in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO forces in 2014 unless they were granted immunity from prosecution in local courts. “The US is standing firm by its demand for immunity for its soldiers,” Karzai told a news conference on his return from Washington where he held talks with Obama on Friday. “The Afghan government can’t decide on this. This is up to the Afghan nation to decide. The Loya Jirga will decide,” he said, referring to the national assembly of tribal elders. Karzai said that on the completion of the US-NATO withdrawal of most of their 100,000 troops, Afghanistan would be “safer and better”. “I’m fully confident that the situation in Afghanistan will be improved-very, very improved.” —AFP



Philippine rebels seek release of hostages MANILA: A Muslim rebel group which signed a 1996 peace pact with the Philippine government said it sent emissaries yesterday to negotiate the release of foreign and Filipino hostages being held by Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf gunmen on southern Jolo Island. Moro National Liberation Front commander Khabir Malik said his group sent about 10 commanders to the jungle hideouts of the Abu Sayyaf on Jolo in Sulu province to convince the extremist group’s leaders to release all their captives. Malik waited with hundreds of armed rebels in Sulu’s Patikul town for word from the emissaries, who he said were given three days to negotiate. He refused to say what the MNLF would do if the Abu Sayyaf militants do not free the captives, who police say include a Jordanian journalist and two European bird watchers. “We’re resorting to peaceful discussions and God’s wisdom to ask them to turn over their hostages to us,” Malik told The Associated Press by cellphone from Patikul. “If they won’t agree, we’ll leave to God whatever will happen.” Malik said his group took the step after its commanders decided in a recent meeting to help the government, mili-

tary and police clean up the image of Sulu, a poor, predominantly Muslim region 950 kilometers south of Manila that is a stronghold of the Moro insurgents. The MNLF has denied any links with the Abu Sayyaf, but the military and police have long suspected some rebels provide refuge and other support to the extremists. Some fighters from the two groups are related by blood, security officials say. Sulu’s image has been tarnished by high-profile kidnappings for ransom, beheadings, bombings and deadly attacks blamed on the Abu Sayyaf, especially in the early 2000s. Although U.S.backed Philippine military offensives have considerably weakened the Abu Sayyaf, an estimated 300-plus extremists in Sulu and nearby islands remain a national security concern. Malik said the MNLF move was not aimed at bolstering the candidacy of its chairman, Nur Misuari, who is running for governor of a five-province Muslim autonomous region in the south in elections on May 13. The rebels, he said, would not pay the ransom demanded by the Abu Sayyaf for the captives’ freedom. “We have long planned this but we could not coordinate well and muster

the force we’ll need so these violators will listen to us,” Malik said. Malik’s group signed an autonomy deal with the government in 1996 but the pact did not lead to the disarming of the rebels, who returned to their communities with their firearms. The group later split into different factions with Misuari’s group retaining hundreds of fighters and accusing the government of reneging on commitments to provide political and economic concessions under the accord. Sulu provincial police chief Senior Superintendent Antonio Freyra said Malik informed him of the MNLF plan to negotiate the freedom of the hostages. Sulu police forces were on standby but would not get involved in the rebel initiative, he said. Malik said the MNLF emissaries would attempt to meet with Radulan Sahiron, a one -armed militant, and other Abu Sayyaf commanders. Washington has offered a $1 million reward for the capture or killing of Sahiron, who has been accused of many terrorist acts. Authorities believe the captives include a Dutch and a Swiss citizen who were abducted in February while bird watching in nearby Tawi Tawi province. Abu Sayyaf gunmen are also believed to be

JOLO: Armed members of Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a Muslim rebel group which signed a 1996 peace pact with the Philippine Government arrive at Patikul township, on the volatile island of Jolo in southern Philippines yesterday to seek the release of foreign and Filipino hostages long held by Al-Qaedalinked Abu Sayyaf gunmen in mountain jungle lairs of the extremists on southern Jolo island. — AP holding a Japanese treasure hunter and eled to Abu Sayyaf encampments in a Jordanian TV journalist together with Sulu to interview the militants in June two Filipino crew who reportedly trav- but failed to return.—AP

An Oxford in Changzhou? International schools spread across China

MANILA: Clothes are hung to dry on lines outside shanty homes on the banks of a waterway in Manila. The Philippine government plans to move about 100,000 squatters from their homes on crucial waterways in Manila by June for their own safety and as a flood control measure. — AFP

Imperial Japan’s peaceful legacy in Chinese outpost DALIAN: The red sun of the Japanese flag flutters alongside the Chinese emblem’s five stars at a business zone in Dalian-a rare sight in a country still embittered by Tokyo’s imperial dominance decades ago. The northeastern city was the only one in China with a Japanese consulate to avoid demonstrations when anti-Japan protests raged across the country over disputed islands four months ago. Japan’s 40-year occupation of Dalian-which only ended with Tokyo’s defeat in World War II-lasted longer than anywhere else in mainland China. But despite its oppressiveness the colonial presence helped lay the groundwork for thriving trade ties to develop in recent decades, enabling economics to trump emotion and pragmatism to outweigh the past. “You can’t just say that we won’t work for Japanese companies or earn Japanese money” because of history, said Gem Wang, the planning director of Dalian Software Park, another business facility, where half of the 200 or so foreign firms are Japanese. Elsewhere in China Japanese factories halted work, restaurants locked their doors and drivers of Japanese cars covered their logos during September’s huge demonstrations that came in the wake of Tokyo’s move to nationalize part of the disputed island chain. But businesses at the software park calmly stayed open. “Dalian residents for a variety of reasons-the historical relationship, their contact with Japanese people, easier communication-are perhaps more reasonable in this regard,” said Wang. “Many people speak Japanese and have Japanese friends.” The Dalian University of Foreign Languages opened in 1964 as a school devoted to Japanesea few words of which have crept into the local dialect. In the 1980s and 90s Japan played a key role in revitalizing China’s northeastern rustbelt as Dalian reinvented itself as a technology and foreign investment hub. China and Japan are now the world’s second- and thirdlargest economies, while Dalian ranks among the top spots in Asia for outsourcing and has made a name in tourism and shipbuilding. It is also the home port of Beijing’s new aircraft carrier, the most tangible symbol of its growing military heftwhich comes as it grows more confrontational with its maritime neighbors, including Japan as the islands row continues. But the list of companies in one business zone bustling with corporate campuses reads like a roll call of the Nikkei 225 - Canon, Toshiba, Mitsubishi, Panasonic and more. According to Ting Yang, a senior research manager in China for the market intelligence firm IDC, 60 percent of Dalian’s foreign soft-

ware business comes from Japan. When the protests over the islands broke out, seemingly sanctioned by Chinese authorities, Dalian’s Japanese ties could have made it a focal point. But the city of six million people, set by the sea and interlaced with green hills and public squares, remained calm. Local authorities may have opted not to alienate their Japanese partners, said Rana Mitter, an expert on Sino-Japanese ties at Oxford University. “Trade with Japan has been crucial in terms of building what Dalian is today from the 1980s onward and I suspect there’d be a lot of local, political as well as general interest in not upsetting that too much,” he said. Japan’s role in Dalian began bloodily with a 1894 incident during the First Sino-Japanese War known as the Port Arthur Massacre that Mitter described as an atrocity. Russia and Japan tussled for control of the strategic city, the only port in the region not to freeze over in winter, and 11 years later Moscow ceded it in the peace treaty to end the RussoJapanese War. Tokyo built it up as a trade hub and blueprint for colonialism in northeast China, where it set up the puppet state of Manchukuo in 1931. But despite the brutality that came with occupation, older generations were “by no means all entirely hostile to the Japanese”, said Mitter. “There’s a certain amount of respect, whether grudging or otherwise, for the Japanese modernization of the region.” Zhou Qi, a 30-year-old Dalian native running a Japanese restaurant, said his grandparents who lived through colonialism taught him: “There are good Japanese and bad Japanese.” Nowadays the mixed legacy of the period still shows-a touristy “Japan Street” of colonial-style homes and shops contrasting with a former Russian-Japanese prison kept as a museum to demonstrate, its website says, the “barbarous and cruel” nature of imperialism. Japanese architecture still dots the city, as do sushi and teppanyaki restaurants. Li Zhengzai, a 39-year-old manager of a Japanese steakhouse, said that after living in Tokyo for six years he came to respect its culture and adopt its style-so much so that many Chinese now mistake him as Japanese. But Dalian residents did not lack patriotism, he stressed. They would go to war if needed, he said, and Japan should admit its past aggression, a sore point among many Chinese. Still, he advised against fighting, as armed conflict would cost money that neither side could afford. “National humiliation’ must be remembered,” Li said-using a term that refers to the Japanese invasion of China-”but should not impac t future generations”.— AFP

BEIJING:The website for a private school in Changzhou, one of China’s smaller cities, features blue blazers and plaid skirts, music classes and an ivy-clad brick doorway-all the trappings of the British school system designed to appeal to wealthy Chinese parents. In choosing a smaller city, Oxford International College - no relation to the British university - is tapping into a growing market of upwardly-mobile Chinese willing to pay as much as 260,000 yuan ($41,700) a year for a Western-style education and a ticket to college overseas for their children. “Changzhou is quite an affluent area and many people want to send their kids overseas, so the proportion of Chinese students is ticking up. The expat community is not enough to justify a school,” said Frank Lu, the general manager of Oxford International Colleges of China. “The market really is the Chinese - it’s the Chinese who want their children to go abroad and are willing to pay the fees.” Some of the schools offer programs specifically tailored to British Alevels or the US Advanced Placement tests; all promise the English proficiency needed to attend a foreign university. In a sign of the eagerness to get the Changzhou school up and running, classes have already started even though the campus - complete with an artificial lake and boathouse - is under construction until September. That international aura is key to persuading ambitious Chinese parents to pay steep tuition fees. Many schools feature foreign-looking children on their websites or name themselves after elite schools in Britain or North America. Oxford International is one example. Then there is EtonHouse, a Singaporean company that operates schools in eight Chinese provincial cities. Maple Leaf Educational Systems has expanded to seven cities in China from its original home in Dalian, a northeastern Chinese port city, by offering a curriculum endorsed by the British Columbia board of education in Canada.

Established British schools like Harrow and Dulwich are also expanding their branches in China. “My dad wanted me to go abroad at an early age, but my mom did not support the idea,” said Jiang Xin, the 17-year old son of a real estate developer, whose parents compromised by sending him to Maple Leaf ’s Chongqing campus at 50,000 yuan a year. “In the future I want to study abroad. My experience here at Maple Leaf is helping me adapt to the Western learning style earlier.” Indeed, many wealthy Chinese parents see these schools as a way to get a foreign-style education while keeping their only children close to home. “Later when she goes overseas to college we will have few chances to see her. We treasure the time we have with her now,” said Zhuang Zhengyi, the head of the parents association for Oxford International in Changzhou, where his daughter is in tenth grade. The number of international schools registered in mainland China has skyrocketed in the past 12 years, from 22 to 338, according to Nicholas Brummitt, managing director of the Britain-based International School Consultancy Group. Enrollment has risen by 25 times in the same period, to 184,073 students. Overall, 28.8 million students attend state-run primary or middle schools in Chinese cities, which are officially free but in reality charge a number of fees. Just under half the international schools in China are in provincial cities like Changzhou, well apart from the main expatriate centers of Beijing, Shanghai or Guangdong. The trend coincides with the increasing incomes of China’s middle-classes, who are spread across the country, and their aspirations. Parents who can afford it believe the international schools are the passport to a better life for their children, despite the steeply higher costs. They offer the chance for a university education overseas, avoiding the pressure cooker of the national college entrance exam, taken by more than 9 million

Chinese students last June. There are good state schools in every city, but the problem is their teaching is aimed entirely to the university entrance exams. “This hurts students’ confidence and the quality of the teaching,” said Xu Jin, whose 16-year-daughter started at a branch of Dulwich College in Suzhou city in September. “She was at the best public school but we were more and more dissatisfied. The teachers just taught the right answers and didn’t want the students to ask why... We can already see the difference. She’s happier and learning faster.” The international schools in Beijing or Shanghai generally are limited by law to foreign passport-holders. But that’s not the case in many provincial cities, where growth in private education including bilingual schools is exploding. For newly wealthy Chinese parents, the international schools offer an alternative to China’s conformist, competitive exam-based state school system, and, some say, make for more well-rounded youngsters. But other parents are not entirely ready to jettison the Chinese education system and want to retain both options - applying overseas and taking the national college exams. For them, companies like Tianjin-based Compass Education and Australian education services provider Dipont Education offer jointventure international sections within established public schools, with an average tuition fee of up to 100,000 yuan a year. That lowers costs and cultural barriers. “International education is not mark-centric, which is a brand-new idea for parents from second-tier cities,” said Compass board member Gavin Newton-Tanzer. “For Chinese parents it’s a totally different idea. Their children study only through memorizing things.” The joint-venture schools offer the best of both worlds, he added. “Students can still be exposed to Chinese learning, which is more acceptable for local parents.”— Reuters

Japan boosts defense on disputed islands TOKYO: Japan will deploy two more patrol ships to boost its defense of islands at the centre of a territorial row with China and has conducted its first drill simulating the recapture of an isle seized by enemy forces. The vessels will be stationed at the regional coast guard headquarters which covers the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, known as the Diaoyus in China, Japanese public broadcaster NHK said yesterday. The 335-tonne “Kurose” and the 3,100-ton “Chikuzen”, equipped with a helicopter, will be deployed in August and October respectively, NHK reported. On Sunday, Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force carried out the nation’s first military exercise designed to recapture “a remote island invaded by an enemy force,” officials said. Some 300 troops took part in the 40-minute drill with 20 warplanes and more than 30 military vehicles at the Narashino Garrison in Chiba, southeast of Tokyo. Some 80 personnel from the SDF’s First Airborne Brigade rappelled from helicopters with parachutes in front of some 11,000 spectators to demonstrate maneuvers to counter an enemy invasion of a remote island. “We will strengthen the deployment of the SelfDefense Force in response to the tougher security environment surrounding our country,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told the military. Chinese government ships and planes have been seen off the disputed islands numerous times since Japan nationalized them in September, sometimes within the 12 nautical-mile territorial zone. Tokyo’s defense ministry has said that F15s were sent airborne to head off Chinese state-owned-but not military-planes four times in December, including an occasion when Japanese airspace was breached. They were also mobilized in January, it said. Japan plans to spend an extra 180.5 billion yen ($2.0 billion) on missiles, fighter jets and helicopters, an official said last week, as it tries to strengthen defense capabilities with concerns growing over a rising China.The announcement came after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party said Japan would increase military spending for the first time in 11 years in the next fiscal year starting April.— AFP

TOKYO: 20-year-old women dressed in kimono walk on a snow covered street to attend a comingof-age ceremony in Tokyo yesterday. A storm grasped central Japan yesterday, causing heavy snow fall around the Japanese capital. — AFP

3 dead in attack on Kachin base YANGON: Kachin rebels yesterday said three civilians were killed and six wounded in the first attack by Myanmar forces on their northern stronghold, as fighting escalates in the country’s last active civil war. Three shells landed in “the heart of Laiza” town, the Kachin Independence Army’s base near the Chinese border yesterday, Colonel James Lum Dau, spokesman for the KIA’s political wing said. “This is the first time they have directly bombarded Laiza,” he said. Lum Dau said the dead included a 15-yearold boy and a 76-year-old man. Witnesses in the town confirmed it had been directly hit. “I have seen two shells fall in the city, killing three civilian residents,” Kachin aid worker La Rip said. “People are scared. At the moment it has stopped, but I’m afraid the shelling will continue, they are not targeting only military targets.” La Rip, of the Relief Action Network for IDP (internally displaced persons) and Refugee, said people from the affected areas were taking shel-

ter close to the border. Around 20,000 residents and 15,000 displaced people are thought to be in Laiza, he said, adding that there was “nowhere to go” except to China, which in August pushed several thousand refugees back into Myanmar. An increase in fighting between the military and the KIA in recent weeks has overshadowed Myanmar’s wider political reforms and cast doubt on a peace process seen as key to the country’s emergence from decades of military rule. The US and UN have condemned the army ’s use of air strikes in the state since December. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced in Kachin since June 2011 when a 17-year ceasefire between the government and the KIA broke down. The total number of casualties is unknown. Myanmar’s army and the rebels have traded claims over a helicopter crash last week which killed three army personnel. — AFP

NEWS Fast food linked to child asthma Continued from Page 1 In contrast, eating three or more weekly portions of fruit led to a reduction in symptom severity of between 11 and 14 percent, respectively. The study, which appears in the British Medical Association journal Thorax, noted that to prove an association is not to prove a cause - but argued

that a further inquiry was clearly needed. “If the associations (are) causal, then the findings have major public health significance, owing to the rising consumption of fast foods globally,” the authors said. Previous research has found that the saturated and “trans” fatty acids trigger an inflammatory response from the immune system, the paper noted. — AFP

Shabaab say second French soldier dead Continued from Page 1 and later saying that both appeared to be dead. “The second commando died from his bullet wounds. We shall display the bodies of the two Frenchmen,” Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, spokesman for Shabaab’s military operations, told Reuters by telephone. Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters yesterday it seemed that both commandos were killed in the raid and France was braced for some kind of gory video message by Shabaab. “Everything leads us to think that the hostage was assassinated and the other disappeared soldier has been killed,” he said. A ministry source said earlier the government believed both commandos were dead, but it did not have the bodies. The

militants later released photos on the Internet of the body of a white male with a black shirt and military trousers amid bulletproof jackets, several assault rifles and gun clips. A necklace bearing a cross is also visible. SITE said the militants had issued a press release with the pictures and that the body belonged to the commander of the operation. “Francois Hollande... was it worth it?”, read a caption addressed to France’s president on a second photo in which the dead man is seen with bullet magazines and an assortment of guns and other tools of war strewn around and on top of him. Shabaab also said the verdict on Allex was “forthcoming”. Allex was one of two officers from France’s DGSE foreign intelligence service kidnapped by Shabaab three-and-a-half years ago in the capital Mogadishu. —Reuters


Mali Islamists vow to hit ‘at heart’... Continued from Page 1 In Bamako the French high school was closed yesterday as a “precautionary measure”, French Ambassador Christian Royer said. MUJAO’s Dardar also referred to France’s seven hostages held in Mali. “We will make a statement on the hostages today. From today all the mujahedeen are together.” At the request of Paris, the UN Security Council was to meet later yesterday to discuss the conflict, a spokesman for France’s UN mission said. Meanwhile a West African intervention force for Mali, authorised by the UN Security Council was taking shape. French President Francois Hollande met Nigerian leader Goodluck Jonathan yesterday, whose country will lead the intervention and provide around 600 men. He will also meet with his Burkinabe counterpart Blaise Compaore whose country is providing 500 troops. Niger, Senegal and Togo have also pledged 500 troops each. Benin and Ghana have also promised to send troops. Media reports have said France is deploying about 500 troops in Mali. Aides to Hollande have described the militants as better trained and armed than expected. A planned 400-strong European Union military training mission is expected to be speeded up and launched by early

February, but would not have a combat role, said Michael Mann, spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. Fabius said European Union foreign ministers would meet on the crisis later in the week. France’s intervention has been backed by the European Union, NATO and the United States, while Britain is providing logistical support in the form of transport planes and Germany is weighing the provision of logistical, medical or humanitarian aid. The Islamists swept into northern Mali as allies of Tuareg fighters waging a rebellion for independence in which the partners seized key cities after a March military coup in Bamako. Having appropriated the Tuareg struggle as a means to install sharia law, the jihadists later ousted the desert nomads of the Azawad National Liberation Movement (MNLA) who yesterday offered to help French troops. “We’re ready to help, we are already involved in the fight against terrorism,” Moussa Ag Assarid, an MNLA spokesman, said by telephone from northern Mali. Concerned about reprisals at home, France has tightened security at public buildings and on public transport. However, France’s top anti-terrorist judge, Marc Trevidic, played down the risk of Islamists carrying out an imminent attack, telling French media: “They’re not very organised right now ... It could be a counter attack later on after the defeat on the ground. It’s often like that.” —Agencies




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Abe rolls out strategic policy, PR campaign By Linda Sieg


uoyed by a December election landslide, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is rolling out a comprehensive PR strategy mixing Facebook, public appearances and policy announcements to prop up voter ratings ahead of a crucial July poll in an effort to avoid becoming just the latest of the country’s short-term leaders. Backed by media-savvy advisers, Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) hope to stay in power long enough to implement a broader agenda going well beyond reviving a stagnant economy to altering a pacifist constitution, seeking a bigger global security role and revising Japan’s take on its wartime history. The strategy, a far cry from the often mixed and amateurish messages of Japan’s revolving door leaders, is aimed at giving the LDP and its coalition partner a good shot at winning a July upper house poll to take control of both houses of parliament. “They are not only being strategic in what they announce and when - taking time for people to digest the announcements - but they are being strategic in how they talk about things,” said Deborah Hayden, regional director at the Japan office of Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm. “They’re giving people a sense of what it means - the ‘whys’ rather than just ‘here are the facts’.” The LDP-led bloc has a two-thirds majority in the lower house - big enough to override most legislative objections by the upper chamber - but a majority in both houses would make it easier to push through policies, and holding twothirds in both chambers would open the door to revising the 1947 U.S.-drafted constitution for the first time. “Only after winning in the lower and then the upper house can we manage parliament with stability and carry out bold policies,” Abe told NHK public TV on Sunday. The strategic PR campaign, a departure from previous ad hoc attempts to harness the power of the media, includes the prime minister’s office opening a Japanese language Facebook account - it had one in English after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters - in addition to Abe’s personal account. “Under (defeated Democratic Party Prime Minister Yoshihiko) Noda, they were very cautious about having wider feedback through Facebook. They were afraid of having negative comments,” said a person familiar with Abe’s media strategy. Japanese rightwing activists are frequent Internet users and have targetted those who offend them with comments and threats. On Twitter, too, Abe is leading the charge for a more modern Japanese political machine, with around 54,500 followers, compared to fewer than 1,900 for his predecessor in the prime minister’s office. By comparison, US President Barack Obama has more than 25.7 million Twitter followers. Several of Abe’s aides are involved in media strategising, including Isao Iijima, often compared to US Republican strategist Karl Rove when he served as adviser to soundbite-savvy Junichiro Koizumi during a rare 5-year term that ended in 2006. “This administration is very aware of the importance of information dissemination,” said the person familiar with Abe’s media strategy, which also includes targeted interviews, news conferences and keeping ministers “on message”. Those ministers, of course, have only been in office less than three weeks and need to avoid the scandals and gaffes that plagued Abe’s first 2006-07 administration, which ended with his abrupt resignation just months after losing an upper house poll. “They’ve got a grace period and have plans afoot, but they have got to deliver on it,” said Edelman’s Hayden. In an effort to reduce the risk of mistakes, Abe has abandoned the twice-daily brief stand-up Q&A sessions with reporters that were skillfully used by Koizumi, but tripped up many subsequent leaders including Abe himself. The government and the LDP have taken a number of symbolic steps to try to convince a wary public, which appears to have let the LDP back on sufferance, that the hidebound party that ruled for most of the past six decades has changed. The glass separating receptionists from the public at LDP headquarters has been removed to present a more “open image”, women have been appointed to key party posts, and cameras were allowed to film the start of the New Year’s first cabinet meeting in the room where ministers deliberate - rather than just the traditional photograph of them sitting stiffly in an ante-room. Key to the Abe strategy is an initial focus on fixing the economy, trapped in deflation and stuck in recession, with a potent mix of spending and easy monetary policy. By prioritising economic revival, “I think many people will have a sense of security,” Abe told NHK. “After that, I want to explain how important it is to write our constitution with our own hands to pave the way for a new 21st century era,” he said. Advisers have mapped out a steady flow of economic policy announcements to keep up momentum - although the real verdict on his print-money-and-spend-it policies will take time. —Reuters

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Trio of Chavez proteges hold key to future By Brian Ellsworth


month after President Hugo Chavez left Venezuela for a fourth cancer operation, his commanding control over the government is slowly moving into the hands of an unlikely trio of proteges who may shape the future of the oil-rich nation. Chavez’s cancer has left him in serious condition in a Cuban hospital and created a leadership vacuum after 14 years of cult-of-personality socialism that has made him a dominant figure in Latin America. Given a micro-managing style that put an inordinate number of decisions in his hands, and his unique ability to control an alliance that ranges from union activists to military officers, that leadership is now being shared out among his top allies. Vice President and anointed successor Nicolas Maduro, Congress chief Diosdado Cabello, and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez - a political heir apparent, a soldier and an energy boss - are emerging as the architects of a transition to postChavez rule. “I do not think that within the party there will be a single heir that can fill the president’s shoes,” said Heinz Dieterich, a Mexico-based sociologist and former Chavez advisor who split with the president over how to create a theoretical underpinning for his

“21st century socialism”. The three leaders’ gradual assertion of influence signals they are in a test run of how to share responsibilities in the absence of Chavez, who was unable to swear in for a new six-year term on Jan 10 after being hit by a severe lung infection linked to his operation in early December. The balance of power between the three - who have not always gotten along - and their ability to work together will be crucial in determining whether Venezuela continues on Chavez’s path of radical socialism or evolves toward a moderate Brazil-style leftist administration. Outraged critics say Venezuela is rudderless and subordinated to the whims of Cuba, where Chavez is receiving treatment under the shroud of state secrecy. The troika gathered there on Sunday to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro. “We know which commander they’re taking orders from,” said opposition legislator Maria Corina Machado. If Chavez left office, new elections would be called within 30 days, with Maduro running as the Socialist Party candidate. But the government has provided only minimal details of Chavez’s condition, with no concrete evidence that he is even conscious. Authorities say there is no need for

a formal medical review to determine if he is fit to continue governing, and they appear willing to leave him in charge of the country perhaps in a vegetative state - for weeks or even months. The transition is being closely watched by oil companies itching for greater access to the world’s largest crude reserves, as well as by foreign investors who have bought Venezuela’s high-yielding and widely-traded bonds. Maduro, an ex-union activist and former bus driver turned foreign minister and now president-in-waiting, has Chavez’s blessing as the ruling Socialist Party’s future leader. Seen as a moderate given to dialogue, he has already made initial contact with Washington after years of frayed ties with the United States. He could ease the country’s polarization by mending fences with the opposition, but risks the wrath of radicals if he moves too quickly. Cabello, a former soldier who took part in a failed 1992 coup that first made Chavez famous, has much greater sway than Maduro among a crucial military faction that controls several key ministries and a swath of state governorships. As president of Congress, he would be in line to lead a caretaker government if Chavez were to die or step down - making him a potential kingmaker. He is seen as more

intransigent than Maduro, and critics liken him to a thug. One opposition leader this week flippantly referred to him as “Al Capone”. Dieterich has said he believes Cabello would betray Chavez in much the same way that Soviet dictator Josef Stalin consolidated control over the Communist Party even though revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin before dying had left instructions that Stalin should be removed. Chavez’s allies have furiously criticized Dieterich’s view and Maduro and Cabello make repeated displays of unity, hugging uncomfortably during televised broadcasts and shooting down rumors of rivalry, to sometimes awkward effect. “People are worried that Diosdado and I are killing each other,” Maduro boomed at a rally the day Chavez missed his inauguration. “We’re more united than ever. We’re killing each other with love for the people and loyalty to Chavez.” Ramirez, who also runs state oil company PDVSA, has started to exert his own influence with adulatory declarations of support for Chavez and vows that oil workers will be forever faithful to the president’s self-styled revolution. He is a power broker because of his control over the petrodollars that finance Chavez’s much-loved social programs. He also heads a massive

campaign to build homes for tens of thousands of families that helped Chavez win re-election. “PDVSA belongs to the people and will remain in the people’s hands,” he told a meeting last week of union officials and company directors. “Being loyal to President Chavez means being loyal to what he says and does. Now more than ever there is unity among the revolutionaries.” Ramirez’s own views are often overshadowed by his fierce dedication to Chavez, though his years of experience negotiating with foreign oil companies may help him build bridges with the opposition if the political environment changes. Though he has overseen some of the world’s most acrimonious nationalizations, he has also been able to win investment from energy giants when it was in the government’s interest. Opposition leaders want much more information on Chavez’s condition and, if he is unable to serve as president, they say a caretaker must be named and new elections called. Chavez’s team says he is recovering but the opposition insists Maduro, Cabello and Ramirez are preparing for a post-Chavez era if he is unable to return. “It’s obvious a transition is in place. The question is, how long can it go on?” said local analyst Luis Vicente Leon. —Reuters

French early strike shakes up Mali plan By Pascal Fletcher


rance has rushed to help Mali block a push south by Islamist rebels from its desert north but a UN-backed intervention plan to dislodge Al-Qaeda and its allies faces a tough enemy and terrain and could still take months - if it succeeds at all. The original timetable for the AFISMA intervention force of 3,300 West African troops with western logistical, financial and intelligence backing did not foresee deployment before September, to allow time for full preparation. But this has now been accelerated by the rushed French response to a plea for help by Mali’s government, after mobile columns of Islamist fighters last week threatened the central garrison towns of Mopti and Sevare, with its key airport. With French jets and helicopters hitting Islamist positions in Gao and other rebel-held towns, West African regional grouping ECOWAS is now scrambling to get its troops onto the ground in Mali, raising questions about the long-term mission. “Rushing into the intervention right now provides a shaky ground for the mission,” said Martin van Vliet, a researcher at the African Studies Center at Leiden in the Netherlands. “But doing nothing would have been a bad option as well,” added van Vliet, who has also written about Mali for the US Military Academy at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center. Most experts agree that taking on several thousand fighters - a mix of Tuareg rebels, Islamists and foreign al Qaeda jihadists - in an inhospitable desert and mountain battleground the size of Texas is a huge military challenge. “A massive, massive undertaking,” was how one of the US State Department’s leading officials for Africa, Reuben Brigety, assessed the task facing Mali, ECOWAS and their western allies when he spoke at London’s Chatham House in late October. “That is incredibly difficult terrain; it’s a vast expanse. It will take a

long time to take and hold,” said Brigety, a former soldier, who added the full-scale Mali intervention would be “hugely expensive” and would last months, not weeks. The United States and United Nations have stressed the internationally backed Mali mission should be “African-led, African-owned”, and accompanied by a political process to pacify the split Sahel state, once a beacon of democracy and stability. But with French special forces and aircraft taking the fight to the Islamists, and French Defence Minister JeanYves Le Drian declaring France “at war against terrorism wherever it is found”, the Mali operation is a French-led show for the moment. French President Francois Hollande has taken pains to cloak his country’s swift military action in the mantle of the Dec 20 UN Security Council resolution that authorised the deployment of the larger AFISMA force. This same resolution set key “benchmarks” for Mali, including a political agreement and verification of the training - including human rights courses - and of the operational readiness of the battered Malian army and the African intervention force. But none of these have been completed. “The Malian army is still in complete disarray,” said van Vliet, pointing to its loss last week of key locations including Konna, since recaptured in the French-backed counter-offensive. French state-of-the-art Rafale fighter jets on Sunday pounded rebel positions around Gao, the largest city in the Islamist-held north, as Paris deployed several hundred troops in the southern capital Bamako and in central Mali. “My first impression is that this is an emergency patch in a very dangerous situation,” said Gregory Mann, associate professor of history at Columbia University, who specialises in francophone Africa and Mali in particular. Mann said the “ground game” would be key - just how quickly and effectively the French-backed Malian army and its ECOWAS allies could follow up on the air strikes to try to retake the main

rebel strongholds in the north - Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal. “Right now, we have cause for relief, but not optimism,” he added. The northern towns fell under Islamist control after a March military coup in Bamako triggered a Tuareg-led rebel offensive that seized the north and split the West African nation in two. Security experts say the Islamist rebel forces, which include a hard core of experienced al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) fighters, are likely to shun a head-on battle with the joint ECOWAS/Malian army contingent, which is expected to exceed 6,000 soldiers when eventually fully deployed. Instead of trying to defend Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, the Islamists are expected to melt back into the trackless deserts and rocky mountain fastnesses of north Mali, such as the Adrar des Ifhogas range near the northeast rebel-held town of Kidal. Allied to Algerian-led AQIM are the Arabdominated MUJAO faction and Malian Tuareg rebels of the Ansar Dine group led by veteran Tuareg rebel and politician Iyad ag Ghali. “A ground intervention is unlikely to result in significant defeats for AQIM or MUJAO,” Richard Jackson, Deputy Director of Violent Risk Forecasting at UK-based Exclusive Analysis consultancy wrote in a January report on West African jihadism. Exclusive Analysis estimates the combined strength of AQIM, Ansar Dine and MUJAO together at up to 3,000 fighters. “Due to rebel strength and the size of the occupied territory, military action is likely to be prolonged,” Jackson wrote in the report. AQIM, described by the head of US Africa Command General Carter Ham as “well financed and very well armed”, likes to operate with mobile columns of 4x4s and pickup trucks, some mounted with heavy weapons, a staple of desert warfare in the African Sahel, from Mauritania to Chad and Somalia. But these are vulnerable in open desert and scrubland to attack from French Gazelle helicopters and

Rafale fighters. “It remains to be seen whether the Islamists have anti-aircraft defence weapons,” said Mann, adding he had seen reports they had anti-aircraft cannon and even surface-to-air missiles. Van Vliet said that even if the internationally backed African force succeeded in retaking Gao and Timbuktu, and the remoter Kidal, the second phase of the Mali insurgency would likely involve “messy counterinsurgency”, with troops facing hit-and-run attacks from an elusive, shifting enemy. “Once the intervention happens, there has to be a plan for after it. You can’t just intervene to get rid of AQIM and then leave again, otherwise it will just fall into disarray again,” said one Western diplomat, who asked not to be named. With AQIM and Ansar Dine already threatening reprisals, there are heightened fears of Islamist militants targeting French and Western nationals and interests across West Africa, and even further afield in Europe. US AFRICOM chief Ham pointed last year to what he called “linkages, networks and coordination” between AQIM in the Sahel, the al Shabaab Islamic militant group in Somalia and the violent Boko Haram insurgency in top African oil producer Nigeria. Any hope of completely eradicating AlQaeda in Mali would require shutting off the huge porous border of the north that juts into the vast Sahara - an almost impossible task. It would also need the cooperation of neighbours Algeria, Mauritania and Niger. Some analysts said perhaps the best measure of success the intervention plan could hope for would be the recapture of the main northern urban areas and containment of the insurgents. “If in two years in the future, the people of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal are able to go about their lives peacefully, I’d say that was a huge success, even if the deep desert north was still largely out of government control,” said Columbia’s Mann. “It always has been.” —Reuters



Woman eyes men’s match

Hafeez demands more tests

Sochi unveils Olympic torch

LONDON: England women’s wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor is holding talks about the prospect of playing for Sussex’s men’s 2nd XI in the upcoming domestic season, The Guardian newspaper said yesterday. Taylor, one of the leading players in international women’s cricket, is set to travel to India later this week as a member of an England squad who will be defending the 50-over World Cup title they won in Australia. The 23-year-old played her school cricket for Sussexbased Brighton College, where former pupils include exEngland women’s captain Clare Connor. Now Taylor is being championed in her quest to play men’s county 2nd XI cricketjust one rung below first-class standard-by England women’s coach Mark Lane. “Mark is looking at me getting some games with the second XI at Sussex and that will be just phenomenal cricket,” Taylor said in an interview published on The Guardian’s website. “The plan is also for me to play some early season games for the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) boys. Mark is trying to get me a lot of men’s cricket which can only help my game. “It’s just a case of here could be an opportunity for me. Someone at Sussex approached Mark and asked if there was anyone who could keep (wicket) and Laney, being Laney, was quick to back me. — AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan player of the year Mohammad Hafeez wants his cricket board to schedule more test matches for the national team. Pakistan are restricted after rival teams refused to tour the country following a gun attack on the Sri Lanka squad in 2009 but the national Twenty20 captain still believes more tests are possible. “I would ask the board to take up this issue and try to schedule more test matches for us because I believe players only develop by playing test matches,” Hafeez told reporters yesterday. “It is unfortunate we get less test matches. Last year we played three tests in January and than three in June-July. Now we are going to South Africa. We will be playing tests after a gap of nearly six months which is hard on us.” Pakistan whitewashed England in three tests in January and February last year in their temporary home of the United Arab Emirates but lost in Sri Lanka in July and visit South Africa for three tests next month. —Reuters

MOSCOW: Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics organisers unveiled a futuristic torch yesterday based on the contrasts of the world’s largest country and combining Russian folklore, including a mythical Firebird, with space-age technology. “The Olympic torch is one of the key symbols of the Games,” Sochi 2014 chief Dmitry Chernyshenko told a packed news conference in Moscow’s landmark shopping arcade just a few steps from Red Square, with the Kremlin walls in the background. “In our case, it symbolises the beauty and diversity of Russia.” The torch relay, which starts in the ancient Greek town of Olympia on Oct. 7, will be the longest in Winter Olympic history, measuring 65,000 kilometres, more than 1-1/2 times the circumference of the Earth. The torch will visit Mount Elbrus, Europe’s highest mountain, Lake Baikal and the North Pole. “We hope it might even go out into space,” Chernyshenkohe added. The torch is coloured red and silver. Red is the traditional colour of Russian sport while silver is the most popular in Olympic torch history, the Sochi organisers said. The torch, weighing nearly 1.8 kgs, will be carried by 14,000 torchbearers through 2,900 towns and villages across all 83 regions of Russia. — Reuters

NBA results/standings NY Knicks 100, New Orleans 87; Milwaukee 107, Toronto 96; Brooklyn 97, Indiana 86; San Antonio 106, Minnesota 88; Denver 116, Golden State 105; Oklahoma City 87, Portland 83; LA Lakers 113, Cleveland 93. Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L PCT NY Knicks 24 13 .649 Brooklyn 22 15 .595 Boston 19 17 .528 Philadelphia 16 22 .421 Toronto 14 23 .378 Central Division Indiana 23 15 .605 Chicago 20 15 .571 Milwaukee 19 17 .528 Detroit 14 24 .368 Cleveland 9 30 .231 Southeast Division Miami 24 11 .686 Atlanta 21 15 .583 Orlando 13 23 .361 Charlotte 9 27 .250 Washington 6 28 .176

GB 2 4.5 8.5 10 1.5 3 9 14.5 3.5 11.5 15.5 17.5

Western Conference Northwest Division Oklahoma City 29 8 .784 Denver 23 16 .590 Portland 20 17 .541 Utah 20 19 .513 Minnesota 16 18 .471 Pacific Division LA Clippers 28 9 .757 Golden State 23 13 .639 LA Lakers 16 21 .432 Sacramento 13 24 .351 Phoenix 13 26 .333 Southwest Division San Antonio 29 11 .725 Memphis 24 11 .686 Houston 21 17 .553 Dallas 15 23 .395 New Orleans 11 26 .297

7 9 10 11.5

4.5 12 15 16 2.5 7 13 16.5

NHL returns with most teams PLYMOUTH: On a sheet of ice a few miles from sandy beaches, the Los Angeles Kings finally got to begin their quest to hoist the Stanley Cup again. Several hundred fans packed wooden bleachers in El Segundo, California, on Sunday, eager to watch the Kings practice four months after the NHL lockout started and seven months after their favorite team was crowned champion for the first time. A skate that would usually draw a few dozen fans in the past turned into a place to be because hockey is back. “You get a little celebration, but pretty soon you start wanting to get ready for the season,” Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick said. “We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time now.” The NHL, and its fans that haven’t been soured by a third work stoppage in less than two decades, can finally shift their focus to the ice after languishing through labor negotiations that ended on the 113th day of the lockout last Sunday. Almost a full week after agreeing to a tentative deal, both sides signed a memorandum of understanding late Saturday to seal labor peace for at least eight years. The signatures allowed teams to open training camp Sunday and most did, including the Detroit Red Wings at a roughly half-full suburban Detroit rink that has 3,504 seats. “It almost felt like Christmas, seeing everyone again and seeing everyone so excited to get going again,” Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “It was a great feeling to see all the fans out there also.” More than 2,000 Philadelphia Flyers fans crammed into the team’s training facility in New Jersey and warmly welcomed the team back. “This warm reception makes us feel a little bit better about what happened to the fans and being out so long,” Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said. The Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes planned to have their first practices late yesterday. There’s not much time to get ready for a 48-game sprint of a season - all that could be salvaged from an 82-game slate - that will start without anyone playing a preseason game and won’t get much rest. “Normally in a five-week training camp you get an opportunity to give everybody over eight exhibition games

the power play, the penalty kill, everything to really show what they have,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s not going to happen.” Teams will play an average of 3.44 games per week, slightly more than the 48-game, lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, after playing 3.15 a week on average last season, according to STATS LLC. Los Angeles gets to open at home against the Chicago Blackhawks after unveiling the franchise’s first Stanley Cup banner on Saturday in one of 13 games on opening day. The Kings then play 11 of their next 14 games on the road. “It’s going to be a grind,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “It’s going to be playoff hockey every time we’re out there, but that’s what we enjoy. Everybody in the league is going to be in the same boat, so we’ve got to avoid going on any long losing streak, but we’re happy to get a chance to come back.” The postseason will start April 30 and end no later than June 28. The New York Rangers were top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference playoffs last season and fell a round short of the finals last year. They’re hoping for more this year after acquiring five-time All-Star Rick Nash in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Minnesota Wild made the largest splash in free agency, shooting to get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They surprised many across the league when they added highly touted free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter with 13-year, $98 million contracts. Minnesota won’t have much time to break in their new stars. “Getting off to a good start’s pretty important,” Parise said. “You don’t have the dog days of the season. It’s basically half a season and go. It’s a sprint to the playoffs. So you want to make sure the games at the beginning of the season are just as, if not more, important than the ones at the end. “You want to put yourselves in a good spot.” The Kings tried to give themselves a chance of defending their Stanley Cup title, keeping their team together entering coach Darryl Suter’s first full season behind their bench. “We know every team is going to be gunning for us,” Doughty said. “But we’re confident we’re going to have a good team again that can compete.” —AP

Britain’s Beijing champ Cooke quits LONDON: Nicole Cooke, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games road race gold medallist announced yesterday she was retiring from cycling with immediate effect. The 29-year-old Welshwoman, who also won the world road race title in 2008 and so became the first rider to take both major events in the same year, said on “I am very happy with my career. I have many, many happy memories over what has been my lifeís work since I was 12. “I have won every race and more that I dreamed I could win.” The 10-time British champion also used her retirement statement to criticise the UCI, cyclingís world

governing body, for failing to promote women’s racing and for allowing drug cheats to go unpunished in men’s events. Cooke won Britain’s first gold of the 2008 Olympic Games in a rainswept race by the Great Wall of China. Four years later in London she was also a member of the team that helped British rival Lizzie Armitstead win road race silver. Cooke, by contrast, only finished in 31st place. The time between the two Games saw a major falling out between the two British cyclists, notably at the 2011 World Championships where Cook was accused of riding ‘for herself’ rather than the team. —AFP

LOS ANGELES: Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving dives for a loose ball during the second half of their NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers. —AP

Lakers snap losing streak LOS ANGELES: Dwight Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds in his return from a three-game injury absence, and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped their six-game losing streak with a 113-93 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night. Kobe Bryant scored 23 points for the Lakers, who finally earned their first victory of 2013 while ending their longest skid since February 2007. Howard went 9 for 11 despite his injured shoulder while leading Los Angeles to a comfortable victory over the lowly Cavaliers, who beat the Lakers last month. Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters scored 15 points apiece for Cleveland, which has lost seven of nine. Alonzo Gee added 14 points for the Cavaliers, who fell behind by 19 points in the first quarter of their second stop on a five-game West Coast road trip. Thunder 87, Trail Blazers 83 In Portland, Kevin Durant had 33 points and Oklahoma City snapped Portland’s nine -game winning streak at the Rose Garden. Russell Westbrook added 18 points and nine assists for the Thunder, who played without starters Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha because of injuries. LaMarcus Aldridge had 33 points and 11 rebounds for the Blazers, who trailed by 11 points but pulled within one point on Nicolas Batum’s 3-pointer with 21.9 seconds to go. Kendrick Perkins missed the first of two free throws and after a timeout Aldridge missed a tough fadeaway jumper from about 20 feet out with 1.7 seconds left. Westbrook made a pair of foul shots for the final margin. Spurs 106, Timberwolves 88 In San Antonio, Tony Parker scored 20 points to lead the San Antonio over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night, extending the Spurs’ home winning streak to 12 games. Gary Neal was 3 for 3 on 3-pointers in scoring 15 points for San Antonio, which beat Minnesota at home for the 16th straight time. Tim Duncan added 14 points and nine rebounds and Tiago Splitter had 10 points. Manu Ginobili scored 12 points in the first half before leaving with a strained left hamstring. JJ Barea scored 15 points, Nikola Pekovic had 14 and Luke Ridnour 13 for the Timber wolves. San

Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was ejected with 7:22 remaining in the game following a double technical for arguing a foul called against Splitter on Barea. The ejection sparked an 11-0 run for the Spurs, including a dunk and two reverse layups by Splitter.

points and eight rebounds for the Bucks, who won for the 12th time in 15 meetings with the Raptors. Amir Johnson had 22 points and 14 rebounds and Ed David had 20 and 12 for the Raptors, who led 3212 early but lost their fifth straight home meeting with the Bucks.

Nets 97, Pacers 86 In New York, Deron Williams had 22 points and nine assists, Joe Johnson scored 20 points and Brooklyn rallied from 12 points down in the third quarter. Brook Lopez scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and also finished with nine rebounds to help the Nets win their season-high sixth straight. David West had 27 points to lead the Pacers. Paul George added 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Gerald Green also scored 15 points. Green made two free throws against his former team to give Indiana a 67-55 lead - its largest of the game - with 51/2 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Brooklyn pulled to 75-69 by the end of the third, and began the fourth on a 26-8 run to take a 12point lead on C.J. Watson’s jumper with 2:08 remaining.

Nuggets 116, Warriors 105 In Denver, Danilo Gallinari scored 21 points, Ty Lawson had 20, and Denver rallied for its seasonhigh fifth straight win. Wilson Chandler scored 14 points in his first game in two months for Denver after being sidelined since early November because of pain in his left hip.

Knicks 100, Hornets 87 In New York, Carmelo Anthony snapped out of a slow start by scoring 18 of his 27 points in the second quarter, and the Knicks ended their season-high, three-game losing streak. Anthony missed seven of eight shots and scored two points in the first quarter of the noon start he dislikes, then outscored the Hornets by himself in the second period as the Knicks took the lead for good. Chris Copeland added 22 points for the Knicks, who had seen their Atlantic Division lead trimmed to two games by Brooklyn while losing five of their previous seven games. Battling injuries, they play only once in the next week, facing the Detroit Pistons on Thursday in London. Bucks 107, Raptors 96 In Toronto, Brandon Jennings had 19 points and 10 assists, rookie John Henson scored 19 and Milwaukee rallied from a 20-point first quarter deficit to beat Toronto for the eighth straight time. Monta Ellis scored 17 points and Mike Dunleavy had 15 as the Bucks improved to 3-1 under new coach Jim Boylan. Larry Sanders had 11

Stephen Curry scored 29 points, including seven 3-pointers, to lead Golden State. David Lee added 23 points and 13 rebounds and Harrison Barnes had 21 points. Down by eight going into the fourth quarter, Denver opened the period with a 19-2 flurry to go up 98-89. After Curry hit back-to-back 3s to get the Warriors to 100-97 with 6:10 remaining, the Nuggets pulled away. Brewer, who finished with 13 points, and Gallinari hit 3-pointers around a dunk by Gallinari to rebuild the Nuggets’ lead to 108-97 and the Warriors didn’t threaten again. — AP

OSN awards most valued players at the 2013 Gulf Cup of Nations KUWAIT: Kuwait celebrated its recent 1-0 victory in a match against KSA on January 12th at the Gulf Cup of Nations which kicked off on January 5th in Bahrain. As part of its commitment to supporting local sporting events, OSN awarded the Most Valued Player (MVP) award to Kuwait’s National player, Bader Ahmad Al Moutawa. Bader also received a one

year OSN subscription presented by the General Coordinator of the 21st Gulf Cup of Nations, Wahid Al Doy. Throughout the tournament OSN will continue to present the MVP award to the best performing sportsman. The tournament finale takes place on 18th January, 2013 where the Most Valued Player of the tournament will be awarded by OSN.



South Africa secure series victory over New Zealand PORT ELIZABETH: South Africa completed a 2-0 series win over New Zealand yesterday after thumping the visitors by an innings and 193 runs on the fourth day of the second test. Fast bowler Dale Steyn claimed innings figures of three for 48 and match figures of eight for 65, as New Zealand were bowled out for 211 in their second innings half an hour before lunch. New Zealand also lost the first test by an innings after they were bowled out for 45 before lunch on the opening day. South Africa captain Graeme Smith said that he had been pleased by the standard of cricket his team had played over the series as they strengthened their position as the world’s top-ranked test nation. “We’ve had to work hard to get into this position and it’s nice to keep playing well and it’s been a wonderful two test matches for us,” Smith said at the post-match presentation. “They (the wins) were very professional and both were very big wins. A lot of guys contributed and I thought our style of cricket and the way we played was good. Bar a couple of dropped catches in the first test I thought our cricket was of a very high standard. Dean Brownlie and BJ Watling provided the bulk of New Zealand’s runs with a 98-run fifth wicket partnership. Brownlie brought up his fourth test fifty but after making his way to 53 off 141 balls he edged a delivery from Jacques Kallis to

keeper AB de Villiers. Watling, one of the few positives the Black Caps could take out of the series, recorded his second halfcentury of the match, scoring 63 off 117 balls with 11 boundaries before he was bowled by a superb delivery from Steyn that pegged back the batsman’s off-stump. Brownlie’s dismissal left New Zealand on 182 for five and the advent of the second new ball brought about the departure of Colin Munro (15) 21 runs later when

the left-hander was caught at third slip off a delivery from paceman Morne Morkel. Steyn followed up Watling’s dismissal by having Doug Bracewell (0) caught by a diving Alviro Petersen at third slip before Morkel got Trent Boult (3) caught at point. Steyn wrapped the series up by having Neil Wagner (4) caught by De Villiers. New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum conceded his team had been inferior to the Proteas. “We

SCOREBOARD PORT ELIZABETH: Scoreboard after South Africa beat New Zealand by an innings and 193 runs on the fourth day of the second test at St. George’s Park yesterday:

knew coming in to this series that is was going to be tough playing against the number one side in the world. We will learn a lot of lessons from this. We were well short of the mark and we were exposed. “We wanted to come here and compete...but South Africa showed their class and we weren’t quite up to the mark,” he said. A three-match one -day international series between the two countries starts in Paarl on Jan. 19. —Reuters

South Africa won the toss and elected to bat South Africa first innings 525 for eight declared New Zealand first innings 121 all out New Zealand second innings M. Guptill b Kleinveldt B. McCullum lbw b Peterson K. Williamson b Peterson D. Brownlie c De Villiers b Kallis D. Flynn c De Villiers b Kleinveldt BJ Watling b Steyn C. Munro c Petersen b Morkel D. Bracewell c Petersen b Steyn

48 11 11 53 0 63 15 0

N. Wagner c De Villiers b Steyn 4 T. Boult c Peterson b Morkel 3 J. Patel not out 0 Extras (lb 2, w 1) 3 Total (all out; 86.4 overs) 211 Fall of wickets: 1-40 2-64 3-84 4-84 5-182 6-203 7-203 8-204 9-207 10-211. Bowling: Steyn 15.4-2-48-3, Morkel 16-636-2 (1w), Kleinveldt 15-8-44-2, Peterson 26-13-47-2, Kallis 9-3-18-1, Smith 1-0-100, Petersen 4-0-6-0. South Africa won by an innings and 193 runs Man of the match: Dale Steyn

Henley seals maiden win

PORT ELIZABETH: New Zealand’s batsman BJ Watling (right) plays a shot as South Africa’s wicketkeeper AB de Villiers (left) looks on during day four of their second cricket Test match. —AP

Anti-Pakistan protests threaten to derail league MUMBAI: A new franchise-based Indian hockey league faces the prospect of being forced out of Mumbai after heightened regional political tensions led to protests against Pakistani players competing in the IPL-style event on Sunday. Following the latest outbreak of violence in disputed Kashmir, around 100 workers of the hardline right-wing Shiv Sena party protested at a stadium where the Mumbai Magicians team, who have four Pakistani players in their squad, were practising. The players had to be whisked away and the team subsequently left Mumbai on Monday for New Delhi, where the inaugural match of the five-team Hockey India League (HIL) will be held. Local organisers are unsure if they will be able to hold the franchise’s home matches in Mumbai if Pakistani players remain in the side. “It does not depend any longer on the HIL and the players. It will now depend on the government of India’s stand and the government of Maharashtra’s stand,” Ram Singh Rathor, the secretary of Mumbai Hockey Association, told Reuters. “I think it will be a very difficult situation if we

have to play with the Pakistani players in Mumbai.” The Mumbai police said they had beefed up security at the practice venue after they became aware of the protests. “No players are there in Mumbai currently. We will hold discussions with the HIL and understand their plans and make arrangements accordingly,” Ravindra Shishve, the deputy commissioner of police (Zone-I), said by phone. “It is too premature for me to speak about the details of the arrangements.” Four soldiers were killed last week in the worst outbreak of violence at the Line of Control, which divides disputed Kashmir, since the nuclear-armed neighbours agreed a ceasefire in 2003. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir. Ties were soured again in 2008 when gunmen killed 166 people in Mumbai in a three-day rampage with India blaming a Pakistani militant group for the massacre. Shiv Sena, who dug up the Wankhede Stadium pitch in 1991 on the eve of a test match between the two countries, called for the play-

ers’ visas be cancelled. “ We will not allow Pakistani players or artists to perform here,” Rahul Narvekar, a spokesperson for the Hindu right-wing party, told Reuters. “Pakistan is involved in militant attacks on India and you are letting them make money in India... this is injustice to the martyrs who have died in these attacks.” The city was also omitted as a venue last month when Pakistan toured India for its first bilateral cricket series in seven years. Mumbai is scheduled to hold its first HIL match on Sunday but Rathor said that the issue needed to be discussed at the highest level of administration before they could proceed. “Yesterday was only a practice session, so we could manage it. But what will we do if such things happen when the whole stadium is packed with spectators?” Rathor added. “It is not only a question for the players but it has to deal with the safety and security of the crowd also. “It’s always a problem in Mumbai if you are holding matches which have Pakistan players. I was speaking to the police and they also have their own concerns.” —Reuters

HAWAII: American Russell Henley, remarkably unflappable for a PGA Tour rookie, became the youngest champion at the Sony Open in Hawaii when he won his maiden title on the US circuit in record style by three shots on Sunday. Aged just 23, the fresh-faced Tour graduate displayed ice-cool nerves as he stormed home with five consecutive birdies to fire a seven-under-par 63 on the tree-lined layout at Waialae Country Club. Co-leader overnight with fellow rookie and good friend Scott Langley, Henley mixed eight birdies with a lone bogey to post a record 24-under total of 256 in the PGA Tour’s first full-field event of the season. When he rolled in an eight-footer to birdie the par-five last, one of several stunning clutch putts he made on the day, he gave a roundhouse sweep with his right arm in celebration. “I don’t really even know what just happened,” a smiling Henley told Golf Channel after becoming the event’s youngest winner, eclipsing compatriot Ben Crenshaw who was aged 24 when he triumphed in 1996. “This is the most nervous I have ever been and that’s the hardest thing I have ever done. I was just trying to stick to my routine and stay committed and stay in the present. I had to battle Tim (Clark) and I am just kind of speechless right now.” With his spectacular triumph, Henley earned an invitation to the Masters and became the first rookie to win on his debut as a PGA Tour member since compatriot

HONOLULU: Russell Henley holds the trophy after winning the Sony Open golf tournament. —AP

Garrett Willis at the 2001 Tucson Open. “It’s been my goal to make it to the Masters my whole life,” said Henley, who won twice last year on the PGA Tour’s feeder circuit and shared low amateur honours with Langley when they tied for 16th at the 2010 U.S. Open. South African Tim Clark, bidding for his second title on the circuit, signed off with birdies on the last four holes for a matching 63 to secure second place. First-round leader Langley faded with three bogeys on the back nine, carding a 70 to finish in a tie for third at 17 under with fellow American Charles Howell III (66). Henley began another warm day of light breezes at Waialae tied at the top with playing partner Langley and he benefited from a two-shot swing at the par-four first to move two strokes clear. While Henley birdied the hole after hitting a superb approach to within three feet, left-hander Langley wound up with a bogey after finding the right rough off the tee and also with his second shot. Langley missed birdie putts from inside six feet at the second and sixth before duffing a chip from greenside rough to bogey the par-three seventh and slip three strokes off the pace. Henley dropped his first shot in 51 holes at the par-four eighth, where he pulled his drive into the left rough and ended up in tangly grass behind the green with his approach. However, he immediately recovered with a two-putt birdie at the par-five ninth to reach the turn two strokes in front of the chasing pack. Henley rolled in a nine-foot birdie putt at the 10th to maintain his cushion and did well to save par from a similar distance at the par-four 11th after pulling his tee shot on to a cart path. He delivered a dagger blow by draining a 45-footer to birdie the 14th and stretch his lead to three strokes, then sank 12-footers at the 15th and 16th to keep the charging Clark at bay. Remarkably Henley birdied the last two holes for good measure to complete a commanding debut win and earn a threeyear exemption on the PGA Tour. Asked how he had gained the self-belief to secure victory so early on in his PGA Tour career, Henley replied: “I think last year on the Web.Com Tour. “I was in this situation a lot in the last five or six tournaments, actually the last 10. I had a good last half of the year and that prepared me.” —Reuters

Middle East arrival of AMG Driving Academy to transform motorists into racetrack pros ABU DHABI: No longer is speed, performance and thrills enjoyed on the racetrack exclusively for the pros. The Middle East arrival of the high-performance AMG Driving Academy training programme promises to push driver abilities to the limit in a premier selection of the latest AMG vehicles on one of the world’s most testing racetracks, the YAS Marina Circuit. Under the guidance of professional instructors and among fellow AMG enthusiasts, it’s a highspeed, gut-twisting, adrenaline-packed driving adventure like no other. Teaching drivers to harness their full driving potential to reach unexpected levels, the AMG Driving Academy ADVANCED level UAE programme provides the knowledge and experience for perfect control of vehicles, coupled with great passion and the utmost in driving enjoyment. Participants are catapulted into driving greatness in the most captivating AMG high-performance models currently available, including the CLS 63 AMG, E 63 AMG, C 63 AMG, C 63 AMG CoupÈ and the SLK 55 AMG roadster. The flagship of the academy, making its Middle East debut at the media launch and first intake of the AMG Driving Academy on 9thJanuary, is the newly launched SLS AMG GT - evolved through the incredible success of its brother in arms, the SLS AMG GT3, which announced its arrival in the 2011 season by securing 26 victories in the FIA GT3 Series. Making its first ever track debut for regional media at the launch was the SLS AMG Roadster - a perfect synthesis of open-top driving pleasure, outstanding driving dynamics and systematic lightweight construction, with the overall visual appearance of the new two-seater marked by its purist design. Briefing the drivers at the academy, Frank Bernthaler, Director, Sales and Marketing, Mercedes-Benz Cars Middle East & Levant, said: “Everything Affalterbach puts into AMG vehicles was learned at the track, so it makes sense that enthusiasts can now share in that too. 2012 was the Year of AMG in the Middle East, with a record number of drivers getting behind the wheel to feel the precision, power and emotion of AMG. With the AMG Driving Academy, our customers can now experience the full passion of AMG driving performance, developing new found skills to explore the

extreme limits of what these machines can deliver.” “The AMG Driving Academy’s ADVANCED training ensures safe and confident reactions. With the dual personality of AMGs - at home both on the track and the drive to the office these are skills that not only deliver maximum enjoyment of track racing, but also the wellbeing of our customers and their families on even the most challenging public roads,” added Bernthaler. The AED 7,750 single day AMG Driving Academy ADVANCED skills programme concentrates on developing driving skills and sporty driving. In addition to the fundamentals of driving physics, the theoretical introduction primarily covers cornering technique, the ideal line and braking points. The mode of functioning of the various driver assistance systems, safety rules and driver behaviour also play a central role in this unit. Section training on the race circuit sees the instructors explore in detail the particular characteristics of each section of corners, while guided driving behind the instructor makes it easier for the participants to identify the ideal line and braking points.

An AMG driver training team are on hand to answer all technical questions about the vehicles, and can accommodate two groups of 10 participants each. One instructor is assigned to each group and two participants share each car. The event rises to a suitably thrilling climax with the chance for the participants to sit in the passenger seat as a professional racing driver takes them for a spin in the SLS AMG GT Race Taxi. The new SLS AMG GT was born to perform and with enhanced driving dynamics, further pushes the boundaries of this already legendary car’s capabilities and passionate driving enjoyment. With a maximum output of 591 hp the optimised AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed sports transmission and the redeveloped AMG RIDE CONTROL Performance suspension, the SLS AMG GT - which is available both as a CoupÈ and a Roadster - has raised the bar even higher. As a further highlight, the new high-quality AMG designo Exclusive STYLE leather is now also available as an optional extra for all SLS AMG models. Masculine and decidedly athletic with darkened headlamps and tail lights as well as red-

The new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT

painted brake callipers, the new SLS AMG GT also features a unique look. The wing-shaped cross fins and the star recess in the radiator grille retain a high-gloss finish, as do the exterior mirrors and the fins on the bonnet and wings. The AMG logo on the right of the boot lid also features the additional letters “GT”, letting other road admirers know this is no ordinary SLS AMG. Thomas Buehler, Head of AMG Middle East & Levant, said: “The new SLS AMG GT demonstrates the incredible potential that lies in AMG’s super sports cars. With even higher levels of performance and design details, the SLS AMG GT excites the moment one lays eyes on it, reaching a roaring crescendo as it demonstrates its prowess and performance on the race track.” One look at the technical specifications highlights the fact that AMG has succeeded in enhancing the dynamic profile of the SLS AMG GT even further. The maximum output of the AMG 6.3-litre V8 front mid-engine is 591 hp at 6800 rpm, while the maximum torque is 650 Nm at 4750 rpm. The SLS AMG GT accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds, and can reach a speed of 200 km/h in 11.2 seconds.

Thomas Buehler, Head of AMG Middle East and Levant

AMG Driving Academy — Yas Circuit



Tears of joy as Gonzalez finally wins one NEW YORK: The old pro was on the sideline, resigned to the fact that this would turn out like so many games of the past. In the 16 years Tony Gonzalez has played tight end in the NFL, so many seasons ended early that he couldn’t expect this one to be any different. If football is a cruel game, it had been even crueler to Gonzalez. No matter what he did, no matter how well he played, the end result always seemed to be the same. He might be the greatest tight end in the history of the game. But he’s never played in a Super Bowl, never even gotten to a conference championship game. Incredibly, he had never been on a winning playoff team, something that was on his mind as Marshawn Lynch scored on a 2-yard run with 31 seconds left to put the Seattle Seahawks on the verge of a stunning comeback win against the Atlanta Falcons. Even worse was the thought that this game would almost surely be his last. Gonzalez isn’t doing a Ray Lewis retirement tour, but he gave every indication all season long that he would

be doing something different on Sundays next year. “I guess this is it,” Gonzalez thought as he stood watching the final seconds. “Going out with a heartbreaking loss.” Not just yet he isn’t. Not after collecting himself enough to run a perfect route and make the catch that set up a last-second winning field goal by Matt Bryant to give the Falcons a 30-28 win. Instead of moving out, he’s moving on. The Falcons are a game away from the Super Bowl, and if Lewis can fire up the Baltimore Ravens with his pending departure, maybe the Falcons can take some inspiration from a veteran so overcome by what happened that he cried. “I’m just so happy right now I can’t explain it,” Gonzalez said. “This is playoff football at its best.” Interesting that Gonzalez could even recognize it. For years he played on teams in Kansas City that made the playoffs only occasionally and once there never won a game. Then he hooked up with the Falcons, only to be on the losing end of playoff games the last two sea-

sons, neither of which he played particularly well. He began making up for all that on Sunday by balancing precariously in the back of the end zone in the first quarter for the first Atlanta touchdown of the day. But it was the 19-yard catch up the middle when nothing but a catch would save the Falcons with 14 seconds left that might end up being the defining moment of his brilliant career. No heartbreaker this time. The big guy finally had a big win. “Probably the best catch I’ve ever had, even though it was one of the easiest,” Gonzalez said. “Matt put it on my chest. It’s the most important catch I’ve had in my life. I’ll never forget it.” The Seahawks probably won’t either. They had to figure the Falcons were going to the man quarterback Matt Ryan calls Mr. Reliable when they needed it the most, yet they could do little against a perfectly run route that gave Ryan just the window he needed to squeeze a throw in. Neither will Atlanta fans, who, like Gonzalez, still had some agonizing moments

waiting to see if Bryant could hit the 49-yarder for the win. While Ryan had a bad angle to watch the kick and listened to the crowd to see what happened, Gonzalez was sprawled on the turf, in tears as the emotions spilled out as the kick split the uprights. “I’ve cried after a loss, but never a win,” he said. “I thought it was over. Sixteen years. Six playoff games. I was like, ‘here we go again.’ Especially with that big lead. I thought it just wasn’t meant to be.” That it was means the Falcons will play again next week against San Francisco with the winner going to the Super Bowl. It’s the kind of thing Gonzalez could hardly imagine with the Chiefs; the kind of thing that up until now seemed just out of reach for the Falcons. They’ll be underdogs despite being at home, and they’ll need to put this one behind them to be competitive against a 49er team that was at its best Saturday in a lopsided win over Green Bay. Odds are good they won’t have a 20-point halftime lead like they did against the Seahawks, and a defense that

couldn’t seem to stop Russell Wilson in the second half will have to somehow find a way to contain Colin Kaepernick, who is even more dangerous while on the run. Whatever happens, though, one thing is for sure: Gonzalez won’t have to spend his retirement years explaining how he caught 103 touchdown passes in 238 regular season games, yet somehow couldn’t find a way to help his team win when it mattered most. “I can’t tell you how happy I am for Tony Gonzalez personally,” coach Mike Smith said. “He just did what he’s done his entire career. He goes out and plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. He’s a special football player and he’s a special human being.” Gonzalez also has a feeling now that there might be something special about what is almost surely his last season. “Just because we got this victory, this isn’t it,” Gonzalez said. “Our goals are still trying to get to the Super Bowl and winning it. So this is one step closer for us.” After 16 years, it might have been the biggest step of his career. — AP

Falcons soar over Seattle

Tiger Woods hits a shot in this file photo.

McIlroy and Woods set for first clash ABU DHABI: The new golf season gets into full swing in Abu Dhabi this week with the top two ranking players - Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods - opening their accounts. It is the second straight year that the Northern Irishman and the American have opted to get things going in the Gulf emirate, but the situation has evolved distinctly since 12 months ago. Then, McIlroy was the fast-rising star of the game, while Woods was still mired in a slump brought on by injury and the sex scandal that wrecked his marriage. Now, McIlroy is the undisputed world No.1, while Woods has proved that, although not back to his imperious best, he can still win tournaments and contend in the majors. The potential rivalry between the two in 2013 has been hotly anticipated and they are likely to be paired together Thursday and Friday in the first two rounds of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. Woods, who is back to the world No.2 ranking two and a quarter years after losing the top spot, is reluctant to become too embroiled in promoting a two-man show. “Rory McIlroy had a wonderful year, and my hat is off to him. He deserved Player of the Year,” the 37-year-old American said. “Whether we develop a rivalry remains to be seen. Let’s just let it play out and see where it takes us. “We’ll look at the results the next five or 10 years and see if it becomes a rivalry or not. “We’ll have to win big events and play each other down the stretch. That hasn’t happened yet. We’ve only played each other at the Honda (tournament) down

the stretch. We need a lot more of those type of battles, but in bigger events.” The biggest events this year will once again be the four majors, with The Masters at Augusta National (April 11-14), The US Open at Merion, Pennsylvania (June 13-16), the British Open at Muirfield, Scotland (July 18-21), and the USPGA at Oak Hill, New York State (August 8-11). McIlroy, who won his second major at the USPGA last year, only has experience of playing at Augusta, while Woods knows all four courses well. “I’ve had a nice break over Christmas and the New Year, but it’s back to business now,” the 23year-old Ulsterman said. “Abu Dhabi is a great place to start the season, as it’s one of my favourite tournaments. This is the sixth time I will have played the tournament, and I’ve always done pretty well here in the past. “In the last four years, I have had two second place finishes, a third and a fifth, so I know it’s a golf course that really suits my game. “I’m looking forward to getting my 2013 season off and running, and hopefully I can carry my momentum over from last year into this one. “Last year was obviously an amazing season for me and it’s going to be tough to top it, but I feel refreshed and excited about the year ahead.” For English pair Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, the challenge will once again be the same-to finally win a major title after years of failure in the big four, while Australian Adam Scott will be out to forget the late collapse he had at last year’s British Open which allowed Ernie Els to win his fourth major. — AFP

Monty, McGinley favored for Ryder Cup captaincy PARIS: Colin Montgomerie and Paul McGinley are the favorites for the European Ryder Cup captaincy which will be decided by the 15-strong Tournament Players Committee meeting in Abu Dhabi today. The succession to Jose Maria Olazabal, who skippered the Miracle in Medinah victory over the United States in September, had been seen until recently as a straight contest between McGinley and fellow Irishman Darren Clarke. But all that changed when the Americans, still shellshocked from the final day collapse in Chicago, brought back golfing legend Tom Watson, nearly 20 years after he was captain for the first time. The choice of Watson for Gleneagles 2014 took many by surprise, but it was largely applauded as a masterstroke given his stature in the game, especially in Scotland where he is adored for his British Open wins. Clarke was among those who started posing the question of whether, given the popularity of Watson, it would be worthwhile to widen the field with the name of 2010 European captain Montgomerie coming into the picture. The 44-year-old Ulsterman went even further at the Volvo Golf Champions Trophy in South Africa at the weekend when he remarkably appeared to all but rule himself out of contention. “As much as I would dearly love to be captain, this may not be my time,” the 2011 British

SINGAPORE: In this Thursday Nov. 11, 2010 file photo Paul McGinley of Ireland plays a shot off the first tee. —AP

Open winner said. “I’m still wrestling with it. It’s a tough one for me, but to be honest I want to play golf.” “Whenever I was initially mentioned (as captain) I wasn’t playing very well,” said Clarke. “But I played much better at the end of last year and have been thinking long and hard about it all over the Christmas break. “I won one of the biggest prizes in golf by winning The Open and I am exempt for another three years (in the States). “If I was given the opportunity to do the captaincy I’d effectively be throwing two of those years away.” Montgomerie, who has enjoyed the greatest successes of his career in The Ryder Cup, both as a player and a captain, has insisted he is not openly campaigning to be given the post again, this time in his native Scotland. But if asked, then he has made it clear he would be delighted to accept. “I’ve never canvassed, as I didn’t last time. I’ve not spoken to anybody about this,” he said. “But I am excited and honored and very flattered really that my name’s been put in the frame and that possibly I’ll be nominated. “As I’ve said before and if asked at the meeting next Tuesday to do the job again I would accept. Of course, I would.” As for McGinley, the player who sunk the winning putt for Europe in the 2002 Ryder Cup at The Belfry, and who has been vice-captain in the last two Ryder Cups, has had little to say. But his chances were considerably boosted by world No.1 Rory McIlroy, who tweeted “RC captaincy should be a 1 time thing... Everybody deserving gets their chance and moves on... Would love to play under Paul McGinley in ‘14.” Meanwhile the whole process of selecting a Ryder Cup captain for Europe has come under fire with some, such as former captains Bernard Gallacher and Ian Woosnam, saying changes were needed. Woosnam, who was in charge at the KClub in Ireland in 2006, used his Twitter feed to call for a radical overhaul of the decision-making process. — AFP

FOXBOROUGH: New England’s Tom Brady broke the record for most NFL playoff wins by a quarterback as the Patriots beat the Houston Texans 41-28 on Sunday, while the Atlanta Falcons escaped a big Seattle Seahawks comeback to also reach the last four. Brady passed former San Francisco 49ers great Joe Montana by notching his 17th postseason win. If Brady can lead the Patriots past the Baltimore Ravens next week, then win the Super Bowl, he’ll equal the 49ers’ Hall of Famer for NFL championships. Brady has guided the Patriots to five Super Bowls, winning the first three; Montana was 4 for 4 in the big game, playing for Brady’s hometown team. “I grew up a 49ers fan,” Brady said. “Joe Montana and Steve Young ... those guys are in another class.” Next up is Baltimore, which stunned topseeded Denver in double overtime Saturday. The Ravens were beaten 23-20 by the Patriots at the same stage last year, but did beat New England in their only meeting this season. “The two best teams are in the final,” Brady said. “Baltimore certainly deserves to be here and so do we.” Seldom-used Shane Vereen scored three times, twice on pinpoint throws from Brady, as New England beat Houston for the second time in a month. Brady was missing some key helpers, but got the usual outstanding performance from Wes Welker, his favorite target the past six years. The AFC’s top receiver with 118 catches this season, Welker looked like he might reach that total against Houston’s befuddled defense. He caught six in the first half for 120 yards, including a 47yarder, and wound up with eight for 131. And the Patriots got more than anyone could have predicted from third-string running back Vereen, who scored their first two TDs on a 1yard run and an 8-yard pass. He capped his biggest pro performance with an over-theshoulder 33-yard catch early in the fourth period. It was Brady ’s 41st postseason TD pass, behind only Brett Favre (44) and Montana (45). “I hope I am around for a few more years,” the 35year-old Brady said. “I love playing, I love competing ...” The boost from Vereen offset the loss of tight end Rob Gronkowski (arm) and running back Danny Woodhead (thumb) in the first quarter. “Shane had a great game, just a huge growing up moment for him, very special,” Brady said. “There were a lot of guys who made a lot of plays.” New England’s defense helped put away the Texans. Rob Ninkovich’s leaping third-quarter interception stopped a drive, and six plays later, Brady hit Brandon Lloyd for a 6-yard score. Although the Texans got two fourth-quarter TDs on passes by Matt Schaub, their season ended with four defeats in their last six games. That slump cost the AFC South champions the top seed in the playoffs, forcing a trip to New England after they beat Cincinnati in the wildcard round. Unlike their 42-14 loss here a month ago, the Texans didn’t fold early. J.J. Watt, their dominat-

FOXBOROUGH: Houston Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson (25) cannot restrain New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley as he crosses the goal line for an eight-yard touchdown during the second half of an AFC divisional playoff NFL football game. —AP ing defensive end, bothered Brady, and when they fell behind 17-3, they had the fortitude to climb back. Arian Foster did all the work after Danieal Manning’s second big kickoff return, this one a 35-yarder that had a 15-yard penalty tacked on when kicker Stephen Gostkowski brought down Manning with a horse-collar tackle. Foster covered all 47 yards on a five-play drive and his 1yard run - he barely squeezed into the end zone - made it 17-10. Houston forced a three-and-out, and a short punt gave the Texans another shot just before halftime. They got close enough for Shayne Graham to kick a 55-yard field goal as the half ended. But the Patriots pulled away in the third quarter for coach Bill Belichick’s 17th postseason win, third behind Tom Landry (20) and Don Shula (19). Houston wasted its momentum by allowing a quick touchdown drive to open the third period. Brady went to the familiar (Welker and tight end Aaron Hernandez) on that series before secondyear back Stevan Ridley scored on an 8-yard burst. In Atlanta, the Falcons blew a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter but escaped with a 30-28 win when Matt Bryant kicked a 49-yard field goal with 8 seconds left. The Falcons looked like they had allowed the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in NFL playoff history when Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch scored on a 2-yard run with 31 seconds left. But Matt Ryan completed two long passes

after the kickoff, setting up Bryant’s winning kick and sending the Falcons to the NFC championship game for only the third time in franchise history. They will host the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday. Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson passed for two touchdowns and ran for another, but it wasn’t enough. The rookie finished with 385 yards passing and did all he could to lead the Seahawks back from a 27-7 deficit entering the fourth quarter. When Lynch powered over in the final minute, a play set up by Wilson’s brilliant scramble, Seattle celebrated like it would be moving on. Ryan, who had struggled in his first three playoff appearances, had just enough time to rally the Falcons. He hooked up with Harry Douglas on a 29-yard pass in front of the Falcons bench, and coach Mike Smith quickly signaled a timeout. Then, Ryan went down the middle to his favorite target, tight end Tony Gonzalez, a Hall of Famer-to-be playing what could’ve been his final game. Gonzalez hauled in the 19-yard throw, and Smith called his final timeout with 13 seconds remaining. Instead of risking another play and having the clock run out, he sent Bryant in for the field goal try. The Seahawks called time just before the ball was snapped, and Bryant’s kick sailed right of the upright. That turned out to be nothing more than practice. The next one was right down the middle, giving the Falcons a stunning victory. Wilson’s last throw, a desperation heave into the end zone, was intercepted by Falcons receiver Julio Jones. — AP

Leicester set up Toulouse clash PARIS: Leicester set up a mouthwatering final round clash against Toulouse after a dramatic 15-15 draw with Ospreys in the European Cup on Sunday, a result that ensured that no Welsh province will make the knock-out phase. Four-time champions Toulouse notched up a bonus-point 35-14 victory over Italian whipping boys Treviso to sit atop Pool 2 on 18 points. Leicester, themselves twice champions, are just two points adrift and will host the French giants at their Welford Road ground next Sunday knowing that nothing but a win will suffice. Two-time champions Munster earlier kept their hopes of reaching this season’s quarters alive with an unimpressive 26-17 win over pointless Edinburgh. Victory saw Munster go second in Pool 1, three points behind Saracens, with one match remaining next weekend when the English side should seal top spot and a place in the last eight when they play Edinburgh. Munster, whose last eight hopes probably rest in getting one of the two best-placed runners-up spots, host third-placed Racing-Metro in Limerick next Sunday. Harlequins, Ulster and French duo Toulon and Clermont have already secured their berths in the knock-out phase. At Swansea’s Liberty Stadium,

Ospreys playmaker Dan Biggar missed three penalties in the first 16 minutes, two coming back off the woodwork. The wannabe Wales fly-half finally nailed one and then landed a conversion to a stunning try by No 8 Joe Bearman after a series of smart offloads from captain Kahn Fotuali’i, flanker Justin Tipuric and prop Ryan Bevington. Toby Flood pulled back a penalty to make it 10-3 at half-time. Biggar saw another penalty come back off the posts as Leicester upped the pressure, scrum-half Ben Youngs eventually crossing for a try Flood converted to draw the Tigers level. Niall Morris then pulled off a fantastic finish past Eli Walker to cross in the corner as Leicester turned the screw. An electrifying run by Walker saw Ospreys fire straight back, replacement Jonathan Spratt crossing for a similiarly smart finish in the corner at the other end of the pitch. But Biggar missed the conversion to hand the Tigers a chance to advance next week, and again condemning the four regions from the reigning Grand Slam champions to the sidelines. “We came here to win, and the overriding feeling is one of disappointment,” said Tigers scrum-half Youngs. “Luckily Dan missed the

FRANCE: Toulouse’s hooker Gary Botha (right) vies with Trevise’s players during an European Cup rugby union match between Toulouse and Trevise. —AFP kick at the end there. “We’re really disappointed. Next week’s a bigger game again, there’s everything to play for.” Toulouse ran in five tries against Treviso through South African hooker Gary Botha, Argentinian lock Patricio Albacete, Vincent Clerc, Florian Fritz and Yoann Huget, the Italians managing a memorable length-of-the-pitch five -pointer from Tommaso Benvenuti. “We knew that this last match at Leicester would be decisive,” said Toulouse captain Yannick

Nyanga.”It’s the Everest of the competition that awaits us but we have a week to prepare well. “We’ll be up against half of the England team and when you see their results during the autumn internationals, you can see that it’s a massive challenge in store for us.” Munster looked to be cruising when they scored two tries in quick succession in the second-half against Edinburgh, but the hosts hit back with a brace of tries of their own, both through wing Dougie Fife. — AFP




London teams seek home wins to counter fan apathy

MENDOZA: Argentina’s Lisandro Magallan (left) fights for the ball with Bolivia’s Stalin Taborga during a U-20 South American soccer championship match. — AP Preview

Football the best therapy for Barcelona’s Vilanova MADRID: When Barcelona promoted the little known Tito Vilanova to replace Pep Guardiola, the most successful coach in the club’s history, few expected him to be breaking his predecessor’s records six months down the line. A 3-1 victory at Malaga on Sunday completed a Spanish best first half of a La Liga season with 55 of a possible 57 points in the bag, surpassing Guardiola’s 52-point record for the same spell two years ago. Holders Barca are back in action against fifth-placed Malaga at the Nou Camp tomorrow in a King’s Cup quarter-final first leg, when cancer sufferer Vilanova has the chance to move a step closer towards his first piece of silverware. Guardiola amassed 14 trophies from a possible 19 before he stepped aside last May, and Vilanova, having lost out to Real Madrid in the season-opening Spanish Super Cup in August, has his eyes on a May 18 Cup final. Many in the local media have already declared Barca league champions as they hold an 11-point advantage over secondplaced Atletico Madrid and an 18-point lead over ailing champions Real, but Vilanova was being prudent on Sunday. “The league isn’t won yet. I am a fan of mathematics,” he said after the Malaga game. “It will get more difficult from now on. Coming up we have the Cup and the Champions League. We aren’t invincible. If we ease up, we will lose games.” Vilanova was Guardiola’s assistant and remains a close personal friend, but his early success has been all the more impressive considering he was forced to constantly re-jig his defence at the start of the campaign. A string of injuries to defenders, which included losing first-choice centre backs Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique for two months apiece, tested his abilities while he appears to have solved the riddle of how to blend Cesc Fabregas into the side. The former Arsenal captain was overlooked by Guardiola for key games towards the end of last season but has now become a fixture in Barca’s slickpassing midfield alongside Xavi, Andres

Iniesta and Sergio Busquets. Guardiola had a special relationship with World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, who was too distraught to even attend his former boss’ farewell news conference, but the change in coach has not disrupted the Argentine’s incredible goal-scoring rhythm. The only negative for Vilanova so far has been the need for him to have a second round of throat surgery, after having had a tumour removed from his saliva glands in November 2011. The 44-year-old is still combining chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment with his work after last month’s second operation but is keen to play down his illness. “I am well and able to work,” he said. “But in my case, I love football. To be with the players, to kick a ball and to train, there is no better therapy. “I want to be the protagonist for my work, not for my illness.” Malaga, who have also reached the Champions League last 16, gave a good account of themselves at the Rosaleda on Sunday despite the scoreline and remain dangerous opponents. “I don’t think this game sets a benchmark for the Cup encounters,” Vilanova said. “We will probably use different players and so will they. Each duel is unique.” The victors will go on to meet either 2011 winners Real or Valencia who, with a La Liga fixture at the Mestalla next weekend included, will play each other three times in the next week and a half. Jose Mourinho’s faltering side host the last eight first leg on Tuesday (2000) after a run of only two wins from six games in all competitions, but will have leading scorer Cristiano Ronaldo back from suspension. An improving Valencia, under new coach Ernesto Valverde, have won seven of their last eight games in all competitions. On the other side of the draw, there is an eye-catching clash between Atletico and Real Betis at the Calderon on Thursday. The last quarter-final sees 2010 winners Sevilla visit Real Zaragoza tomorrow (1830). The second legs are next week. — Reuters

FA Cup Preview

Depleted Arsenal face stern Swansea test LONDON: Arsenal’s already tricky third round FA Cup replay at home to Swansea tomorrow has been made tougher still given they are set to be without both Mikel Arteta and Laurent Koscielny. Midfield playmaker Arteta missed Sunday’s 2-0 home Premier League defeat against champions Manchester City with a calf strain suffered in training earlier in the week and manager Arsene Wenger does not expect to have the 30year-old Spaniard back for three weeks at least. “It is a blow because in midfield he gives us experience, stability and tactical knowledge,” said Wenger. “We will miss that.” Arsenal have not won a major trophy since they last lifted the FA Cup in 2005 and their task was not made any easier when Koscielny was sent off just 10 minutes into Sunday’s match for a foul on Edin Dzeko. Now the banned central defender’s place is set to be taken by German international Per Mertesacker. The Gunners are having to replay against a Swansea side held to a goalless draw by Everton on Sunday after a thrilling encounter at the Liberty Stadium ended all square at 2-2. Two goals inside the final 10 minutes from Lukas Podolski and Kieran Gibbs appeared to have turned the tie Arsenal’s way after in-form Spanish striker Michu had given the Swans the lead, but there was still time for Danny Graham to rescue a replay for the Welsh club. The winners of Wednesday’s match

will be away to second-tier Brighton, FA Cup finalists back in 1983, in the fourth round. Another all Premier League third round replay on Wednesday sees 11times record FA Cup winners Manchester United face West Ham, the last of whose three FA Cup triumphs came as a club in the old Second Division in 1980. Premier League leaders United head into the match at Old Trafford buoyed by a 2-1 win at home to old rivals Liverpool whereas the Hammers suffered a 3-0 league loss at Sunderland. Asked if West Ham could recover quickly, manager Sam Allardyce said: “I hope so, we have always managed to bounce back before.” Only an injurytime goal from in-form striker Robin van Persie saw United to a replay in a 2-2 draw in the original tie at Upton Park. And for all United’s success on other fronts, manager Alex Ferguson would dearly love to end the club’s nine-year wait for FA Cup glory. “We want to stay in it and have a go at it this year,” he said ahead of a replay that will see the winners into a fourth round clash with either top-flight Fulham or Championship side Blackpool, who meet again on Tuesday. “We have had some terrible draws over the years and been knocked out early and we don’t enjoy that,” Ferguson added. The pick of today’s ties sees an all Premier League clash between West Bromwich Albion and basement club Queens Park Rangers.—Reuters

LONDON: Chelsea and Arsenal look for home wins in different competitions this week to counter restlessness among fans that is hampering the London clubs’ hunt for silverware this season. Interim manager Rafa Benitez still hasn’t been accepted by Chelsea supporters, who continue to express their discontent loud and clear during every match at Stamford Bridge. Amid the hostility, the team has failed to score in four of its six home games under Benitez ahead of tomorrow’s rescheduled Premier League match against Southampton, when a victory would keep Chelsea’s slim title hopes alive. “The next game, if we win, the crowd will be behind us again,” Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech said. Arsenal fans, meanwhile, remain unhappy about the direction the club is heading as it attempts to end a barren stretch of eight years, with manager Arsene Wenger acknowledging that nerves are getting to the players in matches at Emirates Stadium. Arsenal hosts Swansea on Wednesday in one of 11 third-round replays in the FA Cup this week, which also includes Manchester United’s home match against West Ham. “We are a bit too nervous to play in a serene way at home, and that shows in the way we start the games,” said Wenger, whose team was beaten 2-0 at home by Manchester City on Sunday after being reduced to 10 men after only nine minutes. West Bromwich Albion is at home to Queens Park Rangers in an all-Premier League replay, while Fulham, Sunderland, Stoke and Wigan all look to avoid upsets against lowerleague opposition. Under Benitez, who was hired by Chelsea in November following the firing of Roberto Di Matteo, the European champions have won their last six matches across three competitions, most recently a 4-0 victory at Stoke. At Stamford Bridge, it has been a different story. True, Chelsea has beaten Aston Villa 8-0 in the league and FC Nordsjaelland 6-1 in the Champions league, but recent losses to QPR and Swansea has seen the team struggle to play with freedom as boos and jeers ring out toward Benitez and misfiring striker Fernando Torres in an increasingly toxic atmosphere.

Petr Cech Even chairman Bruce Buck was jeered when he came on the pitch before the 2-0 loss to Swansea in the first leg of the League Cup semifinals, with fans angry at the club’s decision not to offer midfielder Frank Lampard a new contract. Benitez believes it is opponents’ tactics, as opposed to fan hostility, that is the reason behind Chelsea’s struggles at home. “The question is the approach of the other teams,” Benitez said. “When we are away, they press high and you have more space. At home, they play deep and you cannot find the space.” A win against Southampton would move Chelsea 11 points behind Premier League leader Man United with 16 games to play. Man City would be just four points ahead of Benitez’s team. Benitez has to choose whether to recall Torres in place of Demba Ba, who has looked more dangerous up front since joining from Newcastle at the start of the month. Swansea won 2-0 at Arsenal in the Premier League and has shown how hard the

team is to beat under manager Michael Laudrup by drawing against United, Everton and Liverpool in recent weeks. Swansea is unbeaten is nearly a month. In Michu, the Welsh side has one of the players of the season. The Spaniard has scored three times against Arsenal this season - twice in the league and once in the 2-2 draw in the first FA Cup match at Liberty Stadium on Jan. 6. Arsenal’s defensive fragility is worrying Wenger, who will view the FA Cup as his team’s best chance of silverware this season, after the 2-0 loss to City. “There are a lot of big, big fixtures coming up against good teams - big games,” Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen said. “Against Swansea, I am confident the group will respond to this defeat (to City), and I’m confident we can get a result tomorrow.” Arsenal is without midfielder Mikel Arteta for this match, and potentially the next three weeks, because of a calf strain. — AP

Ronaldo: Real under more pressure than Man United MADRID: Real Madrid’s anxiety to win a 10th European Cup puts them under greater pressure to succeed than Manchester United when they meet in the last 16 of the Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo said yesterday. The Spanish champions host the first leg on Feb. 13 with the return at Old Trafford on March 5 and, with the defence of their league title faltering, success in Europe is taking on even greater significance. “I think there’s more pressure at Madrid than at United,” the Portugal forward, who was named World Player of the Year as a United player in 2008, told “I’ve been here for 3-1/2 years now and I think that’s the case because everyone involved is totally focused on winning the club’s 10th European Cup. “That creates a certain amount of anxiety, which can be felt at all times. “We haven’t started the championship very well for sure. We know that La Liga’s an uphill struggle for us now, but nothing’s impossible in football. There’s the Champions League and the King’s Cup too. There’s plenty for us to win this season.” A 0-0 draw at lowly Osasuna on Saturday left Jose Mourinho’s side 18 points adrift of unbeaten La Liga leaders Barcelona in third place. Their biggest deficit on their arch-rivals in a 20team league was in the 1987/88 season when Real trailed Barca by 21 points at the midway point of that campaign. Before then, however, Real also have a King’s

Cristiano Ronaldo Cup quarter-final against Valencia which starts today. “I think that, yes, the pressure is too great and that sometimes it can affect us,” Ronaldo added. “But we have to try and rise above it and not let what people say get to us. “Every Madridista wants that 10th European Cup — we’re more than aware of that. Last season we fell just short, which was very frustrating. “Fortunately we’ve got the opportunity to set the record straight this year, though the fact we face Manchester United next makes it more difficult. It’s not going to be easy and I reckon the odds are about 50-50, but I’m still very confident.” Mourinho has been heavily criticised in the local media and whistled by home fans after their recent poor run of form. “People do protest and

you have to respect that, though I think they should be a bit patient with him,” Ronaldo said. “To me it’s very clear that Mourinho always wants what’s best for the club and will fight to the death to defend it. “In my view he’s the best coach in the world, he’s got loads of experience and has won everything there is to win.” The 27-year-old’s contract with Real runs until 2015 and some media reports have linked him with possible interest from big-spending Paris St Germain. But Ronaldo was adamant he would complete his current deal. “I want to see out my contract at Real Madrid,” he said. “I’m very clear about that. After that, well, I don’t know what’ll happen in the future.” — Reuters

Defenders’ fear tackle after Kompany red card LONDON: The art of tackling could become extinct if full-bloodied but fair challenges like the one Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany executed at Arsenal on Sunday continue to be punished with red cards, former defenders fear. City captain Kompany appeared to time his tackle on Arsenal’s surging midfielder Jack Wilshere to perfection, taking the ball cleanly with his out-stretched left leg. While Wilshere was sent flying by the inevitable coming together of two fully-committed players, even he looked shocked to see referee Mike Dean produce a straight red card for the Belgian - who also received his marching orders for a similar tackle on Manchester United’s Nani last season. Former tough-tackling Chelsea defender Ron Harris, known affectionately in his heyday as Chopper, said Kompany’s tackle was meat and drink to defenders in the 1970s and 80s. “When I was playing, if I had made a tackle like the one Kompany did on Wilshere I would have been proud of myself,” Harris told Reuters yesterday. “I would have given myself 10 out of 10 for that one. What was he supposed to do? They say you can’t show your studs but when you slide in like that you have to show your studs. That doesn’t mean it was a leg-breaker. “I feel a bit for referees because they are under scrutiny but as a member of the defenders’ union I have to say that was a perfect tackle. But then the modern-day prima donna strikers would probably say it should have been a red card.” Harris said the game has changed so much

from the 70s when centre forwards and centre backs spent 90 minutes kicking lumps out of each other that it was now becoming a “non-contact” sport. What is worse, he said, was the fact that good tackles are being punished while blatant diving and the modern-day curse of grappling at corner kicks go unpunished. “Instead of making villains out of people like Kompany, they need to crack down on the cheating we are seeing,” he said. “We see it every week. Soon, defenders will be frightened to make any tackles at all.” Kompany’s red card in City’s 2-0 win added fuel to the debate about tackling with comparisons being drawn with Bobby Moore’s classic challenge on Brazil’s fast-dribbling Jairzinho in the 1970 World Cup. The former England skipper dispossessed Jairzinho with almost surgical precision and the video clip is still used as an example of the perfect piece of defending. While Kompany did initially lead with both legs, like Moore he appeared perfectly in control of his body and Wilshere’s legs, like the Brazilian’s, were never in peril. City are set to appeal against Kompany’s punishment, which would be an automatic threematch ban, with manager Roberto Mancini saying it was not even a foul, let alone a red card. His view drew sympathy from former Liverpool and Scotland defender Alan Hansen. “If Kompany’s red card against Arsenal is not rescinded by the FA it will send out the message

that tacking has gone forever,” he wrote in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper. “It was just about the perfect tackle. I will be flabbergasted if referee Mike Dean decides to stand by his decision to dismiss the City captain.” Kompany looked mortified when he was sent off and later wrote on his Twitter page that he will never change his style. “I will never pull out of a tackle,” he said, “as much as I will never intend to injure a player.” His hopes of avoiding a three-match ban will depend on whether Dean admits to making a mistake, although if past cases are a measure, the red card is unlikely to be overturned. — Reuters

Matches on TV (Local Timings)

Gulf Cup Kuwait v UAE.......................................16:15 Kuwait Sports Abu Dhabi Sports 2 Iraq v Bahrain......................................19:45 Kuwait Sports Abu Dhabi Sports HD Dubai Sports




Bolstered by young players, Bundesliga is booming FRANKFURT: The stadiums are full, the games are close and all seven Bundesliga clubs have advanced to the knockout stage in European competitions for the first time. The Bundesliga is booming behind a surge of homegrown young talents. The league is reaping the benefits of a youth training system put into place after one of the country’s most embarrassing moments in an otherwise often glorious football history - when the national team failed to win a game at the 2000 European Championship. One year later, the German Football Federation (DFB) obliged all Bundesliga clubs to establish youth academies with professional coaches. It also set up national leagues for youth teams. While schooling players, the academies and youth leagues also provided jobs and opportunities for young coaches with new ideas. A decade later, young stars are carrying their clubs. Marco Reus and Mario Goetze are the standouts at champion Borussia Dortmund - which won its Champions League group ahead of Real Madrid, Ajax Amsterdam and Manchester City, all national champions. Bayern Munich’s Thomas Mueller

came out of its academy. Bayern and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was the product of Schalke’s school before moving to Munich. All are established Germany players. More coaches of youth sides are being promoted to Bundesliga jobs and have the courage to use young players. Thomas Tuchel is 39 and his team Mainz is sixth halfway into the season. Freiburg, another team whose limited financial means force the club to rely on its academy, is fifth. Eintracht Frankfurt, promoted this season, is fourth, equal on points with Dortmund. Frankfurt includes several home-grown players. One of secondplace Bayer Leverkusen’s key players is Andre Schuerrle, schooled in Mainz. The DFB has established its own academies nationwide and is considering building a national training center at one location. Germany, once notorious for its efficient but dour style of play, now thrills crowds across the world with its brand of exciting, attacking play borne by its young stars. Germany had the youngest side at last year’s European Championship, where it lost in the semifinals to Italy. The revival of German football has yet to translate into titles. Germany’s

last title was the 1996 European Championship, its last World Cup title came in 1990 and the last club to win the Champions League was Bayern Munich in 2001. “This young team is still not at its peak. We are going to prepare in such a way that we are absolutely competitive in 2014 (World Cup in Brazil),” Germany coach Joachim Loew said recently. “That would be the greatest, if we could win the World Cup.” “We’ve taken great steps forward in the past year. We have confidence in our work. We are absolutely certain about our concept, methods, plans and targets,” Loew said. The emergence of young German players has offset the absence of any major international stars. Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are arguably the league’s biggest foreign stars, but the Bundesliga has rarely attracted major figures, who have usually opted for England, Spain or Italy. With austerity squeezing Spain and Italy - and with German clubs paying salaries regularly - that could change. But few German clubs seem willing to pay exorbitant transfer fees and stratospheric salaries now that they

have a steady supply of talented home players that fans can easily identify with. The German Football League, which runs the Bundesliga, has a licensing system that makes sure all clubs follow sound financial policies. Income is distributed more or less fairly and there is no foreign ownership. German rules allow no single owner to hold more than 49 percent of a stake in a club, with the rest in the hands of club members. The league has secured an increase in income of more than 50 percent for television rights in a four-season deal starting next season. The deal will bring in about €628 million ($833 million)per year on average, compared with €412 million ($546 million) per year at the moment. Other factors have contributed to the success of the league. Germany overhauled its football infrastructure for the 2006 World Cup, building new stadiums and renovating old ones. It now boasts some of the most modern arenas in the game and attracts vast crowds to even run-of-the-mill matches. Most matches are sell-outs and the entertainment value is high because the outcomes are highly unpre-

dictable. Last season’s average attendance jumped to about 45,000 and totaled 13.8 million - second only to the NFL in the United States. Attendance is high and tickets are cheap - some standingroom tickets cost around ‚Ǩ15 ($20).The price of public transport is included in the price. The clubs limit the number of season tickets so that other fans can also attend some matches. “The successes in Europe reflect the state of the Bundesliga, which has become a lot more even,” said KarlHeinz Koerbel, director of Frankfurt’s football school who played a record 602 Bundesliga games. “Now we have very good coaches, great players and an excellent youth program - all this is attracting international attention.” “The schooling of young players has been professionalized in all areas,” said Uwe Harttgen, the director of Werder Bremen’s training center. “The Bundesliga has continuously improved.” Not everything is splendid. Fan violence and the infiltration of supporter groups by neo-Nazis have raised concern, although both are relatively fringe occurrences.—AP

Sochaux freeze out Marseille

LISBON: Porto’s Jackson Martinez (right) from Colombia, vies for the ball with Benfica’s Enzo Perez, from Argentina, during their Portuguese league soccer match.—AP

Benfica draw with Porto LISBON: Benfica and Porto treated fans to an electrifying start with four goals in 20 minutes in a 2-2 draw on Sunday that kept the Portuguese Premier League title chase wide open. The two fierce rivals, undefeated in the league, came into the match with little to separate them and the draw meant Benfica maintained their three-point lead at the top over champions Porto, who have a game in hand. Porto surprised the hosts early on through France under-21 captain Eliaquim Mangala, who was left unmarked in the area and headed in the opener after eight minutes. Two minutes later Benfica’s

Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic struck back with a superb volley but Porto’s inform Jackson Martinez made the most of a blunder by keeper Artur, who misjudged a back pass, and slotted in to put the champions ahead 2-1. The 61,000 roaring fans packed into the Luz stadium for the Clasico were on their feet again as Benfica’s Argentine winger Nicolas Gaitan fired in the leveller after collecting a loose ball in the box. In a much calmer second half, the Lisbon club should have grabbed the winner but keeper Helton denied Cardozo with a flying save with 10 minutes left on the clock. —Reuters

Tigres, America, Tijuana win MEXICO CITY: America, Tijuana and UANL Tigres all won on the weekend to maintain perfect records after two rounds of the Clausura championship in Mexico’s first division. Tigres defeated Atlante 3-1 on Sunday, while America won 2-0 against Jaguares on Friday and reigning champion Tijuana overcame Leon 1-0 on Saturday. In other results this weekend, Santos Laguna won 2-0 against Guadalajara Chivas, Cruz Azul defeated San Luis 2-1, Monterrey earned a 1-0 victory over Morelia, Atlas overcame Pachuca 2-0, Toluca drew 1-1 with Puebla and Queretaro defeated UNAM Pumas 2-1. Tigres went ahead through Damian Alvarez in the 11th minute, before Esteban Paredes capitalized on a defensive error to equalize in the 40th for Atlante. Lucas Lobos curled in a freekick on the edge of the penalty area in the 53rd for Tigres’ second and a deflected effort from Brazilian Danilinho in the 75th made it 3-1. America’s Rubens Sambueza opened the scoring in the 59th with a low left foot shot, with Ecuadoran Christian Benitez adding the second in the 68th. Tijuana scored the sole goal in the 6th when Alfredo Moreno broke through and finished. Leon’s Carlos Pena was sent off for a bad tackle in the 64th and Tijuana’s Leandro Augusto also received a red card

ten minutes from the end of the game. Santos Laguna’s Mexico international Oribe Peralta scored both goals in the win over Chivas. Peralta curled a left foot shot from outside of the area into the bottom corner of the net in the 36th and wrapped up the scoring in the 73rd. San Luis took the lead in the 47th through Santiago Trellez, but goals in the 54th and 69th by Christian Gimenez gave Cruz Azul the victory. Monterrey’s Neri Cardozo struck a shot from outside the area in the 6th which was enough to beat Morelia, who had Hector Mancilla sent off one minute before halftime. Atlas’ Omar Bravo slotted in from the penalty spot in the 36th and Matias Vuoso tapped the ball in from close range for the second. Pachuca’s Daniel Luduena was sent off in the 50th. Puebla looked to have done enough to win thanks to Felix Borja’s goal in the 62nd but Brazilian Lucas Silva equalized for Toluca two minutes before the end. Queretaro came from behind to defeat Pumas, with a goal in the 64th by Amaury Escoto and Gonzalo Pineda netting two minutes later. Pumas went down to ten men when Marco Palacios received his second yellow card in the 36th, but took the lead from a goal by Javier Cortes in the 53rd.—AP

MEXICO CITY: Cruz Azul’s Hugo Pavone shoots a goal under pressure from Luis Mendoza (left) and Ricardo Jimenez, both of San Luis, during a Mexican soccer league match.—AP

PARIS: Third-placed Olympique Marseille missed their chance to draw level with Ligue 1 leaders Olympique Lyon after slumping to a 3-1 defeat at 10-man Sochaux on a freezing Sunday. Playing under heavy snowfall, Sloan Privat headed home a Rafael Dias corner kick in the 18th minute and Cedric Bakambu made it 2-0 five minutes before the interval. Marseille’s hopes of staging a comeback were shattered a minute into the second half when Jeremy Morel scored an own goal. Jordan Ayew clawed a goal back for Marseille in the 55th minute with a powerful strike but the visitors were unable to find the net again despite Sochaux being reduced to 10 men after Joseph Lopy picked up a second yellow card in the 61st minute. Marseille, who were unlucky to hit the woodwork three times on Sunday, stay third on 38 points from 20 games, three adrift of Lyon and one behind Paris St Germain. Sochaux climbed to 17th in the 20-clubs table on 19 points. “We clearly could have done better tonight. They barely threatened us but we conceded again from set pieces,” goalkeeper Steve Mandanda told French channel Canal+. “If we want to stay in the title race, we have to win these kind of games. We have not managed to so far.” After laboring in the first half, Marseille created numerous chances in the second but were left frustrated when Nicolas Nkoulou and Lucas Mendes’ headers hit the post. Souleymane Diawara also hit the woodwork in the first half. Sochaux held on to register their first league win since mid-

FRANCE: Marseille’s forward Andre Ayew (left) vies with Sochaux’s defender Sebastien Corchia during the French L1 football match. —AFP November and climbed up to 17th with 19 points. Dario Cvitanich scored his 11th and 12th goals of the season and created another to help Nice move up to fifth on 32 points with a 5-0 home hammering of Valenciennes. The Argentine striker, signed in the off-season from Ajax Amsterdam for just 400,000 euros ($533,800), curled the ball in to break the deadlock on the stroke of halftime. He struck again in the 79th

minute and set up Didier Digard for the fifth after Renato Civelli had made it 2-0 and Valentin Eysseric, who signed a contract at the club this week after originally joining on loan, netted a splendid 20-metre strike for the third. Nice have 32 points from 20 matches along with Girondins Bordeaux in fourth and sixthplaced Stade Rennes. “With our striker in form, we can hope to take points in any game, at home and away,” Nice midfielder Fabrice Abriel told French chan-

nel beIN Sport. France reserve goalkeeper Mickael Landreau made a successful debut for Bastia in the 2-1 win at Stade Reims, who have not won any of their last 13 games in all competitions. Ilan volleyed in a Jerome Rothen cross in the 21st minute to put the visitors ahead and Florian Thauvin doubled their lead three minutes into the second half. Bastia are 13th on 25 points while Reims lie 16th with 19.—Reuters

Nations Cup poses problems for clubs who lose players JOHANNESBURG: Managers’ complaints across Europe as players jet off for the African Nations Cup every two years have become the norm in soccer in recent years. This time, the problem has been exacerbated by the change in staging the tournament from even to odd years, meaning there have been just 12 months between finals. This year’s tournament in South Africa, which kicks off on Saturday, features 368 players from clubs in 55 countries, showing how widely dispersed exported African players are. There are 27 European countries represented, including Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, and clubs from Brazil, China, Japan and the United States. The French league traditionally provides the most players, this time a total of 50, all but 15 of them from Ligue 1 clubs, who will miss key matches for the three-week tournament. There are 15 players from the Premier League in England, 14 from the top flight in Portugal, 10 from La Liga in Spain and six from Serie A in Italy. FIFA rules

stipulate players had to be released by their clubs to prepare 14 days ahead of the competition. Struggling French club AJ Ajaccio are paying a heavy price, losing five regulars to the Nations Cup at a time when they are attempting to stay out of the Ligue 1 relegation zone. “It is not easy especially when you face a difficult fixture list without them,” assistant coach Stephane Paganelli told the sports daily L’Equipe. Fellow strugglers Stade Brest have lost three of their usual back four and have already moved to sign a replacement. Herita Ilunga is a Democratic Republic of Congo international but has not been picked for the Nations Cup. Among the high-profile players who have chosen their club over country is former South Africa captain Steven Pienaar who retired from international football last September. Cape Verde Islands defender Ricardo also faced a difficult choice. His national team make their debut at the Nations Cup finals after

unexpected qualification but the 32-year-old centre back’s club Pacos de Ferreira find themselves in unusual territory among the front-runners in the Portuguese league. Ricardo has chosen to stay with his club for vital games over the next week as they

seek a place in European club competition next season. While his compatriots from the tiny island archipelago meet hosts South Africa in the opening game of the Nations Cup, Ricardo will be playing away at champions FC Porto.—Reuters

Bowling results/standings KUWAIT: Results of the second week of the 14th Banks Bowling Tournament were as follows: Central 5, Gulf 2; Burgan 7, National 0; United 7, Commerical 0; Baitak 7, Boubyan 0. Third week matches are as follows: United v Central National v Ahli Gulf v Baitak Commercial v Burgan Standings of the second week Standings Bank Points 1. United Ahli Bank 14 2. Central Bank 10 3. Gulf Bank 9 4. Ahli Bank 7 5. Baitak 7 6. Burgan 7 7. Boubyan 2 8. Kuwait National Bank 0 9. Commercial Bank 0

Henley seals maiden win

Lakers snap losing streak




Bolstered by young players, Bundesliga is booming

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Sharapova ruthless at Australian Open

MELBOURNE: Russia’s Maria Sharapova serves to compatriot Olga Puchkova in their women’s singles match on the first day of the Australian Open tennis tournament.—AFP

MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic served up only flashes of his best tennis on the opening day of the Australian Open but took a comfortable first step on the path he hopes will lead to an unprecedented hat-trick of titles at Melbourne Park in two weeks’ time. Perhaps keeping energy in reserve for the battles that lie ahead, the world number one’s workmanlike 6-2 6-4 7-5 victory over Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu yesterday summed up a day where the year’s first grand slam failed to really fire. “It was a good performance for a first round,” said the top seed, who will play American Ryan Harrison in the second round. “There are some few adjustments that I need to make and get a little bit sharper on the court. But it’s expected in the first match you’re still not a 100 percent on the court.” While Djokovic only

roused himself when necessary, Maria Sharapova was ruthless as she swept aside any fears about her fitness with a thumping 6-0 6-0 win over compatriot Olga Puchkova on Rod Laver Arena. American Venus Williams and China’s Li Na, both former losing finalists, also enjoyed emphatic wins to breeze into the second round, while in-form fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska extended her perfect start to the year to 10 matches. Upsets are often the catalyst that jolt a tournament into life but Argentina’s Juan Monaco was the first seed to fall in the early evening and his 7-6 6-1 6-1 defeat was as much down to hand and leg injuries as Russian Andrey Kuznetsov. Lleyton Hewitt did his best to produce another shock in front of a partisan night crowd but eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic brought a rapid end to the Australian’s 17th appearance at his home

open with a 7-6 7-5 6-3 victory. Serbian Djokovic only hit top gear twice in his match against Mathieu - when he faced three break points in the second set and again when the third set looked destined for a tiebreak. On the first occasion he rustled up three aces to get himself out of trouble and on the second, he produced a couple of exceptional winners to break the Frenchman and set up victory in an hour and 42 minutes. “I felt I was in control of the match in the opening two sets then he started playing better,” said Djokovic, who would set an open era record with three successive titles. “It was tough to break. But in the end ... I made some good shots and managed to go through straight sets.” With Andy Murray and Roger Federer not beginning their campaigns until Tuesday and Rafa Nadal absent injured,

Monday was an opportunity for those players just outside the elite of the men’s game to strut their stuff. David Ferrer duly continued the form which won him a fourth Auckland Open title on Saturday to beat Olivier Rochus 6-3 6-4 6-2, while fifth seed Tomas Berdych also progressed with a 6-3 7-5 63 win over American Michael Russell. Despite the record temperatures which have gripped Australia for the last couple of weeks, the Australian Open opened to a mild morning in Melbourne. There was nothing mild about Sharapova’s demolition of Puchkova on Rod Laver Arena, however, and the Russian powered her way into the second round in just 55 minutes. Firing winners at will, particularly off the forehand, the 2008 champion showed no signs of the collar bone injury that caused her to pull out of the

Brisbane warm-up. “I was happy with the way I started, considering I didn’t play any matches coming in,” the 25-year-old said. “It was just one of those matches where I didn’t try to worry about her too much, I just tried to think about what I had to do.” Williams could meet Sharapova in the third round and proved she might be a handful for the second seed by winning 12 successive games to beat Kazakh Galina Voskoboeva 6-1 6-0. It was 10 years ago that Williams lost her only Australian Open final to her sister Serena, who gets her campaign underway today. Pole Radwanska, winner of back-toback warm-up events in Sydney and Auckland, battled through a tricky first set and whipped through the second to beat Australian wildcard Bojana Bobusic 7-5 6-0. Li lost to Radwanska in Sydney last week to end her own winning streak

Reporters stake out Armstrong’s home

Record-setting Barca march on with victory MADRID: Rampant unbeaten leaders Barcelona ended the first half of the La Liga season with a record 55 of a possible 57 points when Lionel Messi scored one goal and had a hand in two more in a 3-1 win at Malaga on Sunday. An 18th victory in 19 games for Tito Vilanova’s side in an entertaining match at the Rosaleda restored their 11-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid, who earlier secured a 10th win in 10 home matches with a 2-0 success against Real Zaragoza. Barca’s win also extended their advantage over arch rivals Real Madrid to 18 points after the stuttering champions, mired in third, were held to a 0-0 draw at bottom side Osasuna on Saturday. Barca have overhauled the previous record of 52 points they set two years ago under Pep Guardiola, scoring 64 goals and conceding 20, and are well on the way to breaking Real’s record of 100 points for a season set last term. The only points they have dropped were in a 2-2 draw at home to Real Madrid in October. Barca also set a new La Liga best by scoring for the 37th match in a row. “It’s incredible,” Vilanova, back on the bench after undergoing throat surgery last month, told a news conference. “It will be tough to repeat a second half like the first, it would not be normal,” he added. “We are 11 points ahead of Atletico but we still have to go to play there, we still have to play at Real Madrid. “It’s a substantial advantage but we have to keep going, there is half the season left to play.” Malaga, who play at Barca in a King’s Cup quarter-final first leg on Wednesday, have the meanest defence in the league but a howler by Ignacio Camacho gifted the visitors their opener in the 27th minute. Messi intercepted the midfielder’s wayward back pass and after leaving Malaga goalkeeper Willy Caballero sprawling on

the turf stroked the ball into an empty net. It was the Argentine World Player of the Year’s 28th league goal of the campaign and the ninth straight game he has scored, a personal record and one short of the La Liga best last achieved in the 1996-97 season by former Barca striker Ronaldo. Messi sent Fabregas clear to double the visitors’ lead five minutes after the break and then laid the ball into space for substitute Thiago Alcantara to add an 82nd-minute third. Diego Buonanotte, another substitute, curled in a free kick for Malaga a minute from time but it was far too late for the Andalusians, who slip to fifth behind Real Betis. Resurgent Atletico go into the second half of the season with a perfect home record after Tiago and Radamel Falcao scored to help see off Zaragoza. The comfortable victory at the Calderon means Atletico have won 10 La Liga home games on the trot for the first time in almost 40 years. They stretched their advantage over third-placed city rivals Real Madrid to seven points and their improvement under Argentine coach Diego Simeone can be gauged by the fact that they were 23 points behind Real at the same stage last term. Tiago nodded Atletico ahead in the 31st minute and Falcao doubled their lead from the penalty spot seven minutes later after Arda Turan was felled by Cristian Sapunaru. It was the seventh successful penalty conversion this season by the Colombia striker, who is coveted by several of Europe’s wealthiest clubs, and took his league tally for the campaign to 18, 10 behind Messi and two ahead of Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Betis continued their impressive push for a European qualification place when in-form forward Ruben Castro created one goal and scored another in a 2-0 win at home to Levante in the early kickoff.—Reuters

at eight matches, but the former French Open champion continued to thrive under the guidance of her new coach with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Sesil Karatantcheva. “He’s not only a teacher about tennis, not only about technique, he’s also helping me get my mind stronger on court,” Li said of Justine Henin’s former mentor Carlos Rodriguez. Mental fragility has contributed to Sam Stosur’s poor showings at her home grand slam and the ninth seed again failed to convince in a 7-6 6-3 win over Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan. “I desperately wanted to win out there today, but I didn’t necessarily feel it any more than my first rounds in grand slams,” said the Australian, who was knocked out in the first round last year and at her warm-ups in Brisbane and Sydney.—Reuters

SPAIN: Barcelona’s Lionel Messi from Argentina controls the ball during a Spanish La Liga soccer match against Malaga at the Rosaleda stadium.—AP

AUSTIN: Journalists staked out the Texas home of Lance Armstrong yesterday ahead of an interview with Oprah Winfrey during which the disgraced cyclist is reportedly planning to admit to doping. Reporters, photographers and TV crews took up positions across the street from Armstrong’s opulent Austin home, which is surrounded by an eight-foot-high (2.4-meter) stone wall. There was no sign by mid-day of Oprah or Armstrong. The interview with Oprah is scheduled to be taped at Armstrong’s home yesterday and is to air on her OWN cable network on Thursday. The announcement that Armstrong had agreed to an interview has sparked widespread speculation that he might finally confess to being a drug cheat after years of strenuous denials. According to USA Today, Armstrong plans to admit in the interview to doping throughout his career, but will not go into great detail about specific cases and events. It will be Armstrong’s first interview since he was stripped in October of his seven Tour de France titles after the US AntiDoping Agency (USADA) said he helped orchestrate the most sophisticated doping program in sports history. Any confession by Armstrong could have legal or financial ramifications. Since the International Cycling Union effectively erased him from the record books, Britain’s The Sunday Times has sued Armstrong for more than £1 million ($1.6 million) over a libel payment made to him in 2006. The newspaper paid Armstrong £300,000 to settle a libel case after publishing a story suggesting he may have cheated, and now wants that money plus interest and legal costs repaid. A Texas insurance company has also threatened legal action to recoup millions of dollars in bonuses it paid him for multiple Tour victories. His years of dominance in the sport’s greatest race raised cycling’s profile in the United States to new heights and gave Armstrong, a cancer survivor, a unique platform to promote cancer awareness and research.—AFP


Abu Dhabi to spend $90bn on projects in 2013-2017 Page 22 Euro-zone industrial output down in Nov Page 23


India defers disputed tax rules for two years

A winning strategy for telecom operators Page 26

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DETROIT: The new Lincoln MKC crossover concept vehicle makes its world debut at the media preview of the 2013 North American International Auto Show at the Cobo Center yesterday in Detroit, Michigan. Approximately 6,000 members of the media from 68 countries are attending the show this year. The 2013 NAIAS opens to the public January 19. — AFP

BofA plans to increase Gulf lending Oil wealth, low valuations to stimulate deal activity DUBAI: Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BofA) plans to increase lending to businesses in the Middle East as oil-rich Gulf investors show more appetite for acquisitions, a senior banker at the US financial services firm said. BofA’s move comes at a time when global banks, mostly European institutions, faced with a slump in deal activity and pressure to save money at home, scale back their business in the region and pull out of funding big-ticket projects. But the bank, which made senior hires in the Gulf region last year, expects investment banking activity to pick up in 2013, according to Wadih Boueiz, the bank’s co-head of corporate and investment banking for the Middle East and North Africa. “We are using our balance sheet more aggressively with strategic clients as part of our strategy to increase investment banking market share. We also see tremendous growth for our corporate banking platform,” said Boueiz, who also heads the bank’s sovereign wealth fund business. A wide range of financial institutions, including Credit Suisse, Japan’s Nomura Holdings and UBS , have cut jobs in their investment banking teams for the Middle East last year. Some have sold assets outright to raise capital. In December, French bank BNP Paribas sold

its Egyptian arm to Dubai’s Emirates NBD, while Societe Generale sold its Egyptian business to Qatar National Bank. “The MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region remains a strategic priority for Bank of America. We are taking a long term view of the region and are fully committed to further building our business here,” Boueiz said. The bank appointed Boueiz and Hakim Karoui in October as co-heads of investment banking for the region as part of plans to integrate corporate and investment banking in emerging markets. BofA’s Chief Executive Brian Moynihan earlier this month urged his bankers to lend more aggressively to businesses. This comes as BofA and its rivals try to find avenues of growth as new regulations and the US Federal Reserve’s low interest rate policy squeeze profits. The bank is betting on a pick-up in merger and acquisition activity in the Gulf Arab region this year as high oil prices, stable markets and low valuations spur deals from sovereign wealth funds and large companies. “Sovereign wealth funds and regional companies looking to expand should drive most of this M&A activity. We expect them to be more active in outbound M&A, whether it’s out of their countries into the Gulf/MENA or globally,” Boueiz said. Though still far off activity seen in the boom

years, the Middle Eastern M&A is showing signs of a revival after a three-year slump, with transaction volume totalling $20 billion in 2012, nearly double that of the previous year, according to Thomson Reuters data. Boueiz said Middle Eastern investors were increasingly looking into the US for investments, a shift from their traditional preference for Europe. “Interest in the US has always been there but it went through a major slowdown. The US is starting to show signs of improvement in its fundamentals, banks are doing better and corporates are sitting on excess cash,” he said. In the past 18 months, Bank of America advised on a number of cross border transactions, including the $3.25 billion acquisition of Gassled by an infrastructure consortium including a Middle Eastern sovereign wealth fund, and the $1.9 billion sale of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank’s 25percent stake in Malaysian lender RHB Capital. The bank was also involved in the $1.7 billion sale of Turkey’s Acibadem by Dubai private equity firm Abraaj Group, the $800 million spinoff of Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology Holding and the sale of a portion of Weather Investments’ stake in VimpelCom for $3.6 billion. —Reuters

Saudi says supply cut not to lift oil prices Outlook for global economy improves PARIS: Economic activity is picking up or steadying in the United States, the euro-zone and in China, the OECD said on Monday on the basis of leading indicators of activity in the main industrialized economies. “Composite leading indicators point to stabilizing economic growth in most major economies,” the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said. The OECD’s monthly indicator summarizing signals from economies showed that growth is “firming” in the United States, that a downturn in the euro-zone is “stabilising” and that there are “tentative signs of a turning point (upwards) in China.” In the OECD area, which comprises 34 countries, growth is “firming,” the OECD concluded. For several months, international economic forecasting organizations have warned that the euro-zone debt crisis was one of the main threats to the outlook for the global economy which struggled towards the end of last year. But in recent weeks sentiment on financial markets has edged towards the view that the euro-zone is getting on top of its crisis. In the United States and the United Kingdom, which is not a member of the eurozone, the overall indicator “continues to point to economic growth firming,” the OECD said. “In China and India, signs of a turning point are more marked than in last month’s assessment.” —AFP

DUBAI: Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia cut oil output in December because of lower seasonal demand, a senior Saudi oil ministry adviser told the state news agency yesterday, rejecting media reports suggesting the move was aimed at pushing up crude prices. Saudi Arabia cut its crude oil production by around 700,000 barrels per day (bpd) over the last two months of 2012, with output falling to around 9 million bpd in December. It topped that up with oil held in storage to supply a total of 9.15 million bpd to the market in December. News of the cut has helped support Brent prices at over $111 a barrel, comfortably above the $100 Riyadh says it favors. But Saudi oil ministry adviser Ibrahim AlMuhanna said in a statement that the reduction in Saudi production late last year was due to lower demand for oil both at home and abroad. “Saudi Arabia’s production fluctuates month-to-month, and depends on a range of domestic, regional and international factors. At this point in time, production is driven by customer requirements, not by price levels. It is the market which sets the price of oil,” Muhanna, an adviser to Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi, said. “One driver of Saudi Arabia’s production fluctuation is

domestic demand, and this depends on seasonality. Peak demand was in the summer, but it has weakened over the last quarter, as usual. Another factor, equally important, is international customers’ demand for Saudi oil. This is also seasonal,” he said. “If we look at the last quarter of 2012, for example, there were many challenges in terms of domestic growth in the euro-zone and concerns about the US fiscal cliff. This, consequently, impacted the demand for oil.” Muhanna said media reports accusing Saudi Arabia of deliberately trying to push oil prices by cutting production were “categorically wrong.” He said Saudi Arabia was optimistic that economic uncertainty would pass and that economic growth would return in 2013. “Saudi Arabia stands ready to respond to these changes, and again will meet all customers’ needs. Saudi Arabia remains strongly committed to a stable oil market,” he said. Saudi production in December was more than a million barrels below its peak production last summer, when the kingdom’s own oil use peaks because it burns oil to generate electricity to meet soaring air conditioning demand. — Reuters

QNB falls, regional markets mixed MIDEAST STOCK MARKETS DUBAI: Shares in atar National Bank made their largest one-day drop in 12 months yesterday as investors reacted to flat profit growth in the fourth quarter and no share option in its dividend, while other regional markets closed mixed. The heavyweight lender’s results met estimates. QNB set a 60 percent cash dividend equivalent to 6 riyals per share but retail investors, hoping for bonus shares, were not impressed. “We saw some profit-taking after its ver y strong (stock) per formance because the numbers were in line to a slight miss of estimates,” said Anastasios Dalgiannakis, institutional trading manager at Mubasher. “The dividend payout doesn’t mean the market will bypass the operational performance.” QNB fell 2.6 percent to 134.4 riyals, its largest one-day loss since January 2012. The stock rallied from 131 riyals and peaked at Sunday’s intraday high of 141.70 riyals per share. Disappointed retail investors were expecting a share dividend of around 10 to 15 percent. “The base of growth for QNB will be moderate but I see the results as good there isn’t much pressure on margins as its capital adequacy ratio, at 21 percent, is comfortable,” said Reda Gomaa, portfolio manager at Mashreq. “I think it’s a good time to buy given their acquisition plan on NSGB.” Societe Generale agreed late last year to sell its majority stake in Egypt’s National Societe Generale Bank to QNB for $2 billion, as part of the French bank’s bid to meet new capital requirements. Other large-caps also declined. Industries Qatar slipped 0.6 percent. The energy firm hit a 54-month high last week as strong earnings growth supported buying. Doha’s market, which closed 0.5 percent down, had seen a surge of inflows from foreign investors this year, but buying has now steadied. Funds are shifting out of IQ to other regional stocks like petrochemical heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC), Dalgiannakis added. Saudi Arabia’s bourse ended

lower for a second session since Thursday ’s four-month high as the heavyweight banking and petrochemical sectors weighed. The kingdom’s index slipped 0.4 percent, trimming January’s gains to 4.2 percent. Investors booked gains in the newly-listed Dallah Healthcare , which slipped 0.8 percent from Sunday’s record high. Petrochemical stocks declined with SABIC down 0.3 percent. Saudi Kayan Petrochemical extended declines, dipping 1.2 percent, since saying its fourth-quarter net loss increased 1.9 percent from the year-earlier period. Turnover was the highest in insurance stocks, as investors shifted focus from banks and petrochemicals. The insurance index dipped 0.7 percent. “The Saudi market, in general, has been trading at a premium to other regional markets - this is shrinking (as other markets catch up),” said Ali Adou, portfolio manager at The National Investor. “You have an expansionary budget, which should translate to higher growth in loans. We’re seeing about 15-16 percent loan growth, which has to be priced in the valuations.” Saudi Arabia has set a record state budget for 2013, at 820 billion riyals ($219 billion) as high oil prices allow heavy spending on welfare and infrastructure projects. Elsewhere, Egypt’s bourse rose 0.7 percent, halting two sessions of profittaking as non-Arab foreigners resumed buying. The market hit a 10-week peak on Wednesday at 5,866 points, but technical resistance offered a trigger for investors to then book gains. Orascom Construction gained 1.2 percent and National Societe Generale Bank added 0.3 percent. These are the only two gainers, which help lift the market.Most other stocks slipped. NonArab foreign investors were net buyers against Egyptian net sellers, according to bourse data. In the UAE, Dubai’s index climbed 0.2 percent, heading back towards Thursday’s two-year high after Sunday’s declines. Abu Dhabi’s measure advanced 0.9 percent. — Reuters



Abu Dhabi to spend $90bn on projects in 2013-2017 Emirate to diversify economic resources DUBAI: Abu Dhabi plans to spend 330 billion dirhams ($90 billion) on development projects over the next five years, the emirate’s Executive Council said in a statement. “The allocations ... are in line with the Abu Dhabi government policy to diversify its economic resources and reduce dependence on oil and gas industry revenues,” said the statement, published late on Sunday. The plan includes building more than 12,500 houses as well as schools, roads and other infrastructure, said the government of Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven United Arab Emirates. It said it was improving the investment environment by offering incentives and better facilities to companies. It expects in 2013 to create 5,000 new

jobs for UAE nationals in the emirate, which accounts for almost all UAE oil production. Some 3 billion dirhams worth of housing loans would be provided under the 20132017 plan. “Social development projects were given priority in the Council’s deliberations due to their direct impact on public life,” the statement said. “The Council members underlined the necessity to move forward with the social development projects in accordance with the timetables already stated because these projects are closely associated with progress being made ... in other sectors.” The emirate of some 2 million people, which accounts for around 78 percent of overall fiscal spending in the UAE and is

lion dirhams, a report by the International Monetary Fund based on government figures showed in June 2012. Its revenues shot up 46 percent to 280.9 billion dirhams. The UAE has not been hit by social unrest seen elsewhere in the Middle East since early 2011, but it has raised public spending along with its fellow oil exporters. It has a cradle-to-grave welfare system and its per capita income of nearly $49,000 in 2012 is one of the highest in the world. Abu Dhabi’s economy was expected to grow 3.9 percent in 2012, lagging previous forecasts, but should pick up in the next few years helped by further diversification away from oil, the Department of Economic Development said in September. — Reuters

home to one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, does not publish its yearly budget plans and outcomes. Abu Dhabi, traditionally more fiscally conservative than neighboring trade hub Dubai, postponed a number of development projects when it reviewed its economic strategy last year. It is now proceeding with many of them, albeit at a slower pace. Last week it awarded a $653 million contract to build a branch of France’s Louvre museum, which it hopes will help to develop Abu Dhabi into a top tourist destination. Government spending in Abu Dhabi, which makes up 65 percent of the UAE’s economic output, jumped 21 percent in 2011 to an estimated 314.7 bil-

Doha Bank to sell shares to increase capital DUBAI: Doha Bank, Qatar ’s fifthlargest lender by market value, plans to increase its capital by 50 percent, with a quarter raised through a local rights issue and the remainder from a share sale in London. Doha Bank’s capital levels are lower than its Qatari peers and proceeds from the share issue are expected to be used mainly to plug that shortfall. Its board is seeking the approval of shareholders for the capital increase, the lender said in a bourse statement yesterday. Doha Bank, part-owned by the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth fund, plans to increase capital by 25 percent by issuing new shares to current shareholders at 30 riyals per share - a discount to its market price of 54 riyals. It will raise the other quarter through an issue of global depository receipts (GDR) in the second phase of the capital increase plan, the bank said. A GDR is a certificate that represents a block of shares in a company.

GDRs are often issued by firms in emerging market states to allow foreign investors to buy the stock more easily. In October, sources told Reuters that the bank was considering selling shares in London as part of a plan to boost capital by up to $1.6 billion in 2013. Arqaam Capital analyst Jaap Meijer said at the time that Doha Bank’s capital base was “very tight”. A rights issue with shares priced at a 30 percent discount will help to raise about 4.1 billion riyals ($1.13 billion), Meijer had written in a research note, adding that the bank’s core Tier 1 capital ratio would fall to 9.6 percent by the end of 2013 without a capital increase. The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the state sovereign fund, owns a near-17 percent stake in Doha Bank, according to the lender’s 2011 annual report. Doha Bank shares were trading 1.3 percent higher at 54.1 riyals on the Doha bourse at 0710 GMT. — Reuters

Riyad Bank Q4 net rises 4.1% DUBAI: Riyad Bank yesterday posted a 4.1 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit, it said yesterday, missing the average forecast of analysts. Saudi Arabia’s third-largest listed bank by market capitalisation said in a bourse statement it made 810 million riyals ($216 million) in the three months ending Dec. 31 compared with 778 million in the same period a year earlier. Nine analysts surveyed by Reuters expected 821.9 million. The bank said total operating income rose 3.9 percent versus the final three months of 2011 while full-year net profit in 2012 grew 10.1 percent to 3.47 billion riyals. Profit from special commissions in the fourth quarter rose 1.7 percent over the same period in 2011 to 1.1 billion riyals. Total assets at the end of 2012 were 190.2 billion riyals, an increase of 5.1 percent over the end of 2011, while customer deposits rose 4.6 percent over the same time period to 146.2 billion riyals. Loans and advances rose 4 percent over 2012 to 117.5 billion riyals. — Reuters

KIEV: People pass by a street vendor in downtown Kiev yesterday. Many Ukrainians engage in small-scale trade to make out a living in difficult economic conditions. —AP

Saudi British Bank Q4 net profit rises DUBAI: Saudi British Bank (SABB) posted a bigger than expected 24.4 percent rise in fourthquarter net profit, with its loans portfolio, customer deposits and earnings from special commissions all rising over the year. Saudi Arabia’s fourth-largest listed bank said in a bourse filing yesterday it made 815 million riyals ($217.3 million) in the last three months of 2012 compared to 655 million in the last quarter of 2011. It cited higher operating income and a decrease in operating expenses for the rise. Total operating income in Q4 was 1.23 billion riyals, an improvement of 9.5 percent over the same period of 2011. Nine analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast it would earn a net profit of 771.7 million riyals. Net profit for all of 2012 was

3.24 billion riyals, up 12.2 percent on 2011’s 2.89 billion riyals. Fourth quarter profit from special commissions, at 821 million riyals, grew 12.4 percent over the same three months of 2011. Full-year figures were up 8 percent over the previous year. SABB’s loans portfolio climbed 13.3 percent over the course of 2012 to 96.1 billion riyals at the end of the year. Customer deposits at the end of 2012 stood at 120.4 billion riyals, up 14.1 percent on the same point of 2011, while total assets increased 13 percent over the course of 2012 to 156.7 billion riyals. Saudi banks have enjoyed successive years of expansionary government budgets, ample liquidity and improving corporate loan demand. — Reuters weekly report

Global Investment Strategy for 2013

By Hayder Tawfik

KUWAIT: It seems that most of the talk about global macro risk has been receding and now are fully discounted in the financial markets. This is something that has caught investors by surprise throughout last year. Financial markets have a very good habit of discounting bad and good news at the same time. 2012 was a year of great uncertainty but smart investors were rewarded handsomely indeed. The followings are some returns achieved in 2012 on what was seen as risky and not risky by investors: 1. Portugal Government bonds 52% 2. Ireland Government bonds 34% 3. Turkey Government bonds 23% 4. Italy Government bonds 22% 5. Greece Government bonds 18% 6. Global Government Bond 4% 7. Global Equity Index 17.5% 8. Germany Equities 28% 9. US Equities 20% 10. Switzerland Equities 25% The troubled euro-zone government bonds have delivered excellent performances after having been sold off back in 2011. I am not sure if these kinds of performances can be repeated in 2013. As for global equities the performance has been quite spectacular in the face of all the financial and political uncertainties. German equities were the best performer among the developed economies. We at Dimah Capital are still positive for global equities in 2013 and think that growth will bottom in the first half of 2013 and in the absence of any political uncertainty could significantly boost overall global economic growth towards the end of the year and into next year. The accommodative central banks monetary policy will continue in the absence of any inflation threat. We believe that investors are still underweight equities and overweight government and corporate bonds and feel that any shift towards equities will boost their returns. For 2013, we are positioned at overweight equities mostly in the developed economies and some in the emerging markets. As for government bonds we believe that the most investors can get for the this will be just collecting the coupons with the risk of sell off if our scenario of growth picking up in the second half of the year comes to fruition. As for our equity position we are overweight Europe and the UK and marginally underweight US. We are at present looking to establish small position in Japan towards the main exporters as we believe that the Japanese Yen will weaken further and that will boost Japanese main exporters. Our target for the US$/Yen is 97 by the end of the year. Also we have added small exposure to Spanish, UK and French equities based purely on cheap valuations. Our Spanish exposure is very opportunistic as we feel that Spanish equities are oversold and any sign of the economy bottoming out will lead to a big rally in the stock market. In 2012, we based our investment themes on growth, high dividend yields, good quality with strong balance sheet and US housing related companies. As for this year we believe that investment themes are not clear enough yet so we have increased our exposure to some of last year’s themes such as US housing related, growth and global consumer spending. Within the US housing market we believe that the recent recovery will last at least 3 years and will benefit companies like Home Depot and Lowe’s Companies Inc. These days economic growth is scare and as we mentioned above will remain so for the coming years. We do not rely on regions or sectors for growth but we have identified companies that are growing way above the average and have strong revenue and earnings growth. Companies such as Google, Apple, Adecco and eBay Inc. are our favorite growth stocks. Overall, we see continued and coordinated policy support among the developed economies lead by the Federal Reserve and expect a rebound in global economic growth even if it is small but will have a very positive impact on global equities. We believe that global equities offer the best risk-adjusted returns compared to government and corporate bonds and most other asset classes.Hayder Tawfik is Executive Vice President of Asset Management, at Dimah Capital.

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

.2740000 .4500000 .3730000 .3050000 .2830000 .2940000 .0040000 .0020000 .0761760 .7421590 .3880000 .0720000 .7275550 .0430000

.2840000 .4600000 .3810000 .3140000 .2920000 .3030000 .0067500 .0035000 .0769410 .7496180 .4060000 .0770000 .7348670 .0510000

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

CUSTOMER TRANSFER RATES .2806000 .4527900 .3756250 .3074560 .2852060 .0503370 .0434720 .2962430 .0361940 .2287620 .0031330 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0764270 .7445930 .0000000 .0748470 .7291150 .0000000

.2827000 .4561790 .3784360 .3097570 .2873410 .0507140 .0437980 .2984610 .0364650 .2304740 .0031560 .0051930 .0022450 .0029140 .0035650 .0769990 .7501660 .3998590 .0754070 .7345720 .0070090

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

ASIAN COUNTRIES 3.235 5.141 2.902 2.235 3.222 231.000 36.499 3.537

Philippine Peso Thai Baht Irani Riyal - transfer Irani Riyal - cash

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

6.931 9.296 0.271 0.273 GCC COUNTRIES 75.470 77.763 735.090 751.690 77.063

Saudi Riyal Qatari Riyal Omani Riyal Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham

EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer 282.900 Euro 371.590 Sterling Pound 455.190 Canadian dollar 287.500 Turkish lire 159.130 Swiss Franc 306.830 Australian dollar 297.890 US Dollar Buying 281.700 GOLD 311.000 157.000 81.500

SELL DRAFT 303.12 292.09 313.38 378.64 282.50 458.77 3.25 3.561 5.171 2.240 3.248 2.906

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 282.650 286.870 454.355 370.475 306.160 748.310 76.930 77.585 75.335 398.440 43.553 2.212 5.144 2.900 3.506 6.913 693.345 4.230 9.375 3.975 3.305 92.855

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

77.500 750.000 46.750 400.000 734.000 78.500 75.750

Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd

ARAB COUNTRIES Egyptian Pound - Cash 46.200 Egyptian Pound - Transfer 43.552 Yemen Riyal/for 1000 1.320 Tunisian Dinar 181.170 Jordanian Dinar 399.270 Lebanese Lira/for 1000 1.899 Syrian Lier 3.075 Morocco Dirham 33.880

20 Gram 10 Gram 5 Gram

76.98 752.20 43.19 402.47 735.23 78.01 75.54

SELL CASH 310.000 290.000 310.000 371.500 283.500 456.000 3.750 3.700 5.450 2.500 3.550 2.990

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

SELL CASH 300.400 749.950 3.840 290.000 553.800 45.900 51.300 167.800 46.060 380.200 37.080 5.470 0.032 0.161 0.242

SELLDRAFT 298.900 749.950 3.544 288.500

231.600 43.055 378.700 36.930 5.165 0.031

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

3.260 399.630 0.191 96.540 45.900 4.340 239.600 1.827 52.200 732.500 3.030 7.290 78.000 75.290 231.630 35.040 2.686 459.000 44.600 312.400 3.400 9.640 198.263 76.890 282.400 1.360

10 Tola

GOLD 1,765.300

Sterling Pound US Dollar

399.590 0.190 96.540 3.250 238.100

732.320 2.912 6.971 77.570 75.290 231.630 35.040 2.240 457.000 310.900 3.400 9.510 76.790 282.000

TRAVELLER’S CHEQUE 457.000 282.000

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) 281.400 379.400 456.500 288.400 3.180 5.170 42.865 2.229 3.552 6.945 2.908 749.400 76.600 75.100



Consider your options, think broadly By Dr Ali Qassim Jawad, INSEAD scholar


arge revenues from abundant natural resources should guarantee prosperity for a country. Yet, evidence suggests often the contrary is the case. In many instances, countries suffer a “resource curse” in which the discovery of great natural wealth is followed by lackluster economic growth, increased inequalities and burgeoning conflicts. Why is this? Economists quote three “cursing” factors: the erosion of Terms-ofTrade - the value of exports relative to imports; the Dutch disease- the relationship between the increase in exploitation of natural resources and a decline in the manufacturing sector; and the Crowding-out effect - when increased public sector spending replaces, or drives down, private sector spending. Bad decisions and large ineffective policies by governments are also to blame. So, how should countries go about making the right decisions in terms of investing large revenue windfall from exhaustible resources to enhance the wealth of the current and future generations? Sadly, the economic literature is more prolific on the nature of the problems rather

than on the shape of the solutions. Investment planning is no easy task. Investment decisions often create their own set of problems and what should have been the answer turns out to be the foundation for a host of new problems. One way for policy planners to avoid making bad investment decisions is to use “Scenario Planning”: a strategic planning method used by organizations to think through different future scenarios based on known facts and assumed or possible trends. Scenario planning was popularized in the 1950’s by Herman Khan of the RAND Corporation, a USbased think-tank, which used the method while working with US military intelligence. During the Cold War, Khan encouraged the US military to think through the consequences of a nuclear war and to come up with ways to improve survival rates. Royal Dutch Shell was the first commercial corporation to use scenario planning. In the 1970’s, oil was cheap and plentiful but Pierre Wack, Head of Corporate Planning, dared to question the unquestionable: ‘What would happen if in future this was no longer the case?’ Shell developed several scenarios

based on alternative assumptions about future supplies and prices, to enable the company to shift investments from the expansion of production capacity to upgrading refinery output, years ahead of its competitors. When the 1973 Oil Crisis erupted, Shell was prepared and, as a result, was able to outsmart most of its competitors at the time. Today, most large corporations have adopted scenario thinking as part of their strategic planning. In contrast, government policy makers have been slower to embrace scenario planning for formulating future economic development plans. Adopting scenario planning would have great benefits for resource-rich countries with low populations, such as the majority of the Gulf countries. One of the key policy choices faced by the Gulf policy planners over the last decades has been whether to invest its oil revenues at home or abroad? On the surface, these two options are perceived as delivering more or less a similar outcome: creating revenue, both now and in the future when oil stocks run out, that sustains the quality of life of these countries. Yet, scenario thinking suggests that the results will be different depending on

where revenues are invested. Investing in strategic industries “at home” creates jobs for nationals, develops the local economy and helps a country to retain control over its investments. Domestic investment also increases a country’s “soft power” in the global economy and promotes a cosmopolitan society. Singapore has successfully followed this “GDP-driven” development path (referred to as the Factory Model by RAND).However, following this path does give rise to issues that are associated with the large influx of foreign labor necessary to support growth in the local economy. These include social, economic, logistical, security, environment and cultural issues that arise when a country is home to a large expatriate population. The alternative scenario of investing in strategic industries “overseas” has a more limited impact on the local economy. Although countries have less control over their investments, society back home remains more homogenous. The cost and complications associated with hosting a large expatriate population, such as congestion, pollution, and crime, can be avoided. Job opportunities can still be generat-

ed for nationals, although this might necessitate nationals relocating overseas to work for periods of time. Switzerland partly epitomizes this “GNP-driven” policy(known as the Garden Model in RAND’s terminology). The reality for Gulf economies is not that they should choose one development model over the other, but instead a mixture of the two. The challenge is how to make wise choices about what and where to invest at home and abroad while considering different scenarios that take into account as many variables as possible. For policy planners in the Gulf, in the context of the changes in the Arab world this means fully considering the demographic, social and regional dynamics of each of their countries in future scenarios. For example, how many jobs will we create for our young domestic population and how many expatriates will we need to import if we invest in a particular industry? What are the socio-economic implications if we develop knowledge based economies? These are just two of the many questions policy makers in the Gulf will need to answer before making future investment decisions.

Euro-zone industrial output down in Nov Recession in region continues

The exterior of the headquarters of TNT Express, an international express and cargo delivery services company in Hoofddorp. US delivery giant United Parcel Service (UPS) abandoned yesterday its 5.0-billion-euro bid for Dutch firm TNT Express. —AFP

UPS ditches $6.9bn TNT Express buy AMSTERDAM: United Parcel Service Inc has ditched its 5.2 billion euro ($6.9 billion) takeover of TNT Express NV after learning that European regulators would reject the deal in its current form. Though TNT will receive a 200 million euros ($265.5 million) break fee, it faces an uncertain future on its own and nearly 2 billion euros has been wiped off its share price in yesterday’s trading in Amsterdam. At one point, its shares plunged by 50 percent before recovering somewhat to be trading 42 percent over at 4.762 euros. UPS had offered to buy struggling TNT, Europe’s second-largest delivery company, in March, to better compete with Europe’s largest, Deutsche Post’s DHL. But regulators said in October that the deal would lead to over-concentration in the sector. In response, UPS offered to sell parts of the company’s small package operations and airline assets. But after meeting with regulators Jan. 11, UPS told TNT it saw no prospect of the deal being approved - and it wasn’t interested in further concessions. In its last earnings report, for the third quarter of 2012, TNT lost ?3 million on sales of 1.8 Billion euros. Former CEO MarieChristine Lombard quit the company in September, mid-takeover, in a move that was criticized as “unethical” by TNT’s chairman, Antony Bergmans, and interpreted by some as a sign the deal was in trouble, since she stood to gain a 2.6 million euros bonus for seeing it through to completion. She was replaced on an interim basis by CFO Bernard Bot. In a statement, TNT conceded that the “protracted merger process has been a distraction for management” and that it would now focus on reassuring customers, encouraging employees and making money. “Management will provide an update on its strategy in due course,” the

company said. UPS CEO Scott Davis said he was “extremely disappointed” with the stance taken by regulators on what would have been his company’s largest-ever acquisition. “We proposed significant and tangible remedies designed to address the European Commission’s concerns with the transaction,” he said, adding that the deal would have benefited customers worldwide and supported economic growth “particularly in Europe.” The European Commission, which would not comment, must publish its review of the deal by Feb. 5. The Commission reviews major corporate mergers and acquisitions to ensure they do not hurt fair competition in the market. It has the power to block deals or to demand concessions, such as the sale of business parts, to safeguard market balance. Before UPS’s bid for TNT Express, some analysts thought rival FedEx Corp. might make a bid for the company, but FedEx executives said in March they had no plans to do so. SNS Securities analyst Geert Steens said European regulators have signaled they would not view a takeover by FedEx or less likely- DPD, a unit of France’s La Poste, as problematic. But there is little guarantee either will bid for TNT in the current climate. Steens said TNT is worth around ?4 per share as an independent company, but that its largest shareholder - the former Dutch national mail company PostNL - will likely keep angling for a takeover as it needs to cut its debt. Shares of PostNL fell 34 percent to 1.88 euros. TNT ’s assets in Asia and Latin America are part of the reason for its attractiveness as a takeover target, but the company’s Brazilian operations ran into severe problems in 2010-2011 and were still lossmaking in the third quarter of 2012. — AP

Morgan Stanley to trim Dubai staff amid crisis DUBAI: Morgan Stanley Inc, the sixthlargest US bank by assets, is trimming staff at its Dubai office, mainly by cutting jobs in its equities division, as part of a global plan to reduce costs, three sources aware of the matter said. The bank plans to slash 1,600 jobs globally, many of whom work in its securities unit, sources told Reuters last week. Big US and European institutions are cutting investment banking jobs in the Middle East as the promise of emerging markets is overshadowed by the need to slash costs and a dearth of deal activity. UBS, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Nomura Holdings have all cut jobs in their investment banking teams for the region in recent months. “The Dubai cuts are part of the bank’s global plan. Obviously, the bank is trying to focus on growth opportunities in the region and there has been little growth on the equities side barring Saudi,” one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the matter has not been made public. Morgan Stanley’s equities business will now focus on Saudi Arabia, the source said, adding that planned cuts at other divisions

in the Middle East were minimal. Morgan Stanley declined to comment. Equity capital markets issuance in the Middle East was $9.4 billion in 2012, according to Thomson Reuters data, down 5 percent from the previous year. Trading volumes in most Gulf Arab markets are down sharply from the highs of 2005-07. It was not immediately clear how many Morgan Stanley employees in Dubai would be affected by the move, but a second source said the cuts in the emirate might be limited to fewer than 10 employees. The US bank’s mergers & acquisitions head for the Middle East and North Africa left the bank recently, sources told Reuters in December. Morgan Stanley was one of the advisers to telecom operator Etisalat in a block sale of its 9.1-percent stake in Indonesia’s PT XL Axiata last year. The UAE telecom got a $117 million gain on the deal. The bank also advised French lender Societe Generale in the sale of its Egyptian arm to Qatar National Bank in December, and is one of the banks involved in the planned state-backed merger of Abu Dhabi property firms Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate. — Reuters

LONDON: Industrial output across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro fell in November for the third straight month, official figures showed yesterday, raising fears that the recession in the region has continued into the last three months of 2012. The 0.3 percent monthly decline reported by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, was worse than expected and felt across the whole economy. The consensus in the markets was that output would increase a modest 0.1 percent during the month. Even though the rate of decline had eased following the 2.3 percent and 1 percent drops reported in September and October, respectively, the figures are likely to cement market expectations that the recession in the euro-zone has deepened. Year-on-year, industrial production in the euro-zone was down by 3.7 percent. “November’s euro-zone industrial production data provided further strong signs that the recession in the region as a whole intensified in the final quarter of last year,” said Ben May, European economist at Capital Economics. The prevailing view is that the euro-zone economy shrank further in the fourth quarter of

2012, with most economists predicting a bigger decline than the 0.1 percent drop recorded for the third quarter. A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of economic contraction. According to Eurostat figures last month, seven countries in the 17-country bloc are in recession, including all five at the front-line of Europe’s debt crisis as their governments enact tough austerity measures, such as cuts to spending, to get their public finances back into shape. In Italy and Spain, industrial production was down over 7 percent over the year to November. Industrial output is particularly important in the euro-zone, not least in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, where output rose by a monthly rate of 0.1 percent. Though the increase in Germany was a turnaround from big falls in the previous two months, it’s clear that the country ’s high-value exporters, such as its major car manufacturers, are struggling in a tough European marketplace. The recent weakness in German industrial production has also raised concerns that Germany will suffer at least one quarter of negative economic output. The difficult European conditions were evi-

dent in sales figures earlier from Volkswagen AG. The car giant reported a 6.5 percent drop in sales in western Europe, excluding Germany, to 1.85 million vehicles. German sales fared moderately better, rising 1.9 percent to 1.18 million vehicles. The hope for Europe’s manufacturers going into 2013 is that the recent improvement in financial markets, not least in the dramatic falls seen in the borrowing rates of some of the euro’s more embattled members, will continue and help reduce uncertainty. “If that happens, businesses may become more prepared to place manufacturing orders that had been delayed or cancelled,” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight. “It may also foster a pick-up in business investment.” Archer said it was notable that the figures showed both the sale of durable goods, such as cars, and non-durable goods, such as day-to-day consumer goods, were both down. He said that “ties in with evidence that hardpressed euro-zone consumers remain unwilling or unable to spend, particularly on big-ticket items.” David Rising in Berlin contributed to this report. — AP

PARIS: People take part in a protest against Virgin Megastore planned job cuts in front of Paris’ Trade courthouse yesterday during the hearing of the Virgin insolvency case. — AFP

S&P to offer basic rating on Turkey ISTANBUL: Credit-rating agency Standard & Poor’s said yesterday that it no longer has a ratings deal with Turkey but it will still offer an overall assessment of the fast-growing economy to meet investor interest. The agency said it had converted its ratings on Turkey to “unsolicited”-meaning that it is not paid by the country to provide cover but does so anyway. More broadly, it also said that as of Feb. 14 it was withdrawing all its ratings on individual Turkish debt. It will only be rating the sovereign’s overall credit-worthiness. Turkey responded angrily last year to a downward revision of Turkey’s outlook by S&P. S&P cut the outlook on Turkey’s ‘BB’ sovereign credit rating to stable from positive last May and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan responded by warning Ankara may no longer “recognize” the agency, calling its decision “ideological”. “We are converting our issuer credit ratings on Turkey to “unsolicited” as we no longer have a rating agreement with this sovereign,” S&P said in a statement. “We will nonetheless continue to rate Turkey on an unsolicited basis because we believe that we have access to sufficient public information of reliable quality to support our analysis .... and because we believe there is significant market interest in this unsolicited rating.” S&P rates Turkey at BB, two rungs below investment grade. Fitch has raised it to investment grade at BBB- and Moody’s just below investment grade at Ba1.S&P says that less than 10 percent of its sovereign ratings are “unsolicited”, but these include the United States and Britain. — Reuters

Net profit of IT firm TCS up 23% India’s biggest IT outsourcer, Tata Consultancy Services, said yesterday that net profit beat forecasts to rise 23 percent in the third quarter despite economic woes in its main markets. Consolidated net profit for the firm, known as TCS, was 35.53 billion rupees ($652 million) for the three months to December, up from 28.87 billion rupees a year earlier, according to international accounting norms. Analysts had forecast TCS to show a profit of about 33 billion rupees. “We had an excellent quarter of well-rounded performance,” said chief executive N Chandrasekaran, with revenue growth seen across services, industries and regions. He said clients would “invest in making their operations ‘digital-ready’ in 2013 and drive business growth”. Revenue for the quarter rose 21 percent to 160.7 billion rupees, TCS said in a statement. TCS, which does not offer a revenue outlook, counts blue chip firms like General Electric, Citibank, British Airways and Sony among its main clients. The outsourcer said it hired 9,591 people in the quarter and bagged seven large deals. Its nearest rival Infosys last Friday reported a stronger than expected quarterly profit and gave an improved outlook for annual revenues. TCS and Infosys lead India’s flagship IT outsourcing industry, which carries out a wide range of jobs for

Western firms such as answering calls from bank customers, processing insurance claims and developing software. India, with its large English-speaking workforce, accounts for at least 50 percent of the global outsourcing market. — AFP

Savola to price $400 million debut sukuk DUBAI: Saudi-based Savola Group was set to close a 1.5 billion riyals ($400 million) Islamic bond issue yesterday, two sources said, the company’s debut sukuk and the first local currency debt offering in Saudi Arabia of 2013. The food conglomerate, which has the Middle East’s biggest sugar refining business, is issuing a seven-year sukuk priced at 110 basis points over the Saudi interbank offered rate (Saibor), the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity as the information isn’t public yet. The company sought shareholder approval for the sukuk issue back in October and set up a program to issue the Islamic bond in December, saying the program arranger was HSBC Saudi Arabia. Savola is due to report its fourthquarter numbers this month. — Reuters



Oil above $111 on supply concern, growth hopes LONDON: Oil rose above $111 a barrel yesterday, rebounding from the previous session’s drop, as concern about supply resurfaced amid growing optimism over signs that the world’s biggest economies are on their way to a steady recovery. A cut in Saudi Arabian production last month, pipeline sabotage in Yemen and a weather-related drop in Iraqi shipments have reduced output, while fighting in Syria and Iranian naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz reminded investors of the risk of wider disruption to Middle East supply. Brent crude gained 70 cents to $111.34 a barrel by 1337 GMT, after settling 1.1 percent lower on Friday. US oil rose 37 cents to $93.93. “Today is a partial recovery from Friday’s sharp

losses, which were hard to justify,” said Carsten Fritsch, analyst at Commerzbank. “The demand side is improving while supply has been cut. The general theme is that over-supply is going to shrink.” Saudi Arabia cut production in December to around 9 million barrels per day (bpd). On Monday, a Saudi oil ministry adviser said the reduction was in response to lower seasonal demand, rather than to push up prices. “In just the first fortnight of 2013, supply has already materially disappointed,” analysts at Morgan Stanley, including Hussein Allidina, said in a report. Bad weather led to a cut in shipments from Iraq’s southern por ts to 960,000 bpd on

Sunday. They recovered to 1.46 million bpd yesterday, a shipping source said, still well below the normal rate. The spread between US crude and Brent continued to shrink, trading at the narrowest since September. US crude is gaining on Brent following the start-up of the expanded Seaway pipeline, which aims to ease the glut of crude in the US Midwest and especially at the Cushing, Oklahoma, delivery point for the US contract. On the technical price charts, a crucial indicator yesterday will be whether Brent settles above $111 psychological resistance and close to the 100-day moving average now at $111.02. On Friday, Brent settled below the average. —Reuters

MADRID: Iberia workers demonstrate outside the Spanish airline Iberia headquarters in Madrid yesterday. Around 100 employees of Iberia gathered yesterday at the company’s headquarters to protest against a restructuring plan for the company and its merger with British Airways which imply about 4,000 jobs lay-offs. — AFP

Gazprom’s EU partners anxious for price cuts ANAPA, Russia: Russian energy giant Gazprom is spending billions to expand its already massive footprint in Europe. But it will have to tread carefully at a time when global natural gas supplies are surging and prices are falling, giving European utilities and businesses more leverage in negotiating supply contracts. At a lavish ceremony in December to mark the start of construction of a new pipeline to Europe, Gazprom put on a show of its industrial might to match the project’s 1 billion euros ($20.92 billion) price tag. On the Black Sea coast, 600 miles south of Moscow, the company built a eight massive steel-framed marquees to house Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Gazprom’s executives and various European partners - all for a two-hour ceremony in which two short sections of the new South Stream pipeline were welded together. In spite of all the public praise heaped on Gazprom at the event, there was recognition behind the scenes that the company is losing some of the clout it holds over Europe. While the region will remain heavily dependent on natural gas piped from Russia for decades to come, its ability to demand better prices is improving. That’s because Gazprom is facing competitive pressures around the globe as gas production grows in the US, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. In other words, it needs Europe more than ever before. Born out of the Soviet gas ministry in the rush of Russian privatizations in the late 1980s and ‘90s, Gazprom is effectively the country’s gas industry, accounting for about 80 percent of the country’s natural gas output. The company, which posted some $5 billion in net profit in the second quarter of 2012, holds a monopoly on Russia’s gas export market and has first choice of which fields to operate. Gazprom exported some 238 billion cubic meters of natural gas around the world last year. The vast majority of those exports arrive in Europe. The company supplies a quarter of the 27-country European Union’s gas needs, some 124 billion cubic meters, according to Eurostat, the EU’s official data service. Europe still tethers itself to Gazprom because, at the moment, it is almost impossible to find enough gas from other sources to replace the sheer amount the company exports. The South Stream pipeline - jointly funded by Gazprom, Italy’s Eni, France’s EdF and Germany’s Wintershall - was conceived in 2007. South Stream is due to start operating in 2015 and will bring up to 63 billion cubic meters of Russian gas a year to the Balkans, Austria and Italy. However, the market for natural gas has changed dramatically since South Stream was first thought of. Natural gas reserves and export facilities are springing up around the world. European energy groups have already started importing gas from Qatar and will have more and more suppliers to choose from as more facilities come online. Over the past few years, Gazprom has been locked in disputes with its European clients over its pricing policies. The big European energy companies - such as Germany’s E.ON, France’s GdF Suez or Poland’s PGNiG - are unhappy with what they believe are rigid contract terms: High tariffs linked to oil prices and the take-or-pay clause which leaves energy firms locked with the volumes they may not need. In 2012, Gazprom exported gas to Europe at an average price of $381 per 1,000 cubic meters or $10.88 per 1,000 cubic feet. That is higher than the two most important European benchmarks for gas prices, the UK and Amsterdam, which had average prices for gas of $9.47 per 1,000 cubic feet and $9.42 per 1,000 cubic feet respectively, according to Platts, a global energy information provider. In the first half of 2012, Gazprom has paid some 133 billion rubles ($4.3 billion) in “retroactive discounts” to settle these contract disputes with its clients, according to its earnings report. And the Europeans are hungry for more. Paolo Scaroni, chief executive of Italy’s Eni which owns 20 percent in South Stream, said his company would not need as much gas from Gazprom this year as it is bound to buy under the take-or-pay obligations because of weak market conditions. Eni managed to get a lower price from Gazprom last year, and Scaroni told the AP that he does not see “any reasons why they should not be changing the prices in the future and adapt them to market conditions.” “Russian gas should be extremely cheap to produce, so it’s going to be competitive with any gas in the world,” he said. One of the biggest long-term threats to

Gazprom comes from the US, where the country’s natural gas industry has grown rapidly thanks to recently perfected drilling techniques known as “fracking” - that have allowed drillers to extract from underground shale deposits. US natural gas production rose to a record 1.78 billion cubic meters (63 billion cubic feet) per day on average in 2012, according to the US Energy Information Administration. That’s up 24 percent since 2007, when drillers were first beginning to tap enormous reserves of gas trapped in shale formations under several US states. The US, once thought to be in need of additional natural gas imports, is now expected to become an exporter within a few years. That’s a big turnaround from five years ago when Gazprom was working on supplying liquefied natural gas to the US market. The International Energy Agency expects US gas production to rise to overtake Russia in 2017. “The shale gas boom in North America and the US in particular has a double-sided impact for Gazprom,” said Andrew Neff, a senior energy analyst at IHS Energy. Not only does the company lose a customer, it also has to find somewhere to sell the gas it had set aside the US. On top of this, Neff warns that “North American LNG exports could potentially compete with Russian gas.” Gazprom’s South Stream pipeline is being built to secure Russia’s gas supply to Europe following a series of clashes with Ukraine, to whom Gazprom currently pays about $2 billion a year in transit fees. In 2006, Russia cut off its supplies to the Ukraine after the two countries clashed over the price of gas and the transit fees. Russia kept shipping gas to the EU through Ukraine. However, to cope with a spell of severe cold weather, Ukrainians siphoned off some of that supply. European customers started reporting a drop-off in supplies as a result. The dispute escalated in the winter of 2009 when Gazprom again cut off supplies to Ukraine after talks over a new gas contract failed. Again, Europe started experiencing a fall in supplies. In spite of Ukraine denying this time that it had siphoned off Russian gas, tens of millions of Europeans were left without gas for three weeks in the depths of winter. Going through the Balkans, Austria and Italy, South Stream will avoid Ukraine, which will still get its supplies from the existing pipeline but won’t get the extra transit fees. However, analysts are concerned that Gazprom could be overreaching with its pipelines. On top of the South Stream project, the company in October opened Nord Stream, a new pipeline under the Baltic Sea, directly linking Germany with Siberia’s vast natural gas reserves with the capacity of 55 billion cubic meters. The construction of South Stream and expansion of Nord Stream will mean Gazprom’s capacity will exceed expected demand by between 50 billion to 100 billion cubic meters, according to analyst estimates. Alexei Kokin, an oil and gas analyst at Moscow-based UralSib investment bank, is skeptical of the reasoning behind the South Stream, adding that for Gazprom and the other investors, the project “is pretty much a waste” of capital expenditure. “The timing of South Stream looks bad for Gazprom,” said IHS Energy’s Neff. Gazprom officials, however, defend the Balkans-bound pipeline despite its estimated cost of 16 billion euros ($20.6 billion). “If that wasn’t profitable for our partners, we would not go ahead with this project,” Gazprom’s CEO Alexei Miller said in December. Miller explained that Gazprom would be saving a lot of money by not having to pay the $2 billion in transit fees to Ukraine: “With South Stream, we will be paying these transit fees to ourselves,” he said jokingly. As well as battling to maintain its clout in Europe, Gazprom is also fighting on the political front in the region. European officials have warned Gazprom that it would have to allow third-party gas producers to use South Stream to comply with European laws that ban suppliers from owning transit facilities such as pipelines. Gazprom and its European partners in the project are lobbying for South Stream to be exempted from the law. The company is also facing an EU probe to determine whether it violated competition rules by linking gas prices with prices for oil. Putin strongly criticized the EU energy regulations as he sat down for talks with European leaders in Brussels last December. “It creates confusion and undermines confidence in our mutual work,” he said. —AP



Global recovery on course in 2013: Barclays

Kevin Gardiner, Head of Investment Strategy EMEA

DUBAI: Barclays revealed its January 2013 edition of “Compass”, a monthly flagship of Wealth and Investment Management research dedicated to providing investment advice and recommendation to investors across the region. The report advises investors who continue to face several very visible uncertainties in 2013, which includes: the resolution of the US ‘fiscal cliff’, the ongoing euro crisis, and a rebalancing of the Chinese economy. Nonetheless, Barclays regional strategists believe that investors’ portfolios should be positioned with a unifying theme in mind: the overall outlook for the global economy and for risk assets which is slow-

ly but gradually improving. Kevin Gardiner, Head of Investment Strategy EMEA, for the Wealth and Investment Management division at Barclays, said: “As the cloud begins to lift in 2013, we continue to favor equities and high-yield credit, and recommend smaller than usual positions in cash and especially developed government bonds. We do not expect a major government to default on its obligations, but bonds look very expensive.” Despite a likely tumultuous start to the year, the opportunity set in 2013 for investors looks compelling. Gardiner recommends that investors’ should

focus particularly on small and mid-cap US stocks, as earnings continue to grow faster. With a supportive environment including the on-going measures by The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, and the Bank of Japan, investors should be overweight on Developed Market Equities. The euro-zone economy is likely to remain laggard in 2013. The sheer uncertainty surrounding the single currency is affecting business and consumer confidence, particularly in countries undergoing the most stringent fiscal retrenchment (In particular, Italy and Spain, which both seem set to shrink

even further in 2013). “Although the immediate fortunes of Asia’s economies continue to ebb and flow - buffeted by the global economic tide - the region’s overall growth story remains intact. China, India and Indonesia have intensified efforts to restructure their economies, shifting from investment-led expansion to a more consumption-driven growth model, and we believe these efforts will begin to bear fruit in 2013 and beyond. Despite divergent strategies, Asian economies are wellpositioned to capitalize on improvements on the horizon for the global economy”, he concluded.

India defers disputed tax rules for two years December inflation eases to 7.2% MUMBAI: India has decided to defer controversial rules to fight tax evasion for two years, the finance minister said yesterday, which should help to ease foreign investor concerns. The General Anti-Avoidance

cized by several experts as a moneygrabbing exercise by a government battling to curb a widening fiscal deficit, were originally due to come into force in 2014. Indian shares extended gains after the news, up

India has with different countries, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters. “No investor should have any apprehension about their investments in India,” Chidambaram said.

MUMBAI: An Indian worker cleans a glass of a shopping mall in Mumbai yesterday. India’s inflation softened to 7.2 percent in December as lower core inflation offset higher food prices, raising expectations that the central bank will cut rates when it meets later this month. —AP Rules, introduced in last year’s budget to curb tax evasion through tax havens, will now be introduced from April 1, 2016 on the recommendation of a government panel. The rules, which had been criti-

0.94 percent, or 185.73 points, to 19,849.37, their highest level in about two years. The tax rules will apply to only those foreign investors who seek to take advantage of the double taxation avoidance treaties

UK finance job sackings, suspensions at 5-yr high LONDON: The number of financial services staff sacked or suspended in Britain last year for reasons such as wrongdoing reached the highest level in five years, law firm Pinsent Masons said yesterday. Citing figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request, Pinsent Masons said 1,373 individuals were dismissed or suspended from financial services jobs - as distinct from those who lost their jobs through general redundancy programs - a 76 percent increase on the previous 12 months. The finding comes after a succession of financial scandals and efforts by regulators to clamp down on misdemeanors. Britain’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulator, due to be replaced later this year, has for instance beefed up its efforts to tackle market abuse over the last few years, successfully prosecuting a number of high-profile insider dealing cases. Last year also saw a string of bank scandals, including mis-selling of financial products and the manipulation of global benchmark interest rates, as well as the prosecution of former UBS trader Kweku Adoboli for the biggest fraud in British history, which cost the Swiss bank $2.3 billion. “The FSA has increasingly shown that it is cracking down on financial crime and market abuse. Financial services firms are operating under increased scrutiny and as a result employers are imposing industry rules more strictly,” said Helen Farr, a London-based partner at Pinsent Masons. “Enforcement activity has clearly had an impact on firms’ willingness to tolerate wrongdoing. Firms now appear much more likely to discipline employees for offences,” Farr said. The law firm said the 1,373 total was based on changes to the employment status of individuals who have to be authorized by the FSA, and included people disciplined for poor performance or sacked for other reasons, as well as for wrongdoing. It also said the overall number of job losses in the financial sector had reached its highest level since 2008, with 36,868 people losing their jobs last year. That took the total number of people who had left their posts over the past five years to 177,697, it said. Banks worldwide are shedding jobs as stricter regulations and euro zone worries take their toll on trading income and investment banking operations. “The total number of job losses in the sector is striking,” Farr said. “While it should be kept in mind that many of these people may have been re-employed and some will have simply transferred internally, the numbers certainly tell a story.” —Reuters

“The modifications that we have done are fair, non-discriminatory, just and strike a balance between interest of revenue and interest of investors,” he said. One of India’s top businessmen,

software entrepreneur N.R. Narayana Murthy, slammed the government over the earlier proposals, which he said soured foreign sentiment and were “like taking a pistol and shooting ourselves”. Foreign institutional investors, who started to invest in Indian equities and debt markets after liberalization in the 1990s, were net investors in Indian stocks worth $24.37 billion in 2012. India’s inflation softened to 7.2 percent in December as lower core inflation offset higher food prices, raising expectations that the central bank will cut rates when it meets later this month. India’s economy is on track to grow at its slowest pace in a decade this fiscal year, but high inflation has made the central bank wary of cutting interest rates to kickstart growth. Core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, fell to 4.2 percent in December from 4.5 percent in November, according to the government figures released yesterday. “Both the level of headline inflation and its direction is far more comforting that initially anticipated,” said HDFC Bank economist Jyotinder Kaur. “The question is not whether the central bank will cut the repo rate at its next review on January 29th ... but the extent by which it will do so.” The betterthan-expected inflation data helped send the benchmark Sensex stock index up nearly 1 percent and strengthened the rupee against the dollar. —Agencies

Swatch buys Harry Winston jewelry arm for $750m

ZURICH: Jeweller Harry Winston is selling its highend watches-to-necklaces division to Swatch Group in a $750 million cash deal that expands the Swiss watchmaker’s luxury offering and lets the Canadian group concentrate on its diamond mines. Yesterday’s deal reverses a 2004 acquisition which turned Harry Winston, the group that discovered what became Canada’s Diavik diamond mine now controlled by Rio Tinto - into a miner and jeweller. The original mining arm is renamed Dominion Diamond Corporation after the sale of the Harry Winston luxury business, which started as a small jeweller in New York in 1932 and rapidly became a favorite with movie stars. For Swatch, the deal is evidence of the benefits of strong Asian demand for watches, handbags and other high-end items that has given companies the firepower to expand their portfolio. Harry Winston - which Marilyn Monroe mentioned in her song “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend” - has the potential to generate more than 1 billion Swiss francs ($1.10 billion) in sales and 250 million net profit in about 4-5 years, Swatch chief executive Nick Hayek told Reuters in an interview. Swatch Group is already the world’s biggest watchmaker by sales, with 8.1 billion francs sales in 2012 thanks to brands such as Omega. Buying Harry Winston allows it to enter high-end jewellery, a market dominated by Richemont with its flagship brand Cartier. “If watches continue to grow as dynamically as in 2012, 9 billion franc sales are within reach in 2013. Now in view of this acquisition, it can of course be even more,” said Hayek. For the group, which is best known for its colorful Swatch plastic watches, the deal marks a new attempt to get a foothold in high-end jewellery. Its partnership with US jeweler Tiffany ended in 2011 with the companies suing each other. Swatch Group and Dominion Diamond Corporation will continue to work together through a diamond sourcing deal under yesterday’s purchase, which includes Swatch taking on $250 million of debt. The two companies will also consider opportunities for a joint diamond polishing venture. “From a strategic perspective it is positive Swatch Group has long said it wanted to expand in jewelry,” Kepler Capital Markets analyst Jon Cox said. “At first glance it does not look cheap, but that is probably more a reflection of the profitability of Harry Winston at this stage, which is in ramp-up stage in terms of expansion.” Reuters reported in October last year that Harry Winston was considering splitting off and selling its

watch and jewellery business. At the time, analysts put the value at around $770 million, but said they expected a premium, comparing the deal with the acquisition of jeweller Bulgari by the world’s biggest luxury goods group LVMH for $5.2 billion in 2011. Harry Winston was made famous by Marilyn Monroe’s reference in the film “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”. Every year the firm lends out hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of jewels to be worn by movie stars at events like the Oscars. Its strong position in the US and Japanese markets is a draw for Swatch Group, Hayek said, adding that he also saw a lot of potential for the brand in Europe. Citi analysts said they expected earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) at Harry Winston’s luxury unit to rise to 15 percent in the full year ending in January 2014 from 8 percent two years earlier, implying an enterprise value to EBITDA ratio of 13.5 percent. “(This) appears to be reasonable compared to recent deals in the sector,” Citi’s Thomas Chauvet said in a study, noting that LVMH acquired Bulgari in March 2011 at a far higher multiple. Vontobel’s Rene Weber called the purchase “a great fit for a high price”. Under Swatch Group’s ownership, the share of watches at Harry Winston should rise to 40-45 percent from about 25 percent currently and profitability should increase, he said. Shares in Swatch Group were up 3.7 percent at 1307 GMT, outperforming the sector index which was little changed. “The Harry Winston brand now has a new home that can provide the skills and support that it deserves to realize its true potential,” said Robert A. Gannicott, chairman of the board and chief executive of Harry Winston Diamond Corp. For the mining arm, this will mean focusing on becoming one of a handful of pure-play diamond companies at a time when the gems are increasingly scarce and prices are expected to rise. Harry Winston bought BHP Billiton’s EKATI diamond mine in November for $500 million, betting on rising prices. Its partner in Diavik, mining giant Rio, is also reviewing its involvement in diamonds and could sell operations which include Diavik and the Argyle mine in Australia, famous for its pink diamonds. Mergers and acquisitions in the watchmaking industry have also been boosted by Swatch Group’s decision to cut back on watch component and movement deliveries, forcing peers to improve their access to watchmaking knowhow. —Reuters

BEIJING: Chinese paramilitary police block access to the residence of a construction firm boss after a group of up to 50 migrant workers stormed past security at the Qijiayuan Diplomatic Compound to protest against what they claim is an unpaid new year bonus in Beijing yesterday. —AFP

China may hike quota for foreign investment HONG KONG: China could increase 10-fold the quota for foreign investors putting money into the country’s stock markets, the head of its securities regulator said yesterday. Foreign institutions-individuals are barred-can at present buy shares in the world’s second-largest economy through two programs, the main one being the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors, or QFII, scheme. The programs together account for “just 1.5 or 1.6 percent” of China’s A-share market, China securities regulatory commission chairman Guo Shuqing told an economic forum in Hong Kong. The A-share market refers to stocks denominated in the domestic yuan currency, also known as the renminbi. “I think at least we can increase 10 times,” he told about 2,000 business and government leaders attending the Asian Financial Forum organized by the Hong Kong government and the city’s trade development council. He did not elaborate. By the end of

last year, China had granted 169 institutions more than $37 billion in QFII quotas since the start of the scheme in 2002, according to official figures. Guo’s comments sparked a market rally with the nation’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ending the day 3.06 percent higher. They followed a string of reforms aimed at opening up financial markets and boosting the economy, while allowing state-run banks and huge public companies to still play a prominent role. Last July, the securities regulator eased restrictions on foreign investors by allowing qualified institutional investors to hold up to 30 percent of shares in any domestically listed company, up from 20 percent. The new rules also aimed to make it easier for foreign groups to obtain the status of qualified institutional investor, and thus enter the Chinese market. The regulator said at the time that the steps were part of efforts to lead to “more long-term foreign investment on China’s capital markets”. —AFP

SINGAPORE: Singapore property prices dropped following cooling measures initiated by the government, though property demand is expected to remain robust.

Singapore property shares drop after cooling measures SINGAPORE: Shares of major property developers in Singapore were battered yesterday after the government introduced new measures at the weekend to cool the real estate market. By the closing bell, shares of top developers listed on the Singapore Exchange had sunk more than four percent as investors spooked by the measures dumped the stocks. CapitaLand closed 4.11 percent lower at Sg$3.73, City Developments fell 7.54 percent to Sg$11.65 and Keppel Land slumped 7.24 percent to Sg$3.97. “We’re seeing a knee-jerk reaction to the cooling measures,” said Jason Hughes, head of premium client management for IG Markets Singapore. The new measures, which came into force Saturday, included sharply higher duties on property purchases by foreigners. Singaporeans’ minimum cash downpayments for second or subsequent homes were raised from 10 to 25 percent of a property’s value.

But Hughes predicted property stocks would be able to ride out the storm thanks to their overseas portfolios. “We do have to consider that a number of these guys are regionally focused,” he said, adding that the effect would have been more severe if they had been purely local developers. HSBC Global Research said in a report that Singapore may institute more cooling measures because property demand is expected to remain robust. “Low interest rates and an expected economic recovery this year will support demand. Further steps can, therefore, not be ruled out,” the report said. The measures were imposed after home prices continued to rise even as the citystate suffered an economic slowdown. It narrowly avoided a technical recession in the last quarter of 2012. The economy grew just 1.2 percent in 2012, from 4.9 percent in 2011. Expansion this year is forecast at 1.03.0 percent. —AFP



A winning strategy for telecom operators Booz & Company Economic Report KUWAIT: With the market for digital services in the MENA region set to grow 12 per cent annually by 2015 - according to projections by Booz & Company - telecom operators can effectively tap into this growth potential by better leveraging their competitive advantages. Based on the performance of developed markets players that have expanded into digital services, best-in-class MENA telecom operators could generate up to 25 percent of their gross revenues from a digital services portfolio. Indeed, rapid growth in the demand for digital services - among consumers, businesses, and governments in the MENA region - is creating a valuable opportunity for telecom operators. After all, with their ubiquitous networks, existing customer relationships, and hard-won insights into customer behavior, operators certainly have the right to play in this fast-emerging market. In line with this, Management consulting firm Booz & Company have found that - in order to successfully pursue this venture and overcome related challenges telecom operators must build an entirely new capabilities system. Growth opportunity Digitization in the MENA region represents immense potential for telecommunications companies. In fact, Booz & Company estimates that the market for digital services in the region will reach $35 billion by 2015; and so, properly prepared MENA telecom operators will be well placed to meet this growing demand. “The advance of digitization is already evident throughout the region,” explained Bahjat El-Darwiche, a Partner with Booz &Company.”In recent years, the fiber infrastructure that provides the backbone of digitization has been extensively deployed, particularly in the resource-rich countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).” Concurrently, the MENA region’s predominantly young population and the growing availability of smart devices and applications are driving customer demand for all things digital across four principal market segments: ● Consumers: Every day, there are 36,000 new Facebook subscribers in the MENA region and an ever-growing population of digital consumers that are quickly coming to expect access to a broad array of digital content and services. ● SMEs: The MENA region’s SMEs are adopting digital technologies and services to manage their primary operational challenges: anemic cash flow and the lack of inhouse IT skills. ● Large enterprises: Digitization is transforming the business models of large enterprises in the MENA region. In effect, these organizations are increasingly adopting M2M-based solutions and various related industries are also turning to digital services to create competitive advantage in their markets. ● Governments: MENA governments are

equally recognizing the longstanding benefits of digitization. Some governments, including those of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, have recently launched large-scale digitization initiatives that are focused on digitizing government operations, extending government services over the Internet, and digitizing public services, suchas health, utilities, and transportation. The right to play With conventional voice and data revenues stagnating, telecom operators are seeking new growth opportunities and digital services are an obvious solution - especially given the new market’s close positioning to voice and data services and the already high penetration levels of mobile and fixed broadband service in the region.

Innovation In order to develop digital offerings, telecom operators will need to embrace and cultivate market-driven innovation. Theywill also have to envision new service concepts, create proactive cultures that foster innova-

Louay Abou Chanab

Jad Hajj

“There are six adjacent service segments that MENA telecom operators can build digital portfolios around: M2M, applications and content, solutions development, cloud computing, systems integration, and managed services,” said Louay Abou Chanab, a Principal with Booz & Company. “These services can be marketed as horizontal platforms that cut across customer segments and/or various industries, or they can be marketed as bundles of services that address specific customer segments and/or industry verticals.” Telecom operators in the MENA region occupy an advantageous position in the emerging marketplace for digital services: ● Network infrastructure: Etisalat leverages its nationwide 3G network coverage and partners with Pacific Controls for the development of M2M solutions. ● Customer information: STC uses deep customer insights to dynamically tailor services with attractive promotions targeting customers with specific behavior patterns. ● Integrated offering and single-bill: Etisalat offers its home consumers the eLife triple play package, bundling TV, broadband, and fixed voice services for a monthly subscription discounted by 20 percent.

also demands that they gain familiarity with the digitization delivery chain,” said Jad Hajj, Principal with Booz & Company. “As they enter digital services, these telecom operators will face competition from hardware and software vendors, IT service providers, and Internet players. Finally, they need to engage their business partners collaboratively in new ways that are different to existing contractual relationships.” Telecom operators that can build complementary capabilities along these areas in a timely and differentiated fashion - will earn the right to win in the MENA digital services marketplace.

tion, and leverage synergies among industry verticals and customer segments. In addition, operators will need to make convincing business cases, align internal support, and obtain funding for their pioneering concepts. Leading telecom operators know that the ability to innovate is essential to their success, and, today, several MENA telecom operators are already developing their organizational capacity for innovation in digital services.

KUWAIT: Burgan Bank announced yesterday that it is offering its Premier Banking Customers an exclusive 10% discount while dining at Sheraton Kuwait’s newly opened restaurants at Grand Avenue. The new offer is part of the bank’s overall approach of providing innovative promotions to its clients. This offer is valid till December 2013. The bank’s Premier debit and credit card holders will now receive instant discounts across the Sheraton Kuwait’s restaurants at the Grand Avenue which include the Lebanese Le Tarbouche, Iranian Shahrayar, Indian Bukhara, and finally, the International Al Hambra. The debut of Al Hambra restaurant marks the first in a series of buffet restaurants that have opened in a mall. This new offer from Burgan Bank will further build on the extensive added value promotions that aim at providing greater convenience for Burgan Bank’s Premier Banking customers in cooperation with Sheraton Kuwait. The bank is committed to enhancing customers’ banking experience by ensuring the continuous use of their cards, as well as taking advantage of great discounts and offers from various outlets. Burgan Bank’s Premier Banking Service was introduced in 2007 as part of its comprehensive retail banking strategy. It offers a number of personalized services and products that have been delicately tailored to match the unique and prestigious lifestyle of its customers. Customers can enjoy priority banking service through a dedicated personal banking executive, access to exclusive premier lounges in branches, as well as entitlement to the very best in lifestyle related offers, discounts and promotions. Burgan Bank aims to continuously offer its Premier Banking customers a range of innovative and different banking solutions and products. To find out more about Burgan Bank’s services as well as its latest promotions, customers are required to visit their nearest Burgan Bank branch or contact the call center on 1804080.

PARIS: Citilink, the low-cost branch of Indonesian airline Garuda, has ordered 25 Airbus A320neo airliners with a catalogue value of $2.4 billion (1.8 billion euros), Airbus said yesterday. In 2011, Garuda ordered 15 of the A320, and 10 A320neo aircraft-the new low-fuel-consumption version of the A320 which is much used by low-cost operators. The A320neo is due to enter into service at the end of 2015, Airbus said. Citilink already operates 12 A320 aircraft on a leasing basis. Airbus has nonetheless remained behind US group Boeing, its main rival, in terms of total orders for 2012. The chief executive of Citilink Arif Wibowo said in the Airbus statement that the A320 was the ideal aircraft for his airline because of low operating costs, quick turnaround times and popularity with passengers. —AFP

Key Challenges Although the market for digital services in the MENA region is highly attractive, telecom operators will still have to face myriad challenges. “They need to develop skills and business models to take advantage of these adjacent digital services opportunities. That

These capabilities -composed of skills, knowledge, behaviors, processes, structures, and technology - will have to be aligned to create a competitive advantage,” said Abou Chanab.”In the digital services market, there are four areas in which differentiating capabilities are commonly located: innovation, solutions delivery, platforms management, and commercialization expertise. When built in a robust and complementary fashion, they provide the foundations for a telecom operator’s success in the digital space.”

Bahjat El-Darwiche

Burgan Bank offers 10% discount to its premier banking customers

Indonesian Citilink orders 25 Airbus jets

● Established customer relationships: Mobily partners with Yesser - Saudi Arabia’s e-government program - to provide the enabling infrastructure connecting ministries in order to launch e-government services. With these assets already in place, MENA telecom operators undoubtedly have the right to play as integrated digital solutions providers.

A new capabilities system MENA telecom operators looking to penetrate the digital marketplace need to determine a value proposition that differentiates them from other players. In developed markets, telecom operators that expanded into digital services have typically followed one of two distinctive value propositions: they either become technology enablers or ecosystem enablers. “Whether a telecom operator chooses one or the other, it will need specific capabilities in order to win in the marketplace.

Solutions Delivery Solutions delivery is fundamental to the development of both end-to-end and vertical digital services; it creates the common ground needed to bring together suppliers and sets the stage for operational readiness. The delivery of digital services begins with a detailed description of the features essential to the service from the end user’s perspective. Moreover, this description also articulates how different functional and business units will work together to deliver an endto-end service and ensures the compatibility of any new service with a telecom operator’s existing network and IT systems. “Although MENA telecom operators typi-

Jordan Kuwait Bank recognized Best Bank in Jordan for 2012 Jordan Kuwait Bank (JKB) has been announced as Best Bank in Jordan for 2012, and has been recognized as having the Best Cobranded credit card in Jordan 2012, and the Best Private Banking offering in Jordan 2012 for which it was nominated amongst other banks by the Global Banking and Finance Review, one of the worlds’ leading global banking and finance online publications. The awards were created to recognize companies that stand out in certain areas of expertise in the financial and banking sectors. The awards recognize banks and financial institutions that offer innovative banking solutions and strategic investments. The awards also focus on major and influential changes made by companies to the markets in which they operate. JKB was awarded Best Bank in Jordan for its innovative banking services and products and for being the leader in introducing electronic deliv-

ery and service channels via its hi-tech infrastructure, e?branches, widely spread ATMs, efficient e-banking products and services and internet banking

facilities that provide access to external payment systems while maintaining a customer- friendly atmosphere; by which the Bank is able to substantiate its slogan “More than just a bank”. In addition to the Bank’s major role

in the corporate social responsibility that aims towards supporting the local community in various areas including education, social welfare, culture, health care , sports and arts. The Best cobranded credit card award was granted to JKB for its renowned “Fly & Plus” credit card issued in partnership with “Royal Jordanian” airlines. JKB stands out by being the only bank in Jordan that offers a co?branded Platinum MasterCard to its clients. The third award was entitled to JKB for offering the best private banking services in Jordan. JKB’s Private Banking Unit was established in 2006 and has since developed strong relationships with international banks and specialized regional and global financial institutions in order to offer its high net worth clients a variety of investment and asset management services that yield good returns in a comfortable, trustworthy and private environment.

cally possess a strong capability for creating traditional connectivity services, they will likely need to recruit solutions design experts with track records in the development of end-to-end technical services to support their entry into the digital services market”, added Hajj. “Some regional players have already begun developing this capability through partnerships”. Platforms Management MENA telecom operators that choose to develop a comprehensive digital services portfolio will need to build an end-to-end, horizontal platform through internal development, partnerships, and acquisitions. A well-defined operating model is also essential to ensure that strategic direction, roles and responsibilities, process interfaces, and handoffs are clearly understood by all stakeholders. Some MENA telecom operators have already begun developing horizontal platforms. And, those unable to build them internally can tap into their strategic investment units for horizontal acquisitions. Telecom operators also need to carefully assess their capability gaps and analyze their options when making their build, partner, or buy decisions. Commercialization MENA telecom operators will need strong commercialization expertise to succeed with digital services. Fortunately, commercialization capabilities are relatively well developed among the regional operators for traditional telecom services and most operators have already successfully launched advanced telecom products for the mass market. Operators providing services to B2B segments may need to build sales teams with vertical expertise that are capable of designing and selling services that address compelling business problems. Furthermore, telecom operators have to be able to integrate digital solutions that will be mass-produced to satisfy the needs of consumers and small businesses, or tailormade to meet the needs of large businesses, governments, and service providers. “With the markets for core voice and data services reaching saturation, MENA telecom operators need a new growth platform, and the digital services market offers an attractive oppor tunity. Tomorrow’s leading telecom operators will be those that begin pursuing growth potential in the digital services market today. These operators will ensure a prosperous future by identifying and developing the capability systems within the four areas described - as this will allow them to successfully differentiate themselves in the market segments and geographies in which they choose to play”, concluded ElDarwiche. “These are the telecom operators that will earn the right to win in the MENA region’s fast-emerging digital services marketplace”.

Yes Bank launches online remittance platform ‘Yes Remit’ KUWAIT: Yes Bank, India’s fourth largest private sector bank, has launched YES Remit, an online remittance platform for NRIs based in the GCC, United Kingdom and countries comprising the Euro zone. The facility empowers NRIs to send money into an account with Yes Bank or any other bank account in India. As a differentiated proposition, Yes Bank is offering attractive exchange rates with nil transaction charges on all the remittances. The Yes Remit platform will be gradually extended across geographies and currencies, in a phased manner. The Yes Remit service has been created in association with Times of Money. Commenting on the offering, Pralay Mondal, Senior Group President, Retail and Business Banking, said, “While augmenting our focus on Yes Bank’s Global Indian Banking (NRI business), we realized that seamless transfer of money back home was one of the biggest challenge for NRIs. Yes Remit will now enable NRIs to transfer money back to India within the comfort of their home or office while enjoying an attractive exchange rate and nil transaction charges. Times of Money is a pioneer in this space and through our association we will strive to offer a superior and seamless Remittance facility to NRIs globally.” Yes Bank was the first Bank to offer Interest rate of 7percent for resident as well as non-eesident Indians (NRE/NRO) savings accounts, with balances over Rs 1 Lakh and 6 percent interest for balances below Rs 1 Lakh, post the savings rate deregulation by the Reserve Bank of India.

Euro gains as rate cut hopes fade, shares dip NEW YORK: The euro hit an 11-month high against the dollar yesterday as fading prospects of an interest rate cut in Europe bolstered demand, while world share markets ticked lower following recent gains. The common currency was up 0.2 percent at $1.3365, having hit a high of $1.3404 earlier for a hefty 2.5 percent jump since European Central Bank President Mario Draghi dampened expectations of further monetary policy easing in the near term. Europe’s FTSE Eurofirst 300 index of top companies fell 0.4 percent but was still near a two-year high. The MSCI International ACWI price index of global shares was 0.2 percent lower but remained near an 18-month high. US shares were slightly lower as investors awaited an onslaught of corporate earnings reports. While some early numbers, notably from Alcoa Inc, have indicated strength, many investors worry that uncertainty over the recent fiscal impasse in Washington may have pressured companies in the quarter. “I think there’s going to be more misses than hits in terms of revenue and margins. It’s going to be a little bit light this earnings season compared to the last one,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in

New York. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 22.16 points, or 0.16 percent, at 13,466.27. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 5.82 points, or 0.40 percent, at 1,466.23. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 20.07 points, or 0.64 percent, at 3,105.56. The Nasdaq was pressured by Apple Inc, which fell 3.5 percent to $501.71 after a report it had cut orders for LCD screens and other parts for the iPhone 5 this quarter due to weak demand. Equity markets have risen and most major currencies have gained against the dollar so far this year after US lawmakers struck a deal on taxes, easing fears of a sudden fiscal tightening that would slow the economy. Chinese data, which has begun to show a pick-up in momentum in the world’s second-largest economy, has added to the optimism. Japan, the third-largest economy, is embarking on a new strategy to lift itself out of recession, weakening the yen substantially but boosting Tokyo stocks. The dollar’s value against a basket of major currencies floated around its lowest levels since the start of the year. Chicago Federal Reserve chief Charles Evans, a voting member of the Fed’s policymaking committee this year, underlined the better outlook by fore-

casting the US economy would grow 2.5 percent in 2013 and 3.5 percent in 2014. Evans added that markets could be confident the US central bank would take action to boost the recovery without letting inflation take hold, although he did not refer to any further Fed easing. The benchmark 10-year US Treasury note was up 8/32, the yield at 1.8377 percent. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will speak on the outlook later in the day and investors will scrutinize his remarks for any clues on how much longer the Fed’s bond purchase program will last. Any suggestion that the Fed is in no hurry to end its quantitative easing program would probably lead to the dollar softening further against higher-yielding currencies such as the Australian dollar and those of faster-growing emerging economies. The Japanese yen was flat at 89.17 yen against the dollar. Previously, the currency touched a 2-1/2-year low on expectations that a round of aggressive monetary easing is coming soon in Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated on Sunday his calls for the Bank of Japan to set a 2 percent inflation target and pursue bolder monetary easing to end nearly two decades of deflation. Abe, who has already announced a huge

budget stimulus for the Japanese economy, said he would appoint a new head of the central bank who shares his views when Governor Masaaki Shirakawa’s term ends in April. “The confirmation that there’s going to be a push for a new governor (and) that new governor is going to have a mandate of 2 percent inflation - that plus the fiscal stimulus is a major negative for the yen,” said Callum Henderson, global head of FX research for Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore. Tokyo markets were closed on Monday for a holiday but MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.5 percent on the statement, remaining near a 17-month peak set on Friday. The growing optimism over the outlook for the world’s biggest economies helped commodity prices recover from last week’s decline. Oil also benefited from a resurfacing of fears about a disruption of supply from the Middle East. A cut in Saudi Arabian production last month, pipeline sabotage in Yemen and a weather-related drop in Iraqi shipments have reduced output, while fighting in Syria and Iranian naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz reminded investors of the risk of wider disruption to Middle East supply. —Reuters



Grand Cherokee SUV makes jump to diesel power DETROIT: Chrysler’s top-selling Grand Cherokee is making the jump to diesel power, an option driven by demand from outdoor enthusiasts, the company says. It marks the first major expansion into diesel power in the US by a mainstream SUV maker, showing the potential for boosting power and fuel economy. Jeep unveils the 2014 Grand Cherokee, as well as updates to its smaller Compass and Patriot models, at press previews for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday. The Grand Cherokee’s 3.0-liter, EcoDiesel V-6 engine promises 240 horsepower and the ability to tow up to 7,400 pounds. It’s expected to get 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway in 4x2 models, and 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for 4x4 models. The diesel version will be more expensive than gasoline models. But it’s likely to be popular with people who want to tow boats or get outdoors in

other ways, says Joe Phillippi, president of New Jersey-based AutoTrends Consulting LLC. It also offers the benefit of savings at the pump, which is key for drivers of bigger SUVs. “There are plenty of potential buyers,” he says. Chrysler sold nearly 155,000 Grand Cherokees in the US last year, up 21 percent from 2011. The model helped the company’s U.S. sales jump 21 percent, and Chrysler says it sold roughly 220,000 worldwide. The Grand Cherokee is available in Laredo, Limited and Overland models as well as the new higher-end Summit model. UNDER THE HOOD: Besides the diesel-powered option, the Grand Cherokee is available with V-6 and V-8 gasoline engines. The 3.6-liter, six-cylinder gasoline engine packs 290 horsepower, can tow up to 6,200 pounds and is expected to get 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. The 5.7-liter, eight-

cylinder engine offers 360 horsepower, can tow up to 7,400 pounds and is expected to get 14-15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway. INSIDE: Chrysler is adding more luxury touches to the Grand Cherokee. Drivers will grasp a new threespoke steering wheel with paddle shifters on the back. Laredo and Limited models feature dark wood trim on the dash and doors. The Summit model aims for peak luxury, including leather seats and a 19speaker, 825-watt surround-sound audio system. OUTSIDE: Jeep wants the Grand Cherokee to look more upscale while preserving its rugged image and off-road capability. It has a more rounded appearance overall, with a shorter upper grille and slimmer headlights. The rear features a more aerodynamic spoiler and a redesigned tailgate to offer improved visibility. Front and rear LED lighting for the Grand

Cherokee is designed to make the SUV more recognizable from afar or at night. PRICE: Will be announced closer to when the vehicles goes on sale, which is in the next few months. CHEERS: The revamped styling and luxury features place it more solidly in the higher-end SUV market. It preserves the rugged capabilities exuded by Jeep, but improved fuel economy and towing power will be a selling point. JEERS: It’s unclear how much of a premium buyers will pay for the diesel-powered Grand Cherokee, or whether drivers accustomed to gasoline-powered vehicles will buy it. If power is key, will the boost to the Grand Cherokee be enough to draw pickup drivers, too? —AP

New Corvette bursts onto the road after nine years The king of American sports cars

SEOUL: This handout picture released by South Korea’s Samsung Electronics yesterday shows employees using smartphone display screens to make a figure of 100 million in Seoul. —AFP

Samsung sells 100 million Galaxy S smartphones SEOUL: Samsung Electronics Co. said yesterday that global sales of its Galaxy S smartphones surpassed 100 million units since the first model in the series was released less than three years ago. Samsung said it has sold more than 25 million Galaxy S smartphones, 40 million Galaxy S II smartphones and 41 million Galaxy S III smartphones. Samsung launched the first Galaxy S model at the end of May 2010, scrambling to catch up with Apple, which was reshap-

ing the market with the iPhone. But Samsung was quick to narrow the gap with bigger smartphone makers. Research firm IHS iSuppli said last month that Samsung beat Nokia in cellphone sales and Apple in smartphone sales last year. Apple’s iPhone sales hit the 100-million mark in March 2011, nearly four years after the introduction of the phone in 2007. Analysts expect Samsung to announce the fourth version of the Galaxy S smartphone before this summer. — AFP

China’s space activities raising US satellite security concerns WASHINGTON: The United States is concerned about China’s expanding ability to disrupt the most sensitive US military and intelligence satellites, as Beijing pursues its expanded ambitions in space, according to multiple sources in the US government and outside space experts. A classified US intelligence assessment completed late last year analyzed China’s increasing activities in space and mapped out the growing vulnerability of US satellites that provide secure military communications, warn about enemy missile launches and provide precise targeting coordinates, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly. “It was a very credible and sobering assessment that is now provoking a lot of activities in different quarters,” said one former government official who is familiar with US national security satellite programs. The intelligence report raised red flags about Beijing’s ability to disrupt satellites in higher orbits, which could put the most sensitive US spacecraft at risk, according to the sources. China has already conducted several anti-satellite tests at lower orbital levels in recent years. Given the heightened concerns, Washington is keeping a watchful eye on Chinese activities that could be used to disrupt US satellites. It is also urging Beijing to avoid a repeat of its January 2007 test that created an enormous amount of “space junk,” said one senior defense official. Details of the latest Chinese moves that have raised US concerns remain classified. US officials charge that China’s anti-satellite activities are part of a major military modernization that has seen Beijing test two new stealth fighters; step up cyber attacks on foreign computer networks; and launch more commercial and military satellites in 2012 than the United States. China still lags behind the United States in most military fields. “What we’re seeing is a heightened sense in the United States that China is a potential threat and that it has the technology to be a threat if it wishes to,” said Jonathan McDowell, with the Har vard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. “As China becomes a space superpower, and given that it does have a significant military component to its space program, it is inevitable that the US will be concerned about threats to its most valued satellite systems, whether or not China actually intends to deploy such aggressive systems,” he said. CREATING SPACE DEBRIS Six years ago, on Jan. 11, 2007, China destroyed one of its own defunct weather satellites in low-earth orbit, which created over 10,000 pieces of debris that pose a threat to other spacecraft. A less-destructive test followed on Jan. 11, 2010. Space experts and US officials say they expect China to continue testing antisatellite technologies, although they doubt it would repeat the 2007 test, given the massive international outcry it triggered. Gregor y Kulacki, a respected

researcher with the Union of Concerned Scientists, reported earlier this month on the group’s website that there was “a strong possibility” of a new anti-satellite test by China within the next few weeks. He said Chinese sources had told him in November that an announcement about an upcoming anti-satellite test had been circulated within the Chinese government, and a high-ranking US defense official confirmed in December that Washington was “ver y concerned” about an imminent Chinese anti-satellite test. The Chinese Defense Ministry did not respond to emailed queries by Reuters’ Beijing office on the question. The Pentagon said it was aware of repor ts predicting another test, but declined comment on what it called “intelligence matters.” “We monitor carefully China’s military developments and urge China to exhibit greater transparency regarding its capabilities and intentions,” said Lieutenant Colonel Monica Matoush. Sources within the US government and outside experts said there was no immediate evidence pointing to the preparations for the type of satellite or rocket launches used by China for past anti-satellite tests at lower orbits. But they said Beijing could test its antisatellite weapons in other ways that would be harder to detect, such as by jamming a satellite’s signals from the ground or issuing a powerful electromagnetic pulse from one satellite to disable another. China could also maneuver two satellites very close together at higher orbits, replicating actions it has already taken in lower orbits in August 2010 and November 2010. Such activities could be used to perform maintenance or test docking capabilities for human spaceflight, but could clearly be used for more destructive purposes as well, they said. The United States has continued to test its own anti-satellite capabilities. In February 2008, a missile fired from a US Navy cruiser in the north Pacific destroyed an ailing American satellite in orbit. The US government said the satellite’s toxic fuel posed a risk upon re-entry of the earth’s atmosphere. Skeptics said the test was a message to China. Any further anti-satellite test by China would be troubling, especially if it occurred at higher altitudes, said Bruce MacDonald, a former White House official who is now a senior director at the US Institute of Peace. The United States operates its fleet of Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites in medium earth orbit about 11,000 miles (17,700 kilometers) above the surface of the earth, while US military communications and early missile warning satellites are located in geostationary orbit 22,000 miles (35,400 km) above the equator. Brian Weeden, technical adviser for the nonprofit Secure World Foundation and a former Air Force space and missile expert, said a Chinese anti-satellite test at those higher orbits would put US satellites at risk. “Some critical US assets in that region have been assumed for the most part to be safe from those kind of attacks,” he said. “Such tests would signal that they’re not.”—- Reuters

DETROIT: When General Motors engineers and designers started work on the next-generation Corvette, they drew up the usual requirements for the star of American muscle cars. Killer looks. Big engine. Handles like a race car. But topping the list back was something at odds with the roar of the car’s big V-8: Gas mileage. The new Corvette could not be a gas guzzler. Stricter government rules were forcing a leap in fuel economy. If the car burned too much gas, it would trigger fines from regulators and never get built. “There won’t be a Corvette if we don’t care about fuel economy,” said Tadge Juechter, the car’s chief engineer. But the 2014 Corvette is here, the first all-new version in nine years. The king of American sports cars, driven by astronauts and celebrated in a Prince song, rolled out Sunday night in Detroit. It will arrive in showrooms this fall. To many fans, the new Corvette symbolizes the rebirth of America’s auto industry after its near death in 2009, showing the world that it again can lead in technology, styling and performance - at a lower cost that European competitors. Getting there was tough for the 1,000-member Corvette team, which gave the car the code name “C7.” GM’s bankruptcy slowed development twice. With each delay, new safety and gas mileage regulations forced changes. The Corvette team overhauled the car: aluminum replaced steel, super-light rivets held parts together, and the V-8 engine kicked down to four cylinders at highway speeds, saving fuel. All the changes helped it overcome nine years of government crash safety requirements that could have bloated the car. But even with the lighter materials, the regulations have pushed its weight to a little more than the current base model’s 3,200 pounds. Still, it’s an engineering achievement. The Corvette is so new that it only shares two parts with the current model. GM said testing is still being done on the car’s fuel economy, but it’ll be better than the current base model’s 16 mpg in the city and 26 on the highway. Juechter said the window sticker highway mileage won’t reach 30 mpg, but he wouldn’t be surprised to see some drivers get that or more. The car’s usual buyers - men in their mid-50s - will also notice dramatic changes on the outside of the two-seat car. The hood slopes low to slice through the wind. All the vents and scoops have functional purposes like cooling the brakes or transmission. On the back, designers took cues from the1963 Corvette, with a sloping roof that tapers toward the bottom. The car has a small Stingray badge on each side, complete with gills. And there’s a more modern rendition of the Corvette’s crossed-flag logo. A 6.2-liter small-block V-8 with 450 horsepower takes the car from zero to 60 mph in under four seconds. That’s at least a few tenths of a second faster than the current base model. Engineers also redesigned the somewhat-chintzy interior, giving it a jet cockpit look with leather, carbon fiber and soft plastics. GM hopes the styling, performance and updated dashboard electronics will expand the car’s appeal to younger buyers. The Corvette’s been a favorite of adrenaline junkies for 60 years. Mercury astronaut Alan Shepard owned one from the first year - 1953. The company won’t quote a price on the 2014 model. But Juechter said someone who bought the current version can afford the new one. The Corvette starts at $49,600. That is more than $30,000 below what GM considers its chief competitor, the Porsche 911. The car makes a decent profit for GM despite relatively low sales, Juechter said. GM wouldn’t give sales

DETROIT: The rear trunk hood is opened to highlight the trunk space of the new Corvette Stingray after its unveiling in Detroit, Sunday, the night before press days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. —-AP targets for the new car. Last year it sold only 14,000 of the aging Corvettes, down from over 30,000 the first few years after the current version was rolled out. Porsche sold about 8,500 911s last year. The prospect of a new ‘Vette has fans waiting anxiously, browsing the Internet for unauthorized photos or drawings. Thousands of aficionados live in the U.S., and even Europe and the Middle East. John Browning, 70, president of the Renegade Corvette Club of Hollywood, Fla., one of 600 such clubs in the U.S, said some Corvette lovers can’t contain themselves. “I’ve got one member, he just sold his ‘13 in anticipation, to wait for the ‘14,” said Browning. “I think the Corvette is the icon. As far as I’m concerned you can’t get a better deal.” —- AP

Mobile phone recycling stops harmful chemicals leaking into environment LONDON: Mobile phone recycling is big business, but it’s not just good for the bottom line. Recycling mobile phones keeps hazardous chemicals out of landfills and preserves resources. It’s clear that the mobile phone market is one of the most competitive markets in the world; as demonstrated by consumers’ behaviour - in the UK we replace our handsets every 12-18 months. Last year, the Samsung Galaxy S3 was the best-selling mobile phone, followed by the Apple iPhone 5. In 2000, only half of UK adults said that they had a mobile phone, but according to recent research, 92 per cent of people over the age of 16 in the UK now own at least one mobile phone. But what’s more fascinating is there are more mobile phones in the UK than people! We have 81.6 million mobile subscriptions in the UK, with a population of 63 million, which means many of us have more than one phone! Worldwide, things are catching up. A report by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said there were about six billion phone subscriptions across the globe. When you consider there are nearly seven billion people on Earth, it means there are nearly as many mobile phone subscriptions in the world as people. And that’s not all. There are an estimated 90 million mobile phones sitting unused or forgotten in drawers and cupboards in the UK, which is where recycling comes in. Even old, used or non-working mobile phones can be recycled in order for resources and metals to be reused. According to Nokia just three per cent of people recycle their unwanted handsets across the world, and nearly half are not even aware that you can sell mobile

TOKYO: A worker holds one of the many scrap mobile phones at a recycling facility in Tokyo. phones for recycling. How does recycling help? If handsets are not disposed of correctly, they can create toxic waste in landfill that can leech out into the soil and groundwater, causing serious damage to the environment and human health. In the US, an estimated 70 per cent of heavy metals in landfills comes from discarded electronics. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 141 million mobile phones were discarded in 2009 and only 12 million of those were col-

lected for recycling. This begs the question - what happened to the other 129 million? Maybe, like the UK, owners are stuffing them in drawers and forgetting about them, but perhaps they are ending up in landfill and causing untold damage. As well as containing harmful heavy metals, mobile phones contain precious materials such as silver, gold and platinum. These valuable materials can be retrieved, which helps reduce mining and preserves resources.

Russia plans replacement for Soyuz rocket MOSCOW: Russia’s struggling space agency has unveiled a new programme that will see the creation of a replacement for the ageing Soyuz rocket by 2020. The $70-billion plan published over the weekend on the website of the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) also envisions the launch of new unmanned missions to the Moon and beyond. One of the biggest priorities is assigned to finding a replacement for the Soyuz-the backbone of Russian space travel since its development by Soviet scientists in the 1960s. Both the rocket and its eponymous space capsule for manned missions have ser ved as humans’ main link to the

International Space Station (ISS) since the scientific orbiter’s launch in 1998. But an accident with an unmanned Soyuz cargo ship in August 2011 caused delays to subsequent missions and renewed fears about the safety of space travel. The Soyuz became the world’s only manned link to the ISS following last year’s retirement of the US space shuttle programme. The Roscosmos plan called for the introduction of an “energy transportation module with a promising propulsion installation that will be ready for testing by 2018.” The agency said it intended to “deploy a programme for detailed study of the Moon” and launch a series of unmanned missions for

studying its soil samples. The plan also called for “the development of an entirely new class of interplanetary travel technology and technology (enabling) human activity on the planets.” Roscosmos has been beset by problems in recent years that saw its satellites fail to reach orbit and a high-profile Mars mission crash back down to Earth. Experts point to a continuing brain drain from the underfunded agency and a reliance on a vast but ultimately inefficient network of state subcontractors as two factors explaining why Russia is increasingly lagging behind NASA. —AFP


H E A LT H & S C I E N C E

Flu season puts businesses and employees in bind WASHINGTON: Nearly half the 70 employees at a Ford dealership in Clarksville, Indiana, have been out sick at some point in the past month. It didn’t have to be that way, the boss says. “If people had stayed home in the first place, a lot of times that spread wouldn’t have happened,” says Marty Book, a vice president at Carriage Ford. “But people really want to get out and do their jobs, and sometimes that’s a detriment.” The flu season that has struck early and hard across the US is putting businesses and employees alike in a bind. In this shaky economy, many Americans are reluctant to call in sick, something that can backfire for their employers. Flu was widespread in 47 states last week, up from 41 the week before, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. The only states without widespread flu were California, Mississippi and Hawaii. And the main strain of the virus circulating tends to make people sicker than usual. Blake Fleetwood, president of Cook Travel in New York, says his agency is operating with less than 40 percent of its staff of 35 because of the flu and other ailments. “The people here are working longer hours and it puts a lot of strain on everyone,” Fleetwood says. “You don’t know

whether to ask people with the flu to come in or not.” He says the flu is also taking its toll on business as customers cancel their travel plans: “People are getting the flu and they’re reduced to a shriveling little mess and don’t feel like going anywhere.” Many workers go to the office even when they’re sick because they are worried about losing their jobs, says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, an employer consulting firm. Other employees report for work out of financial necessity, since roughly 40 percent of US workers don’t get paid if they are out sick. Some simply have a strong work ethic and feel obligated to show up. Flu season typically costs employers $10.4 billion for hospitalization and doctor’s office visits, according to the CDC. That does not include the costs of lost productivity from absences. At Carriage Ford, Book says the company plans to make flu shots mandatory for all employees. Linda Doyle, CEO of the Northcrest Community retirement home in Ames, Iowa, says the company took that step this year for its 120 employees, providing the shots at no cost. It is also supplying face masks for all staff. And no one is expected to come into work if sick, she says. So far, the

company hasn’t seen an outbreak of flu cases. “You keep your fingers crossed and hope it continues this way,” Doyle says. “You see the news and it’s frightening. We just want to make sure that we’re doing everything possible to keep everyone healthy. Cleanliness is really the key to it. Washing your hands. Wash, wash, wash.” Among other steps employers can take to reduce the spread of the flu on the job: holding meetings via conference calls, staggering shifts so that fewer people are on the job at the same time, and avoiding handshaking. Newspaper editor Rob Blackwell says he had taken only two sick days in the last two years before coming down with the flu and then pneumonia in the past two weeks. He missed several days the first week of January and has been working from home the past week. “I kept trying to push myself to get back to work because, generally speaking, when I’m sick I just push through it,” says Blackwell, the Washington bureau chief for the daily trade paper American Banker. Connecticut is the only state that requires some businesses to pay employees when they are out sick. Cities such as San Francisco and Washington

NEW YORK: Sonia Despiar (right), a nurse with Gouverneur Healthcare Services, injects Imelda Silva with a flu vaccine on Jan 11, 2013 during a doctor’s visit. —AP have similar laws. Challenger and others say attitudes are changing, and many companies are rethinking their sick policies to avoid officewide outbreaks of the flu and other infectious diseases. “I think companies are waking up to the fact

right now that you might get a little bit of gain from a person coming into work sick, but especially when you have an epidemic, if 10 or 20 people then get sick, in fact you‘ve lost productivity,” Challenger says. — AP

US hospitals crack down on workers refusing flu shots At least 15 medics in four states fired

ERLENMOOS, Germany: A bison has his head laid on the back of another bison yesterday. Snowfall hit parts of the southern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg during the night. — AFP

Oregon, Calif require transgender coverage SALEM, Oregon: Regulators in Oregon and California have quietly directed some health insurance companies to stop denying coverage for transgender patients because of their gender identity. The states aren’t requiring coverage of specific medical treatments. But they told some private insurance companies they must pay for a transgender person’s hormone therapy, breast reduction, cancer screening or any other procedure deemed medically necessary if they cover it for patients who aren’t transgender. The changes apply to companies insuring about a third of Oregonians and about 7 percent of Californians, but not to people on Medicare and Medicaid or to the majority of Californians who are insured through a health management organization, or HMO. Advocacy groups said the action is a major step forward in their long battle to win better health care coverage for transgender Americans. “It’s just a matter of fairness,” said Ray Crider, a 28-year-old transgender man from Portland. “I just never felt that I was like anybody else. I see everybody else being taken care of without having to fight the system.” Officials in both states said the new regulations aren’t new policies but merely a clarification of anti-discrimination laws passed in California in 2005 and in Oregon two years later. Many health insurance policies broadly exclude coverage of gender identity disorder or classify it as a pre-existing condition. Transgender patients are often denied coverage for medical procedures unrelated to a gender transition, advocacy groups said, because insurance companies deem the condition to be related to their sex reassignment. Some transgender patients also have trouble getting access to gender-specific care. A person who identifies as a man might be denied coverage for ovarian cancer screening or a hysterectomy. A transgender woman might be denied a prostate screening. The state insurance regulators said those procedures, if covered for anybody, must be covered for all patients regardless of their gender. Masen Davis, director of the Transgender Law Center in San Francisco, said he’s unaware of insurance regulators in any other state taking similar action. The California regulations took effect in September and apply only to insurance products regulated by the California Department of Insurance. The agency primarily regulates preferred provider plans, or PPOs, that covered about 7 percent of the population in 2010, according to data from the California Health Care Foundation. The agency that regulates California HMOs has discussed transgender care with consumer groups and health plans, “but no regulations have yet been proposed or adopted,” said Marta Bortner Green, a spokeswoman for the Department of Managed Health Care. The Oregon Insurance Division issued its guidance last month in the form of a bul-

letin to insurers. It applies to commercial insurance companies that cover about a third of the state’s population; the rest are uninsured, on Medicare or Medicaid, or work for a large employer that’s selfinsured. “This is a very historic bulletin, and it really indicates that the tide is turning on this issue,” said Tash Shatz, transgender justice program manager at Basic Rights Oregon, an advocacy group. Transgender advocates say gender reassignment, through hormone treatment or surgery, is medically necessary, and they’ve long fought insurance companies that argue the procedures are cosmetic. They hope the new state regulations will mean fewer procedures are refused and make it easier to appeal a denial. The transgender community has picked up significant momentum securing health coverage in recent years. San Francisco in 2001 became the first US city to cover sex reassignment surgeries for government employees. Seattle, Portland, Ore. and Berkeley Calif., have followed suit. Large employers are increasingly offering coverage for a broad spectrum of care, including gender reassignment surgeries. State regulators don’t have authority to force insurance companies to cover specific procedures, like hormone therapy or genital reconstruction. But they’ve told insurers that if they provide breast reduction for patients with back pain, they can’t deny it for a gender reassignment that’s been deemed medically necessary. Insurers could unilaterally exclude coverage of, say, breast implants, but it would have to apply to all policyholders equally, including breast-cancer patients. “We’ve received the Oregon Insurance Division’s directive to implement this new mandate, and we are working to ensure that our members’ future coverage aligns,” Scott Burton, a spokesman for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, said in a statement. “We’re still assessing the impact of the ruling, and will continue to monitor state and federal guidance on this topic,” said Kathy Born, a spokeswoman for LifeWise, another large insurer in Oregon. When Ray Crider heard the news, he danced around his apartment with his wife. A 28-year-old transgender man living in Portland, Crider fought a long battle to convince a previous employer to include transgender services in his policy. Although he was insured, Crider paid thousands of dollars out of his pocket for testosterone treatment and mental health care before winning his fight for coverage of gender identity. He finally got a double mastectomy, covered by insurance, a year ago, he said, but not before the binder he used to flatten his chest required several emergency room trips because it constricted his breathing. “This was one of the most incredible things that could ever happen,” Crider said, “to know that there’s a state full of people who won’t have to go through what I went through.” — AP

CHICAGO: Patients can refuse a flu shot. Should doctors and nurses have that right, too? That is the thorny question surfacing as US hospitals increasingly crack down on employees who won’t get flu shots, with some workers losing their jobs over their refusal. “Where does it say that I am no longer a patient if I’m a nurse,” wondered Carrie Calhoun, a longtime critical care nurse in suburban Chicago who was fired last month after she refused a flu shot. Hospitals’ gettougher measures coincide with an earlier-than-usual flu season hitting harder than in recent mild seasons. Flu is widespread in most states, and at least 20 children have died. Most doctors and nurses do get flu shots. But in the past two months, at least 15 nurses and other hospital staffers in four states have been fired for refusing, and several others have resigned, according to affected workers, hospital authorities and published reports. In Rhode Island, one of three states with tough penalties behind a mandatory vaccine policy for health care workers, more than 1,000 workers recently signed a petition opposing the policy, according to a labor union that has filed suit to end the regulation. Why would people whose job is to protect sick patients refuse a flu shot? The reasons vary: allergies to flu vaccine, which are rare; religious objections; and skepticism about whether vaccinating health workers will prevent flu in patients. Dr Carolyn Bridges, associate director for adult immunization at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the strongest evidence is from studies in nursing homes, linking flu vaccination among health care workers with fewer patient deaths from all causes. “ We would all like to see stronger data,” she said. But other evidence shows flu vaccination “significantly decreases” flu cases, she said. “It should work the same in a health care worker versus somebody out in the community.” Cancer nurse Joyce Gingerich is among the skeptics and says her decision to avoid the shot is mostly “a personal thing”. She’s among seven employees at IU Health Goshen Hospital in nor thern Indiana who were recently fired for refusing flu shots. Gingerich said she gets other vaccinations but thinks it should be a choice. She opposes “the injustice of being forced to put something in my body”. Medical ethicist Art Caplan says healthcare workers’ ethical obligation to protect patients trumps their individual rights. “If you don’t want to do it, you shouldn’t work in that environment,” said Caplan, medical ethics

chief at New York University ’s Langone Medical Center. “Patients should demand that their health care provider gets flu shots - and they should ask them.” For some people, flu causes only mild symptoms. But it can also lead to pneumonia, and there are thousands of hospitalizations and deaths each year. The number of deaths has varied in recent decades from about 3,000 to 49,000. A sur vey by CDC researchers found that in 2011, more than 400 US hospitals required flu vaccinations for their employees and 29 hospitals fired unvaccinated employees. At Calhoun’s hospital, Alexian Brothers Medical Center in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, unvaccinated workers granted exemptions must wear masks and tell patients, “I’m wearing the mask for your safety,” Calhoun says. She says that’s discriminator y and may make patients want to avoid “the dirty nurse” with the mask. The hospital justified its vaccination policy in an email, citing the CDC’s warning that this year’s flu outbreak was “expected to be among the worst in a decade” and noted that Illinois has already been hit especially hard. The mandatory vaccine policy “is consistent with our health system’s mission to provide the safest environment possible”. The government recommends flu shots for nearly everyone, starting at age 6 months. Vaccination rates among the general public are generally lower than among health care workers. According to the most recent federal data, about 63 percent of US healthcare workers had flu shots as of November. That’s up from previous years, but the government wants 90 percent coverage of health care workers by 2020. The highest rate, about 88 percent, was among pharmacists, followed by doctors at 84 percent, and nurses, 82 percent. Fewer than half of nursing assistants and aides are vaccinated, Bridges said. Some hospitals have achieved 90 percent but many fall short. A government health advisory panel has urged those below 90 percent to consider a mandatory program. Also, the accreditation body over hospitals requires them to offer flu vaccines to workers, and those failing to do that and improve vaccination rates could lose accreditation. Starting this year, the government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is requiring hospitals to report employees’ flu vaccination rates as a means to boost the rates, the CDC’s Bridges said. Eventually the data will be posted on the agency’s “Hospital Compare” website. Several leading doctor groups

support mandatory flu shots for workers. And the American Medical Association in November endorsed mandatory shots for those with direct patient contact in nursing homes; elderly patients are particularly vulnerable to flu-related complications. The American Nurses Association supports mandates if they’re adopted at the state level and affect all hospitals, but also says exceptions should be allowed for medical or religious reasons. Mandates for vaccinating health care workers against other diseases, including measles, mumps and hepatitis, are widely accepted. But some workers have less faith that flu shots work - partly because there are several types of flu virus that often differ each season and manufacturers must reformulate vaccines to try and match the circulating strains. While not 100 percent effective, this year’s vaccine is a good match, the CDC’s Bridges said. Several states have laws or regulations requiring flu vaccination for health care workers but only three - Arkansas, Maine and Rhode Island - spell out penalties for those who refuse, according to Alexandra Stewart, a George Washington University expert in immunization policy and co-author of a study appearing this month in the journal Vaccine. Rhode Island’s regulation, enacted in December, may be the toughest and is being challenged in court by a health workers union. The rule allows exemptions for religious or medical reasons, but requires unvaccinated workers in contact with patients to wear face masks during flu season.

Employees who refuse the masks can be fined $100 and may face a complaint or reprimand for unprofessional conduct that could result in losing their professional license. Some Rhode Island hospitals post signs announcing that workers wearing masks have not received flu shots. Opponents say the masks violate their health privacy. “We really strongly support the goal of increasing vaccination rates among health care workers and among the population as a whole,” but it should be voluntary, said SEIU Healthcare Employees Union spokesman Chas Walker. Supporters of healthcare worker mandates note that to protect public health, cour ts have endorsed forced vaccination laws affecting the general population during disease outbreaks, and have upheld vaccination requirements for schoolchildren. Cases involving flu vaccine mandates for health workers have had less success. A 2009 New York state regulation mandating health care worker vaccinations for swine flu and seasonal flu was challenged in court but was later rescinded because of a vaccine shortage. And labor unions have challenged individual hospital mandates enacted without collective bargaining; an appeals court upheld that argument in 2007 in a widely cited case involving Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle. Calhoun, the Illinois nurse, says she is unsure of her options. “Most of the hospitals in my area are all implementing these policies,” she said. “This conflict could end the career I have dedicated myself to.” — AP

JACKSON, Mississippi: In this file photo taken Oct 17, 2012, Bill Staples, a Mississippi Department of Health employee, is given a flu vaccine shot by registered nurse Rosemary Jones, also with the health department. — AP

Possible HIV exposure at US hospital BUFFALO, New York: More than 700 patients at the Buffalo Veterans Administration Center may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B or hepatitis C because of accidental reuse of insulin pens, according to a hospital statement and published reports. Authorities told The Buffalo News there is a “very small risk” for the diabetic patients who may have been exposed to the reused insulin pens between Oct 19, 2010 and Nov 2012. The VA memo obtained by the News said the problem was discovered by a routine pharmacy inspection last Nov 1. The News first published the report on its website Friday. The VA also notified western New York members of Congress of the possible

exposure. In a statement to AP, VA spokeswoman Evangeline Conley said the hospital “recently discovered that in some cases, insulin pens were not labeled for individual patients.” She added that “although the pen needles were always changed, an insulin pen may have been used on more than one patient”. Conley said that once this was discovered the hospital took “immediate action” to ensure the insulin pens were being used according to pharmaceutical guidelines. Insulin pens used by diabetics to inject insulin can be disposable or reusable with replaceable needles and cartridges. But according to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, even reusable pens should not be used

on more than one patient. After seeing the VA’s memo, Rep Chris Collins, a Republican who represents the Buffalo area, said he spoke with Dr Robert A Petzel, undersecretary for health at the Department of Veterans Affairs. “His thought was that it’s a very, very low chance of passing infection,” Collins said. “But it’s not out of the realm of possibility, and that’s why they’re testing everyone,” Collins told the News. Collins said that even with a fresh needle, contamination could have occurred if bodily fluid flowed back into the insulin pens. The VA said it is offering free blood tests to rule out any infections. — AP


H E A LT H & S C I E N C E

Beijing smog prompts unusual transparency BEIJING: One of Beijing’s worst rounds of air pollution kept schoolchildren indoors and sent coughing residents to hospitals yesterday, but this time something was different about the murky haze: the government’s transparency in talking about it. While welcomed by residents and environmentalists, Beijing’s new openness about smog also put more pressure on the government to address underlying causes, including a lag in effor ts to expand Western-style emissions limits to all of the vehicles in Beijing’s notoriously thick traffic.

The wave of pollution peaked Saturday with off-the-charts levels that shrouded Beijing’s skyscrapers in thick gray haze. Expected to last through today, it was the severest smog since the government began releasing figures on PM2.5 particles among the worst pollutants - early last year in response to a public outcry. A growing Chinese middle class has become increasingly vocal about the quality of the environment, and the public demands for more air quality information were prompted in part by a Twitter feed from the US Embassy

tion typically gets worse in the winter because of an increase in coal burning. “The pollution has affected large areas, lasted for a long time and is of great density. This is rare for Beijing in recent years,” Zhang Dawei, director of Beijing’s environment monitoring center, told a news conference Monday. According to the government monitoring, levels of PM2.5 particles were above 700 micrograms per cubic meter on Saturday, and declined by Monday to levels around 350 micrograms - but still way above the World Health Organization’s safety levels of

BEIJING: This combination of photos shows (left) the Beijing skyline during severe pollution yesterday and the same view right) taken during clear weather on Feb 4, 2012. — AFP “Really awful. Extremely awful,” that gave hourly PM2.5 readings from 25. In separate monitoring by the U.S. Beijing office worker Cindy Lu said of the building’s roof. The Chinese gov- Embassy, levels peaked Saturday at the haze as she walked along a down- ernment now issues hourly air quality 886 micrograms - and the air quality town sidewalk. But she added: “Now updates online for more than 70 cities. was labeled as “beyond index”. City authorities ordered many facthat we have better information, we “I think there’s been a ver y big know how bad things really are and change,” prominent Beijing environ- tories to scale back emissions and can protect ourselves and decide mental campaigner Ma Jun said, were spraying water at building sites whether we want to go out.” “Before, adding that the government knows it to try to tamp down dust and dirt that you just saw the air was bad but didn’t no longer has a monopoly on infor- worsen the noxious haze. Schools in mation about the environment. several districts were ordered to canknow how bad it really was,” she said. Even state-run media gave the “Given the public’s ability to spread cel outdoor flag-raisings and sports smog remarkably critical and promi- this information, especially on social classes, and in an unusual public nent play. “More suffocating than the media, the government itself has to announcement, Beijing authorities advised all residents to “take meashaze is the weakness in response,” make adjustments.” Air pollution is a major problem in ures to protect their health”. The read the headline of a front-page commentary by the Communist Party- China due to the country’s rapid pace Beijing Shijitan Hospital received 20 run China Youth Daily. Government of industrialization, reliance on coal percent more patients than usual at officials - who have played down past power, explosive growth in vehicle its respiratory health department, periods of heavy smog - held news ownership and disregard for environ- most of them coughing and seeking conferences and posted messages on mental laws, with development often treatment for bronchitis, asthma and microblogs discussing the pollution. taking priority over health. The pollu- other respiratory ailments, Dr Huang

Aiben said. PM2.5 are tiny particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size, or about 1/30th the average width of a human hair. They can penetrate deep into the lungs, and measuring them is considered a more accurate reflection of air quality than other methods. “Because these dust particles are relatively fine, they can be directly absorbed by the lung’s tiny air sacs,” Huang said. “The airway’s ability to block the fine dust is relatively weak, and so bacteria and viruses carried by the dust can directly enter the airway.” Prolonged exposure could result in tumors, he added. Demand spiked for face masks, with a half dozen drugstores in Beijing reached by phone reporting they had sold out. A woman surnamed Pang working at a Golden Elephant pharmacy said buyers were mainly the elderly and students, and that the store had sold 60 masks daily over the past few days. The bulk of the smog choking Chinese cities is belched out by commercial trucks, but authorities have put off enforcing tougher emissions standards to spare small businesses the burden of paying for cleaner engines. “It is not a problem of technology. It’s more about consumer affordability. Increasing the emissions standard greatly increases the cost,” said John Zeng, Asia-Pacific director for LMC Automotive Ltd, a research firm. “Most buyers are small business owners, and they are very price-sensitive.” Upgrading to cleaner engines would cost about 20,000 yuan ($3,200), adding about 8 percent to a typical sticker price of a vehicle, according to Zeng. The haze even inspired a song parody, widely circulated online. “Thick haze permeates ever y street in Beijing, the pollutant index is worse than the charts can read. I’m surrounded by buildings in a fairyland and I see people wearing masks all over the city,” go the lyrics. “Who is traveling in fog and who is crying in fog? Who is struggling in fog and who is suffocating in fog?” — AP

BEIJING: This picture taken on Sunday shows a row of intravenous drips for parents taking their kids to hospital for flu treatment in Beijing — AFP

EU releases data on GM corn linked to cancer BRUSSELS: The EU’s food safety agency challenged its doubters yesterday, making available all the scientific information used to clear a genetically modified corn which a French researcher had linked to cancer. The European Food Safety Authority said that “given the level of public interest ... (it would) make all data on genetically modified (GM) maize NK603 publicly available on its website”. While EFSA had previously provided such information on request, “any member of the public or scientific community will now be able to examine and utilise the full data sets used in this risk assessment,” it said in a statement. EFSA, which reviews the use and authorisation of such crops and foodstuffs, in November rejected outright a report by Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen which had linked NK603 to cancer found in laboratory rats. It said at the time that Seralini’s

work failed to meet “acceptable scientific standards” and accordingly it had no reason to review its assessment of NK603, made by US agrifood giant Monsanto. The EU also demanded that Seralini release more details of his work but he responded in kind, calling on EFSA to open up its data first. The EFSA said on Monday that the NK603 data was being made available as part of an initiative to make its overall workings more transparent. “Risk assessment is an evolving science and EFSA is always willing to review its past work should new robust science bring a new perspective to any of the (its) previous findings,” EFSA Executive Director Catherine Geslain-Laneelle said in a statement. Yesterday’s move “aims to make data used in risk assessment publicly available,” Geslain-Laneelle said, by promoting research and working with scientists. — AFP


W H AT ’ S O N


Annual Associate Party held at Marriott Hotels


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


Shirva feast


hirva Welfare Association Kuwait (SWAK) will be celebrating their Shirva Parish feast-2013 here in Kuwait. On this occasion there will be a mass offered at 9.15 am on February 8, 2013 at the Holy Family Cathedral. Kuwait and the celebration / gettogether with a of variety entertainment programme will he held from 4:30 pm - 9 pm on the same day at the Indian Community School, Salmiya. SWAK members or their children who would like to participate in the variety entertainment programme and show their talent are requested to contact any of the SWAK committee members listed below to avail the opportunity before January 10, 2013. Likewise if any of members children have excelled in academics or any other extra curricular activities in the past 1 year will be appreciated and hence are requested to inform any of the SWAK committee members listed below before the 10th of January. Last date for enrollment in the talent show is January 15, 2013.

Arabic courses


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

India - Flag Hoisting Ceremony


n the occasion of the Republic Day of India, a Flag Hoisting Ceremony will be held at the Embassy of India premises at 9.00 am on Saturday, January 26, 2013. This will be followed by the reading of the message of Honorable President of India by the Ambassador, singing of patriotic songs, and an Open House Reception. All Indian nationals in Kuwait are cordially invited to attend the Ceremony.

World Hindi Day celebrated in Kuwait


indi is the third most widely spoken language in the world and the ìWorld Hindi Dayî, is celebrated annually across the world on January 10. In order to promote Hindi, ìWorld Hindi Dayî was celebrated with great enthusiasm in the Embassy of India, Kuwait on January 10, 2013.† Anju Dheman, Convenor of the Kuwait Chapter of CBSE Schools in coordination with H.K Mohan, First Secretary (Education) organized the event in which 9 schools participated with 15 children from each school.† After lighting the traditional lamp, each school recited a poem/song emphasizing the importance of Hindi. The chief guest Vidhu P. Nair, CdíA during his address, spoke about the importance of Hindi and read out the message of the Prime Minister of India.† He distributed prizes to the winners of the competition as well as to all the participating schools and the judges.

Nritta Dhyana silver jubilee


ritta Dhyana, a well-known school for Indian classical dance in Kuwait, will celebrate its silver jubilee on Friday (January 18) from 5.30 pm onwards at the Marina Hall, Abbassiya. During the celebration, Nritta Dhyana students under the guidance of its creative director Sujatha Rajendran will present a dazzling show of Indian classical dances. All dance lovers are welcome.

Young Shooters Abbassiya honors Kanneth


oung Shooters Abbassiya, a leading foot ball club in Kuwait honored their chief patron Sharafudheen Kanneth for being appointed as Director in Kerala Pravasi Welfare Board. The function was inaugurated by Abdul Rahman,Team Manager Young Shooters Abbassiya. Club President Ivey Kochappilly presided over the function.†Team Captain Shihab K Meeran, Rajesh Viswambaran, Kollara Shabu Kamburam, Boney Jockin, Abdul Nisar Thuyyadi† congratulated the newly elected executive committee of Young Shooters Abbassiya while Noushad Mulayankave Kattirithodi expressed vote of thanks.

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


s part of its annual associate felicitation, Kuwait Marriott Hotels recently held a cultural night extravaganza for its associates and their families. Over 600 associates from the JW Marriott, the Courtyard by Marriott and the prestigious Arraya Ballroom attended the celebration. As every year carries a new theme, this year’s associate’s party was based on honoring Marriott’s diversified ethnic employees, dedicated to fulfilling Marriott’s mission of promoting a successful, value-driven organization. More than 26 different nationalities represented Marriott Kuwait in an outstanding effort that showcased the

unique diversity of these different cultures within the company. Some truly inspiring performances were held ranging from various dance and musical performances by the Indonesian community, Pilipino and Nepali associates to name a few. The highlight of the evening was a “Parade of Flags” ceremony, where a representative from each of the nationalities wore their country’s dress and carried their national flag, moving to join others in a parade of culture with a unified flag that read “Though we are from different cultures and nations, WE ARE ONE FAMILY ... WE ARE MARRIOTT”. Through the efforts of the Associate

Relations Committee (ARC) and the management team, the event was a resounding success and was met with acclaim from all. As part of the celebrations, George Aoun, General Manager of Kuwait Marriott Hotels, handed out various coveted awards, medals and certificates such as Associate of the Year, Supervisor of the Year, Manager of the Year and also Department of the Year. In his speech, he acknowledged the efforts that everyone has contributed to ensuring that Kuwait Marriott Hotels is the preferred choice for guests within and outside Kuwait as well, and commended them on the level of service, vigilance and care that

each associate awards to guests and visitors. A grand raffle draw was conducted with hundreds of exciting, valuable prizes being distributed to the associate’s. A world-class buffet was provided by the Marriott’s team of expert chefs at the event. The annual associate celebrations are held to recognize the associates’ continuous efforts and uphold the company’s enduring principle that ‘taking care of its associates first will reflect in their world-class hospitality towards guests. This has led to the long lasting legacy that Marriott has created while promoting such rich globalization within its ranks.

AUK Library gets new look, holds Open House event A fter several months of hard work, the AUK Library officially started receiving visitors in the new expanded area on its second floor. In an Open House event on January 10th, the library opened doors to the AUK community to enjoy the new renovations and facilities in the previously closed area. The new library section now houses part of the book collection, in addition to periodicals display, a reading space, a terrace, and a book display area, with a special stand for books published by AUK professors. AUK Freshman Rawah Al-Hassan , especially likes the “calm atmosphere of the new Library section and the fact that AUK Professors’ books are receiving good recognition.” According to Asma Al Kanan, the newly appointed Library Director, planning and preparations started in the Library during the Summer, while actual work started beginning November and was completed in midDecember. The process was exhaustive as it included transferring and moving a book collection of over 30,000 items without affecting the daily operations and services of the library. Fiction and Journals’ current and old issues were relocated to the new space, allowing the library to free the middle area in the ground floor for twelve new tables. The Circulation Desk was also reduced and moved to the corner to free the middle area and better serve library users. Al Kanan says “I feel very proud of a hard working library staff and a supportive administration. I’m very pleased to see the productive use our users are making of the new space.” The Library Open House saw many students and faculty members, who came to help and enjoy the social and intellectual atmosphere of the event. Among those, was the current Chair of the Library Committee, Dr. Kathy Nixon, who showed appreciation to the work undergone by the Library staff. “I am impressed with the Library staff, they worked really hard,” said Nixon “It is a great thing to have this event to show the students how hard the Library staff have worked to support their study process.” The Library Terrace, which has been closed for years, has turned into a lively area during the event. Dr Marcelline Fusilier, Professor of Management and former Chair of the Library Committee, said she likes the open terrace overlooking the AUK campus. In her opinion, it serves as a breather for students to rest during studying or make conversations that are not possible inside the library “The atmosphere of the Library Open House is very welcoming, it is something new,” said Dr Fusilier.


W H AT ’ S O N

More than 100 instructors attend AUK’s Conference

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. � � � ��� � �


he Australian College of Kuwait (ACK) hosted a conference on the 9th and 10th of January under the title of “Challenges of Teaching English to Arab Students in Higher Educational Institutions”, aimed at enhancing the quality of education for students who face challenges in learning English as their second language. The conference was the first of its kind in the region, successfully gathering more than 100 instructors from various parts of the world. The conference was inaugurated

by ACK’s President, Professor Vishy Karri, where he welcomed all teachers, guests and members of the press. The conference then moved on with Dr Tahar Labbassi’s opening presentation, the Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Tunis, on how instructors can tackle challenges when teaching English to Arab students by using certain materials and techniques to their aid. The 2-day conference also consisted of nine total workshops providing instructors with a platform to discuss

ideas and solutions with regards to professional development, English spelling and much more. The overall success was due to the strong participation of instructors that were interested in finding and creating solutions for the difficulties faced when teaching English to Arab students. Dr Raghad Al Kazemi - Associate Dean of Student Affairs - added that “English teaching is always a challenge when it comes to a non-English speaking nation, especially in this part of the

world, where students excel in expressing themselves verbally, yet find it difficult to communicate in writing. This conference has been a success in bringing together the expertise in the region to deliver teaching methods required to benefit students.” The “Challenges of Teaching English to Arab Students in Higher Educational Institutions” conference represents ACK’s educational role in the community and its responsibility to proactively contribute in bettering Higher Education standards in Kuwait.

EMBASSY OF CANADA The Embassyof Canada in Kuwait does not have a visa or immigration department. All processing of visa and immigration matters including enquiries is conducted by the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, 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 open from 07:30 to 12:30. Consular services for Canadian citizens are provided from 09:00†until 12:00, Sunday through Wednesday. � � � ��� � �

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: � � � ��� � �

Dr. Saleh Al-Ojairi

Dr. Suad Al-Sabah

Kuwait’s meteorologist Al-Ojairi receives award

V New Palestinian Ambassador to Kuwait Rami Tahboub met with members of the Palestinian community in Kuwait earlier in the week.

eteran Kuwaiti meteorologist Dr Saleh Al-Ojairi was announced as the latest Arab scholar to receive a special award presented annually by Kuwaiti poet Dr. Suad Al-Sabah to people with outstanding achievements in science and literature. “Selecting Dr AlOjairi to receive the Appreciation Day Award is a testimony to the meaning of seeking knowledge under the hardest of circumstances which he represents”,

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, � � � ��� � �

Dr Al-Sabah said in a statement yesterday. The Appreciation Day Award is given to longtime Arab activates who are alive “in order to present something different than the usual posthumous rewarding approach common in the Arab World”, Dr Al-Sabah added. She also announced that the Dar Suad AlSabah Publishing plans to release an autobiography for Dr Al-Ojairi on his honoring day.

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.

KMCA leaders detail the 40th year anniversary celebration program of the association on Feb 22 in Kuwait.

Bowling Stones surprise Alley Masters

Moevenpick Hotel honors winners


oevenpick Hotel Kuwait Free Trade Zone profusely thanked all the participants of the season who dined and stayed with us during Christmas and New Year Celebrations. For every KD10/they spent to enjoy the festive special-

ities in food & beverages and our cozy rooms we had issued coupons for lucky draw. The feedback we received after the events especially on the eve of Christmas and New Year was invaluable for which we are once again grateful to all our clients. In return, we

IDF ‘creates history’


r N Nampoory received a hero’s welcome as he stepped down at the Kuwait International Airport, on Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 10pm. He just arrived after attending the 11th Pravasi Bhartiya Divas at Kochi, India, where he received the prestigious ‘Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award’ at the precious hands of the President of India Pranab Mukherjee on behalf of Indian Doctors Forum (IDF) - Kuwait. The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award is the highest honor conferred on overseas Indians or an organization estab-

lished and run by the Non-Resident Indians. IDF is the only association in Kuwait to receive this prestigious award. It was indeed a moment of triumph and jubilation as he was surrounded by IDF members, well wishers, friends and relatives. His immediate reaction was to all present was “This award is a result of all the effort and hard work put in by each and every IDF member”. He said it was a moment of profound elation and pride, as IDF was praised at the event for all the community services and activities it carried out.

are proud of announcing the winners of the draw held on 2nd January, 2013 in the presence of the Ministerial representative and the Country Manager of the Jordanian Airlines. Here are the lucky winners of the draw: Karina Scarlett Sotomayor Del Castillo from

Bolivia (Prize: 2 tickets with return to Beirut for 2 & a weekend stay at Moevenpick Kuwait); Mohammad Alashwak, Kuwaiti (Prize: 2 Return tickets to Amman) and Shaikah Saleh Fraij AlFraij, Kuwaiti (Prize: 2 Return Tickets to Cairo).


ubop finished with 2234 pinfalls against Hope’s 1920 to clinch a rare 25-0 victory in the weekend’s ATC Indian Bowling League (IBL) Season-3 opener at the 360 Mall Bowling room. It was a clear cut game for Dubop as the Hope players were simply no match for Ramona Soares and his crew. Dubop ruled the game in all three rounds with Soares Roy Vaz, Cleona DSouza and Vishal Lala leading the pack to the victory. Soares made high scores of 150 and161pinfalls in two rounds to cement the win. Mohammed Al Hoti, the star player of the Hope squad could hardly make any difference. Bowling Stones on the other hand shocked Alley Masters, scoring 790 pinfalls to outpace the latter’s below average 680 in round one. After a few timeouts in the next round, Alley Masters swung back firing on all cylinders to win the round felling 784 pins to earn five points as against 732 for Stones. With Masters’ Ali Al-Saleh, Mousa Abdulla and Bader Omair entering the third round in top form, the top ranked team cruised to victory with 835 pins felled vs. 712 for third ranked Bowling Stones. The IBL Season 3, a multi-community weekend leisure bowling tournament sponsored by Advanced Technology Company Limited (ATC), is held every Friday at THE BOWL ROOM at 360 mall at 2:00 pm. Games resumed on the 11th January with the Mixed Doubles followed by two weeks of finals.



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

Animal Cops Miami After The Attack Untamed & Uncut Wildest Arctic Karina: Wild On Safari Bad Dog Call Of The Wildman Cheetah Kingdom Wild Africa Rescue Wildlife SOS The Really Wild Show America’s Cutest... Dogs/Cats/Pets 101 Crocodile Hunter Wildest Arctic Animal Cops Philadelphia Call Of The Wildman Wildlife SOS Shamwari: A Wild Life Animal Precinct Wildest Arctic Cheetah Kingdom The Really Wild Show Dogs/Cats/Pets 101 Deep Into The Wild With Nick My Cat From Hell Monkey Life Bondi Vet Call Of The Wildman Cheetah Kingdom Wildest Arctic Gator Boys

00:00 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Specials 01:20 Come Dine With Me: South Africa 02:15 Antiques Roadshow 03:10 House Swap 03:50 Saturday Kitchen 2008/09 04:45 House Swap 05:30 Come Dine With Me 06:20 Antiques Roadshow 07:15 House Swap 08:00 Trish’s Mediterranean Kitchen 09:10 Gok’s Clothes Roadshow 10:00 Bargain Hunt 10:45 Antiques Roadshow 11:35 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Specials 12:55 Come Dine With Me 13:45 Trish’s Mediterranean Kitchen 14:25 Fantasy Homes In The City 15:10 Bargain Hunt 15:55 Antiques Roadshow 16:50 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Specials 18:10 Britain’s Dream Homes 19:00 Rhodes Across The Caribbean 19:45 Rhodes Across China 20:30 Trish’s Mediterranean Kitchen 20:50 Come Dine With Me

00:00 Business Edition With Tanya Beckett 00:30 Hardtalk 01:00 BBC World News America 02:00 Newsday 02:30 Asia Business Report 02:45 Sport Today 03:00 Newsday 03:30 Asia Business Report 03:45 Sport Today 04:00 Newsday 04:30 Asia Business Report 04:45 Sport Today 05:00 BBC World News 05:30 Asia Business Report 05:45 Sport Today 06:00 BBC World News 06:30 Asia Business Report 06:45 Sport Today 07:00 BBC World News 07:30 Hardtalk 08:00 BBC World News 08:30 World Business Report 08:45 BBC World News 09:30 World Business Report 09:45 BBC World News 10:30 World Business Report 10:45 BBC World News 11:30 World Business Report

11:45 BBC World News 12:00 BBC World News 12:30 Hardtalk 13:00 BBC World News 13:30 World Business Report 13:45 Sport Today 14:00 BBC World News 14:30 BBC World News 15:00 GMT With George Alagiah 16:00 Impact With Mishal Husain 17:30 Hardtalk 18:00 BBC World News 19:30 World Business Report 19:45 Sport Today 20:00 BBC World News 20:30 BBC Focus On Africa 21:00 BBC World News 21:30 World Business Report 21:45 Sport Today 22:00 World News Today With Zeinab Badawi 23:30 World Business Report

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

00:40 Chowder 01:30 Bakugan Battle Brawlers 02:20 Foster’s Home For... 02:45 Foster’s Home For... 03:10 Courage The Cowardly Dog 04:00 The Amazing World Of Gumball 04:25 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 04:50 Adventure Time 05:15 The Powerpuff Girls 05:40 Generator Rex 06:05 Ben 10 06:55 Angelo Rules 07:00 Casper’s Scare School 08:00 Mucha Lucha 08:25 Johnny Test

08:45 Regular Show 09:05 Total Drama Island 09:55 Ben 10: Omniverse 10:20 Young Justice 10:45 Thundercats 11:10 Adventure Time 12:00 The Amazing World Of Gumball 12:50 Foster’s Home For... 13:40 Courage The Cowardly Dog 14:30 Powerpuff Girls 15:20 Angelo Rules 16:10 Batman: The Brave And The Bold 16:35 Young Justice 17:00 Ben 10: Omniverse 17:20 Johnny Test 18:00 Level Up 18:25 The Amazing World Of Gumball 18:50 Adventure Time 19:15 Regular Show 19:40 Mucha Lucha 20:05 Total Drama Island 20:55 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 21:20 Young Justice 21:45 Bakugan: Mechtanium Surge 22:10 Grim Adventures Of... 23:00 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 23:50 The Powerpuff Girls

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Gold Rush Deadliest Catch Gold Divers Mythbusters Border Security Auction Kings Auction Kings How Stuff Works How It’s Made Sons Of Guns Mythbusters Is It Possible? Gold Divers Border Security Auction Kings Auction Kings How Stuff Works How It’s Made Gold Rush Deadliest Catch Gold Divers Border Security Auction Kings Auction Kings Ultimate Survival Gold Divers Mythbusters Sons Of Guns How Stuff Works How It’s Made

00:10 Hannah Montana 00:35 Brandy & Mr Whiskers 01:25 Replacements 01:50 Replacements 02:15 Emperor’s New School 03:05 Brandy & Mr Whiskers 03:55 Replacements 04:45 Emperor’s New School 05:35 Brandy & Mr Whiskers 06:00 Phineas And Ferb 06:15 Suite Life On Deck 06:40 My Babysitter’s A Vampire 07:05 A.N.T Farm 07:30 Phineas And Ferb 07:40 Phineas And Ferb 07:55 Jessie 08:20 Good Luck Charlie 08:45 Doc McStuffins 09:00 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 09:25 Jake & The Neverland Pirates 09:35 Winnie The Pooh: Tales Of Friendship 09:45 Mouk 10:00 Jonas 10:25 So Random 10:50 Hannah Montana Forever 11:15 Sonny With A Chance 11:40 Kim Possible 12:05 Shake It Up 12:30 Wizards Of Waverly Place 12:55 Phineas And Ferb 13:20 Austin And Ally 13:45 Art Attack 14:10 A.N.T Farm 14:35 Suite Life On Deck

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00:20 Little Einsteins 00:50 Special Agent Oso 01:15 Lazytown 01:40 Jungle Junction 02:10 Handy Manny 02:30 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 02:55 Winnie The Pooh: Tales Of Friendship 03:00 Lazytown 03:25 Special Agent Oso 03:50 Imagination Movers 04:15 Handy Manny 04:40 Special Agent Oso 05:00 Timmy Time 05:10 Lazytown 05:35 Little Einsteins 06:00 Jungle Junction 06:30 Little Einsteins 07:00 Special Agent Oso 07:15 Jungle Junction 07:45 Handy Manny 08:00 Special Agent Oso 08:15 Imagination Movers 08:45 Handy Manny 09:00 The Hive 09:10 New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh 09:35 Jake & The Neverland Pirates 10:05 Doc McStuffins 10:20 Doc McStuffins 10:35 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 11:00 Mouk 11:15 Animated Stories 11:20 New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh 11:45 Art Attack 12:10 The Adventures Of Disney Fairies 12:35 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 13:00 Winnie The Pooh: Tales Of Friendship 13:10 Doc McStuffins 13:25 Handy Manny 13:40 Jungle Junction 13:55 Timmy Time 14:05 The Hive 14:15 Mouk 14:30 Little Einsteins 14:55 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 15:20 New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh 15:45 Jake & The Neverland Pirates 16:00 The Little Mermaid 16:25 Art Attack 16:55 Imagination Movers 17:20 Handy Manny 17:35 The Hive 17:45 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 18:10 Doc McStuffins 18:25 Doc McStuffins 18:40 Jake & The Neverland Pirates 19:10 The Adventures Of Disney Fairies 19:35 New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh 20:00 Animated Stories 20:05 Winnie The Pooh: Tales Of Friendship 20:15 Winnie The Pooh: Tales Of Friendship 20:25 Doc McStuffins 20:40 Jake & The Neverland Pirates 21:10 The Hive 21:20 Timmy Time 21:30 Mouk 21:45 Handy Manny 22:00 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 22:25 The Hive 22:35 New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh

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


Shake It Up Shake It Up Austin And Ally Jessie A.N.T Farm Good Luck Charlie Gravity Falls Suite Life On Deck Austin And Ally Phineas And Ferb A.N.T Farm Good Luck Charlie Jessie That’s So Raven Cory In The House Kim Possible

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Programmes Start At 7:00am Kickin It Phineas And Ferb Almost Naked Animals Pokemon: BW Rival Destinies Slugterra Scaredy Squirrel Ultimate Spider-Man My Babysitter’s A Vampire Pair Of Kings Zeke & Luther Lab Rats Kickin It Mr. Young Pair Of Kings Zeke & Luther Scaredy Squirrel I’m In The Band Ultimate Spider-Man Pokemon: BW Rival Destinies Rekkit Rabbit Pair Of Kings Almost Naked Animals Lab Rats Slugterra My Babysitter’s A Vampire Scaredy Squirrel Phineas And Ferb Slugterra Mr. Young My Babysitter’s A Vampire I’m In The Band Rated A For Awesome Rekkit Rabbit Phineas And Ferb Ultimate Spider-Man Kick Buttowski Scaredy Squirrel

Dirty Soap Style Star THS Behind The Scenes Extreme Close-Up THS Behind The Scenes Giuliana & Bill 30 Best & Worst Beach Bodies Married To Jonas Ice Loves Coco Kourtney & Kim Take New Style Star THS

16:30 Behind The Scenes 17:00 Kimora: Life In The Fab Lane 18:00 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 19:00 E!es 20:00 A-List Listings 20:30 Giuliana & Bill 22:30 Fashion Police

00:15 World Cafe Asia 00:40 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 01:30 Heat Seekers 01:55 Andy Bates American Street Feasts 02:45 Reza, Spice Prince Of India 03:35 World Cafe Asia 04:20 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 04:50 United Tastes Of America 05:15 Unique Eats 05:40 Chopped 06:30 Iron Chef America 07:10 Unwrapped 07:35 Unwrapped 08:00 Iron Chef America 08:50 Kid In A Candy Store 09:15 Unwrapped 09:40 United Tastes Of America 10:05 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 10:30 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 10:55 Cooking For Real 11:20 Hungry Girl 11:45 Healthy Appetite With Ellie Krieger 12:10 United Tastes Of America 12:35 Unwrapped 13:00 Iron Chef America 13:50 Tyler’s Ultimate 14:15 Andy Bates American Street Feasts 14:40 Everyday Italian 15:05 Healthy Appetite With Ellie Krieger 15:30 Healthy Appetite With Ellie Krieger 15:55 Hungry Girl 16:20 United Tastes Of America 16:45 Chopped 17:35 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 18:00 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 18:25 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 18:50 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 19:15 Andy Bates American Street Feasts 19:40 Tyler’s Ultimate 20:05 Guy’s Big Bite 20:30 Chopped 21:20 The Next Iron Chef 22:10 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 22:35 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 23:00 Guy’s Big Bite 23:25 Guy’s Big Bite 23:50 Ultimate Recipe Showdown

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Disappeared Dr G: Medical Examiner The Haunted I Married A Mobster Blood Relatives Disappeared Dr G: Medical Examiner The Haunted Undercover Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? On The Case With Paula Zahn FBI Case Files Disappeared Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Forensic Detectives On The Case With Paula Zahn Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? FBI Case Files Disappeared Forensic Detectives Mall Cops – Mall Of America On The Case With Paula Zahn Who On Earth Did I Marry? Nightmare Next Door Couples Who Kill Deadly Affairs Deadly Women

00:15 One Man & His Campervan 00:45 Adventure Wanted 01:40 Bondi Rescue: Bali 02:05 On Surfari 02:35 Danger Beach 03:30 Meet The Amish 04:25 Market Values 04:50 The Best Job In The World 05:20 Nomads 06:15 Food School 06:40 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 07:10 One Man & His Campervan 07:35 One Man & His Campervan 08:05 Adventure Wanted 09:00 Bondi Rescue: Bali 09:25 On Surfari 09:55 Danger Beach 10:50 Meet The Amish 11:45 Market Values 12:10 The Best Job In The World 12:40 Nomads 13:35 Food School 14:00 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 14:30 One Man & His Campervan 14:55 One Man & His Campervan 15:25 Adventure Wanted 16:20 Bondi Rescue: Bali 16:45 On Surfari 17:15 Danger Beach 17:40 Danger Beach 18:10 Meet The Amish 19:05 Market Values 19:30 The Best Job In The World 20:00 One Man & His Campervan 21:00 Food School 21:30 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 22:00 Nomads 22:55 Food School 23:20 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 23:50 Delinquent Gourmet

00:00 Crimes Against Nature 01:00 Mother Warthog 01:55 Zambezi

THE WAY BACK ON OSN MOVIES HD 02:50 Fish Tank Kings 03:45 Caught In The Act 04:40 Swamp Men 05:35 Hidden Worlds 06:00 Hidden Worlds 06:30 Zambezi 07:25 Fish Tank Kings 08:20 Caught In The Act 09:15 Shark Men 10:10 Python Hunters 11:05 Animal Intervention 12:00 Manta Mystery (aka Project Manta) 13:00 Japan’s Hidden Secret 14:00 Swamp Men 15:00 Caught In The Act 16:00 Maneater Manhunt 17:00 Shane Untamed 18:00 Animal Underworld 19:00 Monster Fish 20:00 Fish Tank Kings 21:00 Caught In The Act 22:00 Shark Men 23:00 Python Hunters

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Fading Of The Cries-18 Street Kings 2: Motor City-18 Little Big Soldier-PG15 Bending The Rules-PG15 Tank Girl-PG15 Transporter 2-PG15 Restitution-PG15 Tank Girl-PG15 Go Fast-PG15 Restitution-PG15 The Rite-18 Ip Man-PG15

01:00 Every Jack Has A Jill-PG15 03:00 Kung Fu Dunk-PG15 05:00 Golden Christmas 3-PG15 07:00 Relative Stranger-PG15 09:00 Every Jack Has A Jill-PG15 11:00 Footloose-PG15 13:00 Open Season 3-FAM 15:00 Marion Jones: Press PausePG15 16:00 Muhammad And Larry-PG15 17:00 A Separation-PG15 19:00 Hanna-PG15 21:00 Shelter-PG15 23:00 Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star-18

00:00 Wilfred 00:30 The Daily Show Global Edition 01:00 The Colbert Report Global Edition 01:30 Community 02:00 Unsupervised 02:30 Weeds 03:00 Last Man Standing 03:30 The Simpsons 04:00 Brothers 04:30 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 05:30 Til Death 06:00 Samantha Who? 06:30 Seinfeld 07:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 08:00 Brothers 08:30 Last Man Standing 09:00 Til Death 09:30 Samantha Who? 10:00 Melissa & Joey 11:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 12:00 Seinfeld 12:30 Brothers 13:00 Til Death 13:30 Samantha Who? 14:00 The Simpsons 15:00 Melissa & Joey 15:30 The Daily Show Global Edition 16:00 The Colbert Report Global Edition 16:30 Seinfeld 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 New Girl 18:30 The Simpsons 19:00 Melissa & Joey 20:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 Community 22:30 American Dad 23:00 Weeds 23:30 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

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00:00 Big Fat Important MoviePG15 02:00 Austin Powers In Goldmember-PG15 04:00 Sleepless In Seattle-PG 06:00 It Could Happen To You-PG 08:00 Say Anything-PG15 12:00 Sleepless In Seattle-PG 14:00 Best In Show-PG15 18:00 The Decoy Bride-PG15 20:00 28 Days-PG15 22:00 Tucker And Dale vs Evil-18

01:45 Home-PG15 03:30 The Man Who Came With The Snow-PG15 05:00 Flight Of The Phoenix-PG15 07:15 Bound By A Secret-PG15 09:00 Call Of The Wild-PG15 10:30 Separate Lies-PG15 12:15 Lies In Plain Sight-PG15 13:45 Call Of The Wild-PG15 15:30 George Harrison: Living In The Material World-PG15 19:00 The Adjustment Bureau-PG15 23:00 Witness-PG15

01:00 The Way Back-PG15 03:15 Judy Moody And The Not Bummer Summer-PG 05:00 Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure-PG 07:00 The Smurfs-PG 09:00 Jane Eyre-PG15 11:00 According To Greta-PG15 13:00 The Conspirator-PG15 15:00 Puss In Boots-PG 17:00 Jane Eyre-PG15 19:00 Monte Carlo-PG15 21:00 Rabbit Hole-PG15 23:00 Underworld: Awakening-18

01:00 Maroons-FAM 02:45 Wheelers-PG 04:30 Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil-PG 06:00 Rango-FAM 08:00 Micropolis-FAM 10:00 Alpha And Omega-PG 11:30 Tommy & Oscar-FAM 13:00 The Ugly Duckling In The Enchanted Forest-FAM 14:30 Wheelers-PG 16:00 Olentzero Christmas Tale-FAM

18:00 Alpha And Omega-PG 20:00 Battle For Terra-PG 22:00 The Ugly Duckling In The Enchanted Forest-FAM 02:00 PGA Tour Highlights 03:00 PGA Tour Highlights 04:00 Rugby Union Challenge Cup 06:00 Trans World Sport 07:00 Snooker Masters 11:00 Live Cricket Twenty20 14:00 PGA European Tour Highlights 15:00 PGA European Tour Highlights 16:00 Live Snooker Masters 20:00 ICC Cricket 360 20:30 PGA European Tour Highlights 21:30 Futbol Mundial 22:00 Live Snooker Masters

01:00 PGA Tour Highlights 02:00 Triathlon UK 02:30 Snooker Masters 06:30 Triathlon UK 07:00 ICC Cricket 360 07:30 City Centre Races 08:00 PGA European Tour Highlights 09:00 PGA Tour Highlights 10:00 Triathlon UK 10:30 Triathlon UK 11:30 Snooker Masters 15:30 Rugby Union European Challenge Cup 17:30 Triathlon UK 18:30 Cricket T20 21:30 ICC Cricket 360 22:00 Trans World Sport 23:00 Futbol Mundial 23:30 Rugby Union European Challenge Cup

00:00 Top 14 Highlights 00:30 Rugby Union European Challenge Cup 02:30 Golfing World 03:30 World Pool Masters 04:30 World Cup of Pool 05:30 Spirit of a Champion 07:00 Golfing World 08:00 Trans World Sport 09:00 World Pool Masters 10:00 World Cup of Pool 11:00 Top 14 Highlights 11:30 Rugby Union European Challenge Cup 13:30 Golfing World 14:30 Cricket T20 17:30 Spirit of Golf 18:30 Spirit of Yachting 21:00 Golfing World 22:00 Trans World Sport 23:00 World Pool Masters

00:00 UFC The Ultimate Fighter The Smashes 01:00 V8 Supercars Highlights 03:00 UFC Unleashed 05:00 NHL 07:00 WWE NXT 08:00 WWE Bottom Line 09:00 V8 Supercars Highlights 11:00 NHL 13:00 WWE Experience 14:00 European Le Mans Series 16:00 Prizefighter 19:00 UFC The Ultimate Fighter The Smashes 20:00 UFC The Ultimate Fighter 21:00 UFC

00:55 Edge Of The City-PG 02:20 Sunday In New York-FAM 04:05 Ziegfeld Follies-FAM 05:55 Little Women-FAM 08:00 To Have And Have Not-FAM 09:40 The Asphalt Jungle-PG 11:30 Edge Of The City-PG 12:55 Please Don’t Eat The Daisies 14:45 The Big Sleep-PG 16:35 North By Northwest-PG 18:50 Lust For Life-FAM 20:50 The Wonderful World Of The...-FAM

Classifieds TUESDAY, JANUARY 15, 2013

ACCOMMODATION Accommodation available with a single lady for couples / ladies, near Canary Restaurant, Abbasiya. Contact: 24346602/ 99254284. (C 4279) 8-1-2013

FOR SALE Toyota Camr y GLX full option model 2011 white metallic color, sunroof, alloy rim, rear sensor, cruise control, CD wooden interior etc. (installation possible) 28,000 km, cash price KD 4,450/-. Contact: 66507741. (C 4278) 7-1-2013

TUITION Learn Holy Quran in perfect way, private tuition available for elders and children by Hafiz-E-Quran. Contact: 66725950. (C 4262)

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)

SITUATION WANTED M.A in English Literature having two years job experience, looking for a suitable job in HR & Admin. Please contact: 66342097. (C 4270) 6-1-2013

MATRIMONIAL Christian, Marthomite parents settled in South Africa, invite proposals from parents of professionally qualified youngsters aged between 29 and 32 years, well to do and respected Christian family background, for our daughter 28 years, Commerce graduate, working in South Africa. Contact: Email: (C 4280) 9-1-2012

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s ta rs CROSSWORD 70

STAR TRACK Aries (March 21-April 19) ARIES This day may have a few challenges. It may be difficult to be appreciative of a particular situation, but . . . everything has a way of working out for you—particularly if you take on the attitude of going-with-the-flow. Your mental discipline should come easily—you put it to work now. Obstacles will disappear when you shine the light of knowledge on them. Creating a structure to maintain your ideals and principles becomes a high priority—an article of faith. By completing your tasks and carrying out your responsibilities, you become an inspiration to others. You have respect for your co-workers who work hard and by the end of this day you all will see great progress. It is important to spend the evening in rest and relaxation.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) Being in touch with ideas and people on a large scale keeps your mind busy. Your taste in art and appreciation of life in general are sharply tuned. Be sure to keep an open mind about all ideas or proposals, paying attention to all the details involved. You could make your living at buying or selling art, furniture, vehicles, etc. Remember that this is a planning time and although action can be stimulating—making plans can also be fun. The domestic scene gains new appeal. This afternoon is a good time to talk with your parents and family. Interactions with friends are free of complication and much good can come about through spending time with people you have not seen in a while. Have some special time with someone you love.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

ACROSS 1. An agency of the United Nations affiliated with the World Bank. 4. Mountain goats. 12. Title for a civil or military leader (especially in Turkey). 15. Canadian hockey player (born 1948). 16. Lack of respect accompanied by a feeling of intense dislike. 17. The longer of the two telegraphic signals used in Morse code. 18. A coenzyme derived from the B vitamin nicotinic acid. 19. A person who laughs nervously. 20. Perennial herb of East India to Polynesia and Australia cultivated for its large edible root yielding Otaheite arrowroot starch. 21. Made agreeably cold (especially by ice). 23. An open-air market in an Arabian city. 24. A compartment in front of a motor vehicle where driver sits. 26. The blood group whose red cells carry both the A and B antigens. 27. A hard ferromagnetic silver-white bivalent or trivalent metallic element. 29. The branch of information science that deals with natural language information. 31. A young woman making her debut into society. 33. An actor's line that immediately precedes and serves as a reminder for some action or speech. 34. An unfledged or nestling hawk. 36. Type genus of the Apidae. 39. Dried bark of the cascara buckthorn used as a laxative. 43. Music with a syncopated melody (usually for the piano). 45. An Oscan-speaking member of an ancient people of Campania. 46. A landlocked republic in eastern Africa. 49. A soft silvery metallic element of the alkali earth group. 50. Fiddler crabs. 51. An official prosecutor for a judicial district. 53. A flat wing-shaped process or winglike part of an organism. 54. Procumbent or spreading juniper. 57. United States feminist (1860-1935). 59. Surpassing the ordinary especially in size or scale. 61. A small cake leavened with yeast. 62. The dressed skin of an animal (especially a large animal). 63. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. 65. Formerly two short sleds coupled together. 67. An independent group of closely related Chadic languages spoken in the area between the Biu-Mandara and East Chadic languages. 69. With rapid movements. 70. American professional baseball player who hit more home runs than Babe Ruth (born in 1934). 73. A genetic disorder of metabolism. 76. Relatively hard durable timber from the Queen's crape myrtle. 79. An accountant certified by the state. 80. Disturb in mind or make uneasy or cause to be worried or alarmed. 83. Someone who works (or provides workers) during a strike. 84. A pilgrimage to Mecca. 85. A wheeled vehicle adapted to the rails of railroad. 86. The granite-like rocks that form the outermost layer of the earth's crust. 87. A period marked by distinctive character or reckoned from a fixed point or event. 88. An inference that if things agree in some

respects they probably agree in others. 89. A river in north central Switzerland that runs northeast into the Rhine. DOWN 1. Containing or involving or occurring in the form of ions. 2. Athenian lawmaker whose code of laws prescribed death for almost every offense (circa 7th century BC). 3. A unit of dry measure used in Egypt. 4. The month following September and preceding November. 5. Engage in boisterous, drunken merry-making. 6. (prefix) Within. 7. Adjust or accustom to. 8. In a submissive or spiritless manner. 9. Resonance of protons to radiation in a magnetic field. 10. An organization of countries formed in 1961 to agree on a common policy for the sale of petroleum. 11. A violin made by Antonio Stradivari or a member of his family. 12. An ester of adenosine that is converted to ATP for energy storage. 13. (Greek mythology) Goddess of the earth and mother of Cronus and the Titans in ancient mythology. 14. According to the Old Testament he was a pagan king of Israel and husband of Jezebel (9th century BC). 22. The capital and largest city of Bangladesh. 25. (informal) Very tired. 28. Port city on Atlantic coast. 30. A river in northeastern Brazil that flows generally northward to the Atlantic Ocean. 32. (computer science) A measure of how densely information is packed on a storage medium. 35. Experiencing or showing sorrow or unhappiness. 37. Take in, also metaphorically. 38. The upper house of the parliament of the Republic of Ireland. 40. (computer science) American Standard Code for Information Interchange. 41. A burn cause by hot liquid or steam. 42. A soft yellow malleable ductile (trivalent and univalent) metallic element. 44. The state of matter distinguished from the solid and liquid states by. 47. (Greek mythology) Goddess of the earth and mother of Cronus and the Titans in ancient mythology. 48. Any high mountain. 52. Type genus of the Anatidae. 55. The value of a coordinate on the horizontal axis. 56. An industrial city in northern Venezuela. 58. A written proposal or reminder. 60. Having the color of copper. 64. Small genus of shrubs and lianas and trees of Africa and Madagascar. 66. (used of animals especially a horse) Of a moderate reddish-brown color n 1. 68. Frogs, toads, tree toads. 71. South American armadillo with three bands of bony plates. 72. A Hindu prince or king in India. 74. The act of terminating a life. 75. Beyond what is natural. 77. A flat-bottomed volcanic crater that was formed by an explosion. 78. (usually followed by `to') Having the necessary means or skill or know-how or authority to do something. 81. (British) Your grandmother. 82. A humorous anecdote or remark.


Organizing and administering to people and carrying out projects will become central to your lifestyle in the workplace. You are very motivated to improve business. Outside influences can undermine your professional status, knowledge, skills and influence—careful. Remember to analyze your motives and intentions—control or respect. Do not compromise your values. Set a daily routine for yourself and try to settle into the pattern. Every day that goes by brings you closer to an understanding of your psychic insights, study of phenomena, past lives and a better understanding of life as we know it on planet Earth. You are the creator of your own circumstances and you can assert yourself with just the right strength—your influence is positive.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) This morning provides the quiet time you have been searching for—no interruptions. Someone is determined for you to start a new project, but perhaps a little later in the day. Consider planning before you dive into the unknown. The most successful results will come from your careful planning. The reformer, the inventor, the engineer, the revolutionary—these are important archetypes for you, as a new cycle gets underway in your life. They are icons of the ambitions that stir you at a time like this. Independence, freedom from past patterns and a daring readiness to innovate—such are the paths of achievement for you now. This is one of the best days for love and you may want to create a romantic setting with pictures, music, a fire in the fireplace, etc.

Leo (July 23-August 22) Your sense of humor is in fine form and you can make the hours seem like minutes when it comes to work. You are able to sway others to your way of thinking. If you are purchasing or selling for someone else, you will have plenty of intuitive insight that will lead you in successful directions. This afternoon your friends are running behind schedule and may need your help, or at least, understanding. You may want to spend a large amount of money on others this evening—perhaps buying everyone a meal. This could present some real problems later and you will be wise to abstain from those urges just now. There are strong possibilities that you will heal some misunderstandings with a close friend or loved one today.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) If a new business idea is going to work, it will take some planning. If it is quiet around you today, you could work on this plan. Be aware that some people make big promises and have no intention of providing results—think about your ideas before you act upon them. Express your ideas, hopes and dreams with friends—they will probably want to help you as you begin your venture. This is a rewarding day and by the time this evening comes around you will have many things to think about for this year’s endeavors. You are thankful for many things at this time, including the wonderful, thoughtful people in your life. Marriage, contracts and partnerships are seen as keys to success and happiness—they have plenty of lessons to teach you.

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Libra (September 23-October 22) This is the time for positive thinking and actions that promote a healing. That could mean the earning of money as well as the cure for cancer! You find new ways to earn money today and may have to shoo away others from taking your ideas. Write your ideas down, but do not leave them in clear view for others to see. The old ideas do not cut it anymore: it’s the new, the unique and the original that catches and holds your interest now. You may go into business for yourself soon or make a presentation of your own inventions. Idealism, rationality and critical thinking become more and more a part of your mental patterns and the way you communicate. You are inventive, original and high tech. This type of thinking saves the day, so to speak.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) Now is the time to examine and think about what is important and of lasting value and bring your goals into focus. If you do not have clear, short-term as well as long-term goals, you need to bring a focus on these matters. This is a great time to work with others. Some sort of group project is forming. Your attitude toward cooperation is commendable and others learn from your efforts. You are willing to compromise when problems arise. You have a clear vision into your own inner sense of values, how you appreciate and love. Any feelings of confusion or frustration will pass quickly. Your personal creativeness is at a high just now. Take a chance on yourself and put your creative ideas on the market; success is for the taking. Your social life is improved!

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) The first thing you will want to do this morning is sort through and organize your work. Throw away some of those papers that do not mean anything and file others that you will not be using for a while. Achievement, ambition and respect take on a greater importance. Organizing and administering to people and projects will become central to your lifestyle. You want to get things organized and you have the initiative to do it. This is a time of ambition and responsibility—a time to keep your cool and pace yourself. This can be a lucrative time for you financially, but there are risks as well as rewards—particularly with regard to taxes and debts. Some kind of healing process is at work in your life: you isolate what doesn’t work and move forward.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) Working on some project around the house this morning has you in a quandary. You see what is wrong and you know what to do but there is just no time—take notes. Later this afternoon a friend wants to play a more important part in your life and may invite you to join him or her for a little relaxation. An important new goal comes more clearly into focus now and the two of you may talk about setting goals and making plans for later this year. This evening is a great time to reflect and understand your own situation. Being distracted from the family is difficult and you plan to spend more time with family members in the future. Your home life will lay the foundation for greater confidence at work. The phone rings this evening with good news.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) You will be presented with a financial opportunity now and you will want to check out ways to investigate and multiply your good fortune. You seem to attract good luck in money matters and if you find a few extra dollars to invest this week, you might be surprised with the results of your investments. Anything that does not serve you successfully in your life may need to be placed in the past. You may want to rid yourself of a difficult relationship(s) as well. It may be the only fair way for two people to move forward and progress—healings are possible. There is a personal project you have on your mind today and you need to follow through on this project all by yourself. You are alert and quick-witted and your self-assured attitude will bring you success.

Pisces (February 19-March 20) You may be sought after as just the person for a particular job. Your management and directional abilities are in high focus. Remember, if your caseload is too full you can always consider an advisor position. This has been a time of cleaning up old debts and any other difficulties. You are able to cut through the red tape in order to get beneath and behind most any problem that comes to your attention. The pressures you may have been feeling to complete your own personal concerns have either been completed or slowed for now. This is a very nice day, perhaps filled with some renewed appreciation for all that is beautiful. A sense of value and valuing may find you lavishing affection on those near you this evening.

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Chilly Golden Globes

carpet gets haute in


Jennifer Lawrence

ennifer Lawrence and Marion Cotillard were Dior Haute Couture twins on Sunday night’s Golden Globe red carpet. Lawrence wore a strapless coral organza gown and metallic belt, and Cotillard was in an orange velvet bustier dress with a silver belt. With all the pressure to strike the right style note at this kickoff to the Hollywood award season, Lawrence broke the ice: “I don’t really know what ‘haute’ means,” she told E! Hal Rubenstein, editor-atlarge of InStyle, said designer Raf Simons did enough to differentiate them. Cotillard’s had an asymmetrical hemline and was more ethereal, while Lawrence’s was a more structured ball gown. There were many stars in fiery hues as they chatted through chattering teeth at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Temperatures were in the 50s, hardly the norm in Beverly Hills, California. Zooey Deschanel wore a strapless red Oscar de la Renta, and Claire Danes showed off a postbaby body in a red, V-neck halter by Versace. “That red on a blonde: You don’t get better than that,” said Joanna Douglas, senior fashion and beauty editor at Yahoo! Shine. Danes said she had some challenges getting dressed for an awards show a month after giving birth to her son. “I am very strapped into this dress. It’s Versace and they are masters of illusions,” she said after her win. “I’m totally comfortable,” Glenn Close, whose Zac Posen dress was paired with a matching jacket, told NBC. Melissa Rauch of “The Big Bang Theory” shivered in her strapless red gown. Also in Versace but without the love from Douglas was Halle Berry, who wore a oneshoulder printed gown with a fuchsia-andblush print. The floral ballgown by Carolina Herrera worn by Lucy Liu was a more interesting choice, but, she said, it will probably be up for watercooler debate. Jennifer Garner had on a burgundy-sequin strapless gown by Vivienne Westwood, and Taylor Swift had on a squareneck, deep-plum gown by Donna Karan. Naomi Watts wore a long-sleeve, open-back gown by Zac Posen, who called the color “Bordeaux.” Long sleeves seemed to be a trend of the night - perhaps a nod to the unlikely weather. Nicole Richie had on a blue, beaded Naeem Khan gown. But Rubenstein said this red carpet wasn’t about trends. He was impressed with the diversity. “You had Sienna Miller’s girlie Erdem, Julianna Margulies’ sheer Pucci, and Jessica Chastain in that stunning seafoam green Calvin Klein - there wasn’t one trend there,” he said. “They all stand out on their own.” Chastain’s hal-

ter gown was custom-made for her by designer Francisco Costa, and Julianne Moore said she sent an email request to friend Tom Ford to make her gown. She wore a black gown with an open cowl back and contrasting white around the waistline. Show co-host Tina Fey showed up in a L’Wren Scott-designed cream gown with blacklace embroidery, and her on-camera partner Amy Poehler wore a black tuxedo suit - with a

Jessica Alba

Kate Hudson

Emily Blunt neckline that showed off an 83-carat diamond lariat necklace by Chopard. Adele wore a black gown with a hand-beaded neckline by Burberry’s Christopher Bailey, and Rachel Weisz’s black Louis Vuitton dress had a sheer peek-a-boo neckline and hemline. The best black might have belonged to Katharine McPhee. Her modern black high-slit gown with a plunging V-neck was by Olivier Theyskens for Theory. Adding sparkle to anything-but-basic black was Kate Hudson, wearing a high-neck, sexy keyhole black gown with gold embroidery, and Nicole Kidman, in a gown with a stretch-mesh bodice and gold beading. Both were by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Anne Hathaway went in the opposite direction in an unfussy beaded white look by Chanel. Douglas was underwhelmed by Hathaway, who looked, she said, “a little blah.” Jennifer Lopez’s champagne-colored lace gown by Zuhair Murad was just what you’d expect from J.Lo: a second skin. Sofia Vergara veered a little from her signature mermaid gown in a black sparkly strapless with a straighter skirt, but she didn’t lose any va-va-voom. The glitzy platinum-and-diamond earrings by Lorraine Schwartz didn’t hurt, either. Megan Fox in Dolce & Gabbana, Amy Adams

Sofia Vergara


in Marchesa and Hayden Panettiere in Roberto Cavalli went with more delicate blush-colored gowns. Amanda Seyfried struck a vintage vibe in the same palette in a high-neck gown covered in lace by Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci. Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Vera Wang sweetheart gown was delicate blush covered with black lace and a floral Chantilly lace overlay. “I’d rather be nippy than boiling hot. No, I’m not wearing any leggings or long underwear,” she said. She also said she purposely picked simple jewelry - including 11-carat diamond drop earrings and a diamond, onyx-and-ruby ring by Fred Leighton - because she wanted to honor the craftsmanship of the dress. Debra Messing said it was the New York setting of her show, “Smash,” that influenced her selection of a black Donna Karan strapless gown. The women of “Girls” are wading their way through their first year of the circuit: Lena Dunham’s tattoo peeked out of her Zac Posen off-theshoulder gown, and Alison Williams showed a sophisticated side in J. Mendel’s black halter-neck gown. Michael J. Fox’s family had a unified look - all in Ralph Lauren. Of course, it’s Tracy Pollan’s one-shoulder purple dress that set the standard. But InStyle’s Rubenstein, who says himself that he doesn’t pay much attention to men’s fashion at awards shows, gave a shout-out to the Golden Globes guys, especially Hugh Jackman, in Louis Vuitton, and Damian Lewis, in Burberry. “ They are worth talking about,” Rubenstein said. — AP

Naomi Watts

Marion Cotillard

Taylor Swift

Glenn Close

Lucy Liu

Zooey Deschanel


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Melissa Rauch

Amy Poehler

Glenn Close


Tina Fey

Melissa Rauch

Jennifer Garner

Halle Berry

Jennifer Lopez

Claire Danes

Halle Berry

Julianna Margulies

Jessica Chastain

Katharine McPhee

Anne Hathaway

Nicole Kidman and singer Ketih Urban

Megan Fox

Hayden Panettiere

Amanda Seyfried

Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz

Zosia Mamet, Lena Dunham, and actress Allison Williams

Helena Bonham Carter

Julianna Margulies

Julianne Moore


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This image released by NBC shows producer Grant Heslov, foreground, with the cast and crew of “Argo” after the film won best drama during the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan 13, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. — AP /AFP photos

Actor and director Ben Affleck, sixth from left, and the cast and crew of ‘Argo’ pose with the award for best motion picture - drama for ‘Argo’ backstage.

‘Argo,’ ‘Les Mis’ win at Golden Globes B

en Affleck got some vindication and Jodie Foster made a revelation at the Golden Globe Awards. Affleck’s “Argo” earned him best motion picture drama and director honors at Sunday night’s ceremony. The awards came just a few days after Affleck was surprisingly omitted from the best-director category at the Academy Award nominations. Affleck also stars in the real-life drama as the CIA operative who orchestrated a daring rescue of six American embassy employees during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. These wins seem to shake up the Oscar race, in which Steven Spielberg’s stately, historical epic “Lincoln” was looking like a juggernaut. Despite seven Golden Globe nominations, “Lincoln” earned just one award: best actor for Daniel Day-

retiring from acting but then backpedaled a bit backstage. Foster was this year’s recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, which is announced beforehand and is usually a pretty respectful and predictable part of the evening. But the 50-year-old Oscar-winner for “The

Silence of the Lambs” and “The Accused,” who’s been protective of her private life and reluctant to discuss her sexual orientation, used this opportunity to speak from the heart in a rambling and emotional speech that confirmed what long had been an open secret. The veteran actress seized control of what is every year a noisy, boozy ballroom; the crowd of A-listers quickly quieted down as it became apparent that she had something serious and important to say. She was coy at first, suggesting she had a big announcement that would make her publicist nervous. (At this point, the audio inexplicably dropped out of the NBC broadcast, even though nothing off-color was said.) Then she stated: “I’m just going to put it out there, loud and proud ... I am, uh, single,” pausing

Photo shows Ben Affleck, with his award for best director for “Argo”, left, and presenter Halle Berry.

Eric Fellner, center, on stage with the cast and crew of ‘Les Miserables’ after the film won for best musical or comedy. told reporters. “If you can’t be happy with that, your prospects for long-term happiness are pretty dim. “I also didn’t get the acting nomination,” he added, getting a big laugh. “No one is saying I got snubbed there.” On the television side, “Game Change” and “Homeland” were the big

List of winners

Anne Hathaway with her award for best supporting actress in a motion picture for her role in ‘Les Miserables’. Lewis’ intense, richly detailed portrayal of Abraham Lincoln as he fought for passage of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery. Spielberg’s film heads into the Feb 24 Academy Awards with a leading 12 nominations. The other big winner of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s honors was “Les Miserables.” Based on the international musical sensation and Victor Hugo’s novel of strife and redemption in 19th century France, it won best picture musical or comedy, best actor for Hugh Jackman and best supporting actress for Anne Hathaway. “Honestly, I would have played a musket, so I’m thrilled I got to sing a really good song,” Hathaway joked backstage. She belts out the dramatic “I Dreamed a Dream” as the doomed prostitute Fantine. But perhaps the biggest news of the night was from Foster, who came out without really coming out and suggested she was

MOTION PICTURES Picture, Drama: “Argo.” Picture, Musical or Comedy: “Les Miserables.” Actor, Drama: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln.” Actress, Drama: Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty.” Director: Ben Affleck, “Argo.” Actor, Musical or Comedy: Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables.” Actress, Musical or Comedy: Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook.” Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained.” Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables.” Foreign Language: “Amour.” Animated Film: “Brave.” Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained.” Original Score: Mychael Danna, “Life of Pi.” Original Song: “Skyfall” (music and lyrics by Adele and Paul Epworth), “Skyfall.” TELEVISION Series, Drama: “Homeland.” Series, Musical or Comedy: “Girls.” Actress, Drama: Claire Danes, “Homeland.” Actor, Drama: Damian Lewis, “Homeland.” Actress, Musical or Comedy: Lena Dunham, “Girls.” Actor, Musical or Comedy: Don Cheadle, “House of Lies.” Miniseries or Movie: “Game Change.” Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Julianne Moore, “Game Change.” Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Kevin Costner, “Hatfields & McCoys.” Supporting Actress, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey.” Supporting Actor, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Ed Harris, “Game Change.” Previously announced: Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award: Jodie Foster. —AP

Jessica Chastain poses with the award for best performance by an actress in a motion picture - drama for ‘Zero Dark Thirty’.

Singer Adele poses in the press room with her best original song in a motion picture award for ‘Skyfall’.

Director Mark Andrews, winner of Best Animated Film for “Brave,” poses in the press room. for dramatic effect before that last word. “I hope you’re not disappointed that there won’t be a big coming-out speech tonight. I already did my coming-out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age.” She also made it sound as if this would be her last time on stage, but clarified for reporters afterward: “I could never stop acting. You’d have to drag me behind a team of horses. I’d like to be directing tomorrow. I’m more into it than I have ever been.” Among the other multiple winners of the night, “Django Unchained,” Quentin Tarantino’s spaghetti Western-blaxploitation mashup, earned two awards: for supporting actor Christoph Waltz as a charismatic bounty hunter and for Tarantino’s script. The writer-director thanked his friends for letting him read scenes to them as he works through his scripts. “You guys

Jennifer Lawrence, winner of Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) for ‘The Silver Linings Playbook’ poses backstage. don’t know how important you are to my process,” he said. But he added: “I don’t want input. I don’t want you to tell me if I’m doing anything wrong. Heavens forbid.” “Zero Dark Thirty,” which also has been a major contender throughout awards season, earned Jessica Chastain a best-actress Globe for her portrayal of a driven CIA operative at the center of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. That film’s director, Kathryn Bigelow, also was left out of the best-director category at the Academy Awards even though it’s up for best picture - a result of having nine best-picture nominees and only five best-director slots. Looking ahead to how the wins for “Argo” might change the Oscar race, Affleck said backstage he tries not to handicap those kinds of things. “We got nominated for seven Oscars,” he

winners with three awards apiece. “Game Change,” the made-for-HBO movie about 2008 vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, won for best motion picture or miniseries made for television, best actress for Julianne Moore and best supporting actor for Ed Harris’ portrayal of John McCain. “Homeland” was named best TV drama series, and its stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis received the dramatic acting awards. Co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, longtime friends and collaborators, had playfully snarky fun with several members of the audience including Taylor Swift, Day-Lewis, Bigelow and even former President Bill Clinton, who arrived on stage to rock-star applause when he introduced “Lincoln” as one of the best-picture nominees. Fey and Poehler were also competing against each other for best actress in a TV comedy series, Fey for “30 Rock” and Poehler for “Parks and Recreation.” Neither won. Lena Dunham claimed the comedy series Globe for “Girls.” After that, Fey and Poehler showed up on stage with cocktail glasses, with Fey joking that it was time to start drinking. “Everyone’s getting a little loose now that we’re all losers,” Poehler said. Poehler’s final words also referred back to the biggest moment of the night. She cracked as she was signing off: “We’re going home with Jodie Foster!” —AP

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino, winner for Best Screenplay - Motion Picture for ‘Django Unchained’, poses in the press room.

Hugh Jackman, winner of Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) for ‘Les Miserables,’ poses in the press room.

Daniel Day-Lewis, winner of Best Actor in a Motion Picture (Drama) for ‘Lincoln.’

Director Michael Haneke poses in the press room with his Best Foreign Language film award for ‘Amour’.

Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman, from left to right, pose with the award for best motion picture comedy or musical for ‘Les Miserables’.


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Mychael Danna with his award for best original score for the film, ’Life of Pi.’

Don Cheadle poses in the press room with his Best performance by an actor in a television comedy or musical series award for ‘House of Lies’.

Claire Danes with her award for best actress in a TV drama series for her role in ‘Homeland’.

Julianne Moore poses with her Best performance by an actress in a mini-series or motion picture made for television award for ‘Game Change’.

Damian Lewis poses with the award for best performance by an actor in a television series - drama for ‘Homeland’.

Kevin Costner with his award for best actor in a mini-series or TV movie for his role in ‘Hatfields & McCoys.’

Lena Dunham poses in the press room with her Best performance by an actress in a television comedy or musical series award for ‘Girls’.

Lena Dunham, second right, accepting the award for best TV comedy series for ‘Girls.’

Christoph Waltz, winner of the best supporting actor in a film for his role in ‘Django,’ shows on stage.

CO-hosts Fey, Poehler:

The night’s big winners?

This image released by NBC shows Executive Producer Howard Gordon, foreground, accepting the award for best TV drama series for ‘Homeland’ .

Jay Roach, second left, accepting the award for best mini-series or TV Movie for his film, ‘Game Change’.

Co-hosts Tina Fey, left, and Amy Poehler.


he Golden Globe’s shrewdest choices may not have had anything to do with those nominated for awards. At midpoint in Sunday’s broadcast, Amy Poehler and Tina Fey were poised to be the night’s big winners. For their roles as co-hosts. Poehler had promised not to be “edgy or offensive tonight,” as past host Ricky Gervais had been in many viewers’ eyes. “Because as Ricky learned the hard way, when you run afoul of the Hollywood Foreign Press, they make you host this show two more times,” Poehler said. She and Fey weren’t edgy or offensive. Just charming, irreverent and hilarious. That should be grounds for having to host the Globes two more times - at least. — AP

Presenters Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell

Presenters Amanda Seyfried and Robert Pattinson

Co-hosts Tina Fey, left, and Amy Poehler on stage.

presenters Lucy Liu and Debra Messing

Presenters Salma Hayek and Paul Rudd

Presenters Jessica Alba and Keifer Sutherland

Presenters Don Cheadle and Eva Longoria

Presenters Jennifer Lopez and Jason Statham

Bill Clinton gets a standing ovation at Golden Globes


ho can seize the rapt attention of a room full of A-list movie and TV stars? Try a former US president. When the glitterati gathered at Sunday’s Golden Globe awards heard the surprise introduction of

Former President Bill Clinton introducing best picture nominee ‘Lincoln’.

Bill Clinton, they leaped to their feet and roared their welcome. No, this wasn’t some joke, a comedy spoof by co-hosts Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. Here in person was the 42nd president, whose appearance brought a smile to George Clooney’s face, caused “Girls” star Lena Dunham to wear a look of startled pleasure and inspired a salute from Steven Spielberg. Once the room settled down, Clinton got down to business: Describing one of the nominated films, the Spielberg-directed “Lincoln,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis as the beloved 16th president. “A tough fight to push a bill through a bitterly divided House of Representatives: Winning it required the president to make a lot of unsavory deals that had nothing to do with the big issue.” A little shrug. “I wouldn’t know anything about that,” Clinton said. His audience laughed. President Abraham Lincoln’s struggle to abolish slavery “reminds us that enduring progress is forged in a cauldron of both principle and compromise,” Clinton went on. This film “shows us how he did it, and gives us hope that we can do it

Presenters Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger

Presenters Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno

Presenters Kate Hudson and Bradley Cooper

Presenters Jason Bateman and Aziz Ansari

Presenters John Krasinski and Kristen Bell

Presenters Nathan Fillion and Lea Michele

Jodie Foster comes out as gay at Golden Globes


ollywood actress Jodie Foster confirmed long-running speculation that she is gay by coming out at the Golden Globes awards on Sunday, but joked she wouldn’t be holding a news conference to discuss her private life. The notoriously private Foster stunned the audience of stars and Hollywood powerbrokers as she accepted a life-time achievement awarded by announcing she was now single. “Seriously, I hope that you’re not disappointed that there won’t be a big-coming-out speech tonight,” she said, “because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age.” Foster said she had always been up front with trusted friends and family about her sexual orientation. “But now apparently, I’m told that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference...that’s just not me,” she said. Foster, 50, then talked to her “ex-partner in love” Sidney Bernard, from whom she recently split, and their two sons in the audience. “Thank you Sid, I am so proud of our modern family, our amazing sons,” Foster said. Over the years, Foster had come under withering criticism from the gay community for not

publicly recognizing she was gay. The two-time best actress Oscar winner for “The Silence of the Lambs” and “The Accused” said she had valued her privacy because of her early acting career, which started at the age of three. —Reuters

Jodie Foster, recipient of the Cecil B. Demille Award

‘Argo,’ ‘Les Mis’ win at Golden Globes



London rapper, Chip poses with wax figures of US rappers The Notorious B I G, P Diddy and Tupac Shakur at Madame Tussauds in central London yesterday to launch a new exhibit featuring the four wax East and West Coast US rappers. —AFP

Miss America journeys from small town to big city F

rom a hometown of 26,000 people to an adopted home borough of 2.6 million, Miss America’s story includes a journey from a small town to the big city - but it doesn’t start there. Mallory Hagan, 23, moved from Alabama to New York City as soon as she became a legal adult, and though she says she left

because “I needed to find myself,” it turns out she knew who she wanted to be all along. “When Mallory was like 13 years old she was sitting on my deck and said, ‘Miss Tina, my goal is one day I’d like to grow up to be Miss America,’” said Tina Gunnels, a neighbor from Opelika, Ala, on Sunday. “She accomplished that goal.”

Miss New York, Mallory Hagan, right, reacts with Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers as she is crowned Miss America 2013 on Saturday in Las Vegas. —AP

Miss New York Mallory Hagan waves after she was crowned Miss America 2013. —AP

Hagan took the crown Saturday night after tap dancing to a James Brown tune, deftly answering a question about gun violence in schools and raising the issue of child sexual abuse in her contestant platform. “I genuinely understand the hardships the average woman faces,” having gone to school and working full time before winning Miss New York and clinching the Miss America crown, Hagan said in an appearance yesterday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I understand what it’s like to do all these things day-to-day and still maintain a healthy lifestyle,” she added. Hagan, who resides in New York’s most-populous borough of Brooklyn, said after her victory that she was sure someone else would take the top prize, even after she made it to the final two contestants. She said she was standing on the stage thinking, “They’re going to get another first runner-up photo of me.” Her father was not nearly so modest. “We’re super excited, super exhilarated, super proud of her,” Phil Hagan said in an interview with The Associated Press backstage immediately after his daughter’s victory. “We’re not extremely surprised, either.” Mallory Hagan, however, has been competing on the pageant circuit for a decade and nearly aged out of the system without ever having won at a state or national level. The Miss America competition accepts contestants between the ages of 17 and 24. Hagan says she moved to New York on her own at 18 years old with less than $1,000 in her pocket. She tried for the Miss New York title in 2010 and 2011 before winning last year. The transition wasn’t always easy. “The struggle was vast,” she said. “There were days when I had five bucks in my pocket. And I would push that $5” between subway fare and meal money. But the decision was one she felt compelled to make. “I just knew that the energy of NYC was something that I really loved,” she told the AP after her victory. “I was always a little

more liberal-thinking than my hometown. And I just knew that I needed to get out for a little bit, and I needed to find myself.” Hagan said it was her mother who encouraged her to address the problem of child sex abuse, which had “rippled through” her family. Hagan’s mother, Mandy Moore, was overcome with emotion and wiped tears away as she spoke. “It’s very overwhelming,” she said. “It’s all hitting me so fast.” Hagan said she will work to make education to prevent child abuse mandatory in all 50 states. “What’s wonderful about the Miss America organization, it’s so education oriented. So it’s my job this year to educate and advocate” on the issue of child sexual abuse, Hagan said on GMA. Also working against Hagan was her final question, should schools hire armed guards in the wake of the Newtown, Conn, shooting. Conventional wisdom holds that contestants who receive questions about contentious topics are less likely to win. But Hagan said she didn’t panic. “I’m not sure that it came out as eloquently as I would have liked it to, but my views remain the same: It’s never OK to fight violence with violence.” She also said she was looking forward to traveling as a Miss America. “I haven’t traveled a whole lot outside the U.S., outside my one trip to Africa this summer,” Hagan said. With crown, she receives a $50,000 college scholarship and a year as an instant celebrity and role model. She defeated Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers, who took second, and Miss Oklahoma Alicia Clifton, who finished third. Hagan has always been “very independent,” said Gunnels, who describes herself as a “neighborhood mom” in the old railroad town near Auburn University. “I think she willed this to happen,” said Gunnels. “She’s just that determined. Who would have that that a girl from Opelika, Alabama, would ever do that?” Moore is based in Phoenix. Jay Reeves contributed from Birmingham, Ala, and Deepti Hajela from New York City. —AP

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet artist Paul Emsley after viewing the newly-commissioned portrait of The Duchess of Cambridge at the National Portrait Gallery in central London, Friday. —AP

Prince William and Kate’s baby due in July


he former Kate Middleton is due to give birth to her first baby in July, and her health is improving after a bout of severe morning sickness, palace officials said yesterday. The child of Kate and Prince William will be third in line to the British throne. The 31year-old Duchess of Cambridge, as she is formally known, spent several days in the hospital last month being treated for acute morning sickness. She has since resumed public appearances, and looked healthy at the unveiling of an official portrait last week. The palace said in a statement that “the duchess’s condition continues

to improve.” It said the two “are delighted to confirm they are expecting a baby in July.” The announcement by the couple’s St James’s Palace office lays to rest speculation that the duchess could be having twins. The palace would not comment on whether the baby is a boy or a girl. The British government is changing centuries-old succession laws to ensure that a royal daughter will have the same claim to the throne as a son. —AP

In Mexico, hundreds strip off for ‘No Pants Subway Ride’

Justin Timberlake releases new song ‘Suit and Tie’


r “SexyBack” is back. Justin Timberlake released his new single, “Suit and Tie,” late Sunday night. It features rapper Jay-Z. The upbeat jam is the 31-year-old’s first musical offering since 2006’s critically acclaimed “FutureSex/LoveSounds.” His third solo album, “The 20/20 Experience,” will be out later this year. In a letter posted on his website, Timberlake said he began recording music in June. He wrote that the “inspiration for this really came out of the blue.” Timberlake co-wrote and co-produced “Suit and Tie” with Timbaland, who produced much of the Grammy-winning “FutureSex/LoveSounds.” The buzz around the pop star’s return to music kicked off Friday when he posted a video on his website that showed him walking into a studio, putting on headphones and saying: “I’m ready.” —AP


People ride a subway train during the worldwide ‘No Pants Subway Ride’ event in Mexico City. —AFP

undreds of people in Mexico City doffed all but their smalls to take part in the “No Pants Subway Ride” being observed Sunday, just for laughs, around the world. Young and old, men, women and children got in on the 12th annual round of the prank held once a year in 50 cities, the well-ventilated movement said on its website. It was the third time people in Mexico City lost their trousers and skirts to partake in the underground underwear fun. —AFP

15 Jan  

Kuwait Times

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