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fire for stiff penalties New tweeter jailed, Nafisi released on hefty bail

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By B Izzak

conspiracy theories

What’s the catch?

By Badrya Darwish


ish, fish and less fish. What is happening in the fish market? For two consecutive days I have been going to Souq Sharq, which is considered one of the largest market venues selling fish in Kuwait. It houses more than 180 fish vendors. There you can find both local and imported fish from various countries - Iran, Oman, Pakistan and many other places. It is an interesting market. On any ordinary day you enter the souq which looks like a beehive. It is packed with shoppers - Kuwaitis and non-Kuwaitis buying and bargaining with the salesmen. Sometimes at the end of the day, the voices get louder as people are trying to sell even the last piece of fish. This is when the best bargains happen. The other day, however, things were different. I was shocked to find the market completely empty no vendors, no fish and no shoppers. There was no life there. Even a graveyard would be busier. There was nobody to ask what happened. Few security guards explained that there was a strike. Yesterday, I went to the market again. Only few places were open and there were few people at the stalls. An official from the market administration explained that the market was implementing new rules. Actually, these were old rules but a new manager decided to enforce them. The decision was that only Kuwaiti fish should be sold in this market. All is beautiful. We should protect our local fish. May I know how much fish do we have? I know Kuwaiti fish tastes the best but because we do not have enough of it, the price of Kuwaiti fish is very expensive. It is not affordable for ordinary citizens Kuwaitis or expats. For instance, zubaidi, the most famous type of fish now costs KD 12 per kilo. That is why other fresh fish imported from countries like Iran, Oman, Emirates or Egypt is sold at a cheaper price which is affordable to many. Do not be misled. When I say much cheaper, I do not mean a big difference in the price. I only compare it to the price of the local Kuwaiti catch. There are times when at the start of the fishing season, fishing stops for a while for breeding. Then if we don’t import fish from outside, how can we get enough fish in Kuwait at a reasonable price? The problem in Kuwait is that sometimes there are rules which are not re-studied. Later on there is a discovery that there is a snag with a certain rule but nobody dares or cares to change it. These rules are not the Quran or the Bible. They are man-made and can be discussed and customized based on our necessity. What is happening? Is somebody fishing in our fish market? What is the catch? Even the media is ignoring the topic. Till the municipality decides what happens to Souq Sharq, you have to opt for another market. That, of course, is in case you relish fish.

KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (left) is presented the entire Holy Quran on a single page by Minister of Awqaf And Islamic Affairs Shareeda Al-Maousherji during the closing ceremony of Kuwait’s 4th International Holy Quran Competition yesterday. — KUNA (See Page 3)

Oppn rallies for reform KUWAIT: Hundreds of Kuwaitis held an opposition rally outside the country’s main court complex late yesterday, calling for the release of activists charged with insulting HH the Amir and for steps towards political reform. People sat on chairs set out in front of a stage in a park and listened to speeches from activists. Police gathered outside the entrance to the court complex but kept their distance from the rally, which was peaceful. Several people wore orange items of clothing, a mark of a protest movement that peaked towards the end of last year with a march of tens of thousands on the eve of a parliamentary election. Protests have dwindled significantly since then. “We are looking for our rights, for our right to freedom of speech, the freedom to express your opinion,” participant Ghalia Al-Ajmi said. She said the rally was part of a series of gatherings aimed at edu-

cating people on such topics. Rights groups say at least 25 people have been charged with offending Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad AlSabah, mainly on social media websites such as Twitter. Several have already been sentenced to jail terms of up to five years and some of those under arrest have been housed in the court complex, known as the Justice Palace. “We are here because we are looking to repair the electoral system. We are looking for a fully elected government,” participant Nasser Al-Osami said at the start of the gathering. Many of the arrests came after a series of street protests and online debate last year over changes to an electoral law passed by the Amir, who is described as “immune and inviolable” in the constitution and shielded from public criticism by the penal code. — Reuters

Saudi Shiites fear new unrest after arrests


KUWAIT: Former opposition MPs, writers, journalists and activists have strongly lashed out at a new media draft law that stipulates unprecedented hefty penalties against violators. The new draft law was approved earlier this week by the Cabinet but must pass the National Assembly to be effective. The 99-article draft law stipulates a 10-year sentence for insulting the Almighty, prophets, companions, relatives and wives of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It also stipulates a fine of between KD 50,000 and KD 300,000 for those convicted of insulting the Amir. The draft law gives the Information Ministry the right to shut down with an administrative decision any publication for up to three years even without a court ruling, a key article in the current law. Former liberal opposition MP Abdulrahman Al-Anjari described the draft legislation as a “stigma” for the government which is “suffering from psychological disorders”. Former MP Obaid Al-Wasmi described it as the “capital punishment law” while former MP Jamaan Al-Harbash said it belongs to the old ages and will send too many people to jail. Meanwhile, the criminal court yesterday issued a two-year jail term against opposition tweeter Hijab Al-Hajeri for writing tweets deemed offensive to HH the Amir in yet another verdict targeting activists. But the court asked the convict to pay a bail of KD 100 to suspend the implementation of the imprisonment until the appeals court issues its verdict on the case. Like several opposition tweeters, Hajeri was charged of insulting the Amir and undermining his status. Several tweeters and former opposition MPs have been handed several years in prison over the same charge and some of them have been sent to jail. In another case, the criminal court postponed the case of Al-Youm Television to May 8. Two announcers for the proopposition station, its chairman and a director are facing charges of violating the law by reading a statement issued by the opposition several weeks ago. Another court also set May 1 as the date to issue its verdict on opposition tweeter Abdulaziz Al-Mutairi on charges of insulting the Amir. In a related development, the public prosecution released well-known Islamist thinker and university professor Abdullah Al-Nafisi on a KD 5,000 bail after interrogating him on accusations of threatening national unity. Nafisi had reportedly undermined Shiites at a diwaniya meeting about two weeks ago which was held to highlight the dangers Iran was posing against the Gulf states including Kuwait. During the speech, Nafisi was cited as saying that some of the 17 Shiite MPs in the Assembly have links with Iran and claimed that one of them had taken part in a suicide car bombing on the life of the late former Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah in May 1985. He also claimed that another MP was involved in the hijacking of a Kuwaiti passenger plane in 1988 that was blamed on Shiite militias. Meanwhile, Islamist MP Hamed Al-Dossari called yesterday on the ministries of interior and foreign affairs to follow the footsteps of Bahrain and treat the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. He also charged that Iran has ambitions in the Gulf and is inciting discord in Bahrain and the rest of the Gulf Arab states.

Mideast feminists reject Europe topless protests


Politics trumps economics again KUWAIT: At a parliamentary debate on consumer debt relief in Kuwait last week, lawmakers described how thousands of Kuwaitis were struggling to make ends meet in one of the world’s richest countries per capita. Citizens had taken out personal loans, often more than one - perhaps to buy a car or reno-

vate a house - and were unable to pay the money back. They were victims of high interest rates and punishing repayment schedules, the lawmakers said. Their solution was for the government to come to the rescue, using Kuwait’s oil wealth to ease the “suffering” of indebted citizens. They advocated the kind of

largesse which has defined the Gulf state’s relationship with its people for decades. After three hours of debate, parliament and the cabinet agreed on a law allowing the state to spend up to KD 744 million ($2.6 billion) to buy loans taken out from banks before March

2008, write off the interest and reschedule repayments. Bankers and economists were not impressed, saying the plan rewarded poor money management and would be bad for a banking sector which is still recovering from the global financial crisis. Some banks may Continued on Page 2

in the


Kuwait mulls plan to extract shale gas KUWAIT: Kuwait is investigating a plan to extract shale gas from its northern fields, a Kuwaiti oil sector official said yesterday, estimating that the Gulf Arab state could produce 150-200 million cubic feet per day under the right conditions. OPEC member Kuwait is a major oil producer, with a capacity of 3 million barrels of oil per day. However its gas production is relatively low and it depends in part on gas imports to serve its energy needs. The official said that if Kuwait goes ahead with the plan it would work with a company specialised in shale gas production, without giving further details. Production will depend on the technology available “because our main problem is that the (gas) reservoir is complex...and this layer is the most complex,” the official said, referring to the part containing shale gas. The official declined to give a time frame for when production could start, saying that there have only been discussions so far.

Kufpec launches syndicated loan LONDON: Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (Kufpec) has launched its first syndicated loan in five years with a $750 million deal, two sources close to the deal said. The deal will be Kufpec’s largest ever syndicated loan, according to Thomson Reuters LPC data. It comes at a welcome time for Middle East borrowers because lenders are eager for volume after sporadic activity in 2012. Kufpec could not be immediately reached for comment. Kufpec, which is owned by state oil firm Kuwait Petroleum Company, is paying 140 basis points over LIBOR, bankers added. National Bank of Kuwait and JP Morgan are joint coordinators, with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, HSBC, JP Morgan Chase, National Bank of Kuwait and Royal Bank of Scotland as arrangers. Syndication of the deal has been launched to the oil company’s close local and international lenders. A bank meeting is being held in Dubai next week, with plans to sign the deal by the end of May.

Kuwait to finance Bahrain projects KUWAIT: Kuwait said yesterday it will finance projects worth $1.3 billion in its Gulf partner Bahrain as part of pledges made two years ago, an official statement said. The funds will be used to finance part of four development projects over the next few years, including power transmission networks, housing projects and a key road, the state-owned Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development said. KFAED officials signed the agreements with visiting Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa. Bahrain and Kuwait are members of the energy-rich Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) along with Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. At a meeting in Riyadh in March 2011, the six GCC states decided to establish a $20-billion fund to finance development projects in Bahrain and Oman, which have limited energy resources. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and UAE each pledged $5 billion, and the grants are to be spent over a 10-year period.

Rights group slams Saudi Yemen policies KUWAIT: A Gulf rights group yesterday criticised Saudi Arabia for reportedly building a fence on its border with Yemen and deporting thousands of Yemenis, warning of a looming “humanitarian catastrophe”. “The building of a 2,000-kilometre fence on the Saudi-Yemeni border will impose a real siege on the Yemeni people,” said the Gulf Forum for Civil Societies (GFCS), a pan-Gulf liberal group, on its Twitter account. The Forum said that the building of the fence coupled with deporting thousands of Yemenis will “certainly cause ... a real humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen”. The statement said that Saudi Arabia has completed the first phase of the security fence and described claims that it aims at preventing smugglers as “unconvincing”. A Yemeni official said last week that thousands of Yemeni workers have been expelled by Riyadh after imposing new labour constraints on foreigners. GFCS said it feared that as many as one million Yemenis might be affected.



242 law violators held in Shuwaikh crackdown Security campaigns to continue

KUWAIT: Surprise security inspections in progress at the Shuwaikh Industrial Area yesterday. By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: In a surprise security check in Shuwaikh Industrial Area, Field Operations Team continued its work in the presence of Assistant Undersecretary Lt Gen Mahmoud Al-Dawsary and Lt Gen Abdullah AlMuhanna. Personnel from other departments, like security sector, traffic department, criminal investigation, criminal detectives, private security forces, immigration detectives and reform establishments also participated. A total of 242 persons were arrested for being in violation of residency permit norms - those found without residency, or working for others and domestic maids article 20 - apart from some persons wanted in certain cases. All of them were referred to the concerned authorities. The security media officials emphasized that surprise campaigns were aimed at tracing and apprehending those in violation of residency law and persons wanted for involvement in certain cases, apart from

any other fugitives. They said the campaign was successful to a large degree and will continue as per the pre-determined plans to apprehend all law breakers when it comes to residency issues. The security media officials called upon citizens and expats to always carry identification papers as police were equipped with smart computers which can generate all necessary information about people and deal with them as per law. Pointing out that carrying identification papers like a civil ID, driving license and car registration books can help them from unnecessarily questioned, they called for cooperating with security personnel. Road accidents A car accident at Al-Istiqlal Street, opposite Bneid Al-Qar, left a 25-year-old Egyptian expat with back pain and a 22year-old Kuwaiti man with multiple injuries. Both were taken to the Al-Amiri Hospital. A vehicle caught fire on the Jleeb Al-

Shoyoukh School Street, leaving two Syrian expats, each 18 years old, with burn injuries. They were taken to the Farwaniya Hospital.

A 57-year-old Egyptian expat died on the spot in a car accident on the Sixth Ring Road opposite Jaber Stadium. The body was referred to the medical examiner.

Ammunition theft: Officials picked unsafe warehouse KUWAIT: Certain senior Interior Ministry officials could soon lose their jobs in the wake of the theft of nearly 35,000 rounds of ammunition from a warehouse used by the Saad Al-Abdullah Police Academy, according to a local newspaper which quoted security sources privy to the ongoing investigations in its report yesterday. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the insiders told Al-Rai that the First Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Sheikh Ahmad AlHmoud Al-Sabah, has ordered a comprehensive investigation to be opened “in order to determine the administrative liability which led to the incident.” The sources also indicated that minister Al-Sabah told Undersecretary Assistant for Training Affairs, Lieutenant General Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad AlSabah, to identify key officials responsible for protecting the facilities at the Police Academy “in order to be held accountable for any leniency on their part.” In the meantime, minister Al-Sabah reportedly met with Undersecretary Assistant for Criminal Investigations Major General Abdul-Aziz Al-Awadhi who briefed him about the results of investigations carried out so far by the Criminal Investigations General Department. “Investigations revealed that ammunition was stored in an unsafe manner inside the warehouse at the shooting square in Kazma where the theft happened,” the sources said. They further noted that the same warehouse was not authorized to be used for storing weapons or ammunition “because it lacked proper surveillance measures.” Moreover, the sources indicated that the ammunition was stored on the ‘verbal orders’ of senior officials in the Saad Al-Abdullah Police Academy “who explained during investigations that they wanted to keep the ammunition at the shooting square’s warehouse in order to save the trouble of transportation. Meanwhile, Al-Qabas newspaper reported yesterday quoting a security source familiar with the ongoing investigations that one suspect has been identified and was expected to be arrested “within a matter of hours.” Preliminary investigations indicated that at least five suspects were involved in the case, and that they loaded the ammunition on a small truck, as clear from the wheel traces found on the scene. The same newspaper quoted sources on Tuesday who pointed out that the theft was carried out “very professionally” which indicated that suspects were aware of the warehouses’ entrances and exits “and chose the right opportunity to commit their crime.”

Politics trumps economics again Continued from Page 1 lose money in the scheme and beyond that, the exercise could encourage irresponsible behaviour that might hurt the sector in future, the bankers argued. “It will create a moral hazard for the banking system,” said Ananthakrishnan Prasad, mission chief for Kuwait at the International Monetary Fund. “It will raise the incentives for banks to take riskier positions, and it will raise the incentives for borrowers to take more debt in the future,” he said on the sidelines of a finance conference in Kuwait this week. Prasad said the IMF had warned Kuwait about such issues before, and that it would give such guidance to any other country which thought about writing off its citizens’ debt. In most parts of the world, a scheme to use state money to pay for delinquent borrowers’ consumer loans would arouse widespread public criticism. The fact that it did not in Kuwait - most people expressed no surprise - underlined how the country has developed a pattern of using its vast oil wealth for political patronage. Many Gulf Arab nations

use state money for such handouts. Last May, for example, the United Arab Emirates government said it would settle up to 5 million dirhams ($1.36 million) worth of defaulted loans for each indebted local citizen. Such generosity may be one reason that most countries in the region have avoided the severe social unrest which has hit other parts of the Arab world since 2011. But the Kuwaiti loan plan is unusual in its large scale and the fact that it appears to have been pressed on a reluctant Cabinet by the Kuwaiti parliament, which is the most independent and outspoken in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. Members of parliament justified the scheme by arguing that the Central Bank had not been strict enough on banks’ lending practices before 2008. “We began to realise that the problems were not in the loans but in the unjust and unfair and illegal interest that the banks were calculating and accumulating their profits and hurting the people,” MP Maasouma Al-Mubarak said ahead of last week’s vote. Under the scheme, banks assessed to have overcharged interest, by asking for more than 4 percentage points above

the central bank’s discount rate, would have to pay it back to customers. The plan will affect around 47,000 Kuwaitis in a country of 1.2 million citizens; it is not yet clear if banks as a group will end up losing money in the scheme, or how much. Banking executives rejected the lawmakers’ accusations, saying lenders had been working within parameters set by the central bank and had done nothing wrong. “That is why I am the reaction that says the banks have been overcharging and so on,” Michel Accad, chief executive of Gulf Bank, Kuwait’s fourth largest lender by market value, told the audience at the conference. “I mean, come on, let’s be realistic. Not only they haven’t overcharged, generally speaking, but this is also one of the lowest spreads in any country for consumer loans.” The loans were generally charging about 3 percentage points above the discount rate, he added. By 2011, consumer lending in Kuwait had more than doubled to KD 607.7 million from KD 276.5 million in 2008, according to statistics from the Central Bank. The debt plan means Kuwaitis will want to borrow even more, Finance

Kuwait-Bahrain coordination at highest level KUWAIT: Bahrain and Kuwait underlined yesterday that bilateral coordination was at the highest level. Bahrain’s foreign minister Sheik h Khaled bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa, and Kuwait’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad AlSabah said the joint committee meetings, which concluded earlier today, would help further promote exchange of visits and consultations over many issues. Sheikh Sabah thanked the Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki, his government and people for honoring their obligations towards Kuwait, which enabled the UN to continue with the maintenance of the border signs. He said the upcoming visit of His Highness the prime minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah to Iraq was in the premier’s priorities. He said the visit has been postponed becuase Iraq was preparing for general elections this month. Sheikh Sabah commenting on Kuwait’s plans to list the Lebanese Hezbollah party in the list of terrorist organizations, and said listing any group on the list “requires certain legal measures that are known for all countries.” He did not elaborate. Sheikh Sabah, meanwhile, said relations between the GCC and Iran should be based on mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs. “We look forward that Iran brush aside doubts over its nuclear file out of keenness on security and stability in the region, and that Iran play an important and positive role,” said the Kuwaiti top diplomat. Sheikh Sabah said they met earlier in the day with His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and

His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. Bahraini foreign minister Sheikh Khaled said the committee meeting was a good chance to exchange views over regional and international matters. He said the region was experiencing political and economic development “which should be addressed in line with a new and open vision that boost our security and stability ... towards integration and the union phase.” Sheikh Khaled, who thanked Kuwait for its overwhelming support, said security situation in Bahrain was stable despite sporadic attacks. “ There is a political atmosphere that is developing everyday through the national dialogue that was called by King of Bahrain last February, and which held a number of sessions to discuss all issues,” he said. “Dialogue will always have fruitful results,” he added. Sheikh Khaled brushed aside reports of an Arab mediation between Bahrain and Iran. Sheikh Khaled was asked whether Bahrain’s prime minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa’s visit to Saudi Arabia last Saturday aimed at discussing the union between Riyadh and Manama. He said the visit was to discuss many issues including the GCC union “and there is no bilateral approach in that regard.” On Hezbollah, he said the Bahraini house of representatives proposed listing the Lebanese party in the list of terrorist organizations, but this move required processing through legal channels. Sheikh Khaled said the GCC countries were in constant coordination regarding security matters and with the arrest of terrorist networks with foreign affiliation. —KUNA

Minister Mustafa Al-Shamali told reporters this week. “Sure, it will encourage more borrowing...because you eased the burden on a large amount of people and they have the freedom to borrow again,” said Shamali, who had long warned against writing off loans. The cost of the scheme for Kuwaiti banks will be limited, said Hamad Al-Marzouq, chairman of Ahli United Bank and head of Kuwait’s banking association. But parliament’s debate was an unfair attack on the banks’ reputations, he said. “Many of the politicians were looking for an excuse to make political gains, and there were a lot of false allegations regarding banks committing violations.” Kuwaiti banks are still recovering from a collapse of the country’s investment sector. Many firms borrowed cheaply in the mid-2000s to invest in local stocks and real estate; the global crisis meant loans could not be refinanced and asset values plummeted - the local stock market has dropped more than 55 percent from its June 2008 peak - forcing local banks to provision for billions of dinars of debt restructurings. — Reuters


in brief

Road named after Thatcher KUWAIT: In appreciation of her role in supporting Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion in 1990, MP Nasser Al-Marri announced that he, along with a group of his colleagues, would file a proposal to name a section of the Gulf Road opposite the National Assembly building and falling between the oil ministry and the Amiri Diwan premises, after the late British premier Margaret Thatcher. Separately, a similar request was made by MP Nabil Al-Fadhl to name the Gulf Road section falling between the British embassy and the Diwan of HH Sheikh Nasser AL-Mohammed, after late Mrs Thatcher. Minister signs contract KUWAIT: Minister of Electricity and Water and Minister of Public Works Abdulaziz Al-Ibrahim signed yesterday a contract for operation and maintenance of electric power and water distillation at an approximate value of KD 10.8 million. This contract aims to provide the sectors of enterprise, operations, and maintenance at the stations with specialized technical labor of engineers and technicians, the ministry said in a statement. Ministry sources said the contract was signed as part of the policy to realize sustainability in providing water and power to the population of Kuwait. Arab women face problems KUWAIT: Women and children in Arab societies face “grave problems,” said Kuwaiti MP Safaa AlHashim, expressing hope that the Arab InterParliamentary Union Conference addresses these issues. A report, supported by statistics and figures, was prepared by the AIPU women and children’s affairs committee, said its chairman, identifying solutions to the two problems. One of the most challenges women are affected with is living under detrimental conditions in refugee camps, while children face many problems, especially those living in North Africa and Sudan.



Amir attends Kuwait Quran ceremony KUWAIT: Kuwait’s 4th International Holy Quran Competition closing ceremony was held here yesterday under the auspices of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah. The ceremony was attended by HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Speaker of the National Assembly Ali Al-Rashed, former speaker Jassem Al-Kharafi, senior Sheikhs, Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud

Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and top officials. The ceremony started with the Kuwaiti National Anthem, followed by reciting verses of the Holy Quran. Then, Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Shareeda Abdullah Al-Mousherji gave a speech that started by addressing HH the Amir, HH the Crown Prince, the Speaker and the other eminent and leading officials and figures attending the event. “We are gathered here today to honor a distinguished group of Muslim youth coming from various countries, talking various languages,

with what they memorize of the Holy Quran to a country cherishing strong abidance by the Holy Quran, a country where the political leadership and people are competing to serve this holy book,” he said. Al-Mousherji thanked HH the Amir for his patronage of this contest and appreciated His Highness’ effort at this level. A total of 107 participants from 58 countries gathered in Kuwait to take part in this contest, he said. He continued by addressing the participants saying that they have great obligations con-

cerning their religion and countries, and should be great examples by embracing morals of the holy Quran and follow ethics of Prophet Mohammad peace and blessings of Allah may be upon him.” He called for abiding by the teachings of Islam and deal with people with great wisdom and kindness. President of the Prize Jury Sheikh Abdulaziz Fadel Al-Enizi gave a speech, hailing the fruitful instructions by HH the Amir in organizing this event, and stressed on the distinguished effort

of Kuwait in serving the Holy Quran, encouraging youth to recite and memorize the holy verses. He expressed his thanks and deepest gratitude for the patronage of His Highness the Amir of the major event. Later, a group of children gave a speech expressing deep gratitude to HH the Amir, echoing identical warm sentiments toward him. HH the Amir distributed prizes to the winning participants, jury and organizes of the activity. A memorial gift was presented to HH Sheikh Sabah.—KUNA

New media law feared to limit press freedom High fines set for violators

By Nawara Fattahova

Boubyan ‘Best Social Responsible Bank’ in Kuwait KUWAIT: In appreciation of its achievements in the area of social service and its distinguished initiatives and organization of many social and awareness campaigns over the past three years, Boubyan Bank managed to win the Award of “Best Social Responsible Bank in Kuwait” by receiving the Golden Order of Merit from Tatweej Academy for Excellence Awards in the Arab region for year 2013. In the ceremony held in Burj Al Arab in Dubai, the Award was received by GM Administration Group, Waleed Khaled AlYaqout in the presence of a group of the prominent public figures, government officials, bankers, businessmen and economists in the Arab world. Commenting on this achievement, AlYaqout said: “Social responsibility is the cornerstone of the Bank’s dealings with all sections of society in contribution to development and building a society which is able to cope with all regional and international variables, therefore, the Bank took the lead in launching a variety of social initiatives and sponsoring many activities and events directed to different sections of society.” “During the period extending from 2010 through the end of 2012 the Bank sponsored and participated in over 100 different activities targeting different sections (youth, children, people with special needs as well as all other sections of society,” added Al-Yaqout. Al-Yaqout highlighted the Bank’s vision with regard to social responsibility showing that it stems from its care to have a remarkable impression in the different areas of society service by organizing campaigns that

contribute to and affect development of society, and that social responsibility becomes a key concern for all the Bank’s staff of all levels. He also indicated that the social responsibility of Boubyan Bank springs from the fact that it is a bank operating in compliance with the principles of Islamic Shari’ah, which are based on the spirit of Islam that enjoins cooperation, selflessness and helping different classes of society, especially those in need or suffering from shortage in the daily needs. Noteworthy is that Tatweej Academy is non-profitable organization that aims at honoring elite Arab leaders and banks, in specific, in appreciation of their great efforts that contributed to supporting economy and establishing trust, which led to social security all over the Arab nation. Every year leader and banking figures who contributed to supporting national economy as well as active social responsible banks winning international certificates of excellence and quality in the area of prudent management. The number of schools participating in the first version of the competition last September exceeded 200 schools out of which 65 government and private schools were shortlisted in the final stage whose results will be announced next May. The “The Big Tree Society” program implemented by Boubyan Bank in cooperation with UNESCO encourages students of all ages and all school years to control their future and provides them with the opportunity to explore their personal capabilities through participation in a special competition aiming at enhancing environmental awareness and impact on the environment.

KUWAIT: Two days ago, the cabinet approved the draft of the Unified Media Law, which involves amending the current media law. If the parliament passes the draft law, it will apply to all the local media, including print, broadcast, electronic and social media. According to some sections of the local media, the new law will limit press freedom and has been proposed as a reaction to the current political situation in the country. The press also criticized the high fines set for violators of this law. Labeed Abdal, a writer, columnist and a legal attorney, who had joined the Association of Defense Counsel and practiced before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), commented on this draft law. The ICTY was established by the United Nations to deal with war crimes and atrocities that took place in the Balkans during the 1990s. In general, Abdal approved of the law and did not see it as oppressive. “We can’t deny that there are offences taking place in Kuwait. The amendment of such a law is a must, as some people are misusing their freedom in the social

media. The social media, as well as the media in general, are not open areas where one can use bad language against others. Some users are exceeding the limits of freedom and entering the offensive territory, which infringes the rights and freedoms of others, which must be respected,” he told the Kuwait Times. Abdal said he believes in the freedom of expression, but there should be certain limits. “I’m sure there should be limits while commenting on other people publicly. But users of social media should not use their freedom as a tool of offense against others. Most of us are using Twitter , Facebook, and other programs, but they should not be used to make offensive and unacceptable comments. Users can write about problems in the society and express their opinion, but those comments should not damage the reputation of others,” he added. Regarding pre-publication censorship of books, he noted: “The right to express must be genuine always. The writers should be aware of such censorship if they are targeting the market of Kuwait, and they should also be aware of the regulations in Kuwait regarding this issue. If they find that it limits their freedom, they can find

another market to have their book published in. It’s a matter of acceptance. It’s not expected of local writers to give radical ideas that might be offensive to the society. That way, the regulation might serve public interest,” he explained. “There are some situations that need censorship and some opinions that might against public interest. It’s a matter of choice. Publisher should be aware that the ministry has imposed such regulations. I think it’s fair enough. Sometimes while visiting some exhibitions, I wonder how some books passed the censorship and are on display there, as I think they are offensive. We have laws that allow freedom of expression and give respect to intellectual works,” concluded Abdal. Meanwhile, Ibtisam Saed, a local journalist, stated that the new draft law should stipulate imprisonment only for those offending God, religion, prophets, and the Quran. And for other offenses, she added, there should only be a financial penalty. “I also think that a public institution has the right to respond to any accusation published in the press. If the concerned institution does not do so, the publication should not be held responsible for that,” she pointed out.

MPs: media law may turn Kuwait into a police state KUWAIT: Lawmakers are examining a new media law approved by the cabinet in a meeting last Monday, and several MPs have insisted that it will be rejected “should it be meant to turn our society into a police state”. The draft law is expected to reach the parliament next week, where it will first be studied by the educational committee before being debated by lawmakers, who can then either approve or reject it. Head of the panel Mishery Al-Hosaini commented after reviewing the bill that it can “help control chaos when news websites are licensed, and technically the penalties can only affect the offenders”. Fellow committee members Khalid AlShulaimi and Khalil Abdullah further indicated in their statements to Al-Rai daily that the law could help “create balance between the freedom of opinion and [the need for] protecting the society”, and recognized the fact that the bill stipulates a jail sentence only in cases where religious figures are offended. According to the draft law, as published by many newspapers in the past couple of days, a person found guilty of offending God

Almighty, the Holy Quran, the Holy Prophets, as well as companions and wives of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) will be sentenced to 10 years in prison. The law stipulates fines of between 50,000 and 200,000 Kuwaiti Dinars for those found guilty of criticizing HH the Amir or HH the Crown Prince, and fines of between KD10,000 and KD200,000 for those found guilty of offending members of the judiciary, destabilizing the economy, instigating hate and sectarianism or undermining national unity. The law also stipulates fines ranging between KD10,000 and KD100,000 for a variety of offenses, including rebelling against the ruling system, offending the constitution or the flags of Kuwait and its sister Gulf states, divulging information from secret documents or meetings, as well as public indecency. The regulations apply to opinions expressed on printed or broadcasted material, as well as to those published online. Therefore, the term ‘unified media law’ was chosen by the government. It includes new regulations based on which news websites

must first be licensed before they can start broadcasting. And after that, they must adhere to the ministry’s laws. Since it was announced, the bill has drawn wide-scale criticism from supporters of public freedom in Kuwait - most notably from the press, with two liberal dailies saying that it “suffocates freedoms” and “marks the end of media freedom”. “It appears that the government decided to move the battle over freedom to the court, with fines that surely will send many potential violators to jail when they fail to pay up”, Al-Qabas daily reported yesterday, quoting sources who did not wish to be named. Meanwhile, Al-Jarida daily said the government ’s project introduces “unprecedented penalties” which could eventually lead to Kuwait’s media sector becoming “100 percent official”. The paper also criticized a stipulation in the draft law which grants the Information Ministry the right to “suspend” material prior to its publication. “This is a clear way to circumvent the jurisprudence which has the sole right to suspend publications”, AlJarida wrote.


LOCAL kuwait digest

In my view

Quantum leap in education

US-GCC ties at a crossroads

By Dr Yaqoub Al-Sharrah

By Abdulaziz Sager



he term “quantum leap” was used by education ministers over the past three decades while talking about their educational strategies, but they failed to achieve tangible results for many reasons. Each of them had to deal with a multitude of problems. The term “quantum leap” had always had a magical effect on people because it expresses a desire to achieve positive change that goes in line with the higher goals set by the nation. However, such promises made in the education field were not followed up by executive decisions. Eventually, the results contradicted completely with the basics of an approach that sought to achieve a quantum leap. It seems that successive ministers and ministry officials encountered educational crises that emerged specifically in the 1980s. They failed to trans-

This magical term is being used again today as we hear a desire to achieve a quantum leap in education and come up with radical solutions to persisting problems. I do hope that the result this time will be different after years of empty promises. late the promises about making a quantum leap into reality. We heard this term being used time and time again, and now it has been reduced to a tactic to relieve some of the pressure off the ministry as a result of public scrutiny. This magical term is being used again today as we hear a desire to achieve a quantum leap in education and come up with radical solutions to persisting problems. I do hope that the result this time will be different after years of empty promises. However, achieving a quantum leap means substantial changes in the system not only to address problems, but also to have some real development that is in line with present and future requirements. The desire to improve the quality of education should spark efforts to look for quality assurance. Meanwhile, results should reflect an unprecedented quantum leap in educational development as per international standards. While we recognize that our educational system needs radical changes, we have to admit that these cannot be realized through mere hopes or empty promises. Serious efforts are required to help push education, after years of underdevelopment, into a new phase of development so that it helps build capabilities and skills. Only then will our graduates be able them to take part in the nation building process.—Al-Rai

kuwait digest

Correct your mistakes first By Thaar Al-Rashidi


n 1972, when the film “Last Tango in Paris” was released, the Arab League took a decision not to allow the film to enter any Arab country, or to be shown in any cinema house. The strange thing was that all the Arab countries chose to abide by the decision. The film caused an international controversy due to some sexually explicit scenes and its director was dragged to court for such scenes, and for encouraging evil. The film, however, started becoming available in the Arab countries at that time as video tapes were a revolutionary new medium then, and youth were crazy for these. The film, which was produced at a cost of $1.9 million at that time, earned more than $98 million, and became a hit besides proving to be a turning point in cinematic history and founded a new school of cinema led by its director Bernardo Bertolucci. While the film could be a depraved product when it comes to morals, but this did not prevent the film from causing controversy and becoming one of the most controversial movies in the history of international cinema. The strange thing was that the film’s protagonist, Marlon Brando, was among those who later recanted and remained crossed with its director for more than 20 years on the grounds that the director defamed his personality. An Italian court convicted the director and sent him to four months in prison for making that film. Today, 40 years after that film was produced and banned by the Arab League, and at a time when it still stays banned in all Arab countries, anyone with a smart phone can download it from any of the 20 plus Arab websites specializing in this business. By pressing a small button, you can bypass the Arab League’s ban which was imposed 40 years ago. You can even avoid all supervisory measures put in place by all the information ministries of all the Arab countries with that one button’s push. You can access all the banned books in the world with the

simplest of the touches on that one button. Just one push of a tiny button and you can overcome all kinds of official restrictions. Do you understand this? The unified press law, which they are now talking about, is merely an organizing law, not even a supervisory one. This law will help the government organize whatever content is published on websites. It is a law destined to be born dead. There is no need for such a law, and if it really does see the light of day, it will be impossible to execute. Very soon, it will meet the same fate as that of the ban on “Last Tango in Paris.” People will overcome this law, if not today, then surely tomorrow. Any ban is useless and any attempt to control the free media which depends on social networks, is doomed for failure. As I said in a previous article, “it is like trying to hold the sea in your hands.” It is impossible for any country in the world today to control opinions. The times when the media could be controlled are over. No more can the information flow be stopped. Let the government stop its silly attempts to control the content of electronic publications. Instead, it should take the initiative to correct its mistakes. Let us work to correct the course that most ministries are taking. We need course correction. You will not be able to control the flow of information; instead of trying the impossible, try to rectify your mistakes. Instead of spending millions to impose supervision measures, which are impossible to implement, take the initiative and correct your mistakes. Note: Earlier, governments used to control the flow of information to the public in order to cover up their own mistakes. Now, the only option they have is to deal with their mistakes and correct them. This is the only successful way to deal with the free flow of information. — Al-Anbaa

kuwait digest

The pressure of population By Abdelaziz Al-Tuwaijri


uwait made several advancements, thanks to the combined efforts of its own citizens as well as the expatriates, who together played an ideal role in developing the educational sector and various institutes, as also its health care sector. In fact, some expatriates participated in establishing major projects that brought good returns to Kuwait. This is a fact that cannot be ignored nor undermined by anything anyone says. In return, Kuwait became a home to many such competent people who could achieve here what they could not do in their own countries, and enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship. So, I hope I will be understood in the same spirit, especially when it comes to allocating different hours for citizens and expats for medical care services Kuwait has expanded tremendously, and the pressure of the population is now much more than what various sectors can cater to at any given time. For example, the patient who goes to government hospitals needs to wait for a long time, sometimes even months, for conducting some tests. The citizens and expats were suffering equally because of this. In some cases, beds would not be available in hospitals. This overcrowding eventually led to pressure on the ‘treatment abroad’ category as the patient’s health would then often deteriorate to a point that he had to be sent abroad. The expats were also facing the same situation, and they were forced to incur huge expenditure that they often could not afford. Very often, both, the citizens as well as the expats, had to go to private hospitals which are very expensive. So, any talk about dividing the services into two periods - morning and evening - must be considered in this light, and not as a case of discrimination or snatching away of expats’ rights. Some trials have been done in this regard to study the delivery of services in two separate periods. For example, the traffic department licenses are handed over to expats in the afternoon. This reduced the burden on traffic department which used to witness large crowds earlier. However, splitting the delivery of services into two parts - morning half for the citizens and evening for expats - will also make a marginal difference since the population pressure is too much, and the real solution will be to ensure additional logistics so that everyone receives adequate care. —Al-Qabas

he US-GCC relationship appears to be at a crossroads. Despite a long history of relations and a clear common and mutual interest in the stability and security of the Gulf region, the GCC states and the United States look as if they are growing apart on an almost daily basis. This is because on basically every issue of strategic importance and concern at the moment, the two sides are taking or have taken different positions. In this environment, the differences are growing rather than shrinking, an ominous development for the coming years. On Syria, the GCC position is that the Assad regime has lost all legitimacy and that a negotiated solution that leaves the regime intact is no longer viable. While the consensus appears to be that the fall of the present government is inevitable, there is great concern in the Arab Gulf states that this eventuality will be prolonged with devastating consequences for the entire Middle Eastern region in the meantime. Every day that the Assad regime is able to survive, the chances increase of a dangerous spillover effect in neighboring countries including Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, and the influence of the extremist elements within the Syrian revolution grows. It in this context that the GCC states have undertaken to support the armed resistance and further have argued for lifting the arms embargo currently in place so that arms can be supplied to selected moderate groups within the opposition movement. The United States, in the meantime, has resisted calls for the lifting of the arms embargo and even vetoed the possibility of supplying adequate weaponry to the opposition forces. This stands in opposition even to the positions of the UK and France. Statements such as those by the new Secretary of State John Kerry about “empowering the opposition” are seen in the Gulf as weak and non-committal. A second point of increased disagreement concerns the Iranian nuclear program. While the diplomatic tug-of-war has continued for several years now, no substantial progress has been made on receiving adequate assurances from Iran about the supposedly peaceful intentions of their nuclear activities. Instead, Iran has accomplished exactly what it set out to achieve, i.e. continue negotiations without making any concessions in an effort to simply stall and buy enough time to work toward a nuclear capability. The position of the US that there is still time to resolve this issue diplomatically stands in contrast to that of the GCC states that the clock is ticking and that negotiations cannot continue forever. The dis-

While the GCC states have repeatedly tried over the past decades to work toward a resolution of the crisis, including expanding diplomatic contact with Israel and issuing the King Abdullah Peace Initiative that was later adopted by the whole Arab League, the US has refused to take a more balanced position or undertake a concerted push for realistic Middle East peace. President Obama’s recent visit to Israel did not make any headway in this direction. In fact, it looks as if the issue does not feature at all on the agenda of his second-term presidency. tinct worry of the GCC states is that one day they will wake up and Iran will have become nuclear. The dangerous consequences this has for the regional balance of power appears to be underestimated in Washington when viewed from the Arab Gulf capitals. The third point pertains to the persistent failure of the United States to play the role of an honest broker in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The result is that the two-state solution seems dead in the water. While the GCC states have repeatedly tried over the past decades to work toward a resolution of the crisis, including expanding diplomatic contact with Israel and issuing the King Abdullah Peace Initiative that was later adopted by the whole Arab League, the US has refused to take a more balanced position or undertake a concerted push for realistic Middle East peace. President Obama’s recent visit to Israel did not make any headway in this direction. In fact, it looks as if the issue does not feature at all on the agenda of his second-term presidency. There are numerous other issues of disagreement ranging from Iraq to Yemen, as well as to the situation in Bahrain. In all these instances, there is a consistent feeling in the GCC states that the US fails to truly understand the overall strategic environment and the dangers associated with the shifts taking place. It is exactly at a time when the region needs active involvement by the United States and strong leadership that one sees hesitancy, a lack of strategic direction, and an overall tendency to look away from the problems facing the Middle East as a whole. The fact that one sees such a divergence has raised some serious questions in the mind of the Gulf citizens. The first is whether, after such a long period of close relations, the US still perceives a vital interest in the stability of the Gulf region as in the past. Second, even if there are statements from Washington underscoring its continued commitment, it is not clear whether the GCC states can continue to rely on US policy to not only protect the region but to also move it toward a more stable future. Instead, the prevailing mood appears to be that the terms are beginning to change to such a degree that the GCC states have no choice but to act on their own and without consideration of US interests and concerns. This is bound to have consequences, real and unintended, for both sides, and the question should be asked whether such increased separation will not come back to haunt the region as a whole.



Fish prices shoot up at Souq Sharq market Municipality implements rule By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: Mazin Saad Al-Nahedh, NBK General Manager, Consumer Banking Group and Emad Al-Ablani, NBK Deputy General Manager, Human Resources Group during the opening of Gust Accounting Club.

NBK sponsors GUST Accounting Club KUWAIT: National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) sponsors the first Accounting Club established by the students of Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST). Mazin Saad Al-Nahedh, NBK General Manager, Consumer Banking Group and Emad Al-Ablani, NBK Deputy General Manager, Human Resources Group officially participated in opening the Club. Al-Nahedh and Al-Ablani had an open conversation with the students and expressed NBK’s utmost support to the initiative. NBK’s sponsorship and support comes

in line with the Bank’s customary and ongoing spirit of corporate citizenship as well as the vital role it plays in supporting all students, youths and educational initiatives. NBK is committed to supporting Kuwaiti nationals and empowering them to realize their potentials, providing career and training opportunities to support the country’s aim to encourage young Kuwaitis to assume roles in the private sector. Gust Accounting Club is a non-profit club that seeks to serve and help accounting students at the university.

Cleaning campaign at Al-Shamlan Harbor KUWAIT: The general services at Kuwait Municipality, in cooperation with Kuwait Ports Authority and in coordination with public relations, carried out a cleaning drive at the Al-Shamlan Harbor, next to Souq Sharq, to lift all remains from the harbor. The director of public services at Kuwait Municipality, Ahmad Talal Al-Shriede, said the municipality carries out cleaning operations at the Al-Shamlan harbor periodically and removes all leftovers which affect marine environment. He emphasized that

the municipality will continue to seek cooperation of all ministries and government organizations to keep the harbor clean. He pointed out that two truck loads of remains, fishing nets, remnants of boats and sundry other objects were removed during the cleaning drive. Al-Shriede urged all boat owners not to throw any remains in the sea, and to abide by the municipality’s instructions posted all across Kuwaiti coast in the interest of the public. Any one can report transgressions at the hotline number 139.

KUWAIT: If you are planning a seafood feast tomorrow or anytime soon, do not waste your time visiting the Fish Market at Souq Sharq. Not only will you find only a limited variety of fish but you will also find prices pegged at a 70 to 100 percent mark up, compared to other fish markets in Kuwait. The reason? Only local fish can be sold in this fish market after orders of the Kuwait Municipality (Baladia), which invoked a long existing but largely ignored law guaranteeing sale of only local fish in the area. Last Monday, various fish vendors stopped selling fish at the Souq Sharq in protest against the decision, but the Kuwait Municipality dug in its heels and said the decision was final and will be implemented, irrespective of the seller’s objections. “The decision, according to Baladia, was final and we cannot contest it. So, we will abide by it but the buyers will soon experience the price of fish rising by 100 percent. It is already much higher even now,” the vendor told the Kuwait Times. “The rates will continue to increase in the coming days, vis-‡-vis the prices at the Mubarakiya Fish Market. Take the example of Zubaidi, which costs KD12 per kg in Souq Sharq, compared to KD7 for the same amount in Mubarakiya. Naturally, we expect sales going down in the coming days,” the vendor said. The fish market at Sharq is the biggest in Kuwait, and has existed for centuries now, with its new version coming up in the Souq Sharq Mall in 1997. But just as the new fish market came into

KUWAIT: The Fish Market (Souq Sharq) yesterday. Since Monday, the market has been very quiet and very few customers have been visiting. —Photo by Ben Garcia being, along came the regulation that only local fish will be sold there. However, regulation remained on the back burner for more than 15 years as fish stock netted from Kuwaiti waters could only cater to 20 percent of Kuwait’s seafood needs. “Since Monday, the market has been very quiet and very few customers have been visiting. We are still hoping that the regulations will be lifted or scrapped once and for all, and we will be allowed to sell fish from other countries,” the vendor added.

Mubarakiya Market, the market nearest to the one at Sharq, is now attracting many customers from Souq Sharq looking for a better variety of fish and cheaper prices. The two markets are just three kilometers apart. Local fish is generally expensive in Kuwait since it is considered fresh compared to the impor ted fish that comes mostly from Bangladesh, I ndia, I ran, I ndonesia and Thailand. “Imported fish is much cheaper now because Mubarakiya has more stocks than ever before,” one vendor observed.

Classes for gifted students in public schools KUWAIT: Officials at the Sabah AlAhmad Center for Giftedness and Creativity are working with their counterparts in the Ministry of Health to establish classes for gifted students in public schools as well as to introduce technology in curricula and teaching methods,

General Manager Dr. Omar AlBannai said in a recent statement. His statement came following a recent visit of Amiri Dewan consultant Dr. Yousuf Al-Ibrahim to the center’s workshops for gifted students. “We work to provide a conducive environment for

ASGAP chief notes importance of regulatory body at AIPU meeting KUWAIT: The Association of Secretaries General of Arab Parliaments (ASGAP) are the regulatory body that enable Arab parliaments to work within principals set by the constitution, said its Secretary General Allam AlKandari. Al-Kandari said in his speech that the Secretariat is accused of carrying out the job of parliaments, whereas parliamentary work carried out by the parlaimentary council and its committees is highly important, adding that the efficiency of the General Secretariat is an important element to ensure active parliamentary work. He added, the association since its establishment seeks to achieve its objectives as defined in its founding structure, which includes maintaining cooperation among secretariats of Arab parliaments through the exchange of information and experiences The association organised in September 2010, in Kuwait, a conference addressing “Arab parliamentary coordination in regional and international forums”, Al-Kandari noted that due to the success of the conference, the association decided to hold an annual conference in September of every year. He explained, that the first annual conference was held in Rabat in 2011 entitled “parliamentary immunity”, the second conference was held in Amman in the following year under the title of strengthening the relationship between parliament and citizens. AlKandari said the third annual conference will be held in the second half of the month of

September in the United Arab Emirates and will address the issue of social media and modern reflections on the relationship between parliament and the society. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean’s (PAM) chief delegate at the Arab parliamentary talks here on Tuesday said that the Middle East crisis is at the forefront of his organisation’s plans. “We are concerned with putting the Israelis and Palestinians on one table in order for both to hold positive talks and to return to the negotiating table and finding a solution to points of difference,” said Salim AlGhalayla. PAM runs through three permanent committees in charge of achieving political, economic and social-related aims through dialogue between civilizations and human rights. On the state of affairs in Syria, he said that since the beginning of its crisis, the issue of human rights has dominated PAM’s plans, and that PAM had expressed its anxiety on the situation there, using its diplomatic influence to build confidence on the regional scale, under the directions of the UN, with the best interests of the Syrian people in mind. PAM is confident that political stability in Syria will only be achieved through economic and social growth, he said, calling for the issues of unemployment, creating job opportunities for the youth, reengaging commercial ties and encouraging foreign investment to be addressed.— KUNA

enlightened minds by giving them an opportunity to train and practice, so that they can develop their ideas and inventions,” Al-Bannai said. Meanwhile, Dr. Al-Ibrahim acknowledged the “important role” that the center’s workshops play in “training our children to

deal with modern technology and appreciate knowledge as the basic principle for the development of any state.” The consultant also commended ongoing efforts to establish branches of the center in each of the state’s six governorates.



Probe in registration renewal forgery Maid charged after self abortion KUWAIT: Investigations are on in a case involving an Interior Ministry official who could face forgery charges for illegally clearing car registration transactions. The scam came to light when the Acting Undersecretary Assistant for Traffic Affairs, Brigadier General Saleh Al-Naajem, carried out a surprise check at the car inspection building of the Asima (capital) Governorate, after he came to know that some car registrations were being renewed illegally. The senior ministry official ordered an investigation after discovering a number of registration renewal transactions forwarded for vehicles that were never tested. All these vehicles were sought to be cleared, courtesy the wasta culture. In the meantime, a source with knowledge of the case revealed that the official responsible for the suspect transactions had lodged a complaint against the acting undersecretary assistant, accusing him of committing ‘breach of authority.’ If found guilty, the official at the Asima car inspection department could be charged with forgery. Self abortion A domestic worker faces multiple charges af ter she abor ted her pregnanc y at her

employer’s home, and later confessed that she had become pregnant as a result of an illegal relationship. Meanwhile, investigations were on to determine whether the baby was stillborn or was killed after birth. The 23-year-old Nepalese woman was rushed to the Jahra Hospital complaining of severe abdominal pain, but medical tests revealed that she had suffered severe bleeding as a result of abortion. After the Kuwaiti employer reported the case, police headed to his house in Saad AlAbdullah and found a newborn’s body wrapped in a blanket inside the bathroom. Preliminary investigations indicated that the housemaid gave birth to the baby all by herself inside the bathroom to hide the fact that she was in an illegal relationship. While the woman was recuperating at the hospital, police launched investigations in search of the man who fathered the child. Search for kidnapper Police succeeded in freeing two women from the captivity of an Asian man who they alleged wanted to push them into flesh trade but the suspect himself managed to flee. Police rushed to a Mahboulah apartment after two

women told an emergency call operator that they have been illegally confined. The Asian women also claimed that they were kidnapped to be sexually exploited. Armed with a warrant, police broke into the apartment and freed the two women, but their alleged kidnapper was nowhere to be found. Investigations revealed that the Asian suspect fled after realizing that the victims had called the police. Further investigations also indicated that the suspect was involved in prostitution operations that involved forcing kidnapped women to provide sexual services for customers in lieu of money. Body found Investigations were on to determine the circumstances that led to the death of a man whose body was found from behind the South Zoor power plant. Police reached a location near a power transformer where a dead body in a training suit was found. The victim could not be identified on the spot. The body was taken to the forensic department after investigators examined the scene. Police were waiting for the forensic examination report to determine the cause and time of death, as well as the victim’s identity.

Kuwait establishes relations with Nauru UNITED NATIONS: The State of Kuwait and the Republic of Nauru have established bilateral diplomatic relations with aim of promoting the friendship and mutual cooperation between the two countries at various levels. A joint statement in this respect was signed by the permanent delegate of Kuwait at the UN, Ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi, and the ambassador plenipotentiary and permanent representative of the republic at the international organization, Marlene Moses. In a statement to KUNA after signing the accord for establishing the relations, Al-Otaibi expressed satisfaction for this move, noting the two countries abide by principles and objectives of the UN, reiterating the Gulf State approach to establish relations with many states of the globe. The two countries are identical in some aspects and there is possibility to establish mutual cooperation between them at the UN official and nonofficial agencies and groups, such as the G-77 and China. Cooperation between the two sides can be established in realms of development, security and climatic change, he said, noting that the small republic has special interest for coordination in this

field due to its concern that climatic change might threaten its existence. Atmospheric overheating has caused noticeable rise of sea levels worldwide, with prospects several island countries may eventually cease to exist. Expressing hope to cement ties with the Republic of Nauru in several sectors in the coming years, the Kuwaiti diplomat indicated that the Gulf country has no relations with some remote countries. However, some international causes are affecting all countries, and not a single country is capable of dealing with such problems, namely those resulting from the climatic change, thus coordinated effort is warranted to tackle them. For her part, Moses told KUNA following the signing ceremony that she was delighted to have signed the joint agreement establishing diplomatic relations between her country and the State of Kuwait. She said that both countries can cooperate at the bilateral and international levels in many domains and achieve great results, and that on top of her government’s priorities is climate change and development. She noted that Nauru has diplomatic relations

with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, but would welcome opening an embassy in Kuwait now that diplomatic relations have been established. The Republic of Nauru is an island country in Micronesia in the South Pacific. It is the world’s smallest republic, covering just 21 square kilometers (8.1 Sq miles). It has a population of some 10,000 people, making it the second least populated country after Vatican City. It had been colonized by the Germans, Australians and the Japanese. It finally gained its independence in 1986 and became a UN member in 1999. The country is a phosphate rock island with rich deposits near the surface, which allow easy strip mining operations. It has some phosphate resources which, as of 2011, are not economically viable for extraction. Nauru boasted the highest per-capita income enjoyed by any sovereign state in the world during the late 1960s and early 1970s. When the phosphate reserves were exhausted, and the environment had been seriously harmed by mining, the trust that had been established to manage the Island’s wealth diminished in value. —KUNA

KUWAIT: New Zealand Governor General Jeremiah Mateparae visited Kuwait Oil Company facilities in Ahmadi yesterday, and toured an exhibition about the company’s history. The head of state was accompanied by the chief of the honorary delegation, Amiri Diwan Advisor Yousif Hamad Al-Ibrahim.

Honeywell selected for water distribution project KUWAIT: Honeywell yesterday announced that it has been selected by Kuwait’s Ministry of Electricity and Water to modernize the water distribution network that supplies more than 280 million imperial gallons of fresh water daily to Kuwait’s growing population. Honeywell Process Solutions’ (HPS) Experion(r) Process Knowledge System (PKS) will be deployed throughout the Azzour Water Distribution Scheme so that operators at a central location can control a network of six different treatment plants located in Ardiya, Hawally, Salmiya, Failaka Island, Adailiya and the water towers of Kuwait. At the heart of this control system is Honeywell’s Distributed Server Architecture (DSA), which integrates and manages multiple control systems and control rooms located throughout the water system, simplifying operations, reducing engineering costs and improving system integrity. “We have set long-term goals for sustainability in Kuwait. Revamping our water distribution network to improve efficiency and reduce costs is a key part of meeting our development plans,” said Hamoud Bader Alrodan, assistant under secretary, Ministry of Electricity and Water, Kuwait. “Honeywell’s experience in control systems and support capabilities in a number of industrial projects in Kuwait helped us pick them as one of our trusted vendors.”

“Fresh, clean water is a critical need every day for everyone living in the fast-growing regions of Kuwait that this water system serves,” said Darius Adamczyk, president of Honeywell Process Solutions. “Honeywell’s industry-leading automation technology is ideally suited to this challenge, and will exceed the high standards for reliability and safety set by the Ministry of Electricity and Water.” Honeywell Process Solutions’ Experion(r) PKS platform is used by a wide range of municipalities and industrial manufacturers around the world. With an installed base of more than 30,000 control systems, Honeywell technology runs mission-critical applications in refineries, chemical plants, pulp and paper mills, pipelines, power plants and other industrial facilities worldwide. Honeywell is a manufacturing leader, serving customers worldwide with aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings, homes and industry; automotive products; turbochargers; and specialty materials. Based in Morris Township, N.J., Honeywell’s shares are traded on the New York, London, and Chicago Stock Exchanges. Honeywell Process Solutions is part of Honeywell’s Automation and Control Solutions group, a global leader in providing product and service solutions that improve efficiency and profitability, support regulatory compliance, and maintain safe, comfortable environments in homes, buildings and industry.

Al-Zour power and water project

Kuwait water towers

Al-Hajraf announces development blueprint KUWAIT: Minister of Education and Minister of Higher Education Nayef Al-Hajraf unveiled yesterday an executive plan set out by his ministry for an integrated program to develop the educational sector. Speaking at a meeting with educational officials, he said the 2013-14 educational plan was based on creating new criteria for teaching staff and school administration. Student assessment is to be carried out through national and international tests, the minister added. He said the country’s educational development roadmap involved three aspects; the first includes an integrated program purposed to revamp curricula, create educational criteria, apply teacher license and develop educational administration, school environment and assessment. The second aspect includes the support program that provides for formulating educational policies,

inculcating positive concepts in the minds of students, boosting the performance of the educational process, deepening attention in basic sciences, setting out objective basics for teaching staff recruitment, revamping administrative systems and carrying out a phasedout privatization of public schools. The third aspect involves several projects, mainly developing quality criteria for curricula, teachers and schools, improving school performance, achieving administrative distinction and ensuring societal partnership with a view to securing student development. On the ministry’s projects, he said 11 new schools, four swimming pools, three housing compounds for female teachers, three multi-storey parks and attached school facilities. The minister pointed out that his ministry would put up all new school projects for execution under the building, operating and transferring system. —KUNA


‘Dead’ Qaeda leader Shehri delivers audio message

Saudi Shiites fear new unrest after spy arrests

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ZARQA: A newly-arrived Syrian refugee boy smiles at an Emirati Red Crescent worker upon his arrival with his family to the new Jordanian-Emirati refugee camp, Mrajeeb Al-Fhood, in Zarqa, Jordan yesterday. — AP

Syrian rebels ask Kerry for weapons Kerry to attend ‘Friends of Syria’ meet in Istanbul

LONDON: Syrian opposition leaders renewed their appeals for arms at a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday, but a top jihadist group’s pledge of loyalty to AlQaeda deepened Western concerns that weapons could fall into the wrong hands. Kerry and other G8 foreign ministers held talks with members of the Syrian National Coalition, including opposition prime minister Ghassan Hitto, on the sidelines of a twoday ministerial meeting in London. The US said it was mulling ways to step up help for Syria’s rebels, while Kerr y also met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a bid to find common ground on ending the conflict between the rebels and President Bashar Al-Assad. Kerry will meanwhile attend a “Friends of Syria” core group meeting on April 20 in the Turkish city of Istanbul, a US official said. But a statement yesterday by the head of Syria’s jihadist Al-Nusra Front pledging allegiance to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri will only increase Western doubts about arming the rebels. A top State Department official confirmed that, during a lunch hosted by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, the Syrian opposition leaders renewed appeals for lethal aid but Kerry “didn’t promise anything”. The US and EU are currently providing non-lethal aid such as communications equipment, and are

beginning to distribute food and medical supplies to the Free Syrian Army, but have stopped short of providing weaponry. The announcement by the Al-Nusra front is likely to bolster asser tions by Assad’s regime that it is fighting “terrorists” who want to impose an Islamic state. “We are always considering a variety of options, we are going to continue to aid the opposition, working with them in terms of what they need, in terms of what we’re willing to provide,” the US official said. Yesterday’s talks had focused on ways of changing Assad’s calculations about the outcome of the conflict which is now in its third year and has cost some 70,000 lives, according to the UN. “We need to have this continuing conversation which is why we are going back to Istanbul,” the official said. But he said the lunch with six Syrian opposition leaders was “a good, substantive discussion”. All sides emphasised “the importance of working together, the importance of them getting themselves more organised, which they said they were in the process of doing”. Hague said the Syria conflict would be “top of the agenda” when the G8 foreign ministers meet for dinner later yetserday and again for formal talks on Thursday. The spiralling North Korean nuclear crisis and Iran’s atomic ambitions were also discussed at the meeting. Lavrov warned yes-

terday against heating up the Korean crisis with military manoeuvres, but stressed that Moscow and Washington had a common stand. “On North Korea we have no differences with the United States,” Lavrov told journalists in Russian as he met Kerry. “One just shouldn’t scare anyone with military manoeuvres and there’s a chance that everything will calm down,” he added, without specifying which countries he believed were carrying out such military exercises. On Iran-Syria’s main ally in addition to Russia-the United States reacted with concern after Tehran this week unveiled a new uranium production facility and two extraction mines only days after talks with world powers on its disputed nuclear programme ended in deadlock. “They have continued to move forward, we are very concerned about what they are doing,” a senior State Department official said, ask ing to remain anonymous. “ We weren’t blindsided about it, because we are rarely blindsided about the things that they are considering. But they did not specify that they were going to do this,” the official said. The G8 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States. Britain, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the group this year, will host a leaders summit in Northern Ireland in June. — AFP

Most rape victims in conflict zones are kids

LONDON: Most victims of sexual violence in conflict zones are children who are suffering rape and abuse at an appalling rate, said campaigners who described the attacks as the “hidden horrors of war”. In the worst-affected countries, such as Liberia and Sierra Leone, children made up more than 70 percent of victims, said a report by charity Save the Children published yesterday. The study contained harrowing stories of children being killed after being raped and of others who were abducted and abused by armed forces and groups. It also said children as young as two were being attacked by opportunistic predators including teachers, religious leaders and peacekeepers.

Many survivors were cast out from society after the attacks. “It is shocking that in conflict zones around the world, children are being raped and abused at such an appalling rate,” said Save the Children chief executive Justin Forsyth. “Sexual violence is one of those hidden horrors of war and the damage it wreaks ruins lives.” British Foreign Secretary William Hague has been campaigning to raise awareness of the issue and recently met victims in Democratic Republic of Congo with actress and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie. The issue will be on the agenda at a meeting of G8 countries’ foreign ministers hosted by Hague in London on Wednesday and Thursday.

Save the Children found more than half of victims of sexual violence in conflict zones were children. It cited a study in Liberia, still recovering from a civil war that ended a decade ago, which found more than 80 percent of victims in 2011-12 were younger than 17. Almost all were raped. In post-conflict Sierra Leone, more than 70 percent of the sexual violence cases seen by the International Rescue Committee were girls under 18, and more than a fifth of those were under 11, the report said. In Democratic Republic of the Congo nearly two-thirds of sexual violence cases recorded by the United Nations in 2008 involved children, mostly adolescent girls. Save the Children spoke

to a girl named Pamela, in Democratic Republic of Congo, who was attacked and raped near a refugee camp where she had fled after her village was attacked. “I’d been in the camp for three days. I’d gone to collect water, and as I was leaving the water point I met three boys. They grabbed me. One took my legs and the other took my hands. I tried to fight them off. “After the rape I wanted to leave the house and return home. But the people told my mother and she said I had to stay there. I didn’t want a husband because I was still a girl.” Rejected by her community, Pamela was forced to stay with her attacker and become his wife. He abandoned her when she was seven months’ pregnant. — Reuters

South increases watch as North moves missiles SEOUL/WASHINGTON: South Korea said yesterday there was “very high” probability that North Korea, engaged in weeks of threats of war, would launch a mediumrange missile at any time as a show of strength despite diplomatic efforts to soften its position. Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said South Korea had asked China and Russia to intercede with the North to ease tension that has mounted since the UN Security Council slapped fresh sanctions on Pyongyang after a new nuclear arms test in February. But all was calm in the South Korean capital, Seoul, long used to North Korean invective under its 30-year-old leader Kim Jong-un. Offices worked normally and customers crowded into city-centre cafes. Seoul stocks edged up 0.77 percent from a four-and-a-half-month low hit earlier this week, though trading was light with threats from the North still clouding the picture. The won currency gained 0.3 percent. Other officials in Seoul said surveillance of North Korean activity had been enhanced. Missile transporters had been spotted in South Hamgyong province along North Korea’s east coast - possible sites for a launch. North Korea observes several anniversaries in the next few days and they could be pretexts for military displays of strength. These include the first anniversary of Kim’s formal ascent to power, the 20th anniversary of rule by his father Kim Jong-il, who died in 2011, and the birth date next Monday of his grandfather, state founder Kim Il-Sung. The near-daily threats to South Korea and the United States of recent weeks were muted in state media yesterday, with the focus largely on the festivities lying ahead. A report by the KCNA news agency said North Koreans were “doing their best to decorate cities”. Another dispatch related a “production upsurge” in the coal, steel, iron and timber industries, with figures showing that the quarterly plan set by authorities had been “overfulfilled”. In Washington, Admiral Samuel Locklear, the commander of US forces in the Pacific region, also said the US military believed North Korea had moved an unspecified number of Musudan missiles to its east coast. The Musudan can reach targets at a distance of 3,500 km (2,100 miles) or more, according to South Korea,

which would put Japan within range and may even threaten Guam, home to US bases. South Korea can be reached by the North’s short-range Scud missiles. Foreign Minister Yun told a parliamentary hearing: “According to intelligence obtained by our side and the US, the possibility of a missile launch by North Korea is very high.” North Korea, he said, could launch a Musudan missile “at any time from now ”. The US-South Korea Combined Forces Command in Seoul raised its “Watchcon 3” status, a normal condition, by one level to boost monitoring and increase the number of intelligence staff, a senior military official told the South’s Yonhap news agency. Yun said he was coordinating with China and Russia “to make efforts to persuade North Korea to change its attitude”. China is North Korea’s sole major ally, although its influence over Pyongyang is open to question and Beijing has, in any event, backed the new sanctions. Moscow backed North Korea in Soviet times, though its influence has waned unquestionably. A Chinese Foreign Ministr y spokesman issued a fresh appeal for restraint on the Korean peninsula and said nothing about any possible effort to bring about a change in the North’s policy. Patricia Lewis, Research Director at the London-based think tank Chatham House, said that strictly on the basis of the North’s vast conventional forces, caution was required. “The conventional military capabilities of North Korea are all too real and all too close to Seoul,” she wrote in a paper. “Any incursion could escalate involving the US and Japan, China, perhaps Russia and others.” Pyongyang has tested shortrange Scud missiles. The longer-range Musudan and Nodong missiles are an unknown quantity. “If the missile was in defence of the homeland, I would certainly recommend that action (of intercepting it). And if it was defence of our allies, I would recommend that action,” Locklear told a Senate hearing in Washington. Pyongyang has threatened a nuclear strike on the United States something it does not have the capacity to carry out -and “war” with “puppet” South Korea - threats that appear to be aimed at least in part at boosting internal support for Kim. — Reuters



Hidden skeletons in the house of C Africa’s Bozize BANGUI: Looters after gold or jewels in the abandoned home of deposed Central African Republic president Francois Bozize came instead across a gruesome discoverytwo human skeletons hidden beneath the garage floor. At the house in Sassara, on the outskirts of the capital Bangui, Colonel Ali Garba-one of the Seleka rebels whose coalition toppled Bozize from power last monthgives a tour. “The Monday (after the assault) I returned to pick up two vehicles... The house had been looted,” he says. “The people were probably hoping to find diamonds or gold stashed away. They lifted up two

tiles in the garage and discovered the two skeletons.” He indicates the spot where the bodies were found, at the back of the garage, stowed in two-metre deep recesses underneath square tiles. All that now remains in the space is a scrap of coloured fabric. “I saw them. They were bones with no flesh. The people had been dead for a while, at least several months, maybe more,” he says. According to Garba, the house had already been pillaged by the time the rebels took Bangui in a swift assault on March 24. As he scoured the completely ransacked house, Garba says he also found the dead

body of a presidential guard, apparently killed during clashes between Bozize’s supporters and rebels. “The Red Cross collected the body of the guard and the skeletons,” Garba says, a claim backed up by near neighbours. The Red Cross could not however be contacted to find out where the skeletons were taken. A government source who did not want to give his name said authorities regretted their removal and were keen to find and identify the bodies. Who the two dead were and how they met their fate at the property-one of several owned by Bozize-remains a mystery. Some wonder if they were oppo-

nents to Bozize’s regime, killed and hidden under the floor in the hope they would never been unearthed. “Perhaps it was a ritual,” suggests one of the rebels. Ritual killings are a known phenomenon in Central Africa, designed to empower or bring good fortune to whoever orders the murder. Bones belonging to those killed are sometimes also trafficked for use in witchcraft. It was Monique Bozize, wife of the expresident, who supposedly lived in the house. Now it lies unoccupied and almost completely bare, all the furniture having been snatched, save one fitness machine. Even the toilets have been pulled out.

Covering the floor are discarded documents, rubbish and photos, some of which feature Francois Bozize, others depicting traditional ceremonies or boxing tournaments. At the back of the house, an electric generator has been smashed into pieces, while more papers litter the garden. Bozize is there outside-or rather an effigy of him, with his face painted onto a “body” made up of his real clothes. One rebel pulls on his tie as if to strangle the former leader, who ruled Central African Republic for a decade but who fled to Cameroon as the rebels advanced and is now expected to seek asylum in Benin. —AFP

Saudi Shiites fear new unrest after spy arrests Some Sunnis allege main Shiite loyalty is to Iran QATIF: Al-Awamiyah is a small village of shabby houses, narrow streets and dilapidated palm groves that has earned a big reputation as the centre of unrest among Saudi Arabia’s Shiite Muslim minority. In two years of persistent protests in Awamiyah and other parts of Qatif district on the Gulf coast, 17 people have died in unrest as Shiite youths took to the streets demanding equal treatment from the Sunni Muslim-dominated government. Big protests erupted in Qatif in early 2011, inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings sweeping the region and feelings of solidarity with Shiites in neighbouring Bahrain. These drew Qatif into a region-wide contest for influence between Shiite Muslim Iran and Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis adhere to the rigid Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam that deems Shiism as heretical, and some members of the majority fear the Qatif Shiites’ first loyalty is to Iran rather than their own kingdom. By contrast, the Shiites proclaim their loyalty to Riyadh and say they want an end to what they regard as neglect amidst the oil wealth of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province where they live. Awamiyah became known across the country as Saudi media reported on what it simply called “rioting” in the village and the surrounding Qatif district. After several months of relative calm, some residents fear more unrest resulting in a police crackdown. This follows the arrest of 16 Shiites accused of spying for Iran and the first hearing in the trial of an Awamiyah cleric who may face execution. “The government is dealing with this as a security threat, not as a political issue. Shia demands are not big. They are achievable and for not much cost,” said Jafar Al-Shayeb, a Shiite community leader and former elected head of Qatif municipality. After the espionage arrests last month, 37 Shiite religious leaders in the kingdom accused the government of raising sectarian tension to distract attention from small protests staged by some members of the Sunni majority. On April 4 hundreds marched through the urban area of Qatif, activists’ videos showed, demanding the release of Nimr Al-Nimr, the cleric whose arrest in the summer of 2012 led to demonstrations in which three people died. The videos could not be independently verified. “Two years ago the only demands were to release prisoners. Now the protests demand full equality. The more force the government uses,

the bigger the demands grow,” said a Shiite activist, who requested anonymity. That view is not shared across Qatif, however, where there is a lively debate about the wisdom of demonstrating as opposed to working with the government to address issues of concern, and over the size of the protest movement itself. “We have sectarian problems, we have to admit that. But most of these problems are from individuals, not the government,” said Nabih Ibrahim, who was Shayeb’s deputy on the municipal council. “We try to solve the negative issues with dialogue.” Nimr Al-Nimr Arriving from Qatif, the road into Awamiyah passes the mosque of Sheikh Nimr where an extension made of corrugated iron protrudes from one side of the building and black Shi’ite mourning flags flutter on another. Officials describe Nimr as a leading figure among a small group of criminals and malcontents, inspired by Iran, who they say have carried out most of the unrest since 2011. That description is challenged not only by younger and more radical Shiite activists and Nimr’s family, but also other members of the community who disagree with his political stand. “Among the youth they see him as a symbol, a brave character calling for their rights and criticising the government openly - even those who disagree with him,” said Shayeb, part of an older, more moderate group of Shiite leaders who have distanced themselves from Nimr. At Nimr’s first hearing last week, the prosecutor demanded he face not only the death sentence, but an additional punishment mandated by sharia law for the most heinous offences in which the dead body is defiled by being hanged from a pole. “ The sheikh’s thought is not extreme, it’s just that he is very blunt when he expresses his opinions. But if describing things as they are is extremism, then that’s a different matter,” said his brother, Mohammed Al-Nimr, by telephone. Of those killed in the past two years, 15 were Shiites who the government said died in “exchanges of gunfire” with police. Local activists said some were unarmed protesters. Local human rights activists and people detained during the unrest over the past two years have described being tortured while under arrest, including beatings, electrocution and sleep deprivation - charges the government strenuously denies. “I was deprived of sleep and beaten with a cable. They said: ‘admit the

charges or we’ll beat you’,” said a 40-year-old from Awamiyah who was held in 2011, requesting anonymity. The local Adala Center for Human Rights says 867 people had been detained in connection with unrest at some point in the past two years and 181 remain in prison. The government says a total of 278 were arrested, with 152 people still in detention. Saudi authorities do not let foreign journalists go to Qatif independently and the visit there by Reuters was with government officials. Activists and former detainees were interviewed in Dammam, the capital of Eastern Province, without officials being present. Qatif divisions Take the road north out of Awamiyah and the village abruptly stops against a row of oil pipelines protected by barbed wire fencing, behind which lies open desert punctuated by electricity pylons and oil derricks. To some villagers, this proximity to Saudi Arabia’s mineral wealth is a constant reminder of the degraded state of their community’s roads and houses, a tangible sign of what they see as government neglect. To others, it signifies the price of pushing demands on the street, rather than engaging the government. “You can’t have serious development if you don’t have security. Lots of projects have been held up,” said Abdulmohsen AlFaraj, who runs a contracting company. Other parts of Qatif, toured by Reuters with government officials, appeared as prosperous and stable as elsewhere in Saudi Arabia. “The people of Qatif in the eyes of the government are equal to people of other areas. It’s no different to every other province,” said Khalid AlSufyan, who was appointed governor of Qatif in January, in an interview. Shiites point to their limited representation in local government positions, overtly sectarian language in Saudi media, public slurs by stateemployed Sunni clerics and difficulties in building places of worship. The government denies any discrimination, but a senior Saudi official quoted by US diplomats in a 2007 embassy cable released by WikiLeaks drew parallels to the treatment of African Americans in the 1950s. The message from Sheikh Mansour AlSalman, wearing the turban and black robes of a Shiite cleric as he sat in the office building of the Qatif governor, was that if local people were patient, the government would address their problems. —Reuters

S Africa remembers stalwart Chris Hani JOHANNESBURG: South Africans yesterday paid moving tributes to slain anti-apartheid activist Chris Hani, whose death at the hands of a right-wing gunman 20 years ago today plunged the country into crisis. Hani, former leader of the South African Communist Party, was assassinated by Polish immigrant Janusz Walus outside his house in Boksburg on the outskirts of Johannesburg on April 10, 1993. His death prompted riots and was a formative experience for the nation, which was fast approaching democracy but still feared the end of apartheid would prompt civil war. A fierce opponent of the apartheid government, Hani’s death prompted Nelson Mandela, although not yet president, to appeal for calm. “Tonight I am reaching out to every single South African, black and white, from the very depths of my being,” Mandela said in a televised address. “A white man, full of prejudice and hate, came to our country and committed a deed so foul that our whole nation now teeters on the brink of disaster.” Twenty years on, with South Africa free but still riven with deep inequalities and inter-race tensions, political leaders and Hani’s friends and family called for the realisation of his dream. “We must hasten to usher in the type of society comrade Chris lived and died for,” President Jacob Zuma told a memorial service held in honour of Hani. He preluded his speech with a popular Zulu song “senzeni na” meaning “what did we do to deserve this.” “We must honour the memory of comrade Chris by delivering the better life for all that he believed in, as quickly as possible,” aid Zuma. But he blamed apartheid for the slow delivery of decent public service to South Africans, saying it is “impossible that within 20 years you could change the damage of centuries.”“The legacy of apartheid runs too deep and too far back for the democratic administration to reverse it in so short a period unless you were a magician,” said Zuma. “To suggest that we can’t blame apartheid for what we are doing now or for what is happening in our country, I think is a mistake, to say the least,” Zuma told the crowd. Trevor Manuel, one of South Africa’s top-ranking cabinet ministers, had last week said it was time government grasped its responsibility and stop blaming apartheid for its current failures. He wrapped up his nearly hour-long speech with another song “inde indlela esihambayo” translated as “we’ve got a long journey to travel.” But Zwelinzima Vavi, head of the main trade union Cosatu, said “Hani would surely be angry that we have moved so slowly to eradicate our racially skewed levels of inequality.” Vavi said had Hani still been alive, he would be “appalled by the scale of greed and crass materialism” of a new clique of ruling party politicians “who see access to political office as a ladder to personal wealth.” “He would never have tolerated the levels of corruption, fraud and squandering of public resources, and would have been absolutely devastated at the assassination of political rivals over the spoils of office, and the factional battles and disunity that this has unleashed,” he said. Hani was also chief of staff of the ANC’s armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe, founded by Mandela. The largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance added its voice to the chorus of tributes. Hani’s death “marked a particularly turbulent moment in our history - a moment where South Africans had to decide between reconciliation and confrontation,” the DA said in a statement. Zuma led Hani’s family, politicians, and trade union leaders in laying wreaths at the late fighter’s grave in the east of Johannesburg. Dozens of people at the function were sporting red Tshirts emblazoned with Hani’s portrait. —AFP

In this undated frame grab from video, Saeed Al-Shehri, deputy leader of AlQaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is seen. —AP

‘Dead’ Qaeda leader Shehri delivers audio message: SITE DUBAI: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has posted online an audio message from its second-in-command, Saeed Al-Shehri, whose death was announced by Yemen in January, a monitoring group reported yesterday. The 14minute audio produced by AQAP’s media arm Al-Malahem Foundation is accompanied by what the US-based SITE Monitoring Service said was a new photograph of the Saudi militant. Shehri’s death has been announced several times by the Yemeni authorities, most recently on January 24. It was unclear when the latest audio message, posted on jihadist forms on Tuesday, had been recorded. Most of the message is directed against Saudi Arabia, which Shehri accuses of allowing Americans to attack “the faithful of Yemen” from their soil. “We must get rid of the Al-Saud regime by all means,” he says. He was clearly referring to US drone strikes against Al-Qaeda targets in Yemen which jihadists claim are launched from bases in neighbouring Saudi Arabia. Shehri has long been been hounded by Yemen’s security forces and has survived a number of attempts on his life. Yemen’s Supreme National Security Committee had in January reported that Shehri succumbed to wounds received in a counter-terrorism operation in the northern Saada province on November 28. Last October,

he denied a September announcement by Yemen’s defence ministry that he had been killed in an army raid, in an audio message posted on extremist Internet forums. SITE had also quoted a radical Islamist as reporting on Twitter that Shehri had died “after a long journey in fighting the Zionist-Crusader campaign.” In the latest message, Shehri made no reference to reports of his death. The militant leader was released from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba in 2007 and was flown to Saudi Arabia, where he was put through a rehabilitation programme. After completing the programme, he disappeared and later resurfaced as AQAP’s number two. AQAP is led by Nasser al-Wuhayshi, who in July 2011 reaffirmed the group’s allegiance to Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of the worldwide AlQaeda network since the killing in May of its founder, Osama bin Laden. The United States has stepped up its support for Yemen’s battle against AQAP, which it regards as the most active and deadliest franchise of the global Al-Qaeda network. US drones strikes in Yemen nearly tripled in 2012 compared to 2011, according to the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank. In October 2000, Al-Qaeda militants attacked US Navy destroyer the USS Cole in Yemen’s port of Aden, killing 17 sailors and wounding 40 more. —AFP

SHONBEH: Survivors mourn for their loved ones who were killed in Tuesday’s earthquake in front of the ruins of their houses, at the city of Shonbeh, southern Iran yesterday. —AP

Iran plans to build more nuke reactors in quake-prone area DUBAI: Iran plans to build more nuclear power reactors in an earthquake-prone coastal area, Iranian media said yesterday, a day after a strong tremor struck the region close to its only existing such plant. Tuesday’s 6.3-magnitude quake hit 89 km (55 miles) southeast of the port of Bushehr, killing 37 people and injuring more than 900 as it flattened small villages. The dead included eight children under the age of 10. But the nuclear power station 18 km (11 miles) south of Bushehr was unaffected, according to Iranian officials and the Russian company that built the facility. Tehran has repeatedly rejected safety concerns about Bushehr, which is located in a highly seismic area on Iran’s Gulf coast and began operations in 2011 after decades of delays. The head of the Islamic state’s Atomic Energy Organisation said hours after the earthquake that more reactors would be built there. “This earthquake had no impact on the Bushehr nuclear power plant installation,” Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani told state television late on Tuesday in comments published by the semi-official Mehr News Agency yesterday. “Not only was the power plant not producing electricity or sending it to the grid at the time, but even while operating the Bushehr power plant has been designed to withstand earthquakes of more than 8.0 on the Richter scale,” he said. The Bushehr site is capable of holding six power reactors and construction of two more units of at least 1,000 megawatts will start in the “near future” there, he said. Iran has identified 16 sites elsewhere in the country suitable for other atomic plants. Iran sits on major faultlines and has suffered several devastating earthquakes, including a 6.6-magnitude quake in 2003 which flattened the southeastern city of Bam and killed more than 25,000 people. In August, more than 300 people were killed when two quakes struck the country’s northwest. A report published last week by US thinktanks the Carnegie Endowment and the Federation of American Scientists said that, “ominously”, the Bushehr reactor sits at the intersection of three tectonic plates, and that warnings about the threat of earthquakes had “fallen on deaf ears”. It estimated Bushehr’s price tag over four decades at $11 billion, making it one of the world’s most expensive plants. Walt Patterson, an expert in energy infrastructure at Britain’s Chatham House think-tank, said he believed Iran’s nuclear expansion plans were “very illadvised” both for financial and technological

reasons. He added: “I would certainly be very uneasy about having a large inventory of radioactivity anywhere where there was going to be major seismic activity.” Iran says its nuclear programme is for purely peaceful purposes, but Western powers suspect it is also intended to develop the capability to make nuclear bombs. Damage Dozens of aftershocks were detected in the hours following the initial quake, and a 5.2magnitude quake struck on yesterday with an epicentre 105 kilometres (65 miles) from Bushehr, according to the US Geological Survey About 92 villages were affected by Tuesday’s quake, said Mahmoud Mozaffar, a Red Crescent official, Iran’s ISNA news agency reported. About 120 people had injuries severe enough to be admitted to hospital, Iranian officials said. Initial damage was estimated at about 1.54 trillion rials, or $43 million at open-market exchange rates, provincial official Shapour Rostami said. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said yesterday Iranian authorities had made no request for international assistance. Iran’s Red Crescent had sent 100 relief workers and three helicopters from neighbouring provinces to the area, OCHA said. About 800 homes were completely destroyed, said Hassan Ghadami of Iran’s crisismanagement organisation. Many village homes are built out of mud brick, which can crumble easily. “One hundred percent of the destroyed homes did not meet minimum construction standards,” Ghadami said. Ali, a resident of the region who travelled with friends to help people in damaged areas, estimated that 70 percent of the homes in the town of Shonbe had been completely destroyed. Ambulances and other assistance were sent from nearby provinces and provincial officials were quickly dispatched to assess the damage and oversee efforts, he said by phone. After the earthquakes last August, some lawmakers criticised the authorities over a shortage of tents and other aid, but Ali said relief operations this time had been “excellent”. Pars Oil and Gas Company (POGC) crisis committee spokesperson Mazaher Ansari said the onshore and offshore installations of Iran’s largest gas field, South Pars, were unaffected by the quake, which was felt across the Gulf, oil ministry news agency Shana reported yesterday. Pope Francis expressed condolences: “I pray for the victims and express my closeness to the population affected by this disaster.” —Reuters

Sudan minister predicts ‘end’ to Darfur uprising KHARTOUM: Sudan’s defence minister, who is wanted for alleged war crimes in Darfur, said yesterday that improving relations with South Sudan will help to “end” a decade-old rebellion in the western region. “The implementation of the cooperation agreements with South Sudan will affect security in Darfur,” Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein said in a national security briefing to parliament. “It will give us a chance to surround the insurgents and help us to end the rebellion.” Ethnic minority rebels in Darfur rose up against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government in 2003. While the worst of the violence has long passed, rebel-government battles continue but instability has been complicated by inter-Arab fighting, kidnappings, carjackings and other crimes, many of them suspected to be the work of government-linked militia and paramilitary groups. Hussein said government troops expect to move soon against rebels who have made a rare occupation of two towns in South Darfur. The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has confirmed that insurgents on Saturday “attacked and seized” Muhagiriya and Labado, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) east of the South Darfur state capital Nyala. Peacekeepers also reported “several possible air strikes” in the area

and said thousands of civilians had sought protection around UNAMID bases. In February, a United Nations panel of experts reported that, despite government denials, “aerial bombardment continues to be used on civilian areas and/or to indiscriminately affect civilians” in Darfur, violating UN resolutions. An extended rebel occupation of an area is unusual as they normally stage hit-and-run attacks. “Now our troops are 25 kilometres from Muhagiriya and in the coming days there will be good news. I expect today or tomorrow there will be contact between our troops and theirs,” Hussein said. “We are preparing for our battle with the rebels.” Abdullah Moursal, spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Army’s Minni Minnawi faction, confirmed his forces still held the towns yesterday. He called it a “strategic area” and said the rebels were preparing for “the second step” which he did not specify. The defence minister said rebels were able to take over Muhagiriya and Labado because the military has since February been securing convoys of fuel and goods to the state capital. “Yesterday the last convoy arrived in Nyala,” he said. There have been fuel shortages in the town for about three weeks, and prices of food are high, a Nyala resident told AFP. —AFP



Serbia mourns 13 killed in ‘monstrous’ bloodbath BELGRADE: Serbia held a national day of mourning yesterday after a war veteran rampaged through a tiny village near Belgrade shooting dead 13 relatives and neighbours, including his son, his mother and a two-yearold. Flags stood at half-mast throughout the country and newspapers blacked out their front pages to commemorate Serbia’s worst such massacre in two decades. “The worst crime in the history of Serbia,” read the headline on the front page of the Nase novine daily. “The war veteran massacred half a village

as it slept,” added the tabloid, above photos of all 13 victims. Another tabloid, the Blic daily, wrote: “Five families snuffed out at dawn.” Most papers carried pictures of shocked and weeping relatives and neighbours in the village of Velika Ivanca, located about 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Belgrade. The remote hamlet where the shooting had occurred was deadly silent on early yesterday afternoon with no one on the street or around the victims’ houses, an AFP photographer at the scene reported. At a local

Steinbrueck struggles to debunk Merkel cult BERLIN: Coaxed into a tub of plastic bubbles with a 19-year-old drama student, the German centre-left’s candidate for chancellor Peer Steinbrueck shows a sense of humour that his rival Angela Merkel would struggle to match. But his performance taking questions from nine teenagers dressed in space suits at the Berlin campaign event also gave clues as to why the Social Democrat (SPD) is so far behind Merkel less than six months before parliamentary elections. Steinbrueck told the students at a Berlin theatre that he likes red wine, Tolstoy novels and Lou Reed’s 1972 rock hit “Walk on the Wild Side” - but revealed little else besides a razor-sharp wit. “I don’t know if I’d vote for him,” said 16-year-old Timothy Stachelhaus. “I need to know more about what he stands for.” Germany shows no sign of tiring of Chancellor Merkel after her nearly eight years in office. Roughly two in three Germans approve of the job she is doing, according to recent opinion polls. Fewer than one in three is happy with Steinbrueck. Steinbrueck performed well as finance minister in Merkel’s first government, a “grand coalition” of his SPD and her conservatives which ruled from 2005 to 2009. But while he deftly handled the global financial crisis then, the 66-year-old is struggling to win over voters now. The SPD hopes Steinbrueck’s habit of speaking his mind will contrast favourably with Merkel’s blandness. But so far it has only got him, and his party, into trouble. At a congress in Bavaria on Sunday, the SPD will try to draw a line under Steinbrueck’s disastrous campaign start. The party will present a policy programme that promises to address the social cost of the Merkel years. It includes more spending on education, equal pay for women, a nationwide minimum wage, affordable housing and measures to “tame” financial markets and crack down on tax havens. “More ‘us’ and less ‘me’,” is the new slogan of Germany’s oldest party, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. German

media joke that the real message behind the SPD’s motto is “less Steinbrueck”. Part of the problem is that Steinbrueck, a moderate who backed former SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s controversial overhaul of the welfare state, has had to bend over backwards in recent months to satisfy left-wingers in his party. He has agreed, for example, to raise the top level of income tax to 49 percent from 45. And he regularly rails in his speeches against bankers and income inequality. “Merkel talks about regulating the financial markets but does nothing about it. Peer Steinbrueck would do it,” said Sascha Vogt, head of the SPD’s leftist youth wing Jusos. But his leftward shift has come at a price, diluting his image as a straight talker and confusing voters, who now question what he stands for. Selected last September after the rest of the SPD “troika” - former foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and party chairman Sigmar Gabriel - ruled themselves out, Steinbrueck has long had a reputation for shooting from the hip. As finance minister he offended Germany’s neighbours in 2009 in a row over tax havens by likening the Swiss to “Indians” running scared from the cavalry. Tall, bespectacled and jowly with grey suits and a paisley scarf, Steinbrueck can appear pedantic and aloof. Soon after he was named candidate, he caused offence with snobbish remarks about cheap wine and about chancellors being underpaid. More damaging still were revelations he had earned 1.25 million euros ($1.6 million) as an after-dinner speaker since leaving the government in 2009. Many of the speeches were to the same financial institutions he now promises to “tame”. “He has no political instinct,” said a Merkel aide. “That is the difference between any old MP and a chancellor candidate.” In a recent Forsa poll only 24 percent of respondents thought Steinbrueck diplomatic enough to be chancellor. SPD leaders know his style has risks but are convinced it lends him an air of authenticity. — Reuters

WARSAW: Men carry a portrait of late Polish president Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria prior to a ceremony marking the third anniversary of the crash in Smolensk, in front of the presidential palace yesterday.— AFP

Kaczynski twin marks Polish jet crash WARSAW: Poland’s opposition leader laid flowers yesterday in honour of his twin and ex-president Lech Kaczynski, who died in a jet crash in Russia three years ago that one third of Poles believe was an assassination. Jaroslaw Kaczynski and members of his conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party sang the national anthem with several hundred people at the presidential palace to honour the 96 victims of the crash. “Wake up Poland! The Katyn and Smolensk crimes: attacks on an independent Poland,” said signs at the rally. PiS believes the April 10, 2010 disaster was nothing short of an assassination, despite both Polish and Russian investigators concluding it was an accident. Scores of senior Polish statesmen died when the Russian-made Tu-154 airliner went down in thick fog while approaching Smolensk airport in western Russia. The delegation was en route to memorial ceremonies in Katyn for thousands of Polish army officers slain by the Soviet secret police in 1940, a massacre the Kremlin denied until 1990. PiS has repeatedly accused Tusk’s centre-right government of not taking Russia to task over what it insists was a botched investigation and cover-up. In a new report published yesterday, a parliamentar y group led by PiS legislator Antoni Macierewicz highlighted its “conviction that the catastrophe followed explosions”. The analysis ignores Polish prosecutors’ conclusions that no explosive traces were found on the wreck of the Russian-made presidential jet. “It turns out that... Russian intelligence services decided which firms and when Poland’s most important planes would be overhauled,” Macierewicz said in the

report, quoted by the Polish press agency PAP. According to a survey published last month, 33 percent of Poles said they “would not exclude” the possibility of an assassination. Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk knelt before the graves of around 30 of the crash victims at the capital’s Powazki Cemeter y yesterday morning. Lech Kaczynski’s daughter laid flowers at Wawel Castle in Krakow, where her father and mother Maria, who also died in the crash, are buried. “My pain is as fresh as it was three years ago,” Marta Kaczynska told reporters. Around 300 supporters of Polish nationalist groups rallied late Tuesday at the Russian embassy in Warsaw, accusing Russian and Polish leaders of having a hand in the accident. They also called on Moscow to stop foot-dragging and hand over the plane’s wreckage to Poland. “It was not an accident. I understood that from the moment I turned on the T V. They’re telling us nonsense,” Warsaw resident Wieslaw Zukowski told AFP. “In Russia, nothing happens by accident,” he added. Official ceremonies, along with demonstrations by the opposition, are planned throughout the day. In an August report, Polish investigators said most of the blame for the crash lay with Poland but also faulted Russia for the sub-standard Smolensk airfield and poor traffic control. But it ruled out “extremist versions” of events, including sabotage and third-party pressure on the crew to land despite bad weather. However, a Russian probe from 2011 concluded that the crew was under “psychological pressure” to land in very poor visibility. — AFP

cemetery, municipal officials were preparing a mass funeral, expected to be held by the end of the week. The gunman, identified as 60-year-old Ljubisa Bogdanovic, went house-to-house at 5:00 am local time (0300 GMT ) on Tuesday methodically shooting his victims in five houses located on a hill on the outskirts of the village, police said. The houses are only some 10 metres (32 feet) away from each other. He killed six men, six women and the child, a two-year old boy, according to the victims’

neighbours. He then shot himself in the head and attempted to kill his wife Javorka. He is “unconscious and in critical condition,” said Zorica Markovic, the spokeswoman for Belgrade’s main hospital, while Javorka’s life is not in danger, medical authorities said. The killing spree has sparked a new debate on gun control in the Balkan country with Prime Minister Ivica Dacic saying society needed to “pay more attention to prevent such crimes.” Serbian police chief Milorad Veljovic said a new law, prepared

after a similar incident in 2007, would be sent to parliament “in the coming days.” “The draft law foresees a medical examination every three to five years for all those who have a licence for a gun or ammunition,” Veljovic told national broadcaster RTS. According to 2007 research at the Genevabased Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Serbia had the fifth largest civilian firearms arsenal out of 178 countries, with an average 37.8 guns per 100 inhabitants. —AFP



US spring storm crawls eastward CHEYENNE: A chilly spring storm was making its way eastward yesterday after heavy snow and freezing rain prompted hundreds of flight cancellations, stranded motorists and knocked out power to thousands in several Western states. Officials in South Dakota warned residents to prepare for the worst by staying home and keeping off roads as the system moved through the eastern part of the state. “We need to hunker down,” Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether said Tuesday. “This one is going to last a while.” The storm crawled eastward Tuesday night from Colorado and Wyoming, with moderate snowfall forecast overnight from the Dakotas to Wisconsin. Nebraska, where strong winds caused a train derailment in the eastern part of the state earlier in the day, also was expecting more snow. Freezing rain, low temperatures and strong thunderstorms were forecast elsewhere in the Midwest. Officials in Wyoming and South Dakota closed portions of major highways as

blowing snow decreased visibility and freezing rain made roads treacherous. Up to a foot of snow fell in southwestern North Dakota on Monday, causing several vehicle accidents. “Spring storms are not unusual, but they can be very dangerous,” said Greg Fuller, operations director for the Transportation Department. April snowstorms aren’t unusual in Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West, but the storm comes after a rather tame winter in many areas. The National Weather Service said Cheyenne’s high of 12 degrees Tuesday was the coldest on record for April 9. The previous record was 23 degrees set in 1997. “I’m pretty confident that this particular storm is more widespread and has caused more travel problems and closures than any storm we’ve had this calendar year certainly,” said Bruce Burrows, spokesman for the Wyoming Department of Transportation. The storm hit California and Arizona on Monday with strong wind and rain,

knocking out power to thousands and kicking up a dusty haze in the metropolitan Phoenix area. It moved into Colorado, where two unconfirmed tornadoes were reported near Akron and strong gusts felled trees and power lines. More than six inches of snow fell at Denver International Airport, where hundreds of flights were cancelled and others were delayed. Wind rolled a trailer home onto its top and a roof blew off a barn, Washington County undersheriff Jon Stivers said. A motorcycle dealership partially collapsed in Pueblo, Colo, where winds gusted to 64 mph. In Wyoming’s Sweetwater County, gusts up to 71 mph damaged a marina at Flaming Gorge Reservoir and broke windows at the Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, according to the National Weather Service. In parts of the Dakotas, officials cancelled classes and many local governments closed offices. In South Dakota, Secretary of State Jason Gant said more than

two dozen cities and school districts informed him they were delaying elections for a week. Up to a foot of snow fell in southwestern North Dakota, along with freezing rain and sleet. An oil tanker crashed near South Heart, just south of Interstate 94 west of Dickinson, and spilled what authorities called a minimal amount of oil into the ditch. Interstate 90 was closed between Rapid City and Sioux Falls, and transportation officials will determine which, if any, stretches can reopen. Weather Service meteorologist Todd Heitkamp in Sioux Falls said that office had reports of ice accumulations from one-quarter of an inch up to nearly half an inch, leading to power outages and widespread tree damage. As much as 10 to 16 inches of snow was expected north and west of the city. “That’s going to add to the weight of the trees, to the power lines,” Heitkamp said. “Then we get the wind on top of that and then we get the snow on top of that. You can envision what can possibly occur.” — AP

Dem, GOP senators reach background check deal Senate ready for opening vote on gun curbs

FLORIDA: This photo shows Joshua Hakken (right) and his wife Sharyn Patricia, who were arrested in Tampa, Florida, after they arrived from Cuba yesterday. — AFP

Florida couple jailed for kidnapping kids HAVANA: A Florida couple accused of kidnapping their two young sons and fleeing by boat to Havana were handed over to the United States, and were booked into a Florida jail, officials said yesterday. Joshua Michael Hakken and his wife Sharyn were being held at the jail early yesterday on a number of charges including kidnapping, child neglect and interference with custody, according to a website for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. US authorities say Hakken kidnapped his sons, 4-year-old Cole and 2-year-old Chase, from his mother-inlaw’s house north of Tampa, Florda. The boys’ maternal grandparents had been granted permanent custody of the boys last week. Earlier Tuesday, Cuban Foreign Ministry official Johana Tablada said in a statement that Havana had informed US authorities of the country’s decision to turn over the couple and their children. US diplomats in Havana said in a statement early yesterday that the two children had left Cuba and “are safely on their way home.” “We would like to express our appreciation to the Cuban authorities for their extensive cooperation to resolve this dangerous situation quickly,” said the statement released by the US. Interests Section in Havana. Tablada did not say when the handover would occur, but reporters saw Sharyn Hakken leaving the dock of the Hemingway Marina in the back seat of a Cuban government vehicle and workers later said that all four Hakkens had been taken away. An AP reporter spotted the family earlier Tuesday beside their boat at the marina. A man who resembled photographs of Joshua Michael Hakken yelled out “Stop! Stay back!” as the reporter approached, but there was no outward sign of tension or distress between the family members. Tablada said Cuba tipped the State Department off to the Hakkens’ presence on Sunday and that from that moment “diplomatic contact has been exchanged and a professional and constant communication has been maintained.” The US and Cuba share no extradition agreement and the island nation is also not a signatory of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an international treaty for governmental cooperation on such cases. Cuba has harbored US fugitives in the past, though most of those cases date back to the 1960s and 70s, when the island became a refuge for members of the Black Panthers and other militant groups. More recently, dozens of Cuban Medicare fraud fugitives in the US have tried to escape prosecution by returning to the island. But Cuba has also cooperated with US authorities in returning several criminal fugitives in recent years, including Leonard B. Auerbach in 2008. Auerbach was wanted in California on federal charges of sexually abusing a Costa

Rican girl and possessing child pornography. He was deported. In 2011, US marshals flew to Cuba and took custody of two American suspects wanted in a New Jersey murder. Hakken lost custody of his sons last year after a drug possession arrest in Louisiana and later tried to take the children from a foster home at gunpoint, authorities said. A warrant has been issued for his arrest on two counts of kidnapping; interference with child custody; child neglect; false imprisonment and other charges. “My team and I working very hard to ensure safety for two Amcit kids,” Conrad Tribble, the No. 2 US diplomat on the island, said via Twitter later Tuesday, using a shorthand for “American citizens.” According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Hakken entered his mother-inlaw’s Florida house last Wednesday, tied her up and fled with his sons. Federal, state and local authorities searched by air and sea for a boat Hakken had recently bought. The truck Hakken, his wife and the boys had been traveling in was found Thursday, abandoned in Madeira Beach, Florida. “He’ll have to face in Hillsborough county the charges he has with the sheriff’s office,” spokeswoman Cristal Bermudez Nunez Nunez said. She said she did not know how the family would be returned or what will happen when they arrive on US soil. Terri Durdaller, a spokeswoman at the Florida Department of Children and Families, said it was not clear where the children will ultimately be placed. “Louisiana is the ultimate decision maker on where these children will reside. It’s likely they will be placed back in Florida with the grandmother,” she said. The family’s flight to Cuba harkened back to the 1999 child custody case involving Elian Gonzalez, though unlike Gonzalez, the Hakkens had no apparent ties to the island. In 1999, 5year-old Gonzalez was found clinging to an inner tube off Florida after his mother and others drowned while fleeing Cuba toward American soil. The boy was taken to Miami to live with relatives, but his father in Cuba demanded the boy be sent back. US courts ultimately ruled Gonzalez should be sent back, though his Miami relatives refused to return him. In April 2000, US federal agents raided the family’s home and he was returned to Cuba soon after. He has since grown into a young man and joined a military academy. At the Havana marina on Tuesday, the family showed no sign they knew a decision about their fate had been made. The four strolled by an outdoor restaurant as security officials kept reporters at a distance. The youngest child was seated in a stroller and the elder boy sat down on a curb. — AP

Frog-phobic man awarded $1.6m over runoff flood CLARENCE: Paul Marinaccio Sr traces his fear of frogs to a childhood incident in Italy when a man holding bullfrogs chased him away after he’d wandered from the vineyard where his parents worked. Decades later, he found himself describing his phobia to a jury, calling himself “a prisoner in my own home” after runoff water from a nearby development turned his 40-acre property into wetlands and inundated it with frogs. “I am petrified. I go home at night and I can’t get in my garage because of the frogs,” Marinaccio testified in 2009. “They’re right in front of the damn door, OK?” It was part of a seven-year legal fight involving Marinaccio, the town of Clarence and a developer that, according to The Buffalo News, finally ended last month when the state’s highest court ruled that Marinaccio, who was awarded $1.6 million in compensation after the 2009 trial, is not entitled to an additional $250,000 in punitive damages. Marinaccio sued Clarence, a Buffalo suburb, and Kieffer Enterprises Inc. after runoff diverted onto Marinaccio’s property from a new Kieffer subdivision turned it into wetlands. A town engineer initially said the water would flow into a ditch elsewhere on Kieffer property. The

town later discovered the ditch was actually on Marinaccio’s property, and that it was too small to handle the flow of water. Lawyers on both sides said Monday that Marinaccio’s frog testimony amounted to just moments of a more than three-week trial - and may not have affected the jury’s award. The Court of Appeals, however, referred to it in a five-page decision in which it determined that while Marinaccio had been wronged, the developer hadn’t acted maliciously. “This newly created wetland caused mosquitoes to breed and frogs to gather on plaintiff’s property, about which plaintiff is particularly phobic,” the court wrote in an opinion dated March 21. “Consequently, plaintiff had problems traversing his property without the assistance of his family and friends, whom plaintiff would often call on to remove frogs from his driveway and near the door of his home.” “I’m petrified of the little creatures,” Marinaccio, 65, said in Monday’s Buffalo News. The lower court jury returned a verdict of $1.3 million against the town and $328,400 against Kieffer for compensatory damages, as well as $250,000 in punitive damages against Kieffer. —AP

WASHINGTON: Two key senators have reached a bipartisan deal on expanding background checks to more gun buyers, a Senate aide and lobbyist said yesterday, an agreement that could build support for President Barack Obama’s drive to curb firearms violence in the wake of the elementary school shootings in Connecticut. Sens Joe Manchin, D-W Va, and Patrick Toomey, R-Pa, planned to announce their compromise later. Subjecting more firearms purchases to federal background checks has been the chief goal of Obama and gun control supporters, who promote the system as a way to prevent criminals and other potentially dangerous people from getting the weapons. Meanwhile, the Senate is ready for an opening vote on restricting guns as Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, set a roll call for today on starting consideration of the firearms legislation. The background check deal makes it even likelier that Democrats will win enough Republican support to thwart an effort by conservatives and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, to block consideration from even starting. The background check deal would expand the system to cover all commercial sales, such as at gun shows and online. Records of the transactions would have to be kept by licensed gun dealers, the same system used currently. Private transactions that are not for profit, such as those between relatives, would be exempt from background checks. Currently, background checks are required only for sales through licensed gun dealers. The aide and lobbyist spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private talks. The administration was continuing its effort to pressure Congress on gun control yesterday as first lady Michelle Obama planned to visit a Chicago high school where authorities say 29 current or former students have been shot in the past year. Eight of them died. The background check deal and the Senate’s scheduled threshold vote on the gun bill were a boost for advocates

battling for firearms restrictions in the wake of December’s shootings that killed 20 first-graders and six staffers at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. “I hope Republicans will stop trying to shut down debate and start engaging in the tough issues we were sent to Washington to tackle,” Reid said. Manchin and Toomey are among their parties’ most conservative members and a deal could make it easier for some hesitant senators to support the background check measure, at least for now. Even so, the ultimate fate of gun legislation remains unclear, clouded by opposition from many Republicans and moderate Democrats in the Democratic-led Senate and the Republicanrun House. Many critics say the proposal would violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms and burden law-abiding gun owners. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, who led an earlier unsuccessful effort to strike a bipartisan background check deal, is backing the compromise after changes were made from an initial version of the deal between Manchin and Toomey, according to a Senate aide who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe details of the talks. The changes included eliminating language that would have required states to recognize permits to carry concealed weapons issued by other states and eliminating language that would have limited background checks to sellers who sell at least five guns annually, said the aide. Some Republicans might vote to begin debate on the legislation but eventually oppose the measure on final passage. Other parts of Obama’s gun effort already seem likely to face defeat, including proposed bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The gun legislation Reid wants the Senate to debate would extend the background check requirement to nearly all gun sales. Reid would try to replace that language with the Manchin-

Toomey compromise once debate begins, a move that would require a vote. The overall gun bill also tightens federal laws against illegal gun sales and slightly increases federal aid for school safety. Thirteen conservatives have signed a letter saying they will block consideration of the measure, and McConnell said he will back that move. That will force Democrats to round up 60 votes to overcome the conservatives. At least eight Republicans have said they want to begin debate or have indicated a willingness to consider it, a number that would be expected to grow if the background check agreement proves successful. Some moderate Democrats were remaining noncommittal and could oppose opening the gun debate. There are 53 Senate Democrats and two independents who lean Democratic. Amid the maneuvering, relatives of some Newtown victims are lobbying to support gun curbs. And Obama has been calling senators from both parties to push for the gun bill. “People should listen to what we have to say and move the debate forward,” said Mark Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son, Daniel. “It’s not just about our tragedy. Lots of kids are killed every day in this nation. We have to help lead the change.” The National Rifle Association opposes Obama’s effort and is urging its members - it claims nearly 5 million - to tell lawmakers of their opposition. In GOP-heavy Louisiana, the NRA asked members to contact Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who is seeking re-election next year. “The future of our Second Amendment rights are at stake,” the mailing said. Counteracting that has been an effort by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, one of whose leaders is billionaire New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It said it will keep track of key gun-related congressional roll calls and make the information available to voters and contributors - a tactic long used by the NRA and other groups. — AP

In Venezuela election, food is a voting issue CARACAS: Venezuelans complain that what goes into their Sunday dinner plate comes from abroad: Steak, from Brazil; plantains, the Dominican Republic; rice, South Africa; Parmesan cheese, Uruguay; oats, Chile. Even coffee, in a country famed for it, often is Colombian. It’s a complaint heard often these days as Hugo Chavez’s handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro, seeks election against opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. Under the socialist government, shoppers cannot count on finding sugar, cornmeal for Venezuela’s beloved arepas and other goods when they go to market. Those shoppers will be casting ballots Sunday in an election in which food security is a key issue, along with crime and power outages. “You can’t find anything,” said Ermis Rodriguez, a 76-year-old retiree who walked away from the chicken legs on offer at a meat stand inside Caracas’ bustling Guaicapuro Market. “I voted for Chavez, but I’m not voting for Maduro. Things are getting worse.” Chavez, who died March 5, made agrarian reform a pillar of his “revolution” and vowed to turn Venezuela into a self-sufficient, food-exporting power. His government expropriated 2.3 million hectares (5.7 million acres) of farmland over the last 12 years that he said were misused. He nationalized food-producing companies whose owners he claimed were gouging the people, conspiring against his government, or both. For some products such as rice and coffee, the government-controlled market share has ranged from 40 percent to 75 percent. For the past seven years, Venezuela, a major oil exporter, has seen sporadic shortages of some basic foods like milk and butter. The country of 30 million people still imports nearly 70 percent of its food. And it has to import products it did not need to before Chavez, including beef, coffee and rice. While Venezuela was nearly self-sufficient in beef 15 years ago, it now imports nearly half the beef it consumes, said Manuel Cipriano, president of the national cattle ranchers’ association. The government and some pro-Chavez agricultural groups dispute that figure but still put it at least 30 percent. Last year alone, frozen beef imports increased nearly 150 percent, according to government figures posted on the ranchers’ association’s website. That has pushed up beef prices. Gerardo Barreto, president of the Chamber of Industry of the central state of Carabobo, said Chavez gutted Venezuela’s coffee industry by expropriating its major players, in one stroke diminishing and degrading the product as companies with decades of know-how were replaced by state conglomerates lacking expertise. “Our coffee used to be excellent. Now it’s a coffee worthy of the garbage,” he said. “Because it doesn’t come pre-

CARACAS: In this photo, customers choose tomatoes at a food market in Caracas, Venezuela.— AP Campos also said dependence on food imports pared or selected. The know-how has been lost.” Barreto said Chavez’s expropriation of the seed is an old problem that preceded Chavez. Attempts and fertilizer company Agro Islena had also hurt at agrarian reform in the 1960s sputtered when the agricultural production. Fertilizer imported by the government redistributed land but failed to provide government is now more expensive or can’t be the new farmers with the expertise and capital obtained, he said. “The entire chain of productivity needed to succeed, leading them to produce less. was messed up,” he said. Sonia Pena, 50, eyes cuts of By the time Chavez was elected in 1999, a census Brazilian beef in the Guaicapuro market. “It takes had found that 90 percent of farmland given to the me all day, going from market to market, to get poor had returned to large landholders. Chavez had promised not to make the same enough to feed my family each week,” she said. Capriles accuses the government of ruining the mistakes, but Venezuela’s poor have continued to food market through nationalizations and what he migrate to the cities; deprived of expertise, many calls ineptitude. He promises to end expropriations expropriated farms produce less and less. Private and promote dialogue between landowners and food makers, large and small, often sell at a loss farmworkers. He says he will fix Venezuela’s deterio- because of hundreds of price controls that Chavez rating rural roads, create a micro-lending program imposed in a losing fight against runaway inflation. for small farms and establish agricultural teaching The government controls the foreign currency they institutions in every region. Venezuelan homes will need to buy foreign-made pesticides, fertilizers, ani“have refrigerators filled with good food, food made mal food and machinery. Maduro has insisted he will continue Chavez’s in Venezuela, food made by our farmworkers and not farmworkers from other countries,” Capriles legacy of state-sponsored supply for the poor. And last Thursday, he injected a new element into the vowed during a campaign rally Sunday. Chavez’s proposed plan for his unfinished six- campaign, accusing Venezuela’s biggest private year term had similar proposals, including fixing food producer, Alimentos Polar, of sabotaging the roads, but the government plans to keep up expro- domestic food market, though he did not elaborate priations. Jose Agustin Campos, president of the on how. “Keep up your sabotage of the people’s pro-government National Confederation of Farmers food,” Maduro bellowed at a rally in the northern and Ranchers, defended Chavez’s policies at a news state of Carabobo. “That’s OK. Everything in life has conference Tuesday. He said Chavez had reduced its end.” Polar employs about 48,000 people directly interest rates for agricultural loans to help farmers and indirectly in its foods division and accounts for invest and imposed a minimum wage for rural roughly 10 percent of domestic food production, workers on par with urban laborers to encourage including grains, sauces, cheese, canned foods, jam, animal food and other products. —AP the workforce to stay on the farms.



Thatcher made ‘racist’ remark: Australian FM SYDNEY: Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr says late British leader Margaret Thatcher made “unabashedly racist” comments, recalling what she allegedly said to him about Asian immigration after she left office. Carr said the conservative “Iron Lady”, who died in London on Monday, had told him Australia could end up like Fiji “where the Indian migrants have taken over”. While Labor stalwart Carr, who has a Malaysian-born wife, said he respected Thatcher for the boldness of her political leadership, “on 100 other things I would pick arguments with her”. “I recall one conversation I had with her in her retirement where she said something that was unabashedly racist,” he told ABC television late Tuesday from China. “She warned Australia — talk-

ing to me with Helena (his wife) standing not far away — against Asian immigration, saying that if we allowed too much of it we’d see the natives of the land, the European settlers, overtaken by migrants,” he added. Carr said: “I couldn’t believe it. “It reminded me that despite, yes, her greatness on those big questions, the role of the state, the evil nature of the communist totalitarianism, there was an old-fashioned quality to her that was entirely out of touch and probably explained why her party removed her in the early 90s.” Carr, a former premier of New South Wales state, said Thatcher used the Pacific island nation of Fiji to illustrate her point. “I remember one thing she said

as part of that conversation. She said ‘You will end up like Fiji’. “She said ‘I like Sydney but you can’t allow the migrants’ — and in context she meant Asian migration — ’to take over, otherwise you will end up like Fiji where the Indian migrants have taken over’. “I was so astonished I don’t think I could think of an appropriate reply.” Carr’s opposite number in Australia, Julie Bishop, called his comments graceless and demanded he immediately apologise. “His decision to make these claims after her death is a crude attempt to slur the reputation of one of the 20th century’s most outstanding leaders,” Bishop said. Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister and its longest serving premier of the 20th century, was

a divisive figure, with critics saying she destroyed millions of lives with her free-market economic policies. Her supporters have called her the greatest British leader since Winston Churchill and tributes have flowed from world leaders, who hailed her role in bringing down communism. On Tuesday Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard praised Thatcher, who was 87, saying she had “changed history for women” by opening the door to females taking high-powered leadership roles. Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II will lead mourners at Thatcher’s funeral next week, the first time the monarch will have attended the ceremony of one of her former prime ministers since Churchill died in 1965. — AFP

Pakistan’s twisting, turning politicians Pakistan columnist wins appeal to contest vote

MARDAN: Pakistani policemen help an injured colleague at a hospital following an attack by gunmen on the second day of a three-day anti-polio campaign yesterday. — AFP

Gunmen kill Pakistani cop during polio drive PESHAWAR: Gunmen shot to death a policeman protecting a team of female polio workers in northwestern Pakistan yesterday, the latest in a series of attacks on people working on the UN-backed vaccination campaign, police said. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks but suspicion has fallen on Islamic militants. Some have voiced opposition to the campaign, accusing health workers of acting as spies for the United States and claiming the vaccine is intended to make Muslim children sterile. Pakistan is one of only three countries in the world where polio is still endemic. Health workers have made progress in combating the disease in recent years, but the attacks threaten to reverse that

progress. The attack yesterday occurred in the district of Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said police officer Mohammed Nabi Khan. One policeman was killed and another wounded. No polio workers were harmed since they were inside a home giving polio drops to children at the time of the attack, said Khan. In December, gunmen killed nine polio workers in different parts of Pakistan. Several more workers have been killed since then, as well as policemen who were protecting them. The UN said last month that some 240,000 children missed vaccinations since July in parts of Pakistan’s tribal region, the main sanctuary for Islamic militants, because of security concerns. — AP

PESHAWAR: For politicians in most countries, switching parties is a once-in-a-career move made only after careful thought. But in Pakistan, changing sides to gain advantage is standard practice. Since entering politics in 1996, Arbab Khizer Hayat has switched his party allegiance 14 times, and he is far from alone. Dozens of others have done so and as the May 11 general election approaches, the trend is increasing. The hallway of Hayat’s huge mansion in the northwestern city of Peshawar is adorned with pictures of him with former president Ghulam Ishaq. And former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. And former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Hayat, a member of a landowning family with a long history in politics, has gone from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party of former cricketer Imran Khan to Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N). He has managed to stick with the PML-N, currently favourites for the election, for the past two years. “When I went back to the PML-N, Nawaz rang me and joked: ‘How long are you staying with us this time?’” said Hayat, 38, with an infectious grin. The phenomenon of politicians jumping ship is so familiar that Pakistanis have a nickname for them-”lota”, the Urdu word for a round-bottomed water jug that can rock in all directions without falling over. Hayat is quite candid about his changeability. “Politics is not about ideas, but about power. When politicians see a party becoming popular they want to join it,” he said. In Pakistan’s stratified, semi-feudal society, patronage and kinship play a huge role and dominate over ideology in politics. Candidates choose the banner under which they have the best chance of being elected, while parties court powerful individuals in areas where the person’s name and influence can secure more votes than any party. “We have two types of politicians. Half are loyal to parties, so if they are right wing or progressive, left wing, they are very loyal to the ideology, but the other half is opportunist,” said analyst Raza Rumi. “Rich people who makes lots of money, people who own land or who are influential, they choose the party, a ticket where they are likely to win.” This back-and-forth movement between parties has accelerated in recent weeks as the party leaderships hand out electoral “tickets”, naming their candidates for the national assembly, the lower house of parliament. Nabeel Gabol, elected to the assembly in the troubled Lyari neighbourhood of Karachi, switched to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), the southern metropolis’ dominant party, shortly before parliament dissolved in March. He will stand for both Lyari and an MQM seat in May. It is common for politicians in Pakistan to contest multiple seats. There have also been moves by some MPs from the outgo-

PESHAWAR: Pakistani politician Arbab Khizer Hayat speaks during an interview in Peshawar. — AFP ing PPP to join the PML-N as its stock has risen. “We had a lot of expectations that the PPP will be able to address the problems being faced by Baluchistan but despite our repeated requests they did not take it seriously,” said Lashkari Raisani, an MP from southwestern Baluchistan province who switched from the PPP to PML-N last month. According to a recent Gallup poll, PML-N will win the most number of seats at the ballot box next month, but like the PPP in 2008, not enough to secure an outright majority. “In a country where it’s sometimes hard to trust opinion polls, the ‘lotas’ are a good indicator of trends,” a Western diplomat said. In this game of electoral musical chairs, those who cannot get their hands on a ticket from one of the big parties run as independents or try to sidle up to one of the emerging parties such as PTI. Arbab is sitting out the election this time as he says he does not have the money to pay campaign expenses, salaries, media advertising and food for meetings. But he hopes to become a political adviser if his party is elected. “It’s my last party, I won’t leave and I’ll even stand in elections for them next time,” he said, hoping to have finally picked the right side. One of Pakistan’s most prominent public intellectuals and columnists won an appeal yesterday allowing him to seek re-election after being barred for the contents of his newspaper articles. Ayaz Amir was last week prevented from contesting his seat in central

Punjab province for the main opposition PML-N party, but appealed to an election tribunal chaired by two high court judges.An election official initially took offence to elements in his columns thought to talk about drinking alcohol, which is officially banned in Pakistan, and an amendment to the constitution classifying the country as an Islamic state. Amir told reporters it was the first time in Pakistan’s history that “views in a column” were made the basis of such objections and welcomed the appeal decision as a victory for freedom of expression. “Imagine if the verdict... had been upheld, then the outside world would have taken a very strange view of Pakistan,” he told AFP, adding that the next parliament should “review” articles 62 and 63 of the constitution. Those articles, among other things, stipulate that candidates for parliament should not violate “Islamic Injunctions” and not act “in any manner prejudicial to the ideology of Pakistan”. “ The law needs to be reviewed. It should be more clearly explained. It should not be left to the people to determine the criteria of a Muslim,” Amir said. His lawyer Salman Akram Raja also welcomed the judges’ decision. “The judiciary has refused to restrict freedom of speech or place any curb on press freedom in Pakistan,” he said, interpreting it as a message to Pakistanis “not to indulge in mud-slinging” or raising flimsy objections to candidates. — Agencies

Obama’s drone war kills ‘others’

AMRITSAR: In this photograph, an Indian Sikh visitor looks at a photographic exhibition organised by Forgotten Citizens - 1984 on the 1984 massacre of nearly 3,000 Sikhs following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, at the roadside in Amritsar. — AFP

Indian court reopens probe into Sikh riots NEW DELHI: An Indian court yesterday ordered federal investigators to reopen a case against a ruling Congress party leader over deadly 1984 riots that killed at least 3,000 members of the Sikh community. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had earlier cleared Jagdish Tytler and closed the case but a local judge in New Delhi ruled that his alleged role in the November 1984 riots must be investigated again. “The court today gave directions to the CBI to record the statements of the witnesses who had (allegedly) seen Tytler lead the mob,” H.S. Phoolka, lawyer for one of the riot victims, told reporters outside the court. The court also asked the CBI to investigate whether Tytler had incited a mob that killed three Sikh men at a shrine in Delhi during the riots, Phoolka added. A CBI report filed in 2009 was challenged by Lakhwinder Kaur, whose husband was among those killed in the riots triggered by the October 1984 assassination of then Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Kaur argued that the CBI had not recorded the testimony of two key wit-

nesses who had moved to the United States following the riots. The assassination was carried out in revenge for Gandhi’s decision to send the army to flush Sikh separatists out of the Golden Temple-Sikhism’s holiest shrine located in the northern Indian city of Amritsar. The government says nearly 3,000 Sikhs were killed in the riots following her killing, while human rights activists say the figure was 4,000. Activists accuse Congress of having turned a blind eye to the killing of Sikhs and say some of its leaders, including Tytler, may have helped incite mobs. Tytler, a former minister, denies any wrongdoing. Kaur yesterday said she was “relieved” by the ruling. “Women lost their husbands and children were orphaned in the riots. We had started to lose hope (of any action),” she said. A Congress spokeswoman said the party would wait for the court to come to its conclusions before taking any action. “Once the court comes out with something conclusive, it will be examined,” Renuka Chowdhury told a news conference in Delhi. Sikhs make up around two percent of Hindu-majority India’s population of 1.2 billion. — AFP

WASHINGTON: Contrary to assurances it has deployed US drones only against known senior leaders of AlQaeda and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lowerlevel Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified “other” militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area, classified US intelligence reports show. The administration has said that strikes by the CIA’s missile-firing Predator and Reaper drones are authorized only against “specific senior operational leaders of Al-Qaeda and associated forces” involved in the Sept 11, 2001, terror attacks who are plotting “imminent” violent attacks on Americans. “It has to be a threat that is serious and not speculative,” President Barack Obama said in a Sept. 6, 2012, interview with CNN. “It has to be a situation in which we can’t capture the individual before they move forward on some sort of operational plot against the United States.” Copies of the top-secret US intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy, however, show that drone strikes in Pakistan over a four-year period didn’t adhere to those standards. The intelligence reports list killings of alleged Afghan insurgents whose organization wasn’t on the U.S. list of terrorist groups at the time of the 9/11 strikes; of suspected members of a Pakistani extremist group that didn’t exist at the time of 9/11; and of unidentified individuals described as “other militants” and “foreign fighters.” In a response to questions from McClatchy, the White House defended its targeting policies, pointing to previous public statements by senior administration officials that the missile strikes are aimed at Al-Qaeda and associated forces. Micah Zenko, an expert with the Council on Foreign Relations, a bipartisan foreign policy think tank, who closely follows the target killing program, said McClatchy’s findings indicate that the administration is “misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted.” The documents also show that drone operators weren’t always certain who they were killing despite the administration’s guarantees of the accuracy of the CIA’s targeting intelligence and its assertions that civilian casualties have been “exceedingly rare.” McClatchy’s review is the first independent evaluation of internal US intelligence accounting of drone attacks since the Bush administration launched America’s secret aerial warfare on Oct 7, 2001, the day a missile-carrying Predator took off for Afghanistan from an airfield in Pakistan on the first operational flight of an armed US drone. The analysis takes on additional significance because of the domestic and international debate over the legality of drone strikes in Pakistan amid reports that the administration is planning to broaden its use of targeted killings in Afghanistan and North Africa. The US intelligence reports reviewed by McClatchy covered most - although not all - of the drone strikes in 2006-2008 and 2010-2011.In that later period, Obama

oversaw a surge in drone operations against suspected Islamist sanctuaries on Pakistan’s side of the border that coincided with his buildup of 33,000 additional U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan. Several documents listed casualty estimates as well as the identities of targeted groups. McClatchy’s review found that: • At least 265 of up to 482 people who the US intelligence reports estimated the CIA killed during a 12month period ending in September 2011 were not senior Al-Qaeda leaders but instead were “assessed” as Afghan, Pakistani and unknown extremists. Drones killed only six top Al-Qaeda leaders in those months, according to news media accounts. Forty-three of 95 drone strikes reviewed for that period hit groups other than Al-Qaeda, including the Haqqani network, several Pakistani Taleban factions and the unidentified individuals described only as “foreign fighters” and “other militants.” During the same period, the reports estimated there was a single civilian casualty, an individual killed in an April 22, 2011, strike in North Waziristan, the main sanctuary for militant groups in Pakistan’s tribal areas. • At other times, the CIA killed people who only were suspected, associated with, or who probably belonged to militant groups. To date, the Obama administration has not disclosed the secret legal opinions and the detailed procedures buttressing drone killings, and it has never acknowledged the use of so-

called “signature strikes,” in which unidentified individuals are killed after surveillance shows behavior the US government associates with terrorists, such as visiting compounds linked to Al-Qaeda leaders or carrying weapons. Nor has it disclosed an explicit list of AlQaeda’s “associated forces” beyond the Afghan Taleban. The little that is known about the opinions comes from a leaked Justice Department white paper, a half-dozen or so speeches, some public comments by Obama and several top lieutenants, and limited open testimony before Congress. “The United States has gone far beyond what the US public - and perhaps even Congress - understands the government has been doing and claiming they have a legal right to do,” said Mary Ellen O’Connell, a Notre Dame Law School professor who contends that CIA drone operations in Pakistan violate international law. The documents McClatchy has reviewed do not reflect the entirety of the killings associated with US drone attacks in Pakistan, which independent reports estimate at between 1,990 and 3,581. But the classified reports provide a view into how drone strikes were carried out during the most intense periods of drone warfare in Pakistan’s remote tribal area bordering Afghanistan. Specifically, the documents reveal estimates of deaths and injuries; locations of militant bases and compounds; the identities of some of those targeted or killed; the movements of targets from village to village or compound to compound; and, to a limited degree, the rationale for unleashing missiles. —MCT

ISLAMABAD: In this file photo, Pakistani tribal villagers and local people participate in a rally to condemn US drone attacks. — MCT



Seven decades on, Japan looks for WWII remains TOKYO: Tears roll down Heitaro Matsumoto’s face as the 72-year-old businessman talks of an uncle who died on Guam as a Japanese soldier in the hopeless final weeks of World War II. The remains of Goro Matsumoto, in his mid-20s at the time of his death, have never been recovered. Nor have those of 18,000 other Japanese soldiers who died on the island, now a tropical vacation spot for Japanese tourists. “People sacrificed their lives to fight for the country. And their remains are left abandoned,” said Matsumoto, who is part of a voluntary programme to repatriate fallen Japanese soldiers. “Unless we return their bodies, we cannot bring closure to the war.” Nearly seven decades after hostilities ended in 1945, Japan is still trying, with limited success, to collect remains in an effort seen as a symbolic gesture honouring those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Some 2.4 million Japanese soldiers died overseas during the war. Nearly half — 1.13 million-of them still lie in a vast area somewhere between Russia and remote southern Pacific islands. Japan’s efforts have required sensitivity. Memories of the bloody war remain vivid in East Asia, where the

legacies of brutal colonialisation and nationalistic tension continue to affect Tokyo’s ties with Beijing and Seoul. It is also logistically difficult. For the first seven years after the war, Tokyo could not dispatch overseas missions because of the US-led occupation. The lack of diplomatic relations with Beijing until 1972 meant no one could go looking for the tens of thousands believed to have perished in what is now China. Roughly 300,000 soldiers are estimated to have died on the oceans while being transported by ship and the jungles of Southeast Asia present their own challenges when it comes to locating the dead. Politicians across party lines have passionately supported a programme that collects several hundred to a few thousand remains every year, aided in part by sentimental movies depicting the pain of those left behind, unable to hold a proper funeral. “The programme is open-ended at this point,” said a welfare ministry official in charge of repatriation issues. “We are conducting the programme as a national policy.” In 2010 left-leaning then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan launched a three-year project to find remains on Iwoto

island, better known as Iwojima, the site of one of bloodiest battles at the end of the war. Kan boosted the annual budget to more than one billion yen a year for three years, a sharp increase from the normal budget of 200 to 300 million yen ($2.1 to $3.1 million). “It is a national duty to collect remains of those who died for Japan,” Kan said at the time. “By thoroughly carrying out the recovery programme on Iwoto, Japanese territory, I hope to use the momentum for foreign recovery programmes,” he said. Sceptics say Japan should stop the costly programme and give up on an almost impossible task. But others say the country’s complicated relationship to its wartime history mean it is an important way to come to terms with the past. Some of the men who governed Japan during its acquisitive march through Asia were convicted as war criminals in trials held by the US-led occupying forces in the years following surrender. As a defeated aggressor there is no nationally accepted version of events, or agreement on who was a hero in the years up to 1945, said Haruo Tohmatsu, professor at the National Defense

Academy. Tokyo, instead, focused its narrative on the building of a modern democracy and a US ally in a new global order. “You might say Japan was characterised as a sort of a criminal state that disturbed the world,” he said. “It has been difficult for Japan to openly honour people who fought in the war and died. “Recovery of remains can be interpreted as a form of recognition” of the fallen soldiers without any judgement on the nation’s uncomfortable past, he said. However, nearly 70 years on, the task risks becoming a practical impossibility. “The places of their deaths should be regarded as their graves,” said Tohmatsu. But for ageing relatives in a culture that places great emphasis on family graves providing a home for departed souls, it is difficult to give up hope that some day the remains of their loved ones will return to the homeland. Heitaro Matsumoto recalls how he watched the skeleton of one soldier-still wearing boots and clutching a grenade-unearthed at a site in Guam. “We know the remains are there,” Matsumoto said. “We must do this so the memory of the horrific war will never fade.” — AFP

Fear stalks Yangon’s Muslims after Buddhist-led killings ‘At night-time nobody sleeps’

BEIJING: Chen Guangfu sits near the window of a restaurant yesterday. — AP

Escaped activist’s family faces threats in China BEIJING: A brother of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng said yesterday that the family still faces persecution from authorities despite assurances that it would be treated in accordance with Chinese law when the activist was allowed to travel to the US after escaping from house arrest. The self-taught rights lawyer’s escape from house arrest in eastern China last April set off a diplomatic tussle between Beijing and Washington before he eventually was allowed to move to the United States. US officials have said Beijing gave assurances that Chen’s relatives would be treated according to the law. But Chen’s eldest brother, Chen Guangfu, said yesterday that his son had been threatened with life imprisonment if he should appeal his 39-month sentence for assault. He was sentenced in November in a summary trial, seen as retaliation by local officials angered by his uncle’s escape. The latest accusations of harassment came a day after Chen Guangcheng told a US congressional panel in Washington that “persecution of my family has never stopped.” A court convicted the nephew of attacking officials who stormed into his house looking for the activist, but his family believed Chen Kegui acted out of selfdefense after he and his parents had been beaten. Before the trial, local authorities did not let family members see Chen Kegui or hire their own lawyers to defend him. Lawyers were instead appointed to him, and his parents were barred from attending the hurried trial. US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland then called on China to review the case. She said its handling was contrary to Beijing’s assurances to Washington that Chen’s relatives would be treated in accordance with the law. Chen Guangfu said he met with a rights lawyer in Beijing yesterday about appealing his son’s sentence. He said the effort was likely to be fruitless, but that he would still try.

“Since the law has given us the right to appeal, we will go through the procedure,” Chen said, though he added that “we do not believe in Chinese law anymore.” He said his son was visited in jail in the city of Linyi in eastern Shandong province by unidentified officials - likely either jail wardens or police officers - who told him that he would be locked up forever if he appealed. Chen said officials used the same tactic before his son’s trial last year, even hinting that his son’s 4year-old child might suffer if he did not cooperate, although Chinese law gives the convicted the right to appeal. In March, a local township official attempted to pick up the 4-year-old boy from kindergarten but failed to give an explanation when she was confronted, Chen Guangfu said. “She said she was told by the township to do that, but she refused to tell me the purpose,” he said. On another occasion, Chen said he was followed by a man in a helmet and an army overcoat. He said he also has noticed several men have stayed overnight in a car at his village but have never been able to confront them and identify them. “I think our personal safety is in their hands,” Chen said. Chen has been making similar complaints for the past several months as he tries to get his son freed. Calls to the propaganda office of Linyi were unanswered yesterday. In written testimony to the US panel, Chen Guangcheng criticized China’s harassment of his family and its human rights record. “When it can willfully break agreements in a case that has attracted the world’s attention,” Chen wrote, “how can we expect it to improve the human rights situation in other areas and to take up its international responsibilities and obligations?” On Tuesday, US Rep Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, assured Chen Guangcheng that his nephew’s case would remain a “primary focus” for him and fellow lawmakers. — AP

Luck of the draw for Thai army recruits BANGKOK: Winai Sawaengkarn closes his eyes before reaching into a wooden box and drawing a black card. He beams, and his watching mother sweeps him up into a tight embrace, overjoyed that he will not have to serve in the army. Winai, 21, is just one of thousands of Thai men taking part in April’s army recruitment lottery that will determine if they serve in the military. Others unwilling to chance fate volunteer for a shorter stint. “I’ve been lucky. But I’m happiest for my mother,” said the delivery man, who shouted when he saw his black card which exempts him from military service. Men over 21 must serve in the army, which has always been at the forefront of Thai politics but has come in for some rare criticism since 91 people died in anti-government protests in 2010. Those who volunteer serve six months, but others choose the annual lottery, which goes on for 10 days in recruitment centres around Thailand. Nobody wants a red card, which means serving for two years, with the chance of a posting in the dangerous south. “I haven’t slept in a week. I prayed before coming here that he wouldn’t get a red card,” said Noppakorn Leelahemkattana, mother of a 20-year-old son. Only those not considered physically capable of service, the mentally ill and those who have significantly altered their physical appearance - such as transgenders, who are more visible in Thai society than in many other nations - are exempt. Students

can defer while in full-time education. Some wealthy and well-connected Thais have been known to pay bribes to keep their sons from military service, but others see the army and its 9,000 Thai baht ($310) a month salary as a way out of poverty and a means to discipline unruly sons. “I want my son to be a soldier, he drinks too much and could do with the discipline,” said Acharaya Goonyatip. “If he’s sent to the south, I would make peace with that. We all have to die anyway.” Her son subsequently drew a red card. Still treated with deference Created as a permanent organisation in 1852, the Royal Thai Armed Forces has been treated with deference on the whole, despite some occasional criticism in a country that has seen 11 successful military coups since 1932. But that started to change in 1973 when it suppressed a student uprising. The army has also come in for part of the blame in the deaths of 91 people after the government ordered a crackdown on a 2010 anti-government protest. Its sometimes draconian ways, such as drills that involve being forced to drink litres of water and then vomit, or punishments like rolling head first on gravel pits, have been criticised from within and without. Some people also question the fact that the army does little to help the vulnerable in its midst. Drug use is prevalent, and some recruits are sexually abused. —Reuters

YANGON: An ultra-nationalist Buddhist creed is becoming more visible in Myanmar’s commercial capital, Yangon, after monks from the apartheidlike movement helped stoke a wave of antiMuslim violence in the central heartlands. Many Muslims in the city say they are living in fear after dozens of members of their faith were killed in March by Buddhist mobs whipped up by monks from the “969” movement, a name that refers to attributes of the Buddha, his teachings and the monkhood. Calm has been restored in Meikhtila and other volatile central areas after authorities imposed martial law and dispatched troops. A Reuters examination of the violence showed it was wellorganised, abetted at times by police turning a blind eye. But concerns linger among Muslims in Yangon, a city of about 4 million people undergoing rapid change during Myanmar’s transition from 49 years of oppressive military rule that ended in March 2011. Fears simmer after 13 boys died in a fire in an Islamic school on April 2. Officials blamed faulty electrical equipment but many Muslims believe the fire was started deliberately. “At night-time nobody sleeps,” said Mohamed Irshad on his way home from midday prayers at a mosque in Mingalar Taung Nyunt, a mostly Muslim neighbourhood. “We have a guard, because some time they might come to attack.” Another worshipper, Ruhla Min, said the imam warned his congregation not to be provoked into violence, but to be patient and stay calm. “We prayed for peace,” Ruhla Min said. Some of the radical “969” monks have spoken in Yangon in recent weeks and recordings of their speeches are widely available. Among the best selling speakers is Wirathu, who was jailed for inciting anti-Muslim riots in 2003 and released last year when the government freed hundreds of political prisoners. Kyi Lwin, who sells DVDs in central Yangon, said the movement was not anti-Muslim but meant to “build a fence” around Buddhism and discourage Buddhists from interacting with Muslims who may try to convert them. The speeches convinced him not to buy goods from Muslims or eat at their restaurants, he said. Ma Than Htwe said she had put a “969” sticker on her juice stall because some people thought she looked Muslim and that was losing her business. Muslims account for 5 percent of Myanmar’s 60 million people but have a much greater representation than their numbers would suggest among the wealthier merchant class, feeding resentment among some of those who remain impoverished despite the political and economic transformation under way. “If you talk to people about their economic life, it hasn’t really changed. They are still struggling to survive,” said Aye Chan Naing, executive director of Democratic Voice of Burma, a media group.

NEW DELHI: An Indian Muslim carries a placard of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a protest march near the Myanmar embassy in New Delhi on April 9, 2013 against the killing of Muslims and the torching of Rohingya homes in Myanmar. — AFP “Monks openly preach about taking businesses back into Buddhist hands. That appeals to a lot of people.” A Muslim, he worries about the spread of prejudice and the failure of the government to educate people about the danger. But he also warns against tarring all monks with the same brush. “There were lots of Buddhist monks not condoning this violence, but preaching peace and reconciliation. Even in Meikhtila, there were quite a lot of Buddhist monks and locals helping the Muslims,” he said. Ye Htut, a presidential spokesman and deputy minister of information, noted that Myanmar has more than 500,000 monks. “Only the handful had some extremist idea. The majority of Myanmar people and monks are against these actions,” he said in an email to Reuters. “There are many cases in which monks and the community save the lives of Muslims.” President condemns “extremists” Even so, some people worry that violence could derail reforms. An easing of rules on freedom of speech, for instance, has allowed political debate but also unleashed anti-Muslim sentiment. In a televised speech on March 28, President Thein Sein warned “political opportunists and religious extremists” not to instigate violence and said he would not hesitate to use force to protect lives and property. At least 110 people were killed in attacks on

Rohingya Muslims in two bouts of violence in Rakhine State in the west in 2012, according to the government. Tens of thousands of Rohingya, who are denied citizenship by Myanmar and are stateless, are now effectively segregated in camps. Hostility against the Rohingyas is longstanding, especially in Rakhine State where an estimated 800,000 of them live. In contrast, Yangon is a diverse city dotted with Buddhist pagodas, Islamic mosques, Christian churches and Hindu temples. On one bustling street corner, Zaw Min, a Buddhist book vendor, sat next to his friend of 10 years, a Muslim who sells TV remote controls. The men spend most of their days side by side on plastic stools, but their complicated friendship is emblematic of the uneasy relationship between the two communities. Zaw Min said they often defend each other when a customer starts an argument. But prominently displayed on his sign is a “969” sticker and he says he wouldn’t buy anything from a Muslim unless there was really no alternative. When asked to comment, his Muslim friend simply shook his head without looking up. Zaw Min said Buddhists should support Buddhist businesses that will use their money to make donations to monks and contribute to the construction of monasteries. “If there is a fight between religions, I will fight for the Buddhist religion,” he said. — Reuters

Hotly awaited Malaysia polls to be held in May KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Wednesday announced a general election for May 5, setting a long-awaited date for polls tipped to be the closest ever as the long-ruling government tries to hold off a surging opposition. Speaking a week after Prime Minister Najib Razak dissolved parliament, Election Commission chairman Aziz Yusof said the two-week official campaign period would begin on April 20. Election fever has already gripped the country with posters, banners and party flags lining many roads. The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which has ruled Malaysia through coalition governments since independence in 1957, faces a formidable opposition that promises to end corruption, cronyism and authoritarian rule. Under UMNO the country became a regional economic success story, while enjoying relative harmony between the majority ethnic Malays and its sizeable ethnic Indian and Chinese minorities. Najib hopes to extend the government’s unbeaten run in the polls by focusing on his steady economic stewardship and offering the public a series of cash handouts and other sweeteners. “This election is a choice between sticking with a competent, reform-minded government and risking our prosperity on a fractious, inexperienced opposition,” a spokesman for Najib told AFP. But the opposition has won support with pledges of clean, transparent governance and respect for civil liberties. The UMNO-controlled Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition had romped to victory in every election until 2008, when it won the polls but lost its two-thirds majority. It now faces the fight of its life against

Abdul Aziz Mohamad Yusof the three-party Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Pact) opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim. In the 1990s the charismatic Anwar was handpicked by the then-authoritarian leader Mahathir Mohamad as his heir in UMNO. But Anwar was ousted from government in 1998 and jailed in a power struggle between the two men that left Malaysian politics deeply polarised. “For Pakatan Rakyat it is the best possible chance to offer a viable alternative, for democracy and a more responsible government. I think the chances of winning are very good,” Anwar

told AFP. Najib is seeking his first mandate from voters after taking the helm of the ruling coalition in 2009, following his predecessor’s resignation over the poll setback the year before. He has launched reforms to strengthen the economy, which grew 5.6 percent last year despite the global malaise, and improve civil liberties. Barisan holds 135 of parliament’s 222 seats and nine of Malaysia’s 13 states, while the opposition has 75 seats and four states. With a tight contest forecast, both sides have competed to lure voters with a range of electoral promises, stoking debt fears. Political analyst Wan Saiful Wan Jan of the think-tank Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs told AFP it was the first time Barisan would face a real challenge from the opposition. “It is really 50-50. If any party is complacent, they will lose out,” he warned, adding he hoped violence would not mar the election. Ambiga Sreenevasan, co-chairman of electoral reform group Bersih, said the upcoming election “will be one of the dirtiest we have seen for a long time”. “It will be very competitive, and that is why it will be one of the dirtiest elections,” she told AFP. Ambiga said incidents of political violence were on the increase. Scuffles between rival supporters have broken out at several pre-election rallies. The opposition and electoral reform advocates also complain the contest is not free and fair due to a system skewed in the government’s favour, and allege widespread irregularities in voter rolls. The government rejects the charges, citing recent reforms such as the introduction of indelible ink to prevent multiple voting. Election Commission chief Aziz said anti-corruption authorities would monitor polling. — AFP



Venezuela’s acting President Nicolas Maduro holds a picture of the late president Hugo Chavez during a campaign rally in Catia la mar, state of Vargas on Tuesday. Venezuelans will elect new president on April 14. — AFP

Mideast feminists reject Europe topless protests

RIYADH: Asian labourers take a break during work on road network construction site on April 7, 2013. — AFP

Saudi Arabia pays price for labour crackdown DUBAI/RIYADH: A government crackdown on illegal foreign workers in Saudi Arabia has disrupted the lives of tens of thousands of people and made it harder for some businesses to operate. But ultimately it may create a stronger, more diverse economy. Thousands of foreigners - over 200,000, according to an unnamed passports department official quoted by the AlHayat daily last week - have been deported from the country over the past few months. People stopped going to work at some businesses in major cities such as Riyadh for fear of being caught by government inspectors. Parents at some private schools said there were unscheduled holidays because teachers were staying home. The turmoil was so great that last Saturday, King Abdullah ordered a three-month suspension of the crackdown, to give foreigners time to sort out their papers. Many people remain fearful of trouble with authorities when inspections resume. Some businessmen in Saudi Arabia complain privately that the government should have launched its campaign more carefully, coordinating closely with companies to reduce their uncertainty over staffing levels. The crackdown is likely to have an economic impact far beyond the country’s borders, since foreign workers from south and southeast Asia remit billions of dollars home to their families every year. But within Saudi Arabia, the economic costs are likely to be outweighed in the long run by the benefits of reducing excess manpower, creating upward pressure on local wages and moving Saudi citizens into private sector employment, analysts said. “Most of the illegal labour is unskilled labour, extra labour that in fact creates inefficiency in the economy. So these people are more than the economy needs,” said Abdulwahab abu-Dahesh, a Saudi economist. “Proper policies to reduce inefficiencies will create more competitiveness in the economy.” Since its 1970s oil boom, Saudi Arabia has imported growing numbers of foreign workers for its energy, construction and service industries. In many cases, Saudi citizens have not been willing to perform the strenuous jobs or accept such low wages. There were almost 6 million foreigners in a total workforce of nearly 11 million people in 2012, according to official data. The number of illegal foreign workers has been estimated by analysts at an additional 1 or 2 million, conceivably more. The remittances sent abroad by these foreigners have averaged $18 billion a year over the past decade, or 6.2 percent of gross domestic product, making the kingdom the world’s second biggest source of such money flows after the United States, the International Monetary Fund said in a September study. While

Saudi Arabia can easily afford that cost now, it may have difficulty in the future if oil prices drop sharply. So in the last couple of years it has mounted a drive to reduce companies’ reliance on foreigners. Firms receive quotas for their expatriate workers, and are penalised financially for exceeding them; the government subsidises job search and training programs for local citizens. The deportations in the last few months represent the latest and one of the most effective steps in the drive, analysts said. “You will obviously see fewer expatriates in Saudi Arabia. It will not be dramatically lower, but it will progressively get smaller and smaller,” said John Sfakianakis, chief investment strategist at MASIC, a Riyadh-based investment company. “The private sector will continue favouring foreigners but it will decline over the years.” Even before the deportations, Saudi companies were starting to feel the monetary impact of the government’s labour policies. When major Saudi construction firm Abdullah A M AlKhodari Sons reported a 50 percent plunge in net profit from a year earlier for the final quarter of 2012, it blamed the result partly on difficulties it faced in hiring foreigners. The company, which has a market capitalisation of $385 million, said it was no longer being granted as many Saudi visas to hire foreign workers, causing project delays and cost over-runs. Finding enough Saudis to fill jobs was a struggle. “Despite efforts for recently hired nationals to join the workforce as part of their training, high labour turnover - over 40 percent - as well as the modest interest shown in participating in construction projects have led to a high direct impact in terms of manpower costs,” it said. Wages for Saudi construction workers are almost five times higher than those for expatriates, an IMF study found. The impact of foreign labour quotas “on individual companies is clearly negative. Staff costs are rising sharply, as Saudis get paid more and need more training,” said Farouk Soussa, Citigroup’s chief economist for the region. So far, however, the crackdown on foreign workers does not appear to have done major damage to the economy as a whole; surveys of private sector business activity this year have shown continued growth, and the stock market hit an 11-month high yesterday. And the economy may ultimately benefit in several ways. Analysts agree that in some areas, such as the retail sector, Saudi Arabia is overstaffed, so job cuts may be positive. “Instead of having 10 corner shops in one neighbourhood, you will have two or three and that is a better use of job resources. You will have higher concentration and bigger efficiencies,” said Sfakianakis. — Reuters

RABAT: Bewilderment, scorn, resentment. Women’s rights activists across the Middle East are reacting with everything but joy to topless demonstrations in Europe by a Ukrainian feminist group held in solidarity with a Tunisian woman who posted topless photos of herself protesting religious oppression. They fear the bare breasts may hurt their cause more than help it, after FEMEN activists protested in front of mosques and Tunisian diplomatic missions last week to support 19-year-old Amina Tyler, who caused a scandal in her country with her Facebook postings. Tyler herself, a high school student, said that while she was encouraged by the solidarity, the burning of the black flag bearing the Muslim profession of faith in front of the Paris mosque was a step too far, even if the banner has been championed by ultraconservatives and jihadists. “I am against that,” she told French TV Canal+ on Saturday. “They didn’t insult a certain kind of Muslim, the extremists, but all Muslims.” Tyler, who has described herself as a FEMEN member, said she now fears for her life in Tunisia after ultraconservative Muslim clerics recommended she be stoned to death for posting the photos. She said she wants to move abroad. Tunisia is one of the most liberal countries in the region, but her protest has shocked even mainstream society in her homeland, still conservative about nudity. A healthy debate about women’s rights rages in Tunisia. But most women in the country feel that Tyler was out of line, even as they express concerns about the rolling back of progressive legislation on women and the rise of the conservative Salafi movement in Tunisia since the overthrow of the secular dictatorship in 2011. When Tyler’s photos were followed with the FEMEN solidarity protests, largely by European women, in Milan, Paris, Berlin and elsewhere, Tunisian women also felt as if foreigners were judging Islam. “All organizations and all ideological currents are unanimous that this phenomenon is foreign to our society,” said Imen Triqui of the Tunisian Association of Liberty and Equality, while supporting Tyler’s freedom of expression. Tyler isn’t the first Arab woman to post nude protest photos and stir up scandal. In Nov 2011, a young Egyptian woman, Aliaa ElMahdy, posted pictures of herself wearing only stockings on her blog to denounce a society of “vio-

lence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy”. At the time, Egyptian feminists and secular activists expressed fear that the move would set back secular and liberal trends ahead of legislative elections, later won in a landslide by religious conservatives. Across the region, Tyler’s photos sparked debate among women activists who didn’t want to limit freedom of expression, but felt that such protests should take other forms. Jenan Mubarak, of Iraq’s Center for Women’s Rehabilitation and Employment, endorsed Amina’s right to protest, but argued that topless demonstrations were counterproductive to promoting women’s rights. “I reject the idea that a woman’s body is used to reach any objective,” she said. “I want others to appreciate my mind, the way I speak, to respect the way I am trying to gain my rights.” Shatha Al-Janabi, an Iraqi writer and feminist, echoed that view. “Every woman has the right to express what is inside her. Women have genuine demands, particularly Arab women, because the patriarchy is so, so strong,” she said. “But there are many ways to demand equality in a Middle Eastern society. Nudity isn’t acceptable here.” Moroccan pro-democracy activist Zineb Belmkaddem maintained that using a woman’s naked body to change policy is simply bad for women. “Exposing the woman’s body ... reinforces the image that objectifies women actually, no matter how FEMEN would like to think that the action frees them somehow,” she said. “I tell FEMEN, ‘call me when exposing your breasts gets you to break the glass ceiling.’ And if it does, then it’s probably for the wrong reasons.” But FEMEN members ask: Would anybody have paid heed to the FEMEN message in the Middle East had the protests been fully clothed? “I don’t think if we did it with clothes on, people would pay attention to the message it gets more attention if were are semi-nude,” said Meriam, a Tunisian member of FEMEN living in Paris who asked that her last name not be used to protect her safety. She expressed no regret for burning the flag since it is closely associated with the jihadists and Salafis who have been the most vocal in the region about repressing women. “For me this flag is not the Muslim flag,” she said by telephone from Paris. “It never hung in mosques, just in the hands of bin Laden and his colleagues.” — AP

This recent image from video provided by CAPA and Canal+ television on April, 8, 2013 shows Tunisian FEMEN activist Amina Tyler. — AP





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Bitter irony By Paul Eckert obody but Kim Jong-un knows what he hopes to achieve with his saber-rattling campaign, but the young North Korean leader probably didn’t set out to aid the United States, the sworn enemy of three generations of Kims, at the expense of his country’s main ally, China. In a boon for US policy that can only add to China’s frustration with Kim, North Korean bellicosity has helped reinforce an American strategy of rebalancing its security policies toward the Asia-Pacific region. To a China that often sounds more wary of Washington than of Pyongyang, months of North Korean missile and nuclear tests followed by a daily stream of bloodthirsty war threats may be worrisome, but the US reaction is even more troubling. “We understand what kind of regime North Korea is, but we also understand that North Korea is playing games,” said Sun Zhe, director of the Center for US-China Relations at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. “Most importantly, we are complaining that the United States is using military drills as an excuse to continue to do this (rebalancing), putting up B-2s and other advanced weapons systems,” he said. B-2 and B-52 bombers, radar-evading F-22s and antimissile system vessels like the USS John S McCain represented the initial US response to North Korea’s repeated, explicit threats to launch nuclear strikes against the United States. The US also said it would shift THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System) to defend Guam from missile attack. And Tokyo’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said Japan would permanently deploy Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) anti-missile systems in Okinawa to counter North Korean missiles. The US deployments, although focused on North Korea and mostly temporary, could be adapted or expanded to counter the extensive array of anti-access military capabilities Beijing has built up to delay or prevent the arrival of American forces to areas near China in the event of conflict. Chinese President Xi Jinping may have underscored Chinese ambivalence when he did not specifically name North Korea when he said no country “should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gain”. Xi’s remarks at the Davos-like Bo’ao Forum on the Chinese island of Hainan might have been targeting Washington as well as Pyongyang, reflecting Chinese unease at the US “rebalancing” or “pivot” policy of winding down wars in Southwest Asia and paying renewed attention to the Asia-Pacific region. “In China, it’s widely believed that the pivot is a containment strategy of China. Almost everyone sees it as that,” Stephanie KleineAhlbrandt, a Beijing-based China analyst for the International Crisis Group. In a talk in Washington explaining the rebalancing policy and the Pentagon’s response to North Korea, US Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter did not mince words in addressing Chinese complaints. “North Korea’s behavior is causing not just the United States, but others in the region to take action,” he told the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “If the Chinese find them the kinds of things they don’t like to see, there’s an easy way to address that, which is to talk to the North Koreans about stopping these provocations,” said Carter. Carter was forceful and unapologetic in presenting the rebalancing as a continuation of post-war US policy that allowed allies Japan and South Korea, followed by Southeast Asia, China and India “to develop politically and economically in a climate that has been free from conflicts”. “It’s good for us and it’s good for everyone in the region. And it includes everyone in the region. It’s not aimed at anyone, no individual country or group of countries,” he said. Carter said the coming drawdown of forces from Afghanistan would allow the US Navy to shift to the Pacific region surface combatant ships, carriers and other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance vessels. Analysts who accept the rebalancing as based on sound geo-strategic principles nevertheless say Pentagon statements and force deployments should not be the most visible face of the Obama administration’s core Asia policy. “We’ve oversold the military and undersold the diplomatic and economic components of the integrated strategy of the rebalance,” said Douglas Paal, a former US official who heads Asian Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The reaction we’re getting from China is ‘they’re coming to get us, we’ve got to respond, we’ve got to step up our military development,’” he said. When Secretary of State John Kerry visits China, Japan and South Korea later this week in his first trip to the region as the top US diplomat, he will need to adjust his rebalancing sales pitch to China while he engages in Korea crisis diplomacy. — Reuters


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Newly oil-rich Ghana struggles to please By Kwasi Kpodo hen Ghana struck oil in 2007, citizens expected the industry would bring them better lives and investors anticipated hefty profits from a rising African economic star. Six years later, all of them are complaining. Lower-than-expected production from the offshore Jubilee field and funding a costly presidential election process in 2012 have left the West African nation struggling to deliver promised development projects while keeping its finances in order. The situation underscores the complex reality of translating raw materials into prosperity on a continent notorious for the “resource curse” of graft, strife and mismanagement that has hit oil-rich countries like Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea. Newly elected President John Dramani Mahama is walking a fiscal tightrope between ordinary Ghanaians demanding swift change and investors alarmed by the country’s ballooning debt. A stumble could prove politically costly for Mahama and financially disastrous for Ghana as it seeks to retain its access to credit to fund rapid growth. “Because of oil production, rising expectations in Ghana will have to be met. But at the same time, past policy choices constrain the room for manoeuvre and Ghana is toeing a very delicate line,” said Razia Khan, Africa analyst at Standard Chartered Bank in London. Eschewing the deepest of cuts, Ghana’s 2013 budget plotted a middle-of-the road route intended to trim the deficit while using increased revenues to fund a jump in public spending. Last month, Finance Minister Seth Terkper unveiled plans to pare the government’s deficit to 9 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) this year from 12.1 percent in 2012, while cranking up expenditures by 20 percent. That disappointed economists who


were expecting Ghana to reaffirm its commitment to a deficit of 6 percent of GDP - the target it set and then widely missed in 2012. Rating agency Fitch had already downgraded the outlook for Ghana’s credit rating to negative from stable in February after details emerged of deteriorating public finances - a blow to its reputation as a model of African potential. Total public debt rose by more than a fifth last year to $18.8 billion, versus $15.3 billion in 2011. Rare in a region where coups, civil wars, disputed elections and strong-arm rulers are the norm, Ghana has distinguished itself with six peaceful transfers of power via the ballot box. That reputation allowed it to launch a $750-million eurobond in 2007 and helped it secure the accolade of hosting Barack Obama for his first African trip as US president in 2009. Across the capital Accra, evidence of new resource wealth abounds brightly-lit multi-storey buildings, cranes looming over construction sites, well-paved roads and billboards advertising banks, cars and mobile phones. But many Ghanaians remain excluded. An influx of rural workers hoping for jobs in Accra, has spawned a sprawl of outlying shanty towns and spilled vendors across the streets. Standing in a trash-strewn courtyard, 49-year-old school teacher Monica Quansah wonders where the oil money is going. “Our children are still attending school under trees,” she said. “Those of us in the city don’t have reliable power and water, let alone those in the regions.” Grace Asantewaa, who voiced hope three years ago that oil would improve people’s lives, said she had yet to see any benefit: “Nothing has changed. We are even worse off than before because prices have shot up significantly,” she said behind her stall of tomatoes and chilli peppers at the teeming Agbogbloshie market along a potholed road

in the seaside capital. Mahama won the presidency in December by tapping into public frustration at the slow pace of change for ordinary Ghanaians. Among other things, he promised to build 200 new school blocks within his first four years, bolster crumbling water and power infrastructure, pave roads outside Accra and sustain economic growth at 8 percent or more. But he was dealt a tough hand. Technical hitches meant Tullow Oil’s Jubilee field, 80 km offshore and the prime engine for revenue growth, produced 72,000 barrels per day in 2012, well shy of a 90,000 bpd target. A report last month showed Ghana received $540 million from the oil industry last year, far short of a projected $774 million. About $32 million of that was saved in Ghana’s two-year-old sovereign wealth fund, which was valued at about $72 million at the end of 2012. Nigeria’s oil-fed sovereign wealth fund, by comparison, is worth about $1 billion. A public pay hike and election spending after the sudden death of President John Atta Mills in July further squeezed finances. Simply organising the voting last year cost $125 million - over one percent of planned annual public spending. Ghana has missed its budget deficit target in every election year since constitutional rule was restored in 1992. Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur said the government chose slow fiscal consolidation to balance growth and stability. “An attempt to correct the fiscal imbalance in one year would be extreme,” he said. “We’d be putting the brakes on at a time when we also have the responsibility to ensure economic growth to create employment opportunities for our people.” The West African country ranked among Africa’s fastest growing economies in 2011 and attained a lower middle-income status, propelled by the 2010 start up of oil production. With reserves of 800 million barrels of

high-quality oil and potential for at least one billion more, the field makes Ghana one of sub-Saharan Africa’s top 10 oil producers. Tullow hopes to produce 120,000 bpd this year and 200,000 bpd by 2015. Despite the budgeted spending jump, Ghana will struggle to fulfil the social projects planned this year, said Amissah-Arthur, who also chairs Ghana’s economic management committee. “It means we could only be providing one or two of those school blocks this year and that’s not good enough,” he said, adding the government was seeking private sector investment. Ghana is also grappling with power and water infrastructure problems that authorities say will require hundreds of millions of dollars to fix. Payments to private -sector healthcare providers and some public-sector workers are also in arrears. Joe Abbey, economist at the Accra-based Centre for Policy Analysis, said the government must prioritize: “There are verifiable deficiencies in our infrastructure. The most critical one is energy,” he said. “It’s a huge problem because every economic activity depends on reliable energy.” In an ironic twist to the nation’s status as an oil producer, Ghanaian power utility, Volta River Authority, has been rationing power since September because it lacks the money to buy light crude after a subsea pipeline was damaged. Ghana is hoping to start producing its own natural gas to generate power by yearend but until then residents will have to bear power cuts lasting 12 hours every other day. In a sign the government is feeling the financial pressure, Mahama’s administration slashed fuel subsidies in February, resulting in a 20-percent rise in prices at the pump. “We must learn to cut our coat to fit out cloth,” said Bruce Ayiku, a 53 year-old physician. “There’s too much extravagance around government machinery of late.” —Reuters

Capriles needs late surge to win vote By Andrew Cawthorne fter beating Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles in last year’s presidential election, Hugo Chavez telephoned him and courteously quipped: “You made me get out and work hard!” Now in his second campaign for the OPEC nation’s top job, the tireless Capriles has again pushed himself to the limit to ensure his new rival and election favorite, Chavez’s protege Nicolas Maduro, does not have an easy path to victory. “I’m shedding my skin for Venezuela,” Capriles, 40, roared this week at the final rallies of a passionate campaign where he has re-energized opposition backers still upset about his loss against the socialist Chavez last October. “My body and bones may be hurting, but my heart is bursting with emotion - this isn’t euphoria, it’s hysteria for change!” he said at a rally in eastern Venezuela during an almost manic crisscrossing of the country in search of votes. After beating Capriles in October for his fourth presidential election victory, the cancer-stricken Chavez’s health deteriorated quickly and he died on March 5. He had named Maduro as his chosen heir before undergoing his last cancer operation in December, and a surge of emotion over his death has given Maduro a huge boost ahead of the election on Sunday. Fighting to counter that, Capriles has drawn huge crowds, lost weight, gone hoarse and swapped last year’s cautious respect for Chavez with gleefully irreverent attacks on Maduro. Lambasting him daily as a “liar”, “incompetent” and member of a “corrupt” elite, Capriles has mocked the acting president for calling an ancient curse on the heads of opposition voters and claiming Chavez had appeared to him in the form of a bird. From wearing the red colors of the ruling Socialist


Party or logo of the state oil company, to saying his little finger had more revolutionary fiber than Maduro’s whole body, Capriles’ new aggression has delighted supporters. Yet all local polls still show him behind, albeit with a gap shrinking to below 10 points in some weekly surveys. Overturning the popular Chavez’s dying wish, the naming of Maduro as his successor in his last public speech, may be a step too far. Capriles won 44 percent of the vote in October, the opposition’s best showing against Chavez in a presidential election, and he is predicting a late surge this week. “The polls are only a snapshot of a few weeks ago, and things are moving fast. We are winning,” Capriles said. “They

know this election will be decided on April 14th, the game’s not over.” His camp, cheekily called the “Simon Bolivar Command” in a reclaiming of Chavez’s idol and Venezuela’s independence hero Simon Bolivar, is far more upbeat than just two weeks ago. Capriles and his aides believe Maduro’s poll numbers are moving lower as the sympathy over Chavez’s death wears off. But their rising self-belief is not yet widely shared. “The opposition’s optimism is probably misplaced,” the LatinNews think-tank said in what is a near-consensus view of non-partisan observers tracking the race. “Despite Maduro’s obvious lack of charisma in comparison to Chavez, he is the only option on the

Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles gestures to supporters during a campaign rally in Valencia, state of Carabobo, on Tuesday. —AFP

table for ‘Chavistas’ and with the state oil company PDVSA fueling a well-orchestrated campaign, Sunday’s ballot should be a mere formality.” To pull off a surprise win, Capriles first needs to ensure as many as possible of his 6.6 million supporters in October back him again. Last year’s record overall 80 percent turnout is unlikely, however, to be replicated. He would also need a significant number of “Chavistas” to decide that Maduro, a former bus driver who rose to be vice president and is vowing to continue his mentor’s hardline socialism in Venezuela, is not up to the job. That is extremely hard just a month after Chavez’s death, with his endorsement of Maduro literally ringing in Venezuelans’ ears from speakers at every government rally and campaign spot. “Give us another month or two, for people to start comparing Henrique with Maduro as candidates head-to-head, instead of Henrique having to go up against the ghost of Chavez, and we would win this easily,” said Nelly Rodriguez, resting with friends at a Caracas cafe after attending a Capriles rally. “It’s pretty obvious that Maduro is a terrible candidate. If it weren’t for the Chavez factor, there’d be no contest here.” If Capriles loses again on Sunday, the opposition coalition faces another six years in the political wilderness and the hard-won unity of the last few years could splinter. The Democratic Unity movement’s diverse mix of right- and left-wing groups was already under huge strain earlier this year before Capriles galvanized them and buried disagreements, at least temporarily, for the sake of a united push on Sunday. Capriles is clearly the best and most popular opposition leader in years, but another defeat would put him in a difficult position. There are others waiting in the wings to polish potential rival candidacies for the future.— Reuters


S P ORT S China’s Liu out for season SHANGHAI: Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang is likely to miss this season as he recovers from the injury which dramatically ended his bid to win back the Olympic title in London last year, a report said yesterday. Liu’s coach Sun Haiping said the 29-year-old, Olympic champion over 110m in 2004 and one of China’s biggest stars, would make a “full recovery” from his ruptured Achilles tendon, but would probably not be in action this year. “We expect a full recovery, but he cannot take part in any training now, and therefore he will probably miss all meets this year,” said Sun, according to the China Daily. The announcement confirms that Liu, who is undergoing treatment in the United States, will miss next month’s Diamond League meeting in Shanghai, an event he has headlined in recent years. Last year in London, Liu clattered into the first hurdle in his opening heat and after being helped up, he hopped the length of the track before symbolically kissing the last barrier and exiting the Olympic arena. The incident was strongly reminiscent of 2008, when Liu, the defending champion, also limped out of his first heat at the Beijing Olympics, shocking his home fans and reducing a TV announcer to tears. In August, Liu was forced to deny an alleged cover-up in London after reports said state network CCTV knew about his injury but was barred from revealing it by China’s propaganda department.—AFP

Indonesians blame finances after AFC Cup debacle HONG KONG: Indonesia football endured another embarrassing chapter on Tuesday as club side Persibo had their AFC Cup match against Sunray Cave JS Sun Hei in Hong Kong abandoned when trailing 8-0 after being reduced to six men. Persibo only sent 12 players to the match in the region’s second tier continental tournament because of financial issues, and numerous injuries at the Mong Kok Stadium left them with only six, forcing the game to a halt in the 65th minute. The Asian Football Confederation said they “will review all the incidents pertaining to the match” before giving their verdict. “First of all I would like to apologise,” Persibo coach Gusnul Yakin told reporters after the game. “We tried our best, but our players played very badly and we had lots of players injured. “The players only arrived (on Tuesday morning) and they are tired. We only brought 12 players as we have financial problems.” The apology did little to appease the home side’s Brazilian captain Roberto Afonso Jr. “It’s a shame on them. No one believed their players were injured. They just did not want to continue,” he told the South China Morning Post. The paper said Persibo players started “falling like skittles after minimal contact with their opponent” with Thai referee Chaiya Mahapab awarding the match to the home side when Persibo were unable to field the minimum seven players required.—Reuters

Mourinho praises Galatasaray ISTANBUL: Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho lauded the effor t of Galatasaray after the Turkish champions beat his side 3-2 in the second-leg of their Champions League quarter-final. Mourinho’s men still progressed to the semi-finals for the third consecutive season 5-3 on aggregate, but they were given a scare in Istanbul after Cristiano Ronaldo’s early strike seemed to have them cruising into the last four. Second-half goals from Emmanuel Eboue, Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba put Galatasaray on the verge of a historic comeback, but after Alvaro Arbeloa’s red card had also seen the visitors reduced to 10 men, Ronaldo settled the tie in stoppage time with his second of the night. And Mourinho believes the atmosphere at the Turk Telekom Arena inspired the hosts throughout. “I would love to play every game in this stadium,” he told a press conference. “Everyone wants to play in atmospheres like this, it is the perfect atmosphere for football. “I don’t think my players have felt the atmosphere, it has been the Galatasaray players that have done so in a great second-half. “I am not less pleased with my players, but happy for the players and fans of Galatasaray because if you are going to go out of the competition, you have to do it like this.” —AFP

Braves get past Marlins MIAMI: Kris Medlen allowed only an unearned run in seven innings Tuesday night, and the Atlanta Braves earned their fifth consecutive victory by beating the punchless Miami Marlins 3-2. The Braves improved to 7-1, their best start since 2007. The Marlins fell to 1-7 with their fourth consecutive defeat, and they’re off to their worst start since the 1998 team began the season 1-11. Evan Gattis hit his second homer and Justin Upton doubled home a run. Craig Kimbrel pitched around a leadoff walk in the ninth for his fourth save in as many chances to complete a four-hitter. Atlanta has allowed six hits and two runs in the first two games of the series. Announced attendance was 14,222, the smallest crowd at Marlins Park since it opened a year ago. PHILLIES 8, METS 3 In Philadelphia, Michael Young and Ryan Howard homered, Cliff Lee came within one out of a complete game and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the New York Mets. John Mayberry Jr. also went deep for Philadelphia and Young had three hits, missing the cycle by a double. Lee (2-0) allowed three runs - two earned - and eight hits, striking out six in 8 2-3 innings. The 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner didn’t win his second game until July 31 last year. The Phillies (3-5) roughed up Dillon Gee (0-2) for seven runs and 10 hits in three innings. It was his shortest career outing in 51 starts. John Buck hit his fourth homer in eight games for the Mets, who fell to 5-3.

DETROIT: Torii Hunter No. 48 of the Detroit Tigers hits his 2,000 Major League Hit during the fifth inning of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park. — AFP

Tigers maul Blue Jays DETROIT: AL MVP Miguel Cabrera hit his first homer of the season and drove in four runs, left fielder Don Kelly made a home run-robbing catch and the Detroit Tigers beat the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays, who spent millions during the winter to upgrade their roster, fell to 2-5 for their worst start since 2004. Cabrera, coming off his Triple Crown season, had four hits and scored three times. Torii Hunter had three hits, including the 2,000th of his career, and Alex Avila homered. Kelly took away a home run from J.P. Arencibia leading off the second. Anibal Sanchez (1-0) struck out eight in seven innings. He allowed two runs and five hits with one walk. Joaquin Benoit worked the ninth and gave up Cody Rasmus’ solo home run. Brandon Morrow (0-1) gave up five runs and nine hits in 3 2-3 innings. YANKEES 14, INDIANS 1 In Cleveland, Robinson Cano hit one of New York’s five homers and drove in five runs, Andy Pettitte pitched seven solid innings and the Yankees romped to a 14-1 win Tuesday night over the Cleveland Indians, who had starter Carlos Carrasco ejected from his first appearance since 2011. The 40-year-old Pettitte (2-0) allowed one run and five hits in his second strong start. Cano hit a two-run double in the second off Carrasco (0-1) and connected for his third homer in two days in the fourth. Following Cano’s two-run homer, Carrasco, who just served a five-game suspension for throwing at a hitter in 2011, drilled Kevin Youkilis in the shoulder with a pitch and got tossed. Youkilis and Brennan Boesch hit two-run homers, and Ichiro Suzuki and Lyle Overbay had solo shots for the Yankees. RANGERS 6, RAYS 1 In Arlington, Nick Tepesch pitched into the eighth inning in his major league debut, Lance Berkman had a key two-run single among three hits and the Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays. Tepesch retired 12 straight batters before hesitating to pick up a slow roller from Kelly Johnson that went for a one-out single in the eighth. The 24-year-old righthander left to a standing ovation after Desmond Jennings followed with his second double of the game. Tepesch (1-0) allowed four hits and a run with three walks and five strikeouts. Roberto Hernandez (0-2) gave up eight hits and six runs - five earned - in 6 2-3 innings. ROYALS 7, TWINS 4 In Kansas City, Jeremy Guthrie won his career-best seventh straight decision, dating to last season, and Alcides Escobar had three hits and an RBI as the Kansas City Royals beat the Minnesota Twins. The Royals, who had not scored in the first two innings in their first seven games,

sent nine to the plate in a five-run first. Mike Pelfrey (1-1) gave up hits to the first five batters he faced. Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham and Eduardo Escobar each hit solo homers to keep the Twins close. Guthrie (2-0) improved to 7-0 in his past 13 starts dating to last August. He allowed four runs on six hits, including the three home runs, in 6 2-3 innings. Greg Holland picked up the save, but not before walking two and giving up a single to Escobar, his third hit, to load the bases. Holland struck out Mauer to end the game. ATHLETICS 9, ANGELS 5 In Anaheim, pinch-hitter John Jaso had a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning, and the Oakland Athletics blew a four-run lead before rallying to beat the Los Angeles Angels in the majors’ final home opener. Brandon Moss had three hits and drove in four runs, delivering an early two-run single before adding a two-run homer after Jaso’s shot. Coco Crisp also hit his fourth homer for the A’s, who have won six straight after an 0-2 start. Josh Hamilton went 0 for 4 with a sacrifice fly in his home debut for the big-budget Angels, who dropped to 2-5. Howie Kendrick had three hits and capped Los Angeles’ three-run rally in the sixth with a tiebreaking triple off Ryan Cook (1-0). Albert Pujols reached base four times for the Angels. Kevin Jepsen (0-1) gave up the homers to Jaso and Moss. ASTROS 16, MARINERS 9 In Seattle, Jose Altuve drove in four runs and hit one of Houston’s five homers, and the Astros broke out of their offensive slump against the Seattle Mariners. After totaling nine runs during a sixgame losing streak, the Astros scored nine in two innings and won for the first time since opening night. The smallest crowd in Safeco Field history (10,745) saw the Astros batter rookie starter Brandon Maurer (0-2) and continue their outburst against reliever Kameron Loe. By the time Loe was replaced after the third inning, the Astros led 11-0 and had 13 hits. Chris Carter homered twice for his first multi-homer game. JD Martinez and Marwin Gonzalez also connected for Houston. The Astros entered the night with just two homers and 17 runs all season. The 16 runs and 22 hits were the most since August 2010 when the Astros won at St. Louis 18-4. Houston scored six off Maurer in the first as he lasted just two outs. The six-run first was the biggest inning for Houston since Sept. 10, 2011, against Washington. Paul Clemens (1-0) got the win in his major league debut because starter Erik Bedard was pulled after four scoreless innings. — AP

PADRES 9, DODGERS 3 In San Diego, Will Venable homered and hit a bases-loaded triple for the San Diego Padres, who rebounded from a dreadful six-game trip to win their home opener against the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. Venable tied his career high with four RBIs. He homered in the first and his two-out triple highlighted a five-run eighth against three Dodgers relievers. The Padres sent 11 batters to the plate that inning, five of whom walked. Nick Hundley also homered off Josh Beckett for the Padres, who were outhomered 10-1 and outscored 40-14 in going 1-5 in a swing through New York and Colorado. Luke Gregerson (1-0) got the last out of the seventh, the only batter he faced, for the win. Ronald Belisario (0-1) allowed a run and two hits in twothirds of an inning for the loss in relief. CUBS 6, BREWERS 3 In Chicago, pinch-hitter Scott Hairston had a goahead sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and David DeJesus added a two-run single, lifting the Chicago Cubs over the Milwaukee Brewers. Carlos Marmol (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth. Kyuji Fujikawa worked a scoreless ninth for his second save, stranding two runners when he got Jonathan Lucroy to pop out. The Cubs rallied from an early 3-0 deficit. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke was in the dugout after spending part of the day at a hospital emergency room because of back pain. One day after being demoted as the Brewers’ closer, John Axford (0-2) took the loss after giving up three runs in two-thirds of an inning. CARDINALS 5, REDS 1 In St. Louis, Lance Lynn (1-0) struck out 10 in six sharp innings and rookie Matt Adams connected for his first career pinch-hit homer as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds. Reds starter Bronson Arroyo (1-1) retired the first 15 batters. The Cardinals broke through in the sixth, with Adams hitting a two-run homer and Allen Craig and Carlos Beltran also driving in runs. Brandon Phillips had a sacrifice fly and Shin-Soo Choo had two hits for Cincinnati. The Reds were held to five hits, ending a run of four consecutive games with double-figure hit totals. Choo has four straight two-hit games. PIRATES 6, DIAMONDBACKS 5 In Phoenix, Garrett Jones had three hits and two RBIs, Starling Marte drove in two runs and scored twice, and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Arizona Diamondbacks for their first winning streak of the season. Pittsburgh has snapped out of its offensive

MIAMI: Atlanta Braves’ Kris Medlen pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Miami Marlins. — AP

MLB results/standings Detroit 7, Toronto 3; San Diego 9, LA Dodgers 3; NY Yankees 14, Cleveland 1; Washington 8, Chicago White Sox 7; Philadelphia 8, NY Mets 3; Atlanta 3, Miami 2; Texas 6, Tampa Bay 1; Chicago Cubs 6, Milwaukee 3; Kansas City 7, Minnesota 4; St. Louis 5, Cincinnati 1; Pittsburgh 6, Arizona 5; Oakland 9, LA Angels 5; Houston 16, Seattle 9; San Francisco 9, Colorado 6. American League Eastern Division W L PCT Boston 5 2 .714 4 4 .500 NY Yankees Baltimore 3 4 .429 Tampa Bay 3 5 .375 Toronto 2 5 .286 Central Division Kansas City 5 3 .625 Chicago White Sox4 3 .571 Detroit 4 3 .571 Minnesota 4 4 .500 Cleveland 3 5 .375 Western Division Oakland 6 2 .750 Texas 6 2 .750 Seattle 4 5 .444 LA Angels 2 5 .286 Houston 2 6 .250

GB 1.5 2 2.5 3 0.5 0.5 1 2 2.5 3.5 4

funk in the desert, winning the first two games of the series by scoring 11 runs - three more than the first six games combined. The Pirates fell into an early hole after James McDonald (1-1) allowed four runs in the first inning, but rallied with a five-run fourth off Arizona starter Brandon McCarthy (0-1). Pittsburgh had 11 hits, Neil Walker drove in two runs and Jason Grilli got through the ninth for his third save. Miguel Montero drove in three runs and Jason Kubel hit a two-run homer for Arizona, which lost consecutive games for the first time this season. GIANTS 9, ROCKIES 6 In San Francisco, Angel Pagan hit a tiebreaking single in the eighth inning to cap San Francisco’s rally from a four-run deficit and the Giants went on to beat the Colorado Rockies for the eighth straight time. Brandon Crawford hit a three-run homer to start the comeback and Hunter Pence had a pair of RBI singles for the Giants, who have won the first two games of the series. Dexter Fowler and Josh Rutledge each drove in two runs in a five-run second inning against Tim

National League Eastern Division Atlanta 7 1 .875 Washington 5 2 .714 NY Mets 5 3 .625 Philadelphia 3 5 .375 Miami 1 7 .125 Central Division Cincinnati 5 3 .625 4 4 .500 St. Louis Chicago Cubs 3 5 .375 Pittsburgh 3 5 .375 Milwaukee 2 6 .250 Western Division San Francisco 5 3 .625 5 3 .625 Colorado Arizona 5 3 .625 LA Dodgers 4 3 .571 San Diego 2 5 .286

1.5 2 4 6 1 2 2 3 0.5 2.5

Lincecum, and Troy Tulowitzki added a solo homer off the former Giants ace to help the Rockies build a 6-2 lead. But the Giants scored four runs in the sixth to tie the game and then won it in the eighth against Matt Belisle (0-1). Santiago Casilla (1-0) pitched a perfect eighth and Sergio Romo got his fifth save. INTERLEAGUE NATIONALS 8, WHITE SOX 7 In Washington, Adam LaRoche ended an 0-for-15 start to the season with homers in consecutive atbats, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond also homered, and the Washington Nationals opened an early interleague series by edging the Chicago White Sox. Werth and LaRoche hit two-run shots off Jake Peavy (1-1) in the sixth, an inning after Desmond went deep. LaRoche added a solo homer off Matt Thornton in the eighth. That allowed Washington to hold on even though Alex Rios hit a two-run shot off closer Rafael Soriano with two outs in the ninth. Soriano got Paul Konerko to fly out to end it and record his third save in four chances. Reliever Craig Stammen (2-0) got the win. — AP

Bickering stakeholders delay India’s IOC return MUMBAI: India appears no closer to a return to the Olympic fold as officials from the country’s Olympic association and sports ministry bicker over a controversial government sports code. The IOC banned the country after refusing to recognise the results of Indian Olympic Association (IOA) elections held on Dec. 5 due to government interference, which led to a tainted official being named its new secretary general. The IOC offered a lifeline in January, inviting stakeholders to a meeting at its Lausanne headquarters to discuss ways of getting India back on track, but that meeting has already been postponed twice. The IOA and sports ministry blame each other for failing to arrive at a consensus over the controversial code, which would restrict age and term limits for sports administrators. In a letter to the IOC last week, VK Malhotra, acting chief of India’s Olympic association and head of the country’s archery association, accused the sports ministry of railroading national federations into accepting the sports bill. The government says the sports code is aimed at encouraging fair and transparent governance. “We appreciate your concern for an early solution to the problem but we are rather constrained to say that Ministry of Sports ... is bent on destroy-

ing the autonomy of the IOA and the National Sports Federations,” Malhotra wrote in the letter seen by Reuters. “The same is not acceptable to us. “While we endorsed your move for a dialogue involving the government, it has gone ahead and constituted a committee to re-draft the controversial sports bill, which is in total breach of the

VK Malhotra Olympic charter.” The IOC encourages a free hand in the running of National Olympic Committees and has banned countries from the movement due to government interference. The IOA’s long history of corruption and controversy almost made government interference inevitable. IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi was arrested in 2011

and released from prison on bail after nine months on charges of inflating tenders worth millions of dollars for equipment used at the 2010 New Delhi Commonwealth Games which he was heading. Kalmadi’s aide Lalit Bhanot, who also spent 11 months in custody and is on bail pending further investigations, won a senior IOA post during the December elections despite the IOC deeming it “null and void”. Among other clauses, the government sports code would bar officials from holding key positions after the age of 70. That clause has met with resistance from the 81-year-old Malhotra, who has led the Archery Association of India for four decades. In a letter addressed to IOC President Jacques Rogge, Clean Sports India, a movement for corruption-free sports in the country, accused Malhotra of delaying the process of getting the ban rescinded due to his “vested interest”. A top-level source told Reuters that 53 of 55 national sports federations (NSF) had agreed to the code and it was Malhotra and IOC member Randhir Singh who were resisting it, thus delaying India’s return to the Olympic family. “They have vested interests. If we leave out cricket, Malhotra’s archery is the only NSF objecting to the sports code. He knows he becomes ineligible,” the source close to the negotiations told Reuters. —Reuters



Is Tiger of old back for the Masters? AUGUSTA: He’s got a swing he can finally trust, a putter that shows flashes of the old magic, and a string of wins to prove that it’s all finally coming together. The superstar girlfriend is an added bonus, though by now so much time has passed that the debate about Tiger Woods revolves around the state of his game, not his personal life. Winning may not take care of everything, as his latest Nike ad claims. But six wins in his comeback are a confidence-inducing tonic for Woods, and the commercial is certainly more upbeat than the one Nike ran two years ago with his late father ominously asking him what he could have been thinking. Woods is more upbeat, too, and with good reason. When last seen here a year ago he was kicking clubs, missing putts and muttering to himself about chances gone awry. He didn’t break par in four rounds, and left with barely enough prize money to fuel up his private jet. Now he’s a heavy favorite to win his fifth Masters and kick start his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus in the majors. The swagger that has always suited him so well seems to be back, and the way he was talking Tuesday this might not be a good year to bet against him. “I feel comfortable with every aspect of my game,” Woods said. Woods could have been talking about his life, too. More than once during his pre-Masters news conference he did, especially when speaking of the joys of fatherhood and how he can teach his children the basics of golf in the backyard short game complex at his South Florida mansion. Lindsey Vonn wasn’t mentioned at all, but she has to figure in all this newfound bliss, too. Just a few weeks ago, Woods and the Olympic skiing champion announced they were in a relationship in a series of photos both posted on social media sites. And while Woods is normally taciturn to a fault in interviews, he laughed, had a few funny lines, and

was more introspective than usual in the press center on Tuesday. “I think it’s just a balance, a balance in life,” Woods said. “I think that’s what you’re seeing.” Whether it all translates into another green jacket is anyone’s guess. Golf is a funny game even for Tiger Woods, and the tricky greens of Augusta National have derailed his high hopes before. He won four Masters in a nine-year stretch after breaking through with his historic win in 1997, but he hasn’t celebrated here since 2005. This is a Masters he badly - almost desperately needs, and not just to completely validate his comeback from injuries and marriage scandal. The clock is ticking on his chase of the Nicklaus record of 18 major championships - Woods has 14 -

and the player who once held all four major titles at once has now gone almost five years without winning even one. He’s 37 now, not an advanced age by any stretch for a golfer. But Woods has been playing the Masters for half his life - this will be his 19th time competing - and as each year goes by another opportunity slips away. There’s a 14-year-old from China who wasn’t even born when Woods won in 1997 in the field this week and if Woods had to be reminded about time passing by, he was by a question about what age he would entertain becoming a ceremonial starter in the Masters like Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. “Let me just try to get to 40 first,” he said. Woods is still the No. 1 player in the world - tak-

AUGUSTA: Tiger Woods of the US during a practice round at the 77th Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. — AFP

ing over from Rory McIlroy after winning at Bay Hill earlier this year - but his drought at the majors is more often the subject of conversation than the fact he has rebuilt his game and is winning again. That’s partly his own fault, since he has focused almost singularly on them ever since he was growing up in Southern California with a chart of Nicklaus major championship wins on his wall. “It took Jack a while to get to 18, all the way until he was 46 years old,” Woods said. “So there’s plenty of opportunities for me.” The first of those opportunities begins Thursday morning on a course he both knows and loves. Woods is a player who tends to win in bunches on certain courses and, aside from last year’s lackluster performance, Augusta National usually brings out the best in him. His winning drought in majors has been long, but not terribly surprising considering he had to rebuild a knee, a swing and a personal life after winning the US Open on one leg at Torrey Pines. Woods cautioned repeatedly that at least the knee and swing were a work in progress, but golf at this level also requires a clear head and the kind of focus that made Woods so fearsome in his younger days. The Masters is always huge because of what it represents and because it is the first major of the year. For Woods, though, the stakes are even higher this year, if only because he needs to demonstrate to himself that he can still win at the highest level. The man he’s chasing understands that better than anyone. “It’s been a while,” Nicklaus said. “He’s going to have to figure it out. But I think if he figures it out here, it will be a great boost for him. If he doesn’t figure it out here, after the spring he’s had, I think it will be a lot tougher for him.” For now, Nicklaus is the greatest golfer ever, and until Woods catches him the title is still his. This week could say a lot about how long or fruitful that chase will be. — AP

Islanders down Flyers UNIONDALE: Michael Grabner scored the goahead goal late in the second period and Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves as the New York Islanders took another step toward the playoffs with a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night. The Islanders won for the seventh time in nine games and moved two points ahead of the idle Rangers into seventh place in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia (17-19-3) is 12th in the East, five points behind the Rangers and the postseason cutoff. The Islanders, who won just two of their first 11 home games this season, have four consecutive wins at Nassau Coliseum. John Tavares and Casey Cizikas - into an empty net - scored 28 seconds apart in the final two minutes to put New York ahead 4-1. Jakub Voracek gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead in the first period.

Boxers with Parkinson’s disease find an outlet to ease their symptoms and improve their physical fitness.

Boxers work to knock out the Parkinson’s symptoms INDIANAPOLIS: When Mary Yeaman was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2006, she could barely bring herself to leave her house. Her muscles were weak, and she was having a hard time coping. “I’ve always done sports and stuff like that, and it was getting to be too much just sitting and doing nothing,” she said. In 2007, she found Rock Steady Boxing in Indianapolis. She now attends classes every week and has seen her symptoms ease as a result of a rigorous regimen of punching, jumping, jogging and stretching. “It makes my muscles stronger. I can walk better,” said Yeaman, 64. Rock Steady, founded in 2006 by former Marion County prosecutor Scott C. Newman after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 40, gives people suffering from the disease an outlet to ease their symptoms and improve their physical fitness. Through boxing-inspired fitness classes, participants use exercise to slow the symptoms of a progressive neurological disease that causes tremors, muscle rigidity, loss of balance and cognitive, speech and vision impairment. “Sometimes people get very discouraged when they are diagnosed with Parkinson’s, understandably facing a disease that is progressive, that’s going to worsen over time and that can take a big toll on them,” said neurologist and Rock Steady board member Dr. S. Elizabeth Zauber. “When they come to a gym and realize that ... there are people that are experiencing the same thing (and) there is something they can do about it to get better and perhaps slow down the course of their disease, then that improves their overall outlook. They realize they’re still very capable physically even though they have a neurological disease.” Rock Steady offers 16 classes a week. The organization’s 125 clients range in age from late 30s to early 90s. Classes start slow with a warm-up before partici-

pants dive into more rigorous exercise. Coaches set up several stations throughout the small gym with a different exercise at each one. Participants punch hanging boxing bags and speed balls, jump rope and toss medicine balls. The exercises at Rock Steady are based on boxing drills, and they ’re meant to extend the perceived capabilities of those suffering from Parkinson’s. There are four different class levels, based on the severity of the symptoms. Boxing works well to combat the disease because of the range of motion required in the exercises, Zauber said. “I see all the time in my patients that start exercising or my patients that are exercising that they tend to function better,” she said. “They have improvements in their balance, improvements in sleep, in mood and energy level.” The organization offers more than just physical improvement. “It’s a support system,” said Joyce Johnson, executive director of the organization. “It’s being able to come here where people understand the symptoms and challenges of the disease.” Yeaman said Rock Steady is the “best thing that’s ever happened” to her and called her classmates her “second family.” “These people are always there for you no matter what happens,” she said. Classes are led by program directors Kristy Rose Follmar and Christine Timberlake. Follmar is a former professional boxer, and Timberlake is a certified personal trainer whose husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2000. Timberlake said she couldn’t get her husband, Tom, “to do anything” before he starting coming to Rock Steady. About a month after he started attending classes, she said she saw a change in body, mind and attitude. “He’s completely transformed,” she said. “He’s making the most out of life.” Parkinson’s affects about 1.5 million people in the United States. It currently has no cure. — AP

PENGUINS 5, HURRICANES 3 In Raleigh, Beau Bennett and Evgeni Malkin scored 13 seconds apart in the third period, and Pittsburgh clinched the Atlantic Division title by beating free-falling Carolina. Brenden Morrow scored his first goal with the Penguins, Robert Bortuzzo added a goal, and Pascal Dupuis had an empty-netter and two assists. Marc-Andre Fleury made 25 saves for Penguins, who were without a handful of regulars - including captain Sidney Crosby, James Neal and Kris Letang - but still handed the Hurricanes their club-record eighth straight home loss. Joe Corvo and Bobby Sanguinetti scored early goals for the Hurricanes, and Riley Nash put them ahead 3-2 at 2:00 of the third. Justin Peters made 28 saves for Carolina, which lost its sixth straight and for the 13th time in 14 games. BLUE JACKETS 4, SHARKS 0 In Columbus, Sergei Bobrovsky earned his fourth NHL shutout - all in his last 15 games - and newcomer Marian Gaborik had a goal and an assist, leading Columbus over San Jose. Matt Calvert, James Wisniewski and Ryan Johansen also scored for the Blue Jackets, who had lost their previous two games. Bobrovsky, who didn’t have a shutout in his first 98 NHL appearances, made 30 saves, including stopping Patrick Marleau’s point-blank wrister in the third period and Dan Boyle’s hard, powerplay slap shot in the second. The Blue Jackets have gotten points in 17 of their last 21 games (12-4-5). They had a four-game home winning streak ended Sunday night by Minnesota, 3-0. That defeat also snapped a clubrecord 12-game points streak at home (9-0-3). CAPITALS 3, CANADIENS 2 In Montreal, Alex Ovechkin scored his 26th goal and Jack Hillen netted his first as Washington stretched its winning run to five games by beating Montreal. Eric Fehr also scored for the Southeast Division-leading Capitals, who are 6-0-1 in their last seven. They are 5-0 in April, during which Ovechkin has eight goals, and Nicklas Backstrom, who had two assists, has 11 points - all assists. Lars Eller scored both goals for Montreal, which lost for the second time in seven games. It was Montreal’s first loss to a Southeast team (111-0) in 2013. The Capitals improved to 6-0-1 in their last seven visits to Montreal. LIGHTNING 3, SENATORS 2 In Tampa, Steven Stamkos scored his 26th goal of the season in the third period, and Tampa Bay beat Ottawa. Stamkos snapped a 2-2 tie with a power-play goal off a pass through the slot by Vincent Lecavalier with 5:04 to play. Tampa Bay also got goals from Pierre-Cedric Labrie and Lecavalier. Martin St. Louis assisted on Lecavalier’s goal for his 900th point. The right wing, the 98th NHL player to reach the milestone, also assisted on Stamkos’ goal. Daniel Alfredsson and Guillaume Latendresse scored for the Senators, who have lost five in a row. Kyle Turris had two assists. Latendresse tied it at 2 from near the crease on a power play 21 seconds into the third. Alfredsson has 425 goals, tying him for 70th place on the NHL career list with Brian Propp. The right wing also tied Frank Mahovlich for 56th place with 1,103 points. JETS 4, SABRES 1 In Winnipeg, Aaron Gagnon scored his first NHL goal to help Winnipeg top Buffalo. Gagnon

TAMPA: Goalie Craig Anderson No. 41 of the Ottawa Senators defends his goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. — AFP was playing in just his third game since he was called up from the AHL. Kyle Wellwood, Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler had Winnipeg’s other goals. Kevin Porter had the only goal for the Sabres in the third period, spoiling what could have been Ondrej Pavelec’s first shutout of the season. Pavelec finished with 29 saves. It was the second consecutive win for the Jets during a six-game homestand. Winnipeg trails Washington by two points in the Southeast Division. BLUES 1, PREDATORS 0 In Nashville, Brian Elliott made 15 saves, and Alex Steen snapped a six-game goal drought to lead St. Louis over Nashville. The Blues extended their winning streak to a season-high five games. The fading Predators have dropped four straight and seven of eight. Elliott was relatively untested en route to his second consecutive shutout. He made four saves in the first, six in the second and five in the third. Elliott has 20 career shutouts. St. Louis strengthened its chances of making the playoffs in the West, while Nashville fell deeper into last place in the Central Division. After a scoreless first period, Steen got the game’s first goal at 16:37 of the second. Pekka Rinne made 25 saves in the loss. BLACKHAWKS 1, WILD 0 In St. Paul, Marian Hossa’s unassisted goal late in the second period lifted NHL-leading Chicago to its fifth win in six games. Ray Emery started for the Blackhawks for the

third straight game and made 20 saves for his second shutout in that stretch and third of the season. He helped hand Minnesota its fifth loss in seven games. Hossa darted in front of Clayton Stoner’s seemingly harmless breakout pass toward Mikko Koivu in the Wild zone. Hossa intercepted the bouncing pass in front of the blue line, skated up the middle and snapped a shot past goalie Niklas Backstrom’s stick with 4:46 left in the period. It was Hossa’s first goal since March 16 at Dallas. He missed six games in that scoreless stretch because of an upper body injury, but Hossa is still second on the team with 14 goals. STARS 5, KINGS 1 In Dallas, Ray Whitney and Vernon Fiddler both scored twice during Dallas’ four-goal third period, and the Stars broke open a tie game and routed Los Angeles. Whitney snapped a 1-1 tie just 52 seconds into the third, and the Stars poured on the offense en route to their third straight win. The Stars moved into ninth place in the Western Conference, two points behind Detroit and the postseason cutoff. Alex Goligoski also scored, and Trevor Daley added two assists for the Stars, who entered the night with the worst home record in the West. They improved to 9-9-2 at home. Richard Bachman stopped all 22 shots he faced after replacing starter Kari Lehtonen 14:18 in. Lehtonen started his 19th straight game, but left because of a lower body injury after making seven saves and allowing one goal. Drew Doughty scored for the Kings, who are 5-2-2 in their last nine games. Jonathan Quick made 26 saves. — AP

NHL results/standings NY Islanders 4, Philadelphia 1; Pittsburgh 5, Carolina 3; Columbus 4, San Jose 0; Washington 3, Montreal 2; Tampa Bay 3, Ottawa 2; Winnipeg 4, Buffalo 1; St. Louis 1, Nashville 0; Chicago 1, Minnesota 0; Dallas 5, Los Angeles 1. Eastern Conference Western Conference Central Division Atlantic Division Chicago 30 5 4 129 83 64 W L OTL GF GA PTS 22 14 2 107 98 46 St. Louis Pittsburgh 30 10 0 132 98 60 Detroit 19 15 5 99 101 43 20 16 4 117 120 44 NY Islanders Columbus 17 16 7 95 104 41 NY Rangers 19 16 4 96 94 42 Nashville 15 18 8 96 110 38 New Jersey 15 14 10 92 106 40 Northwest Division Philadelphia 17 19 3 107 122 37 Vancouver 22 11 6 105 95 50 Northeast Division 22 15 2 103 98 46 Minnesota Montreal 25 9 5 122 94 55 Edmonton 16 16 7 101 108 39 Calgary 14 20 4 102 134 32 25 9 4 108 81 54 Boston Colorado 12 22 5 90 124 29 Toronto 22 13 4 121 109 48 Pacific Division Ottawa 19 14 6 96 88 44 Anaheim 27 8 5 123 99 59 Buffalo 16 18 6 106 122 38 Angeles 22 14 4 115 101 48 Los Southeast Division San Jose 20 12 7 98 98 47 Washington 21 17 2 120 112 44 Dallas 19 17 3 109 118 41 20 19 2 102 121 42 Winnipeg Phoenix 17 16 6 105 106 40 Tampa Bay 17 20 2 124 116 36 Note: Overtime losses (OTL) are worth one Carolina 16 21 2 102 126 34 point in the standings and are not included in Florida 13 20 6 96 132 32 the loss column (L)



US judge to uphold NFL concussion suits PHILADELPHIA: Senior US District Judge Anita Brody has a billion dollar problem on her hands. Brody, of Philadelphia, heard high-powered arguments Tuesday on whether lawsuits that accuse the NFL of glorifying violence and hiding known concussion risks belong in court or in arbitration. Brody could side with the 4,200 players and let them pursue their lawsuits, or rule for the league and find that head injuries are covered under health provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. Or she could issue a split decision, letting some of the fraud and negligence claims against the NFL move forward in court. Her decision could be worth more than a billion dollars - and is expected to be appealed by either side, spawning years of litigation. “There are people who aren’t going to be able to be around long enough to find out the end of this case, and my husband is one of them,” said Eleanor Perfetto, the widow of guard Ralph Wenzel, who played for Pittsburgh and San Diego from 1966 to 1973. “He died last June, and I’m here for him. He was sick for almost two decades and, in the end, had very, very severe, debilitating dementia.”

In the closely-watched court arguments Tuesday, NFL lawyer Paul Clement insisted that teams bear the chief responsibility for health and safety under the contract, along with the players’ union and the players themselves. “The clubs are the ones who had doctors on the sidelines who had primary responsibility for sending players back into the game,” Clement said at a press conference after the hearing. The players argue that the league “glorified” and “monetized” violence through NFL Films, thereby profiting from vicious hits to the head. Players’ lawyer David Frederick also accused the league of concealing studies linking concussions to neurological problems for decades, even after the NFL created a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury committee in 1994. The panel was led by a rheumatologist. “It set up a sham committee designed to get information about neurological risks, but in fact spread misinformation,” Frederick argued. In recent years, scores of former NFL players and other concussed athletes have been diagnosed after their deaths with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, including popular Pro

Bowler Junior Seau and lead plaintiff Ray Easterling. Both committed suicide last year. About one-third of the league’s 12,000 former players have joined the litigation since Easterling filed suit in 2011. Some are battling dementia, depression or Alzheimer’s disease, and fault the league for rushing them back on the field after concussions. Others are worried about future problems and want their health monitored. Brody honed in on whether the collective bargaining agreement specifies that head injuries are workplace safety issues and belong in arbitration. “It has to be really specific. That’s what I have to wrestle with,” she said. Frederick called the contract “silent” on latent head injuries, and said players therefore have the right to seek damages in court. Brody is not expected to rule for several months. Players and family members on hand for the hearing included Kevin Turner, a former Philadelphia Eagles running back now battling Lou Gehrig’s disease; Dorsey Levens, a veteran running back who made a 2012 documentary on concussions called “Bell Rung,” and Easterling’s widow, Mary Ann. One wrinkle in the NFL’s argument is

what it calls the “gap year” players, who played from 1987 to 1993, when there was no collective bargaining agreement in place. The league, eager to avoid opening up its files in a court case, argues that those players were bound by previous contracts or contracts later in effect when they collected pensions. “I certainly admit that the gap year players ... are the most difficult cases,” said Clement. However, he said very few people played only those years, and not before or after. For most, “there’s no way to say the only hits that hurt you are the hits from those years,” he said. Tom McHale played in the NFL from 1987 to 1985, before the All-Ivy League athlete died of an accidental overdose in 2008. He was 45 and had battled depression and addiction toward the end of his life. Lisa McHale, of Tampa, Fla., hardly recognized her once-gregarious husband. After his death, he was also diagnosed with CTE. She believes the player lawsuits, and the willingness of retired players to go public with their problems, will help her three teenage sons understand their father’s illness. “To know it wasn’t his fault, that there was something neurological going on, it helps,” she said. — AP

F1 team squabbles to resume at Chinese GP

South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius

South African track federation suspends six board members JOHANNESBURG: Any plans Oscar Pistorius may have to run at the world championships could be further complicated after South Africa’s chaotic track federation said yesterday it had suspended six board members and been placed at risk of suspension by the IAAF. Athletics South Africa president James Evans said the six members - which include vice president and former Olympic athlete Hendrick Ramaala - “have left the sport in disarray” with their attempt to remove Evans from power.

Casrter Semenya In a statement, Evans listed deep problems within ASA. The body’s bank account had been frozen, staff hadn’t been paid, no team was sent to the African Youth Championships and there had been threats of legal action by the South African tax service, among other major issues, Evans said. But crucially for high-profile athletes like Pistorius and former 800-meter world champion Caster Semenya, the in-fighting and allegations of improper behavior within ASA meant it had not submitted an annual report to the world athletics body and “was placed at risk of suspension by the IAAF,” Evans said. ASA couldn’t immediately say if the report had been or would be submitted. Also, no selection standards or qualifying criteria had been decided on for South African athletes attempting to compete at

August’s world championships in Moscow, Evans said. Pistorius hasn’t committed to a return to competition as he faces a murder trial for the Valentine’s Day shooting death of his girlfriend, and his family says he is still too traumatized by the killing of Reeva Steenkamp to contemplate running at track meets. The double-amputee athlete and Paralympic champion was charged with murder, but denies killing Steenkamp intentionally and says he mistook her for an intruder in his home. Pistorius has been photographed jogging on a track in South Africa and although he has announced no plans to compete yet, the IAAF said that he would be able to run at the worlds should he meet qualifying criteria. What the criteria will be is now unclear and agents for both Pistorius and Semenya told The Associated Press they had not been told what any of their South African athletes needed to do to be able to qualify. The South African national championships are Friday and Saturday, and the worlds are just four months away. Semenya, who won a silver medal in the 800 at the London Olympics, wouldn’t run at the South African nationals, her agent, Jukka Harkonen, told the AP in an email. Evans said the most recent problems within ASA had developed since a meeting of board members on March 9, when Ramaala apparently led a motion to impeach the president. Since then, “nothing has happened apart from the sport descending into chaos,” Evans said. The crisis-hit federation had returned to the disorganized and allegedly corrupt status that characterized its fiercely-criticized and dishonest handling of the Semenya gendertest affair in 2009 and 2010. In the wake of that, the ASA leadership was removed and former president Leonard Chuene - who admitted lying about gender tests on Semenya - was barred from holding any office in sports for seven years for mismanagement and misappropriating funds. —AP

Hansen vows more changes as All Blacks look to 2015 WELLINGTON: Steve Hansen has signed a contract to take the All Blacks through to the 2015 World Cup but several of the players who won the Webb Ellis trophy in 2011 may not be in England to defend it, the coach said yesterday. Hansen, who was appointed to the job in 2011, received a massive boost of support from the New Zealand Rugby Union on Wednesday when they extended his initial two-year contract through until the global showpiece in England in 2015. The former Wales coach and long-time assistant to Graham Henry introduced nine new caps into the All Blacks last year as he balanced the team’s expectation of winning consistently with introducing new blood for the defence of the Webb Ellis trophy. The 53year-old, however, said he would increase the pace of rejuvenation of the squad this year if several of his stalwarts were not performing on the field. “It’s well publicised we have an aging leadership group and ... there are a lot of people in the group who want to be in the World Cup squad and some of them aren’t going to make it,” Hansen told reporters in Wellington. “We have to get our balance right in the next two or three years so that if they don’t make it we have the right people in place to take their

place and produce the rugby performance we are after.” The core group of the 2011 World Cup winning team are now all over 30 or have left to play abroad, while three stalwarts Ma’a Nonu, Tony Woodcock and Andrew Hore are all underperforming in Super Rugby this year. Flyhalf Daniel Carter, who Hansen said was a “red flag athlete” last year in terms of how his game time was managed looking towards the 2015 World Cup, has also suffered several long-term, and persistent, injuries. As such, Hansen said he would re-examine the leadership group within the side and introduce younger players so they were ready to take responsibility when their first game at the 2015 tournament rolled around. “We need to be really bold. It would be too easy to go with some of the older guys, but we have to look to the future at some of the younger guys,” Hansen said. “Without naming names now because we haven’t named the team, that’s the approach we are looking at. “People who may not have necessarily played 50 or 60 tests. It could be someone who has played four or five, or under 20 but by the time they get to the World Cup that’s what they would have played.” Hansen added the transition would be sparked by form alone. —Reuters

SHANGHAI: When the Formula One season resumes at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, the biggest battles will be between sets of warring teammates rather than rival teams. The division is deepest at Red Bull where - three weeks on from the Malaysian Grand Prix - there is still plenty of ill-feeling between three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel and No.2 driver Mark Webber following the events of Sepang, where the German ignored team orders to stay behind Webber and instead overtook the Australian and claimed the race win. The fury in the immediate aftermath - reports that Webber would walk out on the team, that Red Bull must suspend Vettel - has died down in the weeks since due to the German’s public contrition, but has not gone away entirely. “He’s said he can’t turn back the clock but he’s accepted what he did was wrong,” team principal Christian Horner said of Vettel. “He’s apologized to the team and to every single member of staff for his actions, because he recognizes the team is vitally important and being part of the team is a crucial aspect to being able to challenge for those championships.” Horner, whose own authority was undermined by Vettel’s actions because it was his order that was ignored, once again finds himself having to placate an understandably angry Webber. The events at Sepang represented the deepest fissure yet between the two Red Bull drivers, trumping 2010 when they collided on track at the Turkish Grand Prix and then at the British Grand Prix the same year Webber was forced to use an old front wing because his new one was handed to Vettel, but went on to win the race anyway. Webber had returned to Australia in the weeks since Malaysia to mull over his future, but Horner was sure he would see out the remainder of his one-year contract. “He is big enough to know there was no malice and no intent to create any situation like that. He is in a car capable of winning grands prix and hopefully winning world championships,” Horner said of Webber on Sky Sports. “I have no doubt Mark will see out the contract with us.” The conflict at Red Bull meant the other team orders conflict from Sepang was largely overlooked, with Mercedes telling Nico Rosberg not to overtake third-placed Lewis Hamilton despite the German’s protestations he was the faster car. Heading into this Sunday’s race in Shanghai - where Hamilton is the only two-time winner and Rosberg the defending champion - team boss Ross Brawn had denied the team orders indicated Hamilton was the de facto No.1 driver in the team or that he was given any such promise when making the move from McLaren. “In the contractual negotiations we had with Lewis, never was the issue of who was number one or number two ever mentioned from his side,” Brawn said. “He wants the same equipment, the same opportunity and that is great that he has that confidence and that approach that he doesn’t want favoritism, he just wants parity and that is why Lewis felt a little bit awkward about the situation.” The other intriguing teammate fight is at Ferrari, where a revived Felipe Massa is sustaining his challenge to the undisputed No.1 Fernando Alonso. Massa has qualified ahead of Alonso in the past four races: the United States and Brazil at the end of 2012 and now Australia and Malaysia this season. Should he do so again in China, it will be the first time in Alonso’s F1 career that he had been out-qualified by a teammate five times running. Alonso, though, had usually got the better of his teammate on race day,

SHANGHAI: Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany (right) and his teammate Mark Webber of Australia stand on the podium in this file photo. — AFP and will be aiming for another strong performance in China to make up for his non-finish in Malaysia, with expectations high of a title challenge this season. Another team badly needing an improved performance is McLaren, which was well off the pace in the opening two races as looks to remedy the teething problems of its new-look 2013 car. The three-week break between Malaysia and China came at the right time for McLaren, which believes it will produce a car in China which is more consistent in its performance across various levels of fuel load and tire degradation. “The engineers, designers and mechanics, too, have worked tirelessly and painstakingly to unlock the car’s potential, and we feel confident that we are starting to turn the page,” team principal Martin Whitmarsh said. —AP


Chan leads Canada’s Team Trophy drive TOKYO: Three -times world champion Patrick Chan will be trying to end his rocky pre-Olympic season in style as he leads Canada’s drive to win the World Team Trophy for the first time in Tokyo this week. Chan bagged a third straight men’s gold medal at the world figure skating championships four weeks ahead of this six-nation team competition, which opens tomorrow as the grand finale to the 2012-2013 season. Canada finished runners-up to the United States in the inaugural World Team Trophy in 2009 and third behind hosts Japan and the US last year, both in Tokyo. The World Team Trophy was launched as a two-yearly event in 2009. But the second edition was postponed by a year because of the March 2011 earthquake-tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis in Japan. The event’s third edition may give something of a preview to a team competition due to make its Olympic debut in a slightly different format at the Sochi Winter Games 10 months from now. The World Team Trophy, with $1 million in prize money, brings together selected skaters from the six countries that scored the highest combined points at major senior and junior competitions during the season. Canada topped the points table, followed by the United States, Japan, Russia, France and China. Each nation can field two entries in both the men’s and women’s singles and one each in the pairs and ice dance. Chan, 22, narrowly beat Kazakhstan’s unheralded Denis Ten at the worlds in the

Canadian city of London after finishing second at the home Grand Prix, winning the Cup of Russia and settling for third at the Grand Prix Final this past season. He will be joined in Tokyo by Four Continents champion Kevin Reynolds in a

Patrick Chan of Canada.

team that also includes 17-year-old women’s national champion Kaetlyn Osmond as well as world pairs bronze medallists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who finished second to American rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White at the worlds, are not competing for Canada in Tokyo. Davis and White are also absent from the US team which includes 2012 Four Continents champion Ashley Wagner, reigning national Champion Max Aaron, threetime national champion Jeremy Abbott and 17-year-old Gracie Gold. Japan’s chance of retaining the title looks slim as they are not entered in the pairs. They could not present a competitive pair two months after Narumi Takahashi broke up with Mervin Tran, a partner in her bronze-medal performance at the 2012 worlds. But Grand Prix Final men’s champion Daisuke Takahashi and two-time former women’s world champion Mao Asada, who settled for bronze this year, are raring to do the host nation proud. Russia are looking for their first team medal, spearheaded by newly crowned world pairs champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov. They are also boosted by European women’s silver and bronze medallists Adelina Sotnikova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva as well as junior Grand Prix Final champion Maxim Kovtun. — AFP



Knicks thrash Wizards NEW YORK: The New York Knicks romped to their first Atlantic Division title since 1994, getting 36 points from Carmelo Anthony and beating the Washington Wizards 120-99 on Tuesday night for their 13th straight victory. Anthony put this one away with 21 points during the Knicks’ 37-point third quarter that gave them a 95-71 lead. The NBA’s scoring leader added eight rebounds and six assists while becoming the first Knick since newly elected Hall of Famer Bernard King with five straight 35-point games. Iman Shumpert added 18 points for the Knicks, who negated a height disadvantage by tying a franchise record with 20 3-pointers. J.R. Smith and Chris Copeland each added 17 points. On their longest winning streak since winning 15 in a row from March 1 to April 2, 1994, the Knicks can tie the franchise record of 18 in a row, set early in their first NBA championship season of 1969-70, by winning their final five games. John Wall scored 33 points for the Wizards. HEAT 94, BUCKS 83 In Miami, LeBron James scored 28 points, Udonis Haslem had 10 points and 15 rebounds and Miami moved a step closer to wrapping up home-court advantage in the playoffs with a win over Milwaukee. The Heat tied a franchise single-season record by winning for the 61st time, getting there with five games remaining. Miami needs only one more win or one San Antonio loss to clinch the top overall seed for the entirety of the playoffs. Norris Cole and Ray Allen each scored 11 for the Heat, who played without an injured Dwyane Wade and an ill Chris Bosh. Brandon Jennings scored 30 points for the Bucks, who will likely meet Miami in the first round. THUNDER 90, JAZZ 80 In Salt Lake City, Russell Westbrook scored 25 points, Kevin Durant added 21 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Utah Jazz 9080 on Tuesday night. The Thunder continued their push to claim the top overall seed in the West, while the Jazz fell into a tie with the Lakers for the final playoff spot in the West. Utah own the tiebreaker over the Lakers. Paul Millsap’s dunk pulled Utah within four, but Durant hit two free throws and Westbrook stole the inbound pass to seal it for the Thunder. Mo Williams led the Jazz with 19 points. PACERS 99, CAVALIERS 94 In Indianapolis, George Hill scored 27 points and David West added 15 to help Indiana rally from a 20-point deficit for a win over Cleveland. Paul George chipped in with 14 points, Lance Stephenson had 13 and Tyler Hansbrough 12 for the Pacers, who can clinch the No. 3 seed in the East with a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and Indiana native Tyler Zeller had 18 before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter for Cleveland, which allowed the Pacers to break off a 25-4 run in the fourth for a 93-92 lead. George hit s 3 with 29.9 seconds left and Jeff Pendergraph drew a charge on Irving to seal it. GRIZZLIES 94, BOBCATS 75 In Memphis, Mike Conley scored 20 points, Zach Randolph had 11 points and 13 rebounds, and Memphis beat Charlotte. Memphis won its 13th straight at home, tying a franchise record with its 31st home win. Kemba Walker scored 19 points to lead the Bobcats, and Gerald Henderson had 13. The Grizzlies led 63-60 early in the fourth quarter before pulling away behind a 15-0 run generated mostly by their reserves. Seldomused Jon Leuer had seven points during the run and finished with 11. Memphis, which leads the NBA in scoring defense (89.7 points per game), held Charlotte to 37.7 percent shooting. NETS 104, 76ERS 83 In New York, Brook Lopez scored 29 points,

and Reggie Evans added 17 points and 24 rebounds as Brooklyn firmly held its ground in the East with a victory over Philadelphia. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson had 11 points apiece for the Nets, who began the day with a two-game lead over Chicago for the No. 4 seed and home-court advantage in the first round. Reserve guard MarShon Brooks had 11 points and seven assists for the Nets, winners of two straight overall and three of four in the season series against the 76ers. The Nets play at Boston on Wednesday night and have four games remaining. Nick Young had 18 points and Jrue Holiday scored 15 for the Philadelphia. WARRIORS 105, TIMBERWOLVES 89 In Oakland, Klay Thompson scored 30 points, Stephen Curry added 24 points and 10 assists and Golden State clinched a playoff berth with a rout of Minnesota. David Lee finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds to propel the Warriors to their first postseason appearance since 2007 and just their second in 19 years. Andrei Kirilenko scored 15 points and reserve Chase Budinger had 17 points for the depleted Timberwolves, who were outshot 43 to 37 percent. Ricky Rubio missed all 10 shots from the floor to go with six assists and five rebounds as Minnesota watched the Warriors celebrate something it had hoped to accomplish this season. RAPTORS 101, BULLS 98 In Chicago, DeMar DeRozan scored 20 points and Rudy Gay added 19 as Toronto beat Chicago. Toronto allowed a 15-point lead to dwindle to four at halftime but regrouped in the third quarter, getting it up to 16. The Raptors then hung on after the lead got down to two near the end. Nate Robinson nailed a 3-pointer with just under a minute left and Carlos Boozer hit two foul shots with 16.8 seconds remaining to pull Chicago within 99-97. For the fifth-place Bulls, the loss left them just a half-game ahead of Atlanta in the East with five to play. It also damaged their chances of catching Brooklyn for fourth place. Jimmy Butler led Chicago with a career-high 28 points and Robinson scored 22. ROCKETS 101, SUNS 98 In Houston, Jermaine O’Neal was called for goaltending on James Harden’s last-second 3point attempt and Houston beat Phoenix. Harden scored 33 points and Omer Asik tied his career high with 22 rebounds for the Rockets, who clinched a playoff berth when Utah lost to Oklahoma City. On the final play, Harden dribbled down the clock and shot his 3 from the wing. It bounced high off the rim and O’Neal tipped it as it came down, just after the buzzer sounded. Referees huddled on the court, then reviewed the play and ruled it the winning basket, setting off a wild celebration. Luis Scola scored 28 points for the Suns, who have lost 10 in a row. LAKERS 104, HORNETS 96 In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant fueled a desperate rally with 23 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter, and Los Angeles beat New Orleans to keep its slim playoff hopes alive. Pau Gasol had 22 points and 11 rebounds, and Dwight Howard added 19 points to help the Lakers tie Utah for the eighth and final playoff berth in the West. The Jazz lost to Oklahoma City earlier in the evening, but they hold the tiebreaker over the Lakers, who have four regular-season games left. Eric Gordon scored 22 points, making 10 of 11 free throws, before fouling out in the final seconds to lead five Hornets in double figures. Anthony Davis added 18 points and 14 rebounds, Ryan Anderson had 14 points, and Greivis Vasquez had 11 points and 11 assists. — AP

LOS ANGELES: New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon (10) and Los Angeles Lakers guard Jodie Meeks (20) battle in the first half of an NBA basketball game. — AP

NBA results/standings Indiana 99, Cleveland 94; Brooklyn 104, Philadelphia 83; NY Knicks 120, Washington 99; Miami 94, Milwaukee 83; Toronto 101, Chicago 98; Memphis 94, Charlotte 75; Houston 101, Phoenix 98; Oklahoma City 90, Utah 80; LA Lakers 104, New Orleans 96; Golden State 105, Minnesota 89. Western Conference Eastern Conference Northwest Division Atlantic Division W L PCT GB Oklahoma City 57 21 .731 NY Knicks 51 26 .662 53 24 .688 3.5 Denver Brooklyn 45 32 .584 6 Utah 41 38 .519 16.5 Boston 40 37 .519 11 Portland 33 44 .429 23.5 Philadelphia 31 46 .403 20 Minnesota 29 48 .377 27.5 Toronto 30 48 .385 21.5 Pacific Division Central Division LA Clippers 51 26 .662 Indiana 49 29 .628 45 33 .577 6.5 Golden State Chicago 42 35 .545 6.5 LA Lakers 41 37 .526 10.5 Milwaukee 37 40 .481 11.5 Sacramento 27 50 .351 24 Detroit 26 52 .333 23 Phoenix 23 55 .295 28.5 Cleveland 24 53 .312 24.5 Southwest Division Southeast Division San Antonio 57 20 .740 Miami 61 16 .792 53 25 .679 4.5 Memphis Atlanta 42 36 .538 19.5 Houston 44 34 .564 13.5 Washington 29 49 .372 32.5 Dallas 38 39 .494 19 Orlando 19 59 .244 42.5 Charlotte 18 60 .231 43.5 New Orleans 27 51 .346 30.5

NEW ORLEANS: The Connecticut Huskies celebrate after defeating the Louisville Cardinals during the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four Championship. — AFP

Huskies rout Cardinals for title NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament NEW ORLEANS: His eighth national championship in hand, Geno Auriemma wanted to savor the moment and not talk about a dynasty just yet. He had just tied Pat Summitt for the most titles in NCAA history and wasn’t ready to discuss a repeat. Yet it’s hard to not see the Huskies winning more titles with freshman Breanna Stewart and sophomore Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis leading the way. “We feel like all we can go is up from here,” said Mosqueda-Lewis, who scored 18 points. “We have so many young people and so many people with experience in a national championship game. That’s only going to make us better.” A scary thought for the rest of women’s college basketball. Stewart scored 18 of her 23 points in a dazzling first half and Connecticut (35-4) rolled to a 93-60 rout of Louisville on Tuesday night, the most lopsided victory in a title game. It put the Huskies back atop college basketball after missing the championship game the past two years. Auriemma has never lost the game in eight appearances. “The only person I compare myself to is Pat Summitt and to be there in that spot with her means a lot to me,” Auriemma said. “The fact that I tied Pat Summitt’s record puts you in the category of the greatest women’s basketball coach that ever lived.” And while Auriemma said he didn’t want to look ahead, he added: “Stewie certainly is different than any other college player that’s playing right now.” She certainly is. The freshman was unstoppable, hitting shots from almost everywhere to be selected the Most Outstanding Player for the Final Four. Stewart is only the fourth freshman to have that honor and the first since 1987. Even her father in the stands repeatedly said, “Wow,” as his daughter took the game over and Cardinals men’s coach Rick Pitino, in town to cheer on the Louisville women, called her one of the best freshman in basketball. “This is unbelievable,” Stewart said. “This is what we’ve thought about since the beginning of the season. And now to be here and actually win it, it’s a great feeling and I don’t think it’s going to set in for a while. I just played really confident and stopped thinking. When I second-guess myself, nothing good comes out of that.” After Auriemma cut down the final strand of the net, his team carried him around the court in celebration. Summitt, who stepped down a year ago and suffers from early-onset dementia, released a statement through her son, Tyler. “Congratulations to Geno Auriemma and the Connecticut Huskies on a remarkable season and an eighth national title,” she said. “Geno is a proven champion and a leader in our game. My best to him, his family, his team and staff.” The loss ended an unprecedented tournament run by Louisville. The Cardinals became the first No. 5 seed to make the championship game, pulling off the greatest upset in tournament history when they beat Brittney Griner and Baylor in the regional semifinals. Jeff Walz’s team then beat Tennessee in the regional final before topping Cal in the Final Four. “The run we went on was remarkable and something I’ll always remember” Walz said. “We’re walking out with our head high and proud of what we’ve done.”

The Cardinals just didn’t have enough to beat their Big East foe. Louisville was trying to become just the second school to win both the men’s and women’s championship in the same season and the first since UConn in 2004. Pitino, fresh off his team’s 82-76 win in the title game over Michigan on Monday night, was sitting behind the Cardinals bench, trying to spur on the women’s team. He talked to the players at their pregame meal and told them to just enjoy the moment and have fun in the game. It wasn’t to be. Instead, the trip to the Big Easy marked the beginning of the Stewart era. Sharpshooting from deep or pounding the boards, she had one of the most remarkable runs

Cardinals in a hole they couldn’t climb out of. Stewart later swooped in for an incredible offensive rebound that she put back to make it 39-23. The Huskies led 48-29 at the half as Stewart had 18 points; the 19-point advantage fell four points short of the championship record set by Tennessee against Louisiana Tech in 1998. “We rushed a lot, we started to panic a bit,” Walz said. “They started executing.” UConn dashed any hopes of a Louisville comeback going on a 12-2 run after the Cardinals had cut its deficit to 60-44. The only question during the last 10 minutes would be whether this was the biggest blowout in title game history, and the Huskies easily surpassed Tennessee’s 23-point win

NEW ORLEANS: Jude Schimmel No. 22 of the Louisville Cardinals drives with the ball against Caroline Doty No. 5 of the Connecticut Huskies in the second half during the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four Championship. — AFP

of any first year player in the history of the NCAA tournament. Stewart finished with 104 points in only five games - she missed the first-round rout of Idaho to rest a sore calf - the most by any firstyear player since 2000, according to STATS. UConn’s Maya Moore held the previous mark with 93 points. The 6-foot-4 star had a performance reminiscent of two of the all-time greats. As freshmen, Cheryl Miller guided USC to a title in 1983 and Chamique Holdsclaw led Tennessee to a championship in 1996. Stewart accomplished something in her first season that UConn greats Rebecca Lobo, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Moore never did - win a championship. The Syracuse native scored seven points during the pivotal 19-0 run that turned a four-point deficit into a double-digit lead and put the

over Louisiana Tech in 1987. The Huskies beat Louisville by 22 points in the 2009 title game. Louisville was trying to become the lowest seed to win a NCAA championship on the women’s side. Villanova, as an eight seed, was the lowest to win it on the men’s side back in 1985. UConn hit 13 of its 26 3-pointers, including four by senior Kelly Faris, who finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists. The Schimmel sisters, who really carried Louisville in the tournament, had a rough go against UConn. Shoni Schimmel missed her first six shots and finished with just seven points on 3of-15 shooting. Jude Schimmel was saddled with three fouls in the first half. “We made a miracle run in this tournament and will always remember that,” said Sara Hammond, who led Louisville with 15 points.— AP

Isner, Verdasco advance US clay court championships HOUSTON: Fifth-seeded John Isner beat Ryan Harrison of the United States 7-6 (4) 6-4 in a first-round match at the US Men’s Clay Court championships on Tuesday. Isner had three aces in the tiebreaker, including a 125 mph shot at set point. His other aces were clocked at 137 and 138 mph. Harrison broke Isner’s powerful serve in the ninth game of the second set, but Isner broke right back and took the victory at the third match point. Sixth-seeded Fernando Verdasco of Spain broke a string of three straight opening-round losses with a 7-6 (5), 6-2 victory over Steve Johnson of the United States. He came up with a couple of good shots in that last game and I missed some by fractions,” Harrison said. “I’m a half inch from hitting my spots perfectly. At that point, you can’t keep analyzing it. Sometimes the frac-

tions go your way and sometimes they don’t.” It was Isner’s first match on clay since last September and it showed. “That’s not an easy turnaround so I tried to keep my composure,” Isner said. “I haven’t really played great this year, so I knew it was going to be a little bit of a mental battle.” Qualifier Robby Ginepri of the United States kept eighth-seeded Michael Russell of the United States off balance most of the match for a 6-2, 6-2 first-round victory. Top-seeded Nicolas Almagro of Spain plays his first match Wednesday against Gael Monfils of France. Monfils, who missed most of last season with a knee strain, beat James Blake of the United States in the first round. Verdasco won the tiebreaker when Johnson double-faulted at set point. Johnson held after four break points in the fourth

game of the second set, but he was broken in the sixth and eighth games. Ginepri broke Russell quickly in the first game of the match and again in the seventh game and wrapped up the first set in the eighth game aided by three Russell errors and he had an ace at the first set point. Ginepri took control of the match in the opening game of the second set, breaking Russell at the fifth break point. Ginepri pounded in several down-the-line winners that left Russell flat-footed. “Against the faster players, you wrong foot them and hit behind them, gives them less of a chance to react,” Ginepri said. “That was my game plan today and my backhand was working well at the line. A lot of my shots were pushing him back and I never let him get set up today, which was the big difference.” — AP



History-seeking Chelsea target Europa semis PARIS: Chelsea can take a step closer to becoming only the fourth side to win all three of UEFA’s major club competitions by cementing a place in the Europa League semi-finals when they travel to Rubin Kazan today. Only Juventus, Ajax and Bayern Munich can count Champions League, Cup Winners’ Cup and UEFA Cup triumphs among their list of honors, but Chelsea are well positioned to add their name to that elite group as they head to Russia with a 3-1 advantage from the first leg at Stamford Bridge. “We have established a good lead. We know that the second leg will be difficult away from home, so it was important to get the victory and score three goals,” said Brazilian midfielder Ramires. “Obviously we want to qualify for the

Champions League but we don’t want to forgo the trophies that we are chasing either,” added the 26-year-old, sounding a slightly different tone to teammate John Mikel Obi after the Nigerian revealed his indifference towards Europe’s second-tier competition. “No disrespect to the Europa League ... but when you get that buzz, and you hear the Champions League song, it’s different. “It has been kind of frustrating to watch (Champions League matches) and we have to then play on Thursday night,” Mikel admitted. History overwhelmingly favours Rafa Benitez’s side with the Blues having won all five previous encounters against Russian opposition and Rubin, despite an 18-game European unbeaten run in

Kazan, far less dominant in Moscow, the venue for Thursday’s return leg, having lost three of their past four matches at the Luzhniki Stadium. Chelsea’s London rivals Tottenham face a significantly sterner challenge as they make the trip to Basel to face the Swiss league leaders with their last-eight tie evenly poised at 2-2 after Spurs recovered from a two-goal deficit at White Hart Lane last week. Adding to Andre Villas-Boas’ problems is the absence of Gareth Bale, Aaron Lennon and William Gallas after the trio all sustained injuries in the first leg. However, January arrival Lewis Holtby remained confident Tottenham could still secure their place in the last four. “We are good away from home, we have got some good results this season

so we’re still positive and our confidence is high,” said the German international. Benfica will go to Newcastle as the favorites to advance following a 3-1 victory in the Portuguese capital last time out. Only twice has a side recovered from a two-goal, first-leg deficit in the competition’s knockout phase since it was rebranded four years ago, and while Newcastle are unbeaten in 13 European home fixtures they have only won by more than one goal on two occasions in that time. A meagre return of 10 goals in 11 games since the start of this season’s group stage doesn’t bode well for the Magpies, but midfielder Yohan Cabaye is optimistic about his side’s hopes. “In front of our supporters, I’m sure

we’ll have chances. Now it’s up to us to control the match well and play the 90 minutes right to the end to try and qualify,” said the French international. With the club having announced a sell-out for Thursday’s match, Cabaye added: “It’ll be a whole different atmosphere and I know we can count on our fans.” Lazio must overturn a 2-0 deficit in Rome if they are to make it through to the semis after Pierre Webo and Dirk Kuyt struck two late goals for Fenerbahce a week ago. However, the Italians will be forced to play in front of an empty Olympic Stadium after the club was sanctioned with a two-match stadium ban following crowd trouble in their last-32 tie against Borussia Moenchengladbach.—AFP

UEFA propose tough 10-match racism ban

GERMANY: (Left to right) Scottish referees Derek Rose, Craig Thomson and Alasdair Ross are pictured during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second-leg football match of Borussia Dortmund vs Malaga CF in Dortmund. —AFP

Malaga hint at conspiracy after cruel European exit BARCELONA: Malaga suggested more than luck may have been against them in Tuesday’s last-gasp defeat at Borussia Dortmund that cruelly denied the Champions League debutants a place in the semi-finals. The Qatar-owned club were leading the quarter-final, second leg 2-1 as the game went into stoppage time before Dortmund, who were held to a 0-0 draw in last week’s first leg in Spain, first equalised and then grabbed a 93rd-minute winner. Television replays showed several players from the Bundesliga side in offside positions in the build-up to the third goal and normally restrained Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini slammed the match officials. “On this occasion we could not, or they did not want us to, get through,” Pellegrini told a news conference. “After we went 2-1 ahead there was no refereeing,” the Chilean added. “They forced us back with elbows and shoves. There were two sendings off that were not given, a double offside in the third goal which should not have counted. “They said this was the best team in Europe and by the end they were hoofing long balls forward. We are leaving with very bitter feelings.” Winger Joaquin, who put Malaga ahead in the 25th minute, and club owner Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani, a member of the Qatar royal family, were more outspoken. In a series of tweets on his official Twitter feed soon after the final whistle, Al Thani blamed the defeat on “racism” and called on governing body UEFA to launch an inquiry. Joaquin suggested UEFA president Michel Platini may have had something to do with the defeat. Platini is deeply unpopular in Malaga after UEFA slapped a ban on the club from competing in continental competition from

next season due to delays in payments to creditors. “We suspect Platini and all the rest of them who are involved,” Joaquin told Spanish radio. “Because we are Malaga and not Real Madrid it’s easier to do this to us,” he added. Whatever conclusions are drawn about Tuesday’s game, Malaga outperformed on their first foray into Europe’s elite club competition but now need to put their disappointment behind them and focus on qualifying again for next season. They have appealed the UEFA ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and are currently sixth in La Liga, four points behind Real Sociedad who occupy Spain’s fourth Champions League qualification berth. “We all made a super-human effort and going out of the competition because of a mistake like that is painful,” forward Roque Santa Cruz told Spanish television. “We were four minutes away from semifinals and it was snatched away from us,” the Paraguayan added. “Now we have to lift our spirits and tackle the rest of the season in the best possible way.”—Reuters

Matches on TV (Local Timings)

UEFA Europe League Rubin Kazan v Chelsea Aljazeera Sport +9 Basel v Hotspur Aljazeera Sport +3 Lazio v Fenerbahce Aljazeera Sport +5 Newcastle v Benfica Aljazeera Sport +2

19:00 22:05 22:05 22:05

Ronaldo guiding Real towards elusive 10th European crown BARCELONA: If Real Madrid win their 10th European title this season, coach Jose Mourinho will no doubt take many of the plaudits but it is his Portuguese compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo who continues to do the business on the pitch. Ronaldo struck twice in Tuesday’s 3-2 quarter-final, second leg defeat at Galatasaray, which put Real through to the last four of the Champions League 5-3 on aggregate, taking his tally in the latest edition of the competition to 11 in 10 matches. Lionel Messi of Barcelona has topped the scoring chart the past four seasons but Ronaldo is on course to displace his great rival with the Argentine World Player of the Year on eight goals ahead of Wednesday’s match against Paris St Germain. Ronaldo, 28, who became the world’s most expensive player when he joined Real from Manchester United for a fee of around 90 million euros ($117.5 million) in 2009, now has 50 goals in Europe, 34 for the La Liga champions and 16 for United. “There nothing left to say, the statistics are there and speak for themselves,” Mourinho told a news conference after the game in Istanbul. “What I think about Ronaldo is what everyone thinks,” he added. “I don’t think anyone in perfect mental health thinks any differently.” Ronaldo initially found it tough to win over the Real fans when he arrived in the Spanish capital and raised eyebrows earlier this season when he complained of being “unhappy for professional reasons”. He has mainly let his football do the talking since then and although Real’s La Liga title defence has faltered they have every chance of securing the record 10th European title that has eluded them since their last tri-

umph in 2002. “Goals help us to win matches and it is what I have been doing since I arrived here (at Real),” Ronaldo told reporters. “I am and I feel good and motivated,” he added. “The team too and they are giving me good passes so I can do my work, which is to score goals.” Real’s stumble in Istanbul, when Galatasaray scored three goals in 15 secondhalf minutes, will be a matter of some concern for Mourinho and Ronaldo said there was plenty of room for improvement. “You always learn from your mistakes,” he said. “The team always tries its best but sometimes we make mistakes,” he added. “It’s better that it happens now than in a decisive match. We have to improve in many areas but we are happy to get through to the semifinals.”—Reuters

LONDON: European football’s governing body yesterday outlined tough new sanctions against racism both on and off the pitch, as part of efforts to rid the game of the scourge of discrimination and abuse. UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino warned that players found guilty of racial abuse would face a minimum 10-match ban, while clubs could expect to play behind closed doors in the event of proven racism by fans. Infantino’s proposals came as UEFA ordered Ukrainian giants Dynamo Kiev to play their next two European games behind closed doors because of “incidents of racist behavior” by their fans in recent matches. The Scottish Football Association (SFA), meanwhile, charged Rangers chief executive Charles Green for bringing the game into disrepute for comments an antiracism body deemed “racist and offensive”. In a further indication of the scale of the problem, police said they were studying claims that Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany was racially abused as he gave a television interview after his side’s win against Manchester United. “We have to have sanctions and they must have a deterrent effect and what we are proposing is if a player or official is convicted of racism, they should receive a 10-match suspension at least,” Infantino told the Soccerex forum in

Manchester, northwest England. “If supporters at a club are found guilty of racist abuse, the first sanction will be a partial closure of the part of the stadium from which the racist abuse took place. “For a second offence, there will be the full closure and a minimum fine of 50,000 euros ($65,000).” Piara Powar, the executive director of European anti-discrimination group FARE, welcomed the announcement. “These sanctions are very clear and they leave no room for doubt,” he said. “The problem now is how does the education match the sanctions policy? The last thing is for clubs and fans not to know what they are getting sanctioned for. “That is why we are in talks with UEFA about an additional sanction of a mandatory demonstration by the guilty club to show what they are doing in terms of education.” Racism-and the most effective way to tackle it-has become an increasingly pressing issue in football, with high-profile incidents regularly reported from domestic leagues to international matches. Both UEFA and FIFA have been accused of failing to impose harsh penalties on players, clubs and countries found guilty of racism and a lack of clarity in their policies. In England, Chelsea’s John Terr y and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez were banned for four and

eight matches respectively, but Infantino believes that is no longer enough. “We are saying that it should be 10 matches-it has been five matches and we will double it,” he said. “We will also submit to the whole of UEFA’s member associations asking that all our members employ the same measures as well at national level. “The fight against racism is something that’s very serious and we have to make sure that there is correct action and not just words.” Dynamo Kiev’s two-match stadium ban came after racist incidents in their Champions League group-stage game against Paris Saint-Germain and Europa League last-32 tie with Bordeaux. The sanction for the second fixture is suspended for three years. Dynamo have appealed against the decision but a date for the hearing has yet to be fixed. British police said they were investigating claims that Manchester City’s Kompany was racially abused following the derby with United on Monday. The Belgium international was being interviewed in the Old Trafford tunnel area when a voice could be heard off-camera apparently shouting abuse. However, it was not clear to television viewers what was said and neither Kompany nor City lodged a formal complaint.—AFP

Lebanese referees denied bail in sex-for-fixing case SINGAPORE: A Singapore court yesterday denied bail to three Lebanese football referees accused of accepting free sex from a gambling-linked international syndicate to rig a match. District judge Kamala Ponnampalam agreed with state prosecutors that there was a risk referee Ali Sabbagh, 34, and his fellow Lebanese assistants Ali Eid, 33, and Abdallah Taleb, 37, would flee Singapore if given provisional liberty. Defence lawyer Gary Low told the court the three, who could be jailed for up to five years if convicted of corruption, plan to plead not guilty to the charges. Eric Ding Si Yang, 31, a Singaporean businessman who allegedly supplied the prostitutes, was granted bail on Tuesday by the same judge. “Having considered the submissions of parties, in particular that of the prosecution, I agree that in light of the recent trend where accused in match-fixing scandals have fled, most recently in 2012... that no bail is to be granted,” the judge said. The three Lebanese men were arrested for allegedly accepting sexual favors in exchange for agreeing to fix an AFC Cup match on April 3 between Singaporebased club Tampines Rovers and India’s East Bengal. They were abruptly pulled out before the match began and are being held in remand at Changi Prison. In a written submission opposing bail for the trio, state prosecutors said referee Ali Sabbagh had been approached by Ding in “mid-2012” in Beirut.

“ The seeds for the present offences were sown when all three Lebanese co-accused persons were still in their home country,” the prosecution said. “There is thus a clear international dimension to the alleged offences, strongly suggesting that they were involved in an international match-fixing syndicate,” it added. Ding, described in Singaporean media as a nightclub owner who drives an Aston Martin sports car, is facing three counts of corruption and was freed after posting bail of

Sg$150,000 ($121,000). Singapore has a long history of match-fixing, and syndicates from the wealthy Southeast Asian island have been blamed by European police for orchestrating a network responsible for rigging hundreds of games worldwide. In February, Singapore came under pressure to act against the cartels, whose activities fuel illegal gambling estimated to be worth billions of dollars, when the head of Interpol called for the arrest of an alleged ringleader. Singapore police later said the

suspect, Tan Seet Eng or Dan Tan, was assisting investigations, but he has not been arrested or charged with any crime. In a statement sent to AFP on Wednesday, the Kuala Lumpurbased Asian Football Confederation said it was “working closely” with Singapore football authorities in monitoring the case of the referees. “AFC adopts a zero tolerance policy against match fixing,” it said. “In line with this policy, AFC has set up an internal task force to combat this threat which has plagued the beautiful game in Asia.”—AFP

MANCHESTER: Former Manchester United and England footballer Sir Bobby Charlton (right) exchanges shirts with former Benfica and Portugal player Eusebio during the Soccerex European Forum. Soccerex is a football business event, conference and exhibition.—AFP

Man City rue legacy of misfiring match-winners

Real Madrid’s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo

LONDON: Manchester City ’s victor y at Manchester United will have only sharpened the defending champions’ sense of frustration at their failure to keep pace with Alex Ferguson’s side in this season’s title race. Twelve months ago when the teams clashed at the Etihad Stadium, Vincent Kompany’s firsthalf header propelled the league title towards the blue half of Manchester for the first time since 1968. When the Premier League fixture computer spat out another April encounter between the sides, it seemed likely to be another title decider. But City’s inconsistency and United’s ruthlessness have long since drawn any suspense from the battle for the English crown. As a result, though it was cheered into the night by City’s fans, the away side’s 2-1 success at Old Trafford on Monday is likely to matter little in the final reckoning, with United still 12 points distant at the table summit.

Instead, victory merely vindicated City manager Roberto Mancini’s pre-match claim that, in a head-to-head showdown, his side are at least the equals of the team on the brink of wresting the title from them. “This win was important for us for the second position but this shows that we did not deserve to be 15 points behind,” Mancini said. “The title is finished. It does not matter how many points behind. We are not close to them. They score more than us and that is the difference.” Mancini’s last point about City’s relative lack of fire-power has been a recurring theme in his attempts to explain the gulf that has been allowed to open up between the teams. City finished last season with 93 league goalsa figure matched by only Chelsea’s free-scoring 2009-10 Double-winners in the last 10 years. This season, their ratio of goals per game has shrivelled from 2.45 to 1.84, and with only 57 goals in 31 games, they trail not only United, but

also Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool in the goalscoring stakes. The goals have dried up throughout the team. Sergio Aguero plundered 23 league goals last season, including the unforgettable injury-time winner against Queens Park Rangers on the final day that wrenched the title from United’s disbelieving grasp. This season he has found the net only 10 times. Mario Balotelli, who notched 13 goals in 2011-12, had scored just once before he was shipped out to AC Milan in January, while David Silva and Samir Nasri have also endured disappointing campaigns. Laid next to United’s results, City’s goal-shy tendencies are telling. Both sides have only lost four games this season but whereas United have only drawn twice, City have found themselves just a solitary goal from victory on eight separate occasions. Had only half those draws been turned into wins, the gap between the clubs would now be just four points, rather than the chasm it actually is.—AFP

Knicks clinch division title

Is Tiger of old back for the Masters?




History-seeking Chelsea target Europa semisPage 19

BARCELONA: Barcelona’s midfielder Sergio Busquets (left) celebrates their equalizer goal with teammates during the UEFA Champions League quarter final second-leg football match FC Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain yesterday. — AFP

Pedro fires nervy Barca into last 4 Messi’s return helps Barcelona reach semifinals BARCELONA: Barcelona needed a Pedro equalizer to draw 1-1 with Paris St Germain yesterday in their Champions League quarterfinal, second leg and advance to the last four on away goals. The favorites started the match at the Nou Camp with Lionel Messi on the bench after he damaged a hamstring in last week’s 2-2 first-leg draw in Paris. Without the World Player of the Year Barca, lacked cutting edge and PSG had much the

better of the first half before Javier Pastore raced clear five minutes after the break and lifted the ball over Victor Valdes into the net. Messi replaced Cesc Fabregas with half an hour left and was involved in the buildup to Pedro’s 71st-minute strike to make it 3-3 on aggregate as Barca secured a sixth straight semi-final appearance in Europe’s elite club competition. In a match with a distinctly Qatari flavor PSG are owned by the oil-and gas-rich Arab

nation and Qatar Foundation is Barca’s main sponsor - the visitors made a lively start. Ezequiel Lavezzi latched onto a Sergio Busquets error and raced through the middle in the fourth minute but his control let him down and Valdes was able to clear. The Spain keeper was called on again in the 24th minute when Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent Lavezzi clear and he saved well with an outstretched leg before palming a powerful Lucas

Bayern book CL semis TURIN: Bayern Munich weathered an early Juventus storm before Mario Mandzukic headed a second-half goal to help the Germans to a 2-0 win at Juventus yesterday and send them into the Champions League (CL) semifinals. Juventus, chasing a 2-0 deficit from the first leg of the quarter-final tie and backed by a raucous crowd, huffed and puffed but were not quite creative enough to cause the newlycrowned Bundesliga champions more than the odd scare. Both teams hit the post before Croatia forward Mandzukic, who was booked early in the game and will miss the last four first leg, headed in following a free kick in the 64th minute. That left Juventus with the impossible task of scoring four goals and turned the rest of the game into a formality, with substitute Claudio Pizarro netting again for Bayern in injury time. “It was decisive that we played like we did in Munich. It was a great atmosphere. It was not easy and we had to stay patient,” Mandzukic told Germany’s ZDF television. “I am happy to have scored but happier that we are through. But we are not yet done.” Juventus, determined to make up for their poor showing in the first leg last week when they were lucky to escape with a 2-0 defeat in Germany, predictably made an aggressive start but Bayern quickly evened the match up. Manuel Neuer came to Bayern’s rescue in the 23rd minute when he fisted away a rising Andrea Pirlo free kick from the edge of the area, although the defensive wall did not appear to be nine meters from the ball. Juventus also threatened when Paul Pogba fired a low ball across the face of the goal but nobody was on hand to turn it in. Juve attempted to send long balls over the Bayern mid-

TURIN: Bayern’s Mario Mandzukic of Croatia, celebrates with teammate Dante after scoring during the Champions League, quarterfinal, second-leg soccer match against Juventus, at the Juventus stadium yesterday. — AP field for Mirko Vucinic and Fabio Bayern broke through in the 64th Quagliarella to chase but, although minute when Bastian Schweinsteiger the Montenegrin was a handful, the floated over a free k ick and, German defence coped well. although Buffon saved Javi Left back David Alaba, who scored Martinez’s shot, Mandzukic headed in the first leg with a long-range shot in the rebound. Peruvian striker which was misjudged by Gianluigi Pizarro added the gloss for a 4-0 Buffon, had Bayern’s best first-half aggregate win as Bayern, last term’s attempt with another effort from dis- runners-up when beaten by Chelsea, tance but this time the goalkeeper joined fellow Germans Borussia was equal to it. Juve also started the Dor tmund and Spanish duo second half brightly and another Pirlo Barcelona and Real Madrid in the last free kick was deflected but fell kindly four. The draw is tomorrow. Italian for Neuer to save, then Quagliarella champions and Serie A leaders Juve hit the foot of the post with a long- had not previously lost to foreign range shot. Again, Juventus were opposition at their two-year-old unable to keep it going and Bayern Juventus Stadium and were last came back at them, Arjen Robben hit- beaten in a European game in Turin ting the post with a curling effort when they went down 4-1 to Bayern after he had been cleverly set up by in 2009 at their previous Stadio Mandzukic. Olimpico home. — Reuters

header over the bar as PSG pressed for a goal. Barca were looking unusually ragged with the normally impeccable Busquets misplacing several passes and fullback Daniel Alves miscuing a couple of crosses. Xavi flashed an early free kick wide and Pedro fired into the side netting in the 21st minute but otherwise the La Liga leaders were ineffective going forward. After Pastore’s goal and the introduction of Messi the home side appeared to rediscover

their urgency and close to 100,000 fans packed inside the giant arena did their best to lift the players. Barca were in danger of suffering their first Champions League defeat at the Nou Camp since losing 2-1 to Russian side Rubin Kazan in October 2009. However, Pedro, who received the all-clear to play shortly before the match after a muscle injury, rescued them with a clinical finish from the edge of the area. — Reuters

Blackburn owners slammed as another relegation looms DUBAI: Former Blackburn Rovers defender Michel Salgado has slammed the decision by owners Venky’s to summon caretaker manager Gary Bowyer to India with the team battling to avoid relegation to English soccer’s third tier. Blackburn are third from bottom of the Championship with six games to play following a 3-2 defeat by Sheffield Wednesday last weekend. They host midtable Derby County on Saturday before Huddersfield Town - a point above Rovers - visit Ewood Park on Tuesday. Blackburn have four games in 11 days including a trip to promotion-chasing Watford, yet Bowyer this week flew to Venky’s headquarters in Pune, India, along with senior executives. “When you are playing for your life, you need to stick together, train more than ever, be prepared for the games and instead the manager is in Pune,” Salgado told reporters in Dubai. He said officials from chicken meat processors Venky’s should have travelled to Blackburn, so players’ training was not disrupted. “The club is totally destroyed at this moment - I keep in touch with a lot of fans and it’s really sad to see an amazing, historical club in this situation,” said Salgado. “It’s outrageous what is happening.” The former Spain international retains a deep affection for Blackburn, having played for the club for three seasons before retiring last year. That stint coincided with Venky’s acquisition of Rovers in November 2010, with the Indian company making its mark by sacking manager Sam Allardyce a month later. “When they came for the first time, it was really exciting because they said it was about developing something really good for the

future, even fighting for something more than being in the middle of the (Premier League) table,” said Salgado. Steve Kean replaced Allardyce as manager, but the Scot won 13 games out of 59 in the Premier League as Blackburn - English champions in 1995 - eventually slipped into the second-tier Championship last year. Kean left last September with Blackburn in the promotion play-off places and Bowyer is now the fifth manager this season following the brief reigns of Henning Berg and Michael Appleton and Eric Black’s temporary stint in charge. “Hopefully, one day (Venky’s) will tell the truth, even to me, because I would like to know what is happening...everything was running really well and you had the facilities, the fans,” Salgado added. The Spaniard was more upbeat about another former club, Real Madrid, who are through to the Champions League semi-finals for a third straight year following a 5-3 aggregate win over Turkey’s Galatasaray. Winning a record 10th European crown would ease some of the pressure on Real coach Jose Mourinho, who has been lambasted by fans and the city’s media for the club’s failure to mount a convincing La Liga title defense in Spain. They trail Barcelona by 13 points, with the Catalans near-certainties for glory. “It was really surprising to see Real Madrid out of the league in January (there were) rumors about problems in the dressing room and that doesn’t help,” said Salgado. “They have the chance to turn this around and forget about that if they win the Champions League.” — Reuters

England can’t win World Cup due to foreign influx MANCHESTER: England are unlikely to become world champions again because the country’s Premier League is now flooded with foreign players, 1966 World Cup winner Bobby Charlton said yesterday. “I worry a bit. Every year I feel when one of the newspapers wants me to give an opinion on whether there is a chance to win the World Cup or whatever, I feel obliged to say ‘yes they have got a chance’ but I think it’s a fool’s errand,” Charlton told delegates at the Soccerex Business Forum. “I feel that we need good players and if all of the spaces in the English game are taken up by foreigners then

we don’t have any chance. “I’m not saying that it is not fair but it is hard to think that we can win a World Cup when you see the quality now,” added Charlton, who played 106 times for England between 1958 and 1970 and is still the country’s record goalscorer with 49 goals. “The only thing that gives me a bit of hope is that I do see good coaching and I do see English coaches having as much to say in world terms as anyone else”. Charlton, who spent almost his entire career at Manchester United and won the European Cup in 1968, highlighted how Manchester City’s recent run of

success is mostly reliant on the club’s overseas players. City were transformed in 2008 when Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi bought the club and has since spent more than one billion dollars on players and infrastructure, ending a 35year wait for honors when they won the FA Cup in 2011 and captured their first top flight league title for 44 years in 2012. “The difference from City five or six years ago is that they did not have any foreign players and once they had the finance to do it, they went into the market and got some good players. “They are going to be a hard team to beat.” — Reuters


GCC steps up energy-saving efforts Page 25 Pakistan’s booming market no black and white matter


India car sales shrink for first time in decade

Page 23 China data, BOJ plan lifts shares; Yen dips

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YANGON: A man rests in a basket at a night market in Yangon yesterday. A World Bank official said that Myanmar has “enormous potential” as it undergoes reforms. — AFP

Qatar throws Egypt $3 billion lifeline Qatar money ‘no substitute for IMF deal’ DOHA: Gas-rich Qatar threw Egypt another unconditional financial lifeline yesterday as the Arab world’s most populous nation struggles to secure an IMF loan to ease its deepening economic crisis. Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al-Thani said after talks with Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil that Qatar would provide an extra $3 billion on top of some $5 billion the Gulf state has already given Cairo, and would extend gas supplies to Egypt this summer as needed. He told a joint news conference that Qatar, the biggest financial backer of Egypt’s Islamist-led government, did not ask for anything in return for its aid. “We reached an agreement to add more bonds from the Qatari government in the amount of $3 billion. During the coming days, we will discuss the details of issuing those bonds,” Sheikh Hamad said. Egyptian Planning Minister Ashraf Al-Araby told Reuters it had not yet been decided whether the aid would take the form of bonds or a deposit at the Egyptian central bank. Kandil said media reports of tensions with Qatar over tax and regulatory issues involving Qatari banks seeking to buy assets in Egypt were wrong. The new financial injection could buy Egypt time as it seeks to avert social unrest over fuel shortages and food price increases during a long, hot summer in the run-up to parliamentary elections expected in October. But Western diplomats said it was no alternative to an IMF deal, which could unlock up to $15 billion in multilateral and bilateral lending, and improve confidence for foreign and domestic investors. The planning minister said earlier that Cairo may ask the

International Monetary Fund to increase a previously requested $4.8 billion loan to cover its budget deficit. An IMF delegation has been in Cairo since last week for long-delayed talks on a loan, which would carry conditions requiring reforms of costly fuel and food subsidies and tax increases. Araby acknowledged there would be social costs to implementing reforms required by the IMF but if Egypt did not reach a deal with the global lender it would be forced to resort to even stricter austerity measures. CONFIDENCE Qatar has already provided $5 billion in loans, grants and deposits since Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was elected last June. That has slowed the depletion of Egypt’s foreign reserves, which slipped to $13.4 billion in March - equivalent to less than three months of imports including vital wheat and fuel. The government has already announced power cuts and energy saving measures such as closing Cairo airport’s two main runways for four hours every night during the summer. Cairo must convince the IMF that it is serious about reforms including cuts in fuel and food subsidies and tax increases to curb an unaffordable budget deficit and boost growth. The government reached an initial deal with the Fund last November and announced sales tax increases on 19 categories of goods as well as a tax on dividends and share gains. The accord was frozen in early December when Morsi suspended the sales tax increases hours after they were officially published, bending to pressure in the face of protests ignited by political conflict over the extent of his powers. Araby said that the govern-

ment was now planning to raise sales tax on only six items-cement, iron, telecommunications, cigarettes, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Qatar was angered by Cairo’s decision to impose a 10 percent tax on investment gains from the takeover by Qatar National Bank of local lender National Societe Generale Bank , making QNB effectively overpay. An Egyptian finance ministry aide said on Monday the government had decided to cancel the tax and would reimburse the revenue already levied to shareholders. Egypt’s financial regulator is still holding up a proposed joint venture between QInvest, majority owned by Qatar Islamic Bank, and EFG Hermes, the Middle East’s top investment bank, which will expire if not approved by May 3. The deal, which would place EFG’s main operations in a company 60 percent owned by QInvest, is politically sensitive in Egypt because both of EFG’s chief executives are on trial with the two sons of ousted President Hosni Mubarak over allegations of illegal share dealings in relation to a 2007 transaction. Economists said flip-flops on taxation were causing uncertainty among investors. The sales tax increases published in the official gazette in December have yet to be cancelled, and it is not clear how the government plans to raise the missing revenue. “(This) is indeed causing a mess in the market as companies remain legally liable for the new rates, but, practically, the government is not collecting them,” Moustafa Bassiouny, an economist at the Signet Institute said. Bassiouny said El-Araby’s latest comments on tax increases showed how government policy


Yamaha eyes $500 bike MUMBAI: Japan’s Yamaha said yesterday it was developing “the world’s cheapest motorcycle” in India priced at $500, which it plans to export to other markets including China. The low-cost bike with an engine size of around 100cc will be worked on at its research centre in Uttar Pradesh state, but the company declined to give a launch date. “Developing the product in India will give us substantial cost advantage and enable us to price it competitively,” Hiroyuki Suzuki, chief executive of India Yamaha Motor told reporters in New Delhi. The bike will be sold first in India and then exported to Latin America, Africa and the “factory to the world” China-usually the source of low-cost manufactured goods. “Our target is to develop the cheapest bike at around $500 for both in India and export markets,” said senior Yamaha research and development manager Toshikazu Kobayashi. Analysts see Yamaha’s move as part of a strategy to target commuters in India having previously focused on producing sporty and performance-led bikes.

Samba posts Q1 profit

DOHA: Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Qandil (left) speaks with Qatar’s Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr Al-Thani prior to a joint press conference yesterday. — AFP was “inconsistent”. El-Araby said from 8.2 percent in the 12 the government was targeting a months to February, statistics budget deficit of 9.5 percent of agency CAPMAS said yesterday. gross domestic product in the fis- Mohamed Abu Basha of EFG cal year ending in June and aimed Hermes, the Middle East’s biggest to further reduce the deficit, to investment bank, said the figure 8.5 percent of GDP, by the end of was well below the bank’s predicthe 2013-2014 fiscal year. Last tion of 9 percent year-on-year month, El-Araby had said the inflation, due to lower than deficit could swell to 10 percent expected food price increases. of GDP in the 12 months to the Analysts said inflation was unlikely to continue to ease, however, end of June. Against most analysts’ expec- given the depreciation of the tations, Egypt’s urban consumer Egyptian pound and planned inflation eased to 7.6 percent in subsidy cuts, and was likely to the past 12 months to March, accelerate this year. — Reuters

Austerity putting children at ‘risk’ GENEVA: The UN warned yesterday that austerity measures are hitting children hard, as it published a ranking of kids’ well-being in rich countries topped by northern European countries and showing Britain climbing out of the bottom tier. As governments turn to austerity to avoid passing on huge debt loads to the next generation, they must reflect on how their cuts are affecting children today, said Chris de Neubourg, who heads social and economic policy research at the UN’s children’s agency. Instead of sparing today’s children of a future burden, they are in many cases “presenting the bill to the children now,” risking “letting them pay now and in the future,” he told reporters in Geneva ahead of launch of UNICEF’s report. The Netherlands, Norway, Iceland, Finland and Sweden were list-

in the

ed as the best wealthy countries for children to live in, while Romania ranked last out of the 29 nations in the comparison. The United States meanwhile came in at a dismal 26th place in the report, landing among the bottom third in all five categories measured: children’s material well-being, health and safety, education, behavior and risks and housing and environment. Britain, whose last place in the previous 2007 version of the comparison caused much soul-searching, showed the best progress, climbing to the middle of the pack with a respectable 16th place. Such improvements, as well as clear differences between countries with similar economies, shows that child poverty “is not inevitable, but policy susceptible,” UNICEF said, pointing out that “some countries are doing much better than others at protecting their most vulnerable

children.” Amid increasing pressure on many governments to implement austerity measures, it is important that they realize the impact their decisions on where to cut will have on kids and their futures, de Neubourg said. Due to the difficulty digging up comparable statistics, he pointed out that most of the data used in the so-called 2011 report card is actually from 2009-2010, and therefore does not accurately reflect the impact the past couple years’ focus on austerity is having on children. Among southern Europe’s most austerity-hit countries, for instance, only Greece and Italy figure among the bottom third of countries, while Portugal and Spain still hovered near the middle of the pack. “But we are a little bit afraid of what we will find in the next report card,” he said. — AFP

RIYADH: Samba Financial Group, Saudi Arabia’s second-largest listed bank, posted a marginal rise in its first quarter net profit yesterday, but the results still beat analysts’ forecasts. Samba said it made 1.159 billion riyals ($309.1 million) in the first three months of 2013, up 1.2 percent over the 1.145 billion riyals recorded in the same period of last year. It attributed the slight rise in the quarterly profit to higher operating income, without elaborating. Nine analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast the bank to earn net profit of 1.079 billion riyals in the quarter. Saudi banks have enjoyed successive years of expansionary government budgets, ample liquidity and improving corporate loan demand. Bank lending in Saudi Arabia dipped from December’s 14-month high in the first two months of 2013 but growth was still 13.4 percent and 12 percent year-on-year in January and February respectively. Samba’s loans portfolio climbed 15 percent to 107 billion riyals, while deposits grew 9 percent to 152 billion riyals. Total operating income for the quarter rose 6 percent to 1.897 billion riyals, profit from special commissions grew 3 percent to 1.082 billion riyals.

‘Bonus boom’ in UK LONDON: British bosses saw their pay packets surge over the past year on the back of a “bonus boom” despite the fragile economy, a survey showed yesterday. The basic salary of chief executives rose by just 1.8 percent over the last 12 months, but “leapt” by 15.8 percent when bonuses were included, the Chartered Institute of Management (CIM) said in its national management salary study. The survey was based on data taken from more than 43,000 executives across 180 organizations in Britain. The average company chief executive salary stood at more than £215,000, compared with about £43,000 for a middle manager, according to the CIM. “It’s hard to believe that company directors and CEOs have seen such a big leap in bonus payments when the UK’s economic performance remains so sluggish,” said CIM boss Ann Francke. “If organizations aren’t performing, leaders shouldn’t get these bumper rewards, especially when pay increases for all other management levels have been



Cuts to Social Security loom

WTO cuts global trade growth forecast to 3.3% GENEVA: Global commerce is set to grow by 3.3 percent this year, the World Trade Organization said yesterday, as persistent gloom in Europe led it to cut a previous forecast of 4.5 percent. The announcement marked the second time that the WTO has reined in its figures for 2013, after initially estimating that world trade would expand by 5.6 percent. “The final trade figures for 2012 are quite sobering,” WTO director-general Pascal Lamy told reporters before adding that 2013 would see “more of the same.” Last year, the WTO said, global commerce expanded by 2.0 percent, well below the growth in 2011 of 5.2 percent. It is increasingly clear that the world economy is running at “double speed”, with developing countries outperforming richer nations, Lamy emphasized. The WTO explained in a statement that “improved economic prospects for the United States in 2013 should only partly offset the continued weakness in the European Union, whose economy is expected to remain flat or even contract slightly this year according to consensus estimates.” “China’s growth should continue to outpace other leading economies, cushioning the slowdown, but exports will still be constrained by weak demand in Europe,” it added. As a result, this year looks set to be a “near repeat” of 2012, with both trade and output expanding slowly, though trade was expected to pick up a bit next year. “Our view is that 2014 should be looking more like 5.0 percent growth,” Lamy said. Last year, the value of world merchandise exports only increased by 0.2 percent to $18.3 trillion, the WTO noted. The trend was driven by falling prices for traded goods, with commodities such as coffee, cotton, iron ore and coal seeing major drops, while oil was relatively stable. The value of global commercial services exports rose by 2.0 percent to $4.3 trillion meanwhile. Lamy said that the gap between growth in developed and developing nations should continue, with the latter being major beneficiaries of trade expansion. “In my view this is here for quite

a time ahead,” said the Frenchman, who in September wraps up his second mandate as the WTO chief. Asked whether that spotlighted policy failings in developed countries, Lamy responded: “There is one thing for sure, there’s a good, solid way to generate growth, and that’s structural reform.” “Refocussing on trade is a good bet, but there are political costs,” he acknowledged. The 158 economies which make up the WTO set trade rules among themselves in an attempt to ensure a level playing field and spur growth by opening markets and removing trade barriers, including subsidies, excessive taxes and regulations. Created in 1995, the WTO launched its Doha Round of talks in 2001 with the stated aim of underpinning development in poorer nations. But the talks have faltered in the face of obstacles set in particular by China, the EU, India and the United States, and Lamy’s successor, still to be chosen, will face the tough task of reviving them. GLOBAL ECONOMIC ACTIVITY Global economic activity is picking up, especially in the United States and Japan, though it appears to be weakening in India, the OECD said yesterday. A monthly release of composite leading indicators (CLIs) showed that for China, there was “a more positive outlook compared with last month’s assessment, with the CLI now pointing towards growth picking up,” the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development added. In the 17-nation euro-zone, and in Germany in particular, the indicators “continue to indicate a pick-up in growth” as well, the monthly reading found. Brazil, Britain, Canada and Russia were expected to see growth close to their current trends, “while the CLI for India indicates weakening growth,” the OECD said. The organization compiles economic data on 33 of the world’s leading economies and six other non-member countries for the release, which did not provide detailed growth forecasts for the countries that were covered.— Agencies

Obama budget targets millionaires WASHINGTON: The White House yesterday proposed a budget that would sharply trim the US deficit over three years by forcing millionaires to pay more in taxes and enacting spending cuts that replace the “sequester” reductions that went into place last month. President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2014 budget blueprint ensures that those making $1 million a year or more would have to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes, after gifts to charity, officials said. That increase, along with spending cuts and a 28 percent cap on tax deductions for high earners, would bring the US budget deficit down to 2.8 percent of GDP by 2016 and 1.7 percent by 2023, senior administration officials told reporters. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office in February projected the US deficit to be 5.3 percent of GDP this year. Obama is due to release his full budget at 11:15 a.m. EDT (1515 GMT) and to make remarks at that time. The president’s budget stands little chance of being enacted into law and is meant to serve largely as a negotiating tool with Republicans in Congress, who have outlined budget proposals of their own. Senior administration officials said that, in spite of Republican leaders’ resistance to tax increases, they hoped Obama’s plan could lead to a deficit reduction accord. “There continue to be people who are on the Republican side ... in the Senate at least, who are saying things that would give you some hope that there is a path to a deal,” a senior administration official told reporters. The president’s advisers said the budget proposal would achieve $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years. Added to the $2.5 trillion in deficit cuts from past efforts, the total would be above the $4 trillion reduction both Republicans and the White House have said would be an acceptable goal. Republicans quickly dismissed Obama’s proposal, particularly his deficit reduction plans, which they described as not serious. “When you cut through the spin and get to the facts, it looks like there’s less than $600 billion worth of (deficit) reduction in there - and that’s over a decade - all of it coming from tax increases,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. “In other words, it’s not a serious plan. For the most part, just another leftwing wish list,” he said. LOOKING FOR A DEAL The president is breaking from the tradition of using the largely

symbolic budget release to outline his ideal tax and spending proposals. Instead, he is trying to relaunch talks to resolve a long-running fiscal battle with his Capitol Hill adversaries. To do so, Obama is offering a concession that has enraged many of his supporters: adopting a less generous measure of inflation to calculate cost-ofliving increases for the beneficiaries of many federal programs. One result would be diminished benefits for most recipients of the popular Social Security retirement program. Although Obama has pledged to shield some of the most vulnerable beneficiaries, the proposal has drawn strong opposition from Democrats and groups representing labor and the elderly. At the same time, his budget proposal faces seemingly insurmountable opposition from Republican leaders, who reject any new tax revenues. Obama’s hope is to build a coalition of lawmakers willing to compromise, although most observers see that as unlikely. He has invited 12 Republicans to dinner at the White House yesterday in an effort to soften resistance. “The question is, are Republicans going to be willing to come to us to do the serious thing that they say is so important in terms of reducing our deficit,” a senior administration official said in a conference call with reporters the day before the budget release. Both sides are so dug in that they were unable to prevent some $85 billion in across-the-board “sequestration cuts” from going into effect March 1. Obama’s budget proposal would replace those cuts with his original deficit reduction proposal from December. That offer included $930 billion in spending reductions and some $580 billion in tax revenues. The president’s budget includes spending on policy priorities such as infrastructure and early childhood education. He would pay for those programs with additional taxes and the elimination of some tax breaks for the well-off. The budget also includes a 10 percent tax credit for small businesses that raise wages or hire new workers. Obama’s budget is a clear contrast with a rival blueprint put forward by Representative Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee and potential 2016 presidential candidate. “You can invest in the middle class, create jobs, and reduce our deficits,” a senior administration official said. “We don’t have to choose between deficits as far as the eye can see and the sort of austerity that’s in the Paul Ryan budget.” Ryan’s bill aims to balance the budget in 10 years through deep cuts to healthcare and social programs while lowering tax rates. — Reuters

Al Shahnan launches Valvoline KUWAIT: Al Shahnan General Trading & Contracting Company held the event of the Valvoline launch, which took place at The Radisson Blu Hotel in the presence of Paul Reynolds - Chief Operating Officer, GSaini, Senior General Manager, Richard Thayne, Marketing Manager, ME & Africa, Roderick Campbell Maclean, Manager Sales & Business Development, and Pankaj Sharma, Territory Business Manager, Middle East & Africa. Paul Reynolds COO welcomed the guests of Valvoline Lubricant launch event by saying, “Next year, Al Sayer Group will celebrate its 60th Anniversary. The founder of the business, and our current Chairman, Naser Mohammed Al Sayer, set the ground rules for how this Company should operate. He said, “The Al Sayer Group values of honest, trust and personal integrity are at the heart of our business dealings. We will achieve continuous growth by selling only quality products supported by outstanding service and being acknowledged as the best in the business by Customers, Principals, Employees and the Community.” Tonight’s launch of Valvoline fits exactly with those sentiments. As the “World’s First, World’s Finest Motor Oil”, Valvoline also has a heritage of quality and innovation that has kept it in business for 147 years, and we are delighted to be working together with Valvoline Management to provide this outstanding lubricant range to our customers, and through you, to your customers. Kuwait, like many countries has a highly competitive market place, where everyone is trying to attract the maximum number of customers.

Everyone knows that it is much less expensive to keep loyal customers coming back than it is to find new customers each time. Customers come back to where they feel they have a good value for money service, getting the product they want for a price they like. Valvoline is a brand which stands amongst the best. Much more detail of the promotions and the quality of Valvoline will follow, but I can say that it has been tested extensively in this climate and country through our own MNSS garages in all seasons and has performed faultlessly”. In turn, G Saini - Senior General Manager said:

“Our efforts have always been to give you the best quality products - with added values & fully supported by an Excellent Service. While we are aware that cheaper products are available in the market but we at Al-Shahnan along with our Principal - Valvoline Lubricant - have always been looking into Cost Benefit analysis so that even if our products are little costly on the face value - these will certainly be more economical for you in the long run without compromising the quality aspects as well as optimizing the performance of various type of vehicles & equipments at your end.

EXCHANGE RATES Philippine Peso Thai Baht Malaysian ringgit

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

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

.2770000 .4310000 .3680000 .3020000 .2780000 .2940000 .0040000 .0020000 .0771240 .7513970 .3930000 .0720000 .7366120 .0370000 CUSTOMER TRANSFER RATES .2841000 .4338920 .3707360 .3043390 .2795430 .0497330 .0443660 .2963730 .0365940 .2291130 .0029600 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0000000 .0773800 .7538810 .0000000 .0757800 .7382100 .0000000

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

ASIAN COUNTRIES 2.883 5.241 2.897 2.270 3.283 230.610 36.776 3.644

.2880000 .4470000 .3760000 .3170000 .2920000 .3020000 .0069000 .0035000 .0778990 .7589480 .4110000 .0770000 .7440150 .0440000

.2862000 .4370990 .3734770 .3065880 .2816100 .0501010 .0446940 .2985640 .0368650 .2308060 .0028810 .0052870 .0022880 .0029190 .0036810 .0779520 .7594530 .4048090 .0763400 .7436660 .0069870

6.913 9.859 93.423

Omani Riyal Qatari Riyal Saudi Riyal

GCC COUNTRIES 76.164 78.477 741.850 758.600 77.772

Saudi Riyal Qatari Riyal Omani Riyal Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham

Egyptian Pound - Cash Egyptian Pound - Transfer Yemen Riyal/for 1000 Tunisian Dinar Jordanian Dinar Lebanese Lira/for 1000 Syrian Lier Morocco 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 40.350 41.173 1.332 180.130 403.330 1.916 3.103 34.110

SELL DRAFT 304.40 285.32 308.23 376.56 284.70 439.93 2.94 3.662 5.225 2.269 3.279 2.897 77.58 758.05 41.14 405.59

Selling Rate 285.250 283.775 438.880 372.030 305.970 755.205 77.640 78.300 76.030 402.105 41.260 2.271 5.240 2.895 3.628 6.904 699.735 3.870 9.935 4.030 3.375 93.600

Bahrain Exchange Company

GOLD 298.000 150.000 77.500


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

740.000 78.500 76.500

Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd

EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer 285.500 Euro 373.430 Sterling Pound 437.670 Canadian dollar 281.980 Turkish lira 159.060 Swiss Franc 306.990 US Dollar Buying 284.300

20 Gram 10 Gram 5 Gram

740.95 78.62 76.05

SELL CASH 308.000 283.500 307.000 369.000 286.000 437.000 3.300 3.740 5.400 2.450 3.450 2.975 78.300 757.850 41.300 413.000

BUY Europe 0.4296333 0.0061592 0.0460176 0.3679114 0.0458424 0.4275920 0.0406082 0.3006928

0.4386333 0.0181592 0.0510176 0.3754114 0.0510424 0.4350920 0.0456082 0.3076928

Australasia 0.2895415 0.2351907 0.0001116

0.3015415 0.2451907 0.0001116

Canadian Dollar Colombian Peso US Dollars

America 0.2736706 0.0001485 0.2829500

0.2826706 0.0001665 0.2851000

Bangladesh Taka Cape Vrde Escudo

Asia 0.0036064 0.0031627

0.0036614 0.0033927

British Pound Czech Korune Danish Krone Euro Norwegian Krone Scottish Pound Swedish Krona Swiss Franc Australian Dollar New Zealand Dollar Uganda Shilling


Chinese Yuan Eritrea-Nakfa Guinea Franc Hg 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

0.0448293 0.0164733 0.0000442 0.0341871 0.0051735 0.0000244 0.0028482 0.0027977 0.0033085 0.0897088 0.0031239 0.0028696 0.0064780 0.0000728 0.2262589 0.0019695 0.0094409

0.0498293 0.0195733 0.0000502 0.0372871 0.0052375 0.0000296 0.0038482 0.0029777 0.0035385 0.0967088 0.0033239 0.0029096 0.0069480 0.0000758 0.2322589 0.0022715 0.0100409

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 0.7498071 0.0391183 0.0129371 0.1484063 0.0000793 0.0001734 0.3965460 1.0000000 0.0001749 0.0219748 0.0012117 0.7295089 0.0776546 0.0754933 0.0479373 0.0031813 0.1782739 0.0761949 0.0012862

0.7583071 0.0411483 0.0194371 0.1501963 0.0000798 0.0002334 0.4040460 1.0000000 0.0001949 0.0459748 0.0018467 0.7405089 0.0784376 O.0761333 0.0484873 0.0034013 0.1842739 0.0776449 0.0013862

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

Transfer Rate (Per 1000) 284.900 374.300 436.800 282.400 2.890 5.235 41.170 2.270 3.643 6.910 2.896 758.650 77.640 76.130



Stalled Qatar deal leaves EFG Hermes in limbo

DUBAI: EFG Hermes is in a strategic limbo. The Middle East’s top investment bank was to spin off part of its assets in a merger with Qatar’s QInvest. The Egyptian regulator, though, appears reluctant to make a decision until accusations of corruption against the bank’s co-CEOs are resolved. With bankers betting the deal has been sunk by politics, EFG must now focus on closing the discount to the sum of its parts on its own. The QInvest-EFG deal was driven by a desire to salvage as much value as possible from the bank following the uprising that precipitated the end of the Mubarak autocracy two years ago. The ties between EFG’s executives and the old regime have weighed heavily on the bank since. Its shares slumped 62 percent - almost three

times the decline of the local index. Analysts estimate that EFG now trades at a discount of between 20 and 30 percent to the sum of its parts. The bulk of EFG’s value is split between two disparate divisions. Its majority stake in commercial bank Credit Libanais, acquired in 2010, contributes roughly 62 percent of the group’s revenue. The investment bank brings in the remaining 38 percent. There are limited synergies between the two branches, but Credit Libanais’ stable business kept EFG profitable until the last quarter, when the Egyptian lender recorded a net loss. EFG also has a private equity unit and a minority stake in local real estate developer SODIC. A breakup and sale of those assets

would make sense if QInvest’s bid to buy the investment banking assets got a green light from the authorities. EFG did not exercise its option to buy a further 25 percent of Credit Libanais last year. Now, off loading a Lebanese bank at an attractive valuation may be hard, given the renewed political crisis in Beirut. Without the regulator’s blessing, EFG has little option but to cut costs aggressively. The firm is well capitalised, with a debtfree balance sheet. The problem is that it will take time before the business outlook improves in Egypt. EFG has already cut its operating expenses 20 percent since the uprising. Keeping its independence will be a challenge. Egypt’s EFG Hermes, the Middle East’s

top investment bank, confirmed on April 7 that its joint venture agreement with Qatar’s QInvest will lapse on May 3 unless it gets regulatory approval from the Egyptian regulator. “If EFG does not receive a “no objection” from the (Egyptian Financial Supervisory) Authority in the coming days, it will be difficult to implement the joint venture agreement,” EFG said in a statement. The transaction would move EFG’s brokerage, research, asset management, investment banking and infrastructure businesses into a joint venture 60 percent owned by QInvest. QInvest would inject $250 million into the joint venture and have the right to buy the remaining 40 percent over a period of 12 to 36 months after

the close of the transaction for $165 million or a fair market valuation. Shareholders would receive a one-off dividend of 4 Egyptian pounds ($0.58) per share after the deal closes, which was originally expected in the third quarter of 2012. EFG recorded a net profit loss of 21 million Egyptian pounds during the fourth quarter, driven by losses at the investment bank. The bank’s co-chief executives, Hassan Heikal and Yasser El Mallwany, face allegations of insider trading relating to Al Watany Bank in 2007. The board of EFG has previously stated its full support in the firm’s CEOs. Shares in EFG have fallen 29 percent since it agreed the QInvest deal in May last year, compared to a 4 percent rise in the benchmark index. —Reuters

Pakistan’s booming market no black and white matter Karachi market one of world’s best performers

GREENSBURG: A pumping unit sucks oil from the ground near Greensburg, Kan. Propelled by improving technology, high global oil prices and the continued exploitation of enormous reserves in several Western states and in the Gulf of Mexico, US domestic oil production is surging so fast, that it could soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest producer. —AP

Oil eases below $106, US crude stocks swell LONDON: Oil eased below $106 a barrel yesterday after US crude oil stocks swelled to the highest level in more than two decades and dented the outlook for demand in the world’s top consumer. Data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed a sharp rise of 5.1 million barrels in crude inventories last week, far higher than forecasts of a 1.5 million-barrel rise. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) later could show a rise of 1.4 million barrels, according to a Reuters poll of analysts. Brent crude futures slid 61 cents to $105.62 a barrel by 1221 GMT, while US crude fell 55 cents to $93.65. “The actual physical demand, as evident from the wet barrels market, remains subdued,” said VTB Capital oil and commodities strategist Andrey Kryuchenkov. OPEC noted the weaker consumption by marking down its forecast for global growth in oil demand in 2013. The move by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries in a monthly report follows a similar downward revision by the EIA. “After a few days of short covering the oil complex is starting today’s session on the defensive after a bearish API fundamental snapshot along with a weak demand projection by the EIA,” said Dominick Chirichella of Energy Management Institute. “The fundamentals are becoming more bearish but the technicals are improving slightly.” Oil had been supported earlier in the session by China’s import growth and simmering tension in Iran and North Korea. China’s total imports surged in March, suggesting recovery in the world’s No 2 oil

consumer was gathering momentum. Chinese imports grew 14.1 percent in March, while exports climbed 10 percent, relieving concerns over the subdued import growth of previous months. Crude imports slipped 2.1 percent from a year ago, in line with market expectations. ECONOMIC SIGNALS Some analysts said the accelerating restocking process in some industries and a favorable base effect from a year ago may have flattered China’s March imports, which otherwise remain constrained by falling global commodity prices and a slowerthan-expected upturn in investment demand. Export growth in coming months may not be able to match the pace of January and February, even if the recovering global economy continues to bolster demand for goods from Chinese factories, they added. The annual dip in crude imports did not surprise the market as some state-run refineries started planned overhauls and crude runs at independent refineries also declined on poor margins. Diplomatic worries over North Korea and Iran also checked losses. Tension in the Korean peninsula escalated after North Korea moved one long-range missile in readiness for a possible launch and South Korea said it had raised its surveillance. Iran, which is engaged in a dispute with Western nations over its nuclear program, said it had begun operations at two uranium mines and a milling plant after weekend talks to resolve the dispute ended in stalemate. —Reuters

Iran fuel oil exports rise more than 12%

SINGAPORE: Iran exported nearly 18 million barrels of fuel oil in the first quarter, or around 200,000 barrels per day, an increase of nearly 12.5 percent from the previous quarter, according to traders and data from Thomson Reuters Oil Analytics. The figures show that Iran’s fuel oil exports remain healthy despite tougher Western sanctions aimed at restraining the country’s nuclear ambitions, although the measures have more than halved its exports of crude oil over the past year. Iran’s market-savvy officials and Gulfbased middlemen have adopted creative strategies to get around the sanctions, from using shipto-ship transfers, to discharging and loading at remote ports and blending Iran’s fuel oil with other fuels to hide its origin. Sales of fuel oil through direct sales agreements between the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and buyers were pegged at 7.8 million barrels, according to at least one Iran-based shipping source familiar with the country’s fuel oil exports. Average monthly exports through direct sales between January and March were 2.6 million barrels, or 86,666 barrels per day (bpd), with exports dispatched from the country’s largest oil export terminal at Kharg Island, the source said. “We are seeing roughly steady shipments from Kharg Island monthly, it’s done in 2 or 3 shipments,” said the Tehran-based source, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the Iran oil export data. Iran’s first-quarter total exports of fuel oil rose around 74 percent from the corresponding period in the previous year and were up nearly 79 percent over the same quarter in 2011, Reuters data showed. According to Thomson Reuters Oil Analytics, Iran’s total fuel oil exports were 9.8 million barrels, or 108,888 bpd, in the first quarter of 2011 versus the 17.55

million barrels in the same quarter this year. INDIRECT SALES First-quarter indirect sales of Iranian fuel oil, which is oil resold to independent trading companies based outside Iran, totaled about 9.75 million barrels. Exports were carried out mostly through ship-to-ship (STS) transfers just inside international waters, the source said. “NIOC fills up the large supertankers at Kharg Island, and once they are fully laden, they move into international waters for the transfer operations,” said one shipping source familiar with the operations. “There is no way of tracking these ships, their radars are turned off, and the daughter vessel is usually an old junk.” Most Iranian cargoes were destined for Singapore, Asia’s largest trading and blending hub, and Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the world’s top bunkering hubs. Such sales are supported by tankers assigned specifically to shuttle into export terminals such as Bandar Abbas and Bandar Mahshahr to load the oil and then re-export it via ship-to-ship transfers outside the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), sources said. Some cargoes were bought by Middle East traders involved in marine fuel sales and the rest was sold to buyers in Southeast Asia and North Asia, traders familiar with the purchases said. “Redocumentation of the cargoes takes place throughout the supply flow chain, and by the time it gets to the discharge port, the origin of the oil is untraceable,” a trader said. “Along the way some blending takes place and the molecules change, so the structure of the oil gets altered and it becomes harder for anyone to really say definitively that this oil came from Iran.” —Reuters

KARACHI: Pakistan’s chaotic financial heart is home to 18 million people, Taleban bombers, contract killers and one of the world’s most successful stock markets. With 49 percent returns in 2012, the Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) was one of the five best performing markets in the world. Now it is seeking a foreign partner to buy a stake and take over management of a market that has risen three-fold over the past four years. At least some of that performance came on the back of a government amnesty that allowed people holding undeclared assets or “black money” to invest it freely in the market. And the relatively illiquid market has also been vulnerable to manipulation. But government officials say the market’s success highlights the economic potential of a country better known for spiraling sectarian violence, the war against Al-Qaeda and the Taleban, crippling power cuts and entrenched corruption. The market’s benchmark index continues to soar to record highs-up 10.34 percent year to date-fueled in part by expectations May elections will mark Pakistan’s first transfer of power from one democratic government to another. For foreigners, an 11 percent depreciation of the Pakistani rupee against the dollar since the start of the year has offset those gains. “Pakistan has a lot to offer investors and this is our chance to show it,” said Nadeem Naqvi, the KSE chairman. He plans to embark on a series of roadshows for potential foreign partners that will take him to London, Frankfurt and Hong Kong in the coming months. Many of the companies listed on the KSE offer double-digit returns, low stock prices and resilient business models in this frontier market with a population of 180 million. The index still has an attractive price/earnings ratio of 8.50 despite the soaring returns of the past few years. Pakistan now has a 4 percent weighting in the MSCI Frontiers Market Index and has become somewhat of a discovery for foreign investors chasing new markets and yields. THE SEAMIER SIDE But the KSE’s spectacular rise last year can at least be partly attributed to another factor entirely - the cleansing of “black money”. The market took off last year just as a government decree was finalized allowing people to buy stocks with no questions asked about the source of the cash. Average daily volume more than doubled last year to 173 million shares from 79 million in 2011. Authorities say the measure will bring undocumented funds into the tax net in a country where few pay taxes. But some critics decried it as a gift to corrupt officials and criminals seeking to launder dirty cash. “Politics and dirty money go hand in hand in Pakistan,” said Dr Ikramul Haq, a Supreme Court lawyer and a professor on tax law. “People want to be outside the regulatory framework and outside the tax net.” The black money amnesty also drew attention to the seamier side of the Karachi stock market. Interviews with regulators, brokers, market officials and analysts showed insider trading and other manipulations are routine. Regulators have been largely ineffectual in controlling the shady practices. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) said it found 23 violations of securities laws that

merited fines in fiscal year 2011-12 (April/March). The market regulator sent warning letters in another 19 cases, it said in its annual report. ( That’s a drop in the bucket, says Ashraf Tiwana, dismissed as head of SECP’s legal department after years of clashes with his bosses over fraud in the market. He has petitioned the Supreme Court to replace the SECP chairman and commissioners. “There’s a lot of fraud, a lot of market manipulation ... but not enough action has been taken, especially not enough criminal action has been taken,” Tiwana said. “They’re just passing small fines and giving out warning letters.” Regulators are too close to the market, Tiwana said. The head of the stock exchange is a former broker and the two top members of the SECP are former employees of Aqeel Karim Dhedhi, founder of one of the country’s biggest brokerage houses. BIG DHEDHI Nicknamed “Big Dhedhi” for his ability to move markets, Aqeel Karim Dhedhi heads one of Pakistan’s largest domestic conglomerates, the AKD Group. Lately, the well-known philanthropist and leading member of Pakistan’s business establishment has been trying to fend off arrest over allegations of insider trading. An SECP investigator accused traders, including Dhedhi’s brokerage, of buying shares in a state-run Sui Southern Gas Co before an official announcement allowing the company to raise its prices. In the weeks before Sui Southern’s announcement, the stock price jumped from 13.5 rupees to 20 rupees, its biggest hike in five years. The National Accountability Bureau, the state-run anti-corruption agency, called it a case of insider trading. But the SECP said its own confidential investigation showed no evidence of fraud. The SECP whistleblower in the case has been suspended from her job for disclosing “confidential information”. Dhedhi strongly denied any wrongdoing and said he purchased his gas stocks years before the announcement. “There is nothing there. The (SECP) report totally cleared us,” said Dhedhi, a burly man wearing a traditional long cotton shirt and baggy pants. “I’m proud to say that in more than 40 years of operating, we’ve never paid a penny in fines.” Dhedhi says he often offers advice to government officials on financial policy. His business empire includes two equity funds that were among the best performing in Asia in 2012. “The SECP has really started listening to the market,” Dhedhi said, a suited executive acting as translator. REVOLVING DOOR Dhedhi remains under investigation. But even if regulators were to find him guilty of insider trading, past practice shows he would likely get a slap on the wrist. The SECP’s fines are almost always a fraction above the amount of money made in the stock manipulation, and sometimes even less. In December, a broker was fined half the amount he made from trades that manipulated the share price of tobacco giant Philip Morris. In February, the SECP fined Pakistani brokerage BMA Capital $500,000 - after it made $460,000 by misleading a foreign client. BMA Capital has appealed. Imtiaz Haider, the SECP commissioner in charge of

market regulation, acknowledged fines were largely symbolic. If they were too high, he said, brokers might not be willing to pay them. Contesting fines in the congested court system could take years. “The purpose is more to name and shame,” Haider said in an interview. “It causes them reputational damage.” Like KSE Chairman Nadeem Naqvi, Haider is a former employee of Dhedhi’s. Both men denied any conflict of interest. “It’s important to have people in charge who know the way markets work,” Haider said. “I’ve had lots of other jobs than just working for Dhedhi.” The SECP can revoke licenses, impose hefty fines, or open criminal cases against offenders. But it almost never does. It has launched only 10 criminal cases in the past five years - all still held up in the judicial backlog. It has issued dozens of small fines. “We have great laws and regulations but they are not properly enforced,” said Khalid Mirza, a former SECP chief. “The SECP is just catching the small fish as far as I can see.” Naqvi, the KSE head, acknowledged his priority has been to boost the market, not to crack down on it. “My management style isn’t confrontational because I want to build confidence in the market,” he said. Separating the commercial and the regulatory functions of the market is one of the main reasons the KSE is looking for a foreign partner. It has appointed Deutsche Bank as its advisor on its quest to demutualise - a process that will separate those two functions. “Demutualisation is another step on the road to reform,” Naqvi said. “Right now we have a fairly robust system. But I’m not saying its foolproof.” BLACK TO WHITE The Karachi market’s small size and lack of liquidity make it vulnerable to manipulation. Market capitalization is only $41.5 billion - the Bombay stock market’s capitalization is more than 10 times higher at $578 billion. Only a quarter of the shares are freely floated about 30 percent of that is held by foreign funds and investors, including Franklin Templeton, Invesco Ltd, Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Mackenzie Financial Corporation. Since only 60 of KSE’s 600 listed companies trade regularly, small trades can rapidly make a big difference in a company’s share price. Boosting volumes on the exchange was one of the intentions behind Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s decree last April turning black money into white. It said no questions could be asked by the Federal Board of Revenue about the source of funds invested in stocks till July 2014. The investments become legally legitimate. The pool of such funds is potentially huge. A report by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime projected the size of Pakistan’s informal or “black” economy at $34 billion in 2010-11, one-fifth of the formal economy. The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force, which monitors money laundering, said the decree did not contravene Pakistan’s existing anti-money laundering legislation. But anecdotal evidence suggests controls are lax. In one case shown to Reuters by a lawyer, a man invested $10 million buying stocks in a single transaction. His address: a Karachi slum notorious for Taleban infiltration. —Reuters

India car sales shrink Once red-hot market shrinks for first time in decade

NEW DELHI: India’s once red-hot car market shrank for the first time in a decade in the last financial year, data showed yesterday, underlining the scale of the slowdown in Asia’s third-biggest economy. Domestic passenger car sales, seen as a pointer to overall economic health, fell by 6.7 percent in the year to March 2013 from a year earlier to 1.89 million units, said the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). Sales are expected to grow in the next 12 months but only by three-to-five percent, a far cry from the record 30-percent rise in 2010-11, SIAM said. “The basic problem has been the big downturn in the economy and high interest rates,” SIAM deputy director general Sugato Sen said. March sales alone contracted 22.5 percent year-on-year, raising questions about large investments by foreign auto giants, which are building new plant capacity. US giant Ford, for instance, has earmarked nearly $1 billion to build a plant in the western state of Gujarat that will have capacity to make 240,000 cars a year by 2014. GM, Toyota Motor Corp and Maruti Suzuki have also been boosting capacity to meet what they hoped would be big growth in a market that could equal China’s and would offset weakness in the developed world. But India’s top carmaker, Japanese-controlled Maruti, has been forced to temporarily shut some production to cut their ballooning inventories, while new investment is already slowing, analysts say. The figures came as more bad news for the leftleaning government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh which faces voters in national elections next year with the economy growing at its slowest pace in a decade. Meanwhile, China’s sales have moved back into the fast lane with total sales of passenger cars, sport-utility vehicles, multi-purpose vehicles and minivans up 15 percent in March, according to state media. India’s annual car sales performance was a sharp reversal from SIAM’s 10-to-12 percent growth forecast at the outset of last year. “These figures have disappointed all our earlier forecasts-there has been a reversal in buying behav-

ior,” Sen said. The last time annual car sales shrank was in 2002-03 when sales contracted 7.7 percent. Car buyers are being bombarded with “buy now, pay later” interest-free repayments and double-digit discounts as sellers battle to perk up demand. But consumers are being “cautious, postponing purchases, hoping for much lower interest rates and for the general mood to improve”, Fortune Equity Brokers analyst Mahantesh Sabarad said. The economy is estimated to have grown by five percent last year, hit by high interest rates that have slowed investment and demand and weak exports, and the Congress-led government expects around six percent growth this year. Passenger vehicle sales of Suzuki Maruti rose 4.4 percent to 1.05 million units in the last financial year.

Many foreign carmakers had a bad year with passenger vehicle sales of Italy’s Fiat sliding by 57 percent, Germany’s Volkswagen India slipping by 16 percent, Ford declining by 17 percent and General Motors dropping by 20 percent French carmaker Renault, which re-entered India’s market just two years back, was a rare bright spot, selling 52,463 passenger vehicles, a rise of 1,331 percent, helped by the popularity of its wallet-friendly $14,300 Duster SUV. “Ultimately, with this country’s population size (of 1.2 billion people), incomes growing, the low penetration of vehicles in this country-the future is very bright for the industry-that is a given fact,” SIAM president S Sandilya told a news conference. SIAM says the number of cars per 1,000 people in India is just 12. —AFP

NEW DELHI: Potential customers look at Indian made Tata cars at a showroom in New Delhi yesterday. —AFP



BoJ to keep printing money for as long as needed Bank of Japan ready to keep stimulus TOKYO: Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said yesterday that the bank was resolved to keep printing money for as long as needed to achieve 2 percent inflation, signaling his readiness to offer further stimulus or maintain an ultra-easy policy beyond two years if meeting the target by then proves difficult. Barely two weeks into the job, Kuroda stunned global markets in his maiden BOJ policy review on April 4, announcing monetary easing measures of an unprecedented scale. Speaking to journalists days later, he suggested there would be no additional stimulus given in coming months. The central bank, he told a group interview, must take time scrutinizing the effect of last week’s bold action. “Our belief is that we took all nec-

essary steps to achieve the 2 percent inflation target basically in two years. We’ll examine the effect each month but that doesn’t mean we will adjust policy every month,” Kuroda said. The BOJ last week unleashed the world’s most intense burst of monetary stimulus, pledging to inject about $1.4 trillion into the economy in less than two years, marking a radical shift from the previous approach of incremental action. The massive scale of the stimulus pushed the yen near a four-year low against the dollar and Japan’s Nikkei share average to a nearly fiveyear closing high. But the BOJ’s plan to buy 7.5 trillion yen ($76 billion) of bonds each month-about 1.4 percent of Japan’s gross domestic product-have jolted bond prices with the 10-year yield rebounding to

0.555 percent yesterday from a record low of 0.315 percent last week. Kuroda said the bond market reaction was understandable given the scale of the BOJ’s action, but that he will monitor price moves carefully. He said he was confident the latest measures were enough to achieve the BOJ’s 2 percent inflation target in roughly two years, but signaled readiness to keep pumping money aggressively for longer if the target is not achieved by then. “The key is to achieve the 2 percent inflation target. We have in mind a timeframe of roughly two years, but we’ll take necessary steps until the target is met,” he said. A former top currency diplomat and a vocal advocate of aggressive monetary action, Kuroda was chosen by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to head the BOJ with

a mandate to steer the bank along a bolder course to beat deflation than the one taken under his cautious predecessor Masaaki Shirakawa. The measures unveiled by Kuroda last week won praise from Abe’s government as fulfilling the premier’s relentless pursuit of what he described as a “regime” change in economic policy. Kuroda said the BOJ’s stance that its monetary stimulus aims to beat deflation, not deliberately weaken the yen, would be explained to Group of 20 finance leaders meeting in Washington next week. Japan’s move won cautious endorsements from the head of the International Monetary Fund and some Federal Reserve policymakers, who said it could help economies around the world. —Reuters

Bank of Japan (BOJ) Governor Haruhiko Kuroda

China data, BOJ plan lifts shares; Yen dips LONDON: Strong Chinese import data and Japan’s economic stimulus package helped to lift world equity markets to a one-week high yesterday and sent the yen to a threeyear low against the euro. Wall Street was poised to set fresh records when it opens with the broad S&P 500 index just half a percentage point away from its all-time high and stock index futures pointing up. Sentiment was lifted by trade data from China that showed a surprisingly sharp surge in imports, seen as a signal that the domestic demand needed to drive a recovery in the world’s second largest economy was gathering pace. The data boosted mining and basic resources stocks, and supported industrial commodities including oil, aluminum and nickel. However, some analysts said slow export growth in the data left a more mixed picture on the global economic outlook. “Exports to the US and Europe were a bit disappointing, so on the whole, I would say it’s more a mixed bag than a very positive bag of data.” said Adrian van Tiggelen, senior investment specialist at ING Investment Management. The MSCI all-world share index,, which tracks stocks in 45 countries, rose 0.5 percent to its highest level since April 3 while Japan’s key Nikkei index ended 0.7 percent higher at its highest close since August 2008. The gains also followed Wall Street’s strong session on Tuesday when the Dow Jones industrial average posted a record closing high as investors were encouraged by a promising start to the earnings season. Europe’s FTSEurofirst 300 index had risen by about one percent by midday, while across the region London’s FTSE 100 , the Paris CAC-40 and Frankfurt’s DAX rose by 0.8 to 1.2 percent. European markets were also bolstered by growing hopes of an interest rate cut by the European Central Bank, and signs of progress in dealing with the region’s debt crisis after international lenders said Ireland and Portugal should get more time to repay their bailout loans. Recent weakness in US jobs data has also increased expectations that minutes from the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy meeting, due out at 1800 GMT, will show the central bank sticking with its aggressive monetary easing policy. EURO FIRMS In the currency markets, the yen hit a more than three-year low against the euro and edged closer to 100 to the dollar as it extended a slide triggered by the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) massive monetary easing plan unveiled last Thursday. The euro is being supported by speculation that Japanese investors, looking for higher returns as the BOJ action depresses domestic yields, may turn to euro-zone bonds. “ There is some talk that people are dumping Japanese assets and hunting for yields (with euro-zone assets), and it is probably on the back of this the euro has been supported,” said Vasileios Gkionakis, global head of FX strategy at UniCredit. The

common currency was up 0.4 percent against the yen to about 130 yen and reached a one-month high against a mostly steady dollar of around $1.31. The greenback also rose against the yen, gaining 0.3 percent to 99.35 yen but was being held back from making further gains by large currency options close to the 100 mark. These options contracts have generated demand from banks to buy the yen and sell dollars to protect their exposure, and once they expire the dollar could surge. Comments from Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda, indicating that the central bank had taken all necessary steps for now to achieve its inflation target, helped the yen recover some of its losses during European trading. The dollar has jumped around 7 percent against the yen since Thursday ’s BOJ announcement that it would pump about $1.4 trillion into the economy and double Japan’s monetary base in two years to defeat deflation. YIELD HUNT The prospect of huge purchases of Japanese government bonds (JGBs) by the BOJ is seen as likely to send investors on a hunt for higher returns in assets denominated in currencies other than the rapidlyweakening yen. Japanese government bond futures fell so sharply yesterday that the Tokyo Stock Exchange had to halt trading briefly while the 10-year cash bond yield rose to a four-week high. However, highly-rated euro-zone bond yields, which have fallen on the hopes of Japanese demand, recovered from their lows when a wave of newly-issued bonds absorbed much of the buying. Around 9 billion euros’ worth of top-rated debt was sold, adding to 14 billion euros of bonds issued on Tuesday. The US Treasury also plans to sell $21 billion in 10-year notes later and will sell $13 billion of 30-year bonds today. US T-note yields were 1.7 basis points higher on the day at 1.76 percent, while German 10-year yields were 2 basis points higher at 1.28 percent. GEOPOLITICAL TENSIONS In the oil market the signs of a strengthening Chinese economy added to support from geopolitical concerns, especially growing tension on the Korean peninsula and in the Middle East. North Korea, which has threatened war, has moved a longrange missile in readiness for a possible test launch while Iran, engaged in a dispute with Western nations over its nuclear program, said it had begun operations at two uranium mines. However signs of growing oil stockpiles were weighing on crude prices, leaving Brent futures down 0.5 percent at $105.65 per barrel. US crude fell 0.55 percent to $93.65 a barrel. Industrial metals, meanwhile, were adding to recent gains, helped by the improving trade data from top consumer China. Aluminum rose 0.25 percent to $1,923.75 a ton, zinc added 0.5 percent to $1,930, lead gained 0.9 percent to $2,108 and tin edged up 0.02 percent to $22,975. —Reuters

QINGDAO: Shipping containers are transported in a port in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong province yesterday. China recorded a rare trade deficit in March as imports exceeded exports by $880 million. —AFP



Gulf tinkers with energy waste, neglects basic causes GCC steps up energy-saving efforts

DUBAI: From high-tech skyscrapers in the United Arab Emirates to energy-saving lessons for Saudi school children, the Gulf is stepping up efforts to curb its rampant use - and waste - of energy. But it is still mostly failing to get to grips with the root causes of high fuel consumption. Ultra-low, often subsidized prices for gasoline and electricity give residents little incentive to switch to fuel-efficient cars from gas-guzzling SUVs, or reduce their use of air conditioning in one of the world’s hottest climates. At the same time, countries’ efforts to develop their economies beyond oil are leading them into energy-intensive industries such as aluminum smelting. In both cases, domestic political pressures in the wake of the uprisings across the Arab world appear to be making a solution more distant. Eager to minimize social discontent and provide jobs for their citizens, Gulf governments are hesitating to raise fuel prices or curb industrial projects. “Some of them are considering price increases, but price increases are extremely sensitive in the region,” said Laura El-Katiri, an analyst who specializes in Gulf energy economics at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies in Britain. “The UAE are a bit different, especially Dubai and the northern emirates, simply because they can’t afford it. Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait they can afford it.” EFFICIENCY While fast-growing economies such as

China and India have squeezed more production out of every unit of energy they have used over the last three decades, energy consumption in the Middle East has outpaced gross domestic product growth, according to the World Energy Council. Saudi Arabia is only the world’s 20th biggest economy but is now the sixth biggest consumer of oil. It produced less than $3.70 of economic output for every kilogram of oil equivalent that it used in 2010, compared to the world average of $6.20, the World Bank said. The inefficiency is troubling to Gulf governments not so much because of environmental pollution, but because it threatens to reduce how much oil and gas they have available to export over coming years. Saudi Arabia burned record volumes of crude oil last summer, because of lowerthan-expected gas supplies for power generation, while Dubai and Kuwait are increasingly reliant on gas imports to meet demand. Over the last couple of years, energy conservation efforts have started to become a significant part of public policy. In 2012, Saudi Arabia set minimum efficiency standards for air conditioners and windows, and launched a campaign to educate primary school children and housewives about energy efficiency. Street signs and government text messages to mobile phones remind people not to leave the air conditioning on all day. Some new skyscrapers going up in cities

such as Doha and Abu Dhabi are designed with energy consumption in mind; one technology is facades which shield windows from direct sunlight, reducing the need for air conditioning. Government-backed investors are also tackling the supply side. Shams 1, a 100megawatt solar power plant that opened in the desert of Abu Dhabi in March, is by far the biggest in a region that lags the world in solar power. “Shams 1 is a strategic investment in our country’s economic, social and environmental prosperity,” UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed AlNahayan said when the plant opened. A nuclear power plant being built in Abu Dhabi and a series of solar and nuclear plants planned by Saudi Arabia over the next couple of decades may also limit growth of oil use. LIVING STANDARDS But such efforts remain far from offsetting basic factors behind the Gulf’s surging energy consumption. Rising populations are combining with rising living standards to produce a surge of energy demand. The link between living standards and energy use can be seen in the distribution of demand. Saudi Arabia, which despite its wealth has millions of poorer citizens who consume relatively little, is the 15th biggest per capita energy consumer in the world, according to the World Bank. Other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which have small populations of local

citizens and few poor among them, rank higher: Qatar is third, Kuwait fourth and the United Arab Emirates seventh. Much of the Gulf’s money is going into energyintensive projects such as golf courses, plush hotels, sprawling shopping malls and museums to showcase national wealth and achievements. Trying to restrain such projects is probably beyond the political will, as well as the administrative ability, of any Gulf government. Meanwhile, governments recognize they need to diversify their economies beyond oil exports to prepare for the day when oil reserves start to run out or global oil prices fall sharply. Some efforts to diversify are worsening energy efficiency. Because fuel is so cheap, it makes good business sense to go into heavy industries such as aluminum smelting and petrochemical refining. But while such projects are competing successfully in international markets, they are consuming a growing share of domestic energy supplies. In Saudi Arabia, “energy consumption is growing faster than GDP, resulting in increasing energy intensities, which is contrary to the general trend observed in most countries,” Swiss-based engineering giant ABB report said in a report. “This increasing trend is due to the fact that the country’s development is based on energy-intensive industries, as well as on energy-intensive lifestyles in buildings and transport, encouraged by low energy prices.”

Such analyses suggest raising domestic energy prices, through steps such as taxing gasoline and increasing electricity tariffs, are vital to encourage energy efficiency in the Gulf. But here politics intervene. In 2010, the UAE government hiked the domestic gasoline price to 1.72 dirhams ($0.47) per litre to cut the burden of subsidies on public finances and promote efficiency. Authorities considered further hikes. But after the Arab Spring uprisings began in the following year, such plans were put on hold, and a government advisory council even proposed cutting gasoline prices. Gasoline is even cheaper in Saudi Arabia, but there are no signs of any plan for an increase. Oman announced plans in early 2013 to double its industrial gas price to $3 per million British thermal units by 2015, but that will still be a fraction of prices paid in most countries. Street protests in Jordan after the government there raised fuel prices last November were a reminder of the potential political costs of removing subsidies. The reaction might not be as strong in the Gulf but governments do not want to run the risk of public discontent. Meanwhile, demand for air conditioning, and therefore energy consumed by it, may continue rising in coming decades because of climate trend. The British government’s Met Office Hadley Centre predicts average temperature increases of around 3.5-4 degrees Celsius by 2100 across the Arabian Peninsula. —Reuters

Saudi’s top bank Al Rajhi Q1 profit rises 2 percent RIYADH: Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Arabia’s largest listed lender, posted a 2 percent increase in its firstquarter net profit yesterday, helped by a jump in both lending and customer deposits portfolio. The bank made a net profit of 2.05 billion riyals ($546.6 million) in the three months ending March 31, compared with 2.01 billion riyals in the same period a year earlier, it said in a statement to the Saudi bourse. Nine analysts surveyed by Reuters expected the bank to post, on average, 2.03 billion riyals for the first quarter. Two other Saudi lenders, Saudi Hollandi Bank and Saudi British Bank (SABB) beat estimates for

first-quarter net profit on Monday. Al Rajhi attributed its profit growth to higher operating income, without giving more details. Saudi banks typically do not comment on their performance until they publish more detailed results later in the quarter. Operating income for the quarter rose by 3 percent to 3.53 billion riyals. Total financing at the end of the first quarter stood at 180 billion riyals, gaining 18.4 percent on the same point of 2012, although it added that its figures for financing, assets and customer deposits had been reclassified, without elaborating. Bank lending in Saudi Arabia dipped from

December’s 14-month high in the first two months of 2013 but growth was still 13.4 percent and 12 percent year-on-year in January and February respectively. In a March 26 research note, Dubai-based Arqaam Capital said loan growth at Al Rajhi should be around 17 percent in 2013, with deposits increasing by around 16 percent over the course of the year. Customer deposits stood at 232 billion riyals on March 31, up 20.8 percent on the same point last year. Al Rajhi’s total assets were worth 276 billion riyals at the end of the first quarter, up 18 percent on the same point of 2012. —Reuters

Burgan Bank announces its Value Account draw winner

NBK’s International symposium discusses ‘Navigating Global Risks’

KUWAIT: Mohamed El-Erian, William Rhodes, Josef Ackermann, Martin Feldstein and Edward Morse, all members of National Bank of Kuwait’s (NBK) International Advisory Board, will discuss ‘Navigating Global Risks’ at NBK’s International Symposium this week. The world-renowned experts will offer insight into the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis. The debate includes economic, regulatory, legislative and energy issues. El-Erian, is the CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, the global investment management firm with $2.0 trillion of assets under management. He was recently

appointed by President Barak Obama as the Chairman of his Council for International Development, USA. Rhodes, a Senior Advisor for Citigroup, was senior vice chairman and senior international officer of Citigroup and Citibank. He gained a reputation for international financial diplomacy in the 1980s as a result of his leadership in helping manage the external-debt crisis that involved developing nations and their creditors worldwide. Ackermann, Chairman of Zurich Insurance Group, Switzerland and Former Chairman of Deutsche Bank Group, started his career at

Schweizerische Kreditanstalt (SKA) in 1977. In 1990, he was appointed to the executive board of SKA, becoming its president in 1993. Feldstein, President Emeritus of NBER Professor of Economics, Harvard University, was Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and President Reagan’s chief economic adviser. Morse, Managing Director, Global Head of Commodity Research at Citigroup, previously worked at Lehman Brothers, Louis Capital Markets and Credit Suisse. He is a contributor to journals and was most recently ranked 23rd among the “Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2012” by Foreign

Policy. NBK regularly invites world-recognized authorities on energy, economics and politics to Kuwait as part of its International Symposium series. Past speakers include former US Presidents George HW Bush and Bill Clinton, former Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, former US Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, Daniel Yergin, author Author of the acclaimed work, The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power which won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize and G30 Chairman and former President of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet.

Total signs agreement with Kuwait University

KUWAIT: Students at Kuwait University’s College of Engineering & Petroleum now have further opportunities to gain firsthand industry knowledge with the signing of a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the university and TOTAL. The MoU, which was signed by today at dean meeting room, provides the opportunity for selected qualified students to access scholarships and internships, along with the chance to participate in specially designed conferences on about oil and gas, chemical and petrochemical science and

energy technology. Furthermore, it opens the door for the organization of specific courses as well as lectures and conferences related to the oil and gas industry. This initiative is part of TOTAL’s on-going commitment to fostering partnerships with leading universities, which develop local human capital and contribute to further economic growth in its host countries. TOTAL, through these targeted initiatives, also seeks to fulfill its anticipated human resource needs by ensuring the sufficient availability of qual-

ified recruits in its key markets. Established in 1966, Kuwait University is the country’s first public research university. Its College of Petroleum & Engineering awards Bachelors of Engineering degrees in Chemical, Civil, Computer, Electrical, Industrial & Management Systems, Mechanical and Petroleum Engineering, and Architecture, and offers graduate programs in Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Computer and Petroleum Engineering. “At TOTAL, education is one of our highest priorities,” said Lionel Levha, TOTAL’s General Manager in Kuwait. “We are fully committed to facilitating economic and human development in our host countries, while broadening knowledge access and fostering diverse and valuable talent. By partnering with Kuwait University, we seek to empower and nurture students by deepening their knowledge of the industry and developing the many skillsets that the energy sector will require over the coming years.” TOTAL is the world’s fifth-largest publicly traded international oil company and is a leading chemicals producer. The company has operations in more than 130 markets and employs a staff of over 96,000. It currently conducts exploration and production operations in more than 40 countries across the globe.

KUWAIT: Burgan Bank yesterday announced Paul Tukalan Kurian as the winner of the Burgan Value Account draw. The lucky winner took home cash prize equivalent to KD4000. Burgan Bank ’s Value Account presents a range of benefits that are unique to the Kuwaiti market. It is an account that is dedicated to expatriates and offers a credit card and an attractive range of exchange rates during remitting money back home from Al Muzzaini

Exchange Company. Also the quarterly draw entitles a lucky customer to win cash prize equivalent to KD4000. Burgan Bank online banking offers account holders the flexibility to transfer money, pay credit card outstanding amounts and much more. Opening a Value account is simple, just visit your nearest Burgan Bank branch and get all the details. Or simply call our Call Center 1804080 and our executive will be more than happy to assist you.

Gulf Bank’s ‘We Promise’ extends to online services KUWAIT: Gulf Bank has announced that it is to extend its ‘We Promise’ campaign to its online services. From April 11th 2013, Gulf Bank customers using the Bank’s website will be able to experience the best and fastest banking services in Kuwait for a wide range of products and services, starting with loans and credit card applications, all from the comfort of their own office, home or even via their mobile phones. Vikram Issar, Gulf Bank’s General Manager, Consumer Banking Group said: “The ‘We Promise’ campaign is all about offering the fastest banking services in Kuwait to our customers. Thanks to our continued investment in new technology, we are now very pleased that we can make these same unique commitments to our online customers. We invite all our customers to experience the online benefits of the “We Promise” campaign by logging on to for credit card applications and for loan applications and following the quick and straight forward process for applications.” Customers can view Gulf Bank’s ‘We Promise’ campaign and receive the latest updates on the program by joining Gulf Bank’s Facebook page at, or following, or by subscribing to For further

Vikram Issar assistance or guidance, customers are encouraged to visit the Bank’s website at, call the Customer Contact Center on 1805805, or visit one of Gulf Bank’s 56 branches.

EU to tighten up trade defenses BRUSSELS: The European Union plans to tighten up its defenses against unfair competition from dumped and subsidized goods, as it begins talks on a series of Free Trade Agreements with major partners, including the United States. The proposed measures will benefit all sides-”producers, importers and users,” EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said in a statement. “We want to equip EU businesses better to tackle unfair trade practices abroad while not negatively affecting EU consumers or companies that rely on imports,” De Gucht said. Among the measures, the European Commission plans to tell businesses twoweeks before any duties are imposed as a result of anti-dumping or anti-subsidy findings. It would be

more pro-active, “initiating (trade) investigations on its own ... without (waiting for) an official request from industry when a threat of retaliation exists,” the statement said. Brussels would also be more aggressive on the tariffs it levies on imports “from countries which use unfair subsidies and create structural distortions in their raw material markets.” The proposal now goes to the European Parliament and all 27 EU member states for approval which the statement said was not expected before 2014. In the absence of progress in World Trade Organization liberalization talks, the EU has recently switched its focus to securing bilateral trade deals, with the United States and Japan among several negotiations ongoing. —AFP



Turkey to allow deeper use of Islamic bonds Only ijara type of sukuk currently being issued ISTANBUL: Turkey is working on new regulations to allow wider use of Islamic bonds, a closely watched move which could see sukuk issues employed by the government and corporations for project finance and infrastructure development. Turkish institutions and the Treasury currently only issue the ijara type of sukuk, which is among the most widely used internationally; the new regulations would approve the use of istisna, murabaha, mudaraba, musharaka and wakala bonds. Banking sources said the Capital Markets Board would complete its work on the regulations within a couple of months, and was seeking to ensure the new types were in line with internationally accepted standards for Islamic finance. “Turkey’s preparing the legal framework for the sector to use whenever it needs. These issues will not become widespread in the short term,” a senior official in the sector told Reuters, asking not to be named because the plans are not yet public. “The regulation will include both the Treasury and corporates, and will allow any company or the Treasury to issue them whenever there’s demand for such an issue. That way, we’ll be able to meet the global demand whenever we need to.” TRENDS The development of Turkey’s sukuk market is

of interest to countries around the world, since the fast-growing economy could become a major issuer of Islamic debt and influence trends throughout the industry. Turkey’s experience is also seen as a test for Islamic finance in a secularist legal environment; it could serve as a benchmark for Western markets which want to encourage the industry. After proceeding only slowly with the development of Islamic finance for years, partly because of the sensitivities of its secular political system, Turkey issued its first sovereign sukuk last September. It has now issued three sukuk, two of them lira-denominated totaling 3.14 billion lira ($1.75 billion) and one dollar-denominated worth $1.5 billion. Turkish banks have issued several sukuk, and the Treasury has announced it will issue lira-denominated sukuk twice a year. The new regulations will give Turkish issuers more flexibility to take advantage of investor demand for various types of sukuk at certain times. Bankers cited the case of a perpetual sukuk one without a maturity date - issued by Dubai Islamic Bank in March; the $1 billion hybrid instrument was almost 15 times subscribed. “It was one of the most demanded issues in sukuk history, but it’s hard to know when there will be demand for different types of issues,” an Istanbul-based

banker said. “Turkey’s Capital Markets Board is trying to ensure that regulations are suitable for all issues, so the Treasury and corporates can swiftly issue these bonds when there’s demand.” Sukuk avoid interest payments, which are banned by Islam, and instead pay returns based on investment in assets. The types of sukuk which Turkey plans to allow include istisna, which is used for project financing, primarily in infrastructure deals and for large construction and manufacturing projects. Murabaha is seen as a structure which is relatively close to conventional bonds, while mudaraba involves the issuer appointing a manager (mudarib) to oversee the operations of a project or business activity. Musharaka is a partnership contract akin to joint venture financing, and wakala is an investment agency agreement in which the issuer acts as an agent (wakil) of the sukuk holders to manage the sukuk assets. Bankers said allowing such diversity in the Turkish market would help increase volumes, because the currently used ijara sukuk require the issuer to have income from a leased asset such as real estate, a limiting factor for many corporates. “Ijara has a limit - real estate or leasing revenue is necessary and that is very limiting, maybe not for the Treasury but for the corporates,” a banker close to the matter said.—Reuters

Xerox partners with AUK KUWAIT: Xerox-Kuwait, operating under Yusuf A Alghanim & Sons Company, one of the leading technology and service providers in the country, has recently partnered with the American University of Kuwait (AUK), to provide the university with Xerox comprehensive ‘Managed Print Services’. This strategic initiative was led by the Xerox-Kuwait team in coordination with Rusty Burns, AUK’s Director of IT. The Xerox ‘Management Print Services’ portfolio used Lean Six Sigma methodology to

achieve print fleet optimization, cost management of document services and maximization of return on investment for the university. As part of the partnership, XeroxKuwait provided the university its proactive asset management services, including monitoring, maintaining and managing AUK’s print environment with the support of Xerox’s Global Delivery Center help desk. The help desk improved device uptime, increased productivity and identified possible errors at an early stage

before issues can affect and disrupt operations. Xerox-Kuwait also worked with AUK to improve user productivity and functional capabilities by creating full feature availability across all of the university’s devices. AUK’s print fleet was optimized by creating a centralized environment and decommissioning aging devices that were not aligned with environmental or energy-use standards for the industry. In addition, AUK’s document security was improved by establishing print authentication and an absolute

audit trail on fleet usage. Costs were controlled by minimizing the number of devices used across the university and by deploying a cost-efficient fleet with enhanced capabilities. With fewer, more efficient devices in use, integrated with smart management solutions, a clear advantage was achieved on energy conservation and waste reduction. Xerox-Kuwait is proud of its success in helping AUK achieve its operational goals, and looks forward to its continuing partnership with the university.

At Tripoli fair, Libya, foreign firms target post-war trade TRIPOLI: Handing out plastic tea spoons of golden honey, Milad Ahmed Ajaj hopes his local produce will win over curious onlookers hovering around his stand at a commercial fair in Tripoli. The businessman, whose food company Alshifaa also produces olive oil, showcased his goods at the Tripoli International Fair this week along with other hopeful Libyan exporters who, after years of cumbersome bureaucracy during Muammar Gaddafi’s rule, now see a chance to tap overseas markets. “You can find Egyptian goods abroad, Tunisian olive oil is everywhere so why not Libyan goods? We have a similar climate, natural and good quality produce,” Ajaj said at his stand, surrounded by jars of clear honey and bottles of olive oil. “We are like babies wanting to take our first steps. We want to export our goods but Libya still has problems. We need support, a first push to help us target international markets.” Boosting exports would reduce Libya’s reliance on volatile oil revenues and the drive to sell more overseas is being spearheaded by the Libyan Export Promotion Centre (LEPC), a body set up in 2006 that is supported by the economy ministry. The North African country’s first elections in a generation last July were seen marking a new start for the economy after Gaddafi’s 42-year autocratic rule. The new government is still transitional as the country prepares for a new constitution but with unemployment estimated to be running at around 15 percent, it is under pressure to diversify the economy and create jobs. Gross domestic product more than doubled last year, according to the International Monetary Fund, but growth was driven almost entirely by the resumption of oil production to levels of close to 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) seen before the uprising that toppled Gaddafi in October 2011. “Libya produces good-quality dates, fish and olives, for example, and there is no reason why it can’t develop those into a good little export niche, with the right government support and business environment, especially given the country’s location,” Alex Warren of London-based research and advisory firm Frontier, said. “But it is never going to make inroads on oil and what that contributes to exports, and Libya will remain very dependent on imports for the majority of its needs.” The OPEC member relies on petrodollars from hydrocarbon exports for 95 percent of its income,

with exports by state energy firm, the National Oil Corporation, amounting to 34.9 million barrels, or $4.054 billion, in February, the latest available data. Analysts say Libya’s new rulers need to develop the private sector, seeing strong potential for fisheries as well as tourism eventually, if the government can improve security in the country. UNTAPPED POTENTIAL Economy Minister Mustafa Mohammed Abufunas has mentioned plans to improve business laws to boost the private sector and programs to encourage job creation at small and mediumsized enterprises, but has yet to present specific details. “We also plan to help increase exports and we are looking at dates, fish and olive oil. These steps (to boost the private sector) will also create new jobs,” local media quoted the minister as saying. A desert country, only around 2 percent of land in Libya is arable. It was the world’s 12th largest olive producer in 2010 and the 10th biggest producer of dates, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization. However, its estimated output of olives at 180,000 tons, lagged far behind Spain, the world’s top producer, on 6.7 million tons in 2010 or even neighbors Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria which all produced more than double Libya’s output. “There is certainly untapped potential. Libya produces more than you might think but it needs more expertise in branding, packaging and selling on the international market,” Warren said. “You can buy a surprising number of Libyan-made products, but very few of them make it out of the country yet.” The country also has iron ore deposits, in the central Wadi Al-Shatti area. Plans to develop them were interrupted by the war, but are likely to be taken up again in future, Warren said. Ajaj exported honey to Abu Dhabi before the war but he and other companies say the government needs to help them if they are to export in big volumes. “Promises (by the authorities to boost non-oil exports) were made but nothing was done; it was all through our own efforts,” a spice vendor from Benghazi said at the fair. “We are still in a transitional period. I am looking to come to Tripoli (to sell products), then I would like to go wherever possible.” The LEPC aims to offer support programs to

help companies market their goods overseas but, like other organizations affected by the war, it is being overhauled. “We only just started, studies need to be carried out, we need a proper members’ database,” marketing manager Ahmed Biri said. “Many companies suffered heavy (physical) damage, slowly they have been rebuilding themselves. We want to discover new markets.” SECURITY CONCERNS While Libyan firms seek markets abroad, foreign companies are seeking a way into the country. Before the war there was little foreign investment, other than oil and some real estate and banking, but investors now see potential given the need to rebuild infrastructure. Trade delegations from around the world have visited in the last year and trade fairs for the oil and construction industries have been held in Tripoli. Major public projects are on hold as the interim authorities review pre-war plans but small private projects are taking off. At the Tripoli International Fair, which was also held during Gaddafi’s time, French, Turkish, Moroccan and Kuwaiti companies were among those exhibiting. “We thought: why not come here? We didn’t know the market. We’ve made very good contacts,” said Christine Herzo, in charge of international development for French jeweler Herzo, which exhibited rings and necklaces adorned with sparking gems. “It is still too early but you can see the potential.” Libya’s economy is poised to grow 17 percent this year and should average growth of 7 percent annually between 2014 and 2017, assuming the domestic security situation improves, the IMF has predicted. The country is aiming to increase oil production, eyeing output of 1.7 million bpd by mid-2013 and 2 million bpd by 2015. Security, however, remains a concern as the authorities struggle to rein in militias who refuse to lay down weapons. A member of the French delegation at the Tripoli fair said 22 companies exhibited this year, compared with 50 last year. “I want to go to refineries and plants to meet officials but I will not leave Tripoli,” a Moroccan businessman who works in the maintenance of industrial plants, said. “I have been told it is not safe.” Another concern is what the future legal framework for foreign firms operating in Libya will be. “The country is still in transition so nothing is clear,” he said. “But there is a huge need here, that’s why it’s worth it.”—Reuters

Arab Youth Survey 2013 KUWAIT: The ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2013 was conducted by international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) to explore attitudes among Arab youth in 15 countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. PSB conducted 3,000 face-toface interviews between December 2012 and January 2013 with Arab men and women aged 18 to 24. The aim of this annual survey, now in its fifth year, is to present evidencebased insights into the attitudes of Arab youth, providing public and private sector organizations with data and analysis to inform their decision-making and policy formation. The survey is the most comprehensive of its kind covering the six Gulf Cooperation Council states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE), Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq and Tunisia, and three new countries added this year: Algeria, Morocco and Yemen. Participants were interviewed in-depth about subjects ranging from the political to the personal. Topics explored included the concerns and aspirations of Arab youth, their views on the economy and the impact of the Arab Spring, their media consumption habits, and attitudes towards traditional values and the people who influence them. Respondents, including exclusively nationals of each of the surveyed countries, were selected to provide an accurate reflection of each nation’s geographic and socio-economic make-up. The entire sample was weighted to include 20 per cent of respondents from the AB socio-economic group and 40 per cent from both the CI and C2 groups. The gender split of the survey is 60:40 male to female. The margin of error of the ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey 2013 is +/-2.19 per cent. There were 200 respondents for each country represented in the survey, except for the UAE, Saudi and Egypt, with 250 respondents each, and Algeria, Oman and Yemen, with 150. The geographic location of respondents was also taken into account by PSB when developing the fieldwork methodology - with, for example, 40% of Saudi Arabian respondents in Riyadh, 40% in Jeddah and the remaining 20% in Dammam. In the same way, UAE respondents were drawn from three of the country’s emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah; Kuwait’s youth from four distinct regions: Kuwait City, Al Hawalli, Al Ahmadi and Al Farwaniya; Lebanese youth from East and West Beirut, and Tripoli; Tunisian youth from Tunis, Sfax and Susah; Moroccan youth from Casablanca, Fes, SalÈ and Marrakech, and so on across each country. When analyzed, this geographic spread provides a more accurate national picture than findings based solely on the responses of those living in capital cities. Here

are the top 10 findings; OUR BEST DAYS ARE AHEAD OF US A clear majority of youth in the Gulf states and Arab countries elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa feel their best days are ahead - and most Arab youth in the 15 countries surveyed are hopeful for an improvement in their economic prospects MORE NATIONAL PRIDE Arab youth have a greater sense of national identity following the uprisings, reflected in their confidence that the region’s best days are ahead FAIR PAY REMAINS TOP PRIORITY As in 2012, being paid a fair wage is of greatest importance to young Arabs across the MENA, while unemployment continues to be seen as one of the region’s gravest challenges HOME OWNERSHIP IMPORTANT Owning one’s own property is considered more important than living in a democracy, but young Arabs are preparing to purchase property later in life and many fear they will never be able to own their own home RISING LIVING COSTS CONTINUES Anxiety about living costs is evenly split across GCC and non-GCC states, and noticeably up from two years ago CIVIL UNREST, LACK OF DEMOCRACY Youth in all 15 countries surveyed cited both of these issues among the top two obstacles facing the Arab world UAE A MODEL NATION Looking across the Middle East and the world, the UAE is the country where most Arab youth would like to live - and still the country they would most like their own nation to emulate FRANCE VIEWED MOST FAVOURABLY When considering foreign relations, Arab youth view France most favorably, followed by Germany and China; favourability towards the US is highest in Oman while the UK is viewed most favorably in Egypt NEWS CONSUMPTION IS FALLING News interest has waned as events of the Arab Spring recede, but Arab youth continue to rely on TV as their main source of news. SOCIAL MEDIA ‘INFLUENTIAL’ More young Arabs are getting their news from social media while trust in websites and social media as reliable news sources has risen sharply from 2012.

Daimler may cut outlook BERLIN: German premium carmaker Daimler said it might cut its 2013 profit expectations this month, sparking sharp criticism from shareholders gathering for yesterday’s annual meeting, as Europe’s car market shrank at an alarming rate. Daimler has fallen far behind German rivals BMW and Audi due to deep-seated problems in China, and the latest profit warning is another dent in the credibility of Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche, whose contract extension in February nearly ended in a boardroom coup. “Not much tailwind is anticipated from the markets in the coming months. For Europe in particular, there are no signs of a trend reversal,” Zetsche said, adding Daimler would reassess whether its previous assumptions for 2013 were still valid when it reports first-quarter results on April 24. Credit Suisse said it had not in any case trusted the CEO’s previous guidance of flat adjusted operating profit of roughly 8.1 billion euros, and said even its conservative estimate of an unadjusted 7.9 billion might be at risk. “This means that management will need to update FY13 guidance that they provided on 7th Feb, i.e. guidance lasted some nine weeks,” the bank said in a research note yesterday. Investors hauled Zetsche over the coals for presiding over a dismal stock price development since he took over as CEO in January 2006. Since then Daimler stock is broadly flat at about 40 euros, while Volkswagen has tripled in value and BMW stock is up 80 percent. “We shareholders are looking back at a lost decade. Not Daimler, but rather BMW and Audi are the benchmarks in the premium segment today, since Stuttgart rested too long on the laurels of the past,” said Ingo

Speich, portfolio manager at Union Investment. POWER STRUGGLE He called on the supervisory board to support management efforts to swiftly implement cost cuts, after labor leaders on the board forced Daimler to move Mercedes production boss Wolfgang Bernhard to its trucks division as the price for supporting the extension of Zetsche’s contract. “A bitter power struggle rages behind the curtains,” Speich said, demanding labor ceases to cause uproar in the boardroom and instead support a much-needed change in corporate culture. Daimler’s profit warning echoes Tuesday’s bearish comments from Italy’s Fiat, a massmarket maker that also owns the upscale Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari brands. Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said the company’s losses in Europe could be worse than expected this year, after estimates that the western European market shrunk by roughly 10 percent in the first quarter. Car sales data from the first three months showed that Daimler’s flagship MercedesBenz brand continues to lag BMW and Audi, with volumes shrinking in Europe and China. Analysts have repeatedly questioned whether Mercedes can achieve its goal of overtaking its two German rivals to become the world’s largest luxury carmaker by 2020 so long as its sales growth in China continues to undershoot theirs. In February Daimler had forecast second-half group results would improve on the first six months, citing momentum from new model launches like the key S-Class launch and a package of costcutting measures. —Reuters



Why and how does technology matter? NEW YORK: A few weeks ago, our colleagues at the World Bank Institute held a highly informal and very motivating discussion on opening up contracts in fragile states. As many other similar conversations, this event also turned into an animated debate on the role of technology and why talking about the Internet instead of discussing ways to influence decision-making. Without repeating all the arguments already stated by others, we intend to add a couple, hopefully constructive points to the debate around the effectiveness of technology in solving different kinds of complex problems. Most of our thoughts reflect the questions raised at the WBI event and other ongoing discussions. Real change requires a healthy transparency ecosystem where all the bits are equally important. As a basis, we do need complete and quality government data that is released in a timely and appropriate manner in order to be able to make further conclusions to our societies and political systems. We also need developers, coders and hackers who love playing around information bits and are thrilled to turn datasets

into easily searchable websites and engaging applications. But we need good investigative journalists too who can find real stories behind the facts, researchers and think tanks who make relevant conclusions to our societies, great advocates who know how to interact with government officers and reform-minded philanthropists who dare to invest in riskier projects. None of these exist without the other and none of them will bring about meaningful change alone. Furthermore, the ongoing debate on the relevance of technology weighed against the importance of advocacy seems to create a catch 22 situation: whenever people start questioning the importance of technology, they indeed end up exclusively talking about it, instead of trying to find specific ways to involve citizens or best practices to advocate for policy reforms. There is no such thing as relevant or irrelevant data. There may be certain priorities within specific cultural, historical and political contexts and we surely have a handful of bad examples from the OGP where countries try to get away with ridiculously vague

commitments but that does not mean we should (or could!) decide which government datasets are more/less relevant than the others. Rather, the relevance or priority of datasets will be dependent on the context: who is asking the question, the problems the government is having, what kind of initiative is being created, whether there is a political element to the question at hand, etc. It is also important to note that a healthy transparency ecosystem does not require strict priorities but strong actors in all fields and issue areas, and a culture of enhanced collaboration between these actors. A green NGO will most probably work with environmental information, academics may be in the best position to discuss ways of liberating research data and anti-corruption organizations tend to focus on party and campaign finance or lobbyist disclosure information. Change may come painfully slow. The current hype around technology and the seemingly conflicting arguments on either the potential or the impotence of transparency reflect our desire to make a change - immediately. And though many of us in

the US and abroad are reasonably tired of and outraged by the hypocritical slowness of our governments, we have to understand and accept the fact that even if technology improves in a rapid manner, transforming fundamentals of politics and public administration simply does not happen overnight. Sometimes we even need a whole generation shift among our leaders to experience real change. Expecting that every single hackathon will deliver a final solution to a crucial social problem or hoping that better disclosure norms for instance in contracting processes will immediately cease corruption will result in a frustration that either cuts our efforts short or creates a vicious circle of questioning legitimacy again and again. Neither helps the cause. Citizens as a homogenous group may not be the target group of all open government projects. When talking about citizen engagement in technology and transparency-related projects, many actors in the field tend to forget about the intermediary role media and other civil society organizations play in translating facts into stories/conclusions/policy reforms and keep thinking of

citizens as their sole target group. Involving citizens in political processes is by all means the ultimate goal. But again: such a goal can only be achieved in a healthy ecosystem of strong mediators who translate the information. Furthermore, when designing open government projects, we have to acknowledge that there are different levels of possible interaction and while participatory budgeting may engage a critical mass of taxpayers, procurement monitoring is just never going to attract ordinary citizens the way it attracts companies or procurement experts. It surely does not mean that any of these efforts are more important than the others but that we have to remain realistic when defining our target groups and strategies associated with our open government projects. And since technology indeed engages more people than traditional advocacy, instead of idealising or degrading it, we should embrace its potential to engage people who otherwise would never be interested in politics, decision-making and more abstract dimensions of democracy. ——MCT

Google weaves web between human trafficking hotlines Fund to analyze mountains of data

SEOUL: Investigators in Soeul check hard drives from broadcaster KBS hit by a hacking attack in March, which has now been blamed on North Korea.

Cyberattack accusation SEOUL: North Korea was responsible for a cyberattack that shut down tens of thousands of computers and servers at South Korean broadcasters and banks last month, officials in Seoul said yesterday, noting that an initial investigation pointed to a military-run spy agency as the culprit. The accusation comes as tensions run high on the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea delivering increasingly belligerent rhetoric as it stews over UN sanctions and US-South Korean military drills. Investigators detected similarities between the March cyberattack and past hacking attributed to the North Korean spy agency, including the recycling of 30 previously used malware programs - out of a total of 76 used in the attack, said Chun Kilsoo, an official at South Korea’s internet security agency. Investigators believe that six computers in North Korea were used to access South Korean servers using more than 1,000 IP addresses in 40 countries overseas, Chun said. Thirteen of those IP addresses were traced back to North Korea. He said the attack appeared to have been planned for about eight months. “We saw evidence that the attack was extremely carefully prepared,” Chun said at a news briefing. The March 20 cyberattack struck 48,000 computers and servers, hampering banks for two to five days, although Financial Services Commission official Lim Wang-sub said Wednesday that no bank records or personal data were compromised. Staffers at TV broadcasters KBS, MBC and YTN were unable to log on to news systems for sever-

al days, although programming continued during that period. No government, military or infrastructure targets were affected. It was not the first time Seoul has blamed Pyongyang for such online assaults. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said North Korea was behind a denial of service attack in 2009 that crippled dozens of websites, including that of the presidential office. Seoul also believes the North was responsible for cyberattacks on servers of Nonghyup bank in 2011 and Joongang Ilbo, a national daily newspaper, in 2012. North Korea blamed South Korea and the United States for cyberattacks in March that temporarily disabled Internet access and websites in North Korea, where a small number of people can go online. Though Wednesday’s findings were from an interim investigation report, the final conclusions were not likely to change much, said Lim Chae-ho, a professor of network security at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. “Future evidence will strengthen the case rather than reverse it,” Lim said. “It is worrisome that the North’s cyberattacks are getting increasingly severe.” Experts believe North Korea trains large teams of cyber warriors and that the South and its allies should be prepared against possible attacks on key infrastructure and military systems. If the inter-Korean conflict were to move into cyberspace, South Korea’s deeply wired society would have more to lose than North Korea’s, which largely remains offline. —AP

Major Dell shareholder favors recent buyout offers SAN FRANCISCO: Dell’s largest independent shareholder is leaning toward supporting one of the two bidders trying to scuttle the slumping personal computer maker’s proposed $24.4 billion sale to a group including CEO Michael Dell. Southeastern Asset Management expressed its preliminary support for the alternative offers in a letter sent Tuesday to the four-person committee overseeing the negotiations. The development doesn’t come as surprise, given that Southeastern has been the most vocal opponent to Dell Inc.’s plan to sell itself to Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners for $13.65 per share. That price struck Southeastern as too low. The Memphis, Tenn., investment firm tried to prove its thesis Tuesday by noting that Dell Inc. has spent $3.4 billion during the past two years buying back the company’s stock at an average price of $15.25 per share. “The same board that was confident with Dell buying its shares for $15.25 is now attempting to convince all shareholders that Dell’s business is in such dire straits that they should take $13.65 and exit their investments,” Southeastern’s top executives, O. Mason Hawkins and G. Stanley Cates, wrote in the letter. “We believe the Board’s sudden rush to sell is triggered by one thing: Mr. Dell’s desire to buy. The backlash to the board’s deal with Michael Dell emboldened buyout specialist Blackstone Group and billionaire investor Carl Icahn to submit separate proposals offering a slightly higher price. Blackstone is proposing to buy most of Dell Inc.’s stock for $14.25 per share while Icahn is willing to pay $15 per share for up to 58 percent of the shares. Dell’s stock dipped a penny Tuesday to close at $14.19. Unlike the deal with Michael Dell, a portion of the company’s stock will remain publicly traded if Blackstone or Icahn prevail. That would allow current shareholders such as Southeastern to share in some of the future gains if Dell Inc. successfully

executes on a plan calling for the company to lessen its dependence on the shrinking PC market and diversify into more profitable sectors such as selling data storage services and business software. The deal with Michael Dell and Silver Lake would end Dell Inc.’s 25-year history as a public company, allowing a potential turnaround to be worked out away from the scrutiny and pressure of Wall Street. With an 8.4 percent stake, Southeastern is Dell’s second-largest shareholder after Michael Dell, who still owns 14 percent of the company that he founded as a college student in 1984. That makes Southeastern a potentially influential player in Dell Inc.’s fate. Michael Dell is contributing $4.5 billion in cash and stock to the deal he worked out with Silver Lake because that agreement will leave him in control of the Round Rock, Texas, company. It’s unclear if Blackstone or Icahn will negotiate a similar arrangement with Michael Dell, who has said he is willing to work with the alternative bidders. If Michael Dell remains exclusively aligned with Silver Lake, Blackstone and Icahn would either have to line up even more financing to pay for their proposed deals or find other ways to replace the cash and stock that Michael Dell could contribute. One way to do that would be to persuade Southeastern and other existing Dell shareholders to contribute some of their stock. Southeastern didn’t delve into that possibility in its Tuesday letter. But the firm called the Blackstone and Icahn bids better deals than the one worked out with Michael Dell. “We view these proposals as superior primarily because each offers shareholders the opportunity to remain owners of Dell while also offering a higher cash price to owners who choose to exit their investment,” Hawkins and Cates wrote. They urged Dell’s special committee to negotiate with the alternative bidders in “good faith.” —AP

WASHINGTON: Sex workers are more likely to call in to a hotline for victims of human trafficking on a Wednesday, and a Google-backed initiative announced yesterday could help to explain why. The Internet search giant is giving a total of $3 million to three groups in Europe, Asia and the United States combating modern-day slavery to help them share and analyze the mountains of data that grows out of their frontline work. “There are a lot of different hotlines that exist around the world, but they’re completely disconnected,” Jared Cohen, the head of Google’s in-house think tank Google Ideas, said. “The data is not integrated across all of them,” he said. “If you call one hotline, it doesn’t necessarily feed into an integrated system that meshes with all the others.” Sharing the Google funding will be La Strada International, based in Amsterdam but focused on central and eastern Europe; Hong Kongbased Liberty Asia; and the Polaris Project that covers the United States. The initiative was unveiled at Google’s offices in Washington, where a few hours earlier the White House published what it called a Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking. Open for public comment until May 24, the 61-page document comes three years after the Department of Homeland Security launched a so-called “Blue Campaign” to cut across bureaucratic lines in a bid to address human trafficking. In a statement online, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said that in 2012 alone, the US authorities “investigated a historic amount of cases and rescued more victims of human trafficking.” They also, she said, “provided sup-

port to over 1,200 human trafficking victims... Working together, we can take comprehensive action to stop this terrible crime, rescue victims, and put perpetrators behind bars.” Worldwide, human trafficking is responsible for enslaving nearly 21

from women who are controlled by their pimps on a Wednesday than any other day in the week,” he said by way of example. “We don’t know why that’s the case-but because of the integration of this data, we are able to see

frequent in northern states in the summer, and the south in the winter, he added. More access to more data from more sources can help campaigners and law enforcement allies to identify choke points where human traf-

SAINT-GHISLAIN: Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo (second left) is pictured at the Google Data Center in Saint-Ghislain yesterday. Internet search giant Google announced the investment of 300 million euros and will create some 200 new jobs in Belgium. —AFP million people, from sex workers to manual laborers to street beggars, in an illicit trade that generates an estimated $32 billion a year, Cohen said. “Bringing all the data together illuminates certain patterns and questions that one might not otherwise see without looking at holistically,” Cohen said. “There are, in the United States, nearly double the number of reports

this as a question.” Google has previously committed $11.5 million to anti-trafficking efforts and Cohen said “any ads (that appear on Google’s search result pages) known to fuel human trafficking absolutely gets taken down, period.” Hotlines have also started to notice how calls from trafficked individuals forced into the selling of door-to-door sales scams are more

ficking can best be disrupted. Polaris alone has collected data from more than 72,000 calls to its hotline, while Suzanne Hoff of La Strada International said her organization last year took 13,000 calls over its eight hotlines. “By sharing data, you can see a picture at the global level (and) it gives you more information on your own situation,” Hoff said. —-AFP

Your gadgets are slowly breaking the Internet CALIFORNIA: Behind all the dazzling mobile devices on the market is a looming problem: how to make the networks that support them function securely and efficiently. With little fanfare, potential solutions are taking shape in several academic labs. The grand challenge is to overhaul the Internet to better serve an expected flood of 15 billion network-connected devices-many of them mobile-by 2015, according to estimates by Intel. That’s up from five billion today. The Internet was designed to dispatch data to fixed addresses of static computers connected to a single network. But today it connects a riot of diverse gadgets that can zip from place to place and connect to many different networks. As the underlying networks have been reworked to make way for new technologies, serious inefficiencies and security problems have arisen. Networks are needlessly congested, reducing bandwidth below advertised levels. And it can be difficult to reliably authenticate who actually sent something, and that the thing is what it purports to be (a bank log-in page, for instance). It’s not as though everything will crash “when you add one more device,” says Peter Steenkiste, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University. “But I do have a sense this is a creeping problem of complexity.” Fundamentally new network designs have taken shape and are being tested at universities under the National Science Foundation’s Future Internet Architecture Program, launched in 2010. One key idea is that users should consistently be able to obtain data from the nearest location rather than some specific data center at a fixed address. “Today I have on my desk a smartphone, a tablet, and a Mac computer. To move data between them, the request goes all the way to the cloud-God knows where that is-so it can come back here to another device that is two feet away,” says Lixia Zhang, a computer scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “That is wrong. It is simply wrong.” Things would work quite differently under the Named Data Networking (NDN) project that Zhang heads. Under sers request pieces of data by their names instead of the IP address where they can be found. Using data names could, among other things, allow easy sharing of data directly between devices. “I think we can improve the speed, throughput, and overall efficiency,” says Zhang. “Today you have many

data centers that can have thousands of people asking for the same piece of data. An NDN network just finds the nearest copy of that data. Conceptually this is pretty simple, but it is really a revolution.” This data-centric concept allows the data itself to be directly secured, rather than relying on measures such as VPNs and firewalls. In an NDN network, every named piece of data is associated with a cryptographic key, and every data packet carries a cryptographic signature that assures the data’s provenance; if privacy is needed, the data is encrypted as well. In addition to Zhang’s project, the National Science Foundation funds Internet architecture projects with similar goals at Rutgers, the University of Pennsylvania, and Carnegie Mellon, where Steenkiste runs the expressive Internet architecture, or XIA, project. Like NDN, that project is exploring ways that data could be

named and transferred between users. The overall goal of XIA is to make networks more flexible so that they can adapt to future technologies. The Rutgers project is called Mobility First and is trying to make mobile devices and car networks a more seamless part of the infrastructure. One way it might do this is by creating routing systems that are more tolerant of the delays that occur when devices are temporarily offline. The Rutgers group is also exploring ways that communication networks could let users better control who sees their location and personal information. The fourth project, at Penn, assumes a future in which people store their data and do their computation in remote data centers in the “cloud.” Dubbed Nebula, the effort emphasizes the need for extremely fast and highly secure networks. —MCT

BEIJING: Two Chinese women take a photo with a cellphone beside the Yalu Bridge in Chinese border town of Dandong, northeastern Liaoning province, yesterday. A key border crossing between North Korea and China has been closed to tourist groups, a Chinese official said as nuclear tensions mounted, but business travel was allowed to continue. —AFP


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

Taiba Hospital executives visit Cleveland Clinic


oday’s healthcare organizations need great leaders to navigate the ever-evolving healthcare landscape and to ensure the life of the organization. That’s why physicians, nurses and administrators from around the world are taking advantage of Cleveland Clinic’s healthcare executive education programs. Taiba Hospital recently sent a team of their top management for an “Executive Visitors Program” on March 13 th to 15 th in Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, USA. Cleveland Clinic’s Executive Visitors’ Program engages attendees in a series of conversations with Cleveland Clinic executive leaders.

Attendees get a firsthand knowledge about the way Cleveland Clinic operates and how they became one of the pioneering healthcare institutes in the world and which strategies will best suit for their own organization. Health care executives from US, India, UK, Africa, and Middle East attended and shared their experiences. From Kuwait, Taiba hospital was represented by Director of Human Resources, Abdul Ghaffar Ansari, Chief Nursing Officer, Nada Ghaziri and Director of Quality Management Office, Dr Aysha John. The training covered various interesting topics ranging from

Mayo Clinic launches redesigned Arabic website ROCHESTER: Mayo Clinic has launched its redesigned Arabic website, The upgraded site offers Arabic speakers an enhanced online experience with easier access to important resources, including details for requesting an appointment, international services and patient testimonies. “The redesigned site will better serve Arabic-speaking patients and their families who may be considering medical care at Mayo Clinic,” says Mikel Prieto, MD, medical director for international operations. “Access to quality health care is a desire that unites us all worldwide. Mayo Clinic is committed to ensuring that language is not an obstacle to

receiving world-class care.” The redesigned website enables patients to request an appointment and obtain information about treatment costs. Visitors can also learn about Mayo Clinic’s free international services, including language translation services, available to all patients. Mayo Clinic Connection, a newsletter for international patients and friends of Mayo Clinic, is published quarterly and available in Arabic. This newsletter showcases clinical specialties, patient stories, research briefs and news bulletins. Mayo Clinic also has a Twitter account @MayoClinicME that people in the Middle East can use to connect with Mayo Clinic.

HODENHAGEN, Germany: Patients Manuela Staffhorst (left) and Kerstin Tschoertner feed a giraffes at Serengeti Park yesterday. Serengeti Park and the Medical University of Hanover (MHH) have presented a new project ‘Psychiatric animal days’. Patients and therapists will visit the park monthly as part of this cooperation. Data will be collected on the relaxing, antidepressive and aggression-reducing effects of animals on people with disabilities and mental illnesses. —AFP

Rethinking lithium-ion battery revolution over cost and safety TROY: For nearly two years, a team of former Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius engineers has been working on the next big thing in electric cars: the latest version of the 154-year-old lead-acid battery. Their aim is to build a battery strong enough to power a wider range of vehicles, something they think the current cutting-edge technology - lithium ion - can’t do cheaply, particularly given recent safety scares. The focus of Energy Power Systems on a technology older than the automobile itself illustrates the difficulty with lithiumion batteries. While widely used in everything from laptops to electric cars and satellites, a number of high-profile incidents involving smoke and fire have been a reminder of the risks and given them an image problem. The overheating of the batteries on two of Boeing Co’s high-tech 787 Dreamliners, which prompted regulators to ground the aircraft, served to underline the concerns and forced the plane maker to redesign the battery system. Today, battery experts will gather in Washington, DC, to discuss the technology in a forum organized by the National Transportation Safety Board, which is leading the investigation of one of the 787 incidents. Experts are certain to point out red flags. Indeed, a growing number of engineers now say the lithium-ion battery revolution has stalled, undercut by high costs, technical complexity and safety concerns. “Smart people have been working on this for 10 years already and no one is close to a new kind of battery,” said Fred Schlachter, a lithium-ion battery expert and retired physicist from the US-funded Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Many experts now believe it will take at least another decade for lithium-ion technology to be ready for widespread adoption in transportation. Others, including Toyota Motor Corp, believe the solution lies beyond lithium-ion. Interviews with two dozen battery executives, experts and researchers, including the founder of Securaplane, which made Boeing’s battery charger, reveal an industry in which some are having second thoughts about using lithium-ion, and are instead looking to enhance previous technologies or to leap ahead. These people say expectations were set

too high, too fast. People projected that “clean technology” batteries would shrink in size and weight at the speed of the microchip revolution. That hasn’t happened, and Schlachter says it won’t any time soon. “We’re not going to see a different chemistry, unless we’re very lucky, for decades.” Just as recent developments in technology have allowed cars to improve their mileage using traditional engines, the lead-acid battery research is aiming for improved power in a smaller package. Beyond lithium-ion Lithium-ion supporters, including Boeing, Tesla Motors Co and General Motors Co, maker of the Volt, say they can make the batteries safe, and problems with new technologies are to be expected. GM overcame an early problem when a Volt caught fire during tests run by the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, for instance, and after all, car and plane engineers successfully tamed gasoline and jet fuel. “GM is committed to lithium-ion technology for our vehicle electrification solutions,” the largest US automaker said in a statement, adding that it has been seeing “improved economies” on the technology. Boeing said it has years of experience with the technology and is confident in its safety and reliability. “Nothing that we’ve learned as a result of the ongoing investigations has caused to change the decision to use lithium-ion batteries,” said the company in a statement. Tom Gage, a battery expert whose company EV Grid works on ways to manage the charging of electric cars, says lithium-ion may be a little more “tempestuous” than other technologies, but is the best industry now has and he’s confident it will improve. “It’s just a technological challenge,” he said. But other companies are looking beyond the technology. Toyota, for example, has tasked one team of battery engineers to explore a range of alternatives to lithium-ion. “We don’t think that lithiumion batteries are going to help us get to a point where we can dramatically increase volume and really call it a mass market,” Toyota spokesman John Hanson said. “We’re going to have a more significant breakthrough and probably go into some other area of battery chemistry.”— Reuters

patient experience to information technology and attendees were taken on a deep dive into different healthcare topics such as patient experience and wellness. The program strengthened Taiba Executives to implement best practices in Taiba hospital so as to achieve a coordinated delivery model that integrates patient -centered care with predictable clinical outcomes, quality, safety and care giver experience. They opined that the training program enriched their knowledge and the experience gained from Cleveland Clinic’ s success in health care field was tremendous.

Study finds gene that may raise Alzheimer in blacks Results show potential link with cholesterol CHICAGO: The largest study to date looking for genetic causes of Alzheimer’s in African Americans may offer new clues about why blacks in the United States are twice as likely as whites to develop the deadly, brain-wasting disease. The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday, show that mutations in two genes that play a role in whites also contribute to Alzheimer’s risk in blacks. One of those, known as ABCA7, may double the risk in blacks who have the mutation versus those who don’t. Although many genes have been found to raise the risk of Alzheimer’s, most studies have been conducted in largely white populations, and few studies have looked specifically at genes that drive Alzheimer’s in blacks. Part of that is because very few African Americans take par t in gene studies look ing at Alzheimer’s risk. The latest findings will need to be confirmed by other research teams, and critics say the study is incomplete until that work is done. To get enough participants for the newly published study, researchers combined genetic information from 18 different Alzheimer ’s Disease Centers funded by the US National Institutes of Health. They gathered information on 6,000 African Americans, 2,000 of whom had late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form that occurs in older people. The team then looked for genes that were most strongly associated with Alzheimer’s. The strongest link was with a variant of a gene called apolipoprotein E or APOE, a gene that contains instructions for making a protein that carries cholesterol and is well-known risk factor for Alzheimer’s. The team found that a variant of this gene called APOE-e4 doubled the risk of Alzheimer’s in blacks, in much the same way it does in whites.

But the study also turned up another gene that has only been weakly associated with Alzheimer’s in whites. This gene, called ABCA7, which also plays a role in the production of cholesterol and fats, appears to have a much stronger effect in blacks. “In whites, it increases risk by 10 to 20 percent, but in African Americans, it increases risk by about 70 to 80 percent. I t has a way larger effect size in African Americans,” said Dr Christiane Reitz of Columbia University Medical Center, who conducted the genetic analyses on the study. ABCA7 is also involved in cholesterol metabolism, as are several of the genes which have been found in the past five years or so to be linked with Alzheimer’s in whites. “That seems to be a pathway that is involved in Alzheimer’s disease,” Reitz said. Reitz said a variant form of APOE called APOE-e4 has the biggest effect, increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s by about 200 percent. ABCA7 raised the risk by about 80 percent, and most other genes discovered so far increase risk by 10 to 20 percent. Like other risk genes for the age-related form of Alzheimer’s, the gene explains only part of the risk and likely will not lead to any new treatments soon. Reitz said it is clear that hundreds of genes are at work in Alzheimer’s disease. “ABCA7 and APOE are not the only genes involved in Alzheimer ’s disease in African Americans,” Reitz said, adding that it would take tens of thousands of participants to detect some of the other risk genes. “What the study did show us is at least one gene which seems to have a major effect, and that’s important to know.” Representative enough? The next step is to study how the ABCA7 gene works in the brain, and the team still needs to validate the results of this study in

another independent population of blacks, something that may be challenging. According to Neil Buckholtz, director of the division of neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging, the study represented all of the well characterized genetic samples of blacks in the United States. Dr Allan Levey, director of Emory University ’s Alzheimer ’s Disease Research Center, said the study was significant for being the first large-scale genetic study done in African Americans. But he said a major limitation is that the study was not replicated in another population of blacks to confirm the findings, which is considered necessary to ensure its validity. “Had this same study been done in whites, it would never have been published here,” said Levey, referring to JAMA, a highly-regarded medical journal. Troy Duster, a sociologist at the University of California, Berkeley and author of “Backdoor to Eugenics” and contributor to “ Whitewashing Race: The Myth of a Color-Blind Society,” says the findings are too preliminary and the effect sizes too small to draw any definitive conclusions about differences in the risk of Alzheimer’s between blacks and whites. Without a replicating study in other groups who identify as African-American and as white, “it is impossible to interpret whether this small difference has significant meaning, or points to different etiologies (or the need for different treatments) in different groups,” he said. Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association, which funded two of the study authors, said the findings should spur new research into the potential reasons for this link between ABCA7 and Alzheimer’s in African Americans. “Really, that all requires more funding for Alzheimer’s disease research,” Snyder said.—Reuters

Indian court rules against surgery on conjoined twins NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court yesterday ruled out any immediate surgery to separate 17-year-old twin sisters joined at the head, citing the need for more expert medical opinion. A division bench of the court said they had taken note of the fact the twins shared a vital blood vessel in the brain and that only one of them had kidneys. “No positive direction can be given in the absence of an expert medical opinion indicating either of them can be saved due to a surgical operation,” the bench said. The court, however, ordered the government of the eastern state of Bihar to pay 5,000 rupees ($92) a month to the parents to meet the twins’ medical expenses. The twins welcomed the court’s ruling. “The court’s verdict will provide us time to live together-like we have since birth,” Saba told AFP in Patna. Justice KS Radhakrishnan and Dipak Mishra revealed in their ruling that they had spent “sleepless nights” in seeking to arrive at a solution for the twin sisters. “Seldom does society care or know the mental and psychological trauma... (that) judges undergo, especially when they are called upon to decide an issue touching human life, either to save or take away,” the order read. Saba and Farah Saleem, who are mostly bed-ridden, hail from a poor family in Bihar with their father running a small roadside eatery in the capital city of Patna. Their condition has drawn the attention of global medical specialists, with US neurosurgeon Benjamin Carson travelling to Bihar to study their case in 2011. Carson had warned that surgery to separate the twins could be risky, following which the parents decided against any operation. Local media reports said they had even rejected a reported offer from the crown prince of Abu Dhabi to pay for surgery. The ruling was the outcome of a public interest suit filed by a law student seeking financial support for the maintenance of the twins and to provide them proper medical care.—AFP

Chicks blackmail doting parents PARIS: Fledglings of a southern African bird species threaten suicide to blackmail their parents into bringing them more food, scientists said yesterday. When hungry, pied babbler fledglings flutter from the nest to the ground, where predators roam, and start screeching to highlight their plight, said a study published in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. “This stimulates adults to increase their provisioning rates,” the science team wrote. “Once satiated, fledglings return to the safety of cover.” The strategy is dangerous, as the birds are not good flyers at this tender age and at particular risk of predators on the ground. But the short-term risk of being caught is probably lower than the long-term costs of being small and weak, said the paper. Pied babblers have high reproductive rates and competition for mates is high. Weaker birds are often kicked out of the nest by siblings, putting them at a huge disadvantage in the race for survival and procreation.— AFP

INDIA : In this file photograph taken on October 4, 2005, ten-year-old Indian twins Sabah and Farah sit during a press conference at the Indraprashtra Apollo Hospital in New Delhi.—AFP

Arrhythmia drug may increase cancer risk WASHINGTON: A common treatment for irregular heartbeats may have a serious side effect: a new study out Tuesday showed it could increase the risk for certain cancers, especially among men. The research, published in the US journal CANCER, found that individuals taking a high dose of amiodarone for a long time had twice the risk of developing cancer as those taking a low amount of the drug. And the numbers were especially high among men who had taken the drug daily at high doses for the first year. The problem appears to arise from the fact that the medication is fat-soluble and degrades very slowly, leaving large amounts to accumulate in the body after a long-term prescription. Previous research had indicated a link between the drug and lung masses, thyroid cancer and skin cancer, but there had been no large-scale studies to tackle the question.

The researchers, led by Vincent YiFong Su of the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, followed 6,418 individuals taking the drug for an average of around two and a half years between 1997 and 2008. None of the participants had previously been diagnosed with cancer. Of those patients, a total of 280 participants developed cancer. The authors stopped short of recommending against the use of the drug, which is sold under the brand name Nexterone by Baxter Healthcare Corporation, saying the question warrants further study. “We suggest that cancer events should be routinely reported in future amiodarone trials, and further observational research is necessary,” said Su. But, he added, “when prescribing amiodarone, doctors need to keep in mind that this medication may increase cancer risk.”— 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

The British Embassy will be opening a book of condolences for Lady Thatcher. Today from 9am to 2:30pm

Announcements NAFO Kuwait to present ‘Samanwayam’ AFO Kuwait, on the auspicious occasion of its 10th anniversary celebration ‘Samanwayam,’ proudly presents an eclectic dance and English musical show by renowned film actress and acclaimed danseuse Padmashree Shobhana along with the pulsing talents of team Kalarpana Chennai on May 10, 2013 at American International School, Maidan Hawally.


Aye Mere Humsafar n event with renowned artist from Indian Cinema. ‘Aye Mere Humsafar’ on Friday 12th April @ American International School (AIS). A concept of real voice from Bollywood. High energy orchestra with Melody Queen Alka Yagnik charming playback singer Vinod Rathod (accompanied by female playback singer & standup comedian Sangeeta Kopalkar and young standup comedian Ashok Mishra.


CRYcket 2013 tournament riends of CRY Club (FOCC) announces 16th CRY (Child Rights & You) cricket tournament for children and will be held at the GC grounds at Jaleeb Al-Shuyoukh on Friday, 12th Apr 2013 from 6:30 a.m to 4:30 pm. The one day “CRYcket” tournament is a very popular annual family event, participated by children under 14. 12 teams each are set to participate in the Under-12 and Under-14 divisions initially in four groups in round robin fashion leading to 4 winners who will clash in the semifinals.

Yusuf Ahmed Alghanim & Sons Automotive presents special offer


n celebration of its 80-year partnership with BP Visco oils in Kuwait, Yusuf Ahmed Alghanim & Sons Autotmovie, the exclusive distributor of Chevrolet vehicles in Kuwait, launched a special promotion that gave everyone in Kuwait the chance to win one two brand new Chevrolet Cruze vehicles as well as get the opportunity to win valuable X-cite coupons after having their vehicle’s oil and filter changed with BP oil. The promotion will run until May 20, 2013 while the draw for the grand prizes will take place on May 28, 2013 at Salwa coop puncture branch. Anyone can greatly benefit from this limited time promotion by simply changing their vehicle’s oil and filter with BP Visco oils that is available at all Bumperto-Bumper branches, car wash centers, oil, filter and tire change garages as well as garage centers belonging to cooperatives in Kuwait. All it takes for anyone to be part of this exciting and rewarding promotion is use BP oils for every oil and filter change. Apart from getting the chance to win, customers will also enjoy the highest quality of oils for their vehicles’ engines. The prizes included in the promotion are the following:

Grand prize: Two Chevrolet Cruze cars; Second place prize: iPhone 5 (5 winners) Third place prize: Laptop (5 winners); Fourth place prize: iPad Mini (5 winners); Fifth place prize: 42-inch LCD (5 winners); and Sixth place prize: KD 50 X-cite vouchers (15 winners). BP Visco oils are available in three types in Kuwait: Visco 2000, Visco 3000, and Visco 5000. Visco 2000 is an ideal oil to protect engines due to the long life viscosity of the oil, while Visco 3000 is perfect to all types of engines including diesel engines because of its ability to prevent the formulation of sediments. Visco 5000 is the choice for higher mileage driving and further protection for engine parts that will consequently lead to efficient fuel consumption. Its high viscosity will surely give you longer peace of mind before the engine oil needs change again. All along this special promotion, Yusuf Ahmed Alghanim & Sons Automotive and BP Visco are working jointly to create and develop more outstanding offers that give the customers the best value for their money and express the mutual vision to provide high quality products, services and offers.

Italy at its best at Oriomilane


riomilane, as reflected in its name, offers you Italian dining at its finest. With its distinct European dÈcor, its relaxed Mediterranean ambience and scrumptious fusion dishes that blend the best of Roman, Sicilian, Greek flavours with an emphasis on the tastes of the Gulf, the restaurant delivers an exquisite dining experience and a taste that you will never forget. Styled uniquely on European lines by a specially appointed Russian designer,

the interior of Oriomilane is refreshingly distinct. The ambience reflects a genuine Italian ristorante - sophisticated, trendy and vibrant, while at the same time retaining a relaxed, informal and laidback atmosphere that attracts customers of all ages and from all walks of life. Oriomilane promises you a journey into the heart of Milan that will entice your senses and refresh you with its relaxing and comforting surroundings. The restaurant’s eclectic fusion fare is rooted in its ethnic ingredients and


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.


Thursday: ** 9:30am Showtime Available for Groups Flight of Butterflies 3D 10:30am, 5:30pm, 8:30pm Born to be Wild 3D 11:30am Tornado Alley 3D 12:30pm, 7:30pm, 9:30pm To The Arctic 3D  6:30pm Friday: Fires of Kuwait Tornado Alley 3D To The Arctic 3D  Flight of Butterflies 3D  Born to be Wild 3D

2:30pm 3:30pm, 5:30pm, 8:30pm 4:30pm, 7:30pm 6:30pm 9:30pm

Saturday: ** 9:30am Showtime Available for Groups Flight of Butterflies 3D 10:30am, 1:30pm, 8:30pm Tornado Alley 3D 11:30am, 2:30pm, 5:30pm, 7:30pm, 9:30pm To The Arctic 3D  12:30pm, 6:30pm Born to be Wild 3D 3:30pm Journey to Mecca 4:30pm

unusual combinations that emphasize flavours and subtlety. The ingredients are sourced directly from Italy and carefully crafted by the professional and innovative chefs at Oriomilane into dishes that reproduce the genuine flavours and tastes of Italy, expertly tailored to cater to discerning local palates. Dishes like panettone and saffron risotto are considered a culinary symbol of Milan and saffron risotto has special significance to the city. Legend has it that, in 1574, the young assistant of Master Valerio of Flanders was so passionate about saffron that he used it in every dye to add beauty effects to the cathedral his master was building. At Valerio’s daughter’s wedding, the assistant coaxed the chef to add saffron to the main risotto dish to give it a lovely golden yellow colour that became an immediate sensation and set the tradition of ‘risottgiald’, which forever became linked to this magnificent city. Prior to using saffron, the most common seasoning for risotto was butter, with gold leaf used as a decoration. In continuation of this 400 year old tradition, at Oriomilane, you will find the delectable saffron featured in many of our signature dishes. The perfectionist approach of our

chefs in doing their work is nothing less than a testimony of their soul and adds a flavour to our dishes, which instantly touches your heart, and relishes your soul. The restaurant blends warm and welcoming dÈcor, unrivalled service, and, a finesse and balance of varied ingredients to produce dishes of unmatched quality, serving all of this with a hospitality that is a matter of pride for us. Oriomilane is located in Abu Halifa, at the iconic Dome Mall that features a distinctive architectural style and a unique central dome canopy. The Dome Mall, with its high-end shopping arcades, bowling rings, electronic games and an eclectic selection of classy restaurants and cafes, is the latest gathering spot for families and friends in Kuwait. Also situated adjacent to Kuwait Magic, another landmark in the area, Oriomilane is easily accessible from Fahaheel and its suburbs, as well as from Kuwait City along the Coast Road. The restaurant has easy access and ample car parking space. Come join us for an excursion to Italy that you have always longed for, while relishing our signature Italian fusion dishes that are not only immensely flavourful but also brilliantly creative.

BSK founder remembers Margaret Thatcher


era Al-Mutawa, Founder of The British School of Kuwait, reminisces about Margaret Thatcher: Today is a very sad day for me as one of my great heroes, Margaret Thatcher, has died. I first met her when as Minister of Education she came to Kuwait in the mid 1980’s. I was very lucky to have met her on many occasions since then, when she became Prime Minister,both here in Kuwait and in the UK. Once you met her you could n’t but admire her. She was just so special. I felt that I shook hands with greatness. Margaret Thatcher was a wonderful role model for today’s young women. She studied chemistry at Oxford University and went on to combine a career in politics with raising a family of two young children. She was not only the first female British Prime Minister but she was also the longest serving PM in modern times. She changed Britain from an industrial to a service based economy, tamed the unions and successfully regained

the Falkland Islands from Argentina in 1982. She was instrumental in convincing George Bush and other leaders to form a UN coalition to liberate Kuwait. She stood for what she believed in. She gave pride back to the British people. When she took the reins of Britain as Prime Minister it was torn apart with strikes. She understood that there was pride in ownership. She gave people the opportunity to own their own houses. She believed that large countries had to abide by international law and should not just invade and swallow up smaller countries. She stated that if this was allowed to happen then we would have jungle law. I really admired her. She was simply the best. She behaved in an exemplary manner when Kuwait was invaded. But for her our lovely Kuwait might be a very different place today. So, I am very sad that we have lost a great hero, she was definitely my hero, may she rest in peace.

GUST launches Accounting Club


ue to the increasing interconnectivity of the world economy, a group of students from the Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST) launched a new accounting club on April 2. The accounting club was founded by 15 members, 8 males and 7 females, and seeks to educate students about accounting and its application in our daily life.

The opening ceremony occurred in the university campus under the auspices by National Bank of Kuwait(NBK) and lasted for three days. The ceremony was attended by Mazn Al-Naheth, Manager of the Personal banking group, Emad Al-Ablany, Head of Human Resources, and a delegation of NBK staff. Also, in attendance was Dr Fahad AlSumait, the acting Dean of Student

Affairs at GUST. Qutaiba Al-Atiqi, a member of the club says, “We established the accounting club to introduce students to the accounting field and its significance to the business world. Also we are aiming to improve the abilities, skills and highlight the talents of the members in all accounting fields”

The Gulf University for Science and Technology began operation in 2002 asthe first private university in Kuwait. It is based on an American-style model of higher education and aims to serve the increasing educational demands of Kuwait and the Gulf region. It currently hosts approximately 3,000 full-time students.

Notes: All films are in Arabic. For English, headsets are available upon request. “Fires of Kuwait” is in English. Arabic headsets are available upon request. Film schedule is subject to changes without notice.

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

Abu Halifa based Jyodithas (right) looks as Mayflower an Ancient Dream, his first anthology of poems being released by Kerala opposition chief VS Achudanandan, April 4, 2103. The self-published collection of 40 poems will be exhibited in the book festival organized by Malayalam Kuwait, a group of writers and readers later the year.


W H AT ’ S O N

Al-Mulla Exchange’s Music for the Younger Generation enthralls all

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

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. nnnnnnn


l-Mulla International Exchange Company, the premier money exchange company in Kuwait, entertained its customers with a two-day musical concert, featuring a young generation of singers led by Vijay Yesudas, Shweta Mohan and Stephen Devassy. The musical concert, billed as, ‘Music of the Younger Generation’ was held at the American International

School in Maidan Hawally, on the evening of Friday the 5th and Saturday, 6th April, 2013. The first day’s concert was inaugurated by KG Abraham, Managing Director of NBTC Group and the following day’s program was launched by Mathunny Mathews, Managing Director of Safeena General Trading and Contracting Company. A packed-hall of more than 1,500 select guests of

Al-Mulla Exchange sat enthralled on both days of the concert, as Vijay Yesudas, son of legendary Indian playback singer Dr KJ Yesudas, ably supported by the Shweta Mohan and Stephen Devassy rendered popular songs in Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi. The delivery of songs by the young artists reverberated within the confines of the hall and held the audience mesmerized throughout the performance.

GUST honors Health Day


he Gulf University for Science and Technology organized Health Day, which was sponsored by the GUST Student Success Center (SSC) focused on the physical, emotional and intellectual health of the students. This day was open to hospitals, clinics, counseling and assessment centers, gyms, healthy food centers and spas. Participating hospitals and clinics provided various free physical checkups and the consultants and doctors on site provided free consultations and health related information. The counseling and assessment centers aim to educate the audience through their presentations and brochures about the facilities available in Kuwait and encourage them to seek professional help when needed. The healthy food centers, gyms and spas provided free samples, vouchers and brochures to inspire and promote healthy living and use these resources to make better choices. The SSC would like to express its sincere gratitude to the New Mowasat Hospital, Yiaco Apollo Clinic, Al-Safat American Medical Center, International Clinic, Royale Hayat Hospital, Taiba Clinic, Soor Center for Professional Therapy & Assessment, Kuwait Society for the Guardians of the Disabled, Kaizan Center, Kuwait Counseling Center, Fatima Clinic, Fawzia Sultan Rehabilitation Institute, Genius Brain, Pilates & More Women’s Health Club, Spa Time, Radisson Club, Lina’s & Dina’s, Diet Center, Talabaat and Salad Creations for their participation in making this event a great success.

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

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

EMBASSY OF MEXICO The Embassy of Mexico to Kuwait has the pleasure to announce the opening of its Consular Section where visa applications are already being handled. The Consular Section is open to the public from Sundays-Thursdays 09.00-12.00 hrs. at Cliffs Complex in Salmiya, Villa No. 6 (3rd floor). nnnnnnn

EMBASSY GREECE The Embassy of Greece in Kuwait has the pleasure to announce that visa applications must be submitted to Schengen Visa Application Centre (VFS office) located at 12th floor, Al-Naser Tower, Fahad Al-Salem Street, Al-Qibla area, Kuwait City, (Parking at Souk Watia). For information please call 22281046 from 08:30 to 17:00 (Sunday to Thursday). Working hours: Submission from 08:30 to 15:30. Passport collection from 16:00 to 17:00. For visa applications please visit the following website nnnnnnn


TIES Centeractivities this week and next


presentation entitled, “Islam and Muslims’ attitude towards the Western civilization.” What is the definition of civilization? And was there any real civilization in the West? Civilization is defined as: an advanced stage or system of human social development or the process by which a society or place reaches this stage, according to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary. Humanity lives crowded together in an

increasingly small world of various cultures. Undoubtedly, Western culture is the dominant influence in the modern world. Hence, it is inevitable that others interact with it and assimilate its positive values and achievements, but without adopting its negative ones. There is a cultural dimension of most human phenomena, religion included, and modern societies tend to become less exclusive and more multi-reli-

gious. But while people are developing an outlook that is more accommodating toward others, acknowledging these differences does not mean turning a blind eye on any evil committed and the guise of civilization. Join Hassan Twaha on Monday April 15, 2013 as he will compare and contrast between the civilization brought by messengers and mankind. All are welcome at TIES Center at 7:00 pm.

The Embassy of the Republic of Albania to the State of Kuwait would like to inform that on 03.04.2013, the new Albanian Ambassador, Kujtim Morina presented credential letters to His Highness, the Amir of the State of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah. The address of the embassy is the same: Al - Zahra, Block 8, Street 802, Villa 169, Kuwait,P.O.BOX 3090, Safat 13131. The ebassy offers consular services as well. Working hours are from 9:00 to 14:00, Sunday through Thursday.



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

I Shouldn’t Be Alive Untamed & Uncut Wildest Arctic Shamwari: A Wild Life Shamwari: A Wild Life World Wild Vet Call Of The Wildman Dark Days In Monkey City Shamwari: A Wild Life Shamwari: A Wild Life Wildlife SOS The Really Wild Show Baboons With Bill Bailey Ned Bruha: Skunk Whisperer Dogs 101 Jeff Corwin Unleashed Jeff Corwin Unleashed Wildest Arctic Animal Cops Philadelphia Call Of The Wildman Wildlife SOS RSPCA: On The Frontline RSPCA: On The Frontline Animal Precinct Wildest Arctic Dark Days In Monkey City The Really Wild Show Cats 101 Weird Creatures With Nick Groomer Has It Monkey Life Bondi Vet Call Of The Wildman Dark Days In Monkey City Wildest Arctic Wild Hawaii Wild France Animal Cops Miami

00:40 Come Dine With Me 01:30 Masterchef: The Professionals 02:15 Gok’s Clothes Roadshow 03:05 Mitch And Matt’s Big Fish 03:30 Cash In The Attic 04:15 Bargain Hunt 05:00 House Swap 05:45 Gok’s Clothes Roadshow 06:35 French Food At Home 07:00 Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets 07:25 Rick Stein’s Spain 08:15 Homes Under The Hammer 09:10 Bargain Hunt 09:50 Antiques Roadshow 10:45 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 11:25 Masterchef: The Professionals 12:10 Come Dine With Me 13:00 Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets 13:30 French Food At Home 13:55 Cash In The Attic 14:40 Bargain Hunt 15:25 Antiques Roadshow 16:15 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 17:00 Homes Under The Hammer 17:55 Baking Mad With Eric Lanlard 18:15 The Good Cook 18:45 Baking Made Easy 19:15 French Food At Home 19:40 Come Dine With Me 20:35 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 21:20 Antiques Roadshow 22:15 Bargain Hunt 23:00 Homes Under The Hammer 23:55 Cash In The Attic

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

04:30 Asia Business Report 04:45 Sport Today 05:00 BBC World News 05:30 Asia Business Report 05:45 Sport Today 06:00 BBC World News 06:30 Hardtalk 07:00 BBC World News 07:30 World Business Report 07:45 BBC World News 08:00 BBC World News 08:30 World Business Report 08:45 BBC World News 09:00 BBC World News 09:30 World Business Report 09:45 BBC World News 10:00 BBC World News 10:30 World Business Report 10:45 BBC World News 11:00 BBC World News 11:30 Hardtalk 12:00 BBC World News 12:30 World Business Report 12:45 Sport Today 13:00 BBC World News 13:30 BBC World News 14:00 GMT With George Alagiah 14:30 GMT With George Alagiah 15:00 BBC World News 15:30 World Business Report 15:45 Sport Today 16:00 Impact With Mishal Husain 16:30 Impact With Mishal Husain 17:00 Impact With Mishal Husain 17:30 Hardtalk 18:00 Global With John Sopel 18:30 Global With John Sopel 19:00 Global With John Sopel 19:30 World Business Report 19:45 Sport Today 20:00 BBC World News 20:30 BBC Focus On Africa 21:00 World News Today With Zeinab Badawi 21:30 World News Today With Zeinab Badawi 22:00 World News Today With Zeinab Badawi 22:30 World Business Report 22:45 Sport Today 23:00 Business Edition With Tanya Beckett 23:30 Hardtalk

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Wacky Races Duck Dodgers Duck Dodgers Dastardly And Muttley Dastardly And Muttley Dexter’s Laboratory Wacky Races Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries Tom & Jerry The Garfield Show Bananas In Pyjamas Gerald McBoing Boing Jelly Jamm Ha Ha Hairies Bananas In Pyjamas Lazytown Krypto: The Super Dog Baby Looney Tunes Gerald McBoing Boing Cartoonito Tales Lazy Town Baby Looney Tunes Krypto: The Super Dog Cartoonito Tales Jelly Jamm Gerald McBoing Boing Lazy Town Jelly Jamm Tom & Jerry Kids A Pup Named Scooby-Doo Moomins Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries Tiny Toon Adventures The 13 Ghosts Of Scooby-Doo Taz-Mania Tom & Jerry Tales Moomins The Garfield Show The Looney Tunes Show Tiny Toon Adventures Taz-Mania Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries The 13 Ghosts Of Scooby-Doo Pink Panther And Pals

19:45 20:10 20:35 21:00 21:25 21:50 22:15 23:05 23:30 23:55

The Looney Tunes Show Taz-Mania Puppy In My Pocket What’s New Scooby-Doo? Looney Tunes Dexter’s Laboratory Tom & Jerry Tales Pink Panther And Pals Pink Panther And Pals Moomins

00:30 Grim Adventures Of... 01:20 Johnny Test 02:10 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 02:35 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 03:00 The Amazing World Of Gumball 03:25 Regular Show 03:50 Ben 10: Omniverse 04:15 Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated 04:40 Powerpuff Girls 05:05 Evil Con Carne 05:30 Cow & Chicken 06:00 Casper’s Scare School 06:30 Angelo Rules 07:00 Dreamworks Dragons: Riders Of Berk 07:25 The Amazing World Of Gumball 07:45 Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated 08:10 Evil Con Carne 08:55 Adventure Time 09:45 Regular Show 10:35 Angelo Rules 11:25 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 11:50 Ben 10: Ultimate Alien 12:15 Hero 108 12:40 Hero 108 13:05 Mucha Lucha ! 13:30 Angelo Rules 14:20 Evil Con Carne 15:10 Ben 10 15:35 Ben 10 16:00 Johnny Test 16:35 Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated 17:00 Ben 10: Omniverse 17:25 Dreamworks Dragons Riders Of Berk 17:50 The Amazing World Of Gumball 18:15 Adventure Time 18:40 Regular Show 19:05 Total Drama Action 19:30 Total Drama Action 19:55 Starwars: The Clone Wars 20:20 Ben 10: Omniverse 20:45 Hero 108 21:10 Young Justice 21:35 Green Lantern: The Animated Series 22:00 Ben 10 22:25 Ben 10 22:50 Mucha Lucha ! 23:15 Mucha Lucha ! 23:40 Powerpuff Girls

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Amanpour World Sport Piers Morgan Tonight World Report World Sport Anderson Cooper 360 Piers Morgan Tonight Quest Means Business The Situation Room World Sport News Special World Report World Report World Sport Inside Africa World Business Today World One Cnngo Amanpour CNN Newscenter Piers Morgan Tonight News Stream World Business Today International Desk Global Exchange World Sport Cnngo


20:00 International Desk 21:00 Quest Means Business 22:00 Amanpour 22:30 CNN Newscenter 23:00 Connect The World With Becky Anderson

00:15 Dual Survival 01:10 Yukon Men 02:05 Finding Bigfoot 03:00 Mythbusters 03:55 Border Security 04:20 Auction Kings 04:50 Baggage Battles 05:15 How Do They Do It? 05:40 How It’s Made 06:05 Sons Of Guns 07:00 Mythbusters 07:50 Ultimate Survival 08:45 Dual Survival 09:40 Border Security 10:05 Auction Kings 10:30 Baggage Battles 10:55 How Do They Do It? 11:25 How It’s Made 11:50 Dual Survival 12:45 Yukon Men 13:40 Finding Bigfoot 14:35 Border Security 15:05 Auction Kings 15:30 Baggage Battles 16:00 Inventions That Shook The World 16:55 Dual Survival 17:50 Mythbusters 18:45 Sons Of Guns 19:40 How Do They Do It? 20:05 How It’s Made 20:35 Auction Kings 21:00 Baggage Battles 21:30 You Have Been Warned 22:25 Magic Of Science 22:50 Magic Of Science 23:20 Mythbusters

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The Tech Show Weird Connections Prototype This Prank Science Prank Science Da Vinci’s Machines Prototype This Mighty Ships Gadget Show - World Tour The Tech Show Meteorite Men Space Pioneer NASA’s Greatest Missions Gadget Show - World Tour The Tech Show Smash Lab Nextworld Mighty Ships Meteorite Men NASA’s Greatest Missions Weird Connections Gadget Show - World Tour The Tech Show Space Pioneer Smash Lab Nextworld Robocar Meteorite Men Space Pioneer NASA’s Greatest Missions Gadget Show - World Tour The Tech Show Space Pioneer Prank Science Prank Science Gadget Show - World Tour

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Hannah Montana Brandy & Mr Whiskers Brandy & Mr Whiskers Replacements Replacements Emperor’s New School Emperor’s New School Brandy & Mr Whiskers Brandy & Mr Whiskers Replacements Replacements Emperor’s New School Emperor’s New School Brandy & Mr Whiskers Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Doc McStuffins Austin And Ally Austin And Ally A.N.T. Farm Jessie Jessie Good Luck Charlie Good Luck Charlie Austin And Ally Austin And Ally Shake It Up Shake It Up Suite Life On Deck Suite Life On Deck Hannah Montana Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place Jessie A.N.T. Farm A.N.T. Farm Austin And Ally Austin And Ally Good Luck Charlie Jessie Shake It Up A.N.T Farm Austin And Ally Austin And Ally Suite Life On Deck Wizards Of Waverly Place That’s So Raven Cory In The House Good Luck Charlie Jessie Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place Phil Of The Future Hannah Montana Jonas Sonny With A Chance Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place Hannah Montana

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Dirty Soap Style Star THS THS Style Star Extreme Close-Up

04:10 05:05 06:00 07:50 08:20 09:15 10:15 11:10 12:05 12:35 13:05 13:35 14:05 York 15:00 15:30 16:30 17:00 18:00 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 22:30 23:30

E!es THS THS Style Star Opening Act Opening Act THS THS Khloe And Lamar Khloe And Lamar Married To Jonas Married To Jonas Kourtney & Kim Take New Style Star E!es Extreme Close-Up Giuliana & Bill E! News Fashion Police E!es Kourtney And Kim Take Miami Chasing The Saturdays E! News Chelsea Lately

00:05 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 00:30 Outrageous Food 00:55 Unwrapped 01:20 Unwrapped 01:45 Guy’s Big Bite - Special 02:35 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 03:00 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 03:25 Unique Eats 03:50 Andy Bates Street Feasts 04:15 Andy Bates American Street Feasts 04:40 Chopped 05:30 Iron Chef America 06:10 Food Network Challenge 07:00 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 07:25 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 07:50 Unique Eats 08:15 Andy Bates Street Feasts 08:40 Andy Bates American Street Feasts 09:05 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 09:30 The Next Iron Chef 10:20 Extra Virgin 10:45 Extra Virgin 11:10 Everyday Italian 11:35 Unwrapped 12:00 Staten Island Cakes 12:50 Reza’s African Kitchen 13:15 Barefoot Contessa 13:40 Barefoot Contessa 14:05 Extra Virgin 14:30 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 14:55 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 15:20 Guy’s Big Bite 15:45 Chopped 16:35 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 17:00 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 17:25 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 17:50 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 18:15 Reza’s African Kitchen 18:40 Guy’s Big Bite 19:05 Tyler’s Ultimate 19:30 Chopped 20:20 Chopped 21:10 Iron Chef America 22:00 Charly’s Cake Angels 22:25 Charly’s Cake Angels 22:50 Unique Sweets 23:15 Unique Sweets 23:40 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives

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Dr G: Medical Examiner A Haunting Couples Who Kill Deadly Women I Almost Got Away With It Dr G: Medical Examiner A Haunting Murder Shift Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? On The Case With Paula Zahn Undercover: Double Life Disappeared Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Forensic Detectives On The Case With Paula Zahn Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth Did I Marry? Disappeared Undercover: Double Life Forensic Detectives On The Case With Paula Zahn Disappeared Nightmare Next Door Couples Who Kill Evil, I Evil, I I Almost Got Away With It I Almost Got Away With It

00:15 The Kimchi Chronicles Begin 00:45 Three Gorges Dam 01:40 Buenos Aires 02:05 Beirut, Lebanon 02:35 Stock Car 03:30 Colombia Ambush 04:25 05:20 Athens To Atlanta 06:15 New Forest 06:40 New York City 07:10 Route 62: The Longest Wine Route In The World Cont 07:35 The Kimchi Chronicles Begin 08:05 Three Gorges Dam 09:00 Buenos Aires 09:25 Beirut, Lebanon 09:55 Stock Car 10:50 Colombia Ambush 11:45 12:40 City Chase Rome, 1 13:35 Tossachs 14:00 Mexico City 14:30 Red And White Wine Goes Green 14:55 The Rice Chronicles 15:25 Ice City 16:20 London, Uk 16:45 Port of Spain, Trinidad 17:15 White Water Challenge 18:10 Cocaine Mule Mom 19:05 City Chase Rome, 1 20:00 Red And White Wine Goes Green 20:30 The Rice Chronicles 21:00 Tossachs 21:30 Mexico City 22:00 22:55 Norfolk

LARRY CROWNE ON OSN CINEMA 23:20 Greece - Athens 23:50 Thailand

00:15 Get Rich Or Die Tryin’-18 02:15 The New Daughter-PG15 04:15 Secret Window-PG15 06:00 True Justice: Street Wars-PG15 08:00 Season Of The Witch-PG15 10:00 The New Daughter-PG15 12:00 Meteor Storm-PG15 14:00 Season Of The Witch-PG15 15:45 X-Men: First Class-PG15 18:00 Meteor Storm-PG15 20:00 Captain America: The First Avenger-PG15 22:30 The Avengers-PG15

01:00 33 Postcards-PG15 03:00 Contagion-PG15 05:00 Once Brothers-PG15 07:00 Ip Man 2-PG15 09:00 33 Postcards-PG15 11:00 Winx-FAM 13:00 Madea’s Big Happy FamilyPG15 15:00 A Fall From Grace-PG15 17:00 When Love Is Not EnoughPG15 19:00 Larry Crowne-PG15 21:00 One Day-18 23:00 The Disappearance Of Alice Creed-18

00:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 01:00 The Colbert Report 01:30 The New Normal 02:00 South Park 03:00 Hot In Cleveland 04:30 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 05:30 Hope & Faith 07:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 08:30 Hope & Faith 09:00 Hot In Cleveland 09:30 How I Met Your Mother 11:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 13:00 Hope & Faith 15:00 How I Met Your Mother 15:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 16:00 The Colbert Report 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 Ben And Kate 19:00 Modern Family 19:30 The Mindy Project 20:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 Weeds 22:30 It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia 23:30 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

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Switched At Birth American Horror Story The Americans Greek House Of Cards Grey’s Anatomy Switched At Birth Emmerdale Coronation Street White Collar The Ellen DeGeneres Show Grey’s Anatomy House Of Cards Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show White Collar Switched At Birth Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show White Collar The Finder Franklin & Bash Awake The Carrie Diaries Greek

00:30 The Corruptor 02:15 Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ 04:15 The New Daughter

06:15 Secret Window 08:00 True Justice: Street Wars 10:00 Season Of The Witch 12:00 The New Daughter 14:00 Meteor Storm 16:00 Season Of The Witch 17:45 X-Men: First Class 20:00 Meteor Storm 22:00 Captain America: The First Avenger

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Friday After Next-18 Spread-R The Bad News Bears (1976)-

01:15 03:00 05:15 07:15 09:00 11:00 13:00 14:45 16:45 19:00 21:00 23:00

Elevator Girl-PG15 A Very Long Engagement-18 Super 8-PG15 Every Jack Has A Jill-PG15 Dragonfly-PG15 A Woman-PG15 Project Nim-PG15 Dragonfly-PG15 The Alamo-PG15 Vacuums-PG15 True Grit-PG15 Wuthering Heights-18

Hop-PG Zathura: A Space Adventure3 Holiday Tails-PG15 The Bad News Bears (1976)Best In Show-PG15 3 Holiday Tails-PG15 Summer School-PG15 The Switch-18 Friday After Next-18

01:00 A View From Here-PG15 03:00 The Tourist-PG15 05:00 A Mother’s Choice-PG15 07:00 Puss In Boots-PG 09:00 Source Code-PG15 11:00 101 Dalmatians (1961)-PG 12:45 The Way-PG15 15:00 Big Miracle-PG 17:00 Source Code-PG15 18:45 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel-PG15 21:00 Best Laid Plans-PG15 23:00 Wanderlust-R

01:00 02:45 04:30 06:00 08:00 09:45 11:15 Rules 13:00 14:45 16:15 18:00 20:00 22:00 23:45

Micropolis Toyz Goin’ Wild Freddy Frogface Arrietty Pacific Pirates The Hairy Tooth Fairy 2 Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Rodrick The Lucky Dragon Freddy Frogface Snowmen The Hairy Tooth Fairy 2 Cher Ami The Lucky Dragon Snowmen

00:00 MSNBC Hardball With Chris Matthews 01:00 MSNBC Politicsnation 02:00 Live NBC Nightly News 02:30 ABC World News With Diane Sawyer 03:00 MSNBC The Ed Show 04:00 MSNBC The Rachel Maddow Show 05:00 MSNBC The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell 06:00 NBC Nightly News 06:30 ABC World News With Diane Sawyer 07:00 Live NBC Nightly News 07:39 ABC Nightline 08:06 Live MSNBC The Rachel Maddow Show 09:00 MSNBC The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell 10:00 ABC World News Now 10:30 Live ABC World News Now 11:00 NBC Early Today 11:30 ABC America This Morning 12:00 ABC America This Morning

12:30 Live ABC America This Morning 13:00 Live ABC America This Morning 13:30 MSNBC First Look 14:00 Live NBC Today Show 17:57 Live MSNBC Hardball With Chris Matthews 18:38 Live MSNBC The Ed Show 19:19 Live MSNBC The Rachel Maddow Show 20:00 MSNBC Andrea Mitchell Reports 21:00 MSNBC Newsnation 22:00 MSNBC The Cycle 23:00 MSNBC Martin Bashir

00:00 01:00 01:30 05:00 06:30 07:00 09:00 10:00 12:00 13:00 14:00 16:00 16:30 17:30 19:30 20:00 20:30 21:00 21:30 22:30 23:30

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Classifieds THURSDAY, APRIL 11, 2013 (C 4370)




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Mazda 3, model 2012, running 14,000 km, price KD 2,850, negotiable. Mobile: 66109046. (C 4372) 8-6-2013 CHANGE OF NAME I, ABUL HASANSA DULI RAHMATH ALI, holder of Indian Passport No: G3925520, issued at Kuwait, on 13.11.2007 permanent resident of 3/81 A, middle street, SP Pattinam (Post), Ramnad dist., Tamil Nadu and presently working at Sharq - Kuwait, do hereby change my name from ABUL HASANSA DULI RAHMATH ALI to ABUL HASAN RAHMATH ALI with immediate effect. (C 4375) 11-4-2013 I, Tarun Kanti Paul and I, Mithu Paul parents of Supriti Paul, her Passport No. J6954961 hereby will change our daughter’s name as Zeta Supriti Paul. (C 4369) I, Tarun Kanti Paul and I, Mithu Paul parents of Swaswati Paul, her Passport No. J6954985 hereby will change our daughter’s name as Luna Shashati Paul.

Sangam Sivakumar Raju, S/o Sangam Kodandarama Raju Indian Passport No. K3372636 issued at Hyderabad, India, date 02/04/2013 Passport resident 9/130 Rly Kodur YSR District 516001 (A.P) India, hereby change to Sangaraju Sivakumar Raju. New resident 7/21 D, Gangireddypalem, Rajampet, Kadapa, A.P, 516115 India. (C 4371) 7-4-2013

SITUATION VACANT A family is looking to hire a cook with experience in Kuwaiti and Indian cuisines. Tel: 99005438. (C 4373) 10-4-2013


THE PUBLIC AUTHORITY FOR CIVIL INFORMATION Automated enquiry about the Civil ID card is

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No: 15775

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stars CROSSWORD 156

STAR TRACK Aries (March 21-April 19) You are attracted to any kind of fantasy, mysticism, or imaginative work. Your imagination runs wild during this time period! Of course, the extent to which this affects you and the precise ways it manifests, depends largely on your own personal tastes and inclinations in these matters. But regardless of your temperament, your imagination will soar at this time. If you are waiting for that fantasy to walk through the door and become a reality, well it could happen, but not if you’re sitting at home watching the television. If you want it you are just going to have to make an effort to go out and find it! So make some plans to be places and meet people today that could get you noticed.

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

You may benefit socially or materially through an opportunity given to you by a friend. This is a good time for parties, social gatherings, and other activities with friends. A dreamy state of affairs marks today’s attitude and it may be difficult to understand people in general or to get anyone else to either. Fantasy is favored, along with speculation, hopefulness in your most intimate relationships and fantasy’s. Anything you try to plan right not may not work the way you are hoping, so it’s a better day for imagination than actual progress.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

ACROSS 1. (Scotland) A small loaf or roll of soft bread. 4. The atmosphere above a nation and deemed to be under its jurisdiction. 12. Tag the base runner to get him out. 15. Hormone secreted by the posterior pituitary gland (trade name Pitressin) and also by nerve endings in the hypothalamus. 16. Associated with or performed by civilians as contrasted with the military. 17. Title for a civil or military leader (especially in Turkey). 18. The capital of Nationalist China. 20. Any bundle of nerve fibers running to various organs and tissues of the body. 21. An electrically charged particle. 22. A woman hired to suckle a child of someone else. 25. The 11th letter of the Greek alphabet. 27. Moderate in type or degree or effect or force. 28. An international organization of European countries formed after World War II to reduce trade barriers and increase cooperation among its members. 30. A white soft metallic element that tarnishes readily. 31. A Chadic language spoken south of Lake Chad. 36. An industrial town in north central Alabama. 40. A decree that prohibits something. 41. English monk and scholar (672-735). 43. Large genus of Australian evergreen shrubs or small trees with large daisylike flowers. 44. The blood group whose red cells carry both the A and B antigens. 46. (folklore) Fairies that are somewhat mischievous. 47. God of fire. 49. North American republic containing 50 states - 48 conterminous states in North America plus Alaska in northwest North America and the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean. 51. Angular distance above the horizon (especially of a celestial object). 52. A store that sells cheap ready-made clothing. 54. A genus of Scolopacidae. 56. Type and only genus of the family Tytonidae. 57. A soft silvery metallic element of the rare earth group. 58. United States historian who wrote a nine volume history of the people of the United States (1852-1932). 60. 30 to 300 kilohertz. 62. Being nine more than ninety. 63. The branch of computer science that deal with writing computer programs that can solve problems creatively. 64. Type genus of the Sphyrnidae. 68. (plural) Hosts or armies. 73. Type genus of the Clupeidae. 76. The cry made by sheep. 77. An associate degree in applied science. 78. A cut of pork ribs with much of the meat trimmed off. 80. A slippery or viscous liquid or liquefiable substance not miscible with water. 81. A bachelor's degree in naval science. 82. A large estate in Spanish-speaking countries. 83. (folklore) Fairies that are somewhat mischievous.

DOWN 1. A Chadic language spoken south of Lake Chad. 2. (Old Testament) In Judeo-Christian mythology. 3. A small bottle that contains a drug (especially a sealed sterile container for injection by needle). 4. (informal) Of the highest quality. 5. Being one more than two. 6. A motorized wheeled vehicle used for camping or other recreational activities. 7. In the Arabian Nights a hero who tells of the fantastic adventures he had in his voyages. 8. Humble request for help. 9. Affected manners intended to impress others. 10. Someone who dwells in a cave. 11. The compass point midway between northeast and east. 12. Submerged aquatic plant having narrow leaves and small flowers. 13. Highly excited. 14. Something causes misery or death. 19. Drought-resistant Asiatic treelike shrub bearing pleasantly acid small red edible fruits commonly used in sherbets. 23. A public promotion of some product or service. 24. Fleshy spore-bearing inner mass of e.g. a puffball or stinkhorn. 26. A state in southeastern India on the Bay of Bengal (south of Andhra Pradesh). 29. With self-possession (especially in times of stress). 32. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. 33. Used as a Hindi courtesy title. 34. Medium-sized penguins occurring in large colonies on the Adelie coast of Antarctica. 35. A salt used especially in baking powder. 37. Station where transport vehicles load or unload passengers or goods. 38. Being one more than seven. 39. Small creatures resembling pieces of fuzzy rope. 42. Praise, glorify, or honor. 45. A village in eastern Ireland (northwest of Dublin). 48. The sciences concerned with gathering and manipulating and storing and retrieving and classifying recorded information. 50. Somewhat arid. 53. A small vascular growth on the surface of a mucous membrane. 55. A law passed by US Congress to prevent employees from being injured or contracting diseases in the course of their employment. 59. Military barracks in a garrison town. 61. Not stale or old. 65. A series of steps to be carried out or goals to be accomplished. 66. Czechoslovakian religious reformer who anticipated the Reformation. 67. Plant with an elongated head of broad stalked leaves resembling celery. 69. A small cake leavened with yeast. 70. A slender double-reed instrument. 71. (aeronautical) Pertaining to the tail section of a plane. 72. Consisting of one of two equivalent parts in value or quantity. 74. The use of nuclear magnetic resonance of protons to produce proton density images. 75. (used informally) Very small. 79. A radioactive element of the actinide series.


Don’t let negative thinking get you down criticism for its own sake is a waste of time. Lack of confidence can take the wind out of your sails, so believe in yourself even when others don’t. Sail straight and true through the currents of self-doubt and ignore the sometimes jealous remarks of others who would see you give up. Small, multiple moves are favored over big leaps, they mount up and you go just as far. Your desires and romantic urges are very strong now. In all of your relationships, whether romantic or not, you feel quite warm and affectionate. You are less competitive, more interested in pleasing others, and creating harmony. Just don’t let anyone take advantage of you unless you really want to.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) You can afford to be avant-garde today—let the progressive revolutionary in you roam at will. Today is filled with thought-provoking discussions about controversial topics, unusual or offbeat ideas, or “whacky” concepts. The tempo of your life is increasing and may leave you feeling frazzled today however. Because you are quite restless at present, you may say things which leave others stunned. This is a great day for heading off into unexplored territory, and you will find others are doing the same. Inventiveness and originality are favored, as are projects and personal involvements which partake of them. If you haven’t tried it then now’s the time to take a new adventure in life.

Leo (July 23-August 22) Your energies are directed to either perfecting your techniques, skills, and abilities in work, or in “perfecting”, refining, and improving yourself as a person. Critical analysis and attention to minute detail are intrinsic in either process. The urge to bring about a state of wholeness or optimal functioning is a strong motivation of yours today. Whatever you do today will be done well. Romance becomes an end in itself as a new cycle begins for you. This marks a time when love, creativity, and self expression can satisfy a deep yearning to be appreciated and admired. Remember being wanted for who you are instead of what you can give is the ultimate compliment.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) You have to be emotionally intelligent about money matters today. Even if there are things that you want or rather have to have, consider the pros and cons before doing anything foolish with regards to spending. You could be in a somewhat competitive cycle with those around you and these financial issues are probably more ego based than anything else. Getting noticed and getting the job done may not seem to go hand in hand, as personal issues interfere with other obligations. Personal and partner issues will be the main focus for most of the day. Try to get as much resolved in this area without destroying it out of frustration.

Word Search

Libra (September 23-October 22) You won’t be resting until the job is done, but try not to get over-enthusiastic about a particularly complicated obligation. It may not go down too well when you break the news to your partner or good mate, but you really need to get this taken care of pronto. Being more closely involved with another person could become your highest priority now. Marriage, contracts, and partnerships are seen as the cornerstone to success and happiness for you. Now’s as good a time to start manifesting if you aren’t involved with someone else yet.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) You attract the energetic and energize the attractive, so take this time to make some serious inroads on fulfilling previously elusive desires. Acting sure of yourself will get you everything - show that you’re in it for the long run and you’ll run in the company of champions. Fluidity of motion eases the race and catches the eye. Tension in your home life, conflicts between work demands and personal needs, or unresolved emotional issues are likely to happen now, calling on your ability to compromises on your part. A side of you which is usually hidden or in the background could also emerge now, and this may be positive or negative.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) Watch out for conflicting goals and energy-wasting diminishing returns today. What may seem like deceit could be just mixed emotions, or vice versa. Rather than jump into a mosh pit, let things calm down a bit. When everyone gets more certain of what they want, it will be easier to move in concert together. Knowing who you want and moving on to win their affection is the opportunity of the day, and who you fall in love or even very like with now may be just the chance you’ve been waiting for. Sharing goals and deciding to mutually go for it will be the best of all possible worlds for everybody, with a minimum of conflict resulting later.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) You may find turning over a new leaf this month entails tossing out the old and ringing in the new, but you should take a second look before doing that. What you may find much more satisfactory is to simply rework and refurbish what is already there. Sometimes a new paint job makes everything new again, so you don’t have to start over from scratch. They don’t make things like they used to, so preserve what you can. It’s also a good time to initiate that new credit card, but avoid impulse buying, as it’s easy to go overboard right about now. Ditto for mortgage or other loans — a good starting time, but just take what you need and no more.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) Your personal drives and ambition to assert yourself and make an impact on the world, meet with considerable opposition now. Other people or outside forces over which you have no control seem to subtly undermine your efforts or try to overpower you altogether. You need to stand up for yourself. If you have been dishonest or overly egotistical and selfish in your pursuits, you are likely to get your comeuppance now. Your magnetism is strong and you attract appreciation, affection and attention at this time. Feelings of love, a desire for beauty, and the urge to be creative are strong. You beautify your surroundings, and pay particular attention to your appearance. This is a good time to treat yourself or do something fun just for you.

Pisces (February 19-March 20) A lack of communication will be the problem, if any, today. Avoid arguments so you’ll be able to stay balanced. You could become the subject of some gossip or criticism that could be upsetting to you but you know the truth in your heart. Do not get drawn in to these sorts of mind games. Inadequacies and discontent in your friends or lovers are rather annoying to you now, and you may feel that you have nearly exhausted your patience for dealing with these problems and maybe even the people. It is a time to be quiet and to look objectively at how your relationships are going, is it working for you? If not then perhaps a little heart to heart won’t hurt today.

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Rheumatologists: Dr. Adel Al-Awadi

Dr Anil Thomas

Dr. Salem soso

Dr. Abd Al-Naser Al-Othman


Dr. Khaled Al-Jarallah


Internist, Chest & Heart DR.Mohammes Akkad

24555050 Ext 210

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


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

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

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


LIFESTYLE G o s s i p


ourt records show Mick Fleetwood has filed for legal separation from his wife of more than 17 years in Los Angeles. Fleetwood and Lynn Frankel Fleetwood have been married since July 1995 and have twin 11-year-old daughters together. He is seeking joint legal custody but wants his estranged wife to have physical custody of their children. The Fleetwood Mac drummer filed for separation on March 22, but the documents were not publicly available


livia Wilde and Jason Sudeikis will marry next spring. The ‘Tron’ actress and her ‘Saturday Night Live’ star fiance will tie the knot in a ceremony in upstate New York and the bride-to-be has already chosen Monique Lhuillier to design her bridesmaids’ dresses. According to the New York Post newspaper, the actress was overheard at a dinner at The General in New York on Monday telling guests about her wedding plans, and also joked that having a long engagement bucked a family trend of marrying just months after a proposal. Olivia - who announced her engagement to Jason in January - has previously admitted she can’t wait to start a family with her 37-year-old fiancÈ. She said



lec Baldwin is being lined up to front a late-night talk show. The ‘30 Rock’ actor - who is currently starring in a stage production of ‘Orphans’ on New York’s Broadway - is said to have had “conversations” with NBC about taking over the slot currently occupied by ‘Carson Daly’s Last Call’ after impressing network chiefs with his podcast series. A source told E! News: “People have been impressed with his radio podcast series and have thought about him for these opportunities.” Alec’s podcast series with WNYC radio, called ‘Here’s The Thing’, has seen him interview stars including David Letterman, Billy Joel, Kristen Wiig and Chris Rock away from the studio into locations such as his guest’s apartment. If the proposed 30minute TV show followed the same format, it would mean the 55-year-old actor could record several installments in one day, leaving his schedule open for his other commitments, the New York Daily News reports. The proposal is one of several changes to NBC’s late-night schedule, following the network’s confirmation that Jay Leno is stepping down from ‘The Tonight Show’ and being replaced by ‘Late Night’ host Jimmy Fallon next year. Seth Meyers, best known for his work on ‘Saturday Night Live’ is tipped to take over Jimmy’s current show.


aniel Radcliffe was one of 300 mourners to mourn Richard Griffiths at his funeral. The ‘Harry Potter’ actor wept for his co-star, who played his cruel uncle Vernon Dursley in the wizard franchise, as he was laid to rest at the Holy Trinity church in Stratford-upon-Avon, West Midlands of England, where poet William Shakespeare was buried. An mourner told the MailOnline website: “Daniel was clearly very fond of Richard, as anyone who ever met him was, and was crying quite openly in church. “It was a beautiful service and Richard would have been touched by how many people turned up to say goodbye. Richard was a tremendous character and the service was full of laughter and tears as his life was remembered with immense warmth and affection.” Many stars attended the service and laid flowers including Dame Judi Dench - who appeared with him in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ - and Richard’s ‘Withnail and I’

lga Kurylenko felt in “good hands” while filming ‘Oblivion’ with Tom Cruise. The Ukrainian actress and the action star filmed some “terrifying” scenes for their new sci-fi film and despite feeling frightened during the stunts, Olga was reassured by Tom. She told E! News: “When Tom is next to you, you feel like you’re in good hands and nothing bad is gonna happen to you.


ussell Brand and Katy Perry’s marital home is up for sale. The former couple’s Hollywood Hills mansion which they resided in during their short-lived marriage has gone on the market for $6.925 million, according to The British comedian and the ‘Teenage Dream’ hitmaker hardly ever lived in the three-acre property -

until Tuesday. He does not list a date for the couple’s separation but wants a judge to award him sole control of music royalties and other earnings from before their marriage. The 65-year-old Grammy Award winner cites irreconcilable differences for the separation, but no other details are included in the filing.

recently: “[I] can’t wait for children. I’m openminded about how many, but three, which I love, is like a little party. I am not trying to have kids now - there’s no strict plan for anything in my life. “What happens, happens. [Jason’s] so good with kids ... I’ve never before experienced looking at someone and thinking, ‘That’s who I want to raise a child with.’ “The 29-year-old beauty previously married Italian filmmaker and musician Tao Ruspoli when she was 19, and they divorced in 2011.

“All those action scenes and when you’re dealing with machines and speed and a lot of spinning, could be a bit terrifying but ... but I looked and I thought, ‘Tom Cruise is sitting right next to me. Nothing is gonna happen.’” Although Olga, 33, trusted Tom it didn’t stop her instincts from trying to take control of a motorbike they were both speeding on for one scene. Her attempts to grab the handlebars instead left Tom panicking. The 50year-old hunk recently recalled: “We were riding over rough terrain in Iceland and I said to her, ‘All you have to do is really hold on to me.’ She had to hold on tight as every bump we hit I had to accelerate. But every time we hit a bump, her hands left my sides and she tried to grab the handlebars. “I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life, I was so shocked, I almost killed us and I kept saying to Olga, ‘Listen, we are moving at 50 miles an hour, please let go.’ So I was driving and we’d hit a little bump and I’d be slapping her hand and I was thinking I hope the camera doesn’t see me slapping her hand.”

which they originally bought for $6.5 million - as Katy embarked on her ninemonth ‘California Dreams’ world tour shortly after they wed at a tiger sanctuary in India in October 2010. The two-story, 8,835-square-foot house boasts s even bedrooms and a whopping 11 bathrooms, with the outside area featuring two guest homes and a pool with a waterfall. Katy and Russell officially lived in the house until the ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ star filed for divorce in December 2011. The pop star has since dated musician and notorious womanizer John Mayer, but they split in March and Katy is rumored to have been messaging Russell for support. It has also been alleged her eight-month romance broke down because she was constantly comparing John to her ex. A source said: “Katy reached out to him after she split with John, bemoaning her luck with men and Russell provided her with some much-needed reassurance.”

co-star Richard E. Grant, whose message read: “To my beloved Uncle Monty, chin chin, all my love Richard E Grant.” Actor Nigel Havers, comedian Jack Whitehall - who was Richard’s godson - and ‘Downton Abbey’ creator Julian Fellowes also attended the funeral. A photo of Richard as his famous role of Hector from ‘The History Boys’ was printed for each of the guests, accompanied by the poem ‘Late Fragment’ by Raymond Carver. A selection of verses were read out, with former Bond girl Carmen Du Sautoy reading from ‘Ecclesiastes’ and TV star Penelope Wilton reciting Richard’s favorite poem by Edward Lear, ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’. Richard passed away in March after complications following heart surgery. The actor is survived by his wife of 33 years Heather Gibson. — Agencies


op diva Beyonce and hip-hop star Jay-Z’s controversial trip to Cuba was part of a cultural exchange and did not violate the economic embargo imposed on the island by the United States, a senior US Treasury official said Tuesday. Alastair Fitzpayne, the Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs, said in a letter to Republican lawmakers who had questioned the trip that the couple’s high-profile visit had not broken any laws. “It is our understanding that the travelers in question traveled to Cuba pursuant to an educational exchange trip organized by a group authorized by OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) to sponsor and organize programs to promote people-to people contact in Cuba,” Fitzpayne said in the letter seen by AFP. Last week Republican representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida sent a letter to Treasury official Adam Szubin, director of OFAC, requesting information on the type of license Beyonce and Jay-Z received before traveling to Cuba. “As you know, US law expressly prohibits the licensing of financial transactions for ‘tourist activities’ in Cuba,” the pair wrote. Images of Beyonce and her husband walking around Havana surrounded by hundreds of fans stoked controversy in the United States. Under the embargo established against Cuba in 1962, US citizens cannot go to the island and spend money without permission from the government. Fitzpayne said OFAC “adheres strictly to the requirement in the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 that no licence be issued to travel to Cuba for tourist activities, as defined in the Act.”


vril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger fell for one other after singing love songs together. The couple announced their engagement last August after just a month of dating and Chad, 38, admitted feelings developed while working on music for Avril’s upcoming fifth album. He told KIIS FM DJ Ryan Seacrest: “When you’re sitting there across from someone singing into the microphone and you’re singing a love song, you start to develop feelings for them. And it just kind of blossomed into this kind of thing and the next thing you know ... we started dating.” Avril, 28, added: “We met - in the studio - and I was really excited to work with him because he’s also a musician. “[We] wrote a bunch of songs together, became really good friends and now we have a wedding.” And the couple knew straight away they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together. Avril - who was previously married to Sum 41 rocker Deryck Whibley - recalled: “We started dating and the next day he was like, ‘You know I’m gonna marry you.’ And I said, ‘I know.’ It was one of those things that we just knew.”



LIFESTYLE F e a t u r e s

Elmo and two Hello Kitty characters pose for photos with a little girl in New York’s Times Square. — AP photos

ookie Monster stands accused of shoving a 2-yearold. Super Mario was charged with groping a woman. And Elmo was booked for berating tourists with antiSemitic slurs. Times Square is crawling with entrepreneurs who dress up as pop-culture characters and try to make a few bucks posing for photos with visitors to the big city. But some of these characters are unlike anything you’ve seen on “Sesame Street” or at Disney World. They smoke, they use foul language, and they can be aggressive. At least three of them have been arrested in the past seven months. “He was using words that were really bad,” said Parmita Kurada of Stamford, Conn, who told police she got into a dispute this week with a man in a Cookie Monster costume who demanded $2 for posing with her 2-year-old son, Samay. Kurada said that when she told the Cookie Monster that her husband needed to get cash, the shaggy blue creature pushed the boy and began calling her and the child obscene names. “It was very scary for us, and I was crying. I didn’t want to provoke him, so I said, ‘We’ll give you the money, but stop yelling!’” she said. Osvaldo Quiroz-Lopez, 33, was charged with assault, child endangerment and aggressive begging. His lawyer did not immediately return a call for comment. Asked by a


A man has his photo taken by a Hello Kitty character, right, as he poses with Cookie Monster, another Hello Kitty and Super Mario characters.

WNBC-TV reporter why he no longer likes the character he sees on “Sesame Street,” little Samay said: “Because Cookie Monster give me boo-boo.” In the wake of the latest arrest, the bustling “Crossroads of the World” was filled Tuesday with performers, including multiple versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Hello Kitty, a Transformer robot, Lady Liberty, Super Mario and Elmo. Many of them are immigrants trying to eke out a living in what appear to be knockoff costumes. As street performers protected by the First Amendment, they are free to roam Times Square and work for tips that average between $2 and $5 a photo as long as they don’t block traffic, sell merchandise or demand payment, police say. That’s a ticketable offense that can cost about $60. “I don’t think they should charge, but if they’re unemployed or homeless, and this is the only way they can make money, it’s OK,” said Lauren Larcara of Oakland, N.J., who posed with a torch-carrying Statue of Liberty. Laura Vanegas, a 45-year-old native of Ecuador, changes into her Liberty robes and applies copper-green face paint behind the Times Square military recruiting station. She said she picks up $30 to $50 on her eight-hour shift. Steve Crass, dressed as a robot in fluorescent red and white plas-

An Elmo character poses for photos in New York’s Times Square.

tic panels, said he has made as much as $280 during his sixhour stint in front of Toys R Us. He acknowledged: “Some of the characters are a little too aggressive.” Police spokesman Paul Browne said in an email that the department has had “occasional issues with the ‘faux paws’ in Times Square, but they’re nominal.” The case against the Super Mario charged with groping is still pending. The Elmo accused of an anti-Semitic rant pleaded guilty in September to disorderly conduct and was sentenced to two days of community service. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called the Cookie Monster case “just horrible” and said lawmakers have been looking into how to regulate the characters. But she noted the issue is, well, fuzzy. “It’s very challenging legally because dressing up in a costume and walking around Times Square is, we believe, a First Amendment-protected activity,” said Quinn, a candidate to be New York’s next mayor. Similar cases of misbehavior by costumed performers have been reported in Hollywood. Disney did not respond to a request for comment, while the Sesame Workshop, the organization behind “Sesame Street,” said it has not authorized such uses of any its characters in any city and is looking into what actions it can

take. Anthony Elia, a New York lawyer in the intellectualproperty field, said the entertainment groups probably have a case for trademark infringement, but “the challenge probably would be getting a bunch of self-employed entrepreneurial individuals to stop.” It’s not the easiest way to make a living. On a day when temperatures pushed 80, they sweated in their outfits, coming out from under their oversized costume heads only to grab a hot dog or a smoke. When one posed for a photo, two or three others dashed over and joined in. “Want to take a picture?” a furry red Elmo asked a tourist. Moments later, he declined to speak to a reporter, saying through his costume, “I no speak English.” A Minnie Mouse offered a toddler in a stroller her hand and positioned herself at the handlebar. A Super Mario rushed over to join her. “She said, ‘Can you give us money?’” said the child’s mother, Melanie Somogyi of Hamilton, Ontario. “And they grabbed the stroller!”— AP

roubled actress Lindsay Lohan on Tuesday dodged questions about her upcoming courtordered stintin rehab in her first interview for five months. Lohan, 26, told late-night TV talk show host David Letterman in an appearance on his “Late Show” that she was due to enter three months of rehabilitation on May 2. But the “Mean Girls” actress, whose Hollywood career has been wrecked by repeated court cases and erratic behavior since 2007, brushed aside questions about the nature of her addiction or her several previous efforts to change her ways.


Polish inmates perform Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at the Polish Theatre in Warsaw on April 6, 2013.—AFP photos

or a Shakespeare play with a twist, a Polish arts troupe cast inmates alongside professional actors in an effort to engage those on the sidelines of society. The six men, whose crimes range from theft to battery resulting in death, performed their adaptation of the bard’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” at Warsaw’s posh Polish Theatre last weekend. “We never thought it would really come to this,” said Szymon Semeniuk, 33, who plays Demetrius and is serving a three-year term. “Because us, thieves from jail, on stage? Really?” he said, citing initial concerns that other inmates and the public would make a laughing stock of them. “But after the premiere, we grew a little taller, and we now feel pretty confident up there.” The men were bussed over from their high-security prison in the eastern town of Opole Lubelskie for the show, part of a program between the jail and the arts troupe.


“I want people to see that these are normal guys who are able to do something and can be likeable. That they can give something of themselves, not just take,” said Dariusz Jez, 47, the group’s founder and a professional actor. Jez speaks from experience: the former gangster with a pot belly and hearty laugh did time for fraud and other offences before changing his ways, in part thanks to his own stint in prison theatre. Well aware of the healing power of the arts, he has plans to bring it to other marginalized groups, from homeless individuals to the elderly to people with AIDS.—AFP

Lindsay Lohan visits ‘Late Show With David Letterman’ at Ed Sullivan Theater yesterday in New York City. — AFP “And how will this time be different? What are they rehabbing, first of all? What is on their list? What are they going to work on when you walk through the door?” Letterman asked her. Lohan replied with a laugh, “We didn’t discuss this in the pre-interview, I’m just saying to everyone.” “No, I think, to be honest, I’m the happiest when I’m working and the healthiest, and I think this an opportunity for me to, you know, focus on what I love in life. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think it’s a blessing ... and not a curse,” she added, according to an excerpt released by CBS television ahead of Tuesday’s broadcast. Lohan was ordered in March to spend three months in a locked rehab facility, do 30 days of community labor, and undergo psychotherapy for 18 months in a plea bargain over charges arising from a June 2012 car crash in Southern California. The deal, struck in Los Angeles Superior Court, allowed her to avoid jail in return for pleading no contest to charges that she lied to police when she said she was not behind the wheel when her Porsche smashed into a truck. Lohan has been jailed or placed under house arrest for short periods numerous times since 2007, including three times in 2011. She has also spent at least five periods in rehab in the last six years, saying after each stint that she was a changed woman. Tuesday’s appearance on the “Late Show with David Letterman,” ostensibly to promote this weekend’s release “Scary Movie 5,” in which she has a cameo with Charlie Sheen, was Lohan’s first interview since November 2012. — Reuters

umeirah Group, the global luxury hospitality company and a member of Dubai Holding, will highlight its 20 luxury hotels, resorts and residences across 11 destinations worldwide during a GCC roadshow aimed to signify the importance of guests from Kuwait staying in their properties. The road show stops over in five cities (Riyadh, Jeddah, Kuwait City, Doha and Abu Dhabi) from 27 April to 1 May 2013. Jumeirah representatives will address top travel trade, tour operators, travel agencies and clients in Kuwait City on 29 April 2013 at the new Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa. The Group reported an 11.3% increase in occupancy rates to 71.3% for the first quarter of 2013, compared to the same period in 2012. Kuwait contributes significantly to the revenue growth of the GCC market business into each region which is up 41.2% on last year. Thanks to Jumeirah doubling the number of hotels it operates around the world, the hospitality group has witnessed impressive revenue growth from its core markets in the first quarter of 2013. Revenue from the GCC market for hotels in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) grew by 20.3%, while in Asia Pacific it soared an impressive 474.3% and in Europe experienced an increase of 108.6%. “We are experiencing fantastic occupancy rates on a global level, which is contributing to the growing hospitality and tourism sectors, especially in the GCC,” said Christian Pertl, Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Jumeirah Group in MEASA region. “Our


hotels’ successful performance can be attributed to the thoughtful and generous service offered to our guests, as well as the quality of our hotels in each destination.” Jumeirah Group will also showcase its brand promise - STAY DIFFERENT - and its full range of luxurious and innovative offerings for business and leisure guests. Representatives from Jumeirah Group properties in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Istanbul,

London, Rome, Frankfurt, the Maldives and Baku will meet with regional travel trade partners to share exclusive insights and network with major corporate and leisure agencies. The hospitality group continues to expand globally and regionally, Jumeirah expects to open Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel in Kuwait and Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Hotel in late Spring 2013.


lifestyle T r a v e l

San Diego Zoo Safari Park, near Escondido features tours up close with many animals. By Christopher Reynolds


aybe you’ve always suspected that there was more to San Diego’s North County than beach towns, rolling hills, expat giraffes and a walled kingdom of brightly colored plastic. But frankly, they had me at beach towns. I always figured the rest-even the two marquee attractions, Legoland in Carlsbad and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park near Escondido-was just gravy. Or icing on the cake. Or maybe, given San Diego’s love of beer, the chaser after the pint.

Mexican place with an older sibling restaurant farther south in Cardiff. If you’re roughing it (and you’ve booked well ahead), you can pitch your tent at South Carlsbad State Beach campground (7201 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad), three miles south of town. If you’re splurging, family-style (or have a ton of Hilton HHonors points), head for the kid-friendly Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort (1 Ponto Road, Carlsbad), which opened in June. Yes, $349 may seem a lot to pay for a room on the inland side of the coast highway, but everything is new and shiny, most of the rooms have ocean views, there’s a spa and a big pool with a neighboring baby pool, and when the summer masses go home, those rates will ebb.

Fletcher Cove swim How to begin an ideal day: Rise early. Jump into the ocean at Solana Beach’s Fletcher Cove (111 S Sierra Ave, Solana Beach), where a pleasant little green park meets the sea. Some locals call it the Pillbox because there was a gunnery installation here during World War II. On Thursdays in summer, the park often hosts community concerts. Whatever the day, you can load up on carbohydrates, including the excellent chocolate-chip pumpkin bread, at the nearby Naked Cafe (106 S. Sierra Ave, Solana Beach). Then back to the beach.

Surfin’ Swami’s Swami’s Beach (1298 S Coast Highway, Encinitas) is a great spot for surfing, strolling or running, reached by a staircase just south of the Self-Realization Fellowship’s temple grounds. (Hence the name Swami’s) For dinner, there are plenty of options along the coast highway, but there’s only one Q’ero Peruvian Kitchen (564 S Coast Highway, Encinitas), a very tasty spot. Floral Encinitas The San Diego Botanic Garden (230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas) is a 37-acre wonderland of plants that has been open (under various names) since 1971. It includes flora from around the world, including a hilarious band of semi-topiary musicians in the Mexican garden and the terrific Hamilton Children’s Garden, whose “spell and smell” garden covers the alphabet from aloe to zebra grass. The kids’ area also includes a treehouse, chalk zone and mud play area. Then catch your breath and recaffeinate at the Leucadia end of Encinitas, where you’ll find Pannikin Coffee & Tea (510 N Coast Highway, Encinitas). It’s a surfohemian (you know what I mean) coffeehouse in an 1888 train station, full of artwork, coffee beans and kitchen goods for sale. Pannikin, by the way, is a San Diego chain (three locations) that’s been pouring fancy coffee since 1968, when Starbuck was still best known as Ahab’s first mate in “Moby-Dick.”

The Americana Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in comfortable surroundings.

But now I’ve spent several days on and off the beaches, and it looks as if you’re right: San Diego County’s northern reaches, beginning above La Jolla and ending at Camp Pendleton, deserve more attention than they get. So here are 11 micro-itineraries, which are the latest addition to our ongoing Southern California Close-Up series. (To see others, go to They’re far from comprehensive but enough to get a beginner started. And, yes, the beaches, the beasts and the molded plastic kingdom are in here too. The land of Lego Apart from that guy who whispered “Plastics!” to Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate” all those years ago, who suspected that little interlocking bricks would one day threaten to rule the world? The Lego people, that’s who. Long known as a theme park that’s better for younger kids than older thrill-seekers, Legoland (1 Legoland Drive, Carlsbad) has grown to include more than 60 rides and shows, an aquarium and water park next door, and a new 250-room hotel coming next summer. One-day admission is usually $75 for adults (13 and older) and $65 for children (ages 312). You’ll pay an additional $35 a person for a two-day pass that gets you into the water park and Sea Life Carlsbad Aquarium. In other words, hefty fun and hefty bill. If you’re spending the night, consider the pleasant Sheraton Carlsbad Resort (5480 Grand Pacific Drive, Carlsbad) next door, which has its own Legoland entrance. Or stay along the coast highway in Carlsbad at the kidfriendly Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort (3075 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad), which backs up to the beach. Carlsbad hangouts Feeling naughty? Grab a sugary bite at Boxd (430 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad), which serves waffle sandwiches out of a converted shipping container in the heart of town. Then jump in the ocean and see if you get cramps. (Despite what your mother told you, the evidence is thin.) After your dip, try lunch or a happy-hour dinner at Las Olas Restaurant (2939 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad), an ultra-casual

Solana Beach by design Who knew, back in the late 1940s, what the Bill Jack Scientific Instrument Co was starting? That company, housed in a series of Quonset huts along Cedros Avenue, has receded into Solana Beach history. But those swooping rooflines remain, the space now occupied by shops and restaurants-and Cedros Avenue has been reborn as a design district. Browse its many design and antiques shops (, such as the Leaping Lotus, which sells jewelry, furniture and art. Across the street, SoLo (309 S Cedros Ave, Solana Beach) is more sophisticated, with design books, curios and strangely compelling reclaimed industrial objects. Elsewhere on the avenue, you’ll find succulents (Cedros Gardens, 330 S Cedros Ave, Solana Beach) and surf photography (Aaron Chang Ocean Art Gallery, 415 S Cedros Ave, Solana Beach). Also-attention, bored husbands-camping gear and carabiners await inspection at Adventure 16 (143 S Cedros Ave, Solana Beach), another Southern California brand with roots in San Diego. For a snack, try Lockwood Table Cafe (346B S. Cedros Ave, Solana Beach). For dinner, Wild Notes Bistro (143 S Cedros Ave, Solana Beach) is a logical stop before a show at the Belly Up Tavern (143 S Cedros Ave, Solana Beach), which has been booking live music (under a Quonset roof) since 1974.

Leafy Rancho Santa Fe In the fertile hills a few miles east of Solana Beach, you’ll find the roadside headquarters of Chino Farms (6123 Calzada del Bosque, Rancho Santa Fe), a Japanese American family operation that produces fruit and vegetables beloved by chefs such as Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck. The farm is 45 acres. The stand (officially known as the Vegetable Shop) has been in business since 1969, and whether it’s peppers, strawberries, carrots, onions or greens, the quality is startling and priced accordingly (cash only). If you want that low-key luxury feeling for a few hours or even overnight, continue a few miles up the road to Rancho Santa Fe, one of the wealthiest and quietest enclaves in Southern California. Now check out the hacienda-style Inn at Rancho Santa Fe (5951 Linea del Cielo, Rancho Santa Fe), which dates to the 1920s. Besides 87 rooms, it offers a dining room and veranda with a popular daily brunch. Some rooms rent for as little as $152 (but haven’t had their old TVs replaced yet by flat-screen models). Some of the suites have kitchens (the better to exploit your fresh produce).

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle Garden is a sculpture garden by artist Niki De Saint Phalle.

Del Mar charms Del Mar, with its many Tudoresque buildings, Olde English street names, stratospheric property values and well-fixed gentry, might remind you of Carmel. But Carmel has no horse racing (see below), and Del Mar has milder weather, busier beaches and bigger home lots. It’s the sort of place where a motel can charge $259 a night in summer and Ranch & Coast Plastic Surgery hangs its shingle along the main drag. So it’s a surprise to find the artsy little Les Artistes Inn

Lockwood Table Cafe on Cedros Avenue serves organic produce from local farms and artisan breads from local bakers delivered fresh daily. —MCT photos


lifestyle T r a v e l

The Stone Brewing Company features craft brews, food and fun.

At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, an armadillo gets a close look.

The lobby is featured at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, California.

(944 Camino del Mar, Del Mar), whose 12 rooms are named and decorated for a dozen painters. There’s no pool, but a lobby fireplace is lighted most nights, the beach is a few minutes away and you can often get in for less than $200. If you need a pool, consider the Hotel Indigo (710 Camino del Mar, Del Mar). The next morning, walk to breakfast at the Stratford Court Cafe (1307 Stratford Court, Del Mar), where flip-flops may outnumber proper shoes on the patio (that’s good). Or, for a quicker tempo, do breakfast at Americana (1454 Camino del Mar, Del Mar) at the busy corner of Camino del Mar and 15th Street. Then walk a few blocks to the beach, past Sea Grove and Powerhouse

parks. On your way, be sure to admire the spectacular location of the boxy Vista Del Mar condo complex on 15th Street. Like a mole on the face of a supermodel, it makes you covet Del Mar more. Wind up your day with dinner at the Del Mar Rendezvous (1555 Camino del Mar, No. 102, Del Mar), where the menu is Chinese fusion.

The Hotel Indigo in Del Mar features artistic images of Hollywood greats like Ava Gardner and Bing Crosby.


ecent high-profile attacks on tourists in India, Brazil, Turkey and Mexico - including rapes - have raised questions about personal safety for overseas travel, especially for women. But frequent travelers and those who work in the industry say a few commonsense precautions can go a long way to ensuring personal safety. For example, vice president Warren Chang didn’t hang a “Do not disturb” sign on his hotel room door on a trip to Jordan, because he didn’t want to advertise his presence. Cindy Vanhoutte, who works for the vacation rental site, always checks Google Street View to see what neighborhoods look like before renting there. And Pauline Frommer, co-publisher of Frommer Guidebooks, leaves her jewelry home and tries to dress according to “local norms” - recently wearing long, loose trousers in Morocco. It’s also prudent to check the US State Department website’s travel warnings, which track everything from crime to terrorism to natural disasters. Sometimes travelers simply become careless, forgetting that crime is everywhere. “The cynicisms get left at home,” said Alex Puig, a regional security director for International SOS, a medical and security crisis response company. “I was on a train recently in Geneva, Switzerland. It’s like Disney World there but an individual had his bag stolen.” Puig himself was robbed by a gang in Rio but gave up his wallet and was unharmed. “Be prepared to lose whatever you’re carrying,” he advised. Puig says travelers may be less cautious these days because websites and TV shows have made extreme adventures and off-the-beaten path destinations seem routine. “In the digital world, we can instantaneously show our friends all the cool, weird things we’re doing,” Puig said. “Our clients are flying to the developing world and going to spots they never would have gone to 10 years ago. In the era of Facebook postings, all the great things you’re doing can lead people to bad judgment.” One important tip from Puig: Most crimes occur between 10 pm and 5 am, so stay indoors or be careful between those hours. Elizabeth Becker, author of the new book “Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism,” said sometimes people “do things abroad they

would never consider doing at home. They travel to countries where they don’t speak the language, have a superficial knowledge of the culture and do little advance preparations beyond booking hotels and buying a tourist guide. My suggestion is to do your homework and spend the money to hire a reputable guide. If possible, make a connection to a local before you visit either through a trusted friend, family member or colleague. The local can help steer you away from dangerous situations.” Carole Cambata’s company Travel Leaders/Greaves Travel in Highland Park, Ill., specializes in travel to India. She said her agency got a few calls after several attacks there on women, including from parents whose daughters are heading there as students or volunteers. Cambata says the safest way for tourists to travel in India is by car and driver rather than public transportation, with the exception of certain trains, and she noted that it’s much more affordable to have private cars there than here. She sometimes books female travelers on hotel floors that are female only - both guests and housekeepers. While nobody is blaming the victims for any of these attacks, Cambata also advises visitors to avoid going out late alone, to dress conservatively and to stay away from isolated areas. “I wouldn’t send a tourist to a dodgy area in New York either,” she said. The recent attacks inspired STA Travel, which specializes in student travel, to post “Tips for Safe Travels” on the STA blog. Advice includes staying in a group, never leaving your belongings unattended, and making sure gadgets and other valuables are out of sight. Young travelers are also encouraged to drink and party “responsibly”: Don’t ever leave a drink unattended where someone can slip something in it. Chang advises leaving a spare ATM card and credit card in the hotel safe, so you still have access to cash if you’re pickpocketed or robbed. He notes that some travelers ask for hotel rooms above ground floor, to prevent street-level break-ins, but below the sixth floor, so they can easily flee a fire. When he flies, he says, he counts rows between his seat and the emergency exit, in case the lights go out or the cabin fills with smoke.

Foreign tourists look for a hotel near the railway station in New Delhi, India.

The track and the fair It was here at the county fairgrounds (2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar) in 1958 that a teenager named Raquel Tejada was named San Diego’s Fairest of the Fair and was launched on her way to becoming Raquel Welch. Like Raquel, the San Diego County Fair endures (it ran June 8-July 4), midway and all. But the bigger draw for celebrities and out-of-towners is the horse racing, which began in the ‘30s with marquee names such as Bing Crosby (a co-founder of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club) and Seabiscuit (winner of a much-celebrated exhibition race in 1938). The racing takes place five days a week for most of the summer (the season ends Sept 5). Mondays and Tuesdays are usually dark. Safari in Escondido If the San Diego Zoo is the tidy and compressed Twitter version of the animal kingdom, then the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido; formerly the San Diego Wild Animal Park) is the New Yorker article. It rambles. The animals, scattered over 1,800 acres of dry hills in the San Pasqual Valley, are relatively free to roam. Your admission ($42 for adults, $32 for kids) includes a 25-minute narrated ride on a tram that chugs past giraffes, rhino, gazelle and perhaps an ostrich sniffing its eggs (which weigh about 3 pounds each). It costs $40-$95 more to do the zip line, the ropes course or see animals up close from a special safari truck. Be sure to check out the lions-they often snooze in the shade right next to an observation window. On your way out, grown-ups can quench their thirst with a tasting at nearby Orfila Vineyards & Winery (13455 San Pasqual Road, Escondido). For beer or a pleasant dinner al fresco, head to the home of Arrogant Bastard Ale: Stone Brewing Co and

Nearly 274,000 US students participated in study abroad programs in 2010-11, and horror stories do occasionally surface. The woman gang-raped last month on a public van in Rio was an American student, and three Boston University students died last year in a minivan accident in New Zealand. A critical incident database for study abroad programs is being launched this year by the Forum on Education Abroad, in order to see where vulnerabilities exist - whether crimes, accidents or illnesses - and prevent future problems. The first data is expected early next year. Several companies that organize group tours including Gate 1 Travel, Abercrombie & Kent, Overseas Adventure Travel, and Road Scholar - said they experienced no cancellations and no changed itineraries as a result of the attacks in India and Brazil. They also noted that safety is one reason people - especially women and solo travelers - choose group tours. “They tell us that our expert local guides allow them to travel comfortably to places where they hesitate to go

its World Bistro & Gardens (1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido). The indoor-outdoor dining area is clever, and there are $3 tours in the afternoons and movie nights in summer. Treated like royalty There are plenty of premium golf options north of La Jolla, including hotel-adjacent courses at the Grand Del Mar (, Aviara (www.parkaviara. and La Costa (www. in Carlsbad. There’s also a less pricey option a little farther inland-the hacienda-style Rancho Bernardo Inn (17550 Bernardo Oaks Drive, San Diego). Along with its 18-hole championship course, this resort offers more than 280 guest rooms, three pools and three restaurants. (The fanciest, Bizcocho, is French.) To appease kids and art lovers who won’t be swinging clubs, head to nearby Kit Carson Park (3333 Bear Valley Parkway, Escondido) and follow the signs to Queen Califia’s Magical Circle. It’s a sculpture garden, 120 feet in diameter, by the late French artist Niki de Saint Phalle. Mosaic critters. Kaleidoscopic colors. Textured tile work. The queen herself (whose name comes from the 16th century Spanish novel that inspired this state’s name) stands about 24 feet high, astride an eagle, surrounded by eight totems and a maze. Escondido has a gem here. Let’s hope the queen’s keepers fix the cracked tiles in the mirrored area (barely noticeable now) before they get worse-these fantasy creatures make a great complement to the real ones at the Safari Park. — MCT

on their own due to language and cultural differences,” said Pamela Lassers, spokeswoman for the luxury Abercrombie & Kent company. Peter Greenberg, travel editor of CBS News and author of the “Like a Local” guidebook series, says immersing yourself in local culture is still the best way to travel, but you must use common sense. “There are places in Ohio and New Jersey I wouldn’t frequent, but that doesn’t stop me from going to Cincinnati or the Jersey shore,” he said. “A quick review of travel crime statistics will reveal the truth: More Americans are injured or killed in accidents in their own bathtubs than are victims of crime or terrorism overseas. The only real downside to going off the beaten track is when you act like a tourist, not a traveler.” — AP

File photo shows a view of the street with the hostel, in yellow, where Sarai Sierra, a New York City woman was staying in Istanbul, Turkey. — AP photos

File photo shows a public transport van along Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In this image provided by the family, Sarai Sierra is shown in an undated family photo, in New York.

Cookie Monster, Elmo get in Times Square trouble



Models parade creations from designer Camilla during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in Sydney yesterday. Designers are unveiling their spring-summer 2013/14 collections to the fashion industry from April 8 to 12. — AFP photos

Sensational $1bn art gift ‘transforms’ New York Met


osmetics billionaire Leonard Lauder has given New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art an astonishing, no-strings-attached collection of Cubist art that he assembled over four decades, the museum announced Tuesday. The enormous gift, estimated to be worth $1 billion, includes 78 works by Picasso, Braque, Gris, and Leger, and “will transform the museum,” a statement said. The Met, a world-class institution that has long suffered a hole in its early 20th century art collection, will be transformed by the completeness and quality of the sudden addition. The museum will also establish a new research center for modern art, supported by a $22 million endowment created by donors including Lauder, it was announced. “Leonard’s gift is truly transformational for the Metropolitan Museum,” Met director and CEO Thomas Campbell said. “Although the Met is unique in its ability to exhibit over 5,000 years of art history, we have long lacked this critical dimension in the story of modernism. Now, Cubism will be represented with some of its greatest masterpieces,” he said. “This is an extraordinary gift to our Museum and our City.” In a statement, Lauder, 80, said his gift is for “the people who live and work in New York and those from around the world who come to visit our great arts institutions.”“I selected the Met as the way to share this collection because I feel that it’s essential that Cubism-and the art that follows it, for that matter-be seen and studied within the collections of one of the greatest encyclopedic museums in the world.” The Lauder Collection will be unveiled late in 2014, the museum said. Experts estimated that Lauder’s painstakingly put-together trove immediately catapults the Met into the forefront of world collections of Cubist art, equal or even ahead of renowned institutions like the Museum of Modern Art, also in Manhattan. “In one fell swoop this puts the Met at the forefront of early-20th-century art,” Campbell told The New York Times. “It is an (irreproducible) collection, something museum directors only dream about.” Forbes magazine said the collection was worth about $1.1 billion and that Lauder had therefore given away 13.5 percent of his $8.1 billion personal fortune. It also “enshrines him in the pantheon of the most generous philanthropists of all time,” Forbes said. According to the magazine, which specializes in tracking the super wealthy, Lauder becomes the 24th individual in the world to donate more than $1 billion over the course of their lifetimes. “He now stands shoulder to shoulder on that list with the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Eli Broad, George Kaiser, Michael Bloomberg, George Lucas and others,” Forbes reported.—AFP

Obama soaks up soul at White House shindig


S President Barack Obama paid homage on Tuesday to Memphis soul and the role the music style played in advancing civil rights at a star-studded White House concert celebrating the genre. “In the sixties and seventies, Memphis knew its share of division and discord and injustice,” Obama recalled. It was in the Tennessee city in 1968 that civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated. But soul music “tried to bridge those divides-to create a little harmony with harmony,” said the president, who walked on stage to the dulcet strains not of traditional presidential anthem “Hail to the Chief” but of “Green Onions,” a well-known instrumental tune by Booker T. and the MG’s. The group, whose leader, Booker T. Jones, 68, directed the concert, was integrated, a rare feat in a city still marked by segregation, recalled Obama, himself the United States’ first African-American president. In early 1960s, the musicians “weren’t allowed to go to school together. They weren’t always allowed to travel or eat together,” the president said. “But no one could stop them from playing music together.” He made the audience laugh as he joked that he was

Booker T. Jones performs. — AFP photos

speaking “not just as a President, but as one of America’s best-known Al Green impersonators,” referring to the famous soul singer. Obama, during his 2012 re-election campaign, delighted a crowd when he sang on stage in New York several seconds of Green’s “Let’s stay together.” During a blues concert at the White House a month earlier, he was also convinced to take up the chorus of “Sweet Home Chicago.” Obama refrained from singing on Tuesday. Among the stars who appeared during the concert were soul legend Sam Moore, from the famous Sam and Dave duo, singing their 1967 hit “Soul Man,” alongside contemporary pop star Justin Timberlake, who sang Otis Redding’s classic “Sitting on the dock of the bay.” Queen Latifah, Ben Harper and Cindy Lauper were on hand at the concert, which should air on April 16 on PBS television.— AFP

Queen Latifah performs.

Members of the White House press watch a live feed in the Press Briefing Room of Justin Timberlake singing during a concert in honor of Memphis Soul music.

11 Apr 2013  

Kuwait Times