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Venezuela’s Chavez in surprise return from Cuba


NO: 15724

150 FILS



In a first, Obama tees it up with Tiger


Scientists claim discovery of Russian meteorites


Los Angeles Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss dies at 80


MPs file double grilling amid looming tension Top officer denies oppn ex-MPs instigated violence

Max 24º Min 12º High Tide 07:14 & 17:14 Low Tide 00:25 & 11:38

By B Izzak

Drone makers target rising Gulf demand ABU DHABI: Global demand for drone aircraft is especially strong in Gulf Arab states worried about regional instability, industry executives said yesterday, as a big US manufacturer unveiled the first sale of an unarmed Predator to the Middle East. Controversy over the legality of attacks by missilefiring drones will not dampen the volatile region’s enthusiasm for the technology, in part because export curbs mean most equipment sold will be for use only in reconnaissance, experts say. Sello Ntsihlele, executive manager for UAVs at Denel Dynamics, a division of state-owned Denel, South Africa’s biggest maker of defence equipment, told Reuters this was “the best time” for unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sales. “Demand is growing fast in developing countries, in the Middle East, the Far East and Africa. The Gulf is critical in all this,” he said on the sidelines of the biennial International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). “I can’t be specific but all countries in the Arabian Gulf are talking to us,” he said, adding that Denel’s UAV sales had risen around 20 percent in the last four years, driven mostly by the Middle East. Continued on Page 2

KUWAIT: MPs Saadoun Hammad (right) and Nawaf Al-Fuzai speak to the press after they filed a request to grill Oil Minister Hani Hussain at the National Assembly yesterday. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Lawmakers in the pro-government National Assembly yesterday filed two requests to grill the ministers of oil and finance, bringing the total number of grillings submitted so far to four amid looming political tension in the country and speculations that the Assembly might be dissolved. Former opposition MPs have alleged the grillings are part of an orchestrated plot to dissolve the National Assembly ahead of a scheduled ruling by the constitutional court over the amendment of the electoral law. Shiite MP Khalil Abdullah bluntly said most of the grillings are not aimed at reforms but a reflection of ongoing struggles between influential people whom he did not name. Meanwhile, the trial of 70 opposition activists including 10 former MPs - for storming the Assembly building in Nov 2011 continued yesterday with the cross-examination of witnesses from both sides. Hundreds of angry activists stormed the Assembly on Nov 16, 2011 following a rally outside the building to demand the removal of former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah. Top interior ministry officer General Mahmoud AlDossari, who was the commander of the police force, denied that any of the accused former MPs instigated demonstrators to assault policemen. Former deputy Assembly speaker Khaled Al-Sultan said that the outside gates of the Assembly building were open before the activists came, insisting that the activists did not force the gates open. He also claimed that the case had been deliberately inflated to serve the interests of some Continued on Page 2


LOCAL Retirement for public sector employees with 30 years of service

KUWAIT: Former Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, (second right) hosted a dinner banquet on the occasion of the visit of Alderman Roger Gifford Lord Mayor of the City of London (second left). The event which was held in Sheraton Hotel on Sunday evening was attended by Jassem Al-Khorafi former speaker of the house (left) and MP Mubarak Khurainej (right).

Kuwait-British relations ‘solid in all domains’ Lord Mayor of London honored KUWAIT: Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah has said Kuwait and Britain were bound to solid political, economic, cultural and educational relations. Culmination of these ties was reached during His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad AlJaber Al-Sabah’s visit to London last November, noted Sheikh Nasser in a speech during a dinner banquet in honor of visiting Lord Mayor of the City of London Alderman Roger Gifford. The dinner was attended by former NA Speaker, Jassem Mohammad Al-Khorafi, Acting NA Speaker Mubarak Al-Khurainij, sheikhs, Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Hamad AlSabah, ministers, governors and top state officials. Sheikh Nasser recalled that the UK and the British people were firmly supporting Kuwait just causes, affirming that “our long-term” economic and trade partnership was dated back to the 18th century “when we were trading saffron and silks, satin and spices through Kuwait as a key trading post.” As a proof of the solid economic relations, said Sheikh Nasser, Kuwait established its Investment Office (KIO), in City of London in 1953. “As a result, the past half a century saw Kuwaiti investment flourishing, not only in London but the UK, furthermore the City of London has become the major center for the launch of Kuwaiti investments to the world,” said Sheikh Nasser. He cited His

Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah’s speech during a dinner banquet during his last November’s visit, in which the Kuwaiti leader said his country was looking forward to further

In early 1950s, he went on to say, Kuwait established Education Office in London and since then the number of students has been growing. “As a matter of fact and since the

KUWAIT: Foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled (left) is seen with Alderman Roger Gifford during the function. cementing “friendly relations” with the UK as well as strengthening investment relations through KIO. Meanwhile, Sheikh Nasser said Kuwaitis were frequent visitors to the UK and many of them own houses in the European country. Britain, he noted, was one of the first Western countries to receive Kuwaiti students.

liberation of Kuwait (from the Iraqi invasion in 1991), the number of Kuwaiti students increased by three fold,” said Sheikh Nasser, who added that he was proud to have received his early education in British schools in 1955 before continuing education in Switzerland. Thousands of Kuwaitis who studied in the UK were occupy-

MPs file double grilling amid... Continued from Page 1 highly influential officials, but he did not elaborate. Following a lengthy session, the court set the next hearing for March 18. Regarding the grillings, it is not a record to have two grillings submitted on the same day as previously three were filed on the same day, but what is unprecedented in the history of Kuwait is that one MP has filed two grillings of two different ministers on the same day. MP Nawaf Al-Fuzai joined MP Saadoun Hammad in signing the grilling against Oil Minister Hani Hussein and then unilaterally filed a request to grill Finance Minister Mustafa Al-Shamali. The oil ministerís grilling alleges that Kuwait Petroleum International (KPI), a subsidiary of Kuwait Petroleum Corp, has deliberately continued investing in a Belgium-based company even after an Israeli company acquired an important stake in the company in 2007. KPI also conducted through its subsidiary several commercial deals with the Israeli company, the grilling alleged. It also claimed that KPI in Europe, which owns a chain of petrol pumps, has continued to sell liquor and pornographic magazines at its petrol stations, in violation of the Kuwaiti law.

The grilling claims that a number of serious financial and administrative violations have been committed at a number of joint ventures in Vietnam and China and several other places. It also charged that serious deliberate violations were committed in the multibilliondollar deal between Kuwait Petrochemicals Industries Co and USí Dow Chemical which was later scrapped by the government under pressure from MPs. The unilateral scrapping of the contract cost Kuwait $2.16 billion in arbitration. The grilling alleges that the oil minister at the time of the contract was working as an adviser with Dow Chemical. For the second grilling, Fuzai accused that the finance minister, the Central Bank of Kuwait and a number of Kuwaiti commercial banks were directly responsible for what he described as the bad debt crisis. He said the minister did not exercise his authorities to stop violations by local banks to lure citizens into taking loans that they were unable to repay. AlShamali has remained adamant against proposals by MPs to either write off the whole debt or part of it or even the its interest, saying that there is no debt problem in Kuwait. It was not immediately known when the grillings will be discussed.

Drone makers target rising... Continued from Page 1 The company had received up to double the number of inquiries from prospective clients than at the same conference two years ago, Ntsihlele said. At IDEX yesterday, the United Arab Emirates announced a deal to buy an unspecified number of Predator drones from the privately-owned US firm General Atomics in a deal worth 722 million dirhams ($196.57 million). Also yesterday, Abu Dhabi Autonomous Systems Investments (ADASI), a subsidiary of stateowned investment firm Tawazun Holding, said it had signed an agreement with Boeing Co for ADASI to “provide training, support and marketing services” for Boeing unmanned aircraft systems in the UAE. Frank Pace, president at General Atomics Aeronautical, said his firm’s sales had risen by about 120 percent over the last five years, though until now it had not been able to sell to the Middle East due to tight export restrictions. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are among several states, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, that have asked US officials to buy armed drones but which have

been rebuffed. Washington says its commitments to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a non-binding international agreement designed to limit the spread of long-range precision weaponry, restrict drone exports. Thomas Kelly, principal deputy assistant secretary at the US State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, told reporters at IDEX that “caution” was Washington’s point of departure on drone sales. “We’re not pushing armed systems right now to other countries. We understand there’s a lot of interest in UAVs internationally ... (but) in terms of armed UAVs I think the administration is going to take its time to make sure that we have a policy that we’re comfortable with.” General Atomics’ export-variant Predator will have no “hard points” to attach missiles and would be deliberately engineered to make adding new weaponry impossible, the firm said last year. Pace said he hoped the company would get approval to sell to more countries, especially in the Middle Eastern market, where he saw great potential. “We are talking to all of the Gulf (Arab) countries,” he said. — Reuters

ing executive positions in the government and private sectors in Kuwait, he said. Sheikh Nasser said he represented in 1999 late Amir Sheikh Jaber AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah in the 100th anniversary of Kuwait-UK friendship treaty. He also represented His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to the 60th jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II in 2012. Later, Lord Mayor of London thanked Sheikh Nasser AlMohammad for his warm welcome, adding that “HH the Amir’s visit to London last year was for us one of the highlights of the relationships between the two countries”, adding “it brought to a climax many years of relations and it was cemented both by his visit and the kindness of his words, in addition to Kuwait’s investment office’s 60th anniversary held in London this year.” “Relations between individuals are important, as is the case with country relations, therefore we value the visit of HH the Amir last year,” Lord Gifford stressed. He added, “I think Kuwait and the UK have many similarities, we are both proud nations, we both rely on maritime history and trade.” Trade between the two countries is increasing, 2012 witnessed a 40 percent increase, “London also received 200,000 Kuwaitis last year, 3,000 students arrive in the country annually,” he said. Lord Grifford concluded his speech by thanking Sheikh Nasser for his hospitality and kind words. — KUNA

KUWAIT: The Civil Service Council agreed at a meeting on Sunday to launch efforts by which the government plans to ultimately be able to replace superannuating public sector employees with younger staff members. According to sources privy to the meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Mustafa Al-Shamali, the council recommended to the Civil Service Commission to prepare a comprehensive list of Kuwaiti and expatriate workers in the public sector who have served for at least 30 years “with the intention of encouraging them to retire.” The sources who spoke to Al-Qabas on the condition of anonymity further indicated that the council discussed the possibility

of allocating “financial grants” in order to urge employees to accept retirement. They added that the CSC was assigned to come up with a report detailing the mechanism for filling the “large number of vacancies expected when the employees avail of retirement.” In other news, the Civil Service Commission reportedly agreed to allocate KD2.85 million in order to pay allowances for 1666 CSC employees who were assigned to work during last December’s parliamentary elections. According to sources familiar with the subject, the allowances ranged between KD150 and KD3250 based on the position the employees were assigned to which included consultants in the Higher National Elections Committee.

Egyptian prosecutor approached by parliament KUWAIT: While former Egyptian Attorney General Dr. Abdulmajeed Mahmoud confirmed he was approached by Kuwait’s parliament to work as a consultant for the National Assembly, sources familiar with the issue indicated that a request in this was yet to be submitted to Egypt’s supreme judicial council. Dr. Mahmoud told Al-Rai’s correspondent in Cairo that he had received multiple job offers from Kuwait, including one from the National Assembly. He confirmed at the same time that the request to work as a consultant for Kuwait’s parliament was personally made by MP Yaqoub Al-Sane’a during his recent visit to Egypt as part of a Kuwaiti parliamentary delegation.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian legal insiders who spoke to Al-Rai on the condition of anonymity said that neither Dr. Mahmoud nor anyone else “had submitted a request to [Egypt’s] Supreme Judicial Council for permission to work as a legal consultant to the Kuwaiti parliament or any other higher department in Kuwait.” They reiterated that the Supreme Council has the sole authority to allow any judiciary members to work outside Egypt. Rumors about Dr. Mahmoud being approached by the Kuwaiti parliament spurred reactions in the Gulf state given the fact that he was the last Attorney General during former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s term. — Al-Rai

Current BOT law should be reconsidered KUWAIT: A host of lawmakers and academics on yesterday agreed on the necessity to reconsider the BOT law in order for it to go parallel of Kuwait’s aspiration to become a regional financial hub. During a discussion panel held on the sideline of a conference on the role of the private sector in development projects, the experts asserted that the current law does not address all obstacles and challenges facing the investors, both local and foreign ones. A bill as significant as the B.O.T should’ve been examined by development experts before being ratified, “a step that never took place,” MP Yaqoub Al-Sanee said in the panel. He added that the law, despite its

simplicity, managed to fulfill needs of the private sector and succeeded in sealing the deal on a number of vital projects. Al-Sanee pointed out that of the major shortcomings of the bill were the articles stipulating the prohibition of land reclamation or having projects in private real estate. On his part, Law Professor at Kuwait University Dr. Fayez Al-Kandari saw urgency to re-arrange the current law due to the fact that it is overwhelmed with details and overprotective of public fund. He added that financing means also needed to be clarified in the law, explaining that Kuwaiti banks are willing to finance B.O.T projects, yet fear legislative complexities of the bill. — KUNA

BBF holds awards night By Ben Garcia KUWAIT: Alderman Roger Gifford, the Lord Mayor of the city of London, was the guest speaker at the British Business Forum (BBF) Excellence Awards ceremony held at the Holiday Inn Salmiya on Sunday night. The awards night, meant to recognize achievements in the year 2012, was attended by British Ambassador to Kuwait Frank Baker and Alderman Jeffrey Evans, Sheriff of the City of London. The BBF Awards for Excellence publicly recognize individuals across both, public and private sectors, and companies for their outstanding achievements and contributions in promoting and enhancing British excellence. This year’s awards were given to seven outstanding individuals and companies in categories that included Award of Excellence, Award of Merit, Life Long Achievement and four certificates of Excellence. Paul McKay, the BBF Chairman, said, “A wide variety of individuals and companies apply and win each year. These vary in size from large international companies to small businesses. Applications are judged solely on merit by independent panel,” he declared. “We are indeed celebrating; we are toasting each one of you for the fact that you have achieved excellence. Regardless of our chosen field of endeavor, whoever we are or whatever we are doing, some kind of excellence is within our reach,” McKay added. The Lord Mayor on his part said the City of London and the City of Kuwait have excellent partnership/relations since times immemorial which are mostly based on trust and confidence on both sides.

He said London provides wide range of expertise and opportunities to everyone. As the global ambassador for UK based financial services, he thanked Kuwait for its continuing investments in the UK and admitted that more than half of London’s economy comprised foreign based companies. The Lord Mayor was born in St Andrew’s Scotland and educated at Sedbergh and Trinity College, Oxford, studying chemistry. He joined SG Warburg and Company in the 70s and in 1982 he left to join SEB (Skandinaviska Enskilda Bank). For six years, he headed the banks’ operations in Japan and is now head of SEB London. Roger Gifford was elected as Alderman for the Ward of Cordwainer in the city of London in 2004 and is currently on the Policy and Resource Committee of the City of London Corporation.

Alderman Roger Gifford

Cross section of attendees

KUWAIT: The awardees posing here with the Lord Mayor of London Alderman Roger Gifford and British Ambassador to Kuwait Frank Baker. —Photos by Joseph Shagra



KUWAIT: Kuwait has turned into a giant rainbow days before the National and Liberation day holiday this year. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

New era of journalism unfolding in Arab world British journalist in town By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: The Libyan ambassador to Kuwait Dr Mohammed Salem Omaish (centre) held a reception on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Libyan revolution. The Undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry Khaled Al-Jarallah (right) attended the event. A number of ambassadors and other dignitaries were present at the reception at Crowne Plaza Hotel on Sunday evening. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: As the Arab Spring unfolds, along it is unfolding a new era of journalism in many countries in the Arab world, a British journalist said. Speaking at a forum at Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyah, Alan Riding, a British journalist for ‘The New York Times, said many countries in the Arab world today were witnessing a period of transition from an era when journalists used to abide by the rules laid down by dictators in order to survive to a period in which opinions and views are aired and heard. At the same time, he also warned that any period of change is usually painful and makes people vulnerable. “It is clearly a period of change, no doubt about it, but when you are moving from one process to another, there are challenges ahead and those processes are usually very dangerous to messengers (journalists). If you are working for example in the Soviet Union at that time, you knew the

rules, you only had to obey them; follow the rules or else you would have been jailed or killed. In Soviet Union, more journalists were killed at the end of communism than before because the period of unrest and change was taking place. The process of change is usually dangerous to a certain extent,” he said. Riding was referring to the changes happening in some countries in the Arab world as the result of the continuing ‘Arab Spring’. In the Arab world, Riding said, many are coming back from a period of long exile and participating in political process, trying to find their space in the society and running against competing new elements. “Journalists are obviously out there competing to be independent or a journalist who is willing to fight and expresses views freely against the competing point of views of the others who obviously also believe there were expressing views freely. Indeed, a period of change is hard, but it is a fact

that we have to participate and debate. We don’t know yet what will be the outcome of the Arab Spring, but what it means to journalistic freedom is yet a big question,” he said. Riding also lauded the continuing voices of women in many aspects of life in the Middle East today. “The role of women for example is also being highlighted in many areas in the process. Take the example of the Al-Jazeera English where I have seen many women journalists stationed in several dangerous countries. So there is an increasing participation of women happening and it is a good sign,” said Riding, who has spent 30 years as foreign correspondent for The New York Times, lately as the newspaper’s cultural correspondent for Europe, based in Paris. He is the author of several books including Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans, Essential Shakespeare Handbook: Opera, and most recently, of “The Show Went On: Cultural Life in Nazi-Occupied Paris.” He resides in Paris where he is currently writing plays.

Iran urged to solve dispute over islands CAIRO: The Arab Parliament Speaker Ahmad AlJarwan urged Iran yesterday to respond to the calls of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to resolve the dispute over the three occupied islands by Iran. Al-Jarwan denounced in his speech before the second session of the first Arab Parliament ordinary round in 2013 the policy of imposing a fait accompli pursued by Iran as it continues its occupation of the three Emirati islands of Greater and Lesser Tunbs and Abu Musa. He expressed the parliament’s rejection of any interference in the internal affairs of the Arab

Seven injured in road accidents By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: A 42-year-old Bangladeshi fractured his right elbow when he was hit by a car while trying to cross the road at Al-Mahboula, opposite the Alya Hospital. He was taken to the AlAdan Hospital. A 40-year-old Egyptian expat suffered a head injury and was also hurt in the back when a car hit him at AlMahboula, opposite the McDonald’s restaurant. He was taken to the AlAdan Hospital. A 17-year-old Kuwaiti man was left with a fractured left leg and chest pain when he met with a car accident

between Al-Egaila and Jaber Al-Ali area. He was taken to the Al-Adan Hospital. A car accident at the King Fahad Road under Al-Riqqa Bridge left a 32year-old Syrian expat with a fractured pelvis. He was taken to the Al-Adan Hospital. A motorcycle accident between AlSiddique and Al-Zahra left a 19-yearold Kuwaiti man with a fractured left shoulder and some other injuries. He was taken to the Mubarak Hospital. A 39-year-old Bangladeshi fractured his left hand in a car accident at Nowaiseeb Road near the fire station. He was taken to the Al-Adan Hospital.

A car accident at the Fifth Ring Road opposite Special Forces building resulted in a fractured left leg for a 23year-old Kuwaiti man. He was taken to Al-Farwaniya Hospital. Scuffle A 17-year-old Kuwaiti man received facial injuries in a scuffle at Salmiya opposite the Pizza Hut Restaurant. He was taken to the Mubarak Hospital. Two people were injured in a scuffle at Amghara where scrap from steel struck a 32-year-old Egyptian expat in the head while his 47-year-old compatriot received multiple injuries. Both were taken to the Al-Jahra Hospital.

Majority Bloc supports opposition factions KUWAIT: Top opposition figures agreed to let the Majority Bloc have representation in both the factions leading the ongoing anti-government movement in Kuwait, and also announced plans to invite the public to a seminar today ( Tuesday) at the Kuwait Municipality Park. This was reported by Al-Qabas yesterday quoting sources with knowledge of the Majority Bloc’s meeting held last Saturday to address the issue of both the Opposition Coalition and the Coordinating Committee of the Public Movement announcing separate plans as part of the opposition’s ongoing campaign. The Majority Bloc, a coalition of 35

oppositionists who formed a majority in the 50-seat parliament elected in February 2012 and dissolved by a court ruling four months later, made last ditch efforts to convince former MPs Mohammad Hayef and Waleed AlTabtabaei of the Nahj group as well as other groups under the Coordinating Committee of the Public Movement to join the newly established Opposition Coalition which was founded by the Popular Action Bloc and the Islamic Constitutional Movement after seceding from Nahj. The efforts were in vain, however, a fact that was later confirmed by AlTabtabaei who told Al-Qabas that “Nahj is not going to join the Opposition

Cabinet holds weekly session KUWAIT: The Cabinet held its weekly meeting yesterday at Seif Palace under the chairmanship of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah. After the meeting, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs and Minister of State for Municipal Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al-Mubarak AlSabah said Cabinet was briefed with a letter to HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah from Sudanese President Omar Hassan AlBashir, which enclosed an invitation to HH the Amir to participate in the donors’ conference, to be hosted by Qatar on April 7-8. The conference is to rally support and accelerate development process in the Darfur region. It also reviewed a letter to HH the Amir from Sierra Leone’s incumbent President Ernest Bai Koroma. The letter enclosed an invitation to HH to attend the inaugural ceremony at the capital Freetown on February 22, 2013. On his part, Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr. Nayef Al-Hajraf outlined the Cabinet with the Ministry’s steps taken to re-activate youth recreational centers, in implementation of directives of HH the Amir in fostering the youth and providing them with best means for decent living. — KUNA

Coalition.” He later explained that the Majority Bloc will continue serving as an umbrella for both factions “with having some of its members join the coalition and others join the coordinating committee.” Al-Tabtabaei also spoke about plans he and Hayef had in store after joining the Coordinating Committee “which focuses on moving forward with youth groups under a unified framework,” and expressed willingness to “cooperate with but not join” the Opposition Coalition. Meanwhile, reactions to the secession of the PAB and ICM from Nahj continued as people privy to the opposition’s thought process believed that the step was expected, “given the harm that Nahj repeatedly caused to the Majority Bloc and its decreasing popularity.” The sources who preferred to keep their identity anonymous also mentioned “factors” which led to the breakaway. These included “the absence of any trump card that the opposition can put on the bargaining table in the political scenario.” “After the government reached out to youth groups through Minister Mohammad Al-Abdullah, the opposition realized the mistake of putting young activists in the driver’s seat and itself taking the back seat without playing any effective role,” the sources speculated. They further contemplated that the decision of the PAB and ICM was based on “a new strategy that they plan to go with after the previous method proved to be a failure.” “The Majority Bloc earned negativity during the public movement while the credit for the positive aspects was reaped by youth groups who as a result gained direct negotiation powers,” the sources added.

countries, stressing the unity and sovereignty of each Arab state. Al-Jarwan called on Iran to end the dispute over their occupation of the three islands according to a specific timetable or resorting to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). He stressed the need to adhere to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the region and the need to evacuate the region of mass destruction weapons, in addition to forcing Israel to join the NPT. The president also condemned the continuous Zionist actions to Judaize the Palestinian territories, especially Jerusalem, calling on all

states, bodies and organizations concerned to work on the implementation of the resolution issued by the UN on Jerusalem as an integral part of the Palestinian state. Regarding the Syrian crisis, he said that the bloodshed in the Syrian land has exceeded every conceivable manner, noting that what is happening there affects all the Arab peoples. In addition, he stressed that the Arab Parliament confirms the right of the Syrian people in their struggle to recover their freedom and dignity, and to preserve their unity, security and stability. — KUNA



Local Spotlight

the column

Back to Square One

Humanitarian step needed

By Fouad Al-Obaid

By Muna Al-Fuzai Twitter:@fouadalobaid


wenty-two years have passed since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and though relations have become more cordial since the removal of Saddam Hussein, the situation is still not back to complete normality. Diplomatic ties have been established at the ambassadorial level, and regular visit between high-ranking officials on both sides been made; yet still there are issues that are plaguing normalization. The case of the Kuwait Airways has certainly had its effect on both parties, along with obviously the bigger issues of the restoration of Kuwait’s archives, and the discovery of the fate of the Prisoners of War along with those that are unaccounted for since the invasion era. The news of the restoration of direct flights between Iraq and Kuwait have at the best had mixed reactions. Could this be the start of a new era of bilateral relations, one that would bring about a renewed vigor to both countries economies? Time will tell! Closer to home, the government seems to be irritated by the renewed grilling motions filled by several MPs against different ministers on varying issues. Though a legitimate tool granted to MPs to effectively have proper oversight over the government I am finding it curious that the government is unable to answer whatever question comes their way! The only reason I know one tends to dodge questions is if they don’t know the answers to them, or if the question may lead to embarrassing

The government seems to be irritated by the renewed grilling motions filled by several MPs against different ministers on varying issues. Though a legitimate tool granted to MPs to effectively have proper oversight over the government I am finding it curious that the government is unable to answer whatever question comes their way! The only reason I know one tends to dodge questions is if they don’t know the answers to them, or if the question may lead to embarrassing information being made public. information being made public. We have been talking about a ‘Plan’ to turn Kuwait into a ‘Regional Financial Hub.’ Whatever the merit of such a plan, the reality is that other countries didn’t declare such an objective for as much as we have; they simply went ahead and did just that! The government has yet to explain to its citizens why is it that despite passing a major development law and allocating billions to execute such a plan that we still have to see the start of new projects. At a time when State TV is filled with patriotic anchors that are transforming whatever journalistic principle they may have come across and follow the North Korean model of news reporting, not learning from other countries who chose to partake in half-truths and illogical conclusions! They should re-think their position and start advising the government on how they could create real patriotism by actions rather than vague words that are void of much meaning. I don’t want to sound negative, for the glass is never half-empty. Yet one needs to wonder how does the government expect to achieve its unrealistic objectives if it is not serious in its own strategy to convince 50 MPs? Ironically, the very MP have almost all sworn allegiance to the government before being elected, could they have been mere wolves dressed as sheep to gain a seat! Hard work is not easy. Really progress takes both energy and time. I pray in the hope that the All Mighty may hear; it is about time that the government takes it upon itself to start delivering on promises, attempting is no longer enough. If it wants Kuwait to transform into a regional hub - or any hub for that matter, it needs to get the mentality of its topdecision makers up to par. Excuses are easy, however once you have used all your credibility, no one will come to believe you!


kuwait digest

Who should be held responsible? By Dr Shamlan Y Al-Essa

ny new expatriate needs a visa to enter Kuwait. He needs it to settle his affairs w i t h t h e l o c a l a u t h o r i t i e s to avo i d penalties and deportation. I agree that some expats would like to have their families here also, but unless they obtain approval of the immigration department, their dreams remain only that. In fact, cer tain nationalities are barred from coming to Kuwait. Kuwait has some security concerns on this score and while I do not agree to such an attitude being stretched to any extreme. I agree that the country should have certain criteria for people who should be able to receive permit easily, especially for spouses, men or women, above 60 years of age. The ban on visa has been a long pending complaint and there has been no concrete answer to the travails of many expats who wish to live a normal life with their families, all in one place under one roof. The complaints about this issue have been


riticism, demand for reforms, cries for eradica- MPs of principles, tribal interest MPs, religious partion of corruption and voices against the cul- ties’ MPs, MPs who file interest-based grilling ture of bribes and wasta are on the rise lately. motions and MPs who are a product of political barThe question that many are asking is: Who is respon- gaining and squander public funds by demanding sible in the first place for such a deteriorating situa- increases in salaries and wages without seeking protion in our country? Is it the government that should portional returns in the form of better work, perbe held accountable, or the Assembly? Or are both formance and production. equally culpable? Or, is it the people who should be Those parliaments of various types faced during held responsible? their own tenure the governments run by members We have lived in a democracy for the past 50 of the ruling family. These governments that were years since 1963, and we, the people, elected differ- premiered by the elite in the ruling family of Al ent assemblies. The earlier assemblies were domi- Sabah maintained the classical method of keeping nated by the business class before the youth affiliat- everyone satisfied at the expense of the country and ed to nationalist factions such as Arab nationalists, its interests. The governments subscribed to the old Nasiris, Baathists and others came to dominate. By method in selecting ministers, appointing them the end of the sixties and through the seventies, because of personal acquaintance, or on partisan political Islam groups come along. Through the basis (Brotherhood, Salaf, Shiite), or tribal (Awazem, eighties, the nineties and even now, tribes and polit- Mutairi, Enezi, Rashidi - Ajmi...etc). ical Islam have been in control of the assembly Now, as we are going through a new parliamenalthough the current one is tary experience as a result of dominated by the Shiite the one vote per single voter We are going through a new par- system, we expected better minority. We also tried, as part of our democratic expe- liamentary experience as a result of choices from the governrience, the system of ten the one vote per single voter system, ment so that creative youth electoral constituencies, can become ministers as then changed it to 25 before we expected better choices from the they have scientific and resorting to five constituen- government so that creative youth administrative capacities. cies. We also went through a can become ministers as they have However, that did not happhase of the National scientific and administrative capaci- pen and once again the govCouncil in the hope of bringernment resor ted to old ties. However, that did not happen choices based on affiliations ing reforms. We thought, and wrongfully as we learnt later, and once again the government or appeasements, thus missthat the problem lay in the resorted to old choices based on ing a chance to usher in any number of votes a voter has affiliations or appeasements, thus deep rooted changes. to cast to select his MPs and Today, the opposition missing a chance to usher in any changed that from five to with which we differ on the four per voter, before recent- deep rooted changes. issue of means since it ly shifting to one vote per prefers to the street protest voter system. and deploys illegal methods during peaceful What about our experience with political parties? demonstrations, is attempting to bring in internaIn the past, nationalist parties remained dominant tional organizations into our local issues. It is overly and the countr y ’s policy veered towards Arab dependent on the tribes and political Islam factions, nationalism. Then, when the nationalist factions fad- particularly the Muslim Brotherhood and remnants ed away, the religious factions, particularly the of Salaf. Muslim Brotherhood, Salaf movement, and Shiite It is time that the government began following a par ties, came to hold sway but nothing was new way to rule the country. It must reconsider all reformed. Now the focus during voting is the identi- old methods of administration and put an end to the ty affiliations. The tribal voter selects tribe members, squandering of public funds to appease the MPs or the sectarian chooses candidates from the sect, and people. It must stop buying political loyalty at the the civil faction remains lost and simply does not expense of the supreme interest. We need a new know on what basis to elect. administration that rejects MPs’ demands of random The current assembly is a mixture of religious, naturalization that is hardly conducive to laying tribal, liberal and sectarian factions, and while vari- sound foundations for Kuwait. We also reject squanous assemblies had their large number of cons and a dering of public funds to satisfy tribes and parties. few pros also, it is not possible to mention them all We demand the eradication of corruption and a here. We went through electing the services MPs, cleaning up of governmental systems. — Al-Watan

The complaints about this issue have been intractable and while many expatriates here feel sorry that they do not have the power to bring their families here, the local media sometimes brings good news but when that news does not result in fruition, it only adds to the desperation and shattering of dreams. The six countries whose citizens have been denied visas are Syrian, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. intractable and while many expatriates here feel sorry that they do not have the power to bring their families here, the local media sometimes brings good news but when that news does not result in fruition, it only adds to the desperation and shattering of dreams. The six countries whose citizens have been d e n i e d v i s a s a re Syr i a , I ra n , Ye m e n , I ra q, Pakistan and Afghanistan. According to Al Anba local newspaper, the Assistant Undersecretary for Nationality and Passports at the Ministry of Interior, Maj Gen Abdullah Al-Rashed, stated that several applications in this regard will be scrutinized next week, and the decision on whether or not to grant visas will be taken next week, say security sources. The newspaper pointed out that the ministr y has received 10,000 applications either for family or visitor visas. I believe this issue needs attention of the National Assembly members because it is humanitarian in nature and will positively affect the thousands of expats here. Just for the record, I wonder how an organization like the Human Rights Watch make nearly weekly round trips to Kuwait to support some of the Kuwaitis facing prosecution for allegedly breaking the country’s laws but can turn a blind eye towards such an important issue that has been neglected for years. Is this not part of the human rights agenda, bearing in mind the ugly statements made by the organization’s spokesperson? I do not want to raise any false hopes for the Asian expats who belong to any of these six countries but I think that it is worth a try.

kuwait digest

Easy solutions to problems By Thaar Al-Rashidi


n Valentine Day, she asked him to meet her at a sea front restaurant and when he came in, he found her sitting at a table which she had booked in advance and next to her on the table was a medium sized box, very similar to a sweet box. He, in turn, had bought a simple ring for her which he was nursing in the small box that he had put in his pocket. He pulled a chair and sat in front of her. He ordered a cup of coffee for both. She told him she had brought him a simple gift and that she believed he will like it. At that moment, he looked at large box in front of him on the table and thought it could contain a pair of shoes. But just as she opened the surprise package, it revealed the rather astonishing gift a 9 millimeter pistol of Beretta brand with bullets lying next to it. He had never imagined that her gift on Valentine’s Day will be a pistol with live bullets. My friend who told me his strange story with the girl said, “I was waiting for a rose or even a pair of shoes or perhaps a box of sweets, but never in my dreams had I imagined that her gift would be a gun

that could kill, and I do not even know how to use it.” My shocked friend asked her where from she managed to buy the gun. She said it belonged to her brother and that her mother found it in her nervous brother’s room along with the box in which it was lying and gave it to her, asking her to get rid of it. But she could not find a better way of getting rid of the weapon except giving it to her lover that is “my friend”, on Valentine’s Day. Though many would consider her behaviour as strange, I think there was a certain amount of wisdom in her actions. The first thing is that she got rid of the gun which belonged to her nervous brother and thus followed the orders of her mother. The second thing is that she gave my friend a gift for which she did not have to pay anything. If I were to be the sweetheart of my friend and had to give him something, I would not have given him even a bunch of radish. So solutions for problems like that are easier than you can imagine. It does not require much wisdom

than that of the girl who gave my friend the pistol. In our current political problem, solutions might be easier and simpler than what the government or the opposition may imagine, if only they were to turn away from showdowns, escalations and pursuing people in the name of security. Some think that continuous security steps are a solution while the opposition thinks that escalation is the solution. The policy of “inclusiveness” followed by the authority and giving up some of their demands on the part of the opposition might be a low cost solution acceptable to all parties. It is a solution that would not cost the country even a single fils. NOTE: For those curious to know what my friend did with the “gift pistol,” he accepted it and gave it to his father. But the ring which he had in his pocket, he did not give the girl. Instead, when he returned home, he gave it to his mother claiming that he had bought it especially for her and before the week was over, he broke up with that girl. —- Al-Anbaa



Privatization lift-off nears in Kuwait NA panel to clear way soon KUWAIT: A recent decision by a parliamentar y committee is expected to clear the way for the privatisation of Kuwait’s national airline, which in turn could reinvigorate a long-stalled program to open up ownership of other state enterprises - or at least parts of them - to the private sector. In early January the National Assembly announced it had approved the privatisation of Kuwait Airways. Exact details of the planned sell-off were not released, though international media cited officials as saying there had been no changes to earlier plans for the division of shares. Under a privatisation law on Kuwait Airways passed in May, 35% of shares in a public-sector asset that is being opened to private ownership is to be sold at auction to private or foreign investors. A further 40% would be allocated for sale to Kuwaiti nationals through an initial public offering (IPO), with the state retaining a 20% holding in the company and the remaining 5% being distributed to employees of Kuwait Airways. Salem Al-Othaina, the minister of communications and housing, said that the privatisation could take up to three years, a period that would take into account a restructuring of the carrier to make it more viable and more appealing as an investment vehicle. Before any sell off, Sami AlNasef, Kuwait Air ways’ president, said the carrier would undergo a complete renewal of its fleet, currently comprising five Airbus A300-600s, three A310-300s, three A320-200s, four A340-300s and two Boeing 777-200s. Al Nasef said in January that 10-12 aircraft in the carrier ’s fleet are operational, and the rest are undergoing “extended maintenance”. The firm intends to replace the current fleet and purchase 2021 new aircraft within the next two years. The airline has also sustained

Kuwait, Qatar hold talks on parliamentary ties DOHA: Kuwait’s Parliament Speaker Ali Al-Rashed discussed here yesterday lawmaking relations and means to further develop them with Qatari Shura Council Chairman Mohammad Al-Khuleifi. Speaking to KUNA after the meeting, Al-Rashed, who is along with a host of MPs in a Gulf tour, said the meeting touched upon joint coordination during international conferences to be held in the future in a way that would serve interests of both the Kuwaiti and Qatari peoples. Also, an official invitation was extended to Al-Khuleifi and Council

Al-Hajraf hosts art exhibition KUWAIT: A hectic day at Kuwait Stock Exchange. This file photo is used for illustrative purposes. —Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

losses in recent years: Al Othaina told lawmakers in late January that the airline lost $1bn in the past four years, an amount the government intends to cover. Kuwait Air ways has long been seen as the flagship sale in the country’s privatisation program. In 2010 Citigroup, Ernst & Young and aviation services firm S eabur y were appointed to manage the privatisation of the airline, part of a 2008 plan to sell off the carrier that has currently stalled. If Kuwait Airway’s privatisation does get under way, it could be the first of many such sales, with the next target likely to be the national stock market. I n Januar y Kuwait ’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA) signed an agreement with HSBC Bank Middle East to oversee the privatisation of the Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE). Under the terms set out by the government, 50% of the exchange is to be sold to listed companies with

a cap of 5% to any single buyer, and the balance offered to Kuwaitis via an IPO. However, the process hit a hurdle late last year, when it was discovered that a clause in legislation establishing the CMA prevented the agency from conducting commercial activities. This would prevent the authority from operating the exchange in the lead up to privatisation or require it to sell its holding. To avoid any conflict, parliament will be forced to vote on an amendment to the act governing the CMA, a step that may be taken later this year. “Privatising the stock exchange is a unique task for Kuwait,” said Saleh Al-Falah, the chairman of the CMA. “There are some legal and technical issues, but the importance of the task is paramount. It is well known that private stock exchanges run better than public exchanges. If Kuwait wants to be competitive in the future we

will need to boost our knowhow and expertise in financial markets.” Moves to privatise the exchange, and proposals to take other state entities public, have met with opposition in the past, with labour organisations and staff speaking out against the plans, which they see as a threat to job security. In early 2012, following repor ts that the KSE would be privatised, staff warned they could take strike action to protest against the shift into the private sector. Concerns over future industrial relations disputes could worr y some investors, though any unease could be dissipated through negotiations with opponents of the KSE sell off and other privatisations. Once Kuwait establishes a track record with its initial privatisations, opposition to the process may also fade, especially if local shareholders start to see a return on their new investments.— Oxford Business Group

Islamic Thoughts Renewal Symposium kicks off in Kuwait KUWAIT: The 11th Islamic Thoughts Renewal Symposium kicked off here yesterday under the patronage of Kuwait Minister of Justice and Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Shareeda Abdullah AlMuosherji. A galaxy of Muslim scholars and researchers are participating in the three-day event which focuses on the impacts of modern developments and new realities in the world on fatwas or Islamic edicts. In an opening speech, read on his behalf by Minister of Oil Hani Hussein, Minister Al-Muosherji said that “to achieve this goal of renewing Islamic jurisprudence to cope with world latest developments there is a need for scholars to be aware of the different aspects of

members to take part in the Arab Inter-parliamentary Union meeting that will take place in Kuwait next April, Al-Rashed pointed out. In an earlier statement, the Kuwaiti top lawmaker said upon arriving to Doha that ways of fostering bilateral relations and cooperation between the two brotherly countries was of the main objectives of the visit. The delegation accompanying alRashed includes MPS Ahmad Lari, Hamad Al-Harshani, Nasser AlShimmari, Dr. Salah Al-Ateeqi and the Parliament’s Secretary General Allam AL-Kandari. —KUNA

the new reality and Islam’s priorities”. He added that some scholars’ unawareness about the new reality and Islam priorities are the cause of main confusing fatwas. The Minister underscored that the Muslim World is in a desperate need for well-versed scholars to tackle the emerging new issues in an academic and modern way. For his part, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Awqaf Dr. Adel AlFalah said the Symposium is held during the period February 18-20 in cooperation with the Londonbased Global Center for Renewal and Guidance. He added that the event will touch upon issues such as regulating fatwa to avoid the abnormal

and deviant ones that emerges from time to time. It will also discuss the role of moderate Muslim institutions and scholars in countering the spreading extremism. Meanwhile, Moroccan Awqaf Minister Ahmad Tawfiq thanked Kuwait Ministry of Awqaf for sponsoring the symposium which focuses on an important issue for the Muslim world. He also spoke high about the role of Kuwait in promoting moderation and serving Muslim causes. Tawfiq expressed hopes the symposium would end up with a number of recommendations to renew the Muslim thoughts to be more in harmony with new realities on the world. — KUNA

KUWAIT: The capital governorate municipality inspectors carried out a cleaning drive along the beaches, the public yard and parking area around Kuwait Towers during which all abandoned vehicles were removed from the Murqab area. Cleaning supervisor Saleh Al-Farhan said the campaigns were on relentlessly in all governorate areas. The latest drive resulted in removal of 21 vehicles either lying neglected or displayed for sale. These were removed to the scrap yard at Amghara. A warning sticker was slapped on 25 other vehicles.

KUWAIT: Minister of Education and Minister of Higher Education Dr Nayef Al-Hajraf opened Sunday evening the students’ formative art exhibition. The exhibition, being organized by Kuwait Arts Association in collaboration with the Ministry of Education under the slogan of “Kuwait’s Creative,” showcases 80 artworks made by boy and girl students. Speaking to reporters after the opening ceremony, the minister said: “The creative works express the noble patriotic feelings of the students representing various age groups from all education directorates countrywide.” “The exhibition gains additional significance as it coincides with the celebrations marking Kuwait national days,” Dr. Al-Hajraf noted, appreciating “the vivid imagination of the exhibitors.” He asserted keenness of his ministry to foster the talented students and polishing

their creative skills through concerted efforts by teachers and parents. Meanwhile, Kuwait Arts Association Chairman Abdulrasoul Salman said the exhibition falls in the framework of cooperation with the Ministry of Education in the cultural and artistic domains. “The formative art is one of the main tributary of culture which expresses the original values of humanities,” Salman pointed out, noting that that artistic education made great strides in Kuwait in the last few years. On her part, Najeya Al-Roumi, director of artistic education in the Ministry, highlighted the importance of promoting the aesthetic appeal of the youngsters and encouraging them to express themselves in art. “Such events provide an opportunity for us to explore for, and discover, the talented students with a view to helping them excel themselves,” she added. —KUNA

medical company launched KUWAIT: A Kuwaiti company, named Kuwaiti Medical City Co., has been founded at a capital of KD 200 million, the official Gazette (Kuwait Al-Yom) said in its latest edition. The holding company is specialized in establishing and running cities, integrated medical complexes, hospitals, including specialized laboratories, dentistry clinics, pharmacies and X-ray wards. It is equipped to offer medical services at

houses, aid cases of special needs, conduct medical and health studies and employ specialized expatriate staff. It can also import medical equipment, medicines, food supplies, detergents, and fabricate medical materials and equipment. It is licensed to acquire properties, use financial surpluses by means of investing them in financial portfolios, to be run by companies and relevant authorities. —KUNA



Anti-money laundering law to be enforced this year NA asked to give top priority

DUBAI: Secretary General of Kuwait Journalists Association Faisal Al-Qenai receiving a memento during the media forum.

UAE-Kuwait Media Forum ‘a big success’ DUBAI: Several Kuwaiti figures participating in the Fifth UAE-Kuwait Media Forum that started its first session on Sunday agreed on importance of such forums to strengthen relationships and bonds between peoples of Gulf countries. The two-day event, which started on Sunday, was organized by Dubai Press Club, the United Arab Emirates Journalists and Kuwait Journalists Association, and patroned by Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Media Incorporated (DMI) Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. Kuwaiti MP Nawaf Al-Fuzai’a said such forums are important to strengthen bonds and unity between Gulf Countries. “These forums help Gulf societies to stand up against problems they face and find common solutions for them,” he added. Moreover, he mentioned that Kuwait is celebrating its National and Liberation Days, which “constitute the top model example for unity and strong bonds between the Gulf countries.” For his part, Secretary General of Kuwait Journalists Association Faisal Al-Qenai lauded the cooperation between Kuwaiti and UAE journalists and thanked Sheikh Maktoum for his sponsorship of the forum.

He also added this year forum is distinguished due to participation of a number of sports journalists. Kuwaiti writer Mesha’al Al-Nami said that such forums reflect the important role of Kuwait’s media especially when several Kuwaiti political and writers take part in these events. For their part, representatives of Kuwait News Agency Afthal AL-Fulaij and Khaireya Saleh expressed pleasure for participating in this forum. They added that the patron of the event, Sheikh Maktoum, visited Kuwait’s pavilion and praised the participation of Kuwait in the activity. Among Kuwaiti participants in the Forum are the Information Ministry, Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science, University of Kuwait, Civil Service Commission and Kuwait Airways Corporation. The event coincides with Kuwait’s celebrations of national days; the 52nd National Day of Kuwait Independence, the 22nd Liberation Day and the Seventh Anniversary of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s assumption of the leadership of the country. —- KUNA

Kuwaiti students tour Turkish historic attractions ISTANBUL: A group of outstanding Kuwaiti students, dispatched by Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED), has toured ancient landmarks of this tourist city, namely old mosques and relics dating back to the 1299-1923 Ottoman empire. The students, during the first day of the programmed tour, visited Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, built by Sultan Ahmet in 1616. Student Faisal Al-Rakaf expressed his deep admiration of the unique mosque. They also inspected Hagia Sophia, which was originally a church, transformed into a mosque and later into a museum. The landmark is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica. It had served as the seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, but between 1204 and 1261, it was converted into a Roman Catholic cathedral under Latin empire. The building was a mosque from 1453 until 1931 when it was “secularized.” Hagia Sophia is situated opposite the Blue Mosque, an eye-catching site symbolizing the country’s rich history civilization, Moreover, the two buildings bear memo-

ries of conflict of civilizations in the past, namely between Islam and Christianity. Student Hussein Ali said he was impressed with the solid construction of Hagia Sophia, a, ancient site that inspires the mind and imagination. Another key tourist attraction toured by the students was the Palace of Sultans, also known as Topkabi, a large palace that was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for approximately 400 years (14651856) of their 624-year reign. As well as a royal residence, the palace was a setting for state occasions and royal entertainments. It is now a major tourist attraction and contains important holy relics of the Muslim world, including Muhammed’s cloak and sword. The Topkapi Palace is among the monuments contained within the “Historic Areas of Istanbul”, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. “This is the first time in my life I examine priceless relics,” said student Abdullah Al-Rashidi who also voiced satisfaction for enriching his knowledge of the Islamic civilization. The students expressed deep appreciation to KFAED for granting them the chance to visit Turkey and explore its marvels. — KUNA

Environment protection high priority for GCC RIYADH: The Environment preservation and protection is a top priority for Gulf Cooperation Council member states and affiliate bodies, GCC Assistant Secretary General for Human Being and Environment Affairs Abdullah Al-Hashim underlined yesterday. “Since the first days of its inception, the GCC has given due attention to the environmental issues,” Al-Hashim said in a press statement on the occasion of the Sixth GCC Environment Week, kicked off Sunday. He stated that the Supreme Council of the GCC has agreed on certain measures to protect the environment during its sixth session in Muscat (Oman), in 1985.

He added that the GCC had adopted a resolution calling for setting up a comprehensive system for the protection and a clear plan for dealing with environmental problems. “GCC relevant ministers have also agreed in 2003 to hold an annual week for environment protection in February to raise people awareness about the issue,” Al-Hashim said. The GCC official noted that the pan-Arab Gulf organization has also formed a special committee for raising environment awareness in all member states. He disclosed that the Sixth GCC Environment Week, lasts for February 21, is themed “Chemical Materials: Management and Planning”.—- KUNA

KUWAIT: The government is pushing the parliament to accord priority to enforce the antimoney laundering and anti-terror funding law as a first step in a series of measures by which Kuwait hopes to avoid sliding further south in international rankings in this area. According to a letter sent by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Mustafa Al-Shamali to Parliament Speaker Ali Al-Rashid and quoted by Al-Watan newspaper recently, the law needed to be enforced within six months in order for the government to be able to stick to its timeline for “adjusting the situation in line with international standards.” “The [draft law] project allows for taking suitable steps for freezing and seizing possessions on terrorism suspicions, and provides the legal basis for the Foreign Ministry to fulfill its obligations in pursuance of UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to freezing of assets,” read the letter which was reportedly submitted sometime around the beginning of the year. Al-Qabas newspaper simultaneously published a report detailing the consequences of failure to enforce the aforementioned law and

ten other subsequent steps before June 2013. “In this case, Kuwait’s credit ranking will be dropped, leading the country to be classified under the same tier as Iran and North Korea,” said sources with knowledge of the issue. They added while speaking on the condition of anonymity that the subsequent sanctions as a result of the lowered ranking “will leave negative impact on state-owned investment firms such as the Kuwait Investment Authority and Public Institution for Social Security, as well as local banks and individuals with businesses outside Kuwait.” Meanwhile, Al-Qabas reported quoting government insiders that representatives from the Foreign Ministry, Justice Ministry, Central Bank and other state departments met with members of the parliament’s legislative committee last week and asked them to “finalize the law as soon as possible in order for it to be debated in the parliament before the end of April.” “[The government representatives] warned about international sanctions that include banking isolation should the deadline pass before the law is enforced,” the sources said. To achieve that goal, the parliament needs

to incorporate this topic in its already busy schedule that includes four grilling motions so far submitted. The parliament is scheduled during today’s session to debate a grilling motion filed by MP Hassan Al-Qallaf against Minister of Communications Salem Al-Othaina, and an interpellation filed by MP Faisal AlDuwaisan against First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Ahmad AlHmoud Al-Sabah. There are unconfirmed reports that the cabinet is going to request a two-week delay for debating the interior minister ’s grilling. Meanwhile, MPs Saadoun Hammad Al-Otaibi and Nawaf Al-Fuzai’ filed a grilling yesterday against Minister of Oil Hani Husain, while AlFuzai’ filed a second grilling against minister Al-Shamali. In other news, minister Al-Shamali was quoted in an Al-Jarida report recently as rejecting rumors hinting that the government plans to pay grants to Kuwaitis to coincide with the state’s National holidays. He also reiterated the government’s rejection of any calls about writing off the interests of citizens’ loans in local banks about which MPs are trying to pass a law.

KUWAIT: The Lord Mayor of the City of London Roger Gifford and the accompanying delegation in a group photo with NBK’s Board of Directors members and Executive Management .

NBK receives London mayor KUWAIT: National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) received the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor of the City of London Roger Gifford and Frank Baker, the British Ambassador to Kuwait, in a luncheon ceremony held at NBK Headquarters on the occasion of the Lord Mayor’s visit to Kuwait. NBK’s Chairman, Mohammed Abdul Rahman Al Bahar, NBK’s Deputy Chairman, Nasser Al-Sayer, NBK’s Board of Directors’ members, Hamad Al-Sager and Yacoub Al Fulaij, NBK Group CEO Ibrahim Dabdoub, NBK Deputy Group CEO Isam Al-Sager and NBK Capital CEO Salah Al-Fulaij received the Lord Mayor Gifford and his accompanying delegation which included NBKI’s (London) Board of Directors member Sir Michael Craig-Cooper. NBK was the first bank in the GCC to have a presence in London through its subsidiary NBKI. NBK enjoys the largest international network offering its customers access to 16 markets on four continents around the world. NBK’s international network comprises 173 branches, subsidiaries and representative offices in 16 countries across the world’s leading financial centers, ten of which are in the Middle East. In addition to London, NBK’s international presence includes New York, Paris, Geneva and Singapore, as well as China (Shanghai). Meanwhile, regional coverage extends to Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE.

KUWAIT: NBK’s Chairman, Mohammed Abdul Rahman Al-Bahar, NBK’s Deputy Chairman, Nasser Al-Sayer and NBK Group CEO Ibrahim Dabdoub receiving the Lord Mayor of the City of London Roger Gifford.

Mugger caught in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh KUWAIT: Police arrested a robber and was on the look out for two others who escaped after attacking a pedestrian in Jleeb AlShuyoukh. An Egyptian man approached the patrol officers seeking help after three people physically assaulted him and robbed him of KD 50. Police eventually managed to locate the suspects’ vehicle based on descriptions provided by the victim, and arrested its driver while his two accomplices managed to escape. The suspect was referred to the proper authorities to face charges after the victim identified him in a police lineup. Meanwhile, Hawally police launched investigations in search of three thieves who stole several items from an apartment they broke into the area recently. The case was filed after local police were approached by a Chinese woman who explained that the suspects broke into her apartment and ran away with two computers, two iPhones, and one iPad that they stole at knifepoint. Investigations were on. Farwaniya suicide A man committed suicide in Farwaniya after he received some bad news from his home country, according to investigations. The Asian man reportedly died even as he was being rushed to the Farwaniya Hospital in an ambulance. His roommates told officers that he consumed some pesticide after receiving telephonically some bad news from his home country. A case was filed for investigations. Murder threat Investigations are on in a case in which a man claimed a truck driver first rammed into his car, and then pointed a gun at him. In his statements to Ahmadi police station officers, the complainant said that the suspect had first hit his car while he was driving in Fahaheel and brandished a gun in his direction after forcing him to stop. Later, he escaped without harming him. The man could not say what could have explained the suspect’s conduct. Investigations are on.

Drunk misses flight Officers at the Kuwait International Airport arrested in an inebriated condition a man who was booked to board a flight to a neighboring country. The drunken man was finalizing his travel procedures when officers manning the passpor t counter noticed that he was under the influence. The plane left without him and he was taken to the Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh police station to face charges. Mysterious stabbing Investigations are on to unravel the mystery behind a stabbing case reported recently at the Farwaniya police station. Officers were reportedly approached early Sunday morning by a man bleeding from several stab wounds who said he was attacked by an unknown man in a street in the area. The man passed out before police could extract further information about the case. He was rushed to the Far waniya Hospital where he was admitted to its intensive care unit. Negligence A man filed a case against his wife at the Khaitan police station, accusing her of neglecting their child. In his statement to the officers, the Kuwaiti man said his wife used chilli pepper to ‘torture’ their nineyear-old son as a way to discipline him. The mother was summoned to face negligence charges. Dead horse A horse died in an accident reported at the Blajat Road during recent Hala February celebrations. According to the police repor t, the horse, which was brought to the venue by its owner as part of a display, went astray towards the end of the celebrations and ventured into the street where a vehicle crashed into it. Firefighters and Kuwait Municipality personnel were called to remove the animal’s carcass from the street.

Drug trio in custody By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: Drug enforcement agents arrested two Kuwaiti citizens and one Bedoon for possessing large pieces of Hashish, three drug sensitivity measuring scales, shabow and some imported liquor. They were also found in possession of KD 3,300, an amount that was the proceeds from a sale of drugs. Earlier, information was received about their involvement in the drug trade and after obtaining necessary legal permissions, they were arrested and searched. Their house was also raided and searched and the above mentioned drugs were found there. The first suspect confessed to his crime and provided information about others. All the suspects along with the drugs were sent to the concerned authorities.


UN: Time to refer Syrian war crimes to ICC

Thousands of Shiites protest against 89 killed in Pakistan Page 11

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CARACAS: Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gather at Simon Bolivar Square to celebrate yesterday after Chavez announced on Twitter that he had returned to the country from Cuba and is hospitalized at a military hospital in the Venezuelan capital. — AFP

Chavez in surprise return from Cuba Return defies speculation Chavez too ill to travel CARACAS: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a surprise return from Cuba yesterday more than two months after surgery for cancer that has jeopardized his 14-year rule of the South American OPEC member. The 58-year-old socialist leader’s homecoming in the middle of the night implies some medical improvement - at least enough to handle a flight of several hours - and will inspire supporters’ hopes he could return to active rule. Yet there was no new information on his state, nor images of his arrival, and aides say his condition remains “complex.” Chavez could simply be hoping to quieten political tensions in Venezuela and smooth a transition to Vice President Nicolas Maduro, whom he has urged voters to back should he have to stand down and a new presidential election is held. “We have arrived back in the Venezuelan fatherland. Thanks, my God! Thanks, my beloved people! Here we will continue the treatment,” Chavez said via Twitter after flying in. After a six-hour operation in Cuba on Dec 11, Chavez had not been seen or heard in public until photos were published of him on Friday. There had been speculation Chavez was not well enough to travel despite wanting to return for continued treatment for the disease he was first diagnosed with in mid-2011. “I remain attached to Christ and trusting in my nurses and doctors,” Chavez also tweeted on Monday. “Onwards to victory forever! We will live and we will conquer!” But Maduro said Chavez flew in at about 2:30 am (0700 GMT) from Havana and was in a military hospital in Caracas,

where a crowd quickly gathered, chanting slogans and dancing. Chavez’s arrival thrilled supporters in the nation of 29 million people, where his common touch and welfare policies have made him an idol to many of the poor. “It’s fabulous news, the best thing possible,” Chavez’s cousin, Guillermo Frias, told Reuters from the president’s rural birthplace in Barinas state. “Venezuela was waiting for him, everyone wants to see him. Welcome home! Thank God he’s back!” Fireworks were set off in some Caracas neighborhoods as news spread and celebrations began among “Chavistas”. Government ministers were jubilant with one singing “He’s back, he’s back!” live on state TV. They asked Chavez’s euphoric supporters to respect the peace of patients at the military hospital, near a hillside shantytown, where a huge banner of the his face adorned one wall. Soldiers guarded the installation, while supporters chanted “We are Chavez!” and “He’s back, he’s back!” At one point, medical staff came out and asked them to quieten down. The December operation in Havana was his fourth for Chavez since cancer was first detected in his pelvic area in June 2011. Officials have emphasized in recent days that Chavez’s condition remains delicate. “It’s a complex, difficult situation, but Chavez is battling and fighting for his life,” Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said during the weekend. On Friday, the government published photos showing Chavez lying in a hospital. Officials said he was breathing through a tracheal tube and struggling to speak. Chavez’s pre-dawn return was a typical surprise move for the former

UAE grants Bahrain $2.5bn DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates will grant Bahrain $2.5 billion for development projects in the Gulf Arab state, part of a regional funding program implemented after a pro-democracy uprising in 2011, Bahrain’s state news agency reported. The money from the UAE, to be disbursed on an annual basis over the next 10 years, would finance projects in housing, electricity, water, infrastructure and social services, the Bahrain News Agency (BNA) said. Wealthier Gulf Arab neighbours pledged in March 2011 to each extend $10 billion over 10 years to Bahrain and to Oman to ease tensions and support economic development in the two small non-OPEC oil exporters. The pledge came after a pro-democracy uprising in Bahrain and protests in Oman where citizens demanded jobs and a cleaner government. Bahrain, which depends on crude from an oilfield it shares with Saudi Arabia for some 70 percent of

its budget revenue, said last June that it had not yet received any of the pledged money, and it was unclear when the funds would start to flow. In December, it signed an agreement with the Saudi Fund for Development for a $448 million grant to finance various projects in the country. It was not clear whether the Saudi grant was part of the pledged aid package. The kingdom, base for the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has been in political turmoil since the protests erupted in 2011, led by majority Shiites demanding an end to the monarchy’s political domination and full powers for parliament. Thirty-five people died during the unrest and two months of martial law that followed, the government said, although the opposition puts that number at more than 80. Bahrain is the only nation out of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) facing a fiscal deficit in 2013. Bahrain’s government now

plans to cut its budget spending by almost 6 percent to 3.45 billion dinars ($9.2 billion) in 2013, seeking to curb its deficit, a draft budget showed in November. It boosted its original 2012 expenditure plan by nearly 19 percent in Sept 2011 in order to soothe the social turmoil that hurt its $27 billion oil and finance-driven economy. Analysts have said Saudi Arabia, which supports Bahrain’s Sunni rulers politically, could give the state more oil from the shared Abu Safa field if Manama’s budget runs into trouble. In a bond prospectus last June, however, Bahrain said no assurance could be given that the current level of output that it receives from Abu Safa would be maintained. The field’s current production level is just below 300,000 barrels per day, of which Bahrain currently receives 50 percent. Its 2013-2014 budget counts on its output from that field staying at 150,000 bpd in both years. —Reuters

• Supporters celebrate

soldier whose rule has combined constant political theatrics with thundering anti-US rhetoric, tough treatment of opponents and lavish spending of oil revenues on the poor. Opponents have decried government secrecy over Chavez’s condition, and some have called for a formal declaration that he is unfit to rule. That would trigger a new presidential election within 30 days, probably between Maduro and opposition leader Henrique Capriles. Maduro, a 50-year-old former bus driver, is Chavez’s preferred successor and would be favorite to win a close vote in such a scenario. “Uncertainty over a possible presidential election remains intact, despite the president’s return,” Venezuelan political analyst Luis Vicente Leon said. After winning re-election in October last year, and wrongly declaring himself cured, Chavez was unable to attend his own swearing-in ceremony in January. To the fury of his foes, Venezuela’s Supreme Court ruled that he remained president and could be sworn in later. That could now happen at the military hospital. “Now the president is back, there can be no doubt about the democratic institutions working in Venezuela,”

Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said. “There were some who dream of unseating Chavez and the revolution, but here we always said Chavez is the president elected and reelected by will of the Venezuelan people.” Chavez’s return eclipses national debate over a recent devaluation of the local currency. It has proved highly unpopular among Venezuelans and opposition parties have tried to present it as evidence of economic incompetence by the government. His lengthy absence in Cuba had fuelled a long-held opposition accusation that Venezuela’s government was being manipulated and directed from Havana. Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro is a political mentor and father figure to Chavez and Castro visited him regularly in the hospital. “I’m pleased you have been able to return to the piece of ... soil you love so much and the fraternal people who give you so much support,” Fidel Castro wrote to Chavez in a letter published by Cuba’s government yesterday. “You have learnt a lot about life, Hugo, in those tough days of suffering and sacrifice,” he added, urging continued discretion over Chavez’s condition to thwart “fascists” intent on toppling him.—Reuters



UN: Time to refer Syrian war crimes to ICC GENEVA: United Nations investigators said yesterday that Syrian leaders they had identified as suspected war criminals should face the International Criminal Court (ICC). The investigators urged the UN Security Council to “act urgently to ensure accountability” for violations, including murder and torture, committed by both sides in a conflict that has killed an estimated 70,000 people since a revolt against President Bashar Al-Assad began in March, 2011. “Now really it’s time...We have a permanent court, the International Criminal Court, who would be ready to take this case,” Carla del Ponte, a former ICC chief prosecutor who joined the UN team in September, told a news briefing in Geneva. The inquiry, led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, is tracing the chain of command to establish criminal responsibility and build a case for eventual prosecution. “Of course we were able to identify high-level perpetrators,” del Ponte said, adding that these were people “in command responsibility...deciding, organising, planning and aiding and abetting the commission of crimes”. She said it

was urgent for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal to take up cases of “very high officials”, but did not identify them, in line with the inquiry’s practice. “We have crimes committed against children, rape and sexual violence. We have grave concerns. That is also one reason why an international body of justice must act because it is terrible.” Del Ponte, who brought former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to the ICC on war crimes charges, said the ICC prosecutor would need to deepen the investigation on Syria before an indictment could be prepared. Pinheiro, noting that only the Security Council could refer Syria’s case to the ICC, said: “We are in very close dialogue with all the five permanent members and with all the members of the Security Council, but we don’t have the key that will open the path to cooperation inside the Security Council.” Karen Koning AbuZayd, an American member of the UN team, told Reuters it had information pointing to “people who have given instructions and are responsible for government policy, people who are in the leadership of the mili-

tary, for example”. The inquiry’s third list of suspects, building on lists drawn up in the past year, remains secret. It will be entrusted to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, upon expiry of its mandate at the end of March, the report said. Pillay, a former ICC judge, said on Saturday Assad should be probed for war crimes, and called for outside action on Syria, including possible military intervention. Pinheiro said the investigators would not speak publicly about “numbers, names or levels” of suspects, adding that it was vital to pursue accountability for international crimes “to counter the pervasive sense of impunity” in Syria. The investigators’ latest report, covering the six months to mid-January, was based on 445 interviews conducted abroad with victims and witnesses, as they have not been allowed into Syria. “We identified seven massacres during the period, five on the government side, two on the armed opponents side. We need to enter the sites to be able to confirm elements of proof that we have,” del Ponte said. “For example, in the attack on the university of Aleppo, there is

information that it came from the government side and from the rebel side. If we had been able to enter and examine the site and carry out a scientific investigation, we would have a definitive answer,” she said. The UN report said the

ICC was the appropriate institution for the fight against impunity in Syria. “As an established, broadly supported structure, it could immediately initiate investigations against authors of serious crimes in Syria.” — Reuters

GENEVA: Swiss Carla del Ponte, member of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, presents her findings on the latest report on Syria during a press conference at the European headquarters of the United Nations yesterday. — AP

Assad confident of winning Syria war

Rebels push on with assault to seize key airports

NABLUS: Women chant slogans, give the victory sign and display photographs of detained persons during a rally calling for the release of Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel in this West Bank city yesterday. — AP

Mass demos as Palestinians challenge EU on prisoners NABLUS: Thousands rallied in the West Bank’s two largest cities yesterday in support of four long-term hunger strikers, as the Palestinians demanded tougher EU action to help their prisoners. The deteriorating health of prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails has sparked several mass protests across the Palestinian territories, some of which have sparked clashes with the army. Yesterday, more than 1,000 people joined a rally of support in the northern city of Nablus, while another 1,500 gathered in the centre of Hebron in the south to demand their release, AFP correspondents said. With public anger growing over the fate of the prisoners, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urging her to go beyond calls for Israel to improve its treatment of prisoners and to act to secure their release. “We believe it is no longer acceptable to merely request better treatment of Palestinians in Israeli occupation prisons, but to demand an end to the arbitrary system of Israeli detentions,” it said. Flagging up the deteriorating health of the four prisoners - Samer Issawi, Tareq Qaadan, Jafar Ezzedine and Ayman Sharawna - Erakat said the Palestinians would hold Israel “fully responsible” if one of them

died. Over the weekend, Ashton issued a statement expressing concern over the deteriorating health of the four and urging Israel to respect its human rights obligations towards the prisoners and permit family visits. But Erakat urged greater action. “We are asking you to prevent a tragedy and take immediate and definitive action to secure the freedom of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike,” he told her. He also urged the EU to make its strong trade relations with Israel dependent on the Jewish state’s level of respect for international humanitarian law. “We therefore urge you to consider the importance of human rights and international humanitarian law in your bilateral relations and agreements with the State of Israel.” The letter was sent a day ahead of a planned mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in a move echoing a similar protest in April 2012 which ended with Israel easing their conditions. Meanwhile in annexed east Jerusalem, Israeli police staged an overnight raid on Issawi’s family home, arresting his brother Shaadi, the family and police said. Police confirmed the arrest but refused to give further details. On Tuesday, a Jerusalem court was to hold a hearing on Samer Issawi’s case, his sister Shireen told AFP. — AFP

Qaeda wing claims Baghdad bombings BAGHDAD: Al-Qaeda’s front group in Iraq has claimed a wave of bombings targeting Shiite areas of Baghdad that killed at least 21 people Sunday, in the latest violence to hit Iraq as it struggles with protests and a political crisis. The Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) carried out the attacks “in revenge for alleged criminal acts by the Shiite-led government in Sunnis areas of the capital,” said the SITE monitoring service, which tracks extremist Internet forums. Three car bombs struck the sprawling Sadr City slum in the north of the city on Sunday, car bombs exploded in

BAGHDAD: Ali Muyaid Salaheddin, 8, lies in bed yesterday with his head bandaged due to injuries he suffered in Sunday’s car bombing in the Ameen neighborhood of eastern Baghdad. — AP Ameen, Al-Husseiniyah and Kamaliyah in the east, and a roadside bomb blew up in Karrada in central Baghdad, security and medics there said. Another roadside device went off in Saidiyah in the capital’s south. Al-Qaeda’s front group is widely seen as weaker than during the peak of Iraq’s sectari-

an bloodshed from 2006 to 2008, but is still capable of carrying out mass-casualty attacks on a regular basis. Residents of Sadr City were enraged by the bombings, and hospitals in the area were quickly crowded with people searching for relatives. “What did we do? We’re always the victims of conflicts between politicians,” one woman shouted. The carnage could have been even worse. The Baghdad Operations Command, which is responsible for security in the capital, said in a statement that security forces defused a total of six car bombs, including three in Sadr City. Heavy security measures were put in place after the Sadr City attacks, with some areas closed off. Gunmen also carried out two attacks in north Iraq on Sunday, killing a police captain in front of his home in Mosul and shooting dead a football player and wounding two others near Kirkuk, security and medical officials said. The attacks brought the number of people killed in violence this month to at least 158, according to an AFP tally based on reports from security and medical officials nationwide. The Baghdad bombings followed multiple attacks on Saturday that killed five people, including the head of Iraq’s intelligence academy. Two suicide bombers killed Brigadier General Aouni Ali and two of his guards, and more bombings resulted in the deaths of a judge and an army lieutenant. Members of the security forces and judicial officials are also often targeted by militants in Iraq. The latest violence comes as after nearly two months of anti-government protests centred on Sunni-majority areas in north and west Iraq, calling for the ouster of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, a Shiite, and amid a festering political crisis. —AFP

DAMASCUS: President Bashar Al-Assad said he is confident his troops will win the conflict ravaging Syria, as new calls were made yesterday for the International Criminal Court to launch a probe into war crimes. Assad’s comments, published in Lebanon’s pro-Damascus newspaper As-Safir, came as the European Union renewed sanctions against Syria while amending them to enable nations to provide more “non-lethal” and technical support to help protect civilians. AsSafir said that Assad had met with unnamed Lebanese politicians in Damascus during which he assured them that Syria’s future belonged to his camp. “We are sure we will win, we are reassured by the political and military developments,” Assad was quoted as telling the visiting politicians, the Lebanese newspaper said. “We are convinced that the future is ours... Syria has the willpower to defeat the conspiracy,” said Assad, according to As-Safir. He said those “loyal” to his regime “represent the absolute majority of Syrians”. Since the outbreak of a revolt against his regime in March 2011 that later morphed into an insurgency, Assad has systematically labelled opponents and rebels alike as “terrorists” he says are funded and backed by the West, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The United Nations says that nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far, many in massacres, bombardments, under torture and through summary executions. The decision to refer the conflict to the court lies with the UN Security Council, where there are deep splits between Western members and Russia, a longstanding ally of Syria’s regime, plus China. China has backed Russia in vetoing Security Council resolutions that would have put greater pressure on Assad’s regime. Meanwhile a statement agreed by EU foreign ministers said the bloc’s sanctions were renewed for three more months until end-May, while “amending them so as to provide greater non-lethal support and technical assistance for the protection of civilians”. The ministers’ talks

on Syria largely focused on a request by Britain, backed by Italy and a handful of EU allies, to lift an EU arms embargo barring the supply of weapons to the rebel coalition battling Assad’s regime. Though the arms embargo was maintained, the agreement to boost “non-lethal” support and “technical assistance” went some way to meeting Britain’s calls for more support for the opposition Syrian National Coalition. On the battlefront, rebel fighters yesterday pushed on with an assault launched last week to seize key airpor ts in nor thern Aleppo province, and captured a checkpoint near Nayrab military airport, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Rebels also clashed with troops along the strategic Aleppo

international airport road, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. The rebels are determined to seize airports in a bid to capture large stocks of ammunition from regime forces and put out of action the air force’s deadly firepower. Yesterday’s advance is the latest in a series by the rebels since they captured last week air bases at Al-Jarrah, Hassel and Base 80 in Aleppo province. A military source in Aleppo speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity said rebels yesterday also tried but failed to raid the international airport’s fuel storage warehouse. “The army fought off the raid,” said the source, adding that clashes broke out just 200 m away from the airport and were “very fierce”. —AFP

AZAZ, Syria: A Syrian refugee woman is seen between a line of tents in a refugee camp north of Aleppo province on Sunday. —AP

Tunisia PM pushes cabinet plan despite fresh rebuff TUNIS: Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali was yesterday resumed talks with political party leaders aimed at forming a new government of technocrats, despite a fresh rebuff from his own ruling Islamist party Ennahda. Complicating a political crisis that has engulfed Tunisia following the Feb 6 assassination of a leftwing politician, media reports said President Moncef Marzouki’s centre-left Congress for the Republic party was about to split. Jebali, who is number two in Ennahda, met party political leaders over his controversial proposal to form an apolitical party, following up talks that began on Friday, officials said. He has vowed to step down if his initiative is thwarted, and yesterday he came under fresh attack from his own party. “The initiative of a government of technocrats does not meet the needs of the present time,”

Ennahda’s consultative council said in a statement. “We remain committed to the formation of a coalition government which derives its legitimacy from the October 23, 2011 elections and would be open ... to achieve the goals of the revolution.” It urged the government to work on the basis of a “political program that implements the transition, drafts the constitution and holds democratic elections”. Ennahda, which was repressed under ousted dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, won the 2011 polls and controls the key foreign, interior and justice ministries in the coalition cabinet, as well as 89 seats in the 271-strong National Constituent Assembly. But it is divided between moderates, among whom Jebali is the most prominent, and hardliners, represented by its head Rached Ghannouchi, who are refusing to give up the key portfolios, insisting on the party’s

CARTHAGE, Tunisia: (From left) Tunisian Islamist Ennahda party president Rached Ghannouchi, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and parliament speaker Mustapha Ben Jafaar listen during a round of consultations with other political parties at the prime minister’s guesthouse on the outskirts of Tunis yesterday. — AFP

electoral legitimacy. Jebali proposed his initiative following a political crisis triggered by the murder in broad daylight of Belaid, a leftist opposition leader and outspoken government critic. The family of Belaid has accused Ennahda of orchestrating his killing, which enflamed simmering tensions between liberals and Islamists in the once proudly secular Muslim nation and sparked the worst political crisis since ther revolt. Belaid’s murder came after months of failure by the ruling coalition to overhaul the government, and sparked bloody clashes between opposition supporters and police, as well as attacks on Ennahda offices. After meeting the leaders of the main parties on Friday, Jebali said more talks on the new administration would be held Monday and that a previous Saturday deadline for its formation had been cancelled, with no new date set. Tunisian media on Sunday expressed deep concern over the ongoing uncertainty. “There are huge fears that this initiative, which has the backing of most of the opposition and the public, will be buried tomorrow, plunging Tunisia into a new cycle of conflict and political wrangling,” said Le Temps daily. The media meanwhile reported yesterday that Mohamed Abbou, head of the secular Congress for the Republic, an ally of Ennahda, was defecting along with several other MPs from the party. MPs Lazhar Chemli and Souhir Dardouri had already announced their resignations from the party, reports said. Tunisia’s private radio Mosaique FM, Shems FM and the daily newspaper La Presse, citing informed sources, said Abbou too was formalising his resignation. The Congress for the Republic had emerged as the second force in the country, behind Ennahda, winning 29 seats in the assembly in the Oct 2011 election. It then formed a coalition with Ennahda and Ettakatol, a centre-left secular party. Since the uprising that toppled the regime of Ben Ali two years ago, Tunisia has been rocked by violent attacks, blamed on Salafist Muslim extremists, and social unrest over dire living conditions. —AFP



EU launches military training plan in Mali

An image grabbed on video released by Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina fi Biladis Sudan, the radical Islamist group known as Ansaru, reportedly shows unidentified members of the group speaking in an undisclosed place. —AFP

Islamist group kidnaps 7 foreigners in Nigeria

Briton, Italian, Greek, 4 Lebanese abducted KANO: Islamist group Ansaru yesterday claimed the kidnapping of seven foreigners in a deadly weekend raid on a construction site in restive northern Nigeria. The attack in Bauchi state late Saturday was the one of the worst incidents targeting foreigners in northern Nigeria, a region that has seen waves of violence by extremist Islamist groups, but relatively few kidnappings. Ansaru is considered a new group with a rising profile after it claimed the abduction of a French national in December. Some view it as being directly linked to Boko Haram, the Islamist insurgents blamed for killing hundreds of people in northern Nigeria since 2009. In an email statement sent to journalists, Ansaru said it has “the custody of seven persons, which include Lebanese and their European counterparts working with Setraco,” the Lebanese-owned company targeted in the attack. Police in Bauchi said four Lebanese, one Briton, a Greek citizen and an Italian were among those taken hostage by gunmen who stormed the site in the town of Jama’are in Bauchi state. The assailants shot dead a security guard. Ansaru’s two-paragraph statement cites “the transgressions and atrocities done to the religion of Allah... by the European countries in many places such as Afghanistan and Mali”. The group previously listed French support for the military offensive against Islamist rebels in Mali as a justification for the December

kidnapping. The document was written in English, like some past statements. However, others have been written in Hausa, a language used widely across west Africa. Residents in Jama’are, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the state capital, said Setraco evacuated all of its staff from the company compound on Sunday and a company spokesman told AFP its road project had been stopped. “There is no way will continue to work there because the lives of our colleagues are in danger,” John Ogbamgba said yesterday. “We are all in tears.” There were separate attacks on a police station and a prison in Jama’are before the abductions, but no deaths were reported. The kidnapping of expatriates has typically occurred in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, with the hostages released following a ransom payment. But such incidents in the north have been isolated and some analysts fear that Ansaru’s emergence may be a sign of changing tactics among the Islamist group’s operating in northern Nigeria. The Setraco spokesman said the firm was particularly worried by the location of the abductions, noting that if the attack had occurred in the south, “maybe there would be a ransom demand.” In the north however, “you don’t get information,” Ogbamgba said. Aside from the French national kidnapped in December whose where-

abouts remain unknown, the three others Westerners kidnapped in the north since 2011 have all been killed. They include a German engineer abducted last year as well as a Briton and an Italian seized in 2011, in an attack the British government linked to Ansaru. In November, Britain declared the group a terrorist organisation. Some experts say that Ansaru’s leader may be Khalid al-Barnawi, one of three Nigerian extremists labeled a “global terrorist” by the United States last year.The State Department described Barnawi as tied to Boko Haram, “with close links to AlQaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” AlQaeda’s North Africa branch. The governments of Greece and Italy have confirmed that their citizens were among those taken hostage. Beirut has acknowledged that two Lebanese nationals were seized, but has not matched the police figure of four. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said yesterday that London was in touch with Nigerian authorities but did not confirm reports that a Briton was among the hostages. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and top oil producer, roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and mostly Christian south. Boko Haram has said it is fighting to create an Islamic state in the north and its insurgency is estimated to have left 3,000 people dead since 2009, including killing by the security services. —AFP

Russian court slams attempt to block dead lawyer’s trial MOSCOW: A Russian court yesterday pressed ahead with plans to try a dead whistleblowing lawyer on tax evasion charges, despite an attempt by relatives to block a trial they say is inhuman and politically motivated. Sergei Magnitsky died in 2009 after complaining he was denied treatment as his health declined in jail, prompting the United States last year to bar entry to Russians accused of involvement in his death or human rights abuses. Critics say the posthumous trial, which the state says is possible under legal changes made last year, is a cynical act by President Vladimir Putin to hit back against Washington. Magnitsky’s lawyers refuse to defend him in the trial and boycotted a pretrial hearing at the Tverskoi Court in Moscow yesterday. The court rejected their attempt to stop a state-appointed lawyer defending Magnitsky. “Exploitation of the decree ordering the post-mortem prosecution of my son by the Russian Federation’s

Prosecutor General ... is illegal,” Magnitsky’s mother, Natalya, said in a statement read out by the family’s lawyer, Nikolai Gorokhov. “From the civil point of view, it is cynical and inhuman,” she said. Court spokeswoman Alexandra Berezina said a pre-trial hearing due yesterday had been postponed until March 4 to give the defence lawyer appointed by the state time to prepare. She did not say when the trial itself would begin. Putin, back in the presidency since May despite the biggest protests since he rose to power in 2000, has dismissed international criticism over the case, saying in December that Magnitsky had died of a heart attack at the age of 37. Although Putin has rejected suggestions Magnitsky was tortured in prison, the Kremlin’s own human rights council has voiced suspicions he was beaten to death. Magnitsky ’s former employer, investment fund Hermitage Capital, says the lawyer was killed because he

BOMET: Members of the ‘Youth 4 Raila’ political supporters group, wear t-shirts bearing presidential candidate Raila Odinga’s face during a rally in Bomet, in the Rift Valley yesterday. Odinga and his ODM party were campaigning in the area as part of the CORD Coalition ahead of the country’s March 4, 2013 elections. — AFP

had accused law enforcement and tax officers of stealing $230 million from the state by setting up bogus tax refunds. Gorokhov says the dead can be prosecuted in Russia only at the request of relatives seeking to rehabilitate a loved one. This has not happened in this case, which the family says is politically motivated. Gorokhov says the trial is intended to discredit Magnitsky and Hermitage owner William Browder, who is to be tried in absentia, and paint them as the criminals. “ The fact that this posthumous trial is going ahead indicates that justice in Russia is turning into raw and outright blasphemy,” a statement issued by Hermitage said. It said the court’s order to the state to appoint a lawyer to defend Magnitsky against the will of his relatives was reminiscent of the treatment of political opponents during Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s “purges” of 1937. Hermitage also says the Russian authorities have opened a new criminal investigation against it and ordered HSBC bank to provide it with financial information dating back to 1996. It said details of the new case were not yet clear. No Russian official has been convicted of any crime related to Magnitsky’s death and Browder has said several officials allegedly involved in the tax fraud are living lives of luxury. The case against Magnitsky was initially closed after his death in November 2009, but authorities reopened it in 2011 as international criticism over his death - and Russia’s apparent reluctance to hold anyone criminally responsible - mounted. Magnitsky and Browder were charged last year, weeks before the United States adopted the Magnitsky Act, which imposes asset freezes and bars from entry to the United States anyone suspected of a role in his death. Russia responded with a law that imposed similar measures in return and also barred Americans adopting Russian children, adding to tension that has increased since Putin’s return to the presidency last May.— Reuters

BRUSSELS: Less than a year after it triggered international condemnation by seizing power in a coup, the Malian military will start receiving advice from European experts on how to maintain control of its vast territory. Yesterday, the European Union officially launched a training mission with the goal of making the disparaged Malian army good enough to patrol the whole country, including the vast northern region where French and African troops are fighting to unseat Islamist rebels who used the coup’s chaos to grab control. Critics have accused the new Malian military government of being undemocratic and abusive. The bloc feels it has no choice but to offer support and oversight because of fears that that if left alone northern Mali could turn into a new Afghanistan, with Islamist groups given free rein to hatch deadly plots to be carried out around the world. The bloc was so eager to help that it sent the first 70 advisers to Mali 10 days ago so they could hit the ground running when the decision came down. More EU military experts will begin arriving in Bamako, Mali’s capital, next month and training will begin in April. The decision by the foreign ministers of the 27 European Union countries meeting in Brussels authorizes the deployment of about 500 people to Mali for 15 months at an estimated cost of 12.3 million euros ($16.4 million). About 20 EU countries will participate in the mission, which officials say will not be involved in any combat. After the decision, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the mission would “support stability in Mali and the Sahel, both now and in the future. Respect for human rights and the protection of civilians will be an important part of the training program.” The Sahel is the semiarid area of north Africa below the Sahara desert shared by several countries, often poorly policed and home to organizations that claim affiliation with the Al-Qaeda terrorist group. Some of those groups imposed a harsh version of Islamic law, executing violators and performing punitive amputations on thieves. Greatly concerned, international officials, includ-

ing those in the EU, turned to the enemy of the terrorists - the former pariah, the military government in Bamako. That military’s record over the past year has drawn little praise. It ostensibly handed power back to civilians, but then in December it arrested the prime minister, who announced his resignation on state television at 4 a.m., hours after soldiers had stormed his house. Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher for West Africa, Corinne Dufka, said at the time that the events fit with the pattern of abuse by soldiers since the coup the previous March. “ They ’ve arrested, beaten and intimidated journalists; tortured and disappeared military rivals; and now, apparently, arbitrarily detained the prime minister. None of these incidents have been investigated and those responsible appear to have been emboldened by the shameful lack of accountability,” Dufka said. As the rebels drew nearer to Bamako, the government there grew increasingly desperate, and the international community increasingly concerned. In January, France, Mali’s former colonial master, intervened at Mali’s request and began to drive the rebels back. Forces form other African countries joined the fight. And the EU, too, was eager to help - but, as a condition, it successfully pressed the government to draw up a plan for holding elections this year and to ensure that a civilian govern-

ment has control over the military. In the wake of the coup, the EU, the World Bank and the African Development Bank all suspended aid. That aid has begun to flow again. Yesterday’s statement by the EU foreign ministers welcomed the resumption of development funds. The goal now, EU officials say, is create an army not only capable of holding the retaken territory but willing to respect international law and civilian control. The aim, said Gen Patrick de Rousiers, chairman of the EU Military Committee, yesterday is to train four battalions. “It’s building a new army,” Rousiers said yesterday - one with respect for civilian authority and humanitarian law. The trainers will teach not only command and control, but human rights. The deployment carries risks, Rousiers acknowledged, particularly of terrorist attacks. The foreign ministers, while supporting the mission without dissent, appeared to include in their statement recognition of just whom they were helping. “The EU is alarmed at the allegations of breaches of international humanitarian and human-rights law and reminds the Malian authorities that they have an overriding responsibility for the protection of civilian populations,” the statement said. While the initial deployment is for 15 months, the job might - or might not - be done by then, Rousiers said. “We will wait to learn what the future holds,” he said. — AP

Seven to hang for Sudan child rape KHARTOUM: A Sudanese judge sentenced seven men to hang for the drugging and rape of a 14-year-old girl, the victim’s lawyer said yesterday, calling the sentence “more than just”. Cases of gang rape are rare in the Islamist-run state. Six minors who also abused the girl were sentenced to 10 years each in a reformatory, Judge Ahmed Khalil Albahar ruled, according to the lawyer Salma Mohammedahmed Hamed. “He found them guilty by the evidence he received of raping a child,” the lawyer told AFP. Judge Albahar issued the verdict on Sunday at a court in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman, Hamed said. The crime occurred in May last year after the men kidnapped the girl from her home. All 13 of them abused her. “They gave her a cup of juice containing drugs and then raped her,” Hamed said. In his verdict, the judge cited a presidential directive calling for heavier punishments of sex crimes. Hamed said the girl was treated at a rape trauma centre and has returned to school. —AFP



Tiger Woods plays golf with Obama ‘Good to see you play well again,’ Obama tells Woods

ROME: A note reading “Thank you” is seen stuck on portraits of Pope Benedict XV I outside a souvenirs shop near the Vatican yesterday. — AFP

Cardinals seek identikit for new pope VATICAN CITY: After Pope Benedict’s papacy of almost eight years, the cardinals who will elect the next Catholic pontiff are more European, more conservative and more “Roman” than the conclave that chose him in 2005. Benedict has hand-picked more than half the men who will elect his successor. The rest were chosen by the late Pope John Paul, a Pole with whom the German pope shared a determination to reassert a more orthodox Catholicism in the new millennium. Those two popes made sure any man awarded a cardinal’s red hat was firmly in line with key Catholic doctrine supporting priestly celibacy and Vatican authority and opposing abortion, women priests, gay marriage and other liberal reforms. Benedict has also stiffened the Church’s missionary spirit by creating a Vatican department for what is called the New Evangelisation, a drive to spread the faith more vigorously. With a conservative doctrine assured, cardinals and officials of the Vatican bureaucracy, or Curia, told Reuters the focus now revolves around other issues such as a candidate’s age, nationality and the qualities he can bring to the office. “The main issue is whether we want a longer papacy or not,” said Cardinal Kurt Koch, 62, head of the Vatican department for Christian unity and relations with Jews. As for the man himself, he said, “I can imagine a Latin American or African pope.” Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, said the new pope must first of all be able to communicate the Church’s message, especially to the young. “You don’t necessarily need a rock star, but you need someone who can talk to young people,” said McCarrick, 82, who has passed the age ceiling of 80 and cannot vote this time. “But he must be able to keep the shop at home working and moving along and that’s not easy,” he added, referring to the need for better management of the 22, often disorganised Curia departments which run the 1.2 billion member Church. Benedict’s majority There is no front-runner among potential candidates, making this a much more open race than the last closed-door conclave dominated by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became pope. The 85-year-old Benedict, the first pope to retire in 700 years, will step down on Feb 28. The 117 cardinals eligible to elect his successor, and from whose number the new pope will come, will enter the Sistine Chapel for the conclave, expected to start by mid-March and last several days. The age ceiling and maximum number of 120 electors for a conclave means popes can name new cardinals as older ones pass their 80th birthday. Benedict has named 67 of the electors this time, or 57.3 percent of the elite group. That is close to the two-thirds majority needed to elect the next pope. “It’s quite extraordinary that he’s been able to create this majority in eight years,” said Robert Mickens, Vatican correspondent for the British Catholic weekly The Tablet. Apart from being more conservative than their predecessors in the decades after the reforming 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council, he said, there was no clear identikit for these men. Some are charismatic preachers, such as Manila’s 55-year-old Cardinal Luis Tagle, while others like New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, 63, have taken an active role in debating moral issues in public. Others are more retiring or scholarly. One senior cardinal, who asked not to be named, said many of Benedict’s appointments as cardinals and bishops were more

conservative that the faithful they were named to lead. “I’m scared about it because we’ll lose our people if we go too far to the right,” he said. “If we sound more like conservative politicians than Christian leaders, that’s bad for the Church.” US Catholics, for instance, have been divided over the stand taken by Dolan against parts of President Barack Obama’s health care reform concerning contraceptive cover for women, while some Belgian bishops have distanced themselves from Brussels Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard’s conservative views. Italians and the others Of the 117 electors, a slim majority of 61 are from Europe, compared to 58 in 2005. Italy, the largest national group, will have 28 this time, up from 20 in 2005. Only nine of those are archbishops in Italian cities. The rest are officials in the Italian-dominated Curia, whose group has grown to 39 electors in the conclave, 11 more than in 2005. The Curia often forms a generally cautious and centralised “Roman” faction that can include foreign prelates working there. Curia cardinals from developing countries often become “Roman” over the years and see the world more from the Vatican viewpoint than that of their far-away homelands where local concerns can figure higher. The predominance of Italians and Curia officials named cardinal early last year led to criticism that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict’s deputy, was trying to pack the College of Cardinals with his countrymen and fellow Vatican officials. “The Church is almost half Latin American, but no sitting bishop from there was named,” the senior cardinal said, referring to followers of the Roman Catholic Church. “Some felt it was a conspiracy not to elect a Latin American pope.” Bertone, 78, has denounced reports of Vatican intrigues as “an attempt to sow division that comes from the Devil” and accused journalists who write about them of trying to imitate Dan Brown, author of the best-selling novel “The Da Vinci Code.” At his penultimate Sunday address at the weekend, Benedict thanked the crowed in several languages but made the only specific reference to his upcoming resignation in Spanish. Chances for non-Europeans While 42 percent of the world’s Catholics live in Latin America, the region has only 19 electors, up from 18 in 2005. Brazil, the world’s largest Catholic country, has five times as many faithful as Germany, but one less elector. Africa has gone down by one elector to 11 while Asia has stayed at 11. Oceania-Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands-has one elector compared to two last time. Working in Rome can be an advantage, but is not always. Ghana’s Peter Turkson, 64, the genial head of the Vatican department for peace and justice, represents Africa to cardinals who want a non-European pope while his Roman experience reassures those worried about a pontiff from overseas. Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 69, is a classic “Roman.” Born and raised in Argentina, the son of Italian immigrants has spent his adult life in the Curia or Vatican diplomatic service, making him well connected there but little known to cardinals outside. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, 68, a kind of staff manager as head of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, has a dry image but is “tri-continental”. An intellectual Canadian theologian working in Rome, he has long experience in Latin America. —Reuters

PALM CITY: President Barack Obama played golf Sunday with Tiger Woods, the White House said. Once the sport’s dominant player before his career was sidetracked by scandal, Woods joined Obama at the Floridian, a secluded and exclusive yacht and golf club on Florida’s Treasure Coast where Obama is spending the long Presidents Day weekend. The two had met before, but Sunday was the first time they played together. The White House, which has promised to be the most open and transparent in history, has prohibited any media coverage of Obama’s golf outing. The foursome also included Jim Crane, a Houston businessman who owns the Floridian and baseball’s Houston Astros, and outgoing US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, a former mayor of Dallas, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. Crane and Kirk also were part of Obama’s foursome on Saturday, the White House said. Obama, an avid golfer, also received some instruction Saturday and played a few holes with Butch Harmon, Woods’ former swing coach. Initial word that the First Duffer would play a round with the world’s No. 2 player didn’t come from the White House, but instead came from veteran golf journalist Tim Rosaforte, who announced it on Twitter. Rosaforte’s late-morning tweet said: “The president is arriving at the Floridian range. Awaiting is Tiger Woods and club owner Jim Crane. Historic day in golf. Their first round.” White House confirmation of Woods’ participation came about two hours later, following multiple appeals from traveling White House reporters. Golf Digest reported on its website that Obama spent eight hours Saturday with Harmon, playing 27 holes and hitting balls in Harmon’s studio, and then managed to coordinate Sunday’s round with Woods. The report said the original plan called for Obama and Woods, a Florida resident, to play at Woods’ home club - The Medalist Golf Club, a half-hour away in Hobe Sound. But they eventually opted for the Floridian. Woods departed after the first 18 holes, with Obama staying on to play another nine, the report said. “Just to see the interaction

KAILUA: In this Dec 31, 2009 file photo, President Barack Obama watches the ball after making a putt on the ninth green during his golf match at Mid-Pacific County Club in Kailua, Hawaii. — AP between the two on the range was pretty neat,” Harmon told Golf Digest. “The President said to Tiger: ‘The last tournament you played was fun to watch. It’s good to see you play well again.’ You could tell he meant it. It just wasn’t a throw it out compliment.” It seems Obama and Woods - the first black men at the top of their respective fields have spent the past few years inching toward Sunday’s meeting on the fairway. They met in January 2009, during Obama’s inauguration in Washington. Four months later, in April, Woods visited the White House and Obama received him in the Oval Office. Woods’ personal life imploded later in 2009 after revelations that he had engaged in multiple extramarital affairs, leading to divorce. He followed with a public apology and announced he was taking an indefinite break from golf. Shortly after Woods announced he was coming out of seclusion, Obama said in an interview with Fox News Channel that Woods will still be a “terrific” golfer despite his personal issues. After returning to the sport, Woods went two years without winning, but his game is back on track and he currently is ranked No. 2 in the world. Woods won the last

tournament he played, three weeks ago in San Diego. The White House made clear from the start of Obama’s trip that there would be no coverage of him because he would be on vacation with no plans to leave the club, which remained open to members and their guests. It arranged for the pool of reporters who traveled with Obama to bunk at a Holiday Inn about a 20-minute drive away in Port St Lucie. Whenever the reporters were brought to the Floridian on the off chance that Obama might leave the property, they were taken no further than a maintenance shed beyond the club gates but on the edge of the grounds. The presence at the Floridian of a professional journalist who tweeted about Obama’s game as he was playing, while White House reporters essentially were locked out, brought a sharp response from Ed Henry, the Fox News Channel correspondent who also is president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. “A broad cross section of our members from print, radio, online and T V have today expressed extreme frustration to me about having absolutely no access to the president of the United States this

entire weekend,” Henry said in a statement. “There is a very simple but important principle we will continue to fight for today and in the days ahead: transparency.” In response, Earnest, the White House spokesman said: “The press access granted by the White House today is entirely consistent with the press access offered for previous presidential golf outings. It’s also consistent with the press access promised to the White House Press Corps prior to arrival in Florida on Friday evening.” Previous administrations have allowed brief news media coverage at either the beginning or the end of presidential golf games. Obama’s policy generally is no coverage at all, but exceptions were made for separate outings he had in 2011 with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and former President Bill Clinton. Golf Channel said Rosaforte is a member of the Floridian who sent his tweets from the clubhouse. Rosaforte did not have access to the course or to Obama, the network said. Obama is in Florida while his wife and daughters are on an annual ski vacation out West. He was due to arrive back in Washington on Monday night. —AP

Armenia ready to re-elect leader in democracy test YEREVAN: Armenians voted yesterday in a presidential poll expected to be easily won by incumbent President Serzh Sarkisian against weak rivals but which is seen as a crucial democratic test for the ex-Soviet state. The authorities are hoping for a peaceful process that will improve the country’s chances of European integration, after the vote that brought Sarkisian to power in 2008 ended in clashes in which 10 people died. Yesterday’s vote is also shadowed by last month’s assassination attempt against presidential candidate Paruyr Hayrikyan which has yet to be fully explained and at one point risked derailing the holding of the ballot. “I voted today for Armenia’s future-for the well-being of our citizens and families,” Sarkisian said after voting in a central polling station in the capital Yerevan. Sarkisian’s top challenger, former foreign minister Raffi Hovannisian, said the election marked “the most crucial day in our country’s modern history” and denounced irregularities in voters’ lists and voting procedures. The police dismissed his allegations as “obvious fiction.” Turnout was 33.09 percent at 1100 GMT, four hours after polls opened, the Central Elections Commission said. Most opinion polls give Sarkisian a strong lead and the fractured opposition forces have failed to find a common challenger to the incumbent leader. The 59-year-old Sarkisian is a veteran of the 1990s war with

Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorny Karabakh and derives much of his popularity from a tough can-do militaristic image. A fanatical chess player who heads the Armenian chess federation, his foreign policy seems itself like a canny chess game with tiny Armenia managing to remain friends with NATO, Russia and powerful neighbour Iran. Hovannisian, 54, was born in the United States and used to practise law in Los Angeles before moving to Armenia following its devastating earthquake of December 1988. ‘Sarkisian can lead the army’ “I voted for Serzh (Sarkisian). He can lead the army and take important decisions at the right moment,” carpenter Vazgen Akobyan told AFP at a polling station in Yerevan. “I support Raffi Hovannisian. He has a Western mentality, he is intelligent, he promised to fight corruption and create new jobs,” said another voter, unemployed Siranush Mnatsmkanyan. All the candidates have been busy making populist promises to fight poverty and unemployment. The World Bank estimates that 36 percent of Armenians live below the poverty line. Economic hardship and unemployment have driven nearly a million Armenians out of the country over the past two decades. But campaigning has also focused on

Armenia’s long-running disputes with arch-foe neighbours Turkey and Azerbaijan. No final peace deal has been reached with Azerbaijan over the Armenian-controlled Azerbaijani region of Nagorny Karabakh as the risk of a new conflict remains palpable. The Soviet-era dissident Hayrikyan-the target of the January 31 assassination attempt that nearly delayed the polls-and ex-premier Hrant Bagratian are the other main figures among six challengers to Sarkisian. Bagratian, who is the leader of the opposition Liberty party, said he couldn’t rule out mass protests after the vote. “We are getting information about mass violations,” he said. The Gallup International Association shows Sarkisian on course to win 68 percent of the vote against Hovannisian’s 24 percent while Bagratian and Hayrikyan have single-digit ratings. International observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe will monitor voting which was scheduled to end at 1600 GMT. The outcome became predictable in December when the highly popular leader of the Prosperous Armenia party-the super-rich former arm-wrestling champion Gagik Tsarukian-said he was out of the race and Armenia’s first post-Soviet president Levon Ter-Petrosian said he was too old for the country’s top job. — AFP

Obama offering immigration plan as backup WASHINGTON: The White House is downplaying its draft immigration proposal as merely a backup plan if lawmakers don’t come up with an overhaul of their own. It won’t be necessary, Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike are telling the Obama administration. White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said Sunday that President Barack Obama wants to “be prepared” in case the small bipartisan group of senators fails to devise a plan for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. In response, lawmakers assured the White House they are working on their own plan - and warned that Obama would be heading toward failure if the White House gets ahead of them. “We will be prepared with our own plan if these ongoing talks between Republicans and Democrats up on Capitol Hill break down,” McDonough said, adding he’s optimistic they would not crumble. But he was equally realistic about the fierce partisanship on Capitol Hill. “Well, let’s make sure that it doesn’t have to be pro-

posed,” McDonough said of the president’s pitch, first reported on USA Today’s website late Saturday. Even so, the administration is moving forward on its own immigration agenda should one of Obama’s top priorities get derailed. The administration’s proposal would create a visa for those in the country illegally and allow them to become legal permanent residents within eight years. The proposal also requires businesses to know the immigration status of their workers and adds more funding for border security. It drew immediate criticism from Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., one of the eight lawmakers searching for a comprehensive plan. “If actually proposed, the president’s bill would be dead on arrival in Congress, leaving us with unsecured borders and a broken legal immigration system for years to come,” said Rubio, who has been a leading GOP spokesman on immigration. Many of the details in the administration’s draft proposal follow the broad principles that Obama previously outlined. But the fact

the administration is writing its own alternative signaled Obama wants to address immigration sooner rather than later and perhaps was looking to nudge lawmakers to move more quickly. The tactic could complicate the administration’s work with Congress. David Axelrod, who was a senior adviser to Obama’s re-election campaign, acknowledged Monday that it likely was a mistake for news of the Obama immigration plan to be made public. Appearing on MSNBC, Axelrod said in an interview from Chicago that “the mistake here was to disseminate it so widely within the administration” and said he believes that White House officials would “take it back” if they could. Republican Rep Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin lawmaker who was his party’s vice presidential nominee last year, said the timing of the leak suggests the White House was looking for “a partisan advantage and not a bipartisan solution.” “Leaking this out does set things in the wrong direction,” said Ryan. “There are

groups in the House and the Senate working together to get this done and when he does things like this, it makes that much more difficult to do that.” Freshman Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, called the leaked plan “incomplete” and said both parties in Congress and the White House need to work together on a solution. “It hasn’t happened yet. It will happen before something is acted upon and certainly before something is passed,” he said. Republican Sen John McCain predicted the administration’s efforts would come up short if the White House went forward with a proposal, and he encouraged the White House to give senators a chance to finish their work. McCain, the Arizona senator whose previous efforts at an immigration overhaul ended in failure in 2007, predicted the White House proposal’s demise if it were sent to Congress. He strongly urged the president to pocket the drafted measures. “I believe we are making progress in a bipartisan basis,” said McCain, who is in the Senate group working on legislation. And

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, who met with Obama on Wednesday at the White House to discuss progress, urged his allies in the administration to give a bipartisan group of eight lawmakers the time to hammer out a deal on their own. Schumer, a New York Democrat and a close ally of the White House, said he has not seen the draft proposals but, along with the Democrats working on a compromise, met with Obama this week to talk about progress being made on Capitol Hill. Schumer acknowledged that a single-party proposal would have a much more difficult time becoming law and urged the bipartisan group of senators to keep meeting to find common ground. “I am very hopeful that in March we will have a bipartisan bill,” Schumer said. “And, you know, it’s obvious if a Democrat - the president or anyone else - puts out what they want on their own, (it) is going to be different than when you have a bipartisan agreement. But the only way we’re going to get something done is with a bipartisan agreement.” — AP



‘Nothing to hide’ in copter deal: Singh NEW DELHI: India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said yesterday his government had nothing to hide in a $750 million deal for AgustaWestland helicopters that the defence ministry is threatening to cancel over allegations of kickbacks. The ministry has asked AgustaWestland, owned by Italy ’s Finmeccanica, to show by Friday that no bribes were paid in the deal or face cancellation of the order. AgustaWestland has said it will comply with the request to provide clarification within seven days. The case, which escalated last week with the arrest of Finmeccanica head Giuseppe Orsi, is putting pressure on India’s government and has become a political issue in Italy less than a week from a general election.

India has already received three of the 12 helicopters it bought to transport political leaders. In his first comments on the affair since the arrest of Orsi, who has since been replaced at Finmeccanica, Singh said the Indian government wanted to debate the issue in parliament, which begins a new session tomorrow. “Parliament is the appropriate forum to discuss all issues raised by the opposition. We are ready for any discussion,” Singh told reporters. “We have nothing to hide.” The furore over the helicopter deal follows a string of graft cases that have buffeted Singh’s government, which faces elections due by early 2014. The opposition is expected to raise the issue

Indian PM pushes for new anti-rape rules NEW DELHI: India’s prime minister said yesterday he hoped parliament which resumes this week would enact a tough law against rapists following the fatal gang-rape of a student in New Delhi. The comments came two weeks after the government passed temporary measures to toughen the punishments for rapists, following outraged protests over the case of the 23-year-old student who was gang-raped on a bus in December. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters his government hoped the budget parliament session which opens Thursday would pass a permanent law to tackle crimes against women. “It is our hope that parliament will urgently pass the necessary legislation to enact a comprehensive law in this regard,” he said. “It is indeed a matter of shame that, notwithstanding the gains we have made, incidents of violence and sexual offences against women are on the increase,” Singh said on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi. Under the changes approved by the cabinet and the president earlier this month, the minimum sentence for gangrape, rape of a minor or rape by policemen or another person in authority will be doubled

to 20 years from 10 and can be extended to life without parole. The temporary decree recommended capital punishment for the rapist in case the victim died after an attack or went into a coma. Under the existing law, a rapist faces a term of seven to 10 years. The decree, which must be turned into law by parliament in six months, also created a new set of offences such as voyeurism, groping, stalking or indecent gestures. The vicious assault on the student by six drunken men sparked a chain of events including surging street protests, the decree and installation of special fast-track courts to punish rapists. Five of the suspects are being tried in one such court in New Delhi on charges of murder, gang-rape and kidnapping. The victim died of horrific injuries in a Singapore hospital where she had been sent for further treatment. A sixth suspect faces trial in a juvenile court. Parliament’s new session, where the 20132014 budget will be unveiled on February 28, could see a showdown between Singh’s government and the opposition over a bribery scandal involving the purchase of 12 British-built helicopters. — AFP

NATO kills insurgent behind soldier’s death KABUL: An Afghan soldier-turned-insurgent who was feted by the Taleban for killing an American soldier during an insider attack in eastern Afghanistan last year has been killed in a raid, the US-led international coalition said yesterday. NATO identified the insurgent as Mahmood and said that he and an accomplice, identified only as Rashid, died in last Wednesday’s operation in eastern Kunar province’s Ghaziabad district. No other details were provided. Mahmood is thought responsible for the May 11 killing of US Army 1st Lt. Alejo Thompson, who died during an insider attack on a base in Kunar. The attack also wounded two American soldiers. Mahmood, in his early 20’s and who went only by one name later fled. Thompson, 30, a father of two, was from Yuma, Arizona. He was based at Ford Carson, Colorado. “Afghan and coalition forces confirmed today the death of the two Taleban insider attack facilitators, Mahmood and Rashid, during a security operation in Ghaziabad district, Kunar province, Wednesday,” the coalition said in a statement. “Mahmood was responsible for the death of one American service member during the May 11, 2012, insider attack in Kunar province.” It added that “Rashid was Mahmood’s associate and a former Afghan National Army soldier who facilitated and assisted with insider attack planning and execution.” After he fled, a man named Mahmood was highlighted in a Taleban video that showed him being welcomed as a hero while entering an insurgent camp. In the video, he was shown in his Afghan army uniform, his USmade M-16 assault rifle, and with garlands of flowers around his neck. The Taleban claimed he had defected to their side. Killings by uniformed Afghans of foreign soldiers and civilians rose dramati-

cally last year. According to NATO, so-called insider attacks killed 61 coalition personnel in 45 incidents last year, compared to 35 killed in 21 attacks a year earlier. This tally does not include the Dec. 24 killing of an American civilian adviser by a female member of the Afghan police because an investigation of the reportedly mentally unstable woman is continuing. In some cases, militants have donned Afghan army or police uniforms to attack foreign troops. And a number of attacks have also been carried out by members of Afghan security forces against their own comrades. Insider attacks have dropped sharply after NATO forces took steps to mitigate them, including having armed “guardian angels” looking over troops as they sleep. There has been only one insider attack so far this year, the Jan 7 killing of a British soldier in southern Helmand province by a man in an Afghan army uniform. Foreign military casualties have sharply decreased as Afghan forces take the lead for security and the coalition takes a back seat. So far this year, eight foreign soldiers have died, including three Americans. US troop deaths declined overall, from 404 in 2011 to 295 in 2012. More than 2,000 US troops and nearly 1,100 coalition troops have died in Afghanistan since the US invasion in late 2001. By comparison, more than 1,200 Afghan soldiers died in 2012 compared to more than 550 in 2011, according to data compiled by the Washington-based Brookings Institution. There are about 100,000 foreign troops currently in Afghanistan, including about 66,000 from the United States. President Barack Obama last week announced that he could cut American troop number by 34,000 within a year. Allied countries are expected to also draw down. — AP

once parliament opens. An Indian Defence Ministry official said the decision to send a show cause notice to Finmeccanica, the first step toward scrapping the deal, was taken partly to fend off expected political pressure in parliament. Pressure is building in Italy too, where the Finmeccanica case adds to a string of high-profile corporate probes into possible bribery reminiscent of the scandals that devastated Italy 20 years ago. Statecontrolled Finmeccanica, Italy’s second largest employer after Fiat, could be blacklisted for several years in India if the government scraps the deal, potentially putting at risk some $12 billion in defence contracts being chased by the Italian defence group.

Hunt for evidence India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which began a probe of the deal after Orsi’s arrest, is due to send an investigator and a judicial officer to Rome this week along with Arun Kumar Bal, a senior official overlooking acquisitions at the Defence Ministry. The team is due to meet Italian prosecutors, the CBI said. The team’s goal is “to gather as much evidence as possible relating to the allegations of corruption”, said ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar. However, an Italian judicial source with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters that prosecutors in Busto Arsizio, the northern town where the AgustaWestland probe is being conducted, had not been contacted by Indian

authorities. Finmeccanica had also not been contacted by the Indian delegation, a company source told Reuters. Italian prosecutors allege Orsi employed three middlemen to channel millions of dollars to Indian officials, including to former Indian air force chief SP Tyagi, to manipulate the tender in a way that favoured the Italians. Orsi’s lawyer said last week the Italian corruption probe has produced no evidence of any illicit payments. Indian officials involved have defended the change and deny corruption. Tyagi has denied all wrongdoing, as has his cousin, Sanjeev Tyagi, who Italian prosecutors allege set up meetings between the company and the air chief. — Reuters

Thousands of Shiites protest against 89 killed in Pakistan Pakistan Shiites refuse to bury dead, demand protection QUETTA: At least 15,000 Shiite Muslims took to the streets in southwest Pakistan yesterday in a second day of protests following a bombing that killed 89 people. Relatives of the victims refused to bury their loved ones until the army takes action against the militants targeting the minority sect. Meanwhile, militants wearing suicide vests and disguised as policemen attacked the office of a senior political official in northwest Pakistan, killing six people, police said. Pakistan has been besieged by militant attacks in recent years, many of them carried out by the Pakistani Taliban, who have been waging a bloody insurgency against the government. Radical Sunni militant groups have also increasingly targeted the country’s Shiites because they do not view them as real Muslims. Many of these sectarian attacks have occurred in southwest Baluchistan province, which has the largest concentration of Shiites in Pakistan. Many are Hazaras, an ethnic group that migrated from Afghanistan over a century ago. The bomb that ripped through a produce market Saturday in Baluchistan’s provincial capital of Quetta was the second mass-casualty attack targeting Shiites in the city in a little over a month. A double bombing of a billiards hall in January killed 86 people. The death toll from the most recent blast, which was caused by a bomb hidden in a water tank, rose to 89 yesterday after eight people died of their wounds, said Baluchistan’s home secretary, Akbar Hussain Durrani. Outrage over the attacks has grown in Pakistan, and protests were held in over a half dozen cities yesterday in addition to Quetta. But it’s unclear whether the demonstrations will spark action that will make the Shiites any safer. Rights groups have criticized the government for not doing enough to crack down on the attacks. They explain this apathy by pointing to past connections between the country’s military and anti-Shiite militants, and also allege the sectarian groups are seen as less of a threat than the Taliban because they are not targeting the state. Despite this criticism, the Shiites in Quetta see the Pakistani army as their only potential savior and are demanding the generals be given control of the city. They blame the provincial government and police for failing to protect them and want the army to take targeted action against sectarian militant groups like Lashkar-eJhangvi, which claimed responsibility for both the recent bombings in the city. “ We will not bury our martyrs until our demands are fulfilled,” a top Shiite leader in the country, Amin Shaheedi, told reporters yester-

QUETTA: A Pakistani Shiite woman mourns the deaths of her fellow Muslims who were killed in a bombing on Saturday in Quetta, at a rally yesterday. — AP day at the site of the protest in Quetta. Saumbal, the police officer, estimated that the crowd of protesters numbered at least 15,000. Some poured into the streets near the attack site carrying signs and chanting slogans against terrorism. Others remained inside a mosque beside the bodies of their relatives, which were covered with white sheets. One young girl wrote on her face, “Don’t kill me. I am Shia.” After the bombing in January that killed 86 people, Shiites camped out in the street for four days alongside the coffins of their loved ones. Eventually the country’s prime minister ordered a shake-up in the regional administration, putting the local governor in charge of the whole province. But the governor has expressed frustration, saying the recent bombing was the result of a failure of the provincial security and intelligence services. Durrani, the home secretary, said the government has no plans to call in the army and will continue to rely on the 3,000 members of the paramilitary Frontier Corps who are deployed in Quetta, as well as the police. The most significant protests outside Quetta yesterday occurred in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, located on the country’s southern coast. Hundreds of protesting Shiites paralyzed key areas of the city by blocking major roads, includ-

ing the one that leads to the airport. In the eastern city of Lahore, gunmen on a motorcycle shot to death a Shiite doctor and his 12-year-old son, but it was unclear whether the attack was sectarian in nature, said senior police officer Malik Ovais. The target of yesterday’s attack in the northwestern city of Peshawar was the office of the top political official for the Khyber tribal area, a major militant sanctuary in the country. The militants were disguised in the same type of uniform worn by the tribal policemen who protect the compound. Four militants opened fire on the policemen protecting the compound and managed to get inside, said senior tribal policeman Sajad Hussain. Once inside, three of the attackers detonated their suicide vests, said Hussain. It’s unclear what happened to the fourth attacker. Six people were killed in the attack, including four tribal policemen and two civilians, said senior police officer Shafqat Malik. Thirteen people were wounded, including some who were inside an office that collapsed from the force of the explosions. An eyewitness, Shahid Shinwari, said the militants launched the attack when a van carrying prisoners arrived at the office compound. The militants tried to free the prisoners from the van, he said. — AP

US-based artist to unleash 10,000 balloons on Kabul KABUL: Despite grinding poverty and more than three decades of war, a New York-based artist believes 10,000 pink balloons can help bring peace and happiness to Afghans on the streets of Kabul. Yazmany Arboleda has already unleashed coloured balloons in India, Japan and Kenya. He hopes that Afghanistan can be the next to benefit from “simple happiness” despite being in the grip of an 11-year Taleban insurgency. “The actual date will be a surprise. Once people will wake up, they will see an explosion of colours,” he told a news conference yesterday.

Although the majority of the estimated four million who live in Kabul struggle with poverty and war, Arboleda spoke of the pleasures a simple coloured balloon could bring. “In India, people thought it was a national day they didn’t know about. In Japan, some people thought we were selling balloons. In Kenya, some of them thought we were having a job fair. “But when people realise that balloons are given away and that they don’t have to pay for it, they smile. The idea of this project is to bring simple happiness.” The balloons each cost $1 and are

bought by 10,000 donors online at who “represent 10,000 people who believe in culture and art and not war”, said Arboleda. Afghanistan’s deputy youth minister, Taimor Shah Ishaqzai, said the project was a message of peace for his country, which has largely been at war since 1980. US-led NATO combat troops are due to leave Afghanistan next year. Some, particularly those in Kabul, fear a return to civil war or a power-sharing arrangement with the Taleban. — AFP

India stays executions of four to hear final appeal

ALLAHABAD: In this combination of 10 photos, Hindu holy men are seen before, top, and after, bottom, they had their heads and faces shaved as part of an initiation ritual where they were to become Naga Sadhus, or naked holy men, at the Maha Kumbh Festival at Sangam, the confluence of the holy rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati, in Allahabad, India. — AP

NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court yesterday delayed the execution of four death-row convicts until it hears an appeal later in the week as rights groups voiced growing concern over recent hangings in the country. The Supreme Court said it would hear a plea on Wednesday from the four accomplices of slain “bandit king” Veerappan, who were sentenced to death in 2004 for their role in a landmine blast in southern India that killed 22 policemen. “In the meantime the execution of the death sentence of the four convicts shall remain stayed,” the Supreme Court said. Colin Gonsalves, the men’s lawyer, said he was seeking to have their sentence commuted to life imprisonment “for the mental distress they have suffered during the inordinate eight-year delay in deciding on their mercy plea”. The court’s ruling could be a precedentsetting decision for many other inmates who have been lingering on death row for years, lawyers said. President Pranab Mukherjee last week rejected the mercy plea of the four men being held in Belgaum jail in Karnataka state. Executions in India are only carried

out in “rarest of rare” cases. But Mukherjee, recently elected president, has rejected a number of mercy pleas in the last few months, ending an informal eight-year moratorium on executions. “This government has executed more people since November 2012 than in the previous 10 years. To continue such a regressive trend would be truly shameful,” said G Ananthapadmanabhan, chief executive of Amnesty International India. Earlier this month Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri separatist convicted of involvement in a 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, was executed in New Delhi, triggering angry protests in the disputed region of Indian Kashmir. The lone surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Pakistani-born Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, was hanged last November in India’s first execution since 2004. Veerappan, accused of over 100 killings, was killed in a police ambush in 2004 af ter evading capture for decades. He was believed to have amassed a vast fortune from elephant poaching, sandalwood smuggling and kidnappings. — AFP



Assange sees legal defense in politics CANBERRA: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange regards his bid to become an Australian senator as a defense against potential criminal prosecution in the United States and Britain, a news website reported yesterday. Assange spoke to The Conversation website at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he was granted asylum in June to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex crime allegations. If he wins a Senate seat at elections on Sept. 24, Assange told the website that the US Department of Justice would drop its espionage investigation rather than risk a diplo-

matic row. The British government would follow suit, otherwise “the political costs of the current standoff will be higher still,”Assange told the website. Assange suppor ters last week enrolled him to vote in Victoria state, a necessary step toward being nominated as a candidate. Nominations for the Senate are likely to close on Aug 22, and the six-year term of office would begin on July 1, 2014. Australians living overseas can enroll to vote and consequently run as a Senate candidate if they left Australia within the past three years

and intend to return within six years of their date of departure. Assange said he was last in Australia in June 2010. Assange plans to register a new political party, the WikiLeaks Party, to run Senate candidates in several Australian states. He told the website he was sure the party would attract the minimum 500 fee-paying members required to be registered. Wik iLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance spokeswoman Sam Castro said last week that if Assange was elected and was unable to take his Senate seat, another nominated

WikiLeaks Party member would be chosen to fill the vacancy. The party would run on a platform of transparency in government, she said. Assange’s election campaign already has the endorsement of his parents. His father, Sydney architect John Shipton, said he will be the chief executive of the newly-formed party. “ The party stands for what Julian espouses - transparency and accountability in government and, of course, human rights,” he added. Assange’s mother Christine Assange said public support indicated he would be elected. “There is a lot

of enthusiasm in people for a change,” she said. Assange told the website the Swedish allegations against him were “falling apart” and police should drop the case. The US Depar tment of Justice has been investigating WikiLeaks since the secret-busting website began distributing hundreds of thousands of classified US documents. But few details of that investigation have been made public. Assange’s supporters suggest the Swedish case is being pursued as an avenue to extradite him to the US, though the Swedish government denies it. — AP

Indonesia floods kill 15 10,000 houses flooded by overflowing river

JAKARTA: In this photo, Indonesian women take part in the “One Billion Rising” campaign that calls to an end to violence against women, in Jakarta, Indonesia. — AP

Indonesian women get new voice through social media JAKARTA: A judge being interviewed for a Supreme Court job jokes that women might enjoy rape. A local official takes a 17-year-old second wife, then quickly divorces her by text message. Both cases reflect attitudes toward women’s rights and safety that have persisted for years in this Southeast Asian archipelago nation of 240 million people. The difference now: Both officials are at risk of losing their jobs. Women in this social-media-obsessed country have been rallying, online and on the streets, against sexist comments and attacks on women. The response is seen as a small step for women’s rights in Indonesia, where the government is secular and most people practice a moderate form of Islam. “We are living in a different era now,” said Husein Muhammad of the National Commission on Violence Against Women. “... Now we have supporting laws and social media to bring severe consequences and social sanctions.” Still, rights groups say the country remains far behind on many issues involving gender equality and violence. Rape cases often are not properly investigated, and victims are sometimes blamed. And although it is rare to divorce by text message, as Aceng Fikri did last summer, unregistered polygamous marriages such as his are common. Fikri, chief of Garut district in West Java province, called it quits four days after marrying his teenage bride in July. He claimed she was not a virgin, which she denied. A photo of the couple posted on the Internet slowly began to stoke chatter and then rage. The outcry spread by local media and on Twitter, blogs, Facebook and popular mobile phone networking groups such as BlackBerry and Yahoo Messenger. Thousands of people took to the streets in December to protest. Students and women’s rights activists in Garut demanded that he resign, trampling and spitting on photos of his face before setting them ablaze outside his council building. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono responded by issuing a rare public condemnation of the 40-year-old official and his illegal marriage. The Supreme Court late last month recommended that the president dismiss Fikri for violating the marriage law, and police are investigating the case because it involves a minor. Outrage also erupted in social media in Januar y after Judge Muhammad Daming Sunusi told a parliamentary selection panel for Supreme Court positions that it could be a mistake to impose the death penalty for rape because both the attacker and the victim “might have enjoyed” it. The remark reportedly drew laughter from panel members. Sunusi later apologized and said he been joking. “Enough is enough!” said Muhammad, of the commission on violence against women. “Our officials should no longer mess around and issue ridiculous statements even as a dumb joke.” Not only was Sunusi rejected for a job on the Supreme Court, but the country’s Judicial Commission has recommended that he be dismissed from his position on the South Sumatra High Court. But the Supreme Court would have to agree, and it has said such punishment would be too severe because he made the remark in an interview, not during a trial. Sunusi is hardly the first in Indonesia to be criticized for his comments about

rape. In 2011, after a woman was gang raped on a minibus, then-Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo drew protests after warning women not to wear miniskirts on public transportation because it could arouse male passengers. Bowo lost his re-election bid last year. A sex-trafficking case involving a 14year-old girl prompted Education Minister Mohammad Nuh to say last year that not all girls who report such crimes are victims: “They do it for fun, and then the girl alleges that it’s rape,” he said. His response to the criticism he received was that it’s difficult to prove whether sexual assault allegations are “real rapes.” Growing concern in Indonesia over women’s rights reflects that in India, where a brutal and deadly New Delhi gang rape in December has drawn nationwide protests and demands for change. That case also resonated in Indonesia. “Let’s imagine the suffering of women who are treated badly by their husbands and the rape victims. What if it happened to our own families?” said Ellin Rozana, a women’s rights activist in Bandung, capital of West Java province. “We need government officials who will be on the front line to protect women, and judges who can see that violence against women is a serious crime.” In the West Java official’s case, it was the text-message divorce that prompted outrage more than his unregistered second marriage, though such weddings raise issues about women’s rights. They are regularly performed for Indonesians ranging from poor rice farmers to celebrities, politicians and Muslim clerics. Polygamy remains common in many Muslim countries, based on Islamic teachings that allow men to take up to four wives. In Indonesia, men are allowed to marry a second wife only after the first gives her blessing. Since most women refuse to agree to share their husbands, unregistered ceremonies, or “nikah siri,” are often secretly carried out by an Islamic cleric outside the law. Some of the marriages are simply a cover for prostitution. A cleric is paid to conduct “contract marriages” as short as one night in some parts of Indonesia, usually for Middle Eastern tourists. Practices differ slightly elsewhere, with men in places such as Malaysia sometimes marrying outside the country to avoid informing existing spouses and seeking permission from an Islamic court. Ceremonies in Iraq are often held in secret for the same reason. No approval is needed in the Palestinian territories, but contract marriages are banned. Without a marriage certificate, wives lack legal rights. Children from the marriage are often considered illegitimate and are typically not issued birth certificates, creating a lifetime of obstacles ranging from attending schools to getting a passport. However, in another sign of Indonesia’s changing attitudes, the Supreme Court this month ordered all judges to obey an earlier Constitutional Court ruling granting rights such as inheritance to children born out of wedlock, and to punish fathers who neglect them. The women’s commission on violence is now pushing for a revision of Indonesia’s 1974 marriage law to grant more protections to women and children. “I hope Indonesian women can take a lesson from Fikri’s case,” said Ninik Rahayu of the commission. “At least it has awakened their awareness to not marry in an illegal way.” — AP

MANADO: Rescuers found five more bodies in the mud after flooding and landslides in northern Indonesia, bringing the death toll to 15 after the disaster that sent thousands fleeing for safe ground, police and witnesses said yesterday. Crying relatives watched in horror as residents and rescuers pulled out muddy corpses on Sunday from seven hamlets devastated by landslides and floods in Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi province, while more than 1,000 houses were flooded by an overflowing river. Authorities struggled to get tractors and bulldozers over washed-out roads hours after torrential rain sent mud and rocks crashing into hilly areas of Manado. Hundreds of police, soldiers and residents were digging through the debris with their bare hands, shovels and hoes. North Sulawesi police chief Brig. Gen. Dicky Atotoy said 14 bodies were pulled from the mud and wreckage of crumpled homes, including three children aged between 3 and 10, and another was found in water late Sunday. About 8,100 people fled to temporary shelters. Women wailed as a mudcaked body was put into a black bag and taken away for burial, while other distraught relatives screamed, footage on T VOne showed. Residents in Tingkulu hamlet said they were busy cleaning out piles of soil from a previous land-

slide when suddenly mud and rocks cascaded down hills hours later, said a neighborhood chief Lucky Sumakud. “It was horrible ... we were immediately fleeing, but some failed and (were) buried in the ground,” he said, adding that a mother and her two children were found dead cuddled together.

Rivers bloated by days of rain burst their banks in several parts of Manado, forcing people to leave their flooded homes, said Atotoy. Witnesses said water levels were a yard (meter) high in places. Residents scrambled to save their most valuable possessions, from television sets to motorbikes. Others carried the elderly through

the water or sat on rooftops, waiting for the floods to subside. Seasonal rains and high tides in recent days have caused wide spread flooding across much of Indonesia, the world’s fourth mostpopulous nation. Millions of people live in mountainous regions and near fertile flood plains that are close to rivers. — AP

MANADO: Residents salvage their belongings while floods inundate the city of Manado. —AFP

UK cyclists killed in Thailand LONDON: A British couple’s round-the-world cycling odyssey ended in tragedy when both of them were killed in a road accident in Thailand. Peter Root and Mary Thompson, who had been chronicling their journey in a blog, died Wednesday when they were hit by a pickup truck in a province east of Bangkok, Thai police said yesterday. The couple, both 34 and from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, left Britain in July 2011 and had cycled through Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia and China. The trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the couple, who met in art school and spent six years saving money and planning their journey, Peter ’s father Jerr y Root told the Associated Press in an interview. “They were both inspirational,” Jerry Root said. “They didn’t just talk about it, they did it. I couldn’t be prouder of them.” He said they were both experienced cyclists who knew the rigors and risks of extended bicycle travel. “They were camping wild, as they called it,” he said. “What helps me is to think of

how happy they were with each other. They were leading the life they wanted to. It was the happiest, the most fruitful of lives.” The couple had been posting photos and details of their trip on the website Two on Four Wheels. They also had many followers on Twitter and Facebook who were tracing their journey and vicariously enjoying their adventure, which included a trip through remote parts of Central Asia. A video they posted from that part of the journey shows them camping in the desert, riding through hills, stopping to swim in rivers and lakes, and braving heavy snowstorms. They also cycle through tense situations as armed conflict breaks out during their journey through Tajikistan. There is also footage showing Thompson suffering a gash to her knee after an apparent collision with a truck. The couple look tanned, joyous and relaxed if a bit windblown - in the footage. It is apparent life on the road agreed with them. Thai Police Lt Col Supachai Luangsukcharoen said

yesterday that investigators found their bodies, their bicycles and their belongings scattered along a roadside, along with a pickup truck that crashed between some trees. Supachai said the truck driver, 25-year-old Worapong Sangkhawat, was seriously injured in the crash. He told police his truck hit the cyclists as he was reaching down to pick up a cap from the vehicle’s floor, Supachai said. The driver has been released on bail and faces charges of causing death by dangerous driving, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail. Thai officials apologized for the accident. “We are sorry and would like to express our condolences to the couple’s families. The ministry will provide any assistance they need in order to retrieve the bodies,” Tourism and Sports Ministry spokesman Vachara Kannikar told The Associated Press yesterday. Police said the couple’s bodies were being kept at a rescue unit in Chachoengsao, 20 miles (30 kilometers) east of Bangkok, until they could be repatriated. — AP

Australian oppn leaps ahead in polls

CHONGQING: This picture shows what is billed as ‘The world’s most confusing traffic lights’ at the Yangrenjie Theme Park in Chongqing. The lights which are actually an art installation however confused drivers entering the park and have since been removed by park officials. — AFP

SYDNEY: Australia’s opposition coalition has increased its lead as support for Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her Labor Party wanes ahead of September elections, according to a poll published yesterday. The HeraldNielsen poll for Fairfax newspapers found the opposition would win 55 percent of the vote, against 45 percent for the Labor-led government. As a single party, without minority backers, Labor would win just 30 percent of first preference votes-a fall of five points since the last Nielsen survey in December. The coalition climbed four points by the same measure, taking its primary vote to 47 percent. Opposition leader Tony Abbott overtook Gillard in the preferred prime minister stakes, surging nine points to 49 percent while the prime minister dropped five points to 45 percent. Gillard sought to downplay the figures, which suggest that her gamble in announcing the election nearly eight months before polling day was not well received by voters. “We see a lot of opinion polls,” Gillard told Seven Network television. “If I spent time worrying about them and commentating on opinion polls then I wouldn’t have the time to get my job done. “So each and every day I just let that wash through and I focus on what I need to do as prime minister.” Gillard broke with tradition by fixing the September 14 election date well ahead of time, hoping to force the opposition to detail its policies and costings. However Labor’s retreat from a much-vaunted promise to restore the budget to surplus this year, the failure of a controversial mining tax to raise much revenue and corruption scandals have dominated headlines. The prime minister’s approval ratings plunged six points to 40 percent and her disapproval level rose six to 56 percent. The national poll of 1,400 voters, taken from Thursday to Saturday, found the gap between Gillard and former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd had widened. Sixty-one percent of respondents favoured Rudd against 35 percent for Gillard. Despite his protests to the contrary, speculation is rife of another Rudd tilt at the Labor leadership either before the polls or after election defeat. Rudd was deposed by Gillard, then his deputy, in a shock partyroom ouster before the 2010 elections. He mounted a challenge last February but lost 71-31 in a secret leadership ballot. Nielsen pollster John Stirton told the Sydney Morning Herald the results were a bad sign for Labor. “It confirms that the trend to Labor that ran from May to November last year and appeared to stall over Christmas is now heading in the opposite direction.” — AP






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Apps for the kitchen and the bedroom By Linda Gradstein any wives in Dubai were probably thrilled to receive a Valentine’s Day gift of an ePad Femme Tablet, which bills itself as “the world’s first tablet made exclusively for women.” It comes in light pink with an eight-inch screen, an inch larger than most tablets. The operating system is Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and it has 16 GB of ROM. It costs just $190. In the past three months, more than 7,000 have been sold. “The Tablet comes preloaded with applications so you can just turn it on and log in to cooking recipes or yoga,” Mani Nair, the Associate Vice President for Marketing at Eurostar, which manufactures the devices told The Media Line. “It makes a perfect gadget for a woman who might find difficulties in terms of downloading these applications and it is a quick reference.” Nair says there was no sexist intent in choosing the applications, including one called “Women’s Assistant” which offers weight-loss tips. “Whether you talk about Google or the Internet, an ocean of information is available,” he said. “Eurostar is now focusing on pre-loaded applications, which makes it easy for the user to buy the gadget and have it ready for use.” There are similar new tablets for “gamers”, pre-loaded with 1,500 computer games, and for children and teenagers. Dee Ann Javier, a native of the Philippines, who is living in Dubai, says her boyfriend gave her an ePad Femme for Valentine’s Day. “I like it so far - it’s good for browsing and searching and playing games,” she told The Media Line. “I’ve checked out the cooking application but I’m not really into fitness so I ignore that one.” Javier, who works in real estate, says she likes the portability and the color. “A lot of my stuff is pink,” she said. “So I really like the color.” Yet, some women in the Gulf say they would never buy a computer intended especially for women. “There have always been special books for women concerning sex, how to please your husband, and what to cook for him,” Eman Al-Nafjan, a Saudi feminist blogger told The Media Line. “This is just using technology for the same thing.” Al-Nafjan says that women in the Gulf are computer-literate and can access their own applications. She says that in Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive or travel without a male relative, women spend a lot of time on-line. “There is a lot less to do here than in the West,” she said. “You only meet people who are your family or who you study or work with.” A new study finds that in the GCC countries Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - there are more female university graduates than male. Education in all of these countries is free. Yet, only an estimated 20 percent of the work force is female, due mostly to cultural restrictions, which encourage women, especially after having children, not to work outside the home.”Whoever made this tablet doesn’t understand us very well,” Al-Nafjan said. “We are home all the time and we are extremely techsavvy.” The tablet is Wi-Fi enabled and comes with a USB cable and an HDMI cable meaning it can be hooked up directly to the television. It has multilanguage support including Arabic, English, French, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian. It also comes with Google, Skype, Twitter, YouTube and Gmail and functions as an e-book reader as well. Mani Nair of Eurostar says that most of the Tablets were purchased by men as gifts for women. AlNafjan says she’s not surprised. “I think it would be mostly a gift idea,” she said. “Some Saudi women might be interested in this but they are also interested in a lot more.” — Media Line


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Smuggling sperm from Israeli jails? By Diana Atallah ix-month-old Muhannad Al-Zaben is already a celebrity among Palestinians, the so-called “Freedom Ambassador”. He is the result of smuggled sperm his father Ammar transferred to his mother Dalal during a prison visit in 2006. Now a Palestinian fertility specialist says four other Palestinian women have become pregnant using similar secret methods, as security prisoners and their wives find a way to become parents while the father is still behind bars. Faced with a ban against conjugal visits, the prisoners, accused of attacks against Israelis, and their wives were forced to come up with a solution if they wanted to have a family. At a press conference in Nablus this week, the head of the Razan Infertility Center Doctor Salim Abu Khaizaran said “Muhammad is a turning point in the lives of Palestinian detainees. I receive daily calls from detainees’ families asking us to do it.” Indeed there are more that 40 detainees’ sperm samples at the center. He said many of the wives are awaiting results or a turn for the wives to be inseminated. Sources told The Media Line the samples were delivered in a secure way to ensure that they belong to the husband, while doctors said the sperm was sneaked out in a complicated process they don’t want to expose. Israeli officials cast doubt on the veracity of the Palestinian claims. “The prison service id doubtful about the women’s technical ability to smuggle sperm and then use it as it is being claimed,” Sivan Wayzman, the Israeli spokeswoman of the Prison Service told The Media Line. “There are limitations on prisoners and security procedures surrounding the visit. She said that husbands and wives are not allowed any physical contact during the 45-minute visit. Only in the last ten minutes are children under age 8 allowed to physically touch their fathers. She also said the women travel on Red Cross buses for several hours, and sperm must be frozen quickly if it is to remain viable. In contrast, Wayzman said, Jewish prisoners are allowed conjugal visits “every few weeks.” In cases where conjugal visits are not permitted, inmates may father a child by Invitro fertilization. Al-Zaben’s dream of a child was six years in the making, coming true when she became the first Palestinian woman to deliver a baby this way. The sperm of her husband Ammar, serving 27 life sentences for charges of being affiliated with Hamas, was smuggled out of prison in 2006, and doctors froze the sample. “My husband’s brother died, and his two sisters got married. Me, my daughters and sisters-in-law didn’t have any men to take care of us,” the happy mother told The Media


Line. The couple had two teenage daughters before Ammar was arrested. In a blue-decorated room filled with flowers and balloons, relatives shed tears of joy as they looked at the baby Muhannad - named after a friend of Ammar’s killed by the Israeli army in 2002 - and his mother. Ammar met his son a few weeks after his birth through a Red Cross family visit, although some prisoners are denied such visits for what Israel calls “security reasons.” Most Palestinian prisoners’ wives decide to stay with their husbands despite knowing they might never live together as a couple. Few wives in families with children seek divorce. Staying together is seen as an act of loyalty to someone fighting for the cause, but prisoners’ families often give their daughters-in-law a choice between leaving or, if they have no children, waiting for their husbands’ release. Those who stay together seek ways to keep their marriages alive. Such was the case with Lidia Rimawi, who told her husband about her wish to have a baby after she heard about AlZaben’s story. “He was surprised but asked for more time to think,” she told The Media Line. Rimawi, 35, also heard her biological clock ticking, since she’d be in her 50s when her husband, serving a 25-year-sentence, is released. “He might be able to have children, but I won’t. In the following visit he told me he agreed,” said the mother of a 12-year-old daughter Rand, now excited she will have a sibling. There are no religious or political stands against insemination with the smuggled sperm. In 2003, religious leaders including prominent theologian Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi said it was not against Islam if done securely, as the wife of security prisoner Abbas Al-Sayed tried to do it. Late Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and other political leaders backed the idea but her attempt failed and no others were made. Palestinian society, on the other hand, had its concerns. What would people think if they saw a woman pregnant while her husband was in jail? The question troubled the families and doctors alike. “At first many people were surprised and said they would ask for the opinion of religious men, but everyone was supportive,” Rimawi said of reactions to her pregnancy. Al-Zaben also agreed to speak out about the subject at Abu Khaizaran’s request. “The pregnant woman needs all the support she can get. Gossip and accusation of adultery could have affected the mother’s health,” Abu Khaizaran said. Now Palestinians, believing this is a way to challenge those who imprison them, are more supportive, especially after the public backing Al-Zaben received. To eliminate any doubts, the medical center asks for three family members from each side of the family to accompany the wife when she handles the sample and when she is fertilized. Her ignorance

caused Rimawi to lose the first sample. “I kept it in the fridge and went to the center the next day, but they told me I ruined it. Luckily I had another one and this time I brought the needed witnesses as asked,” she told the Media Line. Meanwhile pressure continues to allow the prisoners to pass on their sperm without subterfuge. “Why do the Israeli authorities have regular prison inspection? They know you can’t seal a prison completely,” said Prisoners Club head Qaddoura Fares. Detainees’ centers statistics estimate that over 500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are serving life sentences. It’s also not certain if Palestinians would trust Israel enough with their sperm. One prisoner’s wife told The Media Line she had received the semen directly from her husband during a visit. Speaking anonymously, she said she’d been asked to submit an application through the Israeli Authorities but refused. “How would I trust that Israel will not swap it? I preferred to do it between the two of us,” she added. Abu Khaizaran, whose Razan center is one of the few fertility clinics in the Palestinian territories, said some 70 percent of the samples received were usable, but the rest were not because they were smuggled in primitive ways. “The success rate of artificial insemination in Palestine is usually 45 percent, but in these cases the rate is 35 percent” Abu Khaizaran said. Then there is the tricky matter of the baby’s sex. Producing a boy in Arab society is seen as an important achievement for the marriage. Since a woman changes her family name upon marriage and can’t pass her last name to her children, males carry the family’s name for generations. Also males are seen as the breadwinners and caretakers of women in the family. Out of 12 women inseminated via the smuggled sperm so far, four have been implanted with male embryos. “The process of choosing the child’s gender decreases the possibility of the pregnancy’s success, but we operate in special cases. For example, if the woman is in her late thirties and already has daughters we help her, but in general we prefer not to choose the sex,” Abu Khaizaran told The Media Line. Rimawi finds out her baby’s gender soon. “If it’s a boy I’ll name him Majd; if it’s a girl I’ll name her Shahd,” she said, adding she hopes to have more children. “Once I give birth, I will go get artificial insemination again from the frozen samples,” she said determinedly. As Muhannad Al-Zaben’s birth continues to supply the inspiration for the sperm smuggling, Abu Khaizaran sees another important aspect of the process. “We are doing this for the women’s sake,” he said. “The detainees can conceive at any time, but the wives’ biological clocks are ticking, and we would like to help make their dream come true.” — Media Line

US’ collective obsession with the trivial By Liz Sidoti ersistently high unemployment. A sluggish economy. Debt. Deficit. Obesity. Fundamental disputes over guns, immigration and the climate. A to-do list that would exhaust even the most vigorous multitasker. A meteor in Russia, even. Yet what created one of the buzziest brouhahas in America last week? Florida Sen Marco Rubio’s inopportune sip of water on live TV. Enormous challenges pack the nation’s plate, but this country just can’t seem to get enough of the small stuff. It sometimes feels as if the collective obsession with the trivial is drowning out significant moments and overshadowing important debate. What does it say about America when the silly and the serious are considered with equal intensity? How can we keep some perspective? And what are the dangers if we don’t? It happens everywhere. But in the realm of politics alone, there is plenty of blame to go around for the focus on the frivolous. And there are deeply conflicted feelings among those responsible. Americans say they crave the authentic, yet also admonish people who deviate from script. Candidates waste no time capitalizing on opponents’ woes - and decry the unfairness of it all if they make bobbles of their own. The media relentlessly covers small moments that ensure viewership, even as its executives fret about the trend toward style over substance. And in a world that grows more dizzying by the month, the easy and entertaining can be a lot more attractive


than the complex and educational. “We’re seizing on the tiny because our brains can’t really do the work of processing every little piece of information we get. At the same time, the Internet and the explosion of other media are fueling this focus on the small,” says Eric Dezenhall, an image consultant who has worked for years with politicians, Hollywood stars and business moguls. “This is something that is a combination of what’s hard-wired into the brain ... multiplied by a system that we don’t control,” he says. America has long had its water-cooler moments, the missteps by people in the spotlight that became fodder for late-night TV comics and office workers. But now, society gathers around one huge water cooler for one big instantaneous conversation. Thus, insignificant blunders are amplified into days-long national debates, creating stereotypes that can be difficult to shake. Just a few from the political world in recent years: • Clint Eastwood’s conversation with an empty chair at the Republican National Convention. • Vice President Joe Biden’s use of the Fword on live TV in a whispered congratulation to President Barack Obama at the signing of his health care bill. • Rep Joe Wilson shouting “You lie!” in 2009 as Obama spoke to a joint session of Congress. Most people probably don’t remember the substance of any of those events, only the trivial moments. Even without perceived

gaffes, mere sound bites also balloon from the inconsequential into mini-controversies that overshadow more substantive debates. “You didn’t build that,” for example, was just a snippet of what Obama actually said during the campaign about government’s role in helping entrepreneurs build businesses. His political enemies used it to tag him as anti-business. And a Mitt Romney aide’s comment about hitting a reset button between the primary and general elections “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again” - was vigorously amplified by Democrats eager to suggest the Republican lacked core beliefs. The truly trivial can have lasting impact by shaping how the public views the person involved. Rubio, the Florida Republican with national aspirations, drew criticism from pundits, comics and online critics after he reached off camera for a bottle of water and took a sip during a televised speech rebutting Obama’s State of the Union address. Within minutes, three things happened: Twitter lit up with criticism, Rubio was quickly labeled “not ready for prime time” and the substance of his speech (largely about the middle class) was all but forgotten. The senator responded by making light of the moment, including in an email hawking Rubio water bottles for $25. “Don’t get angry at the liberals who want to bury what Marco said. Laugh at them,” his political action committee wrote. “Send the liberal detractors a message that not only does Marco Rubio inspire you... He hydrates you

too.” The eruption over Beyonce’s singing, or lack thereof, of the national anthem in real time at last month’s inauguration is only tangentially about politics. Yet it offers some insight into this whole syndrome. After the flap wouldn’t go away for nearly two weeks, Beyonce confirmed she had sung to a prerecorded track because she didn’t have time to practice. She said that, without the possibility of a proper sound check, “I did not feel comfortable taking a risk.” Maybe that’s precisely it. As the singer’s comments suggest, one result is that a country built upon bold actions is becoming, in the harsh spotlight of a real-time, hypercritical conversation, more averse to risk and more likely to seek refuge in the packaged and the surer thing. That leads to more packaging - and, potentially, less transparency in a society that insists it wants to be open and real. Will people just keep on tuning out a public sphere that they perceive as fake? That’s an outcome that would seem to benefit no one. So you out there: If you want the country to stop obsessing on the trivial, start with yourself. Before you take to Twitter to smart off about the small stuff in public life, stop and ponder for a moment. Like no other generation, suddenly you have a global megaphone. Ask yourself: Is this really, truly something worth shouting about? And if not, consider making a choice that so many have such a difficult time with these days. Instead of a fleeting moment of snark on a minor matter, maybe, this once, maybe just shut up already. You might be making a tiny investment in our future. — AP



Ince confirmed as Blackpool boss

China bans 33 for life, fines clubs millions

LONDON: Former England captain Paul Ince was confirmed as manager of Championship club Blackpool on a one-year rolling contract yesterday. Ince had been in talks with Blackpool for several days and the exManchester United, Liverpool and Inter Milan midfielder sat in the directors’ box at Ipswich to see his new side’s 1-0 defeat on Saturday. Seasiders’ caretaker manager Steve Thompson revealed after the game that the 45-year-old was on the brink of agreeing a deal and Blackpool have now confirmed his appointment as successor to Michael Appleton, who left for Blackburn in January. With his son Tom Ince a key figure in the Blackpool forward line, Ince senior has been an everpresent at the Seasiders’ home games this season and he can’t wait for the challenge of taking over a team 10 points off the playoffs in 14th place. “Considering I’ve watched the team play for the last 14 months, it’s strange sitting here as the manager, having obviously watched Blackpool as a fan as well as watching my son play,” Ince said.—AFP

BEIJING: China’s top football body handed down a swathe of punishments including fines worth millions, it said yesterday, as it seeks leave behind corruption scandals which have plagued the sport in China. China’s Football Association banned 33 people, including some previously jailed for their involvement in China’s biggest ever matchfixing scandal, from taking part in football “for life,” it said on its website. Those hit by the bans include former heads of the Football Association Nan Yong and Xie Yalong, who were previously handed jail sentences for taking bribes, and Xu Hong, the newly installed head of East China club Dalian Aerbin. The Association also handed down a range of fines and other penalties relating to offences several of which date back years. Two clubs involved in match-fixing in 2003, Tianjin Teda and Shanghai Shenhua, face one million Yuan ($160,000) fines and point deductions next season, the association said, while Shenhua was also stripped of its 2003 league title. Other clubs were handed fines and point deductions for bribery and match throwing.—AFP

Donovan to return to Galaxy in late March LOS ANGELES: Landon Donovan will rejoin the defending Major League Soccer champion Los Angeles Galaxy in the last week of March, the club said on Sunday, but the striker’s US national team status remains unknown. Donovan requested a leave of absence from the team after helping the Galaxy with their fourth MLS crown last December and has not played for the US team since then either as he ponders his future plans a year before the World Cup. “After a series of collaborative discussions between Landon, his representative and our key club leaders, we’ve agreed to allow Landon to remain on an extended leave of absence and return to training with the team during the final week of March,” Galaxy general manager and coach Bruce Arena said. “We understand this arrangement is not ideal, but we are confident it will allow Landon the time he needs to be both mentally and physically prepared for the upcoming season. We remain focused on our preparation for the start of the 2013 season and look forward to Landon rejoining us next month.”—AFP

Hull KR set to unleash Burns on Super League Alonso returns as F1 testing moves up a gear LONDON: Fernando Alonso will test his new Ferrari for the first time in Spain today while former champions Williams bring Formula One’s ‘launch season’ to a close as the last team to unveil their 2013 car. There will not be much fanfare, if any, at either event when the second of three pre -season tests gets underway at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya. In days gone by, the unveiling of new cars was an excuse for excess - whether it be through extravagant presentations in glamorous locations or enlisting the Spice Girls as part of the show - but the current age of austerity has made such lavish gestures a thing of the past. Forget putting the car on a plinth in Venice’s St Mark’s Square (Benetton 2001) or hiring the Cirque du Soleil to perform at London’s Albert Hall (Jordan 1998). The norm this year has been for the bright and shiny new cars to be pushed out of the garage into the sunlight and then sent on their way after a few brief words from the team boss and drivers. When tail-enders Marussia revealed their car in Jerez this month they merely rolled it on to the starting grid and removed the travel cover without even a driver next to it. Champions Red Bull splashed out on champagne and finger food for guests but otherwise showed off their car at the factory while McLaren and Ferrari did likewise. “There are some reality checks going around,” observed McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh, whose own team’s launch involved putting up temporary seating in the factory atrium with a

drive -past of classic cars to mark McLaren’s 50th anniversary. “We used to hire Alexandra Palace and launches were a competition. People don’t want to see one-millionpound ($1.55-million) extravaganzas any more. Times have changed. We peaked,” added Whitmarsh. Williams are last to launch - the others all getting their cars out before or at Jerez - but the livery has already been revealed and new bits tried out at the previous test. The emphasis will be on getting Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado on track and putting miles under his belt as much as anything. Ferrari tested the F138 with Brazilian Felipe Massa at Jerez, with Alonso absent. Tuesday, in front of his home fans, will be the Spaniard’s first run in a promising-looking car that will carry his hopes of a third championship this year but it will be a test like any other. The spirit in Formula One, even if the smallest team still spends tens of millions a year, is very different to what it was in the years of excess of the 1990s and the start of the new century. “ That was one of the allures of Formula One, because we were in the decade of excess,” said Whitmarsh. “I think we’ve got to grow up as a sport and realise that actually there comes a point where that’s not attractive any more and we’ve got to be about efficiency. “If we were seen as the gas-guzzling, money-profligate sport that we were so proud to boast about in the ‘80s, I think we’d be losing relevance and touch with our audience,” he added. — Reuters

Wrestling can change: New chief BERLIN: Wrestling is ready to change and correct the mistakes that led to the sport’s surprise 2020 Olympic exit last week, interim international federation (FILA) chief Nenad Lalovic said yesterday. Lalovic who was elected at the weekend after a vote of no confidence triggered the resignation of president Raphael Martinetti, said FILA board members had been left in the dark about the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vote. The IOC Executive Board last week surprisingly recommended wrestling be dropped from the Games in 2020 as the organisation seeks to revamp its sports programme to keep it attractive to voters and sponsors. “I am surprised by the IOC decision because we (FILA bureau members) were kept without information,” Serbian Lalovic told Reuters in a interview on his way back from the FILA meeting in Thailand. “No one even knew that there was an IOC commission working on these problematic sports. As bureau members we did not have this information. “Now, why we did not have the information is another question that needs to be answered,” he said. Wrestling, which featured in the first modern Games in 1896 and all editions since apart from 1900, was also a sport of the ancient games in Olympia. It has now been added to a list of candidate sports that includes squash, karate, wakeboarding, roller sports, sports climbing, wushu, and baseball and softball as a joint sport. A shortlist from the eight sports vying for the empty Olympic place left by wrestling will be drawn up at an IOC Executive Board meeting in St Petersburg in May. The IOC will elect the winning sport to be included in the 2020 Olympics in September in Buenos Aires. Wrestling technically has the chance to return but it looks very unlikely that the IOC session would vote back in the sport which its own executive board recommended for exit. “ Wrestling has helped build the Olympic village since ancient times and now we are out,” said Lalovic. “The first steps will be to see how to integrate it back into the Olympic family, because

end of May is the decision.” “We then have to survive Buenos Aires too. It is very difficult but if I was not optimistic I would not be here. That is where all our energy will be focused on now.” Lalovic pledged to spend most of his time in Lausanne when not on the road meeting IOC members in an effort to lobby for the sport before the May decision. He accepted that wrestling had neglected to cultivate contacts and support. Martinetti was criticised for failing to do exactly that despite FILA’s offices being located near the IOC headquarters. “ There are some sports where the practising of these sports is minimal,” Lalovic said. “I don’t want to say which these sports are because they are not our enemies.” Wrestling was beaten in the IOC vote by modern pentathlon, canoeing, hockey and taekwondo. “We have been bad neighbours, our approach to the Olympic movement was in the past a little bit problematic. I strongly believe we first have to see what is happening now and then to criticise the others,” Lalovic said. Wrestling seems to have paid the price for the other sports’ strong support within the 15-member IOC board, with voting patterns revealing a trend for negative voting to spare them. “That is quite possible,” Lalovic said when asked whether wrestling had become collateral damage in IOC members’ attempts to save other sports. Wrestling, not seen as at risk before the IOC meeting, got the most votes for the sport to be ousted, from the first to the last round of voting. “I will try to meet with IOC members, to see as many as I can and for them to tell us what we have to change. We will also have professional presentation of our sport,” Lalovic said. The decision to axe wrestling triggered a global uproar in the sport with the United States and Russia, traditional powerhouses, eager to lead a worldwide movement to reinstate it. “Now we will do our best to repair this situation for our sport. Many of the people close to the sport don’t understand how much wrestling is represented in the world,” Lalovic said. — Reuters

LEEDS: Hot-on the heels of Hull KR’s first Super League win of the season against Widnes on Sunday, coach Craig Sandercock told Robins fans that new signing Travis Burns is chomping at the bit to get going. Sandercock snapped up the stand-off from Penrith Panthers in the close season but the 29year- old has had to k ick his heels while serving out a suspension. Burns’ route back into the fold may have to wait until round five against Warrington, but after watching his side get off the mark with a comprehensive 44-18 victory over Widnes, led by M ichael Dobson’s 16point haul, things are suddenly looking up for the New Craven Park outfit. “ Travis will be available in round five and everyone connected with the club is excited,” said Sandercock. “We’re not expecting miracles from him, he’s not played for a long time, but it’s exciting to have him back soon. “He can see light at the end of the tunnel and he’s been really good to have about the place, he’s making all the right noises.” Elsewhere Bradford Bulls head coach Francis Cummins was far from satisfied with his side’s all-round display against Castleford, but singled out hattrick hero Brett Kearney for special praise. Kearney, 29, spent three years with the CronullaSutherland Sharks before moving to Odsal in 2010 and started and finished the scoring for the Bulls who emerged 38-12 win-

TWICKENHAM: France’s rugby union national team captain Thierry Dusautoir (C) vies with flanker Yannick Nyanga during a training session yesterday in Marcoussis, south of Paris, as part of the preparation for the Six Nations rugby union tournament. France will play England in their 2013 Six nations rugby match on February 23, 2013 in Twickenham. — AFP

ners. But despite acknowledging Kearney’s efforts, and picking up his first win as Bradford boss, Cummins was still looking for an improvement. “Brett Kearney is a quality player. He catches the ball well and runs with it and defends everywhere,” said Cummins. “But we were a bit edgy when we get down there (near the line). We’re trying to score a try all the time when if we ask a few questions, we’ll get there. We just need a little bit more direction

at times.” Meanwhile Warrington coach Tony Smith claimed Catalan Dragons full-back Brent Webb’s ill-discipline helped his side claim victory. Smith brought Webb to Super League from New Zealand Warriors in 2007, while coach of Leeds R hinos, but watched on as the 33-year-old was twice sin-binned for the French side. The New Zealand international ’s second yellow card came after a late melee which

also saw Warrington’s Ben Westwood leave the field to the dismay of Smith. “It was horribly messy and scrappy,” he said. “It spoilt what could have been a good game. “I am good mates with Brent We b b . I h a v e c o a c h e d h i m and have a lot of time for h i m a s a p l a ye r b u t h e l o s t his rag. I didn’t want Benny (Ben West wood) to get dragged back into it. But it’s a shame we’re talking about that.” —AFP

POMONA: Top Fuel driver Antron Brown’s dragster bursts into flames after crashing in the second round of eliminations at the NHRA Winterna tionals auto racing event, Sunday, in Pomona, Calif. Brown walked away from the fiery crash with only minor injuries. — AP

Sutil and Bianchi in Force India test LONDON: Germany ’s Adrian Sutil and Frenchman Jules Bianchi, rivals for the coveted last remaining seat on the Formula One grid with Force India, will both test for the team in Barcelona this week. The team said yesterday that Sutil, the team’s former driver who was dropped at the end of 2011 after being convicted of grievous bodily harm, would be in the car on Thursday with Bianchi testing on Friday at the Circuit de Catalunya. Britain’s Paul Di Resta, the team’s only confirmed race driver at present, will start the second pre -season test today and tomorrow. A team spokesman said the test was not a

‘shoot-out’ between the two candidates, however. “No, it’s not a shoot-out,” he said. “It’s just two drivers helping the team with this week’s test. I don’t think it should be perceived as such, that’s not the intention.” The vacancy, at a team aiming to score regular points and challenge for the podium, arose after Germany ’s Nico Hulkenberg moved to Ferrari-powered Sauber at the end of last season. Sutil, who first raced for the team in 2007 when it was called Spyker, had a seat fitting at the Silverstone factory last week. His return has been mooted for months but Force India have stalled on any announcement, amid reports that they were

looking to see who had most financial backing. This week’s test could be the 30-yearold’s last chance of a comeback. The German was given a suspended 18-month sentence and fined 200,000 euros ($267,000) last year for a post-Chinese Grand Prix incident in a Shanghai nightclub in April 2011 that left a Renault team executive nursing cuts from a champagne glass. Bianchi tested with Force India in Jerez this month and was the team’s reserve last year. The 23-year-old is also a member of Ferrari’s driver academy, with the Italian team keen to help him into a race seat. The season starts in Melbourne, Australia, on March 17.—Reuters



West wins third in a row over East in All-Star Game News

in brief

Shanghai take Drogba row to FIFA BEIJING: Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua will take its battle against star striker Didier Drogba’s move to Turkish side Galatasaray to football’s governing body FIFA this week, domestic reports said yesterday. The Ivory Coast striker left the club in acrimonious circumstances last month, with Shanghai saying he had breached his contract. “We now have evidence which we believe will give Shenhua a 99 per cent chance of winning a lawsuit at FIFA,” a lawyer acting for the club told the Sina web portal. The anonymous source from “Shenhua’s legal team” said papers would be submitted to the sport’s governing body tomorrow. The report said Shenhua will provide evidence that Drogba breached his contract and that Galatasaray had violated FIFA rules by luring a player away from his current club. Shenhua declined to comment when contacted by AFP. Chinese media previously reported Drogba had asked FIFA to nullify his contract after the club defaulted on payments following a shareholder dispute dating back to September. Drogba came off the bench to score five minutes into his Galatasaray debut on Friday, a 2-1 victory over the Turkish league’s bottom club Akhisar. The striker signed an 18-month, 10 million euro ($13.5 million) deal with the Istanbul side, who are due to play German side Schalke 04 tomorrow in the last 16 of the Champions League. Celta Vigo replace coach MADRID: Spanish Liga outfit Celta Vigo have fired head coach Paco Herrera and replaced him with Abel Resino, the relegation-threatened club announced yesterday. “Celta Vigo have signed Abel Resino as first team coach. He will replace Paco Herrera on the bench.” read a statement on the club website. Herrera guided the team back into the top flight last season but has seen results slide during this campaign as the team sit 18th in La Liga and four points from safety with just five wins from 24 matches. The team who have never won the Spanish title, lost their last outing 3-1 at Getafe on Saturday which was enough for club management to bring down the axe on Herrera’s reign. Resino who was a former goalkeeper with Atletico Madrid and helped the capital club to Spanish Cups in 1991 and 1992 before coaching the team for a brief spell in 2009 and leading them to qualification for the Champions League. The 53-year-old has also had spells at Valladolid, Granada and Valladolid.” The new coach will be presented tomorrow (Tuesday) after first team training,” continued the statement. Robinson hired as rugby director LONDON: Former England and Scotland coach Andy Robinson was appointed as director of rugby for Championship club Bristol yesterday. Robinson resigned as Scotland coach following a disappointing November Test series that culminated in a defeat against Tonga after losses to New Zealand and South Africa. But the 48-yearold was keen to get back in the game and watched Bristol beat Rotherham at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday and he has agreed to take charge of the promotion-chasing west country outfit on March 1. Robinson was a member of England’s coaching staff under Clive Woodward during their triumphant 2003 World Cup campaign, but had only limited success once he replaced Woodward in the top job between 2004 and 2006. He was more successful at club level, coaching Bath to the 1998 European Cup final, and Bristol chairman Chris Booy had been keen to land the former England flanker for several weeks. “I am delighted to be joining Bristol Rugby at such an exciting time for the club,” Robinson said. “I firmly believe that with the passion for rugby in the region and the vision of the owners, Bristol has the potential to be one of the most successful sides in England. “I am looking forward to building a squad with a blend of experience and young, home-grown talent, to play an exciting and winning brand of rugby.

McGrady’s China team finish bottom BEIJING: Tracy McGrady’s Qingdao Eagles have finished bottom of the Chinese basketball league at the end of a frustrating season for the former NBA star. McGrady scored 30 points and nine rebounds in Sunday’s 121-104 defeat to Guangdong Hongyuan, who topped the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) league of 17 teams, with the top eight now qualifying for the play-offs. Despite some impressive individual performances from former Houston Rockets shooting guard McGrady, his first season has been marked by poor results with Qingdao winning just eight of their 32 games. The 33-year-old arrived in China to a hero’s welcome before the season started in November, but Qingdao went on a winless streak until late December. McGrady was suspended for one game last month after he criticised referees on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo following his team’s loss to Bayi Rockets. Gilbert Arenas, another former NBA star, also failed to carry his team into the play-offs, with his Shanghai Sharks side finishing 14th. But Stephon Marbury, who was the most famous overseas player in China before McGrady’s arrival, will again feature in the knock-out stages after his team, the Beijing Ducks, finished third. Marbury played a starring role in Beijing’s run to the 2012 title. The defending champions will play Zhejiang Guangsha in the first round of play-offs, which begin on February 27. Nearly 30 former NBA players are now playing in the CBA, raising standards and making basketball, already one of China’s favourite sports, even more popular, with a reported television audience of more than 700 million over a season. — AFP

HOUSTON: Chris Paul scored 20 points and passed out 15 assists to spark the Western Conference over the Eastern Conference 143-138 on Sunday in the 62nd NBA All-Star Game. NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant had a game-high 30 points for the West and Paul’s Los Angeles Clippers teammate Blake Griffin added 19 points, both of them jamming down spectacular slam dunks thanks to set-up passes from Paul. Clippers guard Paul was voted the NBA All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player as the West won the annual showdown of elite hoops talent for the third time in a row and fourth time in five games. “You just never expect something like this,” Paul said. “All these great players I have the chance to play with, it’s an honor and a privilege.” Paul joined Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas as the only All-Star Game players to produce at least 20 points and 15 assists in one game. “To be mentioned with those guys, it’s an honor,” Paul said. “To be on the court with all these guys I don’t get the chance to play with, it’s an privilege.” Carmelo Anthony led the East with 26 points and 12 rebounds while LeBron James added 19 points and Paul George contributed 17. The West led 69-65 at half-time and had the same margin, 108-104, entering the fourth quarter when a showy game of dunks and flashy moves found intensity. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Kyrie Irving pulled the East within 119-118, but Durant had two slam dunks in an 8-2 West run to boost the lead to 127-120. Anthony sparked a 6-2 East run to pull his side within 129-126 but Paul followed with a 3pointer and Kobe Bryant played tight defense on James in what became a manon-man rivalry between playmakers in the final minutes. Br yant made a driving layup and blocked a James shot to set up a fast break slam dunk by Durant to put the West ahead 136-126. Bryant later added another block of James as the two traded taunts on

HOUSTON: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat and the Eastern Conference drives between David Lee #10 and Zach Randolph #50 of the Memphis Grizzlies and the Western Conference during the 2013 NBA All-Star game at the Toyota Center on Sunday. — AFP the court. Durant became the first player to score at least 30 points in three consecutive NBA All-Star Games. Paul answered an East basket with his fourth 3-pointer of the game and after George hit back-toback 3-pointers, Griffin answered with a free throw and a fast break slam dunk that included a pass to himself off the backboard. Spectacular slam dunks by James, Durant and Griffin produced the most sparkling moments of the first half. Dwyane Wade set up Miami teammate James for the East but made one of his best passes to Tyson Chandler for a run-

ning one-handed alley-oop jam while Bryant and Paul kept Durant and Griffin set up for dunks. “If they run, I have fun just assisting and passing the ball,” Paul said. Durant made 8of-12 shots for 19 points in the first half while every basket by Griffin in the first half came on a slam dunk. Big men Dwight Howard and Tim Duncan tried to see who could sink a rare 3-pointer first while guards took turns dribbling between the legs of rivals as the players used the light-hearted matchup for fun moments that regular NBA games

rarely allow. “You need a three, give it to me,” West center Howard said. Before the game, played on the 50th birthday of NBA legend Michael Jordan, James-a modernday displayer of Jordan’s gravity-defying, high-leaping moves-tweeted his best wishes to six-time NBA champion Jordan. “Happy 50th MJ! U inspired a kid from Akron Ohio without u even knowing,” James tweeted. “All by just playing the game u loved. I appreciate what u did for the game and don’t take it for granted.” James ended the messages with the hashtag GOAT for Greatest of All Time. — AFP

Jerry Buss, Los Angeles Lakers’ owner, dead at 79 LOS ANGELES: Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers’ playboy owner who shepherded the NBA franchise to 10 championships from the ‘80s Showtime dynasty to the Kobe Bryant era, died yesterday, his assistant said. Buss died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said Bob Steiner, his assistant. He was 79. He’d been hospitalized for cancer, but the immediate cause of death was kidney failure, Steiner said. Under Buss’ leadership since 1979, the Lakers became Southern California’s most beloved sports franchise and a worldwide extension of Hollywood glamour. Buss acquired, nurtured and befriended a staggering array of talented players and basketball minds during his Hall of Fame tenure. Few owners in sports history can even approach Buss’ accomplishments with the Lakers, who made the NBA finals 16 times through 2011 during his 32 years in charge, winning 10 titles between 1980 and 2010. The Lakers easily are the NBA’s winningest franchise since he bought the club. Few owners have ever been more beloved by their players than Buss, who always referred to the Lakers as his extended family. Working with front-office executives Jerry West and Mitch Kupchak, Buss spent lavishly to win his titles despite lacking a huge personal fortune, often running the NBA’s highest payroll while also paying high-profile coaches Pat Riley and Phil Jackson. Always an innovative businessman, Buss paid for the Lakers through both their wild success and his own groundbreaking moves to raise revenue. He co-founded a basiccable sports television network and sold the naming rights to the Forum at times when both now-standard strategies were unusual, adding justification for his induction into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. Magic Johnson and fellow Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy formed lifelong bonds with Buss during the Lakers’ run to five titles in nine years in the 1980s, when the Lakers earned a reputation as basketball’s most exciting team with their glamorous Showtime style. Jackson then led Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant to a threepeat from 2000-02, rekindling the Lakers’ mystique, before Bryant and Pau Gasol won two more titles under Jackson in 2009 and 2010. Although Buss was proudest of his two hands full of NBA title rings, he also was a scholar, Renaissance man and bon vivant who epitomized California cool - and a certain Los Angeles lifestyle - for his entire public life. The father of six rarely appeared in public without at least one attractive, much

younger woman on his arm at USC football games, boxing matches, poker tournaments and, of course, Lakers games from his private box at Staples Center, which was built under his watch. Buss earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at age 24 and had careers in aerospace and real estate development before getting into sports. With money largely from his Santa Monica real-estate ventures, Buss bought the then-struggling Lakers, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and both clubs’ arena - the Forum from Jack Kent Cooke in a $67.5 million deal that was the largest sports transaction in history at the time. In January 2011, Forbes estimated the Lakers were worth $643 million - the second-

USC for graduate school, eventually becoming a chemistry professor and working as a chemist for the Bureau of Mines before his life took an abrupt turn into wealth and sports. The former mathematician claimed his fortune grew out of a $1,000 real-estate investment in a West Los Angeles apartment building with partner Frank Mariani, an aerospace engineer. Buss purchased Cooke’s entire Los Angeles sports empire in 1979, including a 13,000-acre ranch in Kern County. Buss’ love of basketball was the motivation for his purchase, and he immediately worked to transform the Lakers - who had won just one NBA title since moving west from

LOS ANGELES: In this Oct. 26, 2010 file photo, Los Angeles Laker owner Jerry Buss, right, walks out onto the court during the NBA championship ring ceremony as Kobe Bryant, left, and Derek Fisher look on before a basketball game against the Houston Rockets in Los Angeles. Buss, the Lakers’ playboy owner who shepherded the NBA franchise to 10 championships, has died. He was 79. — AP most valuable NBA franchise. Buss also helped change televised sports by co-founding the Prime Ticket network in 1985, even receiving a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006 for his work in television. Breaking the contemporary model of subscription services for televised sports, Buss’ Prime Ticket put beloved broadcaster Chick Hearn and the Lakers’ home games on basic cable. Buss also sold the naming rights to the Forum in 1988 to Great Western Savings & Loan - another deal that was ahead of its time. Born in Salt Lake City, Gerald Hatten Buss was raised in Wyoming and attended

Minneapolis in 1960 - into a star-powered endeavor befitting Hollywood. “One of the first things I tried to do when I bought the team was to make it an identification for this city, like Motown in Detroit,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2008. “I try to keep that identification alive. I’m a real Angeleno. I want us to be part of the community.” Buss’ plans immediately worked: Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar and coach Paul Westhead led the Lakers to the 1980 title. Johnson’s ballhandling wizardry and Abdul-Jabbar ’s smooth inside game made for an attractive style of play evoking Hollywood flair and

West Coast cool. Riley, the former broadcaster who fit the LA image perfectly with his slick-backed hair and chiseled good looks, was surprisingly promoted by Buss early in the 1981-82 season after West declined to co-coach the team. Riley became one of the best coaches in NBA history, leading the Lakers to four straight NBA finals and four titles, with Worthy, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and A.C. Green playing major roles. Overall, the Lakers made the finals nine times in Buss’ first 12 seasons while rekindling the NBA’s best rivalry with the Boston Celtics, and Buss basked in the worldwide celebrity he received from his team’s achievements. His womanizing and partying became Hollywood legend, with even his players struggling to keep up with Buss’ lifestyle. Johnson’s HIV diagnosis and retirement in 1991 staggered Buss and the Lakers, the owner recalled in 2011. The Lakers struggled through much of the 1990s, going through seven coaches and making just one conference finals appearance in an eight-year stretch despite the 1996 arrivals of O’Neal, who signed with Los Angeles as a free agent, and Bryant, the 17-year-old high schooler acquired in a draft-week trade. Shaq and Kobe didn’t reach their potential until Buss persuaded Jackson, the Chicago Bulls’ six-time NBA champion coach, to take over the Lakers in 1999. Los Angeles immediately won the next three NBA titles in brand-new Staples Center, AEG’s state-ofthe -art downtown arena built with the Lakers as the primary tenant. After the Lakers traded O’Neal in 2004, they hovered in mediocrity again until acquiring Gasol in a heist of a trade with Memphis in early 2008. Los Angeles made the next three NBA finals, winning two more titles. Through the Lakers’ frequent successes and occasional struggles, Buss never stopped living his Hollywood dream. He was an avid poker player, frequently participating in high-stakes tournaments, and a fixture on the Los Angeles club scene well into his 70s, when a late-night drunk-driving arrest in 2007 - with a 23-year-old woman in the passenger seat of his Mercedes-Benz - prompted him to cut down on his partying. Buss owned the NHL’s Kings from 1979-87, and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks also won two league titles under Buss’ ownership. He also owned Los Angeles franchises in World Team Tennis and the Major Indoor Soccer League. Buss’ children moved into leadership roles with the Lakers in their father’s later years. — AP

Yao still involved in basketball, just not on the court HOUSTON: Yao Ming looks like he could still tangle with Dwight Howard under the basket but the former National Basketball Association number one draft pick clearly has put his playing days in the rear-view mirror. The eight-time Houston Rockets AllStar left the game following the 2010-11 season after the final five years of his career were filled with injuries, most notably to his foot and ankle. “I’m not going to try to come back, I’m not Grant Hill,” he told Reuters with a laugh, referring to the 40-year-old Los Angeles Clippers forward who has

returned to the court following a series of career-threatening injuries. “He’s unique. He keeps coming back no matter how many surgeries he’s had.” Yao, 32, was a judge for the NBA Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday in the run-up to Sunday’s All-Star game, returning to the city where he played since being selected as the number one overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft. A 7-foot-6 (2.29 m) center with soft hands, Yao still works with the NBA, promoting the game in his native China, and owns a team in the Chinese Basketball Association. But he is also involved with

his foundation, which helps needy children in the western part of China. The third Chinese to play in the NBA, he is also back in college to complete his degree and lives in Shanghai. Without the injuries that derailed his career, Yao might have ultimately landed a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame. He was not crushed, however, when he left the game. “If you look at the timeline, I didn’t have a career-ending injury,” said Yao. “I had multiple injuries. The end of my career was something I prepared for. “Obviously I still wanted to play but I knew I had to let it go. You know that it’s going to end.”

Yao, who could still make the Hall of Fame as a contributor, believes there are several players in China that could have a shot at an NBA career. “There are a few young athletes that are pretty talented,” he said. “I think they have the potential to play in the NBA in the future. It all depends on how they develop.” Yao, who averaged 25 points a game during the 2006-07 season, said he plays basketball “just a little bit” these days. “Nothing more than HORSE,” a smiling Yao said of the non-contact game, played mostly by children, that involves just shooting. —Reuters



Asian Tour targets big goals after turbulent 2012 SINGAPORE: Despite law suits from members, an unrelenting turf war with OneAsia and the apparent loss of their marquee event, Asian Tour CEO Mike Kerr remains optimistic about the circuit’s future. Attempting to draw a line under a turbulent 2012, the Northern Irishman and executive chairman Kyi Hla Han kicked off celebrations for the Asian Tour’s 10th season in Singapore last week by outlining their vision for the decade ahead with some lofty ambitions. Kerr, who took up the role in March, said that by 2023, Asian Tour members would compete “for well over $100 million a year through a full season of 38 or 39 events”. Quite a leap from the eight tournaments with a total prize fund of just over $10 million scheduled so far for 2013, which begins with the modest $300,000 Myanmar Open on Thursday.

“People certainly shouldn’t be criticised for having goals or a vision,” Kerr told Reuters after announcing the plans at Singapore’s Laguna National Golf Course. “If you look at the Asian Tour today, lets say $50 million, and you grow that by 10 percent a year over the next 10 years we easily meet $100 million. “Then you look at the growth rates we have had over the past 10 years and we have far exceeded the 10 percent each year.” Kerr, who worked previously in Asia for sports channel ESPN-Star Sports, targeted Vietnam, Cambodia and Brunei as major markets to fuel the growth of the Tour which last year hosted 26 events, not including world golf championship tournaments and majors. Kerr is expecting 28 tournaments on the Asian Tour for 2013 with co-sanctioned US PGA and European Tour

events taking the prize money up to over $50 million when the calendar is completed. However, the likelihood of one of those featuring the $6 million Singapore Open - proclaimed as ‘Asia’s Major’ by the circuit in recent years - is bleak. “The SGA (Singapore Golf Association) signed an agreement with World Sports Group (WSG) and they control the rights for the next five years and the way that golf works is they should be approaching whatever international federation or body of players that they want to play in their event,” Kerr said. “They haven’t made any approach to the Asian Tour and we don’t believe they have made an approach to the European Tour so the two partners and two playing bodies that were involved last year don’t seem... we haven’t been approached, that’s all we can say.”

WSG are the global media and marketing partner for OneAsia, the Asian Tour’s bitter rivals, with the discord arguably slowing the growth of both circuits in recent seasons. “I think having the confusion in the market certainly from the inception of OneAsia in 2009 has been detrimental to Asian golf - no question about that,” Kerr said. “OneAsia for me is competition and all businesses have competition and it is not really my place to say what will and will not happen to OneAsia,” he continued. “The only thing I can do is ensure the Asian Tour is as strong as it possibly can be and continues to go from strength to strength.” Kerr’s colleague Han has long lambasted OneAsia, accusing them of stealing events and being underwritten by WSG, allegations long denied by the fledgling circuit, who claim their $1 mil-

lion full-field tournaments offer an alternative. The rivalry hit the Asian Tour in the pocket in November when a Singapore judge ordered them to repay fines to four members who successfully won a restraint of trade case after being forced to pay release fees to play in OneAsia events. Kerr was unrepentant. “Obviously the judgement went against us and we are considering that judgement and seeing what our plans are therefore. But fundamentally it hasn’t changed anything. “It was the players who instigated this, it wasn’t the management, it wasn’t an individual, the players themselves understood that their careers were better served if they had a unified body and to be able to do that they felt that a release policy was the best way to do that.” — Reuters

NHL results/standings Pittsburgh 4, Buffalo 3; Chicago 3, Los Angeles 2; Minnesota 3, Detroit 2; NY Rangers 2, Washington 1; Boston 3, Winnipeg 2; Calgary 4, Dallas 3; St. Louis 4, Vancouver 3 (SO). Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L OTL GF GA Pittsburgh 11 5 0 52 38 New Jersey 9 3 3 41 36 NY Rangers 8 5 1 38 35 NY Islanders 6 7 1 45 47 Philadelphia 6 9 1 38 49 Northeast Division Boston 9 2 2 37 31 Montreal 9 4 1 40 34 Toronto 9 6 0 43 36 Ottawa 7 6 2 35 30 Buffalo 6 9 1 46 54 Southeast Division Carolina 8 4 1 41 37 Tampa Bay 7 6 1 55 45 Florida 4 6 4 35 53 Winnipeg 5 8 1 35 46 Washington 5 9 1 41 51

PTS 22 21 17 13 13 20 19 18 16 13 17 15 12 11 11

Western Conference Central Division Chicago 12 0 3 51 31 27 St. Louis 9 5 1 52 48 19 Nashville 7 3 5 30 29 19 Detroit 7 6 2 40 44 16 Columbus 4 9 2 34 48 10 Northwest Division Vancouver 8 3 3 41 33 19 Minnesota 7 6 2 33 38 16 Edmonton 6 5 3 35 38 15 Calgary 5 5 3 39 47 13 Colorado 5 7 1 31 38 11 Pacific Division Anaheim 11 2 1 50 37 23 San Jose 7 4 3 37 33 17 Dallas 8 7 1 41 43 17 Phoenix 7 6 2 40 41 16 Los Angeles 5 6 2 30 36 12 Note: Overtime losses (OTL) are worth one point in the standings and are not included in the loss column (L)

Merrick gets his first win at home LOS ANGELES: John Merrick was a young face in the crowd at Riviera for so many years, dreaming of one day playing the fabled course on the PGA Tour. On Sunday, he did better than that. He won on it. Merrick hit two clutch shots that led to two pars in a sudden-death playoff and won the Northern Trust Open on Sunday when Charlie Beljan missed a 5foot par putt on the second extra hole. Merrick, who closed with a 2-under 69, became only the ninth player make this tournament is first PGA Tour victory. It could not have come at a better place. Merrick grew up in Long Beach, attended this event as a kid and went to school down the street at UCLA.”I can’t put this into words,” he said off the 10th green, his eyes welling with tears. “Growing up as a kid, coming out here, I just wanted to play this tournament.” It was a tough finish for Beljan, famous for having an anxiety attack when he won at Disney late last year. He holed an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole, similar to the theatrics provided last year by Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, to close with a 4-under 67 and wind up in a playoff. He had to make a tough 6-foot putt for par on No. 18 on the first playoff hole. Going to the par 4 10th, 315 yards of sheer nerves, Beljan drove long and left, and his chip didn’t reach the green. He putted his third shot just above the hole, and watched it slide by on the left for a bogey. Beljan also made bogey on the 10th hole in regulation. The key for Merrick might have been on the par-5 17th in regulation, when he pulled his second shot from a bunker toward the eucalyptus trees, only to find that he had just enough of a gap to go at the green and escape with par. More great recoveries followed in the playoffs. He was well to the right of the 18th fairway, and hit a hard punch shot that rolled just over the back of the green and allowed him to get up-and-down for par. On the second hole, the dangerous 10th, he laid up too far to the right - nothing short of a perfectly struck wedge could stay on the green, and he pulled it off, the ball settling 18 feet away. A few inches longer and it would have tumbled into the back bunker. Merrick, who finished on 11under 273, moved to No. 4 in the FedEx Cup and is virtually assured of qualifying

for his first World Golf Championship next month at Doral. Fredrik Jacobson missed a 4-foot par putt on the 18th hole that would have put the Swede in a playoff. He wound up with a 69 and tied for third with Charl Schwartzel (70) and Bill Haas (73), who also had chances to win at different stages in their rounds. The final round contained far more drama than anyone imagined at the start of the day, when Haas had a three-shot lead. Six players were separated by one shot going into the final hour at Riviera, and it easily could have been a repeat of that sixman playoff in 2001 in the cold rain. This pleasant day of bright sunshine brought a few cloudy moments. Hunter Mahan was tied for the lead after a 30-foot birdie on the 14th, only to drop four shots on the last four holes. Nothing stung worse than the par-5 17th, where he three-putted from about 30 feet for bogey. He wound up with a 69. Jacobson was tied for the lead when he missed an 8-foot birdie attempt on the 17th, and then badly pulled a 4-foot par putt on the last hole and missed out on the playoff. The Swede closed with a 69, and bristled when asked about the final hole. “You want me to touch that one, only that one? I cannot speak about something else?” he said, before eventually conceding, “The last putt wasn’t very good.” No one was more disgusted than Schwartzel, the former Masters champion. One shot out of the lead, he missed a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th, and then threeputted the 17th, missing a 6-footer for birdie. He closed with a 70 and tied for third, his seventh straight finish in the top five around the world. Haas faded much sooner. He made five bogeys in a seven-hole stretch in the middle of his round, and his birdie-birdie finish allowed him to tie for third. “Positives to be taken, but overall, you don’t get this many opportunities,” Haas said. “A three-shot lead at one of the best tournaments of the year is a great opportunity that I squandered.” Haas looked to be in good position to join Mickelson, Mike Weir, Corey Pavin and Ben Hogan as the only back-to-back winners at Riviera. And when he dropped in a 30-foot birdie putt on the third hole, he looked as though he would be tough to catch.— AP

LOS ANGELES: John Merrick holds the trophy after his victory in the Northern Trust Open golf tournament at Riviera Country Club in the Pacific Palisades area of Los Angeles, Sunday. —AP

VANCOUVER: Vancouver Canucks’ Aaron Volpatti, right, checks St. Louis Blues’ Andy McDonald during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Sunday. — AP

Martin lifts Penguins to 4-3 win over Sabres Allen stands firm to help Blues edge out Canucks BUFFALO: Defenseman Paul Martin scored with 2:04 left to lift the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. Pascal Dupuis had two goals and an assist and Sidney Crosby also scored and set up Martin’s goal. Pittsburgh (11-5-0) won its third straight and improved to 8-2 in its past 10 to move ahead of idle New Jersey atop the Eastern Conference standings. The Penguins were forced to rally from behind after squandering a 2-0 lead. Dupuis tied the game at 3 by one -timing in Kris Letang’s cross-ice feed with 5:17 left. Martin then scored his second of the season when his 40-footer deflected in off the stick of Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff in front. Crosby set up the goal by digging the puck out of the left corner and feeding a pass to Martin. Thomas Vanek had a goal and assist, while Steve Ott and Cody Hodgson also scored for Buffalo, which failed to build off a 4-2 win over Boston on Friday. Ott capped a three -goal rally to put Buffalo ahead 3-2 by one-timing in a shot from the left circle 5:17 into the third period. The Sabres (6-9-1) failed to secure the win in dropping to 4-9-1 in their last 14. Buffalo has

yet to win two in a row at home, and dropped to 2-9-0 in its past 11 against Pittsburgh. It took less than 90 seconds for the Penguins to build a 2-0 lead on their first two shots on goal, while also extending numerous streaks. Dupuis opened the scoring deflecting in Brooks Orpik’s point shot 35 seconds in. Pittsburgh has now scored the opening goal in all 10 road games this season. Crosby then extended the Penguins streak of games with a power-play goal to eight, by scoring 33 seconds later. Standing to the right of the net, Crosby swept in the puck, which had caromed directly to him off the end boards after Evgeni Malkin’s initial shot sailed wide. For Crosby, he extended his points streak against Buffalo to 14 games during which he has 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists). The Sabres responded with two goals. After Hodgson scored to convert a rebound in front in the first period, Vanek tied it midway through the second during a twoman advantage with Crosby (crosschecking) and Tanner Glass (faceoff violation) in the penalty box. Tyler Ennis set up Ehrhoff at the top of the right circle, where he sneaked a shot through a crowd

with the puck deflecting in off Vanek’s skate in front. Sabres goalie Ryan Miller made 31 saves, including stopping 31 of the final 33 shots he faced after allowing the Penguins to score on their first two shots. Miller’s biggest stop came with 3:08 left in the third period, when he got across to his left to snag James Neal’s one-time from the right circle. Rookie goaltender Jake Allen shook off the concession of a game-tying goal in the final minutes of regulation to make a string of key stops as the St Louis Blues sealed a 4-3 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. Vancouver’s Mason Raymond forced overtime when he beat Allen with just 1:47 left in the third period to make 3-3, but the firstyear netminder refused to remain despondent. Allen made five saves in overtime, finishing with 28 overall, and blocked Vancouver’s two shootout attempts to ensure St Louis (9-5-1) won for the third time in a row and he remained unbeaten in his first three starts. “I am not getting too far ahead of myself,” Allen told reporters, having been filling in for starter Jaroslav Halak, who has been sidelined with a groin injury

since Feb. 1 but is finally ready to play. “You are not going to win forever you just want to keep making the most of your chances.” Ryan Kesler scored the first goal of the game, in only his second contest of the season after recovering from injury, and Henrik Sedin added another to give Vancouver a 2-1 first period lead after T.J. Oshie had equalised for the visitors. Andy McDonald netted an equaliser in the second and Patrik Berglund’s deflection in the third put St Louis 3-2 ahead before Raymond completed the scoring. Oshie and McDonald each netted shots in the shootout to give the vising Blues a perfect threegame road trip. “We kind of got shocked into playing the right way after a home stand that was definitely less than stellar,” said captain David Backes. “We knew it was time to put up or shut up.” The Canucks (8-3-3) have now lost two straight since ending a sixgame winning streak but still lead the Northwest Division by three points over Minnesota. Roberto Luongo had 20 saves in the loss to end his streak of four straight victories. He has, however, yet to lose a start in regulation this season. — Agencies

Riviera memories mainly all good for beaten Beljan PACIFIC PALISADES: Charlie Beljan lost out in a two-way playoff for the Northern Trust Open on Sunday but he looked every inch the winner as he joyfully reflected on an astonishing week at Riviera Country Club. A day after outscoring playing par tners Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els before getting both men to sign his cap, he matched the best score in the final round with a four-under-par 67 after sinking an 18-foot birdie putt at the last. Though he was edged out at the second extra hole by fellow American John Merrick, Beljan relished being in contention over the weekend on one of the most iconic courses on the PGA Tour. “Life’s good, life is good,” the 28-year-old told reporters after his missed five-foot par putt at the driveable par-four 10th

handed Merrick a maiden victory on the U.S. circuit. “ Today was only my fifth round at Riviera. Coming down the back nine, I didn’t strike the ball that well, but God, I made every clutch putt that you would ever ask to make. “And then to make that putt on 18 and hear the roar, that was really special. Obviously not the way I wanted to end it, but you know what, you win some, you lose some, and that ’s how it goes.” Beljan, who won the Children’s Miracle Network Classic in November after suffering heart palpitations and shortness of breath during the second round, was delighted to be in the title hunt after missing the cut in his previous four PGA Tour starts. “My game has been feeling good, I just haven’t been scoring,” he said of his form before

this week at Riviera. “You know, after the drama that unfolded (with his win) last year, everything’s finally starting to settle down. “I’ve been able to get back to playing golf, which is what I did this week. And who knows what else will happen this year.” Beljan will never forget Saturday’s third round when he outshone four-times major winners Mickelson (72) and Els (73) by shooting a 68 in front of huge galleries at Riviera. “To be able to tee it up with Mr Els and Mr Mickelson and beat them... I had them sign my visor because those are two guys that I’ve looked up to my whole life,” he grinned. “And to go through that circus, hearing everybody scream for Phil, which is great, today was nothing. I love the crowds. I love the people. That’s what I thrive on. I just wish I could get in that

same mind-set on Thursday and Friday.” While Beljan waxed lyrically about most of his experiences at Riviera this week, he was not as generous when asked about the treacherous 315-yard 10th. “I don’t really have anything good to say about the 10th hole,” he said, having missed the green long to the left during the playoff after using a driver off the tee. Merrick parred the hole after laying up with an iron. “I’ve laid up, I’ve made birdie; I’ve laid up, I’ve made bogey. I’ve gone for it twice now and made two bogeys. I think it’s a funky golf hole. “I don’t really know what the strategy is there, other than hoping you make par and that you move on. I t ’s just a tough hole to have a playoff on. We might as well go and put a windmill out there and hit some putts.” —Reuters



Raonic beats Haas for third Sap Open title

Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal

Injured Nadal draws inspiration from Ronaldo SAO PAULO: Rafael Nadal is drawing inspiration from the Brazilian soccer great Ronaldo as he returns from an injury. With Ronaldo watching, Nadal won the Brazil Open on Sunday for his first title after a seven-month layoff caused by treatment of his left knee. Nadal said Ronaldo is “an example” to be followed because of his determination to rebound from a series of career-threatening knee injuries. Despite winning again, the Spaniard is still bothered by his knee and said he is far from fully recovered, although he hopes the victory will mark a new beginning in his career. “Ronaldo is an example to a lot of people because of all that he was able to achieve despite what he had to go through with all the knee problems in his career,” Nadal said. “He is definitely an example to me. He’s an example of determination and hard work.” Ronaldo overcame three serious knee operations. The former Barcelona, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and AC Milan forward won two World Cups with Brazil and holds the tournament’s career scoring record with 15 goals. “He was unstoppable, one of the best players of all time despite all the bad luck he had with the knee,” Nadal said. The Spaniard was out of action since last year because a torn and inflamed tendon in his knee, an injury he says is improving. “I didn’t have so many problems, I never

SAN JOSE: Milos Raonic won his third consecutive SAP Open on Sunday, beating Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-3 for the title in the final year of the Bay Area tournament. Raonic has never lost in 12 matches in this event and became the first player in the Open era that began in 1968 to win this tournament three straight times and first overall since Tony Trabert did it from 195355. Raonic won the final tournament here in similar fashion to his first two, using an overpowering serve to control the match. He fired a 144 mph ace on his first serve of the match and was never threatened on serve. He had 19 aces and finished the week facing just a single break point. Raonic wrapped up the match when Haas sent a backhand wide to lose serve for the third time in the match and then went into the players box to hug family and friends. Perhaps no one will miss this tournament as much as Raonic. Since coming here for the first time in 2010, he has never lost and has three of his four career titles in San Jose. But he won’t get another as the tournament that dates to 1889 is being moved to Memphis next year after the owners of the two events sold the higher-profile Memphis tournament to a group from Brazil. “A lot has happened here,” Raonic told the crowd after the match. “I’ve grown a lot here. I’ve had my best matches here. ... It’s something special.” Raonic’s performance at this event has truly been staggering. In 12 matches over three years, Raonic has never lost a single set and has

been broken on serve in just two of 124 service games. He faced only three break points the past two years, saving two of them. Now the 22-year-old needs to translate

SAN JOSE: Milos Raonic smiles with the winner’s trophy after defeating Tommy Haas 6-4, 6-3 in the final of the SAP Open tennis tournament in San Jose, California, Sunday. — AP

those kinds of results to other stops on the tour to improve his No. 13 ranking. His only other win came last year in Chennai and he has never made it past the fourth round of a major. With a serve that reached as much as 148 mph and was mixed with a slower, slicing serve that Haas struggled to reach, Raonic was in control from the start of this match. He won 29 of 32 points when he got his first serve in and only had to hit a second shot on three of those points. That raised the stakes on Haas’ own service game and he wasn’t up to the task. Haas held all 27 service games coming into the match but was pushed to deuce on his own serve in the opening game of the match. He was broken in his second game when Raonic hit a backhand winner off a second serve to take the early lead that proved to be the margin in the opening set. Raonic pounded out 11 aces in the set, punctuating his first four holds with one before wrapping up the set with a 139 mph service winner. Haas fought off two break points in the opening game of the second set but was broken in his final two service games to end the match. He hit a slice backhand long to fall behind 4-3 and was unable to overcome an 040 hole in the final game. The 34-year-old Haas has won only one title since 2009, beating Roger Federer in Halle last year.In the doubles final, Xavier Malisse and Frank Moser beat Lleyton Hewitt and Marinko Matosevic 6-0. 6-7 (5), 10-4. —AP

needed the surgeries,” Nadal said. “But I can imagine how hard it must have been for Ronaldo with the complicated surgeries that he had to go through.”Nadal beat former world No. 3 David Nalbandian of Argentina 6-2, 6-3 to win his 51st title and first since beating Novak Djokovic last June for his seventh French Open championship. The Brazil Open was Nadal’s second tournament since his return. He played at the VTR Open in Chile the week before, losing the singles and doubles final. The final in Brazil was only his eighth singles match since the comeback. Nadal looked far from his best in his first two tournaments and said that the knee injury still limited him physically. “There are days that the knee still hurts and it’s very complicated,” he said. “I need some time to keep improving and become more competitive again. Let’s see how it goes.” The 11-time Grand Slam champion admitted the level of the competition in Brazil was not as high as in other tournaments.Nadal will play another clay-court tournament in Mexico this month and hopes to be fully fit by the French Open. He hopes to play at Indian Wells, Calif., next month but hasn’t made a decision. “We are thinking day to day, week to week,” the 26-year-old said. “We’ll see how I feel before making a decision on where I’ll be playing in the near future, it will depend on how the knee improves.” — AP DUBAI: Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic returns the ball to Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova during their WTA Dubai Open tennis match in the Gulf emirate yesterday. — AFP

US tennis mourns as San Jose Open bids farewell SAN JOSE: The US tennis community mourned the loss of another ATP tournament on Sunday when the San Jose Open packed up and headed to Brazil after 125 years in California. The event was first played in 1889 and has included champions such as Fred Perry, Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick before Canada’s Milos Raonic completed a hat-trick of wins on Sunday. Former player and broadcaster Justin Gimelstob, who is also an ATP board of directors member, told Reuters he was sad to bid farewell to the second oldest tournament in the United States behind the US Open. “It’s been one of the landmarks of the tour,” he said. “There are so many great champions who have won here. This negative trend is very disappointing.” Tournament owners San Jose Sports & Entertainment Enterprises, who are also in charge of the San Jose Sharks, opted to sell the event to a Rio de Janeiro group for both financial reasons and to prevent having to send their NHL team on an annual twoweek road trip. When the United States was dominating men’s tennis and former major champions such as Sampras and Agassi were happy to play at one of their national tournaments, spectator attendances were good. However, after Agassi retired in 2006 and Europeans began to dominate the tour, the event was unable to draw the very best players to the West Coast in early February when they knew they would have to travel to California for the mandatory

Indian Wells tournament in March. As well as the San Jose Open, California lost another of its events last year when the Los Angeles Open was sold and relocated to Bogota, Colombia. “Putting my US tennis fan and broadcaster hat on...America is a huge market and we need to make sure that the market is protected and incentivized,” Gimelstob added. “Putting my ATP board of directors hat on... it’s a difficult business model at this smaller level having these outlying tournaments. How do they get the top players, television and sponsors? “It’s a bad cycle. Something needs to be done.” World number 16 John Isner said the fact that the United States did not have an active grand slam champion was also a major factor after Roddick, who won the US Open in 2003, retired last year. “Every American is working to do his best,” Isner said. “It does hurt the marketability of the sport, especially in this area.” Former player Leif Shiras, who has either played or broadcast at the event since the early 1980s, said that losing events with a long history chipped away at the foundation of the game. “The fact that we are losing another event in California... It’s stunning to me we are allowing these things to happen,” Shiras said. “I look at France - they hang on to their events. If one city’s event is not working they find another place for it to work and it’s a wonderful way to keep their players plugging into the highest levels of game. “In terms of player development and exposure to highest levels of game, I think it’s worst possible scenario for the US.” —Reuters

Sloane Stephens loses in first round in Dubai

DUBAI: Sloane Stephens from the US returns the ball to Sorana Cirstea of Romania during the first day of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, yesterday. — AP

DUBAI: Sloane Stephens lost in the first round of the Dubai Championship yesterday, the latest setback for the rising American star who reached the Australian Open semifinals. Stephens, a career-high 16th in the world rankings since knocking out Serena Williams in Melbourne, lost to Sorana Cirstea of Romania 57, 6-3, 6-2. “It was a rough day, and I think she obviously played some good tennis,” Stephens said. “Every match isn’t going to go the way you want it, and obviously I got a little frustrated. Things happen, but, I mean, no need to dwell on it.” Eleventh-ranked Marion Bartoli also advanced, coming from a set down to beat Klara Zakopalova 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Last week, the 19-yearold Stephens lost to Zakopalova in the third round of the Qatar Open after wasting two match points. She smashed her racket afterward.Monday’s match was much the same. Stephens led 5-4 when the 30th-ranked Cirstea hit two double-faults, but the Romanian broke back. Stephens broke a second time and won the set. More poor serving from Cirstea allowed Stephens to get the early break in the second, but then the Romanian settled down, breaking an increasingly frustrated Stephens twice to win the set. At one point, Stephens let out a scream after a missed shot and was warned by the chair umpire for racket abuse when she slammed her racket down after hitting a forehand wide to fall behind 5-3. Cirstea broke Stephens three times in the third to go up 5-2 and finished the match off when the American hit a weak return and

then a backhand volley long. Cirstea, who lost to Caroline Wozniacki in the second round of the Qatar Open, said she was giving away too many points off her serve.She had 10 double-faults in the first two sets but only two in the decider. She also won all three of her break points and saved seven of 11. “I started the second quite positive and I knew I had to be just a little more careful at the key points if I would turn it around,” Cirstea said. After beating an injured Williams at the Australian Open, Stephens was being billed as the future of American tennis, even though she hasn’t won a professional tournament. “The first week at home was really tough. Everyone was like, ‘Oh, my God, I want to see you,’” Stephens said last week in Doha. “Of course I had people tweeting me and stuff. And I wanted to make time for my friends and see like the people who I was supposed to see.” Some of her recent woes can be blamed on health problems. She pulled out of the Fed Cup against Italy this month after aggravating an abdominal muscle injury and getting a stomach virus. Still, Stephens said little has changed from Australia and she hasn’t let all the hype get the best of her. “Obviously it’s really tough week in and week out playing perfect tennis and just really being able to execute,” Stephens said. “Some days you’re going to be on the court and it’s not just going to turn out the way you want. Like today, I didn’t play my best tennis, and last week I didn’t play my best tennis, but you just kind of got to move on.” — AP

Serena aims to catch legends Navratilova, Evert DUBAI: Serena Williams may be the oldest player ever to become world number one on the WTA rankings but she is still young enough to match the Grand Slam achievements of two legends, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. That is the 31-year-old’s ambition, says her coach Patrick Mouratoglou, now that Williams has recovered from her fitness disasters of 2010 and 2011 and has reclaimed the top spot yesterday. After winning Wimbledon and the US Open last year, Williams’ total of Grand Slam titles has risen to 15, only three fewer than Navratilova and Evert, who together are second on the all-time list behind Steffi Graf with 22. Now Mouratoglou, who runs a tennis acade-

my in Paris, is travelling full-time with Williams, partly in an attempt to guide her path towards these belated goals. “Her main goal is to win as many Grand Slams as she can, as she feels that she still can,” Mouratoglou said. “That’s her main motivation and I think she will keep that. “I don’t think it’s hard, but she needs a few things. She needs to stay healthy first, because at 31 that’s something really difficult. “So the main thing is staying fit and the motivation. If she does those two she’ll keep on improving - if she wants to. If she achieves both, I think she can still win more Slams. Why not 18? She’s not that far from 18.” Some were surprised that it took Williams till now to return to the top of

the rankings considering the excellence of her run in the second half of 2012. During this she won two Grand Slam titles, the Olympics, and the W TA Championships season-end title, and captured seven titles altogether. Despite that Williams ended last year down at number three, behind both Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova. “I don’t know whether Serena cared but it was a bit shocking,” Mouratoglou said. “Nothing against Azarenka, who had an unbelievable year too, but it’s a bit shocking to win two Grand Slams, the Olympics and the Masters plus some other tournaments - Serena won Madrid, Stanford, and Charleston too and to be still number three. “So people are saying maybe the

WTA should look at how they give the points. There is a huge difference between being a finalist in a Grand Slam and a winner and maybe the points don’t show how much difference. Maybe they should have a look at it. “I understand that they want players to play all the year, but for the people who watch it’s important to be able to understand tennis.” Williams says that the rankings tend to reward consistency, which Azarenka and Sharapova have both managed very well, whereas she herself has suffered from being beaten early at the Australian Open and the French Open. “I felt I should have at least been competing for number one,” Williams said. “I played a lot of tournaments and

won the majority of them. I didn’t do well, though, in two Grand Slams. I think that really affected me and really hurt me in my ranking.” Williams hopes to put that right at the French Open in three months time, when she could achieve her 16th Grand Slam title. If she succeeds and also manages successful defences of her Wimbledon and US Open titles, she will equal Navratilova’s and Evert’s Grand Slam totals by the end of the year. Meanwhile Williams is in Dubai where she hopes to avenge her narrow defeat in Sunday’s Qatar Open final against Victoria Azarenka, the former number one. The Belarussian and the American are seeded to meet in Saturday’s final. —AFP




Benitez keeps peace as Chelsea make last 16

LONDON: Rafael Benitez played the peacemaker as Chelsea thrashed Brentford 4-0 to reach the FA Cup fifth round despite a series of off-field distractions. Benitez has endured a stormy time at Stamford Bridge since replacing Roberto Di Matteo in November and there seems no end in sight to the list of problems for the beleaguered Spaniard. While League One minnows Brentford were eventually dispatched in emphatic fashion on Sunday thanks to second half goals from Juan Mata, Oscar, Frank Lampard and John Terry, it was the continuing soap opera surrounding the manager and two of his key players that hogged the limelight. Benitez finally restored Terry to the starting line-up after several weeks of confusion over the fitness of Chelsea’s captain, who believed he was ready to return from a knee injury while his boss wasn’t so sure. A

report on Sunday claimed Benitez and Terry had become embroiled in a furious row after the Spaniard allegedly blamed his key defender for two of Newcastle’s goals in a defeat at St James’ Park. But Benitez moved to quash that accusation and then set about answering the latest questions about both his own future and that of England midfielder Lampard, who scored his 199th goal for the club but has yet to be offered an extension to the contract which expires at the end of the season. “We were surprised today with some comments,” said Benitez when asked about the Terry story. “It’s totally rubbish. We didn’t have any problem. We were talking about football with the team. He was training and we had normal conversations. Everything was fine. I was really surprised.” Terry agreed with his manager, adding: “I read

those stories in the paper but it is completely lazy journalism. It’s total rubbish.” The situation with Lampard is equally complicated. Benitez admitted early in his reign he had been told the 34-year-old would be released at the end of his contract, but Lampard’s form has been so strong and the protests from Chelsea’s fans so vociferous that Blues owner Roman Abramovich may yet change his mind. “Every time I will keep the same answer. He is doing well, scoring goals and hopefully he can score another 15 until the end. That will be good for everyone,” Benitez said of the impasse over Lampard’s future.Lampard and Terry are of course assured of being feted as Chelsea legends whenever they do eventually depart, but Benitez is facing a fight just to see out the rest of his short-term deal until the end of the season.

After being snubbed by Pep Guardiola, who has committed himself to Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp, Abramovich has reportedly turned his attentions to Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini. Abramovich was at the Bridge as Chelsea saw off Brentford to set up a fifth round trip to Middlesbrough, with the winners of that delayed tie due to face Manchester United or Reading in the quarter-finals. But the Russian hasn’t spoken to Benitez for several weeks, fuelling further questions about Benitez’s grip on his job, although the former Liverpool manager refused to be drawn on the situation. “I don’t know what he thought because I was concentrating on the game,” Benitez said. “I don’t know if he came to the dressing room because I’m here with the press. We will see if I see him later.” — AFP

Milan, Barca meet again as Drogba eyes return

Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger

Wenger demands Arsenal character in Bayern test LONDON: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has ridden out periods of turbulence in what is certain to be eight successive trophyless seasons of domestic disappointment but the heat is back on when Bayern Munich visit in the Champions League today. The Frenchman, whose furrowed brow added a line or two after Arsenal were dumped out of the FA Cup by second-tier Blackburn Rovers on Saturday, has called on his side to stand up and be counted when they face the runaway Bundesliga leaders in a last 16 first-leg tie. Arsenal were booed off after the home fifth round-defeat by Blackburn, completing a Cup exit double at the hands of lower league opposition after a shock Capital One (League Cup) quarter-final loss to fourth-tier Bradford. Out of contention in the Premier League and with only a Champions League place to play for, Wenger needs a big performance against Bayern to quieten the doubters. “It is a good opportunity to show that we have character and are men who can fight for each other. That is all you can do,” Wenger said. “You take a distance in terms of what people say and show how strong and good you are in the next game. “If we feel sorry for ourselves we would be completely wrong. We have a massive game today night and we have to show that we some response in the team.” Arsenal have lost in the last 16 in the last two seasons and face a Bayern side cruising towards the Bundesliga title having won 18 of 22 league games. Friday’s 2-0 victory at VfL Wolfsburg was their fourth successive win with Mario Mandzukic, joint top scorer of the league, again on target for his 15th goal of the season. Mandzukic looks set to start against Arsenal, with Mario Gomez again left on the bench. The Croatian’s form has been a blessing, with Gomez out for months following ankle surgery in August. He is also unfazed by media reports saying Bayern are close to signing Borussia Dortmund top scorer Robert Lewandowski for next season. The only minor discord in the Bayern camp is Arjen Robben’s dissatisfaction with his current substitute role. Robben came on late against Wolfsburg

and drilled in Bayern’s second goal in stoppage time, before demanding to start against Arsenal. “I do not see any reason why I should not play against Arsenal,” he told reporters. “These are the super games you want to play.” The Dutch winger also vented his frustration with his playing time under coach Jupp Heynckes. “I really want to play. I have been more hopeful in the past. I am not happy. I was on the bench again and that is disappointing. The goal was good but nothing more,” he said. Heynckes, who will make way for Pep Guardiola at the end of the season, has denied there was any growing tension with the player Bayern will be without suspended Jerome Boateng and injured Holger Badstuber and Claudio Pizarro, but can again count on midfielder Javi Martinez, who should be fit for the game after training on Sunday following a minor injury. “Arsenal have found their rhythm again in the last few weeks,” Heynckes said. “They look sharper up front. We should not underestimate them. They are improving and that is a real danger for us.” Probable teams: Arsenal: 1-Wojciech Szczesny; 3-Bacary Sagna, 4-Per Mertesacker, 5-Thomas Vermaelen, 6-Laurent Koscielny; 8-Mikel Arteta 19-Santi Cazorla, 10-Jack Wilshere, 9Lukas Podolksi; 12-Olivier Giroud, 14-Theo Walcott Bayern Munich: 1-Manuel Neuer; 21Philipp Lahm, 5-Daniel van Buyten, 4Dante, 27-David Alaba; 8-Javi Martinez, 31Bastian Schweinsteiger, 25-Thomas Mueller, 39-Toni Kroos, 7-Franck Ribery; 9Mario Mandzukic. — Reuters

Today’s matches on TV (Local Timings) UEFA Champions League Arsenal v Bayern 22:45 Aljazeera Sport 1 HD Aljazeera Sport +4 Porto v Malaga Aljazeera Sport +5 Aljazeera Sport 2 HD


BARCELONA: Last year’s Champions League hero could return to the competition after his unhappy foray in the Far East while two of its oldest foes meet again in this week’s last-16 first leg ties. Didier Drogba, who took the winning penalty for Chelsea in last season’s final, scored five minutes into his Galatasaray debut on Friday and could enter the fray along with newly-signed Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder against Schalke 04 tomorrow. Seven-times European champions AC Milan and Barcelona, who met in both the group stage and quarter-finals last season, face off again at the San Siro with the Lionel Messi-inspired Catalans hot favourites to pull off another win. Arsenal, who have reached this stage for the 13th time in a row, host a rampant Bayern Munich while Porto host impressive debutants Malaga in a match which features so many South Americans it resembles a Libertadores Cup tie. Milan’s meeting with Barcelona is the pick of the ties although the Serie A side will not be able to field Mario Balotelli who has scored four goals in three games since his move from Manchester City. The maverick striker is ineligible for tomorrow’s match at San Siro, having played for the English side in the group stage when they were eliminated. Milan have also lost fiery striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, injury-prone Brazilian Alexandre Pato and defender Thiago Silva since last season, instead fielding a younger side in an attempt to balance the books. “It’s a new generation, and it’s a pleasure as they are still inexperienced but they bring something extra to the team,” defender Philippe Mexes told “They can bring a lot of things to the team, this new generation is very enthusiastic. They also demand a lot in training as they are very lively, and it’s doing good to all of us in the team. “Milan can count on them as this is a long-term project.” Expecting them to beat Barcelona, however, might be a little too much for Milan, who performed poorly in the group stage and finished second behind Malaga. Arsenal were beaten by second-tier Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup on Saturday

MILAN: AC Milan forward Mario Balotelli, center, celebrates with his teammates Mbaye Niang, left, of France, and Sulley Muntari, of Ghana, after scoring during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Parma at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Friday. — AP and their up-and-down form is in complete five league games since the winter break folcontrast to Bayern, who have won their five lowing the sacking of Huub Stevens and his Bundesliga matches since the winter break replacement with Jens Keller. Drogba, 34, who scored the equalising without conceding a goal. With a massive 15-point lead over Borussia goal for Chelsea as they drew 1-1 with Bayern Dortmund, the Bavarians can concentrate in last year’s final before netting the decisive their efforts on the Champions League, penalty, moved to Shanghai Shenhua after where they have finished runners-up twice in that but cut short his stay in China amid reports of unpaid wages. the last three seasons. Sneijder joined the Turkish club from Inter For Arsenal, who lost at this stage in each of the last two seasons, the Champions Milan, the side where he won the title in League appears to be their only hope of 2010. Porto’s match at home to Malaga today features a host of players with South avoiding another trophyless season. Galatasaray’s recent acquisitions could American international experience. The Portuguese side regularly field seven give an added edge to a team famous for their fanatical home crowd as they attempt or eight South Americans in their starting to become the first Turkish side to reach the line-up while their opponents, who have already exceeded expectations in their last eight since Fenerbahce five years ago. The Turkish league leaders face a Schalke debut season, are led by Chilean coach side in freefall after winning only one out of Manuel Pellegrini. — Reuters

Leeds ‘just for starters’ as City target United MANCHESTER: Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes his team’s commanding 4-0 FA Cup victory over Leeds could be the springboard for an unlikely onslaught on leaders Manchester United at the top of the Premier League. City currently trail their cross-city neighbours by 12 points, with speculation mounting over Mancini’s future given their current indifferent form. Mancini, who ended City’s 35-year wait for silverware when he led them to the 2011 FA Cup, would do his chances of holding on to the job a power of good were he to lead them to success in this season’s tournament. But the Italian insisted that if his side perform as they did in advancing to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, they can overhaul

United in the league. “In Italy, you say a game like this is like brodino soup, a starter,” said Mancini. “I hope it can help us to start to win in the Premier League. “I am happy because it was important to win after losing to Southampton. If you score two goals in the first 20 minutes it’s easier, but you know the FA Cup is a difficult competition and Arsenal yesterday, Everton, other teams who play in the Premier League, are out of this competition. “Every team plays like it is the Champions League final. You should play 100 percent if you want to win. “If you don’t play with concentration, it’s difficult. We started well with great intensity. We were concentrating on this target. After we scored four goals, the performance was important.” City’s supporters certainly still back

Mancini with the Italian’s name ringing out around the Etihad Stadium during a game which very quickly headed towards a rout. Two goals from Sergio Aguero, the first a disputed penalty after 14 minutes which followed Yaya Toure’s early opening goal, were the highlights of a game which also featured a goal from Carlos Tevez soon after the restart. “Yes, I am happy for this,” said Mancini, when asked about the supporters’ backing for him. “For us, they are really important and when we lose a game, like against Southampton, then we want to try to win because they deserve to win every game.” He added: “I hope Sergio will be like this from now until the end. If our strikers continue to score from now until the end, the championship is not finished.” — AFP

Porto’s Colombia duo line up to sink Malaga

LISBON: In-form Malaga must brace themselves for a barrage of attacking football from Porto’s Colombian Jackson Martinez and his returning compatriot James Rodriguez when they meet at the Dragao Stadium for their Champions League last 16 first leg today (1945 GMT). Twice European champions and Portuguese premier league leaders Porto are firing on all cylinders thanks mainly to the exploits of Martinez. The striker, nicknamed “Cha Cha Cha” for his dance-like moves on the pitch, has feasted on passes from Porto’s array of supporting talent and leads the Portuguese league scoring charts with 20 goals. “We will be up to the demands of a game of this level against Malaga. Porto are a team used to winning and react to any adversity,” coach Vitor Pereira told reporters. Porto are boosted by the return of influential forward Rodriguez, out to quench his thirst for football after missing seven matches with a thigh injury. The 21-year-old Colombia international made his comeback as Porto beat Beira Mar 2-0 away on Friday. Ghana winger Christian Atsu also returned

from the African Cup of Nations to score the opener while Russian Marat Izmailov, signed from rivals Sporting in January, has quickly gelled with the architects of Porto’s possession football - Joao Moutinho and Argentine playmaker Lucho Gonzalez. “It is good to head into the Champions League with a comfortable win. Although it was not with the exuberance we strive for because we had this European fixture next,” Pereira said. Malaga too warmed up for the return to Champions League action with a morale-boosting 1-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday which kept them in fourth place in La Liga. Argentine forward Javier Saviola, who used to play for Porto’s fierce rivals Benfica, scored but it was goalkeeper Willy Caballero who made sure of the points with some outstanding saves. “Caballero made a couple of very good saves,” coach Manuel Pellegrini said. “We have secured fourth place in La Liga for now, and next we want to get to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. We have a difficult game in

Portugal today but it is always good to go into a match having won the last game.” Qatari-owned Malaga, in their debut Champions League campaign, have impressed in Europe and have yet to lose a match. They are on course for a return to Europe through the league, but have been hit by a future UEFA ban from European competition because of cash flow problems which have led to delayed payments to players and creditors. The Costa del Sol side have appealed against the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Probable teams: Porto: 1-Helton; 2-Danilo, 30-Nicolas Otamendi, 22-Eliaquim Mangala, 26-Alex Sandro; 8-Joao Moutinho, 25-Fernando, 3Lucho Gonzalez, 10-James Rodriguez, 15-Marat Izmailov; 9-Jackson Martinez Malaga: 13-Willy Caballero; 2-Jesus Gamez, 5-Martin Demichelis, 3-Weligton, 18Eliseu; 8-Jeremy Toulalan, 16-Manuel Iturra; 7-Joaquin, 10- Julio Baptista, 22-Isco; 9Javier Saviola Referee: Mark Clattenburg (England). — Reuters

VILA NOVA DE GAIA: Porto’s Colombian forward Jackon Martinez (C) attends a training session at Olival Training Center in Vila Nova de Gaia, yesterday, on the eve of the UEFA Champions League football match Porto vs Malaga. — AFP

Jerry Buss, Los Angeles Lakers’ owner, dead at 79



Raonic beats Haas for third Sap Open title


Milan, Barca meet again as Drogba eyes return

Page 19

MADRID: Real Madrid’s Argentinian midfielder Angel di Maria (L) vies with Rayo Vallecano’s defender Jordi Figueras Montel (R) during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid vs Rayo Vallecano at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on Sunday. Real Madrid won 2-0. — AFP

Real buoyed by Morata performance Madrid beat Rayo despite Ramos’ dismissal BARCELONA: Real Madrid had little trouble hanging on to beat crosstown rival Rayo Vallecano 2-0 despite Sergio Ramos’ early sending off, giving coach Jose Mourinho a victory in his 100th Spanish league game on Sunday. Young striker Alvaro Morata put Madrid ahead in just the third minute. Ramos doubled the advantage with a header in the 12th, but the Spain defender then left the hosts with 10 men in the 18th after picking up two bookings in a twominute span. Madrid’s win kept it in third place, four points behind Atletico Madrid after it won 3-0 at Valladolid. Barcelona leads Atletico by 12 points at the top of the table with the league almost two-thirds through. In his third season with Madrid, Mourinho has a league record of 76 victories, 13 draws and 11 losses. Mourinho marked his milestone by making another change to his starting lineup by leaving France striker Karim Benzema on the bench in favor of the 20-year-old Morata. “We started the match well with two goals in the opening minutes, but then it’s always tough to play a man down,” Morata said. “I’m playing with some of the best players in the

world and learning little by little. I couldn’t ask for anything else.” Rayo had earned the label of this season’s revelation by not only defying predictions that it would suffer to stay up, but rising into contention for a top-six finish and a European competition berth with its attack-oriented style of play. However, its fearless approach cost it dearly against Madrid, which has struggled against defensive teams this season while ripping apart sides that dare send too many men forward with its potent counterattack. Morata grabbed Madrid the lead at the Santiago Bernabeu when he arrived unmarked behind a wave of teammates to drive home a no-look backpass from Mesut Oezil after Kaka had played the Germany midfielder wide on the right flank. After Rayo forward Alejandro “Chori” Dominguez grazed the upright with a shot, Ramos made it 2-0 after he had earned a free kick just outside the box. He then muscled in front of his marker and turned Oezil’s service into the net with a powerfully taken header.

Madrid looked ready to rout Rayo until Ramos saw his two quick yellow cards, the first for fouling Leo Baptistao and the second for blocking a pass with his arm. “It isn’t normal that I’m sent off in two minutes,” said Ramos. “I am not one to make harsh tackles with bad intentions. I’m sorry I left my teammates at a disadvantage.” Madrid’s top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, who netted the equalizer against Manchester United in the Champions League on Wednesday, hit the side netting in the 36th in his best chance. Rayo got a much-needed respite with Ramos’ dismissal and managed to take charge of the ball, but it could come no closer to scoring than Roberto Trashorras’ try inside the box that he sailed over the bar just before halftime. Also Sunday, Valencia scored twice after going down to 10 men to beat struggling Mallorca 2-0 at home thanks to goals from Ricardo Costa and Roberto Soldado following Tino Costa’s red card for hitting Mallorca’s Tomas Pina in the 28th. Valencia’s win lifted it into fifth place, two points from the Champion League positions. Real Sociedad was held to

a 1-1 draw at home by Levante despite having an extra player for the last half hour. Sociedad moved into sixth place after losing just once in the last 14 rounds. Levante stayed in ninth. Espanyol got its fifth straight home win under new coach Javier Aguirre by downing Real Betis 1-0 from Sergio Garcia’s first-half goal as it rose into 12th place. Atletico bounced back from its first home loss in 20 games against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League on Thursday with its most convincing road performance in league play since September. “This was one of our best games of the season,” said Atletico coach Diego Simeone. “Normally there is stage of the game when the rival responds and the result is put in doubt, but that never happened. We were the better side throughout.” Radamel Falcao scored his 20th league goal this season in the 11th to set Atletico on its way to its first victory in six league matches away from home. Diego Costa doubled the advantage in the 53rd, and Cristian Rodriguez added a third goal for Atletico in the 90th. — AP

PSG stunned by 3-2 defeat

MONTBÉLIARD: Paris Saint-Germain’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic controls the ball during the French L1 football match Sochaux (FCSM) vs Paris (PSG) on Sunday at the Auguste Bonal stadium in Montbeliard, eastern France. — AFP

PARIS: French leader Paris Saint-Germain defended shoddily and was dominated in midfield as it lost 3-2 at relegation battlers Sochaux on Sunday to give rivals Lyon and Marseille renewed hope in a title race that looked to be getting away from them. While Marseille and Lyon won their matches this weekend, PSG lost for the first time since Dec. 1 and conceded three goals for the first time this season against a valiant Sochaux team that was in 17th place before kickoff and has nothing like PSG’s massive spending power. “It’s a logical defeat because Sochaux played well. They were more aggressive,” PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “I asked the players to be vigilant from the outset, because I knew Sochaux would be in great shape. But we were lacking in balance and aggression, especially in the first half.” It was a case of passion over pedigree as big-spending PSG was shaken from the outset and scored only from two corners, which was not enough as Sochaux tore PSG’s defense apart at times and scored through Sebastien Roudet, Giovanni Sio and substitute Cedric Bakambu. Earlier Sunday, Lyon bounced back from three straight losses with a 4-0 win at Bordeaux and is now three points behind PSG, which travels to play Marseille next weekend. Marseille is five points behind PSG in third place after scraping an injury-time win against Valenciennes on Saturday. “We will focus on the next match, because nothing’s over in terms of the title,” Ancelotti said. “Everything’s open.” Sochaux harried and caused problems early on, and Sio had the crowd on their feet with a blistering strike into the top right corner, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.

With Sochaux well on top, Roudet’s shot appeared to be going in but deflected off teammate Ryad Boudebouz and trickled wide. PSG had to wait until the 28th minute for its first chance, when winger Ezequiel Lavezzi ran onto Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s flick and sprinted clean through, but goalkeeper Simon Pouplin blocked his shot. PSG took the lead moments later when Alex rose unchallenged to head Javier Pastore’s corner over Pouplin and into the top corner. But Sochaux was much the better side and equalized in the 36th, when Boudebouz flicked the ball superbly into the feet of Roudet, who charged forward before planting a low shot into the bottom right corner past goalie Salvatore Sirigu. “We decided to press PSG up the pitch in order to unsettle them,” Roudet said. “Ryad set me up superbly.” Sochaux continued to look the better side in the second half, and deservedly took the lead in the 54th when Sio swapped passes with Roudet and his fierce strike clipped Sirigu’s arm and went in. Ibrahimovic and right back Gregory van der Wiel then drew smart saves from Pouplin, but it was a brief reprieve. Sochaux right back Sebastien Corchia almost made it 3-1 when his superb free kick came back off the crossbar, and midfielder Vincent Nogueria went close with a shot that flew just wide. PSG’s scrappy equalizer came from a corner from the right. Following a hectic scramble, PSG center half Mamadou Sakho poked the ball forward and it sliced off the leg of Jerome Roussillon and into the net. — AP

Egypt pound will not collapse: Morsi aide


Page 22 Japan premier ramps up pressure on BOJ Page 25


Harvard Business School to present education program

Al Sayer wins the Service Hero Award Page 23 Page 26

MADRID: Strikers (left) of Spanish airline Iberia clash with baton-wielding police (right) at Madrid-Barajas airport yesterday in Madrid, as they launched a five-day action against job cuts. —AFP (See Page 24)

Germany to escape recession: Bundesbank France still sticking to deficit target FRANKFURT: Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, will avoid the recession that has engulfed many of its partners in the region and return to growth in the first quarter of 2013, the Bundesbank said yesterday. “As it currently looks, a plus in economic output can be expected in the first quarter of this year,” the German central bank said in its Februar y monthly report. German gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.6 percent in the last quarter of 2012, as weak demand in other euro-zone countries hurt exports. Were its economy to decline again in the current quarter, Germany would technically be in recession, defined as two quarters running of economic contraction. But the Bundesbank joins other economic experts and observers who believe last year’s dip in growth will prove short-lived. “For the rest of this year, the economy is expected to pick up gradually, even if the external economic environment will provide no trigger for a sharp surge in demand,” it wrote.

Although Germany has fared much better than its euro-zone partners in the long-running debt crisis, it has not been able to escape completely unscathed and growth slowed throughout 2012. German GDP grew by 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2012 and then by 0.3 percent in the second quarter and 0.2 percent in the third quarter. With the contraction of 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter, the economy expanded by just 0.7 percent across the whole of 2012, compared with 3.0 percent in 2011, according to the latest data compiled by federal statistics office Destatis. At the same time, the 17-nation euro-zone slid deeper into recession in the fourth quarter of 2012, when the region’s economy shrank by 0.6 percent after already contracting by 0.1 percent in the preceding quarter. But in Germany, at least, experts believe the economy is already back on the growth path. Economy Minister Philipp Roesler said last week he believed that the current weakness would be “only temporary.” The minister fore-

cast: “During the course of the year, the German economy will find its way back to growth. Current indicators, such as business surveys, confirm this.” The government is pencilling in growth of 0.4 percent for 2013. But German industry is more optimistic and the DIHK federation of chambers of commerce recently projected growth of 0.7 percent given brighter export prospects and a stabilization in corporate investment and hiring. Turning to Germany’s public finances, the Bundesbank said it is forecasting a slight deficit of around 0.5 percent of GDP this year, compared with a fractional surplus of 0.1 percent in 2012. Under euro-zone rules, member states are not allowed to run up deficits in excess of 3.0 percent of GDP. Meanwhile, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said yesterday he was sticking to the aim of cutting public deficit to three percent of output this year but said the country’s credibility would not be hit if it failed to do so.

Moscovici’s comments came after revised figures by the national statistics agency showed that the economy shrank by 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 and growth was zero for the whole year. The latest data puts the government in a dilemma over a commitment to the European Union to cut its public deficit to within the ceiling of 3.0-percent of output this year as the euro-zone, struggling as a whole with recession, fights its way out of the debt crisis. “Our true commitment was to reduce our structural deficit by a huge margin,” Moscovici told reporters from the Anglo American Press Association. The day I am speaking here I stick to the three percent,” he said. I am waiting for the growth forecast ... on Friday and then we will enter into a dialogue and we have got the tools for that,” Moscovici said. “We must not add austerity to the risk of recession.” The zero growth in France in 2012, as reported by the national statistics agency INSEE on Thursday, is a sharp slowdown from growth of 1.7 percent in 2011. It scuttled

France’s chances of meeting its target of reducing the public deficit to 4.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2012, which was based on the economy growing by 0.3 percent. It also threw into question the 2013 target of reaching 3.0 percent level that is the allowed ceiling for European countries. Moscovici has said the government would now have to rethink its forecast for growth this year of 0.8 percent. But he said France’s credibility would not be dented it failed to meet the three percent public deficit target this year. He noted that European Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn had said that EU countries struggling to bring their public deficits back to within EU limits may win more time to meet the target if economic growth slows. “The credibility question relies on the structural deficit before anything else,” Moscovici said. “ We will see what happens ... But I don’t believe our credibility will be damaged if something exceptional intervenes.” —AFP

Regional markets remain sluggish MIDEAST STOCK MARKETS DUBAI: Most regional markets declined or ended flat yesterday as investors booked recent gains and Saudi Arabia’s index fell for a second straight day in a post-earnings season lull. The kingdom’s index slipped 0.2 percent, trapped in a 142-point range for the last four weeks, as investors continued to shun blue chips. Most index heavyweights - petrochemical and banking shares - reported modest growth in earnings for the fourth quarter of 2012, disappointing investors. “The market is lagging in direct response to the company results,” said Hesham Tuffaha, a Riyadhbased fund manager. “Investors are not seeing a real catalyst in blue chips, which dominate the market. There is no more double-digit growth.” Banks and petrochemical shares account for about 60 percent of market capitalization. Investors are also concerned over whether recent gains on global markets will be sustained. Banks and petrochemical stocks weighed on the Saudi market, with bellwether Al Rajhi Bank slipping 0.4 percent. Small- and mid-cap stocks are drawing much of the flow of funds, with some companies believed to be in strong growth phases. Companies such as Jarir Marketing and retailer Fawaz AbdulAziz Alhokair are among the favorite picks, Tuffaha said. But Jarir slipped 0.5 percent on profit-taking on Monday and Alhokair was flat. Elsewhere,

banks led declines on Dubai’s bourse as it slipped for a third straight session. Investors have been buying United Arab Emirates equities in recent months as a tentative recovery in property prices improved the earnings outlook for 2013. “Although sentiment might be improving, we expect the wave of profit-taking to continue following the double-digit returns of UAE shares so far in 2013,” Al Masah Capital said in a note. “We favour, at the moment, a larger allocation to the Saudi market.” Dubai’s index declined 0.5 percent, trimming 2013 gains to 16 percent. Emirates NBD, Dubai’s largest lender, fell 1.8 percent while Emaar Properties eased 0.2 percent. Abu Dhabi’s measure ticked up 0.07 percent to a fresh 39-month high. Property stocks were the leading gainers; Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate, which are in the process of merging, rose 4.8 and 6.3 percent. Small-cap Eshraq Properties jumped 9.1 percent. The three stocks were the most traded on the exchange yesterday. In Egypt, the measure eased 0.08 percent. EFG-Hermes fell 2.4 percent and Orascom Telecom Media and Technology shed 3.1 percent. In Qatar, the benchmark climbed 0.2 percent to 8,795 points, up for the first session in three since it reached a 10-month high last week. It faces major technical resistance at 8,844-8,910 points, where it formed three peaks between April 2011 and April 2012. —Reuters

Dubai’s new boom assumes short memories DUBAI: Dubai has rediscovered its appetite for grand designs. A replica Taj Mahal four times bigger than the original, the world’s biggest Ferris wheel, several new mega-malls, and over 100 new hotels are amongst a raft of extravagant projects aiming to boost tourism in the emirate. But lingering debt woes from its last boom-andbust cycle should hopefully reduce the risk of runaway spending. The strategy isn’t quite a repeat of the one that led the emirate to the verge of bankruptcy in 2009, when Dubai was left hanging by a debtfuelled real estate bubble and a series of highprofile overseas acquisitions at aggressive valuations. The economic fundamentals have improved. While residential and commercial realestate prices remain well below their peak, there is room for new investment in retail and tourism. Hotel occupancy rates were at 90 percent last

year, says Ernst and Young. Shopping malls in central areas are packed. New Bollywood theme parks and an expansion of giant Chinese malls will support the emirate’s push to woo more visitors from Asia and further align its economy to fast growth markets to the east. Dubai is drawing on its relative strength in infrastructure and as a regional safe-haven. The city-state currently enjoys around 10 million foreign visitors in a year, five times its population. Tourist numbers could grow substantially if Dubai can convince a larger chunk of the 58 million passengers that landed in Dubai International last year to turn their transit into a short break. Yet Dubai has said little about how it will fund its bold endeavors. That’s a sensitive issue. Lenders to flagship conglomerate Dubai World and property developer Nakheel have been promised 100 percent repayment of their loans

but have to wait until at least 2015 to get any money back as part of a multi-billion restructuring plan contingent on asset sales which are yet to materialize. Dubai as a sovereign only raised $1.25 billion in public debt markets last year. The island project featuring the giant Ferris wheel will alone cost $1.6 billion. Local banks are already overexposed to government-related entities. It is also unclear how readily foreign ones will lend directly to firms like Meraas Holding, owned directly by the ruler of Dubai and dubbed by analysts as “the new Nakheel” because of the multiple mandates it has won. Royal ownership, after all, provided little protection to those that loaned billions to Dubai Holding. The region can ill afford another boom and bust. Unless memories are short, lender restraint may help prevent that this time round. —Reuters



Egypt pound will not collapse: Morsi aide Black market in hard currency causes worry

JALALABAD: Afghan farmers work at a vegetable field on the outskirts of Jalalabad yesterday. The economy of Afghanistan can be categorized as poor and unstable as it lacks proper industrialization, there is a lack of well-developed manufacturing and infrastructure facilities, and it is dependent on foreign aid and assistance. — AFP

Egypt economic growth to drop to 3%: Minister CAIRO: Egypt’s annual economic growth rate will hit 3 percent by end-June, below the government’s projected 4 percent because of political instability, the Planning and International Cooperation Minister said yesterday. In remarks reported by the state news agency, Ashraf Al-Araby also said the rate of annual growth was around 2.5 percent in the three months ending in December. Egypt’s fiscal year runs from July to June. Referring to the 4 percent growth rate targeted by the government, Araby said: “The current political events hampered that.” The Egyptian economy has been hit by more than two years of turmoil since the popular uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak from power in February 2011. The unrest has driven away tourists and investors. President Mohammed Morsi’s efforts to get the economy moving again have been hit since late November by unrest set off by what his opponents saw as an attempt at

political domination - a claim rebuffed by his administration. The instability has triggered a flight into US dollars and an 8 percent fall in the value of the Egyptian pound. The country’s reserves of hard currency have also dipped, falling to $13.6 billion in January - below the $15 billion level needed to cover three months worth of imports. Egypt is seeking a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, though many economists expect conclusion of an agreement to be postponed until after parliamentary elections due to get underway in April or May. Government officials have repeatedly said they expect an IMF delegation to arrive soon to complete talks on the loan, which was agreed in principle in November but postponed in December at Cairo’s behest because of the political turmoil in the country. Araby said the IMF delegation would arrive “in the next few weeks” to finish the talks. —Reuters

CAIRO: The Egyptian pound will not collapse and its incremental depreciation has stabilised, a senior aide to Islamist President Mohamed Morsi said on Sunday. Essam Haddad, Mursi’s deputy chief of staff and foreign policy adviser, told Reuters in an interview that he did not expect the pound to fall further after it lost more than 8 percent against the dollar since the start of the year. “I think it has reached a level of stability,” he said. “So as long as it (depreciation) is going incrementally and in a way that is market-sensitive, then there is no harm in this,” Haddad said. More than two years of political instability following the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 has triggered a flight into dollars. The Egyptian pound has faced extra pressure since late last year, when violent protests against President Mohammeed Morsi erupted, setting back hopes for economic recovery. Violence flared again in Egypt on Sunday, with thousands blocking access to the harbor in Port Said to demand justice over the deaths of dozens of people in riots last month. That violence was triggered by anger over the death sentences handed down to 21 people from Port Said for their involvement in a soccer stadium disaster in the city a year ago. Presidential adviser Haddad said of the Egyptian currency: “”What we have to be very careful of is to (avoid) a drastic change, or a complete fall or collapse. And this is something we are not seeing in the foreseeable future and we hope that it will recover.”

Arabtec wins Fairmont Abu Dhabi contract DUBAI: Dubai’s Arabtec Holding has won a contract worth more than 1 billion dirhams ($272.3 million) to construct a Fairmontbranded hotel in Abu Dhabi, the firm’s latest win in the oil-rich emirate where its top shareholder is based. The contract, awarded by Abu Dhabibased National Investment Corporation, covers building the hotel as well as maintaining the development and its electromechanical works for one and two years respectively, the statement said. Arabtec, in which Abu Dhabi investment fund Aabar Investments raised its stake last year to become its biggest shareholder, has been increasingly active in the UAE capital. It won a $653 million contract to build a branch of France’s Louvre museum in

January, while Arabtec was part of the consortium awarded a 10.8 billion dirhams contract from the Abu Dhabi government in June to build a mid-field terminal at the cash-rich emirate’s airport. The project, which will take 30 months to complete, will see the construction of a 39-storey tower, composed of 563 rooms and 249 serviced apartments. National Investments Corp, which is chaired by Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, advisor to the UAE President, was established in 1999 to develop the breakwater area of Abu Dhabi. Arabtec’s shares ended Monday flat against a 0.5 percent decline on the wider Dubai bourse. The news was announced as the market closed. — Reuters

Qatar Insurance shareholders back rights issue DUBAI: Shareholders of Qatar Insurance have approved plans for a rights issue worth 963.2 million riyals ($264.6 million) and to sell a 20-percent stake to sovereign wealth fund Qatar Holding, the insurer said yesterday. The company will sell 21.4 million new shares to existing shareholders priced at 45 riyals each, a bourse filing said. Like most rights issues in the Gulf Arab state, the proposed price is a significant discount to the market price. Qatar Insurance shares closed on Sunday at 71.6 riyals. The planned capital increase, which still needs regulatory approval, is open to those holding shares on Feb. 14 and will happen once a bonus share issue has been completed. The bonus share offering, giving shareholders one new share for every five they currently hold, was also approved at the shareholder meeting on Sunday. Shareholders also backed the planned sale of new shares worth 488.6 million riyals to Qatar Holding, a move approved by the insurer’s board in October. Qatar Holding’s presence as a strategic par tner would strengthen the financial position of the company and help it to compete against major insurance companies elsewhere, the company said at the time. The Qatari government is already Qatar Insurance’s largest shareholder with a 12percent stake, according to Thomson Reuters data. — Reuters

A black market in hard currency has sprung up in recent weeks due to a shortage of dollars, with street traders quoting the pound at more than 7 to the dollar compared to an official rate of 6.73. Regulated foreign exchange bureaux are swamped by demand for dollars and cannot meet the demand, the head of the foreign exchange department at the Chambers of Commerce said. A senior business leader affiliated with the ruling Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan Malek, told Reuters in an interview that people expected further devaluation of the pound. “I’m not, of course, a technical (expert) but people expect a little bit of devaluation in the future,” he said when asked whether he expected a further depreciation of the currency to help exports and tourism. He said the economy was going through a very difficult period because the transition to democracy launched by the 2011 uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak was not yet complete and institutions were not working fully. Asked about such concerns, Haddad said: “When the situation starts to stabilize more on the political side, I believe the Egyptian pound will be even stronger.” There had been calls from the business community to change the exchange rate to boost the economy by improving exports and making Egypt more attractive for foreign investors, and those changes had now occurred, he said. “Market forces will act on this and decide

what is the best value for the Egyptian pound,” Haddad added. Egypt’s central bank governor said late on Sunday he had no fears of dollarisation and added the bank had reduced the amounts offered at its US dollar auctions in order to set aside hard currency for imports of crucial goods.Foreign investors are eyeing Egyptian households’ dollar holdings as a critical gauge of trust in the authorities. Investors are watching closely for evidence of a significant rise in ordinary Egyptians’ dollar holdings. “I am not worried about dollarisation,” Hisham Ramez said in an interview with CBC channel late on Sunday. “Household dollarisation is at far lower rates than those that would scare one,” he said. In an attempt to control the rate of the pound’s decline, Egypt’s central bank introduced regular dollar auctions in December. Having initially offered sums of $75 million per auction, the bank has reduced the amounts sold. Last week it offered $40 million at each of its dollar sales. Reserves have fallen to $13.6 billion, less than the $15 billion needed to cover three months worth of imports. “Of course it’s not something good, not something comfortable,” Ramez said, adding he had taken steps to counter this such as prioritizing certain imports including foodstuffs, production machines and their spare parts, and fertilizers. He said speeding up measures to secure a $4.8 billion IMF loan Egypt has requested would help the reserves recover. “A lot of investors are waiting for this,” said Ramez. — Reuters

TAQA eyes $800m project bond DUBAI: Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA), the state-owned energy and utility firm, plans to issue an $800 million bond next month to refinance a power and water plant, a daily newspaper reported yesterday. Proceeds from the bond sale will be used to refinance bank debt linked to the Shuweihat S2 power plant, TAQA’s Chief Financial Officer Stephen Kersley, told The National newspaper. “We expect to get a deal to market sometime in March. It could be a $800 million deal,” Kersley told the daily. “The market seems very enthusiastic to receive our paper and we expect a lot of interest as it is a landmark deal for the region.” Sources told Reuters in September that a bond, part of a $2.2 billion refinancing plan, was expected in 2012, with a final decision on timing

dependent on the issuer obtaining a credit rating. TAQA, rated A and 72.5 percent governmentowned, is a familiar name in global debt markets, and will be able to secure lower borrowing costs for what will be a rare project bond from the region. It raised $2 billion from a two-part bond sale in December. “We think we can get a fairer pricing but also for the emirate it’s important that the success of the privatization of the energy sector is maintained,” Kersley said. “By building a project market for power it makes it easier to get financing and gives lenders the chance to commit less funds in the future.” Shuweihat S2, an independent power generation and water desalination project became operational in 2011 and has a capacity for 1,500 megawatts of power. — Reuters

UK infrastructure fund wins $1.6bn in backing LONDON: Two major pension schemes have joined Britain’s first multi-billion-pound infrastructure fund, giving a boost to the government’s efforts to tap pension savings for projects such as roads and power plants that might help fuel growth. The London Pensions Fund Authority (LPFA) and Lloyds TSB have joined The Pension Infrastructure Platform (PIP), bringing the number of signatories to ten and total backing for the fund so far to 1 billion pounds ($1.6 billion), PIP said yesterday. PIP is an investment fund backed by major corporate and local pension funds, such as the BT, BAE Systems and British Airways pension funds, with a 2-billion-pound target size. Umbrella body the National Association of

Pension Funds is backing the project, which will be launched in the first half of 2013, to inject pension fund money into tired British infrastructure to support an ailing economy. “The government has estimated funding needs of between 40 billion pounds and 50 billion pounds in infrastructure annually over the next decade,” Edmund Truell, chairman of the LPFA said in a statement. Pension funds are diversifying their investments in the hunt for higher returns amid low yields on government bonds and rising life expectancy. PIP will invest in brownfield projects - assets that are already built and earning income - or projects where the government will take on some of the construction risk with the aim of achieving returns of 2-5 percent above inflation. — Reuters

EXCHANGE RATES Irani Riyal - cash

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

.2740000 .4350000 .3740000 .3040000 .2780000 .2880000 .0040000 .0020000 .0764740 .7450620 .3900000 .0720000 .7304010 .0420000

CUSTOMER TRANSFER RATES US Dollar/KD .2817000 GB Pound/KD .4371560 Euro .3764220 Swiss francs .3057300 Canadian dollars .2799220 Danish Kroner .0504610 Swedish Kroner .0445570 Australian dlr .2903200 Hong Kong dlr .0363270 Singapore dlr .2276730 Japanese yen .0030130 Indian Rs/KD .0000000 Sri Lanka rupee .0000000 Pakistan rupee .0000000 Bangladesh taka .0000000 UAE dirhams .0767260 Bahraini dinars .7475120 Jordanian dinar .0000000 Saudi Riyal/KD .0751400 Omani riyals .7319730 Philippine Peso .0000000

Al-Muzaini Exchange Co. Japanese Yen Indian Rupees Pakistani Rupees Srilankan Rupees Nepali Rupees Singapore Dollar Hongkong Dollar Bangladesh Taka Philippine Peso Thai Baht Irani Riyal - transfer

ASIAN COUNTRIES 3.010 5.210 2.885 2.230 3.271 228.740 36.531 3.573 6.970 9.481 0.271

.2840000 .4450000 .3830000 .3150000 .2890000 .3000000 .0067500 .0035000 .0772420 .7525500 .4050000 .0760000 .7377420 .0470000 .2838000 .4404150 .3792280 .3080100 .2820090 .0508370 .0448890 .2924840 .0365980 .2293700 .0030350 .0052550 .0022460 .0029040 .0036100 .0772980 .7530850 .4014140 .0757000 .7374300 .0070440


Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd

GCC COUNTRIES 75.577 77.872 736.130 752.760 77.172

Saudi Riyal Qatari Riyal Omani Riyal Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham

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

ARAB COUNTRIES Egyptian Pound - Cash 42.100 Egyptian Pound - Transfer 42.003 Yemen Riyal/for 1000 1.322 Tunisian Dinar 182.540 Jordanian Dinar 400.230 Lebanese Lira/for 1000 1.901 Syrian Lier 3.079 Morocco Dirham 34.381 EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer 283.300 Euro 379.200 Sterling Pound 439.960 Canadian dollar 282.450 Swiss Franc 307.430 US Dollar Buying 282.100 GOLD 20 Gram 10 Gram 5 Gram

Bahrain Exchange Company

311.000 157.000 81.500


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

SELL DRAFT 296.76 286.29 310.97 379.77 282.20 440.66 3.12 3.584 5.221 2.228 3.279 2.879 76.90 751.40 41.92 402.04 734.45 77.93 75.46

Selling Rate 283.050 284.685 439.880 378.350 306.330 749.375 77.040 77.695 75.445 399.000 42.005 2.230 5.212 2.882 3.568 6.960 694.330 4.010 9.565 3.985 3.395 91.408

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 77.000 747.000 46.750 398.000 733.000 78.500 75.400

British Pound Czech Korune Danish Krone Euro Norwegian Krone Scottish Pound Swedish Krona Swiss Franc

BUY Europe 0.431087 0.006060 0.046556 0.372384 0.046919 0.427378 0.040645 0.301176

SELL 0.440087 0.018060 0.051555 0.379884 0.052119 0.434878 0.045645 0.308176

Australasia 0.281219 0.231080 0.000110

0.293219 0.241080 0.000110

Canadian Dollar Colombian Peso US Dollars

America 0.274054 0.000147 0.280950

0.283054 0.000165 0.283100

Bangladesh Taka Cape Vrde Escudo Chinese Yuan Eritrea-Nakfa

Asia 0.003537 0.003139 0.044581 0.016340

0.033592 0.003369 0.049581 0.019440

Australian Dollar New Zealand Dollar Uganda Shilling

Guinea Franc Hong Kong Dollar Indian Rupee Indonesian Rupiah Jamaican Dollars Japanese Yen Kenyan Shilling Malaysian Ringgit Nepalese Rupee Pakistan Rupee Philippine Peso Sierra Leone Singapore Dollar Sri Lankan Rupee Thai Baht

0.000044 0.033953 0.005149 0.000024 0.002825 0.002926 0.003177 0.087656 0.003112 0.002855 0.006511 0.000072 0.224271 0.001932 0.009083

0.000050 0.037053 0.005219 0.000029 0.003825 0.003106 0.003407 0.094656 0.003312 0.002895 0.006981 0.000075 0.230271 0.002237 0.009683

Bahraini Dinar Egyptian Pound Ethiopeanbirr Ghanaian Cedi Iranian Riyal Iraqi Dinar Jordanian Dinar Kuwaiti Dinar Lebanese Pound Moroccan Dirhams Nigerian Naira Omani Riyal Qatar Riyal Saudi Riyal Sudanese Pounds Syrian Pound Tunisian Dinar UAE Dirhams Yemeni Riyal

Arab 0.744503 0.039991 0.012945 0.147356 0.000079 0.000185 0.393717 1.000000 0.000174 0.022348 0.001199 0.724312 0.077105 0.074906 0.049718 0.003158 0.181708 0.075650 0.001277

0.753003 0.042021 0.019445 0.149146 0.000079 0.000245 0.401217 1.000000 0.000194 0.046348 0.001834 0.735312 0.077888 O.075600 0.050268 0.003378 0.187706 0.077100 0.001377

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) 282.700 379.650 439.900 282.900 3.050 5.212 41.975 2.229 3.577 6.963 2.880 752.800 77.000 75.500



Al Sayer wins the Service Hero Award Toyota Al Sayer voted best car service centers by customers

KUWAIT: Service Hero, the creators of Kuwait’s only customer satisfaction index, unveiled the results of a threemonth customer survey for the best customer service brands based in Kuwait. The results were announced in a red carpet awards ceremony attended by senior executives and CEOs of Kuwait’s business community. The awards were based on a threemonth voting drive that collected close to 10,000 direct customer votes through an online-based survey that was then validated and reviewed to ensure empirical and authentic findings. Customers rated the companies based on a 10-point scoring system that measures customer expectations versus actual customer satisfaction across eight service dimensions. The eight dimensions were: reliability, speed, product quality, value for money, location of

offering, staff quality, call center and website. The winners of Car service center category is Toyota Al Sayer scoring the highest in their industry categories by people’s choice. On this occasion, Mubarak Al Sayer, CEO commented by saying, “Winning this award is a great honor specially coming from Service Hero which is specialized in analyzing service standards among companies. The award received is the result of hard work which was geared towards giving our customers the best possible experience. Today we feel our customer’s appreciation by rating us in the first place for offering the best service center in the automotive industry category. This proves that we have chosen the right strategy: Customer’s satisfaction comes always first”!

Al Sayer added: “We accept this award on behalf of each and everyone one of our dedicated team whom strives to be up to our customer’s expectations and more, by offering superior facilities and customer’s service in a competitive market where the customer deserves and expects the best, and receiving the service Hero award only supports MNSS claim in putting customers satisfaction first and utmost by strategically spread facilities and services”. Service Hero President, Faten AbuGhazaleh, said: “We would like to congratulate all the winners from the 2012 awards ceremony who have received the highest customer satisfaction scores in their industry categories. This ceremony is to acknowledge the hard work and focus that these companies have put into either maintaining or uplifting their service standards for their customers.

“After all, customer satisfaction is sometimes misunderstood with training staff to smile or making locations and branches look attractive. In reality, customer service is a discipline and a continuous series of activities and hard work to address the needs of customers. It includes the right communication, staff motivation and improvement of internal processes all for the benefit of the customer. The SHCSI shows companies where they are positioned against their competitors in customer service and it helps provide them with the insights to improve - all based on customer feedback.” Abu-Ghazaleh said: “Now it is clearly evident that customers are not assessing companies based on their history or background, but solely on the services each company is providing. No matter how large or small the company, cus-

Cameron in India trade offensive amid scandal British PM leads biggest-ever business delegation MUMBAI: British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in India yesterday with what he called Britain’s biggest ever overseas business delegation for a three-day visit clouded by a corruption scandal. His trip, starting in Mumbai, comes amid a raging controversy over India’s procurement in 2010 of 12 helicopters from Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland in a $748 million (560 million euros) deal. After an investigation in Italy suggested kickbacks were paid via middlemen to secure the deal, India has taken steps to cancel the contract and started its own police inquiry. The British prime minister is likely to face further questions about the probe-the helicopters are being manufactured in southwest England-with the Indian government keen to be seen to be acting tough on its latest problem. The affair has taken the gloss off Cameron’s second trip to India to press for deeper economic ties between the two countries and greater access for British companies in one of the world’s most dynamic economies. “India’s rise is going to be one of the great phenomena of this century,” he said at a factory of part-British consumer products group Hindustan Unilever. “Britain wants to be your partner of choice”. The British leader has targeted a doubling of annual bilateral trade from 11.5 billion pounds ($17.8 billion, 13.4 billion euros) in 2010 to 23 billion pounds by the time he faces re-election in 2015. Among his 100-plus delegation are executives eyeing moves by the Indian government to open up the retail, airline, banking and insurance sectors to foreign investors. It also includes heads of six British universities aiming to attract students to Britain and seek partnerships in India’s vast higher education market. “We want to make sure that just as we welcome Indian investment into the UK, so it’s easier for British firms, including insurance, banking, retail, to invest in this vibrant and fast-growing economy,” Cameron later told business leaders. Amid concerns about a drive to slash immigration numbers and fears that young Indians could be deterred from

MUMBAI: British Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a business seminar in Mumbai yesterday. Cameron arrived in India’s financial hub Mumbai on a three-day trade-focused visit clouded by a corruption scandal over British-made helicopters sold to New Delhi. — AFP applying to study in Britain, Cameron stressed there was no limit on the number of Indians who could study there. He also announced a new same-day visa service for Indian business people, and said Britain would be “rewriting our rules on the high-level technology that we’re prepared to share with our Indian partners”. Britain would like to play a key role in developing towns along a 1,000-kilometre (600 mile) corridor between the key business cities of Mumbai and Bangalore, Cameron added. “We have architects, planners, designers here to help discuss it with you and if this idea takes off we’d like to be part of it,” he told NDTV news. After his business meetings in the financial capital yesterday, Cameron will fly to

New Delhi for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee today. His pitch for deeper ties with New Delhi echoes similar statements from fellow Western leaders seeking to hitch their stagnant economies to one of the world’s fastestgrowing regions. India’s economy has slowed sharply recently, with a government agency forecasting a growth rate of five percent in the fiscal year ending March, but the country is hoping to recapture higher growth in the next couple of years. Cameron was also expected to remind the government of the merits of the part-British Eurofighter jet, which was competing for a $12 billion contract until last year. — AFP

Yen resumes fall after G20 LONDON: The yen resumed falling yesterday after Japan signaled it would push ahead with expansionist monetary policies having escaped criticism from the world’s 20 biggest economies at the weekend. European shares and industrial metals dropped on lingering worries about the economic outlook, especially for the euro zone. The risk of an inconclusive outcome in Italian elections at the weekend also added to investor concerns. However, activity was curtailed by the closure of markets in the United States for the Presidents’ Day holiday. The yen, which has dropped 20 percent against the dollar since mid-November, fell further after financial leaders from the G20 promised not to devalue their currencies to boost exports and avoided singling out Japan for any direct criticism. “Future yen direction will continue to be

driven by domestic monetary policy from the Bank of Japan and improving international investor confidence, which are both driving the yen weaker,” said Lee Hardman, currency analyst at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe seized the opportunity to keep pressure on the central bank to loosen policy, telling the Japanese parliament that buying foreign bonds could be among options the Bank of Japan could adopt. The result was the dollar rising 0.5 percent to 93.98 yen , near a 33-month peak of 94.47 yen set a week ago. The euro rose 0.2 percent to 125.32 yen, roughly midway between Friday’s two-week low of 122.90 and a 34-month high of 127.71 yen hit earlier this month. Strategists said that while the yen was likely to stay weak, its decline could

lose momentum as investors wait for more clarity on who will be taking the helm at the Bank of Japan when the current governor steps down on March 19. “ The big unknown is who will get appointed as the new BOJ governor, so it is difficult to put on massive positions beforehand,” said Saeed Amen, currency strategist at Nomura. Abe is poised to nominate the new governor in the coming days. Sources have told Reuters that former financial bureaucrat Toshiro Muto, considered likely to be less radical than other candidates, was leading the field. Elsewhere in the currency market, sterling hit a seven-month low against the dollar, after a key policymaker made comments about the need for further weakness and recent poor data which has kept alive wor-

ries of another British recession. Sterling fell 0.15 percent to $1.5492 having earlier touched $1.5438, its lowest since July 13. A big week for data on the outlook for the world’s economy weighed on other riskier asset markets following the recent dire fourth-quarter growth numbers for the euro zone and Japan, along with Friday’s soft US manufacturing figures. In European markets, attention is focused on the euro area Purchasing Managers’ Indexes for February and German sentiment indices due later in the week. These could affect hopes for a recovery this year. Analysts expect Thursday’s euro area flash PMI indices, which offer pointers to economic activity around six months out, to show growth stabilizing across the recession-hit region, leaving hopes for a recovery in the second half of 2013 intact. — Reuters

tomers are being equally critical and ranking services based on how they’ve been served.” Service Hero found that customer satisfaction rose slightly by 2% in the last three years, scoring an overall total of 7.86 points out of ten for the year 2012. There was strong overall improvement among industry categories, where customer expectations increased in 13 out of the 15 industry categories this year. Abu-Ghazaleh added: “Building blocks to create a service culture start with a leadership team that is fully committed to service excellence and completely behind this mission. It also includes communication, education, process improvement, rewards, resources in-place and having the accurate measures to ensure that service excellence is always being met.”

UAE signs $1.4bn defense contracts, including drones ABU DHABI: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has signed defense contracts worth 5.2 billion dirhams ($1.4 billion), including one for unmanned aerial drones, a spokesman for the country’s military said yesterday. The largest deal, worth 1.4 billion dirhams, was for 750 mine-resistant, ambush-protected, all-terrain vehicles from Oshkosh Corp. The UAE’s armed forces also agreed to buy an undisclosed number of Predator drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), from privately-owned US firm General Atomics in a deal worth 722 million dirhams. “UAVs are significant for any armed forces in present times. There is a lot of demand for these,” Major General Obeid Al-Ketbi told reporters at the largest arms exhibition in the Middle East, held in Abu Dhabi. The UAE awarded the contract to purchase the drones to a local company, International Golden Group, which will buy them from the US firm. The deal marks General Atomics’ first sale of an unarmed version of its Predator drones in the Middle East The UAE and Saudi Arabia are among several countries, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, asking US officials to buy armed drones but which have been rebuffed. Washington says its commitments to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a non-binding international agreement designed to limit the spread of long-range precision weaponry, restrict drone exports. General Atomics’ export-variant Predator will have no “hard points” to attach missiles and would be deliberately engineered to make adding new weaponry impossible, the company said last year. Ketbi said the UAE, which faced little of the political unrest seen during the Arab Spring upheaval across the region, had drone manufacturing capabilities domestically. “There is definitely a chance to export abroad,” he said. Other UAE military contracts were awarded to Russia’s KBP which got a 472.7-million-dirham deal to supply ammunition. Local defense firm Tawazun won a 720-million-dirham contract to procure laser guided rockets. — Reuters

Jet shares fall as Etihad rethinks NEW DELHI: Shares in Jet Airways fell as much as 6.8 percent yesterday, a day after the chairman of Etihad Airways said the Abu Dhabi-based carrier needed to revise the terms of a pending deal to buy a stake in the Indian airline. Etihad Chairman Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al-Nahayan told Reuters on Sunday it was too soon to say when a final agreement between the two carriers would be struck. The deal would be the first since India relaxed ownership rules in September and allowed foreign carriers to buy up to 49 percent in local carriers, which are battling stiff competition and high operating costs. Jet shares have more than doubled in value in the past 10 months to reach a high of 647.80 rupees on Jan. 28. But in the past three weeks they have slumped as much as 11 percent as the companies struggled to seal an agreement. At 0546 GMT, Jet shares were down 5.35 percent at 584.9 rupees in a Mumbai market that rose 0.25 percent. Finding a way around Jet’s complicated shareholding pattern and having a significant say in Jet’s board decisions could be Etihad’s concerns, said Rajan Mehra, an industry expert and the India head of US-based private jet operator Universal Aviation. — Reuters



Iberia flights grounded as strike starts MADRID: Dozens of Iberia flights were canceled yesterday as workers at the loss-making Spanish flag carrier began a five-day strike over job cuts that is expected to cost the airline and struggling national economy millions of euros in lost business. There was little sign of chaos yesterday morning in Barajas airport in Madrid, Iberia’s hub, as the airline had already rescheduled most passengers on other flights or returned them their money. Staff, including baggage handlers and air

stewards, are holding the strikes in February and March to protest management plans to axe 3,807 jobs and cut salaries at the airline. Workers kicked off the action with demonstrations at airports and plan a street protest in central Madrid on Wednesday evening. Unionists began an 8 km-march (5 miles) around Barajas yesterday, telling reporters the airline was under threat, as was the future of the airport. “Nobody is safe from being sacked,” said Elias Gonzalez, a maintenance supervisor at the

protest who has worked for Iberia for 27 years. “There was an initial deal with the company when the merger with the British was agreed, but now there is disagreement.” In anticipation of the strike, Iberia had already cancelled 415 flights between yesterday and Friday, and as many as 1,200 flights operated by various airlines will be disrupted because of the lack of handling services at Spanish airports. Domestic flights were the worst affected, with almost half grounded between yesterday and Friday, Iberia said, while 10 percent of its

lucrative, long-haul flights were canceled. The Feb. 18-22 strike, the first of three scheduled week-long stoppages, coincides with school holidays in Britain, Spain’s biggest source of tourists. Tourism accounts for around 11 percent of Spanish economic output and is one of the country’s very few growth sectors in a prolonged recession that has pushed the unemployment rate above 26 percent. Iberia, which merged with profitable British Air ways in 2011 to form the International Airlines Group, reported a loss of 262 million euros ($349.78 million) in the first nine months of 2012. The airline argues restructuring is vital to return the Spanish unit to profitability while unions say the IAG management is degrading pay and benefits in Spain through its low-cost airline Iberia Express. Some 70,000 passengers will be affected during the Monday to Friday strike this week. About 86 percent have been given a different flights, including those operated

by other airlines, while 14 percent had asked for refunds. On Monday 37 flights due between 0800 and 1400 GMT were cancelled at Madrid’s Barajas airport, most of them Iberia flights but also three British Airways flights to London and a Luxair flight to Luxembourg. Since the unions notified the strike two weeks ago and the transport ministry obliged them to offer a skeleton service under Spanish strike law, virtually no passengers were stranded at Spanish airports. Iberia is just one of several companies in Spain, including Vodafone and bailed-out lender Bankia, to lay off workers. It is fighting an uphill battle against lowcost operators, a depressed domestic economy and competitors that are in better shape after having already gone through restructuring processes. Sabadell Bolsa analysts said the total 15 days of strikes could cost Iberia between 50 million euros and 100 million euros of losses. — Reuters

MADRID: Iberia planes are seen parked at Barajas international airport in Madrid yesterday. Workers at Iberia airlines begin the first of 15 days of strikes to protest the company’s plan to cut almost a fifth of its workforce. — AP

Gold bounces off six-month low LONDON: Bargain-hunters helped gold to rebound from a six-month low hit in the previous session as Asian players returned to the physical market from a week-long holiday. Gold rose 0.2 percent to $1,611.45 by 1113 GMT, having fallen to $1,598.04 on Friday on heavy technical selling pressure. US gold for April delivery inched up 0.4 percent to $1,616.40. The metal’s inability to break above $1,700 in recent weeks and the fall through key support levels left it vulnerable to further losses in the absence of Asian physical traders last week, when prices slipped 3.8 percent slip, the largest since May last year. “After the technically driven sell-off, probably exacerbated by the lack of physical interest from Asia, the phones are not exactly ringing off the hook, but we have a lot of interested physical clients from India looking to take advantage of current weakness,” Jeffrey Rhodes, CEO of INTL Commodities, said. Chinese participants returned from a week-long holiday on Monday, providing some renewed support to nervous investors. Spot contract for gold of 99.99 purity on the Shanghai Gold Exchange dropped to 326.40 yuan ($52.37) a gram, its lowest in nearly seven months. The fall triggered strong physical buying, with volumes exceeding a record high of 22 tons on SGE. “This week investors in China return with a strong desire to pick up metal at cheaper prices, with turnover on the SGE surging to an all-time high,” broker UBS said in a note. “This should help calm some of the uneasiness, but unless there

is a strong fundamental upside catalyst, gold is likely to struggle and a move below $1,600 could not be ruled out with certainty at this stage.” Further gains were capped by euro weakness against the dollar. The market was awaiting the address by European Central Bank president Mario Draghi to the euro-zone’s parliament and a possible hint on the outlook for the single currency after a G20 meeting. Financial leaders from the world’s 20 biggest economies promised on Saturday not to devalue their currencies to boost exports, aiming to defuse talk of currency wars that had been roiling the markets. Hedge funds and some big speculators cut their bullish bets on US commodities, taking aim particularly at gold, which has lost some of its luster this year, data released on Friday showed. A raft of business surveys this week will be studied for confirmation of hopes that a dire fourth quarter of 2012 marked the cyclical trough for the world economy. In other precious metals, spot platinum was up 0.4 percent to $1,683.75 an ounce, after declining to a two-week low of $1,668 in the previous session. Palladium was down 0.1 percent at $752.47, well below the $775 hit on Wednesday, its best since September 2011. Spot silver rose 0.7 percent to $29.96 an ounce, having fallen to a fiveweek low of $29.87 on Wednesday. Silver net long positions on Comex silver fell 28.7 million ounces to 242.5 million ounces in the week to February 12, according to the latest Commitment of Traders data. — Reuters

Brent steadies below $118 on growth hopes LONDON: Brent crude oil consolidated below $118 per barrel yesterday, underpinned by expectations of improving global growth and continuing tensions in the Middle East. Trading volume was limited as the US market was closed due to the President Day’s holiday and as the International Petroleum (IP) Week, a gathering of industry professionals, kicked off in London, analysts said. “With the US holiday and the start of the IP Week, a lot of people will be away from their desks,” Olivier Jakob, analyst at Geneva-based Petromatrix, said. US economic data last week suggested the world’s largest oil consumer hit a bump on its road to recovery with industrial output falling off to a weak start in 2013. But a rebound in factor y activity in New York state in February suggested any setback may be temporary. “We continue to see a mixed picture out of the United States. Industry output was lower than expected but that shouldn’t affect the general upward direction,” Jakob said. Brent crude edged up 12 cents to $117.78 a barrel by 1055 GMT after posting its first weekly loss since the first half of January. US crude slipped 25 cents to $95.61. In the Middle East, tensions over Iran’s disputed nuclear program continue to stoke supply concerns in the key oil producing region. Talks between Iran and

major world powers remain deadlocked as investors look ahead to another meeting on Feb. 26 for any signs of progress. “At the end of this week you might start seeing positions being reviewed in view of next week’s talks,” Jakob said. Major powers plan to offer an easing of sanctions on trading gold and other precious metals with Iran in return for steps to shut down Iran’s newly Fordow uranium enrichment plant, Western officials told Reuters. A senior Iranian lawmaker rebuffed the idea. A sharp cut in Saudi Arabia’s crude output and exports has also supported Brent. “Demand optimism has been met with supply concerns as early OPEC supply surveys suggest Saudi Arabia cut back production potentially by too much and too quickly,” Soozhana Choi, analyst at Deutsche Bank, said in a note. The euro and the dollar gained against the yen yesterday after financial leaders of the world’s biggest 20 economies vowed not to devalue their currencies to boost exports, in a bid to defuse currency wars. Investors will focus later this week on the euro area’s Purchasing Managers’ Indexes for February and German sentiment indices due later in the week. Analysts expect the euro area flash PMI indices, which point to economic activity around six months out, to show growth stabilizing rather than a clear end to the current recession across the region. — Reuters



Credit facilities by Kuwait banks improve KAMCO Research KUWAIT: Credit facilities extended by Kuwaiti banks have gained momentum during 2012 compared to marginal growth rates recorded during 2011 and 2010. The loan portfolio of Kuwaiti banks grew at 5% in 2012 to record KD 26.9 billion ($95.4 billion) at the end of December-12 representing around 54% of 2012 forecast GDP. This growth rate is favorably compared to the 1.6% and 0.4% recorded during 2011 and 2010, respectively. Despite the low appetite for credit, banks’ conservative lending policies, and the restructuring of corporate debt along with delay in implementing a dozen of infrastructure and economic projects, the credit market has witnessed signs of recovery in 2012 that will most likely continue through 2013 driven by the easing of political tension in the country along with the gradual restoration of confidence in the private sector and the recovery of the property market and the local bourse. During 2012, banks have extended additional credit of KD 1.28 billion ($4.5 billion) with personal facilities contributing to around 87% of this increase followed by the credit to the real estate sector and trade which added around KD 378 million and

facilities, remained stagnant during 2012 at 2.5%. Nonetheless, the share of this credit component remains high as it accounts for around 10% of local banks’ loan portfolio at KD 2.71 billion ($9.6 billion). This high concentration might expose banks to further risk given the volatility in the local and regional markets. Following 5 consecutive years of strong growth rates over the period 2004-2008 with a CAGR of 34.5% fuelled by buoyant market and ample liquidity, growth in credit to the purchase of securities slowed down significantly during 2009 to 1% and then followed a downtrend in 2010 and 2011 with a yearly contraction of 4.6% and 2.1%, respectively. This drop came on the back deleveraging amid high market risk and volatility in local and international markets. This made banks shift their lending policy by extending credit to households and the productive economic sectors guaranteed by sustainable cash flows. The share of loans utilized for the purchase of securities to total personal loans since Dec-05 indicating a slowdown in contribution mainly due to deleveraging of retail investors who are invested in the stock market coupled with banks’ being more conservative in extend-

billion at the end of Dec-05 to reach KD 26.9 billion in Dec-12; while personal loans grew at a slower 7-year CAGR of 10.1% from KD5.1bn to reach KD10.1 billion over the same period. Loans to the real estate and construction sectors, which together amount to KD 8.85 billion accounting for 32.9% of banks’ loan portfolios, gained momentum during

down on asset quality. The high concentration of banks’ loan portfolios in the real estate and financial services sectors which together accounted for an average of 42% of credit facilities over the last 7 years, is a clear signal of high risk embedded in the banking sector. As seen, since 2005 banks’ loan portfolios have been witnessing an uptrend and accord-

sion of the financial turmoil was the sudden evaporation of credit to investment companies (ICs) in the last quarter of 2008 that followed easy credit in the per-crisis era when loans to ICs grew at a CAGR of 55% over the period 2004-2007. Since then, credit slowed down to 19% in 2008 and 1.2% in 2009 and then followed a steep downward trend in the years that followed

Since Dec-05, loans to trade and industries witnessed gradual growth to reach KD 2.5 billion and KD 1.8 billion, respectively. During the period 2006-2012, loans to trade grew at a CAGR of 8.8% whereas loans to industries grew at a much faster rate of 21%. However in 2012, loans to industries seemed to be stabilized as it grew at 1% compared to 8.2% in 2011 while loans to trade grew 7.4% in 2012 from 0.4% in 2011. Loans to trade and industries share of banks’ loan portfolios since Dec-05 indicate that the combined amount for the two sectors has averaged around 15.5% of total banks’ credit facilities. Share contribution has been quite volatile during the aforementioned period and has reached a low of 14.4% in March and April 2008, peaked during the financial crisis in Jan-09 to 16.2% before heavily slumping once again to 14.6%. Nevertheless, credit facilities extended to these two sectors began to recover gradually to currently stand at 15.8% as of Dec-12 after hitting a record high of 16.5% in August-2008. The change in outstanding loans across the major economic sectors during FY-11 and FY-12, reflects a considerable growth in personal loans and credit to real

KD 171 million, respectively. On the contrary, credit to investment companies shrank by KD 475 million on the back of continuing debt problems faced by the sector. Driven by the increase in the salaries of the public sector and the strengthening of purchasing power of Kuwaiti nationals, personal facilities have been following a continuous upward trend since February 2011, increasing by 19.5% to record KD10.1 billion at the end of December-12, representing 37% of banks’ loan portfolios. During 2012, personal facilities grew at 12.4% fuelled by high consumption and robust growth in the retail sector accompanied with the significant increase in public sector salaries. However, growth in credit facilities for the purchase of securities, which account for 27% of personal

ing credit after the global financial crisis. Loans to the purchase of securities peaked in September2008 to account for 36% of banks’ personal loans portfolios and then followed a downward trend to stand at 27% as of Dec-12. The contribution of Loans to the purchase of securities of banks’ personal loan portfolio has averaged around 30% based on monthly figures since Dec-2005 which is considered high on the international standard. On the other hand, the share of personal loans to banks’ loan portfolio since Dec-05 indicating a slowdown in contribution in the early years before stabilizing from the period 2008-2011 and moderately picking up in 2012. As seen in chart 4, During the period 2005-2012, bank’s loan portfolio grew at a 7year CAGR of 12.5% from KD11.8

2012 and advanced by KD 407 million, a growth of 4.8%; Since 2008, growth in the real estate loans has started to lose momentum driven by the slowdown in property market and the depreciation in asset prices. Following a 3-year CAGR of 40% over the period 2004-2007, growth in loans to the real estate & construction sectors dropped sharply to 17% in 2008 then to 10% in 2009 and remained flat in 2010. Given the slowdown in the real estate market and the challenging business environment faced by real estate companies and contractors, high exposure to this sector by banks indicates that further correction in the real estate market might expose local banks to higher credit risk and weigh

ingly, the share of loans to real estate and investment companies has followed. However, as the financial crisis deepened, credit facilities extended to investment companies began to decrease as ICs experienced the downfall of the stock market. On the other hand, loans to real estate and construction continued the uptrend yet at a slower rate as the property market witnessed a decline in prices driven by oversupply in the commercial segment. As a result, credit facilities extended to these two sectors remained stagnant during the period from July-07 until Aug-11 comprising an average of 44% of total banks’ loans portfolios before slowing down to currently stand at 40% in Dec-12. The most significant repercus-

dropping by 16% in 2011. Banks remain cautious in extending additional credit to ICs given the challenging business environment and the deterioration in their financial standing and credit profile; accordingly, credit facilities to ICs fell during 2012 by 20% to KD 1.91 billion, representing 7.1% of banks’ loan portfolios down from a percentage contribution of 12% before the crisis. We believe that banks’ non-performing loans of ICs will most likely remain high and as a result will continue to pressurize banks’ profitability in 2013 by booking additional provisions. However, liquidation of collaterals held against ICs credit along with debt restructuring remains the optimal options for some banks to avoid additional provision.

estate sector and financing trade along with shrinking credit to ICs due to the strict lending policies followed by local banks and deleveraging in the financial sector. During 2012, credit to the real estate sector grew by KD 375million, while growth in personal facilities showed significant improvement to KD1.1 billion fuelled by the increase in consumption and the reassessment of banks strategies that became more retail-focused. On the other hand, credit to ICs fell by KD475 million indicating the deterioration in operating environment, weak financial standing of some major players along with the restructuring of some highly leveraged firms and the significant losses incurred by the sector originated mainly from drop in the prices of equities and real estate.

Japan premier ramps up pressure on BOJ Inflation target challenge for CB TOKYO: Japanese premier Shinzo Abe ramped up pressure on the central bank yesterday signalling he may move to limit its independence if it fails to achieve an ambitious inflation target. His comments come just days after talks between finance heads of the Group of 20 leading economies avoided accusing Tokyo of orchestrating a fall in the yen by following an aggressive policy of monetary

easing. The prime minister-who swept to power in a landslide election win in December-warned that failure by the Bank of Japan to meet the two-percent target could open the door to “revising the BOJ law”. Abe has previously warned he might change a law guaranteeing the bank’s independence if it did not follow his prescription of big spending and aggressive monetary easing to rescue the economy from

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) shares a light moment with Finance Minister Taro Aso (right) at an Upper House budget committee of the national parliament in Tokyo yesterday. —AFP

decades of weak growth and deflation. Threats to the BOJ’s independence have come in for criticism globally, with German central bank chief Jens Weidmann last month calling the moves “disturbing abuses”. The BOJ, under pressure from Japan’s conservative government, last month unveiled the inflation target, which is aimed at dragging the country out of its long-running deflation, along with a plan for unlimited easing. Yetserday, Abe said the bank’s decision to tow the line last month saved it from any legislative changes, but warned that he still expected results. “If it cannot responsibly deliver results, we would have to consider revising the BOJ law,” he told parliament. He added that governments and central banks in Europe and elsewhere have previously agreed on inflation targeting. Chris Tedder, research analyst at in Sydney, said such changes could mean “Japanese politicians will be able to dictate policy at the BOJ”. “This extreme action by Tokyo would mean that Abe and his party would be able to pursue extreme monetary loosening without any hindrance from BOJ board members,” he added in a note. For months, Abe attacked the bank over what he derided as a timid approach to reviving the world’s third-largest economy. Bank Governor Masaaki Shirakawa, who disagreed with Abe on policy matters, is to step down next month, several weeks before the end of his term. On Saturday a communique from the G20 meeting in Moscow vowed to avoid “competitive devaluation” to boost exports. The statement came after Tokyo faced charges it is manipulating the yen, particularly by Europe, and warnings that its actions could spark a currency war. Tokyo denies the claims. —AFP

Nigerian economy seen growing 6.75% this year ABUJA: Nigeria’s economy is expected to grow at a speedy 6.75 percent this year, driven by progress in agriculture, banking and oil, while high inflation rates should ease slightly, data showed yesterday. Both will add to the reputation of Africa’s top oil producer as a growing investment destination with a huge consumer market of 160 million people. Demand for its sovereign debt, for example, has soared since JP Morgan added it to its emerging bond index last year. The kidnapping by gunmen of a Briton, an Italian, a Greek and four Lebanese workers in Bauchi state on Sunday, however, underlined that there are risks to investment outlook. The National Bureau of Statistics forecast this year’s growth to be slightly faster than in 2012, 6.75 percent compared with 6.61 percent. It said gross domestic product should expand by an average of 7.2 percent next year, 6.9 percent in 2015 and 6.6 percent in 2016, adding that the projections assumed no change to monetary policy, stable fuel prices and a stable external environment. Social strains, epitomized by the weekend’s kidnapping, may undermine some investor sentiment, however. It was the worst case of foreigners being abducted in the north since an insurgency by Islamists intensified nearly two years ago. There is also a longer history of kidnapping and oil theft in the southern oil region. And despite solid growth, the gap between rich and poor is widening, con-

tributing to unrest and violence. Unemployment is 23 percent, while youth unemployment is double that and most people live on less than $2-a-day. Government pledges to improve infrastructure and support job-creating areas such as agriculture will be key to the economy and stability but reforms have been slow over the last two years, hampered by vested interests and corruption. Investors have been pleased with the stability brought to monetary policy and the macro-economy in recent months but they remain wary of the government’s tendency to squander its oil windfall on reckless spending and corruption. Foreign exchange reserves are at more than a 3-year high and the stock index is up around 18 percent this year as investors show faith in local debt markets and the oil, banking and telecommunication sectors. Plans later this year to rebase Nigeria’s GDP, which have been repeatedly delayed in the past, could push it close to the size of South Africa, the continent’s top economy. The statistics office said consumer inflation eased to 9 percent year-on-year in January from 12 percent in December, dropping within the central bank’s singledigit target range. The bank’s governor said last week that he was in no hurry to cut interest rates even if inflation fell. Food price inflation, the biggest contributor to the headline index, eased to 10.1 percent in January from 10.2 percent, NBS statistics showed. —Reuters



G-Class, Sprinter, Unimog and Zetros save the world Mercedes-Benz represented with 14 different models in new film STUTTGART: Iconoclastic, take-no-prisoners cop John McClane, for the first time, finds himself on foreign soil after traveling to Moscow to help his wayward son Jack. With the Russian underworld in pursuit, and battling a countdown to war, the two McClanes discover their opposing methods make them unstoppable heroes. The new film “A Good Day to Die Hard” will be in cinemas worldwide from 14 February 2013. Mercedes-Benz has a strong presence in the film in the form of numerous vehicles and will be supporting the premiere screenings in London and Berlin. The provision of an exclusive shuttle fleet for the film’s actors and VIP guests is, of course, all part of the service.

‘A Good Day to Die Hard’ “We are very pleased that we were able to support the new film in the exciting “Die Hard” series with a large number of our vehicles. From the C-Class to the Zetros, the Mercedes-Benz model fleet could not be better suited to this action film with its spectacular stunts in the streets of Moscow. An exciting film with many emotionally appealing vehicles,” says Anders Sundt Jensen, Head of Brand Communication Mercedes-Benz Cars. “Mercedes-Benz vehicles stand for safety, performance and distinctive design. And they are at home in all major European cities. This suits them perfectly and completely authentically to the screen-

play. For example, the G-Class, Sprinter, Unimog and Zetros are the ideal “hero cars” for the hard-as-nails requirements of John and Jack McClane”, continues Jensen. The film and the roles played by the Mercedes-Benz vehicles “A Good Day to Die Hard” the latest movie in the famous “Die Hard” franchise with the star studded cast of

Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney and Sebastian Koch is coming soon to theaters worldwide. Also starring in the film is a whole fleet of Mercedes-Benz vehicles, a total of 14 different models. Many of them appear in breathtakingly spectacular car-chases through Moscow. Four indestructible Mercedes-Benz models play a key role in the battle for sur-

vival to save the world: the G-Class, the Unimog, the Sprinter and the Zetros. In addition to the hero-cars, several other MercedesBenz vehicles will be seen in the film. Among them are the C-Class, Vito, E-Class Saloon as well as the new G 63 AMG, a GL-Class and a Maybach 57.

Harvard Business School to present education program launches Hala February Competitions on social media

Project in collaboration with IBS

5 prizes for 5 lucky winners

KUWAIT: Dr Mohammad Yousef Al-Hashel, Governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Institute of Banking Studies (IBS), announced that the IBS will work with Harvard Business School for the fourth year in a row to present an executive education program for banking and finance executives in the GCC region. The governor pointed out that the program is one of the strategic developmental projects the banking sector is pursuing, led by the Central Bank of Kuwait, organized by the IBS and financed by the IBS member and financing banks. The program, said the governor, aims to upgrade the skills of the Kuwait and GCC national workforce, of which executives comprise the key component. He mentioned that the program was conducted for the first time in 2010 as an exclusive event for the Kuwaiti banks. After the tremendous success of that first program, several GCC Banking Institutes showed keen interest in a repeat event. With the Harvard Business School showing interest in taking the program to the GCC level, the second program was conducted in 2011 in Dubai addressing the GCC banking and financial sectors. Organizing the program at the GCC level continued in 2012 with Doha, Qatar as the location. This year the program will be held in Muscat, Oman at the Shangri-la resort. The Governor pointed out that communication with Harvard Business School started in 2009 to organize the school’s first custom program in the GCC region. The Governor affirmed that the Harvard Business School is very selective in conducting custom programs, especially those beyond its campus in Boston, USA. The School’s desire to continue to work with IBS, Kuwait on these projects reflects how satisfied the school is with this collaboration. Considering the design of the program has con-

tinued to be extremely successful, this year’s program, the Governor explained, will have a similar design. The title “Managing Strategically, Leading for Results” captures the program two integrated themes: ‘Strategic Management’ and ‘Leadership’. The program will be held during March 9th - 14th, 2013 for six consecutive days. It is aimed at upper middle executives of levels such as department heads. Dr Al-Hashel affirmed that executive education programs held by Harvard Business School in the GCC region adhere to the School’s high standards thus ensuring that participants and their banks will be provided with the same quality of learning experience for which the school is so well known. At the end of the program, participants will receive a Harvard Business School certificate, verifying that they have completed the program. The governor elaborated that the world-famous Harvard Business School case studies will be the main learning tool in the program; these case studies are written by the school’s faculty and are used in numerous universities and executive development centers. Besides selecting banking and finance cases, the faculty have also chosen some that focus on other industries to diversify participants’ learning experience. In conclusion, the governor stressed that executive development will remain a strategic priority considering the role of executives in developing their organizations. He went on to explain that collaboration amongst the GCC countries in areas of common interest such as training and development has always been and will remain an item of top priority. He expressed his gratitude for members of the Kuwait and GCC Banking communities who have continued to support the Harvard Business School programs.

KUWAIT: On the occasion of Kuwait’s National and Liberation Days, leading ecommerce portal for consumer electronics has created a number of festive activities and competitions to celebrate the joyous month with its customers and the people residing in Kuwait. The first of the many activities is a simple and educational competition starting on February 18th and ending February 27thand will include a series of 7 trivia questions about Kuwait and its history. A different question will be posted over a period of 7 days on X-cite by Alghanim’s Facebook and Twitter pages only. By

answering all 7 questions, participants will enter a chance to win one of three valuable prizes; two Huawei mobile phones and an Olympus DSLR Camera. The second competition will take place on Instagram starting February 21st and ending February 28th where followers will be invited to send a photo of their own of any of Kuwait’s historical landmarks. Judging criteria will be based on creativity and originality, top 10 photos will be featured on the Instagram page for customers to vote for their favorite photos. The top two contestants to receive the highest likes will win a Huawei mobile phone each.

To participate in both competitions, all what participants need to do is send their answers and creative photos to the email address and stay tuned to the results. Besides having the opportunity to take part in competitions and winning gifts, X-cite’s social media channels guarantees that customers stay up to date on latest offers, attractive promotions, exclusive deals that are available on both and the showrooms. In addition, social media channels serve as customer service platform to ensure customer satisfaction is met.

Heathrow boss calls for faster UK airports report LONDON: A decision on how and where to expand the UK’s airport capacity should be fasttracked to prevent Britain falling behind competing hubs in Europe and the Middle East, according to the boss of London’s Heathrow airport, which wants a third runway. “In terms of timing, we’d like the decision quicker ... we think it’s urgent,” Colin Matthews, the chief executive of Heathrow Ltd, formerly the British airports operator BAA, said yesterday. The Davies Commission was set up late last year to examine ways to expand UK airport capacity but is not due to report until after the next general election in 2015. Options being considered include building a third runway at Heathrow, west of London, an entirely new four-runway hub in the Thames estuary to the east or expansion of the capital’s secondary airports at Gatwick to the south of the capital or Stansted to the northeast. Under pressure from liberals and green groups, David Cameron’s

Conservative-led coalition government overturned a decision to build a third Heathrow runway after it came to power in 2010. It also ruled out expanding London’s smaller airports. “For the decision, whatever it is, to stick it will need broad support so if it’s just one political party or one narrow section of opinion formers then the decision that is taken will probably be untaken a few months later as it was before,” said Matthews. “However, getting that broad agreement may take time.” Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, is falling behind rival European hubs in the battle for lucrative routes to emerging markets because of the constraints on growth. A study by the Frontier Economics consultancy has shown Paris Charles de Gaulle and Germany’s Frankfurt have 1,000 more annual flights to the three largest cities in China than Heathrow. Matthews says that Istanbul’s Ataturk airport as well as growing hubs in the Gulf could

also take traffic from European airports in the coming years. Earlier yesterday Heathrow Ltd posted a strong rise in its profits, largely driven by an increase in the fees it charges airlines using its airports - Heathrow, Stansted, Southampton, Glasgow and Aberdeen. Controlled by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial , Heathrow said its 2012 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization rose 11.6 percent to 1.26 billion pounds ($1.96 billion) on revenue up 8.1 percent at 2.46 billion pounds. The operator has increased airport tariffs by an average of 12.5 percent since April 2011. The company said passenger traffic at Heathrow rose 0.9 percent to 70 million during the year, while traffic at London Stansted fell 3.2 percent to 17.5 million. The group last week unveiled a 3 billion-pound five-year investment plan, which could see passengers facing a rise in ticket prices. — Reuters



Review: iPhone Google Maps lags Android version BLOOMSBURG: Every time my husband and I drive the 677 miles from New York to my parents’ house in Michigan, we dread the long stretch of Interstate 80 through the hills of rural Pennsylvania. It’s beautiful, but lonely, without a lot of places to stop. On this trip, with a little help from Google and Apple, I was determined to stay caffeinated and maybe find somewhere else to eat besides McDonald’s and truck stops. We had two iPhones and two Android phones between us, allowing me to test Google Maps on both the iPhone and Android and Apple’s own mapping app for the iPhone. ( There’s no Apple app on Android.) These apps all have turn-by-turn voice navigation and will nag you with new directions if you make a wrong turn or try to go off-course. I tested out the Google and Apple mapping apps before, but focused on how their walking and public-transportation functions worked in New York City. I wanted to see how they performed for driving and outside of the comfort of a major metropolitan area. But mainly, I wanted to see how Google Maps fared compared with Apple’s Maps, which kicked Google Maps off the iPhone in September. That meant Google had no mapping app on the iPhone until it released a replacement in December. Google Maps with voice navigation has been on Android phones since 2009. I also wanted to see if the Android and iPhone versions have all the same bells and whistles. (Spoiler alert: They don’t). We set off from New York with our easily bored 3year-old daughter strapped in the back seat. I fired up the phones and set courses for my parents’ home in Haslett, Mich. (just outside Lansing, for those too lazy to Google it). The two versions of Google Maps and the Apple software pretty much

gave me the same directions and time estimate - just over 10 hours, though we were planning on 12 with stops. We usually take a break at a Panera Bread bakery about an hour into Pennsylvania, but our daughter was napping and we weren’t really hungry. So we threw ourselves at the mercy of Google and Apple and hoped that they would find us something in an hour or two. As we wound through the hills, with my husband driving, I watched the little blue arrows on my phones move across the state and checked out the different features each mapping program offered. The Android version of Google Maps has the most toys and the most beautiful graphics. The bars and dry cleaners visible on its street maps of New York get replaced by the names of rivers and smalltown roads in the distance. By comparison, both iPhone apps seem bare bones, which isn’t too surprising as the Android app had a head start of three years. Apple’s fancy 3D graphics largely melt away when you get out of the city. The Android version allows me to select “layers” for my map showing such things as traffic and nearby businesses. The restaurant layer proved very helpful when my daughter started getting cranky and we needed to make an unplanned stop. The traffic layer, which lights up in red, yellow and green depending on the amount of traffic, also was particularly helpful on the way back to New York. It warned us of a monster backup on the George Washington Bridge and estimated how long that would delay us in case we wanted to take an alternate route. We took our chances with the bridge. While the delay wasn’t quite as bad as we feared it would be, it was definitely helpful to know about it ahead of time. The iPhone version

of Google Maps doesn’t offer layers at all. And while the Apple software does offer some traffic information, you can’t see it in the form of a layer when you’re in navigation mode as you can with the Android version. The Android version also allows you to set a final destination and search for places along your route, while Google’s iPhone app doesn’t. Apple lets me do this by using the Siri voice assistant on my iPhone. By hitting the home button and saying “Starbucks,” I got the closest locations. That’s what we did a few hours into Pennsylvania when our caffeine withdrawal headaches started to kick in and our daughter was getting antsy. To my surprise, both Siri and the Android phones located a Starbucks in a small town just a few miles off the freeway. We easily got there, but found it was on the campus of Bloomsburg University, which appeared closed for the holidays. So, we got back on the highway and headed to the next location, in Williamsport. Unfortunately, we never made it to that Starbucks either. Apple and Google both took us to a residential section of a small town, with no Starbucks in sight. I still don’t know if I did something wrong or if there was an error in the mapping software. Considering that both sent me to a store whose existence I later verified, I’m more inclined to blame my caffeine-deprived brain than the phones. We never did find a Starbucks before leaving Pennsylvania or a cute mom-andpop restaurant to eat at. But when we finally caved to our daughter’s demands and decided to stop at the next exit, I did use the restaurants layer on one of the Android phones to locate an Arby’s. Not exactly haute cuisine, but it’s a guilty pleasure from childhood of mine, and all three of us got

the break we needed. I also used the feature on the trip back to New York to find a Mexican restaurant that we had eaten at a few years ago outside of Youngstown, Ohio. Unfortunately, it had yet to open for the day, so I used the software to locate and read online reviews about another Mexican place down the road. We ended up having a nice meal there. It’s worth mentioning that this is one of those times smartphones with larger screens help. The Samsung Galaxy Note II I was using let me easily look at what businesses are available off exits far down the road. Even if my iPhone had

been able to show me these things, it would have been tough to view them on its comparatively tiny screen (3.5 inches diagonally on my older Apple 4S, compared with the Note’s 5.5 inches). Another nice feature available on the Android, but not Google’s iPhone app or Apple’s software, is that the phone’s screen enters a night mode when you’re driving at night. The background turns dark, so it’s not as distracting. One drawback with Android phones: They have a hard time finding enough juice, even when plugged into the car’s charger. In fact, the HTC Droid DNA I was using gave me two warnings that my energy usage was outpacing the power going into my phone. A colleague had a similar problem using two other Android phones. By contrast, the iPhone seems to stay fully charged if you plug it in. Of course, I could shut one Android phone down while I use another, but this probably isn’t an option for most people. After we got to Michigan, the phones also proved useful for quick little trips in town. That included a last-minute trip to a Toys ‘R Us that I couldn’t quite remember the location of. I also got to a restaurant that was slightly off the beaten path. Bottom line is that when you’re on the road, all three programs will probably get you where you’re going. They offer clear maps and audible instructions that are easy to understand. They give you the directions you need with plenty of time to make turns and get in the appropriate lane of traffic. And when you inevitably do miss a turn or highway exit, they are quick to recalculate your route. But for those who want an experience and information that rivals those provided by a vehicle GPS system, Google Maps for Android is the way to go. Just don’t forget your car charger. — AP

Kaspersky Lab highlights ‘evolving threat landscape’


SEOUL: This handout photo released by LG Electronics shows South Korean models posing with LG Electronics’ new smartphone Optimus G Pro during a press conference yesterday. — AP

LG to release full HD smartphone in S Korea SEOUL: LG Electronics Inc said yesterday its new smartphone with a full high-definition screen will go on sale in South Korea this week before hitting shelves in Japan in April. The Optimus G Pro smartphone features a 5.5-inch screen that packs over 2 million pixels, or twice as many as smartphones with HD screens. The new Android-powered phone sports other upgrades including a camera that can shoot full HD videos and photographs. The South Korean company, Sony Corp, HTC Corp and

other phone manufacturers are trying to make high-resolution screens a key feature in their new smartphones this year. Full HD screens are more common in televisions but smartphone makers began to embrace them this year amid cutthroat competition. One in every two smartphones is made by Samsung Electronics Co or Apple Inc, creating a hardscrabble fight among the second-tier of makers. LG executives said their current goal is elevating the reputation of the Optimus brand after turning around

the company’s mobile communications business following years of losses. The Optimus G Pro is available at 968,000 won ($894) without in South Korea without a mobile carrier contract. The model will be on display at the annual mobile fair in Barcelona, Spain kicking off next week. Once the world’s No. 3 mobile phone maker, LG was the fifthlargest mobile phone maker by shipments in 2012 after Samsung, Nokia Corp., Apple and ZTE Corp., according to market research firm IDC. — AP

aspersky Lab, a leading developer of secure content management systems and threat management solutions, yesterday announced its participation at the IDC CIO Summit 2013 to be held at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai, UAE on the 18th and 19th of February. The 6th edition of the IDC CIO Summit held under the theme ‘Seize the Moment: Transform, Innovate, Collaborate’, will bring together the region’s top 100 CIOs to acquire distilled and compact insights into IT strategies, emerging technologies, and best practices that have direct implications on their businesses. The event will see Vladimir Zapolyansky, Deputy Director, Global Research & Analysis Team, Head of Technology Positioning, Kaspersky Lab, discuss the ‘Evolving Threat Landscape in the Middle East’ highlighting the importance of intelligent security solutions in the era of sophisticated malware and targeted attacks. During his presentation Zapolyansky will highlight the need for multi-level and proactive protection for corporate network security. “Lately, we seem to be hearing news of complex targeted attacks more often , and such names as Stuxnet, Duqu, Flame and Gauss are known to many people. On January 14, Kaspersky Lab announced the detection of one more cyber-threat. This time it’s not just a targeted attack but an extended network of cyber-spying against diplomatic and governmental structures, research institutes, industrial companies and military agencies of various countries,” said Zapolyansky. “The evolution of cyber criminals calls for a change in security policies and practices. Only a multi-layer and proactive approach to corporate security plus a centralized management system make possible preventing data losses and protecting the enterprises from all kind of modern threats,” he continued. Experts from Kaspersky Lab will also be available at the event to highlight the company’s latest corporate security solutions and help CIOs and IT security professionals proactively counter the surge in targeted attacks in the region.

Raising the shutters on the photo industry


he photo publishing and merchandise market is experiencing significant growth and change. InfoTrends anticipates that, with the rise in capture devices, photo sharing through social media, declining photo merchandise retail costs, and a growing interest in niche photo verticals, new photo applications and markets are creating growth opportunities now and in the foreseeable future. As barriers to enter the photo market fall, the lines between photography and printing are beginning to blur. For example, photographers now look at photo merchandise as a value-add service, while print services providers, armed with digital presses capable of photo-quality output, see the photo market as a new source of revenue. As a result, there are considerable opportunities for agile businesses that can think laterally. A key factor driving change in the industry is, of course, the advent and widespread adoption of digital cameras. Although digital technology resulted in a significant increase in photography it also reduced the number of images sent out for printing. In recent years this resulted in the closure of many large industrial photo laboratories, the impact of which has been huge, particularly for photo technology suppliers. Opportunity in this market has taken a different form. Today its focus is on the huge collections of photos that consumers have either stored on computer hard drives, or shared on ‘cloud-based’ specialist sites such as Flickr or social networking sites such as Facebook. Businesses that will succeed are those that can either find new ways to exploit these online mediums, or add value to consumers by providing a commercially viable offline product.

Photo lab skilled at staying one step ahead Austrian photo lab, Happy Foto, which has grown from a one-man outfit in the late 1970s to a market leader with about 70 employees today, knows something about industry changes. The company realised at its inception that to grow and secure a future in an ever-changing industry it would have to continually invest in new technology. In the early 1990s, for example, it recognised the explosion in digital cameras and quickly expanded its services. Later, in 2005, Happy Foto introduced a photo book service, which enabled customers to submit digital images online and have them turned into a personalised album. As demand grew, the lab developed its own in-house printing capability to offer the service on a larger scale. Today, Happy Foto is a market leader in photo development and photo book production in Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, with up to two million images processed into photos, photo books and fun products on peak days. Despite its success, Happy Foto continues to look to new technology to meet customer demand. It is working with Xerox for print and workflow solutions, installing printing presses capable of delivering colour consistency from system to system, so that the finished product always has the same look and feel regardless of increased production numbers. It also uses image processing technology from Creo which can handle very large data volumes by processing in parallel. Happy Foto’s dedication to technology has helped the lab reach half a million customers who place regular photo merchandise orders. Its online effort has grown from less than 1 per cent of its business to 90 per cent during the past 11 years. Businesses outside the photo industry are also discovering novel ways to tap into the con-

sumer’s ever-expanding online photo collections. For example, another Xerox customer, UK-based digital print and services specialist Irongate, worked with luxury chocolate maker Thorntons, to develop personalised chocolate boxes that customers can order online. Customers can add a personal photo on the box lid, create a greeting that will appear on the inside of the box, and select the box sleeve colour. Boxes with personalised lids now account for over 90 per cent of all Thorntons’ chocolate orders placed online. The market has also seen an increase in personalised greetings cards and calendars during the last few years. Recognizing the trend, large retailers, such as Boots

in the UK, offer these services in addition to traditional photo processing services. Although competition in these areas is quite fierce, there are many opportunities for businesses with the right technology and skills to break into the market. A key challenge when creating an online photo merchandising business is introducing short-run or one-off production workflows1, but many commercial printers already have this in place. In sharp contrast to a printing industry that is increasingly commoditised, the growing customer base, developing niche markets, and declining entrance costs of photo merchandising make this market an extremely attractive prospect.

Dan Smith, Head of Integrated Marketing for the Middle East and Africa region of Xerox’s Developing Markets Operations.


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

IVF does not increase cancer risk ROCKVILLE: Women getting fertility treatments can be reassured that in vitro fertilization (IVF) does not increase their risk of breast and gynecological cancers, according to a US study of Israeli women. “The findings were fairly reassuring. Nothing was significantly elevated,” said lead author Louise Brinton, chief of the Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch at the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland. Ovulation-stimulating drugs or puncturing of the ovaries to retrieve eggs can be part of IVF treatments, procedures that researchers have suspected may increase women’s risk of cancer. Indeed,

previous studies did link IVF early in life to heightened risks of breast cancer and borderline ovarian tumors. But other studies have found little connection between fertility treatments and cancer. The association has been difficult to untangle, experts say, in part because it’s hard to know whether unmeasured factors not realized to IVF may affect the risk of cancer in women who have trouble conceiving. In addition, so far there haven’t been a lot of women who developed cancer after fertility treatment included in studies. “We all want answers, but it’s a very difficult exposure to study, particularly

when we don’t have the numbers we would really like,” Brinton, whose results appeared in the journal Fertility & Sterility, told Reuters Health. She and her colleagues examined the medical records of 67,608 women who underwent IVF treatments between 1994 and 2011 and 19,795 women who sought treatment but never received IVF. The researchers linked those files to a national cancer registry and found 1,509 of them had been diagnosed with cancer through mid-2011. There was no difference in women’s chances of being diagnosed with breast or endometrial cancer based on whether

they were treated with IVF. The researchers did find that a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer slightly increased the more rounds of treatment she received, but that finding could have been due to chance. Brinton said her study was too small conclusively link IVF and ovarian cancer - and that it remained very rare, with 45 cases in the entire study. A similar association was found in a study headed by Bengt Kallen, director of the Tornblad Institute at Lund University, Sweden, who said that any increased ovarian cancer risk might be due to the dysfunctional ovaries themselves. “Infertile women have a primary prob-

lem with their ovaries and IVF has nothing to do with it,” Kallen told Reuters Health. “It’s a rather difficult thing to disentangle if there is an effect from the hormones or from the IVF procedure.” Others warned of biases that may make the results of studies like this difficult to interpret, nothing that women undergoing IVF are watched very closely, which would likely increase the chance that ovarian cancers are detected. “You have to be extraordinarily cautious about this kind of a study,” said Sherman Silber of the Infertility Center of St. Louis. “If anything. It’s reassuring. One doesn’t see any real increase in cancer.” —Reuters

Menu labels influence how much diners eat Caloric intake reduced ILLINOIS: Showing diners how many calories are in restaurant food items through symbols such as traffic lights coloured green, red and yellow depending on calorie count may influence how much they eat, according to a US study. That’s especially true among the least health-conscious people, said lead author Brenna Ellison, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “To reach a broader group of diners, a symbolic calorie label may be preferred as it reduced caloric intake across all levels of health consciousness,” she and her colleagues wrote in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. Previous studies have found that people tend to eat less when they are told how many calories are in their food, but scientists had not looked at how that breaks down across different types of diners. For the latest study, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, researchers randomized patrons at a restaurant on the Oklahoma State

University campus to use one of three menus during a two-week period in late 2010. One group of diners received standard menus without calorie information, another group got menus showing each item’s calorie count and the last group got a menu featuring traffic light symbols representing calorie counts. A green light was printed next to foods with fewer than 400 calories, yellow lights next to foods with between 401 and 800 calories, and red lights next to foods with over 800 calories. By the end of the meal, diners ordering off the standard menu ate - on average - 817 calories. That compared to the 765 calories people ate when they ordered off the menu with printed calorie counts and the 696 calories they ate when ordering from the traffic light menu. Although that is only a difference of 52 calories and 121 calories between the standard and experimental menus, the study’s lead author said that can add up over time. Depending on the person, cutting 121 calories per day would lead to about a 554-gram (one pound) weight

loss over a month. “It could be substantial if that reduction persists every time you went out to eat,” Ellison said, though a one-time reduction would likely not have much impact. Based on customer surveys, Ellison and her colleagues from the University of Oklahoma found that the least health-conscious people seemed to cut the most calories in response to the experimental menus. Those people are “precisely the people that menu labeling laws are often trying to influence,” they wrote. Regardless of how health-conscious people were, the traffic light menu seemed to have the strongest influence. “It’s encouraging because the information may help the people who will need it the most,” said Lorien Urban, who has researched menu labeling at the Jean Mar USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Boston’s Tufts University. “I think it’s in line with what we’ve seen that interpretive information is helpful,” added Urban, who was not part of the study. —Reuters

How to get more Omega-3s in your diet NEW YORK: There’s a super-important nutrient that, chances are, you’re not getting enough of: omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a nutrient powerhouse, shown to improve heart health and mood. There are two kinds of omega-3s, in particular, that are important for overall health: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). “They are longer than other omega-3s (like alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA), so they make your cell membranes more fluid, which helps brain, eye and nerve cells function better,” says Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., a spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists. Yet most Americans only get 100 mg a day of DHA/EPA, far short of the recommended 250 mg. All sorts of foods have been boasting omega-3s lately, from orange juice to bread. Amy Paturel, M.S., M.P.H., reported for EatingWell magazine on how to get more of these healthy fats in your diet. She found there are three main ways you can get DHA/EPA in your diet: 1) eating foods with naturally occurring DHA/EPA, 2) eating foods fortified with DHA/EPA or 3) taking a supplement.

NEW DELHI: Indian schoolchildren perform morning yoga sun salutations (Surya Namaskar) at Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi yesterday. Surya Namaskar programmes were organised yesterday across the country on the occasion of Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary. —AFP

Here’s how much you get from various food sources: NATURAL 1. Wild cold-water fish make DHA/EPA from the algae they eat. Per 4-oz.serving you get 2,085 mg from salmon, 1,110 mg from sardines and 305 mg from light tuna. 2. Seaweed (nori) and kelp (wakame, kombu or dulse) are both algae, which produce some DHA/EPA. In a 1-oz. serving, you get 4134 mg. FORTIFIED 1. Eggs: Chickens turn some of the omega-3s from flaxseed in their feed into DHA/EPA. 1 large egg can contain 30 to150 mg omega-3s (some of which is DHA/EPA). 2. Milk: Some brands of milk add fish oil or algal oil to give a DHA/EPA boost (don’t worry, you can’t taste it!). 1 cup of fortified milk delivers 30 to 50 mg of DHA/EPA. 3. Peanut butter: Like milk, some brands are adding fish oil. A 2tablespoon serving provides 32 mg DHA/EPA. BOTTOM LINE Cold-water fish is the best source of Omega-3s. “Nature packages nutrients like DHA/EPA with other substances like fat that facilitate absorption and effectiveness,” says Shelke. Fortified foods or a supplement can help up your intake. —MCT

MOSCOW: A handout photo taken yesterday, and provided by Urals Federal University shows a scientist working with pieces of porous black rock, reportedly fragments of the meteor that spectacularly plunged over Russia’s Ural Mountains, at the university’s lab in Yekaterinburg. —AFP

Meteor fragments discovered in Russia MOSCOW: Scientists said yesterday they had discovered fragments of the meteor that spectacularly plunged over Russia’s Ural Mountains creating a shockwave that injured 1,200 people and damaged thousands of homes. The giant piece of space rock streaked over the city of Chelyabinsk in central Russia on Friday with the force of 30 of the nuclear bombs dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II. It exploded a few dozen miles (kilometres) above Earth but its pieces were widely believed to have scattered over large swathes of the industrial region. Recovery workers scouring a small lake where at least some of the fragments were believed to have fallen were unable to discover anything in their initial search. But members of the Russian Academy of Sciences that conducted chemical tests on some unusual rocks on Sunday said the pieces had come from outer space. “We confirm that the particles of a substance found by our expedition near Lake Chebarkul really do have the composition of a meteorite,” RIA Novsosti quoted Russian Academy of Sciences member Viktor Grokhovsky as saying late Sunday. Grokhovsky’s Urals Federal University separately posted a statement on its website on Monday that featured a photograph of a person holding a tiny piece of porous black rock between his index finger and thumb. “This meteorite belongs to the class of regular chondrites,” the university statement said. Grokhovsky said the rock in question was composed in part of metallic iron as well as chrysolite and sulfite. Its iron content was estimated at 10 percent. “Most likely, (the find) will be called Meteorite Chebarkul,” the Russian university said. The meteor’s shockwave blew out

the windows of nearly 5,000 buildings and left 40 people-including three childrenrecovering in hospital Sunday with cuts and more serious injuries. About 24,000 emergency workers and volunteers were busy replacing smashed windows over the weekend in time for the resumption of school and work. But the elusive meteorites-meteor fragments that have hit Earth-have generated interest as well. Russian space debris hunters have posted ads on websites offering as much as 300,000 rubles ($10,000) for an authentic piece of the latest space rock to hit the planet. Chelyabinsk authorities responded by cordoning off the area around the lake and not allowing any media or independent researchers hunting for meteorites near the hole that developed in its thick sheet of ice. Grokhovsky said the tiny rock’s find and 50 others like it came in the snow not far away from the lake. He also expressed confidence that a much larger meteorite was buried in its waters despite claims from the authorities that it was empty. The lake “is still cordoned off, but it is quite clear that a meteorite is buried there,” the scientist said. “Since we found the fragmentstraces of the upper layers of the meteoritethat means that its main mass is resting in the lake,” he told the Interfax news agency on Monday. Grokhovsky added that his research team had not been commissioned by the Russian government but was acting on its own because the event was so rare and required immediate inspection. “We decided to do this on our own,” he told Interfax. “As a member of the (Russian Academy of Sciences) committee, I simply could not stand idly by. So I decided to send our guys there.” —AFP

How to get to sleep fast

New approach to fighting heart disease HARVARD: Doctors try reducing inflammation to cut heart-attack risk. The best protection against heart attack and stroke is to target certain risk factors with drugs and lifestyle changes. By quitting smoking, controlling high blood pressure, lowering high blood cholesterol and high blood sugar levels, and losing extra pounds, many people can substantially reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis, a disease that can block arteries and lead to a heart attack or stroke. But these interventions aren’t always enough to prevent heart attacks and strokes. That’s why researchers are targeting inflammation, an injuryfighting process that contributes to atherosclerosis. This year, two clinical trials will test whether reducing inflammation adds any additional protection against heart attack and stroke. “We believe that this concept has enormous potential as a new method to reduce the burden of heart attack and stroke,” says Dr. Paul Ridker, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Ridker will serve as principal investigator of both clinical trials. Cigarette smoke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease are known to irritate and damage the cells that line our arteries. The body is often able to repair this damage. But when the irritation continues for many years, the arteries remain inflamed, and a long-term inflammatory process sets in. Harmful LDL cholesterol is attracted to the injury, where it accumulates and grows into deposits called plaques. Plaques can become large enough to restrict blood flow through a coronary artery. They can also rupture,

causing a heart attack or stroke. The first clinical trial evidence that treating inflammation might lower this risk came in the late 1980s, when the Harvard-based Physicians Health Study demonstrated that daily aspirin could prevent first heart attacks in men. In addition to preventing platelets from clumping and forming clots, aspirin reduces inflammation. In the late 1990s, Dr. Ridker and colleagues analyzed data from that clinical trial and found that men with higher levels of inflammation had three times the risk of heart attack and twice the risk of stroke than men with little or no chronic inflammation. Those with the most inflammation benefited the most from aspirin-leading the researchers to wonder whether using more powerful anti-inflammatory drugs would achieve even better results. Today, inflammation is measured with a high-sensitivity Creactive protein (hsCRP) test. A level higher than 3 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) denotes an increased risk for future heart attack and stroke. It is thought that long-lasting inflammation in the coronary arteries contributes to the development of heart disease. Harvard researchers are heading two clinical trials designed to determine whether reducing inflammation with powerful drugs can help protect against heart disease. All eyes on these trials The trials Dr Ridker will spearhead are designed to help determine whether reducing or eliminating inflammation can protect people with heart disease against heart attack and stroke. The Cardiovascular Inflammation Reduction Trial,

funded by the National Institutes of Health, will investigate the impact of the anti-inflammatory drug methotrexate (Trexall, Rheumatrex) on 7,000 adults with diabetes or prediabetes who have already suffered a heart attack. The best available treatments often fail in these individuals, who are at very high risk for a second heart attack or stroke. Methotrexate was chosen, in part, because people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who take methotrexate tend to have fewer heart attacks and strokes than their peers. The dose of methotrexate to be used in the trial is similar to the low dose commonly used to control RA. Methotrexate has also been shown to slow the progression of atherosclerosis, at least in animal models. The second clinical trial, funded by the pharmaceutical company Novartis, will test the company’s antiinflammatory drug canakinumab (Ilaris) in 17,000 people with stable coronary artery disease and high levels of inflammation. Canakinumab is an antibody that is given as an injection every three months. If the trial is successful, canakinumab may be used as a “vaccination” against heart disease. Both drugs target inflammation, and have little or no effect on other cardiovascular risk factors. With heart attack being the No. 1 killer in the United States, and stroke holding steady in fourth place, doctors are excited about the possibility of using this new approach to lower the risk of these often-deadly events. “Whether or not reducing inflammation can benefit our patients is a crucial question to answer. If these trials produce good results, they have the potential to dramatically reshape how we think about and treat heart disease,” says Dr. Ridker. —MCT

TAKE A BUBBLE BATH: The hot water relaxes your muscles and raises your core temperature. When you get out of the tub, you temperature will start to go down, mimicking what your body normally does to trigger melatonin production, says sleep expert Michael Breus, Ph.D. Why bubbles? “They form a layer of insulation on top, which keeps the water hot longer.” POUR YOURSELF A BOWL: The classic sleep Rx of cornflakes and milk has scientific-backing. The fast-acting carb in the cereal increases tryptophan levels, upping the zzz-inducing brain chemical serotonin. Milk contains melatonin, a.k.a. the sleep hormone.

twice a day. Make sure it’s Montmorency cherry-that has six times the melatonin of Balaton tart cherry. TRY RELAXATION TECHNIQUES: The simplest: Climb into bed, turn off the lights, and take a deep breath to a count of four until you feel relaxed. GOBBLE UP PUMPKIN SEEDS: In addition to tryptophan, pumpkin seeds contain zinc which helps convert tryptophan to slumber-inducing serotonin. For an even bigger boost of these chemicals, mix in carb-rich dried fruit-apples, apricots, or blueberries.

TURN DOWN THE THERMOSTAT: It’s more comfortable to sleep in a cool room. But you don’t want it to be too cold, either. Experiment to find your justright temp.

GET OUT OF BED: In one study of 79 insomniacs, this one directive was enough to help two-thirds of the participants start to sleep well again within a month. It seems counterintuitive, but spending less time in bed may jumpstart your sleep drive.

CHANGE UP YOUR NIGHTCAP: Too much alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns but tart cherry juice is practically a melatonin cocktail. To score the benefits, drink a mixture of 2 Tbsp. of tart cherry juice concentrate and 8 oz. of water

CARB UP: You don’t have to wait until bedtime for your sleepy snack. Having carbs like white rice, pasta or white potatoes at dinner as a side is another way to increase levels of tryptophan, and thus serotonin and melatonin.


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

Senegal women told ‘all black’ is beautiful and healthy DAKAR: Outraged by adverts urging women to bleach their skin, a spontaneous movement has emerged in Senegal arguing that black is beautifuland to act otherwise is to risk one’s health. The campaign sprang up in response to advertisements that appeared in the capital Dakar last year for a cosmetic cream called “Khess Petch”, or “all white” in the local Wolof language. The posters promised “rapid action” and “results in 15 days”. They showed before and after pictures of a young woman who started out black and ended up with fair skin through depigmentation, locally known as “kheessal” or

bleaching. “We were scandalised (by a poster) suggesting that black is not beautiful because it recommends that young women should transform themselves in a fortnight,” said Aisha Deme, who runs the cultural website “In a spontaneous response, we wanted to elevate the black woman and we launched “Nuul Kukk”, which means “all black”, the young woman added, a flower pinned in her mass of frizzy hair. So the campaigners put up their own posters in the Senegalese capital, this time showing a proud black woman. The work was done for free by fashion photographer Stephane Tourne and adver-

tising professionals. The Nuul Kukk campaign, which is highly active online and has its own website, Twitter feed and Facebook page, features local stars, including the rapper Keyti, the stylist Dior Lo and women’s rights activist Kine Fatim Diop. The campaign is also backed by dermatologist Fatimata Ly, who has been fighting the “kheessal” practice for 10 years as part of the International Association for Information on Artificial Depigmentation. For Ly, skin-bleaching is a public health concern because “in the general population, 67 in every 100 women practice artificial depigmentation.”

These products reduce the body’s ability to “defend itself against (various) infections”, and they also “have broader effects on health, such as diabetes and high blood pressure,” she added. The skin-lightening phenomenon exists in several sub-Saharan African countries and in the black diaspora. In Senegal, “it is mainly a feminine practice, even if you find it among men in some particular groups, such as performers,” Ly said. Whitening creams, milks and gels contain substances initially intended for therapeutic purposes, such as corticosteroids and hydroquinone, and should only be prescribed by doctors, according to Ly. “Unfortunately, you can find them

all across the Senegalese market. They are products that are very accessible,” she said. At between one euro ($1.3) and 1.5 euros ($2) per product-five or six times cheaper than in a chemist’s shopthey are also affordable, Ly said as she showed pictures on her computer of the damage caused by bleaching products, ranging from swollen legs, bruises and open wounds to blemished skin and burns. Women are nonetheless drawn to the products because they believe they will make them more beautiful, according to researchers and doctors, and Deme says it’s an uphill battle to convince women otherwise. —AFP


W H AT ’ S O N



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

Announcements ECC organizes Omra trip for Egyptians ecretary general of the Egyptian Community Council (ECC), Dr Azmi Abdul Fattah congratulated all Egyptians on the second anniversary of the January 25 revolution urging everybody to consolidate and unite for the best of Egypt as a whole. On this occasion, Abdul Fattah announced that the council would organize its annual Omra trip pointing out that it would last eight days in the period of February 21 till 28.


Hotel Missoni Kuwait has free Wi-Fi access in hotel limousines


otel Missoni Kuwait offers travelers a new level of service: free Wi-Fi access in limousines so that guests can access the internet using their mobile devices from our hotel chauffeured cars. “Being a hightech hotel, extending free Wi-Fi service to the limousines

was a natural step to take. Whether guests are in the Maserati or in the Mercedes Benz, getting connected to the world is becoming easy,” said Alfio Bernardini, General Manager. Hotel Missoni Kuwait is combining the unique style of the iconic Italian fashion and interiors house.

Designed to give guests a true taste of the Missoni way of life, Hotel Missoni quickly established itself as one of Kuwait’s leading hotels. The Hotel is located in Salmiya, Arabian Gulf Road and is part of the Symphony Complex, an adjacent luxury boutique shopping mall.

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.


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.

Kuwait Airways hosts open day The Kuwait Airways held an open day for staff members and their families at the company’fs spring camp recently, which featured competitions and various other entertaining activities.

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!


Premier Goal Academy hosts workshop

Aware diwaniya


he AWARE Center cordially invites you to its diwaniya presentation entitled, “History Of Kuwait’s Democracy,” by Albara Alwohaib on Tuesday February 19, 2013 at 7:00pm. February is the time of national holidays in Kuwait. This year also, Kuwait will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its parliament. But the country had been going throw some political crisis. So how did that happen? What are the roots of those crises. Albara Alwuhaib is going to answer these questions and many more in the next Diwanya. Albara Alwuhaib is an engineer, who works for the ministry of interior & was sent to work as an assistant manager to the Kuwait Memorial Museum. He is also doing volunteer work to a number of non profit organizations including the Aware Center, Kuwaiti Human Rights foundations, and Kuwait Transparency Society. He is also a founder of a book club, which is part of Aljalees project. In June 2012, he gave a presentation entitled, “The Kuwaiti Resistance,” to the American Army at Camp Arifjan.

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


he Premier Goal Academy organized a visit to Kuwait by Senior International Academy coaches from Glasgow Celtic FC, under the patronage of the Minister of Education, Dr Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf and the British Ambassador Frank Baker. The Celtic Coaches, Mark Tobin, Graeme Colmer and Michael McIlroy delivered a two day Coach Education Workshop in Bayan focusing on the development and coaching of young players. Over 60 enthusiastic coaches attended the program, representing the Kuwait Football Federation, Kuwait Clubs, Ministry of Education Supervisors and Sports Teachers, Kuwait

Referees Association, Embassy staff and Coaches from Academies, Private Schools and Universities. The workshop covered current coaching methodologies and provided opportunities for the coaches to participate in practical drills, giving an insight into the expectations and technical skills required in the modern game. Glasgow Celtic FC are the current Scottish Premier League Champions and League leaders, in addition to having qualified for the European Champions League knock out stages, and have established the Celtic Way methods which have proved to be most successful in

developing young players up to Champions League standards. The visit has been sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Porsche Centre Kuwait, Behbehani Motors Company, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Go Sport, Wrigleys Extra and Aquafina. Coaches from the Premier Goal Academy will be integrating the Celtic Way methods highlighted during the visit during the next Coaching Course Program commencing March 8, at Bayan Block 7, next to Abdullah Al-Rujaib High School. The courses are suitable for boys and girls aged 3 to 18 plus years of age.

Dutch Ambassador addresses AUK audience


he Ambassador of The Netherlands Nicholaas Beets addressed an assembly of AUK students and faculty in a lecture held last week at AUK about freedom of expressionin the Netherlands. The event was organized by the International Relations Department. In his speech, Ambassador Nicolaas Beets spoke about the origins of Dutch freedoms and the limits of freedom of speech. As a staunch defender and advocate of free speech, the Netherlands has a long tradition of supporting political and religious freedom that dates back to the 18th century.

Over the last decade, however, public upheaval erupted in the Netherlands in response to the assassination of Dutch filmmaker Theodoor Van Gogh for his contentious film about Islamic culture, in 2004. The filmmaker had also sparked reaction in the Muslim world which prompted calls for government repression of Islam in The Netherlands. The incident posed a challenge and a limit to the freedom of expression in The Netherlands. The centerpiece of the lecture placed emphasis on a call for tolerance and stressed the importance of freedom of expression. To conclude the talk, the Ambassador cited the 18th

century French philosopher, Voltaire, who said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Ambassador Beets entered the Netherlands Foreign Service in 1979 and has worked as a junior diplomat at the Netherlands Embassies in Paramaribo, Jakarta, Khartoum, and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague. Between 2004 and 2008, he served as Netherlands’ Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Last year, he was appointed as the Netherlands’ Ambassador to the State of Kuwait and the Kingdom of Bahrain. Ambassador Beets is currently living in Kuwait.


W H AT ’ S O N

Embassy Information

Messilah Beach Hotel revived to become Kuwait’s idyllic resort


lmost 40 years ago, the Messilah Beach Hotel opened in Kuwait and quickly became the favourite destination for both locals and visitors alike. The hotel served its clients for decades and created many unforgettable memories. Situated in the same idyllic location, the spirit of the old Messilah Beach Hotel is about to be revived and memories awakened with the opening of the Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa this spring. Jumeirah Group’s first property in the Gulf region outside the United Arab Emirates features many aspects of Arabic architecture in a contemporary setting. Traditional oriel windows of Mashrabiya designs are a characteristic throughout the resort and respect Kuwait’s rich heritage.

Messilah is inspired by its location and its name derived from the old Kuwaiti word, Massiyalah, where rain water gathers and flows into the sea. Water is a recurring feature throughout this beachfront resort with streams, channels, fountains, pools and many other water features. This theme is also reflected in the prestigious Talise spa which means ‘beautiful waters’ in a Native American language. Mark Griffiths, General Manager of the hotel said: “Kuwait’s new landmark will bring with it an exciting set of new experiences interlaced with heritage and history. Jumeirah Group’s extensive international experience coupled with the highest standards of service will reward the guests of Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa with exhilarating experiences unrivalled in Kuwait when it

opens later this Spring.” The Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa is part of Jumeirah Group, the Dubai-based luxury hospitality company. Regarded as one of the most luxurious and innovative hotel chains in the world, with numerous international awards, Jumeirah Group will offer Kuwait a one-of-akind experience that combines its professionalism with Messilah’s existing extensive history to help create memories. “Living up to the Jumeirah promise of Stay Different, we are keen on delivering the best of everything from dining to leisure and relaxation. We look forward to opening our doors soon and welcoming our first guests,” added Griffiths.

KromOzone participates in Kuwait Riders Bike Show


n a new initiative that reaches out to the youth who are captivated by the world of cars, motorbikes and vehicle accessories, KromOzone from Yusuf Ahmed Alghanim & Sons participated in the 2013 Kuwait Riders Bike Show which was held at the Safir International Hotel from February 13-16, 2013 where a large number of motorbikes were surrounded by their proud owners and curious attendees of this event. In an effort to add more excitement to the much-awaited event, KromOzone organized a competition through social media channels where participants were encouraged to upload pictures of the most alluring motorbikes at the event. The fun-filled competition received a positive response as many participants especially those who were genuinely interested in accessorized vehicles - took photographs of the displayed motorbikes before uploading them on KromOzone’s Instagram account. KromOzone showcased its talents and skills by including a 2013 Silverado that was accessorized from the inside out. A

beloved choice amongst the youth in Kuwait, the high-powered truck proves to be the ultimate answer for any terrain be

it for rough rides in the desert, leisurely outings or a convenient tool for moving large objects. Available in two and four-

wheel drive configurations, the 2013 Silverado is powered by a 4.8 liter engine that generates 335 hp, 5.3-liter engine that generates 365 hp and 6.0-liter engine that generates 403 hp. The 2013 Silverado comes in regular, extended or crew cab versions. KromOzone is one of the largest and most famous centers in Kuwait that is specialized in accessorizing all car makes. The center offers customers a wide range of accessorizing options including rims, door accessories, headlights, sound systems, bumpers and grills, body paint and much more high quality, innovative accessorizing options for cars’ interior and exterior. Due to its excellent service and products, KromOzone is considered as the ideal location for all car lovers who seek to add a personal touch to their drive especially since the center provides solutions for all car makes including European, Japanese and Korean vehicles. In addition to its variety of accessorizing options, KromOzone also has a special department that provides customers with a warranty on all its services and products.

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. ■■■■■■■

EMBASSY OF CANADA The Embassy of 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, UAE 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. ■■■■■■■

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: ■■■■■■■

BAIA stages ‘We Will Rock You’

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, ■■■■■■■


e Will Rock You’ and the BAIA cast certainly delivered on their promise. They performed at ‘The Shakespeare Theatre BSK over three days and the audience was treated to a ‘west-end’ quality production that had them laughing, clapping, stomping their feet and joining in with famous Queen numbers. The cast, aged between 7 years to the more mature adults, certainly worked hard to impress. From the opening ‘Radio GaGa’ to ‘We are the Champions’, this talented cast never let up on pace and sheer enthusiasm. The leads of Galileo and Scaramouche were played superbly by Elia Al-Haddad and Leyla Yilmaz; two promising young actors who certainly held the audience’s

attention with their feisty chemistry and wonderful voices especially in ‘Under Pressure’ and ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’. It was certainly a joy to see newcomers on the BAIA stage and they certainly made their mark. Kimberly Lewis was outstanding as Killer Queen and gave a rich performance layered with humour and belted out fantastic numbers such as ‘Play The Game’ and ‘Another One Bites The Dust’. Meaghan Devlin and Stephen Grimes also newcomers to BAIA, though not Kuwait performances, gave the audience an opportunity to join in with I Want It All and brought even more energy to an already fast paced first act leaving the audience a chance to get their breath

back during the interval. Yousef AlMunzari was totally mesmerising as the aging ‘hippy’ Pop and his ‘Days of Our Lives’ was beautifully sung with just the right amount of feeling and sensitivity. His natural comic timing was a joy to see and his telling of the story had the audience hanging on his every word. The audience even applauded his mode of transport as a Harley Davidson was ridden on stage by its owner Ed Abou Sada who certainly enjoyed the experience. Lastly, a special mention must be made to a stalwart of BAIA Jake AlDhooki. This was to be his last performance after many years of performing with BAIA and he certainly left his mark with an outstanding performance play-

ing Khashoggi. Jake yet again managed to bring to the stage a mixture of menace, comic timing, dance and singing. His rendition of ‘The Seven Seas of Rye’ will be warmly remembered for the sheer energy and vocal range he gave this number. There has never been a more likeable character to tread the boards at BAIA and he will be sorely missed by everyone. All at BAIA, and all who have seen Jake perform, will want to wish him all the very best for the future. All that remains is to thank the whole cast for a memorable night’s entertainment. You certainly are ‘Champions’ and finishing off with the classic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ left us wanting more. Just as it should be!

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

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



00:50 Animal Cops South Africa 01:45 Human Prey 02:35 I’m Alive 03:25 Wildest Africa 04:15 Ned Bruha: Skunk Whisperer 04:40 Ned Bruha: Skunk Whisperer 05:05 My Cat From Hell 05:55 Call Of The Wildman 06:20 Escape To Chimp Eden 06:45 Vet On The Loose 07:10 Vet On The Loose 07:35 Wildlife SOS 08:00 The Really Wild Show 08:25 Too Cute! 09:15 Dogs 101 10:10 Crocodile Hunter 11:05 Wildest Africa 12:00 Animal Cops Phoenix 12:55 Call Of The Wildman 13:20 Wildlife SOS 13:50 Shamwari: A Wild Life 14:15 Shamwari: A Wild Life 14:45 Animal Precinct 15:40 Wildest Africa 16:30 Escape To Chimp Eden 17:00 The Really Wild Show 17:30 Dogs 101 18:25 Animal Airport 18:50 Animal Airport 19:20 My Cat From Hell 20:15 Bondi Vet 20:40 Safari Vet School 21:10 Call Of The Wildman 21:35 Escape To Chimp Eden 22:05 Wildest Arctic 23:00 Wildlife SOS 23:55 Venom Hunter With Donald Schultz

00:00 Homes Under The Hammer 00:50 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Specials 02:10 Come Dine With Me: South Africa 03:05 Gok’s Clothes Roadshow 03:55 Ty’s Great British Adventure 04:20 Ty’s Great British Adventure 04:45 Bargain Hunt 05:30 Living In The Sun 06:20 House Swap 07:05 Perfect Day 07:30 Indian Food Made Easy 08:00 Homes Under The Hammer 08:50 Bargain Hunt 09:35 Bargain Hunt: Famous Finds 10:20 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Specials 11:40 MasterChef 12:30 Come Dine With Me: South Africa 13:25 The Hairy Bikers USA 13:50 New Scandinavian Cooking 14:20 Holmes On Homes 15:10 Bargain Hunt 15:55 Bargain Hunt: Famous Finds 16:40 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Specials 18:00 Homes Under The Hammer 18:50 The Hairy Bikers USA 19:15 Baking Made Easy 19:45 Rhodes Across The Caribbean 20:30 Come Dine With Me 21:20 Perfect Day 21:45 Celebrity Fantasy Homes 22:30 Bargain Hunt: Famous Finds 23:15 Bargain Hunt

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Newsday Asia Business Report Sport Today BBC World News Asia Business Report Sport Today BBC World News Asia Business Report Sport Today BBC World News Hardtalk BBC World News World Business Report BBC World News BBC World News

05:30 World Business Report 05:45 BBC World News 06:00 BBC World News 06:30 World Business Report 06:45 BBC World News 07:00 BBC World News 07:30 World Business Report 07:45 BBC World News 08:00 BBC World News 08:30 Hardtalk 09:00 BBC World News 09:30 World Business Report 09:45 Sport Today 10:00 BBC World News 10:30 BBC World News 11:00 GMT With George Alagiah 11:30 GMT With George Alagiah 12:00 Impact With Mishal Husain 12:30 Impact With Mishal Husain 13:00 Impact With Mishal Husain 13:30 Hardtalk 14:00 BBC World News 14:30 BBC World News 15:00 BBC World News 15:30 World Business Report 15:45 Sport Today 16:00 BBC World News 16:30 BBC Focus On Africa 17:00 BBC World News 17:30 World Business Report 17:45 Sport Today 18:00 World News Today With Zeinab Badawi 18:30 World News Today With Zeinab Badawi 19:00 World News Today With Zeinab Badawi 19:30 World Business Report 19:45 Sport Today 20:00 Business Edition With Tanya Beckett 20:30 Hardtalk 21:00 BBC World News America 21:30 BBC World News America 22:00 Newsday 22:30 Asia Business Report 22:45 Sport Today 23:00 Newsday 23:30 Asia Business Report 23:45 Sport Today

00:05 Taz-Mania 00:30 Pink Panther And Pals 00:55 Moomins 01:20 Tom & Jerry Kids 01:45 A Pup Named Scooby-Doo 02:10 Puppy In My Pocket 02:35 Wacky Races 03:00 Looney Tunes 03:25 Duck Dodgers 03:50 Dastardly And Muttley 04:00 Dexter’s Laboratory 04:30 Wacky Races 04:55 Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries 05:20 Tom & Jerry 05:45 The Garfield Show 06:00 Bananas In Pyjamas 06:25 Gerald McBoing Boing 06:45 Jelly Jamm 07:00 Ha Ha Hairies 07:25 Baby Looney Tunes 07:50 Lazy Town 08:15 Krypto The Superdog 08:40 Jelly Jamm 09:05 Gerald McBoing Boing 09:30 Cartoonito Tales 09:55 Bananas In Pyjamas 10:20 Ha Ha Hairies 10:45 Lazy Town 11:10 Krypto The Superdog 11:35 Baby Looney Tunes 12:00 Jelly Jamm 12:25 Gerald McBoing Boing 12:50 Cartoonito Tales 13:15 Krypto The Superdog 13:40 Lazy Town 14:00 A Pup Named Scooby-Doo 14:25 Tom And Jerry Tales 14:50 Sylvester And Tweety Mysteries 15:20 Johnny Bravo 15:45 Tom & Jerry 16:10 Pink Panther And Pals 16:35 The Garfield Show 17:00 What’s New Scooby-Doo? 17:25 Sylvester And Tweety Mysteries 17:50 Tom And Jerry Tales 18:15 The Looney Tunes Show

18:40 Taz-Mania 19:05 Moomins 19:30 Daffy Duck’s Movie: Fantastic... 20:45 Moomins 21:10 Dexters Laboratory 21:20 Johnny Bravo 21:35 Puppy In My Pocket 22:00 The Garfield Show 22:25 What’s New Scooby-Doo? 22:50 Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries 23:15 Tom & Jerry Tales 23:40 The Looney Tunes Show

00:40 Chowder 01:30 Bakugan Battle Brawlers 01:55 Bakugan Battle Brawlers 02:20 Foster’s Home For... 02:45 Foster’s Home For... 03:10 Courage The Cowardly Dog 04:00 The Amazing World Of Gumball 04:25 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 04:50 Adventure Time 05:15 The Powerpuff Girls 05:40 Generator Rex 06:05 Ben 10 06:30 Ben 10 06:55 Angelo Rules 07:00 Casper’s Scare School 07:30 Casper’s Scare School 08:00 Mucha Lucha 08:25 Johnny Test 08:45 Adventure Time 09:05 Total Drama World Tour 09:30 Total Drama World Tour 09:55 Ben 10: Omniverse 10:20 Young Justice 10:45 Thundercats 11:10 Regular Show 12:00 The Amazing World Of Gumball 12:50 Foster’s Home For... 13:15 Foster’s Home For... 13:40 Courage The Cowardly Dog 14:30 Powerpuff Girls 15:20 Angelo Rules 16:10 Batman: The Brave And The Bold 16:35 Young Justice 17:00 Ben 10: Omniverse 17:20 Transformers Prime 17:40 Johnny Test 18:00 Level Up 18:25 The Amazing World Of Gumball 18:50 Adventure Time 19:15 Regular Show 19:40 Mucha Lucha 20:05 Total Drama World Tour 20:30 Total Drama World Tour 20:55 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 21:20 Hero 108 21:45 Bakugan: Mechtanium Surge 22:10 Grim Adventures Of... 23:00 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 23:25 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 23:50 The Powerpuff Girls

00:00 Connect The World With Becky Anderson 01:00 Amanpour 01:30 World Sport 02:00 Piers Morgan Tonight 03:00 World Report 03:30 World Sport 04:00 Anderson Cooper 360 05:00 Piers Morgan Tonight 06:00 Quest Means Business 07:00 The Situation Room 08:00 World Sport 08:30 African Voices 09:00 World Report 10:00 World Report 11:00 World Sport 11:30 Talk Asia 12:00 World Business Today 13:00 Amanpour 13:30 News Special 14:00 World One 15:00 Piers Morgan Tonight 16:00 News Stream 17:00 World Business Today 18:00 International Desk


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Global Exchange World Sport News Special International Desk Quest Means Business Amanpour CNN Newscenter

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Gold Rush Gold Divers Around The World In 80 Ways Mythbusters Dirty Dozen Border Security Auction Kings Auction Kings How Do They Do It? How It’s Made American Guns Mythbusters Dirty Dozen Life On A Wire Outback Truckers Border Security Auction Kings Auction Kings How Do They Do It? How It’s Made Gold Rush Gold Divers Around The World In 80 Ways Border Security Auction Kings Auction Kings Fine Dining With Bear Grylls Outback Truckers Mythbusters American Guns How Do They Do It? How It’s Made Auction Kings Auction Hunters Flying Wild Alaska Man, Woman, Wild Finding Bigfoot

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Prototype This The Gadget Show The Gadget Show Squid Invasion Sci-Fi Science Mighty Ships Weird Or What? Mega Builders Sport Science Meteorite Men Mighty Ships Engineered Junkyard Wars Sport Science The Gadget Show The Gadget Show Meteorite Men Engineered Prototype This Sci-Fi Science Mighty Ships Squid Invasion The Gadget Show The Gadget Show Sport Science Mega Builders Meteorite Men Da Vinci’s Machines Investigation X The Gadget Show The Gadget Show Da Vinci’s Machines Investigation X

00:10 Hannah Montana 00:35 Brandy & Mr Whiskers 01:00 Brandy & Mr Whiskers 01:25 Replacements 01:50 Replacements 02:15 Emperor’s New School 02:40 Emperor’s New School 03:05 Brandy & Mr Whiskers 03:30 Brandy & Mr Whiskers 03:55 Replacements 04:20 Replacements 04:45 Emperor’s New School 05:10 Emperor’s New School 05:35 Brandy & Mr Whiskers 06:00 Phineas And Ferb 06:15 Suite Life On Deck 06:40 My Babysitter’s A Vampire 07:05 A.N.T. Farm 07:30 Phineas And Ferb 07:40 Phineas And Ferb 07:55 Jessie 08:20 Good Luck Charlie 08:45 Doc McStuffins 09:00 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 09:25 Jake & The Neverland Pirates 09:35 Winnie The Pooh: Tales Of Friendship 09:45 Mouk 10:00 Jonas 10:25 So Random 10:50 Hannah Montana 11:15 Sonny With A Chance 11:40 Kim Possible 12:05 Shake It Up 12:30 Wizards Of Waverly Place 12:55 Phineas And Ferb 13:20 Austin And Ally 13:45 Art Attack 14:10 A.N.T. Farm 14:35 Suite Life On Deck 15:00 My Babysitter’s A Vampire 15:25 Shake It Up 15:50 Austin And Ally 16:15 Jessie 16:40 A.N.T. Farm 17:00 Good Luck Charlie 17:30 Gravity Falls 17:55 Suite Life On Deck 18:20 Austin And Ally 18:45 Phineas And Ferb 18:55 Phineas And Ferb 19:10 A.N.T. Farm 19:35 Good Luck Charlie 20:00 Jessie 20:30 That’s So Raven 20:50 Cory In The House 21:15 Phil Of The Future 21:40 Hannah Montana 22:05 Good Luck Charlie 22:30 Good Luck Charlie 22:55 Wizards Of Waverly Place 23:20 Wizards Of Waverly Place 23:45 Hannah Montana

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Little Einsteins Special Agent Oso Lazytown Jungle Junction Handy Manny Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Lazytown

03:25 Special Agent Oso 03:50 Imagination Movers 04:20 Handy Manny 04:40 Special Agent Oso 05:00 Timmy Time 05:10 Lazytown 05:35 Little Einsteins 06:00 Jungle Junction 06:30 Little Einsteins 06:50 Special Agent Oso 07:15 Jungle Junction 07:45 Handy Manny 08:00 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 08:25 Minnie’s Bow Toons 08:35 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 09:00 Minnie’s Bow Toons 09:10 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 09:40 Minnie’s Bow Toons 09:45 Timmy Time 09:55 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 10:20 The Hive 10:30 Doc McStuffins 10:45 Zou 11:00 Jake & The Neverland Pirates 11:15 Cars Toons 11:20 New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh 11:45 Art Attack 12:10 The Adventures Of Disney Fairies 12:35 Lilo And Stitch 13:10 Timmy Time 13:20 The Hive 13:30 Doc McStuffins 13:45 Doc McStuffins 14:00 Zou 14:15 Jake & The Neverland Pirates 14:30 Mouk 14:45 Lilo And Stitch 15:15 Cars Toons 15:20 New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh 15:40 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 16:05 The Hive 16:20 Mouk 16:35 Zou 16:50 Jake & The Neverland Pirates 17:20 Doc McStuffins 17:45 Art Attack 18:10 Lazytown 18:40 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 19:05 Mouk 19:20 Jake & The Neverland Pirates 19:35 New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh 20:00 Cars Toons 20:05 Timmy Time 20:15 Winnie The Pooh: Tales Of Friendship 20:25 Doc McStuffins 20:40 Jake & The Neverland Pirates 21:10 Zou 21:30 Mouk 21:45 Handy Manny 22:00 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 22:25 The Hive 22:35 New Adventures Of Winnie The Pooh 23:00 Timmy Time 23:10 Animated Stories 23:15 A Poem Is... 23:20 Winnie The Pooh: Tales Of Friendship 23:30 Jungle Junction 23:45 Handy Manny 23:55 Mickey Mouse Clubhouse

00:15 Who On Earth Did I Marry? 00:40 I Almost Got Away With It 01:30 Dr G: Medical Examiner 02:20 Ghost Lab 03:05 Deadly Sins 03:55 Who On Earth Did I Marry? 04:20 Who On Earth Did I Marry? 04:45 I Almost Got Away With It 05:30 Dr G: Medical Examiner 06:20 Ghost Lab 07:10 Murder Shift 08:00 Life Or Death: Medical Mysteries 08:50 Street Patrol 09:15 Street Patrol 09:40 Real Emergency Calls 10:05 Who On Earth Did I Marry? 10:30 On The Case With Paula Zahn 11:20 Murder Shift 12:10 Disappeared 13:00 Life Or Death: Medical Mysteries 13:50 Street Patrol 14:15 Street Patrol 14:40 Forensic Detectives 15:30 On The Case With Paula Zahn 16:20 Real Emergency Calls 16:45 Who On Earth Did I Marry? 17:10 Disappeared 18:00 Murder Shift 18:50 Forensic Detectives 19:40 On The Case With Paula Zahn 20:30 Disappeared 21:20 Nightmare Next Door 22:10 Couples Who Kill 23:00 Couples Who Kill 23:50 Deadly Women

00:00 Dirty Soap 00:55 Style Star 01:25 E!es 02:20 E!es 03:15 Behind The Scenes 03:40 Extreme Close-Up 04:10 E!es 05:05 THS 06:00 THS 07:50 Behind The Scenes 08:20 Giuliana & Bill 09:15 Giuliana & Bill 10:15 30 Best & Worst Beach Bodies 12:05 Married To Jonas 12:35 Married To Jonas 13:05 Ice Loves Coco 13:35 Ice Loves Coco 14:05 Kourtney & Kim Take New York 14:30 Kourtney & Kim Take New York 15:00 Style Star 15:30 E!es 16:30 Behind The Scenes 17:00 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 18:00 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 19:00 E!es 20:00 Married To Jonas 20:30 Giuliana & Bill 21:30 Giuliana & Bill 22:30 Fashion Police 23:30 Chelsea Lately

00:15 Delinquent Gourmet 00:45 Chasing Che: Latin America On A Motorcycle 01:10 Chasing Che: Latin America

SHANGHAI ON OSN CINEMA On A Motorcycle 01:40 Bondi Rescue: Bali 02:05 My Sri Lanka With Peter Kuruvita 02:35 Cycling Home From Siberia With Rob Lilwall 03:00 Destination Extreme 03:30 Racing To America 04:25 Market Values 04:50 The Best Job In The World 05:20 Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled 06:15 David Rocco‚Äôs Dolce Vita 3 06:40 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 07:10 Delinquent Gourmet 07:35 Delinquent Gourmet 08:05 Chasing Che: Latin America On A Motorcycle 08:30 Chasing Che: Latin America On A Motorcycle 09:00 Bondi Rescue: Bali 09:25 My Sri Lanka With Peter Kuruvita 09:55 Cycling Home From Siberia With Rob Lilwall 10:20 Destination Extreme 10:50 Racing To America 11:45 Market Values 12:10 The Best Job In The World 12:40 Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled 13:35 David Rocco‚Äôs Dolce Vita 3 14:00 Food School 14:30 Delinquent Gourmet 14:55 Delinquent Gourmet 15:25 Chasing Che: Latin America On A Motorcycle 15:50 Chasing Che: Latin America On A Motorcycle 16:20 Bondi Rescue: Bali 16:45 My Sri Lanka With Peter Kuruvita 17:15 Cycling Home From Siberia With Rob Lilwall 17:40 Destination Extreme 18:10 Racing To America 19:05 Market Values 19:30 Travel Madness 20:00 Delinquent Gourmet 20:30 Delinquent Gourmet 21:00 David Rocco‚Äôs Dolce Vita 3 21:30 Food School 22:00 Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled 22:55 David Rocco‚Äôs Dolce Vita 3 23:20 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 23:50 Exploring The Vine

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Wake Wood-18 The Speak-18 True Justice: BrotherhoodSeason Of The Witch-PG15 True Justice: Urban WarfareDeadly Hope-PG15 Tank Girl-PG15 True Justice: Urban WarfareDo No Harm-PG15 Tank Girl-PG15 Deadtime Stories 2-18 Soldiers Of Fortune-PG15

01:00 A Fall From Grace-PG15 03:00 Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown-PG 04:00 Marion Jones: Press PausePG15 05:00 Little Big Soldier-PG15 07:00 Stolen Lives-PG15 09:00 A Fall From Grace-PG15 10:45 John Carter-PG15 13:00 Shanghai-PG15 15:00 Black Forest-PG15 17:00 Feed The Fish-PG15 19:00 When Love Is Not EnoughPG15 21:00 Madea’s Big Happy FamilyPG15 23:00 Chloe-R

00:00 Wilfred 00:30 The Daily Show Global Edition 01:00 The Colbert Report Global Edition 01:30 The League 02:00 Unsupervised 02:30 Veep

03:00 The Simpsons 03:30 Malibu Country 04:00 Less Than Perfect 04:30 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 05:30 Less Than Perfect 06:00 Seinfeld 06:30 Hope & Faith 07:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 08:00 Less Than Perfect 08:30 Less Than Perfect 09:00 The Simpsons 09:30 How I Met Your Mother 10:00 Modern Family 10:30 Hope & Faith 11:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 12:00 Seinfeld 12:30 Less Than Perfect 13:00 Less Than Perfect 13:30 Hope & Faith 14:00 Malibu Country 14:30 Modern Family 15:00 How I Met Your Mother 15:30 The Daily Show Global Edition 16:00 The Colbert Report Global Edition 16:30 Seinfeld 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 The Simpsons 18:30 Raising Hope 19:00 How I Met Your Mother 19:30 Modern Family 20:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 The New Normal 22:30 American Dad 23:00 Veep 23:30 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

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

Castle Banshee Once Upon A Time Justified Castle Emmerdale Coronation Street One Tree Hill Once Upon A Time Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show One Tree Hill Castle Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show Alphas In Plain Sight Homeland World Without End Justified

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Wake Wood-18 The Speak-18 True Justice: BrotherhoodSeason Of The Witch-PG15 True Justice: Urban WarfareDeadly Hope-PG15 Tank Girl-PG15 True Justice: Urban WarfareDo No Harm-PG15 Tank Girl-PG15 Deadtime Stories 2-18 Soldiers Of Fortune-PG15

00:00 Neil Delamere-PG15 02:00 Take Me Home Tonight-18 04:00 Mrs. Miracle-PG15 06:00 The Winning Season-PG15 08:00 Scooby-Doo-PG 10:00 The Ladykillers-PG15 12:00 Mrs. Miracle-PG15 14:00 The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom-PG 16:00 The Ladykillers-PG15 18:00 Zookeeper-PG15 20:00 Paul-PG15 22:00 Love And Other Drugs-R

01:00 Krach-18 03:00 The Muppets-PG

05:00 The Terminal-PG15 07:15 Elevator Girl-PG15 09:00 My Afternoons With Margueritte-PG15 10:45 Bobby Jones: Stroke Of GeniusPG 13:00 Justice For Natalee HollowayPG15 15:00 My Afternoons With Margueritte-PG15 17:00 Loosies-PG15 18:45 The Evening Star-PG15 21:00 A Separation-PG15 23:00 Arc-PG15

00:00 Snooker The Welsh Open 03:00 European PGA Tour Highlights 04:00 Super Rugby 05:00 Top 14 07:00 Super Rugby 08:00 Trans World Sport 09:00 Snooker The Welsh Open 12:00 ICC Cricket 360 12:30 Super League 14:30 Premier League Darts 18:00 European PGA Tour Highlights 19:00 Super Rugby 20:00 HSBC Sevens World Series Highlights 20:30 HSBC Sevens World Series Highlights 21:00 HSBC Sevens World Series Highlights 21:30 Futbol Mundial 22:00 Trans World Sports 23:00 Super Rugby

00:00 Inside The PGA Tour 00:30 PGA European Tour Highlights 01:30 PGA Tour Highlights 02:30 Dubai World Cup Carnival 07:00 ICC Cricket 360 07:30 Inside The PGA Tour 08:00 PGA European Tour Highlights 09:00 PGA Tour Highlights 10:00 Top 14 12:00 Trans World Sport 13:00 Futbol Mundial 13:30 ICC Cricket 360 14:00 Snooker 17:00 Super Rugby 19:00 UFC Countdown 20:00 UFC The Ultimate Fighter 21:00 WWE Bottom Line 22:00 WWE SmackDown

00:00 ICC Cricket 360 00:30 Super League 02:30 Premier League Darts 06:00 Golfing World 08:00 Trans World Sport 09:00 World Pool Masters 10:00 World Cup of Pool 11:00 Top 14 Highlight 11:30 Pro 12 13:30 Golfing World 14:30 World Pool Masters 15:30 World Cup of Pool 16:30 Pro 12 18:30 Top 14 Highlight 19:30 Adventure Challenge 20:00 Trans World Sport 21:00 Golfing World 22:00 European PGA Highlights 23:00 World Pool Masters


00:00 WWE Experience 01:00 NHL 03:00 Ping Pong World Championships 04:00 US Bass Fishing 05:00 NHL 07:00 WWE NXT 08:00 WWE Bottom Line 09:00 Ping Pong World Championships 10:00 US Bass Fishing 11:00 NHL 13:00 WWE Experience 14:00 Prizefighter 17:00 V8 Supercars Highlights 19:00 NHL 21:00 UAE National Race Day Series 22:00 UFC TUF 23:00 WWE NXT

Classifieds TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2013


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Jaguar XF V8 model 2012 (new look) grey color - off white leather inside - low mileage (km 9,000), five year warranty by Zayyani (like new), full specification, price KD 14,500 firm. Call 90000162. (C 4322)

Post Graduate Diploma in Business Accounts & Tax Management + B.Com, Indian female having 15 years experience in Financial Accounting, worked as Accounts Manager (having Kuwait Ekama), looking for a suitable job in a reputed company. Email: (C 4320) 19-2-2013

Mercedes Benz G55 AMG (Designo) model 2011, pearl white color, red leather inside - under warranty by dealer until 5/2014 - include rear two T Vs, mileage km 27,000 (like new) price KD 34,000 firm. Call: 90080013. (C 4323) 19-2-2013 Mitsubishi Lancer - 2010, silver color, 4 cylinder, engine, gear, chasis very good condition, interior & exterior neat and clean, original paint, no accident, 1,05,000 km run, price KD 2,300. Contact: 99072651. (C 4311) Toyota Corolla 2003, red color, excellent condition, passing one year. KD 1,100. Tel: 99792546. (C 4312) 16-2-2013


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AJIAL.3 SPECIAL 26 (DIG) (Hindi) SPECIAL 26 (DIG) (Hindi) SPECIAL 26 (DIG) (Hindi)

4:00 PM 7:00 PM 10:00 PM


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Proposals invited from parents of Urdu speaking Indian girl - from Karnataka for a boy aged 26 years old/ 5.9ft, working in Kuwait. Interested please contact: (C 4321) 19-2-2013

Indian male MBA Finance having 7 years experience in Finance/Accounting in Kuwait is seeking a suitable placement. Proficient on Excel, Word, Powerpoint. Fluent in English, Arabic and Hindi. Visa #18, transferable. Call: 66765077. (C 4316) CHANGE OF NAME I, Shabbir Moizbhai Dahodwala, holder of Indian Passport No. J4441363, son of Moizbhai F. Bhatia, change my name to Shabbir Moizbhai Bhatia. (C 4319) 18-2-2013 I, Rachaveeti Prameela holder Indian Passport No: E6134736 hereby change my name to Rayachoty Prameela. (C 4317) 17-2-2013

No: 15724

Proposals invited for an Orthodox Syrina Christian boy (29 years, 155cm, Btech) from Central Travancore, working as Engineer in Kuwait. (C 4314) Arab national, residing in Kuwait well established seeking matrimonial with a woman of any nationality who value family life, age between 20 - 30y. Email: (C 4318) 17-2-2013




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stars CROSSWORD 105

STAR TRACK Aries (March 21-April 19)

Aries, your intuition might increase today to the point where you feel like you could deduce the thoughts and motives of people you’ve never met before. Reading the news might bring you sudden insights as to how things are going to turn out. You could decide to put this ability to work to advance your financial condition. Do this if you can - within reason. Your insights are probably correct.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

You should be feeling especially passionate now, Taurus, especially regarding partnerships. Romantic partnerships definitely call for an evening alone together. Professional and creative ones, on the other hand, call for a new project that you both believe in. Look to events in distant states or foreign countries for inspiration. Something begun far away from home could capture your imagination.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

ACROSS 1. 100 avos equal 1 pataca. 4. Small bitter fruit of the marasca cherry tree from whose juice maraschino liqueur is made. 11. (of molten metal or glass) Formed by pouring or pressing into a mold n 1. 15. A disease of poultry. 16. Given to avoiding association with others. 17. Type genus of the family Arcidae. 18. Having or showing knowledge and skill and aptitude. 20. Jordan's port. 21. Any of numerous local fertility and nature deities worshipped by ancient Semitic peoples. 22. Tropical American tree producing cacao beans. 23. A written proposal or reminder. 25. Angular distance above the horizon (especially of a celestial object). 26. A person to whom money is paid. 28. The food served and eaten at one time. 30. The capital and chief port and largest city of Senegal. 31. A decree that prohibits something. 35. An official prosecutor for a judicial district. 37. A local computer network for communication between computers. 40. Be going to. 41. A kind of person. 43. Harsh or corrosive in tone. 46. Japanese ornamental tree with fragrant white or pink blossoms and small yellow fruits. 47. A loud bombastic declamation expressed with strong emotion. 51. A woman hired to suckle a child of someone else. 52. A region of Malaysia in northeastern Borneo. 55. Liver or meat or fowl finely minced or ground and variously seasoned. 56. 100 kopecks equal 1 ruble. 59. A mountain peak in the Andes in Bolivia (21,391 feet high). 61. The dialect of Malay used as the national language of the Republic of Indonesia or of Malaysia. 63. French anthropologist who studied the craniums and brains of different races of people. 67. A woman who is foreperson of a jury. 71. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. 72. Any plant of the genus Amorpha having odd-pinnate leaves and purplish spicate flowers. 75. Not widely known. 76. A wooden pin pushed or driven into a surface. 77. (soccer) A forward on a soccer team. 78. A visual representation of an object or scene or person produced on a surface. 79. A unit of force equal to the force exerted by gravity. 80. French racing cyclist who won the Tour de France five times (born in 1954). 81. A small cake leavened with yeast. DOWN 1. With rapid movements. 2. United States writer (born in 1925). 3. An organization of countries formed in 1961 to agree on a common policy for the sale

of petroleum. 4. A Powhatan Indian woman (the daughter of Powhatan) who befriended the English at Jamestown and is said to have saved Captain John Smith's life (1595-1617). 5. A very poisonous metallic element that has three allotropic forms. 6. Someone who leads a wandering unsettled life. 7. Red pear-shaped tropical fruit with poisonous seeds. 8. Country of southeastern Asia that extends southward along the isthmus of Kra to the Malay peninsula. 9. Alternatively, a member of the family Nymphaeaceae. 10. A flat wing-shaped process or winglike part of an organism. 11. A clique that seeks power usually through intrigue. 12. The biblical name for ancient Syria. 13. Someone who works (or provides workers) during a strike. 14. The basic unit of money in Western Samoa. 19. Proceeding from or ordered by or subject to a pope or the papacy regarded as the successor of the Apostles. 24. A state in midwestern United States. 27. A language group of the Hokan family. 29. (Akkadian) God of wisdom. 32. A constitutional monarchy on the western part of the islands of Samoa in the South Pacific. 33. Selected as the best. 34. Having the same or similar characteristics. 36. The mission in San Antonio where in 1836 Mexican forces under Santa Anna besieged and massacred American rebels who were fighting to make Texas independent of Mexico. 38. Being one more than one. 39. A public promotion of some product or service. 42. Strike sharply. 44. System of measurement based on centimeters and grams and seconds. 45. A member of the Siouan people formerly living in the Missouri river valley in NE Nebraska. 48. 100 thebe equal 1 pula. 49. A pilgrimage to Mecca. 50. A cut of pork ribs with much of the meat trimmed off. 53. An ancient kingdom in northern Mesopotamia which is in present-day Iraq. 54. The cry made by sheep. 57. A woman's large folded hooped hood. 58. A branch of the Tai languages. 60. A master's degree in business. 62. Make more attractive by adding ornament, colour, etc.. 64. Port city on southern Honshu on Osaka Bay. 65. Long pod containing small beans and sweetish edible pulp. 66. A particular environment or walk of life. 68. A slender double-reed instrument. 69. A feeling of intense anger. 70. A heavy open wagon usually having two wheels and drawn by an animal. 73. A genetic disorder of metabolism. 74. Goddess of the dead and queen of the underworld.


If you haven’t been feeling like yourself lately, Gemini, a surge of inner power could push you over the top and make you feel strong and healthy again. You could decide to complete all your unfinished tasks today. You could get most of them done by day’s end. Don’t forget to take time out to enjoy yourself. You want to make the most of your newfound strength.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)

A surge of passion could dominate your day unless you find an outlet for it, Cancer. Romantic passion is high, so an intimate evening with a lover is a good idea. Creative passion is strong. You could have a sudden inspiration, perhaps influenced by a distant place. Don’t be afraid to take time from your mundane chores to pursue this inspiration. Creativity is as important as anything else.

Leo (July 23-August 22)

A romantic evening at home with your partner could bring you two closer together, Leo. Your emotions are intense right now, however, so you need to use your intuition to judge exactly how much of your feelings you should reveal. An intellectual passion could also come your way. You might discover a new field of interest, and you will want to study it at home for hours.

Virgo (August 23-September 22)

Information received from far away could compel you to learn more about the subject, Virgo. You might be inspired to use your new knowledge in a project that includes a partner. Your mind is insightful now. If you face decisions, this is definitely the day to follow your heart. Don’t be surprised if you also find your telepathic abilities expanded.

Word Search

Libra (September 23-October 22)

Money matters may be advanced through using your intuition and inner power today, Libra. You might have a hunch that your idea for making extra money might just work. Look into it at least. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it until you know the facts. You might also rediscover a long-neglected talent that you find useful now.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21)

A surge of inner power could make you feel like you can move mountains, Scorpio. If you’ve been contemplating actions that others believe impossible, this is the day to get them going. Career matters, romance, and creative projects could all be advanced today by careful effort on your part. Give it some thought, write down your ideas, consider all contingencies, and move ahead.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21)

Memories from your distant past could resurface today, Sagittarius. You may wonder why you’re suddenly thinking about them, but they probably represent a release of old emotional hang-ups that have been holding you back. By midafternoon you should feel more focused, determined, and ready to take on anything. This is definitely a great day to start a new project or complete an old one.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19)

Today represents a new beginning in many ways. An old friend could reappear in your life and bring up memories that are both pleasant and disconcerting, Capricorn. Don’t worry too much about this. It probably represents a needed release. You may also get involved with a group that has goals you embrace. New friends could also come your way. Expect a few surprises from all sides today.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18)

Emotions could be running high, Aquarius. Someone in your entourage may have a problem with an authority figure and political issues could come up. You’re likely to feel especially powerful now, and so you might be tempted to throw your hat in the ring. It’s better to stay out of anything political and channel that power and passion into your own project. That’s likelier to bring positive results.

Pisces (February 19-March 20)

Heightened mental powers might make you spend a lot of time reading or doing research of some kind, Pisces. Your curiosity is especially sharp right now. You might even consider advancing your education somehow, especially since new interests have been popping up for some time. New friends in fascinating fields might also have started you thinking. This is a good time to look into this.

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

Al-Madeena Al-Shuhada GOVERNORATE

Sabah Hospital


Amiri Hospital


Maternity Hospital


Mubarak Al-Kabir Hospital


Chest Hospital


Farwaniya Hospital


Adan Hospital


Ibn Sina Hospital


Al-Razi Hospital


Physiotherapy Hospital


Kaizen center














Abdullah Salem




Industrial Shuwaikh






Bneid Al-Gar






Ayoun Al-Qibla






Salmiya Jabriya




Sama Safwan Abu Halaifa Danat Al-Sultan

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

23915883 23715414 23726558


Modern Jahra Madina Munawara

Jahra-Block 3 Lot 1 Jahra-Block 92

24575518 24566622



Ahlam Khaldiya Coop

Fahad Al-Salem St Khaldiya Coop

22436184 24833967



New Shifa Ferdous Coop Modern Safwan

Farwaniya Block 40 Ferdous Coop Old Kheitan Block 11

24734000 24881201 24726638

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

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

25726265 25647075 22625999 22564549 25340559 25326554 25721264 25380581 25628241



el.: 161 Te


2627 - 2630 Ext.: 262


Sunny with light to moderate north westerly to northerly wind, with speed of 12 - 35 km/h and some scattered clouds will appear


Cool with light to moderate north westerly to northerly wind, with speed of 08 - 28 km/h and some scattered clouds will appear No Current Warnings arnin a


15 °C


23 °C

13 °C


22 °C

14 °C


23 °C

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10 °C



24 °C

09 °C



22 °C

10 °C

Maidan Hawally



22 °C

14 °C




21 °C

16 °C




19 °C

18 °C

W Hawally



19 °C

17 °C







18/02/2013 0000 UTC

4 DA AY YS FORECAST Temperatures DA AY





Wind Direction

Wind Speed

New Jahra




sunny + scattered clouds

24 °C

14 °C


08 - 28 km/h

West Jahra


Wednesday e



25 °C

15 °C


10 - 32 km/h

South Jahra





24 °C

14 °C


12 - 32 km/h



partly cloudy

23 °C

13 °C


08 - 30 km/h

North Jahra


North Jleeb






MAX. Temp.




MIN. Temp.

11 °C






63 %




19 %





i MAX. Wind

N 50 km/h

N Khaitan





00 mm

All times are local time unless otherwise stated.


PRIVATE CLINICS Paediatricians

Plastic Surgeons Dr. Mohammad Al-Khalaf


Dr. Khaled Hamadi

Dr. Abdal-Redha Lari


Dr. Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rashed

Dr. Abdel Quttainah


Family Doctor Dr Divya Damodar


Psychiatrists Dr. Esam Al-Ansari


Dr Eisa M. Al-Balhan


Gynaecologists & Obstetricians DrAdrian arbe


Dr. Verginia s.Marin

2572-6666 ext 8321


25665898 25340300

Dr. Zahra Qabazard


Dr. Sohail Qamar


Dr. Snaa Maaroof


Dr. Pradip Gujare


Dr. Zacharias Mathew


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



Dr. Fozeya Ali Al-Qatan


Dr. Majeda Khalefa Aliytami


Dr. Shamah Al-Matar


Dr. Ahmad Al-Khooly


Dr. Anesah Al-Rasheed



Dr. Abidallah Al-Amer


Dr. Faysal Al-Fozan


Dr. Abdallateef Al-Katrash


Dr. Abidallah Al-Duweisan


Dr. Bader Al-Ansari


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


Dr. Mohammad Yousef Basher


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

22666300 25728004

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


Dr. Mohammad Al-Shamaly


Dr. Foad Abidallah Al-Ali


Kaizen center 25716707


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


Dr. Musaed Faraj Khamees


Rheumatologists: Dr. Adel Al-Awadi

Dr Anil Thomas

Soor Center Tel: 2290-1677 Fax: 2290 1688

Al-Sulaibikhat Al-Fahaheel Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh Ahmadi Al-Mangaf Al-Shuaiba



Expected Weather e for the Next 24 Hours

23 °C

Psychologists /Psychotherapists




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


Fax: 24348714










Dr. Khaled Al-Jarallah


Internist, Chest & Heart DR.Mohammes Akkad

24555050 Ext 210

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


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

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



LIFESTYLE G o s s i p

Amanda Seyfried is attracted to ‘creeps’


he 27-year-old actress - who previously dated Dominic Cooper - can’t help wanting to date “interesting and mysterious” guys, even when they’re no good for her. She said: “Unfortunately, there’s something attractive about someone who’s broken, for me, and a lot of women that I’ve spoken to. “My best friend and I are attracted to creeps - sometimes. “They’re interesting and mysterious and they provide us with this rush and this need to chase or fix just these needs they fill in yourself. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s a weird psychology but unfortunately it’s the way the world works.” Amanda - who can next be seen in ‘Lovelace’, a biopic of tragic porn star Linda Lovelace - believes American cinema is going through a “sexual revolution”, with more liberal attitudes to what is seen on screen. She added in an interview with the Daily Mirror newspaper: “Sex in movies shouldn’t be as big a deal as it is. Guns are huge in American cinema, but with sex everybody is so prim about it here. “[But] something is changing in American cinema. We’re going through some kind of sexual revolution right now, I’d like to think. “Everybody does it [has sex]? Who doesn’t do it? So why are we shying away from it so much?”

Mindy McCready dies of apparent suicide


S country singer Mindy McCready has died of an apparent suicide, US authorities said Sunday. Police found the 37-year-old-whose songs included “Guys Do It All the Time”-dead on the porch of a house in Heber Springs, Arkansas.The officer had been dispatched to the scene Sunday afternoon due to a report of gun shots. “Ms McCready was pronounced dead at the scene from what appears to be a single self-

inflicted gunshot wound,” said a statement from the Cleburne County Sheriff’s Office. The singer-identified in the statement as Melinda Gayle McCready-is survived by two sons, one of whom is 10 months old, CNN reported, adding that the baby’s father, record producer David Wilson, died of an apparent suicide last month. Police said an autopsy would be carried out and that “the matter will be fully investigated.”

Rob Kardashian vows to criticize Kim


ob Kardashian vowed to “publicly bash” Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. The reality star turned against his own sister when she offered him advice about his bitter split from singer Rita Ora - which resulted in a public twitter feud last December during which Rob accused the British beauty of cheating with over 20 men - in the episode of ‘Kourtney & Kim Take Miami’ which aired on Sunday night .Speaking to her mother Kris Jenner on the phone, Kim explained Rob had asked her whether her rap mogul boyfriend Kanye would team up with his friend on a song, a request which she refused. Kim revealed: “He said, ‘I hope your sex tape haunts you for the rest of your life and I’m going to publicly bash you and Kanye.’ “ Moody Rob took offence to his sister’s meddling after she accused him of being too public about his feelings and flirting with the wrong kind of girls in order to get over his heartbreak. However, Rob later called the 34-year-old Armenian beauty up to apologize and said: “I wanted to apologize. Obviously the things I said to you in the text message, I was just being mean.” Kim replied: “I appreciate you being mature and calling me instead of dragging this fight out.” The mother-to-be - who is expecting her first child with boyfriend Kanye West - admitted she was glad he had split from ‘How We Do’ singer Rita as she worried he was making the same mistake she did with her exboyfriend Kris Humphries - who she filed for divorce from after just 72 days. She said: “When I was in my last relationship I clearly wasn’t happy. Khloe called me out on it all the time; I don’t want you to be taken advantage of by the lame girls out here.”

Swift being sued over cancelled concert


aylor Swift is being sued over a cancelled concert. The ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ hitmaker is facing a lawsuit after being paid in advance to headline a country music festival in Canada which has since been cancelled, reports TMZ. Promoters for Capital Hoedown - which was due to take place in Ottawa in August 2012 - reportedly failed to put the concert together in time and it was subsequently nixed. Now the company which sold tickets for the event feels Taylor, 22, should use her sizeable fee to refund $1.8 million worth of ticket purchases, according to documents filed in New York federal court. The singer’s representatives contest, however, that her deal was not with the ticket company and thus she is not liable for the refunds. They also claim they have not yet seen the lawsuit. Taylor has had previous brushes with the law; in 2010 she was reportedly sued by former manager Dan Dymtrow for breach of contract. He claimed he signed the ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’ singer aged 14 and helped her launch her career but her family conspired to fire him before he could earn a commission from her sales. Dan’s attorney Fernando Pinguelo said at the time: “They delayed and delayed [the deal] and got rid of my client and subsequently signed [another] deal and kept his commissions for themselves.”

Berenice Marlohe in toxic fumes terror

Beyonce and Jay-Z to buy Neverland ranch


erenice Marlohe missed the DVD launch of ‘Skyfall’ after her plane was flooded with toxic fumes. The 33year-old actress was flying from Los Angeles to London Heathrow airport when oil fumes were suspected to have leaked into the cabin, causing the pilot to make an emergency landing in Las Vegas. Crew and passengers on board the Boeing 747 flight, which also included ‘American Idol’ host Ryan Seacrest and his girlfriend Juliane Hough, were also advised to use their oxygen masks after several people complained they felt unwell. The incident caused Berenice to miss a specially branded ‘Skyfall’ train at London’s King Cross station on Saturday, where she was due to meet her James Bond co-star Naomie Harris for a journey to Edinburgh, Scotland, to celebrate the film’s release on DVD. A ‘Skyfall’ spokesperson said: “It was a real shame Berenice was unable to attend our launch, where she was due to unveil the ‘Skyfall’ train with fellow bond actress Naomie Harris. “Sadly Berenice’s plane from Los Angeles was grounded in Las Vegas due to fumes in the cabin.” British Airways, the airline the brunette beauty was flying with, confirmed the emergency landing was made as a precaution, with a spokesperson explaining: “Safety is always our top priority and as a precaution the captain diverted our Los Angeles to London service into Las Vegas after a suspected technical problem.” Naomie, however, was still able to unveil the unique train and described the experience as “amazing”. She said: “This train is absolutely amazing and I’m so pleased to be part of the unveiling today. It says a lot about the success of ‘Skyfall’ that it has become the first ever train to be named after a film in the UK.”

Adele turns to therapy in bid to conquer stage fright


dele is having breathing therapy to help her beat stage fright. The ‘Rolling in the Deep’ singer is returning to the stage for the first time since giving birth at the Oscars ceremony next Sunday and has been undergoing special Chinese Qi Gong breathing therapy after being recommended by fellow singer Robbie Williams’ wife Ayda Field. A source told the Daily Star newspaper: “Adele has suffered with terrible stage fright since she was 16, but now it’s worse than ever. “She knows all eyes are on her after almost a year out of the spotlight, so she needed something to help her with it. “Ayda was the first person to tell Adele about Belly Breathing, and how it had helped Robbie overcome his performing anxiety in recent years.” Adele will perform her James Bond theme song ‘Skyfall’ during a special tribute to the British spy franchise which will take place during the film awards next week. The song is also nominated for an award in the Best Song category. The breathing therapy is also having a great effect on the singer, and ensuring she will be in top shape when it is time to perform. The source added: “It’s done wonders for Adele since she started getting daily sessions from a leading Indian practitioner. “She’s being taught to breathe with her diaphragm instead of her chest, which is making an enormous difference. “Adele has said it feels like she’s in a whole new phase of her life where performing’s concerned, and is confident she can beat her stage fright once and for all.” Adele’s nerves have previously almost got the better of her, and she admitted to being sick before performing at the Grammy awards in 2012. —Bang Showbiz


eyonce and Jay-Z are looking to buy Michael Jackson’s Neverland ranch. The ‘Love on Top’ singer and her rapper husband were given a tour of the £18.7 million ranch in Santa Barbara, California by owner Thomas Barack Jr, according to The Sun newspaper. The famous 3,000-acre ranch - which was named after the fictitious magical island in children’s story ‘Peter Pan’ - was home to the late King of Pop between 1988 and 2005 and has largely been abandoned since the singer’s death in 2009. Beyonce, 31, and Jay-Z, 43, spend most of the time in the rapper’s home state of New York with their 13-month-old daughter Blue Ivy, but also spend some months as a family in Beyonce’s hometown of Houston, Texas. Meanwhile, the ‘Single Ladies’ hitmaker opened up about her marital life in an interview with Oprah Winfrey on Saturday ,telling the talk show host that she “would not be the woman I am if I did not go home to that man”. Appearing on ‘Oprah’s Next Chapter’, she said: “You know we were friends first for a year and a half before we went on any date - on the phone for a year and a half. And that foundation is so important in a relationship. And just to have someone that you just like is so important and someone that is honest.” Beyonce also starred in a self-produced HBO documentary, ‘Life is but a Dream’, which aired in the US on Saturday and gave fans a rare glimpse into her life.

Mel C named Celebrity Mum of the Year


he Spice Girl topped the poll by supermarket Tesco to find the most inspirational famous mothers, and credited her three-year-old daughter Scarlet - whose father is Melanie’s ex-boyfriend Thomas Starr - with boosting her self-confidence and happiness. Speaking at The Savoy Hotel in London yesterday, she told the Daily Express newspaper: “I am so much happier, more confident and courageous and it’s all thanks to Scarlet. Being with my family is the most important thing in my life. It’s sometimes difficult to find a balance with work and other commitments, so I make sure I treasure every second. “Being a mum might not be easy, but it’s definitely the most rewarding job in the world. There are millions of inspirational mums out there, doing incredible things to help others. It’s fantastic to be involved with something that celebrates this.” The 39-year-old singer - otherwise known as Sporty Spice - joins six other mothers who will pick up Tesco awards at the star-studded ceremony on March 3 at The Savoy Hotel The event will be



LIFESTYLE M o v i e s


M u s i c

Spanish director Pablo Berger, left, speaks while accepting the best Spanish actress Maribel Verdu gestures while speaking after win- Spanish actress Macarena Garcia gestures after winning the best original screenplay award for his film “Blancanieves” during the ning the best actress award for her role in “Blancanieves”. new actress award for her role in “Blancanieves”. annual Goya film awards in Madrid, Spain.-AP photos

Stars lash out at government austerity at Spain film awards


panish stars lashed out at government austerity measures at the prestigious Spanish film awards, the Goyas, on Sunday which saw Pablo Berger’s “Blancanieves” take the top film award. The critical tone of the ceremony was set by presenter Eva Hache’s opening monologue which touched on spending cuts to health and education and allegations of slush fund financing at the ruling Popular Party and corruption by the Spanish king’s son-in-law Inaki Urdangarin. Celebrities then repeatedly used their moment in the spotlight when collecting awards during the ceremony broadcast live on public television TVE to strike out at the government’s handling of Spain’s eco-

nomic crisis. Maribel Verdu dedicated her Goya win for best actress to “all those who have lost their home, their future, even their lives due to an unfair system.” Campaigners say hundreds of thousands of people have been evicted from their homes in the crisis brought on by the collapse of Spain’s housing market in 2008 which has caused the jobless rate to soar to a record 26 percent. Outrage has been fanned by a string of suicides of people reportedly driven to despair by the prospect of eviction, including a retired couple in Mallorca last week. Verdu received her Goya for her role as the evil stepmother in “Blancanieves”, a silent,

black-and-white Spanish retelling of the Snow White story. She beat out Naomi Watts, Penelope Cruz and Aida Folch. Candela Pena, who won the best supporting actress for “Una Pistola en Cada Mano”, railed against steep cuts to health care. “I saw my father die at a public hospital where there were no blankets to cover him, no water. I have a child and I don’t know what kind of public education he will receive,” she said. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government has slashed health spending by seven billion euros ($9.1 billion) a year as part of a campaign to squeeze 150 billion euros out of the crisis-racked country’s budget by 2014. Many actors wore stickers with a drawing

of a pair of scissors and the word “NO” in a sign of protest against the spending cuts. The president of the Spanish film academy, Enrique Gonzalez Macho, lashed out against the “brutal” rise in the sales tax which saw the cinema admission tax jump from 8.0 percent to 21 percent. “Consumption of culture has suffered a very strong drop and therefore lower revenues, which has been accompanied by the strong social costs, the closure of companies and a significant rise in unemployment which has reached alarming figures,” he said. “Blancanieves” picked up 10 Goyas in all, including for best original screenplay and best original score. The French blockbuster “Les Intouchables”

won the best European film prize. The film, directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, has become the second biggest box office hit in France and the biggest selling French film overseas of all time. It is a story about the relationship between a quadriplegic millionaire and a caretaker he hires from a poor Parisian suburb. Unlike last year’s European prize winner at the Goyas “The Artist”, the film cannot secure further glory at the US Oscars where it has not even been nominated in the foreign language category. Juan Antonio Bayona won best director for “The Impossible” which has already earned Naomi Watts a best actress nomination at the upcoming US Oscars. —AFP

Spanish actress Candela Pena makes a speech after winning the best supporting actress award for her role in “Una Pistola En Cada Mano”.

Joaquin Nunez holds the prize after winning the best new actor award for his role in “Grupo 7” (Unit 7).

Jose Sacristan speaks after winning the best actor award for his role in “El muerto y ser feliz”.

Javier Bardem speaks after winning the best documentary award for his film “Hijos de Las Nubes, La ultima Colonia” (Sons of the Clouds: The Last Colony).

Juli’n Villagran speaks after winning the best supporting actor award for his role in “Grupo 7” (Unit 7).

US museum with rare instruments seeks $15million revamp


rammy-winning finger picking guitarist Pat Donohue thinks a South Dakota college town of about 10,000 is an unlikely place for a wide-ranging collection of musical instruments that includes saxophones built by inventor Adolphe Sax, a rare Stradivarius violin with its original neck, and a Spanish guitar on which Bob Dylan composed some of his earliest songs. But that’s part of the charm of the 40-year-old National Music Museum, a treasure tucked away in an old Carnegie library building on the University of South Dakota campus. Donahue, a regular performer on Garrison Keillor’s radio show “A Prairie Home Companion,” got to play a 1947 D’Angelico New Yorker guitar and a 1902 black and

Cleveland Johnson, new director of the National Music Museum, stands in front of some historic keyboard instruments in the museum’s Abell Gallery. —AP wood-grained guitar built by Orville Gibson for millions of listeners during a 2006 live broadcast from the campus. “The only unfortunate thing that I can think about it is that not enough people are going to see it because of where it is,” Donohue said. “But then again, that’s one of the things that make it unique.” The National Music Museum has boasted a world-class collection of musical instruments since it was established, and officials now want to build a facility to match that. The museum is looking to raise $15 million over the next few years to triple its gallery space, improve the entrance and revamp the vast archives where music scholars can peruse the thousands of instruments and documents not on public display. “We’ll have a proper lobby and visitor reception area, which we really don’t have now,” said Ted Muenster, who’s leading the fundraising effort for the USD

Foundation. “It will be a pretty impressive complex when we’re finished with it.” The expansion plans recently earned a federal seal of approval with the awarding of a $500,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Endowment chairman Jim Leach visited the museum in 2010 and found its collection of more than 15,000 items “astonishing.”“This is a national treasure,” Leach said. “It could just as easily be called the International Music Museum as the National Music Museum. It is one of, if not the, centerpiece of musical instrument collections in the world.” Cleveland Johnson took over as the museum’s director in November after the retirement of Andre Larson, who’d been at the helm since it was established in 1973. The holdings grew out of a private collection owned by Larson’s father, Arne B. Larson, who continually added items while serving as a public school music director. The 800 or so instruments on public display are the “superstars” of the broader collection of pianos, harpsichords, guitars, horns and drums. A keyboard aficionado could marvel at a Neapolitan virginal and harpsichord from the 1530s or the earliest French grand piano known to survive, an ornate green and gold instrument built by Louis Bas in Villeneuve lËs Avignon in 1781. A fan of stringed instruments would gasp at “The King,” the world’s oldest known surviving violoncello, which was crafted in 1545 and played by King Charles IX of France in 1562. “What gets you through the door is a particular interest of yours,” Johnson said. “What keeps you here twice as long as you planned are all the unexpected discoveries that you make.” Johnson hopes the expansion and a ramped-up marketing effort will bring more tourists to Vermillion, but he also wants to boost the museum’s loans and traveling exhibits to get more exposure. The museum’s red, silver and blue tenor saxophone - donated in 1994 by President Bill Clinton - was recently displayed at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. “We could double our attendance, but we’re still talking about a few tens of thousands a year,” he said. “It’s not so much getting people through our doors as getting our collection in front of the eyes of people.” The museum scored its greatest public exposure during the “A Prairie Home Companion” broadcast. Museum officials even permitted the playing of “The King” violoncello on air, though such special occasions might happen “maybe once every generation,” Johnson said. It’s a decision made on a case-by-case basis, balancing the rarity of the instrument, its condition and the potential audience reach, he said. Leach said the National Endowment for the Humanities grant is designed to bring in $3 in private donations for every $1 from the government. It also gives the museum a little street cred in cultural circles, since all applications for funding are peer-reviewed. “We only fund one out of six, and they’re all assessed by and graded by experts in fields,” Leach said. “This got a wondrous review by a panel of the world’s leading experts in not only museum studies but music studies.” Expansion plans call for adding about 65,000 square feet (6,000 square meters) of gallery space to the existing 23,000 square feet (2,100 square meters). The limited space has not only prevented instruments from getting their proper display, but also has hampered curators’ efforts to find creative and hands-on ways to program and teach visitors and school groups, Johnson said. “The new building is still years away,” he said. “I’d imagine it will be fully used the minute they cut the ribbon.”—AP

At 80, Yoko Ono sees a world full of new activism


alf a life-time ago, artist Yoko Ono lay in an Amsterdam hotel bed with husband John Lennon, staging a week-long “bedin” for peace and feeling they were very alone in their activism. Today, Ono, whose own energy for campaigning has never tired, sees a world full of activists, maintaining her energy and faith in humanity. “When John and I did the bed-in, not many people were with us. But now there are so many activists, I don’t know anyone who is not an activist,” she told Reuters in an interview in Berlin yesterday, her 80th birthday. “Even the corporations - John always used to say the corporations need to be with us... Corporations now say 10-20 percent of their profits will go to such and such charity. They have to do that almost for people to feel good about it.” The late Beatle and Ono’s 1969 bed-in to protest against the Vietnam war was repeated in Montreal, Canada. Press attention was huge, but much of it was mocking. Ono, who gave a sell-out concert in Berlin on Sunday alongside their son Sean Lennon which closed with the anthem “Give peace a chance”, said it was still critical to stand up for peace despite new conflicts in the intervening decades. “I don’t want to be drowning in sadness. I


Yoko Ono poses during the opening of her exhibition “half-awind show” at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt am Main, central Germany. —AFP photos think we have to stand and up and change the world,” she said. The artist, born to a wealthy Japanese family in Tokyo in 1933, has recently become a passionate opponent of fracking, a controversial procedure which has sharply lifted energy output in the United States but which critics fear pollutes drinking water deep underground and could increase earthquake risks. “Fracking is an incredible risk to the human race, I don’t know why they

even thought of doing it,” she said. Ono, whose birthday is being marked by a major retrospective of her work in Frankfurt, said she feels she is becoming freer in her art. “My attitude has changed... I’m allowing things to happen in a way I hadn’t planned before,” she said. Asked about her feelings on becoming an octogenarian, she said: “I’m surprised. It is a miracle in a sense that I am 80, I am proud about it. Not everybody gets there.” —Reuters

Could 9-year-old win youngest best actress Oscar?

he landed the part by lying about her age: Quvenzhane Wallis was five, and the filmmakers were only auditioning girls at least six years old. But they believed her fib and tried her outand were blown away, giving her the starring role in the low-budget “Beasts of the Southern Wild” over 4,000 other hopefuls. And now she could become the youngest ever winner of the best actress Oscar, at the 85th Academy Awards, the climax of Hollywood’s annual awards season, next weekend. “It was very clear don’t meet six-year-olds who have that quality,” said director Benh Zeitlin, recalling her audition. “She just had this natural charisma and focus and fierceness and wiseness and morality. “Coming out of a body that small and a mind that young, it’s almost alien and alien in a way that goes kind of straight at your heart. It’s her perspective that unlocks the truth in the film.” That

charisma is obvious when you see Wallis being interviewed to promote the movie over recent months, even before it was elevated to the stratosphere by being nominated for four Oscars in January, including best picture. “I was in my bedroom half asleep,” Wallis told Jay Leno, about waking last month to learn she was nominated alongside Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Naomi Watts and Emmanuelle Riva, the oldest ever best actress nominee, at 85. “So nothing reacted on the outside, but I was like flipping cartwheels and stuff on the inside,” she told the talk show host, whom she admonished-cutely-for asking her a question more appropriate for the director. In the movie Wallis plays Hushpuppy, living in the Louisiana bayou with her hot-tempered and ailing father Wink, in a community threatened by floods driven by melting ice-caps. —AFP



By Alice Short


s it possible for an Angeleno to leave home and find love in a region where sunshine is merely a rumor and 50 shades of gray are a daily atmospheric reality? It’s helpful if the pursuit of that bliss involves a white-hot controversy that upon occasion dominates headlines and ensnares academics, government officials and medical researchers. I am speaking, of course, of carbohydrate love. Portlandwhere the constantly caffeinated seem to have an ever-growing selection of pastries to consume with their coffee-is a logical destination. “We love our bakeries like we love books and strip clubs,” a writer at professed last year. My husband, Steve, and I flew to Portland in early December, primed for a pastry crawl — 48 hours of maple frosting and bacon, of gingersnaps and drop biscuits with lemon curd. We were also primed for a visit with our 25-yearold son, Greg, who wanted to introduce us to his serious girlfriend, thus allowing us to witness a more traditional sort of affection. Our list of stops was informed by recommendations of friends and coworkers who have some awareness of Portland’s growing reputation as a gastropolis.

Northeast Portland, and a shop in Eugene, Ore). Highlights: Bacon maple bar, the voodoo doll (a doughnut filled with raspberry jelly and topped with chocolate frosting), the Loop (covered with Fruit Loops) and the maple blazer blunt (decorated with red sprinkles). Vibe: Voodoo Too feels like a combination tourist trap, fetish shop and sweet factory. It’s fast, furious and fun-in a sledgehammer kind of way. Overheard: Loud rock ‘n’ roll, gluttonous grunts Conclusion: Despite the protests (“Overrated!”) from the locals in our group, a stop is compulsory for any visitor with a jones for sugar.

hazelnut paws, macarons, baguettes, Pugliese bread, roggenbrot (dark rye) Vibe: Pearl is a neighborhood hangout, but the huge baking kitchen in the back is a reminder of its large commercial enterprise. It’s close to Powell’s City of Books and not surprisingly, many of the customers brandished printed matter in one hand and a mass of carbohydrates in another. Conclusion: Bring your signed copy of Dave Eggers’ “A Hologram for the King” (recently purchased after a book-signing Feb 5 at Powell’s), order a lemon tart and stay awhile.

Cinnamon Crowns sit on display at Pearl Bakery.

Little T American Baker Known for: Baker-owner Tim Healea’s chewy breads with fine crumbs, Stumptown Coffee, Sally Lunn bread, and a listing in Bon Appetit’s 2010 “10 Best Boutique Coffee Shops.” Highlights: Drop biscuit with lemon curd, apple cheese Danish, orange brownie, pretzel bread, seeded hoagie roll, baguettes Vibe: Modern but warm. The space is filled with light (when the sun is out), thanks to all the windows. Wood accents and flowers add homeyness, and the customers dress as if they were trying to fulfill our every stereotype of the Pacific Northwest. Think jeans, beanies, polar fleece, North Face. Overheard: Employees who know their stuff; customers who know the menu. Locals rule. Conclusion: A sublime experience on a Sunday morning, Little T sets the bar high. Parisian Puffs with Italian Plums Prune sit on display at the Bakeshop.

During the 48 hours, we stopped at seven places, ranging from artful (Bakeshop) to playful (Voodoo Doughnut Too). We drove about 70 miles in total as we wended our way around four of the city’s five quadrants (North, Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Southwest). Portland is not difficult to navigate and the locals’ idea of bad traffic made us snort with derision, but we discovered that there were times to turn off the GPS and ask for directions. Mostly, we grazed. We consumed shortbreads and gingersnaps, Fruit Loop doughnuts and macarons, at prices that ranged from $2 to $6 (although some of the big loaves of bread cost as much as $15). During our short stay, we must have consumed a month’s worth of calories, and we agreed to give up sugar not only for Lent but also for the rest of the year, a resolution we broke as soon as we spied “made in Oregon” chocolates at Portland International Airport. It was an experience we’d repeat tomorrow. Here’s a rundown of the bakeries and sugar shacks we visited: Bakeshop Known for: Pastry chef Kim Boyce worked at Campanile and Spago before relocating to the Pacific Northwest. Her creations, which are sold to other restaurants and coffee shops, attest to a thoughtful, sophisticated baker. Highlights: Shortbread, ginger molasses cookies, chocolate orange pecan scones, chocolate espresso cake. Vibe: The Bakeshop counter is relatively small and practically elegant, reflecting what is being sold. Next door at Case Study Coffee, the mood was one of quiet contentment. Overheard: Bakeshop is a carry-out kind of place next door to Case Study Coffee, which roasts its own coffee and encourages carry in. On a rainy Saturday afternoon, most customers seemed engrossed in their computers and their pastries; eavesdropping was a challenge. But a preschooler clutching a hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows proved the exception by loudly extolling its virtues. Conclusion: An adult experience. Look for Madeleine Peyroux on your iTunes, plug in the headphones and dig in. Most items $2-$6. Voodoo Doughnut Too Known for: Tourists, long lines, doughnuts covered with maple frosting and bacon, arcade games and T-shirt sales. Despite all this (or because of it), Voodoo gets great press. Bon Appetit once proclaimed: “What Dali was to art, Voodoo is to donuts.” (There are two other locations: the original, in

Featured breads including 1.5 kilo Country Boule, from left, 3 Kilo Country Boule and Ciabatta, are pictured at Ken’s Artisan Bakery,.

Tabor Bread Known for: Tabor says it’s the first retail bakery in Portland to mill its own flour, and the breads are baked in a wood-fired oven in the middle of the store _ very cozy. Highlights: Savory bread pudding, oat scones with currants and orange, rye Pullman loaves, light rye bread and baguettes Vibe: Tissa Stein took a former medical building and transformed it into a neighborhood gathering spot. The bakery has a homey feel, with hardwood floors, an open-beam ceiling and a scattering of tables, chairs and bar stools, all occupied by customers clad in what seems to be a municipal requirement: jeans, beanies, fleece Conclusion: Cool neighborhood hangout, especially for those who embrace wood-fired breads made from housemilled grains-which undoubtedly includes 99 percent of the city’s residents.

Ken’s Artisan Bakery Known for: Ken Forkish opened his bakery more than a decade ago, and his empire has expanded to Ken’s Artisan Pizza and a cookbook titled “Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza.” His bread has inspired a great deal of praise from foodies and others, but it’s the pastry selection that mesmerized customers on a recent morning. Vibe: With its high ceilings, yellow walls and polished concrete floors, Ken’s is homey and businesslike at the same time. The display of breads and pastries and sweets is like a garden of earthly delights. Highlights: Bread pudding, apple galette, macarons, hazelnut butter cookies, brioche, walnut bread, ciabatta. Overheard: An astonished customer who asked: “How many flavors of macarons do you have?” Conclusion: Plop the baby in a high chair with a croissant to keep her quiet, plunge that fork into your slice of opera cake and know that bliss, although temporary, is a very real state. Blue Collar Baking Co Known for: Blue Collar’s slogan is “We’re not afraid of butter!” and the proprietor means it. The year-old business is the most recent step in owner Warren Becker’s evolution from home baker to entrepreneur. Highlights: Red velvet Bundt cake, wage earner chocolate chip cookies, big rig oatmeal cookies, waitress scones Vibe: It feels like its name-blue collar. Clocks are proudly labeled and set to the time in Scranton, Pa, Milwaukee and Cleveland. Industrial-style tables and chairs sit atop a tile floor. Cookies and pastries sit under glass domes on a counter. Conclusion: Becker and his baked goods are irresistible. Pull up a chair and a chocolate chip cookie and banish all thoughts of kale for the next 20 minutes. — MCT

Pearl Bakery Known for: Pearl Bakery, on the edge of downtown’s Pearl District, opened in 1997, which makes it one of the more established enterprises on this pastry tour. The breads are sold to local restaurants and grocery stores and to customers who took up every seat in the small storefront during our visit. Most recent accomplishment? A line of artisan chocolates. Highlights: Gruyere croissant, cinnamon crowns, apple

Peppermint Chocolate Brownie, left, and Red Velvet Cupcake are served at Little T American Baker. An oversized model doughnut hangs on the wall at Voodoo Doughnut.

Croissants sit on display at Pearl Bakery.

Baguettes sit on display at Little T American Baker. —MCT photos


lifestyle F a s h i o n


ritish designer Vivienne Westwood showcased more than her fashion designs at London Fashion Week on Sunday by sporting a Julian Assange T-shirt in support of the WikiLeaks founder. British designer Westwood selected a T-shirt emblazoned with her face and the words “I am Julian Assange” to wear at her Red Label fashion show, which sent models in ribbed, woollen dresses striding down the halls of London’s Saatchi Gallery. Elsewhere androgynous designs, sheepskin and silk dominated the catwalks at the five-day fashion week. Westwood, a leading name on the London leg of the international fashion circuit, called Assange a “hero” and said she had raised 3,000 pounds ($4,700) for him through selling the T-shirts. “I’m a big supporter of Julian Assange,” Westwood told Reuters. “He’s an incredible hero because he exposes the lies of the war mafia people.” “I love people who stick their necks out,” she said. Assange incensed the United States and its allies by using WikiLeaks to leak hundreds of thousands of secret US diplomatic and military cables in 2010. Assange has been holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London since June to avoid extradition from Britain to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault. He denies wrongdoing. Over the years, designers have used London Fashion Week to make political statements, taking advantage of the international audience to garner maximum publicity for their causes. Buyers from 39 different countries are attending and the British Fashion Council estimates orders of more than 100 million pounds are placed in London Fashion Week each season. The direct value of the British fashion industry to Britain’s $2.5 trillion economy is 21 billion pounds ($32.60 billion), the council said. Music boomed through the white-washed corridors, where Westwood teamed purples, teals and neutral tones for her flowing skirts, simple knitwear and zebra print coats. Canadian rock star Bryan Adams, as well British socialite sisters Peaches and Pixie Geldof were on the guest list. “She is an original ... there’s no one like Vivienne,” Adams told Reuters on the sidelines of the event.

ANDROGENY At Paul Smith, androgynous tailoring in jewel tones was punctuated by mini-dresses with a photograph of a Cuban room interior woven into the fabric. Smith said sales for his three clothing lines were 9 percent higher than last year, spurring him to be more playful in his designs and use better fabrics. “It’s very Paul Smith - ‘boy meets girl and she’s borrowed his jacket’, which I’ve done many years but it’s pretty sexy this time,” Smith told Reuters. Earlier, Nicole Farhi presented sharp androgynous tailoring and knitted jumpers, while Matthew Williamson dazzled fashionistas with an array of dresses at the Royal Opera House. Sequined patterns of roses were sewn onto sweaters and skirts with pleated detailing, while native Nordic costumes inspired embellished necklines. “His shows are always joyous, so full of colour and you just want to wear everything,” said British model Twiggy. Topshop’s Unique label streamed its show of glossy leather skirts, sheepskin stoles and cropped jumpers live across the world via the brand’s YouTube channel. Models wore tiny cameras on their heads to give audiences a view from the catwalk as part of a partnership with social network Google+ to provide a 360-degree view of the show. Nostalgia reigned elsewhere, as designers Alice Temperley and Emilia Wickstead, both favourites of the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, honoured Britain’s rich fashion history with their creations. Chain-linked trapeze dresses with matching swing coats created striking silhouettes at Temperley London, while silk day dresses in Thirties-style cuts paraded across the wooden floors of one of Mayfair’s luxury hotels for Wickstead’s show. —Reuters

Paul Smith

Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood greets the audience with her models following her Vivienne Westwood Red Label show. — AFP photos


asser Sports Centre announced the arrival of the new collection of the new Mustard and Sorbet collection for the spring 2013. A collection that targets caring mothers providing their little angels with fashion from pin to pram. High quality products, affordable prices and latest trends are the main characteristics of this collection with a variety of shirts, dresses, hats, caps, pants and jackets to suit all kids’ needs and meet their parents’ expectations. Must haves of the season with classical touches or edgy designs along with col-

orful outfits and outstanding combinations, the Mustard and Sorbet collection signs off the spring tendencies with garments no kid’s wardrobe should be without in a range that mixes the principle of practicality with high creativity and the latest trends for each growth phase, from pregnancy to child birth and from infant to toddler stage. Shiny grey or flowery patterns, jacquard weaves or plain jumpers, royal blue or highlights of black and white in a shimmering design, sparkling green or intense purple, all fashion inclinations are perfect this spring to

Baguettes sit on display at Little T American Baker.

make our little ones navigate the season with comfort and style all dressed in international high quality products vibrant and affordable garments and available in a collection to taste and discover in all Nasser Sports Centre showrooms.

Stars lash out at government austerity at Spain film awards



A photo shows an elephant eye starring at the camera at zoo in Amariya, Kuwait City. —Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Art, defecation and death at E

ccentric Australian gambler David Walsh is shaking up the sleepy city of Hobart with an unorthodox new museum challenging visitors to a new pact with fermenting, defecating and dying art. It is an unassuming site for what has fast become one of Australia’s most talked-about tourist attractions, a rusted, hulking edifice perched on a hillside 100 steps up from the Derwent River in the island state of Tasmania. By design, the first sight greeting visitors is a tennis court-maths savant Walsh plays there when the museum is closed on Tuesdays. It is intended to dispel any notion that a contrived act of culture is about to take place. Once inside, visitors descend several flights of stairs to access the galleries. There are no labels on the walls-all information about the works is stored in an iPod handed out at the start of a visit. The device is loaded with facts and commentaries about the art, some from the artist or Walsh himself under a section called “Artwank”-one of many irreverent touches pitched at a younger audience. Punters can “love” or “hate” each work, aligned to the device via GPS, and at the end of the day can have a record of their tour emailed to them, complete with all the media. “You come to a conventional museum, walk up the steps through the columns and you’re told what to think,” research curator Delia Nicholls told AFP. “(Walsh) wanted you to have a different visceral experience by coming underground, putting a tennis court out the front. “He wanted to do this thing where

Photo shows an artwork titled Cloaca Professional by Belgium artist Wim Delvoye.

Photo shows an untitled artwork by Greek artist Jannis Kounellis in the foreground and artwork titled The Snake by Australian artist Sir Sidney Nolan in the background.

Photo shows the interior of the unorthodox Museum of Old and New Art, or MONA.

point of autism”, has built a vast fortune devising gambling algorithms after learning how to count cards while studying science at university. A self-made millionaire from working-class roots, he claims to have gone broke establishing MONA and it is easy to see why. Among the works currently on display are pieces by Kandinsky, Basquiat and Warhol, Australian modernists Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd along with Andres Serrano, best known for his controversial “Piss Christ”. French curator Jean-Hubert Martin, former director of the Centre Georges Pompidou, helped Walsh lay out his collection and Nicholls said Walsh sought him for his unconventional eye. Some of the art is living-French artist Michel Blazy’s fermenting sculptures using fruit and agar are oddly compellingwhile others celebrate death. Greg Taylor’s “My Beautiful Chair” invites the visitor to recline beside a lethal injection machine developed by euthanasia advocate Philip Nitschke as a computer counts down the three minutes 15 seconds to “YOU ARE DEAD”. For Aus$75,000 your ashes can be interred in the museum’s cinerarium alongside Walsh’s father and another family friend. At 2:00pm every day a fresh faecal masterpiece is conceived

by Wim Delvoye’s Cloaca Professional, a complex array of transparent urns fed and functioning as a digestive tract-”a work of art that produces a work of art”. The smell is overpowering as it is fed its meal of a sandwich and salad from the museum cafe, an in-sink garbage disposal unit functioning as its mouth and the turbid swirl of acids, enzymes and browning sludge laid bare. Nicholls said Walsh intended MONA to be a challenge-to the senses and the art establishment. “He hopes that (visitors) see the connections that we have all got, that we maybe help them to see things in a new way,” she said. “That’s what good art’s about.”—AFP

you don’t get any clues that you are coming to a museum.” The Museum of Old and New Art, or MONA, has shot to prominence in the two short years it has been open, seeing Lonely Planet name Hobart one of the world’s top 10 cities to visit in 2013. Some 700,000 visitors have passed through its doors and big names including Elvis Costello have signed onto its annual MONA FOMA (or MOFO) music and art festival, which attracts tens of thousands of tourists to the port city. “For a little place at the end of the world it’s not bad,” said Nicholls. Though centred around the Aus$75 million (US$77 million) custom-built museum and its Aus$100 million collection, MONA is about much more than art-it has an on-site brewery and vineyard, accommodation, restaurant and wine bar. The tale of its provenance is almost as intriguing as its contents. Legend has it that Walsh, a collector since childhood of stamps and coins, bought his first serious piece, a carved door, on a gambling trip to South Africa. Told he could not take his cash winnings out of the country, he asked if he could have the Nigerian palace door instead, quipping: “So I can’t take $20,000 out but I can take your heritage,” according to Nicholls. Walsh, who once described himself as “internal to the

Photos shows an artwork titled My Beautiful Chair by Australia’s Greg Taylor and Dr Philip Nitschke in the unorthodox Museum of Old and New Art.—AFP photos

Photo shows an artwork titled nature Molle Soft Life and Araignee Spider by French artist Michel Blazy.

Photo shows artwork titled bit.fall by German artist Julius Popp.

Photo shows the unorthodox Museum of Old and New Art, or MONA.

19 Feb 2013  

Kuwait Times

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