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Pledges to stricken Syrians exceed $1.5bn Kuwait pledges $300m aid • Ban decries ‘horrors’ in Syria

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KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pose with Arab leaders and officials for a group photo prior to the opening ceremony of the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria at Bayan Palace yesterday. Sheikh Sabah (inset left) and Ban (inset right) speak during the conference. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat and AP (See Page 2)

• Iran slams backing ‘terrorist’ groups • UN denies aid reaching Syria regime KUWAIT: International donors yesterday pledged more than the targeted $1.5 billion in aid for stricken Syrians, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said, warning of a “catastrophic” situation in the war-torn country. “I am pleased to announce that pledges have exceeded the target... more than $1.5 billion have been pledged including the $184 million pledged by non-governmental organisations,” Ban told a news conference in Kuwait. “The exact amount of the pledges are being calculated,” said the secretary general. “This is the largest response ever to a humanitarian pledging conference.” Host Kuwait was first to make a pledge, offering $300 million, followed by similar promises from other oil-rich Gulf states - Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. “Due to the great sufferings of the Syrian people and to help ensure the success of the conference, I announce the Kuwaiti donation of $300 million for the Syrian peo-

Iran and Hezb threat rising WASHINGTON: Iran’s elite Quds Force and Hezbollah militants are learning from a series of botched terror attacks over the past two years and pose a growing threat to the US and other Western targets as well as Israel, a prominent counterterrorism expert says. Operating both independently and together, the militant groups are escalating their activities around the world, fueling worries in the US that they increasingly have the ability and the willingness to attack the US, according to a report by Matthew Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Studies. His report points to two attacks last year - one successful and one foiled by US authorities - as indications that the militants are adapting and are determined to take revenge on the West for efforts to disrupt Tehran’s nuclear program and other perceived offenses. The report’s conclusions expand on comments late Manssor Arbabsiar last year from US terrorism officials who told Congress that the Quds Force and Hezbollah, which often coordinate efforts, have become “a significant source of concern” for the US. The Quds Force is an elite wing of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, the defenders of Iran’s ruling clerics and their hold on power. The report comes amid ongoing tensions between Iran and the West, including a persistent stalemate over scheduling six-party talks on Tehran’s nuclear program and anger over reports that the US and Israel were behind the Stuxnet computer attack that forced the temporary shutdown of thousands of centrifuges at an Iranian nuclear facility in 2010. More than 20 terror attacks by Hezbollah or Quds Force operatives were thwarted around the world between May 2011 Continued on Page 13

ple,” HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said as he opened the one-day International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria. Sheikh Sabah said that “horrifying reports” from Syria are a “cause for concern over the security of Syria, its future... and over the security and future of the region.” He held the Damascus regime responsible for the tragic situation which he said resulted from its “rejection of the just popular demands and of Arab and international initiatives”. Addressing the gathering, Ban had called for urgent financial aid, warning that if funds were not forthcoming “more Syrians will die”. “The situation in Syria is catastrophic,” he said as he urged all parties to the conflict to “stop the killings”. Ban said that based on UN reports half of Syria’s hospitals and a quarter of its schools had been destroyed, and other vital infrastructure had been Continued on Page 3

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Israel hits Syria arms convoy to Lebanon BEIRUT: Israeli forces attacked a convoy on the Syrian-Lebanese border yesterday, sources told Reuters, after Israelis warned their Lebanese enemy Hezbollah against using chaos in Syria to acquire anti-aircraft missiles or chemical weapons. “The target was a truck loaded with weapons, heading from Syria to Lebanon,” said one Western diplomat, adding that the consignment seemed unlikely to have included chemical weapons. A source among rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said an air strike around dawn (0430 GMT) blasted a convoy on a mountain track about 5 km south of where the main DamascusBeirut highway crosses the border. Its load probably included high-tech antiaircraft and anti-tank missiles. “It attacked trucks carrying sophisticated weapons from the regime to Hezbollah,” the source said, adding that it took place inside Syria, though the border is poorly defined in the area. A security official in the region also placed the attack on the Syrian side. A Lebanese security official denied any strike in Lebanon. It was not clear whether special forces took part. The Israeli government declined comment on the issue. Such a strike would fit its existing policy of pre -emptive covert and overt action to curb Iranian-backed Hezbollah and does not necessarily indicate a major escalation of the war in Syria. It does, however, indicate how the erosion of Assad’s family rule after 42 years is seen

by Israel as posing a threat. Some analysts suggested Hezbollah was moving its own arms caches from stores in Syria, fearing rebels would overrun them. Though Israel this week echoed concerns in the United States about Syrian chemical weapons, officials say a more immediate worry is that the civil war could see weapons that are capable of denting its massive superiority in airpower and tanks from reaching Hezbollah; the group fought Israel in 2006 and remains a more pressing threat than its Syrian and Iranian sponsors. Yesterday’s strike could have been a rapid response to an opportunity. But a stream of Israeli comment on Syria in recent days was a reminder of a standing policy of pre-emptive strikes and may have been intended to limit surprise in world capitals. The head of the Israeli air force said only hours before the strike that his corps, which has an array of the latest jet bombers, attack helicopters and unmanned drones at its disposal, was involved in a covert “campaign between wars”. “This campaign is 24/7, 365 days a year,” Major-General Amir Eshel told a conference on Tuesday. “We are taking action to reduce the immediate threats, to create better conditions in which we will be able to win the wars, when they happen.” In Israel, where media operate under military censorship, broadcasters immediately relayed international reports of the strike. Channel Two television quoted Continued on Page 13

NEW YORK: BlackBerry (formerly Research in Motion) CEO Thorsten Heins officially unveils the BlackBerry 10 mobile platform as well as two new devices yeterday at Pier 36. — AFP

RIM changes its name, unveils BlackBerry 10 NEW YORK: BlackBerry launched its comeback effort yesterday with a revamped platform and a pair of sleek new handsets, along with a company name change as part of a move to reinvent the smartphone maker. Canadianbased Research in Motion said it changed its name to BlackBerry as it launched the BlackBerry 10, the new platform aimed at helping the firm

regain traction in a market now dominated by rivals. “ From this point forward RIM becomes BlackBerry,” chief executive Thorsten Heins told a glitzy unveiling in New York, one of six global events for the launch. “It is one brand, it is one promise.” The company presented two new devices for its new platform, one with a Continued on Page 13



Kuwait urges UN to end Syrians’ suffering

KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad is seen with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the opening ceremony of the conference held in Kuwait to help Syrian refugees. (Right) The Amir in discussion with Jordanian King Abdullah during the conference session. KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yesterday announced $300 million pledge for the Syrian people, and appealed for UNSC members to overcome their “disappointing” positions and end suffering of the Syrian people. Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, at the inauguration of the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, said the UN Security Council (UNSC) members should overcome their differences and end the daily suffering of the Syrian people in and outside their

(Above) HH the Amir with Tunisian President Mohammed Moncef AlMarzouqi and the Crown Prince of Bahrain Sheikh Salman bin Hamad AlKhalifa (top).

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman

country. “The UN and particularly the Security council, which is the body commissioned with the conservation of international peace and security, are required, after almost two years have passed since the beginning of the crisis, to hurry to unite their ranks and overcome some of the disappointing positions, to find a quick solution for this tragey,” said Sheikh Sabah. The UNSC members should “put in their minds the daily suffering of the Syrian people and the pain of refugees and dislocates in their consciences, while discussing the developments of this human tragedy, and put any other considerations aside when making their decisions, as history will stand judgement on the Security Council’s role in this tragedy,” said the Amir of Kuwait. Sheikh Sabah said the State of Kuwait have not spared any effort since the eruption of the Syrian conflict to provide humanitarian aid to the Syrian people. He noted that Kuwaiti associations specializing in relief and medical works have contributed some USD 60 million to help alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people. Sheikh Sabah, meanwhile, regretted failure of the international envoys to end the Syrian conflict. The UNSC appointed former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as a special representative of the UN and the Arab League, but he resigned after his mediations reached a deadend. The UNSC then appointed Lakhdar Brahimi as special envoy. The Algerian veteran diplomat is still working on bridging the gaps between the UNSC members to end the Syrian conflict. “We deeply regret the lack of success of all their sincere efforts and ... ideas and plans, which if approved would have stopped the suffering and pain of the Syrian people and its escalation to this horrible level that we are currently witnessing,” said the Kuwaiti Amir.

Sheikh Sabah said the Pledging Conference was being held while the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria was escalated further. “The numbers of dead are multiplying, and destruction has become the main feature of every neighborhood in Syria, without exception,” he said. Sheikh Sabah said “we follow with total sadness and sorrow” the bloody developments in Syria which was not only undermining the security and terrotirial integrity of Syria and its people, but the security and stability of the region. “We were terrified by the latest report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which confirmed that more than 60,000 innocent victims of men, women and children have falled dead, and that the numbers of missing persons, detainees and injured have multiplied and have reached several hundred thousands, in addition to more than 600,000 refugees in neighboring countries, who are suffering tragic living conditions under harsh weather conditions,” he said. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees are now in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey. Sheikh Sabbah praised the four countries for their giant humanitarian service for the Syrian refugees. The Amir of Kuwait called for the coordination of provision of relief supplies for the Syrian people in and outside their country. He noted that a report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) showed that the farming sector in Syria has been devastated and its reconstruction would take a very long time. He said Syria’s wheat production was damaged by 50 percent and the farmers were suffering from lack of security and fuel. This, added the Kuwaiti Amir, compel the international community to work by full force and and to work fully to stop the bloodshed in Syria. — KUNA

Amir’s pledge to Syria encourages more donations KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s $300 million pledge for Syrian refugees has encouraged other countries to pledge further financial resources to help alleviate suffering of the Syrian people, a senior Kuwaiti official said yesterday. Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Mustafa Al-Shimali highlighted Sheikh Sabah’s praise of Syria’s neighboring countries for their generous services they were providing for the Syrian refugees. Al-Shimali was speaking on sidelines of the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria. He said Sheikh Sabah, in his speech, reflected the pain and needs of the Syrian people. The International Pledging Conference, said AlShimali, aimed at supporting the humanitarian needs in Syria and to try to reach the $1.5 billion target set by the UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon. “The pledges of the countries for the Syrian people will be delivered through the UN organizations and specialized agencies, and the timetable of the delivery will be set by the UN,” he said. Meanwhile, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, E. Ahmed said , “We are present here to express support to the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people, arising out of the continuous violence and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situ-

ation in Syria.” He referred to the importance of Syrian in the Middle East, and its active role in the Middle East peace process, therefore the instability in the country would result in serious outcomes on the region. “India is committed to extend sympathy and support to the Syrian people, I am glad to announce at the conference that my government pledges $ 2.5 million towards humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria, in the form of medicine, food and other essential times required by the people of Syria.” Meanwhile, China’s Ambassador to China, Cui Jianchun, called upon the international community to pledge in aid of the Syrian people, to help them during such difficult times. He added, his country had presented through the International Committee of the Red Cross $2 million, and urgent humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan worth $4.8 million. The Ambassador said that his country will present USD one million as urgent aid for the UNHCR, and $200, 000 for the International Organization for Migration (ION) in Turkey and Jordan. Brazil, for its part, pledged $250,000 for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) activities to help the Syrian people. Carlos Ricardo, director of the Middle East

department at the foreign ministry, said that Brazil in the past donated three installments of $120, 000 to support UNHCR’s activities in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. Ricardo said during this winter over four million people in Syria were in need of assistance. The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) exceeded two million. “We must provide the UN system with the necessary resources for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to mitigate this tragedy,” he said, and it was equally important that all actors in the conflict allowed humanitarian assistance to reach those in need. Brazil, said Ricardo, supported UNArab League special representative to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi’s endeavors to end the bloodshed and loss of lives. The EU and several European countries announced here on Wednesday their commitment to Syrians displaced inside and outside of their country amid nearly two years of political fighting in that country with some making renewed pledges to support the efforts. EU Commissioner for International cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response, Kristalina Georgieva, expressed on Wednesday her deep sorrow for the tragic situation in Syria, stating that no political solution is in sight, fearing

that for the Syrian people the worst is still to come. “This is why it is crucial today for all of us who have the means to help to do our best, to give generously in support of the Syrian people,” The EU commissioner said during the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, hosted by Kuwait. “We in europe are always firmly on the side of the most vulnerable people, this is where we have been in syria since the civil war began. We have already provided USD 460 million, more than half of all humanitarian assistance, USD 134 million from the European Commission, USD 326 million from our members states,” she said. “For the first months of 2013 we pledge USD 370 million, USD 136 million from the European Commission, USD 234 million from member states, with the most notable pledges from the UK, Italy, Sweden and Germany. This does not include other sources of funding such as economic support for countries in the region or special measures for Syrian civil society, which amounts to more than USD 240 million per year,” she added. UK’s Secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening speaking at the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, said “The United Kingdom pledges BP 50 million (USD 79 million)

as a measure of our unwavering support for the UN appeals”, “This is in addition to the funding I announced in Jordan on Saturday, and represents a doubling of our humanitarian support for Syria and the region - a total of BP 139.5 million (USD 219 million). Greening went on to stress the need to secure the basic needs of Syrians caught in the fighting in their country, some of whom have fled to neighboring countries. “We must ensure they are warm, sheltered and fed until they feel safe enough to return home. We must ensure coordinated humanitarian aid reaches the Syrian people by all available routes, including agreed cross-line and cross-border work. “We need to support the refugees that have sought sanctuary outside of Syria, and ensure host countries are able to maintain their tremendous generosity and keep their borders open,” she said. The French delegation, on its part, announced a new combined pledge to international humanitarian efforts of EUR 7.4 million ($10 million). The amount is being distributed through three channels, namely EUR 3.5 million to the UN response plan - precisely the High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme - the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Syrian relief organizations.—- KUNA

(Left) General view of the conference session held in Kuwait to pledge donations for Syrian refugees affected by the ongoing war in Syria. (Right) Arab League chief Nabil Al-Arabi.



Farmers seek compensation as frost damages vegetables Call for taking preventive measures By Ben Garcia KUWAIT: About 60 to 70 percent of some farms in Wafra were affected or damaged by the severe frost in the past few weeks in some areas of Kuwait. The frost spoiled tens of tons of tomatoes, potatoes and

other vegetables and caused heavy losses to the farmers. A number of farm owners affected by the frost said they were waiting for the government and the National Assembly Council to compensate them for the heavy losses that they have incurred. They said in the previous years, whenever there were losses due to frost, the agriculture authority offered them compensation. According to Dr Jose Kaitharath, an agriculturist at AlFaisaliya Farm, the damage wreaked by the heavy frost was too heavy in some of the farms. “Yes, I can confirm the damage sustained due to heavy frost in Wafra Farms. Certain farms sustained at least 70 percent losses although we cannot give the exact figure as yet, which the government will,” Dr Kaitharath told the Kuwait Times. He admitted though that his farm did not suffer such heavy losses. “We did not experience any heavy losses this time because we had introduced a much better irrigation system on our farm. I believe such weather related catastrophes could be prevented if farmers or farm owners knew the

weather forecast for the day. Since the frost only stays for a few hours or even minutes, one can take certain preventive measures just like we did, and avoid such heavy losses,” he said. “In Holland and certain other European countries, they easily prevent damage during such phenomena because they know when it is going to happen and they are well prepared. They use materials like insulation sheets to cover their fields. Such a system can be adopted here and it could help our farmers a lot,” Dr Kaitharath stressed. Asked whether the Kuwaiti government has given them compensation for frost losses, he said, “They promised to do so but in our case in Al-Faisaliya, for the last two years, we have not received any compensation for the frost losses. I remember our farm submitted the frost loss figures for the last two years, but so far nothing has happened.” “In our case, we have already made our own arrangements but there are many farms which have not done so. I also want to stress that most of the damage was sustained in the open fields but little


in brief

KUWAIT: Frost veggies in Kuwaiti farms. These photos are used for illustrative purposes only. damage happens in the greenhouses. Of course, tomatoes remain susceptible to frost damage even inside the greenhouses,” he added. Dr Jose mentioned that there were many techniques nowadays to help prevent frost damage. “In case of newly planted potatoes, for example, there could be no reason to spoil the broth but if these are

almost ready to be harvested, they can withstand the frost and you can still good quality crop even after the frost,” he mentioned. Wafra is located at the southernmost tip of Kuwait. It is part of Kuwait’s Fifth District and is well known for its fertile soil and farms. Wafra is known for farming and farm animal breeding. Wafra Farms are fed by the underground lakes.

Hiking gpa required for future teachers a possibility: Hajraf LONDON: There are calls and debates at present on raising the grade point average required for enrollment at university faculties where graduates are to later work as teachers, out of belief that only a qualified and professional individual can fulfill the requirements of such a noble profession as that of an educator, said the visiting Kuwaiti minister of education yesterday. In remarks on the sidelines of the Education World Forum, Minister Nayef Al-Hajraf, elaborating on status of the sector in Kuwait, argued that even with the best curricula and textbooks, the education process would not bring about desired results without adequately equipped and qualified teachers who believe in the profession. Al-Hajraf said he also sees more cooperation between families and care-takers and school administration as vital to bringing about graduates with proper background and qualifications to serve the country in their fields of choice. Another point he believes in is the rehabilitation of graduates of physics,

chemistry, and mathematics to join and support teaching staff in science departments. The minister noted taking part in this annual event is of great benefit. Several successful examples are discussed on topics such as teacher qualification, use of technology, and involving families in the shaping of educational policies. To a question on education spending in Kuwait, he said that “one reason why output does not come close to matching the hefty Education Ministr y budget, some KD 1.6 billion, is that 70 percent of the sum goes into extracurricular and sideline activities. This imbalance is a serious one and its ramifications stand in the way of the quality education we aspire to.” The Ministry of Education is a colossal institution which groups staff from various specializations and employs over 105,000 people at present, managing 850 schools across the country, he remarked. “Such weighty resources must be utilized more productively and with better governance if we are to see the reflection of spending on overall education quality,” he stressed. The ongoing annual summit

LONDON: Kuwaiti Education Minister Nayef Al-Hajraf attending the Education World Forum yesterday. for national ministers of education and and is a closed event by official invitation their immediate delegations is the inter- only. Representatives from over 70 counnationally recognized ministerial forum tries were tak ing par t in the 2013 for debating future practice in education debates. —KUNA

Pledges to stricken Syrians exceed $1.5bn Continued from Page 1 badly affected. He stressed that humanitarian assistance alone would not resolve the crisis, which he said required a political solution. “Every day Syrians face unrelenting horrors,” Ban said, adding these included sexual violence and arbitrary killings.”We cannot go on like this.... He should listen to the voices and cries of so many people,” he said. “I appeal to all sides and particularly the Syrian government to stop the killing ... in the name of humanity, stop the killing, stop the violence.” Bahrain said it would offer $20 million while the German foreign ministry in a statement pledged around Ä10 million ($13.5 million). UN humanitarian aid chief Valerie Amos said that three million Syrians have fled their homes and at least 2.3 million need basic help. She said that $519 million of the funds to be raised are needed to assist those most affected by the conflict. King Abdullah II of Jordan and Lebanese President Michel Sleiman both called at the conference for more aid to cope with increasing numbers of Syrian refugees in their respective countries. The United States on Tuesday promised another $155 million to aid refugees fleeing the deadly conflict. International medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has criticised the current international aid system which it said is “not being distributed equally between government and opposition controlled areas.” The opposition Syrian National Coalition said last week it would pressure the United Nations to stop the delivery of any form of aid to official Syrian institutions. Amos yesterday denied that part of the aid money goes to the regime, but agreed that several rebel-held areas were still out of reach. The Syrian regime tightly monitors aid groups it authorises to work on its soil. The UN refugee agency said on Tuesday that there has been a steep rise in the number of Syrian refugees over the past few weeks and their number has now surpassed 700,000. UN humanitarian operations director John Ging warned ahead of the conference that the United Nations will be forced to cut

already reduced food rations to hundreds of thousands of Syrians unless a huge cash injection is found. The United Nations says that more than 60,000 people have been killed in Syria’s 22month conflict, which erupted in March 2011 with peaceful protests but morphed into an armed insurgency after a harsh regime crackdown. Amos said the distribution of aid has met great difficulties because of the security situation inside the country, and acknowledged that the world body has been unable to reach all opposition-controlled areas. “There have been parts of Syria that we have not been able to reach. We all regret that and we need to do more working with the groups on the ground, particularly the opposition groups,” she said. Amos said that about 48 percent of the food aid was delivered to “opposition-controlled and disputed areas”. But a senior Iranian official said yesterday that those backing “terrorist” groups are responsible for the fighting and killings in Syria, as he repeated Tehran’s support of the Syrian regime. “Iran believes that the cause of the Syrian crisis is the sending of arms to terrorist groups into Syria by some countries,” Amir Hussein Abdullahian, the Iranian foreign ministry’s undersecretary for Arab and African affairs, told a press conference in Kuwait. “Those who send arms into Syria are responsible for the killings,” said Abdullahian headed Tehran’s delegation to the donors conference.Abdullahian said the Islamic republic fully supports Assad and his latest peace proposal and “believes that a political solution through national dialogue is the only way to resolve the Syrian crisis”. He added that Tehran “has always asked the Syrian government not to commit any acts of violence against the people.” Abdullahian said that Iran has donated $200 million in humanitarian aid to the Syrian people and also logistical assistance to Syrian refugees in Lebanon. He further said that Iran would provide the “necessary assistance” in the form of a pledge at the Kuwait conference, without providing figures. Iran has remained steadfast in its support of the Syrian regime which is attempting to crush a revolt that erupted in March 2011. — Agencies

Kuwait media ‘one of the most open’ in Gulf region KUWAIT: Pony Allen, a media trainer at the ‘Journalists for Human Rights Organization,’ said Kuwaiti media was one of the most open and free in the region and referred to reports that indicated that Kuwait has a record of human rights which is best in the Middle East. Expressing her happiness at her visit to Kuwait, she lauded her reception. Allen conducted a training course at the invitation of the Kuwait Journalists’ Association to help the scribes improve their professional capacities, especially regarding coverage of human rights issues. She said the media has a major role to play in following human rights issues. As for her evaluation of the Kuwait media vis-‡-vis the human rights issue, she said the media here was one of the most free and open in the region, adding that it distinguished itself by its interest in human rights. She said that she referred to cases such as those connected with the Bedoons and treatment of domestic helps during her course. She said any journalist must be neutral and reflect on all aspects of the issue he brings up and must not concentrate on only one side. She said all journalists needed training in human rights issue. The journalists are supposed to be independent and not act under any pressure or supervision. She said that the relationship between a journalist and the official authorities must be that of mutual respect and aimed at opening the possibility of accessing information. She said that there should not be any criticism of the official performance without giving an opportunity to the official authorities to seek their version.

MEW water specifications KUWAIT: The Ministry of Electricity and Water (MEW ) is currently coordinating with four accredited local and international bodies to conduct a study to improve and update the specifications and quality of local fresh water to match those set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In this regard, MEW assistant undersecretary for the planning and training sector, Dr. Mesh’an Al-Otaibi, told reporters that the ministry was coordinating with WHO, EPA, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) and Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science to carry out the study to help Kuwait improve the quality of fresh water as per the latest specifications set by WHO. “This does not mean that the water we use is foul. The MEW is only keen on providing consumers with the best quality of water,” he stressed. Al-Otaibi also noted that Kuwait’s strategic reserve of fresh water was safe and adequate and was only used in cases of a halt in production or due to maintenance. Brazilian meat banned KUWAIT: Following the discovery of Foot and Mouth disease cases in various countries, the food safety committee at Kuwait municipality banned import of all kinds of meat from Brazil. The step was taken in the interest of consumers’ safety. In this regard, informed sources at Kuwait Municipality said several countries, including the KSA, Russia and Egypt had banned Brazilian meat imports for the same reason. Brazil is one of the world’s largest meat exporters. Surprise inspection visit KUWAIT: The assistant undersecretary for labor sector affairs, Jamal Al-Doussary, recently paid a surprise inspection visit to the capital labor department to check out the functioning of the various sections. The visit comes as part of the efforts of Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL) to check corruption in all labor departments and ensure smooth running of the departments. During the visit, Al-Doussary was briefed about the long queues. He also interacted with some clients and asked about the problems they face in making their transactions. Commenting on the accusations made about some clerks at the capital department receiving bribes in lieu of ensuring that transactions were done, Al-Doussary stressed that he was always ready to receive and investigate any complaint provided accusations were proved. “All violators will be referred to prosecution and will be punished in an exemplary fashion to deter any other potential violators,” said Al-Dousary, noting that the new automated system that involved each respective clerk’s fingerprint to enter the system would help check manipulation in the passwords and thus prevent hacking. He added that the password would also be changed every three days.

Attempt to distort reputation of SRS KUWAIT: The Social Reform Society (SRS) asked its lawyer to file a lawsuit against a local newspaper which repeated accusations leveled by a non-Muslim Egyptian electronic publication against the society. The society denied what an MP asked the Interior Minister about. Society Secretary General Dr. Abdallah AlAteeqi said the MP’s question was an attempt to distort the society’s reputation. He also said the MP himself did not condemn the gruesome atrocities being wreaked by the Syrian regime with Iranian and Russian support. Instead, he kept silent about the destruction of the Syrian people. Al-Ateeqi said the attempts of some people distract attention from the real dangers that threaten Kuwait and the Gulf’s security will not affect the Kuwaiti people who are aware about what was happening. He said the real danger was posed by Iran. He said the Social Reform Society will continue its reform mission and will not be deterred by false accusations.



In my view

the column

The moral dilemma

Rules of new appointments By Aziza Al-Mufarej

By Fouad Al-Obaid

C Twitter:@fouadalobaid


n old lady soliciting financial help recently approached me. In essence a beggar! I was left with two options; respond to her plight by giving her a small sum of money, or pretending, as she was not even there, ignoring her! This is not an isolated case, and perhaps many people have come across beggars in Kuwait, and throughout the world. Desperate people that don’t seem to be able to find any other mean of subsistence and resort to perhaps the most degrading and humiliating option to live: begging. Though most people that have been exposed to such situations have developed different ways to dealing with such a problem. The underlying factor that comes to play is our human empathy towards desperation, and the intrinsic realization that perhaps life has dealt them bad card, and that it could very well have been us in their shoes. Many people I would suspect, if able, would at least acknowledge their presence, and toss out a few coins, or a small bill. Begging is only but a symptom of poverty and desperation. Throughout our street roam many men that you perhaps have learnt to not ‘see’ though dressed in bright yellow! Street cleaners, maids, drivers, cooks, and an army of invisibles (people that live here but are not living). If one takes time to realize that Kuwait is filled by menial workers that barely make KD 70 if even, some make reportedly as low as KD 30 and are supposed to live off their meager income, and send some back to families counting on their monetary help. If you start to question your life and juxtapose it with such people’s lives, if you visit their dwellings or rather their small bunk-bed accommodation, a feeling of guilt is bound to overcome you! At least it seems to overcome me, and makes me question my life and spending. How do you justify spending money on luxuries when people in your vicinities are suffering unthinkable hardships? How can you enjoy life in essence when you come to realize that many people are suffering? Despite the accepted reality that being exposed to much desperation leads you to accept misery as part of life, and gradually you become desensitized. You self-justify that you have ‘earned’ whatever it is that you are now entitled to. However, in the wider scale of things and perhaps in a paradox or human growth and development, once you have fulfilled Mazlo’s Hierchy of need and reached the apex, you have more time and the intellectual capability to contemplate on philosophy and the meaning of life. A question such as the need for suffering, why does illness strike some and leave others in peace, is their justice in this world? Then you think about things that are not age, ethnic, or gender related; for instance, why do people go blind, or why do their bodies stop functioning and render them handicapped? In modern times you have more widespread health issues found in the struggle against cancer in all its forms. Your normal reaction to all these issues is to count your blessing and at worst it should comfort you that you are doing much better than a wide chunk of the human race if only you are able to read these very words! Do you likewise suffer from such a moral dilemma? If so would you care to share some of the issues that you dealt with and how you tend to react to them?

kuwait digest

No just solution

kuwait digest

Put an end to robbery By Bader Sultan Al-Essa


here is an old saying in Kuwaiti dialect that carriers fly to over 70 destinations and boast of unparmakes fun of people who claim to know every- alleled services. thing. I hope it does not apply to Kuwait So, it is not enough to pass a law. It is not enough Airways Corporation (KAC). I also hope that my words, for the finance minister to state his intention of purcoming from someone who really cares about and chasing 20 new planes, unless the KAC is going to loves this country, would not go in vain and would have a new modern administration that does not reach the relevant authorities and officials. serve only vested interests. An administration that In a rather swift move, the parliament elected on puts Kuwait’s and KAC’s interests above those of influthe one vote per voter basis ential staff members is the recently passed a bill about need of the hour. It is not enough to pass a law. It is privatizing KAC as if it was Hence, if anyone thinks dealing with the proverbial not enough for the finance minister that the beleaguered carrier ‘boiling eggs,’ an imagery that to state his intention of purchasing can be extricated from the Egyptians employ about morass in which it finds itself doing things in haste. Many 20 new planes, unless the KAC is by merely privatizing it and observers mistakenly thought going to have a new modern admin- adding a few new planes that this would end the carri- istration that does not serve only should have another er’s problems and there was vested interests. An administration thought coming. The old no reason to stop the privatiways and mindset would that puts Kuwait’s and KAC’s inter- simply not work. zation from going ahead. Well, they cannot be more ests above those of influential staff Those running it with old wrong. Things have only members is the need of the hour. methods and older mindset started to worsen and those had been robbing and behind the KAC’s failure and the losses it accumulated impoverishing it for decades and have turned it into a may manage to do the same again. The new MPs brand that neither Kuwait nor the passengers can be should have known certain facts before passing the proud of. law. We have to remember that Kuwait was the first to They should have known that though established think of having a national carrier in the GCC region, in 1954, the KAC owned 12 planes including at least even before KSA did so. We were at one stage very eight outdated ones. The company has over 7,000 proud to have a carrier serving both citizens and employees working in its luxurious offices where all Arabs. that a majority of them used to do was to have coffee. If we wish to see the revival of KAC, the new board On the other hand, Qatar Airways was established of directors must immediately stop all obvious and only in 1999 and owns 225 up-to-date planes. It has covert ‘robberies’ being committed in KAC, including 30,000 employees who offer great service to all pas- the system of agents mediating between manufactursengers. ers and KAC and collecting unlawful commissions or Similarly, Emirates Airways was established in 1984 kickbacks. It is time to put an end to all forms of and owns 300 modern planes. Planes of both these bribery to subcontractors.— Aljarida

kuwait digest


kuwait digest

The rowing race By Waleed Al-Ahmad

By Abdullatif Al-Duaij riting off the interests accrued on loans availed of by Kuwaiti citizens is not going to rid the parliament of the stigma of incompetency, unlike what some of its members feel. The move could even backfire and reduce their popularity among the voters, especially since many are anticipating its fall. Therefore, I believe that lawmakers need to consider the issue even further and listen to the government’s opinion on it. MP Safa Al-Hashem says she had put forth a solution in front of the government, and it is for the government now to act. She failed to provide the real reasons that led to this problem, however. A majority of state officials, most notably former finance minister Badr AlHumaidhi and current minister Mustafa Al-Shamali, have stated that the problem does not even exist. They explained that the percentage of defaulters was so low that it was not a cause for any concern. A majority of borrowers have committed to repay their loans while those who have not been able to do so can benefit from the insolvency fund. The state should not be held responsible for people who deliberately chose not to pay their loans and are now banking on the MPs’ hunger for public support. The members of the parliament’s financial committee believe that they ‘got the job done’ by passing the draft law last Sunday. In reality, however, their solution falls short of achieving justice which they claim the draft law guarantees. This is because any debt relief would basically be akin to ‘rewarding’ the laggards while ‘punishing’ those who borrowed responsibly from banks. That would be catastrophic not only because it would encourage the slackers, but also because it would deprive the law abiding citizens from the government’s largesse. The KD1000 which the draft law guarantees for citizens not benefiting from the debt relief would not amount to an equal treatment if we take into account the amounts that the defaulting debtors are going to be entitled to. A few years ago, MPs Khalaf Dumaitheer and Saleh Ashour proposed a general grant for Kuwaiti families. Despite the high cost of such a proposal and its unsuitability, at least it made better sense since it ensured equitable justice compared to writing off the loans or the interests accrued thereon. — Al-Qabas

ertain well wishers sent a message to the Social Affairs and Labor Minister, Thekra AlRashidi, a lawyer by profession, to remain careful as there was a pack of wolves in her ministry who have been fattening in their jobs for years and will join hands to resist the minister’s reformist steps because they do not want to lose their privileges. The well wishers said she must understand that there could even be a possibility of her being ousted since our government has not gained the necessary strength yet. They said such wolves, just as in other ministries and establishments, have transformed their departments into their own personal fiefdoms and whoever threatens the status quo, comes to incalculable harm. Who among us has not heard about someone who lost his job, was shunted out to a different place or lost his chance at a promotion, all because they were courageous and did not flinch from stepping on the nests of wasps. For this reason, we must thank MPs Safaa Al-Hashim, Dr. Maasouma AlMubarak, Kamil Al-Awadhi, Yacoub Al-Sane and Abdelhameed Dashti for their proposed law regarding rules of appointments in leadership posts. The law if made would provide that any appointment in a leadership position must be through a decree and has to be for a period of four years which will be renewable only once. The same person would not be eligible for a reappointment in any other leadership job. In addition to that, the appointment should be made after advertising the vacancy and stating clearly the required conditions that any candidate must meet. The proposal also stipulated that the civil service commission sets up a committee to select the leaders, chaired by the CSC President and comprising competent persons in the administrative and specialized fields as members. There were many other points in this excellent proposal aimed at eradicating many of the ills, including allowing people to hog the top posts for years at a stretch without any accountability. It is this lackadaisical attitude that caused this regression and deterioration that we are suffering. Employees of a service ministry are talking about a long lasting under secretary who received his masters and PhD degrees while holding his post and never left for any long vacation, nor traveled for any study purposes abroad. It is strange to expect a forger to fear Allah and be sincere in his job and serve Kuwait honestly. This leader used to get hundreds of thousands of Dinars each year as allowances for working on committees, teams, missions abroad and attending conferences. If he coordinated with corrupt leaders in other government areas and cooperated to claim money for overlapping works, the result could be additional profits that add new zeros to the bank accounts. Naturally, such a person will fight tooth and nail to remain in his post. The five respected MPs submitted their proposal in order to eradicate all those factors that contributed to people sticking in leadership positions for a long time and allowed dishonest persons to practice corruption. We are waiting for a unanimous approval of the proposal and its quick implementation because Kuwait’s interest must come before those of any individuals. — Al-Watan

Much better than others By Abdullah Misfer Al Adwani


e are much better than others.” It is a ed to local banks. statement we repeated for several At the same time, other countries have developed. years. We used to tell ourselves that we We have witnessed the growth of Saudi Arabia and are much better than others, that we are better than the great advancement achieved by the UAE. They such and such a country, that we have so many facili- became the hot spots and a counterpoint of the east ties and the other country has only this much. And and west. They are places where civilizations meet. thus we used to deduce that we are, indeed, much Even Qatar came up very fast, but Kuwait remained as better placed than others. it was. We are no longer better than others as we used There was a time when such a statement might to say and always believed. have been correct. Now it We remained adamant in only has an echo of the past Times changed, and we did not our belief. We refused to give because we are going keep pace with it. Instead, we up saying that. We continued through some tough times. to repeat that we are much regressed by several years. Our better than others, and we Kuwait was earlier a pioneer among the region states and buildings have become dilapidated justified it by saying that we was called the pearl of the and our hospitals are aging. The were the first state in the Gulf, or the bride of the Gulf, educational services are falling region to have a National or even the Hollywood of the apart and more than one third of the Assembly council, and that Gulf. Those were the glorious we have freedom and democtimes, and then, indeed we Kuwaitis are indebted to the banks. racy which are concepts not were much better than oth- The latest statistics are the best witnessed in any country ers. proof which indicates that more around us. We keep repeating We had hospitals and than 300,000 citizens are indebted it in Kuwait and keep saying good education. The citizen that we have full freedom and in those days used to find to local banks. we can say that without real good ser vices in the being chased or jailed or folstate and Kuwait, among its sister Gulf States, was a lowed by security men. place for those who wanted to see the world. All of But what about today? Now that freedom and that is now gone, and become our past. democracy have become merely “ink on paper,” would Times changed, and we did not keep pace with it. we continue to say that “we are much better than othInstead, we regressed by several years. Our buildings ers?” have become dilapidated and our hospitals are aging. After all this chasing after social media activists, The educational services are falling apart and more owners of TV channels and newspapers, can we say than one third of the Kuwaitis are indebted to the we are much better than others? May be we are banks. The latest statistics are the best proof which somewhat good, but we certainly not better than othindicates that more than 300,000 citizens are indebt- ers. That is for sure, have no doubt. — Al-Anbaa


coworker texted me a joke that made me fall off my chair laughing, given how accurately it described the miserable reality of our Arab region. I thought I should share it with my readers. Here it is: A rowing race was held between two teams comprising Arabs and Japanese. One of the conditions was that each boat must have only nine participants. After long preparations and loads of money spent, especially by the Arabic team, the day of the race finally arrived amid wide media coverage for this special sporting event. The race ended with the Japanese team winning by a landslide. Following the race, sports analysts tried to investigate the reasons which led to this result. In the end, they discovered that the Japanese team comprised one director or team leader, and eight rowers. On the other hand, the Arab team consisted of eight directors and one rower. Following their embarrassing loss, the Arab team launched efforts to convince their opponents to redo the race as they questioned the credibility of the judges, insisted that their Chinese-made boat was not properly prepared before the race, and alleged that they have been victims of an outside plot which led to their loss. In the end, the Japanese team agreed to race once again. A new date was set, and the Arab team arrived with a new game strategy and a lot of money spent in preparations. But the story was not much different at the end of that day. The Japanese team won by a landslide similar to the score they achieved the first time. Naturally, once again there was analysis to find out the reasons behind the second Arab failure. The analysts found out that the Japanese team comprised one director and eight rowers, whereas the Arab team consisted of one director-general, three deputy directors, four supervisors and one rower. The Arab team decided to open a thorough and transparent investigation to determine the root causes behind their embarrassing performances, and identify the people responsible so that they can be held accountable. At the end of the investigation, the team made a decision to fire the rower.— Al-Rai



Kuwait project to protect children from mistreatment Call for new strict rules By Nawara Fattahova KUWAIT: More and more children are being subjected to violence and aggression by their parents or relatives but due to traditional taboos, most such cases are not even registered. However, when the registered number cases involving children neglected and injured due to violence reached 120, the Ministry of Health sat up and took note. It decided to start a project to protect the children from negligence and mistreatment besides focussing on this tragic aspect. According to a report published in a local newspaper, this project or plan includes establishing an observatory for statistics and collecting data concerning all cases of violence against children. The article also mentioned that a decree was issued in 2009 to form a committee including specialist doctors from hospitals to transfer the child victims from the primary care centers to the hospitals, but the move faced many obstacles and could not be implemented. Psychiatric Khalid Al-Muhanadi complained of a lack of specific legislations aimed at protecting the children. “We do not have children’s laws in Kuwait and although the government ratified the Convention on the Rights of

the Child, no new local laws were formulated to ensure that the articles of this convention are implemented,” he told the Kuwait Times. He explained that children were being subjected to four kinds of violence: “Negligence, exploitation, sexual abuse, and physical and verbal aggression. During my work, I did many researches on violence against children and through my dealing with the investigation department and police, I found that 90 percent of the cases were not registered due to the traditions of our conservative community, especially cases about sexual abuse in the family,” added AlMuhanadi. Al-Muhanadi demanded issuing the ‘Custody Removal Law’ to achieve the necessary protection for abused children. “In Kuwait, we do not have a law to protect an abused child who still has to live with the aggressor. Thus, the violating parents would not be punished. Even if the parent was to be punished for some time, he will return to the same house and live with the abused child. Usually, teachers do not report any cases, and the doctors only occasionally report a case against the mother or father if they find an instance of negligence or violence against the child, and this is

clearly not enough,” he explained. This law was not approved for many reasons. “The MPs did not work on approving this law as they think it may affect the reputation of the family and cause social problems. Also, the government found that to apply this law there should be a specially equipped center which can serve as a shelter for the abused children who were to be taken away from their parents,” Al-Muhanadi pointed out. He also mentioned some of the dramatic cases that he treated when he was working at the psychiatric department of the Ministry of Education. “I dealt with the case of a little girl who was sexually abused by her father who had divorced her mother. When the school reported this to the police, the father did not attend the investigations, and they told us that in order to file a legal case at the court, it should be submitted by the person in charge, who was the girl. But how could she have done that when she was living at his house? And even if he was to be imprisoned for some time, he would have then returned again to the house,” he pointed out. On his part, attorney Mubarak Mijzea separated such actions into misdemeanors and crimes. “If the case involved negligence

towards the child - for example if the child was hurt because of falling from the balcony where the parents left him alone at home and omitted to lock the door, then it will be negligence it is classified as misdemeanor and the parent may be sentenced to six months or up to one year of imprisonment. The sentence becomes higher if the injury was more serious or the child died,” he stated. The violence may be considered a crime. “If the forensic doctor found injuries on the body of the child, they will have to investigate how these were caused. If these were found to have been a result of beating or physical violence or torture, then it would be classified as a crime and the suspect could be convicted and sentenced to no less than three years of imprisonment, which can be even more depending on the injury,” he further said. “This, of course, applies to anybody in charge of a minor, be it a teacher, doctor or nurse. If they cause any injury by being negligent, they will be punished as well. Also, if such people find injuries on the body of a child, they should report it as soon as possible to free themselves from the responsibility as they may be accused later of causing such an injury,” stressed Mijzea.

Govt to propose KSE privatization law? KUWAIT: The government is expected to forward a draft law for privatizing the Kuwait Stock Exchange as part of its economic reform measures, a local newspaper reported yesterday quoting sources with knowledge of the case. The government had agreed with the parliament on Tuesday on 18 topics to be accorded priority in debates over the next few months, among which was a project to amend the Capital Market Authority law that included measures to privatize the KSE. However, the sources indicated that the cabinet assigned its financial and eco-

nomic committee to remove “contradictions” found in the draft law and eliminate obstacles that make it difficult to be achieved “especially when it comes to the KSE’s privatization.” “A possible scenario to overcome this predicament is to propose a separate draft law for privatizing the KSE,” said the sources who spoke to Al-Rai on the condition of anonymity because the amendments are yet to be made official. Once the governmental committee finishes its assignment, the draft law will be sent to the Fatwa and Legislative Department before it is referred to the parlia-

ment for voting. Meanwhile, Minister of Commerce and Industry Anas AlSaleh expressed optimism that the parliament will soon approve a number of “complete” legislations that include the commercial agencies law, the goods supervision law and the small projects decree which he said are likely to be discussed during the parliament’s next session. Al-Saleh also refuted rumors which suggested that the insolvency law is going to be postponed. “Despite the fact that it requires prolonged discussions due to its magnitude, the government has no

plans to postpone the insolvency law even through there are many economic laws that the government is giving priority to,” the minister told reporters during the inauguration of the Kuwait Yacht Show recently. The Minister of Planning and Development, Rula Dashty, meanwhile credited the Ministr y of Commerce and Industry for “taking positive steps to improve the trade environment in Kuwait,” mentioning specifically the “efforts to eliminate the bureaucracy responsible for delaying routine process of work and finalizing licensing procedures.”

Five drug traders in police custody

KUWAIT: Drug enforcement agents arrested four expats for trading in drugs. After receiving information about two brothers being active in trafficking drugs, the agents made necessar y investigations and obtained mandatory legal permissions to arrest and search them. They were arrested from near their house and a search of their person led to the recovery of a small piece of Hashish from one’s pocket. A search of the vehicle led to a larger piece of Hashish while more drugs were found from their

house. The two brothers confessed that they received their supply of drugs from another two expats, who too were arrested, each from his home. From one of them, the police found a large piece of Hashish while three large pieces of Hashish and some money were recovered from the fourth suspect. All were sent to the concerned authorities. Detectives belonging to the Criminal Investigation department of Hawally arrested an Asian expat for possessing Heroin, Shabow and

other kinds of drugs besides a sum of money. The Jabriya police station received information about the suspect being involved in drugs trafficking. After collecting further necessary information and observing all legal precautions, he was arrested. He confessed in detail about his activities in the drugs trade and also admitted that the money in his possession was the proceeds from the sale of drugs. He, along with the contraband, was sent to the concerned authorities.

Praise for Amir’s commitment to Kuwait stability By A. Saleh KUWAIT: Former parliament speaker Jassem Al-Khorafi counts on the experience of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad which he says “enables him to meet the responsibilities that come with his position.” “The issues and responsibilities that HH carried throughout his decades-long political career gave him enough experience to be capable to shoulder the responsibilities as the leader and address them in a manner that comes with his expertise,” Al-Khorafi said in recent statements to Al-Arabiya TV. Reiterating the Amir’s “commit-

ment to Kuwait ’s stability,” AlKhorafi said that the measures taken by HH to resolve and address certain recent situations in Kuwait “come as part of his usual approach to fulfill his responsibilities whenever necessary.” Al-Hashim defends KCCI law MP Safaa Al-Hashim said yesterday that she plans to continue pushing a draft law which she says aims to “correct the situation of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry from the legal and organizational standpoints.” Meanwhile, the parliament’s rapporteur defended her proposal

against allegations of it being an attempt to ‘pummel’ the KCCI. “ The law aims to protect the KCCI through several features that ensure its stability and the rights of its members, while achieving justice and equality by making sure that this important facility does not continue to remain outside the jurisdiction of the law,” Al-Hashim said. The proposal calls for amending the KCCI electoral mechanism, as well as changing its current classification as a non-governmental organization which Al-Hashim says has allowed it to “function outside any auditing measures.”

KUWAIT: Minister of Health, Dr Mohammed Al-Haifi and his accompanying delegation return after attending a WHO-hosted meeting in Dubai this week.

Al-Haifi signs KD5.7m contract for building medical facilities KUWAIT: Minister of Health Mohammad Barrak Al-Haifi signed Tuesday a KD 5.77million contract for the construction and maintenance of a public health building at Al-Sabah Medical Area in Shuwaikh. In a press statement, the Ministry of Health unveiled that the four-storey project, to be built on an area of 5,400 square meters, will comprise 20 clinics in addition to all kinds of laboratories and a conference hall. Minister Al-Haifi also signed KD 941,000- contract for building and maintenance of an administrative building for the medical warehouses in Sabhan on a total area of 3,355 square meters.

The Ministry unveiled plans to sign a KD 98.067-million contract for a huge expansion in the Amiri Hospital. It noted that the expansion will cover an area of 137,710 square meters. The new building will comprise over 415 new beds taking the total number of the beds at the Amiri Hospital to 833. The Ministry will soon sign a fourth contract for design, building, furnishing, equipping and maintenance of Kuwait Cancer Center at Al-Sabah Medical Area in Shuwaikh. The mega project will cost the state about KD 172,909 million and will be built on an area of 650,000 square meters, it added. — KUNA

MAIA violations probed KUWAIT: The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs summoned two engineers working on the mosques’ projects over suspicions of financial violations exceeding KD400,000 in total value, a local newspaper reported yesterday quoting insiders with knowledge of the case. Speaking to Al-Qabas on the condition of anonymity, the sources indicated that the two non-Kuwaiti engineers are expected to be referred to the relevant

authorities to face legal action after investigation concludes. The sources did not provide a timeline for the investigation which was ordered by a probe committee formed by the Minister of Justice and Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, Sharida Al-Maosharji. The committee will also send a detailed report about the case following the investigations, according to the sources.



Desperate Syrian father charged with forgery Man disappears with friend’s Porsche KUWAIT: A Syrian man faces charges of forger y after he entered inaccurate information in official documents required to issue visas for his children. According to the case filed at the Abu Halifa police station, the man entered different ages for his children in a bid to fulfill the specific conditions under which the government allows issuing of visas to Syrian nationals. The man was referred to the proper authorities to face charges. Car theft A man who borrowed his friend’s Porsche later simply disappeared, leaving the owner of the car to lodge a complaint with the police. The Kuwaiti owner of the sports car waited for a few

days and finally filed a case at the Fahaheel police station. His friend had borrowed the car only for a few hours. The suspect’s name and vehicle’s description were circulated to all checkpoints across the country. Heart attack A company driver suffered a heart attack and was found dead in the car itself, according to the initial diagnoses report. Police and paramedics reached the spot in Kaifan where a Kuwaiti man had found a person passed out in a car parked near his house. The Asian man was pronounced dead on the scene and his body was taken to the coroner. A case was filed at the Shamiya police station.

Camp thieves Two men were arrested in Jlai’ah recently when they were found in possession of alcohol apart from other stolen booty. The two, an Iraqi and a bedoon (stateless) resident, were taken into custody for investigations after police found several electrical appliances in addition to four bottles of liquor in their car after they were pulled over. The suspects admitted that the items were stolen from camps in the area. They will remain in custody pending legal action. Salmiya arson A man set four cars on fire in Salwa recently and remains at large. Preliminary investigations indicated that the fire was started

deliberately as traces of flammable substances were found at the scene. Further investigations are on to track down the arsonist. Infiltrator nabbed The Jahra police recently arrested an illegal resident before investigations revealed that he had infiltrated into Kuwait a month ago from Iran. Patrol officers chased and caught the man when he tried to run away after spotting them in Al-Na’eem. The man, who is in his forties, said during interrogations that he had come from his home country on a boat which dropped him near the Kuwaiti shores. He swam his way to Kuwait and managed to enter the country illegally. He remains in custody pending deportation.

Zakat House provided KD252m in aid since its establishment KUWAIT: Zakat House has provided a sum of around KD 252 million of monthly installment for needy families since its establishment until 2012, said the house’s Director General Abdulkadir Dahi Al-Ajeel. “A total of 123,405 registered and 4,654 unregistered families have benefited from the total aid,” said Al-Ajeel in a press statement yesterday to mark the 31st anniversary of the establishment of the house. “In addition, the house provided KD 55 million-worth soft loans to 15,648 registered and 1,879 unregistered families,” he noted. He added that the idea of establishing Zakat House emerged from the heart of the Kuwaiti society to meet the desire of the philanthropists, in which it led an excellent leadership in the field of voluntary work. The house’s establishment, under the Law No. (5) in the year 1982, was a remarkable event in the country as it is a specialized institution to receive benefactors’ charity, deliver it to the beneficiaries and to contribute to the development of society, he noted. He added that the department of storage in Zakat House distributes food and electricity through its branches in AlSalmiya and Al-Andalus to implement the project of donations throughout the year as well as to provide aid for 9185 families

on a regular basis. The Zakat House has several projects outside the country that are usually created at the request of the esteemed benefactors such as sponsoring orphans and students, building mosques, schools and developmental centers, digging wells and other charitable and humanitarian projects. On major projects carried out by the house, Al-Ajeel said that the house has earned the trust of Sheikh Salem Al-Ali AlSabah, Chief of the National Guard, to provide his unprecedented donation that exceeded 100 million dinar in 2007, and another one worth a total of 60 million dinar as a generous initiative for the registered citizens. He added that the Zakat House’s website, among ministries and state bodies in the state of Kuwait, won first place in 2010 at the ninth Sheikh Salem Al-Ali Al-Sabah’s Informatics Prize. Al-Ajeel concluded by praising the continuous support that the House has been receiving from the government, represented by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the philanthropists; individuals, companies and cooperative societies. — KUNA

Kuwait’s leading humanitarian role praise

Saudi border guards get closer look on capturing infiltrators in Abdaly KUWAIT: A delegation from the Saudi Arabia’s border guards have visited Kuwait’s northern borders department in Abdaly where they learned means of capturing infiltrators. Ac ti ng D i re c tor G e n e ra l o f G e n e ra l Depar tment of Land Border Security Brig

Fuad Al-Athari received the Saudi delegation and relayed the greetings of First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and senior figures at the ministry. The Saudi guests were previewed on the

advanced electrical systems used to monitor and observe movements on the borders. Head of the Saudi delegation expressed his appreciation for providing such opportunity to exchange expertise in borders monitoring.—KUNA

Kuwait backs UN response to Israel stance on human rights GENEVA: Kuwait Permanent Delegate to the UN agencies in Geneva Ambassador Dhrar Abdulrazzaq Razouqi has expressed Kuwait’s suppor t to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) response to Israel’s boycott of the Universal Human Rights Review. In statements to KUAN, Razouqi warned that Kuwait would call for tough measures if Israel dug heels in and refused to present its file on human rights records as all world countries do. Israel became the first country to withhold cooperation from a United Nations review of its human rights prac tices on Tuesday. The council decided by consensus on Tuesday that its President Remigiusz Henczel, of Poland, should try to persuade Israel to

resume cooperation with the review and to report on the result of his efforts in March, with an eye on rescheduling Israel’s review at the latest in November. He noted that Israel’s defiance and un-abidance with UN Human Rights Council and UN General Assembly’s resolutions as well as its rejection to cooperate with UN human rights teams have pushed the Council take action against it. Razouqi disclosed that the Kuwait and other Arab members in the council are coordinating stances and waiting for the Israeli respond to the UN efforts. The underlying concern expressed by many council members is that Israel’s decision to stay away from the review had broken established practice of cooperation observed by all coun-

KUWAIT: A Saudi official yesterday expressed gratitude for the State of Kuwait for the giant humanitarian role in helping the Syrian people. Ihsan Tayyeb, secretary general of the Saudi international Islamic relief authority, said Kuwait-based International Islamic Charity Organization’s (IICO) holding of conference of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) donors for the relief of the Syrian people was a “great initiative to unite the nation and unite efforts towards leading humanitarian aid.” Speaking to KUNA after the conclusion of the NOGs conference, Tayyeb said the Saudi authority’s participation stemmed from its responsibility as an international organization active in the humanitarian action. He noted that the Saudi authority has been active in helping the Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. Meanwhile, Mohammad Al-Falahi, secretary general of the UAE’s Red Crescent, said the NGOs donors’ conference was a “big event” which was attracting worldwide attention. Speaking to KUNA after the conference,

Al-Falahi appreciated the State of Kuwait’s endeavors to collecting financial resources to help the Syrian people. The UAE believed that it is important to contribute to any effort that would alleviate the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in and outside their country, he added. Al-Falahi said the UAE Red Crescent provided assistance to around 45,000 Syrian families in Jordan and Lebanon. The UAE Red Crescent is also coordinating with Turkey’s Red Crescent to provide aid for the Syrian refugees in Turkey, he added. For his part, Secretary general of the Jordanian charity authority Ayman AlMefleh said the State of Kuwait was playing a major role to assisting the Syrian refugees. In a statement to KUNA, Al-Mefleh said coordination between Kuwait and Jordan resulted in the construction of 100 housing units in Al-Zaatari refugee camp. He hoped the International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, due here tomorrow, would help improve the services provided for the Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. — KUNA

Ambassador Dhrar Abdulrazzaq Razouqi tries, opening the door to noncooperation by others. — KUNA

Plans Kuwaitis in private sector

KUWAIT: The Commercial Bank of Kuwait rewarded a group of its employees who have recently passed a training program at the Institute for Fiscal Studies in the United Kingdom. The CBK staff finished first in the risk management program, and second in the branch manager program.

KUWAIT: The Industry and Labor Committee at Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and t h e M a n p owe r a n d G over n m e n t Restructuring Program (MGRP) held a meeting yesterday to focus on the percentage of Kuwaiti employees in the private sector. A statement by the KCCI said that the meeting, chaired by the chamber ’s Fahad Al-Yo’an and MGRP ’s Secretary General Fawzi Al-Majdali, focused on measures to keep the percentage of national employees at an adequate level. The statement also noted that KCCI and MGRP would contact busin ess own er s a nd com p a ni e s to reflect on the subject. The KCCI statement also said that the current unemployment rates within the national criteria are at around four percent, adding that providing opportunities through the private sec tor would lead to the decrease of such numbers. —- KUNA

KUWAIT: Fire-stations throughout the country would be hoisting the Kuwaiti flag in celebration of the seventh anniversary of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s constitutional swear-in. Kuwait Fire Services Directorate said that it would like to take a chance to congratulate the Kuwaiti leadership on this joyous occasion.


Calls for revenge as Aleppo buries massacre dead

Obama: ‘Time is now’ for immigration reform Page 10

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BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, both sheltered by umbrellas, review a guard of honour prior to a meeting at the Chancellery yesterday. — AFP

Morsi seeks end to bloodshed Egypt opposition seeks talks as more killed CAIRO/BERLIN: Authorities in an Egyptian city scaled back a curfew imposed by President Mohamed Morsi, and the Islamist leader cut short a visit to Europe yesterday to deal with the deadliest violence in the seven months since he took power. Two more protesters were shot dead before dawn near Cairo’s central Tahrir Square yesterday, a day after the army chief warned that the state was on the brink of collapse if Morsi’s opponents and supporters did not end street battles. More than 50 people have been killed in the past seven days of protests by Morsi’s opponents, raising global concern over whether the Islamist leader can restore stability to the most populous Arab country. Morsi imposed a curfew and a state of emergency on three Suez Canal cities on Sunday but that only seemed to further provoke crowds in a week of unrest marking the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. The governor of Ismailia, one of the three canal cities, said yesterday he was scaling back the curfew, which would now take effect nightly from 2:00 am instead of 9:00 pm. Morsi, speaking in Berlin before hurrying home to deal with the crisis, called for dialogue with opponents but would not commit to their demand that he first agree to include them in a unity government. Asked about that proposal, he said the next government would be formed after parliamentary elections in April. Egypt was on its way to becoming “a civilian state that is not a military state or a theocratic state”, Morsi said. The violence at home forced Morsi to scale back his European visit, billed as a chance to promote Egypt as a destination for foreign investment. He flew to Berlin but called off a trip to Paris and was due back home after only a few hours in Europe. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met him, echoed other Western leaders who have called on him to give his opponents a voice. “One thing that is important for us is that the line for dialogue is always open to all political forces in Egypt, that the different political forces can make their contribution, that human rights are adhered to in Egypt and that of course religious freedom can be experienced,” she said at a joint news conference with Morsi. Morsi’s critics accuse him of betraying the spirit of the revolution by keeping too much power in his own hands and those of his Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement banned under Mubarak which won repeated elections since the 2011 uprising. Morsi’s supporters say the protesters want to overthrow Egypt’s first democratically elected leader. The current unrest has deepened an economic crisis that saw the pound currency tumble in recent weeks. Near Cairo’s Tahrir Square yesterday morning, dozens of protesters threw stones at police who fired back teargas, although the scuffles were brief. “Our demand is simply that Morsi goes, and leaves the country alone. He is just like Mubarak and his crowd who are now in prison,” said Ahmed Mustafa, 28, a youth who had goggles on his head to protect his eyes from teargas. Opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei called for a meeting of the president, ministers, the ruling party and the opposition to halt the violence. But he also restated the precondition that Morsi first commit to seeking a national unity government. The worst violence has been in the Suez Canal city of Port Said, where rage was fuelled by death sentences passed against soccer fans for roles in deadly riots last year. After decades in which the West backed Mubarak’s military rule of Egypt, the emergence of an elected Islamist leader in Cairo is probably the single most important change brought about by the wave of Arab revolts over the past two years.

Morsi won backing from the West last year for his role in helping to establish a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinians that ended a conflict in Gaza. But he then followed that with an effort to fast-track a constitution that reignited dissent at home and raised global concern over Egypt’s future. Western countries were alarmed this month by video that emerged showing Morsi making vitriolic remarks against Jews and Zionists in 2010 when he was a senior Brotherhood official. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said ahead of Morsi’s visit that the remarks, in which Morsi referred to Zionists as “descendants of apes and pigs” were “unacceptable”. Asked about those remarks at the news conference with Merkel, Morsi repeated earlier explanations that they had been taken out of context. “I am not against the Jewish faith,” he said. “I was talking about the practices and behav-

iour of believers of any religion who shed blood or who attack innocent people or civilians. That’s behaviour that I condemn. I am a Muslim. I’m a believer and my religion obliges me to believe in all prophets, to respect all religions and to respect the right of people to their own faith,” he added. Egypt’s main liberal and secularist bloc, the National Salvation Front, has so far refused talks with Morsi unless he promises a unity government including opposition figures. “Stopping the violence is the priority, and starting a serious dialogue requires committing to guarantees demanded by the National Salvation Front, at the forefront of which are a national salvation government and a committee to amend the constitution,” ElBaradei said on Twitter. Those calls have also been backed by the hardline Islamist Nour party - rivals of Morsi’s Brotherhood. Nour

and the Front were due to meet yesterday, signalling an unlikely alliance of Morsi’s critics from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Brotherhood leader Mohamed El-Beltagy dismissed the unity government proposal as a ploy for the Front to take power despite having lost elections. On his Facebook page he ridiculed “the leaders of the Salvation Front, who seem to know more about the people’s interests than the people themselves”. In a sign of the toll the unrest is having on Egypt’s economy, ratings agency Fitch downgraded its sovereign rating by one notch to B yesterday. German industry leaders see potential in Egypt but are concerned about political instability. “At the moment many firms are waiting on political developments and are cautious on any big investments,” said Hans Heinrich Driftmann, head of Germany’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce.— Reuters



Calls for revenge as Aleppo buries massacre dead ALEPPO, Syria: Umm Mohammed walks slowly among the 32 shrouded corpses lying on the floor of a school in Syria’s Aleppo city, some of scores shot at point-blank range who were being buried yesterday. She stops and kneels down to draw aside the sheet covering a face too damaged to recognise. One of the fighters pulls the sheet further away to reveal a tattoo on the dead man’s right arm. Umm Mohammed covers her face with her hands and weeps. “It’s her nephew, a doctor from the city of Maara who disappeared in July,” says her husband, Abu Mohammed, who was on the banks of Aleppo’s Quweiq River on Tuesday. There he had helped to drag from the water the bodies of what some say may have been more than 80 victims, mostly young men but also some women and even children. “When we got him on shore, I was sure it was him. The worst thing will be to tell his mother about it; she had been holding out hope that he was still alive,” says Abu Mohammed. No one has claimed responsibility for the gruesome massacre. Rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Al-Assad blame his regime, and it in turn points the finger at the Islamist Al-Nusra Front. But at this school, in a rebel-held zone of Syria’s once thriving commercial capital, there is

no doubt that Assad was behind the massacre. “We will avenge what happened yesterday. The deaths of these innocents will not go unpunished,” rebel commander Abdel Khader al-Sada tells AFP. “All the civilians who live in liberated zones are enemies of the regime. All Syrians are enemies of the regime. Assad is prepared to finish off his people to stay in power.” Hundreds of youths gather outside the Yarmouk School as preparations get under way to bury the victims. They chant: “We will not forget the blood of our martyrs!” Several men carry a body out of the school, wrapped in a sheet and the Syrian revolutionary flag to shouts of “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest), which are drowned out by bursts of gunfire from fighters’ Kalashnikovs. Just after midday, an imam raises the palms of his hands to his face and begins to pray over the bodies, as a hush falls over the kneeling crowd. Then his prayers are interrupted by more shouts of “Allahu Akbar!” Rebel Captain Abu Seij, in charge of the improvised morgue at the school, says the toll has gone up after one rebel fighter had on Tuesday said 78 bodies were retrieved from the river and that more were still in the water but out of reach because of regime snipers. “We managed to get one more body out last night, and today have verified that there are

at least two women and a number of children floating in the water,” says Abu Seij. So far, at least 46 of the bodies have been identified and relatives have already taken some away for burial at home, he says. “If they are not identified, the rest will be taken to the cemetery outside Aleppo and buried in a common grave.” Meanwhile, activist Mohammed Al-Madi photographs each body as it lies decomposing on the school floor. “We will create a database on each of the faces so that families might eventually identify their loved ones and know where they have been buried,” he says, explaining that each body will be given a number that corresponds to its grave. Amid the grim task of burying the dead, rebel commander Sada spits invective at the United Nations and Western powers for having done nothing to end a conflict that has claimed more than 60,000 lives in 22 months. “The United Nations and the West, from this moment, are responsible for the death of each and every man, woman and child in Syria. There can be no talk about negotiating with someone who massacres his people,” he says. “Assad has shown that he does not want to negotiate because he lives under the umbrella of impunity that the West gives him.” —AFP

ALEPPO: Men search for their relatives amongst the bodies of Syrian civilians executed and dumped in the Quweiq river in the grounds of the courtyard of the Yarmouk School in the Bustan al-Qasr district yesterday. —AFP

Bahrain princess on trial for torturing detainees Trial part of government’s accountability drive

ALJANODIYA, Syria: Syrian rebel fighters flash the V-sign for victory as they celebrate after taking over this village in northwestern Idlib province following fighting against pro-Syrian regime forces yesterday. — AFP

Syria oppn chief ready for talks with regime DAMASCUS: Syria’s opposition chief laid down conditions yesterday for talks with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, as world outrage at a massacre piled pressure on all parties to halt their 22-month conflict. Syrian National Coalition leader Moaz al-Khatib’s surprise move came after UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said the war had reached “unprecedented levels of horror,” and UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned of a “catastrophic” situation in Syria. Khatib said via his Facebook page he is ready for dialogue with officials of Assad’s regime subject to conditions, including that “160,000 detainees” are released and that passports for exiled citizens be renewed in embassies abroad. Until now, Syria’s main opposition groups have said they are only prepared to enter into dialogue on ways to end the 22month conflict if Assad steps down. “I announce I am ready for direct discussions with representatives of the Syrian regime in Cairo, Tunis or Istanbul,” Khatib said. “I became aware thanks to the media that the regime in Syria has called on the opposition to enter into dialogue,” said Khatib, who heads the main Syrian opposition umbrella group. “While it is not right for anyone to bargain with the freedom for which our people have paid so dearly in blood, I say there are basic conditions before I sit down with representatives of the regime,” he said. But he added that “we cannot trust a regime that kills children, attacks bakeries bombards universities, destroys Syria’s infrastructure and massacres innocent people.” Assad proposed earlier this month a national dialogue to end Syria’s crisis, but he made it clear this would only apply to groups not linked to the armed insurgency, effectively shutting out the National Coalition. Khatib said the unprecedented statement expressed his own opinion only

and that his group would meet on Thursday to discuss the proposal. An influential opposition group, the Syrian National Council (SNC) - a key component of the Coalition - swiftly rejected the proposal. “The Syrian people have - and are still paying - an extremely high price for their full freedom and to get rid of every last remnant of this oppressive, tyrannical regime,” said the SNC, adding that it “rejects any settlement or negotiation with the Syrian regime.” The Coalition had earlier yesterday lashed out at the “global inaction” which it said was giving Assad’s regime a licence to kill, accusing Assad’s forces of being behind the killings of at least 78 people whose bodies were Tuesday in a river in northern Syria’s Aleppo. Witnesses and activists said all the victims had been executed with a single gunshot to the head or neck. The Syrian authorities accused the jihadist group Al-Nusra Front of having carried out the horrifying massacre, but rebels and residents in the area said they had no doubt Assad’s forces were behind the killings. UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi issued a fresh warning of the conflict spilling over into neighbouring countries. “None of the neighbors is immune to the fallout consequences of the conflict,” he told the UN Security Council. In his remarks to the Security Council on Tuesday, Brahimi said Syria “is breaking up before everyone’s eyes.” UN chief Ban Ki-moon issued an equally dire assessment, telling an international donors conference in Kuwait that the situation in Syria “is catastrophic”, with half the hospitals and a quarter of the schools destroyed and vital infrastructure badly damaged. At the end of the one-day conference, Ban announced that more than the targeted $1.5 billion in aid for stricken Syrians had been pledged. — AFP

Israel to give Palestinians $100m in withheld funds JERUSALEM: Israel will give Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ administration around $100 million in tax revenues that had been withheld in retaliation for his statehood bid in the United Nations, Israeli officials said yesterday. The sum is roughly a third of the funds Israel is meant to have transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) since November under interim peace accords, but has instead kept. Israeli officials describe the handover as a one-time deal, signalling rightist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not formally scrapped sanctions that have hurt the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank and worried world powers. The decision follows surprise setbacks for Netanyahu in a national election this month that, while giving him enough of a lead to head the next Israeli government, also set the stage for more moderate statecraft by boosting centrist challengers whom he must now consider as coalition partners. Israel collects some $100 million a month in duties on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, money Abbas badly needs to pay public sector salaries. It began withholding the funds

after Abbas, sidestepping stalled diplomacy, secured a Palestinian status upgrade at the United Nations in November. PA tax authority official Ahmed Al-Helou told Reuters that Israel spent the October levies to help pay off $200 million it says the Palestinians owe the Israel Electric Corporation. Israel said last month it would withhold revenues from the PA until March at least. The PA’s economic troubles were raised this week in a meeting between Netanyahu and Tony Blair, peace envoy for the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia, an Israeli official said. Following those talks, the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity, “we have agreed to transfer one month’s payment, because of the difficult financial situation there”. “This is a one-time decision and there is no decision yet on what will happen next,” the official said. Al-Helou said he expected Israel to renew normal payments in mid-February, when the Palestinians hope to get back $114 million owed from December. An Israeli Finance Ministry spokeswoman said she knew of no such decision. — Reuters

ABU DHABI: A Bahraini princess who works as a police officer is on trial for torturing two doctors while they were in detention during political unrest in the Gulf Arab kingdom in 2011, according to a senior official at Bahrain’s Public Prosecutor’s office. Sheikha Noura bint Ibrahim Al-Khalifa is also facing a separate trial for physically assaulting Aayat Al-Qormozi, a young female Shiite opposition activist, while she was in detention during the same period, Nawaf Hamza, head of the Public Prosecution’s Special Investigation Unit, told Reuters. “The charge is that she used torture, force and threats against the victims Zahra AlSammak and Kholoud Al-Durazi to make them confess to a crime,” Hamza, referring to the two doctors, told Reuters by telephone. According to Sammak’s lawyer, the alleged torture took place in March and April 2011, a period when the US-allied kingdom was convulsed by unrest following the start in February of demonstrations led by majority Shiites demanding democratic change in the Sunni-led monarchy. Reuters submitted a request for comment from Sheikha Noura on the charges against her to her lawyer, Fareed Ghazi. He responded later saying he had spoken to her but that she did not wish to comment. “Of course, she denies all the charges against her,” Ghazi said, referring to the allegations at issue in both of the trials. An independent commission said thirty-five people died during the unrest and two months of martial law that followed, but the opposition puts that number at more than 80. The government rejects the figures and has accused opposition groups of being linked to Shiite power Iran. The Arab Spring has heightened sensitivity in the Gulf region, where kingly or princely rule is the norm, over perceived criticism of how it deals with dissent. This has complicated efforts by the West to balance a push for rights and democracy with Western commercial and strategic interests. Sheikha Noura is about 29 years old, according to media reports, and is one of many members of the family who hold jobs in the public sector. At the time of the protests that shook Bahrain in 2011, she worked in the police drugs control unit, but has since moved to another department, according to Ghazi. Bahrain’s Information Minister, Samira Rajab, confirmed Sheikha Noura was on trial in both cases. “There was an investigation and her case was then referred to the court,” she told Reuters. Rajab said Sheikha Noura’s trial was part of the Bahraini government’s accountability drive following the publication of the so-called “Bassiouni” report last year. Widespread and excessive force, including confessions under

torture, was detailed in a commission led by Cherif Bassiouni, a respected United Nations human rights lawyer, which published its findings and recommended measures to stop them. The Bahrain government says it has taken steps to address the brutality of security forces by dismissing those responsible and introducing cameras at police stations to monitor abuses. Bahrain drew fierce criticism from abroad for arrests of doctors and nurses during and after the uprising. Since March 2011, at least 60 health professionals have been tried and sentenced to jail terms of up to 15 years on charges including attempting to bring down the government, according rights group Physicians for Human Rights. Most appealed and the majority had their sentences reduced or quashed, including Sammak, one of the doctors Sheikha Noura is alleged to have tortured. An anesthetist, Sammak was initially sentenced by a military court to five years in jail but was later acquitted by a civil court, according to her lawyers. Durazi was detained for allegedly providing false news about people injured in the unrest and inciting hatred of the government. In the second case against Sheikha Noura, activist and poet Qormozi, born in 1991, says the princess applied electric shocks to her face, spat in her mouth and beat her while she was in

detention, Qormozi’s lawyer Reem Khalaf told Reuters. However, the charge against Sheikha Noura in this case makes no reference to torture. Qormozi was jailed for a year in 2011 for insulting the king, taking part in illegal gatherings and inciting hatred against the government, Khalaf said. She was freed after serving only several months, Khalaf said, adding she did not know the reasons for her early release. Her case was later dismissed by the public prosecutor, again for reasons she did not know, Khalaf said. Khalaf added that the trial of Sheikha Noura on the charges relating to Qormozi had been running since June 2012. The next hearing would be on Feb 7, she said. In the case concerning the two doctors, Sheikha Noura’s lawyer said the princess’s trial had started in Oct 2012 and that the next hearing was set for Feb 3. To try to counter the unrest, the Bahrain government brought in Gulf Arab troops, mainly from Saudi Arabia, and imposed two months of martial law to end the uprising. The Shiite opposition wants a constitutional monarchy and a more equitable political system that would allow them to have greater representation, ending decades-old discrimination against them in jobs including the army and security forces. The government denies discriminating against the Shiite population.— Reuters

DAIH, Bahrain: A Bahraini riot policeman makes the victory sign after riot police dispersed anti-regime protesters demonstrating against the death of a child in this village west of Manama yesterday. — AFP

French enter last Islamist stronghold in Mali BAMAKO: French troops yesterday entered Kidal, the last Islamist bastion in Mali’s north after a whirlwind Paris-led offensive, as France urged peace talks to douse ethnic tensions targeting Arabs and Tuaregs. French troops arrived at the Kidal airport just days after the capture of Gao and Timbuktu in a whirlwind threeweek campaign that Paris hopes to wind down and hand over to African forces. However French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Wednesday the troops had been unable to leave the airport due to a sandstorm. “French elements were deployed overnight in Kidal,” French army spokesman Thierry Burkhard told AFP in Paris earlier. A spokesman for the breakaway Islamic Movement of Azawad, which on Monday announced it had taken control of the town, said its leader was speaking to the French. Kidal lies 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) northeast of the capital Bamako and until recently was controlled by the Islamist group Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith). Last Thursday however, the newly formed group announced it had split from Ansar Dine, that it rejected “extremism and terrorism” and wanted to find a peaceful solution to Mali’s crisis. Ansar Dine and two other Islamist groups took advantage of the chaos following a military coup in Bamako last March to seize the

north, imposing a brutal form of Islamic law. Offenders suffered whippings, amputations and in some cases were executed while Islamists also destroyed sacred shrines in the ancient city of Timbuktu that they considered idolatrous. France swept to Mali’s aid on January 11 as the Islamists advanced south towards Bamako, sparking fears that the whole country could become a haven for terrorists, and now has 3,500 troops on the ground. But in the longer term, Paris regards a political settlement between the government in

Bamako and Tuaregs seeking a degree of self-rule as crucial to Mali’s stability. The Malian parliament on Tuesday adopted a political roadmap which included a commitment to holding elections by July and negotiations with representatives of the north. “This political process now has to advance concretely,” French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot said, urging speedy “negotiations with the legitimate representatives of the peoples of the north and non-terrorist armed groups that recognise the integrity of Mali”. “Only a northsouth dialogue will prepare the

GAO, Mali: Malian girls sing and play yesterday in this northern city, a key Islamist stronghold until it was retaken on Jan 26 by French and Malian troops.—AFP

ground for the Malian state to return to the north of the country,” he said. Several reports say the main Islamist chiefs, Iyad Ag Ghaly of Ansar Dine and the Algerian Abou Zeid of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), have retreated to the mountains in the Kidal region, which borders Algeria and Niger. In the face of ground strikes and devastating air bombings that destroyed their headquarters in Timbuktu as well as their fuel supplies and armoury, the Islamists had no choice but to flee. But the lack of resistance for the moment does not mean they have been neutralised, said Alain Antil, the head of subSaharan affairs at the French Institute of International Relations. “They can turn to classic guerrilla tactics including harassment, rapid attacks with kidnappings and bombings,” said Antil. In Timbuktu on Tuesday, a day after the troops drove in to an ecstatic welcome, hundreds of people looted shops they said belonged to Arabs, Mauritanians and Algerians accused of backing the Islamists. After reports fleeing Islamists had torched a building housing priceless ancient manuscripts in the city, an expert said many had been smuggled away before the insurgency which saw the insurgents destroy ancient shrines and tombs they considered idolatrous. — AFP



Russia scraps anti crime deal with US Further setback to ‘reset’ in relations

BIRMINGHAM: In this undated file photo, 15-year old Pakistani shooting victim Malala Yousufzai is seen as she recovers in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England. —AFP

Doctors outline operation to repair Malala’s skull LONDON: Doctors in Britain yesterday outlined how they plan to repair a hole in the skull of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taleban for campaigning for girls’ education. Surgeons at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the central English city of Birmingham plan to insert a metal plate to protect the 15-year-old’s brain in an operation within the next 10 days. “This is, very simply speaking, putting a custom-made titanium plate over the deficit in her skull, primarily to offer physical protection to her brain in the same way as a normal skull would,” the hospital’s medical director Dave Rosser said. Malala, who was attacked in Pakistan’s Swat Valley last October as she travelled on a bus to school, has become an internationally recognised symbol of opposition to the Taleban’s drive to deny women education. Doctors say the bullet fired at point blank range by a Taleban gunman grazed her brain and travelled through her head and neck before lodging in her left shoulder. The attack left her completely deaf in her left ear, so surgeons will also insert an electronic device into the ear that should help her hearing return to near-normal levels within 18 months. Surgeons in Pakistan who were the first to treat the teenager before she was brought to Britain inserted the missing section of her skull into her abdomen, but it had eventually been decided not to use the bone. “The safest way to store that bone, to keep it sterile and healthy, is in the patient’s body, so they will make an incision in the skin and tuck it into the abdomen,” Rosser said at a press conference, explaining the procedure. “Surgeons in consultation with Malala have decided that fitting this titanium

plate is a better long-term procedure than trying to re-implant the bone after such a long period of time.” The piece of skull will be removed, sterilised and-if she wants itgiven to Malala as a “souvenir”, Rosser added. Malala was temporarily discharged by the hospital on January 4 and is currently staying in Birmingham with her parents and siblings, who have joined her in England. Her father has been given a job as education attache at Pakistan’s consulate in Birmingham, a city with a large Pakistani community. Rosser said Malala was a “remarkable young lady” and despite her ordeal she was determined to continue speaking out for girls’ right to education. “She is very lively, she has a great sense of humour,” he said. “She is not naive at all about what happened to her and the situation she is looking forward to in terms of being a highprofile person, and potentially a high-profile target. “But she remains incredibly cheer ful, incredibly determined and incredibly determined to continue to speak for her cause.” The hospital in Birmingham was chosen for Malala’s treatment because it has vast experience of treating gunshot injuries sustained by British soldiers in Afghanistan. Rosser said although specialists in Britain had more experience of reconstructive surgery than their Pakistani counterparts, she owed her life to the surgeons in Pakistan. “There is no doubt that the surgery performed in Pakistan was life-saving,” he said. Malala first rose to prominence aged 11 with a blog for the BBC’s Urdu-language service charting her life in Swat under the Taleban. —AFP

MOSCOW: Russia pulled out of an anti-crime accord with the United States yesterday, the latest sign of rising tensions between Moscow and Washington. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed an order to scrap the 10-year-old agreement “because it was no longer relevant,” his office said. The agreement covered fighting terrorism, corruption and crossborder crimes such as drug smuggling and human trafficking. Alexei Pushkov, head of Russia’s parliamentary foreign affairs committee, told the Interfax news agency that the decision reflected Russia’s ability to manage its internal affairs without outside help. A US embassy spokesman was not immediately available for comment. The agreement is just one of several bilateral cooperation deals that Moscow has decided to abandon. Last year, Russia expelled the US International Development Agency and also warned it wouldn’t extend the Nunn-Lugar program helping it dismantle nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons stockpiles. On Friday, the US withdrew from a joint civil society working group. President Barack Obama’s efforts to “reset” relations with Russia has met a markedly colder wind from the Kremlin since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in May. Faced with unprecedented street protests against his 12-year rule, Putin accused the US State Department of staging the protests in order to weaken Russia. After Putin’s inauguration, the Kremlin-controlled parliament then quickly rubber-stamped a series of laws imposing new

Liberia buzzes as latest talks on development agenda begin KUWAIT: “The Monrovia meeting will focus on state actors, governments, corruption, security, fragile states and ongoing conflicts in many parts o the world, it will not be an Africa-centered discussion, but rather a part of the overall process to reach global consensus and ownership of process. Civil society participation is expected to be bold, creative, and at the same time realistic.” Abdoulaye Dukule, Liberia’s Special Envoy to the High-Level Panel said. Monrovia - When United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon tipped a high level panel back in July 2012, the goal was to come up with suggestions and advice on the global development agenda beyond 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia and British Prime Minister David Cameron were named as co-chairs of the panel which the UN chief hopes will come up with a bold yet practical development vision to present to Member States in the first half of 2013. “I look forward to the panel’s recommendations on a global post-2015 agenda with shared responsibilities for all countries and with the fight against poverty and sustainable development at its core,” Ban said last July. The expectations of the panel are enormous with many activists and international groups already throwing out challenges in hopes that the panel will deliver. For example, a recent report by the humanitarian group, “Save the Children “urged the panel to use its influence by adopting a new plan to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. Save the Children’s new report ‘Ending Poverty in Our Generation” outlines an ambitious new development framework which, it says, can help all countries end extreme poverty in the next 20 years. This is the first time that an organization proposes specific new targets to replace the MDGs, “Ending extreme poverty in a generation is possible. We have a historic opportunity to end the devastating cycle of poverty that is at the heart of preventable death, chronic illness, inadequate educational outcomes, and thwarted opportunity for children around the world,” said Save the Children’s CEO, Patricia Erb. The report says the end of extreme poverty is now in sight because of remarkable progress made in improving the lives of millions over the last two decades. For example, the number of under-five deaths worldwide declined from nearly 12 million in 1990 to under 7 million in 2011, and an additional 56 million children enrolled in primary school from 1999 to 2009. The report warns of three major threats to the process: A failure to tackle inequality in the framework will mean progress will be too slow and some groups will be left behind: A desire to cram too much into the framework leading to a lowest common denominator outcome; A

fragmented and already fractious political process at UN level. For Liberia’s Sirleaf, the high-level panel is a useful framework instrument in building a focused development agenda that has induced government and their partners to take concrete actions, improve coordination and monitor progress. Sirleaf underscored in 2012 that the MDGs have been successful in building shared understanding of how to effectively address key dimensions of extreme poverty in Liberia as well as keeping political leaders, civil organizations, and others focus on the MDGs, and on government’s performance in their achievement which had kept leaders more accountable and transparent in what they do. “The MDGs positioned themselves as if the global trend of the 1980s and 1990s for each of the dimensions focused on could be sustained and the goals achieved if every country, despite its particular circumstances, would use, for their specific development purpose, the same benchmarks that were being proposed in the global framework,” she explained. Nevertheless, some have suggested that the MDGs are a bit too minimalistic and only to poor countries. This month, members of the panel will convened in one of those poor countries, Liberia and another, Bali, Indonesia to continue dialogue as part of the SecretaryGeneral’spost-2015 initiative mandated by the 2010 MDG in which members states called for open, inclusive consultations involving civil society, the private sector, academia and research institutions from all regions, in addition to the UN system, to advance the development agenda beyond 2015. The work of the panel will reflect new development challenges while also drawing on experience gained in implementing the MDGs, both in terms of results achieved and areas for improvement. The panel’s work will be closely coordinated with that of the intergovernmental working group tasked to design Sustainable Development Goals, as agreed at the Rio +20 conference. The reports of both groups will be submitted to Member States for their further deliberations. The work of the panel will reflect new development challenges while also drawing on experience gained in implementing the MDGs, both in terms of results achieved and areas for improvement. The panel’s work will be closely coordinated with that of the intergovernmental working group tasked to design Sustainable Development Goals, as agreed at the Rio +20 conference. The reports of both groups will be submitted to Member States for their further deliberations. During the panel’s first meeting on September 2012 in New York, the group expressed a commitment to an open, transparent, and inclusive process and offered an opportunity to get a sense of how Panel members view the agenda, and to trade ideas. Key among the panel’s mandate is to accelerate to reach the MDGs in the next three

years. During that meeting that panel felt that there would most definitely be some ‘unfinished business’ to take forward after 2015. The panel felt at the time that it needed to bring unfinished business into the new framework which should be built on the on the foundation of the MDGs, learning lessons from the past 12 years. The post 2015 agenda, according to the panel should be focused on poverty eradication and promote sustainable development. “This should be the central anchor. Yet we know that poverty is different today than it was in the year 2000. The panel noted the importance of reflecting the changed world in any new framework, taking on board the new challenges that have arisen” “Some of those mentioned included: sustainability, the importance of inclusive growth and productive capacity, conflict, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and global partnerships,” according to the communiquÈ from the panel’s first meeting. The panel also felt strongly that its work should be evidence-based, accountable, transparent, and be the product of an inclusive consultation process. “The legitimacy and success of the process will rest on the degree to which it meaningfully reflects and incorporates the voices of key stakeholders”. “There is a need for global, regional, and thematic consultations with a plurality of key stakeholders including: people directly affected by poverty and injustice; women; youth; business, and broader civil society.” Coming to Liberia, a post-war nation on the mend, the high-level panel’s attention will be focused on state actors, government, corruption, security, fragile states and ongoing conflicts in many parts of the world, according to Abdoulaye Dukule, Liberia’s Special Envoy to the High-Level Panel. “It will not be an Africa-centered discussion, but rather a part of the overall process to reach global consensus and ownership of process. Civil society participation is expected to be bold, creative, and at the same time realistic,” says Dukule. Dukule says that President Sirleaf greatly values the process of consultation. “She has been talking to a wide range of actors in Europe and is now talking to people in Europe. The Liberian President is inviting both civil society and the private sector into dialogue, focusing on those who work daily on solutions to development problems.” In Liberia, the challenges of meeting the MDG goals remain daunting. Sirleaf herself acknowledged that much in July 2012 when she noted that while her administration has made progress in many areas, Liberia may still not be able to meet the full goals. For Sirleaf, a robust consultation process involving countries arid people would shortly ensue to ascertain new goals and develop measures to deal with them. “This will give me an opportunity to get more information where Africa is, and what measures can be put in place to ensure that we meet the goals.

restrictions on civil society in an apparent bid to curb American influence in Russia. Non-governmental organizations funded from abroad were required to register as “foreign agents,” a term intended to ruin their credibility among Russians for whom the term sounds syn-

and the International Republican Institute, which ran democratic and civil society programs, moved their staff to Lithuania after Russian security officials threatened to prosecute them under the new treason law. Amnesty International Russia director Sergei Nikitin wrote on

The country’s top investigative agency is also investigating a sexual abuse case against American parents already convicted in the US of abusing their adopted Russian child but given suspended sentences. Lawmakers in the Kremlin-controlled lower house have also rushed to propose such

MOSCOW: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (center) chairs a meeting of his envoys in Federal Districts in the Kremlin in Moscow yesterday. —AFP onymous to spies. The Russian definition of treason was also expanded to include potentially any contact with a foreign organization. Two U.S.-based NGOs have closed their Russian offices in response to the new laws. The business daily Kommersant reported yesterday that the National Democratic Institute

his blog yesterday that the closures “show the stability of the general trend: the pressure on civil society in Russia continues.” After Congress passed a law introducing sanctions against Russian officials involved in human rights abuses, Russia responded by banning all adoptions of Russian orphans by Americans.

measures as banning English phrases from Russian and limiting marriages between Russian officials and foreigners. Outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told NPR yesterday that the Russian adoption ban was “tragic” and the decision to expel the USAID “really hurts the Russian people.” —AP



Obama: ‘Time is now’ for immigration reform LAS VEGAS: US President Barack Obama said Tuesday that long-sought reforms to a “broken” immigration system were within America’s grasp, seeking to lock in rare momentum towards a major cross-party compromise. Obama laid out principles on the divisive issue which would nudge 11 million illegal immigrants slowly towards citizenship within stronger US borders and let prized foreign students stay on after graduation to boost the US economy. He also praised a bipartisan group of senators who on Monday unveiled their own guidelines for legislation on an issue that would represent a major legacy achievement for Obama at the start of his final White House term. “The question now is simple. Do we have the resolve as a people, as a country, as a government, to finally put this issue behind us? I believe that we do,” Obama said during a lightning stop in Las Vegas, Nevada. “I believe we are finally at a moment where comprehensive reform is within our grasp,” Obama said, at a point in history when Republicans want to thwart Democratic primacy among Hispanic voters, for whom immigration is a key issue. “Now is the time. Now is the time. Now is the time,” Obama said. The president sought to harness signs of unusual consensus in sharply divided Washington over immigration reform, six

years after the last attempt to overhaul the system ended in a spectacular and politically toxic failure. The president noted that his plan, first unveiled in detail in 2011, covered similar ground as the Senate approach. Both plans would broadly: Offer illegal immigrants a long path to permanent residency and citizenship, requiring them to pay back taxes, learn English, have background checks and demonstrate familiarity with US culture. ● Include efforts to strengthen US borders and visa systems and speed a path out of limbo by young people brought to the country illegally by their parents. ● Improve worker verification systems that deter illegal immigration and dismantle barriers to highly skilled foreign workers entering America to catalyze future economic growth. But there are some major and politically problematic differences: The Senate plan makes the scheme offering a route to citizenship contingent on the completion of certain enforcement measures. Obama’s would not. The president’s plan also treats same sex couples the same as straight ones, ie a US citizen’s same sex partner would have the same rights to come to America as another person’s straight spouse. ●

The differences are a possible irritant as the White House and Republicans seek a compromise, both sides hope, by later this year. One prominent Republican, rising star Marco Rubio - who may run for president in 2016 - warned Tuesday that he would not back any bill that did not include a “trigger mechanism” for enforcement. “Without such triggers in place, enforcement systems will never be implemented and we will be back in just a few years dealing with millions of new undocumented people in our country,” Rubio said. Republicans are sensitive to any claims by their conservative base voters that the path to citizenship equates in any way to “amnesty,” an explosive charge which contributed to the failure of immigration reform in 2007. While reflecting hope, Obama displayed his customary impatience with the inertia that often descends on Congress, promising that if lawmakers did not act within a “timely” manner, he would send up his own bill and demand a vote. Reactions to the speech reflected hopeful caution that change could be at hand. Senator John McCain, a key Republican player, said he appreciated Obama’s support for the Senate plans, and stressed that border security enforcement was particularly important. Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner,

LAS VEGAS: US President Barack Obama points to the crowd after delivering remarks on immigration reform at Del Sol High School on Tuesday. —AFP advised Obama not to “drag the debate to the left,” in a sign that the Republican party leadership faces a tough sell on immigration reform to its members in the House. Key Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer complimented the president for handling the issue “perfectly“ by stressing urgency while allowing both sides space to form a coalition. Treacherous politics dashed similar

reform efforts under president George W. Bush, but the rising muscle of Hispanic voters has shifted political calculations and created the most favorable climate for reform in years. Obama repeatedly promised during his first term to push immigration reform and successfully laid the blame on gridlock on Republicans who paid a heavy price as Hispanic voters flocked to the president last November. —AFP

Giffords surprise witness as Congress talks guns US lawmakers confront gun violence WASHINGTON: Former US congresswoman Gabby Giffords, grievously wounded in a 2011 mass shooting, made an emotional plea yesterday for Congress to take action to curb gun violence in the aftermath of last month’s Connecticut school massacre, urging lawmakers to “be bold, be courageous”. Wearing a red jacket and speaking haltingly, Giffords appeared as the first person to testify before the first congressional hearing on gun violence since the Dec 14 incident in which a gunman shot dead 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

too many children. We must do something. It will be hard. But the time is now.” Accompanied by her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, she concluded: “You must act. Be bold, be courageous. Americans are counting on you. Thank you.” She did not take questions from the committee. Kelly also testified. The couple recently founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, a group intended to combat gun violence. “Gabby and I are pro-gun ownership. We are also anti-gun violence. And we believe that in this debate, Congress should look not towards special inter-

WASHINGTON: Shooting victim and former US Rep Gabby Giffords and her husband, retired NASA astronaut and Navy Capt Mark Kelly are seen at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about gun control on Capitol Hill yesterday. —AFP Responding to outrage across the country following the Connecticut massacre, President Barack Obama and other Democrats are seeking the largest gun-control package in decades. “This is an important conversation for our children, for our communities, for Democrats and Republicans,” Giffords, who survived a head wound in an assassination attempt last year in Tucson, Arizona, told the Senate Judiciary Committee. Six people were killed and 13 wounded in the incident. “Speaking is difficult. But I need to say something important,” she told the senators. “Violence is a big problem. Too many children are dying -

ests and ideology - which push us apart - but towards compromise, which brings us together,” Kelly told the senators. Others set to testify include National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre, whose group is an influential opponent of gun restrictions. Obama’s proposals to curb gun violence include reinstating the US ban on military-style “assault” weapons, limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines, and more extensive background checks of prospective gun buyers, largely to verify whether they have a history of crime or mental illness. Republicans and some pro-gun Democrats envision a more modest

package. It is unclear whether there is sufficient support in the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-led House of Representatives to pass any gun restrictions beyond improved background checks. The calls for gun control - so prominent during the emotional days following the shootings in Connecticut - will face political reality in Congress. The committee chairman, Senator Patrick Leahey, made clear whatever measures would be considered to rein in gun violence, there would be no move to erode the fundamental right of Americans to own a gun, which is protected under the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. “Americans have the right to have guns in their home to protect their family,” he said. Americans must come together on the issue, Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, added. Most Republicans and some Democrats in Congress favor gun rights and represent constituents who do as well. The NRA has called any attempt to restrict weapon sales an assault on Americans’ constitutional right to bear arms. In recent days, some Republican lawmakers have joined Democrats in emphasizing better background checks of gun buyers, rather than Obama’s plan to ban the sale of rapid-firing assault weapons like the one used in the Connecticut shootings. The NRA’s plan for securing schools has revolved around putting armed guards on campuses. In a statement released Tuesday that he plans to give before the Senate panel on Wednesday, LaPierre sounded a familiar refrain of gun-rights supporters, calling on better enforcement of existing gun laws rather than new laws. “We need to look at the full range of mental health issues, from early detection and treatment, to civil commitment laws, to privacy laws that needlessly prevent mental health records from being included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System,” he said. Federally licensed firearms dealers are required to run background checks for criminal records on gun buyers. But the government estimates that 40 percent of purchasers avoid screening by getting their guns from private sellers, including those at gun shows. The White House’s plan would require screening for all prospective buyers. The background check provision is generally regarded as the gun-control measure most likely to receive bipartisan support, but even it could face some difficulty. Although Obama’s Democrats hold a 55-45 edge in seats in the US Senate, the president’s call to revive the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 faces an uphill fight. —Reuters

US man kills bus driver, takes child MIDLAND CITY, Alabama: Police teams swarmed a rural US property yesterday where a man accused of fatally shooting the driver of a school bus and fleeing with a 6year-old passenger was thought to be hiding in a homemade bunker. Neighbors were evacuated, and one said she had been startled this week by the suspect’s stare. The man boarded the bus in Midland City, Alabama, on Tuesday afternoon and shot the driver when he refused to let the child off, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olsen told WBMA-T V. The shooter then took the child, authorities said. County coroner Woodrow Hilboldt told AP the standoff continued early yesterday. “That’s what has been described to me as an underground bunker. Someplace to get out of the way of a tornado,” Hilboldt said. Neighbors said the rural property belonged to Jimmy Lee Dykes, a man in his 60s. Court records showed Dykes had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning to face a

charge of menacing neighbors as they drove by his house last month. The neighbors said he yelled and fired shots over damage he claimed their truck did to a makeshift speed

bump in the dirt road. About 50 vehicles from law enforcement agencies were clustered at the mouth of that road yesterday. Reporters were being held

MIDLAND CITY, Alabama: Law enforcement personnel work at checkpoint yesterday near a home where the Tuesday’s school bus shooting suspect is barricaded in a bunker with a young child as hostage. —AP

back from the area and couldn’t see the home. The coroner said the victim died of multiple gunshot wounds. The Dale County Sheriff’s Office named the victim as 66-yearold Charles Albert Poland, Jr. Nearby residents were evacuated from their homes as a precaution, said Rachel David, a spokeswoman for the police department in the nearby town of Dothan. “Authorities also confirmed the presence of a child at the scene but are giving no further information at this time,” David said in a news release late Tuesday. Claudia Davis, who lives on the road where the standoff was taking place, said yesterday that she and her neighbors couldn’t leave because the one road was blocked by police. Davis, 54, said she has had run-ins with the suspect. “Before this happened, I would see him at several places and he would just stare a hole through me,” Davis said. “On Monday, I saw him at a laundromat and he seen me when I was getting in my truck, and he just started and stared and stared at me.” —AP

WASHINGTON: US Sen John Kerry looks at his watch while waiting for an elevator after the full Senate voted on him to become Secretary of State on Tuesday on Capitol Hill. —AFP

Senate confirms Kerry as secretary of state Clinton sad to be leaving WASHINGTON: The US Senate on Tuesday confirmed Senator John Kerry will be the next secretary of state, approving President Barack Obama’s pick to replace Hillary Clinton as America’s top diplomat. Kerry - a senator from Massachusetts best known outside the United States for his unsuccessful 2004 presidential campaign - was nominated last month to take over the foreign affairs portfolio in Obama’s second term team. The Senate voted 94-3 in favor of the veteran Democratic lawmaker after the chamber’s Foreign Relations Committee, which Kerry chairs, approved the nomination earlier in the day. Clinton said yesterday said she was sad to be stepping down but assured staffers that Kerry would do a great job replacing her as the top US diplomat. “I know I’m leaving the department in excellent hands,” Clinton said, after being greeted with cheers and a standing ovation at a final town hall-style address to employees at the State Department. “He brings judgment, experience, vision and a deep understanding... to what our diplomacy requires,” she said of Kerry. But Clinton said she was approaching her final days in the State Department with “a heavy heart” even though she was “looking forward to the next chapter. It’s like one of those books you buy with blank pages.” Kerry’s nomination was pushed through the Senate in a matter of days, given the clear bipartisan support for the 69-year-old veteran Democratic lawmaker, who spent 28 years in the Senate and has allies on both sides of the aisle. He is known to have long coveted the job, but almost lost out to US ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, seen as Obama’s first choice. Rice withdrew from consideration for the post under Republican fire over the administration’s confused public response to the Sept 11 attack on a US mission in Libya that left four Americans dead. Earlier, Kerry said he was “humbled” and gratified by the support from his colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who voted unanimously in his favor. “They’ve

been wonderful, they’ve been really superb,” he said of his fellow committee members, adding that he was a little sad to leave the august chamber. “I’m very wistful about it, it’s not easy,” he said. Clinton, 65, is expected to leave her post Friday, amid speculation about whether she will run for the presidency in 2016. For now, she has said only that she is looking forward to some rest after four grueling years. At his confirmation hearing last week, Kerry called for “fresh thinking” as he outlined his foreign policy agenda and plans for relations with Iran, China and the Middle East. “American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone,” he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “We cannot allow the extraordinary good that we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the role that we have had to play since September 11th, a role that was thrust upon us,” he said. The decorated Vietnam veteran turned anti-war activist built strong credentials in the Senate. He has sat down with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, soothed nerves in Pakistan and visited the Gaza Strip. But he will face a number of significant challenges in the months and years to come, as the United States tries to extricate itself from war in Afghanistan and rebuild ties in the Middle East in the wake of the Arab Spring revolts. “His whole life has prepared him for this job,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said on the Senate floor. With Kerry’s more-or-less painless approval out of the way, Obama faces a tougher political battle winning senatorial support for his pick to replace Leon Panetta as defense secretary -Chuck Hagel. Despite being a moderate former Republican senator and a decorated Vietnam War veteran, Hagel has run afoul of critics who accuse him of being soft on Iran and lukewarm in his support of key US ally Israel. Hagel and his supporters have mounted a vigorous lobbying effort in a bid to allay these concerns and his Senate confirmation hearing is set for today. —Agencies

Mexico probes band massacre MONTERREY, Mexico: Mexican authorities are investigating why a band that performed love songs was kidnapped and killed by gunmen, who dumped their bodies in a well in the drug cartelinfested north. The killings underscored yet again the pervasiveness of Mexico’s grisly drug violence, which has claimed more than 70,000 lives since the launch of a military crackdown on the powerful, feuding cartels in 2006. Authorities said late Tuesday they had pulled 17 corpses from a desert well in the northern state of Nuevo Leon since Sunday, with 14 confirmed so far as members of Kombo Kolombia. The band’s 14 musicians and four roadies were snatched in the middle of a party early Friday in the town of Hidalgo. One member managed to escape his captors and led police to the gruesome site in the nearby town of Mina. Musicians have fallen victim to Mexico’s relentless drug war before, but

those killed in the past usually performed songs that glorify the exploits of drug lords, a popular style known as “narcocorridos”. This latest slaying is unusual because Kombo Kolombia specialized in vallenato, fast-paced folk music from Colombia, and performed romantic songs with lyrics unrelated to the drug trade. Jorge Domene, the spokesman for Nuevo Leon state security, said Tuesday that investigators were “still gathering information that can guide us to the real cause” of the murders. A source close to the investigation said the prosecutor’s office was looking into any links the musicians may have had with the Zetas, an ultra-violent drug cartel founded by former special forces soldiers. The Zetas control some of the sites where Kombo Kolombia played, according to the source, who said the killers might have been members of the rival Sinaloa cartel. —AFP



India PM promises prompt action on rape law advice Commission receives more than 80,000 suggestions

SYDNEY: A daredevil skylarks as large waves crash over him at Bronte Ocean swimming baths yesterday. —AP

Australians clean up from floods BRISBANE: Military personnel headed to flood-ravaged northeast Australia yesterday to help clean up the sludgy aftermath of floods that damaged thousands of homes and businesses and left some communities short of power, food and water. The death toll from the flood crisis rose to six yesterday when police discovered the bodies of two men in a creek. Floodwaters were receding in most places, bringing relief to a region that was battered by worse floods just two years ago. But there were concerns about food and water shortages in some communities and thousands were without power. Around 120 soldiers were en route to the hardest-hit city of Bundaberg in Queensland, 385 kilometers (240 miles)

ANTWERP: Photo shows the new statue of Mahatma Gandhi unveiled during a visit of an Indian delegation to Antwerp. The previous bust donated to the city by the Indian community and inaugurated in 2006, was stolen in July 2010. — AFP

north of Brisbane. The flooding, caused by the remnants of a tropical cyclone, forced around 7,500 Bundaberg residents from their homes, inundated 2,000 houses and 200 businesses with murky water and prompted helicopter evacuations of 1,000 people. As the cleanup began yesterday, some residents complained about dwindling food supplies. “People were almost coming to blows this morning at the local shop fighting over bread rolls,” said Chris Pasky of Moore Park, just outside Bundaberg. “We’ve got a baby in the house we can’t feed. We’ve just been forgotten.” In Brisbane, residents were warned to conserve water after muddy floodwaters put pressure on the city’s water treatment plants. Queensland Premier Campbell Newman told Australian Broadcasting Corp. that stocks of bottled water were ready to be distributed to residents if the reservoirs run dry. In other areas, officials scrambled to deliver supplies to residents still cut off by the slowly receding waters. “We’re discovering people who are isolated, without power, without water, and we’re going to be getting some long-life milk and bread supplies in through fourwheel drive later today,” said Pam Parker, mayor of Logan City, south of Brisbane. In a waterlogged area of Queensland, police on yesterday found the bodies of two men in a creek near Gatton, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of Brisbane. One of the bodies was in a submerged car. Formal identification was still pending, but police said they believe the bodies are those of two men, aged 25 and 34, who disappeared as they traveled separately to work on Sunday. Queensland residents suffered through the worst flooding Australia had seen in decades in late 2010 and early 2011, when floodwaters from heavy rain killed 35 people, damaged or destroyed 30,000 homes and businesses and left Brisbane under water for days. Australia has been suffering through a summer of weather extremes, with blistering temperatures and dry conditions igniting hundreds of wildfires across the southern half of the country. — AP

Gillard announces September election CANBERRA: Prime Minister Julia Gillard surprised Australians yesterday by announcing that elections will be held Sept 14, in a country where governments have traditionally given the opposition little more than a month’s notice to keep a strategic advantage. In a speech to the National Press Gallery, Gillard said she wanted to create an environment in which voters could more easily focus on national issues by removing uncertainty around the timing of the elections. “I reflected on this over the summer and I thought it’s not right for Australians to be forced into a guessing game, and it’s not right for Australians to not face this year with certainty and stability,” she said, referring to her holiday break during the current Southern Hemisphere summer. Experts disagreed about whether Gillard’s unconventional move would give her an advantage in the elections. Some said voters would embrace her for making the early announcement on the date, while others suggested that Gillard had above all created a grueling eight-month election campaign instead of the usual five-week campaign. Opinion polls suggest the conservative opposition coalition led by Tony Abbott is likely to win the elections convincingly. Abbott welcomed the announcement on the date. He said the elections would “be about trust,” echoing his Liberal Party’s campaign theme during its last successful election campaign in 2004. “The choice before the Australian people could not be clearer,” he told reporters. “It’s more tax or less, it’s more regulation or less, it’s less competence or more, it’s less freedom or more.” Abbott has promised to remove the carbon tax that Australia’s biggest polluters pay, as well as the tax paid by coal and iron ore miners. Both taxes were introduced in July. Gillard’s center-left Labor Party narrowly scraped through the last elections on Aug 21, 2010, to form a minority government with the support of independent legislators and a lawmaker from the minor Greens party. She said she consulted with Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan and senior col-

leagues to help her make the decision on the date. Two independent lawmakers who support Gillard’s government, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor, said they were informed of the date Tuesday night. Gillard said that given the certainty of the poll date, the opposition would have no excuse to delay the release of the details and costs of their campaign platform. The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the country’s main national business group, backed Gillard’s call for early policy announcements, after previously complaining that the uncertainty of the poll date in an election year harms business. Australian National University political scientist John Warhurst said breaking with convention made Gillard appear in control and transparent, which would likely prove popular with voters who have tired of the guessing that surrounds the poll date in every election year. “Whether she comes to regret giving away the advantage of surprise, only time will tell how big an advantage that was,” Warhurst said. Warhurst and former Labor Party power broker Graham Richardson both said the announcement would make it harder for former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to attempt to replace Gillard in an internal party coup early in the election season. Rudd, who was ousted by Gillard in such a coup in 2010, failed to gain enough support among Labor lawmakers to topple her last February. Richardson said the announcement would also make it difficult for Abbott to put off announcing his campaign platform and explaining how it will be paid for. Senior opposition lawmaker Joe Hockey accused Gillard of political trickery and said it would backfire on her. “She’s defined the next eight months as the longest election campaign in Australian history,” Hockey told Sky News. While the early announcement was a surprise, the date was not. Gillard had to set a date between August and the end of the year. Sept. 14 had been touted by commentators as a likely date. Oakeshott and Windsor said Gillard had agreed in 2010 to hold the next election in September or October. — AP

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said yesterday that his government will act promptly to implement the recommendations of a commission on how to improve laws dealing with crimes against women. A week after the government-appointed panel submitted its report, Singh wrote to retired Chief Justice JS Verma, head of the three-member commission, to thank him for its rapid work. “On behalf of our government, I assure you that we will be prompt in pursuing the recommendations of the committee,” Singh said. The panel was set up in response to the fatal gang rape last month of a young woman on a moving bus in New Delhi. The commission received more than 80,000 suggestions for ways to overhaul the criminal justice system’s treatment of violence against women. Police say the victim and a male friend were attacked after boarding the bus on Dec 16. Theattackers beat the man and raped the woman, inflicting massive internal injuries with a metal bar, police said. The victims were dumped on the roadside, and the woman died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital. The brutal attack set off nationwide protests, sparking a debate about the treatment of women and highlighting the inability of law enforcement agencies to protect them. The panel’s 630-page report blamed government failures and an erosion of the rule of law for an unsafe environment for women which, it said, allowed men to think they could get away with crimes against females. The panel recommended an increase in the penalty for rape to 20 years and suggested life terms for gang rape. But it stopped short of recommending the death penalty for rape.

The report also pushed for amendments to the law to include crimes like stalking, cyber stalking and voyeurism and suggested stiff punishments for such crimes. The panel also recommended that police and other officials who fail to act against crimes against women be punished. It suggested that the government appoint more judges to lessen the backlog of cases and

ensure swift justice. A special fast-track court in New Delhi is currently holding a trial of five men charged in the Dec 16 attack. If convicted, the attackers could face death sentences. A sixth suspect has been declared a juvenile and, if he is convicted, could be sentenced to a maximum of three years in a reform home. —AP

NEW DELHI: In this file photograph, an activist dressed as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stands on a pink bus meant to spread awareness on violence against women. — AP

Top US general confident in Afghans KABUL: The top commander of US-led forces in Afghanistan believes government security forces have improved faster than expected and will be ready to take the lead in the 11-year-old war against the Taleban when foreign combat forces take a back seat this spring. Marine Gen. John Allen told The Associated Press that the main job over the next two years for the International Assistance Force - as the NATO-led troops in Afghanistan are called - will be to advise, train and build the capabilities needed for Afghan forces to go it completely alone. They will face their first test when the fighting season gets under way in the late spring and summer. During the harsh Afghan winter, snow often blocks roads and fighting dies down. The Afghan security forces, which have nearly reached their full strength of 352,000, still need much work to become an effective and self-sufficient fighting machine, but a vast improvement in their abilities was behind a decision to accelerate the timetable for putting them in the lead nationwide, Allen said. President Barack Obama announced earlier this month that the Afghans would take over this spring instead of late summer - a decision that could allow the speedier withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. The Afghan troops “are further along in their capabilities than we had anticipated, and I’m very comfortable frankly with their being in the lead in 2013,” Allen said in a recent interview ahead of his departure. “This is an acknowledgment of their capabilities.” The general, who has led the military coalition for 19 months, is leaving Afghanistan on Feb. 10. The White House said it would nominate him to become the head of NATO forces in Europe after he was exonerated in a Pentagon investigation of questionable email exchanges with a Florida woman linked to the sex scandal that led his predecessor, David Petraeus, to resign as CIA director. Allen, 59, of Warrenton, Virginia, said the investigation was troublesome, but he was confident that the process would clear him. “I’ll make no secret that it was on my mind, but my number one goals were the interests of the troops, the coherence of the campaign and doing all I could obviously to further our combined interests here,” he said. “But it does weigh on you, and while it weighed on me it really weighed on my family, it really weighed on my family, and the findings ultimately were announced and I continue to move on.” If confirmed by the Senate, Allen would succeed Navy Adm. James Stavridis in the NATO post. He would not comment on how quickly

the remaining 66,000 US troops would return home, or how many American soldiers will remain after the end of 2014, when all foreign combat troops are to leave Afghanistan - saying Obama will make that decision. “We are advising now, and for the foreseeable future and until the latter part of the spring we will be advising at the battalion level,” Allen said, adding that the advising would progressively move up to larger formations until the work was completed. “This is in conjunction with the drawdown of our own forces and in a very measured way, in a way that the Afghans are familiar with and we are able to predict we will eventually move up to the corps level.” Afghan troops already have taken the lead for security on territory holding 85 percent of the country’s population of around 30 million. “In many respects they are already leading operations, 80 percent of operations across the country are being led by the Afghans right now. So I am confident that in this coming fighting season, where technically they will be in the lead across the country operationally, that they are ready and we will be in support of them,” Allen said. “I think they are going to do fine this year and we will stay with them. There is much work still to be done.” The Afghan lead in fighting has already become apparent in the casualty figures. US troop deaths declined overall from 404 in 2011 to 295 in 2012. More than 2,000 US troops and nearly 1,100 coalition troops have died here since the US invasion in late 2001. Last year many of those deaths were at the hands of the Afghan forces they were partnered with or training. Deaths from so-called insider attacks Afghan police and troops killing foreign allies surged to 61 in 45 attacks last year compared with 2011, when 35 coalition troops were killed in 21 attacks By comparison, more than 1,200 Afghan soldiers died in 2012 compared to more than 550 in 2011, according to data compiled by the Washington-based Brookings Institution. Many are concerned that the Afghan forces will not be up to the task of securing the country after 2014. The size of the force will also have to be reduced after coalition forces leave because much of the funding for it will have dried up. At its summit in Chicago last May, NATO agreed on a fundraising goal to underwrite a force of about 230,000 that would cost about $4.1 billion annually. When Allen took over from Petraeus in July 2011, the war was in full force. But the tide was turning, and public opinion in the United States and in coalition countries was tiring of a lengthy conflict that was widely seen as propping up a cor-

rupt and thankless Afghan government. In mid-2010, the United States had more than 100,000 troops and coalition forces totaled close to 150,000. The US was spending billions of dollars on a costly counterinsurgency strategy that had all the hallmarks of nation-building. The Afghan army and police were rapidly growing thanks to a mostly US-funded program that cost more than $20 billion, but their combat abilities did not match their numbers. “When I got here we had virtually no battalion level operations under way, and the brigade level operation was only an ambition. Today, every day, there are brigade and corps level operations going on across Afghanistan,” Allen said. He said those operations were being planned, carried out and often supplied by the Afghans, with foreign troops there in a mostly advisory role. The improvements allowed Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai to announce the spring handover date earlier this month. Allen said the decision was made after the withdrawal last September of the 33,000 US troops who were part of a surge announced by Obama in December 2009. In early 2012, Allen said he was grappling with the question of how many combat brigades he could carve out of the 68,000 troops that would remain in Afghanistan after the withdrawal, but the drawdown actually provided an opportunity to thrust Afghan forces in the lead. “The term that I used was they were better than we thought, more importantly they were better than they thought,” he said. But the Afghan forces still need work and to build up key capabilities, including their ability to sustain themselves on the battlefield - from medical evacuations to fuel and ammunition - and to carry out combined arms operations. “The building of their capabilities will take time,” Allen said, adding that he was “comfortable that our plan to do both these things is on track over time.” The Afghan military will have to make do without requested weapons such as heavy tanks and F-16 fighter jets, but Allen said the equipment that they will receive should give them considerable firepower. They include converting MI-17 transport helicopters to gunships and providing Afghan combat units at all levels with mortars. He said the Afghans had to get used to the idea that they will not have the same air support in the future as they have today. Currently the coalition can provide air support to troops on the ground anywhere in Afghanistan within 12 minutes of a request. “They have to get used to their own resources being the firepower necessary,” he said. - AP

Shah Rukh Khan caught in India-Pakistan spat

MUMBAI: Indian Bollywood Actor Shah Rukh Khan gestures during a promotional event in Mumbai. — AFP

NEW DELHI: Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan appeared to be caught in a verbal slugfest between India and Pakistan after he wrote a magazine article that led to heated exchanges between the rival nations. The controversy erupted after Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik suggested that New Delhi beef up the actor ’s security after Khan wrote an account of how it felt to be a Muslim in India. In the article, Khan wrote that sometimes he became “the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India.” New Delhi reacted sharply to Malik’s comments with Indian politicians and officials suggesting he should concentrate on the security of Pakistani citizens. “Malik would be better served bothering about the internal situation in Pakistan and introspecting about the minorities there,” said Manish Tewari, India’s information and broadcasting minister. India’s Home Secretary R K Singh said India was capable of looking after its citizens. “Let him (Malik) worry about the security of his country’s security,” Singh told reporters. Khan responded to the exchange late

Tuesday by saying he was extremely safe and happy in India. He said it was “irksome for me to clarify this non-existent issue.” He said the article did not “even vaguely say that I am ungrateful for the love I have received in a career spanning 20 years. On the contrary, the article says that in spite of the bigoted thoughts of some of the people that surround us, I am untouched by skeptics because of the love I have received from my countr ymen and women,” he said, reading from a prepared statement. The 47-year- old actor is popularly known as ‘King Khan’ in the Indian film industry. He has acted in around 75 Hindi feature films, including many box-office hits. He has also hosted a season of the Hindi version of the game show, “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” Khan is immensely popular in Pakistan as well. His father was born in the Pakistani city of Peshawar and moved to India in the 1940s. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947. Their relations have been marked by distrust and acrimony in the decades since, although both countries are trying to promote trade and closer cultural ties. — AP



China announces naval exercise BEIJING: China said yesterday that its navy will proceed with a deep-water training exercise amid a continuing spat with Japan over disputed islands in the East China Sea that has sparked regular confrontations between patrol boats from each side. The Defense Ministry said in a statement that the previously scheduled exercise would take place in the coming days in the Pacific, beyond where the islands are located, and where deep waters are ideal for anti-submarine drills. The navy, which last year launched China’s first aircraft carrier, held seven

such drills last year, each involving a half-dozen or more surface ships and an unknown number of submarines. The exercises reflect China’s long-held aspirations to build a navy that can operate far from its shores. Ships taking par t in such exercises before have passed just nor th of the disputed islands, which lie midway between Taiwan and the Japanese island of Okinawa. Training takes place farther out to sea, although the exact location is not announced. Separately, the official Xinhua News Agency said three ships - a missile

destroyer and two missile frigates depar ted from the eastern por t of Qingdao on Tuesday for exercises in the western Pacific. Citing unidentified sources, it said the ships would conduct 20 different drills simulating combat, navigation, and law enforcement operations. Xinhua said the training area would include the Yellow, East China and South China seas, as well as areas north, south and east of Taiwan. Although that comprises a huge swathe of ocean off the Chinese coast, the report did not specifically mention the disputed

islands. Both sides recently have scrambled jet fighters and confronted each other’s patrol boats in waters surrounding the uninhabited rocks, known as Diaoyu in China and Senkaku in Japan. With fears rising over a clash - either accidental or intentional - Japan has in recent weeks launched diplomatic efforts to ease tensions. On Tuesday, China-friendly ex-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi for what the ministry described as friendly talks. China-Japan relations are at a “critical phase,” spokesman Hong Lei told

reporters at a briefing yesterday. “ The two sides should ... take a responsible attitude toward history, properly handle the Diaoyu islands issue, and work toward improving and developing China-Japan relations,” Hong said. Although China has called repeatedly for dialogue on the issue, it has yet to send an envoy to Japan or respond to Tokyo’s proposal for a summit between their leaders. That is at least in part due to Japan’s rejection of Beijing’s demand that it recognize that the islands’ sovereignty is in dispute. — AP

S Korea launches rocket Seoul ‘to build better missiles, scrutinize N Korea’

HAOZHOU: A woman rides a bike in the heavy smog with a mask on a street in Haozhou, central China’s Anhui province yesterday. — AFP

Beijing issues warnings as smog continues BEIJING: Beijing authorities stepped up their health warnings to residents yesterday as thick smog blanketed the Chinese capital and large swathes of the country for a third consecutive day. The city’s 20 million people were urged to shut windows, eat a “balanced diet” and drink plenty of water, while the municipal government advised the elderly, young and those with health problems to stay indoors or wear protective masks if they ventured out. The warnings, on Internet news sites and microblogs and in regular bulletins by state broadcaster China Central Television, were issued as emergency measures were announced to counter the pollution.Authorities announced the closure of 103 factories and ordered 30 percent of official cars off the road on Tuesday. Meanwhile, a campaign for clean air legislation by real estate tycoon and Internet blogger Pan Shiyi-who has 14 million followers on Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter — was gathering pace.By yesterday afternoon more than 43,000 people had voted in favour of new laws to tackle the smog in a survey posted by Pan, the chairman of Soho China, and a member of China’s rubber-stamp parliament. Pan spearheaded a campaign in 2011 to force Beijing to release transparent details on levels of tiny air particles known as PM2.5. Reform-minded investor Xue Manzi, who has 10 million followers on Weibo,

backed his campaign. It was the fourth serious bout of toxic air in recent weeks. The winter of smog has sparked an Internet outcry and repeated calls from state media for action. Public anger continued to grow as the now familiar sight of mask-wearing pedestrians venturing out into heavily-polluted streets was broadcast regularly on television. “I have lived in Beijing for four years and I have not seen it this bad before,” said domestic cleaner Jiang Hua, who is originally from the central province of Henan. “It just seems so prolonged.” Visibility in central Beijing was reduced to 300 metres, according to CCTV, causing 36 flights to be cancelled. The broadcaster also showed images of the eastern province of Jiangsu-some 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) south of the capitalcovered in a thick blanket of smog. The US embassy’s air quality index reading for Beijing stood at 338 and “hazardous” at 3:00 pm yesterday. The index rates a reading over 150 as “unhealthy” and above 300 as “hazardous”. The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Centre gave the figure as 305 at 2:00 pm, indicating the capital’s air was “severely polluted”. Both had stood at well over 400 on Tuesday, with the US embassy statistic peaking at 517. China’s pollution problems are blamed on rapid urbanisation and dramatic economic development. —AFP

Vietnam frees American activist after 9 months HANOI: Vietnamese authorities yesterday released and deported an American prodemocracy activist detained since April, a move that contrasts with the long prison terms given to Vietnamese activists who are members of the same US-based dissident group. The release of Nguyen Quoc Quan came after US diplomatic pressure and removes an obvious thorn in relations between the former enemies. Both countries are trying to strengthen their ties in large part because of shared concerns over China’s emerging military and economic might, but American concerns over human rights in one-party, authoritarian Vietnam are complicating this. Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Quan had “confessed to his crime” and asked for leniency to be reunited with his family. His wife, Huong Mai Ngo, said she doubted this was the case, suggesting that Hanoi was seeking a facesaving way of allowing him to go home. “I don’t believe it. They say that about everybody,” she said via telephone from Sacramento, Calif. “If my husband was prepared to do that (confess), he could have been released nine months ago.” Given the diplomatic sensitivities around the case, most observers had expected Quan to be released and quietly deported. Quan, an American citizen, was arrested at Ho Chi Minh City’s airport in April after arriving on a flight from the United States, where he has lived since fleeing Vietnam by boat as a young man. The 59-year-old is a leading member of Viet Tan, a nonviolent prodemocracy group that Vietnamese authorities have labeled a terrorist organization. He was detained in 2007 in Vietnam for six months, also on charges relating to his pro-democracy activities, before being deported. Authorities initially accused Quan of terrorism, but he was later charged with subversion against the state, which carries penalties ranging from 12 years in prison to death. Earlier this month, 14 Vietnamese

activists associated with Viet Tan were sentenced to up to 13 years in jail. Ngo said she had yet to speak to her husband, who was on a plane home, but that the US consulate had informed her of his release. “I can’t believe it,” she said. “I cried over the phone when I was told.” Asked whether she believed Quan would try to return to Vietnam again, she said: “I can’t stop him, but I hope not.” The US Embassy, which had publicly called on Hanoi to release Quan, had no immediate public response. Quan’s supporters didn’t deny that he had come to Vietnam from his home in California to teach non-violent resistance to the Communist government. His lawyer and family members said earlier this month that his trial on charges of subversion was imminent, but then said it had been postponed for unknown reasons. According to a copy of the indictment obtained by The Associated Press, Quan met with fellow Vietnamese activists in Thailand and Malaysia between 2009 and 2010 and discussed Internet security and nonviolent resistance. The indictment said he traveled to Vietnam under a passport issued under the name of Richard Nguyen in 2011, when he recruited four other members of Viet Tan. Vietnam is routinely imprisons proponents of free speech and those who seek to undermine the Communist Par ty ’s monopoly on power. Last year, the country arrested and convicted several bloggers, part of a reaction against Internet-fuelled criticism of corruption, its human rights record and handling of the economy. US officials said last year they were delaying Washington’s participation in an annual meeting on human-rights concerns because of Vietnam’s lack of progress, including Quan’s arrest. Such consultations have been held every year since 2006. Congress members with large Vietnamese American constituencies have been putting pressure on the Obama administration to get tough with Vietnam.— AP

SEOUL: South Korea launched a satellite into space from its own soil for the first time yesterday amid increased tensions after archrival Nor th Korea accomplished a similar feat and was condemned by the United Nations. The South Korean rocket blasted off from a launch pad in the southwestern coastal village of Goheung. Science officials told cheering spectators minutes later that the rocket delivered an observational satellite into orbit. Officials expected to know today whether the satellite is operating as intended. A crowd gathered around a TV at a train station in downtown Seoul to watch the launch. “I’m proud we have entered the ranks of satellite powers,” office worker Hyun Day-sun said. The launch is a culmination of years of efforts by South Korea Asia’s fourth-largest economy to advance its space program and cement its standing as a technology powerhouse whose semiconductors, smartphones and automobiles command global demand. North Korea’s long-range rocket program, in contrast, has generated international fears that it is getting closer to developing nuclear missiles capable of striking the US. South Korea’s success comes amid increased tension on the Korean Peninsula over Nor th Korea’s threat to explode its third nuclear device. Pyongyang is angry over tough new international sanctions over its Dec 12 rocket launch and has accused its rivals of applying double standards toward the two Koreas’ space programs. Washington and Seoul have called North Korea’s rocket launch a cover for a test of Pyongyang’s banned ballistic missile technology. North Korea recently acknowledged that its long-range rockets have both scientific and military uses, and Kong Chang-duk, a professor of rocket science at South

GOHEUNG: In this photo, South Korea’s rocket lifts off from its launch pad at the Naro Space Center in Goheung, South Korea yesterday. — AP Korea’s Chosun University, said the same argument could apply to the South. Seoul may eventually be able “to build better missiles and scrutinize North Korea with a better satellite,” Kong said. “... There are dual purposes in space technology.” Both Koreas see the development of space programs as crucial hallmarks of their scientific prowess and national pride, and both had high-profile failures before success. South Korean satellites were already in space, launched from countries including Japan, the United States and Russia. Seoul tried and failed to launch satellites on its own in 2009 and 2010; more recent launch attempts were aborted at the last minute. US experts have described the North’s satellite as tumbling in

space and said it does not appear to be functioning, though Pyongyang has said it is working. Pyongyang’s state television made no mention of the South Korean launch, but about an hour after liftoff it showed archive footage of North Koreans cheering the North’s three -stage rocket from last month. Images from the launch frequently appear in North Korean propaganda. The satellite launched by Seoul is designed to analyze weather data, measure radiation in space, gauges distances on earth and test how effectively South Koreanmade devices installed on the satellite operate in space. South Korean officials said it will help them develop more sophisticated satellites in the future. South Korea did need outside help to launch

the satellite: The rocket’s first stage was designed and built by Russian experts. North Korea built its rocket almost entirely on its own, South Korean military experts said earlier this month after analyzing debris retrieved from the Yellow Sea in December. Kim Seung-jo, South Korea’s chief space official, told reporters that his country should be able to independently produce a rocket capable of putting a satellite into orbit by as early as 2018. Spending on science and technology is expected to increase under South Korea’s incoming President Park Geun-hye, who takes office next month. She pledged during her campaign to increase such spending to 5 percent of the South Korea’s GDP by the end of her fiveyear term. — AP

Tremors, gases will be best proof of N Korea nuke test SEOUL: With North Korea appearing set to detonate an atomic device, the UN agency that detected two previous tests says it is prepared to confirm an explosion when it takes place. But experts say it might be difficult to establish whether the blast is nuclear in nature. The best indication of a test will be seismic tremors and gases released into the air, phenomena that the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty identified from previous testing. The Vienna-based organization’s most potent detection tools are more than 150 seismic stations across the globe. Although very small in yield, North Korea’s first test in 2006 was picked up by the CTBTO, as was a second test in 2009. Last week, North Korea warned that it plans a third nuclear test to protest toughened international sanctions meant to punish it for firing a long-range rocket in December. The world sees the launch as a ballistic missile test banned by the UN while Pyongyang says it launched a satellite into orbit as part of a peaceful space development program. The US, South Korea and their allies have pressed the North to scrap its nuclear test plans, saying it will only worsen the country’s decadesold international isolation. The threats have placed scientists and experts in South Korea on

PYONGYANG: A North Korean yesterday walks past a billboard which praises the recent rocket launch success.— AP

high alert as any test is likely to aggravate tensions on the Korean Peninsula. South Korea’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday it believes North Korea has nearly completed its nuclear test preparations, confirming satellite analysis last week by the US-Korea Institute, a research group at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed concerns Tuesday about the series of actions the North Korean regime led by new leader Kim Jong Un has taken. “Let me express my regret, because I think with a new young leader we all expected something different. We expected him to focus on improving the lives of the North Korean people, not just the elite, but everyone to have more education, more openness, more opportunity,” she said in a town hallstyle meeting in Washington. “And instead, he has engaged in very provocative rhetoric and behavior. Its satellite images of the Punggye-ri site where the previous two tests were conducted show that the North Koreans may have been sealing a tunnel into a mountain where a nuclear device would be detonated. In the event of such an underground nuclear test, both the CTBTO facilities and earthquake monitoring stations in South Korea can detect seismic tremors. But although this is a strong indication of a test, it is not an absolute confirmation. An earthquake expert at the state -run Korea Meteorological Administration said his office aims to find out the magnitude of the tremor, the time it started and the exact location on the map within 10 minutes of the explosion. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media. Experts also note that artificial earthquakes, such as those created by nuclear explosions, rarely trigger the same wave patterns as natural quakes. North Korea could still try to deceive and give the impression that it exploded a nuclear device by simply exploding sophisticated conventional weapons that would trigger the same seismic waves produced by a nuclear test, said Chi Heoncheol, an earthquake specialist at the government-funded Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources. By raising tensions this way, North Korea may hope to wrest concessions or aid in return for promises to scale back its unproven nuclear capability. “Even if they bring truckloads of highpowered conventional explosives, put them (into an underground tunnel) and explode them,

they will generate the same seismic wave and sound wave,” Chi said. The only difference is no radioactivity would be detected from the explosion of conventional weapons, he said. The best course for scientists would be to collect air samples to look for increased radiation but the process could take days. Even if the wind is favorable - and assuming North Korea conducts the test at Punggye-ri in the country’s northeastern corner - it will take more than one day for airborne radioactive isotopes like xenon to reach South Korea, according to an official at the government-run Nuclear Safety and Security Commission. The official, who requested anonymity citing the sensitive nature of the subject, acknowledged it may be impossible for South Korea to confirm a test if the wind doesn’t blow southward or if North Korea plugs the underground tunnel so tightly that no radioactive gas escapes. Both South Korea and the Vienna-based CTBTO confirmed increased radiation levels following the North’s 2006 nuclear test but didn’t find anything in 2009. CTBTO spokeswoman Annika Thunborg says that generally speaking it is hard for those conducting nuclear tests to control the escape of noble gases, which is a clear indication of a nuclear test. With her organization’s extensive air sampling network, it is less dependent on wind direction than the South Koreans in identifying such traces. If North Korea decides to conduct a so-called subcritical test, there would be no release of radioactivity at all - but that may be beyond the North’s expertise. A sub-critical test only works on the properties of plutonium but stop short of creating a critical mass, the point at which a selfsustaining nuclear reaction occurs. Such an experiment requires a “very difficult technology” that only a few countries like the US, Russia and England have acquired, said nuclear expert Whang Joo-ho of Kyung Hee University. “I believe North Korea’s technology has not reached that level,” Whang said. North Korea said its upcoming atomic explosion will be a “highlevel” test and many analysts said that refers to a device made from highly enriched uranium, which gives the country a second source for manufacturing bombs in addition to plutonium. Whether North Korea detonates a uranium- or plutonium-based device, there won’t be much difference in how easily scientists can detect the tests. The only difference is that they produce different radioactive gases, Whang said.—AP



Israel hits Syria arms convoy to Lebanon Continued from Page 1 what it called foreign sources saying the convoy was carrying anti-aircraft missiles. In Lebanon, the army reported a heavy presence of Israeli jets over its territory throughout the night, following several days of increased incursions into Lebanese airspace. Israeli jets routinely fly and there have been unconfirmed reports in previous years of air strikes on Hezbollah arms shipments. An Israeli attack inside Syria could be diplomatically provocative, particularly since Assad’s Iranian ally said on Saturday that it would view such a strike as an attack on itself. Israel views Iran as its principal enemy and is engaged in a bitter confrontation over Tehran’s nuclear program. On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is set for a new term after an election earlier this month, told his cabinet that both developments in Iran and turmoil in Arab states, notably Syria and Egypt, meant Israel must be strong. “In the east, north and south, everything is in ferment, and we must be prepared, strong and determined in the face of all possible developments,” he said. The Israeli military confirmed this week that it had lately deployed two batteries of its Iron Dome rocket-interceptor system to around the northern city of Haifa, which came under heavy Hezbollah missile fire during a brief war in 2006. Israel’s refusal to comment yesterday is usual in such cases; it has, for example, never admitted a 2007 air strike on a suspected Syrian nuclear site despite US confirmation of it. By not confirming that raid, Israel may have ensured that Assad did not feel obliged to retaliate. For 40 years, Syria has offered little but bellicose words against Israel. A failing Assad administration, some Israelis fear, might be tempted into more action, while Syria’s Islamist rebels are also hostile to Israel and could present a threat if they seize heavier weapons. Israeli Vice Premier Silvan Shalom said on Sunday that any sign that the Syrian army’s grip on its presumed chemical weapons stocks was slipping could trigger Israeli intervention. But Israeli sources said on Tuesday that Syria’s advanced conventional weapons, much of it Russian-built

hardware able to destroy Israeli planes and tanks, would represent as much of a threat to Israel as chemical arms in the wrong hands. Interviewed yesterday, Shalom would not be drawn on whether Israeli forces had been in action in the north, instead describing the country as part of an international coalition seeking to stop spillover from Syria’s two-year-old insurgency. Recalling that President Barack Obama had warned Assad of US action if his forces use chemical weapons, Shalom told Israel Radio: “The world, led by President Obama, who has said this more than once, is taking all possibilities into account. “Any development ... in a negative direction would be something that needs stopping and prevention.” During the 2006 war in Lebanon, Israeli aircraft faced little threat, though its navy was taken aback when a missile hit a ship. Israeli tanks suffered losses to rockets, and commanders are concerned Hezbollah may get better weaponry. In what might have been a sign of seeking to reassure major powers, Israeli media reported this week that the country’s national security adviser was dispatched to Russia and military intelligence chief to the United States for consultations. Shashank Joshi of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London saw any strike on Wednesday as intended to deliver a signal rather than heralding a major escalation from Israel. “I think the Israelis are sending a message not just to Hezbollah, but also to Assad’s forces, that they have no wish to get dragged in, but chemical weapons and certain types of missiles are a red line for them, and that regime forces ought to signal, in turn, to Hezbollah that they should proceed with caution,” he said. Worries about Syria and Hezbollah have sent Israelis lining up for government-issued gas masks. According to the Israel post office, which is handling distribution of the kits, demand roughly trebled this week. “It looks like every kind of discourse on this or that security matter contributes to public vigilance,” its deputy director Haim Azaki told Israel’s Army Radio. “We have really seen a very significant jump in demand.” — Reuters

Iran and Hezb threat rising Continued from Page 1 and July 2012, with nine coming in the first nine months of 2012, Levitt said in the report. “What is particularly striking is how amateurish the actions of both organizations have been: Targets were poorly chosen and assaults carried out with gross incompetence,” Levitt said in the report. “But as the groups brush off the cobwebs and professionalize their operations, this sloppy tradecraft could quickly be replaced by operational success.” Levitt is a senior fellow and director of the Washington Institute’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence. From 2005 to early 2007, he served as deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the Treasury Department. The two key attacks, the report said, include the plot by a Texas man to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States. Manssor Arbabsiar, a US citizen with an Iranian passport, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and murderfor-hire last October and told the court that Iranian military officials were involved in the planning. Iran has denied that link. His effort was foiled when he tried to hire what he thought was a drug dealer to carry out the attack in a Washington restaurant. The man was actually a US Drug Enforcement Administration confidential source. While that plot highlighted a growing willingness to

wage attacks in the US, a second, more successful plot in Bulgaria suggests that militants may be learning from their missteps. Last July, a bomb killed a bus driver and five Israelis, and wounded 30 others, when it struck a tour bus in a caravan. Officials have blamed the attack on Hezbollah. Other attacks over the past two years have also identified repeated links between Hezbollah and the Quds force - a long alliance that historically involved the Iranians arming, funding or training the Lebanon-based militants and using them as proxies. In testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last September, Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said “the Quds force, as well as the group that it coordinates with, Lebanese Hezbollah” posed a significant source of concern. FBI associate deputy director Kevin Perkins added, “We look at it as a serious threat, and ... we are focusing intelligence analysts and other resources on that on a daily basis to monitor that threat.” According to Levitt, the efforts to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program have only made Tehran more eager to see a successful attack carried out. He said that both Hezbollah and the Quds Force have been hampered by the increased security triggered by the 9/11 attacks. — AP

Keepers hold a white tiger cub during an examination yesterday at the Serengeti wildlife park in Hodenhagen, central Germany. The tiger cub was born at the park in Oct 2012. — AFP

RIM changes its name, unveils BlackBerry Continued from Page 1 physical keyboard called the Q10, and a touchscreen handset dubbed Z10. The new BlackBerry “will transform mobile communications into true mobile computing,” Heins said. “Today is a brand new day in the history of BlackBerr y.” The launch is seen as critical to BlackBerry, which had been the dominant smartphone maker before Apple launched its iPhone and others began using the Google Android operating system but now holds less than five percent of the global market, according to surveys. While the new system drew some positive reviews, others noted that the smartphone market is a cutthroat competitive space and questioned whether BlackBerry could make a significant dent. Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum, praised the new BlackBerry offering as “a differentiated user experience in today’s crowded and homogenous smartphone market” but said the company may have trouble winning back customers and end up as a “niche player.” Tech analyst Jeff Kagan said in a note that he was impressed with the lofty number of applications and the overall impression of the device. But Kagan said it was too soon to say if BlackBerry 10 will emerge as a major competitor to Apple and Google. “This is the first step in Blackberry’s recovery and I think they did a good job so far, but there are still so many more steps,” Kagan said. “We’ll have to wait and see, but so far, so good.” The new device will be available as soon as today in some markets, but not until mid-March in the key US

market. Heins told a news conference that the reason for the delay in the US is “a rather lengthy” testing process but noted some carriers are taking pre-orders. Verizon is marketing the phone in the US for $199 with a two-year plan. BlackBerry has traditionally scored best with corporate clients who have been partial to the device’s reputation for greater network security. However, the smartphone market has been changing radically as more companies shift to a “bring your own device,” or BYOD, model in which companies let workers choose their smartphone. BlackBerry aims to target these users with a system that allows for separate spaces on a single device for work and personal data. Such an option means that if a user changes jobs, an employer can disable the device’s corporate side without affecting personal data. Other features include the capacity for users to share in real-time screens and complex data from two different locales on a messaging system. The phone also features an efficient writing device in which writers can flick a single character and generate an entire word in English, French, German or other languages. Heins said the device was geared for “people who are hyper connected socially” and “people who like to get things done”. The new device also starts with some 70,000 applications, including prominent offerings like Amazon’s Kindle and LinkedIn. Besides corporate clients, BlackBerry is targeting creative entrepreneurs and women, especially working mothers who lead a busy life. To that end, the company appointed pop star Alicia Keys as global creative director. — AFP




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Mexico scrambles to stem violence near capital By Laurent Thomet


ess than two hours away from Mexico City, 50 marines and police officers manned a checkpoint, pulling over trucks, cars and taxis to look for any drugs or weapons. “It is really good that you are doing this operation. We really needed this,” a man with a wife and a baby told a marine armed with an M16 rifle as officers sifted through their taxi outside Toluca, the capital of Mexico state. Worried about an outbreak of gangland murders in the state surrounding Mexico City, authorities launched Operation Armor last week, deploying 3,000 police officers, marines and soldiers to stem the violence. Although Mexico City has mostly escaped the drug war that has bloodied the rest of the country, the 84 murders on its outskirts in January alone serve as a stark reminder of the danger lurking on its doorstep. The newspaper Milenio said it was the deadliest month since 2007, surpassing the 79 killed in Aug 2012. President Enrique Pena Nieto, a former Mexico state governor who took office in December, has promised to tweak the battle against drug cartels in order to focus on reducing everyday violence. But the homicidal binge has persisted across the nation, and right under his nose. While 22 people were murdered in the capital over one weekend this month, the city prosecutor called it an “atypical” spate of violence unrelated to organized crime. Outside the capital, however, the violence is blamed on a gang turf war. On Jan 14, six cut-up bodies were found in plastic bags in the trunk and on the seats of a car in the Toluca suburb of Zinacantepec - a hallmark of drug cartels. Nine days later, the dismembered bodies of 12 people, stuffed in black plastic bags, were discovered in two different locations on the same day. One of the discoveries was made near a Coca-Cola plant, on a road lined with small homes, taco stands and mom-and-pop shops, where trash bags containing the body parts of six people were left inside a green van. “I remember when it didn’t used to be like this, many years ago,” said Jose Luis Rosales, 62, who owns a water filtering business a few meters (yards) from where the van was found in the bluecollar neighborhood. “I live in fear now,” he said. “You only saw this sort of thing in the movies.” Mexico state Governor Eruviel Avila Villegas has blamed the recent violence on a battle between the drug cartel La Familia Michoacana and rival gang Guerreros Unidos. But he called the violence a “sporadic” event. “The federal and state authorities acted rapidly and we will definitely prevent the state from being a place that criminal gangs or organized crime fight over,” he was quoted as saying in the newspaper El Universal. Operation Armor was deployed in six municipalities around Mexico City and two more near Guerrero state, a state security spokesman told AFP. Twenty mobile checkpoint units are at work and have checked 7,500 vehicles so far. Eleven alleged members of La Familia were arrested last week in connection with the body parts found in Toluca. Avila Villegas spoke before a security meeting between governors of six central states, Mexico City’s mayor and Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong on Monday that was planned before the recent spate of violence. Osorio Chong announced that a joint police-military operation would be launched to reinforce security along the nation’s roads, noting that crimes “begin or end” there. This shows that the new government is far from ready to return troops to barracks despite plans to replace them with a new federal police force modeled after France’s gendarmerie. Pena Nieto’s predecessor, Felipe Calderon, deployed 50,000 troops across the country after he took office in December 2006, a decision that critics say unleashed violence that has killed more than 70,000 people. “I want to reiterate what President Enrique Pena Nieto has said, that the army will remain in the streets ... until crime levels go down throughout the country,” Osorio Chong said. —AFP

All articles appearing on these pages are the personal opinion of the writers. Kuwait Times takes no responsibility for views expressed therein. Kuwait Times invites readers to voice their opinions. Please send submissions via email to: or via snail mail to PO Box 1301 Safat, Kuwait. The editor reserves the right to edit any submission as necessary.

Arab Spring diverts Gulf petrodollar flows By Andrew Torchia


t an economic summit of Arab leaders in Riyadh last week, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince called for a minimum 50 percent increase in the capital of a fund that lends money for development projects around the region. Prince Salman, next in line to the Saudi throne, said the kingdom was ready to pay its share in any expansion of the Kuwait-based Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, now capitalised at KD 2 billion ($7.1 billion). The pledge illustrated a shift in the way Gulf Arab states are deploying the hundreds of billions of dollars which they earn annually through oil exports: More of the money is being used in their own countries and inside the region, rather than being invested automatically in Western markets. Both push factors and pull factors are at work, said Shawkat Hammoudeh, a former economist with the Kuwait-based Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries who studies petrodollar flows at Drexel University in the United States. The US credit crisis of 20082009 and the 2010-2012 euro zone debt crisis have made the Gulf states more wary of investment in the West, traditionally the place where they park the vast bulk of their petrodollars. Meanwhile, the Arab Spring uprisings over the past couple of years are diverting some petrodollars to the Middle East. Although most of the Gulf states escaped serious unrest, the political turmoil persuaded Gulf leaders of the need to spend more of their wealth on buying social peace in the region. The changes in petrodollar flows are gradual. Markets outside the West won’t become deep

enough to absorb the bulk of the Gulf’s money for years. Gulf countries’ currency pegs to the US dollar mean it makes sense for them to buy dollar assets. But the fund shifts could eventually slow Western markets that have been lubricated for decades by flows of money from the Gulf. Petrodollars could also bring Arab states closer together diplomatically - a goal that governments have proclaimed for decades but struggled to achieve without economic integration. “The changes in the distribution of the petrodollar savings have implications for the stability of the global financial markets and international trade,” said Hammoudeh. High global oil prices mean the Gulf is swimming in petrodollars. A measure of that is the region’s combined current account balance, its surplus in trade of goods and services. The six states in the Gulf Cooperation Council Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman - posted a record surplus of about $350 billion last year, more than 80 percent larger than China’s surplus, the International Monetary Fund estimates. Traditionally, petrodollars earned by the Gulf’s state-owned oil industries are deposited at their central banks, which invest many of them in safe international instruments such as US Treasury bonds. Some of the money is sent to the Gulf’s sovereign wealth funds, which invest it actively in foreign assets. Some ends up being used for government spending. Although new flows of petrodollars into Western markets aren’t stopping, there are signs that a larger proportion of the money is being diverted to other destinations. Asian oil exporters - a group dominated by the GCC

countries - held $426.5 billion of long-term US securities in September, up from $345.9 billion a year earlier, latest US Treasury data shows. While that is a large rise in absolute terms, the increase accounts for only a small fraction of the GCC’s current account surplus. US banking liabilities to Asian oil exporters, an indicator of Gulf deposits in U.S. banks, were flat at around $130 billion last year after growing steadily for most of the past decade, according to the US Treasury. The secrecy surrounding Gulf central banks and sovereign wealth funds means there is no comprehensive data for the GCC’s investment in Europe. But commercial bankers in the Gulf say privately that it is smaller than US investment, and that it slowed in the past several years as the euro zone crisis hit. Instead of going to the West, some petrodollars are now being spent on other Arab states, in an effort to support their economies and restore political stability after the Arab Spring. Qatar and Saudi Arabia, for example, have provided a combined $9 billion of financial aid to Egypt since its revolution in early 2011. Aid is also flowing from the richest to the poorest states within the GCC; Bahrain and Oman have each been promised $10 billion over 10 years from other GCC members. Ayham Kamel, Middle East analyst at New York-based consultancy Eurasia Group, said that in addition to official aid, he expected Gulf governments to press their prominent businessmen to invest more in needy Arab countries. “Arab leaders hope that they can use their sovereign wealth funds and government investment arms to increase regional business cooperation,” he said after last week’s Riyadh summit.

Domestic spending is also demanding more of the Gulf’s oil wealth. Military expenditure has been rising, partly because of tensions over Iran’s nuclear program. Defence spending by GCC countries climbed about 9 percent to $74 billion last year, estimated Nicole Loeser, Middle East analyst at US-based consultants Forecast International. She predicts it will hit $86 billion in 2017. These amounts are dwarfed, however, by Gulf states’ rising spending on welfare and job creation, to preserve social peace, and on developing non-oil parts of their economies, in the hope of becoming less vulnerable to the next oil price downturn. The Saudi government said last month that it planned to spend a record 820 billion riyals ($219 billion) in 2013, up 19 percent from the 690 billion riyals budgeted for 2012. Rising spending is pushing Saudi Arabia and other GCC states closer to the point at which they will no longer run budget surpluses, even with high oil prices. At that point, most newly earned petrodollars may have to be spent at home, rather than invested abroad. Analysts polled by Reuters estimate Saudi Arabia will need a Brent crude oil price of $82.50 a barrel this year to balance its budget. That is well below the current market price of around $110, but up sharply from $74.80 last year. But Saudi Finance Minister Ibrahim Alassaf made clear at the Riyadh summit that he did not feel pressure to slow spending. “We have the reserves, as well as we are reducing our debt almost to zero. So we can continue in the medium term and even beyond that,” he told reporters. —Reuters

Latam lays out defenses in currency war By Krista Hughes


atin American policymakers are manning their defenses ahead of what could be a new battle in the “currency wars” as flows of hot money put unwelcome upward pressure on their currencies. Economists and investors predict that an easing in the euro zone’s debt crisis, new economic stimulus measures in Japan and a return of risk appetite will fuel bumper investment flows into Latin America and other emerging markets in 2013. Some policymakers are already at the barricades. Colombia cut interest rates on Monday and said it would ramp up dollar purchases. Peru plans to pre-pay up to $1.5 billion in foreign debt this year and is intervening aggressively to curb currency gains. And tiny Costa Rica unveiled a steep hike in taxes on foreign investments this month. Even Mexico, which has a hands-off approach to currency market intervention, is considering an interest rate cut that some economists believe reflects as much a desire for a weaker peso as it does concerns about growth. “Much of the region is once again dealing with the impacts of currency wars and QE in the developed world,” said Standard Chartered senior strategist Bret Rosen, referring to the extraordinary monetary easing measures undertaken by central banks known as quantitative easing. Low interest rates in developed economies encourage investors to look for yield elsewhere, pushing up the currencies of countries at the receiving end of their attentions. Stronger currencies make exports less competitive, hurting economic growth. It is a problem that has battered Brazilian manufacturers for several years.

The government pushed back by slashing interest rates and intervening in the currency market to weaken the real, introducing capital controls and offering tax breaks for several industries. But Brazil has less room for maneuver than other leading Latin American economies this year as policymakers are concerned about inflation, which rose above an annualized rate of 6 percent this month. Latin American finance ministers complained last month about the impact of stimulus policies in developed economies, and Group of 20 economic policymakers are set to address the impact of monetary policy on currency valuations next month at a meeting in Russia. Tools to combat appreciating currencies include buying dollars, as Colombia and Peru are doing; capital controls as in Costa Rica; and macroprudential measures, such as Peru’s move to raise deposit requirements on dollar bank accounts. Mark Mobius, who helps oversee $51 billion in emerging market assets at fund manager Franklin Templeton, expects a huge influx of funds into emerging markets this year as investors tire of low-yielding government bonds. “I think it’s going to be enormous, terrific, hundreds of billions. Investors have been penalized with so low rates that they are not making anywhere near what they need,” he said. Global stock markets are up 4 percent already this year, and fund tracker EPFR said it noted a clear preference for emerging market equities over bonds, which attracted most money in 2012. The VIX index, a gauge of investor stress, fell this month to its lowest levels since 2007. The Institute of International Finance banking group predicts capital flows to Latin America will jump

5.6 percent this year from 2012 to a record $321 billion. Inflows to the region in 2012, including foreign direct investment as well as stock and bond investment, were already estimated to be about 30 percent higher than the “hot money” period immediately before the global financial crisis in 2008. Brazil and Mexico, as the region’s two biggest economies, are likely to attract the bulk of inflows in 2013, although Brazil has managed to deter a lot of speculative investors with capital controls introduced during 2010-2011, when a rush of capital pushed the real up 12 percent against the dollar. Foreign portfolio inflows into Brazilian stocks and bonds totaled $16.5 billion last year, down from $67.8 billion in 2010. In its January fund managers’ survey, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said Brazil had the biggest share of “underweight” ratings in the history of the survey. Mobius likes small to mid-cap companies in the region and firms exposed to the consumer sector, such as banks. Citigroup, which raised its stock ratings for Latin America to “overweight” as it cut back other emerging markets, likes industrials. Mexico, for its part, is benefiting from optimism about tax and energy reforms being promised by its new government. That has helped propel stocks and bonds to record high levels. Pacific Investment Management Co, the California-based firm known as PIMCO that operates the world’s largest bond fund, sees opportunities to make money if Mexico’s central bank cuts interest rates later this year, pushing up the price of bonds. Mexico’s central bank has made a U-turn from warning of rate hikes to warning of rate cuts, prompting many to suspect it is worried about the peso. The peso hit a 10-

month high the day central bankers met to discuss rates, and it only came off those highs when policymakers warned the following morning that they could cut rates. Lower rates would make the peso less attractive to foreign investors. “It’s no surprise that with the peso being weaker in the second half of (last) year that they were a little bit more hawkish, and now we have had a very nice run in the peso yearto-date perhaps they would be more dovish,” said Michael Gomez, co-head of emerging markets at PIMCO. London-based Capital Economics sees Mexico’s peso as the currency with the most upside this year, due mainly to the lower risk of intervention by laissezfaire policymakers, in contrast to the record $13.9 billion bought by Peru’s central bank in 2012 as the sol hit a 16-year high. Chile is likely to join Peru and Colombia in intervening to check gains in the peso while shunning capital controls, said Capital’s Neal Shearing, while Brazil is in the unusual position of trying to strengthen its currency to fend off rising inflation. A stronger currency cuts the cost of imported goods. “Inflation concerns are starting to creep back in Brazil, which now marks it out from Colombia, Chile and Peru who seem to be more worried about the strength of the currency and its impact on competitiveness,” he said. The central bank had intervened in the market in recent months to keep the real weaker than 2 per dollar, but this week rolled over currency swaps that mimic the sale of dollars in the futures market - a move with the opposite effect. The real strengthened past the 2-per-dollar mark on Tuesday for the first time since July, and analysts said they believed policymakers would allow it to firm further if needed. —Reuters



Alex Thomson takes Vendee Globe third LES SABLES D’OLONNE: Britain’s Alex Thomson yesterday arrived in Les Sables d’Olonne, western France, to take third place in the Vendee Globe round-the-world yacht race. The 38-year-old skipper and his boat Hugo Boss crossed the line at 0725 GMT after completing the course in 80 days, 19 hours and 23 minutes. He is the third Briton to make the podium after Ellen MacArthur in 2001 and Mike Golding in 2005. The prestigious non-stop race was won by France’s Francois Gabart, who completed the gruelling course on Sunday in a new record time of 78 days 2 hours 16 min. His compatriot Armel Le Cleac’h was second. Thomson, who is married with a child, has participated twice before in the Vendee Globe, in 2004 and 2008, but was forced to abandon both times. “I’ve sailed out of the channel three times but only once back in. And let me tell you, the way back is absolutely great,” he said.— AFP

Hiddink upset with Samba departure

Referee Coulibaly cut from officials list RUSTENBURG: Mali’s Koman Coulibaly, who took charge of the 2010 African Nations Cup final, is one of five referees leaving this year’s tournament after the completion of the group stage yesterday, officials have confirmed. The 42-year-old has officiated at seven African Nations Cups but is probably best known for disallowing what seemed a perfectly legitimate United States goal against Slovenia at the World Cup finals in South Africa three years ago. Although he has avoided major controversy at this tournament, his handling of host South Africa’s Group A match against Angola came in for widespread media criticism for a series of debatable calls. Also leaving is Egyptian referee Ghead Grisha, who was accused by Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama of “making one of the worst decisions in the history of football” when he awarded a penalty to Zambia in last Friday’s Group C clash. Madagascan official Hamada Namplandraza is another referee heading home after he appeared to lose all sense of time during Togo’s Group D match against Algeria on Saturday after stopping the match in the 86th minute when a goal began to lean. — Reuters

MOSCOW: Congolese defender Christopher Samba’s decision to walk out on Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, apparently to seal a transfer to English Premier League Queen’s Park Rangers, has angered Anzhi’s Dutch manager Guus Hiddink. Reports in the British press indicate Samba is keen to join struggling Rangers in a 10-million-pound deal and he is said to to have left a training camp in Spain to undergo a medical in London. Hiddink said: “The existing situation is not really good for us. He (Samba) started the pre-season training with us but in recent days he began to contact England despite the fact that he is still under contract with Anzhi. “Yesterday he went to England. Hopefully tomorrow we will find out that’s going on.” He added: “I’m really upset with this situation as Samba departed even without saying goodbye to anyone of us. Whatever is going on, I believe, you should never ignore people with whom you were working side by side.” —AFP

Kuwait Federation to hold Air Weapons Referees courses By Abdellatif Sharaa

Thousand players enriched Zain’s amateur soccer tourney KUWAIT: Zain, the leading telecommunications company in Kuwait, announced that its Amateur Football Tournament has witnessed exceptional success, as well as, an outstanding level of participation and attendance. The tournament competitions have reached its final stage after numerous rounds of qualifying games whereby participants have demonstrated remarkable football skills. During a press conference that was organized on the occasion of the tournament finale, Zain highlighted that the championship was hosted in three different governorates for a duration of two months. The tournament involved the participation of almost 1000 amateurs and professional

players from different age groups, with the oldest player being of 45 years and the youngest being 16 years, who represented 96 different teams. The press conference was attended by the Dutch football legend Ruud Gullit, who has influenced many of those with a passion towards football and are aiming to pursue a football career. During the conference, Zain announced that it has provided $100,000 worth of awards and cash prizes to the participating teams and to the top skillful players in the tournament. The Company has also dedicated enormous cash prizes for the first and second runners up of each group. The Tournament has identified many

promising young talents that have drawn the audience’s attention and attracted several scouts and clubs representatives to attend the games searching for potential future stars. Zain has recognized many of the remarkable talents who have acquired the jury’s confidence and attention. This tournament comes in line with Zain’s corporate social responsibility strategy that seeks to support young Kuwaiti talents and sport activities in Kuwait. Zain was delighted to invite all football lovers across the nation to attend the final closure of the league and enjoy watching the final match, as well as, the honoring of the winning team.

KUWAIT: Kuwait Shooting Federation will hold Air Weapons Referees (B) course from February 1st to 4th at Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Olympic Shooting Complex, with the participation of 12 referees from Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Nepal. This course will be followed by a Target Programing and Operating (EST) course that will continue until February 8, with Kuwait, Sri Lanka, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Tunis participating. Secretary General of Arab and Kuwait Shooting Federations Obaid Al-Osaimi said the two courses are being held as the new ISSF rules are being implemented, and Kuwait was the first to implement those rules during the Late Sheikh Fahad Al-Salem Gulf Tournament that was held in Kuwait earlier this month. He said the Kuwait Shooting Sport Club Board of Directors with its Chairman Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem AlHumoud Al-Sabah are always keen to prepare the administrative and technical teams correctly to make sure that they are ready to organize tournaments here in Kuwait and to participate in tournaments abroad. Al-Osaimi said Kuwait Shooting is preparing for an important event which is HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad International Grand Prix tournament, and The Arab Shootgun tournament to start on March 1. He said that more than 20 countries expressed willingness to participate, and the specialized committees

are working hard to make sure everything is as required for the tournament. Al-Osaimi, on behalf of the Board of Directors thanked HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah for supporting the shooting community, he also thanked HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak and the government for their continued encouragement and enabling Kuwait Shooters to continue their outstanding achievements and building on them. Al-Osaimi concluded his statement by thanking the Public Authority for Youth and Sport for facilitating the organization of the tournament and support of the Shooting Community.

Obaid Al-Osaimi



In-form Sergio Garcia seeks victory in Dubai DUBAI: Sergio Garcia will be looking to cash in on a rich vein of form and break into the top-10 of the world rankings this week at the Dubai Desert Classic. The world No.14 Spaniard is one of the top attractions in the $2.5 million (1.8 million euros) tournament, which forms the last leg of the threeevent Desert Swing of the European Tour. Garcia narrowly missed out on winning the Qatar Masters in Doha last week when England ’s Chris Wood jumped ahead of him and S outh Africa’s George Coetzee with an eagle on the last hole to win by one shot. That was his first start of 2013 after finishing the previous year on a strong note with a win at the Iskandar Johor Open and a fourth place at the Thai

Golf Championship. In his five previous attempts at the Majlis course, Garcia’s best finish is a tied 11th, a fact that is surprising given his great ball-striking ability and how the golf course, with its numerous dogleg holes, forces players to hit all kinds of shots. Asked if he was surprised that he had not done well on the golf course so far, Garcia replied: “Maybe a little bit. I guess that maybe I haven’t been on top form coming into this tournament. “Obviously, two years ago, I was en route to doing that, and got a terrible break on 17 on Saturday (after opening with two rounds of 67), and that kind of backtracked me a little bit. No, I think it should be fine. Hopefully, we’ll

change that this week.” Garcia, who had a corrective eye surgery done after the Ryder Cup last year, said he was excited about the season after the start he has had. “I feel pretty good about my game. Do I feel like it’s the best I’ve played in my career? Probably not. But I feel fairly good for the most part,” said the 33year-old. “It would be great if I break into the top-10, but it’s not something that bothers me at all. It has not bothered me for a while. I’ve always said it; if I play well, those things will come. “I’m excited because I know how I’m feeling. I know how my attitude is on the course. I know how my will is to try to do things to get better. So that’s very exciting for me. “And we had a

good star t of the season, which is always nice. So I just want to make sure that everything stays the same. I’m going to have bad weeks, but if I can manage to stay with the right attitude, even on the bad weeks, it’s going to make the year go so easy and so much better.” England ’s Lee West wood is the highest ranked player in the tournament at No.8, and having relocated to Florida during the winter break, he is hoping to reap rich rewards of the hard work he has put in the last few weeks. “I played a lot more this winter than I would normally play,” said the former world No.1, who has played every year in the tournament since joining the Tour barring 2002 and has

finished runner-up three times. “There’s no rust. The main reason for moving to Florida was to get more games of golf because I wouldn’t play normally when I’m at home because of the weather. “Last week I had my shorts on and was out playing with Luke Donald. Living in England I’ve always finished the year, gone home, packed the clubs away and came back out trying to catch everyone else. My short game is sharper from being out there, especially my putting.” Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello is the defending champion, while the tournament also features Wood and Jamie Donaldson, winners of the previous two week’s tournaments in Doha and Abu Dhabi. — AFP

Lakers edge Hornets for 3rd straight win Blazers come from behind to beat Mavs 106-104

CORAL GABLES: David Sierra, displaying a photo of a flier that the management company passed out to tenants in an office complex where they rented space to Biogenesis and Anthony Bosch. New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez has denied a newspaper report on Tuesday that accused the baseball star of buying human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing substances from a clinic in the Miami area. — AP

Rodriguez denies doping report NEW YORK: Alex Rodriguez was ensnared in a doping investigation once again Tuesday when an alternative weekly newspaper reported baseball’s highest-paid star was among a half-dozen players listed in records of a Florida clinic the paper said sold performance-enhancing drugs. The Miami New Times said the three-time AL MVP bought human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing substances during 2009-12 from Biogenesis of America LLC, a now-closed anti-aging clinic in Coral Cables, Fla., near Rodriguez’s offseason home. The new public relations firm for the New York Yankees third baseman issued a statement denying the allegations. The newspaper said it obtained records detailing purchases by Rodriguez, 2012 All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera, 2005 AL Cy Young Award winner Bartolo Colon and 2011 AL championship series MVP Nelson Cruz of Texas. Cabrera left San Francisco after the season to sign with Toronto, while Oakland re-signed Colon. Other baseball players the newspaper said appeared in the records include Washington pitcher Gio Gonzalez, who finished third in last year’s NL Cy Young Award voting, and San Diego catcher Yasmani Grandal. Biogenesis, which the New Times said was run by Anthony Bosch, was located in a beige, nondescript office park. The former clinic is no longer listed as a business in its directory, “There was a flier put out by the building management a couple weeks ago. It was put on all the doors and windows of all the offices,” said Brad Nickel, who works in a group cruise planning company on the floor above where the clinic was located. “It just said this guy’s not really a doctor, he doesn’t belong here, he’s no longer allowed here, call the police or the building management if you see him.” David Sierra, who works in his aunt’s real estate office in the same building, kept a picture of the flier on his iPhone. He recognized the doctor in the picture from passing him in the hallway. Sierra said while he never recognized any of the clients at the clinic, “there were always really nice cars in front - I’m not talking just Mercedes. Range Rovers, Bentleys.” The New Times posted copies of what it said were Bosch’s handwritten records, obtained through a former Biogenesis employee it did not identify. Bosch’s lawyer, Susy Ribero-Ayala, said in a statement the New Times report “is filled with inaccuracies, innuendo and misstatements of fact.” “Mr. Bosch vehemently denies the assertions that MLB players such as Alex Rodriguez and Gio Gonzalez were treated by or associated with him,” she said. Rodriguez appears 16 times in the documents New Times received, the paper said, either as “Alex Rodriguez,” “Alex Rod” or the nickname “Cacique,” a preColumbian Caribbean chief. Rodriguez admitted four years ago that he used PEDs from 2001-03. Cabrera, Colon and Grandal were suspended for 50 games each last year by MLB following tests for elevated testosterone. Responding to the testosterone use, MLB and the players’ union said Jan. 10 they were authorizing the World Anti-Doping Agency laboratory outside Montreal to store each major leaguer’s baseline testosterone/ epitestosterone (T/E) ratio in order to detect abnormalities. “We are always extremely disappointed to learn of potential links between players and the use of performance-enhancing sub-

stances,” MLB said in a statement. “Only law enforcement officials have the capacity to reach those outside the game who are involved in the distribution of illegal performance-enhancing drugs. ... We are in the midst of an active investigation and are gathering and reviewing information.” A baseball official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements, said Monday that MLB did not have any documentation regarding the allegations. If MLB does obtain evidence, the players could be subject to discipline. First offenses result in a 50-game suspension and second infractions in 100-game penalties. A third violation results in a lifetime ban. Rodriguez is sidelined for at least the first half of the season after hip surgery Jan. 16. A 50-game suspension would cost him $7.65 million of his $28 million salary. “The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true,” Rodriguez said in a statement issued by a publicist. “He was not Mr. Bosch’s patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him. The purported documents referenced in the story - at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez - are not legitimate.” Jay Reisinger, a lawyer who has represented Rodriguez in recent years, said the threetime AL MVP had retained Roy Black, an attorney from Rodriguez’s hometown of Miami. Black’s clients have included Rush Limbaugh and William Kennedy Smith. Bosch did not return a phone message seeking comment. MLB hopes to gain the cooperation of Bosch and others connected with the clinic, another baseball official said, also on condition of anonymity because no public statements on the matter were authorized. In order to successfully discipline players based on the records, witnesses would be needed to authenticate them, the official said. Players could be asked to appear before MLB for interviews, but the official said MLB would be reluctant to request interviews before it has more evidence. Rodriguez spent years denying he used PEDs before Sports Illustrated reported in February 2009 that he tested positive for two steroids in MLB’s anonymous survey while with the Texas Rangers in 2003. Two days later, he admitted in an ESPN interview that he used PEDs over a three-year period. He has denied using PEDs after 2003. If the new allegations were true, the Yankees would face high hurdles to get out of the final five years and $114 million of Rodriguez’s record $275 million, 10-year contract. Because management and the players’ union have a joint drug agreement, an arbitrator could determine that any action taken by the team amounted to multiple punishments for the same offense. But if Rodriguez were to end his career because of the injury, about 85 percent of the money owed by the Yankees would be covered by insurance, one of the baseball officials said. The Yankees said “this matter is now in the hands of the commissioner’s office” and said they will not comment further until MLB’s investigation ends. Gonzalez, 21-8 for the Washington Nationals last season, posted on his Twitter feed: “I’ve never used performance enhancing drugs of any kind and I never will, I’ve never met or spoken with tony Bosch or used any substance provided by him. anything said to the contrary is a lie.”— AP

LOS ANGELES: Dwight Howard scored 24 points, Kobe Bryant had 14 points and 11 assists in another pass-first performance, and the Los Angeles Lakers hung on to beat the New Orleans Hornets 111-106 Tuesday night for their first three-game winning streak in five weeks. Earl Clark had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, whose 18-point lead with 51/2 minutes to play dwindled to 102-101 with 2 minutes left before Clark and Steve Nash hit big shots to clinch Los Angeles’ ninth straight win over New Orleans. Eric Gordon scored 18 of his 25 points in the first half for the Hornets, who were all but finished before making a 16-2 run in an electric 21/2-minute stretch. New Orleans got within one point on Greivis Vasquez’s running jumper, but Clark hit an inside layup and Nash buried a 3-pointer with 1:21 to play. Steve Nash had 12 points and five assists, while Antawn Jamison scored 16 points. Fourtime All-Star Pau Gasol had seven points, seven rebounds and seven assists as a reserve in the Lakers’ final home game before a seven-game trip, their longest of the season, while the Grammy Awards take over Staples Center. Ryan Anderson scored 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter for the Hornets, who had won eight of 12, including an impressive victory in Memphis two nights earlier at the start of their five-game trip. Anderson, Vasquez and Robin Lopez led the impressive late rally that just fell short, with Lopez finishing with 16 points and nine rebounds. Rookie Anthony Davis had 18 points for the Hornets, who haven’t beaten the Lakers at Staples Center since January 2009. Steve Blake had two points and four assists in his first appearance for the Lakers since Nov 11. Until the frantic finish that nearly scrambled three solid quarters by the Lakers, Bryant reached new heights in his revamped role as Los Angeles’ playmaker, racking up 10 assists in three straight games for just the fifth time in his career and the first time in four years. The fifthleading scorer in NBA history has 39 assists in the Lakers’ last three games, the biggest threegame total of his 17-season career. Bryant also had eight rebounds, falling just short of a triple-double for the third straight game. Two days after beating Oklahoma City in impressive fashion, the Lakers got right back to their improved form in the first half, holding the Hornets scoreless for 7:41 spanning the first two quarters with a 17-0 run. New Orleans helped out by missing multiple open shots, but Los Angeles used superior ball movement and an alert offensive game from Howard, who even made five of his six free throws in the first half - not bad for a 49.5-percent shooter at the line. Los Angeles made another 15-2 run short before the first half ended. Gordon kept the Hornets close with five 3-pointers but his teammates were a combined 10 for 36 from the field. Blake had missed the Lakers’ past 37 games with an abdominal injury that required surgery and resulting groin problems, but coach Mike D’Antoni immediately put the veteran point guard back in his rotation as Nash’s backup. D’Antoni had coveted Blake’s services in his previous NBA stops in Phoenix and New York, periodically trying to acquire the guard to run his point guard-intensive offense. In Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge hit a turnaround jumper at the final buzzer and the Portland Trail Blazers came back from a 21-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Dallas Mavericks 106-104 on Tuesday night. Aldridge finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds for Portland, which trailed 101-94 with 2:18 left. J.J. Hickson had a season-high 26 points and 15 rebounds. After Wesley Matthews made two free throws to pull the Blazers to 101-

98 with 52 seconds to go, Nicolas Batum’s 3pointer tied the score. Dirk Nowitzki answered with his own 3 with before Aldridge had a 3 to tie it at 104 with 4.9 seconds left. O.J. Mayo was called for charging with 1.5 seconds to go, and Aldridge hit his jumper after the inbound from Matthews with 0.2 seconds left for the victory. Dirk Nowitzki finished with 26 points for Dallas, which had won six of its last eight games. The Mavericks were without center Chris Kaman, who sustained a concussion in a collision during practice on Monday, according to coach Rick Carlisle. There was no timetable for Kaman’s return. He is averaging 12.4 points and 6.2 rebounds this season. The injury comes as the Mavericks have juggled their centers, starting a different one in each of their last three games. Kaman, Elton Brand and rookie Bernard James have each taken turns. Brandan Wright also plays at center for the Mavs. James made his second straight start against the Blazers. “It helps to have depth,” Carlisle said. “We need all those guys but this (Kaman’s injury)

is a big hit for us.” In a first half marked by lackluster defense on both sides, Nowitzki’s long jumper put Dallas up 37-28. Nowitzki, who missed the Mavericks’ first 27 games after surgery on his right knee, hit another jumper that extended the lead to 47-36. Darren Collison scored 10 straight points and Dallas closed out the first half with 19-6 run to take a 59-42 lead. Portland struggled with its 3-point shot, shooting 2 for 12 in the first half. Mayo’s step back jumper pushed Dallas’ lead to 69-48 after the break. Batum, who had two triple-doubles last week for the Blazers, didn’t hit from the field until a 3-pointer with 4:43 left in the third quarter that made it 74-58. Luke Babbitt hit a 3-pointer and Aldridge made a short jumper to narrow it, and Portland pulled closer to 78-72 after Aldridge and rookie Damian Lillard each hit free throws. Portland finished the third on a 16-4 run to get within 74-80 to start the final period. Batum’s driving layup cut Dallas’ lead to 86-83 with 8:20 left. After Vince Carter made two free throws for the Mavs, Ronnie Price hit a 3-pointer and Sasha Pavlovic dunked to tie it up at 88. — Agencies

LOS ANGELES: The ball eludes Robin Lopez (L) of the New Orleans Hornets and Dwight Howard (R) of the Los Angeles Lakers during their NBA game on Tuesday at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 111-106. — AFP

NBA results/standings Golden State 108, Cleveland 95; Milwaukee 117, Detroit 90; Portland 106, Dallas 104; LA Lakers 111, New Orleans 106. Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L PCT GB NY Knicks 27 15 .643 Brooklyn 27 18 .600 1.5 Boston 21 23 .477 7 Philadelphia 18 26 .409 10 Toronto 16 29 .356 12.5 Central Division Chicago 27 17 .614 Indiana 26 19 .578 1.5 Milwaukee 24 19 .558 2.5 Detroit 17 28 .378 10.5 Cleveland 13 33 .283 15 Southeast Division Miami 28 13 .683 Atlanta 25 19 .568 4.5 Orlando 14 30 .318 15.5 Washington 11 32 .256 18 Charlotte 11 33 .250 18.5

Western Conference Northwest Division Oklahoma City34 11 .756 Denver 28 18 .609 6.5 Utah 24 21 .533 10 Portland 23 22 .511 11 Minnesota 17 24 .415 15 Pacific Division LA Clippers 33 13 .717 Golden State 28 17 .622 4.5 LA Lakers 20 25 .444 12.5 Sacramento 17 29 .370 16 Phoenix 15 30 .333 17.5 Southwest Division San Antonio 36 11 .766 Memphis 29 15 .659 5.5 Houston 25 22 .532 11 Dallas 19 26 .422 16 New Orleans 15 30 .333 20

Moss boasts of being the best ever NEW ORLEANS: San Francisco 49ers receiver Randy Moss says that even though he doesn’t have the numbers to prove it, he thinks that he is the best wide receiver in National Football League history. “I really do think that I’m the greatest receiver to ever play this game,” the 14-year veteran said Tuesday as the 49ers prepared to face the Baltimore Ravens in Sunday’s Super Bowl 47. “This year has been a down year for me, statistically. The year before I retired was a down year, and then in Oakland was a down year. “I don’t really live on numbers. I really live on impact and what you’re able to do out on that field.” Speaking from inside the

Superdome stadium where he will attempt to be part of his first Super Bowl championship squad, Moss said his legacy is intact. “Now that I’m older, I do think I’m the greatest receiver to ever do it,” Moss said. Not everyone agrees with Moss. Former San Francisco receiver Jerry Rice played 20 seasons in the NFL. Rice has a claim on the title as the best NFL receiver of all-time. “Put my numbers up against his numbers,” Rice told ESPN on Tuesday after hearing of Moss’s boast. Rice, who played 20 seasons, caught 197 touchdowns compared to 156 for Moss. Rice finished with 22,895 receiving yards to 15,292 for Moss and had 76 games with more than 100 receiving yards to only 64

for Moss. Moss also talked about money, his painful past Super Bowl experience and his future. He still has a chance to close the gap with Rice, saying he is not ready to retire. “I’ve thought about it,” he said. “I do want to play another year.” This is the second Super Bowl appearance for Moss, whose New England Patriots lost to the New York Giants in the 2007 season championship game. Moss said winning a Super Bowl at this stage in his career would mean a lot to him. “I’ve really wanted a championship on every level,” Moss said. “I’ve always told myself that I wanted to win a championship on this level. Having a Super Bowl ring, I think

my career would be complete.” Moss was part of a heavily favored Patriots team that was trying to achieve the first 19-0 undefeated championship season. The 49ers are a different team, eager to erase memories of a loss to the Giants in last season’s playoff semifinals. “In 2007 with the Patriots, we were riding high being undefeated leading up to the Super Bowl,” he said. “Being here with the 49ers ... they were so close last year with a couple mishaps against the Giants. “I think the way we practice and the way guys speak in the locker room, they were determined to get back here. I just wanted to be a part of it.” —AFP



Islanders pound listless Penguins Longest losing skid against New York since 2007 NHL results/standings Boston 2, New Jersey 1 (SO); Toronto 4, Buffalo 3 (OT); NY Rangers 2, Philadelphia 1; Montreal 4, Winnipeg 3; Ottawa 3, Washington 2; NY Islanders 4, Pittsburgh 1; Tampa Bay 5, Florida 2; Detroit 4, Dallas 1; Minnesota 3, Columbus 2; San Jose 3, Anaheim 2 (SO). Eastern Conference Atlantic Division

New Jersey NY Islanders NY Rangers Pittsburgh Philadelphia

W 3 3 3 3 2

Boston Ottawa Montreal Toronto Buffalo

5 4 4 3 2

Tampa Bay Winnipeg Carolina Washington Florida

5 3 2 1 1

L OTL GF GA PTS 0 2 12 9 8 2 1 22 19 7 3 0 16 17 6 3 0 16 18 6 5 0 14 20 4 Northeast Division 0 1 19 12 11 1 1 19 12 9 1 0 17 10 8 3 0 18 20 6 3 1 16 19 5 Southeast Division 1 0 29 15 10 2 1 18 18 7 3 0 14 18 4 4 1 13 22 3 5 0 10 24 2

Western Conference Central Division Chicago 6 0 0 22 13 12 St. Louis 5 1 0 24 13 10 Detroit 3 2 1 15 17 7 Nashville 1 2 3 10 18 5 Columbus 2 4 1 13 22 5 Northwest Division Minnesota 3 2 1 16 17 7 Edmonton 3 2 0 15 14 6 Vancouver 2 2 2 16 19 6 Colorado 2 3 0 10 13 4 Calgary 1 2 1 11 15 3 Pacific Division San Jose 6 0 0 26 10 12 Anaheim 3 1 1 17 17 7 Los Angeles 2 2 1 11 14 5 Dallas 2 4 1 13 18 5 Phoenix 2 4 0 21 20 4 Note: Overtime losses (OTL) are worth one point in the standings and are not included in the loss column (L)

Women seek their place in sun at World Cup MUMBAI: The women’s World Cup opens in Mumbai today with the cricketers hoping to put aside memories of an unsettling build-up and gain recognition in a country where the men’s game reigns supreme. Barely a week before the start, the I nternational Cricket Council was forced to revise the schedule because of securit y concerns surrounding Pak istan’s par ticipation in Mumbai where the entire tournament was to be played. All group B matches, featuring Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, were shunted to the cricketing backwaters of Cuttack following threats from the right-wing nationalist Shiv Sena party to disrupt matches in Mumbai. Pakistan will remain in Cuttack if they qualify for the second round, but will still have to travel to Mumbai if they make the final at the Brabourne stadium on February 17. Indian captain Mithali Raj said she was disappointed that the Pakistani team had attracted protests. “I personally feel that politics should not be involved in sport,” Raj told AFP. “Sport is more about entertainment and a fun-loving atmosphere. So we should not be getting too many political issues into it.” Preparations were also disrupted when the hosts made Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium, venue of the men’s World Cup final in 2011, unavailable at the last minute. Three grounds in Mumbai will host group A, involving defending champions England, Sri Lanka, the West Indies and hosts India. The players have taken the disruption in their stride and are excited about the tournament, which was first played in 1973, two years before the men’s World Cup was inaugurated in 1975. “I think it is safe to say that the women’s game today is unrecognisable from when I star ted in 1997,” said

England’s captain Charlotte Edwards, set to appear in her fifth World Cup. “We are attracting loads of young girls who want to play the game. We have changed people’s perceptions about women’s cricket a lot. Hopefully this tournament will be another step in hammering that message home.” One of the players to watch in the 10th edition of the tournament will be England wicket-keeper Sarah Taylor, who reports say could play alongside the men in Sussex county’s second XI this year. India’s Raj, preparing for her fourth World Cup, hopes women’s cricket will finally take off in her country where some of her male counterpar ts are national icons. “Indian society is still is not for thcoming when it comes to women’s cricket,” Raj said. “Parents are still more interested in putting their girls into more feminine spor ts like tennis or table -tennis.” Australia go into the tournament as favourites to win their sixth title, following victory in the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka last October. The Australian side includes Ellyse Perry, a pace bowler who also plays football for her country, the Indianborn Lisa Sthalekar, and Alyssa Healy, niece of former Australian men’s wicket-keeper Ian Healy. Pakistan are more worried about adapting to the new one -day rules than about their security in Cuttack, where they are staying in the club house of the Barabati stadium for security reasons. “We have not played under the new rules where five players have to be inside the circle at all times and the use of new balls from both ends,” captain Sana Mir said. “We must get used to them before the tournament starts.” Three teams from the two groups will advance to the Super Sixes round, from where the top two will qualify for the final. — AFP

MUMBAI: India women’s cricket team captain Mithali Raj (on ground) gets some help to stretch after a training session ahead of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2013 in Mumbai. The women’s World Cup opens in Mumbai today with the cricketers hoping to put aside memories of an unsettling build-up and gain recognition in a country where the men’s game reigns supreme. — AFP

PITTSBURG: New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) slips the puck behind Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) on a first-period goal during an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday. The Islanders won 4-1. — AP PITTSBURGH: Matt Moulson scored a goal and assisted on another, Evgeni Nabokov stopped 37 shots and the New York Islanders dominated the listless Pittsburgh Penguins 41 on Tuesday night. John Tavares scored for the second straight game for New York while Michael Grabner collected his fourth goal of the season and Casey Cizikas found the net for the first time in his career. It was more than enough to send the Penguins to their third loss in four games. Pascal Dupuis scored with just over a minute remaining to avoid the shutout. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 13 shots before being pulled after the second period. The Penguins gave it away 11 times, with two of the turnovers leading to New York goals. Pittsburgh has dominated the series over the past five seasons but dropped its third straight to the Islanders, its longest losing skid against New York since 2007. The Penguins had scored first in each of their five games this season, but Cizikas gave the Islanders a wellearned early lead by stealing the puck from Paul Martin deep in Pittsburgh’s zone then

swooping behind the net and wrapping it around an outstretched Fleury. The goal served as an exclamation point on a period the Islanders dominated in a place they rarely win. New York came in losers in 13 of its past 14 visits to Pittsburgh, the victory a 5-3 triumph last March that derailed any hopes the Penguins had of catching the New York Rangers for the Atlantic Division title. Pittsburgh expects to be in the mix again during this truncated 48-game season but has hit an early rough patch that left the largest crowd in the brief history of Consol Energy Center voicing its displeasure following another disjointed effort. The Penguins were drummed 5-2 by Toronto in the home opener last Wednesday and appeared no sharper six days later against a young, quick team that flustered Pittsburgh with its forechecking. Not that the Penguins needed any help giving it away. The Islanders went up 2-0 6:46 into the second period when Pittsburgh defenseman Deryk Engelland misplayed a New York clearing attempt at the blue line. The puck bounced off Engelland’s stick and

Grabner pounced, beating two Penguins up the ice then flicking a wrist shot that deflected off Fleury’s glove and into the net. The goal seemed to briefly energize Pittsburgh, who spent the next five minutes buzzing Nabokov. All the pressure failed to produce a goal and a pair of power-play tallies by the Islanders late in the period put New York firmly in control. Tavares wristed a pretty cross-ice pass from Moulson by Fleury to make it 3-0 and Moulson scored less than two minutes later, collecting a long shot off the end boards and stuffing it by a foundering Fleury. The goaltender actually fell on his rear after the initial shot and failed to get up before Moulson stuffed it by him, a fitting ending to a frustrating night. Nabokov had no such problems. He improved to 10-2 lifetime against Pittsburgh, which went 0 for 3 on the power play, including a fruitless 5 minutes spanning the second and third periods after New York’s Colin McDonald was hit with a boarding penalty and a game misconduct for his hit on Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy.— AP

Japan female Olympians ‘beaten’ by their coaches TOKYO: Japan’s female Olympic judo athletes were beaten with bamboo swords and slapped by their coaches, officials said yesterday, weeks after a schoolboy’s suicide sparked anguished debate over corporal punishment. A 15-strong group of judokas complained to the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) last month that they had been subjected to physical punishment by the team’s head coach. The group, which included athletes who took part in the London Olympics, says head coach Ryuji Sonoda routinely abused them, slapping them in the face and hitting them with thick wooden swords, like those used in the Japanese martial art of kendo. They also complained that some were forced to compete in matches while injured, reports said. “ We have asked the All Japan Judo Federation (AJJF) to investigate the case and improve their methods if the charges are true,” a JOC official said. AJJF head Koshi Onozawa said the federation had admonished Sonoda and other coaches, who had admitted several of the allegations. “We received information that Mr Sonoda, the head coach of the female national team, might have been physically bullying athletes,” Onozawa told a news conference. “Our executive office took this seriously and questioned both

him and athletes, discovering the charges were largely true.” The AJJF told Sonoda and other coaches they must mend their ways and “will face a harsher punishment if a similar incident happens in the future”, he added. Kyodo News said Sonoda did not deny the allegations when asked by reporters. “Until now I have been doing things the way I saw fit, but I will mend the things that need fixing,” it quoted him as saying. Japan’s women returned from London with one gold, one silver and one bronze medal in judo, well below their haul from

the 2008 Beijing Games. JOC secretary general Noriyuki Ichihara told reporters the matter was not closed. Asked if the AJJF’s decision to keep Sonoda as head coach was appropriate, Ichihara said: “We want to see if the trust between athletes and coaches is still there or if there is a way to rebuild that trust,” adding the AJJF has authority to appoint coaches. The case comes weeks after a Japanese high school student killed himself after repeated physical abuse from his basketball coach, an incident that has

LONDON: This file picture taken on July 31, 2012 shows Japanese women’s judo head coach Ryuji Sonoda (R) at their women’s -63kg judo contest bronze medal match of the London 2012 Olympic Games in London. Japan’s Olympic women judo wrestlers were beaten with bamboo swords and slapped by their coaches, officials said yesterday, weeks after a schoolboy suicide sparked debate over corporal punishment. — AFP

provoked national hand-wringing over the way children are disciplined. Under a law dating from 1947, teachers are not permitted to physically discipline their charges. However, there are no statutory penalties for the minority of teachers who do so. It is not the first time Japan’s sporting world has been rocked by violence. In 2007 a trainee sumo wrestler died after a hazing incident revealed a shocking level of punishment for would-be champions. Referring to yesterday’s claims, education and sports minister Hakubun Shimomura told reporters a rethink was required. “It is time for Japan to change the idea that use of violence in sports including physical discipline is a valid way of coaching,” he said. Tomohiro Noguchi, a specialist in sport at Nihon University, said it was quite surprising that this kind of thing was happening at Olympic level. “Mainstream ideas have shifted over a generation to advice-based, athlete-centred coaching,” said Noguchi, 46, a former swimmer who said he himself was beaten by his coach as a teenager. “But there are still some coaches who were physically punished in their youth who apparently still believe in the old method. We may have to look at how coaches are educated in sports science universities to prevent a repeat,” he said. —AFP

Shane Warne calls for new Australian coach SYDNEY: Test great Shane Warne yesterday called on Australia coach Mickey Arthur to be replaced by former New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming days after branding the nation’s cricket chiefs “muppets”. The outspoken leg-spinner, who said he was “frustrated on many levels at present”, praised Fleming as “the best opposition captain we played against” on his website “I believe he brings a lot to the table, a calmness, an intelligent understanding of the game and a very good cricket brain. He’s a good communicator too as well as a good leader of men.” Warne, 43, who also wants former Test wicketkeeper Rod Marsh as chairman of selectors, said the current Australian set-up was

not working as the players gear up for two Ashes series against England over the next year. In a post entitled “Where is Australian cricket at? Part 1” on his website, Warne said: “The next 12 months is the biggest 12 months of cricket for the Australian cricket team in a long, long time. “If we do nothing now, we will be where we were 30 years ago. There needs to be urgent action and a new strategy/plan put in place.” In Twitter comments on Monday, Warne blasted Cricket Australia’s policy of rotating players, which has attracted stinging criticism from other greats of the game. “I think CA really need to look at the people who

are making decisions on all facets of cricket in Australia, we r seriously becoming a joke!” Warne said. “We have the best batsmen / captain in the world in @MClarke23 (Test captain Michael Clarke) - He needs current cricket people to help him out not muppets,” he added. Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland has told Warne he is happy to discuss Warne’s ideas but has expressed disappointment with the manner in which he expressed his concerns, CA said on its website. Australia, third in the Test and one-day rankings, lost the recent Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka after drawing the one-day series and beating the

visitors in the Test series. Warne was last week fined Aus$5,000 (US$5,250) for a code of behaviour breach in the domestic Big Bash League. And he apologised earlier this month after a foul-mouthed rant against West Indian all-rounder Marlon Samuels that earned him a ban and a Aus$4,500 fine. Warne claimed 708 Test wickets in a celebrated career that also courted controversy, including a fine for taking money from a bookmaker. He was sent home from the 2003 World Cup for taking a banned diuretic. Also on Wednesday, CA said that Australian pace great Dennis Lillee had been appointed to CA’s high-performance team as a fast bowling advisor. — AFP



Spanish ‘doping’ case to avoid naming names MADRID: A Spanish judge yesterday refused to demand that the suspected mastermind of one of the sporting world’s biggest blood doping rackets provide the names of the athletes implicated in the scandal. The ruling in the so-called “Operation Puerto” case could avert a huge fall-out from the high-profile trial, with suspects across the drug-tarnished world of cycling and perhaps in other sports potentially at risk. The court in Madrid was told that Italy’s Olympic Committee had asked judge Julia Patricia Santamaria to order doctor Eufemaniano Fuentes to identify the athletes whose blood had been stored in packs seized by police. “ The request will not be made expressly,” the judge said, without giv-

ing a reason. Fuentes, his sister Yolanda and three other defendants from cycling teams are on trial for endangering public health but not incitement to doping, which was not a crime in Spain at the time of their arrests in 2006. The Canary Islands doctor, 57, was detained when police seized 200 bags of blood and plasma, and other evidence of per formance - enhancing transfusions, revealing a huge doping network after a months-long investigation dubbed “Operation Puerto”. Fuentes, who is suspected of running the racket, told the court that he knew whose blood was in the blood packs, each of which was marked with a numeric code. “I could identify all the samples. If you give me a list I could tell you who corresponds to each code on

the packs,” he told the court without divulging any names. The court was told that traces of the banned blood-booster erythropoeitin (EPO) was found in some blood packs seized from two of Fuentes’ apartments in Madrid. Ninety-two packs of plasma were analysed and eight had levels of EPO, which is banned in sport because it can improve the delivery of oxygen to the muscles of athletes, that were above normal. But Fuentes said the levels were still tiny and could have come “from ingestion of the substance before extraction”. Ampules of EPO found in his home were for his daughter, who had cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy, he added.

Fuentes on Tuesday said in evidence that the doping network could stretch beyond cycling, which is still reeling from the aftermath of revelations that Lance Armstrong cheated his way to a record seven Tour de France wins. “I worked with individual sportspeople, privately. It could be a cyclist in a cycling team, a footballer in a football team, an athlete, a boxer,” he told the court. Some 58 cyclists were suspected of involvement in the scandal but of them only six received sporting sanctions, including German rider Jan Ullrich and Italian Ivan Basso. No athletes are among the accused, as doping was not a crime at the time, though some will appear as witnesses. They include Alberto Contador, the

2007 and 2009 Tour de France winner, who returned to competition last year after a two-year ban for a separate case in which he denied doping. Contador, who is due to appear on February 5, was cleared of any involvement in the Puerto affair. Former cyclist Jesus Manzano, a former rider on Spanish team Kelme of which Fuentes was the head doctor, has alleged generalised doping in the team and says he himself underwent unsafe transfusions. A court official said this week that disgraced rider Lance Armstrong’s former team-mate Tyler Hamilton will testify at the trial, after the judge granted a request by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which is a civil party in the case. — AFP

Lazio beat Juventus to reach Italian Cup final ‘It was a crazy game at the end’

BIRMINGHAM: Aston Villa’s Joe Bennett, top, is tackled by Newcastle United player Mathieu Debuchy of France, during their Premier League soccer match at Villa Park in Birmingham, England, Tuesday. — AP

Newcastle send floundering Villa into bottom three Newcastle 2

Aston Villa 1

BIRMINGHAM: Aston Villa’s fortunes continued to plunge on Tuesday as they sank into the Premier League’s bottom three following a 2-1 loss at home to relegation rivals Newcastle United. Goals from Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye put the visitors 2-0 up after 31 minutes and despite a valiant fightback sparked by a Christian Benteke penalty, Villa saw their run of league games without a win extended to seven. Defeat further complicated life for Villa coach Paul Lambert, who had seen his side eliminated from both the League Cup and the FA Cup by lower-league opposition in the last week. Newcastle, meanwhile, ended a run of five matches without victory as Alan Pardew’s side climbed to 15th in the table. Villa signalled their intent by deploying Darren Bent alongside top scorer Benteke in attack, while Newcastle handed debuts to new French signings Moussa Sissoko and Gouffran. Newcastle started strongly and Jonas Gutierrez saw a shot blocked after Villa defender Ron Vlaar inadvertently slammed a clearance into one of his own team-mates. Villa had a penalty appeal for handball against Fabricio Coloccini waved away before Newcastle resumed their assault on the hosts’ goal, with Davide Santon drawing

a good save from goalkeeper Brad Guzan from 25 yards out. The breakthrough arrived four minutes later and it stemmed from the boot of debutant Sissoko. The former Toulouse man held off a challenge in midfield and threaded a fine through-ball into the path of Cisse, who took a couple of touches before finishing between the legs of Guzan. One of few bright sparks amid the recent Villa Park gloom, Charles N’Zogbia came within inches of equalising when he thumped a volley against the post from 25 yards. It was to prove a false dawn, however, as Cabaye made it 2-0 in the 31st minute, collecting a clearance from Vlaar and launching a sumptuous half-volley over Guzan from just outside the penalty area. Whatever Villa manager Paul Lambert said at half-time, it had an instant effect, as the home side raced out of the blocks to chop Newcastle’s lead in half in the 49th minute. Andreas Weimann and Gabriel Agbonlahor were both introduced at the interval and after the former had forced Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul into action with a sharp shot, the latter won a penalty after being impeded by Mathieu Debuchy. Benteke duly converted from the spot, taking his tally for the season to eight league goals. The complexion of the game had changed and Weimann drew another save from Krul after being teed up by the marauding Benteke. Benteke then spurned a glaring opening by shooting wide from barely seven yards, only for his blushes to be spared by the assistant referee’s flag. Gutierrez cleared off the line from Nathan Baker but despite sustained pressure from Villa, Newcastle clung on to victory. — AFP

EPL table English Premier League table after Tuesday’s matches (played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points): Man United Man City Chelsea Tottenham Everton Arsenal Liverpool Swansea City W Bromwich Stoke City

23 24 23 23 23 23 23 24 23 24

18 15 13 12 9 10 9 8 10 6

2 7 6 5 11 7 7 10 4 12

3 2 4 6 3 6 7 6 9 6

57 45 47 40 35 46 40 34 33 24

30 19 22 28 26 27 28 27 32 29

56 52 45 41 38 37 34 34 34 30

Sunderland 24 West Ham 23 Norwich City 23 Fulham 23 Newcastle 24 Southampton 23 Wigan Athletic 24 Aston Villa 24 Reading 23 QPR 24

7 7 6 6 6 5 5 4 4 2

8 6 8 7 6 8 5 8 7 10

9 10 9 10 12 10 14 12 12 12

27 26 24 33 30 30 27 20 28 18

31 33 39 40 42 40 45 46 43 37

29 27 26 25 24 23 20 20 19 16

ROME: Lazio beat Juventus 2-1 following a dramatic finale on Tuesday to reach the Italian Cup final with a 3-2 victory on aggregate. The game was heading for extra time when Juve’s Arturo Vidal equalized during six minutes of stoppage time, only for Sergio Floccari to head a late winner. Claudio Marchisio should have sent Juventus into the final on the away goals rule but he fired wide, right in front of an empty net after Federico Marchetti had pulled off a desperate save to parry Sebastian Giovinco’s shot at point-blank range. “We are satisfied with the result, it was a crazy game at the end, but we had the right determination to take home the result,” Lazio coach Vladimir Petkovic said. “We deserve this joy and must always play at this level, as a great team cannot afford dips in intensity during a season. “The squad is really growing and tonight’s performance proved it against a strong side like Juventus.” Alvaro Gonzalez had given Lazio the lead eight minutes into the second half, getting in between two Juventus players to head home a stunning cross from Cristian Ledesma. Both goals were Lazio’s only shots on target all match. Lazio will meet either Roma or Inter Milan in the final. Roma won the first leg 2-1 and should it complete the task in April, it would set up a mouthwatering cup final between the two capital sides in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.” We want to win the Italian Cup, regardless of who our opponents will be,” Petkovic said. “For the fans, a Rome derby in the final would be the ultimate game, but I have no preferences.” Both teams had penalty claims turned down in the first half. Mirko Vucinic appeared to be brought down by Marchetti in the eighth minute and Lazio striker Miroslav Klose was fouled by Mauricio Isla on the half hour. Juventus was also denied a penalty after the break when Giovinco appeared to be held back in the area. Coach Antonio Conte has already

been banned for two Serie A games for his comments after Staurday’s contentious 1-1 draw against Genoa. Conte opted for sarcasm in his post-match comments. “Oh they weren’t penalties, the referee is always right,” he said. “In fact, Vucinic dived. He should’ve been booked for simulation and Marchetti didn’t touch him at all. It was a definite penalty on Klose because he was hit violently. “In the second half Giovinco went down twice in the area. He should have been sent off because you cannot try to con the referee like

ROME: Lazio’s Alvaro Gonzalez, of Uruguay, celebrates after scoring during an Italian Cup semifinal return leg between Lazio and Juventus, in Rome’s Olympic stadium, Tuesday. Lazio won 2-1. — AP

As Balotelli exits Man City, champs held by QPR Man City 0


LONDON: As Mario Balotelli’s turbulent Manchester City career looked to be drawing to a close, the champions lacked the attacking spark to break through a well-organized Queens Park Rangers side on Tuesday. A four-game Premier League winning run ended with a 0-0 draw against the bottom team, whose goalkeeper, Julio Cesar, repeatedly thwarted the champions in stormy conditions. The Brazilian denied Gareth Barry and David Silva with fine saves as City failed to close the gap on Manchester United to two points. Instead City is four points behind the leaders, who host Southampton. “We did everything to win this game but we didn’t score,” City manager Roberto Mancini said. “When you play like this away and you don’t win,

it’s incredible.” The draw came hours after AC Milan said it had reached an agreement with City to buy Balotelli, leaving Mancini with little time to strengthen his strike force before the transfer window closes today. “It was difficult because I lost one striker, one important striker ... it’s difficult to find a solution for us now,” Mancini said. “We need a defender now because we have one or two injured, but it’s difficult.” Letting Balotelli return to Italy was for his own good after 21/2 years at City overshadowed by disciplinary issues on and off the pitch. “It will be a good chance for him to stay with his family, to play for Milan,” Mancini said. “I think he can improve and I’m happy he will become one of the best players in the world ... you can be upset with him sometimes, but afterwards he’s a lovely lad.”It was Balotelli’s unpredictably on the pitch that might have conjured up the winning moment at Loftus Road where rain swept across the stadium in every direction. “The pitch was wet, it was windy,” Mancini said. “It was difficult.” Such conditions could have made life difficult for the goalkeepers. It was a quiet night for City goalkeeper Joe Hart, whose decisive moment came late in the first half when Adel Taarabt

Barcelona eyes match in Dhaka DHAKA: Bangladesh are considering an offer to host four-times European champions Barcelona for a match when they make a pre-season visit to Asia in August. “We have received a proposal from Barcelona that they are willing to play in Bangladesh in August,” Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) president Kazi Salahuddin told reporters yesterday. “They have sought three million euros ($4.04 million) as appearance fees and we are now considering our funding options. It will be great news if we can really host them.” Barcelona and some other top European clubs, including La Liga rivals Real Madrid and Premier League leaders

Manchester United, are immensely popular in football crazy Bangladesh, currently at 168 in the FIFA rankings. The country paid huge appearance fees to host an international friendly match between Argentina and Nigeria in 2011 when Dhaka’s Banganabdhu National Stadium was packed despite high ticket prices. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi led his national side to a 3-1 win over the African nation in what was the biggest ever football match to be held in the impoverished South Asian country. Salahuddin said they are now also looking for a suitable opponent for the vastly popular Barcelona. —Reuters

that.” Juventus again paid the price for failing to make the most of its opportunities. Giovinco should have scored in first-half stoppage time after doing brilliantly to feint past Michael Ciani, but he then scuffed his shot straight into Marchetti’s hands, when one on one with the Lazio goalkeeper. Hernanes suffered a nasty injury on the hour mark when he appeared to lose consciousness after a clash of heads with Luca Marrone. The Lazio midfielder was conscious when stretchered off but bleeding heavily. —AP

LONDON: Queens Park Rangers’ Stephane Mbia, left, and Fabio, right, compete for the ball with Manchester City’s James Milner during the English Premier League soccer match between QPR and Manchester City at Loftus Road stadium in London on Tuesday. — AP

went past Gael Clichy and blocked a close range shot. Cesar, though, was called on to produce save after save to frustrate City. An early effort was punched clear from Silva, but Joleon Lescott could only send the follow-up over. While Cesar was beaten in the 20th minute, Pablo Zabeleta’s diving header crashed against the crossbar and Sergio Aguero sent the rebound wide of the target. Cesar’s quality was underscored late in the first half when he tipped Barry’s shot wide. “Cesar saved everything and we made some mistakes - on another day maybe we could have scored four goals,” said Mancini, who signed the goalkeeper from Flamengo in 2005 while Inter Milan manager. “Julio is one of the top goalkeepers in the world and he saved his team.” Cesar was one of three goalkeepers were in the QPR squad, with manager Harry Redknapp also putting Rob Green and Brian Murphy on the bench. Rather than including youngsters among the substitutes, Redknapp appeared to be highlighting the need for chairman Tony Fernandes to strengthen the squad before today. “We’re desperately short, really ... the chairman’s working on several options,” Redknapp said. “I’ve given him a list of players and he’s trying to get one or two for us.” On the target list are Stoke striker Peter Crouch and Anzhi Makhachkala defender Christopher Samba. “The chairman asked me a week ago whether I’d be interested if he could get me Samba,” Redknapp said. “I’ve left it wholly in his hands. On Crouchy, we’ll have to wait and see.” Redknapp has already persuaded Loic Remy to join from Marseille. The France striker was prevented by scoring against City when Javi Garcia’s heel blocked his shot, and he was denied a penalty in the second half after going down following Lescott’s challenge. QPR has now conceded just once in its last four league games and at the heart of the defensive solidity has been Ryan Nelsen. But the west London club is losing the New Zealander now as he heads to Major League Soccer to become coach of Toronto FC. “I wish Ryan Nelsen would (stay), but I think we’re struggling ... he will be missed massively,” Redknapp said. For now, though, Redknapp is savoring the point gained in the bid to survive the drop. “We defended well, hit them on the counterattack a few times, and defended fantastically all over the park,” he said. “It was another solid performance, a big point for us.” — AP



Drogba exit painful for aspiring China SHANGHAI: The signings of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka proved the cash-rich Chinese Super League can lure big names but their abrupt departure shows China cannot yet compete with the top European clubs. Veteran striker Drogba arrived in a blaze of publicity last year after helping Chelsea lift the Champions League title, pledging to help promote a sport plagued by corruption and low-quality homegrown players. But barely six months later the powerful Ivory Coast striker has signed with Turkish club Galatasaray, giving no clue as to why he walked out on a reported $300,000-a-week contract with Shanghai Shenhua. “As for his desire to strive to increase the level of Chinese football, that is already nothing more than a fantasy,” the Sina Sports web portal said in an editorial. Drogba’s exit came after former French international Anelka, a team-mate of the Ivorian at both Chelsea and Shanghai, and said to be on a similar package, left to join Italian giants Juventus last week on loan. Chinese clubs cannot challenge for superstars

such as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, who overwhelmingly ply their trade at Europe’s glamorous top clubs. But the signing of Drogba and Anelka, despite both being in the twilight of their careers, at least showed that China is now on the radar of big-name players, even though the fat pay cheques on offer mask perennial problems. Long-time Shanghai fan Bobby Lu is not surprised that the two star signings have been lured away to established European clubs, both involved in the latter stages of the Champions League. “There are those awful football pitches, those uninspired local players who couldn’t even get motivated playing alongside Drogba, and those stupid star-struck fans and media,” he said. “It’s simple-China isn’t ready for Drogba.” Lu also lays the blame at the door of the Chinese Football Association (CFA) for not making the most of the superstars to promote the domestic league. CFA chief Wei Di stepped down this month following accusations that standards had not improved during his three-year tenure. Wei oversaw a crackdown on match-fixing and bribe-taking that led to the jailing of his two prede-

cessors for corruption, along with a number of former China international footballers. But it was a sorry story on the pitch with the national team crashing out of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, finishing behind Iraq and Jordan in their group despite the appointment of former Real Madrid boss Jose Antonio Camacho. Tom Byer, a US coach who recently became head technical advisor of a CFA-administered schools football programme, suggested clubs would do better investing in youth development rather than in stars. “The top-down approach doesn’t work. It’s old school and no-one can show me any example of it having worked this way anywhere else before,” he told AFP. He also questioned the motives of the super-rich businessmen bankrolling the sport in China. “I don’t think they are looking at it so much as a way to develop the game on a macro level. They are just looking to cash in on it,” he said. Shanghai Shenhua, who finished in the bottom half of the Chinese Super League (CSL) last season despite Drogba’s eight goals, have also been embroiled in

financial controversy. Domestic media reported that the Ivorian had asked football’s international governing body FIFA to nullify his contract after the club defaulted on payments following a shareholder dispute dating back to September. Other foreign stars could follow Drogba and Anelka to the exit door. Two-times Brazilian league player of the year Dario Conca, another big-money CSL signing, is currently in dispute with his club, Guangzhou Evergrande. Reigning league champions Guangzhou, managed by World Cup-winning Italian coach Marcello Lippi, are also reportedly struggling to keep hold of Paraguayan striker Lucas Barrios. But not all is bleak for the Chinese game. Brazilian striker Muriqui recently extended his contract with Guangzhou and declared a desire to become a naturalised Chinese citizen and play for the national side. French international Guillaume Hoarau signed a three-year deal with Dalian Aerbin earlier this month, on a salary reported to be double what he was paid at Paris Saint-Germain. - AFP

Ivory Coast fight back to draw with Algeria Togo into quarters, Tunisia head home RUSTENBURG: Tournament favourites and Group D winners Ivory Coast battled back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with already-eliminated Algeria who at least left the African Nations Cup with their pride restored yesterday. All four goals came in a 16-minute spell in the second half with Algeria taking the lead in the 64th minute with substitute Sofiane Feghouli scoring two minutes after coming on for Ryad Boudebouz, who missed a penalty in the first half. They doubled their lead six minutes later when Hilal Soudani thundered in a header after escaping his marker and meeting a long perfect cross from Feghouli wide on the right. The Ivorians, who had already qualified for the knock out stages before yesterday’s match, struck back in the 77th minute when Didier Drogba outjumped the defence to head home. They equalised three minutes after that when a powerful shot from Wilfried Bony took a huge deflection off Algerian defender Djamel Mesbah. Algeria were eliminated after losing their opening two games to Tunisia and Togo, while Ivory Coast boss Sabri Lamouchi rested nine players ahead of Sunday’s quarter-final against Nigeria in Rustenburg. Drogba returned to the Ivorian starting line-up but whether that was to give him more match time after his two-month layoff following the end of the Chinese season in November or because he is no longer regarded as a first choice striker will be seen when Lamouchi names his side to face Nigeria. Drogba, who looked unimpressive in the opening two matches, did look far more involved in an admittedly low-key game, and should have scored five minutes before halftime but fired over the bar after cleverly creating an opening at the edge of the box. His perseverance paid off and he made no mistake with his well-taken goal that brought Ivory Coast back into the game. With little but pride at stake, the match took a long time to come to the boil, but the ending was dramatic as Ivory Coast showed some real character in the closing stages. Gabon referee Eric Otoga-Castane may have treated Ivory Coast harshly for the first penalty when Soudani appeared to dive into the box. But there was no mistake about the second when Arthur Boka handled, giving Sofiane the chance to lash the ball home from a two-step run-up. In Nelspruit, Togo drew 1-1 with Tunisia yesterday to complete the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal cast list and send the Carthage Eagles heading back to Tunis. After Serge Gakpe’s opener for Togo was cancelled out by Khalid Mouelhi’s penalty the two countries finished level on points, with Togo owing

RUSTENBURG: Ivory Coast forward Wilfried Bony (C) and teammate forward Didier Drogba (R) attempt to score a goal during a 2013 African Cup of Nations Group D football match in Rustenburg yesterday, at the Royal Bafokeng stadium. — AFP their first appearance in the knockout stages at the replays hinted at offside.Tunisia, requiring two goals now to deny Togo, were struggling to make seventh attempt to superior goal difference. Mouelhi then missed from the spot late in the their presence felt at the Mbombela stadium. Until second half, his failure condemning Tunisia to an the 28th minute that is when they drew back level early exit. The draw bagged Togo the runners-up via Mouelhi’s side-footed penalty awarded when spot in Group D and a last eight match-up with Dare Nibombe fouled Esperance midfielder Hichri. Tunisia, buoyed by their equaliser, ended the Burkina Faso here on Sunday, with the Burkinabe coach Paul Put an interested observer in the first half the better side, and they had a justified stands. Togo coach Didier Six made two changes, but rejected appeal for a second penalty after the Moustapha Salifou and Jonathan Ayite dropping to restart when Vincent Bossou felled Darragi. Down at the other end, Adebayor skipped past the bench and replaced by Vincent Bossou and Ayite’s brother, Floyd. Skilful midfielder Youssef a couple of Tunisian defenders, squaring the ball Msakni started for Tunisia after overcoming a bout into the box but Komlan Amewou was unable to do the move justice. of tonsilitis. On 69 minutes Adebayor’s flying header hit the Coach Sabr Trabelsi brought in Oussama Darragi, Walid Hichri and Wahbi Khazri for crossbar as Togo came at the Tunisians with all Fak hreddine Ben Youssef, Bilel Ifa and Anis guns blazing again. South African referee Daniel Boussaidi. Tunisia were once again without injured Bennett was arguably not having the best of games, making some dubious decisions, not least key striker Issam Jemaa. On 10 minutes Togo captain and Tottenham in the 75th minute when he pointed to the spot striker Emmanuel Adebayor almost put the little after Saber Khalifa tumbled to the floor after light contact by Nibombe. But Togo won a reprieve west African nation in front. Three minutes later Togo did take the lead, with when Mouelhi’s poor spot kick hit Kossi Agassa’s Adebayor neatly finding Gakpe, the Nantes striker left post, and they deservedly held on to set up a slotting the ball past Moez Ben Cherifia although date with Burkina Faso. — Agencies

Burkina blow as injured Traore bows out of Cup NELSPRUIT: Burkina Faso’s march to the Africa Cup of Nations last eight has come at a major price, with star player Alain Traore sustaining an injury that rules him out of the rest of the competition. Traore pulled a muscle in his left thigh in the opening minutes of Tuesday’s goalless draw with champions Zambia, which saw the Burkinabe top Group C. “Alain’s chances of continuing in this Nations Cup are minus 10 percent,” the team’s doctor, Romaric Toe, told AFP yesterday. “He pulled a muscle in his left thigh, and will undergo all the necessary examinations, but his competition I would say is over.” Traore, holding an ice pack to his thigh in the lobby at the team hotel, said: “For me the Nations Cup is finished. “We were waiting to qualify for the quarter-finals for such a long time this injury has spoiled the enjoyment a little.” Reflecting on how the injury occured he told AFP: “I wanted to make a long pass, I bent my leg and felt a sharp pain shooting up my thigh.”Traore it was who played a pivotal role in Burkina Faso’s presence in the quarter-finals. The Lorient midfielder produced the stoppage time goal that saw them draw 1-1 with Nigeria, and then a double in the 4-0 rout of Ethiopia. “At half-time last night my teammates came to see me, they told me that I shouldn’t worry, that it was thanks to me that they had made it. “They were right behind me, they were upset for me.” Tuesday’s injury was bad luck, coming after his ankle sprain suffered in mid-December that almost cost him his place in coach Paul Put’s squad for South Africa. And he commented: “I told myself it was going to be difficult (after his ankle problem) to play three consecutive matches. Tuesday’s game

was my second start since Decemmber 19. “The coach had planned not to play me for the whole match, unfortunately things worked out differently.” Appearing relaxed but downhearted the 25-year-old said he had spent the night reflecting on what had happened and what might have been. “I was quite upset, as personally I’d made a good

start to the competition, I was feeling good. I’m disappointed, but that’s the life of a footballer.” He added: “Last night my club doctor at Lorient called me, he wants me to return to France for treatment we’ll have to see.” The Traore-less Burkina Faso face either Togo or Tunisia in Sunday’s quarter-final in Nelspruit. — AFP

MBOMBELA: Burkina Faso’s forward Alain Traore is carried out of the pitch on a strecher after an injury during the Zambia vs Burkina Faso Africa Cup of Nations 2013 Group C football match at Mbombela Stadium in Nespruit on Tuesday. — AFP

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Ivory Coast fight back to draw with Algeria

Page 19

MADRID: Real Madrid’s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo (top) vies with Barcelona’s midfielder Thiago Alcantara during the Spanish Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) semi-final first-leg football match Real Madrid CF vs FC Barcelona at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid yesterday. — AFP

Madrid, Barcelona draw in cup clash Barca host arch-rivals in second leg next month MADRID: French youngster Raphael Varane headed in a late goal for Real Madrid to level the Spanish Cup semi-final first-leg against Barcelona as the Spanish giants drew 1-1 yesterday. Cesc Fabreagas had earlier given Barca a lead in a breathless match in the Santiago Bernabeu that his side looked to be running away with until the leveller. Varane was Madrid’s star all evening, clearing off the line in the first-half and making countless other defensive interventions in an entertaining encounter. With the second-leg almost a month away, Madrid, who trail Barca by 15 points in the league, will be relieved to avoid defeat and will now look to the Champions League last-

16 first-leg against Manchester United in the same stadium in less than two weeks. Jose Mourinho decided to partner Varane and Ricardo Carvalho in the centre of a depleted defence, with Sergio Ramos and Fabio Coentrao out through suspension and Pepe injured. At right back Michael Essien was favoured over Marcelo, just back from injury, and Diego Lopez was called up for his debut in goal after he signed from Sevilla last Friday to replace the injured Iker Casillas. With coach Tito Vilanova in New York receiving further cancer treatment, assistant Jordi Roura took over for a Barca side with far fewer problems, Jose Manuel Pinto was in his customary position in goal for the Spanish

Cup, in for Victor Valdes. And the reserve keeper was immediately called into action to block a Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick after Gerard Pique saw a yellow card on 40 seconds for tripping the Portuguese star on the edge of the area. He had to be alert again on nine minutes to tip over an Essien cross and Madrid were looking the more direct and dangerous of the two teams in the opening minutes. The pace was fast and furious and Ronaldo just failed to connect with a Benzema cross in front of goal and then Xavi curled a free-kick onto the crossbar at the other end. The best chance of the first-half fell to Barca on 22 minutes when Fabregas anticipated a poor back pass from Carvalho and teed up

Xavi whose shot was blocked on the line by Varane. Then at the other end a Benzema snap shot hit the side netting before Messi hit a free-kick over the bar. At the start of the second period Benzema exchanged passes with Ronaldo before shooting high, but it wasn’t long before Barca went ahead. A Jose Callejon clearance fell to Messi whose quick thinking pass to Febregas left the former Arsenal captain with an easy finish on 50 minutes. From that point Madrid lost their impetus and Varane had to make a fantastic last-gasp intervention to stop Fabregas from adding another. Ronaldo stooped to head an Essien cross inches wide but Barca were playing a more measured passing game after the goal and

dominating possession. Gerard Pique was quicker than Ronaldo to a cross when Madrid did break on the counter-attack on 67 minutes and it was Fabregas again at the other end who shot just over three minutes later. Fabregas then released Pedro Rodriguez who should have doubled the lead on his 200th appearance for Barca, but he badly miscued his shot from close range. Just when it looked like Barca would leave with victory, Varane popped up to head home a Mesut Ozil cross with nine minutes to go. Lopez had to save well from Jordi Alba in the closing minutes but a draw was a fair result in the end with all to play for in the Nou Camp on February 27. —AFP

United go seven points clear, Chelsea stumble LONDON: Wayne Rooney’s double helped Manchester United restore their sevenpoint lead at the top of the Premier League as they came from behind to beat Southampton 2-1 at Old Trafford yesterday. Southampton took a shock third minute lead when Michael Carrick’s poor back-pass left David de Gea in trouble, with Jay Rodriguez dispossessing the goalkeeper before rolling the ball into the net. However, United were only behind for five minutes with Rooney equalising after the England striker was played in by Shinji Kagawa. And Rooney made it 2-1 in the 27th minute after a Robin van Persie freekick was headed back across goal by Patrice Evra. United had the ball in the Saints net for a third time but the ‘goal’ was disallowed for offside. Elsewhere, Chelsea blew a 2-0 lead as Reading climbed out of the bottom three after ‘supersub’ Adam Le Fondre scored two late goals in a 2-2 draw. The Blues, held to a draw by third-tier

Brentford in the FA Cup, had to wait until first-half stoppage-time before taking the lead at the Madejski Stadium, with a neat pass from Fernando Torres setting up his fellow Spaniard Juan Mata, who drilled a low shot into the net. Frank Lampard, repeatedly linked with a move away from Chelsea despite impressing yet again this term, made it 2-0 in the 66th minute when he rose above the Royals’ defence to head in a corner. But Le Fondre increased the pressure on Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez with two well-struck goals in the final three minutes. Arsenal also came from 2-0 behind at home to Liverpool to force a 2-2 draw that did little for the top four ambitions of either club. Liverpool needed just five minutes to take the lead at the Emirates after a series of mistakes involving Bacary Sagna, Thomas Vermaelen and Aaron Ramsey created a chance for Daniel Sturridge, whose shot was saved. But when the ball broke to fellow striker

Luis Suarez, the Uruguayan swept his effort past Wojciech Szczesny. More bad Arsenal defending allowed Jordan Henderson to burst into the penalty area before his initial shot was blocked only for the midfielder to score on the follow-up in the 60th minute. But within a few minutes Arsenal scored twice. Olivier Giroud headed in Jack Wilshere’s free-kick and the Frenchman then turned provider for Theo Walcott, who equalised with a power ful shot. Tottenham remained fourth thanks to Gareth Bale’s superb leveller in a 1-1 draw away to Norwich. The Canaries, fresh from the embarrassment of being knocked out of the FA Cup by non-league Luton, went ahead when Wes Hoolahan turned in Anthony Pilkington’s 32nd minute cross. But Wales winger Bale struck in the 80th minute when he collected the ball inside his own half, ran at the defence and curled a shot across the goalkeeper. Fifth-placed Everton closed to within a

point of Tottenham after a 2-1 win at home to West Bromwich Albion. Leighton Baines gave Everton a 29th minute lead at Goodison Park when his well-timed run saw him found by Leon Osman before the left-back lashed a shot into the roof of the net from 16 yards. Baines then doubled Everton’s lead with a penalty on the stroke of half-time after Claudio Yacob brought down Victor Anichebe in the box. Shane Long pulled a goal back for the Baggies with a 65th minute header. Meanwhile Fulham beat London rivals West Ham 3-1 at Craven Cottage. Bulgaria striker Dimitar Berbatov celebrated his 32nd birthday by opening the scoring for Fulham with a 10th minute header. There was a goal rush early in the second half, with Kevin Nolan equalising for the Hammers only for Hugo Rodallega to restore Fulham’s lead a minute later when he turned in Damien Duff ’s cross. Joey O’Brien’s late own-goal sealed Fulham’s victory. — AFP

OLD TRAFFORD: Manchester United’s French defender Patrice Evra (Top) vies with Southampton’s English forward Jay Rodriguez during the English Premiership football match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England yesterday. — AFP


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Spanish economy plunges in final quarter of 2012 Page 26 Page 25

PARIS: The Renault Alpine A110-50 concept car, inspired by the 1962 Alpine A110 (at left background) is seen at the concept cars exhibition within the 28th International Automobile Festival yesterday. — AP

Dubai gold dealers shun Turkish bars Traders in Dubai edgy over possible local govt probe DUBAI: Trade in Turkish gold bars to Iran via Dubai is drying up as a growing number of banks and dealers refuse to buy the bullion to avoid the risks associated with Turkey’s gold-for-gas trade with Iran. US officials say they are concerned the trade between the two countries provides a financial lifeline to the Iran, which is largely frozen out of the global banking system by Western sanctions. The US State Department said in December that diplomats were in talks with Ankara over the flow of gold to Iran after the Senate approved expanded sanctions on trade with Iran’s energy and shipping sectors, which would also restrict trade in precious metals. That increasing US pressure has already started to create troublesome repercussions for exporters of Turkish gold. Many dealers in Dubai’s crowded and boisterous gold souk now refuse to take gold bars produced in Turkey. Some ask for a deep discount, saying their clients such as banks and other traders had suspended dealing with Turkish bullion over the past couple of months. The media spotlight on the gold-for-gas exchange has already helped push Turkey’s gold exports to the UAE to $621 million in November from nearly $2 billion in August, according to the latest official trade data. Turkey, Iran’s biggest natural gas customer, has been paying the Islamic Republic for oil and gas imports with Turkish liras, because Western sanctions prevent it from paying in dollars or euros.

Iranians then buy gold in Turkey, and couriers carry the gold worth millions of dollars in their hand luggage to Dubai, where it can be sold for foreign currency or shipped to Iran. A Turkey-based industry source said the fact that Iranians are buying Turkish gold and shipping it via Dubai has worried international banks and traders and prompted them to suspend trading in Turkish gold bars. “This is not something declared. It has been going on very quietly for the past month. Some international banks have taken the lead in this and they are simply staying away from any gold bullion that is coming out of Turkey,” he added. Global issue for Turkish gold A London-based spokesman for Standard Bank, which is active in Dubai’s gold market, said it was not trading any Turkish-branded gold currently and had not regularly traded in Turkish bullion in the past. He said, however, that the bank continued to trade gold bars registered by the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), whose Good Delivery List sets the quality standard for physical gold refining. Gold bars produced in Turkey’s two refineries - Nadir Metal and Istanbul Gold Refinery - are both registered in LBMA’s Good Delivery list. “In general we see a decline in the pace of demand from Dubai. After the latest US sanctions, Turkish gold suppliers might have become more cautious too. The market is not as hectic as it was three months ago,” an Istanbul-based

gold trader said. Sources based in Dubai and Turkey said representatives from Turkey’s jewellery makers visited Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC), a government-run commodities platform, in December as part of efforts to disperse the clouds over the reputation of Turkish gold. The DMCC is a commodities platform that provides the infrastructure for the parties to trade and does not control who trades with whom. “This is not a Dubai-particular issue. It has started here due to the flows of Turkish gold, but this has now become a global issue around Turkish gold,” said a source with knowledge of the discussions between DMCC and Turkish officials. The direct and indirect shipments of gold to Iran do not breach existing Western sanctions imposed over its disputed nuclear programme, but they help Tehran manage its finances. In Dubai, majority government-owned bank Emirates NBD , an active player in the local bullion market, said in a note to clients in November, “Emirates NBD will, as a pure measure of precaution, stop buying and selling all gold bars from Turkish refineries, even though they might be an accredited refinery by the London Good Delivery or by the Dubai Good Delivery List.” A source in the Dubai office of major bullion dealer ScotiaMocatta, a division of Bank of Nova Scotia, said it was currently not dealing with Turkish gold bars. Quiet investigation Turkey’s gold bullion exports to the

United Arab Emirates jumped in August as Turkish exporters re-routed gold destined for Iran to Dubai, following increasing pressure from the United States. Turkish ministers have acknowledged the “gold-for-gas” trade but say it is carried out entirely by the private sector and is not subject to US sanctions. “We do not feel legally bound by any unilateral sanctions by any country, except if they are endorsed by the UN Security Council under Chapter 7,” a Turkish government official said. “We have a huge (natural gas) consumption requirement from within Turkey... On the gold issue... If they (Iranians) go to the market, we cannot prevent them. If they buy gold here and send it somewhere else, that is up to them ... It is not government or government agencies selling gold.” In Dubai, the government has also increased pressure on traders, forcing them to be cautious about taking Turkish gold, several industry sources said. “We also know that the local government have their eyes on this. They have the news and they are collecting information; they are also doing a back-door investigation,” said a Dubai-based gold industry source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue. “If they get to the conclusion that something is really going wrong, maybe they will investigate a few companies. But it will all be done secretly, so if that’s proven they will not harm the reputation of the companies,” he added.— Reuters

S Korea, Thailand warn over fallout from easy currency SEOUL/BANGKOK: South Korea warned yesterday it might consider a tax on financial transactions and Thailand said it was worried its strong currency would hurt exporters as moves by advanced economies to flood markets with easy money increasingly spill over into other countries. Government officials in two of the four Asian tiger economies, which fell victim to massive outflows of speculative money in the late 1990s, expressed concerns over the negative impacts of super-loose monetary policy just two weeks before a Group of 20 finance chiefs’ meeting in Moscow. Policymakers in advanced countries, particularly Japan and the United States, have been acting aggressively to print more money and reflate their economies since the global financial crisis. This has had the effect of weakening their currencies while strengthening those of many other countries from South Korea to Mexico, making their exports less competitive, roiling their financial markets and threatening to

feed destabilising asset bubbles. “The external environment and foreign exchange market movements since the fourth quarter of 2012 have created a considerably worrying situation,” South Korean Deputy Finance Minister Choi Jong-ku told a seminar in Seoul. “The recent wave of quantitative easing policies has created an unprecedented situation and makes it necessary (for affected countries) to adopt a paradigm shift in response,” Choi said. The South Korean government will tell state-controlled firms to refrain from borrowing abroad and will further tighten rules on banks’ currency derivatives trading to ease volatility in foreign exchange markets, Choi said. Seoul was opposed to imposing an outright levy on financial transactions such as the Tobin tax being debated in Europe, but would consider similar measures should speculation in the won currency intensify over time, he added. Such a tax could discourage speculation but might also reduce normal investment,

possibly even causing foreign investors to flee a market en masse. In Bangkok, Finance Minister Kittirat Na Ranong told reporters that Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra was worried about the fallout from advanced economies’ easy money policies and has ordered policymakers to discuss ways to deal with it. He said authorities will use normal financial measures to manage flows of money into and out of the country but added there were no plans to use capital controls or taxes. The Thai baht is hovering near a 17-month high and has risen close to 3 percent against the U.S. dollar so far this year. Talk about a currency war, or competitive devaluation of currencies aimed at giving exporters an upper hand in pricing goods abroad, dominated discussions at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, with many central bankers and business executives questioning the wisdom of such money policy. German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week singled out Japan as a source of concern following recent moves by its central bank to quicken

the pace of money-printing. Currency war? Authorities in Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines have repeatedly intervened in foreign exchange markets in recent months to try to slow the advance of their currencies, which they fear could jeopardise their expected economic recoveries. Latin American policymakers have also been bolstering their defences. Colombia cut interest rates this month and said it would ramp up dollar purchases, Peru plans to pre-pay up to $1.5 billion in foreign debt this year and is intervening aggressively to curb currency gains, and Mexico is considering an interest rate cut that some economists believe reflects as much a desire for a weaker peso as it does concerns about growth. “I sincerely hope other countries do not get into competitive depreciation of their currencies,” Indian Finance Minister Palaniapan Chidambaram told Reuters Television in London on Tuesday. —Reuters

Oman rules may spur reform of Islamic finance scholars SYDNEY: Oman’s new Islamic banking rules could encourage the development of a larger pool of sharia scholars and ultimately help to raise operating standards for them around the world, according to bankers and scholars. Last month, the sultanate’s central bank released an extensive Islamic banking rulebook which included provisions for sharia scholars, such as fit-and-proper criteria and term limits on scholars’ appointment to sharia boards, which decide whether products and activities obey Islamic principles. Oman is the last country in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council to introduce Islamic banking, but the level of detail in the rules could help set it apart from the others, and even give it some influence over global trends in the industry. “I admire the positive spirit behind many articles in the law, which aims to achieve a higher level of good governance and avoidance of conflicts,” said Washington-based scholar Muddassir Siddiqui, president and chief executive of ShariahPath Consultants LLC. “Oman came from behind but it is now among the very few jurisdictions to introduce such a comprehensive set of rules. I am sure it will inspire others to follow.” The objectives behind the rules include enlarging the pool of qualified scholars as well as addressing issues of scholar capacity and conflict of interest, Siddiqui added. Capacity refers to the amount of time scholars can devote to each of their board appointments; multiple commitments raise concerns that scholars may not be able to carry out their supervisory roles effectively. In an attempt to build a larger talent pool, Oman’s rules state that scholars can only be appointed for three-year terms and serve a maximum of two consecutive terms, thus requiring banks to hire new scholars periodically. Such term limits are rare in Islamic finance, where scholar appointments have often been considered longterm or even permanent. “I believe this is a good practice as it will provide an avenue to more scholars to share their expertise in the deliberation of a sharia supervisory board (SSB),” Mohamad Akram Laldin, executive director at the Malaysian-based International Sharia Research Academy for Islamic Finance, told Reuters. Both Laldin and Siddiqui are members of the sharia standards committee at the Bahrain-based Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI), a major standard-setting body. AAOIFI, recognising that lengthy appointments “could lead to a close relationship which could be perceived to be a threat to independence and objectivity”, recommends that institutions rotate at least one sharia board member every five years. But Oman’s rules go further by applying term limits to all members. Oman’s rules struck a chord in the Islamic finance community because loose regulation of scholars is acknowledged by many people in the industry to be a major weakness, and an obstacle to growth. There have been a series of calls for reform in the industry and AAOIFI has said it will conduct consultations on how sharia boards operate. —Reuters



ADCB Q4 profit jumps 32%

Iraq Kurds strive for energy autonomy

Q4 net profit at $185.1m DUBAI: Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank reported a 32-percent jump in quarterly net profit yesterday, beating analysts’ expectations, as the bank made fewer provisions and non-interest income grew. The United Arab Emirates’ third largest lender by market value posted fourth quarter net profit of 680 million dirhams million) in the three months to Dec. 31, up from 514 million dirhams in the prioryear period, according to a bourse filing. Six analysts had estimated average profit of 508.8 million dirhams, in a Reuters poll. Full-year profit for 2012 stood

income in the four th quar ter, earning 312 million dirhams last year compared to 237 million dirhams in 2011. Total loans dropped 1 percent during 2012, with flat loan growth reported for the final three months of the year. Deposit growth was flat, both for the fourth quarter and the whole year. ADCB’s lending growth will remain muted at 2-3 percent in 2012 as the bank looks at deleveraging its balance sheet owing to the lack of lending opportunities and a focus on better quality loans, SICO said in a research note published June 21. The bank ’s

at 2.8 billion dirhams, down 8 percent from 3.045 billion dirhams in 2011. ADCB’s 2011 profit was boosted by a one-off gain of 1.31 billion dirhams after the sale of a stake in Malaysia’s RHB Capital. Impairment allowances for the fourth quarter totalled 402 million dirhams, ADCB said, down 27 percent from 548 million dirhams for same period in 2011. This took provisioning for all of 2012 to 1.71 billion dirhams, down 29 percent. ADCB, nearly 60-percent owned by the Abu Dhabi government, saw a 32-percent year-onyear growth in non-interest

board has proposed a 25-percent cash dividend for 2012, the statement said. In November, ADCB and Europe’s largest lender by market capitalisation, Banco Santander, signed a partnership agreement to cooperate in trade and project finance as the Spanish bank broadens its reach in the Gulf. ADCB is expec ted to launch a bond offering shortly after picking itself, JP Morgan Chase, ING, Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered to arrange the offering, sources told Reuters earlier this week. — Reuters

H&M annual profit hit by growth costs STOCKHOLM: Swedish clothing retailer H&M posted a 6.6-percent rise in annual net profit yesterday but said results had been hit by costs for its long-term investments as well as by currency factors. The cheap-and-chic fashion giant said its net profit rose to 16.9 billion kronor ($2.7 billion, 2.0 billion euros) in 2012 from 15.8 billion kronor in the previous year, and that it increased its market share despite a difficult operating environment. Gross sales by the firm, world’s number two clothing retailer after the Spanish Zara group, rose by 9.4 percent to 141 billion kronor in the financial year that ended November 30, but net sales measured at constant exchange rates gained only one percent, the company said. “H&M continues to stand strong in a challenging clothing market which in many countries has been even more challenging in 2012 compared to 2011,” chief executive Karl-Johan Persson said in a statement. In the fourth quarter, net profit fell 1.3 percent to 5.29 billion kronor ($830 million), beating a 5.09 billion kronor consensus estimate compiled by Dow Jones Newswires. H&M said its expansion moved faster than expected in 2012, with 304 new stores opening their doors, mainly in China and the United States. It

proposed holding the dividend steady at 9.5 kronor per share. “On the whole, these results are on the weak side,” said Soeren Lundtoft Hansen, an analyst at Sydbank. Investment costs for expanding online and mobile sales, as well as for a new, high end fashion brand for women, were higher than expected, he added. The new brand, & Other Stories, will open its first stores in the coming months in seven European countries. The company said it plans to open 325 stores in this financial year, including in Chile and in Indonesia via a franchise. “This is a positive development at a time when same store sales, in my view, will remain subdued amid continued weak consumer spending and strong competition in H&M’s market segment,” Lundtoft Hansen said. The Stockholm-based company currently has 2,800 stores in 48 markets and more than 104,000 employees. Chief executive Persson said that despite not yet generating revenue the company believed its long-term investments “to be both necessar y and wise as they aim to secure future expansion and profits and thereby fur ther strengthen H&M’s position.” “We have the greatest respect for the macroeconomic climate and how it may affect the consumption in many of our mar-

STOCKHOLM: H&M Chief Executive, Karl-Johan Persson, speaks during news conference yesterday. — AP

kets, but we have a strong belief in our offering and are convinced that H&M will continue to maintain its strong position,” he said. Shares in the company were hit by weaker than expected sales in January, which the com-

pany attributed to cold weather in many of its European markets. In mid-morning trading, the stock was down 2.72 percent on the Stockholm stock market, which was trading 0.49 percent higher. —AP

HSBC’s Oman unit profit drops DUBAI: HSBC Bank Oman, formed last year by a merger of HSBC’s Oman unit and Oman International Bank, posted a 62.7-percent slump in 2012 net profit, the bank said in a statement yesterday, hurt by integration costs and bad loans. The lender, Oman’s secondlargest by market capitalisation, made a net profit of 5.8 million rials ($15.1 million) in 2012, compared with 15.5 million rials in 2011, the bourse filing from the bank said. In the fourth quarter, HSBC Bank Oman

made a net loss of 4.77 million rials, according on Reuters calculations based on the company’s nine-month net profit of 10.57 million rials. Non performing loans as a percentage of total loans jumped to 7.1 percent at the end of 2012, compared with 1.2 percent at the end of the previous year, the statement said. Operating expenses rose to 48.7 million rials, which included 13.9 million rials of integration costs, the bank said without detailing how much the increase was. The formal com-

pletion of the merger was announced at the beginning of June, with HSBC holding 51 percent of the new entity. Previously, OIB was Oman’s fifth-largest bank, with the secondlargest branch network in the country and gross assets of $3.2 billion. The board of directors proposed a cash dividend of 0.001 rials per share, the statement added. In October, one of Oman’s richest businessmen increased his shareholding in the bank to 25 percent from 18.39 percent. — Reuters

their own oil policy is enshrined in the countr y ’s federal constitution, but Baghdad rejects contracts signed by the region as illegal and has blacklisted some firms operating there. International oil companies have been prepared to take that risk in return for Kurdistan’s better contract terms, security and an easier working environment, as opposed to the bureaucracy and infrastructure bottlenecks that hamper oil projects in the rest of Iraq. Baghdad would have to promise Exxon favourable terms to entice it away from the north, but analysts and industry sources doubt Maliki’s capacity to deliver those, and say it would be a mistake for him to do so. “If they go for Baghdad, I’m sure they (Exxon) will want sweeteners,” said a senior executive from a rival company. “But if they get better terms, others will want the same.” Some industry sources even suggested that may have been part of Exxon’s calculations all along: that when defying Baghdad the company figured it might eventually be able to use its Kurdish contracts as leverage to extract concessions in the south.

ARBIL: Behind the closed doors of their offices in the United States, top executives and lawyers for Exxon Mobil are poring over two sets of contracts, weighing a decision that could shift the balance of power in Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki last week hastily convened a meeting with Exxon’s chief executive Rex Tillerson in a bid to woo back the US major, which had seemed intent on pulling out of the $50 billion West Qurna 1 oilfield in the south, in an area under Baghdad’s control. Since signing for six blocs with the Kurdistan regional government in 2011, Exxon has situated itself on one of Iraq’s deepest faultlines, bringing to a head friction between the northern enclave and Baghdad, which says only it has the authority to grant oil contacts and control crude exports. Industry sources say Maliki has offered Tillerson substantial incentives to stay in Iraq’s southern oilfields as long as the company forfeits its assets in the autonomous Kurdish region. A final decision is due within the next few days, Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul K areem Luaibi said on Sunday. I t remains to be seen which way Exxon’s compass will swing. The company has declined to comment on the impending decision. “ The loss of prestige would be huge,” said a former US diplomat, contemplating the fallout for Kurdistan if Exxon were to quit the region in favour of Baghdad. “Exxon’s presence here levels the political playing field.” As the first major oil company to risk Baghdad’s ire by venturing north, Exxon afforded the Kurds a victory in their turf war with the central government over how to exploit Iraq’s hydrocarbon riches. The US major’s vote of confidence opened the door for others such as Total, Russia’s Gazprom Neft and Chevron Corp, which recently added a third bloc to its Kurdish portfolio and is eyeing further acquisitions. Three of Exxon’s blocs, however, are located in the “disputed areas”, an oilrich band of territory over which both Baghdad and the Kurds claim jurisdiction and where the Iraqi army and Kurdish troops are facing off against each other.

‘Point of no return’ Despite the loss of face if Exxon were to back away from Kurdistan, experts say such a move would ultimately do little to slow the region’s drive towards greater energy autonomy from Baghdad. “Exxon was a gamechanger then, but things have moved on,” said one industr y source. Now there are other majors waiting to snap up acreage in what has been described as one of the final frontiers for onshore oil exploration, and they are unlikely to be deterred. The real challenge lies in finding new ways to sell Kurdish oil, until now shipped to world markets through a Baghdad-controlled pipeline running from Kirkuk to the Turk ish por t of Ceyhan. But Kurdish exports via that channel dried up in December from a peak of around 200,000 bpd as result of a row over payments with Baghdad. Fed up with waiting, the Kurds have already started bypassing the federal pipeline network by trucking small quantities of crude over the Turkish border in exchange for refined products. The trade is small, but symbolic. “Oil and gas wise, it’s a point of no return,” said an industry source. “From this point on, the Kurds will not agree to a centralized oil and gas policy. O ther regions will do the same.” Kurdistan is look ing to Turkey for answers. A broad energy partnership between them has been in the works since last year. “This will be a big bang deal. That ’s the only way to do it, involving everything at the same time,” said a diplomatic source familiar with the negotiations. Details are still unclear, but industry sources said it would range from exploration to export and seek to open up a new “energy corridor ” to Turkey that would reduce Ankara’s dependence on Russia and Iran for oil and gas. The deal would involve a new Turkish entity taking a stake in several Kurdish blocs and an alternative pipeline, which the United States is actively discouraging for fear it will further destabilise Iraq and threaten its federal integrity.— Reuters

Security concerns Industry sources say Tillerson raised concerns about security at a meeting in Switzerland with the Iraqi Kurdish region’s president, Masoud Barzani, although Kurdistan said later that Exxon had restated its commitment to working in the region. But Baghdad also expects Exxon to take its side. “We’re positive the company is not willing to quit West Qurna,” said an Iraqi Oil Ministry official, noting that output from that field alone exceeds total current Kurdish production capacity. “We think Exxon will halt operations in Kurdistan and wait until a solution is reached to all the unresolved issues,” he added, asking to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to the media. New legislation to govern the world’s fourth largest oil reserves has been caught up for years in a struggle over how to share power between Iraq’s Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish factions, which has intensified since US troops withdrew a year ago. The Kurds say the right to dictate

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

.2740000 .4410000 .3750000 .3010000 .2770000 .2910000 .0040000 .0020000 .0762440 .7428190 .3900000 .0720000 .7282020 .0430000 CUSTOMER TRANSFER RATES .2808000 .4423580 .3799500 .3052670 .2802120 .0509340 .0441470 .2931410 .0361940 .2271110 .0030730 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0764810 .7451240 .0000000 .0749000 .7296350 .0000000

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

ASIAN COUNTRIES 3.192 5.241 2.885 2.221 3.309 230.340 36.424 3.539

.2840000 .4540000 .3830000 .3130000 .2910000 .3010000 .0067500 .0035000 .0769960 .7501510 .4050000 .0770000 .7353900 .0510000 .2829000 .4456670 .3827920 .3075500 .2823070 .0513150 .0444780 .2953330 .0364650 .2288090 .0030960 .0053270 .0022430 .0029060 .0035790 .0770530 .7506970 .4001410 .0754600 .7350920 .0070110

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

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

6.948 9.486 0.271 0.273 GCC COUNTRIES 75.337 77.625 733.790 750.370 76.927

Saudi Riyal Qatari Riyal Omani Riyal Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham

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

EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer 282.400 Euro 377.290 Sterling Pound 448.450 Canadian dollar 285.400 Turkish lire 159.590 Swiss Franc 304.970 Australian dollar 298.500 US Dollar Buying 281.200 GOLD 311.000 157.000 81.500

SELL DRAFT 299.06 285.81 310.68 384.01 281.60 447.24 3.16 3.567 5.268 2.228 3.301 2.886

Selling Rate 282.250 285.310 450.050 377.280 301.730 747.250 76.825 77.475 75.230 397.875 42.694 2.227 5.236 2.885 3.540 6.948 692.360 4.125 9.540 3.970 3.320 93.365

SELL CASH 297.000 284.000 308.000 381.500 282.500 448.500 3.750 3.800 5.400 2.600 3.450 2.970

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 298.700 750.090 3.990 285.000 553.900 46.000 52.000 167.800 42.980 384.400 37.070 5.420 0.032 0.161 0.245

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

3.200 399.700 0.191 94.870 46.300 4.340 239.500 1.827 52.500 732.630 3.000 7.240 78.020 75.310 229.800 33.780 2.686 447.800 45.200 309.300 3.400 9.770 198.263 76.900 282.400 1.360 GOLD

10 Tola 1,765.610

Sterling Pound US Dollar

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

77.200 748.700 46.750 403.000 733.000 78.500 75.600

Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd

ARAB COUNTRIES Egyptian Pound - Cash 43.700 Egyptian Pound - Transfer 42.468 Yemen Riyal/for 1000 1.318 Tunisian Dinar 182.550 Jordanian Dinar 398.870 Lebanese Lira/for 1000 1.895 Syrian Lier 3.069 Morocco Dirham 34.230

20 Gram 10 Gram 5 Gram

76.74 749.81 42.12 401.19 732.89 77.76 75.30

TRAVELLER’S CHEQUE 445.800 282.000

Al Mulla Exchange SELL 297.200 750.090 3.547 283.500

229.800 42.129 382.900 36.920 5.275 0.031

Currency Transfer Rate (Per 1000) US Dollar 281.550 Euro 382.600 Pound Sterling 445.600 Canadian Dollar 283.350 Japanese Yen 3.125 Indian Rupee 5.275 Egyptian Pound 42.110 Sri Lankan Rupee 2.226 Bangladesh Taka 3.545 Philippines Peso 6.930 Pakistan Rupee 2.888 Bahraini Dinar 749.900 UAE Dirham 76.650 Saudi Riyal 75.250 *Rates are subject to change

399.660 0.190 94.870 3.320 238.000

732.450 2.892 6.948 77.590 75.310 229.800 33.780 2.228 445.800 307.800 3.400 9.660 76.800 282.000



US growth buckles on smaller inventories Residential, consumer, business spending limit decline

TOKYO: Men play Nintendo video games at an electronics store yesterday. — AP

Nintendo boosts profit forecast TOKYO: Japanese videogame giant Nintendo yesterday said it returned to the black in the nine months to December, and lifted its full-year profit forecast as the company looks to shrug off a loss a year ago. But the Kyoto-based firm also warned over its much-hyped Wii U, saying it was chopping its sales expectations for the new games console in the fiscal year to March and also slashing its overall revenue projections. The company has been banking on the Wii U to boost its fading fortunes after the original Wii consoles, launched in 2006, proved to be a runaway success as they lured legions of casual gamers into the videogame world with the introduction of motion-sensing controls. Nintendo said it swung to a net profit of 14.54 billion yen ($160 million), from a net loss of 48.35 billion a year earlier, and upped its profit target for the year to March to 14 billion yen, from a previous target of six billion yen. But Nintendo-which invented Donkey Kong and Super Mario, one of the bestselling video games of all time-said its profit upgrade was largely due to a weaker yen, as it slashed its revenue forecast for the fiscal year by 17 percent to 670 billion yen and warned it would post an operating loss. Nintendo said the Wii U, which sold out in the United States during its first week of sales in November, was now expected to sell 4.0 million units through March, from a previous estimate of 5.5 million. The original Wii device has sold more than 99 million units around the world. The videogame giant also cut its software sales hopes for the Wii U, and chopped its target on the struggling 3DS,

the world’s first video game console with a 3D screen that works without special glasses. Nintendo faces severe challenges as it competes with Sony and Microsoft, makers of the PlayStation and Xbox, which are also battling for control of a sector worth about $44 billion annually, according to industry figures. But as the trio face tough economic conditions in their key US and European markets, they are also fending off a challenge from cheap-or sometimes free downloadable games for smartphones and tablets. A strong yen, which makes exporters’ products less competitive overseas, and disappointing sales of the 3DS saw Nintendo report an annual loss of 43.2 billion yen in its last fiscal year, its first yearly shortfall since becoming a public company in the early sixties. With the Wii U, Nintendo vowed to start a trend in “asymmetrical play” that lets players using GamePad tablets have different in-game perspectives and roles than those using traditional wand controllers. The new console is also portable-offering up a challenge to smartphone games-but still offers players the option to jump, shift and shout as they wriggle their bodies to move the action onscreen, like the original Wii. Osaka-listed Nintendo, which closed down 2.40 percent at 9,350 yen before its results were released yesterday, was to hold a press briefing today. Earlier this month, its president Satoru Iwata said it would take some time for gamers to realise the benefits of Nintendo’s newest console. “The attraction and importance of the handheld screen and how it works with the television can only be appreciated very gradually,” he told the leading Nikkei business daily. — AFP

Ineffective approach to reviving stalled growth Booz & Company study DUBAI: Today, there is a strong perception among CEOs and top executives - that expanding intoa thriving new industry is the key to maximizing growth. Business leaders attribute their stagnant revenues to industryspecific factors and firmly believe that, by finding the “better” industries and putting their companies in a position to compete in them, they can reap greater outcomes. However, following an in-depth analysis of shareholder returns spanning 6,138 companies in 65 industries worldwide from 20012011, Management consulting firm Booz & Company has found that, in truth, this theory is illusionary. In fact, in almost every case, a bigger opportunity lies in improving the company’s performance in the industry that it is already in- by fixing its strategy and strengthening the capabilities that create value for customers and differentiateit from competitors. Faulty assumptions The idea that some industries are superior to others is a view promulgated by the stock market, the media, and managers’ own tendency to look for “easier” businesses. “In reality, the data do not support this belief,” said Evan Hirsh, a Partner with Booz & Company. “While some industries certainly outperform others, the differences are far smaller than one might think, and most highfliers eventually revert to the mean. Moreover, the difference in returns within an industry is several times greater than the difference across industries. Thus, CEOs and boards shouldn’t waste time and shareholder capital trying to succeed in a new industry.” Booz & Company’s 10-year study of shareholder returns reveals that firms in the top quartile had annual total shareholder returns of 17 percent or more. What is interesting is that every major industry had at least one company with a TSR that high and the top performers in each did incredibly well. Their CEOs didn’t have to seek deliverance elsewhere. “Yet, it is hard to find a leader today who hasn’t entertained the idea that his or her company was simply in a bad industry or market space and a better opportunity lurked nearby,” explained Kasturi Rangan, a Principal with Booz & Company. “This explains why product or service lines that still have growth potential get exploited to fund other businesses instead of beingallowed to reinvest in their own. It alsosheds light on the loss of focus that results when companies place multiple betsacross various industries in thehope that one will be a big winner. Finally, it highlights the reckless pursuit of mergers that are billed as “transformational” but often involve overpayment, underperformance, a big writeoff, and the loss of the CEO’s job.” The problem with grass-is-greener thinking Unfortunately, shareholders often wrong-

fully assumethat a company that is successful in one areacan rapidly learn to be capable in another. In actuality, the capabilities that matter form over decades and may involve millions or billions of dollars in human and financial capital. Almost all the firms that have moved into and dominated new areas chose industries that took advantage of unique strengths that they already had. The second problem is the perception that an industry that seems superior today will remain so. “Half the industries we studied that were in the top quartile from 1991 to 2001 ended up in the bottom quartile during the next decade,” added Hirsh. “This variability, found in every type of economic cycle, shows why it is generally very risky to enter an industry at its peak.” The fact that there is no such thing as a bad industry is even more relevant to CEOs. In effect, history suggests that periods of turmoil within industries seldom last. Most industries and market segments have remarkably consistent returns over the long term. “Our analysis of TSRs proves the point,” said Rangan. “If you omit the number one and number 65 industries in our study, the median returns of the “best” and “worst” industries are within 16 percent of one another. The gap within industries, however, is far greater: the top companies in each industry have annual TSRs that are 72 percent higher, on average, than the TSRs of the worst companies. It is simple: your chance ofgetting superior returns is far better if youstay in your own industry and improveyour performance.” Winning in your own industry What can be done to improve a company’s performance in its own industry? The first element to consider is its definition of growth. Most companies divide growth initiatives into two categories: organic (which usually means “growing with the market”) and inorganic (“growing in adjacencies”). This approach can be counterproductive. Instead, a singular focus on market-share gains leads to superior per formance. Secondly, it is pivotal to invest resources in the few capabilities that are critical to the company’s success, and minimize all other costs. Finally, the focus of the business units and teams must be altered. Many CEOs manage by issuing numerical targets-for revenue growth, profitability, and expenses. Companies would often do better to focus on market share, a more independent variable. To conclude, shifting into a new industry provides no guarantee for growth. Companies should therefore capitalize on their capabilities to excel in their own industry, and refrain from pursuing growth opportunities far removed from their scope and line of work. After all, the grass isn’t necessarily greener.

WASHINGTON: The US economy unexpectedly contracted in the fourth quarter, suffering its first decline since the 2007-09 recession as businesses scaled back on restocking and government spending plunged. Gross domestic product fell at a 0.1 percent annual rate after growing at a 3.1 percent clip in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said yesterday. That was the worst performance since the second quarter of 2009, when the recession ended, and showed the economy entering the new year with no momentum. The contraction, coming against a backdrop of tightening fiscal policy, could spur fears of a new recession and create an urgency for policymakers to deal with outstanding budget issues. Economists polled by Reuters had expected output to increase at a 1.1 percent rate. None of the economists surveyed had predicted a contraction.A pick-up in consumer spending and a rebound in business investment, however, curbed the slide in output and offered some hope for the recovery, which will be severely tested as Washington tightens its belt. The data was published as officials at the Federal Reserve wrap-up a two-day meeting. The report will likely provide ammunition for officials at the US central bank to stay on their ultra-accommodative policy stance. Economists say a growth pace in excess of 3 percent would be needed over a sustained period to significantly lower high unemployment. The economy has struggled to hold above a 2 percent growth pace. For the whole of 2012 the economy grew 2.2 percent. The economy was slammed by a monster storm in late October, which caused extensive damage along the East Coast, which was expected to have cut around 0.5 percentage point off fourth-quarter growth. The recovery also had to deal with uncertainty over the socalled fiscal cliff of scheduled tax hikes and budget cuts, which hurt confidence even though data suggests that households and businesses largely shrugged off the worries. Some bright signs Businesses, caught with too much inventory

in their warehouses in the third quarter, slowed their stock building in the final three months of the year. That slowdown sliced 1.27 percentage points from fourth-quarter GDP growth. That was the biggest drag in two years. Excluding inventories, the economy grew at a 1.1 percent rate, slowing from the third quarter’s 2.4 percent. Government spending tumbled at a 6.6 percent rate, as defense outlays plunged at a 22.2 percent pace, wiping out the previous quarter’s gains. Government subtracted 1.33 percentage points form growth. The decline in defense spending was the largest since 1972. Export weakness also weighed on growth. Exports have been hampered by a recession in Europe, a cooling Chinese economy and storm and strike-related port disruptions. Overall trade cut a quarter of a percentage point from GDP

growth. Exports fell for the first time since the first quarter of 2009. But not all the details in the report were bleak. Importantly, consumer and business spending showed some strength, and income available to households after taxes and inflation increased substantially in the fourth quarter. Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity, rose at a 2.2 percent rate, accelerating from the prior quarter’s 1.6 percent growth pace. Business investment rebounded after its first drop in 11/2 years in the prior quarter. The housing market was another bright spot. Residential construction grew at a 15.3 percent rate after notching a 13.5 percent growth pace in the third quarter. Homebuilding added to growth last year for the first time since 2005. — Reuters

MOUNT LEBANON: In this photo, a home for sale in Mount Lebanon, Pa is seen. — AP

Gulf investors drawn to Turkey ISTANBUL: Turkish assets are riding a wave of foreign portfolio investment as the country’s deepening capital markets, robust growth and hopes for a second investment-grade rating catch the eye of yield-hungry fund managers. Gulf Arab investors, who traditionally poured money into assets in debt-choked US and European markets, have helped drive the explosion in demand, joining funds from Europe, Asia and the United States. Foreign funds have been drawn in part by a widening range of investment products, from a debut sovereign sukuk (Islamic bond) issue last September, which attracted high Gulf demand, to a continuing slew of foreign currencydenominated Eurobonds from banks and corporations. Turkish central bank data showed portfolio inflows last year rose 60 percent to $35 billion. Foreign investors’ bond portfolios rose a net $16 billion in 2012 and bankers said inflows to bonds had already exceeded $1.5 billion this year. “Turkey is on the radar of most international por tfolio investors globally,” said Giambattista Atzeni, vice president at BNY Mellon Corporate Trust in Dubai. “It’s by far the most interesting emerging market in the region with a deep capital market, favourable regulatory environment and a diversified range of investment products.” Turkish banks issued $10.5 billion of forexdenominated Eurobonds in 2012, a total which rises to $12.5 billion if issues from corporates such as brewer Anadolu Efes and oil refiner Tupras are included. White goods maker Arcelik and Sabiha Gokcen Havalimanlar, the company that operates Istanbul’s second airpor t, are in the pipeline to issue new foreign currenc y Eurobonds this year. A public debt-to-gross domestic product ratio below 40 percent, expected economic growth this year of around 4 percent and a narrowing of the current account deficit - Turkey ’s major economic weakness - mean investor appetite for Turkish assets is likely to remain strong. “Interest rates have fallen and we expect them to stay at low levels for a while, but most importantly, unpredictable risks in Turkey have fallen drastically,” said Ahmet Yildirim, general manager at bank

Yapi Kredi Yatirim. “It’s wrong to say Turkey is rallying. It is getting where it deserves to be.” Investment grade Fitch gave Turkey its first investment-grade credit rating in 18 years last November, an endorsement of the country’s economic transformation over the last decade under Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. It highlighted Turkey’s moderate and declining debt burden and the health of its banks. “After Fitch’s rating upgrade, demand for Turkish assets has risen so far that foreign investors are coming to us and saying ‘we will buy whatever you issue’,” Isbank Deputy General Manager Erdal Aral said, adding that the bank was working on new lira-based instruments. Turkey needs at least one of the two other major ratings agencies to follow suit for it to join benchmark investment-grade bond indexes, a status that many funds require before investing in a country. Moody’s, which rates Turkey just below investment grade at Ba1 with a positive outlook, said on Monday that before it would consider an upgrade, Turkey needed to improve its resilience to external shocks by further narrowing its current account deficit or boosting foreign reserves. But Moody’s also predicted strong exports and a slight rebound in domestic demand would push economic growth up to 3.8 percent this year, and said a rebalancing in the economy had already brought a decline in the current account deficit. Many Turkish analysts expect Moody’s to give Turkey its second investment-grade rating later this year. “I expect a rating upgrade from Moody’s any time after end-February,” said the treasury manager of one Turkish bank. “We have been seeing a noticeable inflow from the Gulf region recently but it is not only coming from there. Is this a balloon? Yes it is, but the party will go on until the music is over.” Sustainable returns? Turkey’s economy was the fastest-growing in Europe in 2011, expanding 8.5 percent, but domestic demand slumped last year and instead net exports drove growth as companies diversified into new markets. Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek said earlier this month that the economy had successfully navigated a soft landing and that

this year would see a return to “strong and balanced” growth of around 4 percent. “If we look on an absolute basis Turkey looks rich, but if you think of the options that people have who are running funds, then it’s not expensive,” said Eric Lindenbaum, portfolio manager for emerging debt at Invesco in New York. “You scratch your head and think...Turkey at 6 percent? But then what else will you buy? That’s the kind of world we’re living in where Western bonds are giving you near zero yields so you don’t have that many options,” he said. “It’s not the best reason to buy but at least in Turkey you have good fundamentals to back it up.” Analysts doubt local Turkish bonds can repeat last year ’s stellar per formance, when they returned nearly 20 percent. Manik Narain, an emerging markets strategist at UBS, predicts around 8 percent returns in 2013, roughly in line with the broader emerging market local currency debt sector. “The vast majority of returns in local debt will be from coupon so you could expect 6.5 percent return on coupon and 1 percent on currency,” he said. “There is not really obvious room for Turkey’s local debt market to outperform - foreign positioning is high, yields have compressed and there is lack of currency upside.” Foreign investment in Turkish equities has also risen. The stock market climbed 53 percent in 2012, making it one of the world’s biggest gainers, and it has risen 8 percent this year. Foreigners invested a net $5.3 billion in Turkish stocks last year against a net sale of $2 billion in 2011 and account for around two thirds of stock market capitalisation, according to data from the Istanbul stock exchange. Bank of America/Merrill Lynch’s January survey of global fund managers showed Turkey, China and Russia were the markets most favoured by emerging market equity investors, who have a net overweight of 43 percent in each of those markets. “Last year the stock market performance was spectacular and it would be difficult to expect a similar performance this year,” said Aziz Unan, por tfolio manager at Renaissance Asset Management. Turkish stocks are trading at 11.8 times forward earnings, a slight premium to global emerging markets. Earnings growth is expected to be around 11 percent this year, compared to 15 percent last year. — Reuters

Greeks might lose highways ATHENS: Public transpor t in Athens was fully operational yesterday for the first time in nearly two weeks amid a pause in strikes against the city’s metro and buses. But a new confrontation for the embattled coalition government was brewing on rural highways where scores of farmers were massing to demand state support. Meanwhile, police were called in to dislodge around 30 Communist unionists who were protesting near the labour ministry against new pension cut plans. The unionists were arrested and police then used tear gas to disperse a large group that demanded their release, an AFP photographer said. But buses were back on the streets of Athens after unionists late on Tuesday voted to end a five-day protest. Metro staff had previously been forced back to work on Friday by emergency government decree after a nine-day strike over pay cuts. New labour

action against ongoing austerity has been called for today however. Sailors have called a two-day walkout over a labour reform permitting ferry owners to limit the num-

ber of crew members, while health workers are also holding a work stoppage against sector spending cuts. Train and bus staff plan to strike again today over efforts by

ATHENS: A protester clashes with riot police outside the Labor Ministry yesterday. — AP

the government to enforce a single pay system for the nation’s civil service. The reforms are part of Greece’s obligations to the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in return for loans that are helping the heavily-indebted goverment pay its bills and keeping the recession-hit economy afloat. Farmers hit by the Greek economic crisis are threatening to block highways to force the government to hear their plight. The farmers are demanding state subsidies to lower their fuel and electricity costs, claiming that higher seed prices are driving them to ruin. “The agriculture minister says farmers will get 30 million euros ($40 million) this year but this means a maximum of 300 euros per farmer,” Costas Tzellas, a senior farm unionist from Thessaly, told state television NET. “We can’t even fill our tractor fuel tanks with that,” he said. — AFP



JPMorgan bet against itself in trade NEW YORK: There is a new twist in the London Whale trading scandal that cost JPMorgan Chase $6.2 billion in trading losses last year. Some of the firm’s own traders bet against the very derivatives positions placed by its chief investment office, said three people familiar with the matter. The US Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations, which launched an inquiry into the trading loss last fall, is looking into the how different divisions of the bank wound up on opposite sides of the same trade, said one of the people

familiar with the matter. The committee is expected to release a report on its investigation in the next few weeks. The people familiar with the situation did not comment on the dollar value of the opposing trades placed by JPMorgan Chase & Co’s investment bank traders, which was much smaller than the total positions put on by the CIO. The intra-bank trading was not mentioned in a 129-page report JPMorgan released on Jan 16, which chronicled some

of the bank’s risk management failures. The scandal has led to a number of management changes at JPMorgan and has sullied CEO Jamie Dimon’s image as a hands-on risk manager. Kristin Lemkau, a spokeswoman for JPMorgan, declined to comment on the investment bank’s trading positions. A spokeswoman for the Senate committee, led by Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, a Democrat, declined to comment on its investigation. It was widely known that a group of about eight credit-focused hedge funds,

such as BlueMountain Capital Management and Saba Capital Management, were on the other side of the trades that JPMorgan’s London-based Whale team made on an index tied to corporate default rates. But the role JPMorgan’s own investment bank may have played in the messy unwinding of the derivatives trade has not come out until now. One of the three people familiar with the matter claimed that JPMorgan managers discussed merging the two sets of trades in an

attempt to offset some of the CIO’s losses. Those talks ended about a month before Bloomberg News first reported the CIO trades on April 5 last year, the source said. JPMorgan’s Lemkau said that this “never came up in our exhaustive internal investigation.” Last July, the bank fired the three London-based traders in the CIO most closely tied to the trading, including Bruno Iksil, dubbed the London Whale by hedge fund traders because of the size of the trades he placed for the CIO. —Reuters

PARIS: Employees of several factories demonstrate near the Labor Ministry. Workers from food industry, car makers, drug industry and others were protesting against job cuts in their sector. On jackets read: No to job cuts. —AP

GOP sees automatic cuts as leverage WASHINGTON: Driven by frustration over deficits and debt, Republican conservatives are pushing a politically risky move to permit painfully large automatic spending cuts to strike the Pentagon and domestic programs alike in an effort to force Democrats into making concessions on the budget. It’s a remarkable turnabout from last year, when GOP leaders were among the loudest voices warning of dire consequences for the military and the economy if more than $100 billion worth of across-the-board cuts were allowed to take effect. Now, even as defense hawks fume, Republicans see the strategy as their best chance of wringing cuts from costly government benefit programs like Medicare that President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies have been reluctant to touch. The move is fraught with risk. Some $43 billion would be cut from the Pentagon budget between March and October if battling Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on an alternative. Equal cuts would hit domestic programs, although the health care programs that are major drivers of future deficits are largely exempt. “In terms of the political dynamic here, defense spending is only 20 percent of the federal budget, but it’s taking 50 percent of the cuts, which means it’s going to be hitting the Republicans a lot harder than the Democrats,” said defense analyst Loren Thompson. “Most of the nation’s big military bases and many of its defense factories are located in Republican strongholds like the South, so Republicans are hurting themselves more than the Democrats by insisting on going forward with sequestration.” The automatic cuts, known as a “sequester” in Washington-speak, are the penalty for the failures of the 2011 deficit “supercommittee” and subsequent rounds of budget talks to produce an agreement. Along with the threatened expiration of Bush-era tax cuts, the sequester was a major element of the so-called fiscal cliff crisis that gripped the country as the new year dawned. While most of the tax cuts - except for upper-bracket income - were made permanent, negotiators could only agree on a two month reprieve to the sequester after finding $24 billion in replacement money that reduced this year’s round of cuts from $109 billion to $85 billion. Eight more years of cuts, totaling almost $1 trillion, still remain. Last year, Republicans issued dire warnings of the impact the cuts would have. Defense hawks like Sens. John McCain, RAriz, and Lindsey Graham, R-SC, made campaign tours in political swing states like Virginia and Florida lambasting the cuts, warning that the reductions would hollow out the Pentagon and cost many thousands of jobs. They reminded voters that the sequester was an idea developed by Democrats during 2011 negotiations on increasing the government’s borrowing cap. “The White House is responsible for the ‘sequester’ that threatens our national security,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in September. “History has taught us we can’t continue with policies that jeopardize our defenses or weaken our economy.” So twice last year, House Republicans passed legislation to replace this year’s round of cuts with alternatives like curbing the growth of food stamps and requiring federal workers to contribute more to their pensions. Democrats instead put their faith in yearend, high-level budget talks involving President Barack Obama and Boehner, but those talks failed. Later, successful negotiations between Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, RKy, solved the tax issue but produced only the two-month fix for the sequester. This

year’s GOP move to embrace the sequester was hatched at a recent strategy retreat for House Republicans in Williamsburg, Va Much of the retreat was devoted to coming up with a way to solve a more urgent issue: finding a way to get the tea party-infused House to again increase the debt limit and prevent an economically devastating firstever default on U.S. obligations. The party agreed on a strategy to punt the debt dilemma until May or later and instead use the sequester as leverage in the budget debate. A senior House GOP aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss party strategy, said some Republicans see the sequester as their best opportunity to achieve spending cuts. That strategy, however, is rife with potential to split open the Republican Party and pits the defense hawks against the tea party. “The world is blowing up. I can’t imagine a more devastating signal to send to the Iranians and our enemies and our friends alike than to dismantle the military,” Graham said. “In a body that’s known for doing pretty dumb things, this to me wins the prize.” Such concerns, however, have been overruled by Republicans frustrated by a recent loss to Obama on the issue of higher tax rates and a $60 billion disaster aid bill to address Superstorm Sandy. The reality of the political firestorm that is sure to hit if the sequester kicks in doesn’t seem to be a concern. “These are the only cuts that we’ve been able to get from the president, and absent any other negotiations, I understand those who say, ‘We’re loath to give that up unless we come up with some substitute,’” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. “It’s bad policy, there’s no question about it. But the president could be part of the solution, and right now he’s AWOL.” How people would actually react should the across-the-board cuts hit is anyone’s guess. But it’s not lost on anyone with institutional history that Republicans got creamed in a similar situation in 1995-96 when they sparked a partial government shutdown under the leadership of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. “I’m just flabbergasted,” said Scott Lilly, who was the top Democratic staffer on the House Appropriations Committee during the Gingrich shutdown. “The way they’ve played it, they’re going to get a huge part of the blame because they’re just openly accepting” the sequester. In many ways, the consequences of any sequester would be more severe than the partial shutdown of 1995-96. Then, many government agencies were exempt, including most of the Pentagon and other agencies devoted to protecting life and property, like the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard. With Pentagon uniformed military salaries exempt, the cuts to the rest of the agency are more severe, with big impacts on defense contractors and civilian Pentagon workers. “I just don’t think there’s any appetite at this point in the Republican conference to ‘fix’ the sequester,” said GOP lobbyist Jack Howard. “You have to wait until it actually hits, I think. And then we’ll see.” On Tuesday, Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev, said the warring parties should try to figure it all out, but he set up a clash with Republicans over using new taxes to fix the problem. Reid said the sequester cuts should be replaced “in short increments” with spending cuts and revenues like repealing oil and gas subsidies, which were discussed in earlier negotiations. “There are many low-hanging pieces of fruit out there that Republicans have said they agreed on previously,” Reid said. There’s a lot of things we can do out there, and we’re going to make an effort to make sure that there is sequestration is - involves revenue.” —AP





for the Middle East air travel in 2013

Flydubai’s Chief Executive Officer Ghaith Al-Ghaith inside an aircraft from the flydubai fleet. By Velina Nacheva KUWAIT: Middle East air travel, one of the highest growth areas in global aviation, is eyeing to further conquer the skies in 2013 - a glowing endorsement attributed to the world’s largest aviation watchdog. “The Middle East is well placed to benefit from continued growth in the coming years. Both in terms of fleet expansion and investment in airport infrastructure, the key Gulf States are prepared for significant growth,” said Chris Goater, communications manager of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in written responses to questions from the Kuwait Times. Such projected growth in the region is sustainable, according to aviation consultant Phillip Butterworth-Hayes who runs PMI Media, an aviation consultancy. “By developing the region’s airports as hubs, they pull in traffic from around the world which needs to connect to destinations in other parts of the world; so the catchment area effectively becomes the entire world. If traffic is down in one sector, such as Europe, this can be compensated for by growth in other areas,” Butterworth-Hayes observed. Location, location, location Dubai has become one of the most vital crossroads of the world and it has proven to be more than just a stopover air hub in a strategic location. It is a destination by itself offering business and leisure travellers alternatives that few other places in the region feature. Air connectivity is a major component in maintaining Dubai as the region’s business, trade and tourism hub. Predictably, developing the aviation sector is crucial to the government’s goal to turn Dubai into a destination for business activity, leisure travel and retail. Dubai, the world’s third busiest airport, is home to the state-owned global legacy carrier, Emirates, and the Dubai government’s lowcost airline venture flydubai with a capacity to serve 70 million people today. Flydubai, the world’s fastest growing start-up airline and the second-largest tenant at one of the world’s largest airports, is cited as one of leading players at the helm of the aviation growth projection for the region. The boons for flydubai’s success factor are: the fact that 60 percent of the world’s population lives within a 5.5-hour radius from Dubai, the booming regional market, swelling population, great synergies with the giant airline Emirates and a forward-thinking government. In the words of flydubai’s Chief Executive Officer Ghaith Al-Ghaith, Dubai is what makes flydubai the fastest growing airline in the world. Talking to the Kuwait Times during the launch of flydubai’s inaugural flight to the Maldives earlier this month, AlGhaith said: “We are extremely fortunate that we are operating out of Dubai. We are extremely fortunate to be operating out of the United Arab Emirates. There is a huge focus on growth in our country.” The perfect location and a clear government vision for growth are the corollary for success of a regional airline. “The government builds the infrastructure and we populate it. The government is always steps ahead of us. We are very blessed,” explained Al-Ghaith. He added that people love to come to Dubai because of all the exciting things it offers. “Dubai is no longer just a one-type of tourism destination. It is also a destination for different kinds of visitors - for leisure and business. This (success) happened with the hard work of the government of Dubai. For over a decade they have been

flydubai - the pillar in the region’s emerging aviation hub is licensed to grow

developing the country to have the best infrastructure and the best services,” said Al-Ghaith. What makes flydubai a standout: Affordable travel options, a flexible network expansion to underserved markets, beyond-strategic location and plans to serve some 2.5 billion people living within a 5.5 hour radius of Dubai. Addressing a press conference in Dubai before flydubai’s inaugural flight to the Maldives last week, Al-Ghaith stressed, “Our vision has always been to open up new markets and give more people the opportunity to travel affordably, granting them direct access to Dubai’s commercial and tourism opportunities, as well as the chance to explore beyond Dubai an array of exciting destinations on our network.” Growing sustainably Sustainable aviation growth relies on good infrastructure, resources and government support. According to Oussama Salah, a UAEbased aviation expert, “the Gulf has the infrastructure.” Another aviation expert based in Europe provided an additional layer of understanding into the regional growth pillars. “From where I am, governments look a whole lot more committed to aviation than they are

started the airline. Now we are in discussions with both Boeing and Airbus to see the new model of aircraft. We will probably make some announcement for a new aircraft order,” AlGhaith said. The region’s fleet expansions mean a glut of seats that, in turn, in the crowded Gulf skies might lead to capacity adjustments. Airspace capacity is a possible concern for the projected growth in the Middle East. Asked if airlines need to consider capacity adjustments, Bentley explained that in all parts of the world, carriers are too easily lulled into a false sense of security and put on too much capacity. “They started cutting back in the US two years ago and are still at it. We started last year in Europe. It will happen in the Middle East, too. It is a natural progression like night follows day,” Bentley added. However, the DNA of flydubai and its distinct growth pattern serve as boost to the airline’s immunity which has been resilient to recessionary impacts and economic slowdowns since its start in the throes of the global meltdown. Aggressive expansion While the West-based carriers are handling capacity-crunches, slashing routes, undergo-

DUBAI: (From left to right) Hamad Bin Mejren, Executive Director, Business Tourism, partment of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Laila Suhail, CEO, Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment (DEPE), flydubai’s Chief Executive Officer, Ghaith Al- Ghaith and Anita Mehra, Vice President - Marketing and Corporate Communications, Dubai Airports are seen at the press ceonference held in Dubai earlier this month. here,” says David Bentley, an airline industry analyst and joint managing director of Big Pond Aviation, a consulting and analysis company. More growth also means larger fleets. According to Bentley, “Boeing predicts that 46 percent of aircraft deliveries over the next 20 years in the Middle East will be big wide-body types to the region’s airlines as they seek to connect their hubs with every sizeable city in the world.” The larger the fleet, the greater the capacity. The exponential capacity expansion of the Middle East’s three big legacy carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways and the two-fold increase in the Middle East budget travel segment in the past three years has not disturbed flydubai’s initial strategy for growth. Even before the airline’s first flight took off three years ago, flydubai had placed an order to bring its fleet to a total of 50 aircraft. In the words of Al-Ghaith, flydubai’s fleet of 28 aircraft will grow to 34 by the end of next year. “By 2016, we will have received all of the 50 aircraft. We have not slowed down. We are on the path that we charted in 2008 when we

ing heavy restructuring and mergers, flydubai has no plans to shift from its strategy based on adding frequencies at an aggressive rate and extending its geographical footprint. The secret to the airline’s resilience, it seems, is the carrier’s two-pronged approach - a firm commitment to the region and a recession-proof low-cost business model. Flydubai currently reaches the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Commonwealth of Independent State (CIS) - markets where there is further expansion potential. Currently, its GCC network, the largest of all Middle Eastern carriers, features 265 flights a week to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. More than 40 percent of flydubai’s network expansion in 2012 focused on CEE and the CIS. Currently, the no-frills carrier operates to 16 destinations in the region. Al-Ghaith told the Kuwait Times, “ The results that we have achieved so far and the growth in these new markets only shows that there is a lot of business that we have not touched yet. There is huge potential for growth.” The numbers validate his upbeat stand-

point. Compared to the previous year, in 2012, flydubai’s passenger growth from the GCC was 65 percent with a 36 percent growth in the number of flights. Comparatively, there was 285 percent growth in passenger numbers from the CIS and CEE markets in addition to a 114 percent increase in the number of flights over the same period. The Dubai-Kuwait route has grown from two flights initially to eight daily flights now. Are capacity explosions expected to lead to price pressures in the no-frills sector as their Gulf full-service counterparts race to pour seats into the market? To this, Al-Ghaith says: “There are ups and downs in the market. The airline people are very smart in deploying capacity. There is a lot of capacity now. I do not foresee a major price war. I believe that the airlines are more mature. Cutting the prices is good for the consumer and sometimes you need it... but it is not good for the business in the long-term.” In times when global industry players seek alliances to battle the aviation turbulence caused by volatile fuel prices that make up over 40 percent of an airline’s operating cost and by thinning demand in some segments, a Gulf-based all-economy state-owned carrier boosts an explosive growth of traffic. Perhaps the real question is this: How does flydubai minimize costs while increasing efficiency and still manage to keep the prices low? In response, Al-Ghaith explains: The airline’s fleet of brand new aircraft has lower engineering cost; the price for the order of 50 aircraft was lower compared to an order for fewer planes; thirdly, due to the one-type-of-aircraft fleet, flydubai supports one type of engineers for maintenance. “This is what keeps our costs down,” he said. Taking the point further, he stressed, “We provide services but we try to cover the cost of these services by allowing customers to pay for it, such as movies... We have a very good focus in making sure that there is enough income from the things we do and bring the cost down.” Challenges The skies over the Gulf could be gloomier if liberalization, one of the main challenges to aviation growth, is not addressed in the long term. In the words of Goater from IATA, “A potential concern (in the Middle east) is airspace capacity, which is a problem due to some important areas of airspace which is restricted for military purposes.” According to Butterwoth-Hayes, the physical lack of airspace around busy hub airports and the lack of liberalization in states neighbouring the Gulf which will restrict growth there, are the two bottlenecks to aviation growth. “Neither of these are huge obstacles for the next year or two,” he said. For Butterwoth-Hayes, “The big problem with regional regulatory consolidation is that someone is going to have to give something up for the greater good if the cost benefit analysis shows a neighbor can perform a particular service better. But consolidating regulations can generate huge cost savings - as the single European Sky program suggests - sometimes by as much as 50 percent on air navigation charges.” In the view of Salah, the growth of the LCCs is organic and is point-to-point. He said, “The UAE population is rapidly expanding and can sustain additional services into the CIS, the Balkans and Africa. Of course, a liberalized Arab Aviation Regime will open several opportunities.” Asked to comment on a Single Gulf Sky, Al-Ghaith points out: “We came a long

way in the Gulf. I can honestly say that the Gulf is almost open. There are different levels of liberalization. You can go almost anywhere in the region now without any restriction.” The state of booming aviation has also changed the travel habits in the Gulf. According to AlGhaith, the interregional relationships are more in the region. “People in the Gulf travel more often than before. Previously, they used to travel once a year. Now they travel once a month.” His words are supported by statistics which show that the Gulf has the highest ratio of travel per capita. Al-Ghaith speaks of another challenge that flydubai faces - the diversity of its passengers. Flydubai’s success story The Beirut-bound take off of flydubai on June 1, 2009 was the airline’s maiden commercial flight. Since then, the budget airline has been on an upward spiral spreading its wings over an extended network of 52 routes. During its three years of operations, the airline has deepened its network’s breadth over a wide range of destinations within a five-and-ahalf hour radius from Dubai across Africa, Asia, GCC, the Indian Subcontinent, Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Middle East. In the near future, the plan is to reach more places in CEE, CIS, and the Middle East. Here are the highlights of flydubai’s growing portfolio: Dubai’s first low-cost carrier had flown 1 million passengers during its first 13 months of operation. In addition, flydubai has its own terminal. The all-economy airline became the first low-cost carrier to be on the Global Distribution System providing access to travel agents from around the world to their airfare. Flydubai is the first carrier to offer daily updated digital newspapers through its premium inflight entertainment system. The e-Reader platform provides access to 45 newspapers in seven languages across the globe in .pdf format. In a nutshell, flying at an altitude of 10,000 meters no longer means that a passenger is not on top of the news world on any given day. The airline is a pioneer in presenting on-board safety demonstrations in an innovative and informative way, having partnered with FREEJ, the Middle East’s first animated series, to create a 3D animated safety film in both Arabic and English. In addition, flydubai is the launch customer for the Boeing Sky Interior, which has increased space through redesigned overhead lockers. flydubai’s growing network and customer base is testament to its continued vision of accessibility and affordability. The airline’s target is to offer a wealth of destinations to more people, provide a low-cost option on already popular routes from Dubai, while opening up destinations underserved by direct air links to the UAE - boosting trade and tourism. The budget carrier has one of the best ontime performances in the industry (85 percent). Today, flydubai operates 985 flights a week and plans to further extend its network adding new destinations this year. The lowcost airline features one of the youngest fleets of brand new aircraft Boeing 737-800. The fledgling carrier has already reached a breakeven point, making a profit in 2012. AlGhaith concludes, “We consider ourselves (as having) matured this year in terms of services and operations.” Flydubai’s management that bets on winning strategies for the business, it seems, helps bring the growth forward into the future.



Lenovo profit boosted by smartphones, tablets BEIJING: Personal computer maker Lenovo Group said yesterday its quarterly profit rose 34 percent to a record high on strong sales of smartphones and tablet computers. The company, vying with Hewlett-Packard Co. to become the world’s biggest PC maker, said it earned $205 million in the three months ending in December. Revenue rose 12 percent to $9.4 billion, also a record. The results reflect a rapid shift in global consumer tastes toward mobile services. That is forcing traditional technology leaders to

scramble to roll out new products and diversify into services as well as hardware. Sales by Lenovo’s mobile and digital home unit soared 77 percent to $998 million, though that was only 11 percent of total revenue. The company said its smartphone business in China was profitable for the first time and handsets were launched in India, Indonesia, Russia and other markets. Shipments of media tablets rose 77 percent to 800,000 units. “The strong performance of our

mobile Internet business is a significant strength that we believe will help us drive sustainable growth even in challenging market conditions,” said chief financial officer Wong Wai Ming in a conference call with reporters. Lenovo shipped 9.4 million smartphones during the quarter, all but about 400,000 of them in China, according to chairman Yang Yuanqing. He said the smartphone business outside China is “still in the first stage” and Lenovo needs to invest to gain market share before focusing on

profitability. Revenues in the bigger but slower-growing PC market rose 7 percent to $7.9 billion. Lenovo, which is based in Beijing and in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, warned PC demand “remains challenging” due to weakening global economic conditions but said it plans to expand its cloud, services and other businesses. In its home China market, PC shipments rose 2 percent, down from the previous quarter’s 8 percent. Lenovo said that was still better than an indus-

try-wide decline of 2 percent in China, raising its market share by 1.4 percentage points to a record 36.7 percent. Shipments in the United States and the rest of North America rose 11 percent over a year earlier. Lenovo released a new version of its ThinkPad notebook computer, the X1 Carbon, in August that it said was lighter and quicker to mimic the convenience of a tablet. Lenovo acquired the ThinkPad brand with IBM Corp’s personal computer unit in 2005. —AP

Japan’s ANA replaced 10 Dreamliner batteries before emergency landing Battery maker GS Yuasa declines comment TOKYO: All Nippon Airways said it had replaced 10 below-par lithium-ion batteries on its Boeing Co 787 Dreamliners in the months before one of the passenger jets was forced to make an emergency landing due to an overheated battery triggering smoke alarms. The Japanese carrier, the biggest customer to date for the new Boeing jetliner, did not inform accident investigators in the United States because the incidents, including 5 batteries that had unusually low charges, did not compromise the plane’s safety, ANA spokesman Ryosei Nomura said yesterday. ANA did, however, inform Boeing of the

This undated publicity file photo provided by Disney shows Mickey Mouse using a paintbrush to fight a monster in “Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two.” —AP

Disney closing ‘Epic Mickey’ video game developer LOS ANGELES: Now it’s time to say goodbye to “Epic Mickey.” The interactive division of the Walt Disney Co. announced Tuesday that it is closing Junction Point Studios, its Austin, Texas-based developer that created 2010’s “Disney Epic Mickey” and its 2012 sequel “Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two.” Disney said the closure is part of its “effort to address the fast-evolving gaming platforms and marketplace” and to align its resources with its key priorities. “We’re extremely grateful to Warren Spector and the Junction Point team for their creative contributions to Disney with ‘Disney Epic Mickey’ and ‘Disney Epic Mickey 2,’” the studio said in a statement. Disney acquired Junction Point in 2007. The studio was led by “Deus Ex” and “Thief” creator Warren Spector. Both “Epic Mickey” games were set in a twisted version of Disneyland called Wasteland and featured Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit as protagonists. “I said to myself as Junction Point embarked on the ‘Epic Mickey’ journey that, worst case, we’d be ‘a footnote in

Disney history,’” Spector posted Monday on Facebook. “Looking back on it, I think we did far better than that. With Mickey Mouse as our hero, we introduced a mainstream audience to some cool ‘core game’ concepts - and, most especially, we restored Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to a place of prominence.” The first “Epic Mickey,” which was released only for the Nintendo Wii, was the sixth best-selling game the month it was released in 2010. “Epic Mickey 2,” which was available for the Wii, as well as the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, didn’t crack the top 10 when it was released last November, according to gaming industry tracker NPD Group. Disney unveiled plans earlier this month for a new franchise combining a toy line and a game called “Disney Infinity,” similar to “Skylanders” from Activision-Blizzard Inc. “Infinity” is being developed by Disney’s Salt Lake City, Utahbased developer Avalanche Software and is set to debut in June alongside “Monsters University,” the 3-D prequel to the 2001 Disney-Pixar film “Monsters Inc.” —AP

TUSTIN: The Aeroscraft airship, a high-tech prototype airship, is seen in a World War II-era hangar. —AP

High-tech cargo airship being built in California TUSTIN: The massive blimp-like aircraft flies but just barely, hovering only a dozen feet off a military hangar floor during flight testing south of Los Angeles. Still, the fact that the hulking Aeroscraft could fly for just a few minutes represents a step forward in aviation, according to the engineers who developed it. The Department of Defense and NASA have invested $35 million in the prototype because of its potential to one day carry more cargo than any other aircraft to disaster zones and forward military bases. “I realized that I put a little dot in the line of aviation history. A little dot for something that has never been demonstrated before, now it’s feasible,” said flight control engineer Munir Jojo-Verge. The airship is undergoing testing this month at Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin, and must go through several more rounds of flight testing before it could be used in a disaster zone or anywhere else. The first major flight test took place Jan 3. The biggest challenge for engineers is making sure the airship will be able to withstand high winds and other extreme weather conditions, Jojo-Verge said. Worldwide Aeros, the company that developed the aircraft, said it also must secure more funding for the next round of flight testing, but is hopeful the Defense Department and others will step in again as investors. The company says the cargo airship’s potential to carry more cargo more efficiently than ever before would provide the U.S. military with

an advantage on the battlefield and greater capacity to save more lives during natural disasters. The lighter-than-air vehicle is not a blimp or a zeppelin because it has a rigid structure made out of ultra-light carbon fiber and aluminum underneath its high-tech Mylar skin. Inside, balloons hold the helium that give the vehicle lift. The airship functions like a submarine, releasing air to rise and taking in air to descend, said Aeros mechanical engineer Tim Kenny. It can take off vertically, like a helicopter, then change its buoyancy to become heavier than air for landing and unloading. “It allows the vehicle to set down on the ground. And then when we want to become lighter than air, we release that air and then the vehicle floats and we can allow it to take off,” Kenny said. The project has set abuzz the old hangars at the Marine Corps Air Station in Tustin. The structures were built to hold blimps during World War II. Now workers zip around in cherry-pickers, and the airship’s silvery surface shines against the warm tones of the aging wood of the walls. “You could take this vehicle and go to destinations that have been destroyed, where there’s no ports, no runways, stuff like that. This vehicle could go in there, offload the cargo even if there’s no infrastructure, no landing site for it to land on, this vehicle can unload its whole payload,” said Kenny. Next, Aeros wants to build a full-size 450-foot (137meter) -long vehicle that can carry 66 tons (60 metric tons) of payload.—AP

faults that began in May, and returned the batteries to their manufacturer, GS Yuasa Corp. A spokesman for the battery maker declined to comment yesterday. Shares of the company fell 1.2 percent. Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said the airplane maker could not comment as the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has indicated this is now part of their investigation. The New York Times earlier quoted an NTSB spokeswoman as saying the agency would include these “numerous issues” with the 787 battery in its investigations. Under aviation inspection rules, airlines are required to perform detailed battery inspec-

tions once every two years. The global fleet of 50 Dreamliners - 17 of which are operated by ANA - remain grounded as investigators in Japan and the US try to find out what caused one battery to catch fire on a Japan Airlines Co 787 at Boston’s Logan Airport earlier this month, and a second battery to burn on the ANA domestic flight that made the emergency landing. The NTSB said on Tuesday it was carrying out a microscopic investigation of the JAL 787 battery. Neither it nor the Japan Transport Safety Board has been able to say when they are likely to complete their work. —Reuters

Disney unveils own ‘Skylanders’-like franchise LOS ANGELES: Captain Jack Sparrow driving Cinderella’s carriage? Mr Incredible swinging the Queen of Hearts’ flamingo mallet? Sulley from “Monsters, Inc” galloping around on Bullseye from “Toy Story”? Those are just a few of the silly scenarios that could become a virtual reality with “Disney Infinity,”a new endeavor from Disney combining a video game with a toy line. The Walt Disney Co revealed plans Tuesday to launch what it’s billing as a new gaming platform that’s strikingly similar to Activision’s successful “Skylanders” franchise. “Infinity” will blend real-life toy figures depicting various Disney personalities with a sprawling virtual world where those same characters can do stuff like race cars, play games and construct buildings together, as well as go on adventures in their own realms. “Infinity” will be available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, Wii U, PC, online and on tablets and smartphones. It’s being crafted by Disneyowned developer Avalanche Software, which created the 2010 game based on “Toy Story 3.” That game’s “toy box” mode served as inspiration for what eventually became“Infinity.” Akin to“Skylanders,”the plastic figures have the ability to store data and transmit characters’ histories through a reader. Also like “Skylanders,” the toys can work between consoles, meaning a Mr Incredible figure can seamlessly go from a PS3 in your living room to the Wii in your friend’s basement. The game is essentially divided into two modes: “play sets,” featuring structured adventures where gamers can collect vehicles, scenery, gadgets and more; and the “toy box,” an unstructured open world where users’ imaginations can run wild, much like the games such as “Minecraft” and “LittleBigPlanet.” Both modes allow for gamers to play cooperatively or online together. “Infinity” serves as something of a homecoming for Disney’s very different heroes. While disparate Disney characters can sometimes be spotted together in theme parks, on ice or the merchandising world, they’re rarely united within any of Disney’s fictional domains. Was there some uneasiness about not only aligning these diverse

properties, but also giving up control of such beloved creations to users? “The truthful answer is yes,” said John Pleasants, co-president at Disney Interactive. “There was both apprehension and excitement. In the end, excitement and the potential for new opportunities won over. It wasn’t without a lot of conversations with a lot of stakeholders though.” Fictionally, the characters depicted in “Infinity” are not the actual characters themselves but the real-world toys come to life on screen. To that end, the figures all maintain the same toy-inspired style, more apparent in the scallywags from “Pirates of the Caribbean” than say the playthings from “Toy Story,” and the game’s

tant year for us,” said Pleasants. “This is the biggest initiative we’re investing in this year, and we hope it will have a positive impact on generating profit this year.” A starter pack for “Infinity” will include the game, reader, play set piece and three figures: Sulley of “Monsters University,” Captain Jack Sparrow of “Pirates of the Caribbean” and Mr Incredible of “The Incredibles.” Pleasants said the starter pack will cost $74.99, the same price as the “Skylanders: Giants” starter pack released last year. “Infinity” will initially launch with 17 figures ($12.99 a piece, or $29.99 for a three-pack) and 20 power discs ($4.99 a pack). The power discs can be placed on the reader to provide new

things to ‘Infinity’ from the vault, as well as launch things that do not yet exist today.” Disney is clearly taking a cue from Activision with “Infinity,” injecting the toys-meets-games genre with its own characters and locales and perhaps smartly so. Activision Blizzard Inc revealed last week that its “Skylanders” franchise crossed the $500 million mark in US retail sales, outselling top action figure lines from franchises such as the WWE and“Star Wars.” Pleasants noted that “Infinity” is driving past the innovations that Activision originally made when it launched the genre with “Skylanders” in 2011. He said that

This undated publicity photo released by Walt Disney Company shows the video game, Disney Infinity: Monsters University Play Set. —AP graphics are equally toy-like. “Infinity” is set to debut in June, along with “Monsters University,” the 3-D sequel to the 2001 Disney-Pixar film “Monsters, Inc.” Despite the continued success of the Disney Co. as a whole, Disney’s interactive division, responsible for games like the console adventure “Epic Mickey” and the online virtual world “Club Penguin,” operated at a loss last year. If “Infinity” becomes as financially successful as “Skylanders,” it could provide a much needed boost to Disney Interactive. “We believe that 2013 is an impor-

items and power-ups. For example, slipping the disc for Fix-It Felix Jr’s hammer from“Wreck-It Ralph”underneath Davy Jones from “Pirates of the Caribbean”will raise the captain’s ability to deal damage. Disney sees “Infinity” as a longterm platform with a plan to release new figures, play sets and power discs over the next several years. “Within ‘Infinity,’ we will leverage Disney characters from the past, present and future - and we will continue to do so in the future,” said Pleasants. “You will see us bring

unlike “Skylanders,” “Infinity” will boast several different styles of gameplay that will obviously draw from the wealth of Disney creations. The play set for “The Incredibles,” for example, is more focused on action than the one for “Monsters University,” where stealthiness is the name of the game. “We have some pretty interesting things up our sleeve online and on mobile that we’ll be doing,” said Pleasants, “We think they will be really different than what ‘Skylanders’ has done.”—AP

LG Electronics sinks to loss after EU fine SEOUL: LG Electronics Inc reported its first quarterly loss in a year yesterday after Europe slapped it with a massive fine for price fixing. Its net loss totaled 468 billion won ($429 million) for the last quarter of 2012, compared with a loss of 112 billion a year earlier. The European Union fined it 492 million euros ($664 million) last month for rigging prices of cathode-ray tubes for years up until 2006. LG said it would appeal. LG also blamed its poor fourth quarter on intense competition among TV makers and sluggish consumer demand. The won’s gains against the US dollar also hurt, LG said. Operating profit, which excludes the fine,

rose 25 percent over a year earlier to 107.2 billion won. Revenue fell slightly to 13.5 trillion won. The increase in operating profit was driven by LG’s mobile business which was profitable in 2012 after suffering two years of losses. LG’s smartphone shipments jumped 56 percent over a year earlier to 8.6 million in the fourth quarter, helped by its Optimus series of phones based on the Android operating system. LG Electronics is among the smaller players in the smartphone market. Counterpoint Technology Market Research estimated that more than 90 percent of the smartphone market’s profit is claimed by Samsung Electronics Co and Apple Inc. But higher-end smart-

phones have steadily increased in importance for LG’s overall mobile business as it battles competition from Chinese makers at the lowcost end of the market. LG said it plans to bet on countries that have begun introducing faster wireless networks called LTE, which it expects will produce higher demand for smartphones compatible with the new technology. The company, which competes in the TV market with Sony Corp., Panasonic Corp. and local rival Samsung Electronics Co., is counting on early launches of advanced displays such as OLED and ultrahigh definition this year to get ahead of its rivals.—AP


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

Cancer gene mutation linked to earlier menopause SAN FRANCISCO: Women who carry the BRCA mutations tied to breast and ovarian cancer may hit menopause a few years earlier than other women, according to a US study of nearly a thousand women. Doctors already discuss with those women whether they want immediate surgery to remove their ovaries and breasts, or if they want to start a family first and hold off on ovary removal. “Now they have an additional issue to deal with,” said Mitchell Rosen, who worked on the study at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.

An estimated one in 600 U.S. women carries the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. Those mutations greatly increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, a woman’s chance of getting breast cancer at some point in her life increases from 12 to 60 percent with a BRCA mutation, and ovarian cancer from 1.4 percent to between 15 and 40 percent. What has been less well studied is whether those mutations also affect a woman’s egg stores and her chance of getting pregnant.

For the study, which appeared in the journal Cancer, the researchers surveyed 382 California women who carried the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation and another 765 women who weren’t known carriers. The study team focused specifically on women who went through menopause naturally, and not those who had their ovaries removed before menopause. Women with the genetic mutations said they’d stopped getting their periods at age 50, on average, compared to age 53 for other women. The youngest natural menopause, at age 46, came for

women with a BRCA mutation who were also heavy smokers, Rosen and his colleagues reported. Their study only included white women, so it’s unknown whether the findings apply to other racial and ethnic groups. It’s also not clear whether mutation carriers had any trouble conceiving, although it’s more likely, they said. But the last thing BRCA mutation carriers need is to have another thing to seriously worry about, said Ellen Matloff, director of cancer genetic counseling at the Yale Cancer Center in New Haven, Connecticut.

Those women are already advised to get their ovaries taken out b y age 40, which puts a “huge burden” on them to find a partner and start a family, she said. “This study does not mean that you can’t have children, and it doesn’t mean that you have less time than you thought you did,” said Matloff, who added that more research will be needed to confirm these findings and their impact, if any. Almost all women who carry the mutations have their ovaries removed surgically before going through natural menopause anyway, she added. — Reuters

Earlier lunchtime helps people lose weight New Spanish study

TOKYO: Sayane Egawa, an employee of Japanese weather forecasting company Weathernews displays some of the 1,000 pod-shaped pollen counting robots called “Pollen-robot”, which are ready to be shipped as nationwide monitors to observe pollen levels ahead of the coming hay fever season, at the company’s headquarters in Chiba, suburban Tokyo yesterday. The Pollen-robot, which has two LED eyes and glows a range of five different colors to indicate pollen levels, will be placed outside houses and can send reports recording pollen, temperatures, humidity and air pressure to the company through the internet. — AFP

Horse meat scare in Britain LONDON: British retail giant Tesco said yesterday it has axed an Irish beef supplier which sparked a food scare after horse DNA was found in beefburgers in Britain and Ireland, where horse meat consumption is taboo. Tesco said in a statement that it has decided to stop using Silvercrest after uncovering evidence that it used meat from non-approved suppliers, mirroring a move by US fast-food chain Burger King last week. Two weeks ago, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) had revealed that up to 29 percent of the meat content of some beefburgers was in fact horse, while they also found pig DNA. The frozen burgers were on sale in high-street supermarket chains Tesco and Iceland in both Britain and Ireland, and in Irish branches of Lidl, Aldi and Dunnes Stores. The FSAI had said burgers had been made at two processing plants in Ireland and one in northern England. Following the news, Britain’s biggest

retailer Tesco issued an immediate apology and pledged to investigate the matter. It said Silvercrest apparently used suppliers that Tesco had not authorised, as well as using meat from outside Britain and Ireland. “Consequently we have decided not to take products from that supplier in future. We took that decision with regret but the breach of trust is simply too great,” Tesco technical director Tim Smith said in Wednesday’s statement. The supermarket group added that it would also implement DNA testing across its meat products to prevent such an incident happening again. “Ultimately Tesco is responsible for the food we sell, so it is not enough just to stop using the supplier.” “We want to leave customers in no doubt that we will do whatever it takes to ensure the quality of their food and that the food they buy is exactly what the label says it is,” added Smith. The consumption of horse meat is a common sight in central Asia, China, Latin America and parts of Europe. — AFP

Study pinponts brain’s addiction spots TOKYO: A smoker’s craving to light up can be tamed by carefully targeted magnetic fields applied to the brain, a senior researcher from a Japanese-Canadian team said yesterday. Scientists managed to zoom in on the exact spots that drive the need for nicotine, noting that a mental connection made when a smoker is able to have a cigarette markedly increases the desire to spark up. They found that by interrupting this connection, the addict was better able to control his or her cravings. “Cabin attendants who smoke say they feel stronger cravings for cigarettes as they approach landing times, no matter whether their flights are long-distance or not,” Takuya Hayashi said in Kobe in western Japan. “Our study shows the urge for smoking is not only about if smokers are running out of nicotine,” said Hayashi, of Japan’s RIKEN Center for Molecular Imaging Science, noting a neural mechanism was also playing a role. MRI images showed two regions in the frontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls decision-making, interact and increase the urge to smoke, according to

the study, carried out jointly with Alain Dagher of the Montreal Neurological Institute at Canada’s McGill University. Imaging of the brains of ten smokers who watched video footage of people puffing away showed increased activity in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), a region of the brain just behind the eyes. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which is located higher up, was found to become active if the smoker knows cigarettes will be available immediately after the experiment. Higher activity in the DLPFC boosted activity in the OFC, thereby increasing the desire to smoke, the study found. When researchers targeted the DLPFC with magnetic stimulation-effectively limiting it-activity in the OFC became independent of the availability or otherwise of tobacco, thus reducing cravings. “The findings could lead to the development of treatments for tobacco and other addictions” because they have pinpointed the exact parts of the frontal cortex that are involved, Hayashi said.The research is published in the US-based PNAS journal. — AFP

HARVARD: Want to lose weight? Eating lunch earlier rather than later may help you out. Dieters who ate early lunches tended to lose more weight than those who had their midday meal on the later side, according to a Spanish study published in the International Journal of Obesity. The finding doesn’t prove that bumping up your lunch hour will help you shed that extra weight, but it is possible that eating times play a role in how the body regulates its weight, researchers said. “We should now seriously start to consider the timing of food - not just what we eat, but also when we eat,” said study co-author Frank Scheer, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. His group’s research included 420 people attending nutrition clinics in southeast Spain. Along with going to regular group therapy sessions with nutrition and exercise counseling, dieters measured, weighed and recorded their food and reported on their daily physical activity. Study par ticipants were on a so- called Mediterranean diet, in which about 40 percent of each day’s calories are consumed at lunch. About half of the people said they ate lunch before 3:00 p.m. and half after. Over 20 weeks of counseling, early and late lunchers ate a similar amount of food, based on their food journals, and burned a similar amount of calories through daily activities. However, early eaters lost an average of 10 kg ( 22 lbs) - just over 11 percent of their starting weight - while late eaters dropped 7.7 kg (17 lb), or nine percent of their initial weight. What time dieters ate breakfast or dinner wasn’t linked to their ultimate weight loss. One limitation of the study is that the researchers didn’t randomly assign people to eat early or late, so it’s possible there were other underlying differences between dieters with different mealtimes. Certain gene variants that have been linked to obesity were more common in late lunchers, for example. People who eat later may have extra food in their stomach when they go to sleep, which could mean more of it isn’t burned and ends up being stored as fat, said Yunsheng Ma, a

nutrition researcher from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester. How often people eat during the day and whether they bring food from home or eat out may also contribute to weight loss, added Ma, who wasn’t involved in the new research. He said any implications of late eating could be exacerbated among people in the United States. “The pattern of consumption of meals is very different in the US,” Ma told Reuters Health. Many people skip breakfast or lunch, then end up over-

doing it on calories at dinner. Scheer said that in the United States, where dinner is typically the biggest meal, researchers would expect people who eat later dinners to have more trouble losing weight based on his team’s findings. Regardless of exact mealtimes, Ma said it’s important for people to spread their calories out through the day. “Have a good breakfast and a good lunch, and at dinner, people should eat lightly,” he said.— Reuters

JAKARTA: In this photograph taken yesterday, employess work in a local Indonesian tobacco company employing 600 women workers in Malang located in East Java province. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a tobacco regulation on Dec 24, 2012 in an effort to curb tobacco consumption which has faced staunch opposition from the cigarette lobby. More than 237,000 people work in the country’s tobacco industry, producing some 190 billion cigarettes, according to data from the World Health Organization. — AFP

Gates urges polio eradication by 2018 LONDON: Microsoft founder Bill Gates said the battle to eradicate polio was one of the toughest the world has faced, but said it could be conquered by 2018. Delivering the annual Richard Dimbleby lecture in London on Tuesday, Gates, the United States’ richest man, said ridding the world of polio would be “one of the great moral and practical achievements of our age”. The 57-year-old businessman turned philanthropist, who is putting his resources into the fight, said that though polio was still endemic in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, vaccination campaigns could eliminate it within six years. “We are working to wipe the virus off the face of the earth, and we have almost succeeded: There are only three countries in the world where the virus is still being transmitted. Fewer than 250 children were paralysed last year,” he

said. “Stopping these last cases of polio in these last countries, however, is among the most difficult tasks the world has ever assigned itself. “The fight to eradicate polio is a proving ground, a test. Its outcome will reveal what human beings are capable of, and suggest how ambitious we can be about our future.” Polio-which afflicts mainly the under-fives causing death, paralysis and crippled limbs-travels easily across borders and is transmitted via the fecal matter of victims. Though vaccines are relatively cheap and easy to deliver, said Gates, it is “stunning to me” that millions of children do not get them. “The last mile is not only the hardest mile; it’s also much harder than I expected,” he said. However, “I see strong commitment from leaders in all three endemic countries,” he added. “Polio doesn’t kill as many people as AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, or rotavirus. It’s not

After school shooting, Connecticut debates mental health HARTFORD: Connecticut lawmakers yesterday began reviewing mental health care following the deadly Newtown school shooting, even though they and the public have little insight into the mental state of the 20-year-old gunman. The prosecutor in the case, Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky III, said he cannot release information about Adam Lanza’s mental health because of the Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct, which covers all attorneys in the state. His office is reviewing whether details of Lanza’s mental state can be released to the public after the police report is completed, possibly in June. But Jeremy Richman, father of 6-year-old Arielle Richman, one of the 20 firstgraders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, told a legislative subcommittee on Tuesday that it is clear Lanza did not commit an impulsive act of violence, but rather a planned crime with the “goal of achieving infamy” like other mass shooters. “The shooters in Sandy Hook, Tucson, Aurora, Littleton, Blacksburg - we will not grant them the respect of using their names - were not in their right minds,” said Richman, who, along with his wife, has started a foundation in their daughter’s name to protect vulnerable groups from violence and to understand the mental underpinnings of violent behavior. “Too little is known in the mental health area about what drives these violent behaviors,” he said. “Clearly, something is wrong with the person capable of such atrocities.” Besides gun violence and school safety, two task forces created by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and the General Assembly are focusing on mental health services and reducing the stigma of treatment as they review public policy and recommend law changes after shooting, which also left six educators at Sandy Hook dead. Police said Lanza also killed his mother at the Newtown home they shared and later committed suicide as police approached the school. The massacre in Newtown has also set off a national discussion about mental health care, with everyone from law enforcement leaders to the gun industry, urging policymakers to focus on the issue as a way to help prevent similar mass shootings. Members of Malloy’s commission said they would like to have details of Lanza’s mental health, but it’s not essential. “I don’t think not having that information is going to prevent us from doing important work,” said Dr. Harold Schwartz, a psychiatrist on the commission. “Adam Lanza is just one case. We really need to think about large populations. We need to think about improving the mental health system for everyone.” Nelba Marquez-Greene, mother of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Ana Marquez-Greene and a licensed marriage and family therapist, said she hopes Connecticut will become a national model to improve its mental health system. In written testimony read by her sister on Tuesday, Marquez-Greene suggested that exposing families to trained mental health professionals to de-stigmatize mental health access and treatment. —AP

even close. So why should the world focus on eradicating it? “When polio is gone, we can use the same systems, technology, and people to deliver other lifesaving solutions, especially routine vaccinations for diseases like diarrhea, measles, and pneumonia,” he argued. “The global polio community has a detailed plan for getting from here to eradication. “This plan says that if the world supplies the necessary funds, political commitment, and resolve, we will certify the eradication of polio by 2018. “If the world delivers, then we will eradicate polio within six years. “We should see it as one of the great moral and practical achievements of our age.” Gates’ predecessors in giving the lecture include former US president Bill Clinton and Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne. —- AFP

Erectile dysfunction signals heart troubles WASHINGTON: Erectile dysfunction might signal more than a need for the little purple pill, researchers said yesterday in a study showing a link with heart disease and early death. The Australian study-the world’s largest investigating links between erection problems and heart disease-suggested erection problems could act as a warning sign of more serious health issues. “The risks of future heart disease and premature death increased steadily with severity of erectile dysfunction,” whether or not there was a history of cardiovascular disease, study director Emily Banks said. Previous studies had found ties between severe erection problems and heart attacks and strokes, but this study was the first to also include mild and moderately severe erection problems. “These results tell us that every man who is suffering from any degree of erectile dysfunction should be seeking medical assistance as early as possible and also insisting on a heart health check by their GP at the same time,” said Rob Grenfell, Cardiovascular Health director at Australia’s Heart Foundation. The study, published this week in the “PLOS Medicine” journal, followed 95,000 men aged 45 and older for two to three years. The men responded to a survey on their health and lifestyle, and the authors also studied any records of hospital stays or deaths in the group. Over the study period, there were 7,855 hospitalizations for cardiovascular disease and 2,304 deaths. Banks said that the study indicated that erection problems seemed to a symptom of heart problems. “Rather than causing heart disease, erectile dysfunction is more likely to be a symptom or signal of underlying ‘silent’ heart disease and could in future become a useful marker to help doctors predict the risk of a cardiovascular problem. “This is a sensitive topic but men shouldn’t suffer in silence; there are many effective treatments, both for erectile dysfunction and for cardiovascular disease,” she emphasized. Erection problems are very common. About one in five men over 40 report moderate or severe erectile dysfunction. — AFP

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

Man will have smaller fish to fry PARIS: As fish get smaller under Man’s environmental impact, they become more exposed to predators, which means a crucial food source will become more endangered than thought, scientists said yesterday. Previous research has found that some key fish species dwindle in size as larger specimens are trawled out and climate change starts to affect the food chain. But, until now, the broader impact of this shrinkage has not been explored. A team from Australia and Finland used computers to predict what would happen when five species of fish decline in average length over a 50-year period. The shrinkage was quite small, up to four percent. Yet mortality from predators increased by as much as 50 percent, they found. The repercussions for catches are significant. Total biomass for four of the five species declined by as much as 35 percent, and catches by the same margin, the researchers wrote in a paper published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters. “Even small decreases in the body size of fish species can have large effects on their natural mortality,” the team wrote. The researchers looked at five southeast Australian trawl fisheries species the jackass morwong, the tiger flathead, silver warehou, blue grenadier and pink ling. Species biomass decreased for all but the grenadier, which also shrank in size but whose numbers actually rose by up to 10 percent as the fish moved to more coastal areas where it was less vulnerable to predators, according to the simulation. Man is changing marine ecosystems worldwide-directly through fishing and indirectly through global warming, the researchers wrote. “Fisheries management practices that ignore contemporary life-history changes are likely to overestimate long-term yields and can lead to overfishing,” they warned. — AFP


GE, Oman’s Apex Medical Group sign agreement GE to share its competencies in advanced healthcare technologies DUBAI: GE yesterday signed a strategic agreement with Oman’s Apex Medical Group (AMG), a subsidiary of Al-Joaib Group, the development company and promoter of International Medical City, to jointly explore development opportunities in healthcare, energy, water and home & business solutions within the landmark project that is set to establish Oman as a technology and innovation hub in the healthcare sector. Nabil Habayeb, GE’s President & Chief Executive Officer for the Middle East, North Africa & Turkey, and Dr Abdulla Al Joaib, President and CEO of the APEX Medical Group, signed the agreement at Arab Health, the Middle East’s premier healthcare exhibition and congress, where GE Healthcare is showcasing its advanced technologies that meet the region’s fast-growing requirements in the medical sector. Nabil Habayeb said: “We are honored to be the partner of choice for International Medical City which will mark a new transformation in the delivery of advanced healthcare services in the region. The partnership with Apex Medical Group is a strategic fit to GE’s long-term presence in the Middle East region and Oman, as it underlines how GE shares its competencies across the healthcare, energy, water and lighting solutions to work with our partners to promote sustainable development. Most significantly, the project also focuses on co-creating innovative solutions that meet the healthcare needs of Oman.” Dr Abdulla Al-Joaib said: “International Medical City marks a new milestone in the evolution of Oman’s healthcare infrastructure. While we are focused on bringing advanced competencies in transplant, rehabilitation and diagnosis, through the facility we are also bringing in best practices in sustainable energy and smart home & business. To cover this comprehensive range of solutions, we need to work with a strong and reliable partner that has proven competencies across all these sectors. GE’s proven strengths in all our core sectors complement our longterm growth objectives and we look forward to their strategic counsel in developing the project to world-class standards.” Envisaged as a 530-bed tertiary care multispecialty hospital, the $1 billion International Medical City will also include a transplant and dialysis center of excellence, a rehabilitation center, and a diagnostic center of excellence. Other facilities include a Trauma and Emergency Unit, ambulance services, intensive care unit, blood bank, pharmacy, Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) and Organ Transplant Donor Registry (OTDR), as well as a 4-star hotel. GE will support the project by providing cutting edge technology as well as developing innovative products during the design and construction period to further enhance operational

DUBAI: GE and Oman’s Apex Medical Group officials are pictured. efficiencies. Apart from sharing its technological competencies ing smart grid requirements. GE will also supply water treatin healthcare, GE will also support the project with green energy ment facilities and services including wastewater treatment and solutions focused on solar, wind and gas power generation, GE’s MBR sewage treatment. The home and business solutions from GE cover supply of water technologies and lighting with a focus on sustainability. A turnkey power and smart grid solution is also being con- energy efficient lighting fixtures and systems including, buildsidered for the project thus significantly scaling up the project’s ing interior and facade lighting, home electric, car park and energy use efficiencies. GE will also work with AMG to co-create street lighting and optimal/energy efficient customized designs. solutions thus driving localized innovation in Oman to meet the These draw on GE’s ecomagination commitment to offer envicountry’s healthcare requirements. The company will offer tech- ronment-friendly solutions that also accelerate growth. GE has been operating in Oman since 1975, through its nical advice to the design and engineering team for the most diverse businesses and is committed to further growth through efficient selection and use of various products and services. As part of the agreement, AMG will also explore GE’s tech- focusing on technical leadership, customer partnerships and nologies in organ transplant, life sciences and diagnosis for global competitiveness. Visit GE Healthcare’s stand at Arab developing the tertiary care hospital, and exchange of best Health at Saeed Hall, Booth #S3B10 at the Dubai International practices in hospital design for all its centers of excellence, by Convention Center. The Platinum sponsor of Arab Health and a drawing on its healthymagination initiative to provide key partner of choice to healthcare providers across the Middle East, GE Healthcare will also present its diverse portfolio of prodadvanced medical care at lower costs to more people. In the energy sector, GE will specially serve in boosting the ucts, services and customer solutions as part of its commitment power generation system by providing power as well as provid- to strengthening the region’s healthcare infrastructure.


W H AT ’ S O N



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

Announcements ECC organizes Omra trip for Egyptians


ecretary general of the Egyptian Community Council (ECC), Dr Azmi Abdul Fattah congratulated all Egyptians on the second anniversary of the January 25 revolution urging everybody to consolidate and unite for the best of Egypt as a whole. On this occasion, Abdul Fattah announced that the council would organize its annual Omra trip pointing out that it would last eight days in the period of February 21 till 28. Shirva feast hirva Welfare Association Kuwait (SWAK) will be celebrating their Shirva Parish feast2013 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 / get-together 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.


Goan Culinary Club


he Goan Culinary Club - Goa encourages you to log on to their website where you can find a video of Odette and Joe Mascarenhas sharing their thoughts on Goan cuisine. These videos were recorded at the launch of the Goan Culinary Club in Goa on March 3, 2012. Thanks to support from all at the Goan Culinary Club, we have made great progress in six months. Basketball Academy he new Premier Basketball Academy offers coaching and games every Friday and Saturday from 10 am onwards for 6 to 18 year olds, boys and girls. Located in Bayan Block 7, Masjed Al-Aqsa Street by Abdullah Al-Rujaib High School. Free Basketball and Tee Shirts for all participants, with certificates and special awards on completion of each 6 week course. Qualified and experienced British and American Coaches, Everyone Welcome.


APAK Xmas-New Year celebration ngamaly Pravasi Association Kuwait (APAK) will conduct its Christmas and New Year celebrations tomorrow Friday at Abbassiya United Indian School Auditorium from 5:30 pm 10 pm. The meeting will be chaired by the Advisory Board Chairman Jacob Pynadath in the presence of President Bacon Joseph, Secretary Martin Kurian, Treasurer Sajeev Paul and other famous personalities in Kuwait. Various programs will be followed like Christmas Carol and Orchestra by the members and children to make the event colourful. All Angamaly constituency residents residing in Kuwait are kindly requested to attend with their family, friends and neighbours to make this event a memorable one.


MahaQuizzer Middle East - Kuwait tomorrow ahaQuizzer Middle East - Kuwait, the solo written quiz competition organized by National Institute of Technology Calicut Alumni Association Kuwait chapter (NITCAA Kuwait) in association with Karnataka Quiz Association (KQA), Bengaluru will be held on tomorrow, 2013 from 2:00 pm to 3.30 pm at Indian English Academy School (Don Bosco), Salmiya and Fahaheel Al Watanieh Indian Private School (DPS), Ahmadi simultaneously. The registered participants should report at the test centers chosen by them before 1.30 pm as informed by the organizers. Participants, please note that the Reporting Desks at the test centers will start functioning from 1:00 pm. We have an overwhelming No. of 296 persons of 6 Nationalities registered for the test. This includes 196 children from 13 schools. The participants will be attempting 100 questions in 90 minutes. Participants are advised to visit the website for further details.

Welcome to Peppes! The best time is the one you share with others


eppes Pizza recently held a pizza tasting event in the light of launching their new menu at their store at 360 MALL. Peppes Pizza proudly introduced pizza lovers to the legendary California style pizza. Invented in San Francisco, playful pizza chefs combined the thin Italian pizza base with a thin, crispy crust and spectacular flavor combinations on the toppings. The result was California style pizza. With the California style pizza as the inspiration, we have brought in some fantastic raw ingredients. The result is unbeatable and now you can finally enjoy it too. Ranging from Smoked Salmon, BBQ Chicken to the Pepperoni Calabra, Peppes makes sure to satisfy every pizza

lover’s palate. Peppes Pizza is a unique blend of the American, Norwegian and the Scandinavian international restaurants concept. From a modest startup in 1970, Peppes has grown to be leaders in pizza in Scandinavia, both in restaurant and in delivery operations. Peppes Pizza has built up a solid brand status through 43 years. Casual atmosphere, pleasant surroundings and a varied and tempting menu are cornerstones of Peppes. In addition to our traditional and immortal best sellers, the pies are being re-introduced. Ranging from the Wicked Pie, Pepperoni Pie and the Knock Out pie, the pies are bold, flavorful and abundant portions which make it a delight for sharing.

Thanking the press, Bill Robinson, Vice President, National Arab Company, who are the master franchisors for Peppes Pizza in the Middle East, went on to say ‘Peppes’ unique flavors and varieties make up for an unbeatable combination that is different from the regular pizzas as our pizza dough is freshly made everyday. We at Peppes ensure that every pizza served is personalized and flavorful and what is worth mentioning is that the flavors tend to blend well with Middle East audience. So it is the right pizza at the right place and we are proud to bring these pizzas to your plate and even to your doorstep’. The media personalities were treated to a tasting and exclaimed that the pizzas were truly a cut above the rest.


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

Egyptians make record transfers home on revolution anniversary


gypt’s ambassador to Kuwait, Abdul Kareem Sulaiman stressed that the embassy supports all initiatives meant to support Egypt’s economy at this very critical turning point. Speaking on the occasion of patronizing the second initiative launched and organized by Egyptians In Kuwait website: at the Salmiya Muzaini Exchange branch with the attendance of the branch manager, Ali Fajhan last Friday, January 25, Sulaiman stressed that the initiative is achieving utmost success for the second year. “This initiative helps pump millions of Egyptian pounds and dollars into the veins of Egypt’s economy”, he said.

Further, Sulaiman said the embassy was working hard to help attract more Kuwaiti investments to Egypt. “The Egyptian government provides special facilities to both Arab and foreign investors”, added Sulaiman noting that once the coming parliament was elected, special legislations would be made in this regard. On his part, Muzaini board of directors advisor, Jamal Zaidan said that his company did not charge any fees for transactions and transfers made on January 25 in all Muzaini 52 branches. “The initiative called for and organized by, aims at boosting the Egyptian economy by sending more

hard currency back to Egypt”, he explained underlining that Al-Muzaini was linked to many Egyptian banks and that, in view of the rush of thousands of Egyptians in Kuwait to take part, the initiative would be extended till February 11. “The usual transfer commission or fee will be paid during the extension period but participants will get other privileges on entering a raffle to win airline tickets, diamond watches, electrical appliances and others awards”, he said noting that the raffle would be done at the Egyptian embassy headquarters. On his part, the founder and manager, Osama Galal said

that following the success it made last year, the ‘You Can Help While Abroad’ initiative would help send millions of hard currency back home. “This is the best way Egyptians abroad can commemorate the second anniversary of the January 25 revolution”, stressed Galal noting that money transfers made by Egyptians abroad to their folks back home were one of the largest sources of national income. “Expatriate Egyptians sent over $20 billion back home last year and this is the largest sum they ever sent”, he added urging his fellow compatriots to be up to their patriotic role in helping Egypt get over this troubled phase in its history.


W H AT ’ S O N Jamawar - New Indian Restaurant at Crowne Plaza Kuwait



rowne Plaza Kuwait, one of the country’s most popular five star hotels, has announced the opening of its brand new restaurant - Jamawar an Indian cuisine restaurant which is the newest addition to the array of international restaurants at the hotel. The inauguration took place onJanuary 23, 2013 in a festive dinner ceremony held in the presence of the Indian Ambassador Satish C Mehta and Preeti Mehta in addition to a large number of distinguished guests based in Kuwait. Amongst the invitees were also many regular guests of Crowne Plaza Kuwait who have been the driving force behind the success of its restaurants over the years. The Indian Ambassador accompanied by his wife and other dignitaries was delighted to inaugurate the new Indian restaurant and conveyed his best wishes on its opening to Emad Bukahmseen, Vice-Chairman of Bukhamseen Group Holding. Another major highlight of the evening was the announcement of a tie up between Jamawar and Air India for one month as part of the inaugural promotion. Starting Feb 1, 2013 all guests dining at Jamawar would be entitled to participate in the lucky draw that will take place twice in the month of February. Two lucky couples will win a return flight ticket to Goa sponsored by Air India and room stay sponsored by Crowne Plaza. “The tie up shows the strong business relationships that has been built between Air India and Crowne Plaza Kuwait over the years and we are excited about this tie up,” said Ajay Sinha, Manager, Air India in Kuwait. Following the inaugural dinner, a press lunch event was also organized for the distinguished guests from reputed newspapers and magazines. Many representatives from the media were present for the lunch event and expressed great feedbacks on the dÈcor and food prepared by the Jamawar specialty Chef Jalaludeen who is an expert in Indian cuisine with many years of exemplary experience in many 5 star hotels in India. Welcoming citizens and expatriates alike, Crowne Plaza Kuwait has gone to great lengths to ensure that there is nothing left to chance for guests coming in to

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

EMBASSY OF CANADA The 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. enjoy the different flavors at the hotel. Jamawar offers an authentic introduction to traditional Indian cuisine - from succulent kebabs to rich curries. The theatre of the surroundings is very much on the menu here with an opulent blend of modern and traditional decor. Hand-carved paintings, flowerladen pots with floating candles, and live traditional music make the whole experience even richer. Our ethos is to ensure that tradition and modern go hand in hand. Tradition, because we don’t want people to miss out on what has made Indian cuisine so renowned and modern because we want to introduce people to innovative and exciting flavors,” says Ramy Haykal, General

Manager. With 8 restaurants already within the hotel, Crowne Plaza Kuwait is a gastronome’s delight for indul-

gence. Exotic flavors from around the world are available at the AlAhmadi International Buffet, the steaks of the West are done just

the way you like it at the Rib Eye Steakhouse, the food of the Persian royals is yours at the Shabestan Iranian restaurant, while elegant teas and pastries complete your day at the Fauchon. Espresso serves your favourite tea and coffee, authentic Japanese is yours at the Sakura, delights of the seas come alive at the AlNoukhaza and traditional Lebanese is the order of the day at the Ayam Zaman restaurant. “We are proud as well as excited to add our latest addition - Jamawar Indian Cuisine restaurant- which will bring to you the true flavors of India and the guests will experience service of the highest standard.” expressed Emad Bukhamseen on the day of its opening.

BEC raffle prize distribution ceremony


he BEC Exchange held the prize winning ceremony on its grand raffle 2012 at its premises in Fahaheel. The first prize winner Mohammed Owaiss Mostafa was in Egypt at the time the draw was conducted. On being informed by BEC officials of his good luck, Mohammed Owaiss Mostafa immediately booked a ticket and flew into Kuwait to claim his good fortune from the gracious BEC officials. The prize giving was held with much fanfare at Fahaheel. Amongst the guests present at the prize distribution were Vinu ,CEO of 98.4 U FM, Midhun Marketing Manager of U FM. Also, gracing the occasion were Ahmed Asst. Mktg Manager Geely, Anish- Sales Manager, Zhaha - Asst. Mkt Manager Geely and Rexczy Brand Manager of Geely in Kuwait. E D Titus Director & GM of BEC while giving away the first prize to Mohammed Owaiss Mostafa commented on the success of the promotion. He also reminded people that it was BEC exchange which started the giving of prize cars in raffles to the remitting public. Since 2001, BEC has successfully conducted many raffles and given away tens of thousand dinars in prizes. Rexczy Williams also expressed his happiness at the success of the promotion which showcased the Geely Car all over Kuwait. Jose Thomas, who coordinated the presentation expressed his happiness and thanked Geely officials and everybody present . It was a wonderful day also, for the winners other than the 1st prize winner. Each of them went home happily thanking their good luck which visited them while remitting money through BEC.


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

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

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

Bhavans wins Xpressions-2013 Championship


EAS School Quadrangle resonated and reverberated with thunderous applause when Bhavans was coronated the winners of Xpressions-2013 on January 26, 2013. Xpressions is a mega interschool art and cultural fiesta organized by Indian English Academy School every year. Over 400 contestants from almost all the CBSE schools in Kuwait have taken part in an array of competitions organized by the host school with the objective of providing a platform for the students of Indian schools to flaunt their artistic and aesthetic talents. 14 events such as World Folk Dance Competition, Dance Trance, Walk the Plank, Quiz Competition, Ad Mad Show, Cheer Rock Competition, Spoof a Movie,

LOL, Vocal and Instrumental Music competitions were held under the category ‘Quiz and Performing Arts’. T Shirt Painting, Wacky Character Designing, Wealth from Waste, Pot Painting and Salad Dressing competitions were held under the category ‘Creative Arts’. Bhavanites once again proved their indomitableness in the field of creative and performing arts by winning the championship by 308 points relegating FAIPS and Carmel School to second and third positions respectively. Bhavanites have proven their might and mettle yet again evidencing their supremacy not only in academics but also in cultural, artistic and athletic competitions by winning many an interschool competition.

The trophy stands bedecking the reception area of the institution continues to grow in size accommodating the influx of trophies, plaques and accolades brought in by the prodigious Bhavanites. “Winning is not mere happenstance for Bhavanites; but a habit”, remarked T.Premkumar, Principal of IES Bhavans when asked about the saga of success at Bhavans Kuwait. The Principal also congratulated all the participants of Xpressions 2013. He also thanked the teachers for instilling courage and confidence in their students to win, win and win by surmounting the challenges on their path as Bhavanites believe in the motto “Nothing succeeds like success.”

Kuwait Carnatic Music Forum Thyagaraja program


n January 31, 6:30 pm onwards, NJ Nandini disciple of Bombay Jayasree who sang the title song in the Oscar nominated movie Life of Pi and winner of Ragarathnam program Amrutha TV classical music competition; accompanying artistes: Kanchi Kamakodi Pitham asthana vidwan Karunagappalli S Balamurali on violin; Kanchi Kamakodi Pitham asthana vidwan Perunna G Harikumar on mridangam; Gireesh Sundareshan on ganchira; Vazhappalli G Anil kumar on ghatam; and Manoj Mavelikkara on morshankh will perform. Full day classical music program on Feb 1 9 am - 4.30 pm. Participants: music students and devotees. Pancharathna keerthanaalapanam at 5 pm at the Indian Community School Salmiya (senior girls). All are welcome.



00:50 Animal Cops Phoenix 01:45 Your Worst Animal Nightmares 02:35 I’m Alive 03:25 Wildest Islands 04:15 Sharkman 05:05 China’s Last Elephants 05:55 Call Of The Wildman 06:20 Animal Battlegrounds 06:45 Wildlife SOS 08:00 The Really Wild Show 08:25 Breed All About It 09:15 Dogs 101 10:10 Weird Creatures With Nick Baker 11:05 Wildest Islands 12:00 Animal Cops Philadelphia 12:55 Call Of The Wildman 13:20 Wildlife SOS 13:50 Gator Boys 14:45 Animal Precinct 15:40 Wildest Islands 16:35 Animal Battlegrounds 17:00 The Really Wild Show 17:30 Cats 101 18:25 Rescue Vet 18:50 Rescue Vet 19:20 Extraordinary Dogs 20:15 Monkey Life 20:40 Bondi Vet 21:10 Call Of The Wildman 21:35 Animal Battlegrounds 22:05 Wildest Africa

00:00 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Specials 01:20 Fantasy Homes By The Sea 02:05 House Swap 02:50 Saturday Kitchen 2008/09 03:15 House Swap 04:00 Come Dine With Me 04:50 Antiques Roadshow 05:40 House Swap 06:20 Saturday Kitchen 2008/09 07:15 Trish’s Mediterranean Kitchen 07:40 Saturday Kitchen 2008/09 08:05 Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes 08:55 10 Years Younger 09:45 Bargain Hunt 10:25 Antiques Roadshow 11:20 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Specials 12:40 Come Dine With Me 13:30 Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes 14:20 Vacation Vacation Vacation 15:10 Bargain Hunt 15:55 Antiques Roadshow 16:50 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Specials 18:10 Britain’s Dream Homes 19:00 Eating In The Sun 19:55 Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey 20:45 Come Dine With Me 21:35 Fantasy Homes By The Sea 22:20 Antiques Roadshow 23:15 Bargain Hunt

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 09:30 09:45 10:30 10:45 11:30 11:45 12:30 13:00 13:30 13:45 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:30 18:00 19:30 19:45 20:00 20:30 21:00

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

BBC World News World Business Report BBC World News World Business Report BBC World News World Business Report BBC World News Hardtalk BBC World News World Business Report Sport Today BBC World News GMT With George Alagiah Impact With Mishal Husain Hardtalk BBC World News World Business Report Sport Today BBC World News BBC Focus On Africa BBC World News

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

00:40 Chowder 01:30 Bakugan Battle Brawlers 02:20 Foster’s Home For... 03:10 Courage The Cowardly Dog 04:00 The Amazing World Of Gumball 04:25 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 04:50 Adventure Time 05:15 The Powerpuff Girls 05:40 Generator Rex

06:05 Ben 10 06:55 Angelo Rules 07:00 Casper’s Scare School 08:00 Mucha Lucha 08:25 Johnny Test 08:45 Regular Show 09:05 Total Drama Action 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

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

Magic Of Science Time Warp Mythbusters Border Security Auction Kings How Do They Do It? How It’s Made Sons Of Guns Mythbusters NASA’s Unexplained Files Finding Bigfoot Border Security Auction Kings How Do They Do It? How It’s Made Magic Of Science Time Warp Mythbusters Mythbusters Border Security Auction Kings Desert Car Kings Finding Bigfoot Mythbusters Sons Of Guns How Do They Do It? How It’s Made Auction Kings Sons Of Guns Inside The Gangsters’ Code

00:10 Hannah Montana 00:35 Brandy & Mr Whiskers 01:25 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 07:55 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 Los Angeles 10:25 So Random 10:50 Hannah Montana 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 Phineas And Ferb 15:25 Shake It Up 15:50 Austin And Ally 16:15 Jessie

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

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 Hannah Montana Phineas And Ferb Wizards Of Waverly Place Hannah Montana

00:20 Little Einsteins 00:50 Special Agent Oso 01:05 Special Agent Oso 01:15 Lazytown 01:40 Jungle Junction 01:55 Jungle Junction 02:10 Handy Manny 02:20 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 04:25 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 10:35 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 Timmy Time 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

00:00 Programmes Start At 7:00am KSA 07:00 Kickin It 07:25 Phineas And Ferb 07:50 Almost Naked Animals 08:15 Pokemon: BW Rival Destinies 08:40 Slugterra 09:05 Scaredy Squirrel 09:30 Ultimate Spider-Man 09:55 Zeke & Luther 10:20 Kick Buttowski 10:45 I’m In The Band 11:10 Rated A For Awesome 11:35 Iron Man Armored Adventures 12:00 American Dragon 12:25 Kick Buttowski 12:50 Fort Boyard - Ultimate Challenge 13:20 Pair Of Kings 13:45 Zeke & Luther 14:10 Kid vs Kat 14:35 I’m In The Band 15:00 Ultimate Spider-Man 15:25 Pokemon: BW Rival Destinies 15:50 Rekkit Rabbit 16:15 Pair Of Kings 16:40 Almost Naked Animals 17:05 Lab Rats 17:30 Slugterra 18:00 My Babysitter’s A Vampire 18:25 Scaredy Squirrel 18:50 Phineas And Ferb 19:40 Mr. Young 20:05 Slugterra 20:30 My Babysitter’s A Vampire 20:55 I’m In The Band 21:20 Rated A For Awesome 21:45 Rekkit Rabbit 22:10 Phineas And Ferb 22:35 Ultimate Spider-Man 23:05 Kick Buttowski 23:30 Scaredy Squirrel


00:00 00:55 01:25 03:15 03:40 04:10 07:50 08:20 09:15 10:15

Holly’s World Style Star THS Behind The Scenes Extreme Close-Up THS Behind The Scenes E! News Ice Loves Coco 30 Best & Worst Beach Bodies

12:05 13:05 14:05 York 15:00 15:30 16:30 17:00 18:00 19:00 20:00 21:00 21:30 22:30 23:30

E! News Opening Act Kourtney & Kim Take New Style Star THS Behind The Scenes A-List Listings E! News THS Giuliana & Bill Married To Jonas Fashion Police E! News Chelsea Lately

00:15 Have Cake, Will Travel 00:40 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 01:30 Heat Seekers 01:55 Charly’s Cake Angels 02:45 Unique Sweets 03:35 Have Cake, Will Travel 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 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 10:55 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 18:25 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 Iron Chef America 22:10 Unwrapped 23:00 Crave 23:25 Crave 23:50 Unique Eats

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

Disappeared Dr G: Medical Examiner The Haunted American Greed I Almost Got Away With It Disappeared Dr G: Medical Examiner The Haunted Murder Shift Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? True Crime With Aphrodite Murder Shift Disappeared Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Forensic Detectives True Crime With Aphrodite Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? Murder Shift Disappeared Forensic Detectives Street Patrol True Crime With Aphrodite Stalked: Someone’s Watching Nightmare Next Door Couples Who Kill Kidnap And Rescue I Faked My Own Death

00:45 Amish: Out of Order 01:40 Meet The Natives: USA 02:35 Bondi Rescue 03:00 Bondi Rescue 03:30 Bondi Rescue 03:55 Bondi Rescue 04:25 Ultimate Traveller 05:20 A World Apart 06:15 David Rocco’s Dolce Vita 2 06:40 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 07:10 Reverse Exploration 08:05 Amish: Out of Order 09:00 Meet The Natives: USA 09:55 Bondi Rescue 10:20 Bondi Rescue 10:50 Bondi Rescue 11:15 Bondi Rescue 11:45 Ultimate Traveller 12:40 A World Apart 13:35 David Rocco’s Dolce Vita 2 14:00 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 14:30 Reverse Exploration 15:25 Amish: Out of Order 16:20 Meet The Natives: USA 17:15 Bondi Rescue 17:40 Bondi Rescue 18:10 Bondi Rescue 18:35 Bondi Rescue 19:05 Ultimate Traveller 20:00 Reverse Exploration 21:00 David Rocco’s Dolce Vita 2 21:30 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet

00:00 01:00 01:55 02:50 03:45 04:40 05:35 06:30 07:25 08:20 09:15

Hunter Hunted World’s Deadliest GPU Great Migrations The Incredible Dr. Pol Planet Carnivore Bite Me With Dr. Mike Leahy Sahara Great Migrations The Incredible Dr. Pol Planet Carnivore Ultimate Animal Countdown

THE DESCENDANTS ON OSN CINEMA 10:10 Animal Autopsy (AKA Inside Nature’s Giants) 11:05 Ultimate Predators GPU 12:00 World’s Deadliest 13:00 The Megafalls Of Iguacu 14:00 The Incredible Dr. Pol 15:00 The Pack 16:00 Ultimate Animal Countdown 17:00 Animal Autopsy (AKA Inside Nature’s Giants) 18:00 Ultimate Predators GPU 19:00 Monster Fish of The Congo 20:00 The Incredible Dr. Pol 21:00 Planet Carnivore 22:00 Ultimate Animal Countdown 23:00 Animal Autopsy (AKA Inside Nature’s Giants)

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

Army Of Darkness-18 The Rite-18 Bending The Rules-PG15 The Presence-PG15 And Soon The Darkness-PG15 The New Daughter-PG15 The Rocketeer-PG15 And Soon The Darkness-PG15 True Justice: Dead Drop-PG15 The Rocketeer-PG15 Wake Wood-18 The Heavy-18

01:00 03:00 04:30 07:00 09:00 11:00 13:00 15:00 16:45 19:00 21:00 23:00

33 Postcards-PG15 Princess Lillifee-FAM Another Year-PG15 Stolen Lives-PG15 33 Postcards-PG15 B-Girl-PG15 Arrietty-FAM Every Jack Has A Jill-PG15 The Warlords-PG15 Honey 2-PG15 The Descendants-PG15 Your Highness-18

00:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 01:00 The Colbert Report 01:30 Angry Boys 02:00 The Big C 03:00 New Girl 04:30 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 06:00 Samantha Who? 06:30 Seinfeld 07:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 08:30 New Girl 09:30 Samantha Who? 11:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 12:00 Seinfeld 13:30 Samantha Who? 15:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 16:00 The Colbert Report 16:30 Seinfeld 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 New Girl 18:30 2 Broke Girls 20:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 Angry Boys 22:30 Louie 23:30 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

05:00 08:00 08:30 09:00 10:00 14:00 15:00 17:00 18:00 18:30 19:00 20:00

Good Morning America Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show House House Live Good Morning America The Ellen DeGeneres Show Emmerdale Coronation Street Drop Dead Diva American Idol

07:00 12:00 16:00 16:30 19:00

Emmerdale Emmerdale Emmerdale Coronation Street Drop Dead Diva

00:00 Nothing To Lose-PG15 02:00 Paul-PG15 04:00 Zookeeper-PG15 06:00 Cars 2-FAM 08:00 The Family Stone-PG15 10:00 The Ladykillers-PG15 12:00 Zookeeper-PG15 14:00 Scooby-Doo! Curse Of The Lake Monster-PG 16:00 The Ladykillers-PG15 18:00 Despicable Me-FAM 20:00 Super-18 22:00 Analyze This-PG15

01:00 03:00 05:00 07:00 09:00 11:35 13:20 15:05 17:40 19:40 21:00 23:00

Flight Of The Phoenix-PG15 Posse-18 Fish Tank-PG15 Waiting For Superman-PG15 The Insider-PG15 Certified Copy-PG15 Bob Roberts-PG15 The Insider-PG15 Elizabethtown-PG15 Talhotblond-18 Arc-PG15 World Trade Center-PG15

01:00 PG15 03:00 05:00 07:15 09:00 11:00 PG15 13:00 15:00 16:30 18:30 21:00 23:00

What’s Wrong With VirginiaThe Lincoln Lawyer-PG15 Gandhi-PG Ways To Live Forever-PG15 Win Win-PG15 My Best Friend’s WeddingSpooky Buddies-PG StreetDance 2-PG15 Win Win-PG15 John Carter-PG15 The Descendants-PG15 Jackass 3-R

01:00 Tom Tom & Nana-FAM 02:45 Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2-PG 04:30 Cher Ami-PG 06:00 Marco Antonio-PG 08:00 The Ugly Duckling In The Enchanted Forest-FAM 10:00 Twigson-PG 11:30 Battle For Terra-PG 13:00 Maroons-FAM 14:30 Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2-PG 16:00 Hey Arnold! The Movie-PG 18:00 Twigson-PG 20:00 A Very Fairy Christmas-FAM 22:00 Maroons-FAM 23:30 Hey Arnold! The Movie-PG

00:00 European Tour Weekly 00:30 Inside The PGA Tour 01:00 Cricket Twenty20 04:00 Trans World Sports 05:00 Adventure Challenge 06:00 European Tour Weekly 06:30 Inside The PGA Tour 07:00 Cricket Twenty20 10:00 Futbol Mundial 10:30 Inside The PGA Tour 11:00 PGA European Tour Highlights 12:00 European Tour Weekly 12:30 Live European PGA Tour 16:30 European Tour Weekly 17:00 Inside The PGA Tour 17:30 Live Dubai World Cup Carnival 22:00 PGA European Tour

00:30 02:30 07:00 08:00 08:30 09:00 09:30 11:30 12:00 14:00 17:00 17:30 18:00 18:30 19:00

Top 14 Dubai World Cup Carnival Trans World Sport Futbol Mundial ICC Cricket 360 Adventure Challenge Adventure Challenge City Centre Races Top 14 Cricket T20 City Centre Races PGA European Tour Weekly Futbol Mundial NFL Gameday WWE NXT

00:00 World Cup of Pool 01:00 Golfing World 02:00 HSBC Sevens World Series 04:00 Trans World Sport 05:00 Trans World Sport 06:00 PGA European Tour Highlights 07:00 Golfing World 08:00 Spirit of a Champion 08:30 Spirit of a Champion 09:00 World Pool Masters 10:00 World Cup of Pool 11:00 Top 14 Highlights 11:30 HSBC Sevens World Series 14:30 Golfing World 15:30 World Pool Masters 16:30 World Cup of Pool 17:30 PGA European Tour 23:00 Anglo-Welsh Cup

00:00 01:00 03:00 05:00 07:00 09:00 13:00 14:00 15:00 18:00 19:00 22:00 23:00

WWE Vintage Collection V8 Supercars Highlights UFC Unleashed NHL WWE SmackDown V8 Supercars Highlights WWE Vintage Collection WWE Bottom Line Prizefighter WWE NXT UFC WWE NXT UFC The Ultimate Fighter

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

Storage Wars Pawn Stars Storage Wars Soviet Storm: WWII In The East Swamp People Storage Wars Mud Men Pawn Stars American Restoration Soviet Storm: WWII In The East Pawn Stars Storage Wars Mud Men Pawn Stars American Restoration Pawn Stars Storage Wars Soviet Storm: WWII In The East Swamp People Storage Wars Pawn Stars American Restoration Mud Men Swamp People Storage Wars Storage Wars Pawn Stars American Restoration Mud Men Pawn Stars Storage Wars Soviet Storm: WWII In The East Mountain Men

00:55 02:35 04:25 05:45 07:20 10:00 11:35 11:50 13:14 14:44 16:25 19:05 20:35 22:00 23:34

Rolling Thunder Cutter’s Way The Lost Brigade Dead On Sight The Alamo Absolute Strangers Mgm’s Big Screen Frankie And Johnny Who Was Geli Bendl? Eddie & The Cruisers II New York, New York Sleeping With The Devil Warm Summer Rain Sometimes They Come Back Witchboard

00:40 03:35 05:35 08:00 10:00 11:45 13:30 15:05 16:55 18:35

Mutiny On The Bounty Lust For Life-FAM Where Eagles Dare-PG The Yellow Rolls-Royce-PG Elvis: That’s The Way It Is-FAM The Swan-FAM Torpedo Run-FAM The Big Sleep-PG Hearts Of The West-PG The Comedians-PG

Classifieds THURSDAY, JANUARY 31, 2013

Ministry of Interior





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PhD holder with 12 years R&D experiences seeking academic, research or consultancy positions in the area of IT/ software engineering, image analysis, data mining and applied machine learning and pattern recognition. Available for appointments between 2-15 Feb 2013. Please call 9729-8545 for details. (C 4292) 29-1-2013

Jeep Tawareq, 2005 model, white color, six cylinders, price KD 3,300. Contact: 66104141. (C 4289) TUITION Notes/Study materials/ Tuitions Acc. To your requirements for graduation & post graduation students & all other levels including “0”, as level, IGSE, GMAT etc study materials were prepared by well experienced Indian teacher. Economics, Finance, Accounts, Income Tax, Management, Marketing, Company law, Histor y, Science etc notes were prepared to make your study easier. Contact: 99315825/ 99838117. (C 4291) 29-1-2013

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MBA Finance, B.Com & ACCA (Fundamental) with 5 years of Accounts experience in Kuwait, looking for suitable position in well established company or MNC. If anyone has any opportunity or can refer me to any company I would be thankful. Please contact: 55829223 or Email: (C 4284) 27-1-2012

Automated enquiry about the Civil ID card is


Prayer timings Fajr:















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stars CROSSWORD 86

STAR TRACK Aries (March 21-April 19) You are capable of forceful, decisive action, and you have the will to carry through on your intentions at this time. Physically, you feel good and your energy is flowing smoothly. Also, your interactions with others are feisty and spirited. you inspire others to take action and group efforts or joint projects are favored. Fondness and appreciation for the your past takes on greater importance for you now. Making your relationship situation more pleasant and productive plays a part in this. You may feel the need for more harmony in your most intimate emotional relationships.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) Build up your energy reserves. It’s a grueling leg of the journey again and though others aren’t exactly putting the pressure on you, you feel as though you need to prove the caliber of your staying power. You’re actually way out ahead of the field so you can afford to pull the reigns in a little today. Take a look around you today, you may appreciate and discover the beauty in your life and in those you are closest to. At the same time, everything could take on added value and importance in your emotional psyche. Be careful that you don’t overspend or indulge too much just to impress someone.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

ACROSS 1. Edible tuber of any of several yams. 4. A difficult entangling situation. 11. The battle in 202 BC in which Scipio decisively defeated Hannibal at the end of the second Punic War. 15. A federal agency established to coordinate programs aimed at reducing pollution and protecting the environment. 16. Of or relating to or characteristic of Burundi or its people. 17. A republic in the Middle East in western Asia. 18. The residue that remains when something is burned. 19. Decapod having eyes on short stalks and a broad flattened carapace with a small abdomen folded under the thorax and pincers. 20. A piece of furniture with a writing surface and usually drawers or other compartments. 22. The syllable naming the fourth (subdominant) note of the diatonic scale in solmization. 23. A collection of objects laid on top of each other. 25. (informal) Of the highest quality. 26. A landlocked principality in the Himalayas northeast of India. 27. A very poisonous metallic element that has three allotropic forms. 30. An angry disturbance. 38. Large Old World butterflies. 40. Remove the tusks of animals. 41. A Russian prison camp for political prisoners. 42. Designer drug designed to have the effects of amphetamines (it floods the brain with serotonin) but to avoid the drug laws. 44. An undergarment worn by women to support their breasts. 45. Fermented alcoholic beverage similar to but heavier than beer. 46. Aircraft landing in bad weather in which the pilot is talked down by ground control using precision approach radar. 47. An ancient branch of the Semitic languages. 51. A genus of Laridae. 53. Having a margin with rounded scallops. 54. An official prosecutor for a judicial district. 55. To make a mistake or be incorrect. 58. A Russian river. 59. A white soft metallic element that tarnishes readily. 61. A genus of Malayan tree. 64. Any of numerous local fertility and nature deities worshipped by ancient Semitic peoples. 66. An ancient Egyptian city on the west bank of the Nile opposite Cairo. 68. Mild yellow Dutch cheese made in balls. 71. A white linen liturgical vestment with sleeves. 75. Noisy talk. 76. The region of northwestern Italy. 78. A luminance unit equal to 1 candle per square meter measured perpendicular to the rays from the source. 79. A constellation in the southern hemisphere near Telescopium and Norma. 80. In an insane manner. 81. Hormone secreted by the posterior pituitary gland (trade name Pitressin) and also by nerve endings in the hypothalamus. DOWN 1. Not only so, but. 2. A domed or vaulted recess or projection on a building especially the east end of a church. 3. A member of the Siouan people formerly

living in the Missouri river valley in NE Nebraska. 4. A mature blood cell that contains hemoglobin to carry oxygen to the bodily tissues. 5. A sensation (as of a cold breeze or bright light) that precedes the onset of certain disorders such as a migraine attack or epileptic seizure. 6. A line or route along which something travels or moves. 7. Conduit consisting of a long hollow object (usually cylindrical) used to hold and conduct liquids or gases. 8. A radioactive gaseous element formed by the disintegration of radium. 9. A condition (mostly in boys) characterized by behavioral and learning disorders. 10. Having sections or patches colored differently and usually brightly. 11. A rectangular tiered temple or terraced mound erected by the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians. 12. A colorless and odorless inert gas. 13. A Chadic language spoken south of Lake Chad. 14. A Kwa language spoken in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. 21. A painful emotion resulting from an awareness of inadequacy or guilt. 24. Shaped and dried dough made from flour and water and sometimes egg. 28. An idle slothful person. 29. Informal terms for a mother. 31. A region in southeastern Italy on the Adriatic. 32. Income (at invoice values) received for goods and services over some given period of time. 33. A trivalent metallic element of the rare earth group. 34. Wood of a sumac. 35. An ancient unit of length based on the length of the forearm. 36. Jewish republic in southwestern Asia at eastern end of Mediterranean. 37. God of war. 39. A woman hired to suckle a child of someone else. 43. A city in northeastern Ohio. 48. Cubes of meat marinated and cooked on a skewer usually with vegetables. 49. An associate degree in nursing. 50. A short knife with a pointed blade used for piercing or stabbing. 52. Fastener consisting of a resinous composition that is plastic when warm. 56. Get or find back. 57. Generic term for inflammatory conditions of the skin. 60. A coffee cake flavored with orange rind and raisins and almonds. 62. American professional baseball player who hit more home runs than Babe Ruth (born in 1934). 63. A city in southern Turkey on the Seyhan River. 65. (botany) Of or relating to the axil. 67. United States composer noted for his innovative use of polytonality (1874-1954). 69. Harsh or corrosive in tone. 70. Amphetamine used in the form of a crystalline hydrochloride. 72. An index of the cost of all goods and services to a typical consumer. 73. The compass point that is midway between north and northeast. 74. (formerly) A title of respect for a man in Turkey or Egypt. 77. A soft gray malleable metallic element that resembles tin but discolors on exposure to air.


Misinformation and false statements can lead to quarrels and disputes with business deals, neighbors, or family members. It is best to ignore unreliable rumors and gossip that can open you up to verbal attacks and possible quarrels. Delays and setbacks make it an unfortunate period for travel, business, or starting new ventures. There’s a certain stability in the general atmosphere that makes it safe to say what you feel, just don’t get too carried away. Conservation of emotion might be the theme for the day, maybe even a few days. It’s a time to be mutually reassuring, rather than wildly supportive of anyone close to you.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) You’ll be restless and probably won’t be very patient with any type of routine today. Don’t expect to get much cooperation and understanding from others for your dynamic spirit and search for adventure so don’t waste your time looking for it. Rigid, serious people will really irritate you today, so avoid them. Buck your usual schedule, go your own way today and you’re sure to end the day with a smile on your face. You may want to call or write someone you love, simply to cheer them up or tell them you love them. The tone of this time is light, friendly and easy. Positive connections are made with others, and you may meet a new romance. This is a favorable time to visit people you really enjoy.

Leo (July 23-August 22) You are right on the brink of a very exciting venture that could eventually take you to new heights as far as your career goes. Malicious gossip needs to be ignored, because you know who you are, and you also know those spreading the gossip are just jealous. Don’t allow their envy to drain energy you need for bigger and better things. Set yourself free today and go ahead and upset the equilibrium in order to have your own needs met, especially sexually. It could be that in an effort to maintain peace and keep everything nice and cozy you have been neglecting your desires to please someone else. Don’t compromise, ask for what you want and how you want it, or you’ll just end up being frustrated.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) Sour grapes can be today’s flavor, and if you run into something that displeases you, just drop it — don’t push it past the edge. People are feeling insecure, so avoid encouraging any negativity you encounter. New directions are not in order, as they won’t go far, so wait just a bit longer to start your journey down any new paths. Excellent cooperation in partnerships and friendships is highlighted now. The astrological energy today can extend to virtually all relationships, including romantic and personal relationships, friendships, family groups. Take advantage of this and propose some type of group activity.

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Libra (September 23-October 22) A non-stop flow of communication between yourself and the people in your immediate environment is likely today. You may engage in interesting and informative discussions or fritter your time away in inconsequential chatter and gossip. Mental curiosity or restlessness may also compel you to take a short trip or visit. Light and pleasant interactions characterize the day. You gain what you want through diplomacy or charm, of which you have an abundance of both. Enlisting the support of your lover or partner, rather than by being forceful and pushy will get you a lot farther today. You are willing to make concessions in order to maintain harmony in your relationships.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) Ask and you shall receive. ‘Tis the season, while it lasts (for a day or so), so if you want it, go for it. Part of it is about intuitively knowing just what to ask for, what’s really available, and who’s in the mood for giving. Go with your feelings and you’ll be surprised at what’s at your command. Exude emotional stability (or at least pretend to) and you’ll find yourself brought in as expert and friend. Ambition is intensified. There’s a good chance of great emotional harmony and support in your life now. Being empathic to the feelings and instincts of other people comes naturally at this time, and can bring you much success. Listen to your intuition. don’t force them. Take a risk and speak up if you feel the need!

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) This is an excellent time to begin a new business enterprise or any new venture. You have the drive and courage to make your vision a reality. You feel great physically, and your confidence and optimism are high, so whatever you attempt now is likely to succeed. This is a time for being with people and especially giving something of yourself and your talents to others. You want to be seen and noticed. You receive appreciation and a positive response, and possibly an opportunity or personal contact which will be quite beneficial.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) Patience. Patience. Patience. Today is not a favorable time to make bold moves or confront those causing you problems. Solid planning of your future path will serve you much better. Indeed, having a sound plan and sticking to it may well make the bigger bumps in your road disappear without any extra effort on our part at all. Release from restrictive circumstances and pressures is the main issue at this time with regards to your love life. Obligations and responsibilities are not so demanding now, and you are able to enjoy a greater level of freedom in your daily life.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18)

You may benefit socially or materially through an opportunity given to you by a friend. This is a good time for parties, social gatherings, and other activities with friends. Your home life should get the bulk of your attention at this time. Now is an excellent time to resolve any lingering conflicts with your personal relationships. Expressing your emotional and physical needs clearly to your mate should lead to a fulfilling affirmation of your love for one another and strengthen your sense of being a part of something special.

Pisces (February 19-March 20) Confidence and inner harmony prevail. You can move forward with creative projects and express yourself more easily and comfortably now. Your efforts are well-received at this time. You feel more inhibited and uncommunicative, and you sense that others are not receptive. Frustrating conversations and the feeling that you are coming across negatively are possible now, so you are inclined simply to keep your thoughts to yourself. Taking time for yourself may do you and your partner more benefit than harm.

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


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


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

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

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



LIFESTYLE G o s s i p

Kardashian bans baby from reality show


im Kardashian will not let her baby appear on her TV show. The reality star is expecting her first child with rapper Kanye West, but has ruled out the child appearing on ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’ until the tot is old enough to make a decision themselves. Kim told TV host Jimmy Kimmel: “The baby is not going to be on our show. When he or she decides that’s what they want to do, then that will be a decision.” The 32-year-old star said arriving at the decision not to feature their baby on the show was difficult, after Jimmy pointed out the child may feel left out as they’d be one of the only members of the family not on TV. She explained: “It’s a tough decision. From the start, as of now, that’s just a personal choice that Kanye and I have made. We’re going to try to keep it as private as possible.” Although she is taking the decision to keep her baby off television, Kim loves having her sister Kourtney’s little ones, Mason, three, and six-month-old Penelope, on their show. She added: “I love seeing Mason and Penelope on TV. Mason is the highlight of our show, I think.” Kanye has reportedly already banned rap music in his house ahead of the birth, as he believes listening to classical music will make his baby more intelligent and doesn’t want his offspring to follow him into music. A source said: “Kanye’s really soppy. He wants Kim to lay down some vocals while she’s carrying his child. “He thinks it’ll be cool for his son or daughter to listen to the track when they’re older.”

Vergara is house-hunting

S Judd

announces separation from Franchitti


shley Judd and Dario Franchitti are separating after 11 years of marriage. Judd’s spokeswoman confirmed a Tuesday report from People magazine that the 44-year-old actress and 39-year-old Scottish race car driver are ending their marriage. The star of such films as “Double Jeopardy” and “Kiss the Girls” says in a statement that the pair will “always be family” and will continue to cherish their relationship based on love, integrity and respect. Last year, Judd starred in the ABC TV series “Missing” and attended the Democratic National Convention as a Tennessee delegate. Franchitti has won the Indianapolis 500 race three times. The couple wed in a private ceremony in Scotland in 2001.

ofia Vergara and her fiancé Nick Loeb are house-hunting. The couple are looking for properties in the most exclusive areas of Los Angeles and are set to start viewing a number of homes in the coming weeks. Sofia and Nick had been searching for a new house before Christmas but stopped their search after struggling to find anything suitable. A source told the New York Post newspaper: “They briefly called the search off, but now their broker is back looking for properties in Beverly Hills and Brentwood.” The ‘Modern Family’ actress and the businessman were seen together at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards on Sunday having a great time. The evening certainly was more successful than their night out on New Year’s Eve which ended in Nick being escorted from exclusive Miami hotspot Story by security after he got into a bust-up with another table in the VIP area. The fracas resulted in Sofia’s breasts popping out of her dress in front of the other revelers. The 40-year-old Columbian actress won’t have any problem making the payments on her new property as last year she was named the highest-earning television actress by Forbes. Sofia banked around $19 million between May 2011 and May 2012, thanks to her role as Gloria Pritchett in ‘Modern Family’, endorsement and licensing deals - including a clothing line at KMart and advertising campaigns for Diet Pepsi, Burger King and Cover Girl - and earnings from her media company LatinWE.

Baldwin and Thomas expecting their first child


lec Baldwin and his wife Hilaria Thomas are reportedly expecting their first child together. The ‘30 Rock’ star and the ‘Extra’ TV correspondent who have been married for seven months - are said to be “so excited” about their news but the couple have only told “really close friends and family” about her pregnancy. Hilaria’s friend told In Touch Weekly magazine: “They are both so excited and Alec is so in love with her. “She says she is so in love with Alec and he tells all her friends that she is the best thing that has ever happened to him. “[Hilaria] has not said much to anyone as far as how far along she is. She is so healthy and a yoga freak, so everyone could tell right away something was different. Hilaria has told only really close friends and family she is pregnant, only a close circle she trusts.” Alec’s PR company Hiltzik Strategies has refused to either confirm or deny the news of Hilaria’s reported pregnancy. The firm wrote on Twitter: “Part 1 -re: @abfalecbaldwin / @hilariabaldwin: Our response to baby speculation over the past 18 months has remained the same... “pt2: re:@abfalecbaldwin/@hilariabaldwin. ..when/if Alec&Hilaria have news they want 2 share, they will share it. Until then, no comment. (sic)” Hilaria sparked speculation she was expecting on Monday (28.01.13) when she showed off what looked like a baby bump while filming a segment for ‘Extra’ that saw her pull off some impromptu dance moves. The 54-year-old actor - who already has a 17-year-old daughter, Ireland, with ex-wife Kim Basinger - has recently said he would love the couple’s future children to look like Hilaria. He said: “My only dream is they look like her.”

Ke$ha is getting her own TV show


he ‘Die Young’ singer has signed a deal with MTV for a new reality series, entitled ‘Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life’, which promises to document the “drama, madness and euphoria” of her professional and personal life. Ke$ha said: “You might have heard my voice on the radio, seen me on stage or in a music video, but that’s only a part of the story. “With this documentary series I’m revealing a more complete picture of what my life is really like. It’s not all glamorous but it’s all real.” The footage was shot by Ke$ha’s filmmaker brother Lagan Sebert over the course of two years and he is pleased to be able to tell his sister’s story. Lagan said: “I was working as a journalist as my sister was fighting her way to the top of the charts. Journalists live and die by the story and I soon realized that the most amazing story was happening in my own family and it became my mission document it. With the help from Steven Greenstreet and Sandra Sampayo and Ted Roach I set off on a two year long journey to tell my sister’s story.” MTV said the “no-limits” series would depict Ke$ha “as she navigates the drama, madness and euphoria of her professional and personal life while recording a new album and traveling the globe”. The show will premiere on MTV in April.

Blanchett is turned to advice on animals


ate Blanchett is constantly asked for advice on animals - and she doesn’t know why. The ‘Lord of the Rings’ actress - who has sons Dashiell, 11, Roman, eight, and four-year-old Ignatius with husband Andrew Upton - says her family and friends rely on her to help them with their issues. She has had more animal-related queries since getting a dog and a cat herself but she insists she’s no pet expert. In an interview with Stylist magazine, Cate said: “I never really want to talk about anything. But lately I find people are always coming to me for advice. Lately people have been coming to me about animals. “We recently got a puppy and a kitten. The kitten’s a Tonkinese, a sort of cross between a Siamese and Burmese. The boys have called him Warwick. “But I tend not to dole out advice left, right and centre. I find in the end that people know the answer, you know? Sometimes people just have to talk things out, so that they can come to the conclusions themselves.” As well as advice on animals, Cate is also regularly approached about relationships and she thinks it’s because people trust her as she has been married to Andrew since December 1997. She added: “[I’m asked about] relationships too, that seems to be a theme these days. Maybe it’s because I’ve been married so long. 16, 17 years ... something like that. Cate and Andrew are also the artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company and work closely together.

Troubled ‘Rebecca’ musical snares show’s publicist


roubles surrounding the Broadway musical “Rebecca” have snared the show’s publicist. The show’s producers sued Marc Thibodeau in New York State Supreme Court on Tuesday, claiming defamation and breach of contract and fiduciary duty. They say Thibodeau sent emails discouraging a possible investor from putting $2.25 million into the show. Thibodeau also represented “The Phantom of the Opera” for 25 years. Thibodeau’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, tells The New York Times ( ) that his client was an “innocent whistle-blower.” The producers also sued Long Island securities dealer Mark Hotton in October. He is criminally charged with pretending to raise millions from investors in return for a commission and travel expenses. Hotton’s lawyer has said his client didn’t set out to defraud the show. The show is on hold indefinitely. —Agencies





M o v i e s

Deepa Mehta on ‘Midnight’s Children’


ilm director Deepa Mehta is no stranger to controversy. Two of her movies - “Fire” and “Water” were hit by protests from right-wing groups in India, and there were fears her latest cinematic offering would meet a similar fate. “Midnight’s Children”, Mehta’s adaptation of the Booker Prize-winning novel by Salman Rushdie, opens in Indian cinemas tomorrow. The film, which chronicles the story of an Indian family living through the tumultuous events of India’s recent past, features a voice over by Rushdie. The book’s depiction of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s role during India’s Emergency in the 1970s had thrown the film’s screening into doubt. Rushdie’s even more controversial 1988 book “The Satanic Verses,” which many Muslims deemed blasphemous, remains banned in the country. Mehta, 63, spoke to Reuters about “Midnight’s Children,” adapting a book for the screen and “un-filmable films.” Q: Many people had said that “Midnight’s Children” might be un-filmable. Was it an easy book to adapt? A: “This is not the first book that I have adapted. I worked on Bapsi Sidhwa’s book for ‘Earth’. All books, by their very nature, don’t have to make good films. I think it depends on the filmmaker-if the filmmaker finds that something in that inherent story has resonance for them, then you say

let me try and do it ... One of the things you have to be aware of is that the film is not a facsimile of the book. It was the same with Midnight’s Children. Yes, it was an iconic book. Yes, people said it was un-filmable. For me, it was a very clear narrative.” Q: Were there parts that you

know then, that your vision is the same.” Q: There’s always been a debate between book lovers and moviegoers whether books are better. What do you say? A: “Some films are better than the book. I think ‘The Constant Gardener’, the film was much bet-

Deepa Mehta wanted to leave out? A: “Absolutely. Early on I told Salman (Rushdie) ... to write down in narrative form what he thought the flow of the film should be and I’ll do the same. Separately, we wrote down what we felt the progress of the story should be in the film. We found, much to our surprise, that the points were almost identical. You

ter than the book. And some books are so much better than the films. There have been some disastrous adaptations. I think it depends on what the film turns out to be. There is the adaptation police, a group of people going ‘this book should never have been made into a film’, but if Salman had no problem, what’s theirs?”

Q: This was also a difficult film to shoot, right? You had to shoot in Sri Lanka under a fake working title because of security concerns? A: “That’s not true at all. We came to Mumbai, looked at locations and realised that if I wanted to shoot here, it would be very difficult because nothing looks period. There are high-rises everywhere, BMW cars on the streets. That’s why it was important to shoot in Sri Lanka-it’s very similar, except that it isn’t as built-up. There are lovely bungalows, etc. And the reason we had to shoot under a fake working title was because I didn’t want to attract press, because it distracts the actors.” Q: You’ve made a lot of films about women and attitudes towards them in India. What do you think is behind these skewed attitudes? A: “Patriarchy. We’ve always felt that the girl child is worth nothing and should in fact be aborted even before she is born. The boy can do no wrong. If the girl is treated as a sub-human, or the boy is raised to believe he can do no wrong, then this is what will happen.” Q: Do you think films can help change these attitudes? A: “I don’t think so. They can be an instrument of looking at things differently but then films also become old-fashioned and people move on.” —Reuters

File picture shows at New York city, France First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy performing on stage at Radio City Music Hall during the 91st birthday concert in tribute to Nelson Mandela. —AFP

Police arrest ‘Dazed and Confused’ Bruni resumes music career with memories of the Stones actor after Arizona bar fight


Jason London

azed and Confused” star Jason London has been arrested in Arizona and charged with assault and disorderly conduct over a bar room fracas in which he is accused of throwing punches and later defecating in a patrol car on his way to jail, a police report showed on Tuesday. The 40-year-old actor, who played the main character of Randall “Pink” Floyd in the 1993 coming-of-age comedy “Dazed and Confused,” responded on Twitter that he was attacked and injured and that the allegations against him were false. “I would never say or do the crap they are reporting,” he said in the message on Tuesday. “Have faith in me. The truth will come out and you will see.”“Some guy thought I was hitting on his girl and had me jumped,” London tweeted. “My wife was in the next room, had no idea what even happened. I hate Arizona.” London is married to actress Sofia Karstens. Police said London was at the Martini Ranch bar in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale on Sunday when an unidentified person complained London had sneezed on him and the person asked him to apologize. Instead of apologizing, London punched the person, the report from Scottsdale

police said. He was escorted out by bouncers and during that time he hit them, leading the security guards to “defend themselves” against London, it added. A 26-year-old Martini Ranch bouncer, whose name was not released, was listed by police as a victim in the incident. London was charged with assault with intent to injure and disorderly conduct, the report said. “London showed obvious signs and symptoms of extreme alcohol impairment,” one of the responding officers wrote in the report. Because of swelling and bruising around his right eye from the fracas, London was seen by paramedics but “became belligerent and started cursing” at them, the report said. While seated in the back of the patrol car on the way to jail, one of the officers saw London “lean to the left and defecate in his pants” after the actor complained about the odor in the vehicle, the police report said. London has in recent years had a number of guest appearances on television shows, such as the political drama “Scandal.” In 2000, he starred in the TV movie “Jason and the Argonauts” and in 1999 was in horror movie “The Rage: Carrie 2.”—Reuters


arla Bruni is to resume her musical career with an autumn tour and a new album that sees France’s former first lady reminiscing about her time spent hanging out with the Rolling Stones. The first dates for the tour, November 22-24 at the 1,500-seat Casino de Paris, were published yesterday, hot on the heels of the release of the first extract from “Little French Songs”, the Italian former supermodel’s fourth album which is due to be released on April 1. A former girlfriend of Mick Jagger, Bruni has penned a song entitled “Chez Keith et Anita” (At Keith and Anita’s place), which depicts the drug-fuelled lifestyle of Stones guitarist Keith Richards and his longtime girlfriend Anita Pallenberg. Against a breezy, jazzy-pop backing track that she also wrote, Bruni, 45, sings in French: “Someone is rolling a joint/Oh no! I don’t smoke/We’re at Keith and Anita’s place.” It goes on: “A hotel Sofitel/in Singapore or Brussels/Oh it’s good to be alive/Here at Keith and Anita’s place.” According to Stones’ historians, Bruni had a passionate affair with Jagger when she was a 23-year-old model at the

top of her profession. Jagger was married to Jerry Hall at the time, while Bruni had been dating Eric Clapton. When the relationship ended, Bruni was left distraught, she was quoted as saying last year. “I thought I’d never get over it. I used to wake up every morning in despair. I thought I’d never fall in love with someone else.” The new album will be Bruni’s first since since 2008’s “Comme Si De Rien N’Etait” (Simply), whose proceeds went to a charitable foundation. As the partner and now wife of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, Bruni opted to put her musical career on hold until he left office following defeat in last year’s election. During her time as first lady, her performances were restricted to a handful of television appearances and a solitary 2009 live outing, at New York’s Radio City Music Hall in honour of Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday. Bruni’s previous albums all received reviews which could best be described as mixed and label Naive opted not to renew her contract, although that did not prevent her being picked up by top French record company Barclay. —AFP

From Doc Watson to lifetime folk award, MacLean sings on


n the 1970s, before he could make a living playing music, Scottish folk singer Dougie MacLean found himself with a temporary job driving an American family around Europe in a mini-bus. It was a serendipitous moment for a performer who is poised to receive a lifetime achievement accolade at the BBC Folk Awards: The family was that of Doc and Merle Watson, two of America’s most celebrated bluegrass, coun-

Dougie MacLean try and gospel singers. MacLean did not know who they were at first but ended up “blown away” by them, jamming with them in the evenings and listening to them belting out gospel on German autobahns. Speaking to Reuters from his home in Butterstone, Perthshire, MacLean says he took some joy from listening to father and son Doc and Merle playing together, something he now does from time to time with his own son. “It was magical,” he said. MacLean’s own folk borders on

the traditional with a lot of poetic Scottish nostalgia woven in, such as the haunting “Ready for the Storm”. His song “The Gael” was adapted to be the theme of the film “Last of the Mohicans” while “Caledonia” - perhaps his most celebrated work - is essentially a love song to his homeland, one that is said to bring the odd tear to Scottish listeners. Plans are for the BBC awards to close on Wednesday with a “Caledonia” sung by all the awardees. Times a’changing MacLean, a multi-instrumentalist, reckons not much has changed to the music that has been his stock in trade for nearly 40 years - but the internet has brought it to many more people. He admits that folk has not always been the biggest headline grabber in the music world, describing it as being “below the radar” for many. But the internet is changing this, bringing the music more easily out of clubs and folk festivals to a wider world. “There’s another generation (listening),” MacLean said. “It’s quite nice to see it (folk music) getting more attention.” There is something of a western folk renaissance under way in popular music. It encompasses balladeers like MacLean, new bands such as Britain’s Lau and America’s Carolina Chocolate Drops, and crossovers like the indie-folkists Mumford & Sons and alternative musician Sufjan Stevens. “People are searching for something with some more substance to it,” MacLean said, contrasting folk with the kind of “institutional” music pushed by big recording companies and mainstream radio stations. And folk music does have a remarkable pedigree. Travelling with the Watsons opened the young Scot’s eyes aswell as his ears. “I learnt a lot about America - they came from Deep Gap, North Carolina,” he said. That was a world away from MacLean’s Scottish home - but not necessarily as far away as it might seem. Doc and Merle, MacLean said, played music from an “unbroken tradition”. So does he. —Reuters

Mexican singer Belinda poses for photographers during a photo call promoting the film ‘Tadeo el Explorador Perdido,’ or Tadeo the Lost Explorer, in Mexico City, Tuesday. Belinda is the voice of Sara, whose image is at right, in the animated film which premieres tomorrow. —AP

Lohan’s driving case returns to LA court


judge who has sentenced Lindsay Lohan to jail before will conduct her first hearing yesterday on new misdemeanor charges of lying to authorities and reckless driving against the trouble-prone actress. Lohan has been ordered to appear before Judge Stephanie Sautner for the scheduling hearing, which is the first time the actress has been required to appear in court in nearly a year. Prosecutors in Santa Monica, Calif, have charged Lohan with lying to police about driving a

sports car that crashed into a dump truck in June, reckless driving and obstructing officers from performing their duties. In March, Sautner released her from supervised probation but warned her to stop partying and grow up. “You need to live your life in a more mature way, stop the nightclubbing and focus on your work,” Sautner told Lohan at the time. The admonition came after the judge conducted several monthly updates with the actress and required her to

perform morgue cleanup duty to complete her sentence in a 2007 drunken driving case. Lohan has since filmed two movies but has repeatedly gotten into trouble, including a pair of arrests in New York that have not resulted in charges. She was on probation for theft at the time of the wreck in California, and Sautner had warned the actress she could be sentenced to 245 days in jail if she didn’t behave. She has pleaded not guilty and a Feb 27 trial date has been set. —AP


lifestyle F E A T U R E S

Members of the 2013 ‘Jarl Squad’ take part in the annual Up Helly Aa festival which culminated in the burning of a Viking Galley in Lerwick, Shetland Islands on January 29, 2013. Up Helly Aa celebrates the influence of the Scandinavian Vikings in the Shetland Islands and has employed this theme in the festival since 1870. The event culminates with up to 1,000 ‘guizers’ (men in costume) throwing flaming torches into their Viking longboat. —AFP

In Istanbul, tourists seek their dream moustache A

A barber shaves a man in Istanbul.

lready known the world over for its baths, coffee and sweet Turkish delights, Turkey is on the road to adding another item to its roster of specialities: the moustache. Lip whiskers remain a highly sought-after mark of manliness in Turkey and the Middle East to the point that the naturally less hairy are increasingly seeking out moustache transplants at the hands of Turkish cosmetic surgeons. Among them is Selahattin Tulunay, head of a thriving private practice that once specialized in hair transplants but has been adapted to cater to the increasing demand for moustaches. “I’ve been doing moustache implants for around three years now,” he said.”A lot of men have come to see me saying ‘I’m 40 years old, I’m the head of a large company and no one takes me seriously abroad. I want people to see that I have hair’,” he added. Only 30 years old, Engin Koc had long despaired of his cleanshaven face before he opted to go under the knife seven months ago and get the upper lip of his dreams. “I wanted to look like ancient Turks, like the Ottomans, and since I’m a nostalgic

soul with an admiration for that era, I got the implants,” he said, calling the moustache “a symbol of Turkish virility”. Moustaches have long been considered a serious matter in Turkey, with a popular saying stating that “a man without a moustache is like a house without a balcony”. The shape of the specimen even holds political meaning. “The bushy style, like Stalin’s, is more the prerogative of the left or of Kurds,” said anthropologist Benoit Fliche from the French Institute of Anatolian Studies in Istanbul. “When neater, like that of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it becomes religious and conservative.” “And when it shoots down on both sides of the mouth like fangs, it’s a mark of the extreme right,” he added. Although the bewhiskered look is winning over fewer Turks from the big citieswho are drawn more towards Western fashion-a moustache and beard remain a must for men from Arab countries or the Turkic republics of Central Asia, who journey over to Istanbul to satisfy their need for hair. “The Turkish television series broadcast in

the Arab world wield a great influence,” said Tulunay, adding that “it’s upon seeing our actors that these patients called on us for the same beard or the same moustache”. These clients constitute the core of the new market for facial hair. In Istanbul alone, around 250 clinics or private practices are locked in fierce competition to sell their services, with promotions galore. The majority are linked to travel agencies and offer package deals that include the operation, a hotel stay and airport pick-up. The most competitive offer package deals starting at 2,000 euros ($2,700) that come with much more bang for the buck than their European or US counterparts. Hair tourism is thus in full swing, fuelled by a constant uptick in the number of foreigners visiting Turkey, with estimates suggesting more than 35 million people flocked there last year. “Every week, we welcome 50 to 60 patients for a hair transplant and five to six for a moustache transplant, Istanbul Hair Centre surgeon Meral Tala said. “And as our results are now much better than before, we expect a large rise in demand.” — AFP

A Turkish man with a beard looks outside the window in Istanbul. — AFP photos

Sarajevo siege photo stirs distant, dark memories

Vladimir Vrnoga and a group of Bosnians cart wood to heat their homes in Sarajevo. — AFP photos


t’s autumn 1992, and an icy chill has settled over Sarajevo. Bosnian residents are struggling to keep warm in their besieged city, scavenging whatever firewood they can after gas and electric supplies have been cut off. From their hiding spots in the hills surrounding the town, snipers shoot at anything that moves. AFP photographer Patrick Baz, newly arrived on the scene, shoots a picture on October 27, 1992, about six months after the start of the siege of Sarajevo, which would last another three years and become the longest such assault in modern times. More than 10,000 people would lose their lives. That image-of a gaunt young man hauling woodcould easily have stayed tucked away in the agency’s archives forever. But thanks to a series of coincidences it has, twenty years later, taken on a new life of its own. “I chose Patrick’s shot to use in the 20-years-on feature to illustrate the shortages in the city,” recalls BBC journalist Adrian Brown, explaining why he included it a multimedia project on the 20th anniversary of the siege. “This young boy’s look of anguish really caught my attention.” A few months after Brown’s piece was published online, Vladimir Vrnoga, a former Bosnian refugee who’s been living in California for more than 17 years, was tapping away at his computer when his phone rang. “Drop whatever you are doing,” a friend said. “Check out this Web page.” Vladimir couldn’t believe his eyes. “I had a shock. Seeing that picture brought a flashback of the moment when it was taken. Suddenly, 20 years later, I was back in Sarajevo during the war,” he says by phone. “I could smell the dampness of the air, felt the blisters on my hands from chopping the wood with a meat cleaver-and that was barely the beginning of the siege.” Vladimir was 17 at the time. A Catholic with a Croatian father and a Serbian mother, his family illustrated the inter-communal harmony that existed in Sarajevo before the war. He had just registered at the University of Sarajevo to study veterinary medicine. But the bloody conflict turned his plans, and his life, upside down.

Picture ‘represents all the suffering’ “This picture represents all the suffering we went through,” Vladimir says. “At night time, the temperatures dropped really low. We had to collect wood to heat our home and survive. The only thing we had to eat was rice. The snipers were everywhere above us. They were shooting at everything. They were shooting children. They were shooting cats.” Vladimir had to drop his studies, and was pressured to enlist in the Bosnian army. Months of fighting, suffering and exhausting marches followed. He lost 15 kilos (33 pounds) in just three weeks after joining up. He finished his service at the end of 1994 but was called up again just a few days later. This time, he and his mother, Milena, left for Croatia and then for Austria where they spent five months in a refugee camp. They finally departed for the United States in April 1995. Mother and son moved to Chico, north of San Francisco in California. The wood collector-turnedrefugee, today 38 and married with a three-year-old daughter, now works at a large brewery. Vladimir has never returned to Bosnia. After the initial shock of seeing himself in the photo wore off, he contacted the BBC journalist, who put him in touch with Patrick. The photographer and his subject, who had until then been unaware of each other’s identity, swapped emails and hope to meet one day. “I remember very well the day the picture was taken. I was walking and saw the photographer at the side of the road. We exchanged some words, I asked him for a cigarette. Then we both continued our way,” Vladimir says. Patrick, who is now AFP’s photo director for the Middle East and North Africa, has a vague memory of shooting the photo. “I’d only been in Sarajevo for a few days,” he recalls. “I didn’t know where to go. While I was heading for the front line, in the mountains, I came across these guys. That’s about all I remember.” But the chance reconnection between the two has stirred up powerful memories for the Lebanese photographer, who grew up in the middle of a civil war before leaving to take photos for AFP in conflicts across the globe. —AFP

Iranian Zoroastrian youth carry torches to set fire on an already prepared pile of wood.

Iran Zoroastrians celebrate ancient feast of fire


ollowers of Iran’s minority Zoroastrian religion gathered after sunset to mark Sadeh - an ancient mid-winter feast dating to Iran’s pre-Islamic past that is also drawing new interest from Muslims. Zoroastrian priests, dressed in white to symbolize purity, recited verses from Avesta, the holy Zoroastrian book, before more than 2,000 people on Tuesday. Men and women in traditional dress carried torches and lit a huge bonfire on the outskirts of Tehran Tuesday, as young people danced. Sadeh, the feast of creation of fire, has been observed since ancient days, when Zoroastrianism was the dominant religion in the powerful Persian empire. Zoroastrianism lost dominance after Muslim Arabs

An Iranian Zoroastrian girl, plays Daf, a large-sized tambourine.

An Iranian Zoroastrian woman reads a poem as a portrait of Iranian Prophet Zarathustra is seen on the wall during the annual Zoroastrian Sadeh festival in a suburb of Tehran on January 29, 2013. — AP/AFP photos invaded and conquered Persia in the seventh century. Today, most of Iran’s 75 million people are Shiite Muslims, and the ruling establishment is led by clerics who preach a strict version of Islam. After the 1979 revolution brought in the hard-line Islamic religious government,

many Zoroastrians emigrated to the US, and their festivals were strongly discouraged. About 20,000 Zoroastrians remain today - down from 300,000 in the 1970s, when many emigrated to the United States. They make up part of Iran’s small non-Muslim population, including 150,000 Christians and 15,000 Jews. Although the feast of fire has traditionally been marked by Zoroastrians, many Muslim Iranians joined the festival Tuesday. “This festival promotes friendship and happiness. The feast is an opportunity to thank God for the creation of fire. The light and warmth of fire brings affection among communities. That’s the reason we are here,” Zoroastrian priest Sohrab Hengami said. Ali Doosti, an Iranian Muslim who attended Tuesday’s celebration, said Sadeh should not been seen from a purely religious perspective. “Sadeh is an ancient celebration that symbolizes Iran’s rich cultural heritage. There is no reason why Iranian Muslims shouldn’t observe the event,” he said. To Zoroastrians, fire represents life and the inherent nature of Ahura Mazda - total goodness. —AP


lifestyle F A S H I O N

Fashion Week


In this multiple exposure photo, a Pakistani model presents a creation by designer Usman Dittu on the last day of Karachi Fashion Week in Karachi on January 29, 2013. — AP/AFP photos

Rizwan Ahmad

Asif and Nabeel

Amina Yasmeen

Gap Kids launches spring collection G

ap Kids and BabyGap has introduced a new spring collection for boys and girls, which is bright and colorful and is in stores now! For boys and toddler boys, new pocket T, light sweaters in new fabrications and colored denim are the key items from this collection. Colored flat front chinos, madras wovens, solid color knits, graphic tees and polos are the season’s musthaves. The Cambridge Active collection consisting of French Terry shorts, pants and crew and Gap Logo Ts in new fabrication and Surf Cowboys, which is a modern take on denim shop featuring new denim fabrications in a tight color palette, are ranges that would surely excite you for your little Boy. Sur f Cowboys also introduces yellow into the colored denim range and the key items in this range are novelty denim, woven shorts, better Graphic Ts, mini stripe Jersey Polos and cargo shorts. For girls, Gap has collections such as Wildflower, which offers printed denim bottoms, fashion knits with embellishments in new detailing and skinny bot-

toms in terry. Great dresses and skirts with bounty of florals, jeweled and floral accessories are a must have from this collection. The range offers items in a fresh color palette of pink, oranges, greens and soft teal. Your girl is surely going to stand apart from any other with this collection. For the girl who is trendsetter amongst her friends, Highline collection offers perfect shift dresses and circle skirts in bold patterns. The key offering of this collection is Ponte dresses, skinny denim, bold and geo prints, circle skirts and matching accessories. La Marais collection is inspired by the Marais district of Paris and is grounded in an artistic palette of deep purples, lilacs, stone and a soft hint of dusted limestone pink. New embellishments done in an elevated and in tonal levels will surely add shine to your little girl’s outfit. Dresses and skirts paired with denim skirts and jackets add a flavor for new styling options for our girl. Color blocked linen slub tees paired with new marl joggers and must have third layering piece have her as the poster girl of

with embellishment and the assortment of pretty skinnies have this well-rounded for styling. Key items include lace knits and pretty tops, graphic T-shirts, jelly sandals and ballet shoes.

‘cool’. Key items include printed skinnies, textured sweaters and knits, sequin jumpers and floral prints. A confectionary collection of ‘pretty little things’, has inspired our main March collection. A palette of candy coated sweets in pastels and soft baked neons have her seeing sprinkles and

treats. Ladylike details and new color directions have this collection standing out from the rest. An explosive range of color of warms to cools and tonal gradation gives this collection a large range of opportunity. Laces, large-scale eyelets, flocked dots on tulle, peter pan collars

In Istanbul, tourists seek their dream moustache



Newly initiated ‘Naga Sadhus’ perform rituals as an older Sadhu takes a picture on the bank of the Ganga River during the Maha Kumbh festival in Allahabad yesterday. During every Kumbh Mela, the diksha - ritual of initiation by a guru - program for new members takes place. — AFP


Barbie-themed restaurant

opens in Taiwan

Waitresses stand in their uniforms during the opening ceremony of a Barbiethemed restaurant in Taipei. — AFP photos Waitresses wave in front of a Barbie poster during the opening ceremony of a Barbie-themed restaurant.

A Barbie fan takes pictures during the opening ceremony.


ith hot pink sofas, high heelsshaped tables and chairs decorated with tutus, the first Barbie-themed restaurant opened in Taiwan yesterday catering to fans of the iconic doll. US toymaker Mattel has licensed Taiwan’s restaurant group Sinlaku to operate the Barbie Cafe and hopes that the new establishment in a bustling shopping district in the capital Taipei will help promote Barbie as a fashion brand. “We picked Taiwan because theme restaurants are very popular and successful here. We are very confident that the Barbie Cafe can promote our brand image,” said Iggy Yip, a senior manager in Mattel’s consumer products division in Greater China. Besides dolls, Mattel retails garments, accessories and furniture in Taiwan and some select products will be available in the cafe, she said. Yip is

hopeful that the restaurant will also attract Barbie fans from China, Hong Kong and Japan, which are among the biggest sources of tourists to Taiwan. Jessica Ho, an office worker in Taipei who has a five-year-old daughter, gave her thumbs-up to the Barbie Cafe. “My child and I both love Barbie and this lovely and cute place is like a dream come true for us. I will take her here to celebrate her next birthday,” she said. Taiwan has a long history with Barbie as it used to be a manufacturing centre for the dolls until Mattel relocated its production lines to China and elsewhere to lower costs in the late 1980s. Mattel had launched a Barbie concept store in China in 2009, as it celebrated the doll’s 50th birthday, but it was closed down after two years amid reports the outlet failed to get off the ground. — AFP

A chef makes a Barbie doll themed cake. A waitress holds up a menu. A waitress poses as she displays a cup of macarcons.

A waitress and a waiter walk through the restaurant.

31 Jan  

Kuwait Times

31 Jan  

Kuwait Times