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Triumphant Syria rebels seize military airport


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Turtle power: Artificial legs boost limbless loggerhead


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Kuwait rights conditions deteriorated in 2012: HRW

Govt blasts ‘out of touch’ watchdog • Panel reinstates long detentions

Max 23º Min 12º High Tide 00:42 & 13:48 Low Tide 07:40 & 19:44

By B Izzak and Agencies

Riyadh gov passes away

KUWAIT: Human rights conditions deteriorated in Kuwait last year as police used excessive force against protesters and the government clamped down on online activists, Human Rights Watch said yesterday. The setback in the human rights situation came amid a bitter political crisis in the state between the opposition and the government, HRW said in a statement. “Kuwait’s political crisis had a negative impact on the country’s human rights record as security forces cracked down on protests and the government grew intolerant of dissident speech,” Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director at HRW told a news conference. Kuwait’s Information Ministry blasted the New Yorkbased rights group, saying it was “out of touch” with reality. “Human Rights Watch is clearly out of touch with the reality on the ground in Kuwait. These are the same, tired accusations we saw last year and they continue to show a lack of understanding of Kuwait,” the ministry said in a statement. Since mid-2012, prosecutors have charged at least 35 online activists and former MPs with speech-related crimes such as “offending the Amir” and for posting remarks on Twitter or giving speeches during protests, HRW said. “The government should reverse this trend in 2013, by dropping all speech-related charges against online activists and former members of parliament...,” said Houry. But the information ministry dismissed the HRW claims. “Human Rights Watch wrongly claims the government has become ‘intolerant of dissident speech’. In reality Kuwait’s strong democracy was founded on freedom of speech,” the ministry said. “We have also seen in recent months the government repeatedly grant permits for peaceful demonstrations,” it added. Kuwaiti rights activists who attended the HRW news conference said that “at least 300” opposition activists are being prosecuted. Kuwaiti courts have in the past few weeks sentenced at least seven opposition activists and former MPs to between two and 10 years in jail on charges of insulting HH the Amir. HRW called on the Kuwaiti government to drop the charges against the activists. It also urged the government “to address the citizenship claims of bedoons (stateless Arabs), and protect migrant workers by ratifying the Convention on Decent Work for Domestic Workers.” Continued on Page 6

RIYADH: Riyadh governor Prince Sattam bin Abdul Aziz, a half brother of King Abdullah, died yesterday, state news agency SPA reported. SPA quoted a royal statement as saying that Prince Sattam, who was in his 70s, would be buried in the Saudi capital today. HH the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad AlSabah sent a letter of condolences to King Abdullah in which he expressed his sincere sorrow and condolences on the death of Prince Sattam, praying to Almighty Allah to bestow his mercy upon him and his family with patience and solace. HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Sabah and HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Sabah sent similar letters. Prince Sattam was appointed Riyadh governor after his half-brother, Crown Prince Salman, was named defence minister in Oct 2011. Prince Sattam is the 30th son of Prince Sattam the late King Abdul Aziz, founder of the kingdom. He graduated from San Diego University in 1965 with a BA degree in business administration. In March last year, he decided to allow single men in Riyadh to visit shopping malls during peak hours, easing restrictions aimed at stopping harassment of women. Under the rules of succession in Saudi Arabia, power passes from brother to brother, respecting the law of birthright among the sons of the kingdom’s founder. Sattam was among the most high profile Saud sons considered as future monarchs. — Agencies

SINUIJU, North Korea: A North Korean soldier reacts as he patrols along the Yalu River near this North Korean town after the country conducted its third nuclear test yesterday. — AFP

North Korea defies world opinion with nuclear test Miniaturized, lighter device used

RIO DE JANEIRO: A reveler from the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school performs during the second night of the carnival parade at the Sambadrome early yesterday. — AFP (See Page 40)

SEOUL: North Korea yesterday staged its most powerful nuclear test yet, claiming a breakthrough with a “miniaturized” device in a striking act of defiance that drew condemnation from global powers including its sole patron China. Pyongyang said its third underground test, after previous detonations in 2006 and 2009 that triggered a raft of UN sanctions, was a direct riposte to what it termed US “hostility”. North Korea’s claim of miniaturisation will be of particular concern, suggesting it is a step closer to fitting a nuclear warhead onto a ballistic missile, following its successful launch of a longrange rocket in December. The confirmation from state news agency KCNA came nearly three hours after seismic monitors detected an unusual tremor at 0257 GMT in the area of the country’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, close to the Chinese border. US President Barack Obama denounced

Rising power Qatar stirs unease among neighbours DUBAI/DOHA: In the centre of Cairo, young men hold up a burning flag for the cameras to show their fury at a nation they believe is meddling in their country and the wider Middle East. It’s a familiar image. But it’s not the US flag they are waving, it is that of Qatar, the Gulf state that has used its billions to spread its influence in the wake of the Arab Spring. For most Western governments and officials, the influence of Qatar Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani’s government is seen as broadly positive. Qatar’s neighbours are uneasy, however. In Egypt, Libya and Syria, where Qatar tried to play a role post-Arab Spring, it finds itself blamed for much that has gone wrong on a local level. Close ties to

Egypt’s new leaders, the Muslim Brotherhood, have alarmed countries like the United Arab Emirates, where the Islamist group is still banned and which in January said it had foiled a Brotherhood-linked coup plot. Senior officials in the UAE have long believed Qatar has long-term strategy to use the Brotherhood to redraw the region. “There is both greater apprehension and appreciation for Qatar two years after the Arab awakening in the region,” said Taufiq Rahim, Executive Director of Dubai-based geopolitics consultancy Globesight. “While prior to the revolutions, Qatar was seen more as a mediator, its foreign policy Continued on Page 13

the test and called for a “swift” and “credible” international response, as the Security Council readied to meet. Condemnation came from others including Russia, while Japan saw a “grave threat” to its own security. China, whose trade and aid are a life-support to impoverished North Korea, expressed “firm opposition” to the nuclear test and noted that it came “despite widespread opposition from the international community”. The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting at which its members “strongly condemned” the test and vowed to start work on appropriate measures in response, the president of the council said. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the test was a “grave threat” that could not be tolerated. UN SecretaryGeneral Ban Ki-moon said the test was a “clear and grave violation” of UN Security Council resolutions. Continued on Page 13

Iraq to resume Kuwait flights after 22 years KUWAIT: Iraqi Airways will resume direct flights to Kuwait from Feb 16 after a 22-year stoppage due to the Iraqi invasion of the state, a top Kuwaiti civil aviation official said yesterday. “Iraqi Airways will resume flights to Kuwait on February 16 ... after the civil aviation authority approved a request” by its Iraqi counterpart, Fawwaz Al-Farah, head of Kuwait’s civil aviation authority, was quoted as saying by the official KUNA news agency. Iraqi Airways will fly four times a week to Kuwait airport from Baghdad with one direct flight, two via the Shiite holy city of Najaf and one through Arbil in Iraq’s Kurdistan, Farah said. Kuwait Airways does not operate any flights to Iraq but the private Al-Jazeera carrier has been operating for the past few years, especially to Najaf, which lies south of Baghdad. Kuwait and Iraq’s national carriers reached an agreement last month to resolve a 22-year-old commercial dispute between them under which Iraqi Airways has agreed to pay $500 million to Kuwait Airways. Under orders from former dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait in Aug 1990 but were driven out seven months later by a US-led international coalition. — AFP



Student’s prosecution ‘insult to Kuwait’ By A. Saleh KUWAIT: A number of school teachers and former MPs gathered outside the Courts’ Compound yesterday as a show of solidarity with student Omar AlWalaan who was questioned by the Public Prosecution on charges that include participating in an illegal demonstration, attacking police officers on duty and damaging patrol vehicles. The gatherers described the interrogation of Al-Walaan as “an insult to Kuwait” and the “newest episode of restrictions upon freedom.”

Engineering faculty The Faculty of Engineering and Petroleum at the Kuwait University has been working for six months to establish a center for developmental studies that can contribute towards finding solutions to many of Kuwait’s problems, including power shortage, traffic congestion and environmental degradation. This was announced by the faculty’s dean, Dr. Husan Al-Khayyat, who said the project was still short of funds. “We received an initial support from the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science, but further support is needed in order for us to move forward,” he said in a recent statement.

Gulf Bank lights up its headquarters

KUWAIT: Participants of the Canada Education Expo at Sheraton Hotel. — Photo by Joseph Shagra

‘Number of Kuwaiti students in Canada steadily growing’ Education expo opens By Ben Garcia KUWAIT: Kuwait has established its cultural office in Canada for the first time to oversee the activities of Kuwaiti students in Canada, Kuwaiti cultural attaché to Canada said. Speaking at the opening of Canada Education Expo held at Sheraton Hotel on Monday, Kuwaiti Cultural Attaché to Canada, Dr Fahad Al-Nasser, said the objective of the cultural office, which was inaugurated three months ago at Ottawa, was to enhance cultural relations between the two countries as well as to supervise and assist the growing number of Kuwaitis in Canada. “ The role of our office in Ottawa was to enhance our cultural relations not just on the academic side, but we also want to reach out in broader sense,” he said. Elaborating, he said there were plans to organize a Kuwaiti cultural week in Canada in the month of June. “Our office will arrange all the activities of the cultural office in Canada,” AlNasser mentioned.

According to Al-Nasser, the number of Kuwaiti students right now in Canada was pegged at about 300 and it was growing each year. “I think by the end of my term, probably four to five years from now, there will be around 1,000 Kuwaiti students in Canada. Many are studying medicine and other highly reputable courses/professions,” he said. “They particularly like Canada because of the quality of education available to the students. Canada provides high standards of education and we believe that after studying from their top universities, the output would be excellent. We need that now in order to encourage elite students to attend Canadian universities and experience the multi-cultural environment, good weather and the beautiful country,” Al-Nasser noted. Twelve elite universities from Canadian Higher Education Committee and Council of International Schools were represented at the Sheraton Hotel yesterday to meet with the Kuwait-based students, parents and school

counselors. Canadian Ambassador to Kuwait, Douglas George, said an international educational experience also helps promote understanding between any two peoples or countries. “Canadian students also benefit from meeting students from other parts of the world. In this education expo, we provide full information about studying in Canada and the various offerings of our top universities,” he said. The Canada’s education expo is part of a Middle East road show which also took them to Qatar, Oman, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. The envoy said students choose Canada because of their strong educational advantages and positive experiences which is the foundation for an exciting and successful future. “The quality, affordability and renowned research opportunities are key factors in this decision,” he acknowledged. The delegation is led by Daralyn Holt from University of Trent in Ontario who has been visiting the Middle East for ten consecutive years for the same purpose.

UN hails Kuwait’s efforts MADRID: A senior official of the United Nations has lauded Kuwait’s role on the regional arena particularly its substantial humanitarian efforts for cooperation among states of the Gulf and Middle Eastern regions. The UN Alliance of Civilizations High Representative, President Jorge Sampaio expressed satisfaction at outcomes of the Kuwait-hosted international conference for donations for Syria, held on Jan 30, that was organized in response to calls by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Kuwait’s generosity in the humanitarian field is an example that should be followed, said Sampaio, on sidelines of an international forum on diplomatic mediation in the Mediterranean. The UN representative expressed gratitude to Kuwait’s bids aimed at establishing peace, realizing freedoms and stability in the Middle East, namely its solidarity with the Syrian people and hastily support for them at the hard times. He also hinted that he could not fathom wisdom behind the international community’s abstention from taking any action to halt the blood spilling in Syria, a country torn apart with ongoing violence. Kuwait, as expected, has occupied the top status at the regional and Gulf levels in the fields of freedoms of the press. Moreover, the Gulf state has been a pioneer in embracing democracy, respecting human rights, freedoms of expression and boost citizenship. According to a recentlyreleased report by the renowned international organization, Doctors Without Borders, Kuwait ranked 77th, among 179 countries, in the realm of freedoms of the press in 2012, thus it became the first in this respect at the Gulf and regional levels and the third among the Arab nations. Kuwait, at the recent conference for Syria, pledged to contribute with $300 million to aid the Syrian people. An equal sum was pledged by the UAE and Saudi Arabia. The conference was aimed at securing up to $1.5 billion to aid them. — KUNA

KUWAIT: Gulf Bank has announced plans to celebrate Kuwait’s National Day and Liberation Day through the launch of a special celebration competition on Instagram, and by decorating the Head Quarters with the colours of the Kuwait national flag. The competition, which is open to anyone living in Kuwait, is to share pictures on Instagram which show what people do on these two special occasions. The most creative pictures expressing the love of Kuwait by incorporating the national flag’s colours into the picture will be judged and the top five pictures chosen will win a KD500 Al Danah voucher each. The competition started on Sunday, 10th February and ends on Wednesday, 27th February 2013. The winner will be announced on 28th February. To enter, participants need to follow the

Bank’s account on Instagram at, and upload a picture accordingly. Each user will be entitled to upload one picture per day. Entries must include a hashtag #GBNL2013 as well as tagging Gulf Bank (@Gulf_bank). Participants should also make sure not to privatize their accounts, as this will cause difficulty for verification purposes. Gulf Bank’s National Day and Liberation Day Instagram competition is a great way to record special moments during the days which mark this important holiday. The Bank has a long term commitment to involving and supporting the Kuwaiti community, and to celebrate National Day and Liberation Day with Kuwaitis, and expatriates living in Kuwait, is a special a way for the Bank to mark its pride and love for Kuwait

Health ministry keen on cooperation with CSC KUWAIT: The representatives of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) convened a meeting at the CSC Headquarters yesterday and discussed the latter’s remarks and reservations regarding recent ministry decisions to do with taking on staff. Following said meeting, MoH Undersecretary Khalid Al-Sahlawi said the ministry representatives explained the objectives and circumstances related to each of the issues discussed,

and went further to urge the commission to adjust some of its own regulations on promotions and adjustments to professional status to avoid repeat of such observations and the need for more such meetings. The ministry is keen to cooperate with the CSC, he stressed, adding the representatives have agreed on feasibility of a joint coordination committee to address the commissions’ reservations on ministry decisions in the future and respond to inquiries promptly. — KUNA


LOCAL Al-Saadoun ‘respects’ Prince Turki’s statements KUWAIT: Commenting on the statements of a Saudi Prince who supported the Amiri decree that changed the electoral system in Kuwait last September, former parliament speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun said, “Every Saudi citizen, like any Kuwaiti voter, has the right to express his opinion.” Significantly, Al-Saadoun is a leading opposition figure. The Chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, said on Monday during the International Conference of the Council of Arab and International Relations that “if I were a Kuwaiti voter, I would have supported the decree of His Highness the

Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah” which adopted a one-vote-per-voter system. “[Prince Turki Al-Faisal] and any Saudi citizen, like Kuwaiti voters, have the right to express their opinion even if we disagree with it,” said Al-Saadoun, a leading figure of the opposition which boycotted last December’s parliamentary elections in protest against the emergency decree. Meanwhile, MP Nabil Al-Fadhl said that Prince Turki’s statements “reflect concern about the affairs of his Kuwaiti brethren,” saying that disagreeing with his statements “is similar to disagreeing with the opinion of HH the Amir.”— Al-Rai KUWAIT: Undersecretary Khalid Al-Jarallah (right) awarding one of the participants, and Iman Areiqat (right).

Some of the female participants. — Photos by Joseph Shagra

Kuwait working hard for Gitmo detainees’ release Training course on human rights By Nawara Fattahova

Future Leaders conference ‘big success’ KUWAIT: Youth engineers’ “Future Leaders” conference, organized by the International Union for Engineering Organization and UNESCO concluded with discussions about global and international relations on the last day. The three-day conference, held under the patronage of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad at the Al Raya Hall at Courtyard Marriott hotel, provided a platform for many a successful youth experience for various participants. The conference began with the national youth project “Together,” whereby the team supervisor, Nawal Al-Mahini, presented a review of the project idea, its vision and mission, while pointing out that was prompted by the Amir’s desire to support the youth. She pointed out that the project was the brainchild of Kuwaiti youth and was aimed at serving people in the 17 - 30 age band in order to bring up a productive generation of youth who can metamorphose a hobby into a profession. The project also focused on the Kuwaiti identity and drew a road map to move “Together” with Kuwait in charting new vistas of growth. She pointed out that there was much available potential in the state which was financially stable and had a financial surplus which can be used to develop the youth. “Therefore, we thought of the future project ‘Together’,” she added Al-Mahaini referred to the expected results from the project which is to evolve the youth into individuals who gain experience in decision

making, and create growth project that would be conceptualized and run by the youth. It will also focus on strengthening the personality of the youth, making them responsible and participants in finding solution to problems. The media officer in the project, Bdour AlBoursely, reviewed the project activity and its concomitant programs for the coming period, and pointed out that there were three phases, namely, the ability to organize the goals by organizing gatherings over four evenings, aiming to attract one thousand youth, be they males or females, and discuss several subjects. Team member Engineer Mohammad AlEnazie pointed out that the project aimed at choosing 100 youth, both male and female, from among those participating in the evening meeting and then putting them through high quality training courses subject to ISO norms. The trainers will be professionals from all over the world, and will help the trainees in making the shift from hobby to profession. Chairman of Industrial Engineers League at Kuwait Engineering Society, Engineer Salem AlDawsary, reviewed his personal experience in which he explained how he started with failure but was later crowned with success because he focused on the positive aspects and skipped the negative ones. Thereafter, ambassador of good intention for UNESO at Saudi Arabia, Dr Hayat Sindi, narrated a new success story in which she talked about social innovation and its importance in our life. She was chosen in 2009 as one out of 15 special clients in technology work.

Interior Minister to refute grilling allegations KUWAIT: The First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Ahmad AlHmoud Al-Sabah, obtained documents which refute allegations that the ministry bought border security system from an Israeli-owned company, a local newspaper reported yesterday quoting sources close to the minister. The controversial subject has been mentioned as a main topic in a grilling motion submitted earlier this week by MP Faisal AlDuwaisan, who raised concerns about a potential ‘security breach’ which the deal could involve. However, the sources who spoke to Al-Rai on the condition of anonymity revealed that the minister has already obtained official documents which prove that the company from which the security system was bought is Canadian, and has absolutely no links with any Israeli

company. Meanwhile, MP Husain Al-Qallaf rejected reports suggesting that he intends to withdraw his grilling motion against Minister of Communications Salem Al-Othaina, but nevertheless left the door open to do so “should the minister address the topics in his grilling before the debate session on February 19th.” In other news, MP Ahmad Al-Mulaifi submitted his resignation as chairman of the parliament’s protection of public funds committee, citing “members’ lack of commitment to attend the committee’s meeting.” Al-Mulaifi’s resignation came after he had to call off the committee’s meeting on Monday due to lack of quorum, despite the fact that Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mustafa Al-Shamali was there to attend it.

Asian drug dealer in custody By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: Drug enforcement agents arrested an Asian expat for possessing 250 grams of heroin, 30 grams of ice drugs, 35 grams of marijuana and a sensitivity measuring scale. Earlier information revealed that an Asian expat was active in drugs trade, following which necessary information was collected and legal permission was obtained to arrest him from his home. A search of his residence yielded the above mentioned drugs. He con-

fessed trading in drugs and was referred, along with the contraband, to the concerned authorities. Body found An Indian expat committed suicide by hanging himself inside the detention room at Mina Al-Zur police station, security sources said. Sources said that he used his shirt to hang himself by tying it around his neck. The body was taken to the medical examiner. The man was arrested by a patrol earlier yesterday after he was caught under the influence of liquor.

KUWAIT: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) of the United Nations held a three-day training course on Human Rights and Human Trafficking for 34 employees of the Ministry at its premises. The course concluded yesterday. The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Khalid Al-Jarallah, noted that the Ministry was working hard to solve the problem of the Kuwaiti detainees in Guantanamo. “An American delegation will be visiting Kuwait soon and we will discuss the issue with them. They will provide the information they have including latest facts about the case. The Kuwaiti government will remain involved till the detainees come back,” he stated at the conclusion ceremony of the course. According to him, Kuwait has clear record in regards to human trafficking. “The Kuwaiti government is concerned about human trafficking and is fighting this issue through its

authorities and institutions in charge to keep its record unblemished, which makes us feel proud,” he added. Al-Jarallah also praised the training course which was second such, the earlier one being held two months ago in cooperation with the Red Cross. “Such courses are very useful for the employees of the Ministry as they enrich their knowledge and improve their skills, especially if they worked in diplomacy and represented Kuwait abroad. There will be another course in the future for our employees,” he concluded. On her part, Iman Areiqat, Head of the International Organization for Migration of the United Nations, said that this course was their instance of working in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “We appreciate the efforts of the Ministry to improve its staff’s skills through this course as it provides them with international experience on important issues such as human rights and crimes such as human trafficking. While this has become a profitable business with revenues in billions,

unfortunately the trade involves not a commodity but humans, and is popular in most countries around the globe,” she pointed out. There is no human trafficking in Kuwait according to international reports. “We held this training course as the Kuwaiti government works to prevent and eliminate human trafficking. Also, the Ministry is keen that its national and skilled staff working in the public sector gains international experience through this course,” she further said. Apart from this course, the IOM also held 24 workshops and courses in different ministries especially on human trafficking, expatriate labors and human rights. “We also trained the staff responsible for the shelter center and its management, and we made field visits to the different shelter centers hosting victims of human trafficking in some developed countries. At the end, I would like to thank the officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the participants, and all those who made this course successful,” Areiqat said.


LOCAL Local Spotlight

kuwait digest

Prehistoric regulations

False alarm by Twitter

By Jaafar Rajab


o you support a court order to jail someone for an expressed opinion, regardless of what that opinion might be? My answer : I neither suppor t, nor do I feel relieved by jailing any human being for an opinion expressed in any field, whether religious, political, social or any other. However (I have to pause here and take a deep breath before carrying on with the discussion): To be against stopping at a traffic light because you believe it restricts your freedom of movement does not give you the right to ignore it just because you are not convinced by the law. To be against the ban on alcohol in Kuwait because you believe it is against personal freedom does not give you the right to sell liquor just because you are not convinced by the law or do not believe in the religious basis for the prohibition. To be against the law that criminalizes gambling does not give you the right to turn your house into a casino in support of people’s freedom to gamble. Every democratic state, including Kuwait (well, almost), were founded on clear democratic basis and has a clear mechanism for legislating and promulgating laws and penalties. If you believe in and honor the Kuwaiti constitution, then this simply

By Muna Al-Fuzai


kuwait digest

Every democratic state, including Kuwait (well, almost), were founded on clear democratic basis and has a clear mechanism for legislating and promulgating laws and penalties. If you believe in and honor the Kuwaiti constitution, then this simply means that you have to abide by the regulations that were passed by the parliament, the representatives of the people who are recognized by the constitution as the source of all powers. means that you have to abide by the regulations that were passed by the parliament, the representatives of the people who are recognized by the constitution as the source of all powers. You have to do that even if you are not convinced by these laws, or believe that they limit freedoms or violate human rights. If you believe that the law is unfair, harsh, outdated, authoritarian, sectarian, racial or whatever, and you could be right about it, the solution is not breaking the said law. The solution lies in changing it. It is strange that citizens elect prehistoric MPs who then legislate prehistoric regulations, and after that the same people complain about how bad these laws are, little realizing that they had a say in it when they voted. It is even stranger when MPs who pass such regulations make similar complaints or criticize the government for ‘using the law to serve their political benefits.’ Nothing can be achieved from changing persons, ministers, and prime ministers when we are resorting to the same mindsets every time. Any gains can be achieved only by changing the law and amending the constitution for more freedom. Anything else would be much ado about nothing. We can as well fish in an empty pond, or grow wheat in the desert. — Al-Rai

A scholar kills his daughter! By Arwa Al-Waqian


he photo of the late five-year old Lama, her inno- treated as an idol? What is even worse is the punishment cent face and childish smile that were deformed by he received for killing the poor girl. He was only sentorture she received at the hands of her own father tenced to pay the ‘Diyya’ and was then released. That was keep haunting my mind. The poor girl’s features were it. disfigured due to the torture her father wreaked upon Another question that comes to mind, though, is her. But who is this father and why on earth did he kill whether our parents are entitled to put an end to our her? lives and released from the clutches of law simply Lama’s father is a Saudi scholar (a da’eya) who used to because they brought us into this world? If this is true, it be a drug addict before some clergymen in a mosque would mean that we are mere commodities in their took him under their wing. hands and that they can They even helped pay for his destroy us and get away with Another question that comes to it. In other words, they will be marriage but his poor wife asked for divorce as she could mind, though, is whether our par- the ones to decide whether not put up with his cruelty and we live or die. violence and they both agreed ents are entitled to put an end to our What happened to the that he would regularly and lives and released from the clutches child Lama actually spoils the periodically be allowed to see of law simply because they brought image of Islam worldwide. his daughter. During one of the Killing of a child at the hands girl’s visits to her father, he us into this world? If this is true, it of a parent who escapes pundemanded to keep her for a would mean that we are mere com- ishment is an abuse of both fortnight because he wanted modities in their hands and that they religion and humanity. Such a her to become used to his killer, whether a father or a ‘presence in her life,’ as he said. can destroy us and get away with it. mother, must be locked up During those two weeks, the In other words, they will be the ones and held accountable for their poor girl was subjected to all to decide whether we live or die. crimes. Killing is terrible by kinds of cruelty and torture itself. What if the killer is a parincluding cauterization, beatent? ing including blows to her head and mutilation, all leavIf allowed to go free, such people can commit the ing her with multiple fractures. Eventually, she suffered a same crime again and we would be living by the laws of brain stroke and died. When asked why he had tortured the jungle. her to death, the father said he suspected her conduct. Finally, according to the Geneva Declaration of the That showed what a sick minded person her father Rights of Child issues in 1924, a child must be protected turned out to be. How on earth could he have suspected from all forms of negligence, brutality, abuse and all the conduct of a five-year-old child? More importantly, forms of trafficking. A child cannot be hired before a suithow can such a man be allowed to live freely afterwards? able age and, in any case, must not be allowed to take The funny thing is that this man appeared on TV lec- up a profession that would harm his health, education or turing people. How can such a sick-minded man be impede his physical, mental or moral growth. —Aljarida

he disappearance of a three-year-old Kuwaiti girl was the talk of the Twitter town in Kuwait until the story turned out to be false and it was found that the girl was safe and sound all this while. Something like this suddenly grows so disproportionately in Kuwait, crying for action, and turns out to be nothing but a huge drama. The picture of the girl child went viral across Twitter as agitated people commented and spewed endless verbiage in sympathy. It seems nothing is easier in Kuwait than putting out a Twitter post on any subject for it to spread like wildfire all across the country within an hour or so, eliciting all kinds of comments. No one stops to say, “Wait, let us first find out if the news is true or false.” No one seems to bother to inquire about the source of any particular Tweet. No, people even make a dramatic post juicier by adding more spice, eventually hyping it up to a level where it starts looking more like an action-packed drama. For example, for two nights in a row, the picture and the news about the toddler girl missing in Kuwait went viral even as her father made repeated calls seeking help in finding his daughter. Nothing much was said about the girl’s mother, except for some Twitter posts mentioning that she was lying sick in a hospital. Every participant in the drama in cyberspace thought it is his or her self-imposed duty to act as a director and producer of this drama. The father filed a complaint with the Mubarak Al-Kabeer police station. Even as people spun out all kinds of theories, and a lot of harangue was on about the state of security in Kuwait, there was a lot of talk happening simultaneously on Twitter that sought to heap the entire blame at the family’s door. Many questioned as to what kind of a family lets the children out of sight like this without any supervision. All this went on till yesterday when the truth finally tumbled out. It was found that the baby and her mother were absolutely fine in a hotel in Kuwait. No one had kidnapped them, as the worst had theorized from their arm chair vantage positions. What about all those who felt sorry for the kidnapped baby? What about all the time wasted lamenting something that had never happened? So while we were all feeling sorry and praying for the safety of the baby, both were relaxing in a hotel. For all I know, the mother could even be laughing at the people’s comments. I think this mother ought to be sent to a court for wasting the time of the police and ours for nothing. It is like a false alarm that was meant to disturb people and spread lies. The same applies to politics and the news about MPs and the opposition. My appeal to the people to be careful and not to believe everything you read, especially on Twitter. The security establishment denied these reports later but by then all the fuss had happened. So next time you read anything on Twitter, please be suitably cynical. There may not be any need to rush into believing it.

kuwait digest

Young citizens’ ambitions By Dr Moudhi Al-Hmoud

kuwait digest

Take decisive decisions now By Thaar Al-Rashidi


onflict was never a successful political solution in history. It is hardly a conducive way to resolve any political crisis. Conflict is always the climax of any political crisis between two different parties, if not resolved amicably. Therefore, if any party forces the other towards a conflict, whether it is the government or the opposition, it only amounts to complicating the crisis further and cannot be in the interest of any party, certainly not in the interest of the state. I believe it is rather late to talk about finding a way out of the crisis. Such negotiations should have happened before December and not now. In general, leaving the door open but only conditionally is hardly a solution. The conditions then become part of the political problem. The jail sentences awarded to activists and former Members of Parliament and efforts to hound them with ever new accusations is something that no one can accept. We are living under exceptional circumstances and certainly not in normal times. The government should be aware that we are going through an exceptional period in which rules and regulations of the game have changed. New internal and external circumstances have emerged. Those backing the authority should be aware of these changes and stop dealing with the political crisis as if they were fans of a football team. The fans’ psychology is that if they like a player, they would lift him sky high, but if it were an opponent team’s player, no matter how good, they would berate him. The interest of the country must supersede the interests of individuals, no matter how influential, since they will only complicate the crisis further. Similarly, there are some in the opposition also who would be interested in complicating the crisis more and more. A solution at this stage lies in not opening the door for a compromise or by holding a national dialogue, but in listening to the demands of the opposition, especially the youth, and to deal with these demands with a view to resolve them and not to prove them wrong simply because these are demands raised by the opposition. Most people in the opposition today are people who love their country, and their stance is not rooted in hatred of any individual. They do not have any personal axe to grind. The opposition as I see it today is a benign opposition, though perhaps it may not be free of mistakes. No one has any right to doubt its intentions. NOTE: Solving the crisis comes through decisive decisions and not through waiting.—Al-Anbaa


hough I have not written a column in a while because there was pressure of work and also because I was indisposed, I did remain in touch with many people proactive in the political movement, especially youth activists who are being pursued by all political groups seeking their support or cajoling to take them under their wings. During my meetings with many youth activists representing different categories of our society, including those who participated in the opposition’s demonstrations and others who watched as neutral spectators, I noticed that a majority of them approached the issues in a way that reflected maturity and awareness. They expressed clear opinions, be it in support or in opposition, about the events happening around them. At the same time, however, I also found during my discussions that frustration was one main common factor that bound them. One truth which none of us should be unaware of, regardless of our position, is the fact that the state has opened the door for Kuwaiti young people to pursue higher education. There are thousands of young citizens, currently pegged at 12,000, who are sent to study in countries which are socially, economically and politically advanced than Kuwait. These include the United States of America, Australia and the European nations where the students avail of an opportunity to experience advanced political systems and as a result use highly logical arguments to support their demands. Based on my conversations with youth activists, I hereby list a few demands which would give you an idea about their current mindscape: 1- They want job opportunities which have become very limited, leading to a situation that is forcing them to at times wait for years before they can find a suitable job. 2- After earning degrees from the most prestigious of the universities worldwide, they come home to find that senior posts are controlled by those who hold fake (or what are commonly known as faulty) degrees. 3- Those seeking self-employment have to deal with administrative red tape and corruption that stands in their way to launch any project they think of. 4- They have abandoned sports after the domain fell victim to political struggles. 5- Fine arts and cultural life are absent. 6- Any entertainment activities that they could have enjoyed alone or with their small families are simply not there. 7- They feel a lack of security as well as the slow pace of development of basic civic requirements, mainly housing. This is only a little chunk of a long list of demands that the young people are making, and hoping their country would have. Can we blame them later if they were to follow any particular political discourse, even if it carried delusional promises of change? — Al-Qabas



KRCS distributes food aid BEIRUT: Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) has launched the seconed ‘Ragheef’ project, aimed at distributing daily food necessities, here yesterday, in coordination with the Lebanese Red Cross to serve Syrian refugees in Northern Lebanon. KRCS’ correspondent Dr. Musaed Al-Enezi said that some 500 Syrian families would benefit from this peoject for a month period, adding that the project has attracted inter-

KUWAIT: Jahra hospital officials pose for a photograph with the ‘robot’.

The hospital room with special equipment for children.

Robot joins Jahra Hospital to help improve services First in Kuwait history KUWAIT: The latest member to join staff at Jahra Hospital is, in the first such development in Kuwait, actually a robot. The new addition is to join ‘scrubs’ at the pediatrics department at the hospital, department director Fahad Al-Enizi said. “The robot would help improve daily operations and monitoring at the department, and would enable diagnosis of many conditions for which there are no specialist departments and doctors at the facility,” he said. “Heads of departments can use it to better direct doctors on duty at odd-hours, monitor staff hours, and get a connection to many health facilities around the world as part of the continuous learning and training policy.

“If a patient suffers from a digestive tract ailment, for example, and even with absence of specialists in that area in our hospital, the case is put to the robot, which in turn forwards it to specialists elsewhere for counsel. “In some cases, it enables us to forward sonar imaging data to specialists abroad to determine whether a patient needs medication outside Kuwait, which would cut down cost from present levels. Huge sums are presently involved in the taking of tests and seeking accurate diagnosis and assessment once the patient is already abroad, with the state footing the bill,” he compared. The doctor said the robot would be on a trial

period at his department, and an official request for purchase would only be made and presented to the Ministry of Health after feasibility and reliability are verified by the hospital. Jahra Hospital had been the scene for another unique development last month. A new system is now receiving children with chronic conditions who are admitted to hospital often, and the child is directly put in a smart hospital room with special equipment without the need for the red-tape and routine route of going to the ER first. The rooms were prepared entirely through the donation of the doctors of the department. — KUNA

Kuwait, Saudi to cement parliamentary relations RIYADH: Saudi Crown prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz received yesterday the visiting Speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly (Parliament) Ali Al-Rashed and his accompanying delegation at the Crown Prince bureau in the Saudi capital. Prince Salman warmly welcomed Al-Rashed and his delegation. The speaker of the Kuwaiti parliament conveyed to Prince Salman greetings of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and HH the Deputy Amir and Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah. The meeting was attended by Special Advisor and Supervisor of Bureau of the Crown Prince, Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Bin Abdul Aziz, Chairman of the Shura Council Dr. Abdullah Bin Mohammad Al-Sheikh, and the Kuwaiti ambassador to the kingdom, Sheikh Thamer Jaber Al-Ahmad AlSabah.Earlier, Al-Rashed held official talks with Dr. Al-Sheikh. The discussions

involved the delegation accompanying the Speaker and the Kuwaiti ambassador. From the Saudi side, the meeting was attended by Deputy Chairman of the Consultative Council Dr. Mohammad Bin Amin Al-Jifri, Assistant of the Council Chairman Dr. Fahad Bin Mu’tad Al-Hamad, the Council Secretary General Dr. Mohammad Bin Abdullah Al-Amro, member of the Council Saleh Al-Husaini and other members of the Council. The Saudi-Kuwaiti talks focused on means of boosting the ties between the two brotherly countries, particularly in the parliamentary sector, as well as plans for enhancing coordination among the GCC legislative assemblies in general for contributing to efforts for safeguarding security and stability of the Gulf region, as well as drawing up plans for facing challenges. AlRashed arrived here on Monday, along with an accompanying delegation, on a three-day official visit. —KUNA

est of all refugees. He said that the selection of bakeries venue depends on the nearness of their location in order to spare them the journey of transportation amid the current severe weather conditions. KRCS had distributed aid to 12,000 Syrian families in various Lebanese areas last month. Several philanthropists, associations, and charities in Kuwait provide humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugees in Lebanon. — KUNA



Russia firm on lasting peace, stability in Mideast region (Statement of the President of the Russian International Affairs Council, former Foreign Minister of Russia Igor Ivanov at the First International Conference of the Council for Arab and International Relations regarding relations between Russia and the Arab world) The Arab world is the ‘flavor of the day’ in global politics: developments in this region have a profound impact on the whole system of international relations; no other topic can be more timely and relevant for both politicians and academics dealing with foreign policy. And, of course, Russian decision makers and scholars are not an exception: the current developments in Arab states, short and long term trends in Arab societies, Russian policy alternatives in the Middle East and North Africa - all these issues are actively discussed today in Moscow. The track record of Russia’s relations with the Arab world goes deep into history. It is interesting that the first credible references to the mere existence of the ancient Russian tribes come from mostly Arab travelers and geographers of the VIII - IX centuries AD. It means that we know each other for more than twelve centuries quite a long period of time by any standard. Of course, this track record was diverse. Sometimes Russia and the Arab world got separated from each other by other peoples and other civilizations; sometimes the Russian-Arab interaction was more intense and dynamic. But it is worth noting that Russians and Arabs never fought against each other. The Arab world never tried to extend its domination to Eastern Europe, and Russia never considered Arab states as potential colonies or objects for imperial expansion. At the same time, there has always been a lot of interest in my country to the Arab civilization - including language, culture, religion and history. It is not accidental that Russia has been one of the first European nations that introduced “Arab Studies” as an important research discipline in its Universities and academic institutions. The interest has been mutual - many Arab merchants, scholars, intellectuals and noblemen travelled to Moscow, Saint Petersburg, other places of the Russian Empire. It should also be mentioned that unlike other major European powers, Russia for centuries was a state with significant indigenous Muslim population; this population helped to build additional bridges to the Arab world. The Soviet period of the Russian history brought to life an entirely new level of interaction with the Arab world. The Soviet Union from the very beginning was a strong champion and supporter of the Arab national liberation. It will not be an over exaggeration to say that after the Second World war many Arab nations relied

on the Soviet Union as their main protector against neo-colonial aspirations of Western powers. The symbols of the Soviet economic assistance - from the Aswan Dam in Egypt to metallurgical plants and oil refineries in Algeria remain living witnesses of the scale of our cooperation. Thousands and thousands of Arab students were coming to study in Soviet Universities every year. Of course, the Soviet Union has not been the only major power assisting Arab nations. But I would like to note one specific feature of the Soviet assistance: the Soviet Union never tried to shoulder its puppet, or a client, or its personal ally among the Arab leaders. The Soviet Union supported Arab nations at large, invested in economic and social development of those countries. This is not to say that the Soviet - Arab cooperation was an ideal marriage. The ideological biases were generating problems and obstacles. The war in Afghanistan became a major test for the Soviet - Arab friendship. The restoration of diplomatic ties between the USSR and Israel was also a blow for some radical political groups in the Arab word. Still, the overall balance of the relationships between Russia and the Arabs by the end of the Cold war was clearly positive. The world of today is much more complex and contradictory than it was during the Cold war. The relations between Russia and major Arab states are also becoming more complex than they were two or three decades ago. The Russia’s approach to the Arab world is no longer defined by the East - West confrontation. Both Russia and its Arab partners are exploring new opportunities, face new challenges and try to secure their new roles in the emerging international system of tomorrow. One of the most dramatic developments of the recent history is the so called Arab Awakening - a chain of rapid and unpredictable social and political transformations in a number of Arab countries. The phenomenon the Arab Awakening is by no means over, it will take time before the dust settles down and experts explain to us why everything has happened. We in Russia have quite a lot of discussions about the Arab Awakening and what it might mean for us. Some discussants are optimistic, some are pessimistic; some are fearful of potential instability in the region, some are hopeful for new democracy and justice in the Arab world. I personally agree with those who think that the current situation is based on the conviction that the Arab awakening is a deeply rooted transformation, not a conspiracy or a plot staged from overseas. The question is to minimize associated risks and to enhance chances for social progress, economic equality and political representation. Outside powers are not likely to play

a key role in the historic transformation of the Arab world, but we at least should do our best not to complicate this transition, but to assist it. So, what about the future of Russian-Arab relations? Russia will continue to spare no effort in order to provide for a lasting peace and stability in the region. This includes the Middle East peace process, where Russia has always stood for arrangements guaranteeing the existence of Israeli and Palestinian states within internationally recognized borders. This includes the Syrian conflict, where Russia stands for an immediate termination of violence and for a political settlement based on the well-known Geneva agreements. We believe that attempts to cast a shadow over the Russian position in this conflict are nothing but attempts by certain states to cover their own direct interference into domestic affairs of Syria. This includes our support of the nuclear free zone in the Middle East. In other words, Russia will continue to be actively engaged in all the efforts to enhance stability and security in the Middle East and in the Gulf area. My deep conviction is that our interests coincide in many very fundamental ways. Neither Russia, nor Arab nations can gain anything from a growth of instability in the Middle East. A new economic or financial crisis would have a negative impact on both of us. Likewise, nuclear or ballistic proliferation in the region would be detrimental to our common security. A rise of international terrorism and political extremism will not bypass either Russia or the Arab world. In sum, we are simple doomed to working together if we really care about our national security and stability. There are a lot of positive incentives as well. The economic potential of the Russian — Arab collaboration is by no means depleted. We can and should restore our traditional links in education, research and innovation. We can use much better existing humanitarian and cultural links. We can exchange experience in social and economic modernization — our success stories and failures alike. We can develop and utilize new instruments of ‘soft power’ that our nations so badly need. I would venture to say that the potential for cooperation between Russia and the Arab world is not limited to specific economic and political interests; it is rooted in common values and common aspirations for the future. The Russian International Affairs Council is ready to be one of the instruments to serve this new cooperation. We are open to new ideas, new partners and new bold projects. I am sure that working together we will make our contribution to better relations between Russia and the Arab world.

Asian woman leaps to death Kidnapped girl’s mystery revealed KUWAIT: A woman committed suicide in Khaitan by jumping from her sixth floor apartment on Monday following a domestic dispute, according to investigations. Paramedics, who had rushed to the spot along with the police, declared the woman dead on the spot. She was identified as a Pakistani in her forties. Her body was transferred to the forensic department. Preliminary investigations with her husband indicated that the two had a fight after which he went to sleep in the bedroom. The man told the police that he was later woken up by his two children, aged 9 and 8, saying that their mother had jumped from the balcony. The case is still open pending further investigations. Deportee busted A convicted murderer was caught at the Kuwait International Airport when he tried to reenter the country twenty years after he was deported following a stint in jail. The Jordanian man was reportedly sentenced to five years in jail after he was convicted of murder and then deported after his term finished in 1989. He reportedly tried to enter Kuwait on Monday on a Belgian passport that he had obtained after living for some time in the European country. He was turned down after airport authorities discovered his criminal past. Ardiya crackdown Thirty-nine people were arrested for various violations during a crackdown carried out recently in the Ardiya Industrial Area. According to a police report, the detainees include 22 expatriates who failed to produce identifications, nine with expired residencies and eight reported missing by their employers. The detainees are currently being held pending legal action. Kidnap mystery After a man reported that his daughter was kidnapped and then claimed his wife was also missing, the Mubarak Al-Kabeer police unraveled the mystery and found that both mother and daughter were safely ensconced in a Hawally hotel. Investigations were on in search of the three-year-old since her father reported that she was kidnapped from outside his house a few days ago. The Kuwaiti man had also reported his Arab wife missing simultaneously, leading investigators to launch a search that eventually ended with the discovery of the mother-daughter duo late Sunday night. Further investigations revealed that the woman had left the house with her daughter following a dispute with her husband, prompting the latter to report that the girl had been kidnapped. The news about the kidnapped girl

KUWAIT: Hawally governorate detectives arrested a five-man gang, one Kuwaiti, one GCC national, two Arabs, and one bedoon for armed robbery in Jabriya. attracted a lot of public attention after it went viral on social networks and the father appeared on TV appealing to the police to help find his daughter. Fatal accident A man died in an accident reported on Monday near Sabah Al-Nasser. Paramedics and police headed to the accident site under the Sabah Al-Nasser Bridge opposite the Sixth Ring Road. The 35-year-old Asian man was pronounced dead on the scene and his body was taken to the coroner. An investigation was opened to determine the circumstances that led to the accident. Fugitive nabbed A fugitive sentenced to six months in jail over money-related cases was arrested at the Salmi Border Checkpoint on Monday. The Kuwaiti man was finalizing his travel procedures at the western border when officers discovered he was wanted to serve a jail sentence in cases filed by multiple companies to which he collectively owed KD 94,000. The man claimed he was unaware of the court order against him but was taken into custody anyway to serve his time. Dead sheep Investigations are on in search of a man who left his car with a dead animal and a firearm inside following an accident reported in Salmiya recently. Police headed to a street in the area where two cars had collided. One of the drivers escaped on foot before the police could arrive and find a dead sheep and a loaded gun in his car. A case was filed for investigations.

Dubai summit calls for development model

KUWAIT: General Chief-of-Staff of the Kuwaiti Armed Forces Lt Gen Sheikh Khalid Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah toured the information and strategy department at the Peninsula Shield training facility yesterday. Sheikh Khalid welcomed the visiting troops from the Gulf to Kuwait and expressing pride at their presence together under one banner. The exercises are regarded the biggest and most important for the six-nation-strong force, he said and ‘the Kuwaiti Army will be providing you with all you need to carry out your duties in the most precise manner’. — KUNA

Kuwait rights conditions deteriorated... Continued from Page 1 The information ministry said Kuwait is “dedicated to providing services and opportunities to all our people, citizens and illegal residents (stateless Arabs) alike,” in addition to a “set of social services to all people living in Kuwait including education and healthcare”. The opposition has been demonstrating in protest against the amendment of the electoral law and to demand the dissolution of the parliament elected on Dec 1 on the basis of the amendment. Meanwhile, the criminal court is scheduled to issue its ruling today against five opposition tweeters on charges of writing tweets deemed offensive to HH the Amir as the public prosecutor continued to interrogate former opposition lawmakers. Mohammad Khaled Al-Ajmi, Fares AlBahan, Rashed Al-Enezi (already in jail over a similar case), Abdulaziz Al-Jarallah Al-Mutairi and Fahad Al-Jafira are accused of making “offensive” comments on Twitter. The criminal court has already sentenced three opposition youth tweeters to between 2 to 3 years in jail over similar offenses and the court of cassation last week confirmed a 10-year jail sentence against tweeter Orance Al-Rasheedi over similar charges. All the four are in jail. The criminal court has also sentenced three former opposition MPs to three years in jail on charges of insulting the Amir in addresses they made at a public rally in October. The appeals court on Sunday suspended the implementation of the jail term until it had looked into the case. The public prosecutor yesterday interrogated former MPs Mussallam Al-Barrak and Khaled Shukhayer on charges of spending the night of the opening of the National Assembly in Kuwait City. They were later released without bail. The court also released without bail former opposition MP Saifi Al-Saifi who was interrogated on charges of defamation against former social affairs and labour minister Ahmad Al-Rujaib. It also freed activists Ahmad Sayyar Al-Enezi who was interrogating for taking

part in illegal protests. In Assembly news, the legal and legislative committee yesterday accepted a government request to extend the duration of detention for suspects under interrogation after the scrapped 2012 opposition-dominated Assembly had reduced the periods. The scrapped Assembly reduced detention at police stations to a maximum of 48 hours and detention by the prosecution to 10 days that can be renewed a maximum of three times for a total of 40 days. The previous detention periods were four days at police stations and up to 21 days by the prosecution which could have renewed the detention unlimited number of times. The new pro-government Assembly however has been trying to reverse the detention period to the previous law. Member of the legal and legislative affairs committee MP Khaled Al-Shatti said yesterday the committee accepted the government’s proposal to reinstate the old detention periods. The financial and economic affairs committee meanwhile failed to hold what would have been a crucial session yesterday to take a final decision on the debt relief scheme, a day after the finance minister provided new figures about the cost of the proposed legislation. MPs last week accepted to delay a debate on a draft law on the issue until they listen to the government opinion. The bill calls for the government to write off interest on all loans taken by Kuwaitis between Jan 1, 2002 and April 1, 2008 and to grant every Kuwaiti who will not benefit from the law KD 1,000. Finance Minister Mustafa Al-Shamali told the committee in a letter that the cost of writing off the interest will be KD 2.2 billion and the value of the KD 1,000 grant is KD 1.1 billion, which brings the total at KD 3.3 billion. He said there are immense technical and legal obstacles that prevent the implementation of the bill. Meanwhile, five lawmakers proposed that candidates for Assembly elections should be university graduates.

DUBAI: The Government Summit, the first of its kind regional initiative in Dubai, called for a ‘sustainable and inclusive’ development model for the Gulf countries, with international speakers commending the UAE for its success in fostering human resources development as a key priority. Addressing an audience of over 2,500 regional and international delegates, His Excellency Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said that evaluating the performance of the region’s educational system against other competitive economies, and acting upon the needs of the younger generation will determine long-term economic success. Brown said that the key priorities in development must be centred on not only investing in education but also measuring its output and performance, as well as a focus on innovation and technological expertise, and ensuring that the opportunities are widely spread. Underlining the need to further strengthen the educational sector, he said: “It is important to tap the potential of every child and this can be achieved only by providing the best basic general education to all.” Lauding the successful strategy of the UAE outlined in its Vision 2021 to become one of the best nations in the world, Brown said that the key development challenge for the region is to identify “how we can more effectively deliver government services in the way the public wants, by personalizing the services and assuring individual satisfaction.” Reem Al Hashemi, UAE Minister of State, said the UAE’s Vision 2021 serves as a roadmap in defining the priorities of the government to promote development with a focus on overall societal welfare. “At the heart of all our development endeavours are our people. We regularly review our performance to ensure that we consistently make progress.” Highlighting the success achieved in women empowerment and gender equality, Al Hashemi said that compared to less than 5% women representing the UAE workforce in 1975, today, it is over 40%, while the governmental sector workforce has a women representation of over 65%. “ This is the result of the vision of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, who has focused on the importance of women to be part of the decision-

DUBAI: Some of the participants of the opening session of the Government Summit in Dubai. making process,” she said. Yves Leterme, Deputy Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), said that debates on development must shift from mere measurement of GDP to a number of other parameters including healthcare, education, gender equality and governance, among others. “Sustainable development is also about social cohesion, investing in research and development, and creating a model of growth that contributes to the happiness of the people.” Jennifer Blanke, Lead Economist and Senior Director and Head of the Global Competitiveness Network, World Economic Forum, underlined the fundamental concepts of economic competitiveness that includes not only fundamental aspects such as healthcare, education and technology readiness but also a focus on innovation and business sophistication. Explaining that the government has a role to play in driving all these pillars, she said that a multi-stakeholder approach is imperative in the education sector, linking business to universities so that the educational sector reflects the needs of the economy, and reiterated the need to strengthen a culture of entrepreneurship, which will drive demand for innovation. The session was moderated by Abdullah Lootah, Secretary General of Emirates Competitiveness Council, who highlighted the role of The Government Summit to work towards constant improvement in providing government services. The session explored the definition of development and the role of government in achieving its development

objectives. Later, at a special address by Leterme, he lauded the achievements of the UAE, adding that the tremendous progress achieved by the country also has major influence on public service delivery. He said that governments across the Middle East region are feeling the pressure of the global financial challenges, which could lead to the importance of public services being overlooked. “The fact is that public institutions and public service matter more than ever in the current situation.” He said that the responsibility of the governments cannot be delegated to anybody else, and that innovation and knowledge sharing are crucial for efficient public service delivery. “The policies must be constantly monitored for better results, with the key consideration that they are tailored to address the needs of the people. The UAE is at the forefront in this, with its clear forward-looking plan and having adopted a multi-year strategy with the nation’s Vision 2021.” A special plenary session on the experience of Dubai and Abu Dhabi in providing government services was also held on the opening day. Mattar Al-Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the Roads and Transport Authority and Member of the Dubai Executive Council, said that leadership plays a key role in achieving growth targets. “Dubai is constantly investing in its infrastructure, and the flexible approach to planning has helped the city grow. Significantly, our development plans do not compromise on the UAE’s national identity.”


Vatican gets ready for historic papal transition

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Iran hints at military site access World powers will closely watch IAEA’s meeting TEHRAN: Iran’s Foreign Ministry yesterday raised prospects that Tehran may allow inspectors from the UN nuclear agency to visit a military site where the country is suspected of conducting nuclear-related experiments. A ministry spokesman said the upcoming talks with a delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency could lead to a visit to the site - if a “deal” was struck with the Iranian side. The IAEA inspectors are due for talks in Tehran today in hopes of restarting a probe into the country’s disputed nuclear program, which the West fears masks ambitions to obtain a nuclear weapon. The agency in particular wants to visit Parchin, southeast of Tehran, where Iran is suspected of testing components needed to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies any such activity, insisting that Parchin is only a conventional military site. “Discussion over visiting Parchin could be part of a deal” with the IAEA inspectors, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters yesterday. He did not say when a visit to Parchin could take place. “The prospect of reaching an agreement with the agency is bright, if Iran’s nuclear rights are recognized,” Mehmanparast added. Iranian officials often say that as a signatory to the 1970 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty - under whose terms UN inspectors visit Iranian nuclear sites - Tehran has a right to develop a nuclear program for peaceful purposes. Iran insists it does not seek nuclear arms and repeatedly cites a 2005 edict by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that called atomic weapons a violation of Islamic tenets, saying it only wants to enrich uranium to make fuel for reactors and cancer treatment.

VIENNA: A computer screen, showing the worldwide control stations is pictured at the control room yesterday at the CTBTO headquarters in Vienna. — AFP But Mehmanparast said in a veiled warning the IAEA should not escalate the Iranian nuclear case by referring it to the UN Security Council, saying such a move would be “illogical and illegal.” Referrals to the Security Council have in the past led to new sanctions against Tehran. Iran has already faced four rounds of UN sanctions, as well as stepped-up sanctions and economic measures by the United States and the European Union that have sharply reduced Iran’s critical oil exports and blocked access to international banking networks. A senior IAEA official predicted hard work ahead for the UN team in the Tehran talks. The two sides are trying to agree on the rules of how the probe should be conducted, with the Iran resisting an IAEA push that the investigation be open-ended. Speaking to reporters yesterday at the Vienna airport before he and his team left for Iran, Herman Nackaerts said “differences remain” despite meetings that have stretched on for more than a year. Mehmanparast, the Iranian spokesman, also confirmed reports that Iran started changing some of its 20 percent enriched uranium - which is only a small step away from weapons-grade material - into reactor fuel. His confirmation followed reports Monday from Vienna, where the IAEA is headquartered, that Iran was changing some nuclear material that could be used for weapons into another form. However, those reports from Vienna-based diplomats, said the amount was too small to reduce concerns about the Iranian atomic program. “Conversion of enriched uranium into fuel for the reactor is under way,” said Mehmanparast, adding that accounts of the process have been given to the IAEA. Tehran last year converted close to 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of 20-percent uranium into reactor fuel before stopping the process. The talks with the IAEA are separate from another set of difficult nuclear negotiations talks between Iran and a powerful six-nation group, which includes the permanent Security Council members and Germany. Three rounds of those negotiations last year ended in stalemate, with Tehran pushing for a rollback of Western sanctions in

Saudi beheads murderer and drugs smuggler RIYADH: Saudi Arabia yesterday beheaded one its nationals convicted of murder as well as a Syrian convicted of smuggling drugs into the kingdom, the interior ministry announced. The Saudi, Mohammed Al-Qahtani, shot dead fellow national Mueed Al-Qahtani in a fight, the ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA. He was beheaded in the southwestern Aseer region. In a separate case, Nabil Abu Khanjar, a Syrian, was beheaded in the northern Al-Jawf province after he was convicted of smuggling “large amounts of amphetamines,” SPA reported. Yesterday’s executions bring to 12 the number of people beheaded in Saudi Arabia so far this year. In 2012, the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom beheaded 76 people, according to an AFP tally based on official figures. The US-based Human Rights Watch put the number at 69. Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death under Saudi Arabia’s strict version of sharia, or Islamic law. — AFP

exchange for any key concessions on its nuclear program. The next round is set for Feb. 26 in Kazakhstan. Reinforcing Tehran’s hard stance, Mostafa Dolatyar, a member of the Iranian negotiat-

ing team to Kazakhstan, said yesterday that Tehran was “only going to listen” to what the six world powers have to say “in terms of new offers and proposals” in Almaty. Dolatyar said Iran tried to

explain its own viewpoint during talks in Moscow last May and that the other side “knows that they have to come up with a new proposal” on how to resolve the nuclear standoff. — AP



Tunisia PM eyes backing to conclude political crisis TUNIS: Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali was seeking political support yesterday for his plan to create a government of technocrats that could steer Tunisia out of crisis, but he faced resistance from his own Islamist Ennahda party. The speaker of Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly, Mustapha Ben Jaafar, said he will “strongly support” Jebali, adding that the country was in a “critical situation” after the assassination of Chokri Belaid, a leftist opposition figure and fierce critic of the government critic. The widow of Belaid has called on the present government to resign. Jaafar, the leader of the secular Ettakatol, an ally of the ruling Ennahda, said he was ready to hand over all ministerial positions controlled by his party, including finance, tourism and education. “It’s make or break, but we don’t want to break it,” he said,

adding that he hoped that Ennahda would put “national interests above partisan interests”. Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Ennahda, opened the door for a possible compromise on the future government. “The government that can save the situation in the country ... is a government of national coalition,” he said, insisting however that the cabinet also “represent all the political forces”. Talks are under way, he said, with around six allies of Ennahda including the centre-left Congress for the Republic party of President Moncef Marzouki as well as Ettakatol. The CPR had threatened to pull out of the Islamist-led government but party chief Mohamed Abbou told reporters Monday: “We have decided to freeze our decision to withdraw our ministers from the government, but if in one week we

don’t see any changes, we will quit the government.” On Monday, hundreds of Tunisians protested outside the national assembly demanding the government’s resignation, among them Belaid’s widow, Besma Khalfaoui. “This government must resign today, not tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. It must not wait,” she told AFP. “Those are the rules of the political game: when a government fails, it must take responsibility.” The powerful General Union of Tunisian Workers has expressed its support to Jebali’s initiative, stressing that the future government must prioritise security, offer a timetable for elections and engage in social dialogue. Jebali has said he would resign if he was unable to form a cabinet of technocrats before the middle of the week. He has also triggered a legal debate by saying

that a cabinet reshuffle does not need the backing of the assembly, where Islamists control 89 of 271 seats. Ennahda rejects his arguments. Ennahda hardliners are refusing to give up key portfolios and have warned they will take to the streets of the capital, as they did on Saturday, to insist on the party’s right to govern following its October 2011 election triumph. The February 6 killing of Belaid has deepened the turmoil in the country where the ruling coalition has for months failed to overhaul the government. Since last Wednesday, Tunisia has seen street clashes between police and opposition supporters and attacks on Ennahda offices. Belaid’s funeral on Friday turned into a massive anti-Islamist rally, believed to be the largest since the revolution that ousted former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. His killing has enflamed tensions

between liberals and Islamists over the direction of the once proudly secular Muslim nation, stoked by a controversial pro-Ennahda militia blamed for attacks on secular opposition groups. Tunisia is also witnessing a deadlock over the drafting of the constitution, 15 months after the election of the assembly. The often violent social conflicts have multiplied since the summer amid poverty and unemployment, two key factors that led to the revolution. The rise of Salafist movement has further destabilised Tunisia, with the hardliners accused of regular attacks such as the one against the US embassy last September. Since the revolution Tunisia has been under a state of emergency and the army is currently deployed in several cities to curb any fresh violence triggered after the murder of Belaid. — AFP

Syria rebels seize military airport Ban Ki-moon urges Assad to talk with oppn

GAO: A Malian soldier motions others to move as they secure the port yesterday. —AP

France bombs Islamist hideout as Mali insurgency deepens GAO: France has bombed an Islamist rebel hideout in northern Mali’s largest city, intensifying a security lock-down against guerrilla attacks as the French-led campaign entered its second month. Witnesses said a French attack helicopter destroyed the central police station in Gao in a predawn assault Monday. A day earlier, rebels from the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) had hidden in the building before opening fire on Malian troops, sparking a long street battle. Hundreds of curious locals gathered Monday morning to view the wreckage of the police station, where body parts and unexploded grenades lay amid the debris. Soldiers eventually closed off the area so a French demining team could get to work, also evacuating the city’s main market nearby. “We fear an attack,” a senior Malian officer explained. One witness to the helicopter attack said an Islamist fighter inside the police station had blown himself up. Later that day, blood splatters and flesh still covered the concrete. “It’s disgusting but wonderful to see,” said Mahamane Tandina, 24. “These people tortured us, they did nothing but damage here.” During the 10 months the extremists occupied northern Mali, MUJAO used the police station as the headquarters of its “Islamic police”, enforcing a strict form of sharia that included public whippings and amputations. MUJAO has claimed Sunday’s attack and a pair of suicide bombings Friday and Saturday, the opening shots of a deepening insurgency in the former French colony. Sunday’s street fighting was the first large-scale urban guerrilla assault on territor y reclaimed by French-led forces. Medical and military sources said at least two Islamist rebels and three civilians were killed and 17 people wounded, including two Malian soldiers, in Sunday’s battle. France launched its operation on January 11, after Mali’s interim government requested help. It sent in fighter jets, attack helicopters and ground troops to battle Islamist rebels who had seized the north and were advancing into southern territory. The campaign racked up a string of early successes as French and African troops drove the extremists from Gao, Timbuktu

and the rest of the towns under their control. But the turn to suicide attacks, landmine explosions and guerrilla fighting show the security problems still facing Mali-and by extension France, which is eager to wind down the operation and hand over to a United Nations peacekeeping mission. Mali not ‘an overnight operation’ Paris announced last week it would begin bringing its troops home in March. On Monday, French President Francois Hollande told reporters the intervention had been a success. “The greater part of Malian territory has been freed, no town is occupied by a terrorist group and no networks or groups who had up until now threatened the lives of Malians are capable of launching a real offensive,” Hollande said. But at the same Paris news conference Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan warned that the west African force slowly being deployed in Mali would likely have to stay for some time. “The rebels will come back as terrorists using guerrilla tactics,” Jonathan said. “It’s not going to be an overnight operation.” Nigeria’s General Shehu Abdulkadir is leading the west African force, which will eventually include some 6,000 troops. Chad has pledged an additional 2,000 troops, most of them already deployed. France wants the African force incorporated into a UN peacekeeping mission. But Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said Monday “there is still hesitation from the government of Mali.” In any case, he added, the situation on the ground would first have to be more stable and any UN peacekeeping force there would require a UN resolution. US President Barack Obama on Monday allocated up to $50 million for ongoing US airlift and air refuelling services to France and Chad, for “efforts to secure Mali from terrorists and violent extremists”. Mali imploded after a March 22 coup by soldiers who blamed the government for the army’s humiliation at the hands of north African Tuareg rebels, who have long complained of being marginalised by Bamako. With the capital in disarray, Al-Qaeda-linked fighters hijacked the Tuareg rebellion and took control of the north. — AFP

RAMALLAH: Students from the University of Birzeit gather during a demonstration, in support of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, outside Israel’s Ofer military prison, near the West Bank city of Ramallah yesterday. — AFP

DAMASCUS: Rebels yesterday overran a military air base and captured warplanes, a day after seizing control of Syria’s largest dam as they pushed an assault on strategic targets in the north of the country. The military advance came as prospects for a political solution to Syria’s civil war faded and as UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon urged President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime to accept an offer of dialogue by an opposition leader. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels captured a military airport in AlHajjar in Aleppo province, and in the process seized for the first time a fleet of deployable warplanes including MiG fighter jets. During their assault on the airport, the rebels killed, injured or imprisoned some 40 troops, the Britain-based watchdog said, adding that the rest of the troops pulled out, leaving behind ammunition and warplanes. Soon afterwards, the air force used fighter jets to bombard the airport to tr y to dislodge rebels there, the Observatory said, adding warplanes also carried out raids near the international airport which has come under a rebel assault. Speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, a military source in Aleppo confirmed the rebel capture “after 48 hours of fierce combat”, but downplayed the importance of Al-Jarrah. “It is a very small airport, used for training purposes,” he

said. “There are only small amounts of unusable ammunition left there, and several planes that have long been out of action.” The Observatory said the rebels captured “dozens of fighter jets, most of them type MiG 17, and others type Sukhoi L39”. Activists meanwhile reported the launch of rebel offensives on the Aleppo international airport and Nayrab military airport nearby, although the military source denied any such assaults. Closed since January 1, “Aleppo’s international airport has in the past suffered attacks, but tightened security measures and the Syrian army’s bravery has stopped armed men from getting anywhere near there,” said the army source. The Observatory meanwhile also reported a rebel capture of the main road linking Aleppo province to neighbouring Raqa, and a checkpoint near Aleppo’s airport. Activists in Aleppo have told AFP that fighters in the north have shifted their focus from city battles to the capture of military airports and bases. “They are important because they are an instant source of ammunition and supplies, and because their capture means putting out of action the warplanes used to bombard us,” Aleppo-based activist Abu Hisham said via the Internet. While the rebels have notched up victories in northern and eastern Syria they have yet

to take a major city in the war-ravaged country almost two years into the revolution. The capture of Al-Jarrah airport came just over a month after rebels overran Taftanaz airbase, the largest in northern Syria. Amateur video shot by rebels overrunning Al-Jarrah and distributed via the Internet showed a fleet of warplanes lining the airport’s runways. “Thank God, Ahrar Al-Sham (Islamist rebels) have overrun the military airport” at Al-Jarrah, said an unidentified cameraman who shot a video at the site. “MiG warplanes are now in the hands of Ahrar Al-Sham. And here is the ammunition,” the cameraman added, filming two Russian-made fighter jets similar to those used by the army since last summer to bombard rebel targets. The authenticity of the video was impossible to verify. The battlefield assaults came just hours after the UN’s Ban urged Assad’s regime to view an offer for talks with Syrian National Coalition chief Moaz AlKhatib as “an opportunity we should not miss-a chance to switch from a devastating military logic to a promising political approach”. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Ban described as “courageous” Khatib’s offer for talks. Khatib said in late January he was prepared to hold direct talks with regime representatives without “blood on their hands,” on condition the talks focus on replacing Assad. — AFP

ALEPPO: Citizen journalism image shows smoke rising from Aleppo International Airport, Syria, yesterday. — AP

Syria violence claims head of old Arab poet BEIRUT: A statue of the blind Arab poet Abu Al-Ala AlMaari, famed for his 11th-century critiques of Islam and other religions, has been decapitated and toppled from its plinth in his home town in northern Syria. A picture of Al-Maari’s headless bust, rusting and abandoned in the town of Maarat Al-Noman, circulated on social media yesterday, angering many Syrians who accused Islamist rebels battling President Bashar AlAssad of cultural vandalism. A prolific philosopher, Maari was known for his sceptical writings on religious faith. “Inhabitants of the earth are of two sorts: those with brains, but no religion, and those with religion, but no brains,” he wrote. Maarat Al-Noman, where he died in 1058, had been at the centre of battles between government forces and the majority Sunni Muslim rebels seeking Assad’s overthrow, who now control the town. “Your barbarity will not destroy the philosophy of Maari - it lives and you go. Ideas do not die,” said a banner pictured in Damascus and posted on Facebook. An activist called Safi, who described himself as a moderate Muslim, also condemned the attack on Maari’s statue. “The war against the regime does not give justification for anyone to destroy the cultural heritage of the country.” The 22-month-old uprising against Assad started as mainly peaceful protests but escalated into an armed insurgency with increasing sectarian dimensions. Mainly Sunni rebels battling the Alawite president have been joined by growing numbers of Islamist fighters. — Reuters

South Sudan accuses Sudan of troops build-up on border JUBA: South Sudan yesterday accused Sudan of building up forces along their border, in a sign that efforts to set up a buffer zone between the neighbours and resume the oil exports vital to both economies have made no progress. The two countries came close to war last April in the worst border clashes since South Sudan seceded in 2011 under a peace agreement that ended one of Africa’s longest civil wars. The African Union brokered a deal in September to defuse hostilities. But the nations have failed set up a demilitarised border zone and resume oil exports from the landlocked South Sudan through Sudanese pipelines, as agreed in Addis Ababa. Such a buffer zone is a pre-condition for Sudan to allow oil exports to restart. Juba shut down its output of 350,000 barrels a day a year ago in a row with Khartoum over pipeline fees. “ The last two months have seen an unusual build-up of forces along our common border with the Republic of Sudan,” South Sudan’s deputy defence minister Majak D’Agoot told reporters in the capital Juba yesterday, without giving any numbers. “Our forces are in the state of maximum readiness to repel any attack by Khartoum. We will stay in our current positions, we will keep to the terms of the (September) agreement,” D’Agoot said. Sudan’s army spokesman and foreign ministry spokesmen could not be immediately reached for com-

ment. D’Agoot said South Sudan had alerted other countries in the region, the African Union and the UN Security Council about what he called recent border violations by Sudan. “We are concerned again about this hawkish mindset, about the ruling elites in Khartoum who would want to escalate the situation along the border and possibly provoke a war between the two countries,” he said. On Sunday, Sudan’s state news agency SUNA said an infantry brigade had boosted security at the Heglig oilfield on the Sudan side of the disputed border. It was not clear if D’Agoot was referring to these troops. South Kordofan state governor Ahmed Haroun told SUNA the situation was secure and stable at the oilfield, which South Sudan’s army briefly seized in April. The countries are set to resume talks in Addis Ababa this month but diplomats expect no progress in setting up the border zone. Two meetings between Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir and South Sudan’s Salva Kiir last month failed to break a deadlock due to the deep mistrust between the nations, a legacy of the long civil war. As well as getting oil flows restarted, both sides also need to decide on ownership of large strips of the almost 2,000 km (1,200 miles) long border. South Sudan’s army said on Saturday it had killed seven fighters from a militia supported by Sudan which had crossed into Upper Nile state. — Reuters



Latin America would like a Latin pope, odds slim MEXICO CITY: Latin America is home to the world’s largest Roman Catholic population, but hopes that the next pope will come from the region appear faint, experts said Monday. The predominance of Europeans on the College of Cardinals means that the odds are stacked against a Latin American pope, even though the names of a number of high-ranking churchmen from the region have been bandied about, analysts said. The 118-member college, with 62 European members and only 19 from Latin America, will elect a successor for Pope Benedict VXI, who announced Monday he will resign due to age. Still, hope springs eternal. “Since Latin America is a fortress for Christianity during these rough times, it would be healthy for us to get a Latin American pope,” said Fernando Reyes, 57, a professional violinist, who prays daily at the La Merced church in Santiago, Chile. Crossing himself

before leaving the church, Reyes noted, “I would be proud. We’ve had Italian, Polish, German. It’s time for a Latin American.” Brazilian Cardinals Joao Braz de Aviz and Odilo Pedro Scherer, the Archbishop of Sao Paolo, have been mentioned, as have and Argentines Leonardo Sandri and Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Also mentioned in 2005, when Benedict was chosen, was Honduran Archbishop Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga. But it is unclear whether any one of them could gain traction. “To see the possibilities for a Latin American pope, you have to look at the makeup of the College of Cardinals,” said Bernardo Barranco, an expert at Mexico’s Center for Religious Studies. “From the get-go, I see it as difficult for a Latin American ... because the college has not only been “reEuropeanized,” it has also been “re-Italianized.” While some see Latin America’s estimated 40 per-

cent of the world’s 1.2-billion Catholic population as a bulwark of the faith, the church is also facing challenges in the region from evangelical churches. In Mexico, the percentage of the population who identify themselves as Catholics dropped from over 90 percent in the 1980s to 84 percent in 2010, the latest year for which data is available. In Brazil, home to a number of charismatic or evangelical churches, the drop has been even more precipitous, from 84 percent in 1995 to 68 percent in 2010. “In numerical terms, Latin America is majority Catholic, in broad terms, but these aren’t the best times for the church,” said Barranco. “On the contrary, it is going through a severe crisis the like of which it has never seen before.” Still, some see Latin America’s still-large Catholic population as a decisive force. “It would be a central argument for electing a Latin American pope, because the future of the

church is in the Southern Hemisphere,” said R. Andrew Chesnut, a professor of Religious Studies at the Virginia Commonwealth University. “I am not going to make any predictions, but I think there will be a contingent of European cardinals who would support an African or Latin American candidate.” For Rosita Mejia, 44, who has sold religious items for 25 years outside the La Merced church, the next pope’s country of origin is less important than his vigor, energy and proximity to the people, none of which were distinguishing characteristics of Benedict VXI. “In five years, only one person has asked me for a Benedict prayer card. In comparison hundreds of people have asked for John Paul II,” Benedict’s more charismatic predecessor, she said. “I would like for the next pope to be younger, and have more time to travel the world, and perhaps come to Chile like John Paul did.” — AP

Snow, ice, water mean weak roofs in Northeast HARTFORD: Some snow-wear y Northeasterners were struggling through their morning commutes on slick, unplowed streets yesterday, even though the weekend storm was long gone. Many local roads in Connecticut remained partially blocked by snow, especially in the cities. Snow piles have reduced driving lanes, made parking spaces scarce and decreased drivers’ sight lines. But further south, things were looking brighter for commuters. In suburban New York City, Long Island Rail Road was back to a regular weekday schedule on all branches, and Metro-North Railroad was almost back to full service, expanding it to some snowy Connecticut communities. Schools in Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and Waterbury remained closed yesterday, and about 49,000 homes and businesses around the region were still waiting for the electricity to come back on after the epic storm swept through on Friday and Saturday with 1 to 3 feet of snow that entombed cars and sealed up driveways. The storm was blamed for at least 18 deaths in the US and Canada. In Waterbury, Conn., the mayor encouraged teens and adults looking to make some extra cash to show up at City Hall yesterday for snow removal jobs. He said he’ll pay them minimum wage to help shovel out the city’s schools. Many areas were also hit with potential danger coming from above - roofs collapsing from the weight of snow and ice along with recent rainfall. In Connecticut, Gov Dannel P Malloy said the number of report-

ed roof collapses across the had grown to at least 16 by early evening on Monday, up from five in the morning. He warned places with flat roofs, like schools, to get them cleared. “Schools are important resources. Please get somebody up on the roof,” Malloy said during an evening briefing in Hartford. “At the very least, make sure that the drains are clear and working. We don’t want a tragedy to occur at one of our school buildings.” Police on Long Island evacuated one of the area’s biggest malls on Monday because of major roof leaks. The Smith Haven Mall in Suffolk County was cleared by 4 p.m. Monday after significant leaks were detected in more than two dozen stores. Police worried the roof could collapse. Smithtown Building Department Director John Bongino said that in one of the stores it looked “almost as if there was an open ceiling and it was raining.” Most major highways were cleared by Monday, but the volume of snow was just too much to handle on many secondary roads. A mix of sleet and rain also created new headaches. A 10-mile stretch of Interstate 91 just north of Hartford to Massachusetts was closed briefly because of ice and accidents. In New York, where hundreds of cars became stuck on the Long Island Expressway on Friday night and early Saturday morning, some motorists vented their anger at Gov. Andrew Cuomo for not acting more quickly to shut down major roads, as other governors did, and for not plowing more aggressively. —AP

Life imitates film in story of bitter ex-cop LOS ANGELES: It sounds like the plot line to a movie: He’s a former Los Angeles cop on a violent, rage-filled rampage who will stop at nothing for revenge. Instead, police say, it is the latest real-life crime story to grip Southern California, a place where fiction frequently blurs with reality and pop culture often plays larger than the truth. Christopher Dorner’s alleged killing spree hasn’t just terrorized a section of the country it has captured people’s imagination and attention. As of Monday, the triple-murder suspect had more than 70 Facebook fan pages, some of them with thousands of likes. Many people were going on those pages to call him an American hero, a man of true conviction who is fighting for his beliefs. Others praised him for attempting to fight injustice and racism “by any means necessary,” quoting the expression popularized by Malcom X during the 1960s Black Power movement. Even Charlie Sheen asked the missing suspect to give him a call. “Let’s figure out together how to end this thing,” the star of the TV series “Anger Management” says in a 17second video posted on the website in which he also thanks Dorner for praising him as an actor. Dorner’s shoutout to Sheen, “You’re effin awesome,” came in a long, rambling manifesto the former cop allegedly posted online in which he accused the Los Angeles Police Department of wrongly firing him, railed against racism and other abuses, and weighed in on his favorite movies and celebrities. He also vowed vengeance against the police officers he believes wronged him and

ruined his reputation. So far, authorities say, he has carried out that threat, killing a Riverside police officer, attempting to kill three other police officers and killing the daughter of a former LA police captain and her fiance. And then, just like a scene out of a movie, he vanished Rambo-like, presumably into the deep snow of a sprawling national forest 90 miles (145 kilometers) east of Los Angeles. Authorities found his burned-out car with weapons inside last week but, so far, no trace of him despite a search coordinated by the FBI, LAPD and other police agencies. “My first thought was this is the stuff movies are made of,” said Karen North, a social media expert at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School. But then her second thought, North said, was that unlike the anti-heroes played to such great effect by Sylvester Stallone in the “Rambo” movies and Arnold Schwarzenegger in “The Running Man,” Dorner has no redeeming qualities. “He’s killed people who are real people with real families and real friends, and he’s terrorized entire communities,” she said. His ability to so far elude one of the largest manhunts in memory, however, has quickly elevated Dorner to folk-hero status among some. “People, especially Americans, like to identify with anti-heroes and underdogs, and if you take away the fact that he has killed innocent people, people identify with his messages,” North said of Dorner’s online rants against racism, injustice and police brutality. In that way, she said, some will identify him with popular outlaws of the past like Bonnie and Clyde or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. —AP

VATICAN CITY: This combo made with 14 file pictures shows Cardinals likely to succeed to Pope Benedict XVI who announced he will step down at the end of this month after an eight-year pontificate. — AFP

Vatican gets ready for historic papal transition Lightning bolt strikes St Peter’s Basilica VATICAN CITY: The Vatican prepared for a momentous transition after Pope Benedict XVI announced he will resign on February 28, starting with a special mass today and culminating in a final farewell in St Peter’s Square on the eve of his departure. The rumour mill over a successor was into full swing after what will be only the second voluntary papal resignation in the Catholic Church’s 2,000-year history, although no clear favourite has emerged. The 85-year-old Benedict told cardinals in a speech in Latin on Monday that he will step down after just eight years because he could no longer fulfil his duties in a fast-changing world. Benedict will have no influence on the election of his successor-he is too old to be eligible to vote. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the Vatican had not yet decided what title the pope will have once he resigns, but said among those being considered was “Bishop Emeritus of Rome”. The Vatican said the pope had an operation to replace the batteries in his pacemaker but said the surgery had no bearing on his decision, amid speculation that the resignation was due to health reasons. The Holy See has emphasised that Benedict’s decision was not due to any specific illness or event and was part of a long thought process. Lombardi said the pope’s Ash Wednesday mass, which signals the start of a period of penitence before Easter in the Christian calendar, would exceptionally be held in St Peter’s Basilica instead of a smaller Rome church. “It is an important concelebration. It will be the Holy Father’s last major concelebration with the public present,” Lombardi said at a press briefing, referring to a type of mass held by the pope together with senior Church figures. At a meeting with Rome parish priests tomorrow, the outgoing pope is expected to speak about his personal experiences during the reformist Second Vatican Council in the 1960s which changed the face of the Roman Catholic Church. Then on February 27 there will be a general audience held in St Peter’s Square. The pope will retire to a monastery building inside the Vatican-creating an unprecedented situation for the Catholic Church in which the new pope and his predecessor will live in the same place. Only a few advisors knew of the pope’s plan and many in the Vatican hierarchy were caught off guard, with Cardinal Angelo Sodano saying it was “like a lightning bolt in a clear blue sky.”

Within hours, a lightning bolt did strike the tip of the dome of St Peter’s Basilica, an eerie image captured by an AFP photographer. Sodano embraced the pope following his announcement, after which the pope returned to his rooms in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace and broke down in tears, Italian daily La Stampa reported. “He could not hold back the emotion anymore,” the report said, adding that the pope had taken his decision after suffering a fall during a trip to Mexico

VATICAN CITY: A lightning strikes St Peter’s dome at the Vatican on February 11, 2013. — AFP and Cuba last year that was not made public. Several observers said Benedict wanted to avoid the fate of his predecessor and mentor, John Paul II, who suffered a long and debilitating illness. Ordinary faithful among the world’s 1.1 billion Catholics were stunned by the decision, particularly as the pope is the first to resign of his own free will in over 700 years. Some said the move was a courageous act that would breathe new life into a Roman Catholic Church struggling with multiple crises and could possibly set a precedent for ageing popes. “This sig-

nals the end of the tradition of popes for life. It is an example and a suggestion for future popes,” said Marco Politi, a biographer of Benedict and columnist for Il Fatto Quotidiano. Others expressed dismay that a leader whose election by the Church’s cardinals is believed to be divinely inspired could simply decide to quit. World leaders said they respected the decision and generally praised his pontificate, particularly for his efforts to promote inter-religious dialogue. The pope’s eight-year rule-one of the shortest in the Church’s modern history-also earned him plenty of enemies, however, from the gay community and AIDS activists to the many shocked by the abuses of paedophile priests and multiple cover-ups. An academic theologian and the author of numerous tomes, including a trilogy on the life of Jesus Christ, the pope was often seen as somewhat distant from the day-to-day running of the Church. Still he tried hard to reach out to a younger, global audience-including by opening a Twitter account just before Christmas with the handle “Pontifex” (“Pontiff” in Latin). Only one other pope has resigned because unable to carry on-Celestine V in 1294 — a humble hermit who stepped down after just a few months saying he could no longer bear the intrigue of Rome and was not able to fulfil his duties. In 1415, Gregory XII was forced out as part of a deal to end the “Western Schism”, when two rival claimants declared themselves pope and threatened to tear apart Roman Catholicism. Speculation over who could be the next pope is rife, although seasoned observers cautioned that predictions of future popes are notoriously unreliable. The field appears wide open, with some saying the papacy could return to an Italian for the first time since 1978, others saying it could go to a North American candidate and still others saying Africa or Asia could yield the next pope. Several analysts said the fact that the pope was resigning precisely because of his advancing age could favour the choice of a relatively young pope. The Vatican has said it expects a new pope to be in place in time for Easter, which falls on March 31 this year, although the decision is ultimately up to a meeting of the world’s 117 elector cardinals meeting in a secret conclave. They send a signal of black smoke each day until a decision is taken with a twothirds majority. —AFP



India orders probe into Italy bribe allegations NEW DELHI: India yesterday ordered an inquiry into reports of alleged bribery of government officials by Finmeccanica after the Italian aerospace giant’s chief was said to have been arrested by Italian police. Giuseppe Orsi was reportedly arrested earlier in the day on charges of corruption and embezzlement in relation to alleged bribes given to the Indian government in the sale of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters to India in 2010. “A probe by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) has been ordered and further details will be given soon,” Indian defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar told AFP. Orsi has denied any wrongdoing in the

deal which was valued at $748 million last November by the government. Delivery of the choppers was set for January and July of this year. India’s defence minister A.K. Antony told parliament last year the government would slap “suitable penalty measures” in the event of wrongdoing by Finmeccanica. “The defence ministry is constantly pursuing the matter and committed to take suitable penalty measures in event of allegations being substantiated,” he said. Antony said after reports of alleged kickbacks surfaced in the Indian media, the defence ministry sought details from the Italian government. But he said the Italian

government had replied it had “no official position... in view of the independence of the (Italian) judiciary”. An Indian external affairs ministry spokesman reiterated Antony’s statement yesterday. India’s main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party accused the government of being unwilling to start its own investigation “into the many Indian names” allegedly involved in the sale. “That is why it is finding excuses in the Italian government not supplying information,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar told reporters. The magistrate in the case also issued an order for the head of AgustaWestland, Bruno Spagnolini, to be put under house arrest, Italian reports

said yesterday. Two suspected intermediaries in the bribes who reside in Switzerland have also been targeted with extradition requests, the reports said. Separately, Finmeccanica issued an emailed statement saying its operations “will continue as usual”. It said it was issuing the statement “with reference to the precautionary measures issued today towards the chairman and CEO of Finmeccanica and the CEO of the controlled Company AgustaWestland”. In addition, the company said it “expresses support” for Orsi and hoped “clarity is established quickly.” India is spending billions of dollars in upgrading its outdated

defence equipment. In the 1980s, an Indian government led by then-prime minister Rajiv Gandhi collapsed over charges of kickbacks paid to the Indian officials by the Swedish group Bofors to clinch a $1.3 billion artillery deal. While there was no evidence that Rajiv Gandhi received a bribe, he was voted out of office in 1989 largely over the Bofors deal. He was assassinated in 1991 by ethnic Tamil extremists. His Italian-born wife Sonia today heads the Congress party, which is again embroiled in a host of corruption scandals. India banned middlemen in defence deals following the Bofors scandal. — AFP

Pakistan, Afghan clerics bicker over peace summit Strong difference of opinion over Taleban

JAMMU: People who migrated from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) in 1947, 1965 and 1971 under the banner of POK Refugee Front, wave an Indian flag and shout slogans during a protest yesterday. — AP

Kashmiri’s hanging leads to fears of new conflict SRINAGAR: Anger and protests over the execution of a Kashmiri man convicted in a deadly attack on India’s Parliament have stirred fears the volatile Himalayan region could again descend into a cycle of violence after two years of relative peace. Kashmir has been rocked by anti-India protests, despite a rigid curfew, since Mohammed Afzal Guru was hanged in New Delhi early Saturday. Three protesters have died so far in clashes with security forces. Tens of thousands of troops patrolled the streets of Indian-controlled Kashmir yesterday, confining residents to their homes. Shops, businesses and government offices were closed, streets ringed with barbed wire were deserted, and the region’s nearly 60 newspapers were unable to publish for a third day. Cable television and mobile Internet services were shut down in most areas. Violent clashes and rigid curfews were long routine in Indian-held Kashmir, where insurgents have been fighting for more than two decades, demanding either a separate state or merger with Muslimmajority Pakistan. The region is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed in its entirety by both. However, a slew of measures ranging from a harsh security crackdown to the government’s use of sports, economic development and culture to promote goodwill toward India have helped authorities maintain relative calm in Kashmir over the past two years. During that time, the region received a record number of tourists. But the region remains a tinderbox, and many fear Guru’s execution could be the match that lights it. Many Kashmiris believe Guru did not get a fair trial, and the government’s surprise execution of the man - with his family only finding out afterward - only exacerbated the anger here. “Please understand that there is more than one generation of Kashmiris that has come to see themselves as victims, that has come to see themselves as a category of people who will not receive justice,” Omar Abdullah, Indian Kashmir’s top elected official, told reporters. “Whether you like it or not, the execution of Afzal Guru has reinforced that point that there is no justice for them, and that, to my mind, is far more disturbing and worrying than the short-term implications for the security front,” he said. Separatist politicians called for a mass funeral prayer for Guru to be held Friday at a large square near Srinagar’s Martyr’s Graveyard, where hundreds of separatists and civilians killed in the conflict are buried. “This hanging has magnified manifold the

sense of alienation and dejection and has plunged Kashmir into new cycle of uncertainty,” said Sheikh Showkat Hussain, an international law professor at Central University of Kashmir. “This has also closed the doors of any reconciliation for those who wanted to be a bit moderate toward India.” Unknown residents have, meanwhile, put up a tombstone as a mark over an empty grave for Guru in the main martyr’s graveyard in Srinagar. The epitaph reads: “His mortal remains are lying in trust with the government of India. Kashmiri nation awaits its return.” Since 1989, an armed uprising in the region and an ensuing crackdown have killed an estimated 68,000 people, mostly civilians. But in recent years, as the uprising waned, Kashmiris took a different tack, taking to the streets to protest, often in response to an event that triggered anger across the region. In 2008, a government decision - later revoked - to transfer land to a Hindu shrine set off a summer of protests. The next year, the alleged rape and murder of two young women by security forces set off the violence. In 2010, the trigger was a police investigation that accused soldiers of killing three civilians and then staging a fake gunbattle to make it appear the dead were militants. In all three years, hundreds of thousands of young men took to the streets, hurling rocks and abuse at Indian forces. In 2010 alone, 112 people were killed as troops fired live ammunition into the crowds, inciting further protests in a deadly cycle of violence. Though the last two years have been relatively calm, the violence after Guru’s execution - with troops firing tear gas and bullets and using batons to chase away rock-throwing protesters - brought back memories from a time many here had hoped was over. Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, a former Indian home minister who has also been the chief minister of Indian Kashmir, said Guru’s hanging was a “serious setback to peace.” At least 40 separatist leaders and activists have been detained and put under house arrest to prevent them from leading anti-India protests, a police officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a top separatist leader, told reporters in New Delhi that the hanging damaged hopes for any future negotiations with the government. “Once you push people to the wall they have no other way but to respond with equal aggression,” he said Saturday, after the hanging. Soon after, he was placed under house arrest. — AP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani clerics threatened yesterday to boycott a peace conference in Afghanistan after a dispute over whether to invite the Taleban, another sign of how hard it will be for the two states to cooperate on a deal to end the 11-year-old Afghan war. The dispute followed talks between Pakistani and Afghan clerics in Islamabad that ended Monday. The visiting Afghan delegation, which sought to play down the disagreement, was in town on a seemingly simple mission to finalize plans for a conference of religious scholars in Kabul next month meant to denounce suicide attacks and other forms of violence in the name of Islam. Kabul and Islamabad announced the plan for the conference in November as a sign of improving relations. But the latest talks seemed to do more to highlight longstanding disputes, especially over the Taleban. Pakistan helped the Taleban seize control of Afghanistan in the 1990s. Afghan officials have accused Pakistan of maintaining ties to the group - an allegation denied by Islamabad. Many analysts agree that the Pakistani military continues to view the Taleban as an important counterweight to Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government, which is seen as too close to Pakistan’s archenemy, India. Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, head of the All Pakistan Ulema Council and also the chief of Pakistan’s fivemember delegation, accused the visiting Afghan clerics of trying to use the upcoming conference to denounce the Taleban and elicit support for the Afghan government. He insisted the Taleban be invited to the event to advance the peace process. “I want to make it clear that there is consensus among almost all the Islamic scholars that this conference of clerics will be worthless if the Taleban are not invited to participate,” Ashrafi told The Associated Press. He accused the Afghan clerics of being too close to the govern-

ment and threatened Pakistani religious leaders would boycott the upcoming meeting because of differences between the two sides. Ashrafi is seen as close to Pakistan’s security establishment. A member of the Afghan delegation, Aminullah Muzafery, painted the meeting in a more positive light and sought to downplay Ashrafi’s comments, although he never mentioned him by name. “There was a person who tried to sabotage the process,” Muzafery said at a press conference yesterday in Kabul. “The Pakistani side was also not happy with what he was saying and they didn’t want him in the meeting. When he was told not to attend, he said things to the media that were his own opinion.” Ashrafi, whose group represents thousands of Pakistani clerics, disputed Muzafery’s comments. But another member of the Pakistani delegation, Qari Roohullah Madni, took a more moderate line and said it was up to the Afghans to decide who to invite to the conference. The two sides agreed the conference would be held in Kabul in March after another planning meeting on Feb 21 in the Afghan capital, according to a press release distributed by the Afghans. The conference would include 250 clerics each from Pakistan and Afghanistan and 500 clerics from other Muslim nations. It will focus on peace and security in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as in other Muslim countries. “The conference will not be in support of or against anyone and/or any group,” said the press release. Muzafery made clear to the AP that the Afghans could not invite the Taleban to the meeting. He said he asked the Pakistanis whether they would invite the head of the Pakistani Taleban if the conference was in Islamabad. The group is at war with the Pakistani government. “They said that would not be possible, so we told them that if that is not possible, how would it be possi-

ble for us to invite anyone from the (Afghan) Taleban to our conference in Kabul?” said Muzafery. The Afghan and Pakistani Taleban are allies but have focused their fight on different enemies. The Afghan Taleban have carried out attacks against US-led forces in Afghanistan, while the Pakistani Taleban have focused on fighting in Pakistan. Despite the clash between the clerics, there has been some progress in improving relations between the two countries in recent months.

KABUL: Aminullah Muzafery, a member of the Afghan delegation at peace talks between Pakistani and Afghan clerics, speaks during a press conference yesterday. — AP

Afghanistan faces a growing number of child drug addicts JALALABAD: They play badminton, kick a ball around and huddle over computer games just like normal children. Except that they are recovering drug addicts aged around three to 12, representing a growing proportion of drug users in war-torn Afghanistan. In response, increasing numbers of rehabilitation centres are weaning such children off their addiction and giving them a new appetite for life in a country that produces 90 percent of the world’s opium used to make heroin. While there are no statistics for kids, the rate of relapse is high for their parents, experts say. For now two young girls, dressed in a blue uniform and playing badminton, and a group of boys playing football are all active and healthythe total opposite of when they arrived. “When I see them for the first time, the kids are depressed, unhappy. They don’t play actively, they don’t care about hygiene,” said care assistant Massouma Khatima. “They’re like ghosts,” added one of her colleagues. The centre, run by Afghan

charity Wadan, which is partly funded by the United Nations, offers 25 children and 35 women the chance to get clean. Those who suffer from diarrhoea, constipation or headaches as a side effect from addiction are given medical treatment. More hardened addicts among the adults are treated with hydrotherapy-in this case mostly cold showers. Marwa, 10, is one of the girls who has recently recovered. Now she dares to dream of becoming an engineer, a fairly remote prospect for a girl from a poor community where few women are educated. “I’ve been taking sleeping pills since I was a baby... I was drowsy and feeling asleep. I always had headaches. I couldn’t learn. My friends were learning faster. They were also laughing at me, calling me ‘sleepy’,” she says. “Now, I feel better, but not completely OK. I feel I can learn to play,” she adds. Fazalwahid Tahiri, the centre’s administrator, says that in the eastern province of Nangarhar, sleeping pills can be mixed with milk for kids. But children are

12 die in clashes in India’s northeast GUWAHATI: Twelve people have been killed, most of them in firing by security forces, after riots erupted in India’s restive northeast against local elections an official said yesterday. Soldiers have been deployed in an attempt to subdue the violence that broke out in Goalpara, some 120 kilometres (75 miles) from Assam state’s main city of Guwahati, Bhupen Bora, an Assam state home ministry official, told AFP. “So far, 12 deaths have been reported from various places with initial reports saying nine were killed in firing by security forces and others in clashes,” Bora said. “Army soldiers have been deployed in the troubled areas to stop the violence from spreading,” Bora told AFP. Security forces opened fire when two tribes opposing the elections began setting fire to villages and attacking government

officials with spears and machetes, Bora said. Television channels showed images of men and women torching houses and engaging in widespread arson. “The situation is very critical and volatile,” said Bora. Rabha and Hasong tribal villagers are demanding local autonomy and reject government rule in the area. The protesters said the polls for “panchayat” or village councils that were held Tuesday undermined the authority of their own Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council. Northeast India has seen decades of friction among ethnic and separatist groups, although some rebels have recently started peace talks with the government. More than 10,000 people have lost their lives to unrest in the tea- and oil-rich state of Assam over the last two decades. — AFP

Pakistan has released over two dozen Taleban prisoners in an attempt to facilitate the stuttering peace process with the militant group - complying, at least partially, with a longstanding demand by Kabul. But the prisoner release has also caused friction with Kabul - and Washington - which are both frustrated that Pakistan is not monitoring the whereabouts and activities of the former inmates. They are worried the prisoners may simply rejoin the insurgency. — AP

JALALABAD: In this picture, Afghan addict children watch others play at a centre run by Wadan, an Afghan charity in Jalalabad. — AFP

more commonly given a highly addictive broth made from opium, doled out as a remedy for flu and stomach aches. “Since opium is easily available, some don’t even think of it as drug addiction. They use it as a pain killer,” he said. In Afghanistan, most children become addicts as a result of their parents passively inhaling their fathers’ opium smoke in the house, says Zarbadshah Jabarkhail, a doctor with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Or they are deliberately fed opium, for example by mothers who keep their children sedated while weaving carpets or harvesting opium crops, he says. The root cause is poverty. “It’s very usual. The majority of the families don’t know about the side-effects of opium. They don’t understand that if they give drugs to their children, they are also killing them at the same time,” he said. “The proportion of children addicted has increased because we have more drug users and they are certainly affecting their children,” said Jabarkhail. The latest US State Department survey on drug use in Afghanistan says the number of adult drug users could exceed 1.3 million, out of an estimated population of up to 30 million, with nearly 300,000 children affected. According to the UNODC, the number of drug users in Afghanistan grew by 53 percent from 2005 to 2010. UN officials say there are just over 90 drug treatment centres across the country, treating 16,000 individuals, up from 40 centres in 2009, and that just over a third of the centres are for women and children. Around 60 percent of the Afghan population are under 25 and 52 percent of the population is under 18 years old. “We are ignoring these people if we don’t take care of them. These children are the future of their country. If they use drugs, they won’t be useful to their country,” said Jabarkhail. Baspari, 28, and her five children aged from 10 months to 10 years old, are addicts. She and her husband grow opium on their land, and she talks about the effect it can have: “Sometimes they dance, sometimes they sleep for three days in a row. “I was given the same drugs when I was little. But when you’re running out of money, and your kids need medicine, you don’t have the choice,” she said. But from now on, she says, things will be different. “The doctors told me not to do it, so I won’t use it again.” — AFP



Al-Qaeda eyes attack on US consulate: Thailand BANGKOK: Thai authorities have tightened security measures at the US Consulate in the northern province of Chiang Mai following reports that it was a possible target of attack from Al-Qaeda and Salafist terrorist groups this month, officials said yesterday. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra told reporters she had been informed about the reports and that she had ordered security agencies to add more forces to provide safety at the facility, 570 kilometers (350 miles) north of Bangkok.

“ The US Embassy in Thailand has not requested any extra measures but we have to monitor the situation attentively,” Yingluck said. Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubumrung refused to give details about the threats, but said the reinforced measures had been put in place since Feb 6 and will continue until the end of multinational military exercises, called Cobra Gold, on Sunday. “They are focusing on staging an attack during the Cobra Gold exercise,” Chalerm said.

“Some might have come to the country as tourists, but we have in-depth information and are definitely following them.” Chalerm said that some of the groups’ members have fled Thailand after knowing that authorities had learned about their plots. “Some of them remained here, but I believe they can’t carry out any attacks.” The United States is among the seven nations participating in the exercises, which kicked off on Monday in Chiang Mai. The other countries involved are Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia,

Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. Chalerm said the reports came from domestic sources and were deemed “dangerous.” “There are several reasons (for the warning) but I must keep them confidential,” Chalerm told reporters. US Embassy spokesman Walter Braunohler in Bangkok said the US Consulate-General remained open for business but said precautions will be taken to protect US facilities. “We continue to take every precaution to protect our facility - whether it’s in Bangkok,

Chiang Mai or worldwide - our employees and our visitors,” Braunohler told The Associated Press. Thailand has not been a major target for terrorism attacks, although in January 2012 the US and the Israeli embassies sent out warnings of a possible terror threat in the capital, which in the end saw the arrest of a Lebanese-Swedish suspect accused of possessing nearly 3,000 kilograms (6,500 pounds) of ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer that can be used to make explosives. —AP



North Korea defies world ...

Rising power Qatar stirs unease among neighbours

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged North Korea to abandon its nuclear arms program and return to talks. NATO condemned the test as an “irresponsible act” that posed a grave threat to world peace. The United States and its allies will push hard for China to get tough with its ally and ramp up existing sanctions. But China’s leverage is limited, observers say, by its fear of a North Korean collapse and the prospect of a reunified, US-allied Korea directly on its border. The foreign ministry statement called “on all parties to respond calmly” and to rely on dialogue in a moribund “six-party” process involving the two Koreas, China, the United States, Russia and Japan. It was the North’s first nuclear test since its new, youthful leader Kim Jong-Un took over from his father, Kim Jong-Il. Security analysts said it sent a bold message of intent following a successful long-range rocket launch in December. “The launch and the test are empirical evidence that Kim and his regime have no intention of negotiating away the North’s nuclear program any time soon,” said Paul Carroll, program director at the US-based Ploughshares Fund. On a technical level, along with the miniaturisation aspect, experts are hungry to know if North Korea has switched from plutonium to a new and self-sustaining nuclear weaponisation program using uranium. The KCNA statement did not specify

what fissile material was used, but noted that the test’s success had provided the North with a “diversified” nuclear deterrent. The North has substantial deposits of uranium ore and it is much easier to secretly enrich uranium, which can be done in centrifuges rather than the nuclear reactor required for plutonium enrichment. Yesterday’s explosion had a yield of six to seven kilotons, South Korean defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok told reporters, significantly more than the 2006 and 2009 tests, which both used plutonium. The explosive yield compared with 15 kilotons in the world’s first atomic bomb dropped by the United States on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in 1945. North Korea’s first test yielded less than one kiloton and was widely seen as a dud. The second test yielded between two and six kilotons, according to Seoul. The third test throws down a stark security and diplomatic challenge to Obama as well as to new Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Paik Hak-Soon, a North Korea expert at the Sejong Institute in Seoul, said Kim JongUn was intent on triggering a crisis that would force the international community to negotiate on his terms. “The UN is running out of options and probably knows new sanctions would only have a limited impact,” Paik said. “The only real option for curbing further provocation is starting a dialogue with the North, but that will be very difficult given the domestic political pressure on leaders in the US, South Korea and Japan,” Paik said. — AFP

recently has been much more proactive and in some cases partisan.” Some Western analysts and diplomats believe Qatar’s leaders have been effectively improvising their way through the new landscape, experimenting to see what they can achieve with the massive wealth generated by its natural gas reserves over the past 15 years. An estimated $17 trillion in monetisable natural gas riches still remain in the ground. Others, however, see a much more deliberate strategy. “What we are seeing here is a highstakes poker game for the future of the Middle East,” said one Gulf-based Western diplomat on condition of anonymity. Even supporters are concerned the country may be overstepping its boundaries and getting a reputation for playing favourites. “There is widespread appreciation of the positive role that Qatar has played in the region,” said Ari Ratner, a former advisor on the Middle East at the State Department and now fellow at the Washingtonbased Truman National Security Project. “At the same time there is a broad consensus that the Qataris themselves would be better served by fully delivering on their pledges of aid and working through established governments rather than their preferred factions.” The emirate has long been a country of sometimes baffling contradictions. While in many ways one of the most conservative of the Gulf states, it has also proved the most enthusiastic about the changes wrought by the Arab Spring. Of the 1.9 million people who live there, only some 250,000 are ethnic Qataris, most of whom practise Wahhabism, the austere form of Islam also practised in Saudi Arabia. Sheikh Hamad and his glamorous second wife Sheikha Mozah have gained a reputation as modernisers in recent years, howev-

er, raising the country’s profile significantly with the launch of the Al Jazeera television network and successful hosting of the 2006 Asian Games, as well as initiating the country’s World Cup bid. The emirate has always made a point of keeping as many diplomatic doors open as possible and has relished its role at the centre of regional diplomacy. Of all the members of the regional Gulf Cooperation Council, it has long been the closest to Iran even as it courted Washington and hosted US forces. It has been trying to inject new life into peace efforts between Sudan and rebel groups in Darfur with offers of development aid. Its links to the Muslim Brotherhood may be similarly pragmatic and flexible. But some believe Qatar has made a risky bet to put the movement at the heart of its regional strategy. The emirate has clearly emerged as something of a focal point for the group, originally founded in Egypt in 1928 and now with national chapters across much of the Islamic world. Several key current or former members - including televangelist Yousef Al-Qaradwi, a former senior Brother widely watched across the region - reside in the country having fled other states. Western officials who have worked with the Qataris in Libya and Syria say they have invariably favoured groups with Brotherhood connections. Sandhurst-trained Sheikh Hamad is seen broadly sympathetic to the movement, diplomats say, while heir apparent Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani is widely believed to be closer still. As early as 2009, senior officials from the UAE were briefing their US counterparts that they believed Doha’s rulers were using the group to destabilise their neighbours. According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahayan told US officials Qatar was simply “part of the Brotherhood”. Senior Brotherhood officials deny any regional conspiracy; national chapters in different countries

say they share ideology but have no direct links. In their very occasional public statements, Qatari officials deny any special relationship with the group. Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al-Thani also rejected suggestions of a wider regional agenda from Qatar. “We have a clear policy which is not to interfere in the internal affairs of any state,” he told Kuwait’s Al-Rai newspaper in a Sept 2012 interview. Few take that statement at face value, however. Qatar’s funding and direct support - including weaponry and the deployment of special forces were key to building the capacity of opposition fighters first in Libya. As President Mohammed Morsi’s government in Egypt has struggled with mounting economic woes, Qatar has stepped up as an increasingly vital financial backer. In Syria, it has been a leading supplier of rebel arms. But already, Qatar is feeling the heat for its actions. In Libya, Qatar is being blamed for an increasingly destabilising rise in Islamist intolerance and violence. In Egypt, it finds itself caught up in the popular dissatisfaction with Morsi and accusations of economic imperialism: a multibillion dollar Suez Canal investment deal was described by protesters as a foreign attempt to seize control of vital national assets. In Syria, critics say its shipments of arms to rebels has become a chaotic free-for-all. Current and former Western officials say Qatari officials and rich Arabs from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere have been cutting ad hoc deals on the Turkish-Syrian border with a disparate collection of opposition groups. Even Al Jazeera - which played a crucial role in spreading the word of the 2011 unrest - is facing complaints of mounting and usually proBrotherhood bias. While the English-language service is seen as more neutral, the station’s Arabic service is widely viewed as openly espousing a pro-Muslim Brotherhood agenda. — Reuters





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Philips turns off TV in turnaround By Sara Webb he Philips name has been synonymous with trusty TV sets and reliable video players; but in the overhaul of this lumbering Dutch behemoth over the past two years, both have been ditched. Nothing, it seems, is sacred in Chief Executive Frans van Houten’s makeover of Philips to focus on the healthcare, lifestyle and energy needs of ageing and increasingly prosperous consumers - whether highmargin electric toothbrushes and shavers, street lighting or hospital equipment. To make Philips more lean and nimble has taken a rigorous monitoring of its entire portfolio of products and markets combined with a ruthless willingness to jettison weaklings and poor performers such as the home entertainment businesses, and to concentrate instead on higher-margin market leaders. Van Houten picked new managers at each of the company’s three core businesses - consumer lifestyle, healthcare and lighting - and is shaking up a stodgy culture in a firm that once led in R&D but sometimes fell short in the marketplace. The company which first experimented with televisions and radios later lost out in the videotape wars of the 1970s and 1980s and did not react quickly enough when consumers shifted online for their music and other entertainment. Van Houten has also cut jobs and overheads, including office space and IT systems, scaled back inventory to free up cash flow, and launched a Ä2 billion share buyback. The strategy has started to pay off. The divestments and four consecutive quarters of better-than-expected results have pushed the stock to its highest level since March 2011, just before Van Houten officially took over as CEO, as Philips appears to be on track to achieve its 2013 targets. “Exiting lifestyle entertainment for me is the real mark, these guys invented a lot of these consumer electronics we know, that is part of the Philips legacy,” said Scott Cobb, principal at Southeastern Asset Management which is Philips’ biggest shareholder with about 6.5 percent of the stock. “For them to say ‘this is a business that is marginally profitable, struggling with declining revenue and does not have scale to compete’ sends a massively strong signal that this company and its management are not the old Philips.” Cobb said the Ä2 billion share buyback was also a strong buy signal because it showed the management was confident of delivering cost savings and pushing through change. There is plenty of room for further improvement. By some measures, such as the ratio of enterprise value (EV) to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), Philips looks undervalued against German conglomerate Siemens and General Electric, its rivals in the field of lighting systems and hospital equipment. Starmine puts the forward 12-month EV/EBITDA for the Dutch firm at 6.8, versus 7.7 for Siemens - and 18.7 for GE, whose figures analysts say are distorted because of its finance activities. Two French firms in the capital goods sector, Schneider Electric and Legrand, trade on multiples of 9.1 and 9.5 respectively. Philips is also cheaper than two small European firms which compete purely in the home appliances sector. SEB of France, which owns the Moulinex brand, and De’Longhi of Italy, are valued at multiples of 7.2 and 7.9 respectively. Based on other ratios such as price/book value, and EV/revenue, Philips ranks at the lower end of the group’s range. And with roughly one third of Philips’ units still underperforming and in need of turnaround, according to Van Houten, there should be further upside for investors. “There is much more potential to unlock. We need to stay at this for five years,” Van Houten said, just two years into the turnaround, adding that too many companies “stop too early” when it comes to shaking up their business. Van Houten became chief executive in April 2011, but during his months as CEO-in-waiting, he took a whirlwind tour of what was soon to become his global empire. Stunned by the sheer number of different products available in a myriad of different markets, he realised the group had proliferated and had little inkling of which of these combinations made or lost money. He worked closely with his chief financial officer, Ron Wirahadiraksa, and with chief strategist Jim Andrew, a former Boston Consulting Group partner who had worked in India and Singapore, to come up with his plan. Using what he describes as a “dashboard” a computer model that monitors hundreds of combinations of products and the markets where they are sold - he can keep track of profits, sales, market share and supply chain efficiency for anything from medical equipment in Malaysia to salad dicers in Russia. Each business and market combination appears in red, green or amber, according to performance, and is further scrutinised for ways to squeeze more value out of it. —Reuters


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What does N Korea’s nuclear test reveal? By Giles Hewitt orth Korea’s nuclear test opens a rare, limited window for expert evaluation of its atomic weapons program, with an added urgency lent by Pyongyang’s claim to have detonated a “miniaturised” device. Seismic monitors and “sniffer” planes capable of collecting radioactive evidence of Tuesday’s test will provide the forensic material for analysts to try to determine the exact yield and nature of the underground explosion. Pyongyang said the “high-level” test involved a “miniaturised and lighter atomic bomb” with a much greater yield than the plutonium devices it detonated in 2006 and 2009. Miniaturisation is needed to fit a warhead on a missile. South Korea’s defence ministry said seismic data suggested the explosive yield was significantly higher than the two previous tests at six to seven kilotons. One key question analysts will be looking to answer was whether the North has switched from plutonium to a new and self-sustaining nuclear weaponisation program using uranium. Judging the type of fissile material requires the detection and analysis of xenon gases produced in the atomic explosion. “These aren’t necessarily easy to find and, if the test was well contained, may not be found at all,” said Paul Carroll, program director at the Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation based in California. “The miniaturisation claim is provocative because that’s exactly the technology we don’t want them to have,” Carroll said, adding that it was a very difficult claim to confirm or refute. The same six-seven kiloton yield could equally be achieved with a small, efficient device or a very large, inefficient one, with seismic data unable to differentiate between the two, he said. Proof that the North had mastered warhead miniaturisation would be an alarming game changer - especially given its successful rocket launch in December which marked a major step forward in ballistic prowess. A uranium test would confirm what has long been suspected: that the North can produce weapons-grade uranium which doubles its pathways to building more bombs in the future. A basic uranium bomb is no more potent than a basic plutonium one, but the uranium path holds various advantages for the North, which has substantial deposits of uranium ore. “One alarm it sets off is that a uranium-enrichment program is very easy to hide,” said Mark Fitzpatrick, director of the non-proliferation program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “It doesn’t need a reactor like plu-


tonium, and can be carried out using centrifuge cascades in relatively small buildings that give off no heat and are hard to detect,” he added. North Korea revealed it was enriching uranium in 2010 when it allowed foreign experts to visit a centrifuge facility at its Yongbyon nuclear complex. Many observers believe the North has long been enriching weapons-grade uranium at other secret facilities. Another red flag raised by a uranium device relates to proliferation. Highly enriched uranium is the easiest fissile material to make a crude bomb from, and the technical know-how and machinery for enriching uranium is more readily transferred and sold. Scientist and nuclear expert Siegfried Hecker,

who was among those shown the Yongbyon enrichment facility in 2010, had said a uranium test was the most likely scenario given Pyongyang’s stated desire to boost its nuclear arsenal. Pyongyang has a very limited plutonium stockpile enough Hecker estimates for four to eight bombs - and it shut down its only plutonium source, a five-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon, in 2007. Before yesterday’s test, Hecker had predicted that Pyongyang would claim total success and tout the device’s sophistication. “It will be difficult to distinguish truth from propaganda, but experience shows there is often a nugget of truth in North Korea’s claims,” he said. - AFP

China support to survive By Carol Huang hina is unlikely to punish troublesome ally North Korea harshly for yesterday’s nuclear test, analysts say, even though Chinese state media had warned Pyongyang of a “heavy price” if it went ahead. There was no immediate official reaction to the test in Beijing with China in the middle of its biggest annual holiday, the Lunar New Year. But after the North’s rocket launch in December, it expressed “regret” while reiterating oft-repeated calls for calm and dialogue. In recent weeks the state-run Global Times has issued strongly-worded editorials urging Beijing to take a tougher line on Pyongyang, saying it would have to pay dearly for another atomic test. “North Korea has taken the wrong path,” its editor Hu Xijin said on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo after the blast. “The North Korean regime should re-think profoundly.” But China has long supported its unpredictable neighbour for fear that instability could bring refugees flooding across the border, a US-led escalation in the region or even ultimately a unified Korea with a US military presence next door. “I think that China is very angry about this test,” said Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, Northeast Asia director of the International Crisis Group think tank. She said she expected “stronger reactions” from the Communist Party’s new leader Xi Jinping than his predecessors. But she added: “We won’t necessarily know about any punitive measures implemented


by China, and they will not necessarily deter North Korea because China is only willing to go so far. Their main concern is stability in North Korea.” Chinese trade and aid allow the impoverished nation to survive. At once important yet uncontrollable, North Korea poses a similar quandary for China as small-nation allies did for the US during the Cold War, said Wang Dong, a Northeast Asia expert at Peking University. “You have small allies which are behaving in a very dangerous, aggressive and provocative way, potentially with the danger of driving the US into a conflict that it did not want to get into,” he said. “China is put in a very similar dilemma.” Beijing will probably respond with limited measures coordinated with other nations, perhaps to cut off financial access, Wang said. It would keep any unilateral measures under wraps to avoid antagonising Pyongyang. In 2006 Beijing quietly reduced the oil supply upon which Pyongyang depends, two months after the regime fired a ballistic missile and one month before it tested its first nuclear bomb. The move only emerged later when trade data revealed it - and Beijing subsequently stopped publicising the figures. “Of course it will not acknowledge that because they do not want to publicly humiliate North Korea,” said Wang. “Face is something very much taken into consideration in international relations in East Asia.” Ahead of the blast, US envoy Glyn Davies said the US and China had “achieved a very strong degree of consensus” on North Korea. —AFP

Euro strugglers eye Ireland for lessons By Alan Wheatley o the relief of its creditors, Ireland is showing the rest of the struggling euro zone periphery that fiscal and wage discipline will eventually be rewarded by the bond markets, if not appreciated by the man in the street. A less heartening lesson is that throwing away the crutch of IMF and EU support, as Dublin is likely to be able to do later this year, is no ticket back to pre-crisis prosperity: nations on the euro zone’s rim have dug a debt hole so deep that they face years more of morale-sapping austerity and sub-par growth. “In all of these countries, it’s going to take the rest of the decade to bring debt down to more comfortable levels,” said Douglas Renwick with Fitch Ratings in London. Take Ireland itself. The country is held up as a model pupil for the way it has complied with a loans-for-reforms rescue program agreed with the ‘troika’ of the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank after a banking crisis toppled its economy in 2008. The country has recorded a current account surplus in the past three years. Imports have suffered but Ireland has also ramped up exports by cutting wages. Its real effective exchange rate, measured by comparing Ireland’s unit labour costs against those of its trading partners, tumbled 28.5 percent between 2008 and 2011, according to the IMF. That restoration in competitiveness is testament to a labour market that is much more flexible than those of Spain, Italy, Portugal or Greece. Ireland is also benefiting from long-standing policies that have lured multinational manufacturers. It has a very low corporation tax, its investment in education has produced a skilled work force, and it has used EU structural funds well to build infrastructure. As a result, its exports of goods and services reached 107 percent of gross domestic product in 2011, compared with 36 percent in Portugal and 30 percent in Spain, according to the World Bank. On the fiscal front, too, Ireland has set an example by picking judicious deficit reduction targets. Despite a string of early setbacks in judging the extent of the banking crisis, it has largely hit its goals, earning it credibility in the markets and goodwill from its creditors. Other countries with more ambitious, front-loaded targets have suffered significant slippage in some cases - not helped by the fact that they embarked on deficit-cutting later than Ireland when economic and market


conditions were much harsher, Renwick said. “One of the lessons to be learned is to set credible deficit targets that are realistically achievable. And when you achieve those targets, you’re anchoring expectations and giving the strong impression that the adjustment is on track,” he said. So far so good. What’s more, a deal last week to ease the burden of debts the state incurred to save its banking system in 2008 should pave the way for Ireland to be the first bailedout euro zone country to wave goodbye to the troika. Despite that agreement, though, the government’s debt will remain around 120 percent of GDP and total debt to the nonfinancial sector of the economy is around 400 percent of GDP. “Excessive levels of debt act as a major constraint on economic growth and negatively impact on all economic sectors,” according to Ireland’s National Competitiveness Council. Every country is different, making comparisons treacherous, but the council’s conclusions apply just as much to Portugal and Spain, which had non-financial debt of around 360 percent and 290 percent, respectively, in 2011. What’s more, all three countries have a net international investment position (NIIP) that was negative to the tune of around 100 percent of GDP in 2011, according to the European Commission’s scorecard of macroeconomic imbalances. The NIIP measures the difference between a country’s assets and liabilities. As such, it is a key gauge of whether a country can service its debts and other financial obligations in the long term. Like Ireland, Spain has witnessed impressive growth in exports. But the impact of austerity and a plunge in house prices - still sliding in Spain though now stabilising in Ireland after a 50 percent fall - mean that home-grown demand is depressed in both countries. “Spain is in a self-perpetuating crisis,” said Edward Hugh, an economist in Barcelona. “However much better exports get, it’s just not enough to compensate because domestic demand has gone down further. It’s a labour of Sisyphus that they’re performing.” Spanish bond yields have fallen and banks can refinance themselves more easily. But the improvement in the financial economy is not filtering through to the man in the street, Hugh said. With the best and the brightest emigrating and an ageing population adding to strains on the public finances, Hugh said unemployment, now near 26 percent and rising, was unlikely to fall back below 20 percent by 2020. “They’re stuck in a netherworld at the moment,” he said.

Ireland’s cheers are very much muffled, too. Unemployment has trebled since the crisis to more than 14 percent and would be higher but for emigration. Net exports have been the only positive contributor to growth since 2008. “Too many people, particularly in Brussels, want to look at the figures for labour costs and say everything is great in Ireland because they’ve regained competitiveness,” said Peter Dixon, an economist with Commerzbank in London. “That’s true to a point, but it’s not getting people back into work.” Jacob Kirkegaard, a researcher with the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, agreed. After such a deep financial crisis - the banking sector’s assets were eight times Ireland’s annual output at the peak of the bubble - domestic demand would remain subdued for a long time, he said. “Ireland is not in any sense in good shape,” Kirkegaard said. “There are lessons to be learned for the rest of the euro area from Ireland. But the idea that you can get through a crisis of the magnitude that Ireland has had in just a few years is not one of them.” One pertinent lesson, he suggested, could be drawn from last week’s bank-debt restructuring. The complex deal has stirred controversy, with some economists saying the European Central Bank, in acquiescing to it, had turned a blind eye to an operation that is tantamount to government financing by a central bank. That is because the Central Bank of Ireland, by swapping high-yielding promissory notes for longer-term government bonds, will substantially ease the cashflow call on the government. CBI Governor Patrick Honohan has rejected the argument that the deal is akin to monetary financing and says it does not set a precedent. Still, Kirkegaard said the moral of the story is that if a country swallows its medicine, as Ireland has, the rest of the euro zone will find a way to give it the push needed to regain bond market access. Why? Because fears of moral hazard rewarding bad behaviour - will have been allayed. Lisbon, which is dipping its toes in the bond market in the hope of exiting its troika program late in 2013, will be looking at Ireland’s example with particular interest, he said. “If you’re Portugal, you’d be very wise to draw the conclusion that you’re going to do everything you can to meet your IMF targets,” Kirkegaard said. “And then, if you’re unable to restore market access by the end of your program, you’ll turn around to the euro area and say you’ve got to give us something as you did with Ireland. And I think they’d succeed.” — Reuters



Russia counting on Sharapova in Fed Cup

Ex-S Africa assistant coach sent to prison

MOSCOW: Russia’s Fed Cup captain Shamil Tarpishchev said yesterday he is still hopeful that top players-Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova-will be available for April’s Fed Cup semi-final against Slovakia. “I need to study the playing schedules of our girls before starting to plan the line-up for the match with Slovakia,” Sport Express daily quoted Tarpishchev as saying. “Of course Sharapova would strengthen our team a great deal, but we should never forget about her personal interests. We must try to minimise any losses for those who are battling for the top places in the rankings.” Russia’s top player Sharapova has played just three Fed Cup ties in her career so far, making her debut in 2008 to help satisfy Olympic Games qualification criteria. After playing again in 2011, she also featured in the quarter-final win over Spain in 2012 in the run-up to the London Games. Tarpishchev said that Sharapova had expressed her desire to play for Russia in this season’s Fed Cup campaign, and that he had been keen to call her into his squad for the later stages of the competition.— AFP

CAPE TOWN: The former assistant coach of South Africa was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday in what prosecutors called the country’s first successful case against match-fixing. Phil Setshedi was sentenced after he offered a man he thought was a referee 2,000 rand ($220) to fix the outcome of a lower league promotion playoff in 2011. The man posing as the referee at the meeting in Cape Town was an undercover police officer. South Africa’s National Prosecuting Agency said Setshedi received three years in prison with another five years suspended after he was found guilty of corruption in a special commercial crimes court in December. The NPA also said it was South Africa’s first conviction and sentencing for match-fixing in football. At least one game involving South Africa in the buildup to the 2010 World Cup - which the country hosted - is also under suspicion for match-fixing, although that has no connection to the Setshedi case. As well as the Setshedi case, the South African Football Association was also set for an uncomfortable investigation at the highest levels of the sport after a report from world body FIFA indicated the 2010 World Cup warmup could have been fixed.— AP

Nigeria’s coach Keshi withdraws resignation LAGOS: Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has withdrawn his resignation after he guided the country’s team to a third Africa Cup of Nations triumph, he said yesterday. In a statement signed by the coach and made available by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Keshi said he will continue as the Super Eagles’ coach after the country’s sports minister intervened. “I have had cause to express my displeasure over some issues that happened in the course of our participation in the AFCON 2013, which my team won by the grace of God, especially concerning my relationship with the Nigerian Football Federation, I have since had opportunity to discuss the various issues with all concerned. “I am therefore pleased to say that I have reconsidered my position and have decided to continue with my job,” according to a statement signed by Keshi.—AFP

Pakistan demand Olympic head resigns ISLAMABAD: Pakistan moved a step closer to suspension from the International Olympic Committee after at least 20 sports federations demanded Olympic association president Arif Hasan resign yesterday. The federations are tired of Hasan, who has been in charge since 2004 and doesn’t want to step down. He is backed by the IOC. The federations formed their own interim committee within the Pakistan Olympic Association, and with the support of the government yesterday appointed an election committee consisting of three retired judges to set up fresh elections within a month. The IOC has repeatedly warned Pakistan of severe consequences if the government continues to interfere in the affairs of the POA, and has summoned Hasan and a representative from the government to Lausanne on Friday. Interim committee secretary and former field hockey Olympian Rana Mujahid says the committee’s point of view will be communicated to the IOC in case a member cannot make it to Friday’s meeting. The IOC does not recognize any interim committee within the POA and advised Pakistan’s federal minister, Mir Hazar Khan Bijrani, who looks after sports affairs, to send a representative. “We are trying to do our best to have all parties concerned around a table so that

no one can say that he has not been given an opportunity to be involved in the resolution of the issues,” the IOC said on Feb. 5 in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Associated Press.The government introduced a sports policy in 2005 which ruled that no office-bearer could run for the same post for more than two terms of four years each. Last year, however, Hasan was elected president for a third four-year term, much to the dislike of various sports federations. Just before the London Olympics, the gulf widened between the governmentrun Pakistan Sports Board, which hands out grants, and the POA, and it was feared the IOC might suspend Pakistan for the Olympics. However, the IOC allowed Pakistan to compete in London but also warned the POA and PSB to resolve their disputes. They still haven’t. And now the interim committee isn’t willing to give Hasan more time. “We have the support of 20 federations and we will request the election commission announce the schedule of POA elections within a month,” said Asif Bajwa, the president of the interim committee. Bajwa, also the president of the Pakistan Basketball Federation, claimed the interim committee has the support of major federations including field hockey, athletics and tennis. — AP

LONDON: The Aug 5, 2012 file photo shows Cuba’s Gustavo Balart, left, competing with South Korea’s Choi Gyu-jin during 55-kg Greco-Roman wrestling competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. IOC leaders have dropped wrestling for the 2020 Games in a surprise decision to scrap one of the oldest sports on the Olympic program.— AP

Wrestling grapples for its Olympic future Russian Wrestling Federation president shocked by news LAUSANNE: Wrestling, an Olympic sport since the first Games in ancient Greece, looks set to be dropped for the 2020 edition, after the International Olympic Committee voted yesterday to remove it from the programme. The decision, taken by the 15 members of the IOC executive board, has yet to be ratified by all members of the body but looks likely to be ditched, as seven other disciplines vye for inclusion in seven years’ time. An IOC source told AFP that the outcome was “a real shock”, after modern pentathlon was expected to be the one sport removed from the list of 25 core sports for the Games to be held in either Tokyo, Istanbul or Madrid. “Wrestling was not on the radar,” the source said. “It was a very close vote between wrestling and modern pentathlon, maybe one or two votes separating them. “The trouble was while modern pentathlon and taekwondo did effective lobbying, wrestling thought they were safe and did none at all.” Wrestling will remain on the programme for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro but its likely disappearance will leave the Games without one of the few sports that survived from ancient times into the modern era. It first appeared in 708 BC and has only ever

SOCHI: A snowboarder takes part in a training session during the Snowboard World Cup Test Event at the Snowboard and Freestyle Center in Rosa Khutor one of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic venues, near the Black Sea resort of Sochi, yesterday. — AFP

Wie revamps game after worst year of career CANBERRA: Michelle Wie is eager to put the worst year of her golfing career behind her when she tees off at the Women’s Australian Open, the season-opening tournament on the LPGA Tour. Wie, playing for the first time in Australia, said she’s done her best to revamp her game after missing the cut in 10 of the 23 LPGA tournaments she played last year as her ranking dropped into the 60s. “... 2012 was probably the worst year I’ve ever had in my entire career,” she said. “It was rough. One thing led to another and it kind of snowballed.” Wie, who turned pro shortly before turning 16 and was awarded exemptions to several PGA events prior to joining the LPGA Tour, said her poor 2012 made her realize she had to work harder to become a better player. “I just really started from scratch,” she said. “Some reporter asked me earlier on what I worked on in the off season and I replied ‘everything.’ That’s really what I had to work on after last year. “I saw (coach) David Leadbetter a lot this off season, a lot more than I usually did and just really worked on my swing, my short game, my putting, everything. I wanted my game to be on a whole other level and hope-

fully 2013 will be really good.” At age 13, Wie became the youngest player to make an LPGA cut at the 2003 Kraft Nabisco Championship, and went on to make the cut at the US Women’s Open later the same year. In 2004 she became the fourth, and youngest, female to play a PGA Tour event at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Despite winning just two LPGA tournaments since joining the elite women’s tour fulltime in 2009 - the 2009 Lorena Ochoa Invitational and the 2010 Canadian Women’s Open - Wie still has the ambition to one day take on the men again in the US Masters. “You’ve got to dream high, right? And that’s definitely one of my dreams, to play in the Masters, but right now I’m just really focused on this year, this week,” she said. “You have to set up really high dreams, dreams that you may or may not achieve in your lifetime, but to still have them. I’m just really focused on winning tournaments this year, just being happy and enjoying golf.” Wie will take on 11 of the world’s top 30 women in the Women’s Australian Open at Royal Canberra Golf Club starting Thursday, including top-ranked Yani Tseng, 2012 LPGA Player of the Year Stacy Lewis and two-time British Open champion Jiyai Shin.— AP

not appeared at an Olympic Games in 1900. Amateur wrestling’s world governing body the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) said it was stunned by the news, as was Vitaly Mutko, sports minister of one of wrestling powerhouse Russia. “FILA will take all necessary steps to convince the executive committee and members of the IOC of this aberration of a decision against one of the founding sports of the ancient and modern Olympic Games,” it said on “FILA has always complied with IOC rules, is present in 180 countries where wrestling is a national sport for many, offering athletes their only chance of competing at the Olympics and contributing to the Games’ universality.” Russian Wrestling Federation president Mikhail Mamiashvili said he was shocked by the news while Mutko added: “I am astonished by this idea. It’s hard to understand the IOC’s motives and we need to hear explanations. “It seems very strange to us, wrestling is a very popular sport played by millions of people. We hope that reason will triumph,” he was quoted as saying by the ITAR-TASS news agency. Wrestling is now fighting for a single place as an additional sport in 2020 against squash, roller sports, softball/baseball, karate, the mar-

tial art wushu, the water sport wakeboard and sport climbing. A decision will be made on which sport makes the cut will be taken at an IOC meeting in St Petersburg in May, before both recommendations are put to all members of the IOC in Buenos Aires in September. Squash and karate are generally seen to be leading the race. In theory, wrestling still has a chance of being reinstated if non-executive committee members vote against the ruling but the recommendation is likely to be rubberstamped. Modern pentathlon’s survival yesterday is a major coup for Juan Antonio Samaranch Junior, vice-president of the sport’s governing body and a member of the IOC executive board, who is also a prominent member of Madrid’s 2020 bid. The discipline was widely seen to be at risk as it is expensive to compete in and does not attract a broad range of nations. Invented by the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, it first appeared at the 1912 Games and consists of five disciplines: fencing, horse riding, swimming, running and shooting. The idea behind it stemmed from the skills required to be a 19th century cavalry officer. — AFP

Israeli soccer racists may have gone step too far JERUSALEM: The torching of Beitar Jerusalem’s offices by fans angry at the signing of two Muslim players has sparked a major outcry which both supporters and ex-players hope could end decades of open racism at the club. Friday morning’s arson attack, which caused heavy damage to a room used as the club’s museum, came just hours after prosecutors filed charges against four fans accused of racist chants aimed at the two new players from Chechnya. Along with trophies, pictures and other memorabilia, a pair of boots and a jersey worn by former Beitar and Israel star Eli Ohana went up in smoke. But for Ohana it will be a small price to pay if it ends up spelling an end to years of xenophobia. “If it will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and fixes the problem, then they can burn another two rooms,” he told Maariv newspaper. “If this can be wiped out, it will be worth even this price.” And many of the fans feel the same. “They burned the past, don’t let them burn our future,”

the official supporters’ website wrote in a report on the attack. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the arson as “shameful.” “Lately, we have seen displays of extremism that we find unacceptable. These must be uprooted, of course, from the world of sports,” the Israeli leader said on Sunday. “I am pleased that the prime minister for the first time referred to this issue,” said Ohana, who retired from the pitch in 1998. “It is a sign that the issue has reached the highest levels.” Former Beitar and Israel midfielder Danny Neuman said the trouble was caused by a hardcore of around 500 to 1,000 fans who belong to a supporters group called “La Familia” which makes up about 10 percent of the regular crowd. “ We need to vomit these people out of our midst,” he told public radio. The latest trouble began on January 26 when the club’s owner, Russian-Israeli billionaire Arkady Gaydamak, announced the acquisition of the two Chechen players: Zaur Sadaev and Dzhabrail Kadaev. The announcement prompt-

ed a hardcore of fans to chant anti-Arab slogans while waving signs reading “Beitar-pure forever” during a game later that day. Israeli law forbids discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race or religion, and Beitar is the only team in the premier league never to have hired an Arab player in its 77year history. The club was founded in 1936, in what was then Britishruled Palestine, by a rightwing Revisionist Zionist youth movement called Beitar. Many players belonged to militia in early days’-In the early days, many of its players belonged to the Irgun, the hardline Zionist militia that fought the British until Israel’s creation in 1948, the supporters’ website says. Over the decades, the team has won support from fans on the far-right fringe of Israeli society. When Gaydamak bought Beitar in 2005, he tried to change the culture and bring in Arab Israeli midfielder Abbas Suan, former captain of the Arab side Bnei Sakhnin and a member of the Israel national squad. His bid crashed in flames, with fans reportedly chanting

“War! War!” from the terraces at Teddy stadium, the club’s Jerusalem home. In Israel, the offence of “incitement to racism” potentially carries a jail term, but so far courts have not hit them with the full force of the law, only slapping offenders with a fine or excluding them from matches. But police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that is about to change. “We’re now in the second stage of ongoing investigations, finding and tracking down those that are leading the incitement to racism, using such means as are necessary to make arrests, including before incidents occur,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. On Sunday night, police flooded Teddy stadium with hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes officers as Beitar faced off with Bnei Sakhnin. Although 45 fans of both sides were kicked out of the stadium, there were no serious incidents. “ The burning of the club headquarters and all the racist chants of the past two monthsall that has led people to wake up at last,” Neuman remarked. “Better late than never.” — AFP



Tyson hopes to show Indy his new personality NDIANAPOLIS: Mike Tyson the entertainer is coming back to the city that put him in prison. The boxer once dubbed as the “Baddest Man on the Planet” is settling into his new role as the star of a one-man, 36-city road show called “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth.” Now 46, Tyson hopes to show city residents Wednesday night he’s a very different person than the one they remember - the brash young heavyweight champion who was convicted of raping an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant and then spent three lifechanging years behind bars in the 1990s. Helicopters were on hand for his release from prison in 1995, and he hasn’t been back since. “At the time, I was living a pretty hectic life and pretty wild and I don’t know what would have happened if I had three more years of that life,” Tyson told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Las Vegas. “So maybe that was, everything happens for a reason. You know, when I left prison, I did a lot better than when I came. So everything happens for a rea-

son, ever ything’s a developmental stage in life, and I’m just going on this journey in life to find out what’s next.” Tyson’s show details his rise from the streets of Brooklyn to champion boxer, the subsequent fall and all those glorious and inglorious moments that defined his life - drug use, biting of Evander Holyfield’s ear, relationships with ex-wife Robin Givens, new wife, Kiki, boxing promoter Don King, the late Cus D’Amato, his former trainer, and, of course, his version of what happened in Indianapolis. Tyson’s lawyers argued that the sex was consensual. Some reviewers have interpreted Tyson’s words to be apologetic, though Tyson made it clear in the interview this is no apology tour. He said he is not sure what kind of crowd reaction he will get, though the original two-day Indy program has been cut to a one-night only performance. “It’s not like no kryptonite. There’s nothing about that stuff that evokes any bad memories to me,” he said. “I’m a professional, I’m going to go there, I’m going to entertain the crowd. I’m not going to be there and say, ‘Oh, my God.’

NBA results/standings LA Clippers 107, Philadelphia 90; Charlotte 94, Boston 91; Minnesota 100, Cleveland 92; Brooklyn 89, Indiana 84 (OT); New Orleans 105, Detroit 86; San Antonio 103, Chicago 89; Washington 102, Milwaukee 90; Atlanta 105, Dallas 101. Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L PCT GB 32 17 .653 30 22 .577 3.5 27 24 .529 6 22 28 .440 10.5 19 32 .373 14 Central Division Indiana 31 21 .596 Chicago 30 21 .588 0.5 Milwaukee 25 25 .500 5 Detroit 20 33 .377 11.5 Cleveland 16 36 .308 15 Southeast Division Miami 34 14 .708 Atlanta 28 22 .560 7 Washington 15 35 .300 20 Orlando 15 36 .294 20.5 Charlotte 12 39 .235 23.5 NY Knicks Brooklyn Boston Philadelphia Toronto

Western Conference Northwest Division Oklahoma City39 12 .765 Denver 33 19 .635 6.5 Utah 28 24 .538 11.5 Portland 25 26 .490 14 Minnesota 19 30 .388 19 Pacific Division LA Clippers 37 17 .685 Golden State 30 21 .588 5.5 LA Lakers 24 28 .462 12 Sacramento 19 33 .365 17 Phoenix 17 35 .327 19 Southwest Division San Antonio 41 12 .774 Memphis 32 18 .640 7.5 Houston 28 25 .528 13 Dallas 22 29 .431 18 New Orleans 18 34 .346 22.5

DURHAM: Duke’s Alexis Jones, bottom, and Maryland’s Chloe Pavlech dive for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, NC, Monday. — AP

S Korea Choo agrees to deal with Reds CINCINNATI: South Korean outfielder Choo Shin-Soo signed a one -year deal on Monday with the Cincinnati Reds, avoiding a salary arbitration fight with the Major League Baseball club. The deal was repor tedly wor th $7.37 million, splitting the difference between the $8 million Choo had sought and a $6.75 million counteroffer by the reigning National League Central Division champions. The Reds obtained Choo in a three-team, nine-player trade deal involving the South Korean’s former club, the American League’s Cleveland Indians. Choo hit .283 with 16 home runs and drove in 67 runs last season for Cleveland with 21 stolen bases on a $4.9 million salary. Although he last played centerfield in 2009 and has only played the position for 10 games in his entire North American career, the 30-year-old from Pusan is expected to play centerfield for the Reds in a shift from his former rightfielder role. Choo’s value as a leadoff hitter could make the gamble pay off for Cincinnati. In 99 games as a leadoff hitter for the Indians last year, Choo batted .310 and he was among the American League’s top 10 in reaching-base percentage in each of his three seasons at Cleveland plus the top 12 in walks each year. Choo will become a free agent after the season with the Reds expec ted to use developmental

prospect Billy Hamilton in the centerfielder and leadoff hitter roles starting in 2014. Major League Baseball right-handed ace pitcher Justin Verlander said Monday that he has turned down an offer to join the United States team at next month’s World Baseball Classic. Verlander, the 2011 American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner as best pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, said he did not feel his arm would be ready for competition in early March when the US team begins play. “I don’t want to have to feel rushed to catch up to where I need to be,” Verlander said. Verlander threw 266 innings last season, including a playoff run that saw the Tigers reach the World Series before losing to the San Francisco Giants. That heavy workload prompted Verlander to delay the start of his offseason arm training in order to allow for proper rest. Washington Nationals star ting pitcher Gio Gonzalez was added to the US roster last weekend but the Americans still seek a top pitcher after the withdrawal of Atlanta’s Kris Medlen. The Classic, a 16-team event that begins March 2 in Japan and Taiwan, features top major league players and global talent from around the world playing for their homelands. Japan won the first two editions of the event. —AFP

No, I’m a grown man. That’s 21 years ago. You think I’m scared to come to Indianapolis because of something that happened 21 years ago? I’m a totally different person now.” Local talk radio host Greg Garrison, the man who successfully prosecuted Tyson, declined to comment on the boxer’s return. The show has already appeared in Las Vegas and on Broadway, and after spending three nights in Indianapolis this week, he heads to Chicago. He says he spends two hours a day, seven days a week rehearsing the script written by his wife, and the show is directed by Spike Lee. The tour is scheduled to take him to places such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, and Washington, and more could be on the way if things go well. Tyson has already had roles in “The Hangover” series and last week made a cameo appearance on “Law and Order: SVU.” When he’s not rehearsing, Tyson said he’s working with his Mike Tyson Cares, an organization that helps underprivileged and homeless children receive medical treatment, find shelter, help

with school expenses and assist with job placement. That’s the new Tyson. But his penchant for the drama, not all of his own doing, has not changed.In December, Tyson told a television show he was “high on cocaine” during filming on the original “Hangover.” In November, a Polish cour t ordered Tyson to pay $48,000 to the organizer of a boxing gala after Tyson didn’t show up. In October, he was banned from traveling to New Zealand because of his rape conviction. New Zealand immigration authorities initially granted him a visa so he could give talks about overcoming adversity in his life before a charity withdrew its suppor t and officials reversed their decision. Tyson’s comment that he was going to New Zealand and there was nothing anybody could do about it, didn’t help, either. “I brought that on myself because I was being arrogant at the time,” he said when asked about the dust-up with New Zealand authorities. “I really had the OK to go there, but I made a state-

ment about the prime minister and he got mad at me, and I should have been more humble about the whole situation. Other than that, all of the people that wanted to come from New Zealand they came to Australia, and I was very grateful for that.” If Tyson sounds more contrite, more polite, he says it’s because he has a new perspective on what’s happened in the past. Tyson has no immediate plans to follow George Foreman back into the ring as he nears 50, but he wants to continue acting, whether it’s on stage, the small screen or the big screen. He said he’s willing to do whatever it takes to become a star. And strangely enough, the next chapter begins in Indianapolis, where he hopes to show everyone he has learned to enjoy his life rather than living it solely in the fast lane. “I’m just happy to be existing in life, enjoying life the way I’m enjoying it now,” he said. “ That’s awesome that people anticipated me not being here and I’m still here. So I’m sure you’re all happy that I chose to go another route and I’m sure I am.” —AP

Shorthanded Spurs too much for Bulls Ridnour, Timberwolves end road skid, beat Cavs LOS ANGELES: The San Antonio Spurs took to the court without three of their top scorers to face Chicago on Monday but still had too much fire power for the Bulls, pulling out a 103-89 victory to pick up their 13th win in 14 games. Tony Parker (knee), Tim Duncan (knee) and Manu Ginobili (hamstring) all sat out for San Antonio, who own the best record in the NBA at 41-12, but a career-best 26 points from Kawhi Leonard and 18 from Danny Green kept the Spurs machine rolling. “All of us are basketball players here, we’re competitive,” Leonard told reporters of the Spurs, who were also without Stephen Jackson for personal reasons. “That’s why we play the game. If we go in doubting ourselves, we’re already beat.” San Antonio clung to a 76-75 lead in the fourth quarter before a 19-5 run closed the door on Chicago. “One would hope you could play with anybody in our system, but it was a tough challenge tonight,” said San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.” Nate Robinson scored 20 points to pace the Bulls while Joakim Noah added seven and 15 rebounds for the home team, who faded down the stretch. The Bulls had dominated inside and outrebounded the visitors 49-26 but it did not seem to matter. San Antonio grabbed a nine-point advantage at halftime and stretched it to 14 in the third before the Bulls closed the quarter strongly to make a game of it. Chicago (30-21) have now lost three of four. Meanwhile in Cleverland, Luke Ridnour scored 21 points, Ricky Rubio added 13 and 10 assists and the Minnesota Timberwolves snapped an eightgame road losing streak, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 100-92 on Monday night. Ridnour dropped a critical 3-pointer with 1:43 left for the banged-up Timberwolves, who hadn’t won on the road since Jan. 3 - star center Kevin Love’s last game before he was lost indefinitely with a broken hand. Nikola Pekovic added 16 points and 10 rebounds as Minnesota ended a four-game losing streak and improved to just 4-16 since losing Love. Kyrie Irving scored 20 points and Tristan Thompson had 16 for the Cavs, who were within 82-81 in the fourth before Ridnour sparked a 10-2 run by the Timberwolves. Ridnour had 13 points in the final 12 minutes. Before the game, Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said all the losing and mounting injuries had been taking a toll on his players. “When you go through the things we’ve had to go through the last two or three weeks, it wears on you mentally,” said Adelman, who recently took an extended absence to be with his wife, Mary Kay, as she recovers from

seizures. “They’re human. You get out there and bust your tails and lose a close game in the last minute it starts to wear on you big time.” At one point in the second half, a frustrated Rubio slapped the padded basket support after picking up a foul on a charge. But after Wayne Ellington’s 3-pointer pulled the Cavs within one, Ridnour took over, scoring eight points on a 10-2 tear that put the Timberwolves in control. Irving, whose late-game heroics have led Cleveland to some recent wins, tried to rally the Cavs but couldn’t. He had two bad missed in a turnover in a three-minute stretch. Still, the Cavs were within striking distance when Thompson made two free throws to pulled Cleveland within 92-89 with 1:56 remaining. But Ridnour, who always seems to play well against Cleveland, buried his key 3-pointer from the right side and hit another short jumper with 9 seconds left to cap just Minnesota’s second win in 12 games. Derrick Williams had 13 points and Mickael Gelabale and Alexey Shved added 11 apiece for the Timberwolves. Down by eight, Minnesota went on a

14-0 run late in the second quarter to take a 47-41 lead. Shved hit a 3-pointer and scored seven points in the spurt. Irving stopped the Timberwolves’ spree with a 3-pointer, but he rolled his left ankle when came down and landed on Shved’s foot. Irving hopped around in obvious pain but stayed in the game for a few more seconds. He was then replaced and limped to the locker room for treatment. Irving came out after halftime and tested the ankle during warmups. He appeared to be OK, and dropped a short left-hander to open the third quarter. An injury could have put a major crimp into his All-Star plans. Selected as an Eastern Conference reserve, Irving also plans to compete in the 3-point shooting contest this weekend in Houston. To get him ready for the event, Cavs coach Byron Scott has challenged Irving to a shooting competition at practice on Tuesday. The 51-year-old Scott twice participated in the 3-point contest as a player, finishing third in 1988. “I’m looking forward to it,” Irving cracked of his matchup with Scott. “I’m getting up early and doing my pushups.” — Reuters

DALLAS: Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks tries to grab a loose ball against Zaza Pachulia #27 of the Atlanta Hawks at American Airlines Center on Monday in Dallas, Texas. — AFP

Girardi focus on A-Rod rehab not doping TAMPA: With questions surrounding injured star Alex Rodriguez and much of the healthy lineup, the New York Yankees reported to preseason training camp yesterday in quest of a 28th World Series title. Third baseman Rodriguez, who is recovering from left hip surgery, was named in records revealed in reports last month by former employees of a now-closed Miami clinic that has been linked to the sale of performance-enhancing drugs. “There’s really not a lot to talk about,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I’ve had my discussions with Alex and talked about his rehab. My concern is getting his healthy. That’s what I’ll focus on. That’s what this club will be focused on. This club is used to things that would be called ‘distractions.’” Girardi said he did not address the doping links when speaking with “A-Rod”, saying he wanted to wait until after the completion of a Major League Baseball investigation into the reports about the Biogenesis clinic. “I didn’t really talk about that,” Girardi said. “Major League Baseball has to go through what they have to go through. I talked about rehab, getting off his crutches and what he had done through the winter. “You’re always curious about things you read about that could

be damaging to your player and baseball. But you have to wait and let Major League Baseball do what they will do. Until MLB does their thing, I don’t feel the need to talk about it.” Girardi said the situation offers a

cautionary tale for players who go outside club medical personnel. “I want our players to go to our people as much as they can but you know that’s not always going to happen,” he said. “If you do seek outside opinion, you need to be

BALTIMORE: File photo, Baltimore Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, left, reaches but can’t make the tag on New York Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki, of Japan, as he scores a run in Game 2 of the American League division baseball series in Baltimore. The Orioles won’t waste much time with introductions today in Sarasota, Fla., before pitchers, catchers and selected veterans take the field for the team’s first scheduled spring training workout. — AP

wise about it and you probably ought to consult with the club.” Girardi said Rodriguez will remain in rehabilitation in New York rather than join the club in Florida for pre-season training and added that he had no idea when Rodriguez would be back with the club. “He’s not really ready to do anything baseball with us yet,” Girardi said. Also named in the clinic files was 26-year-old Venezuelan catcher Francisco Cervelli, who Girardi said will have to ignore the questions and focus upon baseball. “Of course that can weigh on his mind,” Girardi said. “But that’s a distraction that he’s going to have to block out so it doesn’t.” Cervelli said he bought legal supplements from the clinic but is certain he never used banned substances. The Yankees, who lost to Detroit in last year ’s American League championship series, hope to have shortstop Derek Jeter back for the April 1 opener against Boston after he suffered a broken left ankle in the playoffs. “We anticipate he’s going to be back on opening day,” Girardi said of the Yankees captain. Panamanian right-handed closer Mariano Rivera is coming back at age 43 after right knee surgery last year while starting pitcher CC Sabathia is coming off left elbow surgery. - AFP



AITA holds off recognizing Indian players’ body NEW DELHI: All India Tennis Association chief Hironmoy Chatterjee said yesterday the national body will decide on the recognition of a newly launched players’ association only after it has a clear understanding of its objectives. “It is too premature at this juncture to consider recognizing the new body,” Chatterjee told The Associated Press. “They’ll have to put together their rules and objectives and go through the entire process of getting a body in place before we consider recognizing it.” Chatterjee said the players were yet to get in touch with the AITA. “They have not given anything in writing yet. A clear picture will emerge only after

we start interacting with them and get to know their plans,” he added. The formation of the Indian Tennis Players’ Association (ITPA) was announced Monday within weeks of a confrontation between the AITA and a group of 11 players -including Somdev Devvarman and Mahesh Bhupathi - which had refused to play in a Davis Cup tie against South Korea over management issues. The ITPA, modeled on the Association of Tennis Professionals, has opened membership for all current and former national and international tennis players in what it calls “a forum and platform to represent the professional interests of its members”

with the objective of improving the standard of the game in India. “We believe that the ITPA will provide the players a voice that will stand united in our concerns and suggestions for the improvement of the sport in the country,” said Devvarman, who led the recent players’ rebellion. The 11 rebel players, who have now made themselves available for the Asia-Oceania relegation Davis Cup tie against Indonesia in April, had earlier refused to confirm their availability for the South Korea meeting even though the AITA had agreed to most of the demands over team management and prize money.

The AITA named a new coach in former Davis Cup player Zeeshan Ali and fired team doctor Vece Paes, who is the father of doubles-specialist Leander Paes. It had also announced an increase in the share of prize money for Davis Cup players. However, the players said they were not happy with Ali as coach, wanted non-playing captain SP Mishra removed immediately and also called for more transparency in financial matters. Paes was the only prominent player in a depleted India team that subsequently lost 4-1 to the Koreans. VM Ranjith and Vijayant Malik lost both their singles matches while Purav Raja partnered Paes in the only win for the home side. — AP

Wheelchair tennis star Vergeer retires THE HAGUE: After a 10-year winning streak in wheelchair tennis, Esther Vergeer felt she had nothing left to prove. The 31-year-old Dutchwoman retired Tuesday, ending one of the most amazing careers in any sport. “I’m hugely proud of my performances, my titles, and can look back on my career with a great feeling,” Vergeer said at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam. “Keeping going would not add anything.” Vergeer won the women’s singles gold at four straight Paralympics starting in Sydney in 2000 and ending in London last year. She also won 21 Grand Slam singles titles, 23 Grand Slam doubles titles, three Paralympic doubles gold medals and a silver. Overall, she won 148 singles titles and 136 in doubles. Vergeer took a break from the sport last year to consider the future after her Paralympic gold medal took her remarkable winning streak to 470 matches. In all those matches, she only ever faced one match point, in the final of the Beijing Paralympics.Vergeer’s retirement means she will not surpass what is widely believed to be the longest run of consecutive wins in sport 555 by Pakistani squash great Jahangir Khan from 1981-86. Like Khan, she was in a class of her own. In the last 10 years, she won 120 straight tournaments, beating 73 different opponents, winning 95 matches 6-0, 6-0 and dropping only 18 sets, the International Tennis Federation said. Sitting on the couch at home in the snowy Netherlands last month and watching the Australian Open on television, she knew it was time to end her playing career and concentrate on her efforts to promote sport for people with disabilities

through a foundation she has set up. “It felt great,” she said, choking back tears. In a measure of Vergeer’s status in Dutch sport, football great Johan Cruyff attended her announcement and wrote a foreword in the book about her life and career that she also presented to the media. Sportspeople like Vergeer, “should be an example to us all,” Cruyff said. Roger Federer paid tribute in another foreword in the book. “She is an astonishing athlete, a huge personality and she has achieved one of the most amazing feats in our sport,” Federer wrote. Vergeer, who was 8 when she lost the use of her legs following surgery to repair blood vessels around her spine, started playing wheelchair basketball as she recovered and was good enough to make the Netherlands national team before focusing on tennis. She rose to No. 1 in the wheelchair rankings in 1999 and never relinquished the top spot. “Esther Vergeer is a tremendous ambassador not only for tennis but also for disability sports. She is an inspiration to many,” ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said. “Wheelchair tennis owes her a huge debt of gratitude for her professionalism and her quality as a player.” The last time she lost a match was to Daniele di Toro in Sydney on Jan. 30, 2003. “To be honest, I don’t really know or remember what it feels like losing in singles,” Vergeer said. “I’ve lost a couple of times in doubles so I know what it’s like to lose. And I know what it’s like to lose a Monopoly game and I don’t like losing. But this doesn’t feel like something I lose. This is not the same thing at all.” —AP

DENVER: Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 of the Phoenix Coyotes collects the puck against Matt Duchene #9 of the Colorado Avalanche and Aaron Palushaj #17 of the Colorado Avalanche as he scored a goal in the third period at the Pepsi Center on Monday in Denver, Colorado. — AFP

Blue Jackets go wild, wallop Sharks, 6-2 Maple Leafs surge past Flyers

LONDON: A file picture taken on September 7, 2012 shows Dutch Esther Vergeer returning a ball to Netherlands’ Aniek Van Koot on her way to victory in the women’s singles wheelchair tennis final during the London 2012 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Park in east London. Dutch wheelchair tennis star Esther Vergeer announced her retirement yesterday after an astonishing unbroken run of 470 wins spanning more than 10 years. — AFP

Federer muses about Nadal return, Tsonga out ROTTERDAM: Roger Federer welcomed the return to tennis of Rafael Nadal, but will not spend much time worrying about his longtime rival’s progress as he concentrates on his own game with today start at the Rotterdam World Tennis. While Federer was making his preparations, there was disappointment on court for third seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as the French player went down to Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-4. Even 14 aces could not help Tsonga in the two-hour match, with the seed converting

Rafael Nadal only one of eight break point chances. Tsonga, a finalist here in 2011, saved a match point in the final game but lost his serve a few moments later to make a surprise first-round exit. “ This is not my worst moment, but I’m disappointed,” said Tsonga. “I missed four or five of the same volleys on key points. That was the difference. “He was serving very well and I was always chasing the score. I didn’t play a bad match, just missed my chances. I was missing on shots that I usually make. But I will keep working hard and try to improve things.” Tsonga’s s compatriot the fifth seeded Gilles Simon moved into the second round

with a 7-6 (7/3), 6-4 victory over German qualifier Daniel Brands. Romanian Victor Hanescu accounted for the week’s first seed with his defeat of seventh-seeded Jerzy Janowicz 7-6 (7/4) 6-3. The Pole had made a breakthrough last autumn at Paris Bercy by reaching the final after coming through qualifying. Grigor Dimitrov ended a four-match losing streak with a win over Australian Bernard Tomic 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Top seed Federer, defending his 2012 trophy said he has arrived relaxed and eager as he plays for the first time since losing a tight Australian Open semi-final to Andy Murray, then taking time off with his family in his homes in Dubai and Switzerland. “I saw a few pictures of Rafa, last week,” said Federer, who joked: “I see he’s still a lefthander - and his shirts looked good.” But beyond the obvious natural curiosity, the 31year-old with 17 Grand Slam titles has plenty on his own plate as he begins a run of events this week to be followed by the Dubai Open and the Indian Wells Masters next month in California. “I’m happy to see him back and playing on the Tour,” said the two-time Rotterdam champion. “He seems to have good energy. I was surprised he lost a final against a player ranked outside the top 50. “I’m sure he got a lot of information about his game last week (in Chile). He knows now how much strain he is putting on his body and how he is dealing with it.” After seven months away recovering from tendon damage in his left knee, Nadal lost both the singles and doubles finals at the V TR Open in Chile. Singles winner Horacio Zeballos could only repeat what Nadal had been saying - that his comeback would need time. While Nadal plays on clay in Sao Paulo, Federer will be bidding to make it a trophy hat-trick in Rotterdam, when he begins in the first round against Slovenian Grega Zemlja. — AFP

COLUMBUS: Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and an assist and the Columbus Blue Jackets had their biggest offensive assault of the season against the NHL’s stingiest defense in a 62 victor y over the San Jose Sharks on Monday night. James Wisniewski and Nikita Nikitin added goals, Cody Goloubef picked up his first NHL goal and Vinny Prospal and Mark Letestu tied a franchise record by scoring 8 seconds apar t in the third period. Nick Foligno and Matt Calvert each had two assists. Columbus scored 43 seconds into the game, added two goals 1:11 apart in the second period and then scored three goals in the opening 5:45 of the final period. Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski scored for the Sharks, who have lost five in a row after a 70 start. The Sharks did not play like a team that flew into Columbus on Saturday and had only played one game in the last six days. The Blue Jackets had played four games in that same span and were in action at home for the second night in a row. San Jose came in allowing an NHL-low 1.82 goals per game. Columbus was next-tolast in the 30-team league scoring just 1.92 goals a game. The Blue Jackets completed a franchise record-tying six-game homestand with a record of 2-3-1. In one of the wildest periods of the season - the teams scored three goals in 84 seconds - the Blue Jackets expanded a one-goal lead in the second. They stacked up three power plays, including 36 seconds of 5 on 3. After that expired, they made it 2-0 with the man advantage when R.J. Umberger fought off Brad Stuart in the right corner to muck out the puck. Derick Brassard ended up with it, skating along the goal line toward the cage, drawing goalie Thomas Greiss. But Brassard slid a quick pass to Wisniewski for a onetimer at the left hash to make it 2-0. Just over a minute later, it was 3-0. Goloubef, playing in his fifth career NHL game, sat in the right point while Derek MacKenzie carried the puck along the back boards and slid the puck from the left corner across the ice to him. He steadied the puck and then rocketed a slap shot, with Foligno and Derek Dorsett providing traffic in front of the net. The 23-year-old defenseman had four goals in 21 games at AHL Springfield this season. Before that goal could be announced, San Jose’s Marleau pulled up at the top of the left circle and hit a hard shot that Wisniewski couldn’t block and Mason couldn’t stop. It was Marleau’s 10th goal of the season - but first point in six games - and came just 13 seconds after Goloubef’s goal. Seconds later, the puck leaked through a

scrum in front of the net and Mason had to dive to cover it as it slid across the goal line. Not long after that, Foligno carried the puck from end to end past several Sharks for a oneon-one chance that Greiss was able to stop. After the break, the Blue Jackets were at it again. Just 21 seconds into the third Calvert slid a pass from behind the goal cage to the onrushing Nikitin, who put his blade on the ice and almost pushed the puck through Greiss for his first of the year. Colton Orr and Matt Frattin scored goals 28 seconds apart in the second period and the Toronto Maple Leafs earned a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday. Dion Phaneuf, Clarke MacAr thur and James van Riemsdyk, against his former team, also scored for Toronto, which got its second victory in six games at home this season. But the win came at a cost. James Reimer stopped 12 shots before being replaced by Ben Scrivens early in the second period with what appeared to be a left leg injury. Reimer stayed down before being helped to the locker room without putting any weight on his left leg. The Leafs described the injury as a “lower-body injury.” Scrivens finished with 32 saves. Wayne Simmonds and Tye McGinn scored for Philadelphia. Ilya Bryzgalov made 10 saves on 14 shots before being replaced by Brian Boucher after MacArthur’s goal at 6:15 of the second. Boucher finished with nine stops the rest of the way. Tied 1-1 after the first, the Leafs took control early in the second. The bruising

Orr, who has been rejuvenated this season under coach Randy Carlyle, scored his goal of the season at 2:05. Frattin then added his seventh of the season in just 10 games since being called up from the AHL. He deflected a Cody Franson shot home just 28 seconds later. Franson had assists on both goals. The Leafs didn’t miss a beat after Scrivens replaced Reimer a short time later as Nazem Kadri, who also finished with two assists, found MacArthur in front on a slick pass to end Bryzgalov’s night. The Flyers had a chance to get back in it when Toronto defenseman Korbinian Holzer was assessed a five-minute penalty for boarding and a game misconduct at 13:31 for a hit on McGinn. But Scrivens held off the Flyers, including a big glove save on Brayden Schenn in tight. Van Riemsdyk put the game out of reach with his team-leading eighth of the season on a shot that squeaked past Boucher just 71 seconds into the third. McGinn scored with 32 seconds left in regulation for Philadelphia. Coming off a 3-0-0 road trip, which included a resounding 6-0 victory in Montreal on Saturday night, the Leafs came out slow Monday. Philadelphia worked the puck into the Toronto end and kept it there until Simmonds banged the rebound of a Luke Schenn shot home just 38 seconds in. Schenn played 310 games in four seasons with the Leafs before being traded to Philadelphia in June for van Riemsdyk. The deal was viewed as a fresh start for both former top-five draft picks and reunited Schenn with his brother, Brayden. — AP

NHL results/standings Toronto 5, Philadelphia 2; Carolina 6, NY Islanders 4; Columbus 6, San Jose 2; Los Angeles 4, St. Louis 1; Phoenix 3, Colorado 2 (OT); Minnesota 2, Calgary 1 (SO). Eastern Conference Atlantic Division

New Jersey Pittsburgh NY Rangers Philadelphia NY Islanders

W 8 8 6 5 4

Boston Toronto Ottawa Montreal Buffalo

8 8 6 6 5

Carolina Tampa Bay Winnipeg Florida Washington

6 6 5 4 3

LOTL GF GA PTS 1 3 33 24 19 5 0 41 32 16 5 0 29 27 12 7 1 31 38 11 7 1 36 43 9 Northeast Division 1 1 29 21 17 5 0 39 33 16 4 2 31 23 14 4 1 31 30 13 7 1 39 46 11 Southeast Division 4 1 34 34 13 5 0 43 32 12 5 1 30 37 11 6 1 25 40 9 8 1 30 41 7

Western Conference Central Division Chicago 10 0 2 42 25 22 Detroit 7 4 1 33 32 15 Nashville 5 3 4 24 26 14 St. Louis 6 5 1 39 40 13 Columbus 4 7 2 30 41 10 Northwest Division Vancouver 7 2 2 33 24 16 Edmonton 5 4 3 28 30 13 Minnesota 6 5 1 26 30 13 Calgary 3 4 3 26 35 9 Colorado 4 6 1 23 29 9 Pacific Division Anaheim 8 2 1 39 31 17 San Jose 7 3 2 36 28 16 Phoenix 6 5 2 35 35 14 Dallas 6 5 1 26 28 13 Los Angeles 4 5 2 26 32 10 Note: Overtime losses (OTL) are worth one point in the standings and are not included in the loss column (L)



Lindsey Vonn mending after surgery on right knee NEW YORK: The swelling around Lindsey Vonn’s repaired right knee has gone way down a day after surgery and her spirits way up. Back in time for the 2014 Sochi Games? Try possibly back in time for the beginning of the World Cup season in late November. The doctor who operated on Vonn’s injured right knee thinks the four-time overall World Cup champion just might return that soon. That’s the goal, anyway. And it’s looking more promising following the procedure by Dr. Bill Sterett on Sunday to fix Vonn’s knee after she shredded two ligaments during a crash last week at the world championships in Schladming, Austria. Sterett examined the knee again Monday and was optimistic about what he saw: Less swelling, increased range of motion and little discomfort. But this is what struck him most: Her determination to attack her recovery like she would a downhill course.

“She’s in full-charge mode,” Sterett told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “She’s like, ‘When can I start upper-body strengthening? When can I start working on my core? When can I spin on a stationary bike with my other leg?’ “I haven’t seen a hint of post-traumatic depression from her, or her feeling sorry for herself or her sad or asking, ‘Why now?’ She’s all about, ‘When can I? When can I? When can I? “‘ Sterett did caution Vonn that’s it’s going to be a steady process to return to full strength. This is something she can’t rush after tearing her anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments last week during a fall in the super-G competition. She also broke a bone in her lower leg. “Hers was a little bit of an unusual injury. The ACL has a very typical and standard return to snow progression and it’s fairly predictable,” said Sterett, a surgeon for the US Ski Team and at Vail Summit Orthopaedics. “Hers was complicated by a little bit more of a severe MCL

injury that needed surgery as well. That’s going to necessitate us going a little bit slower right off the bat. Then, we’ll play catch-up down the line.” Still, Sterett thinks she very well could be ready in time for the World Cup speed races in Lake Louise, Alberta, in late November or early December, a venue where she’s won so often that it’s become known as “Lake Lindsey.” Vonn also wants to be healthy enough to ski in Beaver Creek in December, when the venue hosts both the men and the women as it prepares for the 2015 world championships. “But there are a lot of hurdles you can have between now and then,” he said. “Everybody’s goals are that. That’s what she’s got her focus on.” That hardly looked feasible given her serious fall in the super-G last Tuesday. The 28-yearold Vonn was lifted into the air off a jump in the opening race at the championships. Upon landing, her right leg gave way and she spun down face first,

throwing an arm out to protect herself. Vonn ended up on her back as she smashed through a gate. Vonn received medical treatment on the snow before being airlifted by helicopter to a hospital. “She was actually fairly certain she had shattered her (leg),” said Sterett, who treated her on the mountain and flew back to Vail, Colorado, with her. “That’s how she felt.” Instead, she fractured the tibial plateau, the result of her thigh bone slamming into the top of her tibia bone. “It was not displaced enough that it would need surgery,” Sterett said. But it was significant enough that she will need to stay on crutches for the next six weeks. She also will not be allowed to bend her knee too much, just to give the MCL more time to heal. “In all honesty, the first few months will be me trying to pull the reins back on Lindsey than having to push her, in terms of therapy,” Sterett said. “But I can’t

emphasize enough how upbeat she’s been through all of this. She’s very goaloriented. She’s got her sights set on these next two years.” The outcome better than first feared? “Well, I think the world is more optimistic than they were before,” Sterett said. “I knew what her injuries were pretty quickly. She’s absolutely doing as well as can be expected. “She’s attacked this like, ‘OK, this is an injury. Now, Doc, tell me what the next step is.’ We’ve gone step by step. She’s asking about what the progression is and how she can get back as quick as she can.” As for any further surgeries, Sterett said that remains a possibility, but doesn’t anticipate it. “You just never know what’s coming down the line,” he said. “She will do (therapy) exactly how it’s outlined.” Really? Sterett laughed. “I would say it’s safe to say she’s going to push the limits on how much she’s allowed to do,” he said. —AP

Ligety wins second gold medal of worlds ‘Ted is an all-around threat at Sochi Olympics’

HAMILLTON: England’s Michael Lumb is dismissed by New Zealand’s Nathan McCullum as wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum looks on during the International Twenty20 cricket match at Snedden Park in Hamilton yesterday. — AFP

McCullum fires NZ to win second T20 HAMILTON: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum inspired his team to a crushing 55-run win over England in the second Twenty20 international in Hamilton yesterday, levelling the series 1-1. Determined to make amends after being humbled in the opening fixture, New Zealand made 192 for six after being sent into bat then bowled out the tourists for 137. McCullum led from the front with a captain’s knock of 74, including five sixes and six fours, as the Black Caps made the most of the short Seddon Park boundaries to punish the England attack. The hosts also produced a much improved display in the field to have England reeling at 47 for five at one point before a feisty 54 from Jos Buttler and a 22run cameo by James Tredwell helped to make the scoreline respectable. “Credit to New Zealand, they played fantastically and took the game away from us with the bat,” England captain Stuart Broad said. “We didn’t execute our skills 100 percent right. At the half-way point we thought we were in with a chance but obviously losing early wickets like we did meant we were always chasing the game.” New Zealand openers Martin Guptill (47) and Hamish Rutherford (40) provided a solid platform for McCullum to blast away late in the innings in a display that included three sixes off a Stuart Broad over. Between them the three scored 10 sixes as New Zealand reached its fourth highest T20 total. New Zealand’s momentum appeared to have slowed significantly when Ross Taylor (4), Colin Munro (7) and Grant Elliott (4) were dismissed cheaply, until McCullum unleashed a big-hitting onslaught against Broad.

He brought up his half century in style, sending Broad’s delivery over the boundary for six, then followed up with another in the next ball. He was at it again two balls later, thumping the ball over extra cover to take his third six of the over. He fell in the penultimate ball of the innings, although James Franklin still managed a four off the final delivery. Jade Dernbach was the pick of the England bowlers, taking three wickets for 38 runs. But England made a disastrous start to their innings when Mitchell McClenaghan clean bowled Alex Hales for five in the second over then dismissed Luke Wright, one of the heroes of the Auckland win, for a golden duck with his next ball. Jonny Bairstow followed three overs later, tentatively dabbing an Ian Butler short ball to McClenaghan to leave the tourists at 24 for three. Michael Lumb tried to lift the over rate but was bowled for 17 after charging down the wicket at a Nathan McCullum delivery, with dangerman Eoin Morgan falling to Butler in the next over for 13. Trent Boult turned the screws by running out Samit Patel in spectacular fashion, firing the ball directly into the stumps from the mid-off boundary. A forgettable night for Broad, who leaked 53 runs from four overs with the ball, ended when he was caught for one after facing just three deliveries. Buttler and Tredwell showed glimpses of what England’s batting line-up is capable of late in the innings but by then too many wickets had fallen and any chance of victory had long since evaporated. The final match of the series will be played in Wellington on Friday. —AFP

SCHLADMING: Ted Ligety is no longer just a giant slalom specialist. By winning gold medals in superG and super-combined at the world championships, the American has shown he’s an allaround threat with the 2014 Sochi Olympics exactly a year away. Ligety added the super-combi title to his expanding resume Monday with a superb downhill and an equally impressive night slalom run under the lights on the icy Planai course.Next up: defending his 2011 title in Friday’s giant slalom - the event in which he’s won four of five World Cup races this season. “I never wanted to be a specialist. I’ve always tried so hard in my career to be a multi-event skier,” Ligety said. “To have three world championships in three different events is pretty surreal - that’s a cool feeling.” Sitting sixth after the downhill run, Ligety clocked a two-run combined time of 2 minutes, 56.96 seconds. Ivica Kostelic of Croatia finished second, a distant 1.15 seconds behind, and Romed Baumann of host Austria took the bronze medal, 1.17 back, after leading the downhill leg.Ligety won the combined in the old format with two slalom runs at the 2006 Turin Olympics, but he had never finished on the podium before in a supercombined, which has only one slalom leg. The Park City, Utah, native had a super-combi podium finish in sight in Wengen, Switzerland, last month until his right ski slipped free two-thirds down his slalom run. And in the traditional combined in Kitzbuehel a few weeks ago, he missed a gate early in his first slalom run. “On paper I should be one of the top combined guys and I’ve struggled a lot in the event over the last couple of years,” Ligety said. “To finally win one in a world championship is awesome.” Ligety opened the championships with his first career super-G win last week, and combined with Julia Mancuso’s bronze in super-G, the U.S. Ski Team is leading the championships’ medal table after six of 11 events. Austria is last with two bronzes. Not bad, considering Lindsey Vonn had a season-ending crash in the opening event and Bode Miller is sitting out this season to recover from left knee surgery. “And we still have a few guns in the start gate, so we’re psyched to be in this position,” US. Alpine director Patrick Riml said. While he wasn’t the last racer down, Ligety celebrated after his run by skiing around in a circle in the finish area, then let out a series of fist pumps, knowing

that it would be hard for anyone to match him. “I was aware that I was in good position,” Ligety said. “I’ve been on the World Cup for nine years now so I know how to handle the pressure.” Twotime defending champion Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway stood second after the downhill but straddled a gate in the slalom. Austrian veteran Benjamin Raich was also well positioned and straddled. Kostelic and Raich, both former overall champions, share the record of World Cup wins in supercombi with five each. On the steep final pitch of the downhill, Ligety threw his skis into each turn and leaned down and touched the snow with his hip and hands as if skiing GS. “It’s really a testament to my downhill this morning. It was awesome,” Ligety said. “I knew I didn’t have to push super hard in the slalom.” Kostelic had an unusually poor slalom run. “I did not race tactically,” he said. “I just did not get into the rhythm, was too late all the time.” That opened a door for Ligety.

SCHLADMING: Ted Ligety arrives to attend a press conference at the Alpine skiing world championships in Schladming, Austria, yesterday. The US Ski Team’s success at the world championships is not being well received by the host Austrians. Led by Ted Ligety’s two golds, plus a bronze from Julia Mancuso, the Americans top the medals table after seven of 11 events, which is all the more impressive considering that Lindsey Vonn had a season-ending crash in the opening event and Bode Miller is taking this season off to recover from left knee surgery. — AP

Australia state broadcaster dumps India Tests SYDNEY: Australia’s public broadcaster yesterday said it will not broadcast or report live from the upcoming cricket Test series in India after deciding not to pay inflated rights fees. The ABC said it could not afford the broad-

cast rights fees demanded by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), understood to be much higher for the four-Test series beginning February 22 than previous Australian tours.

SCOREBOARD Scoreboard at the end of the second New Zealand v England Twenty20 international at Seddon Park in Hamilton yesterday: England won the toss and chose to bowl. New Zealand M. Guptill c Hales b Tredwell 47 H. Rutherford c Buttler b Wright 40 B. McCullum c Lumb b Dernbach 74 R. Taylor c Bairstow b Wright 4 C. Munro c Bairstow b Dernbach 7 G. Elliott b Dernbach 4 J. Franklin not out 6 N. McCullum not out 0 Extras (b-1, lb-3, w-6) 10 Total (for six wickets, 20 overs) 192 Did not bat: I. Butler, T. Boult, M. McClenaghan Fall of wickets: 1-75 2-105 3-124 4-139 5154 6-188 Bowling: Tredwell 2-0-20-1, Broad 4-0-530, Finn 4-0-33-0, Dernbach 4-0-38-3 (w-2), Wright 4-0-24-2, Patel 2-0-20-0. England M. Lumb b N. McCullum A. Hales b McClenaghan

17 5

L. Wright c Guptill b McClenaghan 0 J. Bairstow c McClenaghan b Butler 8 E. Morgan c Munro b Butler 13 J. Buttler c Taylor b Franklin 54 S. Patel run out 6 S. Broad c Guptill b Franklin 1 J. Tredwell b Franklin 22 S. Finn not out 5 J. Dernbach c Butler b Franklin 0 Extras (lb-3 w-3) 6 Total (all out, 19.3 overs) 137 Fall of wickets: 1-9 2-9 3-24 4-43 5-47 6-62 7-80 8-115 9-137 Bowling: Boult 4-0-40-0(w-2), McClenaghan 4-0-24-2, Butler 4-0-9-2, N. McCullum 3-0-26-1(w-1), Franklin 3.3-0-154, Elliott 1-0-20-0. Result: New Zealand won by 55 runs Previous results: Feb 9 - England won by 40 runs R emaining Twenty20 fixture: Feb. 15 Wellington Regional Stadium, Wellington

“I knew I could ski down a little more tactically. I didn’t have to fully hammer,” Ligety said. “That took a little bit of pressure off me.” Baumann didn’t qualify for Austria’s squad for Saturday’s downhill and his motivation was evident. “I saw Ivica’s run and I thought, when I give everything, I can do that as well,” he said. “I just wanted to go fast. I tried to ski slalom like I used to do six or seven years ago. During inspection I thought, ‘this is going to be brutally tough.’ But it went better than expected.” The last American to win the combined title at worlds was Miller in St. Moritz, Switzerland, in 2003. He won the super-combi at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, meaning the Americans - assuming Miller returns - will go to Sochi with the defending and world champion in the event. For now, though, Ligety’s focus is on giant slalom. “I’ve had two days of GS training in the last month,” Ligety said. “I’m going to need to focus the next couple days to get the precision back in that event.” — AP

KLINGENTHAL: Reruhi Shimizu of Japan starts during the training at the FIS Team Tour World Cup ski jumping in Klingenthal, eastern Germany, yesterday. The jury canceled the training after the 1st run. — AP

It had still intended to send veteran radio commentator Jim Maxwell, but the BCCI refused him accreditation. “It is really disappointing,” an ABC spokeswoman told AFP. “It will result in it being covered through the news just like a news item but there won’t be any feeds, certainly not ball-by-ball coverage.” As a general rule, ABC covers Australia’s Test matches in India, although it did not broadcast the 2010 series as it clashed with the Commonwealth Games. The ABC said its managing director Mark Scott was negotiating with the Indian High Commission in Australia to reverse Maxwell’s accreditation decision. “We are leaning on Cricket Australia to help out because this means that there is no free-to-air broadcast of what’s happening over there,” the spokeswoman said. Maxwell said the BCCI instead offered him a place in a VIP box for the entire series. However, he said this invitation came “with the proviso that if I wish to report on proceedings, because I am not a rights holder, I’ll have to leave the ground”. “So, obviously that is unacceptable to the ABC and we’ve decided not to go,” he told the broadcaster. “Essentially it seems as though the fact that we didn’t take up the rights, they feel as though as a radio reporter I don’t have a position there. I am not able to report live from the ground.” The development follows a rights dispute between some media organisations and the BCCI over England’s tour of India last year. News agencies including AFP, ThomsonReuters and the Associated Press suspended text and photo coverage of the England series over the BCCI’s decision to bar photo counterparts such as Getty Images and Action Images. — AFP




WADA urges football to conduct more EPO tests LONDON: The World Anti-Doping Agency urged football yesterday to conduct more blood doping tests and intelligence operations to unmask cheating players. Ahead of a meeting with FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Thursday, WADA leaders expressed concerns that not enough is being done to discover if players are using blood-boosting EPO. “Many years can go by from what we are told where footballers are not asked for one sample,” WADA President John Fahey told The Associated Press in London. “We are constantly told that baseball doesn’t have an effective program but now they test every major baseball player four times every year. Football may not test a player once in any given year.” WADA Director General David Howman said that “team sports players can go their entire career without being tested.” Spain’s anti-doping agency last

week began examining claims by a former president of Spanish team Real Sociedad that its players used performance-enhancing substances. One of the world’s leading coaches, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, also claimed that doping tests must be more extensive. It is the potential use of EPO in football sparking much concern, with Fahey describing it as “the drug of choice.” “If you are taking urine samples and not asking the laboratory to test for EPO then you are not serious about catching cheats whatever the sport might be,” Fahey said. FIFA said of the 662 tests conducted at competitions last year under its auspices, 95 were for EPO. Doping tests will only be conducted at 114 of the 820 qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, with only four players providing a sample. Only one of them will be tested for EPO, FIFA said. “There is a clear indication that in football they are not testing for EPO

from urine,” Fahey said. “It’s a tragedy.” WADA is unhappy that use of biological passports, which monitor the effects of doping, is so limited in football, with FIFA only starting to use them for players at its competitions in the last two years. Players going to Brazil for the Confederations Cup in June and World Cup the following year are set to have such profiles. Players then selected for anti-doping controls have their results measured against out-of-competition tests taken up to one month earlier. “We now know that the athlete’s biological passport is a very effective tool. Why isn’t football using it (more)? They can,” Fahey said. “It would make it more effective, but I also recognize that all of this costs money.” Tennis players, including US Open champion Andy Murray, have been calling for more blood tests, combined with biological passports. “They want to make the statement, ‘I compete without doping and I want

the world to know that my sport is without doping,’” Fahey said. “I hope that tennis is listening to these responsible players.” Some of Murray’s concerns stem from the Operation Puerto case in Spain where a doctor is on trial in a case that uncovered blood bags used for illegal transfusions. Eufemiano Fuentes has admitted having clients from cycling, tennis, football and boxing but has not revealed their identities. “I hope this case ultimately decides in favor of releasing those bags so this monumental cloud that again is hanging over hundreds of athletes in Spain can at last be lifted,” Fahey said. The trial is taking place with cycling reeling from the exposure of Lance Armstrong’s widespread doping, which saw him stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. Fahey said he believes Armstrong will never speak under oath to doping investigators, despite being crucial to getting his life ban from sport

reduced. The extent of Armstrong’s doping was established during an investigation by the US Anti-Doping Agency, and Fahey urged other sports to invest in using intelligence to unmask dopers. “We need to be ever alert to the increasingly sophisticated science available to athletes today and to the growing influence of the underworld,” he said. A commission in Australia last week indicated widespread use of performance-enhancing substances in professional sports and links between users and organized crime. In response, Australian athletes were told yesterday that to be eligible for next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi they will have to declare any history of doping in a legal document, and risk five years in prison for any false statements. But Fahey said he fears that athletes could be reticent to confess if it spells the end of their sporting careers and foster a “code of silence.” — AP

Real host Man United in clash of titans ‘United undefeated in fourteen games’

DONETSK: Shakhtar’s players take part in a training session in Donetsk yesterday, a day before his team’s Champions League football match against German champions Borussia Dortmund. — AFP

Klopp determined Dortmund fire against Shakhtar DONETSK: Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp has insisted his side will bounce back at Shakhtar Donetsk today in their Champions League Last 16 first leg clash following a heavy home defeat by Hamburg. Dortmund went down 4-1 at home on Saturday as they conceded four goals without reply at the hands of Hamburg and now face a tough trip to Ukraine. The German champion’s pressing game deserted them as Hamburg found plenty of space to attack down the wing with South Korea’s Son Heung-Min and Latvia’s Artjoms Rudnevs both scoring twice. “We weren’t good against Hamburg and deserved to lose, we’ll be better on Wednesday,” said Klopp with his side looking to reach the last eight for the first time since 1998, when as defending champions they lost in the semi-finals against Real Madrid. Having finished unbeaten on top of Group D with eye-catching wins over Real Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax at home, Klopp’s side must prove they can again forge a result away from home in the firstleg clash at the Donbass Arena. Shakhtar are looking for a third win in four home matches in this season’s competition after beating both Danish champions Nordsjaelland and holders Chelsea before a 1-0 home defeat to Juventus in October, cost them first place in Group E. Dortmund have impressed on the road so far in Europe, picking up a 4-1 win at Ajax, and they were only denied victories at City and Madrid by late equalisers. They will be without German winger Kevin Grosskreutz, who was hospitalised at the weekend with pneumonia, while defen-

sive midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is doubtful as he is carrying a thigh and toe injury. Klopp received a boost on Sunday, as centre-back Neven Subotic passed a fitness test after a long lay off while Germany left-back Marcel Schmelzer is fit to be included after a throat infection and a bruised foot. The Ukraine league and cup double winners are backed by mining billionaire Rinat Akhmetov and have ambitions to become one of Europe’s major forces. Coach Mircea Lucescu said his team will have to produce something special to beat Dortmund. “Dortmund won the strongest group in this season’s competition and that gives you an idea of how good they are,” said the Romanian. “Maybe you wouldn’t call Borussia superstars but their team play has been perfectly fine tuned. “No one else in the Bundesliga plays such a passing and flowing game as Dortmund, but we have to think about our own preparations before thinking of the other team. “I hope the class and experience of our players will allow us to approach the Borussia games in top shape and so qualify for the quarter-finals.” Lucescu revealed Donetsk were beaten by Dortmund in 2010 for the signature of striker Robert Lewandowski and the Shakhtar defence will have to work hard to keep the Poland international quiet. Lewandowski scored his 19th goal of the season and was sent off against Hamburg on Saturday. “He’s an excellent player, it’s a shame he didn’t come to us five years ago when he was 19. He’s a dangerous player and we have to respect him,” said Lucescu. The return leg is at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park stadium on Tuesday March 5. — AFP

MADRID: The world’s richest football clubs Real Madrid and Manchester United meet today here in a Champions League last 16 first-leg tie described by Jose Mourinho as “the match the world is waiting for”. Alex Ferguson takes his United side to the Spanish capital after extending their lead at the top of the Premier League to 12 points with Sunday’s 2-0 win at home to Everton. “The world is not waiting for other matches in the Champions League so I hope we can give the world what they are waiting for,” purred Madrid boss Mourinho. The meeting also marks the latest instalment in the Ferguson-Mourinho duel with the Scot emerging triumphant last time the pair locked horns as United disptached Mourinho’s former employers Inter Milan 2-0 on aggregate at the same stage of the 200809 competition. His current Madrid side is sixteen points behind Barcelona in La Liga and only the delivery of a tenth Champions League title to the famous old club would be enough to appease his critics in the Spanish capital. Mourinho’s reign at Madrid has been a tumultuous one this season, with a series of dressing room disputes between the Portuguese coach and his players. However, one of the club’s captains Sergio Ramos feels the tension in the Madrid camp has been overplayed and that his team are motivated for the United game. “It’s more a case of things that people said that weren’t true than a reality of conflicts in the dressing room,” Ramos told English Sunday newspaper ‘The Observer’. “If there are problems in the dressing room or if the relationship is bad and stories are published that can create issues and affect you, it generates a problem. “But when there are no problems and people invent it, it does not matter,” added Ramos, who was dropped by Mourinho and told to train apart from the squad for several weeks earlier this season. Despite the problems Madrid are enjoying some good form, losing only once in twelve outings in all competitions, and it is two years since they lost a Champions League game at the Santiago Bernabeu when Barcelona were the victors. Cristiano Ronaldo will face his old club on the back of another hat-trick in the 4-1 win over Sevilla on Saturday and his attacking partner Gonzalo Higuain is convinced their side can beat United in the Bernabeu. “With our individual quality and counter-

MANCHESTER: Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic, center, trains with teammates at Carrington training ground in Manchester, yesterday. Manchester United will play Real Madrid in a Champion’s League round of 16 soccer match today. — AP attacking play we can do a lot of damage to team-mate Ronaldo is the key man to stop. United. We have to keep it solid at the back “You get as many people around the ball and find our winning mentality and team spir- when he’s got it as possible, but Madrid are it,” he said. that good a side you have to make sure you’re Madrid are almost at full strength and the set up right and that your team are in good inclusion or not of Portuguese centre-half positions all over the pitch to defend. Pepe is Mourinho’s big dilemma. “The fans appreciated him when he was Pepe has recovered from an ankle injury in here and since he’s been gone they sing his time, but has not played a minute since the name. He came here a young boy and left a turn of the year and only started training world-class player. He showed a lot of respect again last week. when he left and still does,” Ferdinand French youngster Raphael Varane or the added. — AFP experienced Ricardo Carvalho are the alternatives to partner Ramos in the centre of defence. The return of Xabi Alonso in midfield will be key for the Spaniards. Matches on TV He was rested against Sevilla after suffering discomfort last week and he missed the Spain (Local Timings) friendly against Uruguay in midweek but trained on Monday and should be ready. UEFA Champions League United rested Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young and Shinji Kagawa Real Madrid v Man United 22:45 against Everton, but with rivals Manchester Aljazeera Sport +4 City losing on Saturday, Ferguson did not introduce the wholesale changes he had Shakhtar v Borussia 22:45 promised. United are undefeated in fourteen games Aljazeera Sport +5 and Ferdinand told that former

Steven Gerrard penalty miss triggers Liverpool meltdown LIVERPOOL: Liverpool crashed to a dismal 2-0 defeat against West Bromwich Albion on Monday as Steven Gerrard’s penalty miss triggered an Anfield meltdown. Brendan Rodgers’ side looked set to secure their first win in four Premier League matches when Gerrard stepped up to take a late penalty, but the Liverpool captain’s effort was saved by Ben Foster and Albion went on to take full advantage of that escape. Gareth McAuley headed the opener with nine minutes remaining and Romelu Lukaku’s stoppage-time strike secured Albion’s first league victory in seven attempts and lifted them above Liverpool into eighth in the table. “The players gave everything, but we just couldn’t make the breakthrough and the longer it goes on, it gives West Brom a wee bit more encouragement,” Rodgers said. “I can’t fault the players. We weren’t at our best but we certainly were on the front foot. We just needed that first goal.” Albion’s third successive win against Liverpool was also sweet revenge for manager Steve Clarke, who was the Reds’ assistant manager under Kenny Dalglish last season before being sacked at the end of the campaign. “Since the turn of the year things haven’t

gone our way, so it’s a terrific win for us,” Clarke said. “To come here and play a Liverpool team, probably playing as well as they have all season, I’m absolutely delighted for the players.” Liverpool made the running for most of the match without ever hitting peak form. They had the ball in the net early on when Foster failed to deal with a long-range dipping Glen Johnson effort and Jonjo Shelvey pounced to tap in the rebound, only for the linesman to correctly rule the midfielder offside. Daniel Agger then went close with a header from a Stewart Downing corner but Foster tipped the Danish defender’s effort over the crossbar. Rodgers’ side became increasingly desperate as the half wore on and Luis Suarez appealed in vain for a penalty after the Liverpool striker tumbled when challenged by McAuley. Liverpool tried to up the tempo in the second half and Jordan Henderson almost rounded off a flowing move with a clever backheel that Foster blocked with his legs. The Reds kept pressing and Downing laid the ball off to Fabio Borini, who tested Foster with a curling low shot that the former Manchester United keeper did well to keep out.

Gerrard also forced Foster into a fine onehanded stop to prevent the England captain’s powerful effort hitting the back of the net. The hosts’ pressure finally seemed to have paid off when Suarez went down in the Albion penalty area under pressure from Jonas Olsson in the 75th minute. West Brom’s players were unhappy but referee Jon Moss was quick to award the penalty. Gerrard stepped up to take it, but his low strike wasn’t hit with enough power, allowing Foster to plunge to his left and make the save. Rodgers tried to spark Liverpool back into life by sending on Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho for his debut, but it was Albion who stole the points. Youssouf Mulumbu’s stinging drive forced Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina to concede a corner in the 81st minute and from Chris Brunt’s set-piece, McAuley rose highest to power his header past Reina via the crossbar. As Liverpool poured forward in search of an equaliser they were left exposed at the back in stoppage-time. James Morrison released Lukaku and the on-loan Chelsea forward showed impressive pace and power to surge clear of Agger before driving his shot through Reina’s weak attempted save. — AFP

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard controls a ball as his team lose 2-0 to West Bromwich Albion during their English Premier League soccer match at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, Monday Feb. 11, 2013. —AP

Wheelchair tennis star Vergeer retires



Ligety wins second gold medal of worlds


Real host Man United in clash of titans

Page 19

GLASGOW: Celtic's Welsh defender Adam Matthews (L) vies with Juventus' French striker Nicolas Anelka (R) during the UEFA Champions League last sixteen football match between Celtic and Juventus at Celtic park in Glasgow, Scotland, yesterday. Juventus won the match 3-0. — AFP

Ruthless Juventus thrash Celtic 3-0 Matri, Marchisio and Vucinic deflate dominant Celtic GLASGOW: Juventus secured a largely undeserved 3-0 win over Celtic in their Champions League last 16 first-leg tie yesterday after an otherwise backs-to-the-wall display to silence almost 60,000 passionate home fans at Parkhead. Alessandro Matri handed Juve a third-minute lead and they then weathered a Celtic storm in a red-hot atmosphere before Claudio Marchisio struck in the 77th and Mirko Vucinic made it three in the 83rd as the hosts tired. Matri scored after taking advantage of a mistake by Celtic’s Efe Ambrose, who went straight into the team after winning the African Nations Cup with Nigeria on Sunday, and Kelvin Wilson’s valiant attempt to clear on the line came too late. The Scottish champions, who beat Barcelona in the group stage, launched a series of assaults on goal for the rest of the first half but Kris Commons wast-

ed several chances and a couple of penalty appeals against Stephan Lichtsteiner were ignored. The pace eased in a less frantic second period and the Serie A leaders increased their advantage through Claudio Marchisio and Mirko Vucinic to be perfectly placed to reach the quarter-finals when they host the return leg in Turin on March 6. Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon had tried to play down the impact of Celtic’s famously noisy fans ahead of the match but even the coolest of Italians would have struggled not to have been affected by the fervent Glasgow atmosphere. Almost all the Celtic fans in the near 60,000 crowd stood with scarves aloft singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” before kickoff but they were soon cursing their luck after manager

Neil Lennon’s decision to throw Ambrose straight in backfired. The centre back got caught out by a ball played over the top of the defence and Matri easily outmuscled him before prodding it between goalkeeper Fraser Forster’s legs. Wilson ran back to hook it away and although the ball had already just crossed the line, Marchisio fired home the clearance just in case. That was the only real chance twice European champions Juve had in the first half as they were then forced to withstand a Celtic onslaught in front of the screaming Parkhead fans. Commons was just wide with an overhead kick in the pick of their chances while midfielder Victor Wanyama also twice went close as Celtic looked to storm back and win like they did 4-3 in their last home meeting

with Juve in 2001. Andrea Pirlo clashed repeatedly with Scott Brown in the midfield but Lichtsteiner’s continuous battle with Gary Hooper at corners as the Celtic striker tried to block Buffon could easily have warranted a spot kick or red card for either player. Celtic, the 1967 European Cup winners who last reached the Champions League first knockout round in 2008, ran out of steam after the break but Ambrose spurned a chance to redeem himself by heading straight at Buffon when free. Slightly out of the blue, Italy midfielder Marchisio then struck for Juve after being set up by Matri and Vucinic made it three as Celtic tired to leave the visitors in control. — Reuters

Valencia maintain hope against clinical PSG VALENCIA: Paris Saint-Germain will take a 2-1 lead into the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against Valencia, but a dramatic late turn of events handed the Spanish side a lifeline. Going into the 90th minute here at the Mestalla yesterday, the French league leaders appeared in cruise control thanks to first-half goals from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore. However, French international centre-back Adil Rami found the net in the final minute to keep Valencia in the tie, before PSG had Zlatan Ibrahimovic controversially sent-off for a studs-up challenge on Andres Guardado. The Swede, who has been criticised in the past for failing to produce his very best in the Champions League knockout stages, will now miss the return leg at the Parc des Princes next month, but at least PSG will have a lead to defend in that game. “Ibrahimovic did not deserve the red card. I don’t understand the decision,” an unhappy PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti told French Canal Plus television at full-time. Despite the ending, for much of the evening this was a classic away European performance from Ancelotti’s side, who ceded possession to their hosts but were always a threat on the counter-attack. “We played well and had chances to score more goals,” added the Italian. “It was a good team performance, but this was just the first leg. There is still the return to come.” History suggested that this would be a major test for PSG, who were playing a knockout tie in Europe’s top club competition for the first time since 1995. Since then, Valencia had reached two Champions League finals, and had never been beaten by French opposition at their Mestalla home. However, PSG, backed by massive investment from their Qatari owners, are emerging as a major continental force, and they travelled to Spain with

their confidence buoyed by a run of 12 matches unbeaten in all competitions. Valencia have considerably improved since Ernesto Valverde took over as coach two months ago, and they had held Barcelona to a 1-1 draw in their last home outing. However, they got off to a nightmare start to this game, with the lively Lucas Moura crashing a shot from 25 yards off the post as a prelude to the visitors’ opening goal. Lavezzi has been outstanding during PSG’s superb recent run, and it was no great surprise to see the Argentine break the deadlock as he played a lovely one-two with Pastore before sending in a shot that Vicente Guaita in the home goal really should have kept out. PSG allowed Valencia to dominate possession after that, but they were always a menace on the break, especially down the home side’s left, where the attack-minded Guardado had been forced to fill in with Aly Cissokho and Jeremy Mathieu both injured. Valencia fell further behind when Lucas turned the unfortunate Guardado inside-out on the right flank before picking out Pastore, whose first-time shot was too good for Guaita. Valverde made a double change at half-time, with Sergio Canales and Nelson Valdez replacing Ever Banega and Jonas, but the pattern of the game remained much the same. The Spanish side had plenty of the ball, but PSG came closest to scoring again, with Lavezzi squandering a glorious chance after being picked out by a brilliant Marco Verratti pass. Ibrahimovic almost netted a classy third goal after a onetwo with substitute Clement Chantome, who then saw his follow-up effort disallowed for offside. But Valencia finally found a route back into the contest as Rami appeared unmarked in the area to head home a trademark dead-ball delivery from Tino Costa before Ibrahimovic was given his marching orders. — AFP

VALENCIA: Valencia’s forward Nellson Haedo Valdez, center, duels for the ball against Paris Saint-Germain players, Blaise Matuidi, right, and Sylvain Armand, left, during a Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia, Spain, yesterday. — AP


Turkey’s Islamic banks consider sukuk issues Page 22 OPEC lifts 2013 world oil demand growth forecast Page 23


Cheap yen a boon and a risk for Japan firms Page 25 Page 26

Air Arabia launches service from Sharjah to Baghdad

BRUSSELS: (Left to right) French Economy, Finance and Foreign Trade Minister, Pierre Moscovici talks with EU Internal Market and Services commissioner Michel Barnier before an Economic and Financial Affairs meeting yesterday at the EU Headquarters in Brussels. — AFP

Barclays vows fresh course, axes 3,700 jobs New chief Jenkins to put ‘ethics above earnings’ LONDON: Barclays’ new chief executive pledged a fresh course for the British lender yesterday, axing at least 3,700 jobs and pruning its investment bank as he seeks to rebuild its reputation and boost profitability after a series of scandals. In an attempt to distance Britain’s third biggest bank from the aggressive, high-risk culture championed by his predecessor, Antony Jenkins said Barclays would put ethics above earnings at the bank, which has become a focus for public anger at the excesses of the financial sector. “Barclays is changing. There will be no going back to the old way of doing things. We are changing the way we do business, we are changing the type of business we do,” Jenkins said. “I understand why there is cynicism and skepticism out there given the track record of banks in the past. You should judge us by what we deliver in the next one, two, five or ten years,” he said at a news conference. Jenkins unveiled his grand plan, dubbed “Project Transform”, at London’s Royal Horticultural Halls, an Edwardian exhibition space well away from the bank’s skyscraper headquarters in Canary Wharf and just a short walk from parliament, where lawmakers have heavily criticised the bank for its misdeeds. Keen to show change is afoot, Jenkins cut pay for investment bankers, halted speculative trading in soft commodities and closed a profitable tax advisory unit, which one lawmaker last week said advised clients on “industrial scale tax avoidance”. Jenkins, wearing a bright blue tie and sober grey suit, gave a precise presentation but rarely strayed into awkward territory. He refused to answer questions about the future of Rich Ricci, head of the investment bank and one of the last remaining senior executives of the previous era. “I can’t predict the future,” Jenkins said. He committed to keeping the investment bank, which contributes more than half of group earnings, and did not go as far as rivals such as UBS or RBS in cutbacks in this area, saying the division was one of “an increasingly small group” of firms winning business and improving margins.

Kuwait CMA urges better Islamic finance oversight

LONDON: Anthony Jenkins, Group Chief Executive of Barclays bank, poses for photographers during an interval in a media conference in central London yesterday. — AFP Investors applauded the bank’s plans to raise its dividend and cut 1.7 billion pounds in annual costs, including eliminating 1,800 jobs in corporate and investment banking and 1,900 in its European retail and business banking. “A commitment to cost reductions and evidence of cost control in the investment bank bonus pool have spurred today’s renewed optimism,” Simon Maughan, strategist at Olivetree Securities, said. Barclays shares surged 7.5 percent to 325 pence, their highest level for two years, making them the strongest performer in a European banking index up 1.1 percent. The bank’s shares are up 75 percent since Jenkins took the helm at the end of August, lifting the its value to $62 billion. Jenkins, 51, has said he expects “Project Transform”, his plan to revamp the bank, to take five to 10 years and has told staff they should leave if they

do not want to sign up to the new standards. He cut the average bonus for investment bankers to 54,100 pounds for last year, down 17 percent on the year. It will pay 1.85 billion pounds in bonuses, down 14 percent. “We need to give our investors a bigger share of the income we generate,” he said. But he warned there would be no quick fix and the bank would not deliver his target of a return on equity above 11.5 percent until 2015. Jenkins will focus investment in Britain, the United States and Africa, and cut back in continental Europe and Asia. Nearly one in three of Barclays’ branches across Italy, Spain, Portugal and France will close, or about 340 branches and sales centres, and remaining retail operations there will focus on well-off customers.—Reuters

KUWAIT: Islamic financial institutions in Kuwait should hire enough personnel to ensure they comply with sharia standards, and work with the personnel in a transparent way, the country’s market watchdog said yesterday. The statement by the Capital Market Authority (CMA) appeared to be in response to concern about uneven self-regulation by the institutions. The number of Islamic financial firms, which obey religious principles such as a ban on the payment of interest, has increased substantially in Kuwait and elsewhere in the Gulf over the past decade. The companies have in-house sharia boards of scholars who rule on whether their products and activities are sharia-compliant, and sharia compliance officers who check whether guidelines are being followed on a day-to-day basis. But around the Gulf, the industry has been hampered by shortages of experienced scholars and qualified staff, and by rulings by sharia boards at different companies that sometimes conflict with each other, confusing investors. The CMA’s statement yesterday called for “the appointment of a sufficient number of legal observers in accordance with the size of the institution”. It urged institutions to provide “full transparency” in their communications with compliance officers. The watchdog also urged companies’ sharia boards to take more care to issue rulings that were in line with each other. The CMA’s statement was a recommendation, not a new set of regulations. CMA officials could not be reached for comment. There are five Islamic banks and around 30 mostly Islamic investment companies listed on Kuwait’s stock market, as well as 15 “takaful” Islamic insurance companies. — Reuters

Egypt index gains, Dubai market ends lower MIDEAST STOCK MARKETS DUBAI: Egypt’s index marked its biggest gain in nine days yesterday after protests marking the second anniversary of the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak a day earlier were smaller and less violent than expected. Most other Gulf markets also rose, but Dubai’s main index continued its retreat from Sunday’s three-year high. Demonstrators demanding the departure of President Mohamed Morsi clashed with police outside his palace on Monday, but these appeared more subdued than previous bouts of anti-Morsi unrest. “Retail appetite was the main driver for the market today - everybody was cautious yesterday and thought there would be further escalation of violence but it was not as bad as expected,” said Mohamed Radwan, director

of international sales at Pharos Securities. Investors also placed bets that there may be a cabinet reshuffle more in favor of the opposition. Egypt will hold parliamentary elections in April. “A cabinet reshuffle is possible but very unlikely before the elections,” says a Cairobased trader on condition of anonymity. Cairo’s index rose 1.1 percent in its biggest gain since Feb. 3 and eighth advance in the past 10 sessions. Palm Hills Development and El Saeed Contracting Co climbed 2.4 and 3.9 percent respectively. Citadel Capital added 1 percent. In Saudi Arabia, the index climbed 0.4 percent to a near two-week high. Banks and petrochemical stocks supported gains. Heavyweight Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC)

added 0.5 percent and lender SABB rose 2.8 percent. Yanbu Cement surged 4 percent to a five-year high after the firm’s board recommended a 50-percent increase in capital to 1.57 billion riyals. It will issue one share for every two shares held, pending approval. It will also add 262.5 million riyals to statutory reserves, according to a bourse statement.Elsewhere, Dubai’s measure fell and Abu Dhabi ended flat as some investors booked profits on fears that an early-year surge has left stocks over-priced. Dubai’s index slipped 0.5 percent, its second decline since Sunday’s 38-month high. “People are starting to worry because there’s no solid catalyst to push equity prices higher,” said a Dubai-based

trader who spoke on condition of anonymity. “Valuations are beginning to get stretched.” Emaar Properties fell 1.2 percent to 4.9 dirhams, down for a second day since Sunday’s four-year peak. Lender Emirates NBD dropped 2.1 percent. Abu Dhabi’s index ended flat, matching Monday’s 35month high and up 11.1 percent in 2013. Abu Dhabi’s Commercial Bank International, which rarely trades, surged 14.8 percent. A tentative recovery in property prices and fewer bank provisions in the last quarter has helped the UAE market mount an early-year rally, yet some worries remain. “The most important thing is sustainability in revenues and that’s not confirmed yet,” the trader added. — Reuters



Turkey’s Islamic banks consider sukuk issues Fast asset growth has left capital ratios low

BEGUMPET: A Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 taking off during the opening day of India Aviation 2012 at Begumpet airport in Hyderabad. — AFP

New issue premium back in Gulf’s bond market DUBAI: After largely disappearing last year, the new issue premium is back in the Gulf’s bond market - a prospect which is likely to slow though not halt debt sales by a wide range of issuers this year. For six months or so, Gulf issuers only had to pay a tiny premium above the secondary-market yields of their outstanding bonds when they issued new debt - or in many cases, no premium at all. That was because of record-low US Treasury yields as well as the dramatic improvement of the Gulf’s image in the eyes of international investors, as Dubai and other economies recovered from the global financial crisis. In the last couple of weeks, however, it has become clear that a back-up in US Treasury yields and strong global equities mean new Gulf issuers will once again have to pay substantial premiums. “We have to take into account the global headwinds and investors’ mood, as there are periods when the markets go through periods of softness, as the one we are witnessing now in the global markets,” said Sami Mahfouz, head of Standard Chartered’s global markets business for the United Arab Emirates. “This needs to be taken into consideration given that significant demand is also from the global investors and not just regional.” In a sense, the Gulf is paying a price for the increase in the popularity of its bonds among international investors last year. Previously, when almost all demand for bonds came from cash-rich institutions within the region, pricing of new issues was partially insulated from global trends; now the global environment cannot be ignored. After a massive rally at the beginning of this year, emerging market hard currency bond funds experienced outflows for the first time in 35 weeks in the week to Feb. 6, according to data from EPFR Global. For some analysts and investors, the shift in the bond market is not a short-term phenomenon but the start of a long-term process. “The great bull market in bonds is coming to an end. People get anchored on a view that a particular asset class is going to give double-digit returns all the time,” Gary Dugan, chief investment officer for Asia and the Middle East at Coutts, the private banking arm of Royal Bank of Scotland, said at an event in Dubai last week. “There is a serious risk that you can lose money in bonds or sukuk this year, so we are telling clients to start looking at equity instruments.” A very few emerging bond markets have been able to ignore the trend. One is Turkey, where Akbank was able to command very tight pricing of its 1 billion lira ($530 million) Eurolira bond at the end of

January. The Gulf is not one of those markets, however. The current mood means issuers will need to “leave something on the table for investors to put in the big orders”, said one regional fixed income trader. Another trader estimated borrowers would now need to pay a 15 to 20 basis point new issue premium for longer-dated bonds. That may be an underestimate; Russia’s VimpelCom had to pay a new issue premium estimated at between 25 bps and 40 bps on the dollar tranches of its $2 billion bond sale last week. Dubai paid no new issue premium - it actually priced inside its outstanding bonds - when it raised $1.25 billion from a two-tranche bond sale in late January. But the bonds soon came under selling pressure in the secondary market. The 3.875 percent 10-year sukuk, which priced at par, has traded below par since issue and was bid at 98.0 cents on the dollar to yield 4.116 percent yesterday. The change in the bond market’s tone already seems to be influencing Gulf issuers. There have been no conventional bond or sukuk deals from the region since Emirates airline priced a $750 million, 12-year amortising bond in late January. Just a few weeks ago, the market was expecting the first quarter of this year to be a busy period for new issues. One potential borrower is state utility Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), which has said it plans a sukuk issue of up to $1 billion in the first quarter. Reuters reported last month that the company had mandated banks for the deal, but chief executive Saeed Mohammed Al-Tayer said on Monday that the timing of the issue was still to be determined. “We are studying it and will decide on it next week,” Tayer said, without giving any indication of the tenor. DEWA’s existing $1.5 billion, 7.375 percent bond maturing in 2020 was yielding 4.0 percent on Tuesday, about 40 bps wider than a month ago. “Tightening spreads are good for borrowers but the region has been mainly considered as a yield play, and investors are interested in generating yield from creditworthy names,” Standard Chartered’s Mahfouz said. The return of the new issue premium while not deter Gulf issuers forever; yields are still a couple of percentage points or more below their level a year ago, and after a period in which they judge whether the new market environment is here to stay, issuers are likely to return to the market. Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank announced this week that it had mandated banks for a bond sale of at least $500 million, while National Bank of Abu Dhabi is to consider issuance of convertible bonds and other instruments at a meeting next month. — Reuters

STANBUL/SYDNEY: Strong investor demand and a need to improve capital adequacy ratios are causing Turkey’s Islamic banks to consider issuing subordinated sukuk, bankers and analysts say. Ibrahim Oguducu, head of the financial institutions business at Bank Asya, the country’s largest Islamic bank, said longer-tenor subordinated sukuk would help balance mismatches between the maturities of banks’ liabilities and assets, while diversifying their funding sources. “A public subordinated sukuk transaction would definitely attract more investor appetite than murabaha,” said Oguducu, declining to say whether his bank specifically was considering such an issue. Turkey’s four Islamic banks have so far issued only two sukuk; both were from Kuveyt Turk, which is 62 percent owned by Kuwait Finance House and raised a total of $450 million in 2010 and 2011. That is likely to change soon. Bank Asya said in December that it was finalizing a 100-150 million lira sukuk issue and also planned a $200-300 million dollar-denominated sukuk in the next two or three months. Officials at Al Baraka Turk, a unit of Bahraini lender Al Baraka, have been talking about a $200 million sukuk issue for over a year. The Turkish government’s landmark issue last September of a $1.5 billion sukuk, which drew massive demand, may be the trigger for such plans finally to go ahead. While subordinated instruments are more expensive for issuers than their secured counterparts, the current appetite for Turkish debt seems strong enough to translate into favorable pricing for the banks, protecting their profit mar-

gins in the increasingly competitive banking sector. And with Basel III global banking standards expected to be phased in from this year, some Turkish banks could consider subordinated instruments to raise capital, according to Alex Roussos, counsel at the Norton Rose law firm in Dubai. “Current capitalisation levels of certain banks and the desire for innovation would encourage them to consider such a structure,” Roussos said. “Where the underlying credit is solid and the issuer can present a good story, the hike in pricing of a subordinated sukuk will not be as painful. Issuers know they will still be able to get a decent pricing despite the subordinated nature of the instrument.” Turkey’s Islamic banks, which describe themselves as “participation banks” because of domestic political sensitivities and to adhere to local law, have in the past obtained their funding mostly from retail deposits and short-term, syndicated murabaha loans. Murabaha is a common cost-plus-profit arrangement in Islamic finance. Subordinated sukuk could give them a welcome alternative to these sources, while classifying the sukuk as Tier 2 capital would help the banks meet the regulator’s minimum 12 percent capital adequacy requirement as a proportion of assets. Although Turkish Tier 2 bonds have in the past priced about 85 basis points higher than comparable Eurobonds, a Tier 2 sukuk could see tighter pricing, a London-based banker estimated. “This spread may be a little bit narrower as sukuk investors are of a different style and may accept a narrower spread,” he said. In many parts of world, sukuk have been pricing slightly tighter

Egypt farm bank launching retail Islamic services CAIRO: Egypt’s main agricultural bank is launching Islamic retail services this month to meet increasing demand in rural areas, a bank official told Reuters. “We are launching sharia-compliant retail banking this month with a portfolio of 50 million pounds ($7.5 million) and can raise that to 100 million” next June based on demand, said Abdel Rahman Al Kafrawi, head of Islamic transactions at Principal Bank for Development and Agricultural Credit (PBDAC). Government-owned PBDAC will offer retail finance at 18 Islamic branches through murabaha and musharaka structures, he said. The bank has offered Islamic finance on a very small scale for several decades at 10 branches, and in 2012 won the central bank’s approval to raise the number to 24 branches. Al Kafrawi said the new Islamic services would cover areas including purchases of durable goods and agricultural equipment, the setting up of clinics and medical laboratories, and the financing of education fees. The bank has 1,210 branches across the country. Its chairman Muhsin Al-Batran told reporters last September that the bank would expand its Islamic services since a considerable proportion of farmers declined to take conventional loans because of Islam’s ban on interest. Of 5.8 million farmers who owned land, only about a million had borrowed from the PBDAC, he said, adding that the bank aimed to raise this to 3 million by increasing Islamic finance and other services. The share of Islamic business in the bank’s overall business is likely to remain tiny for the foreseeable future, however, as its total credit portfolio was 26 billion pounds in June. Islamic finance is expected to grow in Egypt after the overthrow in 2011 of Hosni Mubarak, whose government neglected the industry for ideological reasons. Egypt’s new government, led by an Islamist president, aims to expand the industry. —Reuters

than conventional bonds because of a shortage of supply relative to the size of cash-rich Islamic funds. Turkey’s Islamic banks have enjoyed a jump in assets over the last year, but profitability and capital adequacy remain concerns. The banks held a combined 68.9 billion lira ($38.8 billion) of assets in November, or 5.2 percent of the country’s banking assets, according to Turkish brokerage IS Investment. This represented 24.7 percent growth from a year earlier, compared to 10.2 percent growth for the overall banking sector. But net income for Islamic banks grew only 10 percent in the same period versus a 37 percent increase for the overall banking sector, the report showed. The capital adequacy ratio (CAR) for the Islamic banks combined stood at 13.68 percent in November, a fall of 0.34 percentage point from a year earlier, data from the regulator showed. The ratio for the overall banking sector was 17.39 percent, up 1.02 percentage point. “Participation banks like Al Baraka and Bank Asya have relatively low capital adequacy ratios. Subordinated bonds will boost their CAR and they will have a freer hand in giving out loans,” said Duygun Kutucu, senior analyst at brokerage Burgan Securities. “I think these (subordinated sukuk) will have a more profound impact on loan growth.” Bank Asya’s CAR stood at 13.77 percent as of September 2012, while Al Baraka’s was at 12.45 percent, according to bank financials. Kuveyt Turk’s CAR was 14.91 percent as of June 2012, according to a bank statement; Turkiye Finans, majority-owned by Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank, had a CAR of 14.24 percent as of December 2011. — Reuters

Dubai bank Mashreq sees 10-15% profit rise in 2013 DUBAI: The chief executive of Dubai’s Mashreq, the emirate’s second-largest bank by market value, said yesterday he was “optimistic” about the bank’s performance this year and expects profits to grow by between 10-15 percent. Mashreq reported last week a 67-percent jump in net profits in 2012, on the back of lower provisioning and higher fee income. While not reaching such heights this year, Abdulaziz Al Ghurair said the bank would still see healthy growth in earnings. “I’m optimistic about our performance in 2013 ... profits will be anything between 10 to 15 percent higher,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Dubai. Ghurair said he was hopefully that

provisioning at the bank would continue to recede in 2013 - they dropped to 826.5 million dirhams ($225 million) in 2012 from 1.2 billion dirhams in the previous year. Dubai lenders were hit hard by impairments on bad loans in the wake of the a collapse in the local real estate market, which saw prices slump more than 50 percent from their 2008 peak, and the need for statelinked entities to restructure billion of dollars of debts. However, most restructurings have been completed and recent months have seen signs of a recovery in Dubai’s property market, leading to optimism the worst is behind the emirate’s banking sector. —Reuters

Egypt to delay fuel subsidy rationing CAIRO: Egypt’s government will delay by up to three months a rationing of subsidized fuel initially set for April as part of austerity measures to secure a $4.8 billion loan from the IMF, its oil minister said yesterday. The quotas, to be implemented through a system of smart cards allowing drivers a limited amount of subsidized fuel, were due to start in April, just as the country is set to hold parliamentary elections. “The usage of smart cards for petroleum products will be implemented in the period

between April and July,” Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Osama Kamal told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event. The Islamist-led administration that took office in July vowed to push through a reform of subsidies, which swallow as much as a quarter of the state budget, to lower its deficit but is reluctant to hurt voters. It eliminated subsidies on 95-octane gasoline, the highest grade available, late last year, prompting many motorists to switch to subsidised lower-octane fuel. — Reuters

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 .4380000 .3780000 .3070000 .2800000 .2880000 .0040000 .0020000 .0762570 .7429510 .3900000 .0720000 .7283310 .0420000 CUSTOMER TRANSFER RATES .28100500 .4406300 .3813010 .3094920 .2821790 .0511270 .0443400 .2901140 .0362420 .2269640 .0029980 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0765490 .7457870 .0000000 .0749670 .7302850 .0000000

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

ASIAN COUNTRIES 3.056 5.262 2.885 2.233 3.309 228.760 36.461 3.552

.2840000 .4510000 .3870000 .3160000 .2880000 .3000000 .0067500 .0035000 .0770240 .7504180 .4050000 .0760000 .7356510 .0470000 .2831500 .4439230 .3841500 .3118050 .2842870 .0515090 .0446720 .2922820 .0365120 .2286600 .0030200 .0053530 .0022530 .0029030 .0036390 .0771210 .7513600 .4004950 .0755270 .7357410 .0070220

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

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

6.943 9.485 0.271 0.273 GCC COUNTRIES 75.430 77.721 734.700 751.300 77.023

Saudi Riyal Qatari Riyal Omani Riyal Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham

EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer 282.750 Euro 379.870 Sterling Pound 448.020 Canadian dollar 282.610 Turkish lire 159.590 Swiss Franc 309.020 Australian dollar 298.500 US Dollar Buying 281.550 GOLD 311.000 157.000 81.500

SELL DRAFT 294.08 285.33 312.08 381.76 282.40 445.79 3.08 3.586 5.238 2.237 3.287 2.884

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

Selling Rate 282.250 285.310 450.050 377.280 301.730 747.250 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

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

77.000 747.000 46.750 398.000 733.000 78.500 75.400

Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd

ARAB COUNTRIES Egyptian Pound - Cash 42.100 Egyptian Pound - Transfer 42.022 Yemen Riyal/for 1000 1.320 Tunisian Dinar 182.420 Jordanian Dinar 399.450 Lebanese Lira/for 1000 1.898 Syrian Lier 3.073 Morocco Dirham 34.482

20 Gram 10 Gram 5 Gram

76.96 751.93 42.03 402.32 734.97 77.98 75.52

SELL CASH 296.000 286.000 313.000 385.800 282.000 445.000 3.750 3.800 5.350 2.520 3.450 2.933

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 293.100 752.210 3.960 284.800 555.500 46.100 51.700 167.800 42.530 382.500 37.160 5.380 0.032 0.162 0.246

SELLDRAFT 291.600 752.210 3.563 283.300

229.000 42.041 381.000 36.010 5.241 0.031

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

3.100 400.830 0.191 94.410 46.300 4.350 239.400 1.832 51.900 734.710 3.010 7.220 78.240 75.520 228.960 33.870 2.694 446.500 44.900 310.800 3.400 9.840 198.263 77.120 283.200 1.370

10 Tola

GOLD 1,802.340

Sterling Pound US Dollar

400.790 0.190 94.410 3.300 237.900

734.530 2.890 6.958 77.810 75.520 228.980 33.870 2.236 444.500 309.300 3.400 9.680 77.020 282.800

TRAVELLER’S CHEQUE 444.500 282.800

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

Transfer Rate (Per 1000) 282.400 380.800 444.300 283.100 3.025 5.239 42.015 2.235 3.568 6.939 2.885 752.000 76.950 75.450



Stronger economy since 1st Obama State of Union WASHINGTON: As President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union speech last night he presides over an economy much healthier than the one he inherited four years ago. Yet growth remains slow and unemployment high. In early 2009, the US economy was in the midst of a full-blown panic sparked by the collapse of a housing bubble. Companies were slashing jobs. The unemployment rate was surging. Auto sales in January 2009 had reached a 26-year low.

“You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis,” Obama said in his first State of the Union address in February 2009. The numbers were frightening. Employers cut 794,000 jobs in January 2009 and 4.5 million from November 2008 through April 2009. Home prices plunged 19 percent in the 12 months that ended in January 2009. Eventually, they fell by a third overall before bottoming in late 2011. Perhaps the clearest barometer of the

pain was soaring unemployment. The unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in January 2009, just below the current 7.9 percent. But only two months later, in March 2009, it was nearly a full point higher - 8.7 percent. By October, it had peaked at 10 percent. The recovery has been agonizingly slow. Consumers have been wary about spending after piling up debt in the mid-2000s. Local governments, squeezed by tight budgets, have cut 560,000 jobs in four years. And until

recently, an anemic housing market discouraged the home construction that in past economic recoveries had powered growth. Now, companies are hiring modestly but steadily. Employers added an average of 181,000 jobs a month in 2012 and 175,000 in 2011. Still, unemployment remains far higher than the 5 percent to 6 percent that economists regard as normal. But home prices are finally rebounding as sales and housing starts have recovered. And Americans are

buying cars again. “During the last four years, the economy has stabilized,” says economist Sung Won Sohn of California State University Channel Islands. What has happened to the economy since 2009 likely would have happened whoever occupied the White House, Sohn says. “We tend to give a lot of credit or blame (for the economy) to the incumbent president,” he says. “The fact of the matter is, the US economy is like an aircraft carrier. You can turn it around but not on a dime.” —AP

OPEC lifts 2013 world oil demand growth forecast Cartel boosts demand growth forecast by 80,000 bpd LONDON: World oil demand will grow faster than previously thought in 2013, producer group OPEC said yesterday, citing signs of a recovery in the world economy. Consumption of oil will expand by 840,000 barrels per day (bpd) this year, the 12-member Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said in its monthly report, 80,000 bpd more than previously expected. The report adds to signs that oil demand is outstripping expectations in early 2013, and supporting prices. Oil hit a nine-month high above $119 a barrel on Friday, supported by stronger-than-expected demand growth in China. “While a tentative recovery in the global economy is visible, a number of fiscal-related

issues in the developed countries remain and are likely to impact growth in the coming months,” OPEC said. Due to higher demand, and little change in supply expectations from producers outside the group, OPEC expects demand for its crude to average 29.78 million bpd in 2013, up 130,000 bpd from the previous estimate. While the report suggests oil markets are in surplus, it points to a narrower gap between global supply and demand in the first half of the year as OPEC further trims production towards its target level of 30 million bpd. Demand for OPEC crude will average 29.20 million bpd in the first half of 2013, the report estimated, while OPEC in January lowered its output by about 21,000 bpd to 30.32 million

bpd according to secondary sources. That implies inventories could build up by about 1.12 million bpd in the first half should OPEC maintain January’s output rate, less than the 1.3 million bpd stockbuild indicated in last month’s report. Saudi Arabia told OPEC it produced 9.05 million bpd in January, little changed from 9.025 million bpd in December, confirming figures provided last week by an industry source. OPEC’s is the first of this month’s three closely watched supply and demand reports to be released. The US government’s Energy Information Administration is scheduled to release its latest update later. The International Energy Agency, adviser to 28 industrialized countries, issues its report today. —Reuters

IMF leaves Ukraine, loan talks to continue KIEV: The IMF, leaving Ukraine with a promise it would return to talks on a $15 billion loan, warned Kiev it faced a second year of near-zero growth and was vulnerable to further shocks due to its high current account deficit. Rounding off a two-week visit to the former Soviet republic, the IMF mission said it would return in March to continue talks with the government on a new stand-by agreement to replace that which lapsed in December. Kiev has been in negotiation with the delegation since Jan. 29 on a new deal to help it service foreign debt repayments set to peak at about $9 billion this year. Money owed by Ukraine to the IMF itself accounts for about twothirds of that sum. Before the IMF mission left the Ukrainian capital for home its chief, Christopher Jarvis, issued a stark warning that Ukraine faced “serious challenges” in the year ahead. “In the absence of corrective policies our forecast for 2013 is growth of 0-1 percent and a high current account deficit that leaves Ukraine vulnerable to shocks,” he said in a statement. “With better policies Ukraine can achieve better outcomes ... We expect the mission to return to Kiev in March to continue the discussions,” he said. Harking back to a deal-breaker in the past - the Kiev government’s refusal to raise gas prices in the home - Jarvis said: “Large subsidies on gas and heating for households continue to undermine Ukraine’s budget and its balance of payments.” Ukraine has, to date, signed seven loan deals with the Fund. But the last one, which was also for $15 billion, was suspended in early 2011 part way through when President Viktor Yanukovich’s government refused to make ordinary Ukrainians pay more of the real cost of the gas it buys from Russia. Ukrainians officials gave no indication of what concessions the Kiev government might now - after a first round of talks - be ready to make to come to terms with the Washington-based Fund, one of its biggest foreign lenders. Ukrainian officials said the sides had given themselves more time for negotiations. “The (IMF) mission will carry out technical work in Washington and prepare the next round of talks,” Vitaly Lukyanenko, a spokesman for prime minister Mykola Azarov, said. “The mission is studying Ukraine’s fiscal, exchange rate, monetary and energy policies,” he said. Asked whether a memorandum on a new loan deal had been drafted, Lukyanenko said: “We are not at that stage yet.” Separately, Economy Minister Ihor Prasolov told reporters he expected another “technical” IMF mission to visit Kiev soon, followed by a third mission which would be ready to finalise the loan talks. “The (third) mission will arrive, maybe in the second half of March, in late March, and we, on both sides, will be more prepared to move towards drafting a memorandum and we will prepare for its signing,” Prasolov said. —Reuters

MUMBAI: Indian laborers work at the site of a building under construction in Mumbai yesterday. India’s industrial output slipped by a surprise 0.6 percent in December from a year earlier, data Showed. —AFP

India’s industrial output shrinks surprise 0.6% NEW DELHI: India’s industrial output shrank unexpectedly in December for a second straight month, official data showed yesterday, dampening hopes that Asia’s third-largest economy is reviving. The 0.6 percent fall in December output at factories, mines and utilities, undershot market expectations of a nearly one percent rise and cast doubt on assertions by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram that the economy is on the mend. The production figure “dashes hope of a mild recovery”, said Shubhada Rao, chief economist at India’s Yes Bank. The Index of Industrial Production was dragged down mainly by shrinking manufacturing output, which slipped 0.7 percent in December from the same month a year earlier. Industrial production contracted 0.8 percent in November. The weak figures put the government under increased pressure to introduce steps to reinvigorate the economy in its budget due at the end of the month at the same time as keep a lid on spending to contain a ballooning fiscal deficit. Business leaders reacted with dismay to the data and called for a “high-level committee” under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to “look into the issue of the industrial slowdown”. “It is definitely a cause for serious concern,” said Naina Lal Kidwai, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The weak numbers deal were another blow for the scandal-tainted government of Singh, who has been keen to kick-start the economy with his Congress-led administration facing elections in 2014.

“A sustained manufacturing revival is still not around the corner,” said Jyoti Narasimhan, an economist at research house IHS Global Insight, noting a 12.5 percent plunge in January’s auto sales from a year earlier announced a day earlier. The passenger car sector-seen as a key barometer of economic health-is expected to post negative sales growth in the current financial year to March 2013 for the first time in a decade. The government’s statistics office last week forecast India’s once-booming economy would grow by 5.0 percent in this financial year. Finance Minster Chidambaram has said he expects growth to be closer to 5.5 percent but in either case it would be the weakest pace in a decade. Last year, the economy grew by 6.2 percent but even that rate, while enviable by anaemic Western standards, is insufficient to create the jobs India needs for its fast-growing young population. Chidambaram said on the weekend there “are signs of an upturn that will take us to a high growth path”, insisting India “can recapture the magic of 2004-08” when average growth was 8.5 percent. In recent years, the economy has been buffeted by the global financial crisis, years of high interest rates aimed at taming stubbornly strong inflation, falling exports and insufficient investment. With India striving to avert a ratings agency downgrade of its sovereign debt to junk status due to its deteriorating finances and sliding growth, the government has announced a string of reforms to draw more foreign investment. —AFP

Bahrain sees sharp rise in economic growth

VILNIUS: A woman stands in front of the head quarter of Ukio Bank yesterday in Vilnius, Lithuania. Lithuania’s central bank suspended operations at Ukio bankas, citing involvements in risky activities by assessing “credit risks inappropriately” and no longer complied with the regulatory liquidity ratio. — AFP

DUBAI: Bahrain’s economic growth is expected to pick up sharply this year on the back of a stronger oil sector, large industrial investments and a robust regional economy, the government said yesterday. The Economic Development Board predicted gross domestic product would expand 6.2 percent this year before easing to 3.4 percent in 2014. It estimated GDP grew 3.9 percent in 2012, up from 1.9 percent in 2011. It The economy of the tiny island kingdom has been recovering gradually since it was hit hard in the first quarter of 2011 by pro-democracy protests led mainly by people. The government crushed those protests but scattered unrest has continued since then, weighing on foreign

investment and the tourism industry. GDP growth decelerated for most of last year, from 5.9 percent year-on-year in the first quarter to 3.1 percent in the third quarter, the board said without giving a number for fourth-quarter growth. Output from the Abu Safa oil field which Bahrain shares with Saudi Arabia was below normal for most of 2012 because of technical problems, hurting growth, the board said. Bahrain relies on the field for some 70 percent of its budget revenue. But the technical problems were fixed in November and this will boost economic growth in 2013, along with higher output from an onshore Bahraini oil field, the board said. —Reuters

FRANKFURT: Brokers are seen at the stock exchange in Frankfurt yesterday. —AFP

Arctic draws oil money with stability, shallow seas ANCHORAGE/OSLO: It may not be this year, but Royal Dutch/Shell and other oil companies will be back to drill in northern Alaska’s seas, drawn by political stability and shallow waters. Weary of Middle Eastern turbulence, alarmed by Argentina’s nationalization of Spanish group Repsol’s assets, and shocked by the Islamist siege of an Algerian gas plant, companies are looking to unexploited parts of the Arctic. Drilling in the cold, remote waters is technologically difficult and expensive but dwindling reserves elsewhere have forced oil firms to look deeper offshore, which is also costly. Alaskan seas so shallow a walrus can hunt on the bottom are now looking competitive and the prize is an estimated 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its gas. “A lot of these (oil) companies want to go somewhere with less political risk,” said Emily Stromquist of global political risk research and consulting firm Eurasia Group. Exxon Mobil is at the centre of a dispute in Iraq, oil is regularly stolen from Shell’s Nigeria pipelines by armed gangs, and BP and Statoil are reviewing operations in Algeria and Libya after a deadly Sahara gas plant siege. The offshore Arctic has no such risks. Border disputes between the eight politically stable Arctic Council are peaceful. It’s very isolation offers a security of sorts. “The Arctic is so inhospitable, you are not going to get maritime threats,” added Fraser Bomford, an intelligence analyst at security firm AKE Group. “It is not near land where there are lawless areas, like the Gulf of Guinea or the Gulf of Aden.” Nevertheless, storms and daytime temperatures averaging minus 30 degrees centigrade on the northern coast in January make it a challenging place to operate. Shell has suffered a series of setbacks since it bought the Beaufort and Chukchi Sea leases in 2005. In the latest of these, three out of four engines on a brand new tug failed in near hurricane conditions on New Year’s Eve 2012, allowing the Kulluk rig to break free from its towline and run aground. The company has yet to decide whether to drill in 2013, and on Monday sent the Kulluk to Asia for repairs. But Chief Executive Peter Voser was adamant last week that Shell, and others, would be back. The Beaufort and Chukchi Seas alone contain some 23 billion barrels of recoverable oil, according to the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). Leaving aside associated gas - which may be hard to bring to market given the weak outlook for US gas prices - that’s twice the contents of Shell’s producing oil and gas wells, which are emptying at a rate of 1.2 billion boe a year. Shell first drilled in the Arctic at 150 feet in 1982 when the offshore industry was still proud of reaching the 400 feet depths of the North Sea. It abandoned the area in the late 1990s as oil prices slumped. The deepest offshore wells now start at over 5,000 feet and are twice as costly as established parts of the North Sea and shallow offshore finds on the scale promised by Shell’s Arctic licenses are long gone elsewhere. Some 77 billion boe of oil and gas are set to be developed in deepwater zones between now and 2020 at a cost of $650

billion, according to research by Macquarie Equities Research - an indication of industry confidence in profitability. And at $35-$40, an Arctic barrel’s cost can be on a par with those deepwater barrels, according to Lars Lindholt, a researcher at Statistics Norway. International Energy Agency (IEA) figures also show Arctic and deepwater costs overlap. However, the Arctic price tag has yet to be tested where Shell is working, and where it has spent $5 billion since 2005 without a barrel to show for it. While onshore Alaskan development and work in milder Norwegian seas has defied the cold and remoteness for decades, Shell’s plans push the boundaries much further. Daytime temperatures are colder than a similar latitude in Norway and storms and currents cause ice surges called “ivus” that push and throw car-sized ice blocks inland. One once crushed a dwelling, killing its inhabitants. A 2012 report by the think tank Chatham House analysed storm tracks dating back to 1950s that suggest climate change - while opening up the seas - may be worsening the Arctic weather, producing more storms like the “Blizzicane” that struck western Alaska in 2011. Melting permafrost is damaging pipelines and coastal infrastructure ashore, and the retreating ice could result in larger icebergs, more coastal erosion, and bigger waves on a more open sea, the report says. Experts say offloading oil to tankers from the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas looks unfeasible, even during the July-to-October season in which Shell wants to work. Shell says it has completed pipeline projects in Russia, Canada and Norway in “similar” conditions, yet no subsea pipeline of the length required has been attempted in the area it targets despite an established onshore industry close by with some modest offshore development. Then there are the kit requirements. While a North Sea platform will typically operate with just three or four supply and support vessels, most Arctic regulations require a back-up rig and as many as a dozen response vessels. Rigs need expensive hydraulic fluids to cope with the temperatures. They also need to be winterised to protect people and pipes, and supplies have to move huge distances. Rigs of all types are in short supply. Support vessels are also hard to come by. Russia’s Yamal liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) project in the Kara Sea alone will need up to 16 ice-capable LNG vessels plus several ice breakers. Nevertheless, Chatham House estimates Arctic investments, mostly in offshore oil and gas extraction, could total $100 billion over the next decade. Statoil on Tuesday said it will develop an Arctic field and onshore oil hub in Norway at a cost of up to $16.3 billion and recently approved $10 billion for its Aasta Hansteen project. Italy’s Eni is meanwhile spending $6.7 billion on Goliat in the Barents Sea north of Norway, and Novatek and Total may put $20 billion into Yamal LNG. Rosneft and ExxonMobil also plan Kara Sea work, and Norway will sell 72 blocks in the Barents Sea this summer. Elsewhere in the north Alaska offshore, ConocoPhillips, Statoil, Eni, Repsol and Total also have Chukchi and/or Beaufort leases and plans to drill in 2014 and 2015. —Reuters



American and US Airways near mega-merger NEW YORK: American Airlines and US Airways are close to striking a merger deal that would create the largest airline in the United States in the latest bout of consolidation in the US aviation industry. Officials from the two companies declined to comment, but The Wall Street Journal reported that their boards are scheduled to meet separately, and a deal could be disclosed by today. “Discussions are still ongoing but no decision has been made,” a person familiar with the talks told AFP. A merger would assemble a powerful fleet of about 1,530 mainline and regional aircraft

flying some 6,428 daily flights. Combined revenues of $38.7 billion in 2012 would put them slightly ahead of United and Delta Airlines. The deal would help complete American’s expected emergence from bankruptcy restructuring. It would also cap a round of big airline deals that has remade the US airline business into a handful of giant carriers like Delta and United, which acquired Northwest Airlines and Continental respectively. The idea of an American-US Airways tieup has been floated since American went into bankruptcy protection in November 2011. The carrier has continued to operate under court supervision even as it sought to slash

costs by renegotiating wage and benefit deals with its unions. The prospect of a merger strengthened when union leaders publicly endorsed it in April, and talks moved ahead when the two firms signed a non-disclosure agreement to exchange confidential information in August. “It’s probably beyond the point of no return” said John Thomas, head of the global aviation practice at LEK Consulting. The move would allow deeper savings than either firm could achieve on its own, Thomas said. The firms could, for example, route more customers onto larger planes, which is more efficient for carriers.

There is little overlap in the route networks of the two airlines. The combined company would increase American’s offerings in the Northeast and in the southwestern city of Phoenix, where US Airways has hubs and is strongest. News reports say the combination could bring some $1.2 billion in cost savings. Overall, the US industry is in better shape than a few years ago, with higher fares and fewer empty seats as the US economy rebounds. Thomas said airlines have also picked up an additional $8 billion a year from charges on bag checks, food and other items. A deal would require not only the customar y approval of regulators and shareholders, but also the support of the US Bankruptcy Court that has been overseeing American’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy process.

Thomas said the combined firm might be required by antitrust regulators to divest some routes where there is overlap. Outstanding issues include what role American chief executive Tom Horton would play in the new company. US Airways CEO Doug Parker is expected to lead the new company. Tom Hoban, the communications chairman of the Allied Pilots Association union group, said American’s labor groups support the merger because it offers “better terms” to workers than what would come from a freestanding American. “It’s got a momentum of its own,” Hoban said of a deal. “Labor is strongly behind this merger. The investment banks are supportive. American’s senior executives are reluctant latecomers.” — AFP

MIAMI: American Airline planes are seen at the Miami International Airport. Reports indicate that a deal between American Airlines and US Airways to merge may be set for early this week. — AFP

Billions of dollars ‘hostage’ in Sudan raging disputes KHARTOUM: Billions of dollars in oil revenue for the crisis-hit economies of Sudan and South Sudan are being held hostage by Khartoum’s concerns over border security, diplomats and experts say. Sudan’s allegations that South Sudan supports rebels continue to halt the flow of lifeline oil from the south. There is no immediate hope of a resolution to the dispute between the two states despite months of African Union mediation, the experts say, concerned that tensions are escalating. “All of us are fed up with the negotiations,” Ali Abdullah Ali, a Sudanese economic expert, told AFP before the latest round of talks scheduled for today. “The failure of the two Sudanese nations’ negotiations has become an unquestionable reality,” The Citizen newspaper wrote in an editorial. South Sudan split from the north in 2011 with about three-quarters of united Sudan’s oil production on its territory. The new nation said petroleum provided 98 percent of its revenue. But it stopped production more than a year ago, accusing Khartoum of theft during a row over how much the South should pay for shipping its oil through Sudanese pipelines for export. Optimism returned in September when the Sudan and South Sudan presidents hailed an end to their conflict. They signed deals in Addis Ababa to resume the oil flow and demilitarize the undemarcated, disputed border where they fought in March and April. But months later, none of those agreements has been implemented. Sudan would have received $1 billion-$1.5 billion (750 million-1.1 billion euros) annually as transit fees and other payments under the oil deal, according to an international economist. Billions more dollars would have reached South Sudan from its oil exports. But Khartoum insists oil cannot flow until security issues are addressed.

A recipe for no progress’ It accuses South Sudan of backing rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, and this has been the major obstacle to implementing the September deals. The South denies such support. Among agreements in addition to oil, those pacts called for a border buffer zone and a reopening of crossing points for trade and passage. Khartoum is holding all these provisions “hostage” to security, particularly for South Kordofan and Blue Nile, a foreign diplomat said. “I think the north feels that if they allow a few of these things to go ahead that they will lose the leverage on the thing that’s most important to them,” said the envoy, asking for anonymity. But this is “a recipe for no progress,” said an international economist. It also runs counter to the African Union’s implicit directive last month that oil should not be held up by “differences of interpretation” on other issues, diplomats said, although they blame both north and south for the deadlock. “It’s an incredibly complex situation,” one envoy said. The African Union agenda has also become more complicated after crises in Mali and the Democratic Republic of Congo. “All the African heads of state are more or less getting sick” of the SudanSouth Sudan issue, another foreign diplomat said.In the meantime Sudan’s economy is worsening. The currency is under pressure and inflation, already above 40 percent, could hit 70 percent by mid-year, fuelled by the printing of money to finance a deficit officially set at 10 billion pounds (around $1.49 billion at black market rates). “The only way that they can sustain this without inflation becoming out of control is if they get an oil deal,” the economist said.But Sudan “seems to be muddling through” and the revenue from a deal may not be worth the risk of Juba’s petrodollars flowing back to the rebels, a diplomatic source said. —AFP

HADIDA: Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir (centre) inaugurating the Hadida oilfield located on the border between East Darfur state and South Kordofan, the country’s main oilproducing area. Billions of dollars in oil revenue for the crisis-hit economies of Sudan and South Sudan are being held hostage by Khartoum’s concerns over border security, diplomats and experts say. — AFP

Oil rises towards $119 as risk appetite rises LONDON: Oil rose towards $119 a barrel yesterday as investors assessed political developments in the Middle East and regained their appetite for risk. Tension in the Middle East remained high over Iran’s nuclear program, and analysts said investor concerns were focused more on Iran than on North Korea’s third nuclear test. Brent crude, which expires today, was up 58 cents at $118.71 a barrel by 1126 GMT, after settling down 77 cents on Monday. US crude was up 27 cents at $97.30 a barrel. “Fresh speculative money coming into the market, more effective sanctions on Iran and cold weather are all supportive for oil,” said Christopher Bellew, a broker at Jefferies Bache. The U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting to discuss North Korea’s test at 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT) yesterday. But it was Iran’s nuclear program that preoccu-

pied oil dealers. Iran is converting some of its higher-grade enriched uranium into reactor fuel, the Islamic republic’s foreign ministry spokesman said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday the new centrifuges Iran was installing for its uranium enrichment program could cut by a third the time needed to create a nuclear bomb. Tehran says the nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes. Oil markets were also focusing on weekly inventory data in top consumer the United States. US commercial crude oil stockpiles are expected to have increased by 2.9 million barrels last week, a preliminary Reuters poll of four analysts showed on Monday. Distillate stocks, which include heating oil and diesel fuel, were projected to be down 800,000 barrels on average, while gasoline inventories were seen unchanged. —Reuters



Cheap yen a boon and a risk for Japan firms TOKYO: As the yen weakens, famous Japanese exporters from Toyota to Nintendo are getting a boost but the favorable exchange rate also carries risks by insulating some companies from pressure to overhaul their businesses. Against the dollar, the yen is near a three-year low and looks set to weaken further as the Bank of Japan falls into line with the new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to break Japan’s domestic economy out of its deflationary slump with very loose monetary policy - creating more money. One U.S. dollar is now buying more than 94 yen compared with 77-80 yen for much of 2012. It’s a big shift from several years of punishing yen strength that added to the problems of Japanese companies, particularly those in consumer electronics who fell behind more innovative or nimble competitors such as Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co. Some manufacturers worked to minimize their vulnerability by moving production abroad and doing more business in dollars. That means the perk of “yen yasu” or cheap yen is diluted for the companies that were most diligent at reshaping their business. Others that did not change or could not are set to get big rewards from the weak yen policies dubbed “Abenomics.” Yet analysts warn yen-yasu can make companies complacent and slow to change, which ultimately has its reckon-

TOKYO: Traders work under a screen indicating the US dollar is trading at 93.530 yen on the foreign exchange market in Tokyo. —AP ing later on when the yen changes direction. Some companies that benefited from a weak yen in the past made unwise investments, such as over-expanding with plants in Japan, or otherwise squandered the leeway of time they had gained through the weak yen to turn around their business, said Azusa Kato, economist at BNP Paribas in Tokyo. “Abenomics sounds like a good story,

but there is always a ‘but’ that follows,” she said. Sony Corp., which has floundered for several years as its mainstay TV business was battered by competition and falling prices, says it has striven to become “dollar neutral” - business speak for making its profits less dependent on the fluctuating exchange rate between the dollar and the yen. It says it has done that by shifting

more production overseas and denominating more of its expenses in dollars. But Makoto Morita, a strategist at Daiwa Securities Co., said other companies may opt to maintain production in Japan because they want to keep prized core technology in-house. “The answer isn’t all that simple,” said Morita. “It depends, case by case, on the strategy of the company.” Sony President Kazuo Hirai is playing down the importance of the yen’s recent decline. “It’s very short-term at this point. It’s a bit too early to try to draw any conclusion,” he told reporters last month. “It might stabilize, or it may actually go back to what it was before.” Even so, the maker of Bravia TVS and PlayStation 3 game machines anticipates a 50 billion yen ($540 million) increase in sales for every one yen drop against the dollar. It says that won’t boost profit because of its dollar neutral work but yen declines against the euro and other currencies would. Sony is forecasting a return to profit after four years of losses for the fiscal year ending March. The turnaround is partly due to job cuts and other restructuring. Last week, it said October-December quarter sales inched up nearly 7 percent to 1.95 trillion yen ($21 billion) despite declining sales of gadgets such as flatpanel TVs and Blu-ray video recorders but only because of the weak yen. Other struggling electronics compa-

nies are also getting a boost but for some the cheap yen is more of a reprieve than an enduring solution. Panasonic Corp. reported last week it gained 3 billion yen ($33 million) in additional operating profit from the weakening yen in the latest quarter even as it stuck to its projection for a 765 billion yen ($9.6 billion) annual loss. Sharp Corp., which forecasts a record 450 billion yen ($5 billion) loss for its business year through March, has struggled to cut costs and reshape its business, partly because it has invested in expensive plants in Japan that make panels for which prices have fallen sharply overseas. The plants embody Sharp’s prized technology, but they also make the company hostage to the yen’s swings. Nintendo Co. raised its profit forecast for the year through March 2013 to 14 billion yen ($154 million) from 6 billion yen ($66 million), largely because of the weak yen. That’s despite having to lower the number of Wii U consoles it expects to sell by 1.5 million units to 4 million. Its currency gains for the nine months to December totaled 22 billion yen ($242 million), according to the maker of Pokemon and Super Mario games. But the weaker yen can’t solve the fundamental challenge that Nintendo’s business is facing: casual gamers shifting from specialized game machines to tablets and smartphones. —AP

G7: Excessive currency volatility hits stability Euro spike causes concerns: Hollande LONDON: The Group of Seven top industrialized nations said yesterday that “excessive volatility” in exchange markets undermines stability, in a statement by current G7 president Britain. But the statement stood by foreign exchange rates set by the market, despite objections from France last week to market-driven currency values, against a background of mounting concern about competitive devaluations. “We, the G7 ministers and governors, reaffirm our longstanding commitment to market determined exchange rates and to consult closely in regard to actions in foreign exchange markets,” they said in a brief collective statement. “We reaffirm that our fiscal and monetary policies have been and will remain oriented towards meeting our respective domestic objectives using domestic instruments, and that we will not target exchange rates. “We are agreed that excessive volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates can have adverse implications for economic and financial stability. We will continue to consult closely on exchange markets and

cooperate as appropriate.” Japan’s recent monetary easing has stoked fears, especially in Europe, of a so-called “currency war” between the major economies as policymakers seek to devalue their currencies to make exports more competitive. The G7 statement was published ahead of Friday’s G20 meeting in Moscow, where exchange rates are expected to figure prominently after Japan took steps to boost its economy and exports. Japan’s latest measures pushed the yen lower, making exports cheaper than its competitors, and prompted France to call for a debate and action to make the sure that the eurozone’s exports were not put at a disadvantage as a result. But Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso rejected on Friday criticism that Tokyo was orchestrating a slide in the yen, a day after German leader Angela Merkel voiced concern over the new Japanese government’s exchange rate policy. “The criticism that (the government) is manipulating the currency rate is completely off the mark,” Taro Aso told a regular press briefing in the Japanese capital. French President Francois Hollande has also


in brief

Iberia presses for major job cuts despite strike MADRID: Spanish airline Iberia pressed ahead with its job cuts plan yesterday, saying it was now aiming for 3,807 redundancies, despite a threat by unions to take strike action later this month. Iberia, part of the International Airline Group, has said the job reductions are necessary to allow the loss-making airline to return to growth. The job cuts will comply with Spanish labour laws, Iberia said in a statement, which allow pay-offs of only a year’s salary. Iberia had originally planned to axe 4,500 jobs, a quarter of its workforce, but later presented unions with a plan for 30 percent fewer reductions. Unions rejected the proposal and called for strikes over 15 days between February and March. The plan for the job reductions will now undergo a formal 30-day consultation process with unions, Iberia said. Goodyear tops Q4; EU weighs on outlook CLEVELAND: Goodyear easily topped Wall Street expectations for the fourth quarter, but shares slid before the opening bell with Europe dragging down the tire maker’s outlook for 2013. The Akron company cut its full-year outlook for 2013 segment operating income from $1.6 billion, to between $1.4 billion and $1.5 billion. The company broke even for the quarter, compared with net income of $18 million, or 7 cents per share, during the same period last year. Revenue was $5 billion, down from $5.7 billion last year as a sluggish European economy led to a 16 percent drop in sales for the region. Shares of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co, based in Akron, slipped 3 percent in premarket trading. —AP

raised concerns about a recent rise of the euro, which makes exports more expensive. He said last week that the exchange rate of the euro should not be left to short-term market forces, and commenting at a press conference on the G7 statement on Tuesday he said “we must work so that exchange rates are not used for commercial purposes.” Aso’s comments were the latest in a simmering row over Japan’s currency, with critics saying Tokyo’s pressure on the central bank for aggressive policy action amounted to meddling that could spark a global currency war. Overnight, Washington had urged the Group of 20 G20 economic powers, which holds a meeting later this week, to avoid competitive currency devaluation that would threaten global economic growth. “To ensure growth strategies in the world’s largest economies are mutually compatible and promote global growth, the G20 needs to deliver on the commitment to move to marketdetermined exchange rates and refrain from competitive devaluation,” said Lael Brainard, the Treasury official who will lead the US delegation to the meeting. —AFP

Coca-Cola profit rises on emerging markets NEW YORK: Coca-Cola says its profit rose 13 percent in the fourth quarter as growth in emerging markets offset a decline in Europe and a modest performance in the US. The Atlanta-based company said global sales volume rose 3 percent, driven by gains in countries such as Russia and Turkey. Volume in Europe fell by 5 percent. In North America, its biggest market by revenue, volume rose just 1 percent, boosted by its Powerade sports drinks and bottled teas. Soda volume declined 2 percent. The results come as Coca-Cola, which also makes Fanta, Minute Maid and Dasani water, relies on a shifting mix of drinks for growth in North America amid intensifying criticism of sugary sodas. Give the saturated US and European markets, Coca-Cola is also increasingly looking for growth in countries where the ranks of middle-class customers are growing and its products aren’t yet as widely consumed as they are back at home. In the US, Coca-Cola has been dealing with a broader decline in soda consumption for years. Although Coca-Cola said soda volume for North America declined in the quarter, the company said it increased its share of the market in both carbonated and non-carbonated drinks. The exception was bottled water, where Coca-Cola noted that it kept its higher prices steady on Dasani. Overall volume in Europe declined 5 percent, which the company blamed on the uncertain economy, bad weather and price competition.

SURFSIDE: Two cans of Caffeine Free Diet Coke on ice in Surfside, Florida. CocaCola reported Earnings yesterday. —AP Sodas declined 5 percent and non-carbonated drinks fell by 3 percent. In China, where US companies of all stripes are looking for growth, volume declined 4 percent, after growing 10 percent in the year-ago quarter. The company said the business in the region was impacted by a slowing economy, bad weather and a later Chinese New Year. For the October-to-December period, The CocaCola Co earned $1.87 billion, or 41 cents per share. That’s compared with $1.66 billion, or 36 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Not including one-time items, the company said it earned 45 cents per share. Revenue rose 4 percent to $11.46 billion. Analysts on average expected an adjusted profit of 44 cents per share on revenue of $11.53 billion. —AFP

PARIS: Workers of PSA Peugeot Citroen car maker demonstrate in front of the group’s headquarters yesterday in Paris to protest against the group’s restructuration plan which involves more than 11,200 job cuts in France, at the time of a negotiation meeting on the social support measures accompanying the plan. —AFP

Russia’s former ‘gas king’ dies aged 78: Gazprom MOSCOW: Former Gazprom chief executive Rem Vyakhirev, who turned the Russian state gas firm into a global giant in a decade in charge after the collapse of the USSR, has died, the company announced. He was 78. Vyakhirev, dubbed the “gas king” in Russia for his domination of the gas sector, was appointed to head the newly restructured Joint Stock Company Gazprom in 1992 by then president Boris Yeltsin. He stepped down after a tumultuous decade in charge that saw the company partially privatised in chaotic circumstances and is credited with restoring order after Russia brushed with economic meltdown in 1998. “Along with Vyakhirev a whole epoch in the life of modern Russia has died,” Alisher Usmanov, one of Russia’s richest men and the current director of Gazprom’s investment arm, told the Vedomosti daily. Gazprom said in a statement paying tribute that Vyakhirev “worked everywhere giving all his energy with a feeling of personal responsibility for carrying something out.” Reports said that he died at his dacha outside Moscow from heart problems late on Monday. Vyakhirev began his energy career in the 1950s in the Volga region before rising to be deputy gas industry minister of the USSR in 1983. Known for his inside-out knowledge of the technical side of business, Vyakhirev was a steady figure under Yeltsin who vehemently opposed attempts by the liberal “young reformers” in the cabinet to split up the mammoth firm. Vyakhirev resigned in May 2001 with new President Vladimir Putin clearly wanting a change in leadership and putting his close ally Alexei Miller in the chief executive seat. “Everyone always understood that Miller was someone put in his job whereas Vyakhirev had roots. He seemed to know every valve in the sector,” Vedomosti quot-

ed a Gazprom employee as saying. After his resignation as chief executive, Vyakhirev became Gazprom board chairman but resigned after the shortest of periods in 2002 and was thereafter virtually invisible in public life. Defended a strong Gazprom In a stark change of lifestyle, Vyakhirev lived reclusively at an estate outside Moscow which he rarely left, contenting himself with carp fishing and breeding deer. In 2011 he gave an interview to the Russian edition of Forbes magazine in what were his only public comments between leaving the firm and his death. “When Putin heard I was resigning he was so happy that (the Kremlin) immediately starting phoning me to give me a decoration,” he told the magazine. “Though in the end, they only gave it to me that winter.” Vyakhirev gave vent to the bitterness he felt towards the reformers in Yeltsin’s cabinet, notably the privatization supremo Anatoly Chubais. “There was never a more harmful person for the Russian state than Chubais and there likely will never be. They all (the reformers) wanted to tear up Gazprom.” Gazprom grew out of the USSR’s gas industry ministry and was partly privatised from 1993 in the much-criticised sale of state assets in post-Soviet Russia. It has grown into a cornerstone of the modern Russian state under Putin, a key earner of foreign currency revenues for the budget and a major source of the Kremlin’s political influence. Until his death, Vyakhirev remained an old school defender of a strong Gazprom and was not impressed by ideas that Russia needed to modernize and reduce its dependence on oil and gas exports. “They talk now about how to get off the gas needle. This is just stupid. This is a wet nurse, not a needle!” he told Forbes. —AFP

Auditor calls in to question French budget targets PARIS: France has only a slim chance of meeting ambitious budget targets intended to stabilize the country’s economy and meet European requirements, the national auditor warned yesterday. A pillar of the 17 group of European Union countries that uses the euro, France is the world’s fifth-largest economy. Investors and economists have been scrutinizing the country’s ability to control its finances and make it more competitive on a global stage. Yesterday’s report was the first national audit under Socialist President Francois Hollande, who has argued that new spending was needed to stimulate growth. The report, however, said that health care and military expenses were rising while tax revenues were failing to keep up. The administration has laid out a series of deficit-reduction targets to bring France in line with the limit set by the European Union of 3 percent of the

country’s annual economic output by 2014. But Tuesday’s report predicted that the deficit could rise as high as 4.5 percent compared to a euro-zone average of 3.3 percent. “It’s imperative to continue the effort and at the same time pull back on spending,” Didier Migaud, the leader of the France’s state auditing council, told Le Monde newspaper. The audit added that French debt was likely to grow beyond 90 percent of the country’s economic output for 2012. In response, French President Francois Hollande promised to lower growth predictions in coming days. “There’s no point in having goals if they can’t be achieved,” he said. Despite the warning, Hollande’s government is likely to come under pressure to spend more not less. The French military launched a campaign in Mali with costs estimated at 50 million euros and rising. And unem-

ployment continues to mount, forcing the government to pay out benefits to jobless workers. The report said rampant government waste is contributing to the problem. The audit singled out a controversial project to limit environmental damage to the landmark Mont-Saint-Michel monastery on the Atlantic Coast which it said was poorly managed and was unclear who will fit the bill for the 185 million euro plan. It also criticized payroll policies and perks at state-controlled utility giant Electrite de France, saying salaries continued to grow over the last decade even as private sector salaries stagnated amid economic slowdown. The report also recommended cuts to subsidies for newspapers and magazines, estimating that the French government spent 5 billion euros from 2009-2011 in subsidies with “limited results.” —AP



Rockport opens in Avenues Mall KUWAIT: In the presence of Sheikh Talal Al-Fahed Al-Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Head of Kuwait Union of Football, Fahed and Bader Abdulrahman AlBaker, owners of Winners International Trading Co, and various media channels in Kuwait, internationally acclaimed shoemakers for men and women, Rockport, opened its doors in Avenues Mall (Grand Avenue). The grand opening began with Sheikh Talal Al-Sabah introducing the shop’s booth in the heart of the mall, later moving on to Rockport’s new storefront location for the ribbon and cake cutting ceremony where he concluded by wishing the Al-Baker gentlemen continued success. Fahed Al-Baker, Chairman of Winners International Co, said that the opening of Rockport is a milestone for the company, explaining that there will be a quantum leap in the world of modern, comfortable sports shoes in Kuwait. Ultimately, he continued, the company’s

goal is to further expand by opening more branches in various areas of the country in the near future. Al-Baker thanked Sheikh Talal for his attendance as well as expressed gratitude to the media for their exceptional coverage of the event, saying that he

considers them a partner in the success of any project. Rockport was founded in the US in 1971, forever changing the shoemaking business by combining sport technology with the finest footwear. Today, Rockport continues to lead the industry in making style com-

fortable employing performance technologies from Adidas. Rockport has long sponsored sporting events, recently endorsing the Assa Abloy team in the Volvo Ocean Race. Its products have reached critical acclaim after climbers wearing one of

Rockport’s products successfully reached Mt Kilimanjaro. Eight athletes donning the brand’s DressSports shoes, running shoes that weight less than the average counterparts, finished the NYC Marathon, making Rockport a noteworthy label for athletes.

Air Arabia launches service from Sharjah to Baghdad

Lexus to host artist’s exhibition at Milan Design Week 2013 DUBAI: Lexus will stage a design exhibition in Par tnership with a worldrenowned artist at Milan Design Week in April 2013, where winning designs from the first Lexus Design Award launched last year will also be on display. Akihisa Hirata, an up-and-coming architect will create a space based on the concept of “-amazing flow-”. The space will present a multi-sensor y experience of “flow” through which visitors, can see the connection that brings together roads, humans, wind, and water as a single entity. The exhibition aims to deliver an amazing experience that will challenge visitors to imagine how the cities of the future will be. Toyo Ito, an architect who has been serving as the judge of the first Lexus Design Award will be supervising this “-amaz-

ing flow-” project. The exhibition will take place at central Milan’s Museo della Permanente art museum from April 10th, 2013 to April 14th, 2013. The ten winning designs from the first Lexus Design Award, which will be on display during Milan Design Week, will be announced on Feb 28th, 2013. Lexus continues to demonstrate its support of up-and-coming amazing artists that has been evident through the launch of the Lexus Design Award, Lexus Short Films and now the “-amazing flow-” exhibition at Milan. Milano Design Week is the world’s largest design exhibition. Furniture makers and fashion brands stage a variety of related events throughout Milan during the week to highlight the appeal and originality of their designs. The show is also known as Milano Salone.

SHARJAH: Air Arabia, the first and largest low-cost carrier (LCC) in the Middle East and Nor th Africa, yesterday announced the launch of non-stop services to Baghdad, its fourth destination in Iraq, and 83rd worldwide. The inaugural flight G90361 will take off to the Capital city on March 10, 2013. The low-cost pioneer will star t three week ly ser vices between Sharjah and Baghdad, which will be increased to five weekly services in the coming weeks. Flights depart from Sharjah International Airport at 14:30 and arrives Baghdad International Airport at 16:10. Return flights on the same days will depart Baghdad at 16:50 and arrive in Sharjah at 20:05 (local time). “Three months since we launched our last destination in Iraq, we are delighted to spread our wings further into the country, with the launch of services to the Capital city, said, Adel Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia. “Iraq is a market of focus for Air Arabia and today’s announcement further reiterates the commitment that we place on serving the Iraqi market.” With an approximate population of 7.3 million, Baghdad remains an important city to connect to from Sharjah. With the launch

said it partially offset by cutting its production cost of sales by 19 percent to $36.1 per ton. “We will continue to relentlessly cut costs across the group,” Chief Executive Nick von Schirnding said in a statement. Bumi was co-founded by now feuding parties financier Nat Rothschild and Indonesia’s politically connected Bakrie family. Shareholders are due to vote on Feb. 21 on proposals tabled by Rothschild as part of his effort to counter a plan by the Bakries to unwind the group. Schirnding, who has warned that backing Rothschild’s plan would lead to a stalemate and value destruction at the company, said Bumi had found ways to reduce fuel usage and that initiatives to change the long-term cost structure of the business were underway. — Reuters

Financial Market, is the Middle East and North Africa’s leading low-cost carrier. Air Arabia commenced operations in October 2003 and currently operates a total fleet of 33 new Airbus A320 aircraft, serving 83 routes from three hubs in the UAE, Morocco and Egypt.

MGS Open Text participates in Kuwait Documentation and Archiving Conference KUWAIT: The second Kuwait Documentation & Archiving Conference sponsored by MGS - Open Text and organized by Promedia was held on 6th and 7th of February, with the participation of many esteemed companies in the Gulf and Middle East. Mediterranean Sea & Gulf for Computer Systems Company - MGS is the platinum partner to Open Text Company (based in Canada ) considered one of the biggest

Bumi meets target, focus on cost cuts LONDON: Bumi Plc, the London-listed Indonesian coal mining group riven by a shareholder dispute, said it met its 2012 production targets and cut quarterly production costs, an area on which it said it would continue to focus. The company said yesterday that it mined 15 percent more coal in the fourth quarter, helping it meet its full-year production target of 21 million tons. Coal sales at PT Berau Coal Energy, in which Bumi owns an 85 percent stake, came in at 6.5 million tons in the last three months of the year, up 30 percent on the same period last year. Realized thermal coal prices dropped 31 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the year-earlier period, which the company

of the new service, Air Arabia will now operate 23 weekly services to Iraq, making it one of the growing markets for the carrier. In addition to Baghdad, Air Arabia currently offers non-stop services to Basra, Erbil, and Najaf. Air Arabia (PJSC), listed on the Dubai

international software companies. Bader Shieshani, MGS Sales Manager, stated “with an extensive experience for more than 16 years in enterprise IT and business solutions and consultancy services, MGS is now specialized in the Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions with

an important number of success stories” Applying the Content Management Solution and Electronic Archiving is very crucial for any organization (whether governmental or nongovernmental), due to its importance in documenting, protecting and retrieving information accurately and effectively; it is available now to continue the documentary cycle so easily and accurately. “we are helping companies to reach automation & paperless and we have achieved backlog services for more than 250 million documents. The system was successfully applied in many organizations, banks and other governmental authorities as well, inside and outside Kuwait,” said Shieshani. With Open Text ECM suite, the company will benefit from an efficient & effective automated processes, easier tracking and reporting and a strong collaboration between team member., reduction in the use of physical paper and forms and savings

cost. Furthermore, you’ll have an easier fulfilling ISO quality reporting requirement. Ahmad Samater, Open Text Country manager Qatar & Kuwait handled two presentations during the event in which he focused on OpenText Enterprise Information Management (EIM) technologies & next generation of Business Process Management. EIM and business solutions allowing organizations to take full advantage of enterprise information to gain better business insight, capitalize on opportunities to positively impact the business, improve process velocity, reduce risks related to information governance, and protect sensitive information and intellectual property from internal leaks and external threats. OpenText provides solutions across the entire range of core EIM capabilities sophisticated, secure, high-value, and costeffective - onsite, via mobile devices, private cloud, or in the cloud.



Nextdoor renovates before taking on world SAN FRANCISCO: Neighborhood social networking service rolled out home improvements yesterday along with word it is flush with new funding and eyeing community-minded cultures around the world. Launched in late 2011 as a modern variation on town squares where people get to know neighbors and catch up on local news, Nextdoor has taken root in more than 8,000 US communities and is adding nearly 40 neighborhoods daily. “Neighbors really do want to bring back a sense of community,” said Nextdoor cofounder Nirav Tolia. Nextdoor is about matters such as finding babysitters or gardeners; getting rid of unwanted skis; finding out when a pothole will be fixed; tracking lost pets, and checking out suspicious activity.

“It doesn’t mean people want to be friends with their neighbors, you do that on Facebook,” Tolia said. “Now is the time for technology to play a real role in connecting the neighborhood.” Nextdoor is free. The only caveat is that users must verify who they are and that they live in the real-world location that comports with the boundaries of the online neighborhood they wish to join. Watching how people are using the service inspired improvements that Tolia referred to as “Nextdoor 2.0.” Neighbors linked together online at Nextdoor exchange about a half-million messages daily, with a fifth of those said to involve concerns about crime and safety. Nextdoor upgrades include a section dedicated to neighborhood safety and ways to get text message alerts about

crimes, fires, police activity or other public safety emergencies. “We hear stories of neighbors not only preventing crime but actually helping capture criminal because they communicated,” Tolia said. “The service has started this notion of a virtual Neighborhood Watch.” was “redesigned from scratch” to be more intuitive for visitors and optimize layouts for smartphones or tablets as well as Web browsing software used on desktop or laptop computers. The San Francisco-based startup announced that it has raised $21.6 million in a new round of funding led by Greylock Partners, which was an early investor in Facebook and career-oriented social network LinkedIn. “We feel now we can build a similar company to Facebook and LinkedIn,” Tolia said.

Nextdoor, which has yet to generate revenue, raised $18.6 million in funding in July of last year. Tolia envisions eventually tapping into the massive local advertising market in the United States, with marketers reaching people where they live. Nextdoor has hired a vice president to oversee its international expansion, which Tolia said would begin this year. The roster of backers includes investment arms for Google and founder Jeff Bezos. “Wanting to connect with neighbors is not uniquely Silicon Valley or the United States,” Tolia said. “This year, we absolutely will be in other countries,” he continued. “Our foreign opportunity is probably better than in the US, because older countries tend to have a deeper ethos of neighborhood.” — AFP

Earth-monitoring satellite launched from California CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida: A new satellite to keep tabs on Earth’s changing landscape rocketed into orbit on Monday, ensuring continuation of a 40year-old photo archive documenting urban sprawl, glacial melting, natural disasters and other environmental shifts. The eighth and most sophisticated Landsat spacecraft blasted off at 1:02 pm EST (1802 GMT) aboard an unmanned Atlas 5 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch was broadcast on NASA Television. The so-called Landsat Data Continuity Mission, or LDCM, will join the sole operational 14-year-old Landsat 7 spacecraft in providing visible and infrared images from an orbital perch 705 km above Earth. The satellites circle the planet every 99 minutes, relaying pictures showing details down to about the size of a baseball diamond. The images, which are distributed at no charge, are used by federal, state and local governments and planning boards worldwide to monitor crops, assess damage from fires, floods and other natural disasters as well as to track coastlines, glaciers and other areas impacted by global warming. “LDCM will continue to describe the human impact on Earth and the impact of Earth on humanity, which is vital for accommodating 7 billion people on our

planet,” project manager Ken Schwer, with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, told reporters during a preflight press conference. Monitoring food production, for example, is essential to sustaining Earth’s growing population, added Thomas Loveland, a senior scientist with the US Geological Survey, which is partnered with NASA on the Landsat program. “Our federal programs that map the type and extent of crops needed to understand what the food supply will be and the impact on the market will benefit greatly from this,” Loveland said. Landsat’s commercial customers include Google, which uses the images in its popular virtual Google Earth program, and the insurance industry which, for example, taps Landsat data to assess risk exposure to wildfires in the western United States and gauge crop production. The Landsat program has been providing imagery since the first satellite’s launch in 1972. LDCM was built by Orbital Sciences Corp. Once operational, the satellite, which cost NASA $855 million, is expected to relay 400 images per day to ground stations in South Dakota, Alaska and Norway. The Atlas rocket is manufactured and launched by United Launch Alliance, a joint partnership of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. — Reuters

KOBE: Yu, an approximately 25-year-old female loggerhead turtle, swims after receiving her 27th pair of artificial front legs at the Suma Aqualife Park yesterday. — AFP

Artificial legs boost limbless loggerhead KOBE, Japan: A sea turtle that lost her front legs to a shark attack was bidding to match “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius yesterday, as she donned the latest in artificial flipper technology in Japan. Yu, an approximately 25year-old female loggerhead turtle, was testdriving her 27th pair of artificial front legs around her home aquarium near Kobe in western Japan, where she proves a draw for the crowds. The rubber limbs are attached to a vest slipped over her head, said the aquarium’s curator, Naoki Kamezaki. “ We have worked hard to design the vest in a way that prevents the turtle from taking it off unwittingly,” he told AFP. “It can flutter the limbs as

the vest is soft.” The creature, which weighs 96 kg and has a shell 82 cm long, was pulled out of a fisherman’s net and sent to the Suma Aqualife Park in mid-2008. One third of the right limb and half of the left limb were gone, in what Kamezaki believes must have been a shark attack. The aquarium started developing artificial limbs for the animal in late 2008 as it could swim only at about 60 percent of its normal speed. Earlier versions were squeezed into the stumps but were apparently painful to Yu. “Similar attempts have been made to attach artificial limbs to turtles around the world. But

we have not heard if they went well,” said Kamezaki, an expert on sea turtles, whose surname coincidentally means “turtle cape” in Japanese. “Ours may be the only case in which a turtle with artificial limbs is still swimming without a problem.” In 2004, a dolphin at an aquarium in Okinawa, southern Japan, became the first in the world to be fitted with a rubber tail fin. It lost its own tail due to illness. South African sprint king Pistorius, whose legs were amputated below his knees, won plaudits for his performance at last year’s London Olympics where he competed alongside able-bodied athletes. — AFP

Nothing says ‘I’m yours’ like a chocolate head VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, California: The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas-V rocket with the Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM) spacecraft onboard launches on Monday. — AFP

Corporate data loss affects customers too Whatever the causes, data loss affects everybody: the company, its employees and even its customers. According to B2B International survey customer information as well as financial data, both at 36 percent, are lost most often. This is closely followed by employee data - lost or stolen in 31 percent of cases. The causes of data leakage can be both external and internal. 35 percent of IT specialists confirmed their companies had lost data due to malware infection - the most common external threat. The next most common causes are emailbased attacks (21 percent) and phishing (17 percent). When it comes to internal threats, the loss of important data is most often caused by vulnerabilities in a company’s software (25 percent) that cybercriminals exploit to infect victim computers. A high proportion of data leaks were from mobile devices: 23 percent

of respondents identified the loss of data and 15 percent the theft of a mobile device as the cause of a data breach. In 13 percent of cases, important information fell into the wrong hands due to negligence, for example, sending messages to the wrong email address. Petr Merkulov, Chief Product Officer, Kaspersky Lab points out that the range of cyber-threats leading to data loss illustrates how important it is for every company to realize the necessity of multi-level protection. An effective corporate security solution must protect against both external and internal threats using the right tools for the job: anti-malware technologies, corporate security policies, data leakage prevention methods, control tools and many other features. I’m glad to say you can find all these security measures and more in Kaspersky Lab’s business solutions.”

TOKYO: Chocolate hearts for loved ones on Valentine’s Day are so last year - at least in Japan where one Tokyo design firm offered up its 3D scanner to make miniature chocolate replicas of faces. In a one-off celebration for Valentine’s Day, KS Design Lab invited people to be scanned with its 3D body scanner to create silicon moulds in the shape of their heads. Participants then poured chocolate into them to make mini-me treats on a stick. “I didn’t actually think it would turn out to look this much like me, so I’m a bit surprised,” said Mariya Kawae, 30, who planned to give out heads to her husband and work mates. After the scan people were invited to edit their facial data on a computer before it was sent to a 3D printer, the next step for creating the mould. Once the mould was in hand, all that remained was to pour in the chocolate. Give it 15 minutes to harden, and each person had a replica of their head roughly 3 cm long, mounted on a stick like a lollipop for handy eating. Though participants made only one piece of chocolate during the event, each was given the mould to take home for use in making more chocolates or perhaps even ice cubes. — Reuters

American Express users can shop at Twitter SAN FRANCISCO: American Express on Monday began letting users of its payment cards make purchases with messages fired off at Twitter as the popular social network dabbles with making money from e-commerce. American Express announced that members who synchronize their cards with Twitter can take advantage of offers “tweeted” by the financial services company. American Express will promote products in messages fired off at Twitter.

Card holders buy items by tweeting indicated hashtags, with their accounts being charged accordingly. Depending on the offers, products will be shipped to buyers or picked up in shops. “We’re leveraging our unique technology and closed-loop network to introduce a seamless solution that redefines what’s possible in the world of social commerce,” said American Express senior vice president Leslie Berland. “We

know there is significant power in combining our assets with Twitter’s platform.” American Express said cardholders will be able to buy Sony,, Xbox 360 or Urban Zen products in tweets by using special hashtags, or words preceded by the “#” symbol. Twitter and American Express have worked together in the past with alliances that let cardholders take advantage of discounts offered in coupons tweeted by merchants. — AFP


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

Anti-Stretch Ireland moves to quell Sebamed Mark Cream fears over horsemeat S Govt calls meeting to discuss European response BRUSSELS/DUBLIN: Ireland said yesterday it would order Irish meat processors to carry out DNA tests to reassure consumers worried by the discovery of horsemeat in some beef products and called a meeting of European ministers to discuss a wider response. The horsemeat scandal affecting a growing number of European countries began in Ireland after its food safety authority discovered horsemeat in frozen beef burgers. The discovery led major food companies like Tesco and Burger King to drop their Irish producers and Irish investigators to point the finger at Poland as the country of origin for raw materials that contained as much as 75 percent horse DNA. Poland has disputed the findings. The decision to ask Irish manufacturers of processed meat products to carry out DNA testing was “a necessary step in order to provide further reassurance to Irish consumers and consumers of Irish food abroad,” Ireland’s agriculture department said. Ireland, which holds the EU

CAPELLAN, Luxembourg: A facade of the Tavola plant, a subsidiary of Comigel which supplies frozen meals to supermarket chains and other clients to around 15 countries. The French food company Comigel which supplied frozen lasagne to British supermarkets found to contain up to 100 percent horsemeat, today shut down its website and declined to answer media enquiries. —AFP presidency, also called a meeting of ministers from European countries affected by the horsemeat scandal. Irish Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney wants Wednesday’s meeting in Brussels to discuss “whatever steps may be necessary at EU level to comprehensively

VA adds 1,000 mental health professionals

WASHINGTON: The Department of Veterans Affairs says it has added more than 1,000 mental health professionals and 200 support staff to meet the needs of returning veterans, but still has more to do to meet a requirement set by President Barack Obama. The VA still needs to hire about 550 more doctors, nurses and counselors by June 30 to comply with an executive order that Obama issued last August.

The VA announced its hiring program shortly before an inspector general’s report found the department had overstated how quickly it provided mental health care to veterans seeking help. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is holding a hearing Wednesday to examine what progress has been made since that report. The VA says it’s also beefed up staffing on a telephone crisis line. —AP

address this matter”, it said. European Union Health Commissioner Tonio Borg and ministers from EU countries affected by the horsemeat scandal will attend. The issue will also be on the agenda of the next formal meeting of EU agriculture ministers on Feb 25, Ireland said. Concern grew last week when the British unit of frozen foods group Findus began recalling its beef lasagne on advice from its French supplier, Comigel, after tests showed concentrations of horsemeat in a range from 60 to 100 percent. Comigel said the questionable meat came from Romania. Tesco, Britain’s biggest retailer, said on Monday it had found horse DNA exceeding 60 percent in some of its own-brand frozen spaghetti bolognese meals withdrawn from stores last week. In Britain, where eating horsemeat is taboo, farm minister Owen Paterson has said he sus-

pects an “international criminal conspiracy” lies behind the affair. The French and British governments have vowed to punish those found responsible. Adding to concerns are indications that some horsemeat, perfectly edible in itself, may contain a drug known as bute - a common, anti-inflammatory painkiller for sporting horses but banned for animals intended for human consumption. The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, has said it regards the horsemeat scandal as a labelling issue rather than a health concern. Romania’s prime minister said on Monday any fraud over horsemeat sold as beef had not happened in his country and he was angered by suggestions it might have been. “From all the data we have at the moment, there is no breach of European rules committed by companies from Romania or on Romanian territory,” Victor Ponta told a news conference. “I am very angry, to be honest.” An initial French investigation revealed that the horsemeat ended up in Comigel’s Luxembourg factory, supplied by a French firm, and that a Dutch and Cypriot trader had also been involved. However, the meat originally came from a Romanian abattoir. At the planned EU meeting, France wants to raise the question of origin labelling for meat in processed products, French farm minister Stephane Le Foll said on Monday. French government inspectors are currently going through the sales records of Comigel to see if any products liable to contain mislabelled horsemeat are still on the market despite the withdrawal of products by six retail chains. —Reuters

ebamed Anti-Stretch Mark Cream offers your skin the support of effective skin care, which at the same time protects the health of the biological acid mantle of skin pH of 5.5. The unique triple-soft formula helps to maintain the skin’s elasticity. This helps to prevent new stretch marks from forming, furthermore it also works to treat existing stretch mark. Prevention and regeneration of the affected skin, this cream with natural ingredients will keep your skin looking its best and help prevent stretch marks from occurring. Even if you have stretch marks Sebamed AntiStretch Mark Cream will help to support their elimination. The pH value of 5.5 of Sebamed Anti-Stretch Mark Cream stabilizes the health of the skin’s natural acid mantle and its barrier function. With unique Triple Soft Formula your skin elasticity is improved. Avocado oil and sheabutter together with other lipids provide effective skin care and protection of the upper skin layers. The exceptional combination of Centella asiatica (Tiger grass) extract and peptides supported by the liquid-crystalline lipid structure of Olivem 1000, an olive oil derived complex, which increases the efficacy of the other active ingredients, supports the connective tissue adapting to the changing body volume to prevent structural damage. Thus perfected, Sebamed Anti-Stretch Mark Cream works as preventive care by eliminating existing stretch marks on all parts of the body, especially the sensitive areas like breasts, abdomen, hips and upper thighs.

Dar Al-Shifa Hospital welcomes Dr Sadeq KUWAIT: Dar Al-Shifa Hospital announced is considered to be one a top expert at genthe appointment of Dr Adnan Sadeq - eral, laparoscopic, bariatric and hepatobilConsultant General and Laparoscopic iary surgeries, while also performing central line insertion for dialySurgery and Consultant sis, and following-up with Hepatobiliary Surgery to its liver, kidney, and pancreas professional team. Dr Sadeq transplant patients. is specialized in general and Dr. Sadeq received the laparoscopic surgery, hepatoCanadian Board certificate biliary surgery - a surgery of in General Surgery along the liver, pancreas, gallbladwith the American Society der and bile duct for benign of Transplant Surgeons and malignant disease, board in multi-organ transbariatric surgery - operating plant and the Bachelor of on obese patients, and vascuMedicine and Bachelor of lar access surgery for dialysis Surgery (MB ChB) from the a procedure that replaces kidUK. ney function when the Commenting on his organs fail. appointment, Dr. Sadeq Over the course of his proDr Adnan Sadeq said: “With my long years of fessional career, Dr Sadeq was experience and skills in the first medical professional in Kuwait to perform a kidney-pancreas bariatric, hepatobiliary and vascular access transplant along with laparoscopic surgeries for dialysis, I hope to bring more nephrectomy. Moreover, he was also the success to the General Surgery department first to perform the laparoscopic donor at Dar Al Shifa hospital, which is acknowlnephrectomy in Bahrain, Qatar, eastern edged for its professionalism and providing province - Saudi Arabia and Syria. Dr. Sadeq the latest medical technologies available.”


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

Dogs cross species barrier, help cheetahs LOS ANGELES: It may sound like a doomed love story, but some dogs love big cats. Cheetahs are the fastest mammals in the world, but they also are the world’s biggest scared-cats - so much so that they don’t breed easily and are in danger of extinction. Some zoos are introducing “companion dogs” to serve as playmates and to provide the cats with an example. “It’s a love story of one species helping another species survive,” said Jack Grisham, vice president of animal collections at the St. Louis Zoo and species survival plan coordinator for cheetahs in North America. “It is all about comforting and reassuring the cheetah,” said Janet Rose-Hinostroza, animal training supervisor at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park - the top US breeder of cheetahs in

captivity. In the past 40 years, 135 cheetahs have been born at there. The cheetahs most often found at zoos and wildlife parks are not considered good breeding candidates because they don’t relate well to other cheetahs, or they are abandoned by their mothers, Rose-Hinostroza said. But they seem to take easily to companion dogs and look to the dogs for play and example. Of the 19 cheetahs at Safari Park, four have dogs. Four of the San Diego Zoo’s cheetahs also have dogs. The dogs, usually from animal shelters, and cheetah pups generally are introduced when they are about 3 months old. “In this relationship, the dog is dominant, but we look for dogs that want to be a buddy,” Rose Hinostroza said. “Dogs worry about their cats. They protect their cats,” she added. One of the most popular

draws at Safari Park is the 100-meter cheetah run where the public gets to see firsthand the speed of “nature’s perfect sprinter.” “Speed is incredibly important. It is their survival technique, in a nutshell,” Rose-Hinostroza said. A cheetah’s claws don’t retract, so they have footing that takes them from “zero to 60 (miles per hour, 96 kph) in 3.4 seconds,” she said. “That’s faster than every single car on the market, and it only takes three steps,” RoseHinostroza said. Cheetahs use their tails like a rotor to balance while they are running. Their top speed is 60 to 70 mph, based on size, but they can run that fast only for 20 or 30 seconds. Extending that to a minute or more can be lethal. “Overexertion, heat exhaustion can literally cook their organs at that speed,” Rose-

Hinostroza said. She added the average cheetah chase in the wild is 200 to 300 meters. Safari Park’s cheetahs chase a lure for 100 meters, a sprint that seldom exceeds 6 seconds. A century ago there were 100,000 cheetahs in the wild, Grisham said. Today there are fewer than 12,000. The species has become extinct in at least 13 countries. There are about 280 captive cheetahs in zoos across the United States. As efforts to save the species continue, Grisham worries there is no wild to send them home to because habitat is being swallowed up by developers and poachers are killing the cats for their fur. Cheetahs live 12 to 15 years in captivity. Males weigh 120 to 150 pounds, and females 100 to 120 pounds. The dogs come in all sizes.

At Safari Park, the smallest and sweetest is Hopper, a male mutt who weighs 18 kilos. He’s teamed with Amara, the toughest female cheetah on the team, Rose-Hinostroza said. Cheetah females don’t go into heat like other cats. Instead, they have to be brought into estrus by a male cheetah, the experts explained. That’s why breeding is so hard. Cheetahs live independently and they seldom hang out with one another.Although the dogs and cats live together, the dogs also have play dates with other dogs and humans. Mealtimes always are spent apart. The dogs eat kibble, and the cheetahs eat steak. “The dogs are the bosses in these relationships,” Rose-Hinostroza said. “If they ate together there would be one really fat dog and a really skinny cheetah.”

One of Safari Park’s dogs - the only nonshelter dog - is Yeti, an Anatolian shepherd. She works with two cheetahs - Johari and her brother Shiley. No one is sure when the idea of cheetah dogs started, but Anatolian shepherds helped advance it. The San Diego Zoo was given a pair of cheetahs in 1981 on the condition they be given dogs because they were used to them. A few decades ago, Dr. Laurie Marker, founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund in the southern African nation of Namibia, brought Anatolian shepherds from Turkey and raised them to protect area goat herds. “The Anatolian shepherd weighs up to 150 pounds and isn’t afraid of anything,” Grisham said. “They’ll square off against lions and leopards. They don’t always win, but they are very protective. —AP


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

Greetings Many, many happy returns of the day to Shaikh Mohammed Ayaan. Best wishes from father Shaikh Aslam Basha, mother Tabasum Begum, Brother Mohammed Ashraf, sister Faiz Uncle Shaikh Anwar Basha, aunty Sajida Begum and Dada, Dadi, Nana, Nani, Kalesha and Shahida near and dear ones from Kuwait and India.

Ernst & Young Presents the New Era of Human Resources and Training Management


n February 10, Ernst & Young organized a complimentary seminar for the local HR professionals introducing the new trends in Human Resources and Training Management. The half-day breakfast event was held at Holiday Inn Salmiya and has covered important issues such as talent development, the new direction of corporate training, and measuring the return on investment on corporate training programmes. More than 100 HR executives have attended the event. On this auspicious occasion, Ernst & Young MENA Leader for Financial Accounting and Advisory Services and Assurance Partner, Mr. Nadeem Shafi expressed his views; “We are delighted to offer such a unique and leading edge event to our HR professional community in Kuwait. Ernst & Young has taken this initiative to provide a learning platform on a regular basis for our valuable Human Resource Executives to gain benefit from our experienced subject matter resources and from other colleagues to exchange their views on best local/international practices. We

hope that this will help them to make a step change in respectof certain HR practices in their respective organizations. Globally HR departments are going through a time of tightening budgets but increasing demands from the

executive management. This environment dictates that today’s HR professionals need to expand their traditional administrative focused roles and acquire skills that will enable them to strategically align HR operations with corporate goals. To achieve this, it is vital that HR Managers have the ability to develop staff skills based on company specific competency frameworks, and implement targeted corporate training programs in the most appropriate format (classroom, e-learning, or blended). Ensuring that training is efficient and effective is also one of the key parameters in the context of the new role assumed by the HR professionals. Setting measurable KPI’s throughout the organization will allow for all training initiatives to be targeting specific outcomes, which can be evaluated and presented in the form of monetary return on investment (ROI). The three key speakersof the event, Ms. Nadia Hashem, Mr. DimitrisTolis and Mr. Yiannos Ashiotis with their international but also local experience have addressed the above topics providing global best practices and trends.

A Chili’s favorite everyday at KD 4.900


hili’s Kuwait, the world’s largest American casual dining restaurant chain launches special value daily meals at prices lower than the set menu. All the attractive daily special meals are priced at 4.900 Kuwait Dinars. The new offering is available from February 14th till April 14th 2013. On the occasion of the launch of the new daily special meals, Chairman/CEO of Al Ghunaim Group Mr. Abdulghani Khalid Al Ghunaim said, “We always seek

ways to surprise our customers and bring them an added value combined with enhanced taste. This new promotion will offer our guests the chance to try most of our special meals at a very special low price.” Mr. Mohamed Menessy added, General Manager Al Ghunaim group “We are proud to be seen as the pioneer of ideas in the hospitality industry in Kuwait. With the special discount meals we offer both our frequent and first-time

visitors a chance to try a variety of our specials.” A specially-priced meal will be available on different days. On Mondays and Tuesdays guests can taste respectively Churassco steak and Ribs. Classic Fajitas and Cilantro Pesto Pasta will be the special daily meals reserved for Wednesdays and Thursdays. The weekend specials will be Country Fried Steak and Margarita Grilled Chicken. The Monterey Chicken will be the Sunday special.

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.


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.


Kitchen Rock Band music itchen Rock’s Valentine program on February 15 at Asia Asia Royal Hall, AlWatiya Complex, Kuwait City, 7pm onwards. Enjoy the New Version band, Selda band and Freefall band.


Salsa & Jive classes alsa & Jive classes in Salmiya: Take the Dive, with Salsa & Jive, Two left feet wont stop the beat. Join now as an individual or a Couple. Unleash your potential. Individual attention to all students guaranteed. For details contact: 97979816 / 94445711


Air India Valentine ‘Ladies Special’ offer


he Maharaja is pleased to offer the “Ladies Special” on his flights from Kuwait to Indian Gateway Points of Ahmedabad, Goa, Hyderabad and Chennai as a special gesture to kick start the International Women’s day Celebration falling on 8th March 2013, with the following features: You will get a 10% discount on the base fare if you are an adult lady passenger and you are purchasing your ticket in February 2013 for travel between Kuwait/India/Kuwait on AI 975/976/981/982 for destinations Ahmedabad, Goa, Hyderabad and Chennai. You can avail it for your one way or return journeys. You may start you travel anytime between now and 31st Mar’13 We welcome all our valued Women passengers on board Air India to fly the Maharani way!

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

IDF distributes health guide

Celebrate a romantic Valentine’s Day at Marina Hotel Kuwait


pend this valentine weekend in the heart of Kuwait and enjoy the best Arabian hospitality at Marina Hotel Kuwait. The hotel with breathtaking views, invites you to enjoy an enchanted Valentine’s Day getaway. Show the one you love how much you care with a package specially developed. Find real romance at Marina Hotel offering a wide array of experiences that will surprise and delight you. Set against the backdrop of the hustle and bustle of the city, you will feel as though you are in a far away destination with a few added Valentine touches from Marina Hotel. Enjoy your welcome drinks upon arrival and the deluxe room with a specially prepared Valentine’s Day theme. During the evening, bring your loved one to the Atlantis Restaurant which will

be filled with scented candles and enjoy a scrumptious Valentine dining experience combined with great hospitality and marvelous views on the sparkling waters of the Arabian Gulf. Valentine’s special include an indulgent buffet dinner crafted for this unique occasion to entice the senses, an array of quenching drinks and roses to the guest before they leave. For a luxurious experience, the hotel has tailored special room packages with Valentine themed amenities inclusive of buffet breakfast at Six Palms restaurant and a special Valentine buffet dinner at Atlantis restaurant for two persons to celebrate the most romantic occasion of the year. For more information, please visit our website:

‘Kozhikode Fest 2013’


ozhikode District Association, Kuwait is celebrating its 3rd Anniversary titled- ‘Qualitynet Kozhikode Fest 2013’ - on 15th February 2013, Friday, at Integrated Indian School Abbasiya from 4.30 pm to 10.30 pm. Indian Ambassador Satish C Mehta will inaugurate the function. Malayil Moosakoya, veteran journalist and educationist will be honored during the event. Besides musical program by reputed South Indian playback singer Unni Menon, Sajla Saleem (Kairali TV and Asianet TV fame) and folk singer Praseetha, there will be mimics program by a comedy team consisting of 4 leading TV artists from India. The motto of Kozhikode Fest 2013 is to ‘Strengthen Karunyam’. The Karunyam Scheme of the Association aims to help the underprivileged section of Kozhikode in treatment of severe diseases like cancer, kidney ailments, heart ailments, etc. The Scheme has gone a long way since it was inaugurated one year ago. The Association could help 42 patients and distributed around Rs 8 lakhs in deserving cases. We are receiving large number of requests for financial assistance for medical treatment and we plan to continue this humanitarian work more vigorously in the coming years. Association conducted medical camps

in far off places and arranged free medical check-up and medicines. The 2 medical camps organized at United Poultry Company in Salmi near Saudi border, where the medical facilities were quite inadequate are the most noteworthy among the medical camps we arranged last year. Association has been in the forefront of raising the long pending demand for direct flight between Kozhikode and Kuwait. Air India Express started plying direct flight services between Kozhikode and Kuwait from the last season and it was a moment of satisfaction for the Association. The steps taken by our Association for getting the release of Biju Kollaraveettil, a member of our Association who was abducted by terrorists while he was in Philippines also needs special mention. We have been very active in organising cultural programs also. In the true spirit of secular tradition of Kozhikode, the festivals of all religions were celebrated with large participation from all communities. Association has separate wings for ladies and children - Mahilavedi and Balavedi - who are very active in their respective fields. Kozhikode District Association has grown into a frontline association in Kuwait during a short span of 3 years.


he Indian Doctors Forum continued to exercise its community welfare activities on Friday 8th February 2013 at the Kuwait Medical Association, Jabriya, by distributing the recently released Health Guide Volume 9 under the theme of “GLOBESITY” to most of the Indian associations registered at the Indian Embassy in the presence of Vidhu Nair, Charge d’affaires, Indian Embassy, Kuwait. The evening began at 7:30pm, when the presidents and general secretaries of around 50 Indian associations assembled at the Kuwait Medical Association Hall. The arrival of the chief guest Vidhu Nair marked the official function which started with a welcome address by Dr Jaganath R C, General Secretary of IDF. He expressed happiness at the secular and complete representation as there were noted individuals from most of the different associations belonging to various states of India like Kerala, Goa, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Assam etc. This was then followed by the presidential address by Dr Amir Ahmed, who detailed the various community welfare activities carried out by IDF. He also shared his happiness over the recent recognition IDF received in the form of the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, which is the highest order to be received from the government of India for any NRI association. He added that this award was meant for all of us and it is entire through the cooperation and the assistance availed from all the Indian associations that the health screening camps have become so popular and successful.

Nair in his address praised the activities of IDF either towards its members or the community at large. He said that he was fascinated to see so much of talent displayed by the Indian Doctors Forum in carrying out whatsoever activity they undertake, be it cultural or quiz or community service. He further endorsed IDF as one of the leading associations in Kuwait which has set an example for other associations to emulate. Prof P S N Menon introduced the Health Guide Volume - 9 themed as “GLOBESITY” to all present and informed all about the seriousness of the condition and the various avoidable damage that it does. He also stressed the rising incidence of childhood obesity that is being seen at an alarming rate not only in Kuwait but also in India and many other parts of the world. He emphasized on the importance of healthy lifestyle and eating habits, are the two strong pillars that could avoid obesity in most of the cases. This was then followed by an interactive session with the various associations present, where in the audience were asked to kindly bring forth suggestions or clear any queries they had regarding any community service activity carried out by IDF. Siddique Valiykad, former president of Federation of Indian Muslim Association, Muriel Alphonso, president of Indian Women’s Association, Dinesh Kamtekar from Maharashtra Mandal and some other leaders from different associations while appreciating the services rendered by IDF, also voiced their opinions, comments and suggestions on the health camps.


W H AT ’ S O N

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


he Chocolate Cafe a new concept that opened its doors officially with an opening event that included the best bloggers in Kuwait. The Chocolate Cafe has been in the planning for the last 4 years involving 3 World famous branding companies. The Chocolate Cafe serves over 100 types of desserts and hot and cold drinks, and have signature dishes such as the Sizzler, the Pavlova, and their hot pot lava Cakes. Their is also Kids Menu with their famous Deep Dish M&M’s Chocolate Chip Cookie. The decoration uses bright and friendly colours that are both attractive to all the Generations. The concept is 100% Kuwaiti made and they have plans to open all over the World. —Photos by Joseph Shagra

Xerox Kuwait Invites KACCH Children to “Dora the Explorer” Show


n keeping with its commitment to support the local community, Xerox Kuwait recently teamed up with the Kuwait Association for the Care of Children in Hospitals (KACCH), to provide encouragement and entertainment to children in Kuwait who are currently suffering from an illness or disease. As part of this effort, Xerox Kuwait invited the KACCH children and their families, over 40 people in total, to experience the fun and excitement of the “Dora the Explorer” show, which took place on Thursday, February 7, 2013, at the Kuwait

International Fair in Mishrif. The children and their families thoroughly enjoyed the fun-filled event as well as the special gifts and give-aways they received from Xerox. Xerox Kuwait, a part of Alamana Industries, a Yusuf A. Alghanim & Sons company, is proud to have collaborated with KACCH on this initiative. Its involvement with KACCH illustrates the company’s sincere efforts to support the local community. Xerox Kuwait will continue its outreach program by organizing similar fun and engaging events in the future.

EMBASSY OF CANADA The Embassyof Canada in Kuwait does not have a visa or immigration department. All processing of visa and immigration matters including enquiries is conducted by the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. Individuals who are interested in working, studying, visiting or immigrating to Canada†should contact the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, website:†or, E-mail: The Embassy of Canada is located at Villa 24, Al-Mutawakei St, Block 4 in Da’aiyah. Please visit our website at The Embassy of Canada is open from 07:30 to 15:30 Sunday through Thursday. The reception is open from 07:30 to 12:30. Consular services for Canadian citizens are provided from 09:00†until 12:00, Sunday through Wednesday. ■■■■■■■

EMBASSY OF 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. ■■■■■■■

Valentine’s Day at Radisson Blu Hotel Kuwait


adisson Blu Hotel Kuwait has arranged a special intimate and romantic atmosphere in its outlets where you can enjoy a romantic candle light dinner at Rangoli restaurant with lavish and wide variety of international & Arabic buffet in a warm

ambiance. Seafood & Steak lovers can enjoy Al Boom restaurant located on board of a traditional Arabic Dhow with its special Valentine’s a la carte menu. If you are thinking of an out of the ordinary gift,

BSK students study animal conservation


his year the Year 4 students from The British School of Kuwait have been supporting their learning about animals and habitats with trips to the Kuwait Zoo and The IMAX cinema at the Scientific Centre. They were thoroughly enjoyable trips where the students got to see first hand how animals adapt to and live in their habitats and also how orphan elephants and orangutans are affected by human intrusion on their lives. The students studied different manmade habitats provided at the zoo and made sketches of the animals in their habitats to note similarities and differences to their natural habitats. They were extremely interested in the current conservation work in reintroducing orphans back into the

wild and were indeed inspired to take a more active part in conserving and thinking about looking after our planet. On return to BSK, the students followed up the field trips with further research and studies of different environments from all around the world.They made useful observations to support their knowledge and understanding of animal habitats. It was clear to all just how much the children enjoyed the experiences and how it enhanced their schoolwork. Both fieldtrips reinforced for teachers, parents and children that learning takes place everywhere, in and out of the classroom. BSK has a varied programme of trips in Kuwait and overseas to support its rounded education of interactive learning.

surprise the one you love with Valentine’s gift among the exquisite goodies that include novel and flavorsome creations, ranging from heart shaped chocolates, pastries and cakes to everything that is beautiful to look at and delightful to eat.

Bridge Results


he game was played on Sunday Evening 20th January 2013. First - Ahmed Al-Hinnawy - Mohammed Tawfik Second - Bianca Mousalli - Ahmed Tawfik Third - Imran - Sam Jacobs Fourth - Rola - Khalid AlObeid Fifth - Wafa - May Sixth - Withold - David We conduct duplicate Bridge tournament every Sunday and Wednesday at 20:00 hours; played at the Graduates Club”. Next to Kuwait Engineering society.

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

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

Kuwait Carnatic Music Forum Thyagaraja program


J 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 19 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.

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V4 2.5cc, silver 43000 kms full options and spoiler, executive single owner, price KD 4000. Contact: 97786118. (C 4307)

Australian man new in Kuwait turn Muslim looking for a Kuwaiti lady must fear God and come from a good family, widow or divorcee no problem. Email: (C 4302) 9-2-2013

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1:45 PM 3:45 PM 5:30 PM 7:30 PM 9:45 PM

Furnished flat in Farwaniya for transfer with household items including furniture, 300L fridge, washing machine. Contact: 97786118. (C 4308) 13-2-2013

Prayer timings Fajr:












No: 15718

Required used car or Jeep in good condition. Contact: 96955163 (C 4306) 12-2-2013

SITUATION WANTED A European qualified and experienced company coordinator/administrator looking for employment in Kuwait. Speaks 5 languages. (C 4303) Highly qualified experienced British executive looking for a management position in any private company in Kuwait. All offers considered. (C 4304)




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stars CROSSWORD 99

STAR TRACK Aries (March 21-April 19)

Your desire for love, companionship, and affection predominates at this time. A new friendship or romance could begin, or an established relationship can be revitalized and enhanced. If there is someone you have wanted to reach out to, doing so now is likely to create warm feelings between you, and may be the start of something beautiful. You also need to be surrounded by beauty and harmony and your artistic inclinations are stimulated now.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

At this time your interactions with others and with the outside world in general can be confusing, devitalizing, and discouraging. It seems that whatever you try to do goes nowhere, or gets lost in a haze of misunderstanding. Take some time out today, keep your personal interactions with loved ones and partners to a minimum if possible. Remember that they may be feeling the same way as well so cut everyone including yourself some slack.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

ACROSS 1. A constellation in the polar region of the southern hemisphere near Octans. 5. Blockage consisting of an object designed to fill a hole tightly. 12. The federal agency that insures residential mortgages. 15. About three feet long exclusive of tail. 16. Loud and clear. 17. An unabridged dictionary constructed on historical principles. 18. Any of various spiny trees or shrubs of the genus Acacia. 19. Any of various plants of the genus Senna having pinnately compound leaves and showy usually yellow flowers. 20. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. 21. An intensely radioactive metallic element that occurs in minute amounts in uranium ores. 22. 16 ounces. 24. Bound by chains fastened around the ankles. 26. Leather with a napped surface. 27. Protective outer layer of seeds of flowering plants. 28. A public promotion of some product or service. 30. Small buffalo of the Celebes having small straight horns. 31. The basic unit of money in Bangladesh. 35. United States Protestant theologian (18921971). 38. A sum of money paid in compensation for loss or injury. 41. A transuranic element that has not been found in nature. 42. A nucleic acid consisting of large molecules shaped like a double helix. 45. Unhappy in love. 46. See, as with attention. 48. On or toward the lee. 50. Last or greatest in an indefinitely large series. 51. A native or inhabitant of Iran. 52. Any of a number of fishes of the family Carangidae. 54. A district in southwestern Manhattan noted for its shops and restaurants and galleries and artist's lofts. 58. A lawman concerned with narcotics violations. 62. Establish or strengthen as with new evidence or facts. 69. South African term for `boss'. 70. Any group or radical of the form RCOwhere R is an organic group. 73. English novelist. 74. An authoritative direction or instruction to do something. 77. (Norse mythology) One of the Aesir known for his beauty and skill with bow and skis. 78. The compass point midway between northeast and east. 79. A river in northeastern Brazil that flows generally northward to the Atlantic Ocean. 80. Standard temperature and pressure. DOWN 1. Essential oil or perfume obtained from flowers. 2. Large burrowing rodent of South and

Central America. 3. A reptile genus of Iguanidae. 4. Consent reluctantly. 5. A burn cause by hot liquid or steam. 6. A soft gray malleable metallic element that resembles tin but discolors on exposure to air. 7. An association of countries in the western hemisphere. 8. (of tempo) Very fast adv 1. 9. An ignorant or foolish person. 10. 1 species. 11. Order by virtue of superior authority. 12. A young horse. 13. (Greek mythology) The goddess of youth and spring. 14. (Babylonian) God of storms and wind. 23. The hair growing on the lower part of a man's face. 25. An Arab country on the peninsula of Qatar. 29. Informal terms for money. 32. A temporally organized plan for matters to be attended to. 33. An oral cephalosporin (trade names Keflex and Keflin and Keftab) commonly prescribe for mild to moderately severe infections of the skin or ears or throat or lungs or urinary tract. 34. Respiratory disorder characterized by wheezing. 36. An ancient Hebrew unit of dry measure equal to about a bushel. 37. Large sweet juicy hybrid between tangerine and grapefruit having a thick wrinkled skin. 39. In bed. 40. A state in New England. 43. United States writer noted for his droll epigrams (1902-1971). 44. Type genus of the Alcidae comprising solely the razorbill. 47. Genus of European subshrubs or herbs having pink or purple or yellow solitary or clustered flowers. 49. (Akkadian) God of wisdom. 53. (Greek mythology) The Muse of lyric and love poetry. 55. A large fleet. 56. 1,000,000,000 periods per second. 57. Basic principles of the cosmos. 59. A colorless and odorless inert gas. 60. A silvery ductile metallic element found primarily in bauxite. 61. Cubes of meat marinated and cooked on a skewer usually with vegetables. 63. Having made preparations. 64. A golf shot that curves to the right for a right-handed golfer. 65. Primitive chlorophyll-containing mainly aquatic eukaryotic organisms lacking true stems and roots and leaves. 66. An onerous or difficult concern. 67. The elapsed time it takes for a signal to travel from Earth to a spacecraft (or other body) and back to the starting point. 68. A sharp high-pitched cry (especially by a dog). 71. An emotional response that has been acquired by conditioning. 72. Distant but within sight. 75. The sciences concerned with gathering and manipulating and storing and retrieving and classifying recorded information. 76. A state in New England.


You may be feeling a bit restless and dissatisfied with your present relationships or situation. You may feel limited and restricted by your responsibilities and impatient to achieve your larger goals. Don’t let your impatient ness put you in a position that you may regret.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)

Resist the temptation to fly off the handle if things take an unexpected turn or your current effort is suddenly derailed in your love life. Change and negotiation will get things back on track, but blowups are harder to heal, so avoid them. Things said in the heat of passion should be about passion itself, so keep it that way.

Leo (July 23-August 22)

You are more clear and objective about personal matters and your relationships, so this is a favorable time to work out differences or come to a decision. Communicating openly with loved ones, taking a trip to visit friends, or going on an outing with someone you care about or love is likely now.

Virgo (August 23-September 22)

Disappointment in a friend or lover and possibly the realization that you have been neglecting your own needs for socializing, affection, and companionship is indicated today. In either case, loneliness and feelings of desolation could be the mood. Perhaps you are sacrificing pleasure and love for the sake of achievements or to meet responsibilities.

Word Search

Libra (September 23-October 22)

The craving for comfort in the form of loving affection is strong now. This is a good time to spoil yourself and also to spend time with the people who love and appreciate you the most. Also, you could be feeling rather tender and softhearted, and may do something on impulse.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21)

You may find yourself running into a great deal of opposition from just about every direction you turn today. Instead of relief from others, you may find more complications and misunderstandings than you could have anticipated. Perhaps the thing you need to do is take the situation into your own hands and deal with it all by yourself.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21)

You are bold, daring, and enterprising during this time and may feel hemmed in by present circumstances and feel an uncontrollable urge to enlarge your vistas and expand your emotions. Your restless need to accomplish more and break free of present limitations may inspire you to seek a new relationship. This doesn’t mean getting rid of the old ones, it may mean a new friend or just adding to your current circle.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19)

Today you want to stand out, to be the center of attention and receive recognition. It is a time to appreciate who you are as a unique individual. You may feel charged with new energy, vitality, and sense of purpose. Take the initiative in a romantic situation and try something bold and new.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18)

Dissatisfactions in your current romantic relationship are likely to take the forefront at this time. It’s likely basic lifestyle conflicts are blaringly evident at the moment and making it difficult for you and your mate to find some common ground. Fortunately communication is strong during this period, so you should be able to discuss your differences and reach some compromises that please both of you.

Pisces (February 19-March 20)

At the moment it may be easier to see what is wrong with your personal relationships than it is to see what is right. If so, you’re likely to fall into such a funk that you find yourself doing so much whining resolving your problems seems impossible. Shake your down mood off and confront any issues in your personal life head on and with optimism. If you do you may find that most of what is bothering you quickly vanishes. Yesterday’s Solution

Yesterday’s Solution

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Yesterday’s Solution


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


Amiri Hospital


Maternity Hospital


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Chest Hospital


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Adan Hospital


Ibn Sina Hospital


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Physiotherapy Hospital


Kaizen center














Abdullah Salem




Industrial Shuwaikh






Bneid Al-Gar









24575518 24566622




Ahlam Khaldiya Coop

Fahad Al-Salem St Khaldiya Coop

22436184 24833967




New Shifa Ferdous Coop Modern Safwan

Farwaniya Block 40 Ferdous Coop Old Kheitan Block 11

24734000 24881201 24726638





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

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

25726265 25647075 22625999 22564549 25340559 25326554 25721264 25380581 25628241



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Issue Time

Expected Weather e for the Next 24 Hours BY Y NIGHT:

Cool with moderate freshening at times north westerly wind, with speed of 20 - 45 km/h causing raising dust over open areas


Sunny with moderate to fresh north westerly wind, with speed of 25 - 45 km/h causing raising dust


No Current Waarnings arnin




26 °C

16 °C 14 °C




25 °C

14 °C


27 °C

13 °C


24 °C

12 °C


27 °C

11 °C








26 °C

11 °C

Maidan Hawally



24 °C

14 °C




22 °C

17 °C




20 °C

16 °C

W Hawally



20 °C

16 °C






12/02/2013 1200 UTC

4 DA AYS Y FORECAST Temperatures DA AY







Wind Speed

Wind Direction



sunny + raising dust

23 °C

12 °C


25 - 45 km/h

sunny + raising dust

23 °C

11 °C


20 - 45 km/h

New Jahra


West Jahra


South Jahra




Mostly sunny

24 °C

11 °C


06 - 28 km/h

North Jahra




partly cloudy to cloudy + scattered rain

26 °C

14 °C


15 - 38 km/h

North Jleeb









MAX. Temp.

25 °C



MIN. Temp.

13 °C




85 %






MAX. Wind




All times are local time unless otherwise stated.

29 % SE 50 km/h 00 mm

12/02/13 14:40 UTC



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


Plastic Surgeons Dr. Mohammad Al-Khalaf


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Psychiatrists Dr. Esam Al-Ansari


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Gynaecologists & Obstetricians DrAdrian arbe


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2572-6666 ext 8321


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



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


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

22666300 25728004

Dr. Nadem Al-Ghabra


Dr. Mobarak Aldoub


Dr Nasser Behbehani





Dr. Abd Al-Naser Al-Othman

Dr. Sohal Najem Al-Shemeri


Dr. Jasem Mola Hassan


Gastrologists Dr. Sami Aman


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Kaizen center 25716707


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


Dr. Musaed Faraj Khamees


Rheumatologists: Dr. Adel Al-Awadi

Dr Anil Thomas

Soor Center Tel: 2290-1677 Fax: 2290 1688


Jahra-Block 3 Lot 1 Jahra-Block 92

26 °C

N Khaitan


Modern Jahra Madina Munawara








23915883 23715414 23726558

Ayoun Al-Qibla



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



Al-Shuhada Sama Safwan Abu Halaifa Danat Al-Sultan









Dr. Khaled Al-Jarallah


Internist, Chest & Heart DR.Mohammes Akkad

24555050 Ext 210

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


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

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lifestyle A W A R D S

Icon-writing, a path to recovery for prisoners in Poland

An inmate of Bialystok prison attends the resocialization program ‘Icons from behind bars’. — AFP photos


ehind the bars of a prison on Poland’s eastern fringe, a dozen women serving time are lost in concentration as they learn the intricate art of icon-writing in the Orthodox Christian tradition. The centuries’ old craft, which typically displays the Virgin with the baby Jesus, saints and Christ in rich strokes of dark red, green and gold is being used for the first time as part of a social reintegration program at a major correctional facility in Bialystok. “It’s my first icon of the Virgin,” Malgorzata Zablocka-Jaronczyk, 47, says proudly as she paints a golden halo around the head of an unfinished Madonna to whom she says she prays. “I never learned to paint. It never really interested me much. And here, I’ve started to make progress, I can see it for myself, I’m pleased with what I’m doing,” says Malgorzata, who has eight years left on a 24-year sentence for financial crimes, reduced by a third for good behavior. “You can use two colors to create the halo. It creates a very good effect. It was a technique used in the 17-18th centuries in Russia to write icons,” iconographer Jan Grigoruk, teaching the art at the Bialystok prison, tells his students. “It’s appropriate to say ‘write,’ because in the formal terminology we say icons are written, not painted,” explains Grigoruk, who teaches the technique as well as the language, history and symbolism of the icons. The inmates are learning from the best, as Grigoruk works at the Museum of Icons in an Orthodox monastery in the nearby Suprasl, a stone’s throw from the Belarussian border. Opened in the 1960s with a collection of nearly 1,200 icons dating from the 18th through the 20th centuries, the museum is a treasure trove for samples of this eastern Orthodox art form with origins almost as old as Christianity itself.

A jailer checks prisoners in Bialystok prison who go for painting classes of orthodox icons.

A Change of Heart “At first, the women were coming to the studio to kill time. Some came as a reward for good behavior as prison wardens had to choose from among 70 inmates,” Grigoruk told AFP.”Everyone who writes an icon undergoes a real spiritual transformation,” he said. “Icon-writing is already a form of prayer. It can’t be merely a job to earn your living.” For Orthodox Christian believers, when writing an icon, the artist’s hand is guided by God. While painting lessons are common in prisons, in iconwriting, art mingles with the spiritual. Inmates also say the lessons bring them inner peace. Justyna Gierasimiuk, 31, serving a one-year sentence, looks forward to them. “Oh yes, they do calm me down and God knows I need that! Being aggressive is pretty common inside a prison cell,” she told AFP. A dozen men in this mixed-gender prison holding more than 700 inmates also took their first lessons last year, including several serving life sentences, says Jaroslaw Andrzejuk, a prison educator. Their icons were blessed by Jakub, the Orthodox archbishop of Bialystok, who called the program “a brilliant idea.” The most beautiful works will go on display in a small prison chapel. With a population of 38.2 million and the homeland of the late pope John Paul II, Poland is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, but counts some half a million Orthodox faithful, located mostly in the eastern Bialystok region. Last August, a visit to Poland by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill made history as the first-ever of its kind. Kirill and the head of Poland’s Catholic Church, Archbishop Jozef Michalik, made an unprecedented appeal for Polish-Russian reconciliation intended to put centuries of bloody history behind them. Grigoruk, who dreamt up the icon-writing program along with the prison’s Orthodox priest, is planning more lessons. “We would like to sell the icons to raise money for charity. There’s considerable demand for them,” he said. For the moment, the inmates have to write their icons on 12-millimetre-thick (half-inch) plywood as linden wood, the traditional material, is too expensive. Financing for the program comes from a special aid fund for the prisoners, says prison spokesman Wojciech Januszewski. “We can’t put people behind bars and leave them like that. We’re hoping that the demanding art of icon-writing will change them, that they will become better people,” he said. —AFP

Bollywood personalities (L-R) Aditi Rao Hydari, Randeep Hooda, and Sara Loren pose during an event for the Hindi film “Murder 3” in Mumbai yesterday. —AFP

Thai ‘kissathon’ aims to set new world record N

ine Thai couples locked lips yesterday in hope of setting a new record for the world’s longest kiss, but the attempt proved too much for two septuagenarians who dropped out after just one hour. The participants, who must kiss for more than 50 hours, 25 minutes and one second to enter the Guinness World Records, were forbidden from sitting down and could only go to the bathroom after the first six hours.

“They have to continue kissing while they go to the toilet and can only drink water or milk through straws,” said an event spokeswoman. “They couldn’t do this unless they love each other. The smell of their breath would probably be quite something.” The current holders are a male couple who returned to try to beat their own record set last year. “I’m 100-percent confident that a couple will break the

record,” said Somporn Naksuetrong, the vice president of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! in the resort city of Pattaya which hosted the event. The oldest entrants to sign up in hope of winning the prize of 100,000 baht ($3,300) cash and two diamond rings were a 74-year-old man and a 72-yearold woman celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. “They quit after about one hour. It was the first time we had old people joining,” Somporn said. — AFP

‘A great adventure’- how to crowdfund a musical W

hen Jeff Bowen’s off-Broadway musical “Now. Here. This.” closed last year, he and his collaborators were left with some great things - plenty of good reviews, some new fans and memories. That was great, but what they really wanted was a cast album. A recording would be both a great marketing tool and a souvenir. But“Now. Here. This.” wasn’t a blockbuster Broadway show and it had already ended its run. Major record labels weren’t exactly beating a path to his door to get it recorded. So Bowen, who starred in the show as well as wrote the songs and lyrics, turned to the show’s fans via crowdfunding, an idea that more people in the theater community are embracing. Crowdfunding is a tool in which donors contribute small sums of money to get a project off the ground. Usually, the contributors get something in return - like a ticket to a concert or a programmable watch. In this case, they would get a CD or a download of the album. Bowen went to Kickstarter - a popular website where people can finance all sorts of projects, from an animated Web series to a volunteer mission to leather wallets - and asked for $75,000, the bulk of which was to be spent on musicians, studio time, engineers and to get the CDs made. A month later he got more than he asked for - $89,833. Elated, the team went to work. “There was really no other choice. I don’t have a rich aunt who’s like, ‘Here, baby. Here’s $80,000,’” says Bowen. “I don’t have that. None of us do. There was nobody we could call and say, ‘Will you give us $80,000?’” At a Times Square restaurant with the finished CD sitting beside his cup of decaf, Bowen offered a peek at how his experience with crowdfunding went. “It was a great adventure. I’m so proud of it,” he says. “I think anyone can really do it. It just depends on what scale you’re trying to do it.” “Now. Here. This.” represented the second time Bowen teamed up with fellow performers and writers Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff. They had previously taken their Obie winning “(title of show)” on a Tony-nominated Broadway run in 2008. The new musical, a bubbly exploration of self-realization, friendship and evolution, ran during March and April last year at the Vineyard Theatre and the team hopes to further develop and license it. If folks could actually hear the songs, those hopes would get a boost. “Without a cast album, a show is forgotten. It’s as if it didn’t exist,” says Kurt Deutsch, who co-founded Sh-KBoom Records and Ghostlight Records and has been a pioneer in nurturing theater talent and giving them an outlet. Deutsch, who says the cost of recording these days is out of whack, has also embraced crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter, RocketHub and Indiegogo. He helped Bowen get the “Now. Here. This.” cast album made. “If there are enough people who care about these recordings and who love this community and love these artists and will pay whatever it takes to get these things recorded, and there are tools to do that, then why not use them?” he says. “It’s a blessing.” Crowdfunding has been previously used to create cast albums for artists with strong if small fan bases, including one for Ryan Scott Oliver’s “35mm” and for Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk’s “Our First Mistake.” The technique has also been used to raise funds to mount the actual show itself, including $67,000 successfully pledged to create a workshop production of the musical “One for My Baby” that spotlights songs by Harold Arlen and a $50,000 pledge drive to get “Coffee: The Musical” off the ground. Requests for funding just in New York range from rapper Baba Brinkman asking for $20,000 to rent out the 200-seat Player’s Theater in Manhattan, to the Brooklyn theater company Colloquy Collective hoping to raise $8,000 to mount a revival of “Wine in the Wilderness” by Alice Childress. The power of the new social tool was revealed when Kickstarter said it was on course to fund $150 million in 2012, or $4 million more than the National Endowment for the Arts’ 2012 operating budget. Of course, not all Kickstarter projects are arts-based, but the message has been received: Crowdfunding is a new way to finance theater projects.

In this undated theater file image released by Sam Rudy Media Relations, from left, Hunter Bell, Jeff Bowen, Susan Blackwell and Heidi Blickenstaff in a scene from “Noe.Here.This” at the Vineyard Theatre in New York. — AP Bowen decided he wanted to handle the “Now. Here. This.” request by the book: All the musicians and engineers would be paid their usual union wages and everyone from producers to interns who brought back doughnuts would get a cut. Biding online lasted from Aug. 3-30 and was all-or-nothing, meaning if the team failed to reach its $75,000 goal, it got no money at all. Bowen booked the studio and crossed his fingers. Two things helped: Bowen and his collaborators are heavily into social media and they had a cult following after “(title of show).” Those were key to attracting what turned out to be 1,248 backers who pledged everything from $10 for the digital download to three people who bid $5,000 for the album, autographed memorabilia, attendance at the launch party and executive producer credits. “There’s a trust that came onboard with us with ‘(title of show),’” says Bowen. “We sort of tapped into that trust. It wasn’t easy because we didn’t want to exploit it and we didn’t want to take advantage of it.” Pledges came from as far away as Australia, Japan, India and Morocco. Bowen would nervous-

ly check the updated numbers every morning, but the team reached its goal a few days before pledges had to stop. “The campaign ended on my birthday so it was very nice to have it succeed right before,” he says. “It was good to have it done. Then we were like, ‘OK, now we have to make this thing.’” Once they’d reached their fundraising goal, credit card orders were processed - a small amount were eventually declined - and fees were paid to Kickstarter and Amazon, where the CD is also available. The album was recorded in a single day - the singers were in the studio from 9 am to midnight, some of the engineers for longer - and then Bowen himself later put together a lush booklet with lyrics and photos. The album came out Dec 18 and Bowen dutifully began mailing each CD to the fans. Though it was a lot of work, Bowen says he’d do it all again. For him, it’s a win-win. “It gives the fans what they want, which is to see more of the artist’s work. And you get to do your work,” he says. “There’s no middleman. There’s no rich lady in the middle who just took 75 percent of it. That’s a huge thing.” — AP

The Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr crowned NME Genius


uitarist and songwriter Johnny Marr who made his name with cult British rock band The Smiths in the 1980s was named yesterday as the winner of this year’s NME Godlike Genius Award. Marr, 49, founded The Smiths with Morrissey in 1983 and the two musicians cowrote the band’s songs for four albums before going their separate ways in 1987. The guitarist has also played with Billy Bragg, The Pretenders, The The, Modest House and The Cribs, and has led his own band, Johnny Marr and The Healers, for over a decade. Marr will collect the award on Feb. 27 when the music magazine holds its annual prize ceremony in London-two days after he releases his debut solo album “ The Messenger”. “The NME seems to be good at giving this award to people I like so I’m in good company. I guess it

means that some things are alright with the world,” Marr said in a statement. NME editor Mike Williams said Marr had played a role in rewriting the history of music with The Smiths. “He’s continued to push boundaries and evolve throughout his career, working with some of the best and most exciting artists on the planet,” said Williams. Previous winners of the NME Godlike Genius Award include The Clash, Paul Weller, The Cure, Manic Street Preachers, New Order & Joy Division, and Dave Grohl. Last year’s winner was Noel Gallagher. NME awards are handed out in 22 categories with music fans casting votes. This year four acts have received four nominations including the Rolling Stones, LA sisters Haim, Australian rock band Tame Impala and British alternative hip hop artist M.I.A. — Reuters






Young musicians from a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, rehearse for a Carnegie Hall concert with musicians from Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, NY.

Young Afghan musicians in NY for date at Carnegie or these young people from Afghanistan, it’s the perfect trip to America. They get to scarf down New York pizza, go ice skating - and take the stage at Carnegie Hall. The Afghan Youth Orchestra, many of whose members are not far removed from eking out a living on the streets of Kabul, is on the New York leg of a US tour that melds Western classics with traditional Afghan music. About 50 players held a joint rehearsal yesterday with 25 members of the Scarsdale High School orchestra, which meant that young musicians from a war-torn country where music was banned for several years by the Taliban were playing alongside those from one of New York’s toniest suburbs. “ This is all providing a model for the future of Afghanistan,” said William Harvey, the Afghan orchestra’s American conductor and arranger. “The recomposed music, taking the best from both worlds, and the cooperation between the Afghan kids and the Scarsdale kids, shows what has to happen for Afghanistan.” Among the pieces rehearsed in advance of Tuesday night’s Carnegie program were adaptations of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” and Ravel’s “Bolero,” both incorporating Afghan instruments and rhythms. A handful of people in the Scarsdale auditorium got to hear familiar melodies perked up with such instruments as the sitar, dilruba and ghichak. Some of the Afghan musicians were barefoot. “I love the ‘Bolero,’” said Milad Yousofi, 18, a pianist from Kabul who, like the rest of the orchestra, attends the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, which was founded just three years ago. Yousofi is hoping the orchestra’s US visit - it played in Washington last week and is


headed for Boston - will help him find a way to continue his musical education in America. “I’m very excited and amazed that we are going to Carnegie Hall,” he said. “New York is my dream city. I want to come here as soon as possible. But

then I want to go back to Afghanistan and teach.” Hojat Hameed, 21, a violinist who also plays electric guitar in a rock band, said he became interested in music when he heard a Celine Dion recording. “That made me want to

become a musician,” he said. “I could feel I wanted to come home to music.” Some of the Afghans may have been saved from desperate lives by the music school. “One of my violinists used to sell chewing gum on the street,” said Harvey, who spoke to the musicians in English and Dari, one of Afghanistan’s two main languages. “She had to. The Taliban had beaten her father paralyzed and he couldn’t work.” “The return of music to Afghanistan is a victory of the human spirit,” Harvey said. Ahmad Sarmast, who founded the school, said hearing the orchestra play was “a touching experience.” “The Taliban deprived children of their music,” he said. “It was like genocide of music. Now this is an incredible way of showing pride in our people, our youth, our school, our country.” He said the school, which is funded by the World Bank and others, is free and provides enough of a stipend to keep the musicians off the streets. And it accepts boys and girls, another reversal of Taliban orders. Amedee Williams, who heads the Scarsdale music program, said he heard last year that the Afghan school was trying to raise funds for a tour. He contacted the school and suggested their orchestra members could save on New York hotels by staying with Scarsdale families. That turned out not to be necessary, but it forged a partnership that resulted in the Scarsdale orchestra joining the Afghans at Carnegie Hall. Before the joint orchestra rehearsed on Sunday, he said, all the youngsters had pizza. Afterward, they went ice skating, which was a new activity for the Afghans “and some of the Scarsdale kids,” Williams said. “There was a lot of hand-holding, supporting each other,” he said. “It was good to see.” — AP


Gergiev conducts all-star ‘Walkuere’ Various Artists, “Wagner: Die Walkuere” (Mariinsky)

here’s no shortage of classic recordings of the second and most popular opera in Wagner’s four-part “Ring” cycle. This new version - first installment of a projected complete “Ring” cycle from the historic Mariinsky Theatre in Russia - is a worthy addition, thanks to the rapturous sweep that conductor Valery Gergiev achieves with the orchestra and to the deluxe cast, headed by today’s reigning Bruennhilde, Swedish soprano Nina Stemme. She has the warmth as well as the steely strength to embody the warrior goddess who learns compassion at the cost of her immortality. Bass Rene Pape brings his trademark silken smoothness to the role of Wotan, and if one or two high notes sound effortful, he more than compensates with his deeply felt interpretation as an unusually brooding and introspective god. Tenor Jonas Kaufmann and soprano Anja Kampe are just about ideal as the twins Siegmund and Sieglinde, while mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova is a plush-voiced Fricka who sounds at times uncannily like the great Christa Ludwig. The only slight drawback is bass Mikhail Petrenko as Sieglinde’s thuggish husband, Hunding. He sings beautifully but doesn’t sound quite menacing enough. “Wagner: Die Walkuere” is a four-CD box set. — AP


These recent file photos show from left: cast members of the movie “Chicago” Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Queen Latifah and Renee Zellweger. — AFP

‘Chicago’ cast to join musical Oscars line-up he stars of “Chicago” will reunite as presenters at this year’s Oscars show, on the 10th anniversary of the film’s Academy Award win for best picture, organizers said Monday. Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere and Queen Latifah will join alreadyannounced presenters including “Avengers” stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner and Mark Ruffalo. The 85th Academy Awards, the climax of Hollywood’s annual awards season, have a


musical theme this year, with highlights set to include Britain’s Adele singing Oscar-nominated 007 theme tune “Skyfall.” In addition, Dame Shirley Bassey, Norah Jones and Barbra Streisand will sing at the ceremony on February 24. It will be Streisand’s first Academy Awards performance since 1977 when she sang the winning song from “A Star Is Born.” “We are very excited to reunite the stars of ‘Chicago’ to present on the Oscars, on the 10th anniversary of the movie’s win for Best

Picture,” said the show’s producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. The four “Chicago” stars were all nominated for the 2002 film, although only Zeta-Jones won a prize, for best supporting actress, along with the best picture award and four other Oscars. Other presenters already announced include the four winners of the acting prizes at last year’s Oscars: Meryl Streep, Jean Dujardin, Octavia Spencer and Christopher Plummer. — AFP

Berlin fest unveils Iran director Panahi’s cry for freedom he 63rd Berlinale premiered yesterday the latest film by banned Iranian director Jafar Panahi, a haunting lament about crushing state oppression and a tribute to the resilience of the creative drive. “Closed Curtain”, which Panahi codirected with longtime collaborator Kambuzia Partovi, tells the story of two people on the run from the police hiding out at a secluded villa. The older fugitive owns a dog, banned as pets because Islamic law deems the animals to be unclean, while the young woman, who soon proves suicidal, was caught attending an illicit party on the Caspian Sea. They keep the drapes drawn to avoid detection by the authorities but while the man tries to keep working-on a film script, as it happens-she slips deeper into despair. Panahi was detained for a documentary he tried to make on the unrest following the 2009 election and banned from making more films for 20 years. He was given a six-year jail sentence but currently remains under house arrest. But the director, who has picked up a clutch of prizes at major international festivals for socially critical movies that are outlawed in Iran, has been feted abroad as one of the most original voices of the Iranian new wave. Though he was prevented from


coming to present the film in Berlin, Panahi appears on screen during the second half of the picture and it remains unclear whether the two fugitives are not just a figment of his imagination as the action moves from reality to fiction and back again. The walls of the villa are covered with European versions of his own film posters including the 2000 picture

“The Circle” which ends with a prison door slamming shut on a cell containing all the main female protagonists. Partovi, who also plays the role of the man with the dog, said Panahi had been deeply depressed due to the official restrictions when they started working on the project, which he said was aimed at “bridging this hard period”.

A protestor stands by giant posters featuring Iranian director Jafar Panahi is displayed in front of the Berlinale Festival Palace during a protest action against his non-attendance at the festival where the film ‘Parde’?(‘Closed Curtain’) he codirected with Kamboziya Partovi is presented in the competition section of the 63rd Berlinale Film Festival yesterday. — AFP

“It’s difficult to work but not being able to work is even more difficult, particularly at the height of your career,” he said. Partovi said it was unclear what consequences the new picture, which got a mixed reception in Berlin, would have for them in Iran. “Nothing has happened until now but we don’t know what the future has in store for us,” he said. Maryam Moghadam, the lead actress, said her character represented Panahi’s desperation. “She’s the dark side, the hopelessness of every person and specifically the director in the movie,” she said. “The dark side of his mind, the hopeless power-that part that doesn’t hope any more and wants to give up.” Panahi’s “This Is Not A Film” had to be smuggled out in a USB key hidden inside a cake to be screened at the Cannes film festival. Cannes, Berlin and Venice invited him to sit on their juries in 2010 and 2011 but because he was barred from leaving the country, organizers left a symbolic empty chair for him to remind film-goers of his plight. Panahi, who was born in 1960, was awarded in December the prestigious Sakharov human rights prize by the European Parliament-a move that enraged Iran and further strained relations with the Islamic republic. —AFP

Kaufmann expands Wagner rep Jonas Kaufmann, ‘Wagner’ (Decca) ust about anything the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann does these days is special, and he sounds in particularly fresh voice as he ventures into some new and some familiar territory on this album of excerpts from Richard Wagner ’s operas. He brings youthful exuberance to the “Forest Murmurs” scene from “Siegfried,” then switches seamlessly to the mature bitterness of Tannhaeuser ’s “Rome Narrative,” an opera he has yet to add to his repertoire. His rendition of the prayer from the last act of Wagner’s early opera “Rienzi” is especially lovely. One track offer a welcome surprise: His “Grail Narrative” from “Lohengrin” includes the second verse, which Wagner himself cut before the premiere and which has rarely been recorded. This extra four minutes of music helps fill out the opera’s final scene and allows the hero a better explanation of his past. Also included are the five Wesendonck songs in the Felix Mottl orchestration. Though these were written for a female voice, Kaufmann makes them his own with unflagging lyricism. The melodies and harmonies in these songs prefigure “Tristan und Isolde,” an opera that Kaufmann will surely tackle in a few years. The singer gets strong support by the Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin conducted by Donald Runnicles. — AP



lifestyle F a s h i o n

CAROLINA HERRERA Her entire fall collection was inspired, she said, by a piece of classical music that she specifically commissioned for the show, by the English composer Tom Hodge. “I started out light, just like the piece, and I reached a crescendo with my more dramatic clothes,” Herrerra explained. The piece, “Capriccio for Carolina,” was in turn inspired by Beethoven’s Kreutzer Violin Sonata. As for the clothes, Herrera said she was inspired by the 1940s, especially in the shapes of sleeves and in the small waists of the garments. Fur was a constant theme, even small bits of it. Whatever you’re wearing, the designer seemed to be saying, even if it’s not a coat or a jacket, there’s a spot for some luxurious fur. A strapless silk cocktail dress had some fox trim across the top. A long silky flowing skirt had fur trim around the bottom. Many garments had fur collars.


ain, snow, ice. There’s a lot of grumbling about the stiletto-adverse weather as New York Fashion Week hit Day 5 on Monday. But there’s a silver lining: cozy coats, especially styles with oversized fur hoods, never looked better. Phillip Lim, for his 3.1 brand, sent out his big coats in navy and black during a show in a cavernous space south of the Lincoln Center tents. Houndstooth set off one of Tommy Hilfiger’s coats for women. On a bomber jacket, he moved the comfy lining to the outside, putting the traditional Prince of Wales plaid on the inside. In a romantic violet, Ralph Rucci sent out a coat in sable, while Alexander Wang stayed mostly with grays for big coats paired with fur hand warmers to the elbow. Belstaff’s coats were tempting in earth-tone shearlings for every lifestyle, and KaufmanFranco wrapped a toughgirl muse in a little luxury, lining a black leather driving coat with mink. There were some yummy coats at Carolina Herrera. One of the nicest came in angora, with a fox collar. It was paired with a sandstone wool jacket and matching

pant. She also had a set of fox fur sleeves - just the sleeves worn over a wool and silk blouse and silk skirt. Brandon Holley, editor-in-chief of Lucky magazine, said she’s never seen so much fur in a runway season - and New York is only halfway done with its previews. Ultimately, the consumer will likely wind up with some great outerwear outfits, including military jackets, traditional wool coats and some edgier leather bombers. “And the beautiful fur on hoods will be an accent on many of them,” she added.”Coats are very strong,” agreed Avril Graham, executive fashion and beauty editor at Harper’s Bazaar. “It’s something everyone wants to buy and will spend money on.” Top of her list so far is the black leather and fur one by Wang. The eight days of previews end Feb. 14, when the crowds head to London, then Milan and on to Paris.

DONNA KARAN The designer herself test drove pieces of her fall collection before she sent them down the catwalk. “I took it last night. I couldn’t wait to wear it,” Karan said in a post-show interview after greeting guests Uma Thurman, Gretchen Mol and longtime friend Bernadette Peters. The goal, she explained, was clothes that work for the woman always on the go, with many interests, demands and pleasures. That sure sounds like Karan. She called the collection “Sensual, Soulful, Sculptural,” and there’s an emphasis on sculptural, making a dedication in her notes to her late husband, sculptor Stephan Weiss. “His art and soul - is a part of me.” There was a rawness to the collection, and it seemed like it came from the heart. The opening look - one of the best - was a black draped “bodydress” with a fluid, almost liquid like, cape on top. It was modern yet timeless, and wearable to the large base Karan appeals to. There were a lot of body-conscious stretch and jersey looks, as there usually are on this runway, many topped with coats that were textured and interesting, and had a lot of design packed in.

3.1 PHILLIP LIM You always have a feeling at one of Lim’s shows that you’re at one of the hipper events of New York Fashion Week. You can feel it in the audience, which has a decidedly downtown, indie-music vibe, and you can see it in the clothes. A big sartorial theme was embossed neoprene. Lim began with an overcoat in that fabric, in a fresh grapefruit color. Like many of his inventive creations it had something detachable, in this case a leather bib. Motorcycle jackets were big, too, and Lim showed a peplum version, paired with a gray pullover, a khaki shirt, and shorts - again in grapefruit neoprene. Lim seemingly agrees with many designers this season that coats should be big - as in oversized - and comfy, and he showed a few. One was in a nice teal color, paired with a black leather jacket underneath, with a “bike snap” detail.


lifestyle F a s h i o n

BETSEY JOHNSON The tireless 71-year-old designer, best known for punky prom dresses and a lot of pink, introduced her fall collection as a theatrical exercise video for the Style Network program “Betsey and Lulu,” which follows the lives of Johnson and her daughter. It was a catwalk of energetic, giggly models in active wear chatting on cellphones as they waved to attendees, then an exercise routine led by the designer that included running in place, yoga and pull-ups. Rows of pink yoga mats were strewn on the runway, each accompanied by a pair of high top sneakers, towels and wine bottles. The collection, named “BJ Kicks A,” veered from the high school dance party looks that she has championed for decades, running toward a junior high school gym class with

a lot of cheek. It was an explosion of neon pink and yellow, animal prints and plaids on mini dresses worn over leggings, a veritable visual feast piled over one another. As a whole, branching out beyond prom dresses was a smart move for the brand, which filed for bankruptcy protection more than a year ago and is now owned by Steve Madden.

ZAC POSEN Posen presented his smallest show in years, taking a breath from a whirlwind few months that included joining the TV fashion designer competition show “Project Runway” as a judge. For a designer who thrives on flashbulbs, cameras and frenzy, the change might seem odd, but he said his intimate show at the Plaza Hotel was the best way to sharpen his focus in a collection that was thoughtful and intellectual. “My fantasies about glamour or about society, about travel, all took place here growing up in

TOMMY HILFIGER At first, Hilfiger’s looks, staged like a movie-set library, looked like they were built on the Savile Row-styled menswear and Ivy League prep-school uniforms he has played with for almost 30 years. There were houndstooth prints in every scale imaginable - on a coat, turtleneck, tuxedo pants and even a dickie - and probably even more plaid. “Classics receive an unexpected twist,” was Hilfiger’s mantra, putting some newness on the catwalk while maintaining a relatable ease that would appeal to his broad audience. Together on the runway, the collection evoked mod for 2013. The leather argyle pattern shifts and shirtdresses could reintroduce his muses - and fashion icons - Twiggy, Mary Quant and Marianne Faithfull to a new generation.

RALPH RUCCI Romantic violet is the base of Ralph Rucci’s new collection. “It’s a personal reference,” he explained. Pried yet further, he added: “It’s the eye color of someone in my life.”Rucci’s brilliant shade of violet appeared in a “mink pullover” the mere term a clear sign of how he is attempting to meld his signature luxury into more casual garments. The same color returned in dresses of wool jersey or crÍpe, in a silk raincoat, in a sable coat, in a particularly well-proportioned

cashmere suit, in a cashmere coat with leather embroidery, and even in filmy lace pajamas. And it appeared once more for the final, showending garment: a long wool gown with tulle insets. Rucci, famous for his intricate couture techniques, has a high-profile following. Guests included Martha Stewart and Sandra Bernhard. — AP

New York. When you drive by great historical backgrounds, this is where Halston did his first shows, where Oscar de la Renta used to show,” Posen said. Part of Posen’s signature are red-carpet gowns, such as the strapless, draped bustier ballgown worn by Crystal Renn and the architectural peplum gown with cutouts and sharp shoulders worn by Coco Rocha.

Young Afghan musicians in NY for date at Carnegie



Revelers of Vila Isabel samba school.


io’s Carnival festivities reached their crescendo late Monday with a final night of samba school parades, part of a contest appropriately dubbed the greatest show on earth. The top dance schools showcased elaborate floats decked with scantily-clad beauty queens writhing to the beat of samba music blasted from giant speakers on flatbed trucks. The showdown at the city’s Sambodrome was to compete for the coveted title of Carnival champion, and the 72,500 spectators that managed to get a ticket for the event cheered their favorite schools with the same passion reserved for soccer in this football-mad country. “It’s beautiful, marvelous! I love carnival, it brings out everything that’s good in life!” gushed Maria ConcepÁao dos Santos, 71, who came from southern Brazil to see her favorite school compete. The Sao Clemente samba school opened late Monday with an homage to Brazil’s most popular soap operas, and included a float with a giant TV set. Unlike the ubiquitous Carnival street parties that are open to all, the Sambodrome parades are mainly for the wealthy and foreign tourists. The final day of partying is the culmination of a blowout that began in Rio 15 days ago with some 700 street parties that sent residents of this city of six million out to dance. Dubbed “the greatest show on Earth,” the Rio Carnival officially got under way Friday, when the legendary King Momo received a giant key to the city from Mayor Eduardo Paes. Carnival is Brazil’s most important festival and is celebrated with equal gusto across the country. — AFP Performers from the Unidos de Vila Isabel samba school.

Revelers of Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school.

Performers from the Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school parade during carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday. — AFP/AP photos

Rio de Janeiro’s samba school Vila Isabel’s dancers.

Revelers of Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school.

Revelers of Imperatriz Leopoldinense samba school.

A dancer from Rio de Janeiro’s samba school Vila Isabel.

13 Feb 2013  

Kuwait Times

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