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Kuwaiti narrates his ordeal in captivity

Iran FM slams Syria strike as illegal

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Civilians killed in NATO strike in Afghanistan





Vettel wins Italian GP


Obama gears for all-out offensive on Syria plan ‘Common-sense test’ holds Assad responsible: US

WASHINGTON: Washington was yesterday engaged in a diplomatic offensive at home and abroad with US President Barack Obama gearing for an all-out push to persuade skeptical Americans to back strikes against the Syrian regime. With US lawmakers returning today from a summer break and set to debate whether to approve limited US military action in Syria, a crucial week looms for America with the US commander-in-chief facing a defining moment in his two-term presidency. Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday continued a diplomatic offensive in Europe to lay out the case against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, accused of unleashing chemical weapons against his people last month, as the US also seeks to build global support for US strikes. But after talks with Arab League leaders in Paris, US Secretary of State John Kerry said: “All of us agree, not one dissenter, that Assad’s deplorable use of chemical weapons... crosses an international global red line.” Kerry said a number of Arab countries were willing to sign a statement agreed by 12 countries of the G20 that called for a “strong” reaction to the alleged attack. “Today we discussed the possible and necessary measures that can be taken,” he said, adding Saudi Arabia was among those who had signed on. “They have supported the strike and they have supported taking action,” Kerry said. After winning only limited global backing though at last week’s G20 summit, Obama will blitz US networks today evening before addressing the American people from the Oval Office tomorrow aiming to lay out the case to deepen US involvement in a two-year-old war which has claimed over 100,000 lives. The White House asserted meanwhile that a “common-sense test” dictates the Syrian government is responsible for a chemical weapons attack that President Barack Obama says demands a US military response. But Obama’s top aide says the administration lacks “irrefutable, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt evidence” that skeptical Americans, including lawmakers who will Continued on Page 15

DAMASCUS: A Free Syrian army fighter stands on a damaged military tank in Zabadani, near Damascus yesterday. (Inset) An Israeli soldier adjusts an “Iron Dome” battery, a short-range missile defense system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, near Jerusalem yesterday. — AP/AFP

Egyptian helicopters strike militant hideouts in Sinai EL-ARISH, Egypt: Egyptian helicopter gunships struck suspected hideouts of Islamic militants in the northern Sinai peninsula for a second day yesterday, part of a major offensive aiming at quelling an insurgency in the lawless region, a military official said. Meanwhile, top Egyptian military commander Gen Osama Askar of the 3rd Army told reporters that troops have seized at least 10 shoulder-fired Sam-7 anti-aircraft missiles during the offensive a day earlier. They were found in a mosque and in homes of suspected militants in the southern part of Sheikh Zuweyid town, near the border with the Gaza Strip and Israel. Western officials have said that thousands of shoulder-launched missiles went missing from Libyan arsenals since the country’s 2011 civil war. Egyptian authorities have said that Libyan missiles have been smuggled into the Sinai, and some of those have gone on through underground tunnels to the Gaza Strip. Yesterday’s strikes targeted the villages

of Al-Mahdiya and Al-Moqataa near the towns of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweyid. Three US-made Apache helicopters fired rockets, hitting shacks, houses and cars used by militants, the official said. He added that the airstrikes are to pave the way for a ground offensive, in which troops backed by armored vehicles will search homes of suspected militants. The official spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to brief the press. In a new statement Saturday, Armed Forces spokesman Col Ahmed Mohammed Ali said that helicopters had provided air cover for what was “the biggest security operation” in the northern Sinai in years. He said troops had arrested suspected militants in at least seven villages but did not specify how many were in custody. Ali’s statement, posted on his official Facebook page, also said that 118 houses had been demolished in the operation by Saturday. Troops have seized three weapons caches containing explosive Continued on Page 15

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3 more die of MERS in Saudi RIYADH: Another three people have died in Saudi Arabia after contracting the MERS coronavirus, the health ministry said yesterday, bringing the kingdom’s total fatalities of the SARS-like virus to 47. A Saudi man, aged 74, died in the western city of Madina after being in contact with an infected person, the ministry said on its website. A 56-year-old foreigner, who worked in the health sector, also died in Madina, while another Saudi, aged 53, who suffered chronic diseases, died in Riyadh, the ministry added. The health authority also announced five new cases of infection of the coronavirus, including an 18-year-old Saudi man, and a three-year-old girl in Hafr Al-Baten, in the northeast, who contracted the virus after being in contact with an infected person. The three others are all Saudi nationals. Saudi Arabia is the country worst hit by MERS, which has killed 47 in the kingdom. Continued on Page 15

Sudan woman risks flogging to protest Taleban-like law KHARTOUM: A Sudanese woman says she is prepared to be flogged to defend the right to leave her hair uncovered in defiance of a Taleban-like law. Amira Osman Hamed faces a possible whipping if convicted at a trial which could come on September 19. Under Sudanese law her hair-and that of all women-is supposed to be covered with a “hijab”. But Hamed, 35, refuses to wear one. Her case has drawn support from civil rights activists and is the latest to highlight Sudan’s series of laws governing morality which took effect after the 1989 Islamist-backed coup by President Omar Al-Bashir. “They want us to be like Taleban women,” Hamed said in an interview with AFP, referring to the fundamentalist militant movement in Afghanistan. Continued on Page 15

Amira Osman Hamed

Cops order Prince Andrew to ID himself

RAFAH: A Hamas policeman stands guard along the border with Egypt and the Palestinian territory yesterday in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah. The military has been facing an insurgency in north Sinai, a haven for Al-Qaeda-inspired militants who have launched almost daily attacks against security forces in recent weeks. — AFP

LONDON: Britain’s Prince Andrew said yesterday he had received an apology from police after jittery royal protection officers challenged him in the gardens of Buckingham Palace as they stepped up security following a break-in. Police confirmed that two armed officers approached the Duke of York, the third child of Queen Elizabeth II, as he took an evening stroll on Wednesday at the monarch’s official London residence. “I am grateful for their apology and look forward to a safe walk in the garden in the future,” Andrew said in a statement. “The police have a difficult job to do balancing security for the royal family and deterring intruders, and sometimes they get it wrong.” London’s Metropolitan Police denied a newspaper report that the officers had pointed guns at the 53-year-old duke, who is fifth in line to the British throne, and shouted at him to get down on the ground. “On Wednesday, 4 September at approx-

imately 1800 hours (1700 GMT ) two uniformed officers approached a man in the gardens of Buckingham Palace to verify his identity,” the spokesman said. “The man was satisfactorily identified. No weapons were drawn and no force was used.” Buckingham

Britain’s Prince Andrew, Duke of York

Palace declined to comment on the incident. Prince Andrew is the ex-husband of Sarah Ferguson, whom he married in 1986, and they have two children, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. Two days earlier, a man was arrested inside the palace in a major security breach. He had scaled a fence to get into the building in central London. He was arrested for burglary, trespass and criminal damage, while a second man was arrested outside the palace on suspicion of conspiracy to commit burglary. Police said no members of the royal family were in the palace at the time. The 87-year-old queen is currently on holiday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. The break-in represented one of the most serious security breaches at the palace since 1982 when unemployed Michael Fagan got inside the queen’s private chambers while she was in bed. Fagan spent 10 minutes talking to the queen after climbing over the palace walls and up a drainpipe before she was able to raise the alarm. —AFP



Women reluctant to file cases of abuse, crimes Ministry plans awareness program By Nawara Fattahova KUWAIT: Women should be careful on the streets and other places. Some women become victims of thieves or kidnappers in certain isolated areas. Kuwait has a strong security system and considering it’s a small country, criminals are usually caught quickly but sometimes, criminals get away with a lot of crimes before they are arrested. Criminals come up with different tricks to con their female victims. Claire, a 35-year-old American was told to get out of her car and check the tire once. “Two guys in an SUV who were next to my car at the traffic light pointed at my car’s tire and motioned that it was flat. I stopped at the side of the road and checked the tires and there was nothing wrong with it. They began to follow me and stopped next to my car and came towards me and I ran and jumped into my car and locked the doors. I think they were trying to kidnap me and even tried to open the

door but I escaped before that,” she told the Kuwait Times. She posted her story on one of the local blogs to alert foreign women not to stop and many people commented on her story. Another American woman narrated her story of men who tried to attack her as well while she was driving in Salmiya. Two men tried the same stunt with her but she didn’t leave the car when she suspected something amiss and on looking out of the window, she saw that the tire was alright. The duo escaped on realizing that they couldn’t con her. 42-year-old Rebecca was scammed by a 14year-old but she was lucky and didn’t give him the satisfaction of succeeding. “When I went to the beach at one of the sea clubs, a teenager approached me asking if I was his friend’s mother and said that I looked familiar. Even when I told him that we hadn’t met, he brought me an ice-cream and insisted that I accept it. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings and ate it and within a

few moments, I began to feel dizzy and collapsed. He came near me and asked for my car keys and said that he’ll take me to the hospital and I began screaming and he escaped after calling for an ambulance. About a month later, I read the news about a teenager who specialized in stealing cars from people after drugging them. I advise all women to never accept food from strangers,” she said. Maj Naser Buslaib Deputy Director of PR and Media at the Ministry of Interior said there were no cases registered by women about such attacks. “This could be caused by not filing cases at the police station by the victims. We can’t take an action without it being a registered case. The Ministry is also working on an awareness program for expats, especially the non-Arab speakers. The program mainly focuses on demanding the ID documents from any person pretending to be a policeman or from the secret investigation. We will make an official announcement in the media soon,” he pointed out.

Arab expat held with illegal drugs By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: The narcotics department, in cooperation with airport customs arrested an Arab expat with 35,000 Tramadol tablets valued at KD 15,000. The Arab expat received a parcel from an Arab country, and narcotics officials obtained a warrant and raided his home where they found the drugs. He told them that he received the parcel on the instructions of smugglers in an Arab country. The box contained a hollow metal piece where the tablets were hidden. The suspect and drugs were referred to concerned authorities. Illegal entry Immigration detectives arrested six Yemenis for entering the country illegally, with the intention of begging. The operations team of immigration detectives noticed a person who was arrested and told them about the five others who were also arrested and sent to concerned authorities. Orientation meeting An orientation meeting was held for the sixth batch of female students and their parents at Saad Al-Abdallah Security

Sciences Academy in the presence of Assistant Director General for Administrative Affairs Dalal Al-Ruwaished. Armed robbery Farwaniya detectives identified a Kuwaiti suspect who was involved in the armed robbery of an exchange shop in Rigae few days ago. The same person attempted to rob a jewelry store in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh. A security source said they identified the suspect by his car, who had left for UAE, where he was arrested in a hotel with a Russian girl. The suspect told UAE authorities that he robbed the exchange of KD 3,000 and spent it on his Russian girlfriend who he met in Russia and asked her to go with him to UAE. Authorities will seek the extradition of the suspect through Interpol. Woman molested An Ethiopian woman accused an Egyptian of molesting her and encouraging her to commit vice acts. She gave them his car number. In Nuzha, a female citizen who heads a girls’ school told police that an unknown person stole several TVs and screens.

Al-Barrak’s trial put off to Oct 27 KUWAIT: Kuwait’s court of appeals yesterday adjourned the trial of opposition figure Musallam Al- Barrak to October 27. The court said that it was keen on hearing the testimony of the witnesses who reportedly did not show up at the trial session. Reports said that the list of witnesses included two police officers. The trial session was held after the court in May overturned a five-year jail term against the prominent opposition leader, but refused to drop the case brought against him on charges of undermining the status of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad AlSabah in a speech he gave in October. The ex-MP, well known throughout his years in the country’s parliament for his vociferous statements and sharp stances, reportedly deliberately broke long-held social taboos in the relations of the citizens with their ruler. In April, Al-Barrak was given a five-year jail sentence for the “abusive” speech he delivered at the pinnacle of a bitter standoff between the government and the opposition over the amendment of the controversial 2006 electoral law. The opposition, made up mostly of religiously conservative and tribal figures, said that the amendment that reduced the number of ballots a voter could cast from four to one was meant to

ensure the election of a rubber-stamp parliament. However, the government argued that the “one voter, one vote” principle was adopted universally and that the amendment would help address possible legal loopholes that had marred past elections. Pushing for popular pressure to revoke the decree, the opposition opted for street tactics and staged several rallies and demonstrations where leaders gave passionate speeches. According to security forces and several political parties, Al-Barrak, in one of his speeches, stepped over the limits by challenging the status and authority of HH the Amir. However, the ex-MP and his supporters denied the charges and insisted on the good intention of the speech. The drama surrounding the case was intensified after Al-Barrak refused to turn himself in to the police, arguing that he wanted to see the original arrest warrant and managed to remain out of prison until he appeared before the court of appeals in May to challenge the jail sentence. His lawyers requested the court to send the case back to the lower court on the grounds that the five-year ruling was null and void after the judge ignored the defendant’s constitutional rights.

Ministries meet again to discuss cable thefts

KUWAIT: The Arab expat who was arrested with illegal drugs yesterday.

KUWAIT: The Ministry of Electricity and Water is set to meet again this week with the Interior Ministry in order to continue talks about coordination to thwart thefts targeting high voltage cables at local transformers, a local daily reported yesterday quoting security sources. Speaking to Al-Rai on the condition of anonymity, the sources indicated that the Customs General Department will also be present during Wednesday ’s meeting where the Interior Ministry will be represented by the Criminal General Department. “The meeting is set to address each department’s duties regarding the issue and ways to boost communication between them in order to inform the Interior Ministry immediately after any suspected theft”, the sources said. The two departments failed to reach an

agreement last week when the Interior Ministry said that it cannot provide duty officers to secure nearly 3,000 transformers in Kuwait. According to the sources, last week’s meeting discussed several options that include asking the Customs General Department to investigate copper templates exported out of the country. Cable thefts have been identified as the main reason behind blackouts reported throughout Kuwait during summer for which MEW had prepared for by increasing daily production capacity of electricity to 14,000 megawatts. A State Audit Bureau released last month indicated that 600 main and secondary transformers were subjected to ‘organized theft’ between 2007 and 2013, noting at the same time that the MEW loses KD 15 million each year to damage control.

Iraqi militant group threatens Kuwait over border agreement KUWAIT: An Iraqi militant group announced plans to attack Kuwait if the country ‘breaches’ the Iraqi borders, which according to them happens as per an agreement by the government of both countries to regulate navigation at the joint Khor Abdullah strip of water. The agreement was passed last August by the Iraqi Council of Representatives, and is currently awaiting the signature of the Iraqi President as per protocol. When that step is taken, secretary general of the socalled ‘Hezbollah of Iraq’ Wathiq Al-Battat said that the militant group prepares to “strike any Kuwaiti advancement on Iraq’s old borders”. The same man, whose affiliation remains a mystery, had previously threatened Kuwait on the aftermath of controversies surrounding individual plans by both countries to build ports overlooking the Khor Abdullah, which were settled last year following official talks. “The Khor Abdullah treaty was a business deal brokered in dark rooms, and aims to strangle Iraq by making it a ‘tool’ in the hands of Gulf states when its maritime borders are seized”, Al-Battat told an Iraqi news agency on Saturday. And while he held his government

responsible for what he described as ‘concessions’ for Kuwait, Al-Battat urged the socalled “national forces” naming the White Iraqiya Bloc in specific to organized protests against the “controversial treaty”. Meanwhile, Al-Battat who is wanted by Iraqi authorities for public disturbance said that he is capable of holding demonstrations featuring more than 23,000 people in the border cities of Sefwan and Um Qasr. In the meantime, efforts continue in the Iraqi parliament to urge Vice President Khodair Al-Khozaei who is currently handling the state’s president’s duty due to Jalal Talabani’s illness, to reject the treatment they deem ‘unmerited’. “The treaty has negatively affected fishermen in Basra and prevented Iraqi ships from entering the Khor Abdullah unless with Kuwaiti permission”, said the president of the regions and provinces committee in the Iraqi Parliament, Mansour Al-Tamimi. He further argued that the Mubarak Port which Kuwait builds in the Boubyan Island “will provide a more preferred destination for global shops due to reduced insurance costs”. Meanwhile, the Free Iraqiya Coalition announced that 80 Iraqi lawmakers have signed a petition to call off the deal.

Appeals Court acquits expat from drug accusations KUWAIT: Farwaniya Hospital yesterday held an awareness exhibition which was open to the public around the hospital lobbies and corridors enlightening them about various ailments, precautions and treatment. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KU ready for new academic year KUWAIT: Kuwait University (KU) announced yesterday its readiness for the new academic year 2013-2014 to welcome enrolled and ongoing students, in addition to faculty members. Spokesman of KU Faisal Maqseed said in statement that the university offers all that is required by faculty members and students to

have a successful year ahead, and exerts all possible efforts to maintain an appropriate academic atmosphere. He added that new faculty members and administrative personals were properly welcomed by the university’s various departments, wishing them success and progress.

Meanwhile, Kuwait University’s construction program recently held a preliminary meeting to discuss the conditions of a tender to build, operate and maintain the sociology, Law, Sharea and Islamic studies colleges and the teaching staff club buildings at Sabah Al-Salem University City.

KUWAIT: Kuwait University officials attend a meeting in preparation for the new academic year.— Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: The Appeals Court recently acquitted an expat who was accused of being drunk and possessing heroin, said law sources. Case papers indicated that on searching a suspected vehicle, a police patrol found three Asian males and a Filipina who were allegedly drunk and had a bag of white powder. Lawyer Mohammed Kamal requested acquitting his client on grounds that the force had no search warrant and his clientís blood test revealed no drug traces.

Lawyer Mohammed Kamal

Kuwait takes all precautions KUWAIT: Informed sources said Kuwait is one among the countries which reduced diplomatic missions in Beirut, as a precautionary measure against the Kuwait Embassy in Beirut in the case of a strike against Syria. Meanwhile informed sources said Ministry of Trade and Commerce in cooperation with PACI accounted for all expatriates in Kuwait to receive ration cards within a week in case of an emergency. The sources said all expats will be able to receive their cards and rations through the commerce centers in all governorates, adding the cards will be free without issuance fees. A study by the Commerce Ministry on the availability of eggs in co-ops, found out that co-ops are responsible for the egg shortage. Studies showed that the poultry farms are doing their job but some direc-

tors at co-ops are limiting their availability. The study showed that there are 13 local companies producing eggs in Kuwait and they meet Kuwait market’s demand for fresh eggs, and there is a 30 percent surplus, and when the companies expand, the surplus will reach more than 30 percent. In the meanwhile, banking sources said local banks told the Central Bank of Kuwait that they markets are stable in case of an attack on Syria. Central Bank of Kuwait said that Kuwait’s banks do not have direct relations with Syrian banks and that their relations with foreign banks are not affected. The sources said operating banks in Kuwait declared an emergency to face all possibilities adding that the plan includes raising liquidity in banks. Meanwhile, Director General of K-Net Abdallah Al-Ajmi said the company is prepared for all scenarios in case Syria is attacked. — Al-Anba



Kidnapped Kuwaiti narrates his ordeal after safe return Deep gratitude to Kuwait govt KUWAIT: A Kuwaiti man who was held hostage in the Philippines before returning home safe on Saturday urged businessmen in the Gulf to stay alert while visiting the Southeast Asian state and any of its neighbors to avoid the ordeal he went through. Ahmad Al-Kandari’s statements were published by AlRai yesterday after he arrived at the Kuwait International Airport and revealed his suffering after he was kidnapped by a gang which demanded a ransom for his release. “I arrived in the Philippines on Aug 13”, AlKandari began the story, “it was my first trip and I went there for tourism and also to investigate the possibility of establishing a labor recruitment company to provide clinics in Kuwait with trained staff”. On the day of his kidnapping on Aug 23, AlKandari shared a cafe table with four Filipino nationals to discuss matters regarding opening a business. “One of the men offered to take me on a tour around the city and I accepted”, Al-Kandari said as he elaborated further.

After getting into a car whose driver was waiting outside the cafe, a third man got into the vehicle after it moved a few meters. “After nearly 15 minutes of driving, the person next to me pointed a gun at me and told me to ‘stay calm’”, Al-Kandari said. “We kept driving for nearly two hours during which we passed by several rural villages before arriving at an abandoned house. They took me in, locked me inside a 2x2 room, and then left”, he added. According to Al-Kandari, the kidnappers returned a couple of hours later with food, explained to him that he was kidnapped, and said that they are demanding 5 million pesos or KD 32,000 as ransom. “When I told them that I do not have that kind of money, they said that death will be my fate”, he said. The next day, the kidnappers brought Al-Kandari a phone and told him to call his family to ask for the money. “I called my brother Abu Mohammad who after learning about my story paid 500,000 pesos or KD 3,204 as a down payment”, he said. According to him, the kidnap-

pers kept asking for more money every day until he was released on Sept 4. Al-Kandari did not report any mistreatment or abuse during the time he was kept hostage. He described the circumstances of his release, saying that the kidnappers left him on a public street and escaped, after which he turned himself over to the Filipino authorities who handed him over to Kuwait Embassy. “I met the Kuwaiti security team who investigated the kidnapping and then put me on a Kuwait Airways flight,” he added. Al-Kandari expressed deep gratitude to the Kuwaiti government and officials at the Kuwait Embassy in Manila for working hard towards his release. “I am happy to be a Kuwaiti given the great deal of concern my state’s government showed towards me”, he said. Al-Rai daily also spoke with Al-Kandari’s brother Abu Mohammad who said that the total amount he paid to the kidnappers was KD 4,175 transferred through money exchange to specific names that the kidnappers provided.

KUWAIT: Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah met yesterday with the Kuwaiti citizen Ahmad Al-Kandari and a number of his family members after being freed from the Philippines. The minister congratulated AlKandari and his family on the safe release and his immediate return to his homeland and family. Al-Kandari’s family lauded the efforts exerted by HH the Amir, HH the Crown Prince and the Foreign ministry for securing his release.

GCC customs union meets in Riyadh

KUWAIT: Netherlands Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans and his accompanying delegation visiting the Kuwait National Works House yesterday. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Real estate, investment sectors booming to record levels KUWAIT: The National Bank of Kuwait has pointed out that the investment sector sales totaled KD176 million in July, almost double the amount seen a year earlier. The real estate sales in Kuwait registered a solid 72 per cent year-on-year growth in July to hit a six-year high of KD426 million ($1.48 billion), said a report. The sales in the residential sector for the month soared to KD191 million, up 35 per cent y/y, according to the data compiled by the National Bank of Kuwait. Continuing its trend from previous months, the increase came on the back of a jump in the average transaction size, which went up 36 per cent y/y, while the number of transactions was almost flat on the year, said the country’s top lender in its report. The increase in the average transaction size was partially caused by some y/y increase in the average size of homes purchased in July, but was mostly due to an increase in the average price per meter-square of both homes and plots. According to NBK, the strength of sales in July holds true even if we account for the fact that July saw five weeks’ worth of transactions (compared to four in a typical month). The robustness of sales was also not a mere basis or seasonal effect (owing to weak sales in July 2012 or Ramadan, for example): the monthly value of sales reached its highest for six years, it added. The NBK pointed out that the investment sector sales totaled KD176 million in July, almost double the amount seen a year earlier. In addition to a 22 per cent increase in the average transaction size, strong sales in July were generated by a 63 per cent y/y increase in the total number of transactions - stemming mostly from additional purchases of single apartments, it stated. Overall, transactions levels in the investment sector now look very strong, after a slow start to the year, it added. According to NBK, the commercial sector sales soared to its highest level of KD59 million this year. “The commercial segment has been performing well this year, seeing large y/y gains in six out of seven months of data. The transactions in July were a mix of purchases of complexes, shops, and plots of land. Though the recent trend of strong commercial sales might be partially attributed to an active role by the Kuwait Investment Authority, it could also be a signal of a private sector that is becoming more optimistic about the future economic outlook, said NBK in its report. The Savings and Credit Bank had approved KD36 million worth of loans during July, while disbursing a further KD12 million. Both values were typical of this year, and did not seem to be affected by the onset of Ramadan in July, the top Kuwaiti lender stated. “Also similar to recent trends, about two-thirds of approved loans were for new constructions, while loans for the purchase of existing structures were 12 per cent of total - whereas they used to make up about a third of total loan applications in previous years,” it said. “This makeup corresponds to the trend seen in residential sales, where in previous years the majority of purchases were of existing homes, but have now shifted towards buying plots of lands to construct new houses,” the report added.

RIYADH: The Customs Union Commission of the GCC kicked off its fourth meeying in Riyadh yesterday to discuss a number of issues regarding the body’s develeopment. The meeting is discussing the completion of the Union’s requirements, according to a statement released by the General Secretariat of the GCC, including the setting of regulations to complete and collect tobacco tax tarrifs on the import and export of the commodity within GCC states. The meeting will also discuss the benefits of international agreements, particularly withthe World Customs Organization, and the results of a recent workshop held by the General Secretariat on the role played by customs in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The legal preparations needed to apply the unified customs law in the GCC, and the results of the union’s meeting with government officials regarding the primary entry points for items will also be included in the meeting, said the statement. The union will look into the customs requirements for the GCC railroad project, study the benefits of the GCC states joining the International Road Transport Union (IRU), discuss creating a database for electronic signatures for the customs employees, and discuss the procedures needed to be taken for the free trade zone agreement between the GCC and Singapore. The meeting’s results will be presented to the Financial and Economic Cooperation Committee of the GCC in its October meeting, in order to complete the union’s requirements. The Supreme Council of the GCC had previously issued a resolution to fully complete the union’s official foremation by early 2015. — KUNA

Missing link in GCC’s education reform strategy KUWAIT: With the region facing one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, GCC governments must bring the education system in line with the needs of the employment market; and, to do so, they must involve the students themselves, a group often overlooked in the reform process. Today, there is a palpable sense of urgency in the Middle East to improve employment levels and job options for the region’s young, growing populations. In effect, half of the Middle East’s population is under the age of 25, and a quarter of those between 15 and 24 are currently unemployed. In truth, one major reason for this widespread unemployment is a mismatch between the needs of the market and the skills being developed in schools. aTo help bridge this gap, Management consulting firm Booz & Company recently commissioned a survey that gathered the views of over 1,300 students from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The survey revealed that Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) students have a strong grasp of the weaknesses and strengths of their education. More importantly, during the study, they expressed a clear desire to be involved in shaping changes to the system. A lack of well-trained teachers, outdated teaching methods, curricula that are neither relevant nor innovative, limited use of technology in the classroom, and little in the way of academic advice or career counseling are contributing to the mismatch between the outputs of the GCC’s education system and the needs of the employment market. “While most GCC governments are aware of the problem and have made “human capital development” core to their policy agendas, problems still persist with the quality and relevance of GCC education,” explained Leila Hoteit, a Principal with Booz & Company. “The underlying difficulty remains a gap between the skills that businesses need and what young people learn in schools.” Recent research by the Economist Intelligence Unit on the role of education found that making correlations between education inputs and outputs is very difficult. Put otherwise, simply pouring resources into the education system is not enough to guarantee results; to ensure education reform success, it is important to understand where or how well these investments are being made across various educational channels. Of course, country-specific cultural factors must also be taken into account to better determine exactly how real and positive change can occur within the education system. This is especially important today as the

number of GCC students is expected to grow from 9.5 million in 2010 to an estimated 11.3 million in 2020 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.8 percent - with tertiary students witnessing the highest growth during this period at a CAGR of 5.5 percent. Booz & Company has identified five variables with which to measure and compare student perceptions of their education across countries and school types: fixed competency, delivered competency, infrastructure, relational trust, and dependability, in terms of future preparedness. Kuwait: Students Want Better StudentTeacher Interactions. Qatar: Students Want More Trust, More Choice.

they cited a general lack of academic and recreational facilities. A portion of students from Saudi Arabia - 26 percent - also complained that they have no influence at all over school reform. Only a mere 7 percent of Saudi students said they have access to quality athletic facilities, which may reflect the fact that sports education is still lagging for girls in public schools. Another area of concern for Saudi Arabia is teacher competence; only 43 percent said their teachers are “very well trained.” Results also suggest that international schools are highly regarded by students. Respondents in Saudi Arabia often said they have complete trust in the leaders of the country’s education system. Interestingly, the proportion of respondents

Leila Hoteit

Mounira Jamjoon

Students from Kuwait are the most confident in their education system: 52 percent were somewhat confident and 20 percent were very confident that they were receiving a quality education. Students also gave strong positive ratings for English language teaching. However, and somewhat counterintuitively, Kuwaiti students are dissatisfied with their interactions with teachers and very critical of their teaching methods. Although the government has worked to create more school choice, it has not sought student input. A high proportion of students from Qatar said they have almost no input regarding their education decisions - 40 percent compared to 29 percent overall. This lack of influence may be disenfranchising students, 21 percent of whom demonstrated a lack of trust in their education leaders. Saudi Arabia: Students Want Better Infrastructure, Facilities, and Teachers. UAE: Students Say Their Education Is Superior to the West’s. Students in Saudi Arabia gave the lowest ratings to school infrastructure; similarly,

in Saudi Arabia expressing a lack of trust in their education leaders was also high revealing a somewhat polarized attitude towards this matter. Sharp differences in perceptions between those in public schools and those in international schools may account for this polarization. Students in the UAE were generally positive about their education system; an impressive 57 percent said their education system is a little better or much better than that available in Western countries. UAE students were also most likely to trust their education leaders: 72 percent somewhat or completely trust their leaders. Furthermore, 22 percent of UAE students said that they have no impact on school reform. In sharp contrast with other countries, public schools in the UAE are viewed more positively than local or international private school types, especially on relational trust, competency of fixed curriculum, and infrastructure. Also, compared to other GCC states, a higher proportion of respondents living in the UAE - 18 percent - wish to obtain a doctoral degree.

Changes in the education system in the GCC involve a range of stakeholders such as governments, local authorities, schools, academia, and the private sector. Too often, however, they overlook the most important stakeholders, the students. “Bringing students into the process of improving education is good policy and effective practice,” said Mounira Jamjoom, a Senior Research Specialist at the Ideation Center, Booz & Company’s think tank in the Middle East. “Research shows that student engagement improves student-teacher relationships, practices and procedures, policies, laws, and culture. Moreover, more students “buying in” and trusting in the reform process is critical for reforms to succeed.” In recent years, other education authorities in very different contexts have successfully engaged their student populations. For instance, in the Canadian province of Alberta, Alberta Education has moved progressively from a government-led, top-down, policymaking approach to a more inclusive model with “meaningful student engagement.” In 2008, the system launched an online platform called “Speak Out,” giving students ages 14 to 19 a greater voice in the education system through blogs, podcasts, and real-time surveys. In the U.S., the Pearson Foundation’s Million Voice Project grant program analyzes the perceptions of young people to provide educators with detailed student data for use to improve teaching and learning. Finally, in recent years, education leaders in China decided to strengthen quality assessments by introducing two surveys adapted from research on student engagement at Indiana University: the National Survey of Student Engagement- China (NSSE-C) and the High School Survey of Student Engagement-China (HSSSE-C). Both instruments have drawn strong attention from policymakers, researchers, and student services personnel at both national and institutional levels, and have catalyzed a broader definition of education quality. The fact is that students’ enthusiastic participation in these reforms is at least as critical as that of teachers and school leaders. As a first step to including students in the reform process, Booz & Company recently commissioned a survey of high school and university students in the GCC to help educators and policymakers understand student perceptions of the education system. The findings will allow them to engage students and anticipate changes in their needs and attitudes. YouGov, a research and polling firm, conducted close to two dozen in-person interviews along with a broad survey of over 1,300 students in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.


LOCAL kuwait digest

in my view

I am afraid of war, bought goods for home, but i left few pieces for you!

Public-govt gap widening fast

Killing Arab Spring in its cradle

By Dr Terki Al-Azmi


hey do not care about our concerns. They do not understand what we need. They do not know anything about what happens in state departments and do not follow up with published news”. This reply was left at the bottom of a recent column in which I discussed lawmakers’ inquisitions, and I would like to respond in detail regarding this. We live in a time when everything we go through is written briefly in a book that decision-makers read but fail to address. They are aware of the problems we face, but the duty to address them has been handed to those who fail to understand what we need. For example, the Minister of Electricity and Water

I believe that what I mentioned above are the main topics faced in reality, and which anyone can realize by spending time everyday reading local dailies and discussions on social networks. The sad reality is the fact that we always make comments on every issue that is a topic of public attention, without necessarily realizing that they are closer to us than we realize. announces plans to supply energy to newly established residential areas. On the other hand, reports about blackouts and water cuts are published a couple of pages later on the same paper. A similar scenario can be found in the government’s assurances regarding the possible aftermath of an American strike against Syria, whereas demands to establish a crisis management authority have been heard for decades in Kuwait. I think we need more than one crisis management department to address repercussions of regional situations. For example, I believe that Kuwait needs departments that include: A crisis management department to handle the mismanagement which resulted in setting up a governmental fund to citizens laid off by private companies. A crisis management department that supervises the public sector and statements that state officials made following crises. A crisis management department that addresses the social and political situation, and the widening gap between people’s ambitions and the government’s vision. A crisis management department that handles accusations of favoritism and conflict of interests. A crisis management department to address educational problems. A crisis management department to address the housing shortage. A crisis management department to improve medical services. Some people might think that I am exaggerating, and ever yone is entitled to their own opinion. I believe that what I mentioned above are the main topics faced in reality, and which anyone can realize by spending time everyday reading local dailies and discussions on social networks. The sad reality is the fact that we always make comments on every issue that is a topic of public attention, without necessarily realizing that they are closer to us than we realize. When someone’s in doubt, they often turn to a friend they trust for advice. But in the government’s case, we find that its advisors and senior officials a re t h e m a i n re a s o n b e h i n d t h e w i d e n i n g g a p between people’s ambitions and the government’s decisions. —Al-Rai

By Karima Bennoune


he Islamist party Ennahda, which governs Tunisia, has blamed the killing of parliament member Mohammed Brahmi - as well as the assassination, nearly six months ago, of Chokri Belaid, a prominent human rights advocate - on a young weapons smuggler who has ties to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. But Ennahda itself bears much of the blame. It should be recognized, and condemned, for being the radical party that it is: a party that has created a climate of escalating fundamentalist violence that threatens the lives of liberal, left-wing and secular activists.

From Al-Anbaa

kuwait digest

A game of monopoly By Waleed Al-Rujaib


he risks stemming from a war on Syria and its includes Kuwait of course, since it has a large potential aftermath might not be obvious to American military presence and could find itself everyone. The very talk about United States’ forced to cover the expenses of the war from funds preparations to target Syria with a military strike that are not used to improve Kuwaitis’ condition of has already sparked sectarian tensions and put the living. There is no way Kuwait can avoid the repercusregion in a state of alert. Allegations of ‘limited strikes’ that target specific locations in Syria failed sions of the American madness that is not based on international legitimacy, to rule out the possibility of retaliation against nearby There is no way Kuwait can and the heated battle between major and regional countries and perhaps even avoid the repercussions of the countries. A Lebanese newsfarther than that. We could be victims of American madness that is not paper repor ted recently that armed militias that plans drawn a long time ago to divide our nations and based on international legitima- belong to the Iranian Guard have keep us busy with infightcy, and the heated battle Revolutionary plans to bombard Kuwaiti ings, or victims of imperialistic, capitalistic competition between major and regional ports simultaneously with the imminent strike against over zones of influence in the world. The US, like countries. A Lebanese newspa- Syria. The repor t fur ther always, made a mistake by per reported recently that indicates that Iraqi militia loyal to Iran and Syria would thinking that they can continue being the only super- armed militias that belong to the take part in the plan which power that runs the world Iranian Revolutionary Guard targets foreign embassies in Iraq and other countries in the way its major capitalistic companies want. The have plans to bombard Kuwaiti the region. These plans, they are true or Mediterranean became overports simultaneously with the whether not, have already sparked crowded with US and Russian battleships in what imminent strike against Syria. sectarianism which could lead to violence. could be a game of tug-ofEven the Syrian people war instead of being part of The report further indicates that efforts to subdue the Syrian Iraqi militia loyal to Iran and who struggle under their regime’s oppression are regime’s oppression. That feuding does not stop lead- Syria would take part in the plan against an American interers of the two countries from which targets foreign embassies vention under any pretexts, because they realize that shaking hands during the G20 summit which is more in Iraq and other countries in the they themselves would be the victims in that case. like a game of monopoly in Meanwhile, the majority of which people’s wealth are region. people in Arab nations are divided. And while major countries meet to agree on their against a return of colonial culture especially after interests, they have already let loose sectarian con- being liberated from regimes that controlled them flict in the region even before a war starts. Reports for decades. We can never be safe from the flames already indicate that Iran is threatening to retaliate of a new American war in light of our country’s against American interests in the region, and that weak readiness against crises and wars. —Al-Rai

kuwait digest

A letter to the premier

kuwait digest

Kuwait and education By Dr Fahad Amer Al-Azmi


ocusing on education is one of the most important things successful and advanced countries do because education enlightens societies and makes them knowledgeable. Education creates aware communities which are distanced from ignorance and eliminates injustice and corruption on every level. Unfortunately, in Kuwait, officials do not pay much attention to education, and they do not consider it an important priority. In fact education in Kuwait is a problem by itself and I will explain how in this column. First issue is admitting our students in overcrowded academic institutions. Our students have been suffering for nearly 30 years and nobody has solved this problem. It’s reached a point where the number of students in each hall average at 140 and sometimes reaches 160. I wonder how a professor can give a lecture this huge crowd during a 50minute class for three or four months during the school term. This over-crowding issue has a negative effect on the education process and on both professors and students. The second issue is “closed classes” which is a result of the large number of students and not enough halls. Many students do not take more than three or four subjects per term, so instead of completing his university course in four years, he will be forced to finish it in five or six years. The third issue is of “education brokers” and I mean some owners of private universities as they are connected to higher education. The evidence is in having some former education ministers presiding over some of those universities and this gives a clear indication that they did not work honestly to solve the crises of student admission, in order to ensure private universities benefit from domestic scholarships created by the ministry of higher education. So you can see how the country is being run, especially the education department! In conclusion, we are in a country which is the richest in the world and there is no obstacle to build a second and third government university to avoid the crises and truly develop Kuwait’s society through education. —Al-Watan

By Khalid Al-Tarrah


I happen to have a file that contains decisions made his is a message to His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, as the at the ministry’s social care department, but cannot state official and a father. The main topic I want to believe they were made by human beings. It includes a address pertains to the Ministry of Social Affairs and decision that adopts beating as a way to discipline or Labor, but is not about the administrative performance ‘punish’ inmates at social care homes. This is unacceptof Minister Thekra Al-Rashidi or alleged hiring on nepo- able and so is the fact that among supervisors at social tistic basis. I want to address a more important subject care homes are ex-convicts and people lacking necessary academic requirements. that pertains to a category of Your Highness, have you this society that consists of This community includes received any reports during men and women who are in this life as a result of mistakes adults and people just like us your time as prime minister or when you assumed the committed by people who lost their sense of humanity. The and our children who are wait- Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor post (in the eighties), state embraced these people in the so-called social care ing for an opportunity to experi- detailing the problems that homes, yet they are hardly tak- ence life, work and become a happen at social care homes? Do you know the en care of in a humanitarian productive part of the society. number of volunteers who way. help to members of A few days ago, a girl and And there are others who need offered this social category throughmember of this category ended up in the morgue follow- professional follow-up to their out the years? Are you aware of the struggles they have to ing an accident that happened under mysterious con- mental and social states. But go through in order to help sequences. Many young men unlike many other countries, integrate those members in the society and protect them have died before her from drug overdoses. Meanwhile, they suffer disadvantages as a from deviation? Have you met any of the volunteers many children and young men and women were sub- result of lack of prior planning, who suffered depression jected to sexual abuse or proper supervision and humani- after witnessing painful scenes at social care homes? ended up or ended up taking I wonder whether Minister the wrong path after being tarian approach. Al-Rashidi came to you crysubjected to abuse by those ing to break the news about finding a resident of a hired to take care of them. This community includes adults and people just like social care home dead, four days after she went missus and our children who are waiting for an opportuni- ing. It is a true crime against humanity that we all are ty to experience life, work and become a productive responsible of, yet the decision to correct the situapart of the society. And there are others who need pro- tion is in your hands. I hope that the situation of fessional follow-up to their mental and social states. social care department is discussed during the next But unlike many other countries, they suffer disadvan- Cabinet meeting, followed by immediate decisions to tages as a result of lack of prior planning, proper correct it, opening an unbiased investigation into the girl’s death. —Al-Qabas supervision and humanitarian approach.

Since it attained independence from France in 1956, Tunisia has had some of the region’s most progressive laws relating to women and families. Many fear that Ennahda is trying to undo those laws. Amel Grami, an intellectual historian at Manouba University, whose campus was besieged last year by Salafi activists opposed to women’s equality and secular education, says the Arab Spring has “triggered a male identity crisis” that has magnified the extreme positions taken by Islamist parties. The Western media have portrayed Ennahda as an innocuous voice of moderation, but it has been pushing for a constitution - one Brahmi vocally opposed - that would lay the foundations for a repressive Islamic state. Earlier this month, at a rally here supporting the ousted Islamist president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, Sahbi Atig, the head of the Ennahda bloc in Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly, warned: “All those who dare to kill the will of the people in Tunisia or in Egypt, the Tunisian street will be authorized to do what it wants with including to shed their blood.” Commentators have understandably connected these remarks to the death of Brahmi, who had saluted the ouster of Morsi as a return by Egyptians to “freedom” and to “the path of Gamal Abdel Nasser.” Since it attained independence from France in 1956, Tunisia has had some of the region’s most progressive laws relating to women and families. Many fear that Ennahda is trying to undo those laws. Amel Grami, an intellectual historian at Manouba University, whose campus was besieged last year by Salafi activists opposed to women’s equality and secular education, says the Arab Spring has “triggered a male identity crisis” that has magnified the extreme positions taken by Islamist parties. In Tunisia, she has noted, fundamentalists have called for girls as young as 12 to don the niqab, which covers everything but the eyes. An Ennahda lawmaker has called for “purification of the media and purification of intellectuals,” while female Ennahda deputies have urged segregation of public transportation by gender. Some Salafists have spoken of legalizing female genital mutilation, a practice largely foreign to Tunisia. Many Tunisians I interviewed in the last month - in the political opposition, in academia, in the women’s movement - told me that they felt threatened. “You are all Mohamed Brahmi,” one mourner chanted on Thursday evening, among those weeping outside the slain activist’s home. “The entire left is under threat,” a young female activist in the southern city of Sfax, whose party is in the Popular Front coalition to which Brahmi belonged, said earlier this month. Just last week, a law professor and women’s rights activist, Sana Ben Achour, warned of the real possibility of violence. “We must be very vigilant,” she urged. Neighboring Algeria plunged into such bloodshed in 1991, with the rise of radical Islamism. A “dark decade” of extreme violence ensued. To prevent Tunisia from going the way of Algeria, all anti-fundamentalist groups must unite - which they are beginning to do - and they will need the sort of international support Algeria’s secular democrats never received. Western governments must pressure the Tunisian authorities to protect those at risk. But so far, the European Union and the United States, focused on Syria and Egypt, have mostly turned a blind eye. Mourad Sakli, director of the International Festival of Carthage, a cultural event, said the killing of Brahmi would only strengthen “our determination to defend our rights to culture and to life, our right to be different and our right to free thought.” I attended this year’s festival on July 20, in a packed amphitheater here, where a crowd of young people and families - some women in miniskirts, and some in hijabs - sang jubilantly with the Algerian singer-songwriter Cheb Khaled until 1 in the morning, in Arabic, French and a little Berber: “We will love, and we will dance. C’est la vie.” That mood of joy has been replaced by an atmosphere that the Tunisian newspaper La Presse has described as “insurrectional.” On Saturday, Brahmi was laid to rest before some 30,000 mourners. One of them, a female lawyer who scaled the cemetery’s walls after finding the entrance blocked, said: “We’ve been taken hostage by religious fundamentalists. Now we the people have decided to take back our country and our revolution.” Dozens of delegates are boycotting the Constituent Assembly, the body charged with drafting a new constitution, whose legal mandate technically expired last October. They want it to be replaced by a “national salvation government” that can call new elections. One delegate, Nadia Ch‚abane, stood amid hundreds of demonstrators, some cloaked in the Tunisian flag, who faced off Sunday against a smaller, all-male phalanx chanting “God is great” and waving the black Salafi flag. “Islam has survived here for 14 centuries,” she told me. “It is not under threat. The solution to our problems is economic, not religious.” Will the West have the courage and vision to help her, and others across North Africa, who are speaking up for freedom and human rights through peaceful protest? If not, the Arab Spring may die in the country where it was born.



Army officer trainees start new life chapter New course begins at military academy KUWAIT: Kuwait’s Army Officers Academy, launched in 1967, kicked off their 42nd training course yesterday continuing a tradition of being one of the oldest specialised army schools in the Arab region. Around half a thousand cadets will receive training across two officers’ courses - one for high-school graduates and another for specialised university and diploma graduates -

KUWAIT: Cadets take part in the parade as the 42nd training course begins at the Kuwait Army Officers Academy yesterday.

amongst several battalions. The officers of tomorrow will be trained physically and mentally to cope with and handle the most difficult of situations during their three-years spent at the military educational facility. To the sound of a bell young cadets started their day at Ali Al-Sabah Academy for Military Science to the break of the Kuwaiti dawn, knowing full well what they have gotten themselves into. A brief absence assessment was followed by the first training session, which included a morning warm-up jog around the academy’s training grounds. After their morning exercises, the cadets headed to their first academy breakfast, which includes an abundance of both protein and carbohydrates aimed at ensuring their physical levels are kept high. This is followed by parade and practical infantry training. It is during this class that the cadets are taught to obey commands and how to act upon them. As they march side-by-side the cadets learn new commands that order their movements in unison within organised joint army maneuvers. This is followed by the ever-so-important and probably favourite part in any officer hopeful’s life light weapons training. To start with, the cadets were briefed on the various light weapons used by the Kuwaiti army, in addition to the functions, characteristics, safety standards and means of handling for each weapon. They were also shown the correct posture taken when shooting, followed by a practical demonstration of their new-found knowledge. The Kuwaiti army school was formed a week from today some six years after its independence, during the time of Kuwait’s 12th ruler, Sheikh Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah - who made the decision

that was carried out by Minister of Defence, at the time, and future Amir Sheikh Saad Al-Abdallah AlSalem Al-Sabah - with an Amiri decree giving the academy an official reckoning a year later. The country’s first batch of army officers graduated in 1970, and since then the academy has prided itself on holding a course every year, aimed at building the defence capabilities of the tiny geographically important country at the heart of the Arabian Gulf. —KUNA

Kuwait announces legal firm to advice on special economic zones KUWAIT: International law firm DLA Piper is the latest organisation to be appointed to assist Kuwait to develop three Special Economic Zones (SEZs) as it attempts to boost foreign direct investment (FDI). The zones will be the Gulf state’s first, while others such as the UAE already have several. Kuwait also announced in May it would establish a government authority to promote FDI as it moves towards diversifying its oil-heavy economy. It presently has the lowest FDI of all six Gulf Cooperation Council members and has been warned that its economy could record its first

deficit since the last century by 2017 unless it urgently diversifies its economy. The new authority, to replace the Kuwait Foreign Investment Office (KFIO), will be managed within the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and aims to improve legal and economic conditions to entice foreign investors to Kuwait. A consortium of organisations are assisting the emirate, led by Skidmore Owings and Merrill Inc and also including Dar Gulf Consult and the UK’s Happold Consulting. DLA Piper will provide regulatory and on-going legal advice to KFIB in its delivery of the zones. “This is an extremely exciting project for

Abbas receives Amir’s invitation AMMAN: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas received an invitation yesterday from His Highness the Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah to attend the third Arab-African summit scheduled to be held in Kuwait in November. Ambassador Hamad Al-Duaij said that Abbas expressed his appreciation and gratitude to HH and Kuwaiti people for their continuous support for the Palestinian Cause, wishing Kuwait more development in all

fields. Abbas praised Kuwait’s efforts in creating cooperation between Arab states, and achieve developments in the Arab world. He noted the importance of the upcoming summit in developing cooperation between African and Arab nations. Kuwait will be hosting the third summit between 18 and 20 November, according to Kuwait’s request it submitted to the second African-Arab Summit held in Sirte, Libya in 2010. —KUNA

Kuwait and we are looking forward to working with KFIB and other strategic partners to support the delivery of special economic zones that will enhance the business landscape in Kuwait even further,” DLA Piper Middle East’s regional managing partner Abdul Aziz Al-Yaqout said. “The challenges of navigating a complex legislative environment, as well as operating in a rapidly changing one, play to the strengths of the firm here in the Middle East. This, combined with a thorough and in-depth understanding of Kuwait’s economic objectives, mean that we are well placed to support the project throughout its lifespan.”

Work halted at ports KUWAIT: Operations at Kuwait’s three ports of Doha, Shuwaikh and Shuaiba were halted yesterday due to limited sight as a result of dusty weather conditions, said the Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA). The halt is for a shortterm period until weather conditions improve, as horizontal vision dropped to less than quarter a nautical mile, said operations chief at the port Marzouq AlQahtani. The move was carried out on safety grounds, and in accordance with International Maritime Organisation regulations stating that work should halt if sight reaches less than three nautical miles, he added. Thus far, one vessel is awaiting entry to the port with another one pending departure. —KUNA

500 tons of tires disposed KUWAIT: Five-hundred tons of tires in Errhaiya area have been disposed of from June to August of 2013, said an official here Sunday. Head of public services at the Municipal Council and supervisor of the eliminated tires’ program Ahmad Al-Shireed said that the council, in coordination with a specialized private company, was carrying out the disposal program. He stressed that the Municipal Council was eager to find a solution to the piles of those tires which might lead to fires or harm to the environment. He indicated that the municipal council had an agreement with the company that the piles of tires should not be reproduced. However, recycling the rubber contents of the tires should be coordinated with the Environment Public Authority (EPA) and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. —KUNA

Deputy PM and Interior minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Khaled yesterday visited the traffic department were he was received by Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs, Major General Abdull Fattah Al-Ali.



Man hurt after helping outnumbered officers ‘Crazy’ maid arrested in Salwa KUWAIT: A man was injured after he volunteered to help two police officers who were outnumbered in a fight reported recently in Sulaibikhat. Two patrol officers approached a vehicle parked in a dark place with a couple inside. The man was asked to step outside and he not only refused to co-operate but placed a call and five men turned up at the place within minutes. All the men got together and beat up the officers. A good Samaritan who was walking by attempted to help the police officers by defending them from the men around. Meanwhile, the officers managed to call for back-up and were joined by additional officers. Four of the attackers managed to escape with the couple while one of the men was arrested by the police and taken to Sulaibikhat police station and charged with attempted murder, battery, and assaulting police officers on duty. The good Samaritan was taken in an ambulance to Sabah Hospital after he sustained two stab injuries during the fight. Investigations are ongoing in search for the runaway suspects. Murder attempt A domestic worker was arrested and is being held for investigations after she attempted to kill her employer’s children at a public park in Salwa recently. The incident took place in Block 11 when a Kuwaiti woman took her three children and housemaid out for a picnic. But the picnic ended soon when the Ethiopian maid grabbed a knife which she was hiding under her clothes and chased after the kids and tried to stab them. Other picnickers immediately jumped up and pinned her down until the police came and

arrested her. After questioning, officers at the Salwa police station decided that the woman needs to have her mental state assessed and referred her to a psychological hospital for tests. Shopkeeper assaulted A woman was arrested in Jahra after she attacked a shopkeeper with a soft drink bottle for allegedly cheating her of KD 2. The Ethiopian woman reportedly paid the Iranian shopkeeper KD 2 to recharge her cell phone credit on Friday, but returned the following day and complained that he hadn’t recharged her phone. A heated exchange then followed, after which the woman reportedly grabbed a bottle and broke it on his head, leaving him with a deep gash that required hospitalization. The woman was summoned to the Jahra police station after the shopkeeper reported the case. The man provided officers evidence that he had sent the recharge amount on the same day and the woman was charged with physical assault and attempted fraud. She is currently cooling her temper behind bars. Driver saved A man was saved from drowning after his car got stuck in mud at the Subbiya beach over the weekend. Security officers went in search of the Kuwaiti man who reported in an emergency call that water started leaking inside his vehicle and it got stuck in mud at the Khor Al-Sabbiya area. Police soon found the man and were able to help him out of the vehicle as he was trapped inside, before moving the car to safety. Meanwhile, coastguards saved a domestic

worker who almost drowned at the ‘Khor Al-Ami’ beach in Khairan. Officers arrived to the scene shortly after a Kuwaiti man reported that his housemaid drifted away from the shore during a family trip. The Asian woman was helped out of the waters and handed over to paramedics who were waiting at the beach. She was taken to Adan Hospital immediately for medical attention. Jahra accident A woman died in an accident reported late Friday night in Jahra. Paramedics and police arrived to the scene located in front of the Jahra Club shortly after the accident was reported. The 25-year-old Kuwaiti woman was pronounced dead on the scene, and preliminary examinations indicated that she died of a fatal head injury. The body was taken to Jahra Hospital and a case was filed to investigate the circumstances behind the accident. Actress charged An actress faces charges after she reportedly clashed with waiters at a Salmiya coffee shop in an inebriated state. The woman who is of Gulf nationality was reportedly drunk when she arrived at the cafe on Saturday night, and even placed a Chivas whiskey bottle she took from her bag on her table according to the waiters. She quarreled with waiters who tried to calm her down after she started yelling when her order was allegedly ‘late’. Police arrived to the scene after the incident was reported. The cafe’s manager pressed charges including damage to property and physical assault after the actress reportedly started a fight with one of the waiters.

VIVA inaugurates seven new branches KUWAIT: VIVA, Kuwait’s fastest-growing and most developed telecom operator, announced that it has added seven new branches to its network amounting to 26 branches across Kuwait. VIVA’s new branches are located in Hawally, Andalus, Al-Rai, AlFanar, Daiya, Rawdah and Um Al-Haiman, reinforcing its presence and growing closer to its customers. The new branch openings come in line with the company’s expansion strategy to serve a wider audience across Kuwait by offering convenience in location, to continue providing excellence in customer service and unique and exclusive packages for its customers. Commenting on the opening on VIVA’s latest branches, Salman Bin Abdulaziz AlBadran, VIVA’s CEO said: “Our motivation to provide excellence in our services is driven by our passion to serve our customers. Expanding our network with an additional

seven new branches is an achievement we are proud to announce. We will continue to move forward in the same direction, and enhance our service by moving closer to our customers ensuring that they receive the best service available, and are served swiftly and efficiently.” VIVA is the fastest-growing telecom operator in Kuwait. Launched in December 2008, VIVA makes things possible for its customers by transforming communication, information and entertainment experiences. The company has rapidly established an unrivalled position in the market through its customer centric approach. VIVA’s quest is to be the mobile brand of choice in Kuwait by being transparent, engaging, energetic and fulfilling. VIVA continues to take a considerable share of the market by offering an innovative range of best value products, services and content propositions; a state of the art, nationwide network and world-class service.

Kuwait Diving Team cautions sea-goers from sunken ship off of Julaia beach KUWAIT: Kuwait Dive Team of the Environment Voluntary Foundation warned sea-goers against getting near the location of a ship that sank 2 km off of Jualia beach. Navigation officer Faial Al-Harban said yester-

day that the 25-meter ship is sitting on the seabed - 6.5 meters deep - near a transportation ship that was also submerged under waters six months ago. He urged to lift off the sunken ship for it is

considered hazardous to navigation and marine environment. The Kuwait Dive Team has put up temporary warning signs and circulated sunken ship coordinates which are: (N 28 55,913 - E 48 13,736), he pointed out. —KUNA

Oman entrepreneur ecosystem needs a strong govt push MUSCAT: Small businesses are the lifeblood of any economy. But this sentiment resounds even more deeply with the Gulf, as the region looks to utilise human capital and diversify its economy. The small Gulf state of Oman has been tack ling the issue of unemployment among its citizens by adopting stringent policies on localisation. But the Sultanate is yet to make headway in creating a suitable ecosystem for entrepreneurs. “Right now there are only two options for employment. Omanis can either enter the private sector or the public sector. There should be a third option,” said Qais Al-Khonji, an Omani entrepreneur and founder of Genesis International. “The scope must be widened because entrepreneurship fuels job creation.” Entrepreneurs say that Oman’s current economic infrastructure is unfavourable for start-ups and the list of hurdles remains daunting for would-be business owners. “ The process for starting a company tends to be slow, right from opening of the company, to acquiring all the correct licenses, and then to actually begin operations,” said Al-Khonji. The businessman said that such kind of delays eventually end up costing more than an entrepreneur could afford at that stage. “An ideal market for a budding entrepreneur is one in which there is support from their government (in the form of access to funding and support services) and where there is a clear demand for their products and services,” said Rashed Eltayeb, a principal with Booz & Company’s public sector practice. “The government has to continue to put in place the enabling environment, which includes supportive regulations, access to funding and provision of support services like marketing and other business planning services,” he said. “[ The government must] identify the focus areas and priorities for Oman’s eco-

nomic growth, then make these opportunities visible and available to the private sector, including large companies, SMEs and entrepreneurs.” The Oman government announced earlier this year that it will continue spending heavily on job creation and aims to add 20,000 public sector jobs this year. Eltayeb said that creating jobs in the public sector is a short-term solution. He emphasised that Oman needs a build a larger private sector, comprising both MNCs and entrepreneurs, to support the government’s efforts in job creation. As with all the GCC countries, limited access to capital is a major problem for entrepreneurs in Oman. “In the West and other par ts of the world, there are a lot of funds that help entrepreneurs wishing to start a new business. But in this region, financiers are reluctant to invest in new business as there is minimal risktaking behaviour,” Eltayeb said. Al-Khonji agreed that access to finance for entrepreneurs can prove difficult. “The government and the private sector established a fund called Sharakah in 1998 and have recently begun another called Rafd. But that is not enough,” said AlKhonji. Eltayeb said entrepreneurs often lack clarity about demand-supply market dynamics. This weakness can be detrimental to an entrepreneur’s existence in a market where the purchasing power is limited. Penetrating such low-income markets requires clever marketing techniques, said Al-Khonji. “Entrepreneurs need access to high quality support services including marketing to help ensure that their innovation has the best support and opportunity to succeed,” said Randa Bessiso, Middle East director, Manchester Business School. “Small companies often lack the capabilities to market their business effectively, and the financial ability to hire marketing

consultants,” said Eltayeb. Industry experts said the government could look at providing marketing expertise to young entrepreneurs, in the absence of homegrown angel investors and seed accelerators. Al-Khonji said that entrepreneurship is a concept that needs to be taught at schools to encourage more Omani youths to start their own businesses. Eltayeb agreed that Omani youth have to change their mindsets and understand that the government cannot employ everybody. “Students should think of how to build a private sector career in company X, or how to create a business that does Y,” he said. “It is important for them to view their contribution to the job market in the context of the skills that they bring, or the business value of the ideas that they have, not which government entity provides the greatest job security.” Eltayeb said that in order to enter the private sector, students should understand their competitive advantage in the market and the best time to inculcate this idea is during high school and college. Bessio added that school is the perfect starting point to influence the thinking of young people and educate students on entrepreneurship. “It all starts with an education system to help develop innovative thinking and a broad set of skills - these could be languages, interpersonal skills and business understanding. These skills allow them to identify and model an opportunity that could develop into a business model,” she said. Going forward, SMEs and entrepreneurs will play an increasingly important role in buoying Oman’s future. To promote long term success and economic sustainability, Oman’s government must be prepared to don the roles traditionally carried out by accelerators.

Jordan awaits Al-Ghanim’s visit AMMAN: Speaker of Jordan’s House of Representatives Saad Hayel Al-Srour welcomed the upcoming visit of the Kuwaiti National Assembly Speaker Marzouq AlGhanim in September. Kuwaiti Ambassador Dr. Hamad Al-Duaij said yesterday that Al-Srour briefed him on the itinerary of the prospective visit of AlGhanim to Jordan, noting to its importance in strengthening the two countries’ relations in all fields. Al-Srour praised Kuwait’s continuous

economic support for Jordan, noting that the two countries have always shared strong relations. Al-Duaij on his part, praised the efforts of HH the Amir and King Abdullah II in developing the cooperation between their counties. Moreover, the ambassador praised Jordan’s efforts in solving the Arab world issues and attracting the international community ’s attention towards such issues. —KUNA

UNGA advisory panel holds first session of meetings KUWAIT: President of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Vuk Jeremic inaugurated on Saturday the first session of UN High-Level Advisory Committee’s meetings, in which Sheikh Dr Mohammad Sabah AlSalem Al-Sabah is a member, at the headquarters of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Serbia to the UN in New York. During the session, the members discussed most important points in the final report, which is to be submitted by President of UNGA to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the next few days. The Advisory Committee included Spain’s

former foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, Morocco’s former foreign minister Mohammad Bin Issa, Senegal’s ex-foreign minister Sheikh Tijan Gadio, Chile’s Jose Miguel Insulza, former Foreign Minister and Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Indonesia’s former foreign minister Nur Hassan Wirajuda, and American Jeffrey Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University. Furthermore, the meetings will see participation of Pakistan’s former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, and Cypriot ex-foreign minister Markos Kyprianou, as guests. —KUNA

KRCS sends new relief plane to Sudan KUWAIT: Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) dispatched yesterday the eighth Kuwaiti relief plane carrying food and humanitarian aid to Sudan, to help people affected by floods that battered the country recently. KRCS’ President Barjas Al-Barjas said in a statement that the aircraft, which took off from Abdullah Al-Mubarak Air Base, “is part of the relief supplies dispatched by the Kuwaiti leadership to the Sudanese people which reflects the solidarity with our brothers in Sudan and to alleviate their suffering”. Al-Barjas added that KRCS is among the first relief aid societies that extended a hand to the flood-stricken people of Sudan. The KRCS’s team will strengthen its presence in Sudan to oversee the distribution of aid, and meet the needs of those affected and promote the efforts of the Sudanese authorities in these circumstances, adding that those affected by the floods in Sudan are still in dire need for shelter, tents, blan-

kets and clothing, he said. He also called for intensifying efforts in order to face the repercussions of the crisis that swept through large areas of Sudan. The United Nations earlier meantioned that more than half a million people have been affected by the torrential rains and floods that hit Sudan last August. Al-Barjas praised the efforts by Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense Sheikh Khalid Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah for his supervision of the relief plane to Sudan. Meanwhile, the Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) and NEST aid group will launch a donation campaign to help Syrian children studying in Jordan. NEST Coordinator Noor Budai told the press that the campaign would hopefully provide school supplies for Syrian children, adding that the KRCS, the Kuwaiti Embassy in Jordan, and the NEST group will handle the distribution of school goods to the children. —KUNA


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BAGHDAD: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (center) arrives yesterday in the Iraqi capital Baghdad to hold talks with Iraqi officials on possible US-led strikes against Syria. — AFP

Iran FM slams Syria strike as illegal. US risks igniting fire across region: Zarif BAGHDAD: Iran’s foreign minister slammed potential US-led airstrikes against Syria as “illegal” on a visit to Baghdad yesterday, while his Iraqi counterpart warned they would hinder efforts towards a political solution. Mohammad Javed Zarif said militar y action was barred under the United Nations charter, but Washington is pressing for the strikes in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack the White House says was carried out by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. The United States will ignite a fire across the Middle East if it attacks Syria, Iran’s new foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on a visit to Iraq yesterday, warning Western powers against warmongering. After more than two years of civil war, US President Barack Obama is trying to drum up support for limited strikes on Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack that Washington blames on the government of Bashar AlAssad. The Shiite-led government in Baghdad has sought to maintain a neutral stance towards the conflict and opposes any Western military intervention in Syria, fearing it will further destabilize Iraq. “We are concerned about warmongering in this region,” said Zarif at a news conference during his first official trip abroad since taking office. “Those who are short-sighted and are beating the drums of war are starting a fire

that will burn everyone.” Zarif was received by his Iraqi counterpart Hoshyar Zebari and was also expected to meet Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki later in the day. “Civilized countries, 65 years ago, took the options off the table when they rejected in the charter of the United Nations resort to force as an illegal practice,” Zarif said, speaking in English in a joint press conference with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari. “Why (do) they (countries supporting a strike) call themselves civilized nations and continue to insist on all options being on the table?” he said. “All options have been removed from the table long, long, long time ago.” Zarif made the remarks during a one-day trip to Iraq, his first since being appointed foreign minister by President Hassan Rowhani in mid-August, and after meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki earlier yesterday. Zebari, meanwhile, warned that any strikes “would hinder political efforts” to help end the 30-month war in neighboring Syria. Iran, a staunch supporter of the Assad regime, actively opposes plans by the US and France to launch a military strike against Damascus over its suspected use of chemical weapons in deadly attacks on August 21. It also backs claims in Damascus that rebels, not the Assad regime, carried out the chemical attacks on Damascus suburbs, which killed hundreds of people. Assad’s regime has denied any responsibility. Before

leaving for Baghdad, Zarif was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying that Iran was “more worried” by the developments in Syria than other regional countries. “The warmongering is happening in our neighborhood, which is an important issue and has made my visit to Iraq necessary,” he said. Zarif seized on US President Barack Obama’s failure to win support for military action against Syria from world leaders during the G20 summit in Saint Petersburg. “This shows the US and pro-war groups are faced with definite isolation in their pursuit of using war and illegal means to push forward their own foreign policy agenda,” he said in Tehran. Iran provides Damascus with material and intelligence support but denies accusations of arming the Assad regime to fight the conflict which began as a popular uprising in 2011 but has now evolved into a fully-fledged civil war that has claimed more than 110,000 lives. Iraq, meanwhile, has sought to publicly avoid taking sides in the civil war between Assad and rebels seeking his ouster, but the conflict has spilled over the border on several occasions. Washington has repeatedly called on Iraq to stop flights allegedly carrying arms from Iran to the Syrian regime. Iraq insists Iran has reduced flights transporting arms to Syria but says Baghdad cannot stop them completely. — Agencies

US to notify Israel ahead of Syria attack: Official HERZLIYA, Israel: The United States would notify Israel hours in advance of an attack on Syria, an Israeli official said yesterday. While formally on the sidelines of the Syrian crisis, Israel fears coming under reprisals from its northern foe should the United States launch strikes to punish Damascus for alleged use of chemical weaponry. Asked how much advance notice Israel would get from its US ally about such attacks, an Israeli official briefed on contacts with Washington told Reuters: “Hours.” But a senior strategist for the Defense Ministry said separately Israel was, like the rest of the world, in the dark at present. “Will the United States attack? Will it not attack? What will the consequences be? All of these things are unknowns,” Amos Gilad said in a speech at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism near Tel Aviv.President Barack Obama has run into formidable US domestic opposition to military action. Wary of appearing to meddle in American affairs, most Israeli officials have not publicly commented on the debate. Israel plans to deploy anti-missile systems and troop reinforcements on its Syrian and Lebanese fronts if Obama green-lights strikes against Syria. Israeli television filmed

what looked like an Iron Dome missile interceptor battery being positioned on the outskirts of Jerusalem yesterday. “We don’t comment on our aerial defenses,” a military spokeswoman said. An Israeli military magazine, Bamahane, said a month ago there were six such batteries deployed around the country and occasionally rotated geographically. Obama has asked Congress to approve strikes against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s government in response to a chemical weapons attack on Aug 21 that killed more than 1,400 Syrians. This zweek in Washington, hundreds of activists of the influential pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee will lobby Congress for military action in Syria. Some Israeli officials have privately voiced concern US failure to attack Syria would embolden Iran, an ally of Damascus, in its defiance of international calls to curb a nuclear program which the West fears is aimed at developing nuclear arms - a charge Tehran denies. Gilad disagreed with those assessments, however, saying in his speech: “Whether or not this is popular, I don’t recommend drawing conclusions about Iran from Syria.” — Reuters



Al-Qaeda fighters help Syria rebels take Christian village Assad forces stretched thin

BEIRUT: Members of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party chant slogans as they hold portraits of Syrian President Bashar Assad, during a demonstration against a possible military strike in Syria, in front of the United Nations headquarters, in Beirut, yesterday.—AP

Assad denies ordering chemical attack: TV WASHINGTON: Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has denied in an interview with CBS television that he was behind a chemical attack last month and called on lawmakers to reject planned US military strikes, the US network said yesterday. “He denied that he had anything to do with the attack,” CBS veteran correspondent Charlie Rose said, speaking after earlier interviewing Assad in Syria. “He denied that he knew there was a chemical attack, notwithstanding what has been said and notwithstanding the videotape. He said there’s not enough evidence to make a conclusive judgment. “The most important thing, as he says, is that ‘there’s no evidence that I used chemical weapons against my own people’,” Rose said. Assad’s rare interview with an American network is to be aired on CBS today. The United States has led the charge that Assad ordered a chemical attack against the residents of a Damascus suburb on August 21, which Washington says killed some 1,400 people including about 400 children. Graphic videos released on Saturday showed dozens of people, including children, writhing on the ground with convulsions, some apparently foaming at the mouth and vomiting as rescuers sought

to help them. But Assad challenged the US administration of President Barack Obama to provide the evidence as it seeks to build domestic and international support for military strikes against the Syrian regime for breaking international conventions with its alleged use of chemical weapons. “He said that he did not necessarily know whether there was going to be a military strike. He said that they were obviously as prepared as they could be for a strike,” Rose added, citing his interview with Assad. The long-time Syrian leader also “had a message to the American people that it had not been a good experience for them to get involved in the Middle East in wars and conflicts,” Rose said. “The results had not been good and they should not get involved and that they should communicate to their Congress and to their leadership in Washington not to authorize a strike.” Congress is due to begin full debate this week on whether to approve Obama’s plans for limited military strikes on Syria aimed at degrading its chemical weapons ability when it returns from its summer break today. But there is a deep skepticism among a war-weary American public over a new American military engagement in the Middle East. — AFP

AMMAN: Rebels including AlQaeda-linked fighters gained control of a Christian village northeast of the capital Damascus, Syrian activists said yesterday. Government media provided a dramatically different account of the battle suggesting regime forces were winning. It was impossible to independently verify the reports from Maaloula, a scenic mountain community known for being one of the few places in the world where residents still speak the ancient Middle Eastern language of Aramaic. The rebel advance into the area this week was spearheaded by the Jabhat Al-Nusra, or Nusra Front, exacerbating fears among Syrians and religious minorities about the role played by Islamic extremists within the rebel ranks. It was not immediately clear why the army couldn’t sufficiently reinforce its troops to prevent the rebel advance in the area only 43 kilometers (26 miles) from Damascus. Some activists say that Assad’s forces are stretched thin, fighting in other areas in the north and south of the country. Rami Abdurrahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Nusra Front backed by another group, the Qalamon Liberation Front, moved into the village after heavy clashes with the army late Saturday. “The army pulled back to the outskirts of the village and both (rebel groups) are in total control of Maaloula now,” he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. He said pro-government fighters remain inside the village, in hiding. Initially, troops loyal to President

MAALULA: An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube by Shaam News Network allegedly shows a rebel fighter firing a heavy machine gun during a battle against Syrian government forces in the Syrian Christian town of Maalula. — AFP Bashar Assad moved into Maaloula early Saturday, he said, “but they left when rebels started pouring into the village.” Now, Abdurrahman said, the army is surrounding the village and controlling its entrances and exits. A Maaloula resident said the rebels, many of them sporting beards and shouting Allahu Akbar, or God is great, attacked Christian homes and churches shortly after moving into the village overnight. “They shot and killed people. I heard gunshots and then I saw three bodies lying in the middle of a street in the old quarters of the village,” said the resident, reached by telephone from neighboring

Jordan. “So many people fled the village for safety.” Now, Maaloula “is a ghost town. Where is President Obama to see what befallen on us?” asked the man, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal by the rebels. Syria’s state SANA news agency said the army reported “progress” in its offensive against the rebels in Maaloula. “The army inflicted heavy losses in the ranks of the terrorists,” it said, using a government term to describe the rebels. “Military operations are continuing in the vicinity of Maaloula and its entrances,” SANA said. Staterun TV reported that all churches in

Maaloula were now safe and the army was chasing gunmen in the western hills. The development came as President Barack Obama’s administration pressed ahead with efforts to win congressional backing and international support for military strikes against Syria over an alleged chemical attack in August outside Damascus. The US says Assad’s forces fired rockets loaded with the nerve agent sarin on rebel-held areas near the capital before dawn on Aug. 21, killing at least 1,429 people. Other estimates put the death toll from the attack at more than 500. — AP

Sudan bombs S Sudan buffer zone position JUBA: The Sudanese Armed Forces yesterday killed two people when they bombed a South Sudanese army position close to the town of Jau, which lies in a buffer zone along the common border, South Sudan’s army said. “The SAF carried out the bombing with MiG29 fighter jets. They dropped two bombs on our defensive position in Jau yesterday,” said James Kong Chuol, a major general commanding a division of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army close to the border. “An SPLA soldier and his wife lost their lives. Six other people including a four-year-old girl were injured,” Chuol said yesterday. Chuol said

SPLA’s foremost positions are now in South Jau. They pulled back 10 kilometers (6 miles) from earlier positions in North Jau to comply with a border security mechanism agreed on at peace talks in September 2012. The mechanism provides for a distance of 20 kilometers (12 miles) maintained between Sudanese and South Sudanese forces along the border. Chuol said the attack was a “provocation”. “If they continue it is up to us to decide” whether to retaliate,” he said, adding he had instructed his men to be on high alert. Jau, in Unity state’s Pariang County, has been bombed by the SAF before, notably in February and July

of this year. The latest incident comes just days after an apparently harmonious conclusion to a one-day summit between the two former civil war foes. Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir met his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir in Khartoum on Tuesday. The two leaders averted a shutdown of economically vital oil flows. They also pledged to implement a raft of measures they agreed to in September of last year Implementation was derailed by a series of disputes between Sudan and South Sudan, which claimed independence and broke away in July 2011. —AFP

Al-Qaeda claims Iraq bombs that killed 50 BAGHDAD: The Iraqi branch of Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility yesterday for a wave of coordinated car bomb attacks that killed more than 50 people in Baghdad, as two new attacks killed another five in the latest outbreak of violence to hit the country. The Al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, posted a message on a militant website taking responsibility for the deadly attacks last week, mostly in Shiite areas. The group claimed the attacks were a response to the arrest of Sunnis around the capital during a recent government security crackdown. “About half a million security members failed to prevent this huge wave of attacks in Baghdad,” the group said. The authenticity of the statement could not be independently confirmed. It was posted on a website commonly used by jihadists and its style was consistent with earlier Al-Qaeda statements. The bombings were the latest in a wave of bloodshed that has swept Iraq since April, killing more than 4,000 people and worsening already strained ties between Iraq’s Sunni minority and the Shiite-led government. More than 570 people have been killed so far in August. Al-Qaeda is hoping to tap into the anger of more mod-

erate Sunnis, who began holding rallies in December against the government over what they feel is their second-class treatment. Among their biggest grievances are the applications of tough anti-terrorism measures they feel unfairly targeting their sect, and the treatment of Sunni detainees in Iraqi prisons. Meanwhile yesterday, two suicide bombers attacked a police station in the town of Jalula, killing three police officers and a civilian. Police said that the first suicide bomber exploded his explosive belt at a security checkpoint at the gate of the police station while the other bomber was killed by guards as he tried to sneak to inside the police station. Police said that 10 other people, including six officers, were wounded in the dual suicide attack. Jalula is 125 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of Baghdad. In the southeastern edge of Baghdad, authorities said one person was killed and six others wounded when a bomb exploded near a parking lot in Jisr Diyala area. Medical personnel in nearby hospitals confirmed the casualty figures for all attacks. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.—AP

Daughter of Libya ex-spy chief freed TRIPOLI: The daughter of Libya’s ex-spy chief Abdullah Senussi, who was reportedly kidnapped last week, has been freed, a member of her tribe said yesterday. Senussi was intelligence chief for Libya’s long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and his daughter Unud had completed a 10month jail term when she was snatched on Monday. Unud Senussi “was freed yesterday (Saturday) evening and is currently safe with members of her family in Brak alShati” in southern Libya, Abdelkader Belgacem, a member of the Magerha tribe, to which she belongs, told AFP. “Unud is due to spend some time in the south before going to Egypt to join her mother and sister,” Belgacem added. Justice Minister Salah Al-Marghani had said Unud, in her 20s, was snatched by “turban-wearing armed men” who ambushed her convoy as she left prison a suburb of Tripoli. But a unit in the security

forces said on Thursday that it had seized Unud to foil a plan by “other parties” to kidnap her and claim a ransom. The unit is affiliated with the Higher Security Commission, made up of former rebels who fought the Gaddafi regime in 2011, and linked to the interior ministry. Libya’s authorities decided to dissolve the Commission, formed after the fall of the Gaddafi regime in October 2011 to help secure the country, but have yet to carry out the order. Unud’s father Abdullah, Gaddafi’s brother-in-law, is due to stand trial in Libya on September 19 along with other key figures from the former regime, accused of crimes committed in the 2011 conflict. He is also wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity during the revolt. Unud Senussi was arrested in October with a false passpor t and sentenced to 10 months in prison. — AFP

GAZA STRIP: A picture taken from the Southern Gaza Strip shows the borders between Egypt (left) and the Palestinian territory (right) yesterday. — AFP

Army keeps upper hand as Egypt eyes transition CAIRO: The deadly crackdown on Islamists across Egypt could radicalize their ranks and at the same time further bolster the powerful army during the country’s transitional phase, experts say. Violence has gripped Egypt since July 3, when the army deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi following massive demonstrations against his turbulent one-year rule. The military has appointed an interim president and government, but oversees security in the face of street protests by Morsi’s supporters. In mid-August police and soldiers broke up two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo in an operation that killed hundreds, following up with a wide ranging crackdown on Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement. The army has also been entrusted with overseeing a state of emergency and curfew imposed by the military-backed government, and is facing an insurgency by radical Islamists in the Sinai Peninsula. The army general behind Morsi’s ouster has vowed to stand firm in the face of violence by extremists. “Whoever imagines violence will

make the state and Egyptians kneel must reconsider; we will never be silent in the face of the destruction of the country,” General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said in August. Since then violence has continued unabated as the authorities pursue their crackdown on the Brotherhood, rounding up more than 2,000 Islamists including the movement’s supreme guide have been jailed. In what is seen as a reaction by extremists to the crackdown, Egypt’s interim interior minister was targeted in a car bomb attack last week, which he survived, while the army foiled a railway bombing near the canal city of Suez. At the same time, the military is battling AlQaeda-inspired militants entrenched in northern Sinai. Egypt expert Jean-Noel Ferrie said he expects the powerful military to remain a key player as long as the crisis remains unresolved. He also spoke of the “ambiguous” situation of the army which has held an important role in the country since officers overthrew King Farouk in 1952. It provided Egypt

with all of its presidentsMohammed Naguib, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat, and Hosni Mubarak-until the election of Morsi, a civil engineer by training, in June 2012. “The question is whether the army is acting as a group with its own agenda or as part of the continuity of the state, in which retired officers will hold key roles in the administration,” Ferrie said. The transition plan set up by the army-backed interim government stipulates fresh parliamentary elections and a presidential vote by mid-2014. Interim president Adly Mansour has already put the plan in motion by announcing on September 1 a 50-member panel to draw up a revised constitution to replace a contested one drafted during Morsi’s rule. The panel held its first meeting yesterday. The army meanwhile yesterday carried out a second day of air raids on suspected militants in Sinai, witnesses said. The army said nine “radical Islamists” were killed on Saturday in north Sinai when it launched its air and ground offensive in which nine suspects were

also arrested and three arms caches destroyed. Authorities describe the security campaigns against both Sinai militants and Islamists across Egypt as a “war on terrorism”, often lumping in the Brotherhood with jihadists. Analyst Karim Bitar warned against the official rhetoric blaming jihadists for unrest in Egypt. This is “dangerous”, he said, because it allows the security forces “to grant themselves permission to brutally repress” suspects. More than 1,000 people, mostly Morsi backers, have been killed in violence across Egypt since July 3. Analysts fear that diehard Morsi supporters, who insist on the legitimacy of their democratically-elected leader, could become radicalized and launch attacks across Egypt. In that case Egypt will be caught in a “vicious circle of repression and political violence,” said Bitar. He expected that the army will continue acting “as a safeguard” in Egypt, where security and the economy have been the main challenges since the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak. —AFP



Chem weapons use wider issue than Syria: Hague LONDON: British Foreign Secretary William Hague called Sunday for a strong response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria, saying the issue went wider than the conflict in the Middle Eastern country. Hague said that although the British parliament had rejected joining military action against Syria, he backed anticipated US-led air strikes to stop President Bashar al-Assad’s regime using poison gas again. US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to arrive in London on Sunday for talks with Hague as part of a swing through European capitals to drum up support for action on Syria. “I do believe very strongly that the world must stand up against the use of chemical weapons. The risks of not doing so in my view are greater than the risks of doing so,” Hague told BBC television. He added: “This issue is about chemical weapons, which is a bigger issue than Syria. “What the United States have been talking about, what we were talking about before the vote in parliament, is a limited and proportionate response to the use of chemical weapons to deter

the use of chemical weapons. “Allowing the spread of use of chemical weapons in the 21st century is an evil that we have to stand up to, one way or another.” British Prime Minister David Cameron suffered a stunning defeat on August 29 when lawmakers rejected his proposal to join military action following an alleged regime chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs that killed hundreds of people. Hague reiterated that the government was “not planning” another vote “unless the circumstances change dramatically ”. He insisted that Britain’s close ties with Washington had not been affected by not joining US-led military action, saying that the Americans had been “very understanding”. His comments came as a poll showed that just a quarter of Britons support US missile strikes against Syria, even if Britain is not involved. Only 25 percent back them while 47 percent oppose them, and 73 percent oppose US action without UN approval, according to the YouGov poll for the Sunday Times newspaper, which surveyed 1,916 people on September 5 and 6. —AFP

Germany, CIA cooperated on Islamist database: report BERLIN: Germany’s intelligence services cooperated with the US CIA for years on a database of suspected Jihadists and their supporters in Germany, the weekly Der Spiegel reported yesterday. Under the codename “Project 6” or “P6”, Germany’s BND and Verfassungschutz intelligence services and the CIA monitored and collected data on Islamists and suspected terrorists in Germany, the magazine said, without revealing its sources. The US and German services jointly rented premises in the western town of Neuss in 2005, before subsequently moving to Cologne, the weekly said in a pre-release of an article to be published in its Monday edition. Der Spiegel said the BND had confirmed the existence of the database, but said the cooperation ended in 2010. According to the magazine, the database included the name, date of birth and passport number of a German investiga-

tive journalist Stefan Buchen, who worked for NDR public broadcaster, after he contacted an Islamist preacher in Yemen and also visited Afghanistan on a number of occasions. In the run-up to the general elections in two weeks, there has been widespread disquiet in Germany over reports of sweeping US online surveillance and German cooperation, sparked by fugitive intelligence analyst Edward Snowden. According to the repor ts, the US National Security Agency (NSA) has hoovered up German emails, online chats and phone calls and shared some of it with the country’s intelligence services. The question dividing analysts is whether the public’s anger could blow back on Merkel, crack the armor of the consistently popular chancellor and damage the still healthy poll lead of her conser vative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). —AFP

Putin critic faces Kremlin rival in Moscow election Big cities don’t need ‘political mayor’: President MOSCOW: A top critic of President Vladimir Putin yesterday faced a Kremlin-backed incumbent in a hotly contested Moscow mayoral poll, the first time an opposition leader has been allowed to stand in a high-profile election. In the Russian capital’s first mayoral election in a decade, Muscovites had six candidates to choose from, including current pro-Kremlin mayor Sergei Sobyanin and main opposition candidate Alexei Navalny. Putin, who made no secret of his support for his former Kremlin chief of staff Sobyanin, said Moscow did not need a politician for a mayor. “Such big cities do not so much need to be run by politicians,” he said after casting his vote in Moscow, adding such a city should be managed by “depoliticized people, technocrats”. The candidacy of anti-corruption crusader and protest leader Navalny has made the race the first genuinely competitive Russian election since the heady early post-Soviet years. The vote will be seen as a crucial test of the protest mood in a city which was shaken by huge demonstrations against Putin’s decade-long rule in the winter of 2011-2012. Moscow gave Putin a relatively low 46.95 percent of the vote in the 2012 presidential election, well below the nationwide average. Opinion polls indicate Kremlinbacked Sobyanin, 55, will win a majority in the first round, while Navalny is set to come second with around 20 percent. Turnout stood at 18.5 percent as of 1100 GMT, the Moscow election commission chief said, a relatively slack figure that officials hoped would improve. The Moscow election was part of a nationwide day of local polls across the country, with Kremlin-backed establishment figures also being challenged in key cities like the main Urals centre of Yekaterinburg. The 37-year-old Navalny, who shot to prominence during the antiPutin rallies, has earned comparisons to a young Boris Yeltsin, Russia’s first post-Soviet president, for his exuberant energy, good looks and promise of change. The four other candidates in the poll

Norway’s centre-right clear election favorite OSLO: Norway’s centre-right opposition looks set to oust Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in today’s general election, paving the way for an antiimmigration party to enter government two years after right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik’s deadly attacks. As voting opened in parts of the country on Sunday, a poll in the daily Aftenposten credited the four centreright parties with 54.3 percent of voter support, which would give them a comfortable majority of 95 of 169 seats in parliament. “You have to go back to 1953 to find an election in Norway where the result was more pre-determined,” Bergen University political scientist Frank Aarebrot said. “I think nobody really believes that the red-green coalition (the ruling Labour-led coalition) can win the election. Nobody.” Stoltenberg’s centreleft coalition, composed of his Labour Party, the Left Socialists and Centrists, garnered just 39 percent of voter sympathies in Aftenposten’s poll, which would translate to 68 seats in parliament In gov-

ernment since 2005 — an unusually long tenure in Norway-the centre-left is seen as suffering from power fatigue, ironic as it may seem since the oil-rich nation enjoys an exceptionally robust economy in Europe with almost no unemployment and very high living standards. “If we change the government from time to time, every election or every second election maybe, it’s good for the country,” said Stig Bredal Eriksen, a businessman in the western town of Bergen, the hometown of Conservative leader Erna Solberg who is tipped to become the next prime minister. “The red-greens have had their chance for eight uninterrupted years. Voters seem to think the time has come for different solutions, but not risky ones,” Aftenposten’s chief editor for its political pages, Harald Stanghelle, wrote on Saturday. Stoltenberg’s coalition has also been criticised for authorities’ failures to prevent Breivik’s July 22, 2011 attacks that left 77 people dead, when he set off a van bomb at the foot of the government offices in Oslo before open-

SKOPJE: Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov (right) walks with the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (left) through Skopje, marking the 22nd anniversary of Macedonia’s independence yesterday. — AP

ing fire on a Labour youth camp on Utoeya island. “People started asking, ‘if they have bad governability of the police, maybe they also have bad governability of caring for the elderly or the schools and so on’,” explained Aarebrot. In another ironic twist, the right-wing’s widely anticipated victory is expected to open the door for the populist Progress Party to join government for the first time in its 40-year history. The party is anti-immigration, and Breivik was a member until 2006. But it has clearly distanced itself from Breivik and toned down its rhetoric on immigrants, and no one in Norway associates the party with Breivik’s carnage-an issue that has been noticeably absent from the campaign. Other topics such as healthcare, education, taxes and how to best use Norway’s vast oil wealth have instead dominated the run-up to the election. “I do believe that Breivik is irrelevant” in the campaign, said Peter Linge Hessen, a young Labour party campaigner who survived the Utoeya massacre. He said he was “obviously disappointed that the right-wing party has gained so much influence, but that’s democracy.” The Progress Party, led by Siv Jensen, has been credited with around 15 percent support in the polls. It looks set to lose about a third of its support compared to the previous legislative elections in 2009, and slip from its position as the secondbiggest party in parliament to the third. While the centre-right-made up of the Conservatives, the Progress Party, the Christian Democrats and the Liberals-is widely expected to win, the exact shape of its future coalition and its political program have not been hammered out yet, as they depend on how much voter support each party obtains. The most likely scenario is a minority government made up of the Conservatives and the Progress Party. The smaller Christian Democrats and the Liberals would not be in the government, but would provide backing in parliament to pass legislation. Significant differences divide the four parties, in particular the issues of immigration, the environment and how to use Norway’s oil fund-the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund worth some $750 billion (570 billion euros), which the populists want to dip into to finance their election promises. — AFP

MOSCOW: Alexei Navalny (right), a top critic of President Vladimir Putin, goes to a polling station during a mayoral election in Moscow yesterday with Navalny’s family, daughter Dasha (second right), son Zakhar (second left) and wife, Yulia (left) accompanying him. — AFP are: a representative of a Kremlinfriendly party, a Communist, an ultra-nationalist lawmaker and a liberal opposition figure. Many Muscovites said they would vote for Navalny, who channels public anger against the Kremlin, even if some harbour reservations about his tough anti-immigrant rhetoric. “He embodies the fight against corruption, honesty, protest against the regime,” said Ivan Volkov, 28, after casting his ballot. “I am not sure he will win but any vote in his favour will hasten the arrival of political change.” The opposition leader expressed hope that the election would be free of violations as he appeared at a polling station with his elegant wife and two children. “I would like very much to see people finally express their will and chose the mayor they want,” said Navalny, who has threatened protests if officials rig the vote. But in a major contrast from previous elections in Russia over

the past years, independent observers said they had not so far registered any major vote irregularities. Navalny’s campaign said a rally would be held today evening in central Moscow to determine whether the opposition will contest the vote. Many said they voted for Sobyanin because he had done a lot for Moscow since his appointment to the post in 2010. “With his arrival Moscow has become better,” said Yevgenia Zatsepina, 78. “He is someone who keeps his promises. He’s businesslike and kind.” Throughout the campaign the buttoned-up Kremlin functionary avoided overt political rhetoric and shunned television debates, instead focusing on sprucing up the city of 12 million. By contrast, Navalny made headlines with a Western-style political campaign mobilizing the support of thousands of volunteers and securing more than 100 million rubles ($3

million) in donations. The main intrigue in the poll is not how many vote for the pro-Kremlin incumbent but what happens to Navalny, who has been campaigning under the shadow of a five-year prison sentence on what he says are trumped-up charges. Navalny, who first made a name for himself exposing corruption among the elites, has vowed to jail Putin and his allies if he is one day elected president. In July, Navalny was sentenced to five years in a penal colony on fraud charges and arrested in court. A day later he was suddenly released pending appeal of his term, in an unprecedented move observers say showed the Kremlin did not know how to handle him. Despite Navalny becoming an increasingly visible presence in Russia’s politics, Putin still refuses to mention him by name and referred to him in a recent interview as “this gentleman”. — AFP



Issues test Obama’s persuasion, mobilizing skills WASHINGTON: The tasks stacking up before President Barack Obama over the coming weeks will test his persuasion powers and his mobilizing skills more than any other time in his presidency. How well Obama handles the challenges in the concentrated amount of time before him could determine whether he leads the nation from a position of strength or whether he becomes a lame duck one year into his first term. Between now and the end of October, Obama must convince wary lawmakers that they should grant him authority to take military action against Syria; take on Congress in an economy-rattling debate over spending and the nation’s borrowing limit; and oversee a crucial step in the putting in place his prized health care law. The Syria vote looms as his first, biggest and perhaps most defining challenge. His mission is persuading Congress - and bringing the public along - to approve armed action against the Syrian government in response to a chemical attack that Obama blames on President Bashar Assad’s government. “It’s conceivable that, at the end of the day, I don’t persuade a majority of the American people that it’s the right thing to do,” Obama acknowledged in a news conference Friday. Presidents tend to have an advantage on issues of national security, a tradition demonstrated by the support Obama has won for action in Syria from the bipartisan leadership of the House. But that has not translated so far into firm support among the rank and file. “Congress can look presidents in the eye on a level gaze regarding the budget,” the presidential historian H W Brands said. “But on war and peace they have to look up to the president, he’s the commander in chief. “If he does lose, even if the loss comes about partly as a result from negative Democratic votes, the

Republicans are going to get the bit in their teeth and say ‘We’re not going to give this guy anything,’” said Brands, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, said.By that reasoning, success on Syria could give Obama some momentum. “If he gets the authority it shows that he’s not a lame duck, that he still has some power,” said John Feehery, a Republican strategist and former House GOP leadership aide. “If he doesn’t get the authority, it’s devastating. People see him as the lamest of lame ducks.” The Syria vote, however, is unusual and probably will not break along traditional partisan or ideological lines. Democrats and Republicans have voiced support and opposition to a military intervention. As a result, some White House officials believe their ability to influence issues that split along party lines is limited. “It becomes more of a stand-alone,” agreed Republican pollster David Winston, who advises House Republican leaders. “This is a decision distinct from internal domestic politics.” At the White House, Syria for now has eclipsed all other matters. Obama spent the last two days in St. Petersburg, Russia, trying to build a coalition of support from among the members of the Group of 20 largest economies. Back home, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry made their case to lawmakers in public and in private while Obama lobbied individual members by telephone. Tomorrow, Obama will speak to the nation during an evening address from the White House, a rare forum reserved for the weightiest of issues. The speech will come a day before the Senate holds its first showdown vote over a resolution authorizing the “limited and specified use” of US armed forces against Syria. The resolution bars the use of US combat troops. A final Senate vote could come at the end of

the week. The House would likely take the measure up the following week. Win or lose, Obama and lawmakers then would run headlong into a debate over the budget. Congress will have a limited window to continue government operations before the new budget year begins Oct 1. Congressional leaders probably will agree to hold spending at current budget levels for about two months or three months. That would delay a confrontation with the White House and pair a debate over 2014 spending levels with the government’s need to raise its current $16.7 trillion borrowing limit. The Treasury says the government will hit that ceiling in mid-October. Obama has been adamant that he will not negotiate over the debt limit. He says a similar faceoff in 2011 hurt the economy and caused Standard & Poors to lower its rating of the nation’s debt, which made it more expensive to borrow. White House officials say they ultimately have leverage because they believe Republicans would be punished politically for playing brinkmanship and threatening the nation with a default. The White House is counting on pressure from traditional Republican allies, particularly in the business sector. “It is insane not to raise the debt ceiling,” US Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue said last week on C-SPAN. Donohue pledged to find primary challengers against lawmakers who threaten a default. Conservative Republicans, particularly those aligned with the tea party, see the debt ceiling as an opportunity to defund or force a delay in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s health insurance overhaul. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says any increase in the debt ceiling should be accompanied by reductions in spending, preferably in government benefit

programs such as Medicare and Social Security. He has predicted “a whale of a fight.” That dispute will play out against tepid economic growth, highlighted Friday by unemployment data that while lowering the jobless rate to 7.3 percent also showed that the proportion of Americans working or looking for work reached its lowest point in 35 years. Obama, who once searched for a grand budget bargain with Boehner, has all but abandoned the effort for a big deal. An attempt to find common ground with a handful of Senate Republicans collapsed last week after Obama stuck with his insistence that any cuts in Medicare or Social Security had to be accompanied by higher taxes on the rich. As a result, neither side is yet certain how they resolve their budget and debt-ceiling quandary. As conservative Republicans keep up their effort to kill the health care law through the budget, the Obama administration will be in the middle of an aggressive recruitment effort to get primarily young and healthy people to enroll in health insurance exchanges, or marketplaces. Starting Oct 1, people who don’t have health care coverage on their job can go to new online insurance markets in their states to shop for a private plan and find out if they qualify for a tax credit. For the law to work millions will have to sign up by Jan 1 and the exchanges will have to open without serious hitches that could undermine enrollment. The administration has conducted an enlistment drive and is getting help from Obama’s former reelection campaign to spur young people to sign up. Former President Bill Clinton has joined the effort to draw attention to the coming enrollment period and to address any confusion about the how the law works. —AP

White House pushes for support to strike Syria Congress resumes work today

SANTIAGO: Smoke rises from La Moneda presidential palace after being bombed during a military coup led by Gen Augusto Pinochet that overthrew President Salvador Allende in Santiago, Chile. Chile marks the 40th anniversary of the coup. — AP

Pinochet continues to split Chile, 40 years after coup SANTIAGO: Four decades after a military coup that brought Augusto Pinochet to power in Chile, a fierce debate over his long rule has shaken up the presidential election, with some right-wing politicians under fire for their past support of the former dictator. Pinochet, who was then the head of the army, toppled the democratically elected socialist president, Salvador Allende, in a violent coup on Sept 11, 1973. He finally gave up power in 1990 and died in 2006, but Pinochet and his legacy have again dominated Chile’s politics in recent weeks as the 40th anniversary of the coup approaches. The rightist Alianza bloc’s already weak chance of victory in November’s election has been further damaged by the association of its more extreme UDI party with the coup. Many UDI politicians supported Pinochet, and continue to justify the military takeover by citing the chaos of the Allende years. That is something the leftleaning bloc has leapt upon. “There are facts that are not known, justice that hasn’t come, pain and wounds that haven’t healed. And there are people who do not recognize nor repent over what they did and didn’t do,” Michelle Bachelet, a former president and the front-runner in this year’s campaign, said last week on the campaign trail. Bachelet was directly affected by the violent side of Pinochet’s rule. Her father, an air force general, remained loyal to Allende after the coup and was imprisoned, where he died of a heart attack after months of torture. Bachelet herself was also arrested and tortured and went into exile. Bachelet’s closest rival for the presidency is Evelyn Matthei, the nominee of the Alianza bloc. Matthei’s father was also an air force general, but he sided with Pinochet and she herself campaigned for the ‘yes’ vote in a 1988 referendum on whether Pinochet should remain president for eight more years. His defeat in that vote led to him step down in 1990. In response to demands from leftist opponents for her to apologize, Matthei defended her record on human rights and said: “I was 20 years old when the coup happened. I don’t have to ask forgiveness.” Incumbent President Sebastian Pinera, a moderate right-winger whose opposition to the dictatorship was key to his own electoral success, said Chile still had a way to go to reach reconciliation. “Truth and justice are two moral imperatives for any society who lived through times as traumatic as those,” he told journalists in a meeting at the presidential palace, La Moneda, to discuss the anniversary. “We still lack truth and justice.” Over 3,000 people “disappeared” - presumed killed by the military government - during the Pinochet years. Thousands of others were forced into exile or imprisoned in clandestine detention centers, where torture was carried out almost as a matter of routine. Allende committed suicide in La Moneda as the troops moved in. Footage of the palace being strafed by the air force has become a potent symbol around the

world of Chile’s break with democracy. This week, in a shabby building opposite La Moneda hung with an enormous Allende photo, union activists are preparing to commemorate the anniversary. They say reconciliation for them will be difficult until all those responsible for atrocities are brought to justice. “For what my parents suffered, what we suffered, my children have seen me cry. Without wanting to, I have passed that pain to them and afterwards it will pass to my grandchildren,” said 53-year-old Luis Ancapil. Pinochet also pushed through free-market reforms that many believe set the foundation for Chile’s economic progress. That has moderated criticism of his rule over the years, but perceptions of his dictatorship are increasingly negative. Some 55 percent of Chileans now describe Pinochet’s government as “all bad,” compared with 35 percent just three years ago. Only 9 percent describe it as “all good,” according to a poll released last week by research center CERC. It has only been in recent years, with the advent of the Internet and cable television, that most Chileans have really started to learn the truth of what happened during the dictatorship, said Pablo Salvat, politics professor at the University of Alberto Hurtado in Santiago. “The new generation is pushing. They want their parents to tell the truth, how it was, what happened, who is responsible.” About 75 percent of Chileans believe traces of the military dictatorship remain today, according to the CERC survey. Pinochet’s legacy lives on in a privatized education system, the subject of regular student protests, which Bachelet has pledged to reform. To do that, however, she has to overcome another legacy of the Pinochet-era, an electoral system that makes it very difficult for any one party to gain a significant majority in Congress. Bachelet wants to reform that too, but she would need to persuade the right to support her or win the sort of majority that is next to impossible under the current system. The final part of her three-pronged initiative is to raise taxes in order to pay for the education reforms. Again, she would need to win over the skeptical Alianza. “Probably no country has an experience like that, a democracy in which a minority can veto the majority and where the majority in the end cannot do what the people wanted when they voted for them,” Bachelet complained recently. Her supporters have high expectations she will deliver on her pledges, and might not accept compromises with the right, warned Salvat. “If Bachelet wins, she is going to have it difficult. ... People will go out on the street demanding she carries out the reforms she promised.” But the framework that Pinochet and his allies created cannot easily be dismantled, said Sergio Bitar, who served as a minister under both Allende and Bachelet, in an interview with Reuters. “The feeling is that you are in a cage.” — Reuters

WASHINGTON: The White House is making a big push to rally members of Congress and the American public behind President Barack Obama’s plan for a US military strike against Syria. His administration says the government of Syrian President Bassar Assad used chemical weapons in an attack last month near Damascus, and that a strong US response is needed to deter the future use of deadly chemicals. Syria claims rebels carried out the Aug 21 attack. Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, is set to make the White House’s case during interviews on five Sunday talk shows. Vice President Joe Biden plans to host a dinner Sunday night for a group of Senate Republicans. And lawmakers should expect more phone calls from top officials. Obama is giving a national address today night. Recent opinion surveys show intense American skepticism about military intervention in Syria, even among those who believe Syria’s government used chemical weapons on its people. Congress resumes work today after its summer break, but already a heated debate is underway about Syria. On Wednesday, the first showdown Senate vote is likely over a resolution authorizing the “limited and specified use” of US armed forces against Syria for no more than 90 days and barring American ground troops from combat. A final vote is expected at week’s end. A House vote appears likely during the week of Sept 16. Another bipartisan, classified briefing for Congress is set for today. McDonough plans to meet tomorrow with the House Democratic Caucus, whose support could be crucial as

WASHINGTON: Protesters against US military action in Syria march to Capitol Hill from the White House in Washington on Saturday. —AP Obama faces opposition from House Republicans. Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, plans to discuss Syria in a speech Monday at the New America Foundation. At least 150 people picketed outside the White House on Saturday to oppose any military action against Syria. Demonstrations also took place in New York City, Boston and Indianapolis

and in Louisiana and Michigan. Also Saturday, a US official released a DVD compilation of videos showing victims of the Aug 21 attack. The DVD was shown to senators during a classified briefing on Thursday, and some of the videos were first broadcast on CNN. Supporters of the Syrian rebels had posted the videos on YouTube. — AP

Band of Republicans pushes immigration in US House GROVELAND, Florida: In the five weeks since he declared his support for a comprehensive immigration overhaul, US Rep Daniel Webster has gotten an earful. One constituent told the second-term Republican that immigrants carry disease. Another said immigrants would steal jobs away from Americans. “You cannot stop illegal immigration by rewarding it,” another man said at a recent town hall style meeting in Groveland, a rural community west of Orlando. “Amnesty is a reward.” As Congress returns to work this week after its summer break, Webster faces perhaps an even tougher crowd: fellow Republicans. Webster is among about two dozen GOP lawmakers who support an eventual path to citizenship for millions of people who are living in the US illegally. These Republicans are facing the daunting challenge of trying to persuade colleagues to follow them. Most Republicans oppose this approach on citizenship, and there is little political incentive for them to change their minds. Only 24 of 233 Republicans represent districts where more than one-quarter of their constituents are Hispanic. Even so, some in the Republican Party argue that its future hinges on whether the House finds a way to embrace an immigration overhaul, which is a crucial issue for the country’s fast-growing bloc of Hispanic voters. Supporters of a path to citizenship point to demographic changes and business backing that have helped sway Webster, who for years opposed immigrant-rights legislation, as potential motives for wavering lawmakers to sign on. “I think as a country we need to do something,” Webster said in an interview, echoing the rhetoric of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and other prominent Republicans. “Doing nothing is amnesty.” The small but growing band of Republicans is trying to strike a balance between conservative activists who want border security and immigration advocates who want a path to citizenship. Many come from swing districts with sizable Hispanic populations that could make a difference in next year’s elections, tipping the balance of power in the GOP-controlled House. The lawmakers also feel the pressure from business interests that rely on immigrant labor. At the same time, conservative taxpayer groups who typically fund GOP primary challenges have remained largely silent on immigration. Anti-immigration activists have failed to organize large-scale demonstrations or generate the kind of public backlash that killed Congress’ last attempt to remake immigration policy, in 2007. Immigrant advo-

cates, on the other hand, have waged a well-funded, aggressive campaign to push for the legislation. “Congress people who may have been on the fence are realizing it’s safe to get in the water,” said Ana Navarro, a GOP strategist who led Hispanic outreach for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008. “There is safety in numbers.” Some Republicans seem to have little choice. US Rep Mike Coffman of Colorado won election in 2008 in a conservative district by campaigning against an immigration overhaul. But an unfavorable redrawing of his district after the 2010 census left him in Democratic-leaning territory that President Barack Obama won last year and where Hispanics make up nearly 20 percent of the population. He is now pushing for a “compassionate” approach to immigration.

Florida State Sen Daniel Webster speaks at a Senate session in Tallahassee, Florida. — AP US Rep Joe Heck of Nevada also has seen the Hispanic population grow in his swing district in suburban Las Vegas. Heck has said the path to citizenship outlined in bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate is “reasonable.” The state GOP gave him political cover by becoming the first in the country to endorse comprehensive immigration changes. Political analysts said reluctant House members should take note of the country’s changing demographics. According to research by Tom Wong, a political scientist at University of California, San Diego, who studies the politics of immigration, six House Republicans will see their margin of victory in last year’s election eclipsed in 2014 by the number of Hispanics and Asians who reach voting age. More

than a dozen others, including Webster, will experience similar changes over the next decade. The political impact goes beyond Hispanics, said Nathan Gonzales, deputy editor of the Rothenberg Political Report, which tracks Congress. “If Republicans get caricatured as the party of no sympathy and deportation, I think that gets filtered down to a larger population that isn’t just Hispanic,” he said. “They risk alienating non-Hispanic swing voters.” Webster is one of the more conservative members of the House, so his shift is instructive. The longest-serving state legislator in Florida history (1980-2008), Webster built a reputation as a conservative stalwart. In 2004, he opposed then-Gov. Jeb Bush’s plan to grant driver’s licenses to unauthorized immigrants. Elected to Congress in the tea party wave of 2010, Webster supported Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration and railed against “incentives” for those in the country illegally. But after a close race last year in a newly drawn district with a growing Hispanic population, Webster softened his stance, pushing instead what he calls a “methodical,” piecemeal approach to immigration. His Central Florida district extends from the orange groves, blueberry fields and tree farms in the west, which rely on immigrant labor, to the tourism hub of Orlando, home to Disney World and the surrounding hospitality industry. All are serviced by a heavily Hispanic workforce. About 16 percent of Webster’s constituents are Hispanic. A few miles north of the town hall, Cherry Lake Tree Farm, one of the area’s largest employers, had posted a Spanish-language ad for new workers along the roadside. Once a largely white community, Groveland is now 25 percent Hispanic. Its main street is dotted with Mexican restaurants and taco stands frequented by immigrant field workers. At the meeting inside the local community center, tensions were clear. A woman who identified herself as a registered nurse argued against a path to citizenship for those here illegally, saying immigrants could carry disease across the border. Then Tony Rosado, mayor of nearby Mascotte, rose to identify himself as a Puerto Rican immigrant, adding, “and I don’t have any communicable diseases, as far as I know.” A longtime owner of a heating and air conditioning business, Webster diffused the room with the measured tone of a repairman explaining a pricey estimate. Congress should tackle border security and employment verification first, he told the crowd, and then examine the status of immigrants working in the country illegally. —AP



S Korea, US map out plan to deter N Korea N-threat SEOUL: South Korea and the United States have mapped out a joint operational plan which outlines concrete measures to deter and respond to North Korea’s nuclear threats, a report said yesterday. The plan encompasses political, diplomatic and military measures to specify how Washington will provide a nuclear umbrella for South Korea in the case of North Korean nuclear provocations, Yonhap news agency said. The customized plan will be signed at a security meeting between US and South Korean defense chiefs in early October, it said. “The deterrence plan

can be considered equivalent to an operational plan,” a South Korean government source told Yonhap. “Making an official document detailing the US nuclear umbrella reflects its firm commitment against North Korea’s atomic weapons threat,” the source was quoted as saying. No details were given of the defensive and offensive measures included in the plan. Washington, which has nearly 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea, has pledged such protection for its ally but the new plan will contain more details for Seoul and provide a written commit-

Chinese police accuse 16 of Internet blackmail BEIJING: Chinese police have arrested 16 people accused of blackmailing companies by pretending to be Communist Party or government officials and threatening to post damaging information about them online, a state news agency reported yesterday. The four groups were accused of operating 11 websites that said falsely that they were run by the ruling Communist Party or government, according to the Xinhua News Agency. It said they were involved in more than 120 cases and collected a total of more than 3 million yuan ($500,000). One suspect had help from a local official in the eastern province of Jiangsu who tipped him off when violations by companies were found by regulators, Xinhua said, citing an announcement by the police ministry. The man would pretend to be a ruling party discipline official and demand money

not to publicize the problem. “I just wanted to make some money through reporting stories with negative issues and attracting online visitors,” the suspect, identified as Zhong Wei, was quoted as telling police. Zhong used fake business cards and documents to masquerade as a ruling party discipline official, Xinhua said. Other companies paid hush money even though they knew the reports about them were false due to fear their reputations might be hurt, it said. “We’ve been working so hard to establish a good image of our enterprise, so we’d rather spend money on ‘peace’ even though their stories were purely fabricated,” a real estate company manager was quoted as telling Xinhua. Other suspects include a schoolteacher who wrote the phony news items and an engineer who managed websites. — AP

China releases dissident early BEIJING: China has released from prison early a prominent dissident and journalist who was jailed in 2005 for leaking state secrets abroad after Yahoo! was accused of helping authorities identify him, a rights group said. Shi Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Yahoo defended itself at the time, saying it had to abide by local laws. The group PEN International said late on Saturday that Shi had been released 15 months before the end of his sentence. “We welcome news of Shi Tao’s early release, at a time when there seem to be increasingly long shadows over freedom of expression in China,” the group’s Marian Botsford Fraser said in a statement. “Shi Tao’s arrest and imprisonment, because of the actions of Yahoo China, signaled a decade ago the challenges to freedom of expression of Internet surveillance and privacy that we are now dealing with.” A Chinese rights activist, who is in contact with Shi, confirmed he had been released just

over a week ago. The activist, who asked not to be identified, said Shi was not accepting interviews for now. It was not immediately clear why he had been let out early, though such releases can be granted in China due to good behavior in jail. Shi’s prosecution was based on an email he sent to a New York-based website detailing media restrictions ahead of the 15th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests around Tiananmen Square. PEN said that Shi “was treated relatively well in prison during the last few years, and wrote many poems, including ‘Song of October’ written from prison after he learned that Liu Xiaobo had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize”. Liu was jailed in 2010 on subversion charges and new Chinese President Xi Jinping has shown no sign of wanting to release him or end the Communist Party’s crackdown on dissidents and others who challenge the party’s authority. —Reuters

ment does, I certainly intend to be a consultative, collegiate prime minister.” Abbott, who has softened his macho image and ran a disciplined campaign in contrast to the disarray within the Labor-led government, took victory in his stride and began his day with his usual yesterday morning bike ride. Just hours after declaring Australia was “under new management”, the athletic premier-elect had donned his sky blue and purple Lycra shorts and helmet to join his mates cycling in

SYDNEY: Australian Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott (right) meets with Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson in Sydney yesterday. — AP

his first interview, Abbott pledged to forge ahead with his agenda to stop asylum-seeker boats-an issue that dominated the campaign-and abolish a tax on carbon emissions from “day one”. But he also signalled his intention to recast himself as a national leader and draw a line under a bitter and divisive campaign that alienated voters. “I am ver y conscious of the fact that opposition leaders are tribal chiefs but prime ministers have to be national leaders,” Abbott said. “You have to govern for everyone including the people that didn’t vote for you and the people who probably won’t ever support you. That’s the nature of the job. “While I certainly can’t promise that everyone is going to agree with everything an incoming govern-

Sydney. “It was a very big night but this is just the start of another normal day,” the 55-year-old told reporters. “People expect that the day after an election, an incoming government will be getting down to business and that’s what I’ll be doing today.” Despite the convincing win for the conservatives, Labor escaped the total rout pollsters had predicted. The election commission count is a prolonged affair with complicated preference voting, but with more than 90 percent tallied Abbott’s coalition led in 86 seats and Labor was on 57 in the 150seat House of Representatives. Four seats were too close to call, the Greens were ahead in one, and an independent and a minor party were leading the other two. Among

quoted Russel as saying he was looking for “convincing indications” from North Korea that the six-party forum, if re-convened, would lead to a rapid-paced road map for the North’s denuclearization. “Those are the signs that North Korea needs to send,” he said. “It’s understandable after so many cycles of broken promises by North Korea that the international community would have high standards of evidence with a call on North Korea to make convincing indications of its seriousness and purpose,” Russel was quoted as saying. — AFP

Cambodia ruling party handed election win Opposition gears for parliament boycott PHNOM PENH: Cambodia’s election committee handed victory in hotly disputed polls to the ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday, prompting the opposition to say it will boycott parliament and stage further protests over allegations of widespread fraud. The kingdom has been stuck in a political impasse since the July election, with the premier’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) insisting it secured a legitimate victory despite vociferous calls from CNRP leader Sam Rainsy for a probe into alleged vote rigging. The CPP took 68 seats to 55 for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), according to the country’s National Election Committee. The election authority said the CPP won 3.2 million votes to the CNRP’s 2.9 million. It is the ruling party’s worst election result since 1998, losing 22 seats since the last polls five years ago. Analysts say it delivers a significant blow to the CPP and Hun Sen, who has led the country for nearly three decades. A rare mass rally in the capital on Saturday called for an independent probe into results but the NEC’s announcement ends the legal avenues open to the opposition to contest the poll. Rainsy, a French-educated former banker, on Sunday moved quickly to reject the NEC’s tally, insisting the loss would not blunt his party’s efforts to overturn the poll. “We do not accept results that do not reflect the real will of the people. These are the results of voter fraud,” he said. The CNRP will not join the first meeting of parliament and has no interest in talks with the CPP without an independent investigation first, he told reporters, adding the party planned to hold at least three days of demonstrations from next Sunday. The CPP hailed the final results as an end to the political crisis that has gripped the country, saying it will convene parliament with royal assent irrespective of the CNRP’s next moves. The CPP claims that under the constitution it is enti-

New Australian PM Abbot gets down to business SYDNEY: Triumphant conservative leader Tony Abbott vowed yesterday to “get down to business” and be prime minister for all Australians after his resounding election victory ended six years of tumultuous Labor rule. Labor, led by the charismatic Kevin Rudd, were punished in Saturday’s polls for bitter in-fighting that saw the outgoing premier oust Julia Gillard as party leader in June, after she did the same to him in 2010. In what the Herald Sun billed as

ment. North Korea has said it will never give up its nuclear power but maintains it is open to direct talks with the United States. Daniel Russel, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said Friday in Seoul that the North’s nuclear program was a “driver of instability” in the region. In a separate interview published Sunday, Russel said Washington would not agree to reopen six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program unless Pyongyang shows a clear willingness to abandon atomic weapons. Yonhap

early victors was former Olympian Nova Peris who became the first Aboriginal woman elected to parliament, a welcome achievement for centre-left Labor. Half the spots in the Senate or upper house were also at stake in Saturday’s ballot, and fringe groups looked to have secured several seats thanks to voter dissatisfaction with the main parties-complicating the new government’s legislative push. Billionaire Clive Palmer, a resources baron who has run an eccentric campaign, was confident of winning a seat for himself in the lower house and as many as two in the Senate for his populist Palmer United Party. “If I am given the task of leading the government in the Senate, it will be a bit like herding cats trying to get the legislation through,” admitted conservative lawmaker Eric Abetz. Political observers forecast an insular period for Australia where domestic concerns will trump foreign policy, as Abbott tries to win back the confidence of alienated citizens with a back-to-basics agenda of roads, childcare and Internet access. “At first take I would suggest we’re going to see a far more inward-looking government than we have previously,” said Norman Abjorensen, from the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific. Abbott is expected to be sworn in officially by Governor General Quentin Bryce next week. Labor’s defeat led Rudd to announce he was standing down as par ty leader. Several senior members of his government blamed the turmoil and infighting that blighted the party’s six-year term for the election loss. Employment Minister Bill Shorten emerged as an early favourite to take over as the party seeks to heals internal divisions, but he remained cautious Sunday over his prospects.“I’m certainly not resolved about what should happen,” he told ABC television. “ I ’m g e n u i n e l y u n d e c i d e d.” O thers cited as possible Labor l e a d e r s a re d e p u t y l e a d e r A n t h o ny A l b a n e s e, Tre a s u re r C h r i s B owe n , H e a l t h M i n i s te r Tanya Plibersek and Immigration Minister Tony Burke. — AFP

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia’s opposition leader Sam Rainsy, right, speaks during a press conference with his party’s Vice President Kem Sokha, at his party headquarters, in Phnom Penh yesterday. — AP tled to convene parliament because it has 50 per- according to Cambodian independent analyst cent of seats. Chastened party officials offered an Lao Mong Hay. “We now have a confrontation between those apparent olive branch to the opposition saying the government was ready to cooperate with in power and the rest of the population. “The them in a new National Assembly and will people have shown their displeasure with the address voter discontent over corruption and rulers... and their misuse and abuse of power for their own interest-for the interest of their party, nepotism in the impoverished kingdom. “We got the message from the people and their clans, their families,” he added. The results will act accordingly,” government spokesman may have carved a space for genuine two-party Khieu Kanharith told AFP. Experts say the NEC’s politics to develop in the kingdom. Hun Sen, 61, announcement does not extinguish the nation’s a former Khmer Rouge cadre who defected and political turmoil as the CPP and election authori- oversaw Cambodia’s rise from the ashes of war, ties have failed to dispel fears of poll fraud or has vowed to rule until he is 74. One of his three appease a public increasingly unhappy with rule sons-Hun Many-was elected to parliament in by narrow interests. The results are a “big blow July’s poll stoking speculation that he is being for Hun Sun” and leaves the CPP “badly shaken”, groomed as an eventual successor. —AP



4 Afghan troops die as Taleban attack office 9 civilians killed in NATO ‘precision strike’

MUZAFFARNAGAR: An Indian policeman stands guard during a curfew hours following riots and clashes between two communities in Muzaffarnagar, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. —AP

Indian troops sent to halt communal clashes in UP LUCKNOW: Hundreds of troops have been deployed to quell deadly riots and clashes between Hindus and Muslims sparked by the killing of three villagers who had objected when a young woman was being harassed in northern India. Nine people were killed, including an Indian broadcast journalist and a police photographer, when the two groups set upon each other with guns and knives in Kawal village in the state of Uttar Pradesh, police said yesterday. The violence quickly spread to neighboring villages in Muzaffarnagar district Saturday night. “A curfew has been imposed in three riot-hit areas of Muzaffarnagar,” said the head of the state’s home ministry, RM Srivastava. “The situation is still very tense, but under control.” Soldiers were going door to door to search for weapons. A state of high alert was declared for the entire state of Uttar Pradesh, which has a population of 200 million people. The clashes broke out on Saturday after thousands of Hindu farmers held a meeting in Kawal to demand justice in the Aug 27 killing of three men who had spoken out when a woman was being verbally harassed. The state’s minority welfare minister, Mohammad Azam Khan, said some at the meeting gave provocative speeches calling for Muslims to be killed. The farmers were attacked as they were returning home after the meeting, senior

police official Arun Kumar said. “The attack seemed well planned,” Kumar said. “Some were armed with rifles and sharp-edged weapons.” Gunfire was reported from several areas of the village. Within hours clashes broke out in neighboring villages, Kumar said. A leader from the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party said tensions had been simmering since the three men were killed Aug 27 in a tea shop. “Had the killers been arrested, the situation might not have gone out of hand,” Vijay Bahadur Pathak said. Uttar Pradesh was at the heart of some of India’s worst communal clashes in December 1992, after a Hindu mob razed the 16th century Babri mosque in Ayodhya. The government has warned that India is seeing a rise in communal violence, with 451 incidents reported already this year, compared with 410 for all of 2012. Tensions were expected to escalate in the run-up to next year’s national elections, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters in New Delhi on Saturday. He said all 28 of India’s states should stay alert and improve their ability to gather intelligence. Communal violence last month left two dead and 22 injured in a village in Bihar state, east of Uttar Pradesh, according to Indian media. Outbreaks have also been reported recently in Uttar Pradesh’s district of Shamli, as well as in the Himalayan territory of Kashmir. — AP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari (center) inspects the guard of honor during his farewell ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Islamabad yesterday. Zardari stepped down and left his official residence yesterday to become first elected president of the country completing his full term and leaving charge gracefully. — AFP

Pakistani president completes tenure ISLAMABAD: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will become the first leader in the country to have completed a full term of five years yesterday. The occasion was marked earlier by a ceremony of farewell guard of honor by the smartly turned out contingent of the armed forces in the President’s House. His tenure as president ends on mid-night today, after which he will be attending the oath taking ceremony of newly-elected President Mamnoon Hussain the next day. Local analysts criticized Zardari’s performance in office, saying he did not do much for the economy or to tackle corruption but after he’s gone, he will be known for making history after taking steps for strengthening democracy and making possible the transition of power from one civilian government to another. Zardari had voluntarily surrendered his vast power through the 18th constitutional amendment to

strengthen parliamentary democracy. In an interview he had said that he would not seek to become prime minister and would instead focus on leading his party after stepping down as president. He also played a key role in supporting laws that have empowered women against domestic violence and sexual harassment. Zardari went into self-exile in Dubai after he was released from jail in 2004 and returned to Pakistan in 2007 following the assassination of his wife and former premier, Benazir Bhutto. He took charge of the Pakistan People’s Party, leading it to victory in the 2008 general elections, replacing Pervez Musharraf. At a farewell dinner, he had told staff that he was glad to leave office “with dignity and honor”. He also said that he looks forward to working in other capacities in his party in order to serve the younger generation, adding, “the eventual goal is to serve Pakistan and its flag.” — KUNA

KABUL: Taleban militants detonated a car bomb outside an Afghan intelligence office near the capital yesterday and then tried to attack it on foot with guns, officials and the insurgent group said. At least four soldiers guarding the compound were killed and six insurgents died in the assault, officials said. Separately yesterday, Afghan officials said that an apparent NATO airstrike had killed 15 people - nine of them civilians, including women and children - in a remote eastern province where the Taleban are strong. NATO said 10 militants died in the strike, but that it had no reports of any civilian deaths. Both incidents underscored the insecurity in Afghanistan as US-led foreign forces reduce their presence and hand over more responsibilities to Afghan troops. Yesterday’s bombing, for instance, occurred in Maidan Shahr, a city in eastern Wardak province that lies just 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Kabul. Hazrat Janan, a member of the Wardak provincial council, described the explosion as powerful, saying that it shattered windows in a wide stretch of the city. Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said the explosion occurred around 1 pm and that many of the wounded were Afghan government employees working in nearby offices. Soldiers guarding the compound managed to kill the militants on foot after the explosion, he said. He said four soldiers and five attackers died, in addition to the car bomber. Taleban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack. Meanwhile, conflicting reports emerged from the airstrike in the Watapur district of Kunar, a province that lies along the border with Pakistan. The territory is dangerous and difficult to reach, and many Arab and other foreign insur-

MAIDAN SHAR: Afghan villagers take away the dead body of an insurgent after a suicide attack in Maidan Shar, the capital city of Wardak province south of Kabul yesterday. At least four Afghan intelligence agents were killed. — AFP gents are believed to operate there alongside the Afghan Taliban. Some are suspected of links to the AlQaeda terrorist network. Kunar province police chief Abdul Habib Sayed Khaili said the airstrike hit a pickup truck carrying women and children in Qoro village soon after three Arab and three Afghan militants boarded it Saturday evening. He said some reports called it a drone strike, but that Afghan officials had been unable to confirm that. Of the 15 dead, four were women, four were children and one was the driver, the police official said. Watapur district chief Zalmai Yousefi also confirmed the airstrike and said 15 people were killed, including

women and children. NATO spokeswoman 1st Lt AnnMarie Annicelli said the military alliance carried out a “precision strike” that killed 10 “enemy forces,” but that it had received no reports of any civilians dying. Annicelli had no immediate details on who exactly the dead were or what prompted the airstrike, but said NATO was still investigating the matter. “We take all allegations of civilian casualties seriously,” NATO said in a statement. Even as US-led foreign forces draw down their presence in Afghanistan, with a full exit expected by the end of 2014, the air support they provide Afghan troops in many regions is still a crucial part of operations against the Taleban, the resurgent

militant movement that wants to topple the US-backed Afghan government. Past strikes that kill civilians have infuriated Afghans. President Hamid Karzai has spoken out forcefully against them and banned Afghan troops from requesting NATO airstrikes during operations in residential areas. But as the violence in Afghanistan has spread in recent years, civilians are increasingly getting caught up in it. Around 1,000 Afghan civilians have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded in the first half of this year - a huge portion of them in insurgent attacks - according to the United Nations. That marked a 24 percent increase in casualties compared to the same period last year. —AP

Maldives ousted leader faces presidential runoff MALE, Maldives: The first democratically elected president of the Maldives, who was ousted last year in what he called a coup, will face a runoff against the brother of the country’s former dictator after falling short of a clear majority in the Indian Ocean archipelago’s presidential election. Mohamed Nasheed, who received 45 percent of Saturday’s vote, could still see a challenge in securing a second-round majority if his three election opponents form an alliance for the Sept 28 runoff. Nasheed - who in 2008 won the country’s first multiparty election after 30 years of autocracy needed at least 50 percent in the first round to avoid the runoff against Yaamin Abdul Qayyoom, a brother of Maldives’ former autocrat Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Qayyoom polled 25 percent on Saturday, while businessman Qasim Ibrahim was a close third with 24 percent and incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan ended with 5 percent, according to Elections Commission results released yesterday. The island nation, known for its luxurious beach resorts, has been in political turmoil since Nasheed resigned last year after weeks of public protests and slipping support from the military

and police. He later said he was forced to resign at gunpoint by mutinying security forces and politicians backed by the country’s former autocrat. Though a domestic commission of inquiry

MALE: Mohamed Nasheed Maldives’ first democratically elected president, addresses the media at his residence in Male, Maldives, yesterday.—AP threw out his claim, Nasheed has repeatedly dismissed as illegal the government of his former vice president - current President Hassan.

Despite winning the most first-round votes on Saturday, Nasheed may still face a battle getting over the finish line as the third- and fourthplace finishers were also his bitter critics and are likely to throw their support to Gayoom. More than 211,000 of the Maldives’ 240,000 eligible voters turned out on Saturday, hoping to end the political instability and answer questions about their government’s legitimacy. “The ruling government came (to power) not in a very good manner,” Ahmed Ilyas, a 37-year-old port employee, said after voting. “Hopefully, after the election the international community and the locals will fully cooperate with the government.” Transparency Maldives, an independent election monitor said apart from minor complaints of violence the election was free and peaceful. Whoever wins the second round will need to build public confidence in government institutions that are accused of political bias, such as the courts, police and military, and deal with pressing issues, including high unemployment, increasing drug addiction among young people and improving transportation among the nation’s far-off islands in the Indian Ocean. Nasheed’s fall from power last year came after he ordered the military to arrest a senior judge whom he accused of bias. — AP

India PM says happy to work for Rahul NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has endorsed Rahul Gandhi to lead the ruling Congress party, saying he would be “happy” to work under the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, reports said yesterday. Singh, who will turn 81 later this month, made the comment to reporters late Saturday while flying back from Russia after attending the G20 summit in St Petersburg. “I would be happy to work for the Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi,” the Hindustan Times newspaper quoted the prime minister as saying. Singh said 43-yearold Gandhi “would be an ideal choice for prime minister after the 2014 elections”. The calls for Gandhi-whose father, grandmother

and great-grandfather were prime ministers-to embrace what many Congress supporters say is his political destiny come despite the party’s poor showings in state elections last year. Gandhi’s mother, Sonia, has long been seen as grooming him to succeed Singh as prime minister of the Congress-led national government. But his appetite for India’s turbulent political scene has often been called into question due to his refusal to accept repeated requests to take on ministerial responsibilities. The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is yet to name a candidate for the election but hardline Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi has emerged as favorite since winning key state polls last year. — AFP

BANDA: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (left) and thenGeneral Secretary of the Congress party Rahul Gandhi (left) gesture to supporters during a rally in Banda.—AFP file photo

Four Bangladesh bloggers charged with defaming Islam DHAKA: Four Bangladeshi bloggers are facing up to seven years in jail after they were charged in court yesterday with defaming Islam and the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), a prosecutor told AFP. The four men, who deny the charges, were arrested earlier this year in the wake of nationwide protests in which Islamic groups demanded the execution of atheist online commentators. Judge Zahirul Haque, sitting in a court in the capital Dhaka, said the

bloggers were being charged under the country’s Internet laws, senior public prosecutor Shah Alam Talukdar said. “They have been indicted... with defaming Islam, the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and other religions through their Internet writings. They spread malice against all religions,” he said. Talukdar said if found guilty the bloggers, who are free on bail, could be sentenced to seven years in jail under

the country’s ICT (Information Communication Technology) laws. “All four have claimed to be atheists,” he added. There has been vociferous debate between staunch atheists and fundamentalists in Bangladesh’s social media for years, but it took a deadly turn in February when an anti-Islam blogger was murdered. That came amid massive rallies in the capital in which secular groups demanded the hanging of leading Islamists accused of

war crimes during the 1971 war of liberation. Islamist groups have since staged nationwide demonstrations, with their demands including the prosecutionand execution-of atheist bloggers. In May, at least 38 people were killed as police broke up a protest by thousands of religious hardliners in some of the country’s fiercest street violence for decades. Rights groups have called on the government to drop the charges

against the bloggers, saying the men are caught in the battle between Islamists and the secular government. The government has said it is determined to ensure communal harmony in the deeply conservative country where 90 percent people are Muslims. Five students of an elite university have been arrested in connection with the February blogger murder, while a little known Islamic group has been blamed for masterminding the crime. — AFP




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Australia set to look inward as Abbott takes over as PM By Amy Coopes


ustralian politics looks set for a period dominated by domestic concerns as new prime minister Tony Abbott seeks to move on from a vitriolic campaign with a focus on local issues, analysts said yesterday. The conservative leader, who ended six years of Labor rule with a comprehensive victory over Kevin Rudd on Saturday, launched his term with a promise to govern for all Australians and pledging a new emphasis on issues such as roads, childcare and broadband. Abbott’s win would also likely see the seasoned political brawler adopt a more pragmatic stance as he looks to reinvent himself as a national leader, they said. “At first take I would suggest we’re going to see a far more inward-looking government than we have previously,” said Norman Abjorensen, from the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific. “I think the foreshadowed cuts to our foreign aid budget last week really put the writing on the wall that we’re going to look at domestic policy as being all-important,” he added, referencing Abbott’s pledge to slash Aus$4.5 billion ($4.2 billion) from overseas development spending. In contrast to Mandarin-speaking former diplomat Rudd and his “Australia in the Asian Century” objectives, Abbott had not shown a “flicker of interest” in foreign affairs through his political career, Abjorensen said. Abbott was ridiculed in some quarters for describing the conflict in Syria as “baddies versus baddies” during the election race. The one-time trainee Catholic priest has held conflicting positions on Asia, downplaying the importance of China’s rise in his 2009 political manifesto “Battlelines” and emphasizing the importance of what he called the “Anglosphere”. However he vowed during the election campaign to put Asia at the centre of his foreign policy agenda. Abbott has been a combative and divisive figure in opposition and will need to convince both the electorate and his own party of his credentials for top office. “What it will essentially mean is a transformation of this political street-fighter, someone who in some ways has never transcended the cut-and-thrust of student politics, into national statesmanship,” Abjorensen said. Abbott promised a “no surprises, no excuses” government in an open letter to the Australian people published in Sunday newspapers focused solely on domestic imperatives-slashing taxes, building roads and rolling out broadband. He said “Operation Sovereign Borders”-his military-led initiative to turn back asylum-seeker boats from Indonesia-would be authorized on his first day of office. Abbott has promised to make the Southeast Asian nation his first stop as prime minister-an unusual step for a Liberal leader, with London or Washington being a more traditional choice. But Abjorensen said Abbott would have some fencemending to do over his plans to send Australian police to Indonesia, pay locals for information and buy up Indonesian fishing boats in a bid to stymie the peoplesmuggling trade, which have met resistance in Jakarta. “I think that will be the very first test of how this government wants to be seen, wants to shape some sort of image in the immediate region,” he said. Shaun Carney, politics professor at Monash University, said Abbott’s time in opposition had been characterized by “power through aggression”. Now he was in office, the “hysterics” would be abandoned in favor of a more pragmatic, if not “cynical”, approach on most matters except climate change, Carney said. Business-backed Abbott has vowed to tear up Labor’s pollution tax as his “first legislative priority” and threatened to call another election if he is blocked by the environmentally driven Greens party in the Senate. Abbott has proposed a so-called “Direct Action” plan to tackle pollution in Australia-among the world’s worst per capita emitters due to its dependence on coal-fired power stations and mining industry. The plan combines incentive payments to business to cut their emissions and a controversial soil sequestration scheme for carbon. Greg Craven, vice chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, said Rhodes scholar Abbott was far from a typical conservative and it would be wrong to typecast him or his party. “This is not the old caricature,” said Craven. “This will be a government seeking to marshal some very different trains of thought.” —AFP

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Only UN Council can sanction use of force against Syria: Russia Interview of Russian President Vladimir Putin Question: President Obama says he will wait until getting Congress’ approval before moving on Syria. What do you believe should happen there? What do you believe happened there as far as the chemical weapons’ attack goes? What should be done about it? PUTIN: We have no accurate information as to what has happened. We believe that we should at least wait for the results of the investigation conducted by the UN weapons inspectors. But we have no evidence that these chemical substances - it is not clear yet whether it was a chemical weapon or just some harmful chemical substance - have been used by the Syrian Army. Moreover, as I have already mentioned, in our opinion, it seems absolutely absurd that regular armed forces, which are currently on the offensive and in some areas have encircled the socalled rebels and are actually finishing them off, that in these circumstances they would start using forbidden chemical weapons while realizing quite well that it could serve as a pretext for applying sanctions against them, including the use of force. It’s simply absurd, it’s illogical in the first place. Second, we assume that if there are data that the chemical weapons have been used, and used specifically by the regular army, this evidence should be submitted to the United Nations Security Council - to the inspectors and the Security Council. And it should be convincing, not based on some rumors or information obtained by special services through some kind of interception or tapping or things like that. Even in the United States, there are experts who believe that the evidence presented by the Administration does not look convincing, and they do not rule out the possibility of a preplanned provocation by the opposition in an effort to give its sponsors a pretext for military intervention. Q: What would Russia’s position be if you became convinced that it was by the government of Syria? Would you agree to a military action? PUTIN: I do not rule that out, but I would like to draw your attention to one absolutely key aspect. In line with existing international law, only the United Nations Security Council could sanction the use of force against a sovereign state. Any other pretext or method to justify the use of force against an independent sovereign state is inadmissible and can only be interpreted as an aggression.

Q: Whether Russia should distance itself from the Assad government and maybe hold up its shipments of arms, something like that. PUTIN: Once we have objective and accurate data as to who has committed these crimes, then we will react. Assuming something now and telling things in advance like yes, we will do this or that, would be absolutely incorrect. This is not done in politics. Yet, I assure you that we will take a principled stand. I would like to say that our stand is principled because the use of weapons of mass destruction is a crime. On the other hand, yet another question arises. If it is ascertained that the weapons of mass

We are defending absolutely different things. We are defending the norms and principles of international law. We are defending modern world order. We are defending the possibility, the discussion of a possibility to use force only within the existing international order, international rules and international law. That is what we are defending. That is what represents the absolute value. When issues related to the use of force are dealt with outside the framework of the UN and Security Council, then there’s risk that such unlawful decisions might be applied against anybody and on any pretext. You have just said that Mr Kerry believes that

ST PETERSBURG: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin speaks during a media conference after a G20 summit in St Petersburg.—AP destruction are used by the rebels, what will the US do with them? What will these sponsors do with the rebels? Will they cut off arms shipments? Will they launch military operations against them? Q: John Kerry said that anyone who stands by when these crimes are done will have to answer to history, and I’m sure you and Russia would be included, and the United States, but are you afraid that you may be seen today as standing by a regime that’s oppressing and committing crimes. Is there a danger that you will be seen as a protective of this government? PUTIN: We do not defend this government.

chemical weapons have been used by Assad’s army, but the same point was used by another Secretary of State under President George W Bush as he was trying to convince the entire international community of Iraq’s possession of chemical weapons and even showed a test tube containing some white powder. All these arguments turned out to be untenable, but they were used to launch a military action, which many in the United States call a mistake today. Did we forget about that? Do we assume that new mistakes can be avoided so easily? I assure you that is not the case. Everyone remembers those facts, bears them in mind and takes them into account

when making decisions. Q: Does Russia continue to fulfill the contracts for the supply and maintenance of military equipment to Syria? PUTIN: Yes, of course. We do it and assume that we cooperate with a legitimate government without violating any rules of international law or any of our commitments. No restrictions have been imposed by the UN on the supplies of weapons to Syria. It is very disappointing indeed that the supplies to the rebels are being carried out in full since the very beginning of this armed conflict, although the international law prohibits the supply of arms to opposition groups. Q: Heads of many states have stated that their countries will not get involved in this conflict on no condition. Can you say something of this kind? PUTIN: I would like to draw your attention to the fact that at the moment Russia has no armed forces’ units deployed abroad, except for two bases located on the territory of former Soviet Union and our peacekeepers taking part in operations under the UN mandates. It is very good, and we are pleased with that. We are definitely not going to and will not get involved in any conflicts. As regards the decision of some countries to abstain from participating in a military operation, it was actually a surprise for me, because I used to believe that the Western community is governed by the principle of certain uniformity similar to the decision-making principle used by members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. However, it turned out that it was not true. In fact, there are people who value their sovereignty, analyze the situation and have the courage to make decisions for the benefit of their own countries and defend their point of view. It is a very good sign, it shows that the multi-polar world order has indeed been strengthened. Q: Supposing President Obama gets the support of Congress for some military actions and other countries go along, what would Russia do? Will you fight for Syria or you would be rifting relations with Syria? What’s your reaction going to be? PUTIN: Russia has certain plans if the situation develops according to the first, second or third scenario. We have our ideas about what we will do and how we will do it if weapons are used or not used. We have our plans, but it is too early to talk about them.

What makes chemical weapons ‘red line’? By Sharon Cohen and Karin Laub


he ghastly images reveal rows of the dead, many of them children, wrapped in white burial shrouds, and survivors gasping for air, their bodies twitching, foam oozing from mouths. This was unlike any other scene in Syria’s brutal civil war, where bombs and bullets have killed and maimed tens of thousands over the past 21/2 years. The Aug 21 attack on the rebelheld suburbs of Damascus was carried out, the US says, with chemical weapons. It crossed what President Barack Obama calls a “red line” and, he says, demands a military response against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad. But in a war where only a fraction of more than 100,000 Syrian deaths have come from poison gas - the Obama administration says more than 1,400 died in the attack - what is it about chemical

weapons that set them apart in policy and perception? Some experts say chemical weapons belong in a special category. They point to the moral and legal taboos that date to World War I, when the gassing of thousands of soldiers led to a worldwide treaty banning the use of these weapons. The experts also say these chemicals are not just repugnant but pose national security risks. “The use of nerve gas or other types of deadly chemical agents clearly violates the widely and long-established norms of the international community,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a nonpartisan research group in Washington. “Each time these rules are broken and there’s an inadequate response, the risk that some of the world’s most dangerous weapons will be used in even further atrocities is going to increase - that’s why here

and why now,” he added. Others contend there is no distinction and that the US should focus on protecting Syrian civilians, not on preventing the use of a particular type of weapon against them. “The Syrian regime commits war crimes and crimes against humanity every day,” said Rami Abdel-Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. “A war crime is a war crime.” The Britain-based anti-regime monitor of the fighting says it has been compiling a list of the names of the dead from the Aug. 21 attack and that its toll has reached 502. The exact number of those killed is not known. The Obama administration reported 1,429 people died, including 426 children, citing intelligence reports. Others have provided lower numbers. The Assad government blames rebels. They came a year after Obama said the use of such lethal weapons in Syria would carry

“enormous consequences.” “A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” Obama said. Last week, Obama shifted the onus. “I didn’t set a red line,” he said. “The world set a red line” with a treaty banning the use of chemical weapons. The president’s call for a punitive strike has met with strong resistance and skepticism, both on Capitol Hill, where he’s seeking congressional approval, and in a nation weary of a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. At last week’s Group of 20 economic summit in St Petersburg, Russia, Obama said he put the issue before Congress “because I could not honestly claim that the threat posed by Assad’s use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians and women and children posed an imminent, direct threat to the United States.” Obama plans to talk to the US

public about Syria on Tuesday night. He has expressed confidence he can convince Americans that “limited and proportional” military action is necessary, The president’s condemnation of chemical weapons reflects a nearly century-long history of opposition that spans the globe. After tens of thousands of soldiers, mostly Russians, were asphyxiated by phosgene, chlorine and other deadly gases on the battlefield during World War I, most nations banned these chemicals in the Geneva Protocol of 1925, which Syria signed. Many signatories, however, reserved the right to respond if attacked first, said W Andrew Terrill, a research professor at the US Army War College in Pennsylvania. In 1993, the Chemical Weapons Convention outlawed the use, production and stockpiling of these agents. Syria is one of the few nations not to have signed the agreement. —AP



PARIS: US Secretary of State John Kerry (left facing camera) talks with members of the Arab League Peace Initiative following their meeting at the United States Embassy in Paris yesterday. — AFP

Lingering doubts over gas attack evidence BEIRUT: The US government insists it has the intelligence to prove it, but the American public has yet to see a single piece of concrete evidence - no satellite imagery, no transcripts of Syrian military communications - connecting the government of President Bashar Assad to the alleged chemical weapons attack last month that killed hundreds of people. In the absence of such evidence, Damascus and its ally Russia have aggressively pushed another scenario: that rebels carried out the Aug 21 chemical attack. Neither has produced evidence for that case, either. That’s left more questions than answers as the US threatens a possible military strike. The early morning assault in a rebelheld Damascus suburb known as Ghouta was said to be the deadliest chemical weapons attack in Syria’s 21/2-year civil war. Survivors’ accounts, photographs of many of the dead wrapped peacefully in white sheets and dozens of videos showing victims in spasms and gasping for breath shocked the world and moved President Barack Obama to call for action because the use of chemical weapons crossed the red line he had drawn a year earlier. Yet one week after Secretary of State John Kerry outlined the case against Assad, Americans - at least those without access to classified reports - haven’t seen a shred of his proof. There is open-source evidence

that provides clues about the attack, including videos of the rockets that analysts believe were likely used. US officials on Saturday released a compilation of videos showing victims, including children, exhibiting what appear to be symptoms of nerve gas poisoning. Some experts think the size of the strike, and the amount of toxic chemicals that appear to have been delivered, make it doubtful that the rebels could have carried it out. What’s missing from the public record is direct proof, rather than circumstantial evidence, tying this to the regime. The Obama administration, searching for support from a divided Congress and skeptical world leaders, says its own assessment is based mainly on satellite and signal intelligence, including indications in the three days prior to the attack that the regime was preparing to use poisonous gas. But multiple requests to view that satellite imagery have been denied, though the administration produced copious amounts of satellite imagery earlier in the war to show the results of the Syrian regime’s military onslaught. When asked Friday whether such imagery would be made available showing the Aug 21 incident, a spokesman referred The Associated Press to a map produced by the White House last week that shows what officials say are the unconfirmed areas that were attacked. The Obama administration maintains it intercepted communications from a senior

Syrian official on the use of chemical weapons, but requests to see that transcript have been denied. So has a request by the AP to see a transcript of communications allegedly ordering Syrian military personnel to prepare for a chemical weapons attack by readying gas masks. The US administration says its evidence is classified and is only sharing details in closed-door briefings with members of Congress and key allies. The assessment, also based on accounts by Syrian activists and hundreds of YouTube videos of the attack’s aftermath, has confounded many experts who cannot fathom what might have motivated Assad to unleash weapons of mass destruction on his own people especially while UN experts were nearby and at a time when his troops had the upper hand on the ground. Rebels who accuse Assad of the attack have suggested he had learned of fighters’ plans to advance on Damascus, his seat of power, and ordered the gassing to prevent that. “We can’t get our heads around this why would any commander agree to rocketing a suburb of Damascus with chemical weapons for only a very short-term tactical gain for what is a long-term disaster,” said Charles Heyman, a former British military officer who edits The Armed Forces of the UK, an authoritative bi-annual review of British forces. Inconsistencies over the death toll and other details related to the attack also have fueled doubts among

Egyptian helicopters strike militant... Continued from Page 1 belts, anti-aircraft missiles, mortar launchers, RPGs and bombs. Officials say that the military is hunting hundreds of militants believed to be responsible for a series of attacks in a region they overran after the fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Since the overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, Sinai has witnessed a spike of deadly and near-daily attacks. The militants, the officials say, belong to a number of well-known Al-Qaeda-inspired groups that seek the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate in northern Sinai, a region bordering Israel and the Gaza

Strip. On Saturday, residents witnessed columns of trucks and armored vehicles pouring into the area. Some said they hadn’t seen soldiers on foot in their villages in decades. Communications were jammed for hours, as authorities seized control of two telephone exchanges. After an assault that lasted more than six-hours, the military said the strikes had killed at least nine suspects. Over the past weeks, Egypt’s military has bulldozed homes along the Gaza border and caved in tunnels beneath them as a prelude to the possible creation of a buffer zone to reduce weapon smuggling and illegal militant crossings. — AP

Obama gears for all-out offensive on Syria... Continued from Page 1 start voting on military action this week, are seeking. “This is not a court of law. And intelligence does not work that way,” White House chief of staff Denis McDonough said, part of a five-network public relations blitz yesterday to build support for limited strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad. “The common-sense test says he is responsible for this. He should be held to account,” McDonough said of the Syrian leader who for two years has resisted calls from inside and outside his country to step down. The US, citing intelligence reports, says the lethal nerve agent sarin was used in an Aug 21 attack outside Damascus, and that 1,429 people died, including 426 children. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which collects information from a network of anti-government activists, says it has so far only been able to confirm 502 dead. On Saturday, a US official released a DVD compilation of videos showing attack victims that the official said were shown to senators during a classified briefing on Thursday. The images have become a rallying point for the administration. Sen Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, also posted videos on the committee’s website. “Those videos make it clear to people that these are real human beings, real children, parents being affected in ways that are unacceptable to anybody, anywhere by any standards,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in Paris. “And the United States of America that has always stood with others to say we will not allow this - this is not our values, it’s not who we are.” But McDonough conceded the United States doesn’t have concrete evidence Assad was behind the chemical attacks. Recent opinion surveys show intense American skepticism about military intervention in Syria, even among those who believe Syria’s government used chemi-

cal weapons on its people. The stakes are high, with Obama far from guaranteed of winning a green light from Congress, amid American fears of being dragged deeper into the conflict and the risk of dangerous repercussions for allies such as Israel, which yesterday deployed its Iron Dome missile defense system west of Jerusalem. It remains unclear whether Obama would decide to go it alone if he fails to win congressional approval. While a resolution for a military strike is likely to pass the Senate controlled by Obama’s Democrats, according to a Washington Post survey some 224 of the current 433 members of the Republican dominated House were either “no” or “leaning no” on military action as of Friday. A large number, 184, were undecided, with just 25 backing a strike. The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the Pentagon was preparing for three days of attacks on Syria, longer than originally planned. War planners now aim to unleash a heavy barrage of missile strikes to be followed swiftly by additional attacks on targets that may have been missed or remain standing after the initial launch, the newspaper cited officials as saying. A US defense official said the scale and purpose of the operation against Syria has not changed in recent weeks, although US forces would adjust as needed. “We will continue to review our targeting and targeting options as the Syrian government adapts over time,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. On Saturday, Kerry and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius insisted that international support for military action was increasing, after the EU issued a statement calling for “strong” action against Assad’s regime. After his meeting with Arab League officials in Paris, Kerry flew to London for talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas yesterday and to meet British Foreign Secretary William Hague today morning. — Agencies

skeptics. The Obama administration says 1,429 people died in 12 locations mostly east of the capital, an estimate close to the one put out by the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition. When asked for victims’ names, however, the group provided a list of 395. On that list, some of the victims were identified by a first name only or said to be members of a certain family. There was no explanation for the hundreds of missing names. In Ghouta, Majed Abu Ali, a spokesman for 17 clinics and field hospitals near Damascus, produced the same list, saying the hospitals were unable to identify all the dead. Casualty estimates by other groups are far lower: The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says it only counts victims identified by name, and that its current total stands at 502. It has questioned the US number and urged the Obama administration to release the information its figure is based on. The AP also has repeatedly asked for clarification on those numbers. The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders says it has not been able to update its initial Aug. 24 estimate of 355 killed because communication with those on the ground around Damascus is difficult. That estimate was based on reports from three hospitals in the area supported by the group. Moreover, the group, whose initial report was cited in US and British intelligence assessments, has rejected the

use of it “as a justification for military action,” adding in a disclaimer published on its website that the group does not have the capacity to identify the cause of the neurotoxic symptoms of patients nor the ability to determine responsibility for the attack. French and Israeli intelligence assessments back the US, as does reportedly Germany’s spy agency, on its conclusion the Syrian regime was responsible. However, none have backed those claims with publicly presented evidence. Some have suggested the possibility, at least in theory, that the attack may have been ordered by a “rogue commander” in Assad’s military or fighters seeking to frame the regime. Testifying Wednesday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel rebuffed a congressman’s bid to declassify one of the key pieces of intelligence Kerry publicly cited last week: intercepted communications telling Syrian military units to prepare for the chemical strikes. Still, there was very little pushback from members of Congress on the government’s conclusion that the Syrian regime was responsible. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said the intelligence was “very compelling” and that senators have had more access to classified information on Syria than they ’ve had on anything in her two decades in the Senate. — AP

Sudan woman risks flogging to protest... Continued from Page 1 She is charged under Article 152 which prohibits “indecent” clothing. Activists say the vaguely worded law leaves women subject to police harassment and disproportionately targets the poor in an effort to maintain “public order”. “This public order law changed Sudanese women from victims to criminals,” says Hamed, a divorced computer engineer who runs her own company. “This law is targeting the dignity of Sudanese people.” Hamed said she was visiting a government office in Jebel Aulia, just outside Khartoum, on August 27 when a policeman aggressively told her to cover her head. “He said, ‘You are not Sudanese. What is your religion?’” “I’m Sudanese. I’m Muslim, and I’m not going to cover my head,” Hamed replied. Her dark hair, tinged golden, is braided tight against her scalp with a flare of curls at the back. Hamed said she was detained for a few hours, charged, and then bailed. At her first court appearance on September 1, when the case was delayed until later this month, about 100 women and some men gathered to support her. Many of the protesting women had their heads uncovered, as did Hamed who says she has “never, ever” worn a hijab. “There are many (who) wear it because they are afraid, not because they want to wear it,” she said, speaking at her family’s home and dressed in blue jeans which could get her into trouble if she went outside. Hamed was charged in 2002 for wearing trousers but a lawyer helped her get off with only a fine, rather than a flogging. Most women do not have the benefit of legal assistance and are too ashamed to tell their families about their arrest under the morality law, leaving them at the mercy of the court and vulnerable to sexual harassment by police, she says. “Daily, Sudanese women are flogged in the

court under this law.” In 2009, the case of journalist Lubna Ahmed al-Hussein led to a global outcry and spotlighted women’s rights in Sudan. Hussein was fined for wearing slacks in public but she refused to pay. She spent one day behind bars until the Sudanese Journalists’ Union paid the fine on her behalf. Others rounded up with her in a restaurant were flogged. “You are a slut. You want guys to sleep with you. That’s why you are wearing like this,” another woman, who has been detained twice in Khartoum, remembers police telling her. “This was very humiliating,” said the woman, a professional worker who asked to be identified only as Rania. She told AFP she was detained but not charged, once for leaving her hair uncovered and a second time for wearing trousers. “Why women in Sudan cannot have the right to decide what to wear, if they want to cover or not?” Rania asked. She and Hamed say application of the law is uneven, because at high-end restaurants women can leave their hair exposed without risk of arrest. Sudan’s national police spokesman could not be reached on Sunday for comment. Asked about the activists’ concerns, Rabbie Abdelatti Ebaid, a senior official from the governing National Congress Party, said President Bashir is seeking views from a wide spectrum of society on a new draft constitution for Sudan. The constitution, from which laws derive, will be designed to take into consideration the will, culture and customs of the people while “respecting the human being”, he said. Hamed hopes the laws will change. In the meantime she expects to be convicted at trial and says she is ready for any sentence-including a flogging. “I take a risk to tell what is happening in our country and I hope that will be the last time a Sudanese woman is arrested by this law.” — AFP

3 more die of MERS in Saudi Continued from Page 1 On Friday the World Health Organization said the virus had killed 52 people worldwide. Saudi authorities said 96 people have been infected in the kingdom, out of a global figure of 110. Experts are struggling to understand MERS-Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-for which there is still no vaccine and which has an extremely high fatality rate of more than 51 percent. It is considered a cousin of the SARS virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infect-

ed 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died. Like SARS, MERS is thought to have jumped from animals to humans, and it shares the former’s flu-like symptoms-but differs by also causing kidney failure. The MERS problem persists in Saudi Arabia as the kingdom gears up to host around two million Muslims in October for the annual Hajj pilgrimage to holy Makkah. Authorities have urged the elderly and chronically ill Muslims to avoid the Hajj this year and have cut back on the numbers of people they will allow to perform the pilgrimage. — AFP


S P ORTS FIA head seeks re-election

Montpellier stiffle Toulouse

Mexico fire coach after loss

MONZA: Jean Todt announced on Saturday he will seek a second term as head of the International Automobile Federation (FIA), motorsport’s world governing body. “There is no speculation: I will go for it,” the Frenchman told reporters at the Italian Grand Prix. “Yesterday it was announced that campaigning for election was opening. All our community knows and I have a lot of support,” added the former Ferrari team principal who was first elected in 2009. Todt faces a strong challenge from former FIA foundation head David Ward, a Briton and former adviser to ex-president Max Mosley, in the December vote in Paris. “In life you must respect freedom of everyone. So I really do respect him,” the Frenchman said of his rival. Ward issued his election manifesto on Friday and wrote to all FIA member clubs seeking the necessary nomination and calling for better governance and limiting the term in office. Formula One team principals, some of them former colleagues of Todt when he was running the Ferrari team, were predictable in their responses when asked to assess a vote that could have a big impact on the sport.—Reuters

PARIS: Montpellier produced a door-bolt display to beat Toulouse 25-0 at the Stade Yves-du-Manoir yesterday for a bonus-point victory. The two sides came into the match level on points but a brilliant solo try from Jonathan Pelissie, an opportunist effort from Francois Trinh-Duc and a breakaway try by Benoit Sicard thrust the hosts to the summit of the Top 14 table ahead of the rest of Sunday’s matches. Toulouse came into the match on the back of an impressive 30-6 defeat of big-spending Racing Metro on Wednesday but despite a strong line-up they struggled to match Montpellier’s intensity. It was a third straight victory for Fabien Galthie’s side, who had been bottom of the table after two matches, following a home draw with Toulon and then a narrow 19-12 defeat at Biarritz, who are currently one off the bottom. Scrum-half Pelissie got the ball rolling with a stunning individual effort on the half hour mark, slaloming through a posse of defenders before then converting his own try. Anthony Floch was then unlucky to have another score chalked off as he had strayed half a metre ahead of winger Yoan Audrin when the latter kicked ahead. Pelissie added a penalty before half-time and Floch notched one just after the break as Montpellier started to eke out a lead. Toulouse shot themselves in the foot when centre Florian Fritz was yellow carded for hitting France team-mate Fulgence Ouedraogo full in the face with a needless forearm smash.—AFP

MEXICO CITY: Mexico coach Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre was fired on Saturday, a day after a painful loss to Honduras which dented their hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Cup. Justino Compean, president of the Mexican Football Federation, fired de la Torre and replaced him with Luis Fernando Tena, who coached the gold medal winning Mexico team at the London Olympics, according to a statement on the federation’s website. Mexico suffered only their second ever World Cup qualifying defeat in the Azteca Stadium with a 2-1 loss to Honduras on Friday which left them in fourth place in North and Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF) region standings, outside the automatic qualification slots and only a point ahead of Panama. ‘El Tri’ face old rivals the United States in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday and then have a home game against Panama in October before finishing away to current CONCACAF leaders Costa Rica. The fourth placed team in the six-nation final qualifying tournament for the CONCACAF region will face a two-legged play-off against New Zealand in November.—Reuters

Red Sox bash Yankees

CINCINNATI: Hanley Ramirez No. 13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reaches to tag out Jay Bruce No. 32 of the Cincinnati Reds in a run down in the bottom of the first inning.—AFP

Reds roll over Dodgers CINCINNATI: Billy Hamilton stole second in the 10th inning to set up Todd Frazier’s gamewinning single, helping the Cincinnati Reds beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3 on Saturday. Ryan Ludwick opened the Cincinnati 10th with a leadoff walk against Brian Wilson (1-1). Reds manager Dusty Baker then went to the dynamic Hamilton, and the speedy prospect took second as catcher A.J. Ellis dropped the ball while taking it out of his glove. Frazier followed with a line-drive single into right field to give Cincinnati five wins in its last six games. JJ Hoover got three outs for the victory. Yasiel Puig hit a two-run homer for NL West-leading Los Angeles. CARDINALS 5, PIRATES 0 In St. Louis, Adam Wainwright bounced back from back-to-back sub-par outings with seven shutout innings and David Freese homered to lead the Cardinals to a win over the Pirates. The victory moved the Cardinals into first place, a half-game ahead of the Pirates in the NL Central with their third win in four games. Pittsburgh has lost four of six including the first two of the three-game set. The Pirates remain stuck on 81 wins, one shy of assuring them a winning record for the first time since they went 96-66 in 1992. Wainwright (16-9) had given up 15 earned runs over his previous two starts, both against Cincinnati. He allowed a career-high nine runs in two innings of a 10-0 loss Aug. 28. But he regained his form against the Pirates allowing just two hits. Jeff Locke (9-5) allowed three runs on three hits over five innings. BREWERS 5, CUBS 3 In Chicago, Logan Schafer hit a three-run triple and Johnny Hellweg pitched six innings for his first career major league victory in the Brewers’ win over the Cubs. Hellweg (1-3) allowed three runs on four hits. He struck out one and pitched around three walks to finally earn his first victory after flourishing in the minors. Brewers relievers Rob Wooten and Brandon Kintzler each pitched a scoreless inning then Jim Henderson pitched a perfect ninth for his 23rd save in 27 opportunities. Jake Arrieta (2-2) took the loss. PHILLIES 6, BRAVES 5 In Philadelphia, Freddy Galvis hit a gameending homer with one out in the ninth inning to lift the Phillies to a win over the Braves. Atlanta had trailed 5-3 going into the ninth, but Andrelton Simmons hit a two-out two-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon (5-1),

who blew his seventh save in 32 opportunities. Galvis, who had four hits, got Papelbon the win by connecting on a 1-0 pitch from Freddy Garcia (0-1) into the seats in right field. It was the first four-hit game for Galvis, who had been 0-for-7 since being recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Sept. 3. It was his fifth homer of the season. Carlos Ruiz singled, doubled and drove in three runs, and Cesar Hernandez and Kevin Frandsen each had three hits for the Phillies. Freddie Freeman had two hits and two RBIs for NL East-leading Atlanta, which dropped its third straight. NATIONALS 9, MARLINS 2 In Miami, Ryan Zimmerman homered twice and drove in three runs, powering the Nationals to a victory over the Marlins. Zimmerman hit a two-run shot in the first and a leadoff drive on Nathan Eovaldi’s first pitch of the third. Tanner Roark (5-0) pitched six scoreless innings as the Nationals won for the third time in four games to remain on the fringe of the NL wild-card race. Eovaldi (3-6) lasted just three innings in his shortest outing of the season. He was charged with five runs and nine hits. PADRES 2, ROCKIES 1 In San Diego, rookie Jedd Gyorko hit a goahead homer leading off the eighth inning to give the Padres a win over the Rockies. Gyorko’s shot off Matt Belisle (5-6) came right after the Rockies tied the game at 1 in the eighth inning on a San Diego error. Gyorko’s 17th home run just barely cleared the right field wall as it hit the top padding and avoided the leaping attempt of right fielder Michael Cuddyer. Luke Gregerson (6-7) got the win and Huston Street picked up his 28th save by getting the final three outs. DIAMONDBACKS 2, GIANTS 1 In San Francisco, Brandon McCarthy pitched eight strong innings and Paul Goldschmidt had three hits, including a triple, to lift the Diamondbacks to a win over the Giants. McCarthy (4-9) gave up one run and six hits while striking out six. Brad Ziegler pitched a scoreless ninth for his ninth save in 11 chances. Goldschmidt broke a 1-1 tie with a triple to right center in the fifth inning that scored Adam Eaton, who walked. Matt Cain (8-9) allowed eight hits and two runs in 6 1-3 innings. He struck out three and walked four. He was activated from the 15day disabled list prior to the game after missing 14 games with a contusion on his right forearm. Coming into the game Cain had just one win in his last nine starts at home, going 1-5 with a 5.36 era over that stretch.—AP

NEW YORK: Mike Napoli hit two home runs, Jonny Gomes and prized rookie Xander Bogaerts also connected, and the Boston Red Sox kept up their dizzying scoring spree at Yankee Stadium, bashing New York 13-9 Saturday for their fifth straight win. The AL East leaders became the first visiting team in more than a century to score at least nine runs on three straight days against the Yankees. In fact, the last time it happened, they weren’t called the Yankees - Boston did it in 1912 to the Highlanders at Hilltop Park. Down 12-3, the Yankees rallied with four runs in the sixth inning and chased John Lackey (9-12). Mark Reynolds added a two-run double in the eighth off Red Sox reliever Drake Britton that made it 12-9. David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia each contributed to Boston’s five doubles. By the end of the fourth inning, it was 10-2 and every Red Sox batter had gotten a hit. The Yankees scored at least six runs for the sixth game in a row. That wasn’t enough for David Huff (2-1), tagged for nine runs and eight hits in 3 1-3 innings. ORIOLES 4, WHITE SOX 3 In Baltimore, Matt Wieters hit a two-run single in the 10th inning to lift Baltimore to its third consecutive win. Pinch-hitter Henry Urrutia started the winning rally with a one-out infield single against closer Addison Reed (5-3). Pinch-runner Chris Dickerson then went all the way to third on Nick Markakis’ base hit. Reed bounced back with a strikeout of Nate McLouth, but Markakis stole second and both runners scored when Wieters lined a single into right field. It was the ninth consecutive loss for the White Sox, who grabbed a 3-2 lead on Conor Gillaspie’s pinch-hit homer against Tommy Hunter (4-3) in the top half of the inning. Danny Valencia had three hits and Brian Roberts homered for the Orioles, who were 1 for 17 with runners in scoring position before Wieters’ hit. ROYALS 4, TIGERS 3 In Kansas City, Salvador Perez hit a tiebreaking two-run homer off Justin Verlander in the sixth, helping Kansas City to the victory. Perez’s two-out drive to left made it 4-2. It was his 11th homer of the season. Verlander (12-11) allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings. The ace right-hander dropped to 0-3 with a 4.17 ERA in his last six starts. Wade Davis (7-10), the second of five Kansas City pitchers, picked up the victory on his 28th birthday. Greg Holland worked a perfect ninth for his 39th save in 42 chances. Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, who leads the American League with 133 RBIs, walked with the bases loaded in the fifth and singled home another run in the seventh. ATHLETICS 2, ASTROS 1 In Oakland, Dan Straily pitched seven scoreless innings to lead surging Oakland to another victory. Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie homered as the A’s won for the seventh time in nine games to remain on top of the AL West. They began the day with a half-game lead over Texas. Straily (9-7) allowed two hits, struck out seven and walked one in his third consecutive victory. The right-hander has a 1.50 ERA over 18 innings during his winning streak. Dan Otero allowed a run in the eighth, but Sean Doolittle got four outs for his first save in four chances, completing the five-hitter. Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer (4-2) pitched six stellar innings, allowing one run and seven hits. BLUE JAYS 11, TWINS 2 In Minneapolis, Adam Lind hit a pair of threerun homers for Toronto, helping J.A. Happ snap a three-game losing streak. Lind connected for his 18th homer in the Blue Jays’ five-run first inning. He went deep again in the eighth for his second multi-homer game this season and No. 10 for his career. Happ (4-5) was

NEW YORK: David Huff No. 60 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.—AFP charged with an unearned run and five hits in 5 2-3 innings. The left-hander, who suffered a fractured skull and sprained knee on May 7 when he was hit in the head by line drive, had a 7.71 ERA during his losing streak. Twins starter Kevin Correia (9-11) allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings. The Twins have lost nine straight home games for the first time since April 27-May 23, 2011. ANGELS 8, RANGERS 3 In Anaheim, Garrett Richards pitched seven effective innings, and the Angels parlayed three errors and another mammoth home run by Mark Trumbo into five early runs against Derek Holland to beat the Rangers. The Rangers’ fifth loss in six games, coupled with Oakland’s 2-1 victory against Houston, put Texas 1 1-2 games behind the Athletics in the AL West race. Richards (6-6) allowed two runs - one earned and six hits while striking out five and walking one. The right-hander, who finished his night by fanning the side on 18 pitches, is 4-0 with a 3.25 ERA in seven starts at home this season. Holland (9-8) was charged with eight runs - four earned - and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings. MARINERS 6, RAYS 2 In Seattle, James Paxton threw six strong innings allowing just one earned run in his major league debut, Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales hit solo homers and the Mariners continued Tampa

Bay on its West Coast slide. Tampa Bay lost for the seventh time in nine games on its swing through Seattle, Oakland and Los Angeles and saw its lead in the AL Wild Card race reduced to one game after both Cleveland and Baltimore won on Saturday. The Rays have spent 61 straight days in position for a postseason berth, but if they can’t avoid a sweep by the Mariners on Sunday, that run might finally end. Paxton (1-0) became the latest Seattle prospect to make a successful debut, joining Taijuan Walker. INTERLEAGUE INDIANS 9, METS 4 In Cleveland, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a three-run homer for the streaking Indians, and Nick Swisher had a solo shot. Cleveland has won four in a row for the first time since it captured eight straight from July 24-Aug. 1. Swisher finished with two hits and two RBIs as the Indians stayed in the hunt for the AL’s second wild-card slot. Corey Kluber (8-5), the first of seven Cleveland pitchers, allowed two runs in five-plus innings. Kluber, pitching for the first time since Aug. 5 after being sidelined by a sprained right middle finger, was pulled after walking the leadoff hitter in the sixth. Jonathon Niese (6-7) lost for the first time in six starts since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 11. The left-hander allowed six runs in six innings. Cleveland began the day just two games back of Tampa Bay for the second wild card spot in the AL. The Indians and Orioles are tied with 76-65 records.—AP

MLB results/standings Baltimore 4, Chicago White Sox 3 (10 innings); Boston 13, NY Yankees 9; Cincinnati 4, LA Dodgers 3 (10 innings); Oakland 2, Houston 1; Milwaukee 5, Chicago Cubs 3; Cleveland 9, NY Mets 4; Philadelphia 6, Atlanta 5; Kansas City 4, Detroit 3; Toronto 11, Minnesota 2; Washington 9, Miami 2; St. Louis 5, Pittsburgh 0; San Diego 2, Colorado 1; LA Angels 8, Texas 3; Arizona 2, San Francisco 1; Seattle 6, Tampa Bay 2. American League National League Eastern Division Eastern Division W L PCT GB Atlanta 85 56 .603 Boston 87 57 .604 Washington 72 69 .511 13 Tampa Bay 77 64 .546 8.5 Philadelphia 65 77 .458 20.5 Baltimore 76 65 .539 9.5 NY Mets 63 77 .450 21.5 NY Yankees 75 67 .528 11 Miami 53 87 .379 31.5 Toronto 66 76 .465 20 Central Division Central Division St. Louis 82 60 .577 Detroit 82 60 .577 Pittsburgh 81 60 .574 0.5 Cleveland 76 65 .539 5.5 Cincinnati 81 62 .566 1.5 Kansas City 74 68 .521 8 Milwaukee 61 80 .433 20.5 Minnesota 61 79 .436 20 Chicago Cubs 60 81 .426 21.5 Chicago White Sox 56 85 .397 25.5 Western Division Western Division LA Dodgers 83 58 .589 Oakland 82 60 .577 Texas 80 61 .567 1.5 Arizona 72 69 .511 11 LA Angels 67 74 .475 14.5 Colorado 66 77 .462 18 Seattle 65 77 .458 17 San Diego 64 77 .454 19 Houston 47 95 .331 35 San Francisco 63 79 .444 20.5

Washington, Panama win LLWS elimination games

SAN FRANCISCO: Emirates Team New Zealand in action during the America’s Cup Finals Race 2 against Oracle Team USA in San Francisco.—AFP

SAN FRANCISCO: Emirates Team New Zealand outsailed billionaire Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA in the first day of the America’s Cup finals with near collisions and a man overboard as the high-tech catamarans crisscrossed San Francisco Bay in the first closefought duels since the regatta began two months ago. Maneuvering his 72-foot carbon-fiber yacht at speeds close to 45 miles per hour, Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker aggressively cut off Cup defender Oracle’s boat several times to win the first two races in the best-of-17 final series. Already hobbled by a cheating penalty, Saturday’s results make it even harder for Oracle to defend the Cup it won in Valencia, Spain in 2010 and brought to San Francisco. The final series of matches is the culmination of a regatta plagued by controversies including cheating by Oracle, dangerous catamarans, a fatal accident and accusations of mismanagement. Fans along the shore at an America’s Cup park on San Francisco Bay cheered the Kiwis as their AC72 catamaran crossed the finish line with a lead of nearly a minute in the day’s second race. Seconds before the first race, an Oracle crewman fell overboard, leaving his team to compete with only 10 sailors. New Zealand began that match with a

small lead and was passed by Oracle for a short time before regaining its lead and winning by 36 seconds. “Hopefully we can take some races and not have passes and just win,” Oracle tactician John Kostecki said at a post race press conference, when asked if the boats were evenly matched. In pre-start maneuvering of the second race, the two boats appeared to touch each other as Oracle went for a controlling position just downwind of the Kiwis. Even a light collision could have cost New Zealand a penalty, but none was called. Saturday’s was the first suspenseful racing in the regatta after two months of relatively tame qualifying matches easily dominated by the formidable Kiwis. The latest setback for the America’s Cup came on Tuesday, when an international jury docked Oracle two points - the equivalent of two races - and kicked three team members out of the event for adding illegal weight to boats used in a previous preparatory Cup competition. The penalties, unprecedented in the history of the 162-year-old event, are a big boost for New Zealand, which demolished other would-be challengers in qualifying races in July and August. Bookmakers see the Kiwis as favorites to take the

America’s Cup from Oracle although, in a twist of fate, they are now up against one of their country’s most accomplished sailors. Due to the penalty, Oracle needs to win 11 races to retain the Cup, while New Zealand only needs to win a total of nine. With Saturday’s two victories, New Zealand now needs seven more. Oracle is also sailing without a key crew member, Dirk de Ridder, a 40-year-old Dutchman who was banished from the event for his role in the weight scandal. The cheating debacle first came to light in July, when 45-foot Oracle catamarans that had been used for a regatta known as the America’s Cup World Series of Racing - and were raced again last week in a youth competition - were found to have illegal bags of lead and resin wedged into their frames. Adding weight can help improve the yachts’ stability. In most countries, sailboat racing is a niche sport, and this year’s America’s Cup so far has done little to change that. Ellison, who won the cup in 2010, and with it the right to set the rules for this year’s races, hoped to make the competition more accessible to everyday sports fans with super-fast, high-tech 72foot boats called AC72s sailing close to shore on the picturesque Bay.—Reuters


S P ORTS Castleford crash to Wildcards LONDON: Ali Lauitiiti spoilt Rangi Chase’s farewell to Castleford Tigers with a lastgasp try to put Wakefield Wildcats on course for a 36-32 victory on the last day of the Super League regular season yesterday. It appeared as if Chase, who has signed for Salford for next season, would get his wish of a winning finale with the Tigers leading 32-28 at the death. However, Lauitiiti, a former New Zealand Warrior, had other ideas and pulled Wakefield level in the 79th minute before setting up Liam Kay to complete his hattrick with the winning try moments later. Neither Wakefield nor Castleford were in play-off contention, but the game still meant plenty to Chase, who was confirmed as one of 12 new signings by Salford in the build up. Meanwhile London Broncos’ existence may be in question but they at least ended the season on a high with a 34-22 win over Hull KR in which Jamie Soward scored two tries and kicked four goals. However, Soward, who joined the Broncos in June after being released by NRL outfit St George and will now join Penrith Panthers, was overshadowed by Mason Caton-Brown’s hat-trick. Jarrod Sammut scored four tries yet again as Bradford Bulls romped to a 58-6 win over Huddersfield Giants, the League Leaders’ Shield winners who were clearly building for the play-offs as they put out a weakened team. Sammut, who scored four in the Bulls’ win over London Broncos earlier in the season, opened the scoring in the sixth minute

and then added three more tries after the break. Meanwhile Scott Dureau’s missed penalty proved costly as Catalan Dragons failed to grasp sixth place after a 14-12 defeat to Warrington Wolves, who were already guaranteed second spot. Australian Dureau had earlier scored the first of the Dragons’ two tries but, after Chris Riley had put Warrington in front with a score 10 minutes from time, he missed a penalty for a draw. And so Hull FC claimed sixth position despite losing 38-12 to St Helens. Willie Manu and Francis Meli both scored for St Helens on Friday as they head into the play-offs having won six of their last seven matches for a finish of fifth. Manu touched down at the end of the first half and Meli 14 minutes into the second while Adam Swift bagged a double but Hull FC, courtesy of the Dragons’ defeat, still ended sixth. Elsewhere on Friday, Widnes rounded off their second season back in Super League with a 24-4 defeat of Salford thanks to two tries from Patrick Ah Van in the last 14 minutes. On Thursday, Joel Moon was among the scorers as Leeds Rhinos sent Challenge Cup winners Wigan Warriors to their lowest Super League finish since 2009 and sealed third place in the table. Moon, who played for the New Zealand Warriors and Brisbane Broncos in the NRL, was one of four Leeds players to score as they ran out 20-6 winners at Wigan, who settled for fourth overall.—AFP

Photo of the day

Gabriel Fortunato performs at the Red Bull Skate Arcade at Madureira-skatepark in Rio de Janeiro —

Leicester make winning start without Cockerill LONDON: Leicester proved they can win without director of rugby Richard Cockerill as the champions kicked off their Premiership title defence with a 32-15 victory over Worcester yesterday. Former England hooker Cockerill has been denied match-day involvement with the Tigers for nine games until October 9 after swearing at an official in May’s Premiership final win against Northampton. But, with Cockerill absent from the dugout at Welford Road, Leicester were still able to open their Premiership campaign with a bonus point victory thanks to Fijian winger Vereniki Goneva’s stunning solo try in the final minute. Leicester’s other three tries came from Adam Thompstone, debutant David Mele and Jordan Crane as the hosts fought off a spirited second half fightback by Worcester. Trailing 18-3 at half-time and then 25-3, Worcester scored tries through Chris Jones and Josh Matavesi to put themselves back in the game before Goneva clinched a win which maintained the Tigers’ 100 percent record at home against the Warriors. Leicester backs coach Paul Burke, standing in for Cockerill, admitted the champions still have plenty of room for improvement ahead of next week’s trip to Bath. “Worcester made it difficult for us, they are a good side, they are coached well and they will cause teams a lot of problems this

Vereniki Goneva season,” Burke said. “I am very happy with the bonus point but I am disappointed with our performance at times in the second half. “But it’s our first hit out and we will look at it and put it right for the trip to Bath.” Burke also conceded Leicester might have got complacent when leading by 22 points after 47 minutes. “Possibly,” he said. “It’s a mindset thing. As champions you are expected to win, you have got everything to lose. We knew Worcester would be physical and get stuck into us. “Our urgency was poor at times and we allowed them to stifle us. We wanted to play with tempo but with a 17-6 penalty count against Worcester it was difficult to get any momentum.”—AFP

Geniez wins 15th Tour stage PEYRAGUDES: French rider Alexandre Geniez of FDJ claimed victory in his homeland as the gruelling 224.9km 15th stage of the Tour of Spain from Andorra to Peyragudes crossed the border into France. Geniez finished over three minutes ahead of Italian Michele Scarponi and Irishman Nicholas Roche in a time of 6hrs 20mins 12secs. Giro d’Italia winner Vincenzo Nibali maintained his lead in the overall classification, though, as he finished fourth alongside American Chris Horner and Spain’s Alejandro Valverde, who remain 50 secs and 1min 42secs behind respectively. “It has been a long day,” a delighted Geniez confessed afterwards. “I went from the start in a group and we worked well together, everyone collaborated to obtain the maximum time gap in the breakaway. “Two kilometres from the finish was when I saw that I had the victory in my legs and it was a special motivation for me to win here in France.” Following a tough day of climbing into Andorra on Saturday when 16 riders were forced to withdraw due to the brutal weather conditions, yesterday’s stage-the longest of the three week race-was even more daunting with four category one climbs. Geniez didn’t show any signs of fatigue, however, as he was part of a breakaway group of six riders that led a chasing pack of 19 by over two minutes, and the peloton by over seven minutes by the time

they had completed the climbs over the Colle del Canto and Port de la Bonaigua. The 25-year-old then attacked on his own with fully 25km still to go, but having maintained a significant advantage over the peloton he began the climb up the Col de Peyresourde to the finish line with still over five minutes of an advantage and was never threatened. However, there was still plenty to fight for in the overall race standings on the climb to the finish as all the major contenders grouped together before a series of attacks and counter-attacks were launched. Katusha’s Joaquim Rodriguez and Movistar’s Valverde were first to show their hand, but Nibali always ensured they could never get away and in the end there was no change in the top five of the general classification as those three, Horner and Italian Domenico Pozzovivo all registered the same time. Despite maintaining his lead after another crucial stage Astana’s Nibali isn’t taking anything for granted with four more mountain stages still to come. “I tried to go in the last climb up to Peyragudes but it was difficult, with so many continuous attacks it was a crazy stage with a lot of movement,” said the 2010 Vuelta winner. “ We will see how things will go in Formigal tomorrow after two days with such great accumulated fatigue. There are still important climbs to come like in Pena Cabarga and Angliru.”—AFP

Edwards clinches race as Keselowski misses Chase RICHMOND: NASCAR will have a new champion. For now, it has yet another conspiracy. Reigning champion Brad Keselowski failed to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship Saturday night when an ill-timed caution ruined his run at Richmond International Raceway. Same thing happened to Ryan Newman, who used a pass on eventual winner Carl Edwards with 10 laps to go to take the lead for what should have been enough to get in the Chase. Then Clint Bowyer spun three laps later to bring out a caution that ruined Newman’s race. The benefactor? Martin Truex Jr., Bowyer’s teammate at Michael Waltrip Racing, who struggled the entire race. Newman and Truex were locked into a race for the second of two wild cards in the 12-driver Chase field, and the race win would give it to Newman. Only he lost the lead on pit road, wound up finishing third, and Truex grabbed the final spot in the Chase. Conspiracy theorists immediately accused Bowyer of spinning on purpose to help his teammate, and a tweet from Bowyer friend Blake Shelton didn’t help his cause: “Y’all should follow @ClintBowyer!!! The definition of team player!!!” the country music star posted on Twitter. A despondent Newman wasn’t sure if Bowyer’s spin was legitimate. “ They are teammates. I don’t know if he looked at the scoring pylon, knew I was leading, it doesn’t matter,” Newman said. “If that was the case, I’ll find out one way or the other. At the same time we still had the opportunity to make our own destiny and win it on pit road, and we didn’t. That being said, we’re out.” Truex, who broke his right wrist two weeks ago in a crash at Bristol and has been racing with a cast, said he had no idea who even caused the caution. “I didn’t even know it happened until after the race,” Truex said. “I raced my (butt) off all night long. That’s all I can do. I tell my crew chief what my car is doing, what I need to go faster. That was enough to worry about. I don’t have to worry about any other people out on the racetrack. I didn’t even know that (Bowyer) brought out the caution until after the race.” Bowyer, who led 72 laps earlier in the race, denied any wrongdoing and said he simply lost the handling on his car. He said it was no different than Jimmie Johnson, who hit the wall earlier in the race to bring out the caution that jumbled the field and ultimately ruined Keselowski’s Chase bid. “I think we had something going wrong. We went from a car capable of winning the race, leading, to ... just went straight backwards,” Bowyer said. “My car was tight as hell, (Johnson) blew a tire and hit the wall.

RICHMOND: Carl Edwards does a backflip as team members watch after he won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Richmond International Raceway.—AP I’m telling you, I was the next one. I know it’s a lot of fun for you guys to write a lot of whacky things. Go ahead if you want to, get creative. But don’t look too much into it.” Bowyer’s explanation seemed suspicious, at least according to a replay ESPN showed of him immediately after the race. It was the view from the in-car camera in his Toyota, and included his team communications. “Thirty-nine is going to win the race,” Bowyer is told about Newman. “Well, that kind of sucks,” Bowyer replied. “Is your arm starting to hurt?” crew chief Brian Pattie asked. After a pause, Pattie said, “I bet it’s hot in there. Itch it.” Bowyer’s car then spun. “We had a flat tire or something,” Bowyer said. “It just snapped around.” Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was right behind Bowyer when he spun, wasn’t so sure. “He just spun right out. That’s the craziest thing I ever saw,” Earnhardt said. “He just came around. I don’t know if they can put up his brakes and his gas. We got all the technology. But he was hemming around on the brakes and jerking the car around, and then the thing just spun out. It was crazy. I don’t know what was going on.” The winner wasn’t even immune from controversy, with many believing Edwards jumped the final restart to get past Paul Menard. But Edwards said Menard spun his tires, and if he waited for Menard to get moving, both drivers would have been run over by the field behind them. “The guy in second place in that circumstance is in a tough position,” Edwards said. “If I had lifted and waited, I think the whole field would have run over us.” Kasey Kahne claimed the first wild-card berth, and Joey Logano, Keselowski’s teammate at Penske Racing, qualified for the Chase for the first time in his career, by rounding

out the top 10 in points. Logano edged four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon for the final spot in the field. Kurt Busch finished second to make Furniture Row Racing the first single-car organization to make the Chase. Busch had been plagued by a slow pit crew all year and it bit him on the first caution of the race when he led the field down pit road as the leader. But the Furniture Row crew was almost a second slower than all the other contenders, and Busch lost five spots, restarting in sixth. He scolded over the team radio Furniture Row general manager Joe Garone, who said to The Associated Press before that the pit crew was under tremendous pressure Saturday night. It had been the weakest spot of the team all season, and Busch might have won as many as three races had the crew performed at a higher level. “It’s a new group, they started at the beginning of the year and the time that it takes for a crew to come together and gel and be running with the top five cars in the series, you don’t get there in eight months,” Garone said before the race. “The performance of the car has jumped ahead of the guys. It’s not that they are bad, or we have bad stops. The two learning curves don’t go together, and we are a little behind. If we can have good, clean, solid stops tonight, we’ll leave the rest up to the calls on the pit box and Kurt behind the wheel.” The pit crew rebounded as the night went on and Busch, fired two years ago from Penske Racing, was celebrating his return to elite company. “Well, how about them apples? Unbelievable,” Busch said. “The way this team has grown, what we’ve been able to accomplish, it’s an amazing feeling. We achieved something very special tonight.”

Keselowski, who led a race-high 142 laps, at one point seemed to have the race in control even though a victory wasn’t necessarily going to be enough to get him into the Chase. He had just pitted under green when Johnson hit the wall to bring out a caution that pinned Keselowski deep in the field, and he never recovered. He finished 17th, and at 16th in points and winless on the season, he won’t be eligible to race for the Sprint Cup title. “I don’t really have any emotions right now. We weren’t good enough to make it and we didn’t. That is the reality,” he said. “We have work to do. At the end of the day, the thing about points is it is the best measuring stick in sports. You know who deserves to be where because the results speak for themselves. We didn’t have enough results to get where we needed to be.” Performance also hurt Newman, who was more critical of his StewartHaas Racing pit crew than he was of Bowyer ’s caution. Newman isn’t being brought back to SHR next season, and the team was too slow on pit road for the final stop and that cost him both the win and his spot in the Chase. “We should have been able to come on pit road first and come off first,” he said. “If we’re a championship contending team, we need a championship contending pit crew, and we didn’t have that tonight.” And that final caution ruined Gordon’s Chase chances, too. Eighth before the yellow flag and ahead of Logano in the standings, Newman losing the race flipped everything and Gordon wound up on the outside looking in even though he still finished eighth. “We were getting it done until that caution came out,” Gordon said. “We still could have made it in. That restart just didn’t go the way that we needed it to.”—AP

Springboks re-focus for All Blacks challenge

FRANCE: FDJ team’s French rider Alexandre Geniez celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the 15th stage of the 68th edition of ‘La Vuelta’ Tour of Spain.—AFP

NEW ZEALAND: Heyneke Meyer’s South African side arrived in New Zealand yesterday bristling with confidence and already focussed on what could be the defining clash of this year’s Super Rugby Championship competition. The Springboks beat Australia 38-12 in Brisbane on Saturday, scoring four tries to snatch their second bonus point of the competition and take a one-point lead in the standings over the All Blacks, who are also unbeaten on 13 points. Steve Hansen’s world champions beat Argentina 28-13 in Hamilton but will face the Springboks at Eden Park without the calming influence of captain Richie McCaw, who suffered

a knee injury and is expected to be out for up to five weeks. The winner of the clash on Saturday should seize the initiative for the southern hemisphere championship title with the All Blacks having to travel to Argentina and South Africa for their final two games. The Springboks, however, return home for clashes against the Wallabies in Cape Town and then New Zealand in Johannesburg and with a victory in Auckland, which would be the first loss by the All Blacks in New Zealand since 2009, would put them in the driving seat for the title. Meyer’s side had been expected to have been

tipped over by the Wallabies, having had several players travel from Europe to join the team in the week of the test following club commitments. “We just need to keep humble because (this) week will be a hell of a challenge,” Meyer told reporters after their victory at Lang Park. “I’ve learned that you just get the game out of the way because the next game is going to be a tough encounter. “There are still three tough games to come down the line. The world champions are waiting and we just have to be focussed, keep our feet on the ground and focus on this one.”—Reuters



Wrestling back for Tokyo Games after IOC vote win BUENOS AIRES: Wrestling will be at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics after all as they completed a remarkable seven-month journey in Buenos Aires yesterday by being voted back onto the Olympic sports roster by International Olympic Committee (IOC) members. Wrestling, which is one of the rare sports to have transcended the ancient and modern Olympics, is very popular in Japan so Tokyo’s victory on Saturday to host the Games bolstered their standing as favourites to win. In the event it took just one round as wrestling received 49 of the 95 votes cast. The joint bid of baseball/softball was second with 24 votes and squash received 22. The result sees wrestling assured of appearing at both the 2020 edition and the 2024 Summer Olympics. It marks a huge turnaround in for tunes for wrestling which was dropped from the Olympic programme in February this year by the 15-person IOC Executive Board. It sparked uproar, probably surprising several of the board members, with even bitter political enemies such as Iran and the United States seeing their wrestlers join forces to plead for it to be restored. The same board then gave it a second chance when they put it on the three-sport shortlist-after presentations by eight sports at the end of May to be considered by the entire IOC membership in Buenos Aires. “It would be an understatement to say that today is the most important day in the 3,000 years of our existence,” said wrestling federation president Nenad Lalovic at the presentation.

“We have made mistakes and we have learnt from them.” Despite some questions regarding alleged corruption within the sport, Lalovic was left beaming after the announcement by IOC President Jacques Rogge. “With this vote, you have shown that the steps we have taken to improve our sport have made

a difference,” said Lalovic, who was not a wrestler himself but whose son represented Serbia at international level. “I assure each of you that our modernisation will not stop now. We will continue to strive to be the best partner to the Olympic Movement that we can be.” For baseball/softball-who had among

BUENOS AIRES: International Olympic Committee (IOC) presidential candidate, Swiss former Olympic rower Denis Oswald, speaks during the IOC’s 125th session. — AFP

others Antonio Castro the son of the long-time Cuban leader Fidel in their presentation team-it represents another blow after being voted off the Games programme starting with the 2012 London edition. For squash too there was huge disappointment that a journey which started 10 years ago-seeing them top the vote in 2005 but fail to get the required two-thirds majority and then fail again in 2009 — still has some distance to go before they perhaps achieve their ultimate goal. “Today’s decision is heart-breaking for the millions of squash players around the world, particularly given the 10-year journey we have been on to join the Olympic Games Sports Programme,” said squash federation president Narayana Ramachandran. There had been a potentially awkward moment at the beginning of proceedings yesterday. Veteran Canadian IOC member Dick Pound argued perhaps it would be best to postpone the decision and look at it again in Sochi during the Winter Olympics next February. However, Pound found little support from his fellow members and Rogge, who trounced the Canadian in the presidential election in 2001, put him firmly in his place. “Thank you for your proposition but it is fair to say we should acknowledge that we asked eight federations originally to bid, they have incurred costs and three of them will appear later,” Rogge said. “We should respect our decisions. When we took this one in Guatemala (2007) it was a unanimous decision with no abstentions, I emphasise this particularly there were no abstentions.” — AFP

Hurricanes give ACC another win over SEC NEW YORK: Miami made it two big victories for the Atlantic Coast Conference against the Southeastern Conference in the first two weeks of the college football season. The Hurricanes beat mistake-prone No. 12 Florida 21-16 on Saturday. Add that to Clemson’s victory against Georgia and the ACC can come away feeling good about its early season showing against the league that has won the last seven national championships. Ultimately, it was a split of four spotlight matchups. No. 1 Alabama beat Virginia Tech handily and South Carolina whipped North Carolina in the opening weekend of the season. But considering all the grief the ACC generally takes for not being able to stand up to the mighty SEC, .500 is looking solid. “How about that ACC? Spunky little old league?” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said after his Tigers had an easy follow-up victory against South Carolina State on Saturday. Miami needed a lot of help from Florida. The Gators had five turnovers and numerous empty trips to the red zone. Florida outgained Miami 413-212, but Stephen Morris threw a couple of TD passes and the Hurricanes held on. OREGON 59, VIRGINIA 10 In Charlottesville, De’Anthony Thomas ran for 124 yards and three touchdowns, Marcus Mariota threw for two touchdowns and ran 71 yards for another score, and Oregon started fast and completely manhandled Virginia. The Ducks (2-0), who gained a school-record 772 yards last week in beating Nicholls State, looked capable of doing it again against a Virginia defense that hoped to keep the Cavaliers in the game. Oregon finished with 557 yards and did all its scoring while possessing the ball for just 21:25. Virginia (1-1) got an early look at what it was up against as Mariota dropped back on a third-and-5 on the opening series, then bolted up the middle untouched, going 71 yards for a touchdown.

and never lost its physical prowess. Fales completed 29 of 43 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown with one interception. GEORGIA 41, SOUTH CAROLINA 30 In Athens, Aaron Murray threw for 309 yards and four touchdowns, Georgia’s beleaguered defense finally came up with a stop, and the Bulldogs defeated South Carolina for an early edge in the Southeastern Conference East. Coming off a 38-35 loss at Clemson, Georgia could not afford another defeat if it wanted to remain a serious contender for a national title.Murray took care of that, turning in one of the best games of his career. The fifth-year senior capped his stellar day for the Bulldogs (1-1, 10 SEC) with an 85-yard touchdown pass to Justin Scott-Wesley with 13 minutes remaining. The defense made sure it stood up, stuffing Mike Davis on fourth-and-goal from inside the 1. Davis led the Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1) with 149 yards rushing on 16 carries. TEXAS A&M 65, SAM HOUSTON ST. 28 In College Station, Johnny Manziel threw for 426 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score in less than three quarters to give Texas A&M a win over Sam Houston State.The Heisman Trophy winner played about a quarter more than he did last week when he sat out the first half for A&M (2-0) serving a suspension for what the school called an “inadvertent” violation of NCAA rules involving signing autographs. The Aggies’ suspension-depleted defense was burned for several big plays by the Bearkats, the FCS runner-up the last two seasons, in the final tuneup before next week’s rematch with No. 1 Alabama. Timothy Flanders had 170 yards rushing with two scores and a TD catch for the Bearkats (1-1). Texas A&M’s Mike Evans had a career-high 155 yards receiving, Tra Carson ran for 51 with two touchdowns and Ben Malena had 68 yards rushing and a score.

Tigers overwhelmed UAB. LSU coach Les Miles also decided to end running back Jeremy Hill’s benching in the second quarter of the second game of the season. Hill, who was arrested last spring for landing a punch outside a bar, scored on a 3-yard run on his first carry. Mettenberger finished 16 of 19 for 282 yards and was not intercepted. Beckham’s 136 yards and three TDs receiving were both career highs. He led LSU (2-0) with 331 all-purpose yards. Darren Reaves and Jamarcus Nelson each had touchdowns in the first half for UAB (0-2). MIAMI 21, FLORIDA 16 In Miami Gardens, Stephen Morris threw two first-quarter touchdown passes, and Miami took advantage of Florida giving the ball away on four red-zone opportunities on the way to knocking off the Gators. Duke Johnson added a 2-yard touchdown run with 3:29 left to make it 21-9 Miami (2-0), which has won four straight games for the first time since 2008 and will almost certainly return to the AP Top 25 on Sunday for the first time since 2010. Jeff Driskel threw for a career-best 291 yards and had a 21-yard touchdown pass to Solomon Patton with 2:08 left for the Gators (1-1), who lost three fumbles, had two passes intercepted and were stopped once on downs. Driskel also ran for a touchdown. But Driskel also turned the ball over twice in the fourth quarter. OKLAHOMA STATE 56, UTSA 35 In San Antonio, new starter JW Walsh completed his first 10 passes and finished 24-of-27 for 326 yards with four touchdowns to lead Oklahoma State over UTSA. It’s the fourth start for the sophomore Walsh, his first this season after a quick relief performance for Clint Chelf last week. With his speedy start against a Roadrunners team entering its third season of football, Walsh led the Cowboys (2-0) to TDs on five of six first-half possessions.

OHIO ST. 42, SAN DIEGO ST. 7 In Columbus, Kenny Guiton took over when Braxton Miller left with a sprained left knee, running for one touchdown and passing for two while leading Ohio State over San Diego State. Miller watched the last three quarters from the sideline after being sandwiched between two tacklers on the Buckeyes’ seventh offensive play. The Buckeyes (2-0) didn’t need him. Guiton, who helped save Ohio State’s 12-0 season a year ago, had the most playing time he’s ever had in a game. He set career bests with 19 of 28 passing for 152 yards and 83 rushing yards. It was another disappointing outing for the Aztecs (0-2), who lost 40-19 to FCS Eastern Illinois at home in their opener. Guiton came in having completed 14 of 25 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions in his 16 career games. He had totaled 59 yards rushing on 14 attempts. CLEMSON 52, SOUTH CAROLINA ST 13 In Clemson, Tajh Boyd ran for a touchdown and Clemson returned two interceptions for scores for the first time in program history in a win over FCS opponent South Carolina State. Boyd finished 14-of-23 passing for 169 yards after accounting for five TDs a week ago and becoming a prime Heisman Trophy contender as the Tigers (2-0) defeated No. 11 Georgia 38-35. In this one, Boyd scored Clemson’s first touchdown and played only a half against the Bulldogs (0-2) before finding a spot on the Death Valley sidelines next to offensive coordinator Chad Morris. That was more than enough, though, for Clemson to move to 27-0 all-time against FCS teams. Cornerbacks Martin Jenkins and Darius Robinson each had pick-6 scores to help the Tigers to a 38-7 lead by halftime. Backup Cole Stoudt had three touchdown passes, two to reserve Germone Hopper, in the blowout. STANFORD 34, SAN JOSE STATE 13 In Stanford, Tyler Gaffney ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns in an impressive return after playing baseball in the minors last year, leading Stanford to a season-opening win. With career-rushing leader Stepfan Taylor in the NFL now, Gaffney made sure the defending Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champions kept the ground game going strong. The Cardinal scored on their first three possessions and forced prolific passer David Fales to toss short passes for little gain. Kevin Hogan threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns for Stanford in front of an announced sellout crowd of 50,424 - the largest since 50,425 showed up for Southern California in 2008. Stanford has won nine straight games. The Cardinal’s vaunted defense sacked Fales four times, held San Jose State (1-1) to 35 yards rushing

ATHENS: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (7) tackles Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray (11) during the first half of an NCAA football game. — AP for 314 yards with two TDs and two interceptions both to Blake Countess. His second came with with 1:29 left. Michigan has won four straight at home against the Irish. BYU 40, TEXAS 21 In Provo, Taysom Hill led a big night on the ground for BYU, rushing for 259 yards - secondmost in school history - and three touchdowns to help the Cougars beat Texas. Hill was masterful in guiding the team’s new read-option offense as the Cougars (1-1) rolled up 550 yards rushing, eclipsing a 55-year-old team record. It’s also the most yards rushing Texas (1-1) has ever allowed. The elusive Hill scored on runs of 68, 20 and 26 yards. He came close to breaking BYU’s single-game rushing record of 272 yards, a mark set by quarterback Eldon Fortie in 1962. Jamaal Williams had a career-high 182 yards and Paul Lasike added 87 along with a score. David Ash threw two TD passes to Mike Davis and Joe Bergeron had a short TD for Texas. OKLAHOMA 16, WEST VIRGINIA 7 In Norman, Brennan Clay had a career-high 170 yards rushing and Oklahoma overcame a secondhalf quarterback switch to beat West Virginia. The Sooners (2-0, 1-0 Big 12) scored the game’s final 16 points after trailing 7-0 in the first quarter. Freshman quarterback Trevor Knight threw a pair of third-quarter interceptions, leading to junior Blake Bell taking over in the fourth. Clay finished with 22 carries, leading an Oklahoma offense that had 316 yards rushing and topping his previous best of 157 yards against Iowa State in 2012. Paul Millard was 21-of-42 passing for 218 yards for the Mountaineers (1-1, 0-1), whose lone score came on a 75-yard touchdown run by Dreamius Smith in the first quarter.

UTSA (1-1) tied the score 7-7 when Kenny Bias scored on a 6-yard run with 4:22 left in the first quarter. But Walsh scored from 4 yards out in the second and the Cowboys led 35-7 at halftime. Walsh left with six minutes left in the third and the Cowboys up 42-7. Eric Soza threw three TDs in the fourth quarter for UTSA and finished 24 of 41 for 308 yards, with three interceptions.

NORTHWESTERN 48, SYRACUSE 27 In Evanston, Trevor Siemian threw for 259 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, and Kain Colter passed for a score and ran for another to lead Northwestern over Syracuse. Tony Jones added a personal-best 185 yards receiving and a 47-yard TD, and the Wildcats (2-0) racked up 581 yards on offense. They also intercepted Syracuse’s Drew Allen four times. Northwestern scored the game’s first 20 points and led 34-7 at the half after amassing 387 yards, with their quarterbacks picking apart Syracuse (0-2). They each completed 11 of 12 passes in the first half, and Colter seemed to be fine after suffering a concussion last week at California. He was 15 of 18 for 116 yards and ran for 87 yards. Allen was 27 of 41 with 279 yards, and the Orange will now try to pick themselves up against Wagner and Tulane before beginning Atlantic Coast Conference play against Clemson.

MICHIGAN 41, NOTRE DAME 30 In Ann Arbor, Devin Gardner threw four touchdown passes, including a victory-sealing connection to Drew Dileo with 4:18 left, and the dualthreat quarterback wearing No. 98 to honor Tom Harmon ran for a score to lead Michigan to a win in front of an NCAA-record crowd of 115,109. The Wolverines (2-0) had a pair of 14-point leads, but the Fighting Irish (1-1) refused to get routed. Notre Dame pulled within a TD early in the fourth quarter when defensive end Stephon Tuitt made a diving interception in the end zone. Kyle Brindza made a 40-yard field goal with 9:15 left to pull Notre Dame within four points. The Irish were called for pass interference twice on the ensuing drive and Gardner later took advantage with a 4-yard TD to Dileo. Tommy Rees Rees was 29 of 51

WISCONSIN 48, TENNESSEE TECH 0 In Madison, Melvin Gordon ran for 140 yards and a score, and Wisconsin’s overpowering defense got its second straight shutout with a win over FCS school Tennessee Tech. Joel Stave was 24 of 29 for 219 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, while defensive back Darius Hillary set the tone early by forcing a fumble that set up a score for the Badgers (2-0). The early-season tuneup went about as well as could be expected for first-year coach Gary Andersen, who’s breaking in a new 3-4 defense in Madison. Wisconsin had no problems against the Golden Eagles (1-1), whose spread offense got outmuscled by the bigger Badgers. Including Gordon, three backs went over 100 yards for the second straight game. Gordon accu-

MIAMI GARDENS: Miami’s Shayon Green sacks Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel in the third quarter of an NCAA football game. — AP LOUISVILLE 44, E. KENTUCKY 7 In Louisville, Teddy Bridgewater threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns, and Louisville routed Eastern Kentucky on a day the Cardinals’ defense just missed it second straight shutout. Linebacker Preston Brown had two sacks for Louisville, and Calvin Pryor had an interception as Louisville limited Eastern Kentucky (1-1) to 76 yards of total offense in the first half. Following the noon kickoff, Louisville (2-0) settled for a pair of field goals from John Wallace after turnovers gave the offense short fields. The Cardinals also settled for a third field goal in the third quarter despite reaching Eastern Kentucky’s 4. Bridgewater hit his first five passes and wound up 23 of 32 with no interceptions after throwing five touchdowns with one interception in the opener. He tossed TD passes to Damian Copeland, and two to DeVante Parker and Gerald Christian while connecting with eight different receivers. LSU 56, UAB 17 In Baton Rouge, Zach Mettenberger passed for an LSU single-game record five touchdowns, receiver Odell Beckham Jr. scored one of his four touchdowns on a 100-yard field goal return, and the

mulated all his stats in the first half on nine carries. He had more yards rushing by himself than Tennessee Tech had in total offense (83) at halftime. NEBRASKA 56, S. MISSISSIPPI 13 In Lincoln, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Ciante Evans returned first-quarter interceptions for touchdowns and Nebraska made quick work of Southern Mississippi in the victory. Taylor Martinez threw for three touchdowns and Ameer Abdullah ran for two more for the Cornhuskers (2-0), who now turn their attention to next week’s home game against No. 18 UCLA. Jean-Baptiste jumped in front of Rickey Bradley Jr. just as Allan Bridgford’s pass arrived on the third play of the game and ran it back 43 yards. Evans put the Huskers up 21-3 with the first of his two interceptions, catching a ball tipped by Tyre’oune Holmes and going 22 yards to the end zone. It was a solid rebound for a Nebraska defense that surrendered 602 yards in a 37-34 win over Wyoming last week. The Golden Eagles (0-2) lost their 14th straight, the longest current skid in the FBS. BAYLOR 70, BUFFALO 13 In Waco, Bryce Petty threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns, Lache Seastrunk ran for 150 yards with three scores and Baylor’s first-team offense had 576 total yards in only 11 minutes with the ball in a rout of Buffalo. The starters for the Bears (2-0) had eight touchdowns in their nine drives. The only non-scoring drive was when they had the ball at the end of the first half. Baylor finished with a school-record 781 total yards and topped the 69 points scored a week earlier in what had been the most for the Bears since 1929. Alex Neutz had six catches for a career-high 197 yards for Buffalo (0-2). Petty completed 13 of 16 passes, and two of his incompletions were balls caught but ruled out of bounds. He also ran for a score. TCU 38, SE LOUISIANA 17 In Fort Worth, Trevone Boykin led three straight scoring drives after starter Casey Pachall left with an injury game, and TCU pulled away from Southeastern Louisiana. Pachall appeared to injure his left arm or wrist at the end of a running play late in the second quarter. Boykin ran 16 yards on the next play, and Jaden Oberkrom ended the first half with a 46-yard field goal that put the Horned Frogs (1-1) ahead 17-14. Boykin completed a 29-yard pass to Brandon Carter on the first play of the second half, and Carter finished that drive with a 5-yard scoring run. Then Boykin threw 27 yards to Josh Doctson for a 31-14 lead. Bryan Bennett had 132 yards passing and another 132 rushing for the Lions (1-1), who had never scored more than 10 points in five games against BCS teams since bringing back football in 2003. WASHINGTON STATE 10, USC 7 In Los Angeles, Andrew Furney kicked a 41-yard field goal with 3:03 to play, and Washington State got its first victory at the Coliseum in 13 years. Damante Horton returned an interception 70 yards for a tying score in the final seconds of the first half for Washington State (1-1, 1-0 Pac-12), and he made the clinching interception with 2:18 to play in the Cougars’ first win over the Trojans anywhere since 2002. Dom Williams took Connor Halliday’s third-and-long screen pass 49 yards to the USC 30 with 51/2 minutes left to set up Furney’s tiebreaking kick. Horton then picked off Max Wittek’s pass to finish off USC (1-1, 0-1), which received loud boos throughout its Pac-12 opener. — AP



Lauda relives 1976 on the big screen MONZA: Niki Lauda long ago laid to rest the ghosts of 1976 but the physical scars will always be with him and he would not change that. The momentous and near-tragic events of that Formula One year, with the Austrian coming back from a fiery crash to battle Britain’s James Hunt for the title, will be relived in cinemas this month with the release of a new movie ‘Rush’. The film, directed by Oscar-winning Ron Howard (‘Apollo 13, ‘Cocoon’, ‘A Beautiful Mind’), chronicles the relationship and rivalry of the fast-living, womanising Hunt - the eventual champion for McLaren who died in 1993 - and Ferrari’s more clinical Lauda. Lauda has seen it three times, including a gala premiere in London last week, and is delighted the story is being re-told. “It really came across very well... I was impressed. The first time (actor Daniel) Bruhl turned up I said ‘He really talks like me’. I see myself there and he did a very good job,” he told Reuters in an interview. “I am the bad guy in the beginning. There is a lot of swearing. But this is two different guys fighting for a championship. This is the real movie.” The film has also made the triple world champion look at his own story in a different light, seeing himself through the eyes of others and experiencing some of their shock. Ambling through the Monza paddock in jeans, a trademark red cap covering the wounds of the past, Lauda draws barely a glance from Formula One regulars going about their business in the sunshine. It was very different in 1976, when he arrived at the Italian Grand Prix determined to race only six weeks after being severely burned at the Nuerburgring

and receiving the last rites from a priest. He had lost an ear and suffered scorched lungs as well as burns to his face and scalp in the accident, and the shock at Monza was palpable. “The scene was shown when Hunt comes to see me (in Monza), and Bruhl turns around. I said ‘Shit, did I really look that bad?’. But I did. He’s absolutely done it in a perfect way,” said the triple champion. “For me it was pretty simple (at the time)... I had to accept it. And that was it for me. But for other people, they couldn’t believe it,” recalled the Austrian, now the non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team. “At the time I got upset with those people when they never looked in my eyes... but in the movie, I was the spectator, on the other side. And I tell you, they were right.” The Austrian could have had cosmetic surgery but, apart from some reconstructive work on his eyelids, refused all offers. “The other day I was asked again ‘why did you never do an operation?’ To the woman I said ‘where the (expletive) do I find an ear?’ It’s a very simple answer,” he said matter-of-factly. “It is the way it is and what can I do?. “It’s the same when you are in a wheelchair. Nobody asks anybody to get up and walk. Sure, people change their tits and ass and whatever. In my case there could be something done but I wouldn’t. Because this is a fact of life and that’s it.” Lauda’s return at Ferrari’s home track, with his wounds still bandaged and raw, has been hailed as one of the greatest acts of individual courage in the history of the sport but that Monza race is now just ancient history to him. “No. I’ve been here so many times, it’s finished. I

live today and think of tomorrow. Take the experience,” he said. In the modern era, Lauda might never have been allowed to race but the 64-year-old, then as now, is not a man to take no for an answer even if only later did he admit how scared he was. “It was the most terrifying weekend,” he told Reuters. The Italians did not accept his Austrian medical papers, sending him instead to hospital for further checks. “I got so upset I said ‘listen, I am fighting my way here, I am fit, here is the proof from the doctors. I have eyesight and can hear, I can drive, I am fit.’ And those Italian idiots start all over again. So this really broke my balls,” he recalled. “I couldn’t work with the car, I couldn’t get used to whatever, the pressure I had on me. Can he race? Is he allowed to race? All this bullshit. Therefore on Friday, when I came here, I was stressed.” Lauda drove out of the pits and found he could not get the car into second gear. “I could not drive. But in Fiorano three days before I could. I said what the hell went wrong? I had to go back to the hotel, I left the circuit and the whole night I was thinking what did I do wrong?,” he said. “Then I made a simple decision. I came here on Saturday, it was qualifying, and I said I just drive. I don’t want to know any other people’s times. There was (Carlos) Reutemann and (Clay) Regazzoni in the team but I just kept on driving. I didn’t care. “I got going... and I was the quickest Ferrari.” The race threw more obstacles at him. The starting system had changed in his absence from a flag to lights and nobody had thought to tell him. And then it rained, the worst conditions for a man

whose eyelids had been burned. Despite that, Lauda finished fourth and the championship was back on. Hunt eventually won by a single point when Lauda parked up and walked away from a rain-hit race at Japan’s Fuji circuit. It is not a decision he regrets, even to this day. “To me it was clear. It was simple. The circuit was flooded. Flooded,” he said. “The rain did not stop for two hours and this idiot Japanese race director came and said the race is on now... this for me was the most stupid decision ever. I did one lap so that Ferrari gets the money and off I went. “For me it was logical. I think I would do the same thing again today.” In the film, Lauda is shown watching Hunt celebrate the title but in reality the Austrian had long gone, hearing the outcome as he headed for Tokyo. The rivalry, at a time when death at the wheel was an ever-present danger, was real but there was also a camaraderie off the track. Lauda feels the film does justice to that friendship. “We were enemies in the way that he was in a competitive car, the most competitive driver. There was no question that James was (expletive) quick. And this was my worry so we had to fight. But, sure, we respected each other,” he said. “I was more focused. I had to be to beat him. I had some fun too but not as bad as him. He always did everything before the race, I did it after the race,” smiled Lauda. “In the beginning of the season, when I was winning six races out of eight, I had a beer with him and I made jokes about him. But, after coming back here, there were no more jokes.” — Reuters

Clarke century inspires Australia to huge victory

MONZA: Red Bull Racing’s German driver Sebastian Vettel celebrates on the podium at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit after winning the Italian Formula One Grand Prix. —AFP

Vettel wins Italian GP MONZA: Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel won the Italian Grand Prix at a canter yesterday to move 53 points clear of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in the Formula One championship after six victories from 12 races. The triple champion, who celebrated his 32nd career win and third at Monza to boos from Ferrari fans, led from pole position with the possibility of rain - which never came - looking more of a threat than his rivals. Alonso finished runner-up - 5.4 seconds behind - with Red Bull’s Mark Webber, who is leaving Formula One at the end of the season, taking third place in his final grand prix on European soil to deny Ferrari’s Felipe Massa a place on the podium.It was Webber’s first appearance on the Monza podium. Vettel now has 222 points to Alonso’s 169, with Lewis Hamilton — last year’s Italian GP winner who finished ninth for Mercedes at the fastest circuit on the calendar — on 141 with seven races remaining. “Fantastic race,” said Vettel in a podium interview with former Ferrari champion John Surtees, to boos and whistles from the massed ranks of Ferrari faithful who flooded the pit straight with their red flags and shirts. “But you can hear the difference when you don’t win here in a red suit,” added the German, who had to manage a tyre problem in his first stint and mechanical worries in the closing laps. “We had problems with the gearboxes at the end, but I was OK because I had a good cushion and it was a fantastic win.” Vettel took the first victory of his F1 career at Monza for Toro Rosso, an Italian team,

and Sunday’s reception was far less enthusiastic with Alonso left in no doubt that he was the crowd’s hero. “Second place is good, to have this podium ceremony which is the most spectacular podium of the year. Hopefully we’ll come back next year and have first place,” said the Spaniard, who had started in fifth place and behind Massa. “I think we extracted the maximum from the car,” added Alonso, who has stood on the Monza podium in all of his four years with Ferrari. The Brazilian, who was second at the end of the first lap with Alonso fourth, did his duty and let Alonso through without a fuss on lap eight once the Spaniard had passed Webber with a bold move that clipped the Red Bull’s front wing. Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg was fifth for Sauber with compatriot Nico Rosberg sixth for Mercedes and Australian Daniel Ricciardo seventh for Toro Rosso. France’s Romain Grosjean was eighth for Lotus, with Britain’s Jenson Button 10th to take a point for McLaren on a weekend in which the Woking team celebrating their 50th anniversary. Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen, who ended a 27-race streak in the points with a retirement in Belgium last month, had a first lap collision and suffered his second successive grand prix without a point after finishing 11th. Britain’s Paul Di Resta retired on the first lap after a collision with Grosjean while Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne was the only other retirement for Toro Rosso in a race low on thrills and spills. — Reuters Preview

No margin for error as Ukraine meet England LONDON: England have their World Cup qualifying fate in their own hands as they prepare to visit Ukraine for a pivotal Group H match in Kiev but the balance will switch the home side’s way if they chalk up a fifth successive group win tomorrow. England moved to the top of the standings when they beat a poor Moldova side 4-0 at Wembley on Friday but an otherwise straightforward victory was marred by a needless booking for in-form striker Danny Welbeck, ruling him out of tomorrow’s game. His absence could cost England dearly against Ukraine, who earned their biggest ever win by beating San Marino 9-0 on Friday to stay just one point behind England with both teams having three matches to play. England top the group with 15 points from seven games, followed by Montenegro (15 from eight) and Ukraine (14 from seven), with Poland, fourth on 10 points, retaining an outside chance of qualification In the circumstances, there is little margin for error for either side and a draw will feel like a positive result for England who finish their campaign with home games against Montenegro and Poland in October. Ukraine finish with a home match against Poland and a visit to San Marino. The pressure on England, micro-monitored by a fevered

media, to avoid defeat is enormous, and their cause will not be helped by Welbeck’s absence, especially as three other strikers — Wayne Rooney, Andy Carroll and Daniel Sturridge — are all out injured. The main scoring responsibility looks as though it will fall to Southampton striker Rickie Lambert, 31, who has netted in his two matches for England after making his belated debut against Scotland last month and scoring again against Moldova. Manager Roy Hodgson can call on the experienced Jermain Defoe, who has scored 19 times in his 54 appearances, but whoever plays in attack will rely on chances created from midfield where Michael Carrick could return. The Manchester United midfielder missed Friday’s match, but could replace Chelsea’s Frank Lampard, who is in line to win his 100th cap, or Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere in a trio anchored by captain Steven Gerrard. England won 1-0 in Donetsk the last time the sides met in Ukraine during Euro 2012 and needed a late Lampard penalty to force a 1-1 draw when they played the reverse qualifier at Wembley a year ago this week. Since then Ukraine have improved considerably under coach Mykhaylo Fomenko, winning their last four qualifiers with an unbeaten run of eight in all matches over the last 11 months. —Reuters

MANCHESTER: Captain Michael Clarke blasted a magnificent 105 as Australia outplayed England in all departments to beat the hosts by 88 runs in the second one-day international at Old Trafford yesterday and go 1-0 up in the series. Australia had set a challenging target of 316, driven by Clarke’s 155-run partnership with George Bailey (82) against below-par bowling from England, who also struggled to get going with the bat and were bowled out for 227. “All the boys deserve a lot of credit, the way we played. I think to make over 300 on that wicket was a pretty good score,” Clarke said during his man-of-the-match presentation. “(It was a) pretty good wicket batting first and our bowlers executed really well ... We are off to a great start which is really pleasing.” England, who won the test series 3-0 last month, lost the last two post-Ashes one-day series in 2009 and 2010-11 and a battling 75 from Jos Buttler was the main positive to reflect on as they seek to avoid a repeat with three matches remaining. “It’s very disappointing but I think we can learn a lot from today,” England captain Eoin Morgan said. “We struggled to cope with conditions and adjusting to conditions early with both bat and ball.” The hosts, who rested some of their top Ashes performers, won the toss and chose to bowl on a sunny early morning start after the first one-dayer at Headingley was rained off but did not put up much of a fight as Australia piled on the runs following a bad start. Opener Shaun Marsh fell for a duck to the fourth delivery of the day and Shane Watson almost went first ball before surviving after a review on an lbw decision. Watson was not so lucky second time round when England called a review of their own and he was given out for 38. The Hotspot technology did not show any contact between the bat and Ravi Bopara’s delivery, caught by Buttler, but the loud thud that accompanied Watson’s swipe was enough to change the umpire’s original call. Opener Aaron Finch made 45 off 45 balls before Joe Root caught him at long on. Bailey’s fine innings, which included five fours and four sixes, ended when he was caught by James Tredwell off Bopara as the skies above Old Trafford darkened. “He played really well,” Clarke said of Bailey. “George has been hitting the ball really well for a long time now, especially in this form of the game.” Clarke found the gaps with ease as he stroked 14 boundaries while notching up 105, his eighth one-day century, from just 102 balls. England’s bowlers finally made an impression when Boyd Rankin took the wickets of Clarke and Matthew Wade (0) with successive deliveries. James Faulkner was out for 18 in the final over as Australia posted an imposing total of 315 for seven wickets. The threat of rain at Old Trafford eased but the black clouds gathered for England as their reply began with the early dismissals of opener Michael Carberry (4) and Jonathan Trott (0) after some excellent bowling from fast bowler Mitchell Johnson. They were then steadied by a

LONDON: England’s Eoin Morgan (left) bats during the second One Day International (ODI) cricket match between England and Australia at Old Trafford. — AFP 60 from the experienced Kevin Pietersen, selected despite recent knee problems, before he drove Watson’s delivery to Faulkner to break up what had been a promising partnership with Morgan. Shortly after Australia had claimed the prize wicket of Pietersen, Bopara was caught and bowled by Adam Voges for one to plunge England deeper into trouble on 103 for five. Captain Morgan brought up his 18th one-day half century to give his side a glimmer of hope but it was snuffed out as he fell for 54 when he sliced Clint McKay to Clarke. Two more wickets fell quickly with Ben Stokes (5) caught by Bailey off McKay and Tredwell (1)

run out and while Buttler fought on to 75, his fifty sealed with a thumping six, he could not prevent the inevitable as the tail fell away following his dismissal. McKay posted Australia’s best bowling figures with 3-47 but it was Johnson, left out of the Ashes squad but perhaps now putting himself into contention for the return test series later this year, who caught the eye with the new ball. “It’s great to see him back bowling well, swinging the new ball as well which is a bonus for us. It’s the start of a big series for Mitch,” Clarke said. The third one-day international is at Edgbaston on Wednesday. — Reuters

SCOREBOARD MANCHESTER, England: Final scoreboard in the second one-day international between England and Australia at Old Trafford yesterday: Australia S. Marsh c Buttler b Finn 0 A. Finch c Root b Tredwell 45 S. Watson c Buttler b Bopara 38 M. Clarke c Buttler b Rankin 105 G. Bailey c Tredwell b Bopara 82 A. Voges not out 16 M. Wade b Rankin 0 J. Faulkner c Morgan b Finn 18 M. Johnson not out 6 Extras (b1, lb1, w2, nb1) 5 Total (7 wkts, 50 overs) 315 Fall of wickets: 0-1 (Marsh), 2-60 (Watson), 3-116 (Finch), 4-271 (Bailey), 5-283 (Clarke), 6-283 (Wade), 7-308 (Faulkner) Did not bat: C McKay, F Ahmed Bowling: Finn 10-1-68-2 (1w); Rankin 10-0-49-2; Stokes 10-0-66-0; Bopara 10-0-57-2 (1nb, 1w); Tredwell 8-0-60-1; Root 2-013-0;

England K. Pietersen c Faukner b Watson 60 M. Carberry c Clarke b Johnson 4 J. Trott c Wade b Johnson 0 J. Root b Faulkner 3 E. Morgan c Clarke b McKay 54 R. Bopara c and b Voges 1 J. Buttler c Johnson b Ahmed 75 B. Stokes c Bailey b McKay 5 J. Tredwell run out (Clarke/Faulkner) 1 S. Finn c Voges b McKay 16 B. Rankin not out 1 Extras (lb1, w6) 7 Total (all out, 44.2 overs) 227 Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Carberry), 2-9 (Trott), 3-38 (Root), 4-97 (Pietersen), 5-103 (Bopara), 6-154 (Morgan), 7167 (Stokes), 8-169 (Tredwell), 9-216 (Buttler), 10-227 (Finn) Bowling: McKay 9.2-1-47-3; Johnson 10-2-36-2 (3w); Faulkner 8-1-39-1; Voges 6-0-32-1 (3w); Ahmed 7-0-55-1; Watson 4-1-17-1; Result: Australia won by 88 runs.

Five more teams reach African qualifying playoffs CAPE TOWN: Cape Verde Islands pulled off another big upset by landing a 2-0 victory in Tunisia to become one of five group winners to advance on Saturday to the last phase of Africa’s World Cup qualifying. Burkina Faso and Ethiopia also came through suspense-filled matches to book their places and were accompanied by heavyweights Nigeria and Senegal. The five countries now compete over the next two months in playoff games to determine Africa’s representatives for next year’s finals in Brazil. Algeria, Egypt and Ivory Coast secured their berths back in June, Ghana did so on Friday and the last remaining place will be decided on Sunday when Cameroon host Libya with the home team needing a draw and the visitors a win. The draw for the playoffs is in Cairo on Sept. 16. First-half goals from Platini, who takes his name from the former France captain, and Heldon produced a giant-killing Group B result in Tunis for one of Africa’s smallest countries who began the year

with a shock run to the Nations Cup quarter-finals. Tunisia had needed only a draw to go through. Burkina Faso, surprise runners-up at the Nations Cup, completed a stunning comeback after losing their opening two games as they edged Congo to the top spot in Group E. Congo had led by a point but were held 2-2 in Niger despite drafting tall centre back Christopher Samba into their defence. It opened the door for the Burkinabe to overtake them and Prejuce Nakoulma scored nine minutes into the second half to earn a 1-0 home win over Gabon that took them to 12 points, one more than Congo. Ethiopia were on their way out of the competition at halftime against the Central African Republic but rallied to win 2-1 in neutral Brazzaville and finish top of Group A. It was a relief for Ethiopia who were previously stripped of three points when soccer’s ruling body FIFA found them guilty of using a suspended player. The deduction left them needing to win on

Saturday to stop South Africa snatching a dramatic lifeline. South Africa were 2-0 up at home to Botswana at halftime and Ethiopia down by a goal, which would have seen the 2010 World Cup hosts through on goal difference. But second-half goals for Ethiopia by Saladin Seid and Minyahile Teshome left South Africa crestfallen despite their 4-1 triumph in Durban. Nigeria and Senegal needed home draws to win their respective groups but won to emphasise their superiority. Emmanuel Emenike, returning after an eight-month injury absence, opened the scoring for Nigeria and Victor Moses added a second-half penalty as the African champions beat Malawi 2-0 in rainy Calabar to finish first in Group F. Sadio Mane netted six minutes from time as Senegal defeated Uganda 1-0 in a scrappy Group J match played in neutral Marrakech. Uganda had Godfrey Walusimbi sent off in the first half for a wild tackle. — Reuters

Hurricanes give ACC another win over SEC



Clarke century inspires Australia to huge victory


Wrestling back for Tokyo Games after IOC vote win

Page 18


Djokovic overcomes Wawrinka in five sets NEW YORK: World number one Novak Djokovic and number two Rafa Nadal set up a mouthwatering men’s singles final at the US Open with victories in the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows on Saturday. Today’s US Open championship showdown will be the third in four years for Djokovic and Nadal at the US National Tennis Center after they advanced in contrasting fashion. Top seed Djokovic sealed his berth first by overtaking gutsy ninth seed Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in a heartpounding 2-6 7-6(4) 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory over four hours. Nadal conserved his energy, dismissing eighth-seeded Richard Gasquet 6-4 7-6(1) 6-2 to improve his career record to 11-0 against the Frenchman and his 2013 hardcourt record to 21-0. The Spaniard, winner of 12 grand slam titles, won his only US Open crown in 2010 against Djokovic, who claimed his Flushing Meadows title the following year against Nadal. Last year Djokovic was runnerup to Briton Andy Murray. “Last year I didn’t have the chance to play on this court,” said Nadal, who was sidelined seven months due to a knee injury. “To have the chance to play in the final Monday is just a dream for me. It has been two amazing weeks for me.” Djokovic and Nadal are the most familiar of rivals and will be playing against each other for a tour record 37th time. Nadal leads their series 21-15. “Novak is an amazing competitor,” said the reigning French Open champion. “His results say he is probably one of the best players I have ever seen. He’s a great champion and will be a tough final for me, but I hope to be ready for that.” While Nadal took apart Gasquet in his semi-final, Djokovic got off to a slow start against an inspired Wawrinka and relied on his stamina to wear down the Swiss. The tumultuous match included a warning for courtside coaching from Djokovic’s box, the mangling of a racket by a frustrated Wawrinka and a medical timeout for the Swiss for a strained thigh muscle. It reached a crescendo at 1-1 in the fifth set on Wawrinka’s serve. The combatants locked into a marathon duel that lasted 21 minutes and featured a series of fierce rallies and brilliant shot-making. Wawrinka fought off five break points among 12 deuces before closing out the game on the 30th point with a service winner, and players earned warm ovations for their desire and skill. “These matches are what we live for, what we practise for,” Djokovic said after reaching his fourth successive US Open final. “All the credit to (Wawrinka) for being so aggressive and playing so well. I’m just fortunate to play my best tennis when

NEW YORK: Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic plays a point against Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka during their 2013 US Open menís semifinals match. — AFP I needed to.” Djokovic said he had to regroup after that epic game. “Twenty-one minutes. Wow,” said the Serb. “I was thinking whoever wins this game is going to win the match. I told myself I was going to have to fight again.” The Herculean effort seemed to sap the last bit of energy from Wawrinka, who had earlier left the court for treatment of a thigh strain during the changeover when trailing 4-1 in the fourth set. Djokovic held serve, then broke Wawrinka in the next game for a 3-2 lead and served out to win another classic encounter between the pair following their five-set struggle in the fourth round of the Australian Open, where the Serb

closed out the decisive set 12-10. “It was a great tournament for me,” said Wawrinka after his first grand slam semi-final. “Tough match, tough loss. I gave everything. I fought until the end. With this crowd, it was an amazing experience.” Czech pair Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka capped off Saturday’s programme by winning the women’s doubles title with a 6-7(4) 6-1 6-4 win over Australians Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua. World number one Serena Williams will take on number two Victoria Azarenka for the women’s singles title late yesterday in a tantalising rematch of last year’s championship decider. — Reuters

Nadal targets crown for glorious comeback NEW YORK: Rafael Nadal will attempt to crown the year’s most compelling comeback when he meets world number one Novak Djokovic for the 37th time in Monday’s US Open final. Twelve months ago, the swashbuckling Spaniard, who will be playing in his 18th Grand Slam final, sat at home in Manacor, nursing his troublesome knees and fearing his career may be finished at just 26. But after seven months out of the sport, Nadal has been a revelation. He has won nine titles, including a record eighth French Open, taking his Grand Slam haul to 12, stacked up a 59-3 victory run as well as a perfect stretch of 21 wins on hard courts. “With no doubt he’s the best player this year, no question,” said Djokovic. Nadal leads Australian Open champion Djokovic 21-15 in a career rivalry that began at Roland Garros in 2006. Their 37th meeting will be a record on head-to-head meetings, beating the 36 duels that John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl fought in their careers. Nadal has won five of the last six meetings, a stretch which started after Djokovic won their epic 2012 Australian Open final, played out over a gruelling five hours and 53 minutes. One of Nadal’s wins was in a pulsating French Open semi-final in June where Djokovic led 4-2 in the final set before Nadal hit back to keep the Serb still waiting for a maiden title in Paris. Both men will be chasing their second title in New YorkDjokokic was champion in 2011, beating the Spaniard the year after Nadal completed his career Grand Slam in the city by seeing off the Serb. Despite his mastery over the Serb, Nadal admitted he would have been happier to see someone else on the other side of the net today. “I prefer to play against another one, but it is what it is,” said Nadal. “I want to play against a player where I have more chances to win. But I played against him a lot of times. Always we played very exciting matches. “When you are involved in these kind of matches, you feel special. Even if I lost that final in Australia, I feel happy to be involved in that match.” Djokovic is playing in a fourth successive US Open final, fifth in total and 12th major championship of his career. He made the final by edging Stanislas Wawrinka in a five-set semi-final in what was his 14th consecutive run to the last four at a Grand Slam. — AFP

Business MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2013

Bargain hunters lift most regional mkts Page 22 India central bank chief may face short honeymoon Page 25

Kuwait must seize ways to restructure debt

Flush with more cash, Norway ponders use of petro-kroner Page 26 Page 23

THESSALONIKI: Thousands of workers protest against austerity measures and the layoff of public workers in Thessaloniki. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said he was confident of his country’s economic growth in 2014 after six years of recession, mainly due to austerity measures put in place to deal with the Greek debt crisis. — AFP

Greece to get more EU aid to cut debt: PM EU sees room for improvement on Cyprus reforms ATHENS: Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said yesterday he did not rule out Greece receiving more European aid, and hoped it could return to the bond markets in 2014 to plug a gap in the national finances. Samaras told Greek daily Ethnos that the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had pledged in 2012 to provide additional assistance if it was needed, as long as Greece stuck to its commitments. These include recording a budget surplus, which Samaras has said Greece is on course to achieve in 2013. “Last November’s agreement with our creditors states that... if Greece needs to fill a financial gap in the coming years, then on condition that it abides by its commitments, there will be a sort of supplementary aid,” he said. Greece has received massive rescue funding, tied to tough conditions, from the EU and the IMF to help it overcome a debt crisis which threatened the eurozone.

Athens has not issued long-term debt since 2010 and currently only places treasury bills of up to six months to help it stay afloat between payments from its bailout. Asked whether Greece would be able to access the long-term bond markets in 2014, the conservative prime minister replied, “of course”. In a speech Saturday, the Greek prime minister said the budget surplus had reached 1.1 billion euros ($1.45 billion) in the first seven months of 2013, amid signs that the extremely deep recession is easing. However, Greek national debt currently stands at 321 billion euros, and is expected to reach 176 percent of Gross Domestic Product by the end of 2013. Meanwhile, the European Commission believes Cyprus is making progress in its reform programme, but still sees room for improvement, German weekly Der Spiegel reported Sunday, quoting a leaked EU report. “In all major areas, Cyprus has begun to meet its

commitments within the aid programme. But progress has been mixed particularly in the areas of budgetary measures and structural reforms,” the magazine quoted the report as saying. Cyprus secured a bailout deal worth 10 billion euros ($13 billion) in March, in return for which the government had to impose draconian reforms. The report was compiled after experts from the Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund undertook an examination of Nicosia’s reforms. The so-called “troika” complained that Cyprus had announced “a number of political initiatives that would increase spending without first consulting” its creditors, Der Spiegel said in an article to appear in Monday’s edition. For example, customers of Cypriot banks have been promised tax breaks if they repatriate capital held abroad, generating additional costs for the state. The report said Nicosia must inform the troika of any such measures in advance. — AFP

NBK among world’s safest banks

NBK’s CEO Ibrahim Dabdoub

KUWAIT: Before banks, people in the Gulf used to keep their savings stuffed inside their mattresses or commodified in gold. While some still prefer gold as a retirement fund, the vast majority of us turn to our local financial institutions to secure our savings, invest our money and handle our financial transactions. But trust in banks took a hit during the 2008 US subprime debacle and the global financial crisis. The recent wave of European sovereign debt crises and the Arab Spring turmoil only added to the doubt. There are, however, a select few banks that remain stable and secure despite the global and regional financial turmoil. These have been recognized for their fiscal solidity, financial stability and asset quality and once again National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) is the one and only Kuwaiti bank that ranks among the top 50 safest banks in the world. For the last eight years in a row, NBK, or the bank you know and trust as its slogan says, has been listed as one of the World’s 50 Safest Banks by Global Finance, the premier financial publication. Global Finance’s annual ranking of the World’s 50 Safest Banks has been a recognized and trusted standard of creditworthiness for the entire financial world for more than 20 years. “Our conservative culture ensures our stability,” said NBK’s Group CEO Ibrahim Dabdoub.”Even in times of financial turmoil, NBK shines because of our conservative approach, prudent risk management and strategic leadership. We take risks - but cautious, conservative and calcu-

lated ones that pay off. Our solidity and stability are proof that our recipe for success works. This has been recognized by maintaining the highest credit rating from Moody’s, Fitch and S&P,” he added. Established in 1952, NBK has weathered the troubled times with remarkable ease. It remains the dominant bank in Kuwait, with assets of $58 billion as of 2012, market share of more than 30% in all business lines and the largest branch network in the country. NBK operates in 16 countries on four continents and has grown its regional franchise with associates, branches or subsidiary banks in Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and UAE. European banks grabbed the top 10 spots on the World’s 50 safest banks but German, Canadian and US banks dominated overall, each with six banks making the list. Global Finance ranks banks based on an evaluation of long-term credit ratings and total assets of the 500 largest banks worldwide. The evaluation is based on reports from the top three credit ratings agencies’ - Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch. NBK has consistently been awarded the highest credit ratings by all three agencies. “This ranking offers companies an objective tool for evaluating the world’s banks-both globally and by region,” says Global Finance publisher Joseph D. Giarraputo. “Those institutions that top our ranking of the Safest Banks continue to show strength in trying times. NBK is an exceptional bank in the GCC and a real regional and international player.”



Abu Dhabi employees in fix over losing Dubai life ABU DHABI/DUBAI: When American Stephen Perry lost his job at a bank in Dubai following the emirate’s debt crisis in 2009, he was lucky to be hired by one of neighbouring Abu Dhabi’s government firms. He didn’t move house, so it didn’t disrupt his wife’s job or the kids’ schooling, despite the daily 130-kilometre (80 mile) commute each way. That was still better than the nearly 200 kms he used to put up with in the United States, and he considered it a price worth paying to keep the liberal, cosmopolitan lifestyle in Dubai. But now Perry is in a dilemma and might not be able to manage the commute after all. Last September, Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven Gulf emirates, told state employees that if they lived outside its city limits they would not be eligible for housing allowance, which accounts for about a third of their salaries. The government has said the new rule was aimed at cutting traffic and road accidents, a nod to the risk of commuting on the busy desert highway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. But analysts and industry experts say the policy is designed to help absorb a glut of new high-end homes in Abu Dhabi and revive

state developers such as bailed-out Aldar. “Many new units have come up in Abu Dhabi, reaching the peak of its development cycle. The move is to create new demand and make sure the vacancy rates don’t reach high levels,” said Matthew Green, research head at property consultancy C.B. Richard Ellis in Dubai. The Abu Dhabi government declined to comment on the rulings implications for the property market.About 10,000 new houses are expected to hit the market by the end of the year, with a further 43,000 by the end of 2015. With Dubai’s property market still yet to fully recover from the crisis, Abu Dhabi’s attempt to boost its own struggling real estate sector once again highlights the competition and shifting dynamics between the two tiny sheikhdoms. Oil-rich Abu Dhabi is keen to keep more of the wealth it generates, rather than having to support its flashy neighbour. Dubai’s passion for tall towers and fancy hotels landed the emirate with massive debts, forcing Abu Dhabi to step in with a $20 billion bailout. Home to the world’s largest shopping mall, the tallest building and a palmshaped artificial island, Dubai, the Middle

With the rule set to be implemented at the end of this month, people are fearful they will have to move if it is strictly enforced. Some have asked their employers for exemptions. “The commuting and accidents argument is convenient. It was never about roads,” said one western executive working for an Abu Dhabi government department. “A home is an emotional issue. You can’t tell someone where to live. There ought to be some give and take.” The Abu Dhabi government said some exceptions could be made, but declined to elaborate. “The circular is binding on all Abu Dhabi government employees. Nonetheless, special cases that require exception will be considered and assessed. Appropriate decisions will be made to each case separately,” it said in a statement. In the meantime, employees’ attempts to work around the rule are fuelling a recovery in Abu Dhabi’s rental market, with people taking out leases on studios and onebedroom apartments to prove residency on paper while continuing to live in Dubai. “My spouse has a job in Dubai, our kids are at a crucial stage of high school. I’ve taken up a studio in Abu Dhabi that swallows up half my rental allowance,” said one gov-

East’s party capital, has a 90-percent expatriate population. “Dubai has something for everyone, and for an expatriate like me it is home; I don’t feel out of place. I think I am echoing the sentiments of many expatriates,” said Sandra Haddad, a Lebanese national who works in Abu Dhabi’s aviation sector. While Abu Dhabi is trying to shake off its more staid image by hosting an annual Formula One race and developing branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums, Dubai remains a bigger draw for shoppers and tourists. Dubai’s restaurants, hotels and nightclubs have helped it stage a gradual recovery, in contrast to Abu Dhabi, which is still struggling to emerge from the crisis. Lower rents, better schools and hospitals make Dubai more expat-friendly, and thousands commute from there to Abu Dhabi for work. Precise figures for the number of Abu Dhabi government employees living outside the emirate have not been released, but analysts have estimated it at roughly 15,000-20,000. Including family members, that would mean around 50,000 people could be affected by the change of rules on housing allowance.

ernment employee. Rents for studios and one-bedroom apartments have jumped by 25 percent in areas such as Khalifa city on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, according to Mahmoud Hussain, a manager with property consultants Cluttons. Dubai, on the other hand, will lose out if its current residents move or spend less time in the emirate, analysts said. Overall, prime residential rents in Abu Dhabi grew 8 percent in the first quarter this year and remained stable in the second. “This can partly be attributed to the government regulations to reduce the level of commuting from Dubai,” said David Dudley, regional director of Jones Lang LaSalle, adding other factors such as government spending may have also contributed. But some are sceptical that the new rule will have much impact. “Not everyone is going to make the move, so rush hour traffic won’t decrease, nor will we see a surge in demand for homes in Abu Dhabi, at least in the short term,” said an executive of an Abu Dhabi government-owned entity, who declined to be named. “We have to be civilised and make exceptions based on the merits of the case,” he said. —Reuters

Bargain hunters lift most regional mkts Syria shadow remains DUBAI: Dubai’s shares led a regional recovery yesterday as bargain hunters returned to pick up stocks battered over the last two weeks but the spectre of a possible military strike on Syria ensured trading remained volatile. Dubai’s index climbed 1.5 percent, rallying from a two-month low and snapping a four-session losing streak which had seen the bourse lose 10.1 percent of its value. The retail-dominated market continued its recent volatile trading pattern, with investors holding stocks for shorter periods given the higher risk premium created by the geopolitical overhang. Frothy mid-cap shares that were hardest hit in the recent selling led gainers; Union Properties and Air Arabia climbed 4.1 and 4.3 percent respectively. “The only reason behind the sell off was political, which is not sustainable,” Mohammad Omran, president of Riyadh-based private firm Gulf Centre for Financial Consultancy, said about Gulf markets.” “There are opportunities in the market that are attracting buyers because the strike on Syria could

sell-off. Sunday’s buying demand was muted in comparison and any recovery will be fragile unless trading volumes increase. “If the attack takes place, the market could react in funny ways and rally,” said John Sfakianakis, chief investment strategist at Saudi investment firm MASIC. “You could have people saying OK, the event has happened so the uncertainty has lessened. Once we are done with this, there will be upside potential because local fundamentals are still solid.” Gains in petrochemical shares, with the index 0.3 percent higher, were offset by declines in banks the sector measure declined 0.5 percent. Higher oil prices are supporting petrochemical stocks. U.S. crude oil futures settled on Friday at their highest level in more than two years. Saudi petrochemical stocks tend to track oil prices, with crude impacting their bottom line. In Egypt, the index added 0.3 percent, with a handful of stocks helping lift the bourse. Heavyweight Commercial International Bank climbed 1 percent. Locals were net buyers,

take some time.” US President Barack Obama is waiting for a pivotal Congressional vote for a limited strike on Syria, while European Union foreign ministers have urged Washington to wait for a report from United Nations weapons inspectors before making any military response.. The detailed report from the UN is expected in a week; final votes in Congress could come after the UN report is announced. Shares in heavyweight lender Emirates NBD surged 6.8 percent after four sessions of losses. Analysts say investors are more likely to rotate investments into bluechip shares during periods of political uncertainty. Abu Dhabi’s measure bucked the regional trend, slipping 0.3 percent to its lowest finish since June 26. Elsewhere, Kuwait’s bourse snapped a 10-session losing streak, rising 0.3 percent. Qatar’s index advanced 0.6 percent, halting a four-session drop and recovering from a 10-week low. In Saudi Arabia, the measure ended flat near Thursday’s twomonth low after giving back the day’s gains. Market turnover was relatively high during the recent

according to bourse data. HIGHLIGHTS DUBAI The index rose 1.5 percent to 2,371 points. ABU DHABI The index slipped 0.3 percent to 3,528 points. KUWAIT The index gained 0.3 percent to 7,238 points. QATAR The index climbed 0.6 percent to 9,258 points.

is expected to run for 33 months, it said in a statement on Saturday. Each of the four towers which make up ‘DAMAC Towers by Paramount’ will rise over 250 metres and will feature 540 hotel rooms and over 1,400 service apartments. The development is in the Burj area of Dubai, close to the Burj Khalifa. Developers in Dubai are reviving stalled projects and announcing new ones as the emirate’s

Gulf Bank’s Al Danah daily draws winners

SAUDI ARABIA The index ticked up 0.02 percent to 7,636 points. EGYPT The index gained 0.3 percent to 5,186 points. OMAN The index advanced 0.6 percent to 6,452 points. BAHRAIN The index ticked up 0.06 percent to 1,182 points. —Reuters

DAMAC awards $272m hotel contract to TAV DUBAI: Private UAE developer DAMAC Properties has awarded the Dubai branch of Turkey’s TAV Construction a one-billion-dirham ($272.3 million) contract to build a luxury hotel complex near the world’s tallest building, the company said. The deal with TAV Tepe Afken Investment Construction and Operations, described as the largest single contract to be awarded by DAMAC,

NEW YORK: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) during morning trading in New York City. The Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 were all up slightly in morning trading. —AFP

property market recovers gradually after prices tumbled by 50 percent in 2008. DAMAC has announced a series of projects over the last few months including a new golf course along with American real-estate mogul Donald Trump. Sources told Reuters in April that the developer had submitted requests to leading international banks for a possible listing of its shares. —Reuters

Al Danah’s 3rd Quarterly draw will be held on - 26 September (KD500,000, KD125,000, and KD25,000) and the final draw will be held on 9 January, 2014 announcing winners of KD50,000, KD250,000 and the Al Danah Millionaire. Gulf Bank’s Al Danah allows customers to win cash prizes and simultaneously encourages them to save money. Chances increase the more money is deposited and the longer it is kept in the account. Al Danah also offers a number of unique services including the Al Danah Deposit Only ATM card which helps account holders deposit their money at their convenience; as well as the Al Danah calculator to help customers calculate their chances of becoming an Al Danah winner. To be part of the Al Danah draws, customers can visit one of Gulf Bank’s 56 branches, transfer on line, or call the Customer Contact Center for assistance and guidance. Customers can also log on to, to find out more about Al Danah and who the winners are

KUWAIT: Gulf Bank held its Al Danah daily draws on September 1st 2013, announcing the names of its winners for the week of August 25th to August 29th. The Al Danah daily draws include draws each working day for two prizes of KD1000 per winner. The winners were: (Sunday 25/8): Adel Abdulla Mohammed Al-Houti, Bader Ahmad Hussain Qabazard. (Monday 26/8): Mohammed Hassan Diab Mohammed, Osama Mahmoud AbdulMajeed Awadh ( Tuesday 27/8): Amal Kadem Salem Othman, Abdullah Hassan Abdullah AlShatti. ( Wednesday 28/8): Karemah Fahed Abdulaziz Al-Fulaij, Hanan Abdullah Eisa AlYousifi. ( Thursday 29/8): Ahmed Sayed Abdulwahab Al-Nakib, Saoud Ahmoud Mejbel Al-Hilal. Gulf Bank’s Al Danah 2013 draw lineup includes daily draws (2 winners per working day each receive KD1000), as well as three draw prizes per quarter.

EXCHANGE RATES Al-Muzaini Exchange Co. Japanese Yen Indian Rupees Pakistani Rupees Srilankan Rupees Nepali Rupees Singapore Dollar Hongkong Dollar Bangladesh Taka Philippine Peso Thai Baht Irani Riyal Irani Riyal Saudi Riyal Qatari Riyal Omani Riyal Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham

ASIAN COUNTRIES 2.866 4.383 2.721 2.141 2.738 224.590 36.806 3.664 6.417 8.817 0.271 0.273 GCC COUNTRIES 76.150 78.463 741.720 758.470 77.769

ARAB COUNTRIES Egyptian Pound - Cash 41.650 Egyptian Pound - Transfer 40.920 Yemen Riyal/for 1000 1.332 Tunisian Dinar 173.050 Jordanian Dinar 403.260 Lebanese Lira/for 1000 1.916 Syrian Lier 3.102 Morocco Dirham 34.392 EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer 285.450 Euro 378.220 Sterling Pound 448.440 Canadian dollar 273.290 Turkish lira 137.970 Swiss Franc 305.780 Australian Dollar 262.610 US Dollar Buying 284.250 20 Gram 10 Gram 5 Gram

GOLD 273.000 133.000 69.000

UAE Exchange Centre WLL COUNTRY Australian Dollar Canadian Dollar Swiss Franc Euro US Dollar Sterling Pound Japanese Yen Bangladesh Taka Indian Rupee Sri Lankan Rupee Nepali Rupee Pakistani Rupee UAE Dirhams Bahraini Dinar Egyptian Pound Jordanian Dinar Omani Riyal Qatari Riyal Saudi Riyal

SELL DRAFT 265.33 276.98 306.57 377.70 285.35 448.23 2.92 3.681 4.316 2.141 2.741 2.725 77.62 758.15 41.24 405.40 740.79 78.66 76.09

SELL CASH 263.000 282.000 311.000 384.000 287.400 443.000 3.000 3.800 5.150 2.700 3.600 2.920 78.000 759.500 41.100 416.200 746.400 79.000 76.300

Thai Bhat Syrian Pound Nepalese Rupees Malaysian Ringgit

Bahrain Exchange Company COUNTRY British Pound Czech Korune Danish Krone Euro Norwegian Krone Scottish Pound Swedish Krona Swiss Franc

Selling Rate 285.200 277.140 446.915 376.805 304.195 755.075 77.625 78.285 76.915 402.035 41.250 2.140 4.374 2.718 3.667 6.407 699.610 3.875

SELL CASH Europe 0.4389185 0.0067539 0.0463092 0.3707276 0.0428339 0.4335150 0.0390136 0.2993827

SELLDRAFT 0.4479185 0.0187539 0.0513092 0.3782276 0.0480339 0.4410150 0.0440136 0.3063827

Australasia 0.2525395 0.2205119 0.0001130

0.2645395 0.2305119 0.0001130

Canadian Dollar Colombian Peso US Dollars

America 0.2671936 0.0001451 0.2831000

0.2761936 0.0001631 0.2852500

Bangladesh Taka Cape Vrde Escudo 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

Asia 0.0036224 0.0031645 0.0457186 0.0164833 0.0000443 0.0342301 0.0043140 0.0000199 0.0028500 0.0027963 0.0031972 0.0820795 0.0025833 0.0026944 0.0059633

0.0036774 0.0033945 0.0507186 0.0195833 0.0000503 0.0373301 0.0043790 0.0000250 0.0038500 0.0029763 0.0034272 0.0890795 0.0027833 0.0027344 0.0064333

Australian Dollar New Zealand Dollar Uganda Shilling

Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd 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

9.200 4.075 3.900 86.770

Sierra Leone Singapore Dollar Sri Lankan Rupee Thai Baht

0.0000729 0.2199481 0.0021010 0.0084295

0.0000759 0.2259481 0.0021430 0.0090295

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 0.7502049 0.0392412 0.0126635 0.1450356 0.0000793 0.0001844 0.3967581 1.0000000 0.0001750 0.0221484 0.0012127 0.7298987 0.0776958 0.0755333 0.0463803 0.0019439 0.1711590 0.0762357 0.0012869

0.7587049 0.0412562 0.0191635 0.1468256 0.0000798 0.0002444 0.4042581 1.0000000 0.0001950 0.0461484 0.0018477 0.7408987 0.0784788 0.0761733 0.0489303 0.0021639 0.1771590 0.0778857 0.0013869

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

Transfer Rate (Per 1000) 284.800 376.900 447.000 274.050 4.370 41.240 2.140 3.658 6.410 2.720 758.600 77.600 76.050



Chinese dairies seek French tie-ups to shore up image PARIS: Companies in China, whose tainted milk powder scandal in 2008 left six dead and more than 300,000 sick, are vaunting tie-ups with French dairies to shore up their image but some fear this could backfire for Paris. Chinese firm Biostime flaunts its tieups with two companies in France, Europe’s second largest milk producer after Germany, and one in Denmark as proof that its products are safe. But experts say the French reputation for quality in food could be at stake if the goods were tampered with once in China, and warn that French dairy farmers could end up financially squeezed by the new investors. Biostime, based in Guangzhou and listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, has joint ventures with France’s Laiterie de Montaigu and the Isigny Saint-Mere cooperative as well as Danish group Arla. The agreement with Isigny is the

most ambitious, with Biostime investing 20 million euros to set up a new production unit in Normandy that will more than double baby milk production there. The project will cost 50 million euros ($65 million) in total and in return, Isigny will reserve two-thirds of its production for China and offer one place for Biostime on its 15-member board. Valerie Mariaud, Isigny’s marketing head for baby milk, said the cooperative was pleased, adding: “In choosing Biostime, which stresses on the origin of its milk, we are not afraid that it will develop the product in China.” A Western diplomatic source in Beijing said the moves for tie-ups with foreign firms in New Zealand and Europe were prompted by fears of a baby milk shortage locally. Chinese companies, the source said, were trying to “overcome their notoriety internationally” by acquiring brands and

Al Tijari winners of Najma Account KUWAIT: Commercial Bank of Kuwait held the Al Najma Account Daily draw yesterday. The draw was held under the supervision of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry represented by Abdulaziz Al Ashkanani The winners of the Najma Daily Draw are :•Fyolet Fared Bshai KD 7000 •Hamza Abbas Mohammed Zayat KD 7000 •Abdullah Mubarak Shah KD 7000 •Yaser Mamdoh Mohammed Ahmed KD 7000 •Oubaida Abdulrahman Alassil KD 7000 The Commercial Bank of Kuwait announces the biggest daily draw in Kuwait with the launch of the new Najma account. Customers of the bank can now

enjoy a KD 7,000 daily prize which is the highest in the country and another 4 mega prizes during the year worth KD 100,000 each on different occasions: The National Day, Eid Al Fitr, Eid Al Adha and on the 19th of June which is the date of the bank’s establishment. With a minimum balance of KD 500, customers will be eligible for the daily draw provided that the money is in the account one week prior to the daily draw or 2 months prior to the mega draw. In addition, for each KD 25 a customer can get one chance for winning instead of KD 50. Commercial Bank of Kuwait takes this opportunity to congratulate all lucky winners and also extends appreciation to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry for their effective supervision of the draws which were conducted in an orderly and organized manner.

MONGSTAD: A photo taken on May 29, 2009 shows a worker at the Mongstad oil refinery in western Norway. A debate on the use of Norway’s petrodollars emerged during the electoral campaign ahead of the poll taking place today. — AFP

Flush with more cash, Norway ponders use of petro-kroner OSLO: Norway, which goes to the polls today, is an island of prosperity in Europe, with so much money that it literally doesn’t know what to do with it. The Nordic country faces an embarrassment of riches as it tries to figure out how to spend its huge pile of oil money without damaging the economy in the long run. “All countries around us are forced to reduce their spending,” said Oeystein Doerum, chief economist at Norway ’s largest bank DNB. “Our biggest challenge is that our oil wealth is so huge we run the risk of wasting it on substandard projects that are not profitable enough.” The dilemma is all the more real because the populist right gathered in the Progress Party, which wants to abandon the cautious policies espoused by other parties, is likely to form a government with the Conservatives after the election. Since the late 1990s, the Scandinavian country has conscientiously placed its oil revenues in a fund meant to finance the generous welfare state over the long run. The fund invests mainly in stocks, bonds and real estate, placing the money outside Norway to avoid overheating. In the process, it has become the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, weighing in at $750 billion (570 billion euros), or an average 1.25 percent of the market capitalisation of each company listed in the world. To make sure that the fund keeps growing, the government can withdraw no more than four percent a year-the projected annual return-in order balance its budget, which otherwise would be in the red. “The fact that you can have dilapidated schools and broken roads at the same time as you have a huge oil fund belonging to society is testimony to the frugality and long-term perspective of Norway’s leaders,” said Doerum. Launching a lone assault on this consensus, the Progress Party wants to remove the fiscal spending rule and spend more money on education, research and infrastructure, to lay the foundation for future growth that would prove profitable for the state in the medium term. The problem is that the Conservatives, which are likely to lead a post-election

coalition with the Progress Party, actually think the current arrangement is too generous, pointing out that as the fund continues to grow, the amount of petro-money available to the government expands proportionally. “The most important point of negotiation between the Progress Party and us is on the nature of the expenses, not on whether to exceed the four percent,” said the Conservative leader Erna Solberg, Norway’s likely next prime minister. “We will not,” she added, “be part of a government that carries out an irresponsible economic policy.” Even though the Norwegian economy has slowed down, excessive injection of public money could be destabilising. In a country where there is almost full employment, the booming oil sector is pulling wages higher than they otherwise would be. This even goes for traditional industries, which are in competition to attract skilled workers. The result is that Norwegian industrial wages are about 70 percent above those of other European countries, severely undermining the competitiveness of the nation’s exporters. An influx of petrodollars could thus ultimately have catastrophic consequences for employment and public accounts. “Everything depends on how the money is spent,” said Torbjoern Eika, head of research at Statistics Norway. “If we choose to lower taxes, the negative effects on the economy are less pronounced... because it tends to stimulate savings in the short term,” he said. Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who looks set to lose the election, has warned that the draft 2014 budget to be presented in October-probably his last act in government-will limit the drain on the oil windfall to a level not much higher than three percent, compared to 3.3 percent this year. This measure not only meets the economic recommendations of the International Monetary Fund, but will also have the political advantage of complicating the task of the likely future government, which has vowed to cut taxes while increasing spending on health and infrastructure. —AFP

technology not only in milk products but also in pork items and soya beans. The quest for baby milk is urgent for the Chinese. UN child agency UNICEF says only 28 percent of Chinese mothers breastfeed for the first six months-a figure which drops to 16 percent in urban areas. The global average is about 40 percent. Many other French firms have been approached by Chinese companies. But France’s Lactalis, the world’s top dairy firm behind the Lactel milk and President cheese, said it was not interested. “We basically want to sell under our own brand names (in China),” group spokesman Michel Nalet told AFP. French firm Sodiaal, which owns the well-known Yoplait and Entremont brands, has meanwhile adopted a double strategy by launching its Candia products in China and tying up in France with Synutra, China’s fourth largest mak-

er of baby milk. This venture centres around a new facility to produce baby milk in the north-western town of Carhaix. Synutra holds a 90 percent stake and the entire production — 280 million litres of milk and 30,000 tonnes of whey or milk serum-will be destined for China. But some voice fears that the Chinese firms could abandon France if they found cheaper options. “I really don’t see the Chinese buying milk powder at 320 euros per tonne if the price in the world markets is lower,” said Eric Duverger, a dairy farmer who supplies to Sodiaal. Duverger also said a 10-year partnership between the firms could also lead dairy farmers “to increase production to supply the Chinese but if they “leave at the end of 10 years, what will happen?” Francois Souty, a university professor and an expert on competition laws,

warned that such ventures could carry a huge risk. “If we sell French milk under a Chinese brand what could hang over us is a sanitary problem with all the repercussions it could have in terms of image,” he said. “Who will control the process once the milk powder is in China?” he said. In August, China fined six manufacturers of baby formula more than $100 million for price-fixing, among them New Zealand’s Fonterra-the world’s biggest dairy company and the subject of a recent botulism health scare. But French junior minister for the food industry Guillaume Garot dismissed suggestions that France risked much by accepting Chinese investment. “On what grounds should we turn down investments which enhance the French reputation for quality and creates jobs,” Garot told AFP. “We have to beef up our commercial efforts and reinforce industrial partnerships,” he said.—AFP

In France, a tax-free property empire Investments help bolster Qatar’s global assets PARIS: The Champs-Elysees lures millions of tourists every year to enjoy shopping at the Elysees 26 mall, poker at the Aviation Club, plush cars and futuristic architecture in the Citroen showroom, or feather-clad showgirls at the Lido cabaret. But for all their Parisian charisma, none of these attractions are French-owned. They belong to the royal family of Qatar, a resource-rich emirate about 3,000 miles (5,000 km) away. Some Muslims may frown on investments in gambling, alcohol and high-kicking dancers, but over the past few decades the buildings have helped bolster Qatar’s global portfolio of trophy assets, including London’s Harrods and Singapore’s Raffles Hotel. The latest French addition was a chain of upscale malls under the Printemps banner, bought by a fund controlled by Qatari royals in August for 1.7 billion euros ($2.23 billion). For oil-rich royalty from the Arab Gulf, part of the attraction of the United Kingdom has been the fact it charges no taxes on profits foreign investors make when they sell real estate. Five years ago, Qatar sealed a similar agreement with France. The treaty was agreed by former centreright president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008, and is one of the most generous Qatar has secured, exempting Qatari investors from taxes on the profits they make when they sell properties. In a country where 3.6 million people lack decent housing, according to Abbe Pierre, a charity, that is controversial. Politicians, including some in Francois Hollande’s new Socialist government, have been critical. In April budget minister Bernard Cazeneuve called the treaty “an exception that we do not wish to duplicate.” Others have asked if the accord brings economic benefit to compensate for the lost tax revenue. The government has said it is examining the treaty, but an official at the French finance ministry told Reuters that Qatar’s purchases don’t have to be declared, so it is impossible to see how much tax is at stake. A Reuters examination of regulatory filings, court documents and other data sheds new light on Qatar’s property assets. Reuters mapped around 40 properties in France that are owned by Qataris, a total investment of 5.9 billion euros ($7.8 billion) over the past decade, including 4.8 billion since 2008. At current values they would be worth around 6.3 billion euros. The Qatari state and its sovereign wealth fund own about a dozen of the properties, together worth around 3 billion euros, Reuters found; the rest belong to members of the ruling al-Thani family. A personal fund set up by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the previous emir, controls about nine of them; his children, including the current emir, six. The rest were bought either by other relatives, or businessmen with strong ties to the al-Thanis, such as Ghanim bin Saad al-Saad. Each property is owned by a holding company that is itself held by one or more entities, some of them outside France. This makes it hard to track when properties change hands, to see how much tax the French have forgone with the deal. If there had been no treaty, though, market values at the end of 2012 suggest the French government would have collected at least 145 million euros in tax if the entire portfolio were sold and taxed at the lowest applicable rate, according to Reuters calculations which were assessed by three experts. While that’s less than a day’s gas export revenues for Qatar, in France it would equate to a year’s pre-tax pay for some 4,500 schoolteachers or nurses. The Qatari authorities and the sovereign wealth fund Qatari Diar did not respond to questions. Chadia Clot, whose company French Properties Management handles private investments made by the al-Thani family, did not respond. Gilles Kepel, a professor at the Paris Institute of Political Studies, Paris, said Qatar’s financial gains symbolise how the emirate has gained influence by spending its resource wealth, but has also triggered friction. “Qatar has had a full-speed-ahead investment strategy in France, forged under the previous French administration,” said Kepel. “But this has led to antagonism.” In 2008, a report for the French parliament praised the tax arrangement for encouraging Qatari investment in French real estate which “can only benefit the French economy.” The treaty has several clauses to promote the exchange of information and prevent abuse, and France has similar arrangements with other rich oil states such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Qataris have been particularly active since the deal was sealed. From the Virgin Megastore flagship to the Hotel Martinez in Cannes, from soccer club Paris Saint-Germain to farmland in Normandy, Qatari royals have acquired dozens of

properties. “It is thanks to these tax advantages that the Qataris are the only ones buying French property at the moment,” said Philippe Chevalier, head of French real-estate broker Emile Garcin. “I would support more of these advantages.” The treaty allows state-owned Qatari entities to avoid capital gains tax - the lowest rate would be 34.4 percent - on any profits made selling French property, whether held directly or via subsidiary companies. Private Qatari investors are entitled to the break as long as they hold the property in an investment vehicle that also has 20 percent in non-property assets. The treaty applies to all purchases made since January 2007. Buoyed in part by Qatari investors, Paris luxury property prices have risen by approximately 14 percent since 2008, according to data for the highest-priced residential bracket tracked by real estate analysts Investment Property Databank (IPD). France may have caught up with Britain in attracting Qatari investments, according to data from research firm Real Capital Analytics (RCA) on the UK commercial property market. Qataris have spent about 4.5 billion euros ($5.9 billion) on publicly disclosed commercial and development sites in the UK since 2008, the data shows. Keeping up with the British was, say former French trade officials and policy analysts, one reason to agree the treaty in the first place. In 2008, oil producers were riding a boom in commodities just as centres like London, New York and Paris took a hit from the financial crisis. Many Western capitals were keen to capture investment: Paris was promoting Islamic finance, and saw the deal as a way to spur growth. “What this treaty does is effectively put Paris on a level playing field with London - just not for everyone,” said John Forbes, a London-based realestate consultant. Aside from the United Kingdom, only Ireland has offered Qatar the same exemption and that only since 2012, a review of more than a dozen of the emirate’s bilateral tax treaties shows. At home, Qataris face no personal income taxes but some businesses could be taxable at up to 10 percent on gains from the sale of property. “The exemptions ... are on the generous side, even by the standards of other French treaties,” said Charles Beer, managing director at consultancy Alvarez & Marsal. “This level of treaty exemption is rare, if not unknown, in other countries’ treaties.” Just a stone’s throw from the Champs-Elysees, the magnificent Peninsula Hotel shows how the treaty - which was an update of a pact dating back to 1990 - favours Qatari investors. Promising a “new level of distinction” for the Paris luxury hotel market, for the time being the hotel is hidden behind scaffolding and a corrugated-iron fence. It’s due to open in 2014 after a sixyear renovation project. It was originally a business centre owned by the French state, which collected 460 million euros when it sold it to a Qatari bank in 2007. The property was later transferred to a Qatari sovereign wealth fund focused on hotels. After the initial sale, the valuation rose. In 2009, it hit 500 million euros when China’s Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels (HSH) said it had bought a 20 percent stake in the project for 100 million euros. At end-2012 market prices, the whole building was worth an estimated 550 million euros, based on IPD data. If HSH had sold out then, it would owe at least 3.4 million euros in taxes on a capital gain of 10 million. Qatar, meanwhile, would face no tax at all on its much bigger capital gain of almost 80 million euros, according to the treaty. A spokeswoman for HSH declined to comment beyond saying the company followed all tax laws and had no intention of selling the Peninsula stake; it is a “long-term investment.” Qatari representatives did not respond. Property experts say the luxury real-estate deals that are encouraged by the tax treaty mainly benefit a small circle of investors. “We are always told this type of agreement is designed to promote investments in France but this is money that is not going into the economy,” said Olivier Duparc, a Paris-based notary. “Taxes are going up for everyone except the Qataris, it seems.” In offices overlooking the Place de la Concorde, where revolutionaries guillotined aristocrats in the 1790s, Syrian-born Guy Delbes runs property company Elypont, which manages several French assets on behalf of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund. He points out that Qatar’s tax advantages are on a par with those given to some other Middle Eastern investors in the 1980s and 1990s. “The notion that Qatar has advantages that other countries do not” is wrong. Indeed, a 2009 report by the Senate showed Kuwaiti state-owned entities are also exempt from capital gains tax on property, while Saudi Arabia has been given simi-

lar, though fewer, advantages. However, Kuwait has not made any commercial property acquisitions in France since 2007, according to RCA, which compiles data only on commercial property. Saudi Arabia bought over 900 million euros of commercial property in the same period, RCA research shows. Buyers from both states have made other investments, particularly in residential real estate, that have not emerged in public. But real-estate agents say they are not as active as the Qataris, and regulatory filings yield little information on private investments. These include a luxury home opposite the Eiffel Tower owned by the late Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz al-Saudi and a Kuwaiti family’s flats near the Avenue Montaigne. The French finance ministry said it can’t count Saudi Arabia and Kuwait’s tax-free purchases because, like Qatar’s, they are not declared. Government officials from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait declined to comment. Some French lawmakers suggest the Gulf Arab nations are even competing for French tax concessions: Qatar used the Kuwaiti precedent to renegotiate its treaty in 2008 and today the United Arab Emirates is using Qatar’s to pressure the French for the same sort of gains. “The United Arab Emirates are not at all happy because Qataris have a better tax treatment,” said Nathalie Goulet, a centrist senator from Lower Normandy, who spoke to UAE officials during a fact-finding mission to the Arab Gulf earlier this year. She finds the French concessions “extravagant” and says the fact that Qatar’s neighbours are complaining is a sign the treaty is wrong. “Our deficit has destroyed our freedom,” she said. “The Qataris are here to buy, whilst we are selling our family jewels.” UAE Finance Ministry Under-Secretary Younis Haji al Khoury said Qatar’s tax treatment in France was a matter for those two countries. Asked whether the UAE was seeking renegotiation, he said: “We have not yet negotiated these terms. This is an internal matter and we’ll do it in due time if we need to.” The French ministry said its priority would be to improve exchange of information. Taxes matter a lot in France: The country’s total tax take was 43 percent of GDP in 2010, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), far bigger than the United States’ 25 percent or the United Kingdom’s 35 percent. A generous healthcare system and faith in the state have helped governments sell tax rises to the public, which are needed to trim a 90-billion euro budget deficit. It isn’t possible to see what Qatari investors have done with their French investments. Many owners use interlocking holding companies which make it hard to verify transactions, and if one company buys another, it often leaves no trace. But property records suggest some may be selling to each other. One company, Zubarah, was set up in 2009 by Mohamed Ahmed Ali Jassim alThani, an adviser to the Qatari Foreign Ministry, and Turki Ahmed Ali Jassim al-Thani, described as a Qatar resident. Records show it was used to buy a 1.2 million euro six-bedroom house near the resort of Annecy in the Alps with outdoor hot tub. About 10 months later, in June 2010, Ahmed sold virtually all his 40 percent stake in the company to Turki. The company is not required to submit annual financial statements, so the tax picture is unclear. The al-Thani family did not respond to requests for comment. Resentment is building. Last year, Qatar offered to invest in promising businesses in the deprived suburbs, but met hostility among some politicians who stoked fears of a foreign power winning influence among poor communities. The Qatari fund has since joined forces with a stateowned French bank, Caisse des Depots, which said it has not yet made any investments. In May, Socialist Senator Jean-Yves Leconte - a member of Hollande’s own party - asked the government what measures it would take to end the tax breaks that made France “particularly attractive, if not quite a tax haven” for Qatar. Others, such as the Communist Party’s Eric Bocquet and members of Hollande’s own party, have asked for clear figures showing what has been lost to the French treasury. Far-right lawmaker Marion Le Pen - niece of National Front leader Marine Le Pen - has asked the government to scrap the treaty. Some of the objections are a populist response in a harsh economic climate, according to Karim Emile Bitar, of foreign-policy think tank IRIS. “We reached a moment when Qatar became the sum of all French fears... Fear of Islam and fear that France would lose its sovereignty,” he said. If France were to renegotiate the treaty, the French finance ministry official said, it would also mean sacrificing advantages: “Renegotiations are made according to our strategic priorities.”— Reuters




Kuwait bourse bounces back, after weeks of falling KUWAIT: The Kuwait Stock Exchange bounced back yesterday trading after nearly two weeks of falling over the running high political tension in the Middle East region and the expected US-led military strike against Syria. “The stock market rebounded yesterday for several technical reasons including the purchasing activity on the lowcap equities as well as the selective speculations on certain large-cap chips,” Financial Analyst Adnan Al-Dulaimi told

KUNA. He pointed out that the major market portfolios and investment funds’ move to trade in the large-cap equities in the last week’s closing session had positive impact on the market’s trading yesterday. Al-Dulaimi added that the traders have rushed to purchase small-cap shares yesterday as its prices had reached very attractive low levels. “Moreover, the uncertainty about the possible US-led military action against

Syria has forced some traders to be more cautious in trading,” he said. Kuwait Stock Exchange (KSE) ended yesterday’s trading on a mixed board, with a gain of 19.81 points in the price index to read 7,237.77 points. The weighted index shed 1.22 points, to read 442.99 points, and the KSX 15 went down by 5.32 points, to stand at 1,036.8 points. Trades came to 5,452 transactions worth KD 20,823,991.919, with volume at 316,713,544 shares. Meanwhile,

Economist Salah Al-Sultan noted that the Kuwait stock market showed resilience yesterday. “But speculation operations, particular on small-cap shares, were the main driver of the market with a remarkable purchasing pressuring on shares whose value is less than 100 fils each,” he told KUNA. Al-Sultan admitted the political unrest in the region is gravely impacting the market. “However, the market may rebound again with the postponement

of the expected military action gains Syria.” For his part, Economist Fahad AlBassam believes that the geopolitical factors are the main cause of the trading fluctuation and market instability. “Despite this fluctuation, the recent introduction of Warba Bank shares on the market will increase the market capitalization and investors’ confidence as well as activate trading as many investment groups have shown interest in the Bank equities,” Al-Bassam told KUNA. — KUNA

India’s economy will continue to lose steam KCIC Weekly Analysis on Asia KUWAIT: India’s double-deficit ridden economy continues to get hit by domestic and external factors. The economy slowed down from 4.8% year-on-year in the first quarter to 4.5% in the quarter ending in June. Expectations were slightly higher. The slowdown came mostly from poor performances in the mining and manufacturing sectors: industrial production (IP) contracted by 2.2% in June, its second consecutive fall, dragged by manufacturing which accounts for three quarters of total production. The decline has been taking place across the board, from capital to consumer goods. Domestic consumption has softened due to the erosion of purchasing power, as inflation creeps back up, and is not expected to recover soon as consumer confidence falters. The fragile recovery in India’s largest trade partner, the euro zone, has also been hurting the economy’s exports. The widening current account deficit, also due to higher oil prices, has had negative repercussions on investor confidence, discouraging foreign investment. The outflow of capital has been exacerbated of-late by the fears surrounding the timing of the US Fed’s QE3 tapering. This has led to massive losses in the value of the rupee, which has depreciated by 22% so far this year. Real gross domestic product (GDP) is a measure of the economic output or of the size of the economy - adjusted for inflation or deflation. It is the sum of the values of all final goods and services produced by that country or region over a given time period. Real GDP is a measure that holds prices constant by using a given year’s value (the base date) for all items and services. GDP can be measured in several ways. The Central Statistical Organization of India, the government body responsible for national accounts data, publishes GDP by expenditure and sector output. The expenditure approach breaks down GDP into private consumption, government expenditure, fixed capital investments, exports and imports. Investment has been the engine behind India’s robust growth since 2003, and is essential given the vast amount of infrastructure needed. However growth in

investment has been lacking in the past few years. Private consumption is also a major component of the services-driven country, making it a more domestic-oriented economy than the rest of Asia. The nation’s growth rate has been on a downward trend since mid-2011, and is expected to keep easing until at least the second half of next year. The sub-par performance in economic growth and the sharp depreciation in the rupee of-late puts India in a complex state of affairs, calling for government action. Since September of 2012, the government stepped up its efforts to bolster economic growth: it eased restrictions on foreign investments and recently approved infrastructure projects worth $28.4 billion in the oil, gas, power, road and railway industries. However, there are growing concerns about the country’s burgeoning fiscal deficit, especially after the endorsement of the Food Security Bill. The Bill will provide subsidized food to almost two-thirds of the country’s population and is expected to cost the government about $4 billion per year. Consequently, the prime minister’s pledge to bring down the fiscal deficit from 5.2% of GDP to 4.8% in the current financial year is proving to be increasingly unrealistic. With the fiscal deficit projected to remain at elevated levels, the nation has become increasingly dependent on the central bank to cut rates to bolster the economy. However, further rate cuts are unlikely given that the rupee is still depreciating, hit all time lows. In fact, the central bank has gone on a tightening spree in a desperate attempt to prop up the currency. The combination of restrictive government spending in order to limit fiscal deficit to 4.8% of GDP this year, and further tightening to stabilize the currency leaves a bleak outlook for growth. Upcoming elections in March of 2014 will be a crucial point in India’s economic prospects. We think that is unlikely that any unpopular structural reform could be approved. Growth is still unlikely to pick up in the medium term and is likely to recede to an average growth rate of 4.8% year-on-year for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Turkey banks use private placements LONDON: A slew of private placement deals for Turkish banks in recent weeks could mean that the lenders eschew the Eurobond market altogether in the near future, a debt capital markets originator said. Turkey’s largest bank by market capitalisation, Garanti Bank , has raised $900 million through private placements since April this year, while Vakif bank raised $400 million in July alone. Others such as Yapi Kredi are looking to set up medium-term note programmes that will allow them to issue private placements, while Isbank has also begun to sell deals, with transactions in U.S. dollars and Swiss francs. “Every week we are printing private placements (to raise) hundreds of millions of dollars. It shows that whatever is needed in the bond market can be done through private placements - they can replace Eurobonds,” the banker said. This will help the banks achieve their funding needs, and means they don’t need to consider Eurobond issuance at a time when the appetite for Turkish risk is low. Eurobond investors are bearish on Turkey because of concerns over the country’s economy, its currency and the risk that military action in neighbouring Syria may spill over, he said.

Garanti Bank’s 5.25 percent 2022 note, for example, has fallen six points over the last month to a cash price of 85.3 last Friday, according to Tradeweb data. In total, the note has fallen a whopping 21 points since the beginning of June. This makes public issuance difficult for Turkey’s banks. Instead, private placements are an option for the better-graded names. The placements have been a favourite hunting ground for Gulf banks too such as National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Emirates NBD as well as for some South African names. The deals tend to have short tenors of three to six months and the deal sizes are typically small; but added up together they become a reasonable amount. Institutional demand from Asia, Europe and even Switzerland is providing a growing buyer base for Turkey’s lenders, the banker said. “There is a host of different investors who are interested in these deals, (including) asset managers, insurance companies, money market funds in Asia, Europe and even Switzerland on the money market side,” he said. This provides a good short-term solution for Turkish banks, and will also help reduce their dependence on international bond markets in the long term, he added. — Reuters



Will ‘fracking’ wipe out demand for GCC’s oil, gas? KUWAIT: There is much hype about shale oil and gas these days, and a lot of what is being said is true. Its impact on the price of oil and manufacturing costs in the US will soon be considerable. China will probably become less competitive. But on the global scene we see no major changes in the total demandfor Gulf oil in the next two decades. Consumption is projected to continue to grow driven by fossil-fuel hungry Asian economies. And the Gulf is successfully shifting their attention to cater to that demand. In spite of the recent technological developments in the extraction of natural gas, its lower price and its lower environmental impact, growth in oil consumption is projected to outpace growth in natural gas consumption in the next twenty years. Oil’s central role in the world’s energy mix will remain substantially intact, mostly due to strong growth in Asian demand. The increasingly larger supply of natural gas will probably create pressure to reduce oil prices, but will not take away a

significant share from the oil’s global market. China has the largest reserves of shale gas in the world (19% of the total, ahead of the USA with 13%) and a regulatory framework that supports the development of shale gas technology. However, technical issues like lack of water, depth of the gas deposits, their proximity to urban areas and lack of technological skills make exploitation extremely expensive and will prevent a development of the industry similar to that of the US in the near future. Even with all the efforts in place, China will barely match 40% of US shale production by 2020, and that’s according to Chinese energy authorities. China will have to rely massively in coal and oil to cover around 80% of its energy needs until 2035. While its domestic production of coal is very large, in terms of oil, China will have to depend on imports from the GCC. Asia is already the GCC’s biggest trading partner, and will remain the main source of growth in oil demand in the medium term. G3 economies (the US, Europe and Japan) have traditional-

Burgan Bank announces names of winners KUWAIT: Burgan Bank announced the names of the five lucky winners of its Yawmi account draw, each taking home a prize of KD 5,000. The lucky winners for the daily draws took home a cash-prize of KD 5000 each, and they are: 1. Shaker Abdullah Yousef Haider 2. Abdulaziz Ismaeil Hasan Zainal 3. Suad Musaed Saad AlGhareeb 4. Sami Matar AlKhalaf 5. Abdullah Majeed Mousa Alostath With its new and enhanced features, the Yawmi Account has become more convenient, easier, and faster for customers to benefit from. Now, customers will be eligible to enter the draw after 48 hours only from opening the account. Customers are also required to deposit KD 100 or equivalent only to enter the daily draw, and the coupon value to enter the draw stands at KD 10. The newly designed Yawmi account has been launched to provide a highly

innovative offering along with a higher frequency and incentive of winning for everyone. Today, the Yawmi account is a well understood product, where its popularity can be seen from the number of increasing account holders. Burgan Bank encourages everyone to open a Yawmi account and/or increase their deposit to maximize their chances to becoming a daily winner. The more customers deposit, the higher the chances they receive of winning the draw. Opening a Yawmi account is simple, customers are urged to visit their nearest Burgan Bank branch and receive all the details, or simply call the bank’s Call Center at 1804080 where customer service representatives will be delighted to assist with any questions on the Yawmi account or any of the bank’s products and services. Customers can also log on to Burgan Bank’s for further information.

China trade performance improves on strong exports BEIJING: China’s trade performance was better than expected in August, as stronger exports to recovering overseas economies caused the trade surplus to widen to $28.5 billion, customs figures showed yesterday. Improved exports, a key driver of growth for China, are a positive sign for the world’s second largest economy, which has struggled since early this year, analysts said. The trade surplus rose 8.4 percent from the same month last year, customs said in a statement on its website, revising figures given earlier yesterday. The surplus also widened from $17.8 billion in July. Analysts had forecast a trade surplus of $20.4 billion, according to a survey of 11 economists by Dow Jones Newswires. “The surplus is higher than expected thanks to strong exports. The figures are good and show an upward trend in China’s trade,” Liao Qun, an economist at Citic Bank International, told AFP. “China’s export markets began to grow strong again as the United States is back on track and Europe is stabilising,” he said. Exports jumped 7.2 percent year-on-year to $190.6 billion last month, customs said in a statement on its website, revising figures given earlier on Sunday without explanation. Economists had forecast a 6.0 percent annual rise in exports for August, Dow Jones Newswires said. In July, exports grew just 5.1 percent on the year. “China’s August trade sustained the upward trend seen since July, in line with accelerating growth momentum and improving market sentiment,” bank ANZ Group said in a research report. But pressure on the yuan to appreciate was likely to continue on hefty trade surpluses and central bank intervention, it

said. Besides weak demand, China’s exports have also been hurt by appreciation of the yuan, which makes its products more expensive overseas, analysts say. Separately, imports rose a weaker-thanexpected 7.0 percent to $162.1 billion in August, less than the 11.7 percent rise forecast by analysts. Weak imports could still be a sign of worry for the economy, signalling that domestic demand is faltering, analysts said. “The import figure is lower than expected, indicating that the demand from the domestic market is not that strong,” Ma Xiaoping, a Beijing-based economist for British bank HSBC, told AFP. “However, there is no need to worry too much, as the effect of stimulus policies revealed earlier this year and the rebound in domestic demand will take time to realise,” she said. The market is watching for signs of recovery in China, which the global economy relies on to sustain growth. China’s economy expanded 7.7 percent last year, the slowest growth since 1999. In the final quarter of last year, growth accelerated to 7.9 percent, but has slowed in successive quarters to 7.7 percent in the first quarter and 7.5 percent in the second quarter. However, China’s manufacturing activity strengthened in August to its highest level in 16 months, official figures showed, with the closely watched purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rising to 51.0 from 50.3 in July. Another PMI measure released by HSBC rebounded to 50.1 in August, its first month of expansion since April. A reading below 50 indicates contraction, while anything above signals expansion. — AFP

NEW DELHI: An Indian wholesale fruit seller awaits customers at the Okhla Vegetable Market in New Delhi, India. India’s economic growth slowed to 4.4 percent in the April-June quarter and the Indian rupee has lost more than 20 percent of its value since May. — AP

ly been the main destination of the region’s exports. In 1990, the G3 were buying 45% of all GCC exports, while Asia made up only about 15%. In just 23 years the situation has reversed: the G3 countries now buy 23% of the region’s exports, while Asia gets 43%. And even if the US becomes energy independent by 2030, a sizeable part of the decrease in American demand will be offset by Asia. According to OPEC, China is projected to outpace the US as the world’s top crude importer by 2014, but the truth is that it will probably happen later this year. Chinese rising refining capacity is propping up demand (attached figure). The rest of Asia will also play an important role in keeping oil demand high. India is expected to overtake Japan in less than five years. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines are experiencing strong consumption growth. The GCC is therefore likely to retain its pivotal role as the leading energy?exporting region in the world. The high cost of switching from oil to natural gas, the establishment of a

Oil demand projections show an increase in demand from China and India. more stringent regulatory framework for the process of fracking due to the growing environmental concerns and the rising Asian demand will prevent the world’s energy landscape to change

rapidly. GCC exports of crude will be driven by sustained demand from Asia, although their margins will probably be reduced as a result of diminishing external energy needs.

India central bank chief may face short honeymoon Outline plans to free up markets, banking sector NEW DELHI: The euphoria which greeted new central bank governor Raghuram Rajan has been unprecedented in India’s normally sober financial world but the honeymoon may be shortlived. Analysts say it is a mistake to believe the suave star economist, whose first day on the job last week one financial daily likened to the “central banking equivalent of a blockbuster movie opening,” is a miracle man who can rescue India’s ailing economy. “There was tremendous elation among market participants over Rajan’s appointment,” Ajay Bodke, strategy head at Mumbai investment house Prabhudas Lilladher, told AFP. “But we need to temper that exuberance and look dispassionately at the economic fundamentals and that picture is not good,” he said. The former International Monetary Fund chief economist has been plunged into a maelstrom of a record current account deficitthe broadest measure of trade, a hefty fiscal deficit, stubborn inflation, a weak currency and a sharp economic slowdown. Analysts say Rajan, famed for forecasting the 2008 global financial meltdown, can provide symptomatic relief by using various mechanisms to lure overseas funds to cover the high current account deficit. But the government holds the most important levers for reviving economic growth, cutting public subsidies and the twin deficits and restoring foreign investor confidence, analysts say. “The government needs to take decisive measures to signal to international markets that India is taking the path of fiscal rectitude and shunning the path of populist prolificacy,” Bodke said. With elections due by next May and the government struggling in the polls, it may be hard for the ruling left-leaning Congress party to

take any tough decisions, analysts say. For instance, India urgently needs to cut diesel subsidies to lower its massive fuel import bill which is ballooning its current account deficit-but Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid conceded Friday such a move “has political implications”. The economy has gone dramatically downhill since the “Indian Summer” of the last decade when

the fragility of India’s finances. India’s economy grew 4.4 percent in the quarter ended June, the weakest pace since 2009 when the world was reeling from the international financial crisis. Now the country is being called the “sick man of Asia” and is facing the threat of becoming the first of the BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to lose its investment credit status.

MUMBAI: In this file photograph taken on September 4, 2013, newly appointed governor of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) Raghuram Rajan arrives to address a news conference at the RBI head quarters in Mumbai. The euphoria which greeted new central bank governor Raghuram Rajan has been unprecedented in India’s normally sober financial world but the honeymoon may be shortlived. — AFP growth regularly topped eight and nine percent while the Congressled government has become mired in corruption scandals that sent foreign investors fleeing. The economic slowdown risks a shortfall in the government’s tax revenue projections, exacerbating

Still, Rajan, 50, has hit the ground running. In his first speech Wednesday, he outlined plans to draw more funds from abroad to support the rupee and free up financial markets and the banking sector. The rupee has lost nearly a fifth of its value against the dollar

since the start of the year. Rajan radiated an energy that contrasted with the normal crawling pace of Indian policymaking in a performance which was both “bold and brilliant”, wrote Raghuvir Srinivasan, business editor of The Hindu newspaper. So far, the socalled “Rajan-effect” is holding. The Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark index surged more than 1,000 points in the last three trading sessions while the rupee staged a strong rally to reach 65.24 to the dollar, up from a record low of 68.85 hit last month. But banking giant Barclays noted India still faces risks from more global financial market uncertainty as an expected paring of US stimulus triggers outflows from emerging markets as well, as the threat of higher oil prices amid turmoil in the Middle East. Rajan has a “mountain to climb”, The Hindu noted. Analysts say he is in a policymaking box as India confronts its worst financial crisis since 1991 when it was forced to pawn gold in exchange for an IMF bailout. Despite clamour from business for lower borrowing costs, analysts say he cannot loosen monetary policy to spur the economy for fear of propelling high inflation higher and weakening the rupee further. In fact, Rajan’s comments suggest he is likely to be “more hawkish”, said CLSA economist Rajeev Malik said. The former top finance ministry advisor and professor at the prestigious University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business has sought to temper expectations of what he can do, saying he has “no magic wand”. “Any entrant to the central bank governorship probably starts at the height of their popularity. Some of the actions I take will not be popular,” he declared in his inaugural speech. “The governorship of the central bank is not meant to win one votes or Facebook ‘likes’.” — AFP

South Africa’s petrol attendants to strike JOHANNESBURG: Over 160,000 South African workers will be on strike this week when petrol attendants and car repair workers join ongoing stoppages in the construction sector. Mass industrial action has pummelled Africa’s largest economy since August, with tens of thousands of gold miners, construction workers and car manufacturing employees demanding higher pay and stalling production in sectors that represent 10 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Now, 73,000 workers at fuel stations and garages will down tools from Monday after talks with employers collapsed, according to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa). They will kick off the strike with marches in Cape Town and Johannesburg, then march in other cities later in the week. The move could severely affect transport and business in the continent’s busiest economy. “We want to settle on double digits. We want basically to improve the conditions of workers,” Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim told AFP. Fuel attendants earn around 700 rands ($70, 53 euros) a week, according to the union. Meanwhile around 90,000 construction labourers have refused to work for 12 days, according to their labour group the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

“The strike is still continuing,” NUM negotiator Bhekani Ngcobo told AFP. The builders earn 4,000 rand ($400, 300 euros) basic salary and want it pushed up by 800 rand, the union said after lowering an earlier demand. Employers are offering 400 rand, according to Ngcobo. Some other sectors have gradually restarted production. A wage deal at South Africa’s third gold producer Harmony Gold ended a short-lived mass strike that had crippled an industry that contributes three percent to GDP. “Members of the NUM have accepted the same offer made by other producers in the industry, and have returned to work,” Harmony Gold said in a statement yesterday. Tens of thousands of miners had downed tools for four days demanding salary hikes of up to 60 percent, during which the gold sector stood to lose $34 million in production every day. By Friday strikers at most of the Chamber of Mines’ seven members had accepted a new wage offer of between 7.5 and 8.0 percent. The final holdouts, Harmony Gold employees, accepted the deal Sunday, the firm said. “The majority have accepted the offer,” NUM general secretary Frans Baleni told Sapa news agency. Car manufacturing was also set to return to normal after a three-week stoppage. Most of the 30,000 strikers were happy with the industry’s new offer: 11.5 percent increase this year,

and 10 percent annually until 2015, according to Numsa, who said talks continued with workers from the BMW factory in Pretoria and the Toyota plant in eastern port city Durban. At its peak the strike cost companies around $60 million a day, but some firms had made deals with employees early on. The sector contributes around six percent to the country’s GDP and accounts for roughly 12 percent of the country’s exports. This year, strikes have been relatively calm in contrast to those of 2012, when a police crackdown at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine left 34 dead and sparked deadly stoppages all over the country. But the bitter fight for supremacy between the government-allied NUM and the upstart Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) fired up what employers considered inflated and unrealistic wage demands. AMCU has displaced NUM in the platinum sector and is making inroads at gold mines too. Its members did not join the gold strikes. Harmony chief executive Graham Briggs warned the gold sector could not maintain similar wage hikes as the new deal, which was “in the interests of long term industrial relations stability.” But falling gold prices, a declining grade of ore and increased costs such as electricity and wages, have drained profits. Many firms are now looking to cut costs.— AFP



Kuwait must seize ways to restructure debt Regulators have an important role to play

FRANKFURT: A Toyota Auris Hybrid model is seen at the International Motor Show IAA in Frankfurt Main, Germany, yesterday. The 65th IAA features around 1,100 exhibitors from around the world and takes place from 12 to 22 September. — AFP

ASEC cement enters Iraqi market with local partners


consortium of ASEC Cement, a portfolio company of ASEC Holding, and Iraq’s Qemmet ElIraq has won a contract to rehabilitate and manage for 14 years the Muthanna Cement Plant in Muthanna Governorate, Iraq. Representatives of the consortium including Abulla Hussein of Qemmet El-Iraq as well as ASEC Cement Chairman and CEO Giorgio Bodo attended a signing ceremony in Baghdad with Southern Cement Co., the state holding company that controls Muthanna Cement, on 28 August 2013. The value of the contract was not disclosed. “We are delighted to be entering this new market with a high-profile project that is economically vital to Iraq,” said Bodo. “Iraq has embarked on a robust plan to rebuild and modernize its infrastructure and has launched major housing, industrial, and community projects. The rehabilitation of Muthanna is an important part of Iraq’s investment in bridging the supply gap, particularly in the south.” Muthanna Cement is one of seven plants controlled by Southern Cement Company. Built in the 1980s, the plant has a total design capacity of 1.92 MTPA clinker and 2 MTPA of cement. As a result of economic sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s, the company’s current production is c. 20% of its design capacity. The consortium won the Muthanna contract following an international tender; work will begin in Q2 2014,

with a view to reaching the full 2 MTPA production capacity by August 2016. The Muthanna plant is located in southern Iraq, between Najaf and Basra. Qemmet El-Iraq, ASEC Cement’s consortium partner, is headquartered in Erbil, Northern Iraq (Kurdistan). Established in 1989, it has a primary focus on manufacturing packaged food products with a national focus, among other activities. Qemmet ElIraq’s shareholders have been active in the country’s construction and contracting industry since the late 1970s. “ASEC Cement’s entry into the into the regionally important Iraqi market is part of Citadel Capital’s strategy of judiciously pursuing complimentary growth opportunities within our five core industries, including energy, agrifoods, transportation, mining and cement,” said Citadel Capital Chairman and Founder Ahmed Heikal. ASEC Holding is Citadel Capital’s platform company in the cement and construction sector. The news of the Muthana consortium comes after subsidiary ASEC Minya started production of cement at its 2.0 MPTA plant in Minya. The US$ 360 million greenfield plant has implemented the most advanced technology in cement and clinker manufacturing and is in strict adherence with international environmental standards. ASEC Minya’s high-quality Portland Grey cement capitalizes on the abundance of limestone in the Minya governorate to serve the deficit market of Upper Egypt.

ADIB-Thomson Reuters ethical finance awards see strong global interest DUBAI: The Ethical Finance and Innovation Challenge and Awards sponsored by Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) and Thomson Reuters, the world’s leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals, have received over 550 expressions of interest since they were launched last month, and entries are still being accepted until the end of September. Online registrations have been accepted from individuals and institutions in 55 countries, with interest highest in the UAE, Pakistan, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The awards address the issues of ethics in finance and innovation in Islamic banking and offer prizes of up to $100,000. “Ethics in banking and finance is one of the major issues of our time, and these awards have clearly struck a chord,”said ADIB Chief Executive Officer Tirad Al Mahmoud. “We want to reward people who are thinking creatively and working hard to improve practices, and therefore to encourage progress across the industry.” The ADIB and Thomson Reuters Ethical Finance Initiative Award rewards ideas or initiatives in financial services that deliver a sustainable positive impact on society or the environment. A Lifetime Achievement Award will be granted to an individual who has made a significant contribution and impact in the ethical practice of financial services. And anIslamic Finance Industry Development Award is open to entrants with innovative ideas in the areas of working capital finance, liquidity management, and profit-sharing investment and financing products. Entries are accepted from any institution, research centre, individual, or group of individuals until September 30. Nominees will be shortlisted by an advisory board, which includes financial experts and Islamic scholars. A shortlist of nominees for three award categories will then be announced prior to the awards and the winners will be revealed at the Global Islamic Economy Summit hosted by Thomson Reuters. The Summit, which will be held in Dubai on the 25th and 26th of November this year, will initiate critical dialogue on the development of the integrated sectors of the Islamic Economy, covering

Islamic financial services, halal manufacturing and related lifestyle sectors. Russell Haworth, Managing Director, Middle East and North Africa, Thomson Reuters, said: “Islamic banking is a core pillar of the growing Islamic Economy.Its growth represents an important evolution in the ethics of global banking for Muslim and non-Muslim businesses and individuals alike. As this industry grows, it is critical to recognise the innovative leaders driving it forward and setting an example for new and best practices at financial institutions globally.” About the awards: 1. The Islamic Finance Industr y Development Award:offers a prize of $100,000 and aims to facilitate a tangible change in the development of the Islamic financial services industry that remains true to its ethical foundations. Three specific challenge areas are predefined by an advisory board and candidates will need to identify and propose actionable solutions to overcome these challenges. The challenges for this award are as follows: Working capital finance solutions without the use of Tawaruq or purchase and lease back. Liquidity management options without the use of international commodities/ Murabaha. Profit and Loss Sharing Investment and financing Products (standardised structures for execution). 2. Ethical Finance Initiative Award: offers a prize of $50,000 and aims to recognize previously implemented initiatives or new solutions that demonstrate how ethical application of financial services can deliver sustainable positive impact on the society or the environment. 3. TheLifetime Achievement Award: awarded to an individual who has made a significant contribution and impact in the ethical practice of financial services. Submissions for these three awards were open from 17 July until the end of September 30, 2013. To learn more about the awards, guidelines for entry, executive board members and to download application forms, please visit:

KUWAIT: The global financial crisis of 2008 is not yet over for many of Kuwait’s investment companies or for the Kuwaiti economy. Relying on short-term debt to fund illiquid assets, investment companies faced problems once the crisishit banking sector turned off the financial tap. Instead of confronting the gap between their assets and liabilities, and their flawed business model, companies secured debt agreements that prevented bankruptcy and proper debt work-outs. Fortunately, the expiry of these debt agreements is an opportunity that Kuwait must seize to restructure the investment companies and unlock investment for the broader economy. Kuwait should instead take a new approach that will identify sound investment companies and close those that are insolvent in all but name. This is in contrast to the debt agreements, known as “extend and pretend,” that keep credit lines open, allowing investment companies not to recognize asset losses. Kuwait’s legal and regulatory framework, which favors debtors, have supported investment companies and put them in a strong position with their bank creditors. Some companies have used “extend and pretend” to keep paying operating expenses. Stakeholders should follow a three-step process of separating viable from non-viable companies, sustainably restructuring debt, and liquidating non-viable companies in an orderly manner. This process will also restructure investment companies at a time when the banks are stronger and better capitalized, and so more

able to absorb likely losses. The first step is for the authorities to create an independent task force that will distinguish between investment companies with a future and those that must close. The Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) and the Capital Markets Authority should provide the mandate for the task force. Independence is vital so that the assessment of assets is accurate and honest. In the past, management in some investment companies did not provide frank appraisals of their assets. Such an independent inventory process will facilitate a comparison of the valuation and monetization possibilities for assets and the maturity of debt and liabilities. The task force will be able to ask if companies have solvency levels that they can support or whether their equity has any value. It can judge whether there is sufficient recurring income from asset disposals, dividends, and fees, to service debt and cover overhead costs, and if there are funds for the business to keep operating and investing. The second step takes the viable companies and restructures their debt so that they can keep functioning. The point is to have sound information as a basis for action, creditors’ alignment, and innovative long-term solutions. There are two options available: out-of-court work-outs or workouts through the 2009 Financial Stability Law (FSL). Out-of-court work-outs require that the company initially seek an agreement based on the consensus of all its creditors. The regulators can assist in forging the agreement by act-

ing as independent mediators and should not hesitate to become actively involved. The CBK, in particular, can play a role. If no agreement is reached between the company and its creditors within three to six months, then an FSL work-out is needed. FSL proceedings, which have been little used, facilitate a court-approved restructuring and protect the investment company being pushed directly to bankruptcy by its creditors. The third step is to get non-viable companies out of the market. This means that shareholders have to confront the depletion of their equity and creditors have to accept haircuts (in which the market value of assets is reduced to provide collateral). Regulators have an important role to play. They should start involuntary liquidations if necessary. They should also be able to replace managers with external liquidators to oversee the closure of non-viable investment companies and the distribution of remaining assets to stakeholders. The regulators should also provide specific rules and guidance that enable shareholders to initiate voluntary bankruptcy proceedings. The losses in Kuwait’s investment companies have overshadowed the financial sector for too long. Creditors, shareholders, regulators, and managers should recognize that by cooperating they can end this uncertainty. By doing so, they will free up close to $40 billion of capital that could be productively used elsewhere in the economy.

Tax law fuels, then kills, a discount-tobacco industry Jobs gone, loophole remains AUBURN: Jean and Larry Wood weren’t thinking about politics when they opened Butt’s Tobacco in a tidy strip mall south of Seattle in February 2011. They weren’t aware that a federal children’s health law had inadvertently turbocharged their discount-cigarette business, and they didn’t know that a federal highway law soon would destroy it. Washington, D.C., was on the other side of the continent, and it felt even more distant. Over the next 2-1/2 years, Butt’s Tobacco would shower Jean and Larry with unexpected riches before eating up their life savings. Along the way, it would deliver a harsh lesson in the ways of American politics. The story of Butt’s Tobacco, and the hundreds of similar “roll-your-own” cigarette retail operations that briefly flourished across the United States, illustrates the unintended consequences that can ripple out from Washington as seemingly minor elements of complex legislation change lives and upend established industries. It also illustrates the difficulty of closing a tax loophole once it has been opened. The solution adopted by Congress effectively shuttered many mom-and-pop tobacco retailers, but the tax disparities that first made the business attractive remain in place. As she struggles to stay afloat, Jean Wood has drawn a bitter lesson from the experience. “The guy with the most money wins,” she says. As one of his first acts in office in February 2009, President Barack Obama signed a law that extended health insurance to children who lacked coverage. The Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act raised cigarette taxes from 39 cents to $1.01 per pack. To discourage smokers from switching to other forms of tobacco to avoid the tax, loose cigarette tobacco and small, cigarette-like cigars were taxed at the same rate. Lawmakers thought cigarette smokers weren’t likely to switch to pipe tobacco and large cigars, so they taxed those forms of tobacco at a lower rate. Shortly after the law took effect, tobacco manufacturers changed their product lines to avoid the higher tax rates, according to internal company documents obtained by the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. Cigar makers increased the size of their small cigars to meet the federal definition of a “large cigar” and thus qualify for the lower tax rate, according to the committee. Companies that sold loose cigarette tobacco had it easier - in some cases, they simply relabeled their existing product as “pipe tobacco,” documents show. That subjected them to taxes of $2.83 per pound, rather than $24.78 per pound they would have to collect for cigarette tobacco. Meanwhile, an Ohio manufacturer had developed a machine that would make loose tobacco more appealing to many consumers. The RYO Filling Station could turn a bag of loose tobacco into a carton of 200 finished cigarettes in about 15 minutes, compared with the hours it would take someone to roll that many smokes by hand. The machine wasn’t built to exploit the loophole. It hit the market in 2008, well before the new taxes took effect. Developer Phil Accordino required retailers to use the machine in a way that would minimize their exposure to a separate set of taxes. By requiring customers, not store employees, to operate the $32,000 machine, shop owners could argue that they were not liable for taxes on pre-made cigarettes because they were providing a service for customers who otherwise would roll their smokes by hand. Together, the new machine and the lowtax “pipe” tobacco made a compelling value proposition, enabling consumers to walk out the door with a carton of cigarettes at one-third the cost of premium, factory-made cigarettes such as Marlboro and Camel. “I thought, ‘Wow, that’s an equation that makes sense in a bad economy - people are saving money for a product they’re addicted to,’” said entrepreneur Joe Baba, who sold 120 RYO machines in the Pacific Northwest as a distributor for the company. Jean and Larry Wood, both 51, were among his customers. They cashed out Larry’s $75,000 pension from his former job as a sprinkler-system installer, bought an RYO machine and opened up Butt’s Tobacco in Edgewood, Washington, a blue-collar city near their hometown of Auburn.

Customers could get a carton of cigarettes made from pipe tobacco for $36, compared to $80 or so that other retailers charged for a carton of Marlboros. The Woods cleared $15 on each carton sold. Butt’s Tobacco was an immediate success. The Woods took in $312,000 in revenue during their first year, enough to open up a second store in Auburn. Customers would gossip or watch TV while they waited to use the rolling machine, which often was booked days in advance. Their kids got free coloring books and candy. “It was really fun,” Jean said. “Smokers are really relaxed people, more so than nonsmokers.” Baba had warned the couple that their business might suffer if lawmakers decided to raise taxes on pipe tobacco. But they figured that wouldn’t happen for at least five years or so. By early 2012, the impact of the children’s health law on the tobacco market was clear. Congressional researchers said it had shifted price-sensitive consumers toward lower-taxed forms of tobacco, depriving the U.S. government of up to $1.1 billion in lost revenue in the 18 months after the law was enacted. Meanwhile, 2,000 RYO Filling Stations were humming away in smoke shops across the nation. The US Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau estimated that each machine cost the government $156,000 a year in lost cigarette-manufacturer taxes, on top of the money lost to the pipe tobacco loophole. That agency had ruled in September 2010 that roll-your-own operators like the Woods should have to pay the taxes levied on conventional cigarette manufacturers. But a federal judge suspended the rule while the issue played out in court. The new landscape created allies among powerful groups that more often squared off as adversaries. Convenience-store operators said the new competitors were unfairly exploiting a tax loophole. Publichealth advocates worried that the roll-your-own shops were undermining their goal of curbing the top preventable cause of death in the country. Big cigarette makers saw a threat to their core business. “These low-priced alternatives are clearly affecting the reported decline of cigarette industry volume,” RJ Reynolds president Andrew Gilchrist told investors in November 2011. As cigarette sales had fallen steadily during the past decade, tobacco giants had fiercely fought the tax increases that they feared would prompt more smokers to quit. The tobacco companies had been unable to block the 2009 federal tax increase, but they have had more success in recent years as dozens of conservative Tea Party Republicans won legislative office on small-government, anti-tax platforms. Altria, the owner of Marlboro cigarettes maker Philip Morris, says it helped defeat 25 proposed tax increases in 2011 and 2012. In Congress, Democrats proposed eliminating the tax loophole by equalizing tax rates across all forms of tobacco. But Republicans blocked the measure on the grounds that it would amount to a tax increase, Democratic aides say. So tobacco companies and public-health advocates, usually fierce adversaries, agreed on a solution: They would not try to raise taxes on pipe tobacco, but would press lawmakers to write a law that would require roll-your-own tobacco sellers to pay the manufactured-cigarette taxes that they had managed to fend off in court. Roll-your-own retailers would not be liable for back taxes on the sales they had already made. “Every now and then there are things (tobacco companies) happen to support that we know will improve public health,” said Danny McGoldrick, a vice president at the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Convenience-store trade groups, representing 150,000 stores in all 435 congressional districts, led the effort. The coalition launched a state-by-state lobbying effort and pressed Congress to take up the issue. Roll-your-own cigarette sellers fought back at the state level. In Washington state, Jean Wood testified before the legislature, arguing that imposing a manufacturers’ tax would eliminate 1,900 jobs across the state. She and her husband helped to collect 300,000 signatures to bolster their argument. But in the halls of the US Congress, the retailers were badly outgunned. “I lobbied in Washington multiple times, and everyone I talked to said the same thing: ‘You’re going to get screwed here and there’s nothing you

can do about it because there’s too much money against you,’” said Accordino, the RYO manufacturer. Federal lobbying records show that Accordino’s company spent $250,000 to make its case in 2011 and 2012. The National Association of Convenience Stores, by contrast, spent $8.1 million on lobbying during that period. Tobacco companies spent more than $80 million, on everything from trade agreements to health regulations. They found a sympathetic ear in Republican Representative Diane Black of Tennessee, who introduced a bill that would require roll-your-own cigarette retailers to pay the manufacturers’ tax. It drew the support of 75 other lawmakers in the US House. It also drew the attention of Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana. The powerful chairman of the Senate Finance Committee had written the tobacco tax increases into the health law, and he was unhappy with the way they were playing out. He also was looking to find a way to help local governments pay for roads and schools in rural areas where the federal government owns large swaths of land. Budget analysts said Black’s measure would boost federal tax revenue by $94 million over 10 years. As the Senate debated a sweeping transportation bill in early 2012, Baucus proposed using Black’s approach to partially offset the cost of the rural-government funding. His amendment passed the Senate by a vote of 82-16 and was added to the transportation bill, which easily passed the Senate and House. Roll-your-own operators felt blindsided. They had made their case at the state level but said they were not prepared to fight a provision that was tucked into an unrelated law with little public debate.“We were outmuscled and outspent by Big Tobacco,” said Baba, the RYO distributor. Those on the other side of the fight say convenience stores, not tobacco companies, did most of the heavy lifting. “Big Tobacco did not crush them. Main Street crushed them,” said Corey Fitze, a lobbyist with the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). The new law required Butt’s Tobacco to collect an additional $30.66 in federal and state taxes on each carton of cigarettes it sold. Price-conscious smokers could find cheaper smokes at the nearby Muckleshoot Indian reservation. Jean and Larry Wood sold 49 cartons in June, roughly what they used to sell in one day. They returned their manufacturing license last month, and their RYO machine now sits unused in the back of the store. The retirement fund that Larry built up over 25 years is gone. With one store shuttered, they hope electronic cigarettes and marijuana pipes can generate enough income to cover their $1,000 monthly lease at their remaining location. “I never knew a lot about politics until this, and I can tell you it is so crooked,” Jean said. “Anything can be bought.” A year after the rule took effect, the roll-yourown industry has been nearly wiped out. Baba, the machine distributor, estimates that the change has eliminated 10,000 retail jobs across the country. It’s not clear whether the new requirement has led to more tax revenue, as Baucus promised. The Treasury Department has collected $12.7 billion in taxes from smokable tobacco products so far this year, down 6 percent from the same period last year. The government now collects less revenue from pipe tobacco and roll-your-own cigarette tobacco. Regulators have been unable to come up with a formal definition that would specifically define the difference between the two types of tobacco. Although roll-your-own retailers now face the same manufacturers’ tax imposed on factorymade cigarettes, the loophole that taxes pipe tobacco and small cigars at a lower rate remains in place. That benefits the small manufacturers who produce loose pipe tobacco, as well as retailers that sell the product to cost-conscious cigarette smokers who now have to roll their own at home. It also helps giants such as Altria, which makes the Black and Mild cigars that account for 30 percent of the low-tax “large cigar” market. Efforts to equalize tobacco taxes have gone nowhere in Congress. Altria and RJ Reynolds, the maker of Camel cigarettes, issued identical statements in response to questions from Reuters and declined further comment. —Reuters



Video game boosts mental abilities in older folks NEW YORK: It probably won’t become as popular as “Grand Theft Auto,” but a specialized video game may help older people boost mental skills like handling multiple tasks at once. In a preliminary study, healthy volunteers ages 60 to 85 showed gains in their ability to multitask, to stay focused on a boring activity and to keep information in mind - the kind of memory you use to remember a phone number long enough to write it down. All those powers normally decline with age, Dr Adam Gazzaley of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues noted in a study released Wednesday by the journal Nature. The study was small, with only 16 volunteers training on the specially designed game. Gazzaley and other brain experts said bigger studies were needed to assess whether the game could actually help people function in their everyday lives. He’s cofounder of a company that aims to develop a product from the research. Specialized video games

might one day be able to boost mental abilities not only for healthy adults of middle age or older, but also children with attention deficit disorder, people with post-traumatic stress disorder or brain injury and older adults with depression or dementia, he said in an interview. The work is the latest indication that people can help preserve their brainpower as they age through mental activity. There are “brain training” games on the market and books devoted to the topic. Gazzaley stressed that claims should be backed up by evidence, and also that his results don’t mean any commercial video game can help mental performance. His game was designed to exercise specific abilities, he said. The game, called NeuroRacer, involves doing two things simultaneously. A player uses a joystick to guide a car along a hilly, twisting road, steering it and controlling its speed. At the same time, a series of signs - actually colored shapes - appears on the screen. The player is supposed to push a button only

when a particular kind of sign appears. Players were scored on how quickly and accurately they reacted to the right signs. The game progresses to harder levels as a player improves, to keep it challenging. “You really had to focus,” said one study participant, Ann Linsley, 65, of Berkeley, Calif. “I went through 22 levels. By the end, we were really cooking along.” In a separate experiment with 174 volunteers between the ages of 20 and 79, the researchers found that as people age, driving the car interferes more and more with performance on reacting to the signs. But for 14 of the 16 participants who played the game at home for a total of 12 hours over a month, the training decreased the amount of interference. In fact, on this measure they did better than a group of 20-year-olds who played the game for the first time. The improvements were still apparent six months after the training stopped. Researchers also found changes in brain wave activity that correlated with how well the

improvement persisted at six months, as well as performance on a test of sustained attention for a boring task. Brain experts unconnected with the study said previous research has shown that older people can improve on mental skills such as multitasking if they are trained. But the training in past multitasking studies was “boring as all get-go,” said Elizabeth Zelinski, a professor of gerontology and psychology at the University of Southern California. Presenting an appealing game like NeuroRacer instead could help people stick with it, she said. Linsley certainly enjoyed the game. “I looked forward to doing it,” she said. When she had to give the laptop with the game back to the researchers, “I kind of missed it.” Art Kramer, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, called the work a promising first step toward a possible therapy. Scientists still have to demonstrate the results will hold up with larger groups of test subjects, he said. — AP

Privacy fears stoked by license plate readers Americans uneasy over ‘Big Brother’ technology

BERLIN: In this photo, a woman protests with a self-made surveillance camera on her head during a demonstration in Berlin, Germany. — AP

Internet experts want security revamp after NSA revelations SAN FRANCISCO: Internet security experts are calling for a campaign to rewrite Web security in the wake of disclosures that the US National Security Agency has developed the capability to break encryption protecting millions of sites. But they acknowledged the task won’t be easy, in part because internet security has relied heavily on brilliant government scientists who now appear suspect to many. Leading technologists said they felt betrayed that the NSA, which has contributed to some important security standards, was trying to ensure they stayed weak enough that the agency could break them. Some said they were stunned that the government would value its monitoring ability so much that it was willing to reduce everyone’s security. “We had the assumption that they could use their capacity to make weak standards, but that would make everyone in the US insecure,” said Johns Hopkins cryptography professor Matthew Green. “We thought they would never be crazy enough to shoot out the ground they were standing on, and now we’re not so sure.” The head of the volunteer group in charge of the Internet’s fundamental technology rules told Reuters on Saturday that the panel will intensify its work to add encryption to basic Web traffic and to strengthen the so-called secure sockets layer, which guards banking, email and other pages beginning with Https. “This is one instance of the dangers that we face in the networked age,” said Jari Arkko, an Ericsson scientist who chairs the Internet Engineering Task Force. “We have to respond to the new threats.” Other experts likewise responded sharply to media reports based on documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showing the NSA has manipulated standards. Documents provided to The Guardian, the New York Times and others by Snowden and published on Thursday show that

the agency worked to insert vulnerabilities in commercial encryption gear, covertly influence other designs to allow for future entry, and weaken industry-wide standards to the agency’s benefit. In combination with other techniques, those efforts led the NSA to claim internally that it had the ability to access many forms of internet traffic that had been widely believed to be secure, including at least some virtual private networks, which set up secure tunnels on the Internet, and the broad security level of the secure sockets layer Web, used for online banking and the like. The office of the Director of National Intelligence said Friday that the NSA “would not be doing its job” if it did not try to counter the use of encryption by such adversaries as “terrorists, cybercriminals, human traffickers and others.” Green and others said a great number of security protocols needed to be written “from scratch” without government help. Vint Cerf, author of the some of the core internet protocols, said that he didn’t know whether the NSA had truly wreaked much damage, underscoring the uncertainty in the new reports about what use the NSA has made of its abilities. “There has long been a tension between the mission to conduct surveillance and the mission to protect communication, and that tension resolved some time ago in favor of protection at least for American communications,” Cerf said. Yet Cerf’s employer Google Inc confirmed it is racing to encrypt data flowing between its data centers, a process that was ramped up after Snowden’s documents began coming to light in June. Author Bruce Schneier, one of the most admired figures in modern cryptography, wrote in a Guardian column that the NSA “has undermined a fundamental social contract” and that engineers elsewhere had a “moral duty” to take back the Internet. — Reuters

WASHINGTON: US police departments are rapidly expanding the use of automatic license plate readers, sparking debate on whether the technology is a valuable crime-fighting tool or a massive invasion of privacy. A recent report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) warned that these readers-used in patrol cars or fixed locations on streets and highways collect data on tens of millions of Americans who have committed no wrongdoing, with a potential for privacy abuses. The devices scan license plate numbers and match these against databases to help police locate stolen cars, criminals or missing children. Backers say this can free police officers from a monotonous task and help solve crimes. But with many Americans uneasy over government surveillance of the Internet, the expansion of this technology has sparked concerns about Big Brother. “In our society, it’s a core principle that the government doesn’t watch people’s innocent activities just in case they may connected with a crime,” said Allie Bohm of the ACLU. “In many cases, police are retaining this data indefinitely with few privacy protections. The tracking of people is an invasion of privacy. It can reveal people’s political views, religious activities and a lot of other personal information.” The ACLU report, based on a survey of hundreds of US police departments, said almost three quarters of police agencies reported using license plate readers, and 85 percent planned to increase their use. Only a tiny fraction of the license plate scans helped point to crimes or stolen vehicles, according to the ACLU survey. It found that for every million plates read in the eastern state of Maryland, only 47, or 0.005 percent, were potentially associated with a stolen car or a person wanted for a serious crime. There have already been abuses. In one reported case, a mayor asked police to track his challenger to expose a relationship with a mistress. In another, police scanned the plates of people at a political protest and then investigated them. Few oppose using the technology to fight crime, but the ACLU and others say keeping data on millions of people for years, or indefinitely, can be troublesome.

WASHINGTON: A “License Plate Reader” or LPR, is mounted on the Department car in Washington, DC in this file photo. — AFP The report said private companies as locating elderly people who may may end up holding this data with be suffering from dementia. Roberts no oversight or privacy protections, said surveys by the association indinoting that one firm holds over 800 cate around 75 percent of US police million license plate location records departments are using or plan to use from 2,200 law enforcement agen- license plate scanners. And he said cies, including the US Department of the technology is widely used in othHomeland Security. “We don’t object er countries, notably Australia, Britain to the use of these systems to flag and Canada. Police departments are cars that are stolen or belong to fugi- aware of privacy concerns, but tives, but these documents show a Roberts said these can be minimized dire need for rules to make sure that by having guidelines in place on use this technology isn’t used for unbri- and access of the data, with “strict dled government surveillance,” ACLU audits” to ensure that police don’t staff attorney Catherine Crump, the user the data for “fishing expedireport’s lead author, said in a state- tions.” The association does not recomment. But David Roberts, who heads the mend a specific length of time to technology center for the retain data, but urges police departInternational Association of Chiefs of ment to have policies that allow Police, said these devices have access only for official law enforcebecome “enormously valuable” in ment purposes. “It’s not accurate to fighting and preventing crime. “It say this is a tracking system.” he said. automates what is a time-consuming “What these produce is an image of a process which officers do on a manu- license plate in a public space. You al basis,” Roberts told AFP. “These can still need to access motor vehicle trigger automatic alerts. And this can records to find out who the regishave extraordinary value in locating tered owner is.” Authorities appear to vehicles wanted for a variety of rea- be listening in some cases. This year, sons.” He noted that the technology Virginia’s attorney general ruled that can help in “noncriminal” cases such police may only use the technology

Microsoft works to save face after Xbox backlash LOS ANGELES: When it comes to hyping next-generation hardware, the video game industry doesn’t typically opt for simplicity. However, during a presentation at the GameStop Expo in Las Vegas to promote the upcoming Xbox One console last week, a no-frills, old-school approach is exactly what Microsoft employed when confronted with a convention room full of passionate gamers. There were no flashy videos, sensational demonstrations or celebrity appearances. Instead, Xbox Live programming director Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb candidly took questions on stage from the crowd for 30 uninterrupted minutes, a refreshing reprieve considering the backlash Microsoft has continued to endure since unveiling the Xbox One in May. “Look, at Xbox, we really care about the community,” Hryb replied when asked point-blank how Microsoft would win back consumers. “We’re very focused on what is right for gamers. Everybody at Xbox is a gamer. It’s not like we just show up, do our work and go home. We want to make this the best game system that you are going to own for the next 10 years.” The presentation was apparently the first stop of an apology tour for Microsoft, which originally said the successor to the Xbox 360 would be required to go online every 24 hours and limit how users could access previously purchased games. A month later,

citing feedback from consumers, Microsoft Corp. announced it decided not to implement such restrictions. Microsoft’s atypical about-face continued last month when the Redmond, Wash., company declared that an updated version of its Kinect sensor, which detects motion and voice, would no longer be required to operate the Xbox One. That turnabout came after the company, at events like the Electronic Entertainment Expo, defended how integral Kinect was to the Xbox One. Hryb said he’ll embark on a crosscountry tour this month, making stops in U.S. cities to similarly assuage concerns about the next-gen console - just like he did at last week’s GameStop Expo. The 180-degree reversals and low-key repentance are unprecedented moves for a company like Microsoft, which once hired Cirque du Soleil to theatrically unmask the first Kinect. Microsoft announced this week that the Xbox One will debut Nov 22 - a week after Sony Corp. unleashes its PlayStation 4 console on Nov 14. The PS4 will cost $399 and feature comparable computing power, high-definition graphics and online features to the Xbox One. Microsoft’s console is pricier at $499, but the system comes bundled with a Kinect sensor. “I’ve pretty much made up my mind that I’m getting a PS4 and not an Xbox,” said Jeff Lane, a gamer from Reno, Nev., who paid $100 for VIP access to the GameStop Expo. “I know Microsoft has

LAS VEGAS: This file photo shows a Microsoft Xbox One console at GameStop Expo, in Las Vegas. — AP changed course on a lot of their week’s event, which primarily served as unfounded policies since they the training grounds for the retailer’s announced the Xbox One, but what’s 5,000 managers. “We have thousands to stop them from just implementing of people in classrooms upstairs receivthem next year after the console is ing training on the Xbox One and others on the PS4. We’re trying to arm our out?” The worries come at an important staff on how these devices will be diftime for the gaming industry, which ferent and how they’ll work.” Raines said GameStop expects this has seen sales slide in recent years as Microsoft’s 7-year-old Xbox 360 and fall’s debut of the PS4 and Xbox One to Sony’s 6-year-old PlayStation 3 have make for the biggest console launch in entered their golden years. The arrival history, while Microsoft announced of Nintendo’s Wii U last year didn’t that pre-orders for the third-generation invigorate game sales, which research Xbox have sold out faster than both firm NPD Group said have dropped 9 the original Xbox and Xbox 360, which was released in 2005 and has been the percent over last year. “Education is job one,” said best-selling console for the past two GameStop CEO Paul Raines at last years. — AP

trunk of a Metropolotian Police for “active” criminal investigations. And Rockville, Maryland agreed to a system to share its data with a state agency that deletes the information after one year. Even as the debate rages, it remains unclear how effective the technology has been in reducing or solving crime. A 2010 study led by Cynthia Lum at George Mason University was unable to determine whether license plate readers helped prevent auto theft or other crimes in auto crime hot spots. Lum, a former police officer, said the study was limited in scope. She is seeking to conduct a comprehensive study on the impact on overall crime from the technology. Lum, who heads the university’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, said the technology is appealing because “it automates a process of investigation that police have been using for many years.” But she noted that the evidence on the effectiveness of scanners “is still underdeveloped.” “There is a chance you might acquire this technology and it might not give you the value in crime prevention that you anticipate,” she said. — AFP

Wave of sympathy for top China blogger’s cancer post BEIJING: One of China’s most popular microbloggers received a huge outpouring of sympathy Friday after announcing online that he has cancer. Kai-Fu Lee, a former head of Google China, has more than 51 million followers-more than the entire population of Spain-on Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, and is ranked as its most influential user. “Life is limited but the world moves on. At the end of the day, everybody is equal before cancer,” he said in his post. A Taiwanese-born American who now runs a capital venture fund in Beijing incubating technology start-ups, Lee is respected by China’s young as an inspirational and gritty figure. The posting immediately drew wide attention and was the most reposted entry Friday with more than 140,000 repetitions, most of them sympathetic and supportive. Lee, 51, posted again Friday, thanking users and confirming he had been diagnosed with lymph cancer. “That does not sound very optimistic,” he added. “This is life.” That comment quickly became the second most re-posted entry on Sina Weibo. Lee is well-known for his outspokenness on China’s social media and has come under government pressure as a result. His efforts to raise public awareness have ranged from shaming stock short

sellers who “slam innocent Chinese companies” to commenting on Taiwan’s presidential vote “to give people a feel of what a democratic election would be like”. In February, he announced that had been banned for three days from the weibo services provided by Sina and competitor Tencent, without specifying the reasons. Without mentioning him by name, state broadcaster CCT V showed the homepage of his Sina Weibo account last month when it criticised bloggers with huge numbers of followers for “intensifying the spreading of rumours”. Sina’s health channel invited doctors from a tumour hospital in Beijing to answer questions online on lymph cancer Friday. “Mister Kaifu, wish you get recovered at an early date. If the Chinese society still has positive energy and I can vote for only three representatives for it, you will definitely be one of them,” wrote one web user. Han Han, a prominent writer and a well-known blogger, encouraged Lee to “keep moving on”. “He has been trying hard to make the world better... and he enabled more young people to have such an opportunity and power,” he wrote on his weibo account. “Walking a long way you will inevitably encounter rain, but a nice person will finally live through to see the sun when the clouds clear away.” — AFP


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

In drought, water war in California fought underground FRESNO, California: For decades, this city in California’s agricultural heartland relied exclusively on cheap, plentiful groundwater and pumped increasingly larger amounts from an aquifer as its population grew. But eventually, the water table dropped by more than 100 feet, causing some of Fresno’s wells to cave in and others to slow to a trickle. The cost of replacing those wells and extracting groundwater ballooned by 400 percent. “We became the largest energy demand in the region - $11 million a year for electricity just to run the pumps,” said Martin Querin, manager of the city’s water division, which supplies 550,000 residents. Fresno is just one player in a water war that’s quietly being fought underground. Throughout the Central Valley - one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions - farmers, residents and cities have seen their wells go dry. Those who can afford it have drilled deeper wells that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Experts say water supplies have been

strained by growing city populations and massive tracts of newly planted orchards and vineyards. “Water levels are dropping dramatically in some areas. It’s never been this bad,” said Steve Arthur, vice president of Arthur and Orum Well Drilling. The drops create concerns that groundwater is becoming unaffordable and that overuse could cause serious land subsidence, which can damage infrastructure such as roads. “We can’t keep over-pumping groundwater,” said Peter Gleick, president of Pacific Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Oakland. “It’s simply unsustainable and not economically viable in the long run.” California has few rules governing groundwater. While some basins limit pumping through management plans or court rulings, anyone can build a well and pump unlimited amounts in most of the state. The US Geological Survey has found in much of California - the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast and Southern California - more water has

historically been pulled out of the ground than was replenished. Climate change and droughts are putting additional pressure on aquifers, said USGS hydrologist Claudia C. Faunt. There also is a recent shift among California farmers to replace row crops such as tomatoes with orchards, which can’t be scaled back in dry times. On the west side of the Valley, massive farms whose surface water deliveries have been severely curtailed to protect fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are increasingly relying on groundwater and digging deeper wells. Farmers have also seen wells go dry east of Modesto in the Sierra foothills, where they’ve planted hundreds of thousands of acres of new orchards. They’ve been forced to drill new wells as deep as 800 feet. “There are more straws taking water out of the basin,” said Al Rossini, a third generation farmer from Oakdale. And whoever has the longest straw - and the deepest pockets - is winning.

Some small farmers can’t afford to drill deeper. Rural residents who rely on smaller wells for drinking, cooking and bathing are also feeling the brunt. “Our well went dry, and we had to redrill,” said Gerald Vieira, a retired Denair resident. Vieira paid $13,000 this summer for a new well - drilled 200 feet deeper than it had been before. A dozen of his neighbors also bought new wells. Some farmers and urban districts are now trying to find solutions to prevent groundwater overuse. Fresno plans to use a combination of surface, ground and treated wastewater and to greatly expand the city’s program to replenish groundwater, and farmers in the Sierra foothills also plan to dig recharging ponds. Meanwhile, many farmers and other water users say the state must build more storage, especially groundwater banks, to hold water during wet years. “Water is like blood to the body,” said Rossini. “Without water, California won’t be the same state.” —- AP

Dutch vegetarian butcher takes on ‘Frankenburger’ Soy paste main ingredient

Marty Anderson, front, and others meditate at the start of a yoga class in Minnesota recently. — MCT

Meditation becomes ‘huge topic’ in medical circles MINNEAPOLIS : When the Rev Ron Moor began meditating 30 years ago, he did so in secret. “When I started, meditation was a dirty word,” said Moor, pastor of Spirit United Church in Minneapolis. “(Evangelist) Jimmy Swaggart called it ‘the work of the devil.’ Because of its basis in Eastern religions, fundamentalists considered it satanic. Now those same fundamentalists are embracing it. And every class I teach includes at least a brief meditation.” The faith community isn’t alone in changing its attitude. Businesses, schools and hospitals not only have become more accepting of meditation, but many offer classes on it. Meditating has gone mainstream. Why? “Because it works,” Moor said. Adherents have been saying that for centuries, of course, but now there’s a difference: Scientists can prove it. Propelled by technological breakthroughs in neuroscience enabling researchers to monitor brain activity, the medical community is awash in studies showing that meditating has beneficial physical effects on the brain. Those studies are being joined by others demonstrating that advantages include everything from raising the effectiveness of flu vaccines to lowering rejection rates for organ transplants. “Meditation has become a huge topic” in medical circles, said Dr. Selma Sroka, medical director of the Hennepin County Medical Center Alternative Medicine Clinic. “The health benefits are so strong that if nothing else, people should learn the relaxation techniques.” The practice is being embraced by an audience that isn’t interested in its religious contexts, typically Buddhist or Hindu, but is fascinated by its mechanics and techniques. Sroka compared the West’s co-opting of meditation to what happened to yoga, which came to this country as a spiritual discipline and has morphed into a form of physical fitness. Some would-be meditators opt simply to ignore the religious element, said Mark Nunberg, co-founder of Common Ground Meditation Center in Minneapolis. Although his center is a Buddhist organization, at least half the people who enroll in classes are there just for instruction in meditation, he said. “It’s the same practice” whether it involves religion or not, he said. “It’s training the mind to be in the present moment in a relaxed way. It’s the most practical thing in the world; some might even say it’s just common sense.” You don’t have to call it meditation. In fact, Sroka said, a lot of people would prefer that you don’t. Terms such as “mindfulness stress reduction” and “relaxation response” are less threatening to some folks. They also make it easier to introduce the practice in offices and schools, where even a tangential reference to religion can raise red flags. Since 2001, doctors doing their residencies in the alternative-medicine clinic’s family medicine program have been required to take a class in meditation, not necessarily to pass on the information to their patients _ although they are encouraged to

do so, Sroka said _ so much as to help them deal with the stress of their jobs. At first, the program ran into resistance. Then the hospital quit calling it meditation. “I think a lot of it is in the language,” she said. Because of meditation’s association with Eastern religions, “members of other religions often are uncomfortable with the term. People want to know that I’m not selling them a religion.” The scientific community’s interest in meditation springs from tests in which electrodes attached to subjects’ heads show their brains calming down during meditation, lowering stress levels and increasing the ability to focus. The tests are generating so much interest that leading experts have almost become rock stars. In October, 1,200 people turned out for a lecture by Dr. Richard Davidson at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing. Davidson is a professor at the University of Wisconsin who has been on the cutting edge of using neuroscience to monitor meditation-induced changes in the brain. He is convinced that the brain can be trained to deal with stress the same way a muscle can be conditioned to lift a heavy weight. “Training the mind can lead to changes in the brain,” he said. On the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota, the Mindfulness for Students club meets every Friday for a 90-minute meditation. Attendance tends to surge right before finals. “It’s a great way to deal with stress,” said Stefan Brancel, a junior who is president of the club. Meditation “makes you capable of stepping back and taking a bigger perspective instead of getting lost in the stress. Once you step back and see the situation for what it is, you can react to it.” The surge in scientific research focuses on brain imaging. The best known device is functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, which produces color-coded crosssection diagrams showing how the neurons in the brain are firing. Davidson has used this imaging with Tibetan monks. While his findings have been stunning, questions arise over their applicability to the general public. Studying the brain waves of people who meditate for several hours a day is comparable to measuring physical fitness in Olympic athletes, critics say. The results might be impressive, but what do they mean for the average person? That’s why Mary Jo Kreitzer, founder and director of the Center for Spirituality and Healing, is excited about studies of meditation newcomers. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts have documented changes in the brains of novice practitioners who took an introductory eight-week class and meditated as little as 15 minutes a day. Sroka said that the techniques can become second nature. In times of stress, “you slow down and breathe slowly,” she said. “You get to the point where you do it routinely without even being aware of it.” Kreitzer agrees. “Mindfulness is an attitude that you carry with you,” she said. “I think mindfulness really helps us move through life with ease.” — MCT

THE HAGUE: Never mind last month’s revolutionary test-tube beef burger grown from meat stem cells. The Dutch are way ahead with a “vegetarian butcher” who transforms plants into “meat”. Dubbed the “Frankenburger”, the labgrown beef — developed at a cost of more than 250,000 euros ($330,000) — was unveiled by scientists in London and served to volunteers in what was billed as the start of a food revolution. But “we are much more advanced, so-muchso that we have built an unassailable lead over meat produced from stem cells,” said Jaap Korteweg, founder of the “Vegetarian Butcher”. While the “cultured beef” in London was made using strands of meat grown from muscle cells taken from a living cow, the Dutch butcher needs only plant matter to make his “meat”. Korteweg’s shop on a main street in downtown The Hague is packed with a range of products from veggie “hamburger” patties to “meatballs” and even “tuna” salad. One of the secret ingredients is a soy paste, which when put through a special pressurisation machine, imitates meat fibres, a technology invented by the University of Wageningen in the central Netherlands. Ingredients vary. For chicken, he uses more soy, while beef is made from carrots, peas and potatoes. The “meat” taste comes by adding herbs and spices and all the rest. The vegetarian chicken “tastes just like real chicken”, and the tuna salad is also close to the real thing, according to an AFP journalist and several customers, who conceded some products weren’t quite realistic but said they tasted good. The demand for an environmentally friendly and vegetarian alternative to meat is growing, with meat production notoriously inefficient, requiring huge swathes of land to grow the crops to feed the animals. “Our hamburger’s environmental footprint is seven times less than that of a real hamburger,” claimed Korteweg. “Our chicken only requires half to a third of what’s needed to produce a real chicken. I’m talking about use of land, water, the grain and feed normally fed to chicken,” he said. Three years after opening, the Vegetarian Butcher sells its products in 500 stores around the Netherlands, mainly supermarkets and specialist food stores. Korteweg says that sales have doubled each year since, and hopes to open his own factory next year to boost his share of the market and

THE HAGUE: A man working in a soy farm. The demand for an environmentally friendly and vegetarian alternative to meat is growing, with meat production notoriously inefficient, requiring huge swathes of land to grow the crops to feed the animals. drop prices to below that of the real thing. Though now slightly more expensive than real meat, his products cost about the same as organic meat. The Vegetarian Butcher has struck a chord with Dutch animal welfare organisations and its pro-vegetarian Party for the Animals (PvdD), which has two seats in Parliament. One of those seats is held by Korteweg’s wife and PvdD leader Marianne Thieme. But just as French beef farmers reacted with outrage at developers of the stem-cell burger, the Dutch meat sector has issues with the Vegetarian Butcher. “Every consumer has the right to choose what they eat, of course,” Jos Goebbels, the head of the Dutch Central Meat Sector Organisation (COV), said. “What we do have a problem with is that they use terminology specific to meat, while everybody knows that there’s no meat in there,” he said. “It shouldn’t be called chicken, or a ham-

burger but should rather have another name, because it tricks consumers.” Goebbels did not,however, feel that veggie meat posed a threat to the chicken or beef industry. In his quest to make veggie meat taste like the real thing, Korteweg has enlisted the help of chefs, as well as scientists. “The great difficulty is to reproduce on a large scale what we’re able here to produce with our experiments in the kitchen,” chef Paul Bom said. Another problem is people who say “they simply could not imagine consuming an alternative” to meat, said Bom, so “the only solution is to get them to taste it.” Dutch environmental group Natuur & Milieu is doing just that, promoting veggie food with free tastings in supermarkets. “We believe vegetarian food is a relatively easier alternative to achieve than say, finding an alternative to jet fuel or introducing electric cars on the road,” said Olof van der Gaag, the organisation’s campaign manager.

Heart patients more likely to take medication when in single pill WASHINGTON: Many patients who have heart disease or who have suffered a stroke don’t take their medications as regularly as prescribed. One study shows that a number of stroke patients stop taking their pills within three months after having a stroke. A new study in Britain finds that if patients with heart disease can take a single pill instead of several pills, they are more likely to stay on their medication. Patients at risk for heart attack or stroke may be tak ing a lot of pills. Some could reduce blood pressure. Other pills could control cholesterol. Still others might be prescribed to prevent a heart attack. Henr yk Pycz, who has both high blood pressure and diabetes, participated in a study to see if he could do b e t te r i n m a n a gi n g h i s h e a l t h by reducing the number of pills he had to take. “When I was taking the medication consisting of a variety of tablets, I’d have either five, six or seven tablets to take,” he said. Dr Simon Thom, from the National H e a r t a n d Lu n g I n s t i t u te a t t h e Imperial College in London, knew it was hard for patients to manage all those medications. “We know there’s a big shortfall in the coverage and continued usage of preventative medication, particularly in lower middle income countries,” he s a i d. D r Th o m l e d a s t u d y t h a t involved more than 2,000 patients. Almost 90 percent of them had suffered a stroke or had heart disease.

The other 10 percent had a high risk of having one. Half of the participants received a combination daily medication k nown as a polypill that contained statins, blood pressure medication and another drug like aspirin to prevent blood clots. The other participants were told to continue taking their regular medications. Dr Thom says the results clearly favored the polypill. “More patients at the end of the trial were taking indicated medications in the form of the fixed dose combination polypill than were in the usual care group,” he said. The patients who took the polypill had improvements in control of both blood pressure and cholesterol. Pycz said he also learned something. “It helped me to understand that controlling your medication is important. The polypill meant that I was never out of sync I always had the correct amount of tablets to take,” he said. Dr. Thom says the study has huge implications, especially for those who skip their medications. “The polypill has a big public health o p p o r t u n i t y to b r i d g e t h e g a p o f under usage of indicated and effective therapeutic medication,” he said. Dr Thom says that’s because those who made the biggest gains in taking in taking their medications as pre scribed were the ones who were most likely to skip them at the beginning of the trial. The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association. —-MCT

Unlicensed lipsticks may contain lead MANILA: Philippines officials yesterday warned the public against using unlicensed Chinese-made lipsticks and fake copies purporting to be legitimate brands as they may contain high levels of lead. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an advisory saying the products were being sold widely on the streets of many urban areas without the agency’s approval. “These products may contain high levels of heavy metals, especially lead,” it said. The lipsticks are “unnotified products from China or imitations of the original products being sold by sidewalk and ambulant vendors or outlets in the country,” the advisory warned. The lipsticks carry the labels Baolishi, Miss Beauty, Shijing, Ling Mei and Heng Fang, it added. “In adults, lead toxicant has been linked with high blood pressure, joint pain, poor memory and concentration problems,” the FDA said. “The children are particularly at risk from neurotoxic effects of lead, which affect their brain development and cognition,” it added. The agency said it had asked police and other law enforcement agencies to confiscate the illegal products. The agency however did not say how the lipsticks entered the country, although the government had previously acknowledged that smuggling remained a problem due to rampant corruption in the customs bureau. In 2010, the FDA banned at least nine Chinese brands of skin creams and whiteners that were found to contain high levels of mercury. — AFP


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

Kidney donation to stranger sets off a chain reaction DENVER: Erin Rollman and Adam Leventhal both live in Colorado, but they don’t live in the same worlds. He is a teacher. She’s an actor. But in at least one essential way, they could not be more alike. They are two of only four living Coloradans who have donated one of their kidneys to a stranger this year. So they have saving lives in common. They just wish that weren’t so uncommon. Leventhal, 28, visited Rollman, 38, at Porter Adventist Hospital on Aug. 23, just after Rollman said, “Goodbye and good luck, little lefty” to her kidney, which was flown to Virginia and transplanted into a critical young patient she may never meet. His message to Rollman: “I am happy for you.” “I meant that you will be better for having done this,” said Leventhal, who fully expects Rollman to feel the same euphoria that has enveloped him since March, when he gave his kidney to a father of four in Brooklyn. And because Rollman signed up for a groundbreaking paired program called the National Kidney Registry, her sacrifice set off a chain reaction of transplantations that saved three lives in three states in back-to-back-to-back operations. “And I am certain the chain will continue past those three,” said Jessica Johnson, Porter’s transplant coordinator. That’s because the chain Rollman triggered is only in its initial phase. Here’s how it works: Most kidney-failure patients have a willing, living donor. Before, if they don’t match, that’s the end of it and often, the patient’s life. Now, should the NKR database identify a compatible kidney for a dying patient, that person’s healthy donation partner agrees to give up a kidney that then goes to another stranger, perpetuating what Leventhal calls “a beautiful chain that keeps on giving life.” But it takes what the NKR calls a “Good Samaritan” donor - someone who offers up a kidney without stipulation - to set a new chain in motion. Rollman’s 4.72-inch miracle bean went to a patient in Virginia whose healthy partner’s kidney then went to Ohio. Soon another kidney there was on its way to Wisconsin. One expected recipient became too sick for transplant, which left the chain at three links so far. A chain typically averages six transplants, the NKR says, but a single altruistic donor once touched off a wave of more than 40 kidney donations. A chain usually ends when a child’s life is at stake. In those cases, a kidney is given regardless of whether the child has a healthy donor partner. These chains are revolutionizing the transplant industry by drastically reducing the number of Americans awaiting kidneys, the critical organs that cleanse the blood of waste. Currently, that number is at just under 100,000. Last year, 6,000 died waiting. In Colorado, while more than 1,660 people await a kidney, someone dies every four days. Paired donation is dropping the wait time for recipients by an average of 78 percent, the NKR says, from 51 months to just 11. Colorado is considered a generous organ-donor state. Last year, 67 percent of residents who applied

for their driver’s license or state ID cards checked the box for organ, eye and tissue donors in the event of death, second only to Alaska. The nationwide average, according to The Donor Alliance, is only 42 percent. But the very concept of living donation - involving a kidney or liver - is still foreign to most anyone not facing the imminent death of a loved one. It was to Rollman. “I am crazy relaxed about this,” Rollman said in an interview one month before her operation. In the subsequent weeks, she said, “I never had a single doubt in my mind.” Rollman wasn’t worried, she said, because she did her research. With the help of the Denver-based American Transplant Foundation, she learned that, statistically, kidney donation is less dangerous than childbirth. That less than 1 percent of living kidney donors ever experience complications. That donation does not reduce life span. That the surgery is minimally invasive. And, perhaps most important to Rollman: That while the fiveyear survival rate for kidney patients on dialysis is just 35 percent, it is 81 percent for patients who receive a kidney from a living donor. Rollman would like to live in a world where giving up an organ to a stranger is not considered unusual or heroic. So when Porter spokesman Tim Shonsey calls her good deed “the ultimate exercise in good faith and goodwill,” she doesn’t know what to do with the compliment. “When someone tells me, ‘You make the world a better place,’ I just say, ‘Well ... so do you ... because they generally do,” Rollman said. “There are a million ways to do good things in the world, and this is just one of them.” Leventhal calls Rollman “an ordinary person doing something extraordinary - that other ordinary people could do as well.” Rollman didn’t know living donation “was even a thing” until she found out her friend Mara Wiles was on dialysis. Dialysis isn’t a cure, Wiles said. “It delays death.” Four years ago, Wiles was a healthy 24-year-old distance runner who was establishing herself as a local stand-up comedian. Then she started to notice arthritis-like pain, cloudy thinking and extreme fatigue, followed by three years of decline and a lupus diagnosis. In April 2012, she went into kidney failure on a flight home from her grandfather’s funeral. Three months after that, she was on dialysis and chemotherapy. She was placed on the kidney transplant list, and stayed there for seven months. Wiles went public with her need for a donor on social media, and it was hard to ask for help. “I don’t even ask for a ride to the airport,” she said. But more than 30 of her friends and family got themselves tested for compatibility - including Rollman, who only knew Wiles at that time from seeing her perform. “I thought she was weird and kind of funny - like me,” Rollman said. There was a match, but it wasn’t a relative, and it

wasn’t Rollman. Instead, it was Jessica Anderson, Wiles’ best friend dating back to elementary school. When Anderson, now a schoolteacher in Los Angeles, learned she was a match, she called Wiles and said, “I hope you are ready to take care of my kidney for the rest of your life.” Anderson flew home for the surgery during her spring break. It took place March 8. “It was like someone had flicked a switch, and everything worked again,” said Wiles, whose autoimmune disease has also gone dormant since the surgery. “I didn’t think it could be this good again.” About three weeks after Wiles’ surgery, Rollman had an epiphany. “If I were willing to give my kidney to Mara,” she said, “Why wouldn’t I give it up for a stranger?” The question sent chills down Rollman’s mother’s spine. “I feel like I raised a gem,” said Georgianne Rollman. “I know it is a great thing she is doing. But as a mother, you can’t help but worry. We all know people who go into the hospital with nothing, and come out of it with something.” When Rollman officially passed her barrage of tests, she asked the probability there would be a match. Johnson told her, unequivocally, it was 100 percent. It took two hours for the NKR database to identify a match for Rollman. And at that moment, she said. “ I knew this was happening.” “You are the needle in the haystack that someone has been waiting years for,” Leventhal said. “For the people who match? They have won the lottery.” Leventhal discovered living organ donation in an online newspaper that serves the Chabad-Lubavitch communities. “I felt such a high from reading that article that I reached out to get tested right away,” he said. “I did not want the inspiration to fade.” Leventhal learned he was a unique match with a man who had a very high antibody count - meaning he was at great risk to reject a kidney from anyone else. Leventhal flew to Brooklyn for the operation in March just to make the transplantation easier on both the recipient and his doctors. In most cases, donors and recipients know nothing about each other until at least three months after the operation, if ever. But when Leventhal arrived, he was asked to meet with the recipient, his wife and three children. When Leventhal walked into the man’s hospital room, the wife told her husband, “This is the angel that God has sent you.” “I will live with those moments forever,” Leventhal sad. Rollman’s surgery was scheduled for 5 a.m. on Aug. 23. The surgery, led by Dr. Peter Kennealey, took just two hours, and it was without incident, Shonsey said. Rollman woke up a little foggy, muttering something about the middle-schoolers who used to play catch with her cat when she was a kid. “That’s pretty terrible, isn’t it?” she mumbled, to the great amusement of her many waiting friends. — MCT

ALASKA: Marine mammal researcher Russ Andrews checks the position of a 300-pound baby killer whale in a CT scanner at the Alaska Spine Institute in Anchorage. Andrewsand Stephen Raverty, a veterinary pathologist with the British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, are studying the orca calf that washed ashore on St Paul Island on Sept 3. — AP

E-cigarettes as effective as patches to stop smoking PARIS: Tobacco-free electronic cigarettes are as effective as nicotine patches in weaning smokers off their habit, but both techniques are only modestly successful, a study said yesterday. It is the first trial to compare the increasingly popular “e-cigarette”-a plastic tube which heats a liquid to an inhalable vapouragainst nicotine patches as an anti-smoking aid. Researchers in Auckland, New Zealand, recruited 657 smokers who wanted to quit, and assigned them randomly to three groups. Two groups of around 290 people were given a 13-week supply of either patches or e-cigarettes that delivered nicotine vapour. Another 73 were given e-cigarettes without nicotine.Six months later, the volunteers were then questioned, and their breath was

analysed for carbon monoxide telltales of smoking, to rate their success in giving up tobacco. The success rate among the nicotine ecigarettes was 7.3 percent, compared with 5.8 percent in the patch group and 4.1 percent in the non-nicotine e-cigarette group. None of the e-cigarette users fell ill from using the product, but the researchers stress that its long-term safety-an issue that has emerged in the European Union which plans to class e-cigs as medicinal products-remains unclear. “E-cigarettes, with or without nicotine, were modestly effective at helping smokers to quit, with similar achievement of abstinence as with nicotine patches, and few adverse events,” says the study, published by The Lancet. — AFP


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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

Safir Hotel & Residences Kuwait-Fintas holds beach clean-up



afir Hotel & Residence Kuwait-Fintas conducted another beach clean-up day on Tuesday, August 27, as part of its ongoing “Go Clean, Go Green Campaign”. It was a full day activity in which a large number of hotel associates enthusiastically took part. Participants collected garbage along the Egaila Beach making the area clean and trash free. Commenting on this event, Saif Eddin Mohammed, the hotel’s General Manager said, “The hotel has launched several events and community campaigns encouraging our associates to implement green practices in every way they can, including turning off lights and electrical appliances when not in use, recycling paper, using digital files instead of printed documents, practicing garbage segregation among others. This campaign to clean the Egaila Beach area in Fintas is just part of this drive. The hotel encourages associates, guests and the local community to get involved and make a difference.”

A photowalk in Kuwait on Oct 5th photowalk is more like a social photography event where photographers gather in a spot, take photos for an hour or two then maybe meet up at a restaurant after that. Scott Kelby’s worldwide photowalk never took place in Kuwait until now. Kuwait’s photowalk will be held on October 5th at Souk Al-Mubarakiya at 10am. There are some prizes to be won like a Canon 70D and Adobe Creative Cloud Membership. So far there are 700 registered photowalks with 8700+ photographers. The prizes are for the worldwide event, not just Kuwait. Kuwait Mapping Meet-Up will be held on September 2 at 5:30 pm in Coffee Bean (Mahboula, Coastal Road). The event is for anyone interested in maps, spatial analysis or surveying in Kuwait. For more information, contact Wil at 97225615.


Japanese festival two-day Japanese Pop Culture Festival will be held on September 12 at 6:00 pm and September 13 at 6:00 pm. The event will be held in the National Library, Mubarakiya Street in Kuwait City.


Issue of online visa by Indian embassy oreigners requiring visas for India need to apply it online from 16th June 2013. Applicants may log on to the Public portal at After successful online submission, the hard copy, so generated, has to be signed by the applicant and submitted with supporting documents in accordance with the type of visa along with the applicable fee in cash at any of the two outsource centres at Sharq or Fahaheel. It is essential that applicants fill in their personal details as exactly available in their passports. Mismatch of any of the personal details would lead to non-acceptance of the application. Fees once paid are non-refundable. All children would have to obtain separate visa on their respective passports.


Indian Embassy sets up helpline he Indian Embassy in Kuwait has set up helpline in order to assist Indian expatriates in registering any complaint regarding the government’s ongoing campaign to stamp out illegal residents from the country. The embassy said in press release yesterday that it amended its previous statement and stated if there is any complaint, the same could be conveyed at the following (as amended): Operations Department, Ministry of Interior, Kuwait. Fax: 22435580, Tel: 24768146/25200334. It said the embassy has been in regular contact with local authorities regarding the ongoing checking of expatriates. The embassy has also conveyed to them the concerns, fears and apprehensions of the community in this regard. The authorities in Kuwait have conveyed that strict instructions have been issued to ensure that there is no harassment or improper treatment of expatriates by those undertaking checking. “The embassy would like to request Indian expatriates to ensure that they abide by all local laws, rules and regulations regarding residency, traffic and other matters,” the release read. It would be prudent to always carry the Civil ID and other relevant documents such as driving license, etc. In case an Indian expatriate encounters any improper treatment during checking, it may be conveyed immediately with full details and contact particulars to the embassy at the following phone number 67623639. These contact details are exclusively for the above-mentioned purpose only.

PGA Everton Football Academy course

E Enjoy the taste of true Espresso at Vergnano Cafe at Olympia Complex


he superior quality of the blends comes from the meticulous selection of the best raw materials available, and from an extraordinary production process. Cafe Vergnano is the first to introduce an innovation that brings all the passion and pleasure of the perfect

espresso to everyday life at home. Espresso is now available in Kuwait, through Al-Sanabel Al-Thahabiya Est. Tel: 22413795/98. Espresso Vergnano can be ordered through Espresso Vergnano capsules are compatible with other espresso machines.

veryone is welcome to come along to play and train at the PGA Everton Football Academy in Bayan, Block 7, next to Abdullah Al-Rujaib High School, from 15th-19th September, from 5 pm to 8 pm daily. Come along and see the number one football coaching academy in Kuwait, sponsored by Porsche Centre Kuwait, Behbehani Motors Company. Meet the coaching team, register, collect the new playing strip and join in the fun and games on the full sized football pitch. There is also basketball and volleyball available. Register now for the new 2013-14 season, courses are available for boys and girls aged 3 to 18 years, beginning September 20. for further details see


8th Expo Pakistan to commence in September he 8th Expo Pakistan will be held from September 26 to 29 in Karachi. Held annually, Expo Pakistan is the biggest trade fair in the country showcasing the largest collection of Pakistan’s export merchandise and services. Foreign Exhibitors also use the event to launch their products. Expo Pakistan 2012 was visited by delegates from 52 countries and generated a business of over $ 518 million. A 16 member delegation from Kuwait including reputable companies like Al-Yasra Foods also took part in the last exhibition. Expo Pakistan 2013 is being held under the auspices of the Trade Development Authority Pakistan. Details about the event can be viewed Further information and details of sponsorship can be obtained from the office of Commercial Secretary, Pakistan Embassy, Jabriya (25356594) during office hours.

Indian Cultural Program 2013 A volleyball tourney is being conducted as part of the Kharafi National Sulaibiya camp Onam celebration, titled Indian Cultural Program 2013.

Indian Lawyers’ Forum bids farewell to advocate


ndian Lawyers’ Forum Kuwait organized function to bid farewell to its member Advocate Stanley M John, who is leaving Kuwait for good. Advocate Stanley M John hailing from Kulathupusha, Kollam, Kerala was an active member of Indian Lawyers’ Forum. He was working as the VicePresident Middle East Business solution Int’l Kuwait, and now transferred to their Corporate office in Virginia USA. The function was presided over by the President of Indian Lawyers’ Forum, Thomas Panicker, which was held at HiDine Restaurant Auditorium. President underlined the importance of arranging such farewell functions for members who are leaving from Kuwait. The function is personally touching and President advised all members to attend such functions without fail. He wished Stanley and family all the best wishes. General


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

Convenor Mohammed Basheer, Advocate Thomas Stephen, Advocate Jiji Chellappan, Twinkle Chacko, Priyah Sasi, made felicitation speeches on the occasion remembering the warm relationship and cooperation they maintained with Stanley. Sujan Panicker presented memento of the Forum to Stanley and Mili and wished them all success in his career and life ahead. Stanley John in his reply speech remarked that his tenure as Indian Lawyers’ Forum member was eventful and rejoicing. He said through Forum he has been benefited a lot, especially to find out professional friends, participate in legal and other discussions with the fraternity and help each other in their career and personal life. He extended his thanks to all the Forum members and assured his continued services to the Forum and its activities in future.

Kala-Kuwait concludes free Malayalam Education-2013


ree Malayalam education programme for the year-2013 organised by Mathrubhasha Samithi under the auspices of KALA Kuwait got concluded. The function conducted at United Indian School was inaugurated by Pancily Varkey, the Country Head of UAExchange. In the inaugural speech he urged the Indian School authorities to include Malayalam Language in the curriculum. Verkey also pointed out that the majority of students in the Indian Schools of Kuwait are of Keralite origin as their counterparts in other Gulf countries take a favorable stand. The patron of Mathrubhasha Samithi John Mathew, Raghunathan Nair, Adv. John Thomas, leading cultural activist Babuji Batheri and Shaju V Haneef of KALA congratulated the students and appreciated the teachers for their efforts in taking up the programme effectively. The guest honored the teachers and distributed the prizes for the winners of different competitions held as the part the program. Prinsten D’Cruz, Sidhaarthan, Micle,Vinod John, Johnson, Joji Aipe, Anil Kukkiri,

Naoushad, Jayan, Sugatha Kumar, Sudarsanan, Krishanakumar, Roy, Manikkuttan, Chandraboss, C Krishnan, Shanavaz, Dileep Naderi, Saji Thomas Mathew, K Vinod, N Ajith Kumar, Sailesh, Thomas Mathew Kadavil etc of KALA ensured the smoothly conducting the program. The performances of JessiyaElsa Thomas, Dona Biju, Dona R Jiji (Group Dance), Tharaka, Aisha (group dance) Devi Nandana, Dyuthi Nadana (group dance), Sarah Susan, Sajeev, Alen Siju, Lineeha Mariya Mathew, Alisha Mery Mathew, Manna Mery Sabu, Kevin Saji Melbi, Abel M Sajeev, Pious Joby, Aneeta Siju, Sneha, Varsha (group song),

Alen Siju, Aneeta Siju (group song), Aksa Mariya Ajay, Thejas Krishna, Saji, Aleeha, Tushara, Varsha, Jefi R Saji (solo songs), Klayona Susan Tom (dance), Aleesha Mary Mathew (dance), Sensa Anil kukkiri (poem) and Swetha Anne Jacob (poem) were well received by the audience.

V Anil Kumar, General Convener of Mathrubhasha Samithi -2013 presented the report in the meeting presided over by KALA Kuwait acting president R Naganadhan. Gen Secretary of KALA J. Saji welcomed the audience while Sunny by Saijesh rendered vote of thanks.


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Embassy Information EMBASSY OF ARGENTINE For the Argentinean citizens who had not already enlisted in the embassy’s electoral register, and taking in consideration the elections which was held on Sunday 11/08/2013, it is necessary to justify they no vote by presence at our embassy which located in (Mishref - Block 6 - Street 42 - Villa 57) and should present the DNI and/or the Argentinean Passport. The Embassy of the Argentine Republic in the State of Kuwait avails itself of this opportunity to renew the assurances of its highest consideration. ■■■■■■■

ACK’s ‘Working Safely’ course promotes safety


he Australian College of Kuwait’s Corporate Training department (ACK CT) successfully delivered a course to ACK’s Alumni members entitled “Working Safely”, promoting awareness of health and safety matters in the workspace to ensure high standards are achieved and maintained. A total of 39 alumni attended the course, hosted over a 2day period at the ACK campus. The given course is certified by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), a UK-based independent and non-profit organization that supports and develops members and has many publications providing advice and

guidance on health and safety issues. Ahmad AlAlawi, Occupational Health and Safety Consultant for ACK Corporate Training, provided useful insight on how to work in a safe environment and delivered vital information on best practices. Sulaiman Al-Mashmoum, a Civil Engineer at the Ministry of Public Works and ACK Alumni member, shared his thoughts on the course saying: “It is not enough to be called an engineer. One must strive to pursue self-development. My participation in the course allowed me to acquire adequate knowledge to safely carry out my work at construction sites, facto-

ries, on public roads and even at home. The course was very interesting and useful, delivered in both a practical and theoretical manner.” ACK Corporate Training department is committed to raising awareness on health and safety issues which have a major affect on its stakeholder community. The department will continue to address such important topics with an aim of encouraging a positive health and safety culture within society and will always exert efforts to provide adequate courses and ongoing educational support to ACK Alumni members.

EMBASSY OF AUSTRALIA The Embassy of Australia has announced that Kuwait citizens can apply for and receive visit visas in 10 working days through All other processing of visas and Immigration matters are handled by the Australian Visa Application Centre located in Al Banwan Building, 4B, 1st Floor, Al Qibla Area, Ali Al Salem Street, Kuwait City. Visit. for more info. The Embassy of Australia does not have a visa or immigration department. All processing of visas and immigration matters is conducted by the Australian Consulate-General in Dubai. Email: (VIS), (Visa Office), Tel: +971 4 205 5900 (VFS), Fax: + 971 4 355 0708 (Visa Office). Notary and passport services are available by appointment. Appointments can be made by calling the Embassy on 22322422. ■■■■■■■

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

EMBASSY OF 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 ■■■■■■■

EMBASSY OF UKRAINE The Embassy of Ukraine in the State of Kuwait would like to inform that submission of the documents for tourist visa is temporary closed (from August 26 till September 26). Within the above-mentioned period, the visa will be issued only in the case of emergency. In the case of planning travel to Ukraine, please apply for visa before August 20. ■■■■■■■


Expat teachers undergo training course


ew expatriates teachers yesterday started special training courses at various educational governorates to introduce them to teaching courses adapted in Kuwait to the culture of Kuwaiti society.

The US Embassy in Kuwait has new procedures for obtaining appointments and picking up passports after visa issuance. Beginning August 9, 2013, we now provide an online visa appointment system, live call center, and in-person pick-up facilities in Kuwait. Please monitor our website and social media for additional information. This new system offers more flexibility for travelers to the US and to meet the increase in demand for visa appointments. The general application steps on the new visa appointment system are: 1. Go to (if this is the first time on, you will need to create a profile to login). 2. Please complete your DS-160 Online Visa Application which is available at 3. Please print and take your deposit slip to any Burgan Bank location to pay your visa application fee. 4. Schedule an appointment for your visa interview online at or by phone through the Call Center (at +9652227-1673). 5. If you need to change or cancel your appointment, please do so 24 hours beforehand, as a courtesy to other applicants. For more information, please visit the US Embassy website - - as it is the best source of information regarding these changes. ■■■■■■■

EMBASSY OF VATICAN The Apostolic Nunciature Embassy of the Holy See, Vatican in Kuwait has moved to a new location in Kuwait City. Please find below the new address: Yarmouk, Block 1, Street 2, Villa No: 1. P.O.Box 29724, Safat 13158, Kuwait. Tel: 965 25337767, Fax: 965 25342066. Email:



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Border Security Auction Hunters Auction Kings How Do They Do It? How It’s Made Fast N’ Loud Fantom Works Driven To Extremes Border Security Auction Hunters Auction Kings Ice Cold Gold American Chopper: Senior vs

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The Tech Show Food Factory Sci-Trek Sci-Trek Sci-Trek Sci-Trek Ecopolis The Gadget Show The Tech Show USA Memory Championships Prototype This Engineering Ground Zero The Gadget Show The Tech Show Sci-Trek X-Machines Smash Lab How The Universe Works Engineering Ground Zero Food Factory The Gadget Show The Tech Show Prototype This Ecopolis Mighty Ships Scrapheap Challenge Moon Machines Prototype This Nyc: Inside Out The Gadget Show The Tech Show Prototype This Nyc: Inside Out The Gadget Show

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Aliens - The Definitive Guide North America North America North America North America North America North America North America Mythbusters Extreme Fishing American Chopper: Senior vs

Ultimate Survival Dirty Jobs Mythbusters Sons Of Guns Auction Hunters Auction Kings How Do They Do It? How It’s Made River Monsters Deadliest Catch Deadliest Catch

Deadly Affairs Dr G: Medical Examiner Dates From Hell Dates From Hell On The Case With Paula Zahn LA: City Of Demons Deadly Affairs Dr G: Medical Examiner Disappeared Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth... On The Case With Paula Zahn Solved Disappeared

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Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Forensic Detectives On The Case With Paula Zahn Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth... Disappeared Solved Forensic Detectives On The Case With Paula Zahn Dr G: Medical Examiner Nightmare Next Door Couples Who Kill Deadly Devotion Blood Relatives I Almost Got Away With It

Stitch! Stitch! A Kind Of Magic A Kind Of Magic Emperor’s New School Emperor’s New School The Replacements The Replacements A Kind Of Magic A Kind Of Magic Emperor’s New School Emperor’s New School The Replacements The Replacements A Kind Of Magic A Kind Of Magic Austin And Ally Suite Life On Deck Shake It Up A.N.T. Farm Jessie Good Luck Charlie Good Luck Charlie Doc McStuffins Jake And The Neverland Jake And The Neverland A.N.T. Farm Jessie Jessie Good Luck Charlie Good Luck Charlie Good Luck Charlie Shake It Up Shake It Up Austin And Ally Austin And Ally Austin And Ally Lemonade Mouth Jessie Violetta A.N.T. Farm Austin And Ally Gravity Falls Shake It Up That’s So Raven A.N.T. Farm Violetta Jessie My Babysitter’s A Vampire Austin And Ally Austin And Ally That’s So Raven

06:00 Kid vs Kat 06:10 Iron Man Armored Adventures 06:35 Kickin It 07:00 Max Steel 07:25 Phineas And Ferb 07:50 Slugterra 08:15 Pair Of Kings 08:40 Kickin It 09:05 Kickin It 09:30 Lab Rats 09:55 Lab Rats 10:20 Pair Of Kings 10:45 Kick Buttowski 11:10 Mr. Young 11:35 Slugterra 12:00 Kickin It 12:25 Max Steel 12:50 I’m In The Band 13:15 Lab Rats 13:40 Almost Naked Animals 14:05 Phineas And Ferb

14:30 Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja 14:40 Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja 14:55 Lab Rats 15:20 Phineas And Ferb 15:45 Kickin’ It 16:10 Pair Of Kings 16:35 Crash & Bernstein 17:00 Lab Rats 17:30 Kickin It 18:00 Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja 18:25 Phineas And Ferb 19:15 Slugterra 19:40 Crash & Bernstein 20:05 Ultimate Spider-Man 20:30 Max Steel 20:55 Pair Of Kings 21:20 Rated A For Awesome 21:45 Kick Buttowski 22:10 Mr. Young 22:35 Scaredy Squirrel 23:00 Programmes Start At 6:00am KSA

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Deadly Affairs Dr G: Medical Examiner Dates From Hell Dates From Hell On The Case With Paula Zahn LA: City Of Demons Deadly Affairs Dr G: Medical Examiner Disappeared Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth... On The Case With Paula Zahn Solved Disappeared Mystery Diagnosis Street Patrol Street Patrol Forensic Detectives On The Case With Paula Zahn Real Emergency Calls Who On Earth... Disappeared Solved Forensic Detectives On The Case With Paula Zahn Dr G: Medical Examiner Nightmare Next Door Couples Who Kill Deadly Devotion Blood Relatives I Almost Got Away With It

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The Cleveland Show The Daily Show The Colbert Report Saturday Night Live Unsupervised Two And A Half Men The Mindy Project Seinfeld The Tonight Show With Jay All Of Us The War At Home Malibu Country Late Night With Jimmy Fallon Seinfeld All Of Us The Mindy Project The Mindy Project Hot In Cleveland Malibu Country The Tonight Show With Jay The War At Home Seinfeld All Of Us Malibu Country The Mindy Project The Mindy Project Hot In Cleveland The Daily Show The Colbert Report The War At Home

17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 Men At Work 18:30 Men At Work 19:00 Two And A Half Men 19:30 Hot In Cleveland 20:00 Parks And Recreation 20:30 Wilfred 21:00 The Daily Show Global Edition 21:30 The Colbert Report Global Edition 22:00 Family Guy 22:30 South Park 23:00 Weeds 23:30 Parks And Recreation

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24 Top Gear (UK) Defiance Smash Psych C.S.I. 24 Switched At Birth Necessary Roughness Psych Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show Necessary Roughness 24 Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show Necessary Roughness Parenthood Covert Affairs In Plain Sight The Newsroom Smash

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Supernatural Good Morning America American Idol Supernatural Good Morning America Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show Once Upon A Time Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show C.S.I. Miami Homeland Live Good Morning America C.S.I. Miami Once Upon A Time Homeland C.S.I. Miami Awake Homeland American Horror Story American Idol

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE ON OSN MOVIES FESTIVAL 00:00 House Of The Rising Sun 02:00 No Man’s Land: The Rise Of Reeker 04:00 The Killing Jar 06:00 True Justice: One Shot, One Life 08:00 Iron Sky 10:00 Swamp Shark 12:00 Hide And Seek 14:00 Blackthorn 16:00 Swamp Shark 18:00 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part One 20:00 Blackthorn 22:00 Bait

00:00 No Man’s Land: The Rise Of Reeker-18 02:00 The Killing Jar-18 04:00 True Justice: One Shot, One Life-PG15 06:00 Iron Sky-PG15 08:00 Swamp Shark-PG15 10:00 Hide And Seek-PG15 12:00 Blackthorn-PG15 14:00 Swamp Shark-PG15 16:00 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part One-PG15 18:00 Blackthorn-PG15 20:00 Bait-PG15 22:00 Mad Max-18

00:00 How To Make Love To A Woman-18 02:00 Rushmore-PG15 04:00 The Wish List-PG15 06:00 Falling Star-PG15 08:00 Today’s Special-PG15 10:00 Another Stakeout-PG15 12:00 The Wish List-PG15 14:00 Police Academy 4: Citizens On Patrol-PG15 16:00 Another Stakeout-PG15 18:00 While You Were SleepingPG15 20:00 The Animal-PG15 22:00 How To Make Love To A Woman-18


00:00 Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter-18 02:00 Birdsong-PG15 05:00 33 Postcards-PG15 07:00 Katy Perry The Movie: Part Of Me-PG 09:00 The Vow-PG15 10:45 Birdsong-PG15 13:30 Arthur Christmas-PG 15:15 Flicka 3-FAM 17:00 The Vow-PG15 19:00 Dark Shadows-PG15 21:00 Looper-18 23:00 Project X-18

01:00 The Apple & The Worm 02:45 Tony Hawk: Boom Boom Sabotage 04:30 The Legend Of Sasquatch 06:00 Princess Lillifee 08:00 Micropolis 10:00 Journey To The West 11:30 Tony Hawk: Boom Boom Sabotage 13:00 Princess Lillifee 14:30 The Happy Cricket 2 16:00 The Pirates! Band Of Misfits 18:00 Journey To The West 20:00 A Cat In Paris 22:00 The Happy Cricket 2 23:30 The Pirates! Band Of Misfits

00:00 Flower Girl-PG15 02:00 Men In Black 3-PG 04:00 Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax-PG 06:00 Puss In Boots-PG 08:00 Paranorman-PG 10:00 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island-PG 12:00 Men In Black 3-PG 14:00 Why Did I Get Married Too?PG15 16:15 Paranorman-PG 18:00 People Like Us-PG15 20:00 Butter-18 22:00 Your Sister’s Sister-18

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Of Two Minds-PG15 One Angry Juror-PG15 Second Chances-PG15 Of Two Minds-PG15 One Angry Juror-PG15 Love Takes Wing-PG15 The Darkest Hour-PG15 Playdate-PG15 Hugo-PG Sparkle-PG15 Melancholia-18 Mad Bastards-18

01:00 Futbol Mundial 01:30 AFL Premiership 04:00 NRL Premiership 06:00 Trans World Sport 07:00 Sailing America’s Cup Highlights 08:00 OSN Cup 10:00 OSN Cup 12:00 NRL Premiership 14:00 Futbol Mundial 14:30 Sailing America’s Cup 16:30 ICC Cricket 360 17:00 Champions Tour 19:00 PGA European Tour Highlights

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Bruc-PG15 I’ve Loved You So Long-PG15 Scarface-18 Across The Universe-PG15 The National Tree-PG15 I’ve Loved You So Long-PG15 The Inkwell-PG15 Kathmandu Lullaby-PG15 Trust-PG15 The Inkwell-PG15 Toast-PG15 Krach-18 White Irish Drinkers-18

02:00 OSN Cup 04:00 OSN Cup 06:00 Futbol Mundial 06:30 ICC Cricket 360 07:00 PGA European Tour 11:30 Champions Tour 13:30 OSN Cup 15:30 OSN Cup 17:30 AFL Premiership 20:00 NFL 22:30 ICC Cricket 360 23:00 PGA European Highlights


00:00 Futbol Mundial 00:30 Total Rugby 01:00 Rugby Union Currie Cup 04:00 Cricket International Twenty20 07:00 Golfing World 08:00 Top 14 Highlights 08:30 AFL Premiership 11:00 World Pool Masters 12:00 Sailing America’s Cup 14:00 Top 14 Highlights

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Web.Com Tour Golfing World AFL Premiership Sailing America’s Cup World Pool Masters World Pool Masters

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WWE This Week Triahlon UK Mobil 1 The Grid UFC Prelims

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UFC WWE Bottom Line WWE Experience Ping Pong World US Bass Fishing ITU World Triathlon Series Triahlon UK Triahlon UK UIM Powerboat Champs WWE SmackDown WWE Experience Mobil 1 The Grid UFC Prelims UFC

Gandolfini on screen again in ‘Enough Said’

James Gandolfini


fter Nicole Holofcener cast James Gandolfini in her divorcee romantic comedy “Enough Said,” the “Sopranos” actor kept suggesting she rethink her decision. Alec Baldwin, he insisted, would be far better suited. “He would list some actors he thought could do a much better job,” Holofcenter said in a recent interview. “I felt confident he could do this part. More than he did. He was quite certain that he couldn’t pull it off.” What began as a stretch outside Gandolfini’s comfort zone is now debuting, tragically, as one of Gandolfini’s final per formances. “Enough Said,” which premieres Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival ahead of Fox Searchlight’s Sept. 18 release, was filmed about a year before the actor died of a heart attack in June. (His final film, the Brooklyn crime movie “Animal Rescue,” is expected to be released next year.) Holofcener’s “Enough Said” is about a middle-aged masseuse (Julia LouisDreyfus) who begins dating a fellow divorcee (Gandolfini) also with a daughter going off to college. Gandolfini’s career was more varied than many realize, vacillating between comedy (the political satire “In the Loop,” the Broadway play “God of Carnage”), turns of tenderness (the

childless parent drama “We Are the Rileys,” the Maurice Sendak adaptation “Where the Wild Things Are”) and even musicals (John Turturro’s “Romance and Cigarettes”). But he’s particularly unadorned in “Enough Said,” playing a sensitive, teddy bear of a father falling for LouisDreyfus’s more hesitant character. Holofcener, the director of the mother-daughter comedy “Lovely & Amazing,” had nearly cast Gandolfini in the Oliver Platt role for her 2010 film “Please Give.” Although Holofcener says she was “intimidated by him as a person and an actor,” she knew she wanted to work with him. Gandolfini, in turn, had long wanted to move away from some of the more thuggish characters he’s best known for - not only Tony Soprano but his henchmen of “True Romance” and “Get Shorty.” “I didn’t feel like I was taking a risk,” Holofcener said. “A lot of people said, ‘Oh, no one’s ever seen him in a role like this.’ But if you watch ‘ The Sopranos,’ he has an enormous range. That character wasn’t just a bully.” Premiering the film in Toronto without Gandolfini, Holofcener said, is “bittersweet.” “I really wish he could have seen the finished film,” she said, “because hopefully he would have seen how lovely he is in it.”— AP

Classifieds MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2013



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SITUATION VACANT Looking for a part time maid for an American family. 12 - 4 pm. 5 days a week. KD. 100/per month. Call 96942874. 9-9-2013

TUITION Learn holy Quran, in perfect way, private tuition available for elders and children by Hafiz-e -Quran. Contact: 66725950. (C 4502)

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Forrester, model 2003, 4 wheel driver, good condition. Contact: 66532871. (C 4503) 08-9-2013 CHANGE OF NAME I, Peter Mendonca, Passport No. J0365647, hereby change my name to Albert Peter Mendonca. (C 4500) I, Thopugunta Sudheer, holder of Indian Passport No. K7916639 converted to Islam do hereby change my name to Shaik Ali Haider. (C 4501) 8-9-2013

I, Mohammed Shakeel Abdul Kalam holder of Indian Passport No. E5417852 hereby change my name to Mohammad Shakeel Abdul Kalam Darugar. (C 4498)

Prayer timings Fajr: Shorook Duhr: Asr: Maghrib: Isha:

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Directorate General of Civil Aviation Home Page (



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s ta rs CROSSWORD 305

STAR TRACK Aries (March 21-April 19) ARIES Community concerns may come to your attention this morning and you may find yourself thinking of ways in which to improve conditions. Others value your ability to make practical decisions concerning group issues. You have a natural sense of what the public wants at this time. Your general outlook on life is attractive and people seek you out to help them with their problems. You are a natural guide and counselor. This afternoon you will find a social gathering quite enjoyable. You are at your most elegant, particularly in social situations. You will have a grasp for abstract and spiritual ideas and the ability to present or communicate these to others. Fun conversations develop. This evening you prepare for the week ahead.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) You seem to be handling your financial situation much better now than in the past—perhaps you intuitively know that budgeting actually has positive results. It is your turn for financial blessings. Close relationships offer a lot of potential for growth and good advice toward future investments is yours for the asking. A marriage or other partnership can raise high hopes and give your spirits a boost. People close to you are optimistic and have good plans. Faith, optimism and a yearning to explore all kinds of new horizons are some of the main points in your life at this time. Travel, education and other ways to stretch your horizons open new doors of opportunity. Religious, philosophical and cultural matters are likely to have a special appeal.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

ACROSS 1. A light touch or stroke. 4. Pompous or pretentious talk or writing. 12. A castrated tomcat. 15. Title for a civil or military leader (especially in Turkey). 16. Small genus of Old World ferns. 17. Canadian hockey player (born 1948). 18. A percussion instrument consisting of a pair of hollow pieces of wood or bone (usually held between the thumb and fingers) that are made to click together (as by Spanish dancers) in rhythm with the dance. 20. Protective outer layer of seeds of flowering plants. 21. The cry made by sheep. 22. Lacking sufficient water or rainfall. 23. An official prosecutor for a judicial district. 25. Capable of arousing enthusiasm or excitement. 27. A compartment in front of a motor vehicle where driver sits. 29. The capital and largest city of Yemen. 30. A white trivalent metallic element. 32. Submerged aquatic plant having narrow leaves and small flowers. 34. A member of the Siouan people formerly living in the Missouri river valley in NE Nebraska. 38. Straggling shrub with narrow leaves and conspicuous red flowers in dense globular racemes. 42. A flat wing-shaped process or winglike part of an organism. 43. A very light colorless element that is one of the six inert gasses. 44. Money in the form of bills or coins. 46. Goddess of criminal rashness and its punishment. 47. American and Asiatic trees having edible one-seeded fruit. 49. A genus of herbs and shrubs belonging to the family Euphorbiaceae. 51. Signal going into an electronic system. 53. A British peer ranking below a Marquess and above a Viscount. 54. Dry red table wine from the Rioja region of northern Spain. 56. A small cake leavened with yeast. 57. English theoretical physicist who applied relativity theory to quantum mechanics and predicted the existence of antimatter and the positron (1902-1984). 60. A human limb. 62. Uttering in an irritated tone. 66. Using speech rather than writing. 67. The largest Greek island in the Mediterranean. 70. A language unit by which a person or thing is known. 71. Not reflecting light. 75. Any of various long-tailed rodents similar to but larger than a mouse. 76. The 7th letter of the Greek alphabet. 77. A collection of excerpts from a literary work. 78. A metal-bearing mineral valuable enough to be mined. 79. The habitation of wild animals. 80. Vodka and beef bouillon or consomme. 81. Resonance of protons to radiation in a magnetic field.

DOWN 1. Fallow deer. 2. Any culture medium that uses agar as the gelling agent. 3. Of or relating to or containing barium. 4. Being one hundred more than two hundred. 5. A soft heavy toxic malleable metallic element. 6. A highly unstable radioactive element (the heaviest of the halogen series). 7. Preferred above all others and treated with partiality. 8. A hairdo formed by braiding or twisting the hair. 9. Follower of Rastafarianism. 10. One of the proteins into which actomyosin can be split. 11. The title of the ancient Egyptian kings. 12. A desert in central Asia. 13. A theocratic republic in the Middle East in western Asia. 14. (informal) Exceptionally good. 19. A city in southern Turkey on the Seyhan River. 24. A woman hired to suckle a child of someone else. 26. Avatar of Vishnu. 28. Effusively or insincerely emotional. 31. A drug (trade names Calan and Isoptin) used as an oral or parenteral calcium blocker in cases of hypertension or congestive heart failure or angina or migraine. 33. The United Nations agency concerned with atomic energy. 35. (Babylonian) A demigod or first man. 36. A blind god. 37. Of or relating to or involving an area. 39. An inclined surface or roadway that moves traffic from one level to another. 40. An official language of the Republic of South Africa. 41. A Bantu language spoken by the Chaga people in northern Tanzania. 45. Someone who works (or provides workers) during a strike. 48. Of or relating to walls. 50. Desire strongly or persistently. 52. United States writer remembered for his novels (1904-1979). 55. Old World nocturnal canine mammal closely related to the dog. 58. Feeling or showing extreme anger. 59. A switch made from the stems of the rattan palms. 61. In some classifications. 63. American professional baseball player who hit more home runs than Babe Ruth (born in 1934). 64. Excessive but superficial compliments given with affected charm. 65. Disciple of Jesus and leader of the apostles. 68. Measuring instrument for indicating speed of rotation. 69. (prefix) Within. 72. A workplace for the conduct of scientific research. 73. (Babylonian) The sky god. 74. An audiotape recording of sound.

Law, politics, education, travel, religion—these are some of the areas where some emotionally-charged drama will be played. Good fortune and plain old luck surround you today. It is easy for you to make correct decisions, find the right path and move forward where home concerns are present. Life’s problems seem manageable and easy to solve. Relationships, whether business, personal or within the social scene in general, are very important during this time and can have a very decided influence on your career and workplace. You may find that a more impersonal attitude is the key. You may decide to make some changes in your physical image this fall—have you chosen the body you want do not give up . . . Changes happen in little steps.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) You will often pause to appreciate the beauty around you. Something different today has come to your attention. At the same time, everything could take on added importance. Be careful that you do not overspend or indulge too much just now. There is charisma, self-transformation and the development of personal power in your life now. Remember, tiny causes can lead to big effects. This is a time of profound changes on the personal level—psychologically and perhaps physically as well—as if you are transforming into an entirely new person. Insights into your deeper, more spiritual nature are available to you. You may be able to discover whole new areas of your psyche or mind that have been closed up to now. Enjoy an old hobby this evening.

Leo (July 23-August 22) Making peace with the past and coming to terms with karmic debts are some of the issues that confront you as a new phase begins in your life. Failure to face these things can cause setbacks and put obstacles in your path. Learn to look beyond the narrowly personal or you will get in over your head. You may have some difficulty speaking or getting your ideas and thoughts across to others. Do not take chances or risks just now—be satisfied with the ordinary and the usual. Novel ideas or insights could be more damaging than useful. Your home environment, friends and surroundings in general receive encouragement today. You will gain insight from young people during this time. Enjoy the evening within the arms of a loved one.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) Circumstances remind you that time is just flying by and there are things you had thought of accomplishing years ago that you have only just begun to think about now. You may spend some quiet time today in contemplation. You may want to travel—places to visit are certainly great topics of discussion during lunch with friends or family. If you could travel anywhere, give some thought as to where you would go and why. If you are married, perhaps you, as a couple, have a dream to take a vacation to a resort or enjoy an adventure. Find three things you can do now, to bring those desires closer to reality. Action now creates positive results. Unconventional approaches to philosophy, religion, law and politics become topics of conversation this evening.

Word Search

Libra (September 23-October 22) You find the past, tradition and all that is historical very romantic and the ideal world of yesteryear seems to beckon and call. You are most imaginative when it comes to anything spiritual or psychological—pertaining to the psyche. Others find you entrancing and always able to draw them into your world of images and dreams. No one has any doubt that you are a high achiever—a full-blown dreamer, complete with built-in psychic abilities and probably given to visions. Your creative side is in full swing and others may help you figure out how to pull in some money for your creative ideas. You may be learning all about art shows, exhibitions, etc. If you are not in a committed relationship, now is the perfect time to find your future love.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) Obtaining and exchanging information takes on more emotional significance for you now. Being more involved with neighbors or siblings satisfies a deep emotional need. Communicating feelings becomes an important factor in today’s activities. The people you are around today tend to be remembering the old school days. Perhaps it is time for a reunion. At this time you may see that your friends want you to jump on the diet train with them. This could be a time to go along as some of their personal changes may also benefit you. You could show off your abilities to bring insight and helpful information to their attention regarding matters concerning health. You are able to encourage each other. It is through teaching others that one is also taught.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) Put your mind and body to work and take care of any chores or errands you may have—mental discipline comes easily. Repairs, shopping and such may help you feel more organized and ready for the workweek ahead. Problems and obstacles around your living area, that have previously been confounding, should find easy explanations. You may take an interest in your own psyche, religion and spiritual ideas later this afternoon. This is a time to absorb and take in new impressions and information. In summary, here is a natural breaking point in life, a time to let go of what has been occupying you for the last years and assume a new attitude. Perhaps this would also be a good time to think about asking for a raise this next week.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) Perhaps this is a good time to think and study—you have a real appreciation for ideas and thoughts. You may find yourself catching up on your reading, writing a letter or making a special phone call. A sporting activity later this afternoon will have positive results. You will find your mind beginning to turn away from the material and to be concerned with more inward and spiritual ideas. All of this will become clear soon. This time marks a change of direction for you, away from the material and glitter, toward inner needs and security. You will find yourself more concerned with maintaining and strengthening your position, rather than pushing outward. This should also be a time filled with opportunities and friendships.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) You find yourself in a very practical mood this sunday. Whatever activity fills your day, you will manage very well. There may be a few contemplative moments as well. Your home environment, friends and surroundings in general will hold your attention. You could be visiting and discussing different ways in which to enjoy the weekends this fall season. Perhaps this includes season passes, group sports, exercise activities or plans for one night out a week with friends. You could talk about setting up a time schedule for some sort of refurbishment project around your home, before the winter months begin. You are a revolutionary when it comes to the domestic scene. You have very special insights to share.

Pisces (February 19-March 20) You could find yourself pursuing more spiritual directions or finding someone who can guide you to realizing your inner dreams and ideals. Your path is toward cooperation and union with others, even at the expense of the practical. This is a great time to reflect and understand your own situation, just how you feel about yourself. Emotions in particular, or the feelings of those around you, may be very clear. Close relationships take on more emotional depth, power and importance now. Nobody makes demands today, including you, and life just seems to flow very smoothly. Time involved in fun activities with your loved ones is an important investment—this binds one to another. Good memories are the windows to a firm foundation.

Yesterday’s Solution

Yesterday’s Solution

Daily SuDoku

Yesterday’s Solution


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


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N Khaitan





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


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


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

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

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


lifestyle G O S S I P


son will be British S

imon Cowell’s baby son will be born in the UK. The media mogul first’s child with Lauren Silverman will reportedly be British, with the couple reportedly keen for the bir th to take place in England. Although the 36-year- old socialite is American and lives in New York, the pair have agreed it is best for the baby to be born in Simon’s native country because it fits in with his ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ filming schedule. An insider told the Sunday People newspaper: “He is thrilled that the baby will be born in England. He and Lauren have taken the decision based on what is best for the baby and


ussell Brand took heiress Jemima Khan out on a secret date. The 38year-old comedian reportedly took the millionairess for a budget dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant to take her away from her usual “showbiz trappings” so they could properly get to know each other. A source told The Sun on Sunday: “He wanted to connect with Jemima without the showbiz trappings she’s used to. “There’s a strong connection between them and they ’re attracted to each other, especially on an intellectual level. “Russell loves East London because it’s gritty and low-key - very different to Jemima’s usual haunts around Chelsea.” The ‘Despicable Me 2’ star have known each other for years and Russell set up a cheap date on Thursday which included an afternoon cycling and a cheap meal costing around £6 each. The insider added: “He suggested they go on a lengthy bike ride around the area. They even crossed Tower Bridge at one point, laughing and having a great time. “Then he took her to the Song Que Vietnamese restaurant on Kingsland Road in Hackney. “There’s nothing flash about it. Most main meals only cost six quid but the food is great and Russell loves the area.”

as X Factor judge

wants to meet grandson


dele’s estranged father wants to see her baby before he dies of cancer. Mark Evans admitted he wasn’t there for his daughter but has reached out in the hope he can meet his 10-month old grandson Angelo in case he passes away before he gets the chance. He told The Sun on Sunday newspaper: “I was not there for my daughter when I should have been. “I have regretted that every second of every day. It tears me up inside. “I still haven’t met Angelo and I’m facing the fact I may never do. It could be over for me before I get to make my peace with Adele.” Mark, 51, is an ex-alcoholic and knows he is to blame for their rift after he walked out on her mother Penny when Adele was three. However he is still attempting to repair their relationship - although he compared contacting the star to attempting to “call the US president”. He said: “I’m hitting a brick wall. Trying to get hold of my daughter is like trying to call the US president. “All my friends say, ‘What’s going on Mark?’ I have to tell them I just don’t know. I’ve just been ostracised. “I haven’t got Adele or Penny’s number. I sent birthday cards via her record label but never hear back.” The part-time plumber had tumours removed from his stomach and colon after doctors discovered 11 potentially fatal growths, and he is awaiting tests to see if the disease has stopped spreading. Mark insisted meeting his grandson and reconciling with Adele would be “the best tonic” and explained he wanted to enjoy Angelo growing up, just like he did with his daughter. He added: “I remember taking Adele to the zoo in the holidays. I had a cut on my arm that had scabbed over. When she went to the loo, I scratched it so it would bleed. “When she came out I told her a lion had jumped the fence and I had to wrestle it. that’s the kind of thing I’d love to do for Angelo. “I want to take him for walks in the park and eat ice cream together on Barry Island.”

photographer to take a few more pictures before leaving but he went to a police station a few hours later and filed a report against Brian. The law enforcement source said that the alleged victim did not have any visible injuries but the investigation is ongoing. Jennifer and Brian, who met on the set of the NBC series ‘Love Bites’, recently decided to postpone their nuptials until after their baby is born. She previously said: “I’m not putting that [the wedding] on myself also! We’re going to wait. I’m going to get down and be cute again and then we’ll be ready to go.” She added: “I don’t know what I’m having. [I’m due] in December. Everybody’s really excited. Meeting the baby is what I’m most excited about.”

Saturday night smoker

Paltrow G

‘very uncomfortable’

Adele’s cancer­suffering father

fiance accused of assault



Brand took Khan on a date

Love Hewitt’s

ennifer Love Hewitt’s fiance Brian Hallisay is being investigated for alleged battery. A photographer filed a police report against the 34-year-old ‘Privileged’ actor following a confrontation is Brentwood, Los Angeles, on Friday night. A source told gossip website that Jennifer and Brian, who are expecting their first child together later this year, asked the paparazzo to leave them alone as he attempted to take pictures of them leaving Toscana restaurant. The photographer ignored their plea for privacy and Brian allegedly got into a scuffle with him, during which the camera reportedly hit the snapper in the face near his eye. ‘Ghost Whisperer’ star Jennifer, 34, felt so bad about the incident that she allowed the

they’ve chosen the UK. “Because Simon has to be in the UK for ‘BGT’ at the time, it is the only option. “He wants to be at Lauren’s side when she gives birth and wants to be with his son after he’s born.” The 53-year-old star also opened up on ‘ The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ in an interview to air on Tuesday (and admitted news of Lauren’s pregnancy was a “shocker”. He said: “That was a bit of a shocker. When you first get the call, it’s like, OK, put the phone down, gulp. And then I got used to the idea.” Meanwhile, it has emerged the couple are planning a £1.27 million interview deal with Oprah Winfrey.

wyneth Paltrow smokes one cigarette every Saturday night. The health conscious star allows herself a single smoke each week, and indulges in her favourite brand from her native America. She admitted: “My weakness is American Spirit cigarettes. I smoke one every Saturday night.” The ‘Iron Man 3’ actress used to follow a macrobiotic diet, and although she has eased up on her strict food rules, she insists many people believe how much food she fries at home. She added to Tatler magazine: “People are always surprised that I have a deep-fat fryer. It’s hidden away in the kitchen counter and makes the most incredible French fries.” Gwyneth, 40, also claims she just had a mid-life crisis - although she didn’t say what caused it - but claims she overcame it by going on a “mad” trip to a spa. The Hollywood beauty - who is married to Coldplay singer Chris Martin, with whom she has two children, daughter Apple and son Moses - said: “Midlife crisis? I just had one. So I spent three days at Mii Amo, in Arizona, with psychic massage, hiking and having my colours red. It was mad.”


ritney Spears’ $15 million ‘X Factor ’ USA contract wasn’t renewed because she was “very uncomfortable” on the show. The show’s boss Simon Cowell has admitted he didn’t realize that the ‘Scream & Shout’ singer is not a big talker and confirmed it was the main reason he decided to replace her on the judging panel this year after just one season. The 55-yearold British star told ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ in a new interview that will air in the US on Tuesday: “I didn’t realize that! I kind of booked someone who couldn’t talk, which is a bit of a problem when you want someone to judge.” He added: “She wasn’t comfortable being negative, she didn’t like it when the contestants spoke back to her, so she was just uncomfortable. I liked her. So we decided to change it this year and I thought I’ll work with three girls because I like working with girls.” Simon also confessed that he only asked Britney, 31, to be a judge as he got caught up in competing with

‘American Idol’ and ‘The Voice’ USA to feature high profile judges such as Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera. He said: “I think if I’m being honest with you, Ellen, there was a time I think everyone was tr ying to up themselves in terms of who could find the biggest known star to be on a panel. And in terms of a pop singer? Jennifer Lopez and the other one on The Voice... I can’t remember. Blondie. Christina. And we said, ‘We’ll take Britney’. She was fine, but I think she found it very uncomfortable.” Britney previously claimed she decided to leave the show to focus on her music career. She said in a statement in January: “I’ve made the very difficult decision not to return for another season. I’ve had an incredible time doing the show and I love the other judges and I am so proud of my teens, but it’s time for me to get back in the studio.” Kelly Rowland and Paulina Rubio have joined Simon and Demi Lovato on the judging panel of this year’s series.

Douglas M ‘did a lot of drugs’

ichael Douglas “did a lot of drugs” when he went to university. The ‘Wall Street 2’ actor became “a hippy” when he enrolled in the University of California, Santa Barbara, and spent his time taking psychedelic drugs and hanging out with beautiful girls rather than taking his studies seriously. He told GQ magazine: “I wasn’t studying anything. Nothing. We did a lot of drugs, it was a magical time. I lived in a sort of commune. We rented a little A-frame house, three of us. We all swam naked, smoked a lot of weed, got high. We had wine stops and festivals. It was a crazy, beautiful time.” In his third year, Michael majored in studying theatre, and even though he eventually went on to become one of Hollywood’s top stars, his first per formance were terrible, which pleased his father, actor Kirk Douglas. He added: “Even then I had no burning desire to be an actor. I was a terrible actor. I used to get terrible stage fright. My father came to see me in my first ever production on stage, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Afterward he said, ‘Son you were terrible!’ And in his heart I knew he was relieved because he didn’t have to worry about me becoming an actor.”

Mother told

Lil Wayne to quit school

Boy George: Buddhism

has kept me sober



il Wayne’s mother encouraged him to drop out of high school. The 30-year-old rapper, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, claims his mother advised him to quit school when he was 14 so he could focus on his music career but insists he will be stricter on his own kids. The ‘Lollipop’ hitmaker, who has four children, Reginae, 15, Dwayne III, five, Cameron, four, and Neal, also four, from four different relationships, told Katie Couric in a new interview that will air on her US talk show today that he has no regrets about his decision. He said: “Not at all. I mean, kids please finish high school, and all my kids, you are finishing high school, but it was my mom’s idea (for him to drop out). “I had an album out. I was platinum already, thank God, and I was still trying to go to regular public school and she stopped me getting ready for school one day. She was walking past the room, I’ll never forget she was on the phone with somebody talking loud and she walked past my room and she saw me putting my bag on my back and she said, ‘you going to bring that to school with you?’ and I remember I asked her, ‘you don’t want me to bring it?’ and she thought about it and said, ‘I do.’ “Two minutes later she walked back into the room and she was still on the phone and said, ‘you don’t go to school no more, you’re getting a GED (General Educational Development certificate).’ I said okay.” He added: “So I got a GED and went to college.” The rapper recently admitted he has epilepsy after suffering a number of seizures earlier this year and nearly died when his heart rate decreased to “30 per cent” in March, which saw him spend a week in intensive care.

oy George says Buddhism has helped him stay sober. The ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me’ hitmaker has struggled with drug addiction throughout his life but he claims his recent commitment to the Eastern religion which aims to end followers’ suffering through the elimination of ignorance and desire - has stopped him from relapsing. Quizzed on whether he misses drugs, the 52-year-old musician said: “No. No. I really took that to the ultimate conclusion. The last time I was out doing what we call ‘research’ I was thoroughly miserable but I couldn’t stop myself. This is the curse of being an addict - you do something that’s thoroughly unpleasant and you keep doing it. The difference between now and then is I know I’m an addict now. “I went back to Buddhism last year. I messed around with it in the 80s - it was cosmetic then - but I’m really into it now. Chanting is all about polishing your mirror. What do you want to be? I feel like I’m out of chances; people have forgiven me so much, I can’t let them down again.” The former Culture Club star also reveals he was incredibly inquisitive as a child and constantly questioned his parents leading the way for his famed boisterous nature when he became famous. George - who is releasing his first new album of original material for 18 years, ‘This Is What I Do’, in October - told Q magazine: “When I was really young, I was very quiet, very self-contained. Then, around the age of eight, it all went to hell. I always wanted to know why I couldn’t do something - why I couldn’t smoke, why I couldn’t swear. I was always told to butt out of adult conversations and mind my own business. From the age of nine to about five years ago, I was out of control. The good news is I’ve finally grown up. I’m a much nicer kid now.” — BangShowbiz




US director Kelly Reichardt is seen on a screen after winning the ‘Grand prize’ with the film ‘Night moves’ on September 7, 2013 as part of the Deauville US Film Festival, in the French northwestern sea resort of Deauville. —AFP



US director Sam Fleischner poses with the ‘Jury prize’ he won ex-aequo with his film ‘Stand clear of the closing doors.’

US director Chris Eska and US actor Tischuan Scott pose with the ‘International critics’ prize’ they won with the film ‘The Retrieval’.

topical problem,” said Loui Doillon, a member of the jury headed by French actor Vincent Lindon. “What is this going to accomplish? Can we really change things?” Reichardt, whose earlier works with Raymond have made her one of the most critically acclaimed independent filmmakers in the United States, was not at the ceremony, en route to the Toronto Film Festival, where the film was due to have its north American premiere yesterday. Deauville’s jury prize went to Jeffrey C Chandor’s “All is Lost” starring Robert Redford and to Sam Fleischner’s “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors”. In “All is Lost”, Redford plays a sailor who finds himself staring his mortality in the face in the middle of the Indian Ocean after his boat col-

lides with a shipping container. “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors” meanwhile tells the story of an autistic Mexican teenager who runs away into the New York City’s subway and his mother’s frantic search for him over 11 days as Hurricane Sandy closes in on the city. Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station” received the public prize. The film follows Oscar Grant III as the 22-year-old black man goes about his day on December 31, 2008, which ends with him being shot to death by police at Fruitvale train station in Oakland, California, sparking protests. This year’s 39th Deauville festival featured stars like John Travolta, who promoted the “Killing Season” action

French actor Guillaume Gallienne poses with the Michel d’Ornano Award he won with the film ‘Me, Myself and Mum.’

‘Night Moves’ wins top prize at Deauville film fest

elly Reichardt’s drama “Night Moves” about three environmentalists who plot to blow up a dam won the top prize on Saturday at France’s Deauville Film Festival, which celebrates American movies. The drama, starring Dakota Fanning, Jesse Eisenberg and Peter Sarsgaard, is set in alternative farming communities in Oregon, with the trio’s plan to blow up a hydroelectric dam yielding unexpected consequences. Critics have hailed Reichardt’s latest work and latest collaboration with co-writer Jon Raymond for exploring the tension between idealism and activism and the difficulties that come in negotiating between the two. “It’s a film that’s masterful from beginning to end, that poses a


flick which also stars Robert DeNiro, and Cate Blanchett, who promoted “Blue Jasmine”, Woody Allen’s latest work that tells the story of a fallen New York socialite for which the Academy Award-winning actress has been getting rave reviews. Michael Douglas promoted “Behind the Candelabra”, a biopic about Liberace also starring Matt Damon. Douglas returned to Deauville-the place where he first met his future wife Catherine Zeta-Jones in 1998 — just days after announcing that the power couple were taking a break from their 13-year marriage. Nicolas Cage, Jamie Foxx and Forest Whitaker also attended the festival, in which 14 films vied for the Grand Prize. —AFP

Reitman shifts gears with ‘Labor Day’ at Toronto film fest

Daniel Radcliffe signs autographs as he arrives at the premiere of ‘The F Word’ on day 3 of the Toronto International Film Festival at the Ryerson Theatre on Saturday in Toronto. —AP

(From left) Director Jason Reitman with actors Kate Winslet, Gattlin Griffith, Josh Brolin and James Van Der Beek at the ‘Labor Day’ premiere during the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival at Ryerson Theatre. —AFP irector Jason Reitman, known for snappily written modern-day comedies like “Up in the Air” and “Juno,” tackles unfamiliar territory with his new feature “Labor Day,” a fugitive love story set in 1980s smalltown America. Adapted by Reitman from the 2009 novel by Joyce Maynard, the film centers on an agoraphobic single mother, played by Kate Winslet, and her 13-year-old son. Their lives are reshaped over a 1987 holiday weekend when an escaped convict, portrayed by Josh Brolin, forces them to shelter him from authorities. The film, which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday, is a departure from Reitman’s other offerings, which have taken a generally tongue-in-cheek look at issues such as teenage pregnancy, corporate lobbyists and the frequent-flyer lifestyle. But the 35-year-old Montreal native and son of director Ivan Reitman said he wasn’t setting out to change lanes in a career that has already netted him two best director Oscar nominations. “I wasn’t looking to make a shift,” he said at a press conference. “Strangely, I think underneath it all this film is similar to my other works in that they’re about atypical heroes.” The film received a rare round of applause at a press and industry screening in Toronto, and might be positioned for Academy Awards notice with a Christmas Day release date - prime time for films hoping to get awards consideration - as well as its premiere at a festival known for launching Oscar contenders. However, early reviews have been mixed, with Variety critic Peter Debruge calling it a powerful but contrived romance that has the potential to be a holiday sleeper hit. Guardian reviewer Catherine Shoard said the film was “brilliantly executed” with accomplished performances from both Winslet and Brolin, but said it suffered from an “absurdity of circum-


stance.” “This is a heck of a potboiler to swallow whole,” she wrote. Atypical weekend While the story is told through the perspective of 13-year-old Henry Wheeler (played by newcomer Gattlin Griffith), it is the evolving relationship between Brolin’s Frank Chambers and Winslet’s Adele Wheeler, that propels the story forward. Adele, barely able to leave the house following a crushing divorce, reluctantly takes son Henry out shopping for back-toschool clothes, when a strange man with blood on his shirt approaches, demanding that they give him a lift. Once at Adele’s home, Frank becomes both the captor and man-about-thehouse for Adele and Henry. He ties Adele to a chair, but then tenderly spoon-feeds her chili; he forces Henry to turn away a man who comes to the door, but then shows him how to throw a curve ball. While flashbacks reveal both Adele and Frank’s pasts, the present-day story unfolds at a steady pace, all set in small-town New Hampshire with neighbors who don’t knock and cops that troll the streets for kids skipping school. For Brolin, who’s no stranger to roughcut characters in films such as “No Country for Old Men” and “True Grit,” preparation for the role involved learning how to make a pie from scratch, necessary for a lengthy scene where the main characters bond over pie crust and a bowl of peaches. “I got good. I’d send emails out with pictures of my pies,” said Brolin, noting that he regularly brought in practice pies for cast members, crew and teamsters working on the site. Reitman added: “Josh is a picture of masculinity, but you’d show up at his door and he’d be in an apron, and he’d be so excited to tell you about the crust he achieved that day.” “He’d give pies to everybody and it really was exciting at first, but at a certain point you’d see the pie and you’d go running.” — Reuters

US conductor Marin Alsop conducts the orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in west London during the Last Night of the Proms. Marin Alsop is the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms in its 118-year history. — AFP

Harry Potter actor evolves with bold new roles ot long ago, Daniel Radcliffe traded in his black-rimmed Harry Potter glasses for a bold acting choice. And he has never looked back. Now the 24-year-old actor’s at the Toronto International Film Festival with three new films, each unique in its own way, and far more mature than the saga of the boy wizard. While they cover some adult themes like murder and homosexuality, the actor claims his current role selections are not part of some strategy to abandon his past, rather they’re about doing what actors do best: “Take chances.” “You have to make films based on your own instincts ... I have to make the kind of films that I would want to see,” Radcliffe told The Associated Press on Saturday. The actor spoke candidly concerning his criteria for selecting movie roles during an interview for his new film, “Horns.” It’s based on the 2010 novel of the same name, and has Radcliffe in the title role of a man suspected of


brutally killing his girlfriend and one morning awakening with a pair of horns on his head. “It’s not so much a process or a strategy. It’s about what scripts you get sent. So when I read “Horns,” I was immediately passionate about it, and I wanted to play this part and knew I could have an interesting take on it,” Radcliffe said. Radcliffe also stars as poet Allen Ginsberg in “Kill Your Darlings.” The actor isn’t at all worried about any negative reactions, including from Potter fans. “What my fan base wants me to do is not the most effective way of forging a career, or certainly not the most honest way of doing it. You got to remember that I did ‘Equus’ and that was a pretty big deal.” That bold decision came when he was still making “Harry Potter” films. Then 17, Radcliffe portrayed the troubled young man, Alan Strang, in the London and Broadway revivals of Peter Shaffer’s award-winning play. The role caused some controversy because the

underage actor had to appear naked for part of the second act. His “Horns” co-star, Juno Temple, feels that role helped transform Radcliffe from a child star to an adult actor. “Whether you were involved in Harry Potter or not, just the bravery of going on stage and doing a play like ‘Equus’ ... those brave moments are really telling as to why these amazing roles are coming your way,” Temple said. She stars as the girlfriend in “Horns” as seen through flashbacks. Temple is the daughter of British film director, Julien Temple. Radcliffe also stars in the romantic comedy, “The F Word.” So while there’s a daring departure from child stardom for him, he doesn’t feel that he’s alienating the Potter audience. In fact, he feels just the opposite. “What you got to remember about the Potter audience is that they grew up with me, and a lot of them are now my age or older. They want to see dark, challenging material as much as anyone else does,” Radcliffe said. — AP

McQueen hopes film opens discussion about slavery

ritish filmmaker Steve McQueen said Saturday he hoped his new movie “12 Years a Slave” would open up fresh, frank discussion about the slave trade. “There’s a lot of shame about slavery in America and the West Indies,” McQueen told a press conference. “There’s nothing to be forgiven for, it wasn’t your fault, this is what happened to you.” The film is based on a firsthand account of Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841, recalling the horrors of grueling labor, daily humiliation and families torn apart. Its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival received a standing ovation, as well as sobs, while some in the audience left early over the film’s graphic portrayal of unspeakable torture of slaves during this period in history. McQueen and the cast made no apologies. The story is “a gift from the past to open a discussion, not about race, particularly, but about human dignity and our freedoms and what we most require in the world,” said Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays Northup. “And the only way to really open that discussion is to see all sides of it.” Michael Fassbender, who plays cruel plantation owner Edwin Epps, added: “History writes it the way it is... It is what it is... It’s real.” Sarah Paulson, in the role of Epps’s wife who is responsible for much suffering, said she was deeply affected by her character’s cruelty. “The only way I could put myself in that head-


(From left) Actors Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, director Steve McQueen, Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o of ‘12 Years A Slave’ pose at the Guess Portrait Studio during 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. —AFP space was to find the reason why, and not as a justification for deplorable behavior, but as a way into it as an actor,” she said. Her co-star Alfre Woodard urged audiences to take in the film’s “very complex portrait of life in a slave economy” and resist the urge to use modern principles to judge historical figures and their actions. “When we look at this film and when we look at history, we have to understand that people live smack in the middle of the times that they live,” she said. “I think we can’t judge in black and white.”

McQueen said he actually views the film as a love story, a man’s desperate struggle to return to his family. But the film came about after McQueen felt there was a lack of movies about slavery.”I wanted to see images from that particular past. I wanted to experience it through images,” he said. He was given Northup’s book as he struggled to pen the screenplay, and was immediately inspired to turn the book about this man and his refusal to let slavery extinguish his spirit into a film. —AFP


lifestyle F A S H I O N

Rock futuristic chics and


rom Prabal Gurung’s futuristic Marilyn Monroe to Jill Stuart’s 1970s rock chick and sensual but modest Lacoste, designers unveiled a vast array of spring looks Saturday in New York. Singapore -born Gurung-whose creations have been worn by Kate Middleton, Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey-went to extremes to “preserve an elegant woman who is more and more rare.” Gurung’s dresses and skirts fell mid-calf, some elegantly off-shoulder, in pastel pink, lavender, canary yellow, green or bold prints. Lips were bright pink and tangerine while hair was slicked back. Describing his collection as “femininity with a bite” the designerwho launched his eponymous brand in 2009 — said he pushed into the future using unusual fabric choices. He used laminated silk and lace and mixed tweed with plastic. One “raincoat” was blended with tulle and silk while another was just clear black-painted plastic paired with green crop pants and a printed T-shirt. Gurung told AFP his collection was “an ode to all the women I love and women in general.” He said he was inspired by actress Marilyn Monroe from Bert Stern’s “The Last Sitting” photoshoot-published in Vogue six weeks before she died-and wanted to recreate “that melancholic feel.” The woman envisioned by popular American designer Jill Stuart is a little bit more rock-and-roll. Shift dresses, babydoll dresses, cropped tops and high-waisted skirts were the order of the day in a simple monochromatic palette “with a touch of indigo.”

There was a lot of peek-a-boo with dresses that had triangular cutouts, transparent bits or completely see-through. Abstract dots and embroidery provided the only distraction from the basic colors, and she also used tweed, tulle, chiffon and decorated some dresses with organza flowers. “The inspiration is rock stars’ girlfriends on holiday and what they are wearing,” Stuart said after the show, adding that these were rock chicks of another era, and that she had been inspired by the feel of the south of France in the 1970s. She threw in an edgy mix of black leather and organza to show what

hit NY fashion week Models walk the runway at the Prabal Gurung fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014 at Skylight Studios at Moynihan Station in New York City. —AP/AFP photos

this type of girl would wear when she headed back to the city. “I wanted to be more casual, more streetwear.” Stuart, who counts stars Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Jennifer Aniston and Paris Hilton among her devotees, said essential items for next spring would be a babydoll dress and a little something in black leather. French luxury sportswear brand Lacoste meanwhile goes back to its sporty heritage for spring-summer 2014, and designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista used sharp lines and geometry to create a collection “reminiscent of modernist architecture: all lightness and transparence.” Large wire cubes on the runway set the angular tone and the outfits came in muted colors, with a lot of transparency and movement. “I was very interested, nearly obsessed with the idea of lightness, not only in the material but also in the spirit, for something very desirable, very sensual,” said Baptista. “There is a lot of transparency but it remains modest. I like this idea of sensuality.” — AFP

Simple looks are deceiving at NY Fashion Week T


he simple things can be the hardest to do in fashion, because you have to do them well. Take the white shirt. Designers Peter Som and Max Azria both said a plain white button-down shirt is their favorite thing to see on a woman, and versions of it have been on nearly every catwalk during the previews of Spring 2014 at New York Fashion Week that entered their third day Saturday. But these basics are far from simple for designers. Prabal Gurung said that with such crisp pieces, you can’t hide behind embellishment or interesting fabric. When it’s simple, it has to be perfect. “Ease isn’t easy,” echoed Jason Wu, who showed feather-light and sometimes sheer slip dresses that were carefully constructed. “The things you think are going to be simple can sometimes be really hard.” Lucky magazine Editor in Chief Eva Chen wore a white button-down to previews on Friday and said the versions popping up on runways - whether as detail peeking out from a dress or reflecting spare 90s minimalism - are “nothing if not wearable - with jeans and ballet slippers, with a ballgown, and everything in between.” “This season, when it comes to choosing a white shirt, it IS all about the tweaks and the details. Is the cut cropped (a silhouette of the season, whether you like it or not!), are there details or embellishments at the collar?” she said by email. “Those details are what feminize a white shirt and make it special.”

RAG & BONE There were no bells and whistles on the Rag & Bone runway at New York Fashion Week, and that’s how the label’s co-founders Marcus Wainwright and David Neville intended it. It was a risk to go with the more minimalist - maybe 1990s-esque - aesthetic, Wainwright said in an interview Friday just before the models stepped on to the runway, but a risk work taking. “I think we want to see something quite new for us, actually, quite a big departure from last season. We felt like we needed to change it up and do something cleaner and really fresh, and I hope you will see that.” Even though the styles were a departure from the British tailoring that the label has emphasized over the years, there were the hallmarks of the Rag & Bone hipster in the collection. There also were the looks that hit on the trends emerging for next season: delicate dresses - the best one, the finale, was a whisper-like slip with layers of pink, peach and white; belly-baring cropped tops; and the unlikely synergy between oversized menswear-inspired styles, such as carpenter pants and blazers, and the most ladylike lingerie. Wainwright and Neville even made a convincing case for coveralls paired with a bra top. They played with metallics, and featured a palette of black, white, peach, sand and aqua, which, used for a polo dress, was an unexpected dose of country-club cool. “You know, I think every season the aim

is to try and push forward the idea of what the Rag & Bone girl is and what she could be,” said Wainwright. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not.” No worries, designers.


lifestyle F A S H I O N

REBECCA TAYLOR MARISSA WEBB A new belle of the ball might have stepped off the Marissa Webb runway. Webb’s collection is quickly becoming an insider’s favorite, and even though it was shown in one of the smaller venues of the Lincoln Center tents, the audience was largely one that matters: top editors, stylists and retailers. One of the first outfits was a slim-cut, slightly sheer top and a blush- colored blouse with a men’s style - but definitively feminine in silk - tie that was worn with a high-waist, bell-shape skirt. It set the

tone for a mostly chic collection full of interesting-yet-wearable pairings. Webb, who used to design for J. Crew, turned a strapless tulle ballerina dress into something more urban and modern by using an army green color, and the finale black crepe gown was harnessed in black leather suspenders. There were subtle references to lingerie, but not your typical bustier top. The belted tunics and babydoll dresses had an ease and glamour to them rather than an overt sexiness. Let’s call them the underpinnings of a label with potential.

MARISSA WEBB NICOLE MILLER Nicole Miller’s springtime fashion statement hinges on a patchwork of gardens, mazes, chandeliers and shattered mirrors. Forget subtly. It’s “the gardens of Versailles and storming the castle,” Miller said in her notes to the crowd on Friday at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Lincoln Center. The first look out was a slim sheath covered in a zigzag mix of flowers, shattered glass and stripes - and touches of “powernet,” sort of like a mesh. Many of the super-skinny jeans that followed were distressed, and they

were paired with a beaded denim jacket or crinkled leather one. A scoop-neck dress dotted with with sequins of bright teal, pink and purple was topped with a black neoprene vest. Miller named her collection “Rebels With a Cause,” and offered a tagline: “Power Meets Pretty.” REBECCA TAYLOR Never mind that she normally dresses young women who can get away with fluttery miniskirts every day of the week, Rebecca Taylor put old-school work wear to work in her spring

collection. She showed perforated bomber jackets, denim T-shirts and carpenter pants. “Key silhouettes experiment with proportion - crop tops, full trousers and teacup skirts are paired with soft modern volume in rounded sleeve shapes. Very crisp white poplin shirting and geo-eyelet are layered with tactile matelaffe, laminated knits and crystal-encrusted lace,” the show notes said. The crowd in the Chelsea gallery also saw some ‘80s influences and tapped their feet to a remix of “Buffalo Stamp,” a 1989 dance hit. — AP

Alexander Wang unveils masculine but

flirty spring look A

lexander Wang’s masculine but flirty spring collection, unveiled Saturday, quite literally bore his mark: the fashion prince lasered his name as a motif on most of the pieces. The 29-year-old, who was appointed creative director of Spain’s Balenciaga last year, used the tiny cut-outyou might have to squint to see it-on sleeves, bodices and entire dresses. While the ubiquitous bare midriff cropped up, Wang took a new twist on the trend, with boxy tops, jackets and slouchy jerseys opening in a triangle from below the chest. He paired these with flirtatious skirts or loose-fitting shorts. One top was transparent except for a single well-placed panel reading: “Parental advisory, explicit content.” “It was this idea of censorship and playing with the duality of something quite masculine and quite restrained and understated but still being very graphic and flirtatious and perverse,” Wang told AFP after the show. He said he used traditional menswear fabrics and tailoring, as well as “this kind of artificial synthetic, kind of liquid viscose, poly blend leather.” Celebrities, fashionistas and industry heavyweights have flocked to New York fashion week, which runs through Thursday when the spotlight swings over to London, Milan and Paris. One of the most anticipated designers, Wang’s show was attended by hip-hop star Kanye West and Beyonce’s sister Solange Knowles. While the big names tend to be kept for last, several popular designers hit the runway on day three of the fashion frenzy, unveiling a vast array of looks for spring-summer 2014.— AP

Terry Richardson and Kanye West attend the Alexander Wang fashion show.

Solange Knowles attends the Alexander Wang fashion show.

Go back to school with

Gap G

Kerry Washington

ap launches it new collection of bags and lunch packs to tempt kids to re join school after a long summer break. On offer are junior backpacks, senior backpacks, lunch box and roller bags to help kids find their perfect gear as they prepare for the first day of their school. With stars and sequin patterns, girls will be excited to see the new collection while boys can add fun to their school time with animal themed backpacks. Matching lunch box can also be bought with the bags to complete the set. If you are looking for something more fun and exciting for your child, then the Monster character backpack is sure to be a hit. Available in bright orange with blue stripes with adjustable straps, the bag also comes with a matching lunch box in blue and green. A must have for little girls is a doll shaped bag with bright pink and black color. Kids can also select from a range of vibrant roller bags that promise to provide an effortless solution. Back to school staples are now available in all Gap stores across the region.

Simple looks are deceiving at NY Fashion Week



Visitors explore the opening of the latest luminarium ‘Exxopolis’ designed by Architects of Air, on September 7, 2013 in Los Angeles. A luminarium is a sculpture people enter to be moved to a sense of wonder at the beauty of light and color. Since 1992 over 2 million visitors in 38 countries across 5 continents have immersed themselves in the spectacular world of Architects of Air. — AFP

In Nigeria, art boom feeds revival of ancient rites T

he haunting stone sculptures have stretched bodies with enlarged heads, mask-like faces and elongated chests - the kind of sharp, geometric qualities that inspired the works of Pablo Picasso and the Cubist movement in the 1920s. Displayed at a Lagos gallery alongside colorful paintings of domestic scenes, they represent a revival of ancient art forms in Nigeria, rooted in traditional spirituality, that Christian missionaries tried to banish a century ago. That revival coincides with a turn by the country’s super rich elite and small but growing middle class towards art as a store of wealth. An art investment boom is under way across emerging markets, but it has been seen as largely centred on China, India and Gulf Arab countries. The planet’s poorest continent is still widely viewed in art circles more as a source of fine art for auctions in the developed world rather than a market in itself. That may be slowly changing. Artist and designer Nike Davies-Okundaye sees growing interest by local as well as foreign collectors in the Nigerian art in her four-storey Lagos gallery, part of which is given over to traditional work: wood carvings of priests and stone statues of Yoruba deities. A growing number of wealthy Nigerians are adding such pieces to their collections. Yet for many Christian or Muslim Nigerians, traditional African art, because of its link with animist religion, is still viewed as taboo - an invitation to dangerous black magic or idolatry. That is a hur-

dle for artists trying resurrect their suppressed culture. But local interest in art is growing. Lagosbased accountant Jumoke Ogun used to think of art just as something nice to hang on the wall, but that changed when her sister bought a painting as an investment. “So now I no longer just dive in. I go away, try to find out more about the artist, how much their other works sold for,” she told Reuters, standing in a Lagos gallery near a canvas of a classic Nigerian scene: women cooking street food at dusk. Oscar Onyema, chief executive of Nigeria’s stock exchange, has a very small but growing portion of the exchange’s portfolio in Nigerian art, about 20 million naira ($122,400) so far. “People are now using art as an alternative to other asset classes. We think this is a wise thing to do,” he said. “We certainly expect that our own collection at the exchange will increase in value.” Petrodollars and paintings Nigerian auctioneer Yemisi Shyllon-whose own collection is valued at roughly 5 billion Nigerian naira ($30.61 million) - says there was virtually no domestic art market in 2008. Since then, around 775 million naira worth of art has sold at auctions, according to data he has gathered, and maybe three times that in galleries or private sales, he says. That sum, while no more than a single work might fetch in New York, is significant for a country whose domestic art market is just beginning.

Nigeria’s more than 160 million population, position as the continent’s top oil producer and potentially huge middle class have proved a constant draw for luxury goods sellers. Some Nigerian artists, like Bruce Onobrakpeya, have made it big internationally in recent decades, but in the past four years their works are also increasingly being bought at home. Shyllon fits the global mould of the eccentric collector, with a garden featuring bronze or wrought iron sculptures, ornately trimmed hedges and peacocks, porcupines and crested cranes imported from east Africa. “Southern Africa and east Africa are still ahead of our region when it comes to producing internationally recognised art, but Nigerians are becoming Africa’s biggest collectors of art,” he said, in a room crammed with realist paintings, totem poles and carvings of gods of fire, fertility or water. Incongruously, he also has a Jesus statue, which he says he got because devout friends kept questioning all his “fetish” sculptures. “They were wondering where I stood on religion,” he said, adding that he prefers not to have to make the choice. Sacred traditions Regardless of faith, many of Nigeria’s top artists, even stylistically modern ones, are influenced by sacred traditions, especially those of the Yoruba ethnic group predominant in the southwest and the main city of Lagos. Before

European colonisers turned up, the many kingdoms and chieftaincies that now make up Nigeria had a proud tradition of art, such as wood or stone sculpture and tie-dying fabrics. Like most art, it was rooted in religion, so when the pious 19th century British dismissed local carvings of Yoruba gods as idolatrous savagery, it nearly killed Nigeria’s art scene. They destroyed hundreds of works; others, they carted off to museums. “We’re still recovering from the damage. To propagate their gospel, they told us ours was Satanic, and even now Christian Nigerians will say these traditional statues are demonic,” said Reuben Okundaye, Nike’s husband and art gallery manager. Islam arrived in Nigeria many centuries before Christianity, but its effect on traditional culture was similar, if not as devastating. Yoruba religion, with its gods and kings, has spread far beyond West Africa. Slaves brought it over the Atlantic to Latin America, where it is still practiced in forms such as Cuba’s Santeria faith, blending Yoruba deities with Catholicism. But in Nigeria, where Yorubas are now roughly 50-50 Muslim and Christian, mosques and churches both frown on animist religion. The rise of US-style Pentecostal churches has done the most damage, say Yoruba revivalists, because their allure lies in being “born again”, in breaking with your past. “It’s a reason there is still big resistance to our traditional culture and arts,” Shyllon said. Most only buy Western-style art, he

said, but added that “the fact that now art is money is our best hope of revival.” Offerings to the gods Before Christianity, most Yoruba villages had sacred groves dotted with shrines, sculptures and other art works representing gods, sacred animals and people. Few survived the arrival of Europeans. But in the 1950s, a group of Nigerian artists and Austrian painter Susan Wenger revived the shrines in the Osun Osogbo forest, adding to the sculptures and restoring others in one of southwest Nigeria’s last remaining dots of rainforest. The grove is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Wenger stayed on in the adjacent town of Osogbo, becoming a Yoruba high priestess, until her death in 2009. At an annual festival in the grove last month, thousands gathered by a river believed to be the earthly manifestation of Osun, goddess of fertility. At the water’s edge stood a giant stone statue of her, with angular arms outstretched, fixed to the root of a gnarly tree. Women left offerings of yams, hoping to be blessed with a child, while figures in psychedelic robes called “Egungun” or masquerades, their faces covered, danced to beating drums. In Yoruba folklore, Osun transformed herself into a river out of despair after her angry husband Sango, the axe-wielding deity of thunder who bears a striking resemblance to the Norse god Thor, stormed out. Osogbo artists use materials and themes from such stories. — Reuters

5 free things to do in


Hudson Valley

he mountain-flanked valley that inspired Hudson River School painters in the 19th century has great views and plenty to do. A trip up the Hudson River is a trip through America’s history. The US Military Academy at West Point looms on the western banks, while the eastern shore boasts the home of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Vanderbilt Mansion, both national parks, as well as Sing Sing state prison. (Located north of Manhattan, the prison is where the term “up the river” comes from.) Entry fees are common for many attractions, but there are plenty of free things to do.

Woodstock Trivia buffs know that this storied artists’ colony nestled in the Catskill Mountains did not host the generation-defining 1969 concert that bears its name. It actually took place some 50 miles away in Bethel. But Woodstock maintains a whiff of patchouli all the same. Bohemians have been coming here for more than a century to paint, play and thumb their noses at cultural norms. Today, shops along the main street sell tiedye clothes, groovy candles and Jimi Hendrix posters as well as fashionable shoes and pricey clothes. Good people-watching, too: Woodstock is the sort of place where gray-bearded hippies share the sidewalk with stiletto-heeled moms pushing $800 strollers.

River walkway Some of the best views of the Hudson River are from a rail bridge-turned-pedestrian walkway 212 feet (65 meters) above the water. The popular Walkway Over the Hudson, which is part of the state park system, spans 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) between Highland and Poughkeepsie. The runway-like deck looks down on a hilly section of the valley well-suited for watching the leaves turn color. It costs nothing to walk across the bridge; there is a fee for parking in the lots for the park (one on either side of the river), but free parking can often be found on nearby streets. Want a longer trek? The walkway is connected to the Hudson Valley Rail Trail on the western side and will soon be linked to the Dutchess Rail Trail on the eastern shore.

Hiking The Catskill Mountains, rising up west of the river, offer dozens of trails though pretty woods that lead to great views. Many trails are suitable for family hikes, like the roughly 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) round trip to Kaaterskill Falls near Palenville. Overlook Mountain offers some of the most panoramic views, and the climb can be coupled with a visit to Woodstock, which is just down the road. A 2.6-mile (4-kilometer) dirt road leads to a 3,140-foot (957-meter) peak that overlooks the Hudson to the east and undulating mountains all around. Ghostly ruins of old hotels are near the peak, which is topped by an old fire tower.

A sidewalk scene from the town of Woodstock, NY. — AP photos market through Thanksgiving on Sundays. A halfhour north is the small, riverside city of Hudson, which was hit with the gentrification wave more recently. Once empty storefronts on Warren Street now host funky antique shops and the Spotty Dog Books & Ale, which, yes, really has a bar next to the bookshelves.

East Market Street in Rhinebeck, NY. The trailhead is across the road from a Tibetan Buddhist monastery - this is Woodstock, after all. Window-shopping A number of once-sleepy Hudson Valley towns have been gentrified over the decades thanks to an influx of second-homeowners from New York City. One of these busier small places is Rhinebeck, which cemented its status as a destination when Chelsea Clinton married at a local riverside estate in 2010. Rhinebeck is essentially a one-stoplight town with a concentration of stores and restaurants packed around the intersection. There’s a fun outdoor farmers

Rip Van Winkle Bridge, which spans the Hudson River amid autumn colors in Greenport, NY.

River access Rail lines run along the banks of the Hudson River from Manhattan to Albany, limiting access to the river. There are a few nice riverfront parks, though. Albany’s Corning Preserve has a fitness trail that runs along the river. The preserve is cut off from downtown Albany by tracks and an interstate, but a pedestrian bridge spans over the highway, leading to a park area with an amphitheater.

9th Sep 2013  

Kuwait Times

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