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Islamic arts convention opens at Grand Mosque

SAFAR 28, 1435 AH

Clashes kill 10 as Iraq forces clear Sunni protest camp

Prolific Padukone rises to top of A-list

South Africa crush India as Kallis bows out

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as court may summon PM


150 FILS

2Drama7at Barrak’s 39 trial 19 MP Hashem slams premier, says he won’t succeed

Max 21º Min 08º High Tide 11:48 & 22:14 Low Tide 05:10 & 16:44

By B Izaak

VOLGOGRAD: Dead bodies lie at the scene where a destroyed trolleybus stands on a street after a bombing on the packed vehicle yesterday. — AFP

Russia on alert after 31 killed Second suicide bombing in Volgograd kills 14 on bus MOSCOW: At least 14 people were killed yesterday when a suicide bomber blew himself up on a packed trolleybus in Volgograd, raising new concerns about security at the Sochi Olympics a day after a deadly attack on the southern Russian city’s train station. President Vladimir Putin ordered steppedup security across the country after the trolleybus bombing at the peak of the morning rush and Sunday’s suicide attack blamed on a suspected female suicide bomber which claimed 17 lives. The attacks on Volgograd, which until this year had no record of recent

unrest, raised alarm about whether the ongoing anti-Kremlin insurgency in the Northern Caucasus could affect the Sochi Winter Games which open on Feb 7. The force of day’s blast destroyed the number 15A trolleybus, which was packed with early morning commuters and was turned into a tangle of wreckage with only its roof and front remaining. Health ministry spokesman Oleg Salagai told Russian state television that 14 people were killed and 28 wounded. Russian investigators have opened a criminal probe into a suspected

act of terror as well as the illegal carrying of weapons, the Investigative Committee said. “The explosives were detonated by a male suicide bomber, fragments of whose body have been found and taken for genetic analysis to establish his identity,” said spokesman Vladimir Markin. He said four kilograms of TNT equivalent had been used and noted that the explosives were identical to those used in Sunday’s train station bombing. “This confirms the theory that the two attacks are linked. Continued on Page15

KUWAIT: The first hearing of former opposition MP Musallam Al-Barrak in the court of appeals was full of drama yesterday as the state security officer who probed the case collapsed during crossexamination and the court may summon Prime Minister HH Sheikh Jaber AlMubarak Al-Sabah to testify in the highprofile case. Barrak, one of the opposition’s leading figures, is on trial on charges of insulting HH the Amir and undermining his authority in a speech at a public rally in October last year. Earlier this year, Barrak was sentenced to five years in jail by the criminal court. The sentence was scrapped over illegal procedures by the appeals court which decided to take over the trial itself. Barrak’s defense team surrounded the state security officer who investigated the case and sent the charge sheet to the public prosecution to press the case in court. The officer, who refused to provide his civil ID or name, said he obtained the recording of Barrak’s speech on a compact disk (CD) from a secret informer and that no one from the state security was

Musallam Al-Barrak officially assigned to attend the rally. He also told the court that he did not know if the provided CD was tampered with or not and at one stage was ordered by judge Anwar Al-Enezi to answer the defense questions because he declined to answer most of them. At one stage, the officer collapsed and was unconscious for a while and the hearing was briefly adjourned. Continued on Page15

Bahrain thwarts ‘terror’ attempts MANAMA: Bahraini authorities have foiled an attempt to smuggle explosives and arms, some made in Iran and Syria, into the country by boat, the Gulf Arab state’s public security chief said yesterday. Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet, has been rattled by bouts of unrest since Feb 2011, when protests led by members of its Shiite majority demanded that the Sunni ruling family give up ultimate power to an elected parliament. “According to the investigations, which revealed plans to carry out terrorist acts, security deployment

has been intensified,” Maj-Gen Tariq AlHassan said in comments published by the official news agency BNA. He said security forces had also dismantled a car bomb in the Al-Houra area east of Manama, seized a weapons and explosive cache and arrested 13 people, including a Saudi, trying to flee the country by boat. They were carrying passports, different types of currency, phones and personal belongings, according to a government statement. Continued on Page15

Schumacher battling for life Gulf seeking food security in Europe, US

CAIRO: An Egyptian riot policeman detains a female student of Al-Azhar University during a protest by students who support the Muslim Brotherhood inside their campus yesterday. — AFP

Egypt arrests four Jazeera journalists CAIRO: Egyptian secret police have arrested an award-winning Australian journalist and an Egyptian reporter for the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera channel suspected of illegally broadcasting news harming “domestic security,” the interior ministry said. The arrests come amid a widening crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, which the militar y-installed government declared a “terrorist organisation” last week. Al-Jazeera confirmed the arrests, and said police also detained a producer and a cameraman. Officers of the National Security ser vice raided the broadcaster ’s makeshift bureau at a Cairo hotel on Sunday, arresting two of the journal-

ists and confiscating their equipment, said a ministry statement. It did not identify the journalists, only saying one was a “Muslim Brotherhood member” and the other an Australian. Al-Jazeera English identified them as Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Adel Fahmy, a dual Egyptian-Canadian citizen, and Australian reporter Peter Greste. It said producer Baher Mohamed and cameraman Mohamed Fawzi were also arrested yesterday evening. The raid came after authorities listed the Brotherhood as a terror outfit, making membership in the Islamist group or even possession of its literature a crime. Continued on Page15

ABU DHABI: The desert states of the Gulf are changing tack in their multi-billion dollar search for food security. With their farming projects in some of the poorest African nations sometimes arousing local hostility, wealthy Arab investors are turning to those developed countries that comfortably produce more food than they consume. United Arab Emirates-based agricultural firm Al Dahra has chose this path in March, buying eight agricultural companies for $400 million in Serbia, a major food exporter where public attitudes to foreign-owned farming may be less sensitive. Projects in Europe, North America and Australasia tend to be more expensive and offer less scope to build vast estates like in Africa. But they also present fewer political problems and less risk for the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait which all need to feed growing populations. For years the Gulf states, dependent on imports for 80 to 90 percent of their food, poured cash into buying tens of thousands of hectares of cheap farmland and other agricultural assets in the developing world, mainly Africa. They hoped these investments would give them direct access to big food production bases, insulating them from global swings in food prices. But the reality has proved difficult. Some of the African projects have drawn accusations that Arab investors are grabbing land that should be used to feed local people. Bad security and weak infrastructure have plagued some ventures. Although Gulf companies announced plans to spend billions of dollars, the problems mean many of the projects have not gone ahead, at least not to the point of large-scale food production, said Eckart Woertz, senior research fellow at the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs. “Rather than greenfield investments in Africa, the focus is more on putting money in already Continued on Page15

GRENOBLE, France: Michael Schumacher, the retired seven-time Formula One champion who often braved death on the tracks, was fighting for his life yesterday after an off-piste skiing accident in the French Alps. The German racing legend, who turns 45 at the end of the week, was helicoptered off a mountain in the upmarket Meribel resort Sunday after falling and slamming his head on a rock while skiing off-piste with his 14-year-old son. News of the accident stunned the Formula One community and racing stars joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel and legions of fans in wishing him a speedy recovery. Initially described as non-life-threatening, his condition gradually deteriorated and the hospital where he was being treated eventually announced late Sunday that Schumacher was critical,

had serious brain trauma and had undergone an emergency operation. In an update to reporters yesterday, doctors at the hospital in the southeastern city of Grenoble said that while it was too early to make a prognosis on the famous patient, he was fighting for his life. “He is in critical condition, his condition can be described as life threatening,” JeanFrancois Payen, head of the intensive care unit, told reporters. Stephan Chabardes, the professor who operated on Schumacher, said the former racer arrived in hospital Sunday in an agitated state - his arms and legs jerking uncontrollably -and was not able to answer questions. His condition “rapidly deteriorated” and he fell into a coma, he told reporters. Payen said he was immediately operated on and still suffered Continued on Page 15

MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, Italy: This photo dated Jan 14, 2005 shows German former Formula One driver Michael Schumacher skiing in this northern Italian resort. — AFP



Acting undersecretary, Emadi and Fareed Al-Ali opening the exhibition.

Islamic arts convention opens at Grand Mosque An embodiment of cooperation By Hassan A Bari KUWAIT: Under the auspices of the Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Shareeda Al-Maousherji, who was represented by acting undersecretary Fareed Emadi, Kuwait Islamic Arts Center (KIAC) of the Grand Mosque’s cultural complex opened the 6th International Islamic Arts Convention at the Grand Mosque’s royal marquee. The convention will run until Jan 9, 2014. Grand Mosque Director Saad Al-Hajji expressed pride in hosting such a fine and large group of Muslim calligraphers and artists from all over the world in the serenity of the Grand Mosque, adding that the convention was an embodiment of cooperation amongst various ministries and concerned government bodies and establishments. “This convention is another part of the activities and programs initiated by the Grand Mosque’s cultural complex to revive and highlight the role of the mosque in Islam as a source of spiritual and religious guidance as well as an artistic, cultural and educational landmark in Kuwait,” stressed Emadi, noting that the convention was also a great chance to emphasize the significance of arts in the lives of Muslims. Emadi reiterated that the convention includes exhibitions of Arabic calligraphy, Islamic traditional arts like ebru, illumination, marbling and ornamentation as well

as lectures and workshops on various traditional Islamic arts and crafts with a focus on prayer rug design and weaving as the main theme of this exhibition. “There are special workshops for children as well to help create younger generations of Muslim artists and calligraphers,” he said, pointing out that the exhibition also includes a special section for female calligraphers and rug weavers demonstrating their craft in public. KIAC Chaiman, Kuwaiti artist and calligrapher Fareed Al-Ali, stressed that over 80 Muslim artists and calligraphers from Kuwait, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, US, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Jordan, Oman and Azerbaijan are taking part in the convention. Ali also underscored that the exhibition would be open for visitors in the morning and afternoon until Jan 9. Participants include Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiya and the Sadu Weaving Society from Kuwait, Sultan Mohammed Al-Fateh University, Turkish Fine Arts college, IRCICA, The World Islamic Studies and Education University (WISE) from Jordan and the dean of Florence fine arts college Mohammed Al-Shaikh. Also speaking on behalf of the visiting artists, Syrian scholar Ahmed AlMufti stressed that Kuwait’s international Islamic arts convention has become a landmark in Islamic art events that has been attracting hundreds of Muslim artists as well as thousands of visitors since its inception.

Female carpet weaving artisans from Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan pose for Kuwait Times.

MOI responds to citizen complaint KUWAIT: Responding to a video shown on social media and a private TV channel showing a female citizen’s complaint that a policeman allegedly snatched her mobile phone after arriving late in response to a robbery report she made, MoI’s security media department announced that the deputy PM and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Khaled has shown great concern about this incident and gave strict orders to investigate the matter. The department also stressed that the concerned policeman was referred to MoI’s monitoring and inspection department. The statement also stressed that the min-

ster had given strict orders to adopt the reward and penalty principle with all police force agents. Notably, the video shows two female citizens blaming a policeman for arriving late at their house when they called reporting an armed robbery. The man appearing in the video justified the delay saying that the patrol vehicle was out of order. Provoked by holding her mobile to record what was happening and at her refusal to switch the recording off, the policeman snatched the mobile phone, while the two ladies threatened to take their complaint to the minister himself.

Al-Omair set to join Cabinet? KUWAIT: At least six new ministers are expected to be changed in the Cabinet including one ruling family member, a local daily reported yesterday and contrary to earlier reports which suggested that Prime Minister HH Sheikh Jaber AlMubarak Al-Sabah was expected to retain all six ‘sheikhs’ in the cabinet. Meanwhile, sources quoted in Al-Qabas’ report revealed that pro-government and Islamist MP Ali Al-Omair is rumored to be a strong candidate to join the Cabinet as Minister of Justice and Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. He would replace Sharida Al-Maosharji who reportedly expressed reluctance to rejoin Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak’s team. In the meantime, a government insider revealed that the premier was not expected to increase the number of elected members in the Cabinet. And in a recent comment on this topic, MP Rakan Al-Nisf said that the prime minister has an opportunity to “decrease the number of ruling family members in the cabinet”, arguing that previous experiences to name a considerable

number of ‘sheikh’ ministers “did not bring any achievements to the government”. MP Khalil Al-Saleh said meanwhile that the upcoming cabinet comes at a critical point “amid high hopes of new beginnings by 2014”. In other news, MP Al-Nisf announced that the parliament’s housing committee decided to hire an ‘international consultant’ to supervise a study in which panel members attempt to address problems facing the process to finance allocating land for housing. Meanwhile, Public Authority for Housing Welfare representatives told financial committee members that a proposed increase for the rent allowance to KD300 per month with have an annual cost of KD396 million, committee member MP Hmoud AlHamdan said in statements to Al-Rai daily. He announced meanwhile that Savings and Credit Bank representatives could not provide accurate numbers regarding the cost of increasing the housing loan to KD100,000 “because it is connected to the number of housing units projected to be distributed in the future”.

Multi-technique calligraphy painting by Mohammed Afzail, Morocco.

Emadi and IRCICA’s crafts program manager, Dr Nazeeh Ma’rouf at the Iranian section.

Handmade carpet weaving artisan from Mauritania.

Turkish Ebru (Marbling) artisan demonstrating his work, techniques.

Kuwait’s color of the year 2014 By Jamie Etheridge KUWAIT: One of the first things children learn in school (or even preschool) is the name of colors. Red, yellow, green and blue are taught right along with ABCs and 123s. As we age, however, our academic focus on color fades as it takes a backseat to reading, writing and arithmetic. Artists are among the lucky few that get to spend their working lives exploring and playing with colors. The rest of us may throw on a bright red scarf or a purple polka dot tie but otherwise seldom drape ourselves in the rainbows of our childhood. In the United States, however, one institute makes color its daily business. The Pantone Color Institute is the world’s leading authority on color. Based in Carlstadt, New Jersey, the PCI provides a range of color products and services for designers, professionals and others with color system needs for home, fashion, plastics, architecture, paint, technology and more. The Pantone Color Institute also designates a color of the year. Radiant Orchid, a purple with fuschia, pink and purple undertones, has been chosen as the color of the year for 2014. Previous colors include emerald, tangerine, honeysuckle, turquoise, chili pepper, mimosa and blue iris. In Kuwait, we might not think about color too often. But when the dust covers the city, it evokes the colors of the desert - sand, almond, tan, gold, beige, orange, rust and sky blue. Before 1961, Kuwait’s flag was red with white lettering. But during the height of the pan Arab movement, Kuwait adopted the red, green, white and black now common throughout the region. Meanwhile, the Kuwaiti national team, Al Azraq, sports a light cobalt blue uniform with white lettering. All children in Kuwait wear uniforms to school. In private schools, the colors vary according to the school but in the public school system many girls schools require the children to wear pink. In fact, the issue of uniform color was a hot controversy a few years back as some MPs felt that forcing girls to wear pink uniforms would help stamp out ‘boyat’ (girls dressing like boys) activities. Kuwait’s her-

itage also is reflected in the traditional blacks, reds, oranges and ivory. At the political level, several movements in Kuwait have adopted colors - most recently orange. If we stop to think about it, color imbues the world around us and though we may not realize it, shapes our perceptions of everyday life. Think of the colors of Zain’s logo (mint green and pink) or Wataniya’s red and white, NBK’s blue camel or KFH’s green lettering. Color or its absence are also noticeable in Kuwaiti dress. Think of the blindingly

white dishdasha of summer contrasted against the camel or navy woolen dishdasha worn in winter time. Everyone, of course, knows the sky blue of Twitter or the beige, brown and rainbow of Instagram’s logo. My favorite, of course, is the Kuwait Times’ logo: Two light blue whales and a dhow in a sea of white. If Pantone can choose a color of the year, why not us too? What would you pick for the color of 2014 for Kuwait? (I’d say green but that may be too hopeful!)

Radiant Orchid... the color of 2014 for the Pantone Institute, US.



KUWAIT: National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim receiving chief of Kuwait University’s National Students Union - US branch Ahmad Qabazard and his deputy Hamad Al-Hajiri and head of Kuwait University’s National Students Union UK and Ireland branch Abdulaziz Al-Ayadha, his deputy Mesaad Al-Barak and his secretary Ahmad Al-Enezi. Al-Ghanim also received Dalal Al-Gharib and Heba Al-Duwaisan from the Union’s students Affairs department.

Increase in Kuwaiti property investments in Europe By Nawara Fattahova KUWAIT: The economic crisis in Europe affected the prices of real estate there and this drop in prices has increased demand by Kuwaiti and other Arab investors. Meanwhile, the prices of local properties are rising, and is one of the main reasons for seeking investment opportunities abroad. According to specialists from the field, this is the time to buy property in Europe. Manaf Yousef, a business consultant at a local company confirmed that the demand to buy properties in Europe hase increased recently. “France is experiencing a recession, but prices of properties have dropped by less than 10 percent, which is not considered affordable yet. In other European countries such as Spain, the drop in property prices is more than 10 percent as nobody is buying assets there,” he told Kuwait Times. “From my experience, clients focus more on the United Kingdom due to easy communication, although properties there are still expensive. Many clients also focus on Turkey due to the cheap prices of real estate. The interest is not so high for France as it’s expensive and there are language barriers in addition to the social situation in France of not allowing Islamic dresses and niqabs. So clients hesitate, except for Nice which is very popular,” Yousef added. Economic Analyst Hajaj Bu Khadour noted that the drop of real estate price differs from one country to another. “Countries suffering from sovereign debts such as Spain, Greece, Cyprus and others are experiencing a big drop in prices of properties that reached about 60 percent. It’s expected prices will rise again in 2014 as the economic

situation slowly improves, so I see this period as the perfect time to buy a property in Europe,” he explained. “Theoretically, Kuwaiti investment abroad and shifting capital into these countries will affect local real estate, prices of which have risen by about 40 percent in the past three years. I advise not to trade in local property to avoid further increases, and instead invest in other fields or commercial activities,” added Bu Khadour. Fatma Sulaiman from another real estate company said the high price of Kuwaiti property has led investors to focus on properties in Europe. “Local property prices rose incredibly, so they prefer to buy properties in Europe as the price in most popular areas is similar to that of Kuwaiti real estate. “Most clients prefer France, and usually they buy properties for personal use and not investment, as the procedure of selling and buying there is complicated,” she stated. Mohammed Rasmi of Remax Co noted that more people are traveling to Europe, especially after the Arab Spring, so they also look for buying property there. “Kuwaitis and GCC nationals seek verdant nature and prefer to have property there rather than staying in hotels. So most clients buy real estate for tourism purposes, but if a good opportunity for investment arises, they will take it. Our company is selling lands in Bosnia and Turkey as visas are very easy to get and they can possess properties there through certain companies. This is the best time to buy property in Bosnia as it’s not in the European Union yet and prices will rise more when it joins it. We mostly sell land, and the client then builds on it according to his desired design,” he pointed out.

Blackmarket booze prices rise ahead of New Year’s holiday Illegal but available at KD100 to 170 per bottle By Ben Garcia KUWAIT: Alcohol may be illegal in Kuwait but it is still widely available - though prices are skyrocketing due to the upcoming New Year’s Eve holiday. “I buy original whisky, though it’s very expensive and then gather my friends over for a barbeque in my apartment on New Year’s Day,” said one resident who asked that his name be withheld due to the illicit nature of the issue. Prices for the most popular brands - Johnny Walker Red Label and Black Label - have already more than doubled on the black market. A bottle of Red Label is now selling for KD 100 to KD 170 (up from the normal price of KD 50-KD70.) Prices, of course, vary according to the source and the number of bottles purchased. Homemade brews are also available on the black market, with prices running anywhere from KD 5 to KD 8 for the harsh, clear drink

known as rice liquor to KD 15 to KD 20 for a bottle of so called ‘date rum’. Given its illicit nature, manufacturers and dealers go to great lengths to disguise the liquids, using local water bottles or other packaging to hide the real contents. “Some local brews are now packaged in soda bottles or even oil containers in order to escape notice by police,” explained a source with knowledge of the black market industry. “I bought like this in Murgab in a shopping bag. You can never tell what’s in my shopping bag because it looks like anything,” he said. Alcohol was banned in Kuwait in 1960. Though there has been occasional talk of permitting its sale in hotels as a way to boost tourism, the government continues to support full prohibition. Illicit sale of alcohol, however, remains a lucrative and thriving industry in the country. Poisoning from bad batches of bathtub brewed local alcohol occur but are rare.

KUWAIT: Prices for the most popular brands — Johnny Walker Red Label and Black Label — have already more than doubled on the black market.

Health ministers sign memo to fight chronic diseases KUWAIT: The health ministry finished preparations to host the GCC health ministers conference due to be held in Kuwait from Jan 5 to 9, under the auspices of Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs and Health Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah. In this regard, MOH’s Assistant Undersecretary for Public Health, Dr Qais Al-Duwairi said that the conference would discuss various issues with fighting non-contagious chronic diseases on top of them. He added that a complete memo had been set under the name of ‘Kuwait Memo’ including an executive plan for GCC states to follow in a bid to

fight chronic diseases that have been problematic in GCC states. Speaking at the sidelines of a five-day meeting held in Kuwait to update dental and hospital equipment codes in the GCC, Al-Duwairi stressed that GCC states would have to set plans to fight non-contagious chronic diseases within each respective state’s development plans. He added that the conference would discuss the regional spread of the Corona virus, purchases of medicines, expatriate laborers, making the Arabian peninsula a Malaria free zone and accreditation of some outstanding GCC medical centers.

GUST annual career fair ‘a big success’ MISHREF: The Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST) organized the 14th Career Fair at the university, opened by Prof Donald Bates; GUST President, Dr Salah Al-Sharhan; VP for Planning and Development; and Professor Ghassan Aouad, VP Academic Services. The Fair is hosted by the Center of Business Development and Corporate Relations (BDCR) with the participation of 42 companies and institutions from the private and public sectors. The opening of the exhibition saw a strong presence of university senior management, students and graduates who interacted significantly with representatives of companies and institutions involved. Prof Bates stressed that “Our mission at GUST is to develop the human resources to continue the growth of the Kuwaiti economy. Our programs are designed to cover both the theoretical foundation and the application of theory to solve problems that improve organizational performance and Kuwaiti life. The partnerships with corporations and government agencies enrich the educational experience through internships and other experiential opportunities as well as launching their professional careers. It is only through these partnerships that GUST can develop the Kuwaiti business leaders of tomorrow” He added that GUST graduates are highly sought after and are working in different sectors in the community and achieved great successes at the working level. Professor Bates praised Dr. Osama Al-Hares, Director of the BDCR and Head of the Organizing Committee for the fair, for establishing and solidifying relationships connecting Gusto both the private and public sectors which opens channels of communication between graduates and employers for provided career opportunities.

MISHREF: Dignitaries attend the career fair organized by the Gulf University for Science and Technology recently. On his part, Dr. Salah Al-Sharhan emphasized that “we at GUST recognize the important role our corporate partners play in bringing real-world challenges to the table from one hand, and providing practical insight and employment for our students on the other” He added that we value our corporate relations and strive to develop rewarding long-term relationships with corporate partners towards strengths’ leverage of all of us to make a better world”. Commenting on the event and GUST corporate partnerships, Professor Ghassan Aouad said that “we value good interactions with the business community for mutual benefits. It is universal-

ly known that good theory comes from good practice and that’s why we are keen to ensure that our students are exposed to real life experiences of well-established practitioners in business and commerce. Our corporate relations and career activities open many opportunities for good talents to be captured and employed. We at GUST very much acknowledge the serious contribution of our corporate partners”. In this respect, Dr. Al-Hares pointed that the event was a huge success with about 1016 CVs collected by the participated companies and about 300 internships spots guaranteed for students during spring and summer 2014. He added that BDCR also

managed to administrate the “Employers Feedback Survey” during the event in addition to three new MOUs and corporate partnerships signed with the National Bank of Kuwait, Gulf Bank and Al-Ghanim Industries. Dr. Al-Hares appreciated the participating corporations for their continued support and their eagerness to cooperate with GUST; particularly corporate sponsors: National Bank of Kuwait, Kuwait Finance House, Gulf Bank, Boubyan Bank, and Zain Telecom (as platinum sponsors);AlGhanim Industries, Ahli United Bank and GUST Students Association (as gold sponsors), and Manpower Government Restructuring Program (MGRP) (as a silver sponsor).

KUWAIT: Environment Public Authority continued its campaign to remove camps that hinder the work of Kuwait Oil Company in southern areas. Campers were warned earlier, that it is necessary to remove the tents. 250 tents and 150 mobile homes were removed according to EPA Director General Salah Al-Mudhi.



Asian maid commits suicide in Ishbiliya Domestic helper raped in Jleeb

KUWAIT: Members of the Kuwait Diving Team fixing buoys in the Kuwait Bay yesterday. The team announced that a plan is being prepared to remove disposed fishing net in coordination with the Kuwait Fire Services Department and the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources.

GCC countries support energy by more than $100 billion KUWAIT: Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries supported energy and electricity prices by more than $100 billion only in 2011, a specialized economic report issued by Kuwaitbased Diplomatic Center For Strategic Studies said. Saudi Arabia supported energy prices in 2011 by $61 billion, UAE by $22 billion, Kuwait by $13 billion, and Qatar by $6 billion. Gulf countries are not capable of continuing to apply the old policies of prices that do not cope with the escalating growth in consumption, it said. The GCC countries should follow more feasible pricing policies to contribute in rationalizing consumption and mending prices to allow them to serve the immense increase in demand on gas by additional exploring and investing in renewable energy it added. The Gulf counties exerted great efforts during the past years to reduce growing consumption witnessed in various fields, and they must benefit from the expertise of developed foreign countries in the matter, the report said. The policies and programs of raising the efficiency of energy consumption in industrial countries during the last three decades led to

decreasing the intensity of energy consumption by 51 percent, it mentioned. GCC countries are facing a critical problem in exploitation of renewable energy in matters of the high production cost of electricity from clear energy, it added. Traditional energy sources are still being the best choice in the meantime; regarding that means of exploiting clean energy sources like (sun and wounds) require immense efforts, it said. Generating electricity from traditional energy sources like (diesel and gas) is way less expensive from doing the same from clear energy sources, the report added. The rate of produced electricity through renewable energy in Saudi Arabia will reach 27 percent of the total energy production by 2020, it said. The consumption supported with billions of dollars is causing headache to the Gulf countries, which can use this money in producing various sources of energy, it added. The large amount of money spent by such countries in supporting energy caused a number of negative phenomena like high rate of energy consumption, smuggling of fuel, the report said. —KUNA

KUWAIT: A domestic helper committed suicide inside her employer’s house in Ishbiliya according to preliminary investigations. Paramedics and police headed to the scene in response to an emergency call Sunday, and found the Asian woman’s body hanging from a rope tied to the ceiling of her room. The housemaid was 42. The body was taken to the forensic department after criminal investigators examined the scene. Investigations are ongoing to determine the motives behind the maid’s suicide. Meanwhile, a housemaid survived a suicide attempt in Farwaniya as police are waiting for her to be discharged from the hospital in order to question her motives. The 26-year-old Asian woman was taken in an ambulance to Farwaniya Hospital after her employers called police and said that they found her unconscious in her room. The medical diagnoses report showed that the woman suffered blood poisoning due to consuming at least 20 medication pills. She remains in the hospital until improvement of her condition. Rape case Mubarak Al-K abeer detectives are looking to identify and arrest three men accused of sexually assaulting a domestic worker they kidnapped from Jahra. In statements to local police, the victim said that she was on her way to buy groceries from the co-op society branch near her employer ’s house in Qasr when three men pulled their car over and forced her inside. The suspects took the maid to an undisclosed location where one of them

raped her before they forced her out of the car and drove away. The Filipina managed to call her employer and described her location to him. The Kuwaiti man was able to identify her whereabouts in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh, and went there immediately and picked her up before taking her to the police station to repor t the case. Investigations are ongoing. Trio detained Two youngsters were in police custody after they tried to help their teenage brother escape arrest for a traffic offense. The incident took place in Sulaibiya where a traffic patrol officer stopped the teenager who was performing dangerous stunts with his vehicle. While the reckless driver was being put under arrest, his two brothers arrived and tried to free him by force. Their attempt failed when backup police arrived shor tly to the scene and placed them under arrest. The three were taken to the Sulaibik hat police station where officers discovered that the teen was driving without a license. Search for hacker Investigations are ongoing to identify a person who hacked into a Kuwaiti man’s bank account and used the information to buy expensive stuff online. The man had rushed to the bank branch after receiving a text message saying that KD 350 was deducted from his account, and was told that the money was spent on online transactions. He then headed to Salhiya police station and filed a case.

Addict arrested A drug addict was arrested after he damaged a patrol vehicle while trying to escape in Kuwait City Sunday. Patrol officers first approached the suspect who had stopped his car behind a state department building in Sharq. He drove away before the officers could reach him, and a car chase ensued. The man was eventually forced to stop in Qadsiya after the two patrol officers called for backup. It was discovered that the man was in an inebriated state as drug paraphernalia was found in his car. He was charged with multiple charges including property damage to the patrol vehicle with which he collided three times during the pursuit. Weapon possession Two men were arrested in Subbiya with possession of mechanical firearms whereas one of them was also discovered to be in an inebriated state. The two were pulled over near the chalets area in Subbiya for swerving on the highway. Two AK47s and ammunition were found inside their vehicle. They were taken to the Criminal Investigations Department for questioning to determine the reasons for possessing the weapons. Bootlegger in custody A man was arrested in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh on charges of distilling alcoholic drinks for sale. Investigations revealed that he used to sell the drinks for KD 50 a bottle. Police found an unspecified number of liquor bottles with the Asian man as he waiting for a customer near a building in the area. The man was referred to the proper authorities for further action.

KUWAIT: Zain Group’s Chairman Assad Al-Banwan and Zain Kuwait CEO Omar Al-Omar with the NUKS USA delegation in the company’s headquarters.

NUKS USA hails Zain’s exceptional support KUWAIT: Zain, the leading telecommunications company in Kuwait, announced yesterday that its efforts in supporting the 30th NUKS USA Conference were recognized by the organizing committee of the National Union of Kuwaiti Students United States branch during a visit to the company’s headquarters. The Union recognized Zain’s efforts and unlimited support of the 30th Conference in making the grand event a success. In a press statement, the company announced that Zain Group’s Chairman Assad Al-Banwan and Zain Kuwait CEO Omar Al-Omar welcomed the NUKS USA delegation in the company’s headquarters, where Al-Banwan and Al- Omar expressed their admiration of the organizing committee’s efforts that made the event a big success attracting more than 3000 students in San Diego last November. The company further explained that the student delegation expressed their

thankfulness to Zain’s continuous support to the annual conference, and for implementing the important role of the private sector’s contribution to supporting the Kuwaiti youth locally and abroad. Zain’s sponsorship of this conference sprung from its core belief that the younger generation are in utmost need of support, to eventually grow and prosper their skills and capabilities within a community that holds unlimited potential. The company will continue to support similar programs that ensure the implementation of its various social commitments and at the same time ensures to strengthen its relationship with several institutions and agencies which organize national initiatives that carry important messages. By participating in key national and international initiatives, this sponsorship along with many others reinforces Zain’s position as a leading Kuwaiti company that is an integral part of the community.

Kuwaiti envoy meets Gen Al-Sisi CAIRO: Kuwaiti Ambassador to Egypt Salem Al-Zamanan met with Egypt’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Commander-inChief of Armed Forces General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and discussed with him the latest developments in Egypt. Al-Sisi, who is also Minister of Defense, relayed his greetings to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah, the ambassador said yesterday.

Al-Zamanan said that Al-Sisi lauded Kuwait’s support for Egypt’s stability and security and hoped that this support would continue, especially during the current critical stage. Al-Zamanan, meanwhile, stressed that the Kuwaiti government and its leadership will always stand by the Egyptians until their aspirations and hopes are met. In August, Kuwait donated USD four billion to Egypt. —KUNA

OIC boss asserts importance of member states’ interests JEDDAH: Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) new Secretary General Ayad Madani has said the pan-Islamic organization should exert efforts on economic development, as well as addressing poverty and unemployment. Madani, in a farewell ceremony held for outgoing Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu last night, said OIC has a responsibility of tackling the “political issues that affect freedoms” of member countries. The OIC, he added, was responsible for

enhancing cultural and social exchange among member countries. Madani commended Ihsanoglu for his contributions to boosting the role of the OIC worldwide. Ihsanoglu said OIC has witnessed a “quality transformation since 2005,” and was capable of dealing with many pressing issues relevant to the Islamic world. He said OIC has achieved many political, economic, inter-trade, scientific and technological achievements. —KUNA



Taxis charge excessive fares during Christmas holiday Passengers apprehensive By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: The Ambassador of Laos Phouangkeo Langsy visited Kuwait Times and discussed matters of mutual concern with Editor-in-Chief Abd AlRahman Al-Alyan.

Kuwait condemns deadly attacks in Russia KUWAIT: Kuwait has strongly condemned Russia’s twin deadly bomb explosions that killed and wounded scores of people, a source at Kuwait Foreign Ministry said yesterday. The source reiterated Kuwait’s stance in rejecting terrorism and urged for a collaboration of international efforts to put an end to such violence.

The source expressed deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wished speedy recovery for the injured. Earlier yesterday, a blast ripped through an electric bus in the southern Russian city of Volgograd during rush hour, killing and wounding dozens of people. Another explosion hit the main railway station of Volgograd a day earlier. —KUNA

KUWAIT: On Christmas Day, many taxi passengers complained of excessive fares especially from illegal transport and roaming taxis. Even call taxis were charging high rates, confirmed passengers. A group of four Filipinos was asked to pay KD 5 for a trip from Kuwait City to Salmiya by a taxi driver during Christmas. The usual amount is KD 1.5. “We couldn’t say no because we wanted to go home, the weather was bad at that time, plus the fact that we had waited two hours for a taxi. So paying KD 5 was no longer an issue,” said a passenger who didn’t want to be identified. The New Year is approaching, and passengers are apprehensive on what to expect. “I hope we don’t experience similar problems. The government should act on this issue because these people are ruining their country’s image,” a passenger told Kuwait Times. During Christmas and New Year, expatriates, mostly menial workers, crowd the streets of Kuwait City from morning till evening to celebrate the holidays with their friends. “I took a

ride in a Filipino illegal transport vehicle in Kuwait City. I paid a higher amount than usual. Sadly, I thought it only happened in the Philippines,” another Filipino passenger told Kuwait Times. Illegal transport vehicles are being targeted by authorities and expatriates caught plying these are deported. A call taxi operator in Salmiya denied overcharging passengers. “If a passenger calls us, we’ll tell them the price. We follow the new price standard which came in effect in January 2012, and even during holidays, the price is same,” he mentioned. Taxi drivers in Kuwait make up of expatriates from various nationalities, mostly Indians, Egyptians, Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Filipinos. A taxi driver must possess a heavy vehicle driving license and must pass theory and practical tests to secure the ‘tasreeh’ (permit to drive public transport) in Kuwait. Drivers must also undergo x-rays, eye tests and fingerprinting (to check for criminal records). Two types of public taxis ply the streets of Kuwait: Call taxis [white] and roaming taxis [orange and white]. Call taxis pick up and

drop passengers on request, while roaming taxis pick up passengers on the streets. A roaming taxi charges a minimum of 250 fils while a call taxi charges depending on the route, and an additional 50 fils per kilometer. “The advantage with the call taxi is that our price is fixed although we are also required to use meter, but we do not use it because the passenger knows how much we charge. No negotiations about the fare, since the operator will tell the passenger how much to pay. In a roaming taxi, you’ll have to bargain your fare and they are sometimes more expensive than us. Plus if you forget something in a call taxi, there’s always a possibility you will get the item back, but if you take a roaming taxi, there is only a small chance you’ll get what you left behind. So safe and reliable is the name of the game,” the call taxi operator told Kuwait Times. Many expatriate passengers are appalled on the way the taxi system works in Kuwait. Taxis are just one mode of public transportation available in the country, but they are the most reliable ones compared to public buses.

12 rules to help you enjoy life in Kuwait From our archives By Meshary Alruwaih KUWAIT: Life in Kuwait can sometimes be pretty boring. No matter how biased one can be in favor of one’s homeland, it’s always beneficial to acknowledge the limitations and deficiencies of it. Such acknowledgements serve as a gate to selfcriticism, which is a necessary prerequisite to making recommendations and offering solutions as to how to improve the experience of living here. This article provides basic recommendations on how to enjoy your life in Kuwait. The lack of development in all aspects of life in Kuwait has meant that people here - Kuwaitis and expats alike - have a harder time and less options for enjoying life than their fellows in other neighboring countries like Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. I mean, as Kuwaitis, we are stuck here, but for the expats, why would you come here if you could be in Dubai or Doha instead? Returning from the US, I’d been hoping for a more dynamic government attitude towards turning Kuwait into an open society, business hub, financial centre, and all the other meaningless promises we have been hearing for so long. Going by their words, Kuwait is supposedly always on the brink of turning into a vibrant, go-ahead society, where different types and varieties of activities and exciting new venues are always just about to evolve. Having pretty much given up on all those governmental promises, I’ve formulated some suggestions and rules of my own for helping to enjoy life in static Kuwait, apparently frozen in its very own time warp, so here they are: 1. Follow Politics. Do not miss political intercourse in Kuwait. All political actors here have their special sense of humor, whether comical lies and promises by ministers, or stupid proposals by MPs. It gets even funnier when people take to the street to protest, you get women dancing, swearing at ministers, and all kinds of amusing slogans. 2. Don’t get involved in the Kuwait stock market. Do not let your life become dependent on colors, today green, tomorrow red. Rational economic and political order is missing in this country, which is reflected in the market. But let’s face it, it’s always fun to watch how people react to instantly making or losing money when it’s not your money.

3. You NEED (wasta) connections. You cannot enjoy your life in Kuwait without having wasta. You will certainly need to renew your driving license, get a job for your visiting younger brother, extend his visit if he cannot find a job; these simple procedures will turn into pure suffering if you do not know someone who can help facilitate the process. 4. When June comes, get out as fast as possible. It’s oven-hot, and there is neither water nor electricity, do not come back before September. 5. If you do follow rule number four, do NOT use Kuwait Airways. Truly a horrible experience!! 6. Friendships? If you are a Kuwaiti, make friends with expats; if you are an expat, make friends with Kuwaitis. The interaction and exchange of views and insights are fun. 7. Visit a diwaniya. At least once a week even if you don’t like it, it’s important. It’s where you achieve Rule #3. 8. Do not watch Kuwaiti football. Do not watch Kuwaiti football league as it is extremely weak and very boring. 9. Join one of those health clubs or spas. Well, if you can afford them, of course. They are nice and you will enjoy your time there, but they are ridiculously expensive. 10. Movies: forget about cinema in Kuwait. The Kuwait Cinema Company is months behind its counterparts in the west and even those in the region. Get smuggled DVDs from one of those places in Hawally or Salmiya. Sorry, IPR guys! 11. Starbucks: Make peace with Starbucks, you have to like it, they are everywhere, and chances are you will end up in one of them, so accept the fact that Starbucks is a part of your life. 12. Read Kuwait Times - every day! It will keep you up to date on local politics, provide funny stories about not-so-smart criminals, give you material to discuss with your Kuwaiti and nonKuwaiti friends, and it can easily be found in any Starbucks. (Editor’s Note: Kuwait Times occasionally publishes articles and columns from our archives. Please let us know if there is a ‘blast from the past’ you would like to see again by emailing us at Originally published in the Kuwait Times in January 17, 2007.)

KUWAIT: A flat on the sixth floor of a Hawally building caught fire yesterday, prompting firemen to evacuate the floor to avoid smoke inhalation, as the fire was being put out. No injuries were reported.—Photos by Hanan Al-Saadoun

DOHA: Kuwaiti artists who won prizes at the GCC Music Festival which was held recently in Doha.


LOCAL kuwait digest

kuwait digest

The Singapore experience

Have mercy on animals! By Arwa Al-Waqian

By Omar Al-Tabtabaei



he culture of a democratic society is a result attained after practice, rather than being a cause which leads societies to realize a successful democratic system. It is clear that Kuwait has not reached the level of cultural change required to achieve this success, and today I would like to show an example of a society which faced circumstances similar to what our own faces today - if not worse - yet was able to create a solid foundation based on successful stories that helped them move forward towards development. The first example that comes to mind is the Singapore experience, or should I say miracle, which starts with a society that suffers under corruption. The Singaporean society then was a lot similar to the Kuwaiti society now, if not more corrupt and underdeveloped than ours. Singapore’s society consists of a mix of different races, including Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnicities. This created racial and religious tensions which stood in the face of any initiative for reform. And by the way, Singapore at the time was a republic that followed a democratic system in which the cabinet is elected through parliamentary elections. Despite that, it failed miserably in establishing an advanced society that represents a respectable country. The reason lies in the society’s culture. Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore, writes in his autobiography that after assuming the prime minister’s post following separation from the Federation of Malaya, everything around him gave indication that the country was on the verge of collapse. Unemployment reached 15 percent, and the country lacked everything. Infrastructure was extremely poor, schools and universities were overcrowded, while sectarian and religious tension was about to explode and the foreign threat had never stopped. What Kuan did was start planning and placing strategies to rebuild the Singaporean society. He focused in the beginning on two things - the first was building the individual’s culture by adopting a new education policy and link it with the Singaporean society’s requirements. The second thing was changing the behavior and way of thinking of the discriminating society. To this, he distributed houses to Singaporean citizens in order to allow ‘reintegration’ of all sectors of the society and establish elements for true coexistence. Every citizen lived in a house next to a compatriot of a different ethnic background, and the idea behind this was to establish a new vision for future generations while interact with each other in neighborhoods and schools. And with media and educational direction focused on creating the culture of coexistence, the result was a harmonious society that led Singapore to become an important touristic destination and one of the world’s top economic and industrial nations after years of social destruction. The reason for this lies in the society’s culture. Singapore’s potentials back then were less than ours today. But the difference is that those who controlled the tools to direct the society had serious desire to utilize them in order to create a united society that reaches common goals, whereas the Kuwaiti society has disintegrated in recent years. Wishes alone do not build a democratic society. Contrary to common belief, an elected Cabinet does not necessarily lead to building a society with true awareness. The road to achieve that is awareness, culture and coexistence. In a society like our own - racist, sectarian, tribal and corrupt individuals can be elected in the name of democracy. — Al-Rai

kuwait digest

‘Ministries of sovereignty’ By Abdullatif Al-Duaij


hat stops HH the Prime Minister, being the man in charge over state affairs as per the constitution, from increasing popular participation in ruling? Or in other words, what stops him from activating article 6 of the constitution and allow the people to assume sovereignty through proper representation in the Cabinet? With exception to the first Cabinet created after the liberation, all Cabinet formations featured advantage for the ruling family over the nation and the rest of Kuwaiti citizens. This goes all the way back since Kuwait’s independence, and the declaration of the democratic system combined with commitment to people’s sovereignty. Since then, the so-called ‘ministries of sovereignty’ were kept out of the Kuwaiti people’s reach, and controlled solely by the ruling family. This goes against the constitution which clearly says under article 6 that “sovereignty resides in the people, the source of all powers”. How can the people claim sovereignty and become the source of powers when they are excluded from taking the so-called ‘ministries of sovereignty’? Seriously though, what stops the designated prime

minister from including an increased number of Kuwaitis in the Cabinet compared to the usual rate? Or even assign citizens to one or all of the sovereignty ministries? The definition of a dictator is a specific person controlling power over a certain country and its nation. But to have an entire family control Cabinet posts under a democratic system that has been active since the ‘60s of the past century is incomprehensible and unacceptable as well. Incomprehensible because we live in a state ruled by a democratic system that allows no room for one person’s dictatorship or a certain group’s control. Meanwhile, it is unacceptable because we were raised on and have been practicing principles of the democratic system for six decades. So, why after more than half a century, are we taking several steps backwards instead of moving forward? Especially that ruling family members are not deprived from their share and practice their rights of work and trade like any other Kuwaiti citizen. And if we want to be more accurate, we can say that only a handful of ruling family members practice leadership, whereas the majority are ordinary citizens similar to their compatriots in Kuwait. — Al-Qabas

nimals are brutally tortured in Kuwait. Though I am not an animal lover, I believe that as human beings, we should have more mercy on animals because they have been created to make a certain balance in nature. Taking animal issues lightly will cost humanity a lot of damage and harm. There is inhumane violence committed against animals in Kuwait, the most dangerous of which is owning a young wild animal as a pet such as lion and tiger cubs. Such animals look beautiful and cute when young, yet they are still going to grow up into predatory adults that do not belong in homes or indoors. Such animals are being bought, then unofficially disposed of when they grow by dumping them in the desert or giving them away to somebody else. Either way, you might be endangering your own life or that of others! There is another ugly inhumane animal-related phenomena in Kuwait - dogfights - where two dogs are placed in an ‘arena’, betting on the winner and leaving them to fight for their lives. This gives rise to the phenomena of wild dogs as betters usually abandon these dogs in the desert either because they so often lose or because of their many wounds. Thanks to man, animals that are supposed to be tame turn into predacious ones, expecting to be killed unless they fight and kill their opponents in a fight. It is these dogs that have turned wild and are going around attacking human beings and endangering their lives. Unfortunately, this all happening because of man! Another inhumane phenomena is selling all kinds of animals at the Friday market though some of them are not fit to live in Kuwait’s harsh desert climate. They are being sold cheaply and bought by people who know nothing about them and eventually set them free without knowing the kind of menace they might pose to others. Some teenagers, unfortunately, find pleasure in torturing these animals! Please have mercy on animals because their existence is significant for ecological balances that can be drastically affected by what is happening to them. We need more awareness about the significance of keeping nature ecologically balanced. Animals have souls and messing with them is religiously prohibited. Some people have been buying chicks and fish for their kids to play with and ignorantly kill. Wasting an animal’s life is a great sin. Conclusion: It is absolutely out of racism that some people consider themselves superior to others and some Muslims, who deal with ‘others’ in a most fanatic and repellant way, deal with nonMuslims’ feasts and occasions with utmost hostility. I wish we accept others the way they do with us and congratulate them on their occasions the way they do with us instead of rushing to calling people infidels! — Al-Jarida

kuwait digest

‘Brotherhood’ role in Kuwait By Hassan Ali Karam


uring the 1947 or 1948 Hajj season, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood group Shaikh Hassan AlBanna met the late Abdullah Al-Ali Al-Mutawa and became friends. When the Hajj season was over and everyone went back home, Mutawa returned to Kuwait and Banna to Egypt. Mutawa spoke with his brother, the late Abdelaziz Al-Mutawa, about Banna and proposed to form a branch of the Brotherhood in Kuwait. The Guidance Society was formed and published a monthly magazine named “Guidance”, and I still have a copy in my library. The society and the magazine were shut down, just like all sports and cultural clubs, papers and magazines following the events that took place during the celebration of the Egypt-Syria unification at Shuwaikh secondary school stadium on Feb 28, 1959. One year later, in 1960, just before the declaration of independence, clubs were reopened and papers allowed to be published, so the Guidance Society returned, but with a different name: Social Reform Society, and was granted a license to publish a weekly Islamic magazine Al-Mojtama (The Society), which is still being published now. Yet, the Social Reform Society and its magazine were not alone in the field, as the government gave licenses to the rest of intellectual, social and political groups to open clubs, societies and newspapers, so the Al-Istiqlal (Independence) club was the venue where Arab nationalists and leftists gathered and their weekly magazine Al-Jamaheer (The Masses) was published, which later became Al-Taleeah (forefront). The Social Culture Society represented Shiites, yet in the summer of 1976, during the unconstitutional dissolution of the National Assembly, the license of Al-Istiqlal club was revoked and its assets confiscated, and it is still closed and the government refused to re-license it. As for the Social Culture Society, it was closed during the ‘80s during the Iraq-Iran war, following a series of explosions in various vital places of the country, but was re-opened a few years back, while the Al-Istiqlal club, the voice of the liberals, remains closed! What interests us in this quick review

is the Social Reform Society, whose leaders were allied with the regime, and this alliance (government-Brotherhood) allowed many economic, commercial, financial, political and employment gains. It also made it easy for the society to carry out illegal activities away from the government’s supervision, such as the organization of spring camps and training children in weapons and martial arts. Yet the government, through its long experience in politics, preferred containment over clash, especially after the closure of Al-Istiqlal club and dispersing of its members. The field was open for the Reform Society, as the Salafists and their society (Islamic Heritage) were still weak, yet the situation following the liberation of Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion was different as extremist Islamists who fought in Afghanistan among Al-Qaeda and Taleban against the Soviet occupation spread like cancer in all Muslim and Western countries, and Kuwait was not an exception. We should state here, that though the Muslim Brotherhood members who got involved in politics and business were not involved in terrorist activities, it does not mean that they are against violence, rather they paid attention to their great gains and their relation with the regime! Egypt’s Brotherhood members had their hands smeared with blood and violence and were imprisoned, so will Kuwait’s Brotherhood be more forgiving and less violent if the government becomes strict with them and stops their activities? Days will show what was hidden. The Egyptian government’s decision to consider the Brotherhood as terrorist should be in all countries where they exist, especially that the Egyptian government told the Arab countries about its decision to ban the group’s activities and declaring it a terrorist group. It is for sure that Kuwait government will not be in a hurry, especially that the Egyptian decision is not the first, as Abdulnasser made a similar decision and it seems history is repeating itself. The Egyptian decision will not be taken by the Kuwait government, and there will not be a divorce between the regime and the Brotherhood. — Al-Watan

kuwait digest

Did Mandela deceive his people? By Khalid Al-Awadhi


report by the World Bank said that South Africa is suffering from widening economic gap between whites and blacks, and the unemployment rates in this country are among the highest in the world, and this is contrary to what Mandela was promising his people. The same report, and other reports issued by research institutes and organizations, said that the rates of the spread of drugs and crimes are higher among blacks in South Africa than the whites, and this is also what Mandela sought to fight and failed. This is apart from education, health and infrastructure services, which reports are stating are suffering a lot, particularly in areas where blacks are a majority, compared with those having a majority of whites.

All this nearly 20 years since Nelson Mandela, the opposition leader who later took the presidency from 1994 until 1999, toppled apartheid which was dominant there. So, did Mandela deceive his people, and was the man looking after his personal agendas wrapped in public and popular agendas to be able to gain the South African public’s sympathy and fulfill his interests that he crowned by reaching the presidency? Was Mandela supported by foreign countries and organizations that were attempting to compromise stability in this country, and the evidence is his failure in fulfilling what he was claiming! The answer to these questions, as far as I am concerned is a categorical no. Mandela had out-

standing successes, but as for the goals that were not reached, he paved the grounds for them to be fulfilled, even if takes some time. Yet, what is the opinion of those who praised Mandela lately on social media or columns or in their diwaniyas while they never stopped accusing their opponents of following foreign agendas and being seekers of influence and posts and trying to achieve their personal ambitions and other accusations which in many cases are false and baseless? Or does Mandela have the right to have a personal ambition, and others do not?! And he is allowed to make promises and not fulfill them, and to seek the presidency, while others do not have the same right?! — Al-Qabas


Thousands evacuated as volcano spews ash Page 9

Battles rage in South Sudan as truce hopes fade Page 8

FALLUJAH: Iraqi Sunni masked protesters burn tyres to block the main highway to Jordan and Syria yesterday. — AP

Iraqi forces raze Sunni camp 10 gunmen killed • 44 MPs resign • Clashes spread RAMADI: Iraqi security forces killed 10 gunmen in clashes that broke out in the Ramadi area as they tore down a yearold Sunni Arab anti-government protest camp yesterday. As the fighting raged, mosques exhorted followers to “go to jihad,” or holy war, while gunmen later replaced security forces on some streets in the city of Ramadi, near the protest site. The violence, which came just days after a deadly raid on the home of a Sunni lawmaker in Ramadi, threatens to escalate widespread anger among Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority. Another operation at a Sunni protest camp outside the northern town of Hawijah on April 23 triggered clashes in which dozens of people died, sparking a wave of revenge attacks and sending death tolls soaring. Dr Ahmed Al-Ani of Ramadi hospital said 10 gunmen were killed and 30 wounded yesterday. An AFP journalist in Ramadi reported heavy fighting, and saw helicopters firing into the area of the protest site, where demonstrators had gathered for more than a year. Gunmen also burned two security forces vehicles and seized a third. Sporadic clashes continued, and gunmen could be seen on some Ramadi streets, while security forces were visible at the edge of the city. The fighting also spread to the nearby city of Fallujah, one of the hubs of the insurgency that followed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. Police Captain Omar Oda said militants burned military vehicles during clashes with security forces, in which Dr Assem Al-Hamdani said 11 gunmen were wounded. Later yesterday, 44 Iraqi MPs announced their resignation. The announcement was made at a televised news conference at which the MPs also demanded “the withdrawal of the army... and the release of MP Ahmed AlAlwani,” a Sunni lawmaker who was arrested during a deadly raid on Saturday. ‘Forces pursuing Al-Qaeda’ Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s spokesman, Ali Mussawi, said military sources confirmed tents at the protest site had been removed and the highway reopened. This was done “without any losses, after Al-Qaeda and its members escaped from the camp to the city, and they are being pursued now,” Mussawi told AFP. He was repeating an assertion made on December 22 by Maliki, who said “the sit-in site in Anbar has turned into a headquarters for the leadership of Al-Qaeda”. Maliki called on “those who are with them in this place who refuse sabotage and who have legal or illegal demands... to leave these camps, and leave this place, so that Al-Qaeda stays alone”. Protesters had a “very short period” in which to leave, he added. The sprawling camp, on the highway that leads to Jordan and Syria, included a stage from which speakers could address crowds, a large roofed structure and dozens of tents. Numbers of protesters there ranged from hundreds during the week to many thousands on some Fridays when the Muslim weekly main prayers are held. Protests broke out in Sunni Arab-majority areas of Iraq late last year after the arrest of guards of then-finance minister Rafa AlEssawi, an influential Sunni Arab, on terrorism charges. The arrests were seen by Sunnis as yet another example of the Shiite-led government targeting one of their leaders.

In Dec 2011, guards of vice president Tareq al-Hashemi, another prominent Sunni politician, were arrested and accused of terrorism. Hashemi fled abroad and has since been given multiple death sentences in absentia for charges including murder. The demonstrations tapped into long-standing grievances of Sunnis, who say they are both marginalised by the government and unfairly targeted with heavy-handed tactics by security forces. In another incident that has escalated tensions, security

forces on Saturday raided the Ramadi home of Alwani, who backs the anti-government protesters, arresting him and sparking clashes that killed his brother, five guards and a security forces member. Sunni discontent has been a key factor in the escalating unrest this year, boosting recruitment for militant groups and eroding cooperation with security forces. But while the government has made some concessions aimed at placating Sunni Arabs, including freeing prisoners

and raising the salaries of anti-Qaeda fighters, underlying issues remain unaddressed. Nationwide death tolls from violence have reached a level not seen since 2008, when Iraq was just emerging from a brutal period of sectarian killings. The violence continued elsewhere yesterday, with nine people, among them three security forces members, killed in attacks. More than 6,750 people have been killed in violence since the beginning of the year, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources. — AFP



Iraqi forces under fire over abuses BAGHDAD: Iraq’s security forces face a rising chorus of criticism that, with violence at the highest level in years, their heavy-handed tactics and alleged abuses do more harm than good. Human rights groups, analysts, diplomats and lawmakers have become increasingly vocal over a litany of alleged abuses including mass arrests, prolonged periods of detention without trial, the closure of some neighbourhoods, and detainee abuse. They say that, far from reining in Iraq’s worst violence since 2008, the tactics are radicalising moderate Sunnis and distancing them from a government that the minority community alleges disproportionately targets them. “It’s impossible to ignore the connection between the abuses the security forces are carrying out and the really significant increase in violence,” said Erin Evers, Iraq researcher for New York-based Human Rights Watch, adding that a culture of impunity for both militants and security forces is exacerbating the situation. Iraq is grappling with its worst protracted period of bloodshed since it emerged from the brutal Sunni-Shiite sectarian war that peaked in 2006-07 and left tens of thousands

dead. More than 6,750 people have been killed this year, according to an AFP tally. The Shiite-led authorities and security forces have for months trumpeted massive operations targeting militants, which they say have led to the killing and capture of insurgents and the dismantling of training camps and bomb-making sites, insisting that they are making progress in combating violence. But they have faced criticism for focusing on the security aspect of the problem and not doing more to address the underlying frustration in the disaffected Sunni community, members of which allege not only mistreatment at the hands of the security forces but also difficulty accessing government jobs and investment. In particular, Sunnis say they are targeted by the army and police for mass warrantless arrests, long periods of detention, and physical abuse while they are being held. “It’s a big problem,” Munjid Al-Rezali, who heads Iraq’s Medical Legal Institute (MLI), said of torture in prison. Rezali said that staff at the MLI, which receives court orders to test detainees for signs of torture, often find evidence of contusions,

wounds and scars. Even when they do not, Rezali said, he believes it is because security forces have held the prisoners long enough for signs of beatings to heal, which he described as “a known old trick”. Analysts say that while most Sunnis, who are mainly located in the north and west of Iraq, do not actively support militant groups such as the AlQaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), their anger means they are less likely to cooperate with authorities in providing intelligence or handing in suspected insurgents. ‘They opened the door to the bad guys’ “As long as you had the Sunnis with you, you were OK,” said one Western diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “When they lost the Sunnis, they opened the door and the field to the bad guys.” The diplomat said Iraqi security forces’ tactics and announcement of myriad successes were not helping the situation and were instead alienating Sunnis. “Regardless of how many people they arrest, how many reports they write about their successes, they are falsified or illusory at best, because the violence

continues and the people continue to be killed, and that’s the real measure of success,” the diplomat said. “That hasn’t stopped - it’s only gotten worse and worse and worse. Clearly, what they’re doing, it’s not succeeding - it is failing.” The remarks largely echo those of UN special envoy Nickolay Mladenov, who said last month that Iraqi forces needed “massive amounts of retraining... in relation to human rights, and how they respect international standards of human rights, how they undertake operations”. Criticism has also come from domestic sources, including Shiite lawmakers once loyal to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri AlMaliki who have called for greater reconciliation with the Sunni community. “The nature of the random arrests creates a sectarian gap,” said Izzat Shabander, who announced earlier this month that he was breaking away from Maliki’s bloc for upcoming elections. “Two hundred people are arrested in a village, even though only 10 are wanted, so 190 people think that they only reason they were arrested was because they were Sunni. That practice is sectarian.” — AFP

Israelis lament release of Palestinian prisoners JERUSALEM: From a rudimentary tent outside the Israeli prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, Ortal Tamam, whose uncle was killed by Palestinians, rails against the imminent release of Palestinian prisoners. “I feel my uncle is being killed for a second time - this time by my government,” the 25-year-old woman says, explaining she was there to “protest the release of Palestinian terrorists”. Her uncle Moshe Tamam was a 19year-old soldier on leave when he was abducted, tortured and killed by Palestinians in 1984, years before her birth. “My family was crushed by Moshe’s death, but his killer could be released from prison, receive money from the Palestinian Authority and a hero’s treatment,” she says indignantly. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to the phased release of 104 Palestinian prisoners in line with commitments to US-backed peace talks, which resumed in July. A first batch was freed in August and a second in October, with a third tranche of 26 prisoners expected to walk free late yesterday night. The vast majority of those to be freed were behind deadly attacks on Israelis prior to the 1993 Oslo peace accords, and have by now served long prison terms. Holding pictures of victims of Palestinian attacks carried out by some of those to be released yesterday, Tamam says she wants to be the voice for “the many Israelis who reject this immoral release”. “Even if this release goes through, we are crying out to prevent it from happening again,” she says. Tamam, who has been at the protest tent since Wednesday, was not the only person bracing the winter chill in protest. For Yitzhak Maoz, 66, releasing Palestinian murderers is “like twisting a knife in my wound again”. His daughter

Tehila was 18 years old when she and 14 others were killed in an Aug 2001 suicide bombing at a Jerusalem pizzeria. “I came to express my pain, which increases each time I hear terrorists are going to be released,” he says. Maoz says he has “never recovered” from his daughter’s death. The perpetrators of the bombing at the Sbarro pizzeria were set free in 2011 as part of a deal that saw the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who had been held by militant movement Hamas in Gaza for over five years. “When we released my daughter’s killers there was a reason: saving Gilad Shalit,” he says. “But what do these new releases bring us? So long as the (Palestinian) incitement, hatred and violence continue, I can’t understand the reasons behind them.” Many voices from within Netanyahu’s coalition have been raised against the prisoner releases, including from farright Jewish Home party ministers Naftali Bennett, Uri Ariel and Uri Orbach. Deputy defence minister Danny Danon of the ruling Likud party has gone further, saying he would ask the premier to consider “the death penalty for terrorists” instead of their release. Dozens of demonstrators holding signs against the impending releases joined the protest in front of Netanyahu’s residence on Sunday. Elsewhere, police arrested two people demonstrating against the releases at an entrance to Jerusalem. “ We requested a meeting with Netanyahu, but he didn’t even reply,” Tamam says bitterly. She recalls that when he was leader of the opposition at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, Netanyahu had said that “crossing the line of releasing murderers is a very dangerous move in the war against terror”. “What has changed since?” she asks. — AFP

NABLUS: Relatives of Palestinian prisoner Ibrahim Taqtuq hang Palestinian flags as they prepare his home after receiving the news of his impending release from an Israeli jail in this West Bank city yesterday. — AFP

A pirogue packed with passengers arrives at a dock after crossing a waterway near the town of Malakal, seen from an airplane over South Sudan, yesterday. (Inset) South Sudan President Salva Kiir (left) shakes hands with his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni yesterday in Juba. — AP/AFP

Battles rage in S Sudan as ceasefire hopes fade Museveni meets Kiir, warns Machar JUBA: South Sudanese rebels allied to ex-vice president Riek Machar sought to retake control of a key town yesterday, the army said, as hopes faded that an upcoming ceasefire deadline will be met in the violence-wracked nation. United Nations peacekeepers said they were concerned over claims that thousands of armed youths from Machar’s Nuer tribe were readying to attack Bor, the capital of Jonglei state. International efforts have tried to stop two weeks of violence, believed to have left thousands dead, from spiralling into all-out civil war. “The forces of Riek Machar are now advancing on Bor, but we are confident we will hold them off and protect the town,” army spokesman Philip Aguer told AFP. “The people in Bor are fearing an attack at any time.” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, speaking after meeting with President Salva Kiir in Juba, warned that Machar must comply with a ceasefire deal ending tomorrow or face action by regional nations. The conflict, fuelled by an old rivalry between Kiir and Machar, has fanned ethnic differences between Kiir’s Dinka group and Machar’s Nuer clan in the country, which won independence from Sudan in 2011. Bloodshed has swept across the nation, with fierce battles reported in strategic oil-producing areas and grim reports of massacres, rapes and killings. Rebels were currently reported around 50 km northeast of Bor. Reconnaissance flights by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Sunday

identified armed groups but could not confirm the force’s size. The gunmen, a loose ethnic militia force loyal to Machar and dubbed the “White Army”, are heavily armed - some carrying automatic rifles or spears, others armed with rocket propelled grenades. They are known for smearing white ash onto their bodies as war-paint and to ward off insects. The world’s youngest nation plunged into chaos on Dec 15 when Kiir accused his former deputy of mounting a coup. Ceasefire deadline Tuesday Regional leaders at the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have set Tuesday as a deadline for face-to-face talks between Kiir and Machar. If Machar doesn’t respond “we shall have to go for him” Museveni told reporters, after meeting Kiir in Juba. Museveni did not clarify if his threat involved military action, but Ugandan troops deployed in South Sudan days after the fighting began, both to support Kiir and to help evacuate its citizens. “We sent some forces here under Salva Kiir to see how we can help to restore order, it’s solidarity,” Museveni added. The IGAD deal said only that leaders would “consider taking further measures” if hostilities did not cease. Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom also met with Kiir in Juba yesteday. While the government has said it was willing to observe a ceasefire, Machar who was sacked as vice-president in July - has made demands

including the release of his arrested political allies before committing to a truce. South Sudanese government spokesman Makuei told AFP on Sunday: “I really doubt if we, the South Sudanese government, will be in a position to sit with Riek Machar... He has not even respected the call by IGAD and the African Union to agree to the cessation of hostilities.” After fighting erupted, rebels swiftly took over several key regional cities including Bentiu, in the northern oil-producing state of Unity, and Bor, which was later recaptured by the army. There was also heavy fighting in the town of Malakal, state capital of oil-producing Upper Nile, but the army said they were back in full control. A video posted by UN humanitarian chief in South Sudan Toby Lanzer in Malakal showed burnt and looted stores and buildings in the centre of town. “The situation in Malakal is stable, we are in control,” Aguer added. Oil production, which accounts for more than 95 percent of South Sudan’s fledgling economy, has also been hit with oil companies evacuating employees. The UN says some 75,000 have sought refuge in badly overstretched peacekeeper bases and over 180,000 are displaced across the country. Tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees are also reported to have been affected, while thousands of foreign workers have been fled the country. Even war-torn Somalia sent in a special aeroplane Monday to evacuate its citizens. —AFP

Egypt likely to hold presidential vote first CAIRO: Egypt’s government is likely to call a presidential election before parliamentary polls, officials said yesterday, rearranging the political timetable in a way that could see army chief General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi elected head of state by April. Parliamentary elections were supposed to happen first under the roadmap unveiled after the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July after mass protests against his rule. But critics have campaigned for a change, saying the country needs an elected leader to direct government at a time of economic and political crisis and to forge a political alliance before a potentially divisive parliamentary election. Opponents say it risks creating a president with unchecked power. Were that Sisi, who is widely tipped to win the vote, it would restore the army’s sway over a post controlled by military men until Morsi was propelled to office last year by the Muslim Brotherhood. Sisi’s Islamist opponents view him as the mastermind of a military coup and a crackdown that has killed hundreds of Morsi’s supporters and

jailed thousands more. The Brotherhood, which says it is committed to peaceful protest, was officially designated a terrorist group last week. In further unrest, one person was killed and five others were wounded yesterday in the Mediterranean town of Damietta in clashes between opponents and supporters of Morsi. Such incidents have taken place almost daily since Morsi was removed. In Cairo, a court sentenced 139 Brotherhood members to two years in jail and a fine of 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($720) each for engaging in violent actions, protesting and rioting. A draft constitution concluded on Dec 1 opened the way for a change in the order of the elections by leaving open the question of which should come first. Secular-leaning politicians who want the presidential election before the parliamentary polls lobbied interim head of state Adly Mansour during four recent meetings, according to officials familiar with what was discussed. “The forces that attended the four meetings agreed, with a large percent-

age, to have the presidential elections first and that means that most likely the presidential elections will be first,” said one of the officials. An army official added: “Presidential elections are most likely to be held first, as it seems to be the demand of most parties so far.” Holding the presidential election first would “accelerate the process of bringing Sisi as head of state”, said Mustapha Kamel Al-Sayid, a professor of political science at Cairo University. “The people who are pushing for a change are doing so because they would like to have him as head of state.” Sisi yet to declare presidential bid Sisi, 59, has yet to announce his candidacy. An army official familiar with his thinking said last week he was still undecided as he weighs up the manifold problems facing a country in deep economic crisis. But he may have no choice. His supporters see Sisi as the only man able to restore stability after three years of turmoil. And analysts say the powerful security apparatus will be putting pressure on him to

run as it presses a crackdown on the Brotherhood and combats militant attacks that have spiralled since Morsi’s overthrow. There have been three bombings in the last week, the bloodiest of them an attack on a police station that killed 16 people in the city of Mansoura, north of Cairo. The state blamed the Brotherhood, which condemned the attack. A radical Islamist group, Ansar Bayt alMaqdis, claimed responsibility. The Brotherhood won five elections after Mubarak’s downfall in 2011. It is boycotting the army’s political roadmap. In an interview broadcast late on Sunday, interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi sidestepped a question on whether the presidential election would be held ahead of the parliamentary vote, saying the focus should be on the forthcoming referendum. The referendum has been set for Jan 14-15. The draft says steps towards holding the first of the elections should be begin no later than 90 days from the ratification of the constitution. Mansour said on Sunday the government was committed to

holding both presidential and parliamentary elections within six months of its approval. The Islamist Nour Party, which came second to the Brotherhood in the last parliamentary elections, had said secular parties wanted to push back the parliamentary election because they were worried about losing to Islamists again. The Nour, an ultraorthodox Salafi party, supported the removal of Morsi. Sherif Taha, the party spokesman, said the Nour would not object to holding the presidential election first if that was the result of “consensus”. He also said the government must offer clear guarantees that the parliamentary election would follow. In Washington, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel voiced concern about developments in Egypt in a call to Sisi. He stressed the need for political inclusiveness, a Pentagon spokesman said. “Secretary Hagel also expressed concerns about the political climate in advance of the constitutional referendum, including the continued enforcement of a restrictive demonstrations law,” he said. — Reuters



Cuba celebrates 55 years of revolutionary victory HAVANA: Cubans celebrates the 55th anniversary of the revolution, committed to the path chosen on Jan 1, 1959, while engaged in a gradual process to update its socioeconomic model. Socialism will continue on the island, and the purpose is to be successful and sustainable, according to guidelines approved by the Communist Party of Cuba and make the process of change in the Caribbean nation. This is another historic moment in the Cuban revolutionary process, which has been based on the unity of the nation and resistance to the hostility of successive US administrations. Getting here was not easy. Cuba has endured the longest blockade in history, by which is denied investment, financing, technological advances, medicine and food. Cubans have also paid a high price - more than three thousand killed and a similar number injured or incapacitated by funded and supported terrorist acts from US territory. Armed attacks, sabotage, attacks on the leaders of the revolution, biological attacks, plans internal subversion and external insulation were part of the arsenal against this small Caribbean island. But none of this averted a millimeter trajectory of the Cuban process that became barracks into schools, promoted land reform liquidated estates and nationalized key sectors of the economy. No coincidence that the historic leader of the Cuban people, Fidel Castro, declared in April 1961 the socialist character of the Revolution, on the eve of the mercenary invasion of Bay of Pigs whose defeat was described here as the first defeat of Yankee imperialism in Latin America. Since then the road has been fraught with

obstacles, but also advances and achievements that today, in the midst of economic hardship, are kept and the purpose is to make them more efficient. Cuba closed the year with the lowest infant and maternal mortality in its history, the work of a public health system that not only reaches all corners of the country, but extend to many nations. Netherlands is among the 50 countries with the highest proportion of people aged 60 or more, which is interpreted as a result of the policy of social development and human rights. Much of the Millennium Development Goals are met in this land, the neighborhood with the greatest power on the planet is the sword of Damocles, particularly the embargo policy. Still, their indices will stand as a country with high human development, which ranks 51 among 187 countries. Meanwhile the United Nations Educational and Cultural Organization (Unesco) puts Cuba ranked 14th in the world in its Development Index EFA. A monoproducer sugarcane country, the Cuban economy is based more on human capital, specialists in health, education and other services that make the most important source of income. Transformations underpin the socialist enterprise as the cornerstone of the economic system, but open spaces to other forms of production including cooperatives and selfemployment. A peculiarity is that the more than 400,000 self-employed workers are assured of social security, unlike other nations where they live in the so-called informal economy lack of benefits. The updating of the migration policy, the new Labour Code, the creation of the Special

Development Zone Mariel (west of here), delivery of land in usufruct, are some of the measures and steps changes without pause, but slowly taking place on the island. At the same time, the legal and institutional framework of the country to update the economic model is constructed on the basis of social justice and solidarity. Linked to all this work, Cuba got this year important progress in the renegotiation of its external debt, in particular the agreement with Russia regarding the cancellation of the existing debit with the former Soviet Union. President Raul Castro has been emphatic in position early honor the financial commitments of the country, whose credibility has soared in the field and opens new opportunities for investment and financing. According to authorities, the next two years will be critical for the process of renovation, with the consolidation of experiments and the application of other, including the first steps to monetar y and exchange rate unification will allow better control of the parameters of the economy. For this occasion was organized a program that include big concerts, performances by the Cuban National Ballet Company, children’s choirs, popular celebrations and parties and soloists and popular bands concerts in 168 municipalities of the island. Film screenings, comedy shows and contemporary, folk and popular dance shows also were included in the program, as well as poetry and music concerts and recitals. Meanwhile, Cubans these days have reason to celebrate and this spirit permeates the streets, workplaces and study where the congratulations, celebrations and gift exchanges denote confidence in the future.

Cuba creates Mariel Special Zone CUBA: In what the government hopes will become another leg for foreign investment on the island, the Council of State approved a lawdecree that creates a Special Development Zone at the port of Mariel around a new container hub slated to open early next year. The decree sets up the Oficina de la Zona Especial de Desarrollo Mariel, a one-stop government office that is expected to “efficiently” handle applications by businesses wanting to locate at Mariel. The Oficina will report directly to the Council of Ministers. The ambitious Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM) is a project for the “present and future of Cuba,” Raul Castro said at a Council of State meeting Thursday, according to official daily Granma. The government’s targets are broad. The ZEDM aims to attract companies interested in hiring Cuba’s educated workforce to provide goods and services, both for the Cuban market and re-export to the region, by “stimulating foreign and domestic investment, technological innovation, and industrial clustering,” offi-

cials said at the State Council meeting, according to the official newspaper. In order to attract high technology and foreign investment, and trigger import substitution and job creation, the ZEDM offers companies incentives that have not, or rarely, been available in Cuba. To come up with the concept, the government studied similar models abroad and “adopted them to our context,” the Granma article said. Notably, Cuban officials have visited special trade zones in China and Vietnam. The Mariel Zone is both a pilot project and the by far largest of a planned series of Special Development Zones that will also cover foreign-funded golf course luxury developments. For one, the Mariel law, effective Nov 1 and published in the Gaceta Oficial Sept 23, allows for 100-percent foreign ownership. That is a departure from the standard joint venture agreement since the 1990s, which typically reserves 51 percent ownership to the Cuban state partner. The ZEDM regulations also allow foreign companies to import and re-export

goods with little red tape and duty-free. Companies at Mariel are exempt from labor taxes and customs duties, and get a oneyear tax holiday on sales and service taxes, as well as a 10-year reprieve for taxes on profits. After that, profits will be taxed at 12 percent. However, foreign companies will not be allowed to hire Cuban employees directly; as has been customary since the 1990s, they will have to go through a government agency that will receive hard-currency payments and compensate Cuban workers with only a fraction in non-convertible pesos. The ZEDM also offers reduced bureaucracy. Instead of having to apply with several ministries, companies interested in opening shop will have to deal just with the Oficina. A committee made up of officials from several ministries will evaluate every application and make a recommendation to the Council of Ministers or the general director of the Oficina. Depending on the scope of the proposed project, the general director or the Council of Ministers will have the final say; a decision must be taken within 30 days of receiving an application from the committee. The prospects for the Mariel Zone are hampered by the US embargo for now, leaving the world’s largest market next door off-limits and imposing costly restrictions on shippers. Whether these incentives are attractive enough to lure foreign investors remains to be seen. At this point, at least two Brazilian manufacturers have expressed interest in opening shop at the Mariel zone. The first company that has committed to operate there is Sao Paulobased Fanavid SA The glassmaker will open a manufacturing facility to supply Cuba, Brazil and the Caribbean region with architectural glass, a foreign ministry spokesman in Brazil said last year. Also, Brazilian bus maker Marcopolo has expressed interest in using the ZEDM for an assembly operation, Cuba’s trade attachÈ in Panama said in August. The Brazilian government last year offered Cuba help with setting up the legal framework for the Mariel Zone. “We have a lot of interest in cooperating in the definition of this model, in order to bring in the biggest possible number of Brazilian companies,” Brazil’s Foreign Trade Minister Fernando Pimentel said during a tour of Mariel last year. Cuba is directly appealing to Chinese companies as well. Foreign Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca is in China this week, where he heads a workshop on the Mariel Zone, after meeting with “many company and banking executives,” according to Prensa Latina. Malmierca said the Mariel project “has aroused great interest” in China. At the core of the Mariel Zone is a $900 million container terminal that is currently being built by Brazil’s Grupo Odebrecht SA, with mostly Brazilian funding. The first phase of the container terminal is slated to begin operations in January 2014. Once completed, the Mariel container terminal will replace the Port of Havana as Cuba’s main port of entry for goods, placing the island at the forefront of shipping hubs trying to benefit from the Panama Canal widening, which is slated for completion in 2015. A railroad connecting Mariel to Havana is currently under construction, as part of the port project. The Mariel Zone, covering 180 square miles within the limits of several municipalities in Artemisa Province just west of Havana, will eventually add port terminals, logistics facilities, distribution and warehouse facilities, as well as industrial and service parks, according to Granma. Details for construction of a first industrial and service zone will be firmed up after the opening of the first phase of the container terminal in January, the newspaper said. To accommodate businesses at Mariel, construction of water and electric infrastructure, conference facilities, retail centers, as well as workforce housing and recreational facilities will be necessary, the article said. No further details have been released.

SAN MIGUEL, El Salvador: View of the Chaparrastique volcano spewing ashes and smoke is seen from San Salvador on Sunday. — AFP

Thousands evacuated as volcano spews ash SAN SALVADOR: Some 2,000 people were evacuated in eastern El Salvador yesterday when the Chaparrastique volcano belched and spewed a column of ashes high into the sky. The 2,330-mhigh volcano began erupting around 1630 GMT, and authorities suspended scores of flights across parts of the small Central American country. No victims were reported. The volcano belched for about 2.5 hours, the environmental ministry said. President Mauricio Funes late Sunday took to the airwaves to tell his nation that, while the eruptions seemed to have ceased, there could be more volcanic activity in the next days. The eruption produced a dense col-

umn of gas and ashes that rose more than 5,000 meters into the air. Debris from the blast was spread in a radius of up to 10 km from the volcano, he said. The eruption “has not caused victims or serious damage,” Funes said. Civil Defense chief Jorge Melendez warned that wind could carry smoke and ash from the Chaparrastique to Tegucigalpa, the capital of neighboring Honduras. The Chaparrastique is the most active of El Salvador’s 23 volcanoes, though it has not had a major eruption since 1976, local officials said. El Salvador is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, and has historically been affected by earthquakes. —AFP



ATHENS: A policeman stands outside Korydallos Judicial Prison, west of Athens. Greece suffers the worst prison overcrowding in the European Union, according to figures in the Council of Europe’s latest annual prison report. (Right) Giorgos Hatzinassios, a former inmate convicted of a drug offense and a theft, describes the conditions in Greek prisons during an interview in Athens. —AP

Greek prison system collapsing - labeled ‘inhuman’ ATHENS: More than 30 men were crammed into the cell, locked up night and day for weeks or months. Without enough bunks, many slept on the floor. The windows were painted over, blocking out the sun, and the air was thick with cigarette smoke and the reek of the one toilet everyone shared. But what might come as the biggest surprise about this prison was its location: In Greece, squarely in Europe. That’s where former prisoner Giorgos Aslanis spent about three months in a roughly 40 square meter police holding cell in the northern town of Serres. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in October that conditions in the cell broke European laws against inhuman or degrading punishment and awarded him 8,000 euros ($11,000) in damages. WORST OVERCROWDING Greece suffers the worst prison overcrowding in the European Union, according to figures in the Council of Europe’s latest annual prison report, published in May. Inmate numbers reached a record high this year, and many prisons simply refuse to accept new arrivals. That leaves hundreds caged for months as they await trial in police holding cells designed for stints of hours or at most days. Suspects and convicts are often bundled together, in violation of Greek and European law. The Associated Press pieced together this stark picture of Greece’s prison crisis from about 20 interviews across the system; reports from Greece’s parliament and European rights bodies; documents from within the prison system, an exclusive letter from the head of an appeals court and a confidential police report. “It’s a system,” said Spyros Karakitsos, head of the Greek Federation of Prison Employees, “that is collapsing.” FUNDS SHRINKING The crisis is playing out as Greece goes through a dramatic economic meltdown. As a result, prison populations are surging even as funds for guards and facilities are shrinking, a toxic mix that police and justice officials warn could explode in violence at any time. The Greek government says it is trying to improve the situation. During a recent parliamentary debate, Justice

Minister Haralambos Athanasiou said the government is trying to build new prisons and reduce crowding. And earlier this year, Costas Karagounis, deputy justice minister at the time, acknowledged a problem and pointed to several initiatives to tackle it, such as opening new prison wings and introducing non-custodial sentences under electronic monitoring. “There is indeed a big problem of overcrowding in Greek prisons, which has intensified,” said Karagounis. Since many prisons are at double or triple capacity, several hundred people are stuck in police holding cells with no access to the outdoors. Often they are in pre-trial detention, which has an 18-month limit under Greek law. About 34.1 percent of those held in Greek prisons were awaiting trial in 2012, according to the International Center for Prison Studies, as their cases wound through an overburdened justice system at a snail’s pace. ANNUAL PENAL STATISTICS The Council of Europe’s latest annual penal statistics, published in May and covering 2011, show Greek prisons were at 151.7 percent capacity on Sept 1 that year. They showed 12,479 inmates were crammed into 8,224 available places. And the number of inmates has increased steadily. In January 2010, Greek prisons held 11,364 inmates, according to the Justice Ministry’s website. On Nov. 1, they reached 13,147, according to Greek prison system figures obtained by the AP. That doesn’t include those, like Aslanis, held in police stations. Recent Greek prison system documents from late 2013 list a higher capacity number of 9,886 places across the country, but the number is deceptive as it includes at least five prison wings in two prisons that remain shut due to budget cuts. The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment issued a rare public statement in 2011 slamming Greece for “a steady deterioration in the living conditions and treatment of prisoners over the past decade.” Before that, the committee had only singled out the prison systems of Turkey and Russia. The committee, a body of the Council of Europe, visited Greece again in April but has not yet released its report.

Aslanis, arrested in June 2009 for multiple thefts, was ordered jailed pending trial that December after failing to pay a 1,000 euro ($1,340) bail. The Greek debt crisis was just beginning. The local prison in northern Greece was full, and he ended up in the squalid police holding cell. Aslanis said he had about 35 cellmates. Beds went according to hierarchy: Whoever was there longest got the next free bunk, unless a new arrival was sick or elderly. “It was very bad in there. I’ve been inside again for some other cases, but that place ... there’s no ventilation, there’s dirt ... there is no hygiene. What can I tell you .... If you don’t live through it, you can’t have an opinion,” Aslanis said. Aslanis was eventually tried and convicted, serving his time in two prisons until being released in January 2011. His is one of the latest in a string of European Court of Human Rights rulings against Greece in which the state has been ordered to pay tens of thousands of euros to dozens of plaintiffs. On Dec. 12, the court awarded 8,500 euros in damages to Vassilis Kanakis, a 51-year-old serving a life sentence for drug trafficking, over conditions in Larissa prison in central Greece from July 2009 to March 2011. DANGER OF ESCAPE Police holding cells also pose a security problem, because they lack the robust exterior walls of real prisons. A confidential police report obtained by the AP about a police holding facility in the country’s second largest city of Thessaloniki warns of the “immediate danger of escape” due to a combination of overcrowding, stretched staffing and lower security. The eight-page October report by the head of the facility details squalid conditions in which 15-20 men are stacked into nine-bunk cells with small windows, where they remain around the clock for months. “The security of detention is .. put at risk by the potential for rebellion or uprising by the inmates with unpredictable consequences, because of their living conditions,” the document said. The head of the Thessaloniki appeals court wrote a strongly worded letter to the justice minister in early November, in which he complained that conditions in the center “do not ensure the

minimum threshold of dignified living.” “I was ashamed, Mr Minister, for the Greek state and for each one of us separately,” Panagis Yiannakis wrote in the letter obtained by the AP. He noted that inmates were held “without any separation between juveniles and adults, suspects and convicts, drug addicts, perpetrators of financial offences and of particularly base crimes.” “What is inhumane and totally unacceptable,” Yiannakis said, “is that these people ... do not go out into a yard for five or six months, which means that for the entire time, they never see the sun.” A court in the northwestern city of Igoumenitsa went even further, ruling last year that 15 migrants were justified in escaping from a police lockup because the conditions were “miserable and extremely dangerous for human beings.” The men had spent between nine and 45 days in a 15 square meter (160 square foot) cell holding 30 detainees, sharing a single chemical toilet and sleeping in shifts. LICE, FLEAS, PSORIASIS The cell was never cleaned, and the men had no water to wash with. Many suffered from “lice, fleas, psoriasis, typhus, skin disorders and other communicable or non-communicable diseases,” court documents show. Greece’s prisons have become hidden victims of the financial crisis, of little concern to the legions of struggling families outside. The price of billions of euros in emergency loans from other European countries and the International Monetary Fund has been a draconian austerity. Greece’s prison budget has been reduced from 136 million euros in 2009 to about 111 million euros this year, the Justice Ministry said. In comparison, the Netherlands, with a similar number of prisoners - 12,110 last year - had an annual prisons budget of about 2 billion euros ($2.5 billion) for 2012, according to the Dutch government’s Central Bureau of Statistics. At the same time, about 300 prison guards who retired over the past two years were not replaced, a roughly 15 percent reduction, Karagounis said. That leaves about 1,500 internal guards for the country’s 33 penitentiaries, according to the prison guards’union. With staff numbers shrinking, inmates in

Greece’s largest prison, Korydallos, outnumber guards 250-1 on some shifts. On Dec. 13, the union said seven inmates attacked a guard attempting to shut the prison’s exercise yard. Less than two months earlier, an inmate stabbed another guard three times with a makeshift knife and wounded him seriously. Another guard was stabbed in the back last year after trying to break up a fight between inmates. The tottering system comes under added pressure from what lawyers and human rights groups say is the overuse of pre-trial detention, which they say has become the norm rather than the exception, and from the harshest sentencing by far across the European continent. While an average of 3 percent of Europe’s inmates were serving sentences of 20 years or more in 2011, in Greece that figure was 37.7 percent, according to Council of Europe data. Rights groups argue that more use should be made of agricultural prisons where low-risk inmates grow crops and prepare for life after release, the only prisons now far below capacity. However, the government decided in November to instead convert large sections of its agricultural prisons into normal penitentiaries to help relieve overcrowding elsewhere.The government also said it is addressing the issue through a law passed in October allowing some inmates to be released with electronic tagging, a first for a country where alternatives to custodial sentences are almost never used. Recovering addict Giorgos Hatzinassios has served a total of six years in five prisons for a drug offense and drug-related theft. The worst, he said, was Korydallos, technically a remand jail for those awaiting trial. On Nov 1, the men’s section topped 265 percent capacity, with 2,127 inmates for an official capacity of 800, prison system statistics show. “In the winter, when the windows are shut, you can’t breathe,”Hatzinassios said. Another four former Koydallos inmates described squalid cells with barely enough space to stand.“It’s a rotten jail, a rotten building where nothing works anymore,” said Marianthi Patseli, a 47 year-old with several drug convictions. “The plumbing doesn’t work, the sewage doesn’t work, the heating doesn’t work, nothing works. “We’re talking about basic human conditions. These don’t exist in Korydallos because there is no room.” —AP

Gun battles rock Kinshasa; 40 die Congo’s army repels attacks in Kinshasa

KINSHASA: Congolese soldiers repulsed attacks on the airport, a barracks and the state television headquarters in Kinshasa yesterday in what authorities said appeared to have been an assault by followers of religious leader Paul Joseph Mukungubila. Before transmission was shut down at the state television, gunmen shouted what appeared to be a political message against President Joseph Kabila, who took office in 2001 after the assassination of his father Laurent. Government spokesman Lambert Mende said 40 of the 70 assailants in the capital had been killed. “We have total control of the situation,” he said. “The attackers presented themselves as supporters of Mukungubila. We are checking because this could be an attempt to fool us.” He said there

were no civilian or troop casualties. Kabila’s supporters said the assault was carried out by poorly organized youths in civilian clothing with aged military equipment and appeared to be more a political statement than a serious attempt to seize power in a city of more than 9 million people. The Democratic Republic of Congo, a vast country at the heart of Africa, is struggling to emerge from decades of violence and instability, particularly in its mineral-rich east, in which millions of people have died, mostly from hunger and disease. The country is home to a 21,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO). Shortly after the clashes in Kinshasa, Congo’s army exchanged heavy fire with Mukungubila’s followers in the mining province of Katanga, more than 1,500 miles to

GOMA: The bodies of two alleged M23 fighters are dumped out of the back of a pickup truck by Congolese Army soldiers in the village of Rusayo in this file photo. —AFP

the southeast near the border with Zambia. Witnesses said the fighting erupted after soldiers attacked Mukungubila’s church in the regional capital Lubumbashi, but calm was quickly restored. HOSTAGES Gunmen had briefly seized the headquarters of state radio and television in Kinshasa, taking several journalists hostage. Witnesses also reported shooting at the Tshatshi military camp, close to the Defence Ministry, and at the international airport on the city’s outskirts. “Gedeon Mukungubila has come to free you from the slavery of the Rwandan,” said the message given on state TV in the local Lingala language, according to a Reuters reporter who saw a tape of the transmission. Gedeon is the nickname used for Mukungubila by his followers. A voice off camera could be heard to say in Lingala: “Kabila, it’s finished for him from today. He will be mocked.” Mukungubila, who calls himself ‘The prophet of the Eternal’, ran unsuccessfully for the presidency against Kabila in 2006. Opponents of Kabila, who was educated in Tanzania and Uganda, often accuse him of being a foreigner in an attempt to tarnish his reputation. Mukungubila has been an outspoken critic of a peace deal signed this month with the Tutsi-led M23 rebel group in eastern Congo, accusing Kabila’s government of bowing to Tutsi interests and pressure from neighboring Rwanda. “This was an adventure without any future. You cannot hope to take the city of Kinshasa with what we saw here,” said Jean-Pierre Kambila, a political advisor to Kabila. In Kinshasa, streets emptied and shopkeepers closed their shutters as the attack sowed panic among the population. The areas around the barracks and television HQ were cordoned off and riot police patrolled the streets in jeeps. “We want peace here in Kinshasa. We are surviving from one day to the next. With their adventures, Kabila and the others are ignoring our suffering. We have had enough,” said Betty, a banana saleswoman on Boulevard 30 Juin in central Kinshasa. Political tension has risen in Kinshasa amid speculation that Kabila may try to change the constitution and run for a third term in 2016 against a fragmented opposition. The defeat of M23, the country’s most important rebel group, strengthened his grip on power. —Reuters

ATHENS: Police investigators search for evidences outside the residence of German ambassador in Athens yesterday. —AFP

Shots fired at residence of German ambassador ATHENS: Unidentified assailants opened fire on the German ambassador’s residence in Athens with a Kalashnikov assault rifle yesterday in an attack seen as an attempt to sour relations between debt-laden Greece and its biggest creditor nation. At least 60 shots were fired in the air and four hit the metal gate of the walled, high-security residence which lies on a busy street of a northern suburb, police said. No one was hurt. Anti-German sentiment has grown during Greece’s prolonged economic crisis and many of those struggling with record unemployment and falling living standards blame Germany’s insistence on fiscal rigor for their economic woes. Germany is the biggest single contributing nation to Greece’s 240-billion-euro bailouts which have kept the country afloat since 2010 and saved it from bankruptcy. No one has claimed responsibility for the 3.40 am attack which police believe was carried out by members of leftist guerrilla groups. A police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said at least two assailants on foot were involved. “Whoever is responsible for this act: You will not succeed in disrupting the close and friendly relations of our two countries,” said German Ambassador Wolfgang Dold, who was at home at the time of the incident. The resi-

dence was the target of an attack once before in 1999, when members of the now dismantled extremist group November 17 fired a rocket-propelled grenade that hit its roof. Pictures lampooning German Chancellor Angel Merkel are commonplace in Athens while groups opposing Greece’s bailout frequently protest outside the German Embassy. Public sector workers pelted a German diplomat with water bottles and coffee in a protest over austerity measures last year. Yesterday’s attack drew condemnation from across the political spectrum, with the anti-bailout opposition Syriza party saying it undermined Greece’s struggle against austerity. “Who benefits from the attack?” asked Syriza lawmaker Manolis Glezos, a hero of Greek resistance to the Nazi occupation of World War Two. “Certainly not the Greek people”. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras telephoned Merkel after the incident and Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said it was a “cowardly terrorist act” which targeted Greece’s image. With a reputation for being Europe’s problem child, Greece takes over the European Union presidency for six months from Jan 1, hoping to show how far it has come since it almost crashed out of the euro zone common currency bloc 18 months ago.—Reuters



New chief minister felled by ‘Delhi Belly’, tweets symptoms NEW DELHI: The Indian capital’s new chief minister caused a sensation yesterday when he tweeted about missing his first day at the office due to a stomach upsetbut he battled through to fulfill a top campaign pledge of supplying free water. The news that Aam Admi (“common man”) Party chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had honored one of his major promises was overshadowed by his candor about his symptoms. The anti-corruption champion, sworn in at the weekend, swept to power on a promise to provide greater transparency and he was true to his word, tweeting freely about the “Delhi belly” that had spoiled his first day. “Running 102 fever since yesterday. Severe loose motions. Sad that I won’t be able to attend office today,” the former tax official said on his verified Twitter account. He has more than 961,000 followers on Twitter and regularly tweets to share his views. His latest comments were an instant hit on the micro-blogging social media network, with plenty of offers of sympathyand jokes. “Wow (you’re) such a wonderful Aam Aadmi (common man). Talking pub-

licly about loose motions. History is made!” said social worker Suryanarayan Ganesh. True to his famed workaholic nature, Kejriwal ignored a high fever and diarrhoea to chair a meeting of water board officials at his modest apartment. “It was decided all domestic consumers with metered connections will get 20 kilolitres (20,000 litres) of free water every month,” the head of Delhi’s water board, Vijay Kumar, told reporters outside Kejriwal’s apartment. That decision by the Aam Aadmi Party government, sworn in at the weekend, works out at nearly 700 litres per day. Critics have said giving out free water will encourage wastefulness in a country where water is in short supply. Kejriwal, whose pledge to fight for India’s “common man” won over voters in New Delhi state polls, had been set to start governing the capital on Monday after being sworn in at the weekend. But after weeks of rallies in a grueling election campaign that pitted him against the two main political parties, Kejriwal said he been taken ill with diarrhoea and a severe fever. “When the chief minister gives you a

minute-by-minute update on his bowel movements-hail democracy,” said Priyanka Chaturvedi, a Congress party spokeswoman. Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi party was born out of an anti-corruption mass movement two years ago, had pledged to give free water to households in New Delhi. He has also vowed to slash consumers’ electricity bills. Kejriwal’s party asked well-wishers and supporters in a tweet to stop flocking to his home in the suburb of Ghaziabad, saying he needed to rest. Unlike his predecessors, Kejriwal, whose backers range from taxi drivers and teachers to business proprietors and servants, has said he and his ministers will not occupy the sprawling bungalows surrounded by lush lawns built by India’s former British colonial rulers. Congress’s rout in Delhi and three other state polls has been seen as one more sign the powerful Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, which has given India three premiers since independence, may be about to lose office in national elections due in May. Kejriwal’s party is leading the Delhi government with out-

NEW DELHI: A young Indian girl cooks a meal outside a makeshift tent as others do their daily chores, in New Delhi, India yesterday. —AP side support from the Congress party, which rules nationally but was pushed to a distant third place in the Delhi elections. “Will Arvind

Kejriwal pass the motion? That is the question we are asking tonight,” tweeted television editor Ritupana Chatterjee. —AFP

Afghanistan calls grim US forecast ‘baseless’ US predicts Afghanistan would fall into chaos if....

KABUL: An Afghan feeds pigeons outside the Karti Sakhi shrine in Kabul, Afghanistan yesterday. Kabul has been experiencing below freezing weather and snow. —AP

If US troops leave Afghanistan, much civilian aids may go too WASHINGTON: For years, US officials have pointed to the improvements in the everyday lives of Afghans made possible by billions of dollars in aid from the United States and elsewhere. In Afghanistan, people now live 20 years longer on average than under Taleban rule, they say; 7 million more children attend school and women are 80 percent less likely to die in childbirth. The specter of an abrupt departure of all US and NATO soldiers from Afghanistan at the end of next year now imperils these gains, they warn, and endangers progress on the massive development challenges that remain. Unless the Obama administration can persuade Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a security pact that would permit a modest US force to remain beyond 2014, the United States is almost certain to drastically scale back aid to Afghanistan. That would force aid groups to work under more precarious security conditions and compete for scantier aid dollars. It would be “a complete catastrophe” to pull the entire US force from Afghanistan next year, said Andrew Wilder, who directs Afghanistan and Pakistan programs at the US Institute of Peace and spent years working in the region. A deterioration in security conditions would hamper oversight of aid projects, possibly making a deeply skeptical Congress even more reluctant to fund Afghan aid. A smaller staff at the US embassy in Kabul would also make it more difficult to sustain many US aid programs. “My judgment is no troops, no aid, or almost no aid,” James Dobbins, the US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told Congress this month. “The political support for the aid comes from the military presence.” Last year, the United States and other donors promised to provide Afghanistan $16 billion in aid through 2015, at least half of which must go through Afghan government coffers. Afghanistan’s government also promised to work toward benchmarks in governance, human rights and fighting corruption. Since the Taleban government was ousted in 2001, the United States has already spent at least $88 billion on Afghan aid, not including the much larger bill for combat costs. After arduous negotiations on the USAfghan security agreement were completed last month, Washington expected Karzai to sign it, paving the way for a force of possibly around 8,000-12,000 US and NATO troops to remain after 2014. There are about 39,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan now. Instead, Karzai has refused to do so, suggesting the pact should be signed following Afghan presidential elections in the spring. The Obama administration says that would not leave Washington and its allies enough time to plan for a possible post-2014 mission. INCREDIBLY CHALLENGING Even if US troops are permitted to stay, the aid effort will be shifted to focus on defending gains that have been made in recent years, rather than setting ambitious new goals, Larr y Sampler, a senior US Agency for International Development official, told lawmakers during a hearing this month. US and NATO nations are already planning to shut down all 28 Provincial Reconstruction Teams, the outposts that have delivered assistance in remote areas, by the end of 2014. Assuming the US Congress continues to

fund some level of Afghan aid, the United States does have the capability to continue delivering assistance. It would work through relief groups and multilateral organizations, or possibly even run the program from a neighboring country, as it did during earlier Afghan conflicts. Some UN agencies and private aid groups remained in Afghanistan during the chaos of the 1980s and 1990s, even when donor support dwindled after invading Soviet troops withdrew in 1989. The ensuing conflict between mujahedeen groups made work more difficult for aid workers, and later Taleban restrictions hindered their ability to assist women and girls. Between 1985 and 1994, USAID officials in neighboring Pakistan ran a cross-border aid program for Afghanistan. USAID, which works largely through small non-governmental organizations and large development contractors, could still award aid projects if all troops withdraw, and Washington would maintain its suppor t for the UN development agencies and other partners. Still, Sampler said, “If there were no (security deal) and there were a decision to continue to program (civilian assistance), it would be incredibly challenging.” BANGLADESH, NOT SWEDEN Wilder said he was a proponent of reducing US civilian assistance to Afghanistan, where USAID spending ballooned to an annual $3.5 billion in 2010 during President Barack Obama’s ‘civilian surge,’ to “more realistic and sustainable” levels. “When you create an aid bubble and a war economy, the solution is not popping that bubble - you have to let the air out gradually,” he said. “The challenge is to not go from too much to too little too quickly.” The assistance needs remain acute in Afghanistan, still one of the world’s poorest countries. Only a quarter of Afghans have access to safe drinking water, and a weak central government remains unable to fund its own costs. A hoped-for boom in mining and hydrocarbons has not materialized, while the illegal poppy trade is thriving. “Afghanistan is not in 10 years going to be a Sweden. We’re hoping for a Bangladesh,” Sampler said. A full drawdown could also force the United States to dramatically scale back its diplomatic ambitions and presence. In 2012, Washington abandoned plans to build a consulate in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif because the site was seen as vulnerable to militant attack. The same fate could meet plans for other diplomatic facilities elsewhere in Afghanistan. Dobbins has warned that the United States could even be forced to close its embassy in Kabul, as it did in the 1990s. That would drastically reduce the US ability to support Afghanistan’s weak central government and keep the influence of neighboring Iran and Pakistan in check. Seth Jones, an Afghanistan expert at the RAND Corp, said that certain US government elements would likely stay on in Afghanistan no matter what - diplomats, aid officials, in addition to intelligence and counter-terrorism elements-if arrangements can be made with future Afghan leaders. “It’s technically possible, but the question also becomes whether the administration becomes so tired of this that it just moves on and pulls out, as it did in Iraq,” Jones said. Violence in Iraq is at its highest level in at least five years. More than 8,000 people have been killed this year, according to the United Nations.—Reuters

KABUL: Afghanistan yesterday rejected as baseless a US intelligence forecast that the gains the United States and allies have made in the past three years will be significantly rolled back by 2017. The US National Intelligence Estimate also predicted that Afghanistan would fall into chaos if Washington and Kabul failed to sign a pact to keep an international military contingent there beyond 2014. President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman dismissed the US forecast, repor ted by the Washington Post on the weekend, and suggested there was an ulterior motive for it. “We strongly reject that as baseless as they have in the past been proved inaccurate,” Faizi said. Relations between Afghanistan and the United States have grown seriously strained recently by Karzai’s refusal to sign the security pact that would permit some US forces to stay. US officials have said that unless a deal is reached to keep perhaps 8,000 US troops, the Taleban might stage a major comeback and Al-Qaeda could regain safe havens. The pact must also be signed for the United States and its allies to provide billions more dollars in aid. Without a deal, the United States could pull out all troops, the so-called zero option, leaving Afghan forces to battle the Taleban on their own. The United States has set today deadline for Afghanistan to sign the pact but the White House has said it is prepared to let the deadline slip until early January. The US intelligence estimate predicted setbacks even if some US troops remained. But some US officials felt the forecast was overly pessimistic, the Washington Post said. LAND FOR PEACE? Faizi suggested the leaking of the gloomy US intelligence report was part of bid to press Karzai into granting the Taleban control of

KABUL: Afghan women walk on a snow covered cemetery in Kabul yesterday. Kabul has been experiencing below freezing weather and snow. —AP some areas as part of a peace moves. “If it’s a design to hand over parts of Afghanistan to the Taleban, we will never allow that and it will never succeed,” Faizi said. “The Taleban can only come back through a political process.” Efforts over the past couple of years to bring the Taleban into peace talks have come to nothing. The insurgents, fighting to expel foreign forces and set up an Islamist state, denounce Karzai as a US “puppet”. Karzai recently said certain foreigners had been asking him to give up control of some areas to get peace talks going. “Foreigners told us recently to hand

over or give away some areas to the Taleban, and from where a peace process could begin,” Karzai told reporters at a briefing last week. He did not identify the foreigners. Karzai also denied having reached agreement with the United States on the wording of contentious clauses in the US security pact. But he added that the “zero-option” was an empty threat. “The US won’t go and I have realised that,” he said. “Look at all those buildings and bases they have built in Bagram, Helmand and their embassy compound,” Karzai said, referring to a big air base north of Kabul and a violence-plagued southern province.—Reuters

Government and oppn groups clash in Dhaka DHAKA: Ruling party supporters and their opponents threw stones at each other yesterday on the second day of sporadic violence in the Bangladeshi capital, after heavy police presence foiled an opposition plan for a rally to pressure the government to scrap next month’s election. The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and its allies had planned a mass gathering in Dhaka on Sunday, but police barred Zia from leaving her home while cordoning off the venue in front of the party’s headquarters. Zia’s home remained blocked Monday. She had been scheduled to address Sunday’s rally to step up the pressure on her archrival, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, to cancel the Jan 5 elections and hand over power to a caretaker government to oversee the vote. Women members of the ruling Awami League party clashed with a group of lawyers tied to Zia’s party on the Supreme Court premises. They threw stones at each other but no injuries were immediately reported. No major violence was reported elsewhere in the country despite a call from the main opposition party to block roads, railways and waterways. Seeking to stave off violence, police in Dhaka banned public New Year’s Eve celebrations and asked residents to return home by 8:00 pm today. Benazir Ahmed, commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said any gatherings in the capital would not be allowed. Hasina said Monday she had no problem with opposition protests but that killings and violence must stop. She said earlier she would go ahead with the election despite the opposition boycott to avoid a constitutional crisis. The Election Commission is supporting the polls, citing the constitution that says elections must be held 90 days before the government’s five-year term expires, or by Jan 24. The European Union, the US and the British Commonwealth said they would not send observers for the election. The government has nevertheless pledged that the vote would be credible. An election watchdog of 29 non-governmental organizations, which works closely with donors, said it would monitor the Jan 5 vote. At least one person, a student, was killed in clashes Sunday between security forces and opposition activists, police said. Authorities have detained more than 1,550 people in a crackdown since last week, further deepening the political crisis in the impoverished South Asian nation. More than 150 people have died in political violence since October. The conflict pits an opposition alliance led by Zia’s party against Hasina, who accuses Zia of protecting people being tried or convicted of war crimes involving the nation’s 1971 independence war against Pakistan. Jamaat-eIslami, the main partner of Zia’s party, wants the government to halt the war crimes trials of its leaders. Zia says the trials initiated by Hasina are politically motivated to weaken the opposition, which the government denies. Jamaat-e-Islami is banned from taking part in the election. —AP

KARACHI: Pakistan Federal Shairat Court Chief Justice, justice Agha Rafiq Ahmed (right), receives an oath from Justice Ashraf Jehan (left) as she becomes a judge at the sharia court in Karachi yesterday. —AFP

Bombs found near Musharraf’s house ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani police official says authorities have defused four small bombs planted near the house of former president and army chief, Pervez Musharraf, just two days before he’s to appear in court in a treason case. Police officer Nayyar Saleem says an onlooker spotted the devices on Monday alongside a road about a half kilometer from Musharraf ’s farmhouse on the outskirts of Islamabad. Saleem says the improvised devices were left in separate plastic shopping bags, and there were about three kilograms of explosives altogether. He says authorities don’t know if Musharraf was the intended target. Musharraf is accused of high treason and is scheduled to appear before a court on Jan 1. He was not able to attend a previous court hearing on Dec 24 because of a bomb scare. FIRST FEMALE JUDGE In another development, Pak istan’s national sharia court, which hears cases under the country’s Islamic legislation, yesterday appointed a female judge for the first time in its 33-year history. Ashraf Jehan, 56,

who was serving as an additional judge at the high court in southern Sindh province, made histor y as she took the oath in Karachi. “It was a historic oath-taking ceremony today when an able lady judge had joined the Shariat Cour t,” Agha Rafiq Ahmed, the chief justice of the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan said. The court was established in 1980 during the rule of military dictator Ziaul Haq as part of a sweeping Islamisation of Pakistan’s institutions. It examines the country’s laws to check them for conformity with Islamic injunctions and hears appeals under religious legislation known as the “Hudood Laws”, which run parallel to the penal code. “There was no bar in the constitution to make a woman the judge of Shariat Court and there is no discrimination between men and women,” Ahmed said. The chief justice of the Shariat Court, who rarely speaks to the media, said he was pleased to comment on an historic moment. “I took the initiative as it would send the message in the world that we are enlightened people and would dispel many misconceptions,” he said. —Agencies



Volgograd: Symbol of Russian wartime heroism MOSCOW: The city of Volgograd, hit by two deadly suicide attacks in as many days, is known in

Russia as a symbol of heroism during World War II when it was the scene of a critical battle with

German forces. The vast city of over one million which stretches for kilometers across the bank of

VOLGOGRAD: Photo shows the wreckage of a trolleybus following a suicide attack that destroyed the packed trolleybus killing 14 people in the southern Russian city of Volgograd. —AFP

the mighty Volga River was known as Stalingrad in Soviet times until the early 1960s when it was renamed Volgograd in a de -Stalinization drive. It was under the name of Stalingrad that the city endured its greatest suffering and ultimately its finest hour when it was besieged and occupied by invading Nazi forces who were then driven out by the Red Army. The 1942-1943 Battle of Stalingrad, seen as a turning point of World War II, is commemorated by the iconic 87metre (285-foot) high statue “The Motherland Calls” of a swordwielding woman that overlooks the city. An unforgettable assertion of Soviet power and might, it is one of the highest monuments in the world, unveiled in 1967 in a memorial park as a symbol of recovery from the ruins of war. After six months of bloody combat-including hand-to-hand fighting in the ruined streets-the USSR’s growing superiority in armaments production on the home front made itself felt and the Red Army encircled the Nazi

troops. The battle of Stalingrad is estimated to have cost up to 2 million lives on both sides including civilians. German commander Friedrich von Paulus-promoted to Field Marshal by Hitler on the expectation he would defend the city to the death-capitulated on January 31, 1943. The full surrender was complete by February 2. Some 91,000 Wehrmacht soldiers were taken prisoner, including Paulus himself who disobeyed Hitler ’s orders to die fighting. He later gave evidence against his Nazi superiors at the Nuremberg trials, was released in 1953 and lived in the communist German Democratic Republic until his death in 1957. The surrender was the first major defeat sustained by the Nazis and marked the beginning of their retreat from Soviet territory after the lightning invasion of 1941 that had taken Joseph Stalin completely unaware. The city, which had been known by its imperial-era name of Tsaritsyn up until the 1920s, was renamed as Volgograd in 1961 after the Soviet Union’s

leaders admitted the extent of the crimes of tyrannical leader Stalin. Volgograd was left in almost total ruins after World War II but then benefitted from rapid rebuilding in the postwar years which left it marked forever by imposing Soviet architecture. In a hugely controversial move, local lawmakers in January voted to revive its wartime name of Stalingrad for ceremonial purposes six days a year. In recent times, the city has been known as the hometown of double Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva, who was born in Volgograd and was nurtured to stardom by local coach Yevgeny Trofimov. Another famous local girl is the Russian spy Anna Chapman, who became known around the world in 2010 when she was arrested in the United States and booted out along with several other Russian spies. Now back home, Chapman is better known for her sultry good looks than espionage activity and has carved out a career as a model and television personality. —AFP

Poor visibility halts rescue of ship frozen in Antarctic 74 passengers remain stranded SYDNEY: Gusty snow showers which hampered visibility yesterday forced back an Australian icebreaker struggling to reach a scientific expedition ship stranded off Antarctica, and also prevented a helicopter rescue, authorities said. The Aurora Australis made it to within 10 nautical miles of the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, which is stuck in an ice field, before retreating in the face of freezing winds and snow showers. “The area where the MV Akademik Shokalskiy is beset by ice is currently experiencing winds of up to 30 knots and snow showers,” the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said. “These weather conditions have resulted in poor visibility and made it difficult and unsafe for the Aurora Australis to continue today’s attempt to assist

the MV Akademik Shokalskiy.” The authority said further rescue attempts could be made once the weather improves and the Australian vessel was now in open waters about 18 nautical miles east of the trapped Russian ship. Australia’s rescue coordination centre is in regular contact with the ship, which is carrying 74 people-including scientists, tourists and crew-and has been stationary 100 nautical miles east of the French base Dumont D’Urville since December 24. Its passengers, who had been following in the Antarctic footsteps of Australian Sir Douglas Mawson and his 1911-1914 expedition, remain safe and well on their well-provisioned vessel, the safety authority said. Three icebreakers including the Aurora

SYDNEY: Photo shows a thin fresh coat of snow on the trapped ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy as it waits to be rescued. —AFP

Australis were called to help free the Russian vessel. But the first attempt, by a Chineseflagged vessel, was unable to break through the ice while a third vessel was released from the rescue, leaving hopes pinned on the Australian icebreaker. Authorities had hoped that a helicopter on board the Chinese-flagged vessel that remains in the area would be able to evacuate the passengers if the Aurora Australis was unsuccessful. But the safety authority said Monday it was also “unsafe to attempt to launch the helicopter from the Chinese vessel” given the weather. Chris Turney, one of the leaders of the scientific expedition, said via Skype from the stranded ship that those on board were in good spirits and wanted their families and friends to know they were safe and well. “It’s Antarctica, we are just taking it one day at a time,” he told AFP, adding that Monday’s failed rescue had been hampered by very poor visibility as much as the ice. “The conditions are so extreme in Antarctica, you just never know. We are always hopeful.” Turney, who is professor of climate change at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, said satellite images indicated that their vessel had become stuck in ice which had broken away from a glacier. The fierce winds had pushed it into an area of normally open sea, blocking the ship’s progress, and this ice was now three to four metres thick in some places, although in others there were gaps with no ice. “It’s an unusual event that’s happened,” he said. “We were in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Turney had earlier tweeted that cracks were developing in the ice around the bow of the ship, something he hoped would help free the vessel. The team onboard has been carrying out the same scientific experiments which Mawson’s group conducted during the 1911-1914 expedition in the hope they could help in climate change research. Several members of the team have already battled sea ice to reach the historic Mawson’s Huts-built and occupied by the 19111914 expedition-which have been isolated for years by a giant iceberg. —AFP

China activists push limit with demands to end ‘dictatorship’ GUANGZHOU: Their banners have urged an end to China’s “dictatorship”, scorned the regime as “rogue” and dared leaders to disclose their assets as a step against graft-all dangerous calls under Communist Party rule. The Southern Street Movement, a loose network of laymen-activists in Guangdong province, is testing China’s limits with overtly political demands and ambitions to inspire placard-waving protests nationwide. The province has a tradition of defiance-a trade hub long exposed to the outside world, it was the birthplace of Sun Yat-sen, the revolutionary who ended millennia of imperial rule in China in 1911. Yet the dissent-wary government has mounted a growing crackdown on activists this year and a smattering of participants have been detained. Protesters must overcome their fear, says Xie Wenfei, a 37-year-old from central China whose business card declares him a “Southern Street Movement activist” and proclaims: “If you see injustice and remain silent, you have sided with evil”. He raised a sign calling for an end to “one-party dictatorship” in the provincial capital Guangzhou in September, earning himself a month in detention. “Lots of friends called me to say if you pull out this banner then for sure you’ll be arrested,” he said. “But I had to do the right thing. I told them someone has to do this. “First I wanted to tell my like-minded friends to break through the fear. “Second I wanted to tell the Communist Party that the way they are doing things cannot last. They have lost their legitimacy in the eyes of the people and the law.” The movement started in 2011 with monthly protests at a

park, said Wang Aizhong, a closely involved 37-year-old businessman, and they organized mini-rallies perhaps dozens of times this year. Many have called for officials to reveal their assets, for detained activists to be released, and for an end to one-party rule. “We see the Southern Street Movement as a resistance movement having no organization, no leader and no

newspaper, Southern Weekly, after its new year editorial was censored. Guangzhou has long been considered less strictly controlled than much of China. It has had greater contact with the rest of the world as one of the first Chinese cities opened in recent centuries to foreigners-who knew it as Canton-and Guangdong neighbors the former British colony of Hong Kong. “There is a percep-

GUANGZHOU: Wang Aizhong, a 37-year-old businessman, talking to AFP in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. —AFP formal program,” Wang said, adding that they wanted to “inspire the rest of the country”. “There is no one single or set demand, but a lot of the political demands are aimed at one goal, which is to end this dictatorship.” The movement has mostly attracted the migrant workers who have flocked to Guangdong, a manufacturing powerhouse and China’s most prosperous province. More people were drawn in following January protests supporting the liberal Guangzhou-based

tion that protest is just slightly more possible in the south,” said Eva Pils, an associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “More people in the south are willing to take that one further step and actually put up a banner that directly targets ‘one-party dictatorship’, that directly calls for constitutional government, freedom, human rights, democracy.” But the consequences of activism in China can be severe. In neighboring Jiangxi province three members of the

similarly loose, decentralized New Citizens Movement face up to five years’ jail for demanding officials disclose their assets. Such grassroots groups are at the opposite end of the activist spectrum from internationally high-profile figures such as Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, artist Ai Weiwei or blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng. They are among a number of Chinese looking to have their voices heard, including online. But the groups’ numbers remain tiny and it is impossible to judge their support in a heavily controlled society. Southern Street member Jia Ping, 24, lost his factory job after posting political messages online, and was detained for 20 days after displaying signs at a train station including one proclaiming “the Communist party does not represent the people”. “We will definitely keep going, as far as we can,” he said. In August officials detained respected Guangzhou activist Yang Maodong, known by his pen name Guo Feixiong. He finished a five-year sentence in 2011 and now faces public order charges carrying a similar maximum penalty. Authorities see him as a ringleader, said his lawyer Sui Muqing, citing an editorial in the party-run Global Times criticizing Guo and another activist, a rare reference to such figures. “They pose a danger to the current social governance system and long-term social stability,” the paper warned. “Confronting the authorities has become their way of life.” Migrant Xie said his parents want him to stop his activities. “Of course they are afraid,” he said. “I just ask them to trust me. I’m over 30 years old and have never done anything wrong.”—AFP

SEOUL: South Korean conservative activists shout slogans during a protest to lodge a complaint against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visiting the Yasukuni war shrine. —AFP

Abe bets US alliance, ratings can weather the shrine visit TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to a shrine for war dead outraged China and South Korea, and also upset Washington and his government coalition partner - but he appears confident the alliances and his popularity will not be affected. On Thursday, Abe became the first Japanese premier in seven years to pay his respects at Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals by an Allied tribunal after World War Two are honored along with those who died in battle. The shrine is seen by critics as a symbol of Japan’s past military aggression. Abe, however, is a staunch conservative and the pilgrimage is part of his mission to recast Japan’s wartime past in a less apologetic light and revive national pride. The visit predictably sparked outrage in China and South Korea, countries with which Japan’s ties were already strained by rows over disputed isles and bitter wartime memories. It also prompted a rare public expression of “disappointment ” from the United States and a statement of regret from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) partner, the more dovish New Komeito party. Those familiar with Abe’s thinking said the prime minister, who took office a year ago for a second term promising to revive a “strong Japan”, was well aware of the risks. “The Americans are dissatisfied? Too bad. Will they still be our ally? Yes,” said one Japanese diplomatic source familiar with Abe’s thinking. “The economy, income, social welfare - these are the concerns of the Japanese people. Foreign policy probably won’t have a decisive impact on the opinion polls.” Abe, although hailing from the most conservative wing of the LDP, avoided going to Yasukuni during his first 20062007 term in order to improve ties with China. Relations with Beijing had been badly hurt, in part, by annual visits to the shrine by his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi. At first Abe stuck to a similar course in hopes of holding a summit with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. As far back as the summer, however, aides said Abe might visit the shrine if there was no breakthrough in ties. “For the prime minister, improving ties with China is a matter of national interest, so if he can succeed in that, he can hold back,” an aide to Abe said in August. “If it looks as if things are not improving, he will go.” But the chill in ties with China, frayed by a row over East China Sea isles claimed by both nations, deepened after Beijing announced an air defense zone last month, including air space over the disputed land. “This time, China was not willing to make a deal on the Senkaku,” the diplomatic source said, using the Japanese name for the isles known as the Diaoyu in China. Critics said Abe had now

ensured the chill would persist. “I think it was a seriously counter-productive and irresponsible move and put regional relations in the deep freeze for the foreseeable future,” said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University’s Japan campus. TURNING THE TABLE Whether Abe had fully anticipated the rare rebuke from the United States, Japan’s closest ally, is far from clear. Kyodo news agency said the US government was given just one hour’s notice of Abe’s visit to Yasukuni by its embassy in Tokyo. Experts said the visit would strain the alliance. Until recently, US officials had seen Abe as restraining his nationalist instincts and been inclined to blame China and South Korea for the strained relations, said Yoshihide Soeya, Japan Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. “Abe has now turned the table,” he said. Washington has welcomed Abe’s efforts to boost Japan’s military posture and assume more of the alliance’s defense burden, but been less happy with Abe’s revisionist stance on history. “What the Yasukuni visit does is raise for the US government the need to determine Abe’s reliability as an ally and partner in Asia,” said one former US official. On the domestic front, Abe is also betting his support ratings can withstand any impact from the controversial visit. Abe’s ratings slid to under 50 percent in some polls this month after his ruling bloc steamrolled a strict state secrets act through parliament that critics said had echoes of the war time regime, but they remain high for a Japanese leader. Trouble could emerge if the economy dips or Abe puts his conservative agenda ahead of economic policies. “The top priority for Japan now is to revive the economy,” said an editorial in the Nikkei business daily. “What can be achieved by causing political confusion that polarizes national opinion?” Japanese voters have long been divided on whether leaders should pay their respects at Yasukuni but protests from China against Koizumi’s visits created a backlash against what some people saw as foreign interference in a domestic matter. Since then, Japanese concern about China’s military assertiveness has steadily grown and a fresh barrage of criticism from Beijing could move opinion in favor of Abe. “The crisis he instigated will lead to a ‘rally around the leader’ dynamic that will blunt domestic criticism of his security agenda,” Kingston said. Others disagreed. “The net effect is the division of Japanese society getting deeper, which is not good for Abe in carrying out some other (parts of his) conservative agenda,” Woodrow Wilson Center’s Soeya said.—Reuters



Libyan coastguard relies on fishing boats, inflatables Libya coastguard enthusiastic, but ill-equipped, for daunting mission TRIPOLI: When Libyan coastguard officer Ashraf El-Badri needs to dispatch a boat to stop illegal migrants heading for Europe, his options are limited - ask the oil ministry for a tug, use an ageing fishing boat or board an inflatable. European governments are counting on officials like Badri to stop an influx of hopeful migrants from setting off from Libya’s shores to reach Italy and Malta. But more than two years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, the country’s coastguard is just not up to the task. The force does not have radar or a single helicopter, or even adequate gear for the officers who go out to sea in small inflatables - the kind of boat sometimes used for fun rafting trips in other parts of the world. “Smugglers have guns, equipment and they often open fire,” said Badri, who heads the coastguard in the capital Tripoli. “We just lack any equipment. We don’t even have bulletproof vests or night goggles, which are not available in the local market.” Navy ships from the Gaddafi era rust away at a quay next to his office at the central Tripoli naval base. Some were damaged by NATO bombs when the alliance was helping the rebels fight Gaddafi and others have fallen into disuse through neglect. The coastguard says it stopped 2,200 migrants on the sea in September and October alone. But officers admit they are unable to control Libya’s 2,000-km long shore. The force has only one large inflatable boat available in Tripoli, officers said. A base in Khoms, 100 km to the east, relies on two fishing boats and another slightly larger inflatable. “We have to use fishing boats ... or we sometimes borrow tugs from the oil ministry,” said Badri’s colleague Masud Abdul-Samed, head of the operations room at Tripoli port. The European Union has started training airport officials and guards for the sea and land borders, and Italian defense firm Selex, part of Finmeccanica group, this month began setting up a satellite system to allow officers to patrol borders remotely But Western officials are under no illusion that it will be easy to get the force up to speed anytime soon. Libyan officials say one challenge is that political infighting has hampered funding for many government functions. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, a liberal, has accused Islamists in parliament of deliberately blocking approval of budget payments in a bid to bring down his government. Senior defense officials are also reluctant to take the initiative to decide who to train and what equipment to order - a legacy of the Gaddafi era when all decisions were made at the top. Diplomats say another problem is that the defence ministry, to which the coastguard belongs, is dominated by multiple militias from the 2011 uprising whose rivalries are making it difficult to agree on the new structure of the force. CHAOS Tunisia is closer than Libya to Malta and Lampedusa, an Italian island south of Sicily, the two main points of entry by sea to Europe for human traffickers, but the smugglers have moved routes to the OPEC producer to exploit its turmoil and anarchy. Zeidan struggles to assert authority in a country awash with arms. In many areas of the country, including parts of the coast, militias call the shots. “Tunisia is much more difficult. You have a state there, you have police. It is not as easy to carry out your smug-

BENGHAZI: Sail boats of the Hobie-Cat class sail in the eastern Libyan port city of Benghazi on the Mediterranean Sea. — AFP gling operations there,” said Emmanuel Gignac, head of the UN refugee agency UNHCR mission in Libya. Gignac said there has been a rise of refugees escaping civil war in Syria or Sudan’s western Darfur region, scene of a decade-long insurgency. Many use Libya as a transit point. The UNHCR says more than 23,000 people, mostly Africans, have tried leaving Libya by boat this year, triple the number in 2012. Hundreds have died on their way to Lampedusa in the past few months. Western diplomats worry that it is not just hopeful emigrants who are heading for Libya but also Islamist militants. With its poorly monitored land borders, the North African country has already become a transit route for weapons for al Qaeda operating in sub-Saharan countries. The coastguard tend to run geographical sectors with little coordination with other units. There is

even competition with the navy and a separate coast guard police which mainly patrols the ports - another legacy of Gaddafi, who used to play units off each other. Most of the more than 2,000 staff are former rebels whom the government has coopted to get armed youngsters off the streets. They are enthusiastic about the coastguard mission but lack experience and even the most basic skills. Many of them had never been to the sea before signing up. The young men certainly do not lack boldness when going out in their inflatables up to 120 km off the coast, often in rough sea. That is the reason why the EU is focusing on basic survival training such as ensuring everyone carries a life vest when going out. The coastguard officials have vests at their bases but used to rarely use them, they say. “I admire these young men. They are very bold to go out in

such boats so far,” said David Aquilina, a trainer from Malta working for the EU Border Assistance Mission. “They want to work, but need training and equipment,” he said as he watched coastguard officers practicing how to rescue a comrade who had gone overboard. “First they need to learn how to stay safe before they can rescue emigrants.” The EU has so far trained 130 border patrol officials, including 30 coastguard officers. Italy is also training some officers and repairing four patrol boats from the Gaddafi era. Libya has commissioned ten new boats from Spain and more from South Korea but it will be years before they are built and paid for, officers say. “God willing, we will have before 2016 boats with lengths of 60 meters or more which can stay out in the sea a long time,” said Abdul-Samed. — Reuters




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Phones shatter mirrorless camera hopes By Sophie Knight and Reiji Murai


anasonic Corp and Japan’s other mid-tier camera makers have a battle on their hands to win over a smartphone “selfie” generation to mirrorless cameras that held such promise when they were launched around five years ago. Panasonic, like peers Fujifilm Holdings and Olympus Corp, has been losing money on its cameras since mobile phones that take high-quality photos ate into the compact camera business. This year, compact camera sales are likely to fall more than 40 percent to fewer than 59 million, according to industry researcher IDC. Meanwhile, sales of mirrorless cameras - seen as a promising format between low-end compacts and highend single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras - are sputtering as buyers put connectivity above picture quality. A 40 percent drop in Panasonic’s overall camera sales in April-September left the imaging division vulnerable as the company’s mid-term plan to March 2016 demands unprofitable businesses turn themselves around or face the axe. “If you look mid-to-long term, digital camera makers are slipping and the market is becoming an oligopoly,” said Credit Suisse imaging analyst Yu Yoshida. Panasonic held 3.1 percent of the camera market in JulySeptember, down from 3.8 percent a year earlier, according to IDC. Canon Inc, Nikon Corp and Sony Corp controlled over 60 percent between them. “Only those who have a strong brand and are competitive on price will last - and only Canon, Nikon and Sony fulfil that criteria,” added Yoshida. Canon and Nikon dominate the SLR camera market, while Sony could survive any shakeout thanks to its strength in making sensors for a number of camera manufacturers as well as collaboration with its smartphone division. Sputtering Mirrorless Panasonic, Fujifilm and Olympus are trying to fend off the smartphone threat by cutting compacts, targeting niche markets such as deep-sea diving, and launching the higher-margin mirrorless models. The mirrorless format promised mid-tier makers an area of growth as the dominance of Canon and Nikon all but shut them out of SLRs, where Sony is a distant third. Neither Panasonic nor Fujifilm makes SLRs, and Olympus stopped developing them this year. Mirrorless cameras such as Panasonic’s Lumix GM eliminate the internal mirrors that optical viewfinders depend on, so users compose images via electronic viewfinders or liquid crystal displays. This allows the camera to be smaller than an SLR, while offering better quality than compacts or smartphones due to larger sensors and interchangeable lenses. “SLRs are heavy and noisy, whereas mirrorless are small and quiet. While some people say SLRs still have better image quality, mirrorless (cameras) have improved to the point where they’re equivalent, if not superior,” said Hiroshi Tanaka, director of Fujifilm’s optical division. Critics grumble that LCD screens can never compete with the clarity of an optical viewfinder, and that picture-taking speeds are too slow for fast-action subjects such as sports. Nevertheless, the mirrorless format has been a hit in Japan since Panasonic launched the first domestically produced model in 2008, the G1. They made up 36 percent of Japan’s interchangeable lens camera shipments in January-October, according to researcher CIPA. But the format is yet to catch on in the United States and Europe, where shipments made up just 10.5 percent and 11.2 percent of all interchangeable camera shipments, respectively, and where consumers tend to equate image quality with size and heft. Sales, which globally are less than a quarter of those of SLRs, fell by a fifth in the three weeks to Dec. 14 in the United States, which included the busy ‘Black Friday’ shopping week, while SLR sales rose 1 percent, according to NPD, another industry researcher. “I would focus on the detachable lens market proper, excluding mirrorless, and focus on connectivity,” said Ben Arnold, director of imaging analysis at NPD. “How do you bridge that gap between high photo-capture quality and high-quality camera devices and the cloud where every amateur photographer’s images live?” Smartphone Compromise Panasonic, Olympus and Fujifilm do not yet have a definitive answer. Consumers don’t want to connect cameras to phones, analysts say; they want a single interface that can instantly upload photographs to social networking sites such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc. Sony’s compromise is its two QX lenses released this quarter. These come with their own sensors and processors, and clip onto smartphones through which the user operates them wirelessly. They are pocket-sized and produce photographs of a quality rivalling that of a compact camera. “There was a lot of internal disagreement over the product. It’s the kind of product you either love or hate,” said Shigeki Ishizuka, president of Sony’s digital imaging business. —Reuters

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Why Saudis and US don’t see eye to eye By Ian Bremmer


ive credit to Vladimir Putin and his New York Times op-ed on Syria for sparking a new tactic for foreign leaders hoping to influence American public opinion. In recent weeks, Saudi Arabian political elites have followed Putin’s lead, using American outlets to express their distaste with the West’s foreign policy, particularly with regard to Syria and Iran. In comments to the Wall Street Journal, prominent Saudi Prince Turki Al-Faisal decried the United States for cutting a preliminary deal with Iran on its nuclear program without giving the Saudis a seat at the table, and for Washington’s unwillingness to oppose Assad in the wake of the atrocities he’s committed. Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Britain followed with an op-ed in the New York Times entitled “Saudi Arabia Will Go It Alone”. The Saudis are clearly upholding the vow made by intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan back in October to undergo a “major shift” away from the United States. In light of the recent actions of the Obama administration, many allies are also frustrated and confused, and even hedging their bets in reaction to the United States’ increasingly unpredictable foreign policy. But of all the disappointed countries, none is more so than Saudi Arabia - and with good reason. That’s because the two countries have shared interests historically - but not core values - and those interests have recently diverged. First, America’s track record in the Middle East in recent years has sowed distrust. The relationship began to deteriorate with the United States’ initial response to the Arab Spring, where its perceived pro-democratic stance stood at odds with the Saudi ruling elite. After Washington stood behind the elections that installed a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt and then spoke out against the Egyptian army’s attempt to remove President Mohammad Morsi, the Saudi royals were left to wonder where Washington would stand if similar unrest broke out on their soil. Second, while the oil trade has historically aligned US-Saudi interests, the unconventional energy breakthrough in North America is calling this into question. The United States and Canada are utilizing hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques, leading to

a surge in domestic energy production. That development leaves America significantly less dependent on oil from the Middle East, and contributes to the US’ shifting interests and increasing disengagement in the region. Not only does Saudi Arabia lose influence in Washington - many of the top American executives in the oil industry were their best conduits - but it also puts the Saudis on the wrong end of this long-term trend toward increasing global energy supply. To say that oil is an integral part of Saudi Arabia’s economy is a gross understatement. Oil still accounts for 45 percent of Saudi GDP, 80 percent of budget revenue, and 90 percent of exports. In the months ahead, new oil supply is expected to outstrip new demand, largely on the back of improvements in output in Iraq and Libya. By the end of the first quarter of 2014, Saudi Arabia will likely have to reduce production to keep prices stable. And the trend toward more supply doesn’t take into account the potential for a comprehensive Iranian nuclear deal that would begin to ease sanctions and allow more Iranian crude to reach global markets. Principal Threat It is this ongoing nuclear negotiation with Iran that poses the principal threat to an aligned United States and Saudi Arabia. An Iranian deal would undercut Saudi Arabia’s leadership over fellow Gulf States, as other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members like Kuwait and the UAE would welcome resurgent trade with Iran. At the same time, Iran would emerge over the longer term as the chief competitor for influence across the broader region, serving as the nexus of Shiite power. The Saudis would find themselves most directly threatened by this Shiite resurgence within neighboring Bahrain, a majority Shiite state ruled by a Sunni regime that is backstopped by the Saudi royals. The bottom line: the Saudis are actively competing with Iran for influence throughout the Middle East. That’s why the Saudis have the most at stake from any easing of sanctions on Iran, any normalization of relations with the West, or any nuclear breakthrough that gives Iran the ultimate security bargaining chip. The Saudis have reaped the benefits of an economically weak Iran - and they are not prepared to relinquish that

advantage. Ultimately, any deal that exchanges Iranian economic security for delays in Iran’s nuclear program is a fundamental problem for Saudi Arabia - as is any failed deal that allows sanctions to unravel. For all of these reasons, even though the United States will be buying Saudi oil for years to come and will still sell the Saudis weapons, American policy in the Middle East has now made the United States more hostile to Saudi interests than any other major country outside the region. That’s why the Saudis have been so vocal about the United States’ perceived policy failures. Messed Up But to say Obama has messed up the Middle East is a serious overstatement. What he has tried to do is avoid getting too involved in a messed up Middle East. Obama ended the war in Iraq. In Libya, he did everything possible to remain on the sidelines, not engaging until the GCC and Arab League beseeched him to - and even then, only in a role of “leading from behind” the French and the British. Call the Obama policy “engaging to disengage.” In Syria, Obama did everything possible to stay out despite the damage to his international credibility. When the prospect for a chemical weapons agreement arose, he leapt at the chance to point to a tangible achievement that could justify the US remaining a spectator to the broader civil war. In Iran, a key goal of Obama’s diplomatic engagement will be to avoid the use of military force down the road. It hasn’t always been pretty, but Obama has at least been trying to act in the best interests of the United States - interests that are diverging from Saudi Arabia’s. That is all too clear when you look at the Saudi ambassador to Britain’s perception of the West’s dealings in Syria and Iran: “The West has allowed one regime to survive and the other to continue its program for uranium enrichment, with all the consequent dangers of weaponization.” The Saudis have a growing stake in all of these conflicts; for the United States, they are waning as priorities. These Middle East hot spots will remain a mess regardless of the United States’ stance. But the Saudis have a preferred mess - and it ’s not the one the Americans are leaving them with. —Reuters

Blasts expose Olympic security threat By Dmitry Zaks


uccessive-day bombings on a railway station and trolleybus in Russia’s heartland expose the challenge President Vladimir Putin faces in ensuring a safe Olympics on the edge of the violence-plagued North Caucasus. The Kremlin chief beat extreme odds in 2007 to bring the showcase winter event to the summer Black Sea retreat of Sochi after personally pledging before Olympic chiefs in Guatemala to make the Games into a “safe, enjoyable and memorable experience”. Russia has since poured more than $50 billion into an event that has become linked inextricably with Putin’s image as a strongman fighting to restore the superpower status his nation enjoyed in Soviet times. But Putin’s 14year rule has also been tied to North Caucasus conflicts that began in Chechnya and have since spread across the mostly-Muslim region that Islamists want to turn into their own state. Russia is already imposing a “limited access” cordon around Sochi from Jan 7 to keep non-resident cars from coming anywhere near the Olympic venue. Extra measures are also being taken to monitor local Internet and cellphone network traffic that could herald the plotting of still new attacks. Yet the twin blasts in Volgograd - a million-strong city revered by Russians for enduring the epic World War II Battle of Stalingrad - show that strikes do not have to target Sochi directly to set off Olympic alarms.

“ They tried to deal a blow to Sochi,” Volgograd’s parliament representative Mikhail Markelov said as the combined death toll from both attacks climbed to 31. “ This was a serious intimidation attempt.” From ‘lone wolves’ to Syria vets Two decades of nearly uninterrupted bloodshed along Russia’s impoverished southern frontier has bred a generation of recruits for gangs of guerrillas who wage wars both at home and abroad. Chechen gunmen have

become a frequent presence among the Syria rebels and are among the Russian security forces’ biggest adversaries in cities such as Moscow where they congregate around criminal groups. “We have to fear everyone from so - called lone wolves to Russian Muslims and those who fought in and returned from Syria,” said Alexei Malashenko of the Carnegie Moscow Centre. “ We do not k now where or when the next blow will happen, but we do know that it will.” Analysts said events such as Sochi

A Russian police dog sniffs around a box near Spasskaya tower in Red Square in central Moscow yesterday as security measures were increased in Russian capital following twin blasts in Volgograd. —AFP

present Russia’s Islamists with the perfect venue for raising prestige among financial backers and displaying their unbridled strength. “ They want to make the strikes as deadly as possible to generate the greatest amount of publicity,” said Alexander Konovalov of M oscow ’s I nstitute Strategic Assessment. He stressed that “chances of this happening in Sochi itself are low because the security there is so high. But this extra Sochi security means there is less of it elsewhere in Russia.” The US-based IHS risk assessment centre agreed that steps taken in Sochi “will make it difficult to undertake a successful attack against the main Olympic venues”. But “public transport infrastructure in Sochi and the surrounding Krasnodar territory will face an elevated risk of attack,” IHS analyst Matthew Clements warned in a client note. Putin yesterday ordered security stepped up across Russia and demanded to be briefed daily on the probe into the bombings as well as effor ts to make people feel safer as the Feb 7-23 Games approach. But some called Russia’s overstretched and corruption-riven security structures a feeble shield against the terror threat. The Federal Securit y Service that Putin headed before taking the Kremlin “cannot control the situation or predic t what the ‘underground’ will do nex t,” said militar y affairs writer Pavel Felgenhauer. “And this will affect the Games even if there are no explosions in Sochi.” —AFP



Pigeons fly outside the Karti Sakhi shrine in Kabul yesterday. Kabul has been experiencing below freezing weather and snow. — AP

Bahrain thwarts ‘terror’ attempts Continued from Page 1 The smuggled munitions included what Hassan called anti-personnel and armour-piercing explosives, as well as “50 Iranian-made hand bombs” and “295 commercial detonators on which was written ‘made in Syria’”, he said, adding the boat had been tracked over a distance of 218 km northeast of the kingdom. The Manama government, dominated for generations by the Sunni Al-Khalifa family, accuses the opposition of having a Shiite sectarian agenda and links to Iran and to Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah. The opposition denies this, saying such allegations are a

pretext for avoiding democratic reforms. Tehran also denies any link, but champions the cause of the opposition while Hezbollah has criticised Manama’s crackdown on Shiite protesters. The Bahraini government largely put down the uprising with help from Gulf Arab neighbours but small-scale clashes continue and bomb attacks mainly on policemen and security officers have been increasing since mid-2012. Bahrain’s Shiite opposition groups suspended their participation in reconciliation talks with the government after the arrest of a senior member of Al-Wefaq, the main opposition group, in September. — Agencies

Egypt arrests four Jazeera journalists Continued from Page 1 The journalists “broadcast live news harming domestic security,” the ministry said, adding they were also found in possession of Brotherhood “publications”. Greste, a former BBC journalist, won the prestigious Peabody award in 2011 for a documentary on Somalia. Fahmy, who formerly worked with CNN, is a well-known journalist in Cairo with no known links to the Brotherhood. “We condemn the arbitrary arrest of Al-Jazeera English journalists working in Cairo and demand their immediate and unconditional release,” the network said. “Al-Jazeera Media Network has been subject to harassment by Egyptian security forces which has arrested our colleagues, confiscated our equipment and raided our offices despite that we are not officially banned from working there.” Egypt’s military-installed government cracked down on Al-Jazeera’s affiliates following the overthrow of Morsi in July, accusing the broadcaster of proBrotherhood coverage. Gas-rich Qatar had been a strong supporter of Morsi, and stood out among other Gulf nations in condemning Egypt’s deadly crackdown

on pro-Morsi demonstrations. Several Al-Jazeera reporters remain in detention, including Abdullah Elshamy, a journalist for the Arabic language station arrested on August 14 when police dispersed an Islamist protest camp in Cairo, killing hundreds in clashes. The government declared the Brotherhood a “terrorist organisation” last week after a suicide car bombing of a police headquarters killed 15 people. It blamed the attack on the Islamists, although an Al-Qaeda-inspired group claimed responsibility for the bombing and the Brotherhood condemned it. Media watchdog the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a report that Egypt came third for the number of journalists killed on the job in 2013, after Syria and Iraq. “Amid stark political polarisation and related street violence, things deteriorated dramatically for journalists in Egypt, where six journalists were killed for their work in 2013,” the CPJ said. Three were killed on Aug 14 as they were reporting on the police crackdown on Morsi’s supporters in Cairo. It said that since 1992 it has documented the deaths of 10 journalists for their work in Egypt - nine of them since the uprising against Hosni Mubarak erupted in 2011. — AFP

Russia on alert after 31 killed Continued from Page 1 It is possible that they were prepared in the same place,” he added. French President Francois Hollande spoke to Putin by telephone and both sides agreed to “intensify cooperation between special services in the fight against terrorism,” the Kremlin said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel also condemned the attacks. Putin ordered security stepped up across Russia, with a special regime to be imposed in Volgograd, which lies 690 km northeast of the Black Sea resort of Sochi, the national anti-terror committee announced. Federal Security Service (FSB) chief Alexander Bortnikov flew to Volgograd and asked citizens to be understanding about the extra security that may involve spot checks. “It is a necessary measure,” he said. Russia is already preparing to impose a “limited access” security cordon around Sochi from Jan 7 which will check all traffic and ban all non-resident cars from a wide area around the city. The head of the Russian Olympic Committee, Alexander Zhukov, said that there was no need for extra security measures in Sochi as “everything that is necessary has already been done,” ITAR-TASS reported. The search for the perpetrators is expected to focus on Russia’s largely Muslim North Caucasus region where Islamist militants have for years been fighting the

Russian security forces. Doku Umarov, the leader of militants seeking to impose an Islamist state throughout Russia’s North Caucasus, has ordered rebels to target civilians outside the region and disrupt the Games. “This looks like the North Caucasus underground. They promised to stage acts in big Russian cities ahead of the Olympics. It seems they are fulfilling their promise,” military affairs commentator Pavel Felgenhauer told AFP. Moscow city hall’s security chief Alexei Mayarov said precautions would be stepped up in the capital ahead of New Year, the biggest holiday of the year in Russia and traditionally marked by mass outdoor gatherings. Reports said Russia’s second city of Saint Petersburg had already cancelled its planned New Year fireworks display. Militant strikes have become part of daily life in the North Caucasus. But the Volgograd blasts will be a particular concern to the authorities as the bomber struck a city of more than one million people in the Russian heartland. The city, known as Stalingrad in the Soviet era, is of huge importance to Russians as the scene of one of the key battles of World War II that led to the defeat of invading Nazi forces. The city was already attacked on Oct 21 by a female suicide bomber with links to Islamists who killed six people on a crowded bus. — AFP

Drama at Barrak’s trial as court may... Continued from Page 1 After the session, Barrak said the officer, who is supposed to be a prosecution witness, was “like a witness who did not see anything”, adding that the court has agreed that the defense team calls the prime minister and commerce and industry minister Anas Al-Saleh to testify in the next hearing set for Feb 17. In a related development, the Opposition Coalition, an organization that has a majority of the opposition groups and leading individuals under its umbrella, said yesterday it has completed the blueprint of a comprehensive political reforms draft. The draft has been sent to all the components of the coalition who were asked

to make their comments and observations on it and send it back by Jan 6 as the coalition plans to release it at a public meeting on Jan 16. The reform draft is expected to call for wide-ranging democratic reforms in the country including the call for amending the constitution, having an elected government and expanding freedoms. In the meantime, MP Safa Al-Hashem continued her sharp criticism of the prime minister, declaring that whatever the type of the government he will form, he will not succeed like what happened with his previous governments. The lawmaker called on the premier to apply the law strictly, “otherwise the consequences will be very negative for him and the government”.

Gulf seeking food security in Europe, US Continued from Page 1 established agro-producers,” said Woertz, author of a book on the subject, Oil for Food. The Gulf states began investing heavily in farmland overseas around 2008, after bad weather in big food producing nations, growing use of biofuels and curbs on farm exports by some governments sent grain futures markets soaring. Wealthy Gulf governments never came close to facing food shortages but they did get a fright - especially because the price of oil, their main source of income, briefly tumbled by three-quarters in 2008. At the same time, expensive programs to increase food production within the Gulf were running up against the region’s brutal climate and lack of water. Saudi Arabia began to scale back a domestic wheatgrowing program in 2008, planning to rely completely on imports by 2016. So Gulf states encouraged their companies to buy arable land in the developing world. Al Dahra is typical of that drive; it is a private firm, owned mainly by Abu Dhabi investors, but its mission statement pledges to “partner with the UAE government in realising the strategic food security program”. The last few years have demonstrated the limits of the Gulf’s strategy of throwing money at the food security problem, however. Many projects abroad have found themselves vulnerable to capricious policy changes and trends in local politics. Abu Dhabi investment firm Jenaan has since 2007 accumulated about 160,000 feddans (67,200 hectares) of arable land in Egypt, which is a big importer of wheat. The company originally planned to grow fodder to feed the UAE’s livestock. But Jenaan was hit by a 300 Egyptian pound ($43) a tonne export tax, and faced other problems such as labour strikes and shortages of diesel to power machinery. This has forced Jenaan to grow wheat instead of fodder, all for consumption within Egypt, said company chairman Mohammad AlOtaiba. “We were incurring loss after loss. So now in Egypt we will only grow grains and we will also work in the dairy business - but all for local consumption,” he said. Saudi Arabia-based billionaire Mohammed AlAmoudi faced problems in Ethiopia after his firm Saudi Star acquired about 10,000 hectares in the Gambella region to grow rice. In April 2012 an armed group ambushed Saudi Star employees, leaving five people dead. Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental body, said it thought the attack was linked to government moves to resettle villagers to clear the way for commercial farming. Saudi Star said at the time that it thought the violence was propagated by outsiders and has continued with its project. Gulf investors say they are sensitive to host nations’ needs and the projects benefit local people by stimulating the economy. But in countries with a history of poverty and famine, it can be hard to escape controver-

sy. “It has proven very difficult to get big projects like that off the ground as apart from the problems with the lack of infrastructure, the poor irrigation and low technology, you also need to deal with the local population and their issues,” said Rob Bailey, research head at London think tank Chatham House. Gulf states are therefore looking more closely at projects in Europe and the United States, where political and policy risks - while not negligible - seem smaller. Details of some projects are not announced, so there is no comprehensive information on the scope of the Gulf investment. But Bailey said Gulf states were “rebalancing their portfolios” towards the West in the agricultural sector. Al Dahra’s investment in Serbia, aimed at developing the companies to grow and process food for export, was said to be the biggest investment in the country’s agriculture for decades. In addition the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, an official aid body, announced a $400 million loan to Serbia’s agriculture sector. Apart from the Serbian venture, Al Dahra has been investing elsewhere in Europe and in the Americas, while Jenaan has investments in the United States and Spain. Hassad Food, the agricultural arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, set up an Australian subsidiary in 2009 with a focus on wheat, barley and livestock. In June this year Saudi Arabian-owned United Farmers Holding Co acquired Continental Farmers Group, a firm which has farming operations in Poland and Ukraine and produces crops including wheat and maize. United Farmers is jointly held by Saudi Agriculture and Livestock Investment Co, Saudi food producer Almarai and Saudi Grain and Fodder Holding. Gulf projects in Africa were often mainly land purchases, needing infusions of technology for farming to begin. By contrast, many of the investments in Europe are in agricultural businesses that just need some financial help to grow. “Often you have companies that have reached a certain level and they need investments to move to the next level themselves, so it makes a good partnership for us,” said Brian Barriskill, supply chain director at Al Dahra. Gulf executives and officials insist they will not give up on most of their ventures in the developing world. Jenaan’s Otaiba said he remained optimistic about nations such as Sudan. Jenaan wants to boost its land holdings there from the current 200,000 hectares to 1 million by 2020, according to Khalil Al-Shammari, the company’s general manager for projects and operations. But future Gulf investment in food security are likely to be more cautious and diversified. Abu Dhabi’s Food Security Centre, a body set up in 2010 to coordinate activities across the UAE, encourages investments in a broad range of countries. “Instability in some something that happens, so we just have to spread our risk,” said Khalifa Al-Ali, managing director of the centre. — Reuters

Schumacher battling for life Continued from Page 1 from “serious and diffuse brain lesions”, which indicates his injuries are not localised but more widespread. He added that Schumacher would not be alive if he had not been wearing a helmet. “Given the violence of the impact, his helmet partially protected him. If someone had had this type of accident without a helmet, they would definitely not be here,” he said. In a statement released later yesterday, Schumacher’s wife Corinna and the rest of his family thanked wellwishers and gave a special nod to the doctors treating him. “We would like to thank the medical team who, we know, do everything possible to help Michael,” Corinna said in a statement. News of the accident made waves, shocking fans, racing stars and leaders alike. Merkel was “extremely shocked” by the incident, her spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters. “We hope... that his injuries will heal and he will recover.” Italian racing driver Giancarlo Fisichella wrote on Twitter: “I know you Michael, you’re a man, you’re the best... This ordeal is your most difficult race but I am sure that you will win it too.” Michael Viehmann, president of a Schumacher fan club in the small German town of Kerpen, where the retired racer grew up, said fans were “very upset”. “We know him really well. He’s a fighter, we’re crossing fingers that he will win this battle,” he said. The star’s accident comes after several off-piste skiers died or were injured in the Alps, and on Sunday authori-

ties in the Savoie department where Meribel is located asked skiers to be extra “vigilant”. Schumacher, who won the last of his world titles in 2004, towered over the sport since his debut in 1991, winning more Formula One world titles and races than any other. He had a record 91 wins and is one of only two men to reach 300 grands prix. His duels in his heyday with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve, fired by an unquenchable competitive spirit, have gone down in Formula One lore. Schumacher was born in Jan 1969 near Cologne, Germany, the son of a bricklayer who also ran the local go-kart track, where his mother worked in the canteen. By 1987, Schumacher was the German and European go-kart champion and was soon racing professionally. In 1991 he burst into Formula One by qualifying seventh in his debut race in Belgium and a year later, he won his first Formula One grand prix. He joined Ferrari in 1996 and went from strength to strength over the next decade, dominating the podium, before retiring aged 37. During his retirement he survived a horror accident that knocked him out when racing a motorbike in Spain, though that time he was released from hospital after just five hours. But the father of two could not resist the lure of the track and in 2010 he came out of retirement, signing a deal with Mercedes before quitting for good in 2012. His helmet had a message for fans: “Life is about passions - Thank you for sharing mine.” — AFP



Isinbayeva shocked by attacks in hometown MOSCOW: Russia’s double Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva yesterday said she was devastated and shocked by two deadly attacks that have rocked her hometown of Volgograd in southern Russia. “It is hard for me to talk now,” Isinbayeva sid. “None of my family or loved ones suffered. But I feel terrible, simply terrible.” Isinbayeva, who enthralled Russia with her victory in the World Athletics Championships in Moscow this summer, is probably the most famous living resident of the city. The athletics star was born in Volgograd in 1982 to a Russian mother and father of Dagestan origin. She still trains in the city under the guidance of her coach since childhood, Yevgeny Trofimov. Volgograd is primarily known as the site of the World War II Battle of Stalingrad, seen as a turning point in the conflict which paved the way for the defeat of Nazi Germany by the USSR. At least 14 people were killed yesterday in a bombing that destroyed a packed trolleybus in Volgograd, a day after 17 people died in a suicide strike on the city’s main train station.— AFP

Stoke’s Walters slams EPL fixture schedule LONDON: Stoke City forward Jon Walters has criticized the Premier League’s jam-packed year-end fixture schedule after his side had to play two away games in four days. Matches come thick and fast in England during the festive period, but whereas some clubs benefited from backto-back home games, a number of teams had to play away from home twice. West Bromwich Albion travelled to Tottenham Hotspur and then West Ham United on December 26 and 28, while Southampton had to visit Cardiff City and Everton. Stoke’s fans, meanwhile, had to make a 700mile round trip to take in the 5-1 defeat at Newcastle United on Thursday and Sunday’s 3-0 reverse at Tottenham Hotspur. “Got to say fair play to all the Stoke fans who travelled to both away games at Christmas time and never stopped singing! #hardcore,” Walters wrote on Twitter. “Also a big well done to whoever sorted out the fixtures over this period! It was nice for every team who were at home on the 26th to be home again on the 28th/29th. “That’s a fair way of doing things for fans and players alike who have to travel length and breadth of the country at Christmas time!!” This season, Premier League clubs have been obliged to play four times in the space of 12 days over the Christmas period, prompting complaints from managers. — AFP

Venus passes opening test in Auckland Classic AUCKLAND: Former world number one Venus Williams battled into the second round of the Auckland Classic yesterday with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) win over Czech wildcard Andrea Hlavackova. The seven-time Grand Slam champion began confidently but could not dominate Hlavackova, ranked 134 in the world, even though she never looked like losing the match. “I knew it was going to be tough and I was really glad to close it out,” she said. Williams, now ranked 47, is seeking to rejoin the game’s elite after two years marred by auto-immune disease and injury, At 33, she is the oldest player at the Auckland tournament, a warm-up event for next month’s Australian Open. The American, who won her last Grand Slam in 2008, produced a mixed display in her first match of the season, committing 43 unforced errors in the 98minute clash. But her trademark booming serve clicked straight into gear as she fired down four aces, with her vast experience showing as she closed out the second set tie-breaker 7-1. Williams will meet Austria’s Yvonne Meusburger in the next round. — AFP

American baseball players thriving in Venezuela CARACAS: It’s about six weeks before pitchers and catchers report to spring training in the US, but in Venezuela, the nation’s fiercely competitive professional league is in full swing, and it’s drawn the biggest contingent of American players in decades. In the land of Hugo Chavez, a place in many ways hostile to Americans owing to its reputation for rampant crime, a crumbling economy and an anti-capitalist government, hitters and hurlers from across the US are thriving as they try to impress big league scouts who flock here for the winter season. It’s not just about working on mechanics. Many come for the paycheck. While Venezuela’s eight professional teams no longer can compete with major league salaries as they did during the oil-fueled economic boom of the 1960s, when Pete Rose wore a Caracas Leones jersey right after his rookie of the year season, they still pay from $10,000 to $20,000 a month, which can be two to three times what most players make in the US minor leagues. “Diapers aren’t cheap,” said CJ Retherford, a 28-yearold Arizona native who made $3,000 a month last season for the RedHawks of the sister cities of Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota. He now plays third base for the Tiburones, or Sharks, from the city of La Guaira outside Caracas - one of the nine “imports” the league allows each team to hire.

For players accustomed to the small crowds of minor league stadiums back home, the frequently sold out Estadio Universitario in Caracas can be daunting. Abundant servings of rum and whiskey and a nerverattling cacophony of drums pump up the 25,000 screaming fans who hang on every pitch. “It’s Friday night football every game, all the game,” said Jamie Romak, a 28-year-old outfielder for La Guaira who played for the St Louis Cardinal’s AAA team in Memphis, Tennessee. “You can have an eight run lead, blink your eyes twice and suddenly it’s a one-run game.” Not everyone loves the experience. In addition to the challenges of playing abroad, from unfamiliar food to a foreign language, Venezuela presents its own set of daily problems. Foremost is security. Bodyguards lurk near the dugout, keeping a close eye on Venezuelan big leaguers whose million-dollar contracts make them prime kidnapping targets. Nobody wants to become the next Wilson Ramos, the Washington Nationals catcher who was abducted in 2011 at gunpoint outside his family’s home in Valencia. He was rescued two days later after a nationwide manhunt. The American players for La Guaira and rival Leones live a few blocks away from the ballpark at a five-star hotel, rarely venturing farther than the attached shop-

ping mall. What they see of Venezuela is mostly what passes the bus window on long road trips between games. Their families? Only on Skype. “You have to be smart,” said Tony DeFrancesco, a coach for the Houston Astros’ AAA team who is making his managerial debut in Venezuela with La Guaira. “I enjoy running, cycling and mountain climbing, but I just can’t do it by myself here.” While the Americans are insulated from the worst of Venezuela’s economic woes, in the almost three months since the season started they’ve seen prices jump and store shelves go bare of basic goods as inflation soared above 50 percent and the nation’s currency plunged to a tenth of its official value in a flourishing black market. Players cut from the roster sometime have to wait a week to find a flight out because Venezuelans trying to skirt rigid currency controls have bought up all the tickets. Then there was the home run derby at the All Star game, which abruptly ended after one batter due to a nationwide power outage. Venezuela’s politics are also a potential distraction. This year’s season kicked off days after Chavez’s successor, President Nicolas Maduro, expelled the top US diplomat in the country, and anti American graffiti dominates a wall next to the Caracas stadium’s parking lot: “Not a dollar more for the capitalists.” “You can’t let the political situation affect your game. When you’re

on the field you have to tune it all out,” said Omar Vizquel, one of Venezuela’s best contributions to the big leagues. The former Cleveland Indians shortstop helped manage the Leones this season to prepare for his debut as an infield coach with the Detroit Tigers. But for those who roll with the punches, Venezuela is a showcase for second chances and the pursuit of dreams. Take Retherford. Last May, he was given a 50game suspension after testing positive for an amphetamine, which he says he used to get going after long bus journeys. The Los Angeles Dodgers cut all ties with its former minor league all-star, and he ended up with the RedHawks, a team not affiliated with major league baseball, earning barely enough to support his family. In Venezuela he’s proven he still has some magic, batting .322 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI. More than 5,000 followers on Twitter attest to his popularity among Venezuelan fans, who call him “El Conejo,” the Rabbit, as much for his protruding teeth as for the luck provided by his hot bat. Fawning female fans approach him for autographs when he leaves his Caracas hotel, but he says the star treatment was more intense in the smaller city of Barquisimeto, where he played last season for the Cardinals. “I’d go to the mall and it was picture, picture, picture,” says Retherford, brandishing a new tattoo with a rabbit hiding behind baby blocks spelling his 1-year-old son’s name.—AP

Penguins fly past Blue Jackets Sharks down Ducks to tighten Pacific race COLUMBUS: James Neal scored three times and had two assists, and Sidney Crosby scored the go-ahead goal and set up two other tallies to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3 on Sunday night. Chris Kunitz added his 21st goal and two assists, and Jeff Zatkoff made 25 saves for the Penguins, who have won all four meetings with Columbus this season. Neal scored twice on the power play, including his third goal of the night and 14th of the season with 2:27 left - giving him a career-high five points. Brandon Dubinsky, Corey Tropp and Nikita Nikitin scored for the Blue Jackets before their biggest home crowd of the season, 18,871. Nikitin also had an assist.

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Riaz Choudhry to officiate Under-19 Asia Cricket Cup KUWAIT: Riaz Chaudhry, a senior cricket umpire, left Kuwait for UAE this morning to officiate in Under-19 Asia Cricket Cup. The eight teams, most prestigious youth cricket event in the region, is to be contested by Asian test countries, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh alongside four associate members of ICC Afghanistan, Malaysia, Nepal and hosts UAE. The matches of this premier event will be played in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah over next 10 days. Riaz the founding member of Kuwait Cricket Umpires Panel (KCUP) is most extensively experienced umpire and Match Referee in Kuwait and during his 12 years international umpiring career has officiated in numerous tournaments organized by International Cricket Council (ICC) and Asian Cricket Council (ACC). The major events to his credit are Euro-Asia Cricket Series (April 2006) and ICC World Cricket League Division 2 (April 2011) which

are both categorized as List - A (first class cricket in one day format). He has also umpired in other major events organized in Asian region by ICC and ACC namely ACC Trophy (Elite), ACC T-20 Championship, ACC Under-19 Trophy, ICC WCQS-2 and ICC WCL-6. In ICC WCL events Riaz enhanced his skill by getting opportunity to umpire matches with legendary Simon Taufel and Tony Hill. He has partnered umpires from India and Pakistan in longer format of the game, ACC Fast Track Countries Tournament, where all the matches were of 3 days duration. Riaz is also an accredited Level-1 umpires’ educator and has been instrumental in bring new blood in K-CUP. Kuwait Cricket has produced some excellent umpires and this is evident from appointments in ICC / ACC events during recent years, to name few are Imran Mustafa, John Soloman, Fareed Dalwai, Naresh D’Souza and Irfan Adil.

including two in overtime. Jonathan Bernier made 41 saves as Carolina outshot Toronto 43-27. JETS 2, AVALANCHE 1, OT Blake Wheeler scored at 4:58 of overtime, and Winnipeg beat slumping Colorado. Al Montoya stopped 33 shots, and Andrew Ladd also scored for Winnipeg. Wheeler won it for the Jets when he shoved the puck past goalie Semyon Varlamov with time ticking down in the extra period. Wheeler leads the team with 14 points (10 goals, four assists) in December. He has three multigoal games this month. Varlamov made 35 saves, and Nathan MacKinnon scored for Colorado, which has lost four straight - three after regulation.

SABRES 2, CAPITALS 1, SO Ryan Miller made 49 saves to carry Buffalo to a shootout win over Washington. Drew Stafford netted Buffalo’s goal in regulation, and Steve Ott scored the lone shootout goal in the sixth round as the Sabres improved to 5-0-1 in their last six home games after starting 3-12-1 there. Miller stopped all six Washington shootout attempts. Philipp Grubauer made 16 saves for Washington, and Troy Brouwer scored the Capitals’ only goal. Alex Ovechkin recorded 12 shots, but failed to earn a point. Washington had the first 12 shots on goal, and with 13:52 gone, Miller stopped Eric Fehr from point-blank range to keep the Capitals off the board. Buffalo finally put a shot on Grubauer with 4:23 left in the first. Matt D’Agostini’s odd-angle snap shot was met with a loud cheer from the home crowd. SHARKS 3, DUCKS 1 Bracken Kearns scored his first NHL goal, Logan Couture netted his 100th, and San Jose broke Anaheim’s 10-game winning streak. Brent Burns added a goal for the Sharks, who won their fourth straight. Antti Niemi stopped 30 shots in his 21st win of the season. Patrick Maroon scored for the Ducks, who lost for the first time in December and missed a chance for a club-record, seven-game winning streak on the road. Frederik Anderson made 20 saves but lost for the second time in 11 games this season. Anaheim, which entered the game as the NHL’s top team, also had a 13-game point streak stopped. Burns has eight points in his last seven games against the Ducks. The Sharks scored in the first 90 seconds of a game for the ninth time this season. PANTHERS 4, CANADIENS 1 Brian Campbell, Aleksander Barkov and Dmitry Kulikov all scored in Florida’s win over Montreal. Sean Bergenheim added an empty-net goal with 17 seconds left. Tom Gilbert had two assists. Kulikov’s goal was his first in 28 games. Scott Clemmensen stopped 21 shots for the Panthers, who broke a three-game losing streak and beat Montreal for the second time this month. Clemmensen is 8-1 against the Canadiens. Brandon Prust scored and Peter Budaj made 21 saves for Montreal, which lost for the first time in three games. The Canadiens had two goals disallowed. BLUES 3, STARS 2, OT Kevin Shattenkirk scored a power-play goal 4:49 into overtime, giving St Louis a victory over Dallas. Jaden Schwartz had a goal in his fifth straight game, and TJ Oshie also scored for the Blues, who improved to 12-0-1 against Central Division opponents. Brian Elliott made 28 saves. Dallas overcame a 2-0 deficit with second-period goals by Jamie Benn and Ryan Garbutt. Schwartz opened the scoring on a power play at 2:41 of the first. St Louis scored off a Stars mistake at 5:12 of the second when Oshie picked up the puck after Kevin Connauton whiffed on a pass in his end. RANGERS 4, LIGHTNING 3 Henrik Lundqvist made 37 saves in his first start in four games, and Mats Zuccarello had a goal and two

CANUCKS 2, FLAMES 0 Jannik Hansen scored the winning goal, and rookie goalie Eddie Lack made 18 saves to lead Vancouver past Calgary. Vancouver took the lead in the final minute of the first period on a terrific breakaway pass from Henrik Sedin and an even better finish by the speedy Hansen. Lack (7-2-0), making his third consecutive start with Roberto Luongo (lower body) on the injured list, won his fifth straight and earned his second shutout. Mike Santorelli also scored for Vancouver (23-11-6), 10-1-1 in its last 12. Calgary (14-19-6) fell to 1-2 on its five-game homestand. — AP

NHL results/standings

DALLAS: Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn (14) checks St Louis Blues center Vladimir Sobotka (17) in front of the Stars bench during the first period of an NHL hockey game on Sunday, Dec 29, 2013. — AP assists in the New York Rangers victory over Tampa Bay. Lundqvist watched from the bench as backup Cam Talbot started the previous three games, winning two, after Lundqvist struggled through a 1-4-2 stretch. Rick Nash, Chris Kreider and Benoit Pouliot also scored for the Rangers, who had three power-play goals. Ryan McDonagh and Derick Brassard had two assists each. Tampa Bay got goals from Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Valtteri Filppula. The Rangers went up 4-2 on second-period power-play goals by Kreider and Pouliot. ISLANDERS 5, WILD 4 Kyle Okposo scored twice midway through the third period, and the New York Islanders overcame a three-goal deficit to beat Minnesota. John Tavares, Cal Clutterbuck and Thomas Hickey also scored for the Islanders, who won for the third time in eight games. Tavares missed Saturday night’s home game against New Jersey because of an undisclosed injury. Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Nino Niederreiter and Justin Fontaine had goals for the Wild, who have lost five straight. Okposo’s second goal, with 5:48 to play, capped a wild 2-minute span in which the Islanders took the lead, lost it and regained it. Brodin and Niederreiter scored in the first 3 minutes of the second period for a 3-0 Wild lead. MAPLE LEAFS 5, HURRICANES 2 Phil Kessel scored twice, reaching the 20-goal plateau for the sixth straight season, to help Toronto top Carolina. The speedy Leafs forward could have had more, but he failed to score on two breakaways. Nikolai Kulemin, Paul Ranger and Dion Phaneuf, with an empty-net goal with 8 seconds remaining, also scored for Toronto. Nathan Gerbe and Justin Faulk had goals for Carolina (14-16-9), which has lost five straight

Buffalo 2, Washington 1 (So); Florida 4, Montreal 1; Pittsburgh 5, Columbus 3; St. Louis 3, Dallas 2 (OT); Toronto 5, Carolina 2; NY Rangers 4, Tampa Bay 3; Vancouver 2, Calgary 0; NY Islanders 5, Minnesota 4; Winnipeg 2, Colorado 1 (OT); San Jose 3, Anaheim 1. Western Conference Pacific Division W L OTL GF Anaheim 28 8 5 131 25 8 6 128 San Jose Los Angeles 25 10 4 108 Vancouver 23 11 6 108 Phoenix 19 10 9 116 Calgary 14 19 6 95 Edmonton 13 24 4 106 Central Division Chicago 27 7 7 157 26 7 5 137 St. Louis Colorado 23 11 4 109 Dallas 19 12 7 112 Minnesota 20 16 5 96 Winnipeg 18 18 5 111 Nashville 17 18 4 89 Eastern Conference Atlantic Division Boston 26 11 2 114 23 12 4 110 Tampa Bay Montreal 23 14 3 99 Detroit 18 13 9 103 Toronto 20 16 5 115 Ottawa 16 18 7 115 Florida 15 20 5 95 Buffalo 11 24 4 71 Metropolitan Division Pittsburgh 29 11 1 130 20 14 5 121 Washington Philadelphia 18 16 4 97 NY Rangers 19 19 2 94 New Jersey 16 16 8 95 Columbus 17 18 4 106 Carolina 14 16 9 91 NY Islanders 12 21 7 102

GA 103 98 79 93 117 122 139

PTS 61 56 54 52 47 34 30

115 92 97 111 107 121 115

61 57 50 45 45 41 38

81 93 89 111 118 134 128 110

54 50 49 45 45 39 35 26

94 116 107 108 102 112 114 135

59 45 40 40 40 38 37 31



Australia unlikely to change bowlers for Sydney MELBOURNE: Australia are expected to keep the successful attack that has carried them to a 4-0 Ashes lead for the final test against England in Sydney, bowling coach Craig McDermott said yesterday. Paceman Ryan Harris and all-rounder Shane Watson bowled sparingly in the second innings of the fourth test win in Melbourne as they managed respective knee and groin complaints, raising doubts about their fitness. “As I keep saying, you don’t play test cricket without getting sore,” McDermott told reporters in Melbourne. “I fully expect we’ll have the same team - or the same bowling group - in Sydney ... I’m very confident that will happen.” “Watto (Watson) proved (his fitness) yesterday - he ran between wickets pretty well. “He’s not the

fastest mover at the best of times. “He got through, he bowled in the second innings as well. “I don’t think there will be any drama with Watto.” Having skittled England’s second innings for 179 in two sessions and wrapped up the match before tea on day four, Australia’s pacemen, led by man-of-the-match Mitchell Johnson, have an extra day to recover. All have performed well in the series, with spinner Nathan Lyon enjoying a five-wicket innings haul at the MCG and Peter Siddle also making timely contributions. “All five of them have bowled very well,” former test bowler McDermott said. “We’ve been in a couple of little ... holes here and there, but good sides (work) through that. “Certainly the last test match turnaround from

where we finished in the first innings batting-wise, just proves we have a really good side - a great side in the making.” Australia’s selectors named uncapped batsman Alex Doolan, a disciple of fellow Tasmanian and former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, in a 14-man squad for Sydney today. The 28-year-old Doolan replaces fast bowler Doug Bollinger in the squad, with uncapped paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile and allrounder James Faulkner also in reserve. Australia’s batting lineup has been less dependable than the team’s bowling unit and was routed for 204 in the first innings in Melbourne. The scrutiny is especially fierce on number six George Bailey, who was handed his test debut this series on the strength of his form in

one-day internationals, but has managed only 136 runs for the series at an average of 27.20. His figures are the lowest for any specialist batsman on either team, barring England’s Jonathan Trott, who left the tour after the first test in Brisbane. An experienced number three in first class cricket, Doolan would be expected to slot into Watson’s spot if the all-rounder proves unfit, but Bailey could also make way to allow wicketkeeper Brad Haddin to move up to number six and bowling all-rounder James Faulkner to come in at seven. “Obviously it’s pretty special times, 40 with one to go,” McDermott said. “I’m looking forward to a 5-0, from my side of it ... It’s a great achievement from the side and all the staff.”— Reuters

Warriors record their fifth straight victory Thunder rout tired Rockets 117-86

GRENOBLE: A helicopter lands by the Grenoble hospital where former seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher is being treated after sustaining a head injury during a ski accident, in Grenoble, France yesterday. — AP

F1: Love of speed and risk haunts great Schumacher PARIS: Formula One legend Michael Schumacher may have retired in 2012 after a glittering career but his love for speed and danger has now led to a serious head injury while skiing in France. The German, who turns 45 on Friday, had been skiing off-piste with his 14-year-old son at the upmarket Alps resort of Meribel when he fell and hit a rock. Schumacher was left in a coma and underwent neurosurgical surgery at a hospital in Grenoble after his evacuation from Meribel. He remains in a critical condition. After years of racing in the high risk world of Formula One and winning a record seven world titles, his accident suggests that perhaps retirement had not dulled his relish of dangerous pursuits. As an F1 racer, Schumacher was known for his daring overtaking manoeuvres, his at-times almost reckless abandon in the pursuit of victory and his mastery of the tricky conditions presented by rain. When he won his first world title in 1994 with Benetton, he did so in controversial fashion, crashing into his title rival Damon Hill at the final race after he had already scuppered his own hopes by going off the track when pushing hard despite leading comfortably. It was indicative of Schumacher’s win-at-all-costs attitude and his willingness to take huge risks in order to do so. He almost provoked a similar crash in the final race of the 1997 season when battling Jacques Villeneuve for the title, an incident for which he was retrospectively disqualified from the whole season. His career was also punctuated by accusations of dangerous driving following incidents such as a near collision with former teammate

Rubens Barrichello in 2010, which the Brazilian later described as “the most dangerous thing” he had been through. But even such mishaps didn’t slow Schumacher down or quench his thirst for success as he went on to win five successive titles with Ferrari from 2000-2004. He retired at the end of the 2006 season before making a damp squib of a comeback in 2010 with Mercedes. But during his retirement he survived a horror accident that knocked him out when racing a motorbike in Spain. That time he was released from hospital after just five hours. Even so he is the sport’s most decorated champion with a record 91 GP wins, while he is one of only two men to reach 300 races. In 2000 he also sealed Ferrari’s first championship in 21 years with victory in the penultimate race of the season in Japan. Schumacher’s duels in his hey-day with Hill, Villeneuve and Mika Hakkinen, fired by an unquenchable competitive spirit, have gone down in Formula One folklore. Schumacher was born in January 1969 near Cologne, Germany, the son of a bricklayer who also ran the local go-kart track, where his mother worked in the canteen. His younger brother, Ralf also became a successful Formula One driver. By 1987, Schumacher was the German and European go-kart champion and had left school to work as an apprentice mechanic, although he was soon racing professionally. In 1990 he won the German F3 championship and was hired by Mercedes to drive sports cars. Just a year later he burst onto the Formula One scene, qualifying seventh for Jordan in his debut race at Belgium.—AFP

Pakistan trust in bowlers to overcome Sri Lanka Cricket ABU DHABI: Pakistan will rely on their strong bowling line-up led by off-spinner Saeed Ajmal to tame Sri Lanka in the three-match Test series starting in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today. Pakistan won the preceding oneday series 3-2 on the back of penetrative bowling and strong batting, but captain Misbah-ul Haq warned that they need to be at their best to beat Sri Lanka in the Tests. “Ajmal has been performing a key role for us and we hope for the best in this Test,” said Misbah, who led Pakistan to a 1-1 series draw against world number one South Africa in their last Test series, in the UAE in October. “We know each other well so it will be a good contest,” said Misbah. “We know that the Sri Lankans are good in these conditions, and with players like (Kumar) Sangakkara and (Mahela) Jayawardene, they are a dangerous side. “So we need to play good cricket to win.” Pakistan beat Sri Lanka 1-0 in the UAE in 2011, with Ajmal taking 18 wickets in three Tests while Umar Gul (14 wickets) and Junaid Khan (12) shouldered the burden of the pace attack. Despite the loss, Sangakkara scored 516

runs including a double century in Abu Dhabi. He and Jayawardene are the stalwarts of the team’s batting. Sangakkara, a stylish left-hander, was also the star when Sri Lanka beat Pakistan 1-0 at home last year, scoring 490 in three Tests. By contrast, Pakistan’s batting has been vulnerable and they were dismissed for 49 and 99 this year. But Mohammad Hafeez’s return to form, with three centuries in the onedayers against Sri Lanka, and the experience of Younis Khan and Misbah will boost them. Misbah said the Test series was expected to be close but Pakistan had a slight edge in the bowling. “We do have a better bowling attack but Sri Lanka also have (Rangana) Herath who is a key bowler for them, so it will be a good contest,” said Misbah of the left-arm spinner who took 25 wickets in the last two series between the two teams. Herath and senior batsman Jayawardene both missed the oneday series for family reasons. Pakistan and Sri Lanka will also aim to give their coaches a winning send-off. Pakistan’s Dav Whatmore and his Sri Lankan counterpart Graham Ford will leave their jobs after the Test series.—AFP

CLEVELAND: Stephen Curry scored 29 points and made a clutch jumper with 13.5 seconds left as the Golden State Warriors opened a long road trip with their fifth straight victory, 108-104 in overtime against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday. Curry overcame a poor shooting performance after halftime, and nearly recorded a tripledouble by adding 11 assists and nine rebounds. Curry was just 2 of 12 from the floor in the second half and OT. David Lee scored 19 before fouling out for the Warriors, who are on the road for seven games over the next 13 days. Kyrie Irving scored 27 for Cleveland, which dropped its fifth straight and lost its third tight game in a row. The Cavs lost by three in Boston on Saturday and two in double-overtime against Atlanta on Thursday. THUNDER 117, ROCKETS 86 Kevin Durant had 33 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder won their second straight game without Russell Westbrook, beating the Houston Rockets 117-86 on Sunday night. Jeremy Lamb added a career-high 22 points and five assists for Oklahoma City, which has the NBA’s best record at 25-5. The Thunder have won 12 of their last 13 and 20 of their last 22 games. Reggie Jackson, starting in Westbrook’s place, had 16 points and eight assists. Aaron Brooks had 17 points and Chandler Parsons scored 15 for Houston, which was playing its fourth game in five days. The Rockets, who had a three-game winning streak snapped, missed their first 12 shots and shot 36.5 percent from the field (31 of 85). Oklahoma City shot 57 percent (47 of 82) in dealing the Rockets their worst loss of the season. Oklahoma City moved to 3-2 on the season without Westbrook. The All-Star point guard underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Friday, his third surgery since last April, when he tore his meniscus after Houston guard Patrick Beverley banged knees with him as Westbrook tried to call a timeout in Game 2 of a first-round playoff series. The Thunder have said Westbrook’s latest surgery will sideline him until after the AllStar break. Oklahoma City won 89-85 at Charlotte on Friday night in their first game since that surgery, as Durant had 34 points and 12 rebounds. Oklahoma City jumped to a 13-0 lead as the Rockets - making their first trip to Oklahoma City since falling to the Thunder in six games in their playoff series failed to score until Dwight Howard hit a 3foot jump hook with 5:27 left in the first quarter. The Thunder extended their lead to 22-5 on a driving layup by Thabo Sefolosha and were up 26-14 at the end of the quarter. The Thunder’s lead stayed in double digits most of the second quarter and Oklahoma City led 56-44 at halftime. Parsons opened the second half with a corner 3-pointer to pull the Rockets within nine points, but Durant hit two 3-pointers and Jackson had another during a 15-0 run to give Oklahoma City its biggest lead to that point at 71-47. Houston came no closer than 17 points the rest of the way and Oklahoma City’s lead eventually reached as many as 32 points, with Lamb putting on a shooting show, finishing 8 of 10 from the field, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. Houston had all five starters reach double figures in scoring in two of its previous three games, but only Parsons did so against Oklahoma City. Howard struggled against the defense of Oklahoma City’s Kendrick Perkins and had nine points and nine rebounds. Houston also struggled at the free throw line, hitting just

LOS ANGELES: Philadelphia 76ers center Spencer Hawes, left, and Los Angeles Lakers center Jordan Hill battle for a rebound during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Sunday, Dec 29, 2013. — AP 17 of 31 attempts (54.8 percent). Sefolosha scored 13 points, one off his season high, for Oklahoma City. Omri Casspi added 15 points Golden State 108, Cleveland 104 (OT); Orlando 109, for the Rockets.

NBA results/standings

SPURS 112, KINGS 104 Manu Ginobili scored 28 points, Tony Parker added 22, and Tim Duncan had 17 points and 13 rebounds to lead San Antonio over Sacramento. Boris Diaw had 14 points and Tiago Splitter added 11 for San Antonio (24-7). DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points and 14 rebounds, Isaiah Thomas added 27 points and Rudy Gay had 24 for Sacramento (9-20). Struggling mightily on defense for much of the second half, the Spurs turned to their Big Three to close out the upstart Kings. Ginobili, Duncan and Parker scored San Antonio’s final 21 points in a 23-8 run to close the game. MAGIC 109, HAWKS 102 Arron Afflalo scored 21 points and Orlando beat Atlanta to give the Magic backto-back victories for just the third time this season. Jeff Teague scored 22 points for the Hawks in their second game without twotime All-Star Al Horford, who is out indefinitely with a torn right pectoral muscle. The Hawks were also coming off three straight, grinding overtime games, the latest of which was Saturday night at home against Charlotte. The Hawks made the game’s first bucket, a 3-pointer, but then trailed until a spurt in the fourth quarter gave them a three-point lead. But a 9-0 run midway through the final quarter put Orlando in control for good. 76ers 111, Lakers 104 Thaddeus Young scored seven of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, Evan Turner added 22 points, and Philadelphia snapped its 13-game road losing streak by beating the Lakers. Spencer Hawes had 19 points and eight rebounds for the Sixers, who hadn’t won away from Philadelphia since their road opener on Nov 1. Young and Michael Carter-Williams contributed big points down the stretch as the last-place Sixers held on for just their second win in 11 games overall. Nick Young scored 26 points on 6-for-21 shooting in the Lakers’ fifth consecutive loss. Los Angeles also has lost five of six at Staples Center, winning just once at home since Nov 24. — Agencies

Atlanta 102; Oklahoma City 117, Houston 86; San Antonio 112, Sacramento 104; Philadelphia 111, LA Lakers 104.

Toronto Boston Brooklyn Philadelphia NY Knicks Central Division Indiana Detroit Chicago Cleveland Milwaukee Southeast Division Miami Atlanta Washington Charlotte Orlando

Oklahoma City Portland Minnesota Denver Utah LA Clippers Phoenix Golden State LA Lakers Sacramento San Antonio Houston Dallas New Orleans Memphis

Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L 13 15 13 17 10 20 9 21 9 21

PCT .464 .433 .333 .300 .300

GB 1 4 5 5

24 14 11 10 6

5 18 17 20 24

.828 .438 .393 .333 .200

11.5 12.5 14.5 18.5

23 17 13 14 10

7 14 14 17 20

.767 .548 .481 .452 .333

6.5 8.5 9.5 13

.833 .800 .500 .483 .273

1 10 10.5 17.5

.656 .621 .594 .419 .310

1.5 2 7.5 10.5

.774 .636 .567 .464 .448

4 6.5 9.5 10

Western Conference Northwest Division 25 5 24 6 15 15 14 15 9 24 Pacific Division 21 11 18 11 19 13 13 18 9 20 Southwest Division 24 7 21 12 17 13 13 15 13 16

KUWAIT: The Kuwait Banks Club concluded the 11th KBC Squash Championship that was organized recently at the Arabi Sports Club. Abdullah Muqaiseed from the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) was crowned champion of the singles competition while Wael Saleh from the Kuwait Finance House was awarded with the second place trophy.



Leaders Clermont notch 70th straight home victory PARIS: Clermont racked up a 70th straight home win and extended their lead at the top of the French Top 14 with a 33-19 victory over Oyonnax on Sunday. And with their three closest rivals all losing, Clermont opened up a six-point lead at the top of the table. Fijian born wing Noa Nakaitaci was the architect in the first half, scoring a brilliant 60-yard individual try before making a second break and teeing up Samoan No.8 Fritz Lee to go over. Nakataici’s score was pure genius as he took the ball from the back of a breakdown, looped around the forwards and burst through a gap in Oyonnax’s defensive line before chipping ahead and winning the foot-race to touch down. However, Clermont were denied a bonus point by a spirited second-half display from the second division champions. Centre Pierre Aguillon and South African hooker Jody Jenneker both went over either side of France hooker Benjamin Kayser’s try for the hosts but Oyonnax still dropped into the relegation places. “We’ll take that victory against a very good Oyonnax team,” said Clermont’s New Zealander coach Vern Cotter. “Even without the bonus this win allows us to stay on top. We wanted to do well before the European Cup (begins again in two weeks).” In the day’s late match, underperforming Racing-Metro earned a huge morale-boost with a 14-3 victory over European champions Toulon. Wing Marc Andreu scored the only try of the match while Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton kicked three penalties for the Parisian hosts. England legend Jonny Wilkinson kicked Toulon’s only three points. It was a Racing’s second scalp this season having beaten Clermont 13-9 at home in the European Cup in October. Yet their indifferent league form has left them in eighth, two points behind Montpellier in the final play-off berthalthough they share the same record of eight wins,

CLERMONT-FERRAND: Clermont’s French scrum-half Thierry Lacrampe (center) runs with the ball during the French Top 14 rugby union match ASM Clermont Auvergne vs Oyonnax on December 29, 2013. — AFP one draw and six defeats as third-placed Castres, now our aim is to get back in the Top six.” Record with only bonus points separating them. “It’s an four-time European champions Toulouse were important result for us, especially when you see the denied a losing bonus point by a last gasp Stephen Brett penalty that gave Bayonne a much-needed other results,” said Racing coach Laurent Travers. “We’ve caught up a bit with the peloton and 21-13 victory. It means Toulouse have lost every

away match in the league this season and drop to fifth, nine points behind Clermont, who they entertain next weekend. Louis Picamoles crossed the tryline for the visitors to help them to a 13-8 lead at the break. Marvin O’Connor’s score had initially given the Basque team the lead but it was former All Black Joe Rokocoko’s score on 64 minutes that proved the turning point before his fellow New Zealander’s clinching late kick. That result moved Bayonne a point above Oyonnax. Grenoble maintained their fine home form and ended Castres’s three-match winning run with a 20-16 success. Tries from South African prop Albertus Buckle and Fijian wing Alipate Ratini gave Grenoble victory despite Fiji centre Seremaia Bai’s score for Castres, who had to content themselves with a losing bonus point. Stade Francais moved up to second with a 19-12 win over Perpignan, who lost for the fifth time in a row. Stade scored the only try in the first half with a penalty try awarded as Perpignan, reduced to 14 men, crumbled in the scrum. Montpellier bounced back from three straight defeats to get their top six bid back on track with a crushing 48-22 destruction of rock-bottom Biarritz, who are becoming increasingly isolated, 13 points from safety. Tries from Fiji wing Timoci Nagusa, hooker Mickael Ivaldi and braces from New Zealander No.8 Alex Tulou and Georgian flanker Mamuka Gorgodze ensured an attacking bonus point. That was despite spirited resistance from Biarritz midway through the second period as Norway lock Erik Lund, American wing Takudzwa Ngwenya and South African fullback Johan Pietersen all crossed the whitewash. Bordeaux-Begles earned a crucial victory to ease six points away from danger with a 27-23 win over fellow strugglers Brive, who are just two points above the drop zone. — AFP

Top-Ranked UConn hammer Cincinnati

STORRS: Breanna Stewart had 12 points and 12 rebounds to lead top-ranked UConn to a 67-34 win over Cincinnati on Sunday in the teams’ first matchup as members of the American Athletic Conference. Moriah Jefferson and Bria Hartley each added 12 points for Connecticut (13-0, 1-0 American Athletic Conference), which won despite being held 19 points below its season average. Cincinnati (7-5, 0-1 American), which is winless in nine meetings against the Huskies, was led by Jeanise Randolph who had 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Huskies held Cincinnati scoreless for the game’s first six minutes and led 16-0 before Kayla Cook got the Bearcats on the board with a 3-pointer. UConn led by 13 at halftime and used a 16-3 run in the second half to put the game out of reach. Kaleena MosquedaLewis had seven points during the Huskies early run, but also picked up three early fouls and had to sit for the final 14 minutes of the first half and didn’t score again. Cincinnati responded by scoring 14 of the next 20 points and outscoring UConn 20-17 the rest of the half. A 3-pointer by Marley Hill just before the halftime buzzer cut the UConn lead to 33-20. Cincinnati cut the lead to 35-24 before UConn took control. Hartley went end-to-end after rebounding a missed jumper by Bianca Quisenberry to give UConn a 51-27 lead and force a Cincinnati timeout.

BRISBANE: Maria Sharapova of Russia serves during her first round match against Caroline Garcia of France at the Brisbane International tennis tournament at the Patrick Rafter Arena, Brisbane yesterday. — AFP

Sharapova crushes Garcia in comeback BRISBANE: Russia’s Maria Sharapova marked her comeback from injury with a straight sets demolition of Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia in the first round of the Brisbane International yesterday. Sharapova had not played since a shoulder injury forced her off the tour in August, but she made up for lost time when she beat Garcia 6-3, 6-0 in just 64 minutes on Pat Rafter Arena. “I think I was just really determined to get back on the courtit’s been a while,” the third-seeded Russian said. “It’s been four months I believe now. It was a big step for me. It was a big step to come and a big step to play out there tonight.” The world number four handled the Frenchwoman’s big serve with ease and totally dominated the rallies, breaking Garcia once in the first set and three times in the second to set up a second round clash against teenage Australian qualifier Ashleigh Barty, a player Sharapova knows little about. “I think always when you’re coming up and making the transition from the juniors to the pros, not many players know about your game,” she said. “I’ve only seen a few points here and there. I don’t think I’ve watched a full set or match of hers. “It’s very rare to play new opponents because we play so many matches during the year.” Barty, ranked 190th in the world, recorded the best win of her career when she beat Slovakian world number 48 Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 7-5. The 17-year-old Barty lives in south-west Brisbane, where she still attends a local high school. She said she tried not to worry about who was on the other side of the net. “I try not to think too much about the rankings and just try and play the best I can each match,” Barty said. “I was able to play pretty well tonight, so I’m pretty happy with it.” In other matches, Serbia’s former world number one Jelena Jankovic, who enjoyed a strong finish to the 2013 season, won a tricky encounter against Italian Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 7-6 (8/6). Wildcard Casey Dellacqua made it a good day for the Australians when she came from a set down to beat Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 and move into a second round clash against second seed Victoria Azarenka. Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, who won the Brisbane title two years ago, overcame Russian qualifier Alexandra Panova 6-3, 6-7 (8/10), 6-2, while eighth seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain demolished Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei 6-2, 6-1. In the men’s draw, American Sam Querry caused a minor upset when he beat seventh seeded Russian Dmitry Tursunov 7-5, 6-4, while Australia’s Marinko Matosevic enjoyed his first ever ATP win on home soil with a 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) win over Frenchman Julien Benneteau. Bulgarian fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov was too strong for Robin Haase of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-3 and Croatian Marin Cilic beat Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-4. — AFP

No 10 Wichita State beat Davidson 81-70 Cleanthony Early had 24 points and 10 rebounds to help No 10 Wichita State to extend the best start in school history with an 81-70 victory over Davidson on Sunday. Ron Baker had 15 points for Wichita State (13-0) while Darius Carter scored 13 and Tekele Cotton added 10. Tyler Kalinoski had 17 points for Davidson (4-9), while Tom Droney added 12 and De’Mon Brooks scored 10. Wichita State was able to salt away the victory at the free throw line. The Shockers were 28 of 41 on free throws while Davidson was just 11 of 16. Three Wildcats fouled out. Wichita State also had a significant advantage in points off turnovers, converting Davidson’s 15 turnovers into 18 points. The Shockers had nine turnovers, which the Wildcats turned into seven points. The Wildcats used a 6-0 run in less than 90 seconds on two running jumpers by Droney and a basket by Chris Czerapowicz to cut Wichita State’s lead to 45-44 with 15:34 remaining. The Shockers stemmed the tide with a 9-2 run. Davidson shot 1 of 7 during the stretch, which was capped by a 3 by Early that made it 55-46 with 12:15 to play, the Shockers’ biggest lead of the game to that point. But the Wildcats stayed within striking distance thanks to 3-pointers. In the next 5 minutes, Kalinoski hit two 3s while Czerapowicz and Brian Sullivan each hit one. No 25 Oklahoma topped Samford Morgan Hook scored 12 points and handed out five assists as No 25 Oklahoma topped Samford 66-35 Sunday. Samford (3-9) took an 84 lead but Oklahoma then rattled off 25 of the next 30 points, including eight by Hook, who capped the run with her second 3-pointer of the game. The Bulldogs, who made just 12 of 48 (25 percent) field goals and 6 of 33 (18.2 percent) 3pointers, would never again get closer than 14. Oklahoma (9-4), which took a 36-20 advantage into the break, out-rebounded Samford 46-21 and shot 50 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from long range. The Sooners recorded 16 assists on 23 field goals. Nicole Griffin added 12 points and Derica Wyatt added 11 in the win. Nicole Kornet led the Sooners with nine rebounds while Kaylon Williams added eight boards. Shelby Campbell paced Samford with 12 points. No 12 Oregon thump Morgan State 97-76 Joseph Young scored 24 points and No 12 Oregon continued its best start in eight seasons with a 97-76 victory against Morgan State on Sunday. Richard Amardi had a season-high 16 points in his first start of the season, and Damyean Dotson scored 15 points for the Ducks (12-0), who are off to their best start since going

OKLAHOMA: Samford’s Hannah Nichols (2) fights for the ball with Oklahoma’s Morgan Hook (10) and Sharane Campbell (24) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman on Sunday, Dec 29, 2013. — AP 13-0 in 2006-07. Justin Black scored 22 points for the Bears (3-9), and Anthony Hubbard added 15. It had been eight days since Oregon defeated BYU in overtime and the Ducks looked more rested than rusty after the long layoff. Oregon, the national scoring leader coming in, increased its average to 90.8 points per game and were a 3-pointer from a school-record fifth 100-point game this season. The Ducks got there with a balanced and efficient scoring attack. Six players scored seven or more points and Oregon shot 54 percent from the field overall, 7 for 15 from 3point range and 22 for 26 from the free throw line. Young, who had three 3-pointers, was 9 for 13 from the field and Amardi made all but one of his nine shots. They Ducks led 54-30 at halftime behind 17 points from Young and 12 from Amardi. Oregon used a 16-1 run to lead 16-5 4 minutes into the game. Young tops 1,000 points, No 13 Florida win 76-34 Pat Young scored 15 points, becoming the 50th player in school history to reach 1,000 in his

career, and No 13 Florida handled Savannah State 76-34 on Sunday. Young received a standing ovation as he left the game with 5:41 remaining, waving to the crowd as his achievement was announced. Young topped the 1,000-point plateau on a putback with 7:15 to play. It came shortly after he stepped to the free throw line with a chance to join the club. Young clanged it off the front rim, drawing groans from the crowd. He made amends, though, a few minutes later. Young was one of four Florida players in double figures. Michael Frazier II had 11 points for the Gators (10-2). Casey Prather and Scottie Wilbekin chipped in 10 points each. Jyles Smith led Savannah State (2-11) with eight points and eight rebounds. The Tigers have lost nine straight. It was Florida’s 22nd consecutive home win, leaving coach Billy Donovan’s team two shy of the school record set in 2007. The Gators dominated from the opening tip, getting any shot they wanted against the undersized Tigers. Florida used two double-digit runs to make the game a rout, outscoring Savannah State 12-0 early and then 14-0 a few minutes later. — Agencies

Federer insists he can still win a Grand Slam

BRISBANE: Swiss tennis great Roger Federer insisted yesterday he was still capable of winning a Grand Slam singles crown despite a relatively poor 2013 season which saw him slip to world number six. The 32-year-old won only one title in an injuryhit 2013, leading many tennis fans to wonder whether he would add to his record tally of 17 Slams. However, the former world number one said he still had the ability to win one of the big four and identified Wimbledon as his best chance. “Let’s say I play my best, probably I always feel that Wimbledon is going to be my best chance,” he said when asked which of the four Slams he thought he could win in 2014. “(Then) the US Open, Australian Open, and then the French Open. “But then again, who cares? It’s up to me to show it, to prove it, and give it a try and give myself opportunities like I have in previous years.” Federer, who is playing the Brisbane International for the first time in a change to his Australian Open preparations, recently added former Swedish great Stefan Edberg to his coaching staff. Edberg was a renowned serve and volleyer, and Federer conceded he would try and incorporate more of that style of play into his game. “It’s going to be interesting to see what he (Edberg)

thinks-if it’s possible to play a lot of serve and volley on the slower courts we see all around the world now, or if there are different ways for me to find my way to the net,” Federer said. “I’ve tried many things. We can debate with Severin Luthi, my coach, about ways to come to the net or not. “Clearly it’s important to take time away from your opponent, to dictate play as well, as much as you can. “Also, you have to be able to not miss too much and physically stay in the rally, and mentally as well,” he added. “So it’s a combination of many things now against the good players we know at the top.” Federer said he expected Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to dominate the men’s game again in 2014, although he said he was pleased to see Andy Murray’s return from injury. “I think Rafa and Novak are going to be the ones to beat this season, particularly in the beginning,” he said. “Then as we move forward, you have to see if they stay injury-free and keep on winning. “I kind of expect them to go deep in most of the tournaments they’ll enter, of course.” Federer said he hoped Murray had recovered well from back surgery in September, but warned that the British world number four might struggle in Melbourne after so long out of the game. —AFP



SA crush India as Kallis bows out

Neil Lennon

Celtic are not getting credit ‘they deserve’ INVERNESS: Neil Lennon says Celtic are not getting the credit they deserve after his side recorded their seventh straight victory in the Scottish Premiership following a 1-0 win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle. The Hoops have dropped just six points in their opening 18 fixtures and have reached the New Year undefeated in the Scottish Premiership for only the fifth time in the club’s history. The Glasgow giants are firmly on course to retain their title and have already amassed an 11 point lead at the top of the table at the halfway stage. However, the Hoops crashed out of Europe with five defeats in six Champions League matches and were knocked out of the League Cup by Championship side Morton. And with Rangers, who are traditionally Celtic’s biggest rivals for the title, languishing in League One as they attempt to make their way back to the top of Scottish football some critics say there is a lack of competition for Lennon’s side at the moment. But after the win against Inverness, he had nothing but praise for his players. “There are some people who say there is a lack of competitiveness in the league but the players still have to go out there and win the games and still have to prepare mentally and physically,” Lennon said. “I cannot speak highly enough of what the players are trying to achieve at the moment. “It was a great win and another clean sheet. We had to work hard for it but that’s back to back victories away from home and 18 games unbeaten. “It is a fantastic achievement and the players are giving us every-

thing. “We ask a little bit too much of them at times. We have sold £20 million worth of players and you need to spend that kind of money to replace them but the way things are at the moment we can’t do that. “What we want to do is develop this team again and make them better. At the minute we are struggling to find our best form but at the same time we are still winning so the mentality is good.” Celtic have a number of players sidelined with injury at the moment and with the transfer window reopening in January, Lennon reiterated his desire to add to his squad. “I’m certainly looking to bring players in as the squad’s thin. “We’ve got six or seven out injured at the minute and I think some of the players need a helping hand and that’s what we are going to try and do. “January is a difficult month to do business. Teams want to hold on to their more valuable assets which is understandable. We are in exactly the same position as we don’t want any of the players to leave. “What we want to do is try and find value for money and try and add a little bit of quality to the squad.” The only goal of the game against Inverness came in just the third minute as Celtic’s first attack ended with a fine finish from Kris Commons to ensure they have scored in every league fixture in 2013. It was Common’s 15th goal of the season and Lennon hailed the midfielder’s performance. “He’s clinical. His goal was the one real outstanding bit of quality in the game,” he said. “He’s really at the forefront of all the good things that we’re doing at the minute.” —AFP

DURBAN: Captain Graeme Smith scored the winning runs as South Africa knocked off a modest 58-run target to beat India by 10 wickets in the second test at Kingsmead and win the twomatch series 1-0. The top-ranked nation achieved victory soon after tea on the last day to complete a highly satisfying result against their closest challengers in the world test rankings. “India are always a big challenge and it was always going to be important for us to do well against them,” Smith said at the post match presentation. It was also fitting farewell for South Africa allrounder Jacques Kallis who made a century in his final test. South Africa were 59 without loss in their second innings after India had been bowled out for 223 earlier in the day, failing to offer much resistance after being precariously placed at 68 for two overnight. Only Ajinkya Rahane offered a bright spot for the Indians, coming within four runs of his maiden test century. He was the last Indian wicket to fall, just after lunch yesterday, swinging wildly on 96 with only the last tail-ender Mohammed Shami left in support. South Africa took just 11.4 overs to knock off the required runs with Alviro Petersen 31 not out and Smith unbeaten on 27 after a six and a four from the last two balls of the game. Spinner Robin Peterson emerged as the unlikely match hero, overshadowing his fast bowling colleagues with a four-wicket haul in India’s second innings to add to brisk the 61 runs he scored on Sunday, batting at number nine in South Africa’s first innings. SECOND FASTEST But nine wickets in the match for fast bowler Dale Steyn earned him the man of the match award and he became the second fastest player to reach 350 test wickets. On his last day of test cricket, Kallis, regarded as South Africa’s finest cricketer, was not troubled in the slips and did not bat in the second innings. “Last day of Test cricket for me,” he tweeted before play. “I have so many wonder ful memories and stories, thanks to my family, friends, team mates and fans. Tough day.” But there was more of a clinical edge than heavy emotion yesterday as South Africa went about their task with business-like efficiency to emphasis their status as the top-ranked test team. Kallis was taken by his team mates on a lap of honor, waving to the crowds and being forced at one stage to down a can of beer. The win ended a run of four successive test defeats in Durban for the hosts, who last weekend came desperately close to a world record fourth-innings chase before settling for a draw in the first test in Johannesburg. —Reuters

DURBAN: South Africa’s bowler Jacques Kallis is carried by teammates after he retired from Test cricket at end of the fifth and final day of their cricket test match against India yesterday. South Africa beat India by 10 wickets. —AP


LONDON: Liverpool’s Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez (right) wins a header in the area from a free kick that leads to the opening goal scored by Liverpool’s Slovakian defender Martin Skrtel (second left) during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in London on December 29, 2013. —AFP

Suarez can’t change his spots, says Mourinho LONDON: Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho believes that Luis Suarez remains at the mercy of his “wild nature” despite the Liverpool striker’s improved conduct in the Premier League season to date. Suarez was banned for 10 games after biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in a game last April, but he has since found the form of his Liverpool career to spearhead his side’s title challenge. However, the Uruguayan was involved in a contentious incident towards the end of Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat at Chelsea on Sunday, when he went down under a challenge from Samuel Eto’o after losing the ball to Cesar Azpilicueta. Referee Howard Webb ignored his appeal for a penalty, enabling Chelsea to complete a victory that took them to within two points of league leaders Arsenal and left Liverpool six points off the pace in fifth. “Suarez lost the duel with Azpilicueta, Azpilicueta has the ball, Azpilicueta is leaving the box with the ball, and now he (Suarez) is doing an acrobatic swimming pool jump to try to get a penalty,” said Mourinho. “Because he’s so clever that he also knows that he’s in the area where he has the Liverpool supporters behind (him). “But Webb is only 10 meters away and I think the only mistake Webb did was not to give him a yellow card.” Mourinho added: “He (Suarez) is a very nice boy, he does everything to win and Brendan (Rodgers) is doing a fantastic job on him, because he’s changed. “There’s no doubt that he’s changed. But when the situation is like this, and you are losing, comes the nature of the player, the wild nature of the player or the cultural nature of the player. “Culturally, people from that area (Uruguay), they like it. But it’s not only that area-there is a corner in Europe where I belong to (Portugal) that they also like it.” Liverpool manager Rodgers would not be drawn into a battle of words with Mourinho,

with whom he worked as a youth coach during the Portuguese’s first stint at Chelsea between 2004 and 2007. However, he felt that Eto’o should have been sent off for a knee-high early foul on Jordan Henderson, which yielded a free-kick from which Martin Skrtel put Liverpool ahead. “Let’s talk about the first Eto’o incident, when he should have been sent off,” Rodgers said. “I know we scored from it but that was a wild challenge where he’s come right down his knee and down his shin, and didn’t even get a yellow card.” Skrtel’s close-range finish gave Liverpool a third-minute lead, but Chelsea’s response was swift and decisive. Man-of-the-match Eden Hazard curled home a fine goal to equalize in the 17th minute, before Eto’o got a toe to a low cross from Oscar that Simon Mignolet could only help into the net 11 minutes before half-time. It was a second successive defeat for Liverpool, after their 2-1 loss at Manchester City on Thursday, but Rodgers feels that his side have demonstrated that they are genuine title contenders. Already without Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and Jose Enrique due to injury, Rodgers saw Mamadou Sakho and Joe Allen hobble off at Stamford Bridge, and he said that he would look to bolster his squad in the January transfer window. “We’ve shown over the first 19 games this season that if we get the players back and we get some help in January with a few more players, we can be in the shake-up,” he said. “That was the biggest thing because Liverpool was never in the conversation for the last couple of years.” The game was also a costly one for Mourinho, who had lost both Ivanovic and Frank Lampard to injury by the beginning of the second half. Mourinho was unable to give an estimate as to how long his players might be sidelined, but Rodgers revealed that Sakho had suffered a hamstring injury likely to keep him out for “a bit of time”. —AFP

DURBAN: South Africa beat India by 10 wickets on the final day of the second and final test at Kingsmead yesterday: C. Pujara b Steyn 32 South Africa first innings 500 & V. Kohli c de Villiers b Steyn 11 Second innings R. Sharma lbw b Philander 25 A. Petersen not out 31 A. Rahane b Philander 96 G. Smith not out 27 MS Dhoni c Petersen b Peterson 15 Extras (w-1) 1 R. Jadeja c Morkel b Peterson 8 Total (for no wickets; 11.4 overs) 59 3 Did not bat: H. Amla, J. Kallis, AB de Villiers, F. du Plessis, JP Duminy, R. Z. Khan lbw Peterson I. Sharma c de Villiers b Steyn 1 Peterson, V. Philander, D. Steyn, M. Morkel 1 Bowling: Shami 2-1-4-0, I. Sharma 5-1-29-0, Jadeja 4-0-16-0, R. Sharma 0.4-0- M. Shami not out Extras (b-4, w-1) 6 10-0 Total (for all out, 86 overs) 223 Bowling: Shami 2-1-4-0, I. Sharma 3-1-11-0, Jadeja 1-0-4-0. Fall of wickets: 1-8 2-53 3-68 4-71 5-104 6-146 7-154 8-189 9-206 India first innings 334 & Bowling: Steyn 21-8-47-3, Philander 16-4-43-3, Morkel 16-6-34-0, Peterson 24Second innings 3-74-4, Duminy 8-2-20-0, Du Plessis 1-0-1-0. S. Dhawan c du Plessis b Peterson 19 Man of the match: Dale Steyn. M. Vijay c Smith b Philander 6

Tottenham’s Sherwood vows to continue attacking philosophy LONDON: Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood has vowed to continue his attacking philosophy against Manchester United at Old Trafford tomorrow. Sherwood tasted victory for the first time as the permanent successor to Andre Villas-Boas when Stoke were beaten 3-0 in the Premier League at White Hart Lane on Sunday. Roberto Soldado’s 37th minute penalty, awarded when Stoke captain Ryan Shawcross blocked an acrobatic effort from Emmanuel Adebayor with raised arms, gave Tottenham a deserved first-half lead. And victory was assured via two goals in four minutes after the break when Mousa Dembele and then Aaron Lennon found the net with well-struck efforts. Sherwood, who also led Spurs to victory in one of two games as caretaker manager, discarded Villas-Boas’s cautious formation that used just one forward and brought back Togo striker Adebayor, who had been largely ignored under the previous regime, as part of a twoman attack. United have won their last six games in all competitions but Sherwood made it clear he would not go to Manchester on New Year’s Day merely to defend in the hope of stealing a draw. “I like to play with risk,” he said. “We will give them respect but also we can’t be lambs to the slaughter. We have to make sure we get out there and impose ourselves on them as much as we can. “United have turned it around, they are on a run. We know from history what they do when they are on a run. “They get a head of steam and are very hard to stop. We have got to find a way to stop them in their tracks and get something positive for ourselves. “There won’t be any fear. We won there last year, so we have already been there and imposed ourselves on Man United and hopefully the players can use that experience to go forward.” Stoke managed to land just one shot on target all game-a tame header from former Spur Peter Crouch near the end-but might have had a penalty at 0-0 when Michael Dawson appeared to bring down Oussama Assaidi. Manager Mark Hughes was convinced an even earlier decision had also not gone his side’s way, when last man Zeki Fryers upended Jon Walters as the Stoke man bore down on goal. “You need those things to go for you, certainly in the early part of the game, and if we had got into the lead it would have given us real encouragement, and who knows?” Hughes said. “But if I’m honest, we found it difficult getting anywhere near them.” The Potters entertain Everton on January 1 and Hughes will be able to recall Glenn Whelan and Marc Wilson, who were banned for the Spurs game following red cards in the 5-1 defeat at Newcastle on Boxing Day that also saw the Stoke manager sent to the stands. —AFP

Wenger salutes mature Arsenal NEWCASTLE: Arsene Wenger insists his boys have grown into men after backing Premier League leaders Arsenal to maintain their impressive title challenge into the New Year. Wenger’s team ended 2013 with 82 points-more than any of their Premier League rivals-as they returned to the top of the table thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Newcastle on Sunday. Seven of the last nine clubs to head into the New Year at the summit have gone on to win the English title in May. Wenger refused to let himself get carried away following a win that showed his side has the physical and mental attributes to match their undoubted technical skills. But the Frenchman admits he was impressed by his players’ resilience as they coped admirably with the absence of Mesut Ozil, who Arsenal hope will only be out in the short-term through injury. After Olivier Giroud’s 11th goal of the season sealed victory, Gunners manager Wenger said: “Newcastle provided us with a big physical challenge which we stood up to. “We showed another aspect of our game today-our resilience. We threw our bodies on the line. Technically we were good but we showed a strong mentality. “There’s something in the team that’s special on that front. We’ve been questioned many times about that (resilience) but we showed our strength. “There’s a great solidarity and strength in the side. Maybe in past years the young age of the players counted against us in resisting the kind of pressure we were put under here, especially in the final 15 minutes.” Reflecting on his team’s efforts this year, Wenger added: “We finished well last season and if you look at the bigger picture in 2013 we’ve been very consistent. “We believe in ourselves and we’re determined to give our best absolutely, and to look back on this season and think ‘we’ve given our best’. I hope it will be enough, of course, but there’s a long way to go.” Wenger also ruled out an improved January bid for Yohan Cabaye, the Newcastle midfielder who impressed against an Arsenal side he came close to joining in the pre-season. On

Arsenal’s French manager Arsene Wenger France international Cabaye, subject of a failed £13 million ($21.4m, 15.6m euros) bid in August, he added: “Even without Ozil and Aaron Ramsey today we still had plenty of cover with three good midfielders. “Mesut has a shoulder injury but hopefully he won’t be out for long, maybe one week, but it won’t be a long time.” Newcastle missed a chance to return to the top six after slipping to only their second defeat in 10 games. Alan Pardew felt his side deserved something for the way they set about pressuring the leaders, but insisted he was more than pleased with the 33-point return earned by his charges in the first half of the season. “I believe we can replicate that points tally, and maybe even better it in the second half of the season. I think we can improve on that in the second half,” Pardew said. Newcastle have failed to beat Arsenal on their last seven visits to Tyneside, and Pardew added: “The margins are so fine at this level. I’m disappointed for the fans and for the players because we’ve not done much wrong to come out with a defeat against our name. “It’s frustrating we’ve not got a point. It’s just one set play that’s cost us when we’ve not defended well. “A lot of my players can take massive credit from the way they’ve played, but unfortunately we’ve got nothing to show for it.” —AFP

Warriors record their fifth straight victory



Sharapova crushes Garcia in comeback


South Africa crush India as Kallis bows out Page 19

SAN DIEGO: San Diego Chargers wide receiver Eddie Royal (front) can’t hold on to a pass as Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Ron Parker defends during the second half in an NFL football game on Sunday, Dec 29, 2013. — AP

Packers, Chargers join playoff party Eagles pip Cowboys to claim NFC East division title CHICAGO: Aaron Rodgers fired a 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb in the final minute, and the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 33-28 to capture the NFC North championship. Back after missing seven games with a broken left collarbone, Rodgers found a wide open Cobb on fourth-and-8 at the 48 to wipe out a one-point deficit with 38 seconds left. Green Bay will host San Francisco in the playoffs next weekend. The Bears had one final drive, but Jay Cutler’s deep pass to Alshon Jeffery was intercepted by Sam Shields on the final play. That gave the Packers (8-7-1) their third straight division title and fifth postseason appearance in a row. It also kept the Bears (8-8) out of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years. EAGLES 24, COWBOYS 22 Nick Foles threw two touchdown passes, NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy had 131 yards and a receiving score, and the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Dallas Cowboys in a winor-go-home game for the NFC East title. The Cowboys (8-8), with Kyle Orton filling in two days after Tony Romo had back surgery, lost to a division rival with a playoff berth on the line for the third straight year. The Eagles (10-6) will host New Orleans in a wild-card game Saturday night. Dallas trailed 2416 when Orton threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. Orton went back to Bryant for the 2-point conversion, but Cary Williams dove to punch the ball away. The Cowboys got another chance with a stop from their beleaguered defense, but Orton’s pass was intercepted by Brandon Boykin on the first play to seal the win. McCoy finished the season with 1,607 yards rushing. BENGALS 34, RAVENS 17 Andy Dalton threw for two touchdowns, ran for another and set a pair of Bengals passing records, leading Cincinnati to a victory that eliminated the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens. It was an erratic performance by the thirdyear quarterback, who also threw four interceptions for AFC North winner Cincinnati (11-5). The Ravens (8-8) lost their last two games, denying them a chance to make the playoffs for a sixth straight season. They couldn’t avoid the Super Bowl slump that’s so common. The Ravens became the 15th Super Bowl champ that failed to reach the playoffs the following season, and the sixth in the last 12 years. In Cincinnati, there’s only one thing in mind: finally win a playoff game. The Bengals haven’t done that since the 1990 season. They lost opening-round games in Houston each of the last two seasons as wild cards. BRONCOS 34, RAIDERS 14 Peyton Manning set the NFL single-season record for yards passing and threw four first-half touchdown passes to help the Denver Broncos clinch the top seed in the AFC playoffs with a win over the Oakland Raiders. Manning needed just one half to add the yards record to the touchdown mark he set last week and assure that the Broncos (13-3) won’t have to leave home again until the Super Bowl if they make it that far. He threw touchdown passes to Eric Decker and Knowshon Moreno in the first quarter and added two to Demaryius Thomas in the second quarter. He broke Drew Brees’ record of 5,476 yards set in 2011 with a 5-yard pass to Thomas with 13 seconds left in the half to make it 31-0. That ended Manning’s day having completed 25 of 28 passes for 266 yards. He finished the season with 5,477 yards and 55 touchdown passes.

The Raiders (4-12) ended their 11th straight non-winning season with six straight losses and big questions about the future of second-year coach Dennis Allen. SAINTS 42, BUCCANEERS 17 Drew Brees passed for four touchdowns and ran for another score, and New Orleans clinched a wild-card spot with a victory over Tampa Bay. Three of Brees’ scoring strikes were longer than 40 yards - 76 to Kenny Stills, 44 to Lance Moore and 41 to Robert Meachem. Brees passed for 381 yards, eclipsing 5,000 yards in a season for an unprecedented fourth time. He finished the season with 5,162 yards to go with 39 touchdowns. Brees’ other TD was a 10-yard pass to tight end Jimmy Graham, and the Saints (11-5) finished 8-0 in the Superdome. Mike Glennon passed for 219 yards and two TDs for Tampa Bay (4-12). With doubts swirling about the future of secondyear Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano, the Bucs closed the season with losses in their last three games, and four of their last five. CHARGERS 27, CHIEFS 24, OT Nick Novak kicked a 36-yard field goal with 5:30 left in overtime, ending the San Diego Chargers’ three-year playoff drought with a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers (9-7) needed help for weeks, and everything fell into place on Sunday, with the last piece being their win over a Chiefs team that already had clinched the AFC’s No. 5 seed and rested 20 of 22 starters. The Chargers, who trailed by 10 points in the fourth quarter, held the Chiefs on downs to win it after they reached the San Diego 41. Earlier in the day, the Chargers got the help they needed when Miami and Baltimore both lost. San Diego has won four straight and five of six heading into a wild-card game next weekend at AFC North champion Cincinnati. The Chiefs (11-5) go into the playoffs having lost five of seven. They play at AFC South champion Indianapolis. SEAHAWKS 27, RAMS 9 Malcolm Smith returned an interception 37 yards for a touchdown, Marshawn Lynch added a 2-yard scoring run and the Seahawks clinched the NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over the St Louis Rams. Seattle (13-3) matched the franchise record for wins in a season and finally wrapped up the No 1 seed after losses to San Francisco and last week to Arizona, which snapped a 14-game home winning streak. Russell Wilson finished 15 of 23 for 172 yards. Seattle capped the victory with a 47-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Golden Tate early in the fourth quarter that lacked the unsportsmanlike wave that got Tate flagged on a similar TD reception in St. Louis earlier this season. The Rams (7-9) were penalized a season-high 12 times for 87 yards. Kellen Clemens finished 21 of 30 for 157 yards and two interceptions. Zac Stacy, who needed 42 yards rushing to reach 1,000 on the season, was held to 15 yards on 15 carries. JETS 20, DOLPHINS 7 The Dolphins were eliminated from the scramble for the AFC’s final wild-card berth by the Jets, who thrived in the role of spoilers against their archrivals. Then owner Woody Johnson said coach Rex Ryan would return despite the Jets (88) sitting out the postseason themselves for the third year in a

row. Geno Smith led three long scoring drives, ran for a touchdown and threw for 190 yards, while two interceptions by rookie Dee Milliner and one by 35-year-old Ed Reed prevented a Miami comeback. The Dolphins (8-8) squandered a shot at their first playoff berth since 2008 by losing their final two games. It was a dismal end to a roller-coaster season that included a four-game losing streak and a bullying scandal that drew national scrutiny. STEELERS 20, BROWNS 7 Le’Veon Bell ran for 90 yards and a touchdown as the Steelers drubbed the Cleveland Browns, though Pittsburgh’s bid to become the second team in NFL history to go winless in September and make the playoffs ended when San Diego edged Kansas City. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 179 yards and a touchdown against two interceptions as the Steelers (8-8) won their third straight to avoid the franchise’s first losing season since 2003. The victory also continued a furious second-half rally by the Steelers, who went 6-2 over the season’s final eight weeks to fuel an improbable run at the AFC’s final postseason spot. Jason Campbell completed 23 of 40 passes for 240 yards with a touchdown, but the Browns (4-12) lost their seventh straight, fueling speculation first-year coach Rob Chudzinski’s job could be in jeopardy. PANTHERS 21, FALCONS 20 Cam Newton threw two touchdown passes, Greg Hardy had a team-record four sacks and the Panthers clinched the NFC South. The Panthers (12-4) earned a first-round bye and home-field advantage for at least one game as the No 2 seed in the NFC. Carolina, which won 11 of its final 12 games, set a team record by sacking Matt Ryan nine times. The defense also produced a touchdown on Melvin White’s 7-yard interception return in the second quarter. Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez had four catches for 56 yards and was honored at halftime in his final regular-season game. He has announced plans for retirement. PATRIOTS 34, BILLS 20 LeGarrette Blount rushed for a career-high 189 yards and two touchdowns and had two long kickoff returns as the New England Patriots beat the Buffalo Bills and clinched a firstround AFC bye. Tom Brady was content to hand the ball off during a steady downpour against a team leading the NFL in sacks and second in interceptions. And Blount responded, leading the charge into the playoffs. Stephen Gostkowski helped make sure the Patriots (12-4) wouldn’t have a game next weekend with four field goals. While the Patriots earned their eighth bye in Bill Belichick’s 14 seasons as coach, the Bills (6 10) missed the playoffs for the 14th straight year, the league’s longest current streak. New England won its 13th straight home game against Buffalo, including 12-0 since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002. 49ERS 23, CARDINALS 20 Phil Dawson made a 40-yard field goal as time expired to lift the San Francisco 49ers to a win over the Arizona Cardinals that clinched the NFC’s No. 5 playoff seed. San Francisco will visit Green Bay in the wild-card round next weekend. Dawson had matched his career best with a 56yarder to put the 49ers (12-4) up 20-17 with 1:45 to go. Jay Feely’s 43-yard field goal then tied it for Arizona with 34 seconds left. LaMichael James’ 45-yard kickoff return and two

quick completions by Collin Kaepernick set up Dawson’s game winner. Arizona (10-6) rallied from a 17-0 first-quarter deficit to tie it on Carson Palmer’s 34-yard touchdown pass to Andre Roberts with 3:20 remaining. COLTS 30, JAGUARS 10 Andrew Luck threw for 282 yards and one touchdown, Robert Mathis reclaimed the NFL sacks lead and Adam Vinatieri joined the 2,000-point club. The AFC South champs have won three straight, matching their longest streak of the season. Indy (11-5) finished with a 6-0 mark against division foes and has outscored its last three opponents 78 20. Jacksonville (4-12) lost its third straight. Luck was 26 of 37 and became the first player in league history to top 8,000 yards in his first two NFL seasons. Mathis retook the sacks lead in the first half and added another in the second half, giving him 191/2. Vinatieri moved into fifth on the career scoring list with 2,006 points, passing George Blanda and Matt Stover. TITANS 16, TEXANS 10 Chris Johnson ran for 127 yards and a touchdown in what might be his last game with the Titans, a win that may help coach Mike Munchak’s argument to stay on the job in 2014. With their 14th straight loss, the Texans (2-14) clinched the No 1 selection in next May’s draft for the next head coach owner Bob McNair hires. The Titans (7-9) scored 16 straight points in snapping a five-game home skid that was their longest since leaving Houston for Tennessee in 1997. They also won a second straight game for the first time since September, when they started 3-1. Rob Bironas kicked three field goals, including a season-long 55-yarder. Linebacker Akeem Ayers intercepted a pass and forced a fumble as the Titans got four turnovers they turned into 10 points. GIANTS 20, REDSKINS 6 New York’s Jerrel Jernigan caught a 24-yard touchdown pass and ran 49 yards for another score in what might be Mike Shanahan’s final game as Redskins coach. Shanahan has not only seen the Redskins (3-13) finish the season with an eight-game losing streak just a year after winning the NFC East, but his future is uncertain because of his shaky relationship with oft-injured franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III. The Giants (7-9) also aren’t going to the playoffs, but they closed the season with a 7-3 record after losing their first six games. It’s a finish that probably will have twotime Super Bowl winning coach Tom Coughlin back next season, unless the 67-year-old decides he has had enough. The game was the final one at MetLife Stadium until the Super Bowl on Feb. 2. VIKINGS 14, LIONS 13 Rookie Cordarrelle Patterson scored two more touchdowns, including the go-ahead catch in the end zone in the fourth quarter, and the Vikings won their final game at the Metrodome after 32 seasons. With the Vikings (5-10-1) and the Lions (7-9) out of the playoffs, both coaches also faced the possibility of their last full day with their teams. Jim Schwartz fell to 29-52 in five years with the Lions. Leslie Frazier raised his record with the Vikings in three-plus years to 21-33-1. Each of them has reached the playoffs once. The building will be torn down next month to make room for a new domed stadium on the same site. — AP

Business TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2013

Soaring compliance costs clip wings of Mideast, Africa banks Page 23

China $3 trillion local govt debt stirs alarm Page 25 Signed contracts to buy US homes level off

Small jet makers see big chance as China prepares to open skies Page 26

Page 23

RIGA: In this photo taken Friday, a security van is seen outside branches of Swedbank and SEB, two of Latvia’s largest banks, in downtown Riga, Latvia. When Latvia adopts the euro on Jan. 1, 2014 it will bring with it a banking sector that is swelling with suspicious money from Russia and the east - just as the currency bloc is trying to clamp down on such havens. — AP

Latvia brings dirty money headache New Euro member Latvia’s banks face scrutiny RIGA: When Latvia adopts the euro on Jan 1, it will bring with it a banking sector that is swelling with suspicious money from Russia and the east just as the currency bloc is trying to clamp down on such havens. It was just nine months ago that the eurozone had to rescue Cyprus, a similarly tiny member state that also specialized in attracting huge deposits from Russia and former Soviet states. Since then, eurozone leaders have vowed to crack down on financial sanctuaries and improve transparency. But as the 18th member of the eurozone, Latvia is likely to see a greater - not smaller influx of dirty money as the country will be viewed as safer than its eastern neighbors while financial oversight remains loose. “Immediately after Latvia joins the eurozone, I imagine we’re going to see an actual spike in dubious money flowing in,” said Mark Galeotti, a professor at New York University whose researches organized crime in the former Soviet Union. For years, Latvia’s political and financial leaders had hoped to create a mini-Switzerland in Eastern Europe - a place where capital in unstable countries such as Russia or Kazakhstan could either park for a while or channel its way further west to banking meccas like Zurich or London. After a slight dip during Latvia’s financial crisis in 2008-2010, the amount of non-resident bank deposits has risen rapidly over the past two years ahead of the country’s entry into the eurozone. “The issue with Latvia is that you have a pretty permissible political environment, and you have the massive and quite efficient infrastructure for managing these funds from the East. The question is, why wouldn’t you want to go to Latvia?” said Galeotti. BOUTIQUE BANKS Latvia has 20 domestically registered banks, or one for every 100,000 residents - an extremely high ratio. Of these, about 13 are considered “boutique banks” that rely almost exclusively on foreign funds, mainly from volatile countries of the former Soviet Union. Rather than lend to businesses and consumers, these tiny financial institutions primarily serve as safe havens or money transfer operations. They tend to keep their money in liquid assets so it can quickly be moved. Some of the money is dirty. This year, Latvia’s bank regulator slapped a 100,000-lat ($200,000) fine on a bank for failing to exercise sufficient internal controls with money connected to the so-called Magnitsky case. Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer who worked for Hermitage Capital, an investment fund whose chief executive accused Russian police officials of stealing $230 million in tax

growing in the EU for the past three years and the country displays a remarkable degree of political stability. “Latvia has historically had a large banking sector, has extremely strict data privacy laws, speaks Russian and ‘gets’ the post-Soviet mentality,” said Tom Wallace, an analyst C4ADS, a Washington, DC-based firm that specializes in data analysis and security.

RIGA: A woman collects her money from a cash machine in downtown Riga, Latvia. — AP

rebates after illegally seizing Hermitage subsidiaries. In 2008 Magnitsky, at the age of 37, died in prison of pancreatitis, allegedly after being beaten and denied medical treatment. Hermitage Capital claimed that tens of millions of dollars of the stolen money passed through Latvia. Claiming confidentiality and a risk of destabilizing the industry, Latvia’s regulator refused to “name and shame” the bank connected to the case. This refusal, as well as the small size of the fine, triggered criticism and renewed doubts about the regulator’s integrity despite imminent eurozone membership. “ The regulators don’t have teeth,” said Galeotti. They maintain “a kind of culture that emerged in Latvia in the late 1990s...which was ultimately ‘Latvia desperately needs business,’ and therefore the role of the regulator is not to impede business,” he said. Non-resident bank deposits comprise nearly half of all deposits, which is unusual, and they are on the rise. In the first quarter of 2013, nonresident deposits soared 17.7 percent compared with the same period in 2012 - clear evidence that Latvia’s attractiveness as a safe haven is not relenting. The economy has been the fastest-

LOT OF ADVANTAGES Wallace, who co-authored a report on the links between Latvian banks and Ukrainian companies involved in the illicit arms trade, added that Latvia “is an EU member and so acts as a conduit to Western financial institutions. If you have money you want to discreetly move out of the former Soviet Union, Latvia has a lot of advantages.” Latvia’s banks face scrutiny in a eurozonewide review by the European Central Bank, which is trying to find weak spots in the financial sector to improve transparency and confidence. The good news for the eurozone is that Latvia’s banking system is not too big compared with its economy. That means the country is less likely to need a bailout from its new eurozone partners to save its banks, should they run into trouble, as happened with Cyprus. As of Sept. 30, the banks held nearly 20 billion lats ($30 billion) in assets, or about 120 percent of gross domestic product, far less than the average 320 percent in the eurozone in 2011. On the flip side, for Latvia, the eurozone is now a safer economic bloc to join than it was 18 months ago, when many investors worried it would break apart. Markets have calmed since the ECB vowed in the summer of 2012 to do whatever it takes to keep the bloc together. Latvia’s regulator says it has introduced a number of controls aimed at anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing, and preventing excessively large sums from entering the banking system. Experts agree that the regulator has acknowledged the risks of dirty money and is addressing them, even if slowly. But Latvian bankers say that pinpointing dirty money is not cut-and-dry. “As anti-laundering regulations become more elaborate across the globe, so are the schemes used by persons who try to avoid them,” said Arvids Sipols, who has worked 16 years in Latvian banks and is now on the board of Nord Capital Markets, a Riga-based asset management firm. “In certain cases, simple filters do work and help to avoid the acceptance of rogue players,” said Sipols. “In other cases it will not suffice, and it is not a banker’s job to become an international detective.” — AP

European shares to mark strongest year since 2009 PARIS: European stock indexes stayed on track yesterday to post their biggest annual gains in four years after signs of economic recovery coupled with a long run of cheap central bank money prompted investors to scoop up shares. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares ended its last full session of the year down 0.2 percent at 1,311.76 points in thin holiday trade, set to post a gain of around 16 percent for 2013, its best annual performance since 2009. The euro zone’s blue -chip Euro STOXX 50 index ended 0.3 percent lower at 3,100.93 points, poised to report a gain of 18 percent for the year, also its strongest since 2009. Stock markets in London, Madrid, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Lisbon will close around midday today, while other major European markets including Italy, Germany and Switzerland will remain closed on Tuesday for the New Year holiday break. END OF FINANCIAL CRISIS “This year has seen the renaissance of equities as the financial crisis ended. Next year should see the end of the economic crisis, and it should bring more opportunities for stock investors,” said David Thebault, head of quantitative sales trading at Global Equities in Paris. European shares, which have enjoyed brisk investment inflows in the second half of this year, have rallied as investor worries over Spain and Italy abated, Europe’s macroeconomic indicators improved, and the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve provided massive liquidity. Earlier this month, the Fed announced that it would slightly trim its unprecedented monetary easing programme, but investors took heart in stronger US economic data and a com-

mitment from the Fed to keep interest rates low for longer. Among European sectors, the STOXX auto sector, home of companies such as Volkswagen and Renault, has been the best sector in 2013, up 38 percent. Telecoms and media also performed well, both up about 33 percent on the year, boosted by a wave of M&A deals. Bucking the trend, the basic resources sector, including mining groups Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton , took a beating during the year, tumbling 14 percent as metal prices fell, including gold and copper. Around Europe yesterday, UK’s FTSE 100 index ended down 0.3 percent, France’s CAC 40 down 0.05 percent, while Spain’s IBEX gained 0.02 percent and Italy’s FTSE MIB rose 0.06 percent. Germany’s DAX, which closed for the year at 1300 GMT yesterday and will remain closed today and Wednesday for the New Year break, ended the day down 0.4 percent after hitting a record high of 9,594.35 points in morning trade. The country ’s blue-chip index home of bellwethers such as Siemens and Deutsche Bank - finished the year with a gain of 26 percent, outpacing pan-European indexes, as investors favoured shares from the region’s biggest economy. Despite the positive sentiment following the year-end rally in European equities, IG France Chief Market Strategist Alexandre Baradez warned of the risk of a correction in the first quarter of 2014. “All the positive catalysts have been priced in already, and the level of euphoria on the market is quite high, which is not a good sign,” he said. “We’re in for a serious correction in the next few months, which should shake up things a little bit and bring good buying opportunities.” — Reuters



UAE shares jump in unusual yr-end move Egypt up on elections timeframe

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DUBAI: UAE markets surged yesterday in an unusual year-end trend as investors bet on a bullish 2014 outlook, while Egypt’s bourse halted a two-session decline after the government defined a timeframe for presidential and parliamentary elections. Abu Dhabi’s index climbed 1.6 percent to a fresh five-year high, taking year-to-date gains to 62.3 percent, in its biggest one-day gain in three-and-a-half months. The bourse played catch-up to advances on neighbouring Dubai’s bourse, which has risen 105.4 percent in 2013. “It’s a bit unconventional for such movement at the end of the year,” said Marwan Shurrab, fund manager and head of trading at Vision Investments. Dubai’s measure rose 1.4 percent, also hitting a new five-year high, recovering from Sunday’s 0.6 percent dip. “Turnover was not high yesterday, which shows willingness of investors to hold positions going into 2014,” Shurrab said. A strong recovery in Dubai’s property sector acted as a springboard for Dubai measure’s performance in 2013, as has its macro outlook, which has further improved due to the city-state winning rights to host the World Expo 2020 and MSCI’s deci-

sion to include UAE to its emerging market index. In Egypt, the benchmark index added 0.1 percent. It halted two sessions of losses after Egypt’s interim president said on Sunday the government will hold parliamentary and presidential elections within six months of approval of the new constitution, to be voted on next month. “If the constitution referendum passes in a very strong way, it will be the next trigger for the market,” said Mohamed Radwan, director of international sales at Pharos Securities. A majority vote could act as a counterbalance for the recent violence. On Sunday, a bomb exploded outside an Egyptian army building north of Cairo, the second such attack on security forces in the Nile Delta in less than a week. Investors will remain cautious if the bombings continue although the market has been resilient, Radwan added. In Saudi Arabia, petrochemical and cement shares helped boost the index, which advanced 0.3 percent. Positioning for earnings and dividends lifted the petrochemical sector’s index 0.5 percent and cement’s by 0.7 percent. Elsewhere, Kuwait’s measure slipped 0.6 percent,

slumping to its lowest close since Sept. 10. The market has been on a downtrend since early November as investors, disappointed at the government’s pace of implementing development projects, cut positions. HIGHLIGHTS ABU DHABI The index climbed 1.6 percent to 4,278 points. DUBAI The index rose 1.4 percent to 3,332 points. EGYPT The index gained 0.1 percent to 6,782 points. SAUDI ARABIA The index advanced 0.3 percent to 8,520 points. KUWAIT The index slipped 0.6 percent to 7,542 points. QATAR The index edged up 0.1 percent to 10,368 points. OMAN The index gained 0.1 percent to 6,816 points. BAHRAIN The index climbed 0.1 percent to 1,229 points. — Reuters

Turkey ‘takes $100 billion hit’ from political turmoil ANKARA: The political crisis engulfing Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cost the economy $100 billion, a top official said yesterday, as financial markets rebounded after days in freefall. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said a sweeping corruption probe that has shaken the core of Erdogan’s adminstration was a “plot aimed at tarnishing Turkey’s prestige at home and abroad”, a frequent government refrain since the scandal erupted. “We are talking about damage of over $100 billion,” Arinc said after Turkey’s first cabinet meeting since a major reshuffle last week forced by the resignation of three ministers over the probe. Turkey had been seen as a model of democracy in the Muslim world and an emerging economic power but the crisis sent its currency and shares plunging. However, the battered financial markets bounced back yesterday. The lira rallied to 2.1239 against the dollar after hitting a record low of 2.17 last week as Erdogan faced mass protests and growing calls to resign. The Istanbul stock exchange surged 6.42 percent. Erdogan, struggling to keep his grip on power after 11 years as the country’s almost unassailable strongman, has vowed he would survive what he has branded a “dirty” plot to try to topple him. A string of public figures including high-profile businessmen and the sons of three ministers were rounded up on December 17 over allegations of bribery for construction projects as well as illicit money transfers to sanctions-hit Iran. Local media reports have also suggested his son Bilal may face investigation. It is the worst crisis since June when Erdogan faced a month of mass street demonstrations against what critics said was his increasingly authoritarian rule and attempts to impose his Islamic values on society. Erdogan named 10 new ministers-almost half the cabinet-after his interior, economy and environment ministers stepped down last week following the detention of their sons. The turmoil has exposed rifts within his own Justice and Development Party (AKP) and a power struggle with an influential US-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen. It has also sullied the reputation of his party which took office in 2002 with a

pledge to root out corruption and which takes its name from AK-meaning “clean” and “pure” in Turkish. The government has suggested that Gulen loyalists, who wield considerable influence in the police and judiciary, were forcing the corruption inquiry to undermine Erdogan in the runup to the March elections. “This operation is an assassination attempt ahead of elections,” new Interior Minister Efkan Ala was quoted as saying by pro-government Sabah daily. “This is almost a coup to topple the government.” Gulen, who has been living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999 after being accused of plotting to form an Islamic state, has denied involvement in the corruption probe. ‘UGLY SLANDER’ Neither Gulen nor his Hizmet (Service) movement has “any hostility” towards the government, according to the Journalists and Writers Foundation, a non-profit group of which Gulen is honorary president. It voiced “deep concerns” over what it said were the authoritarian tendencies of the AKP, and rejected allegations that Gulen’s movement was acting on behalf of foreign powers to establish a parallel state as “ugly slander”. “It is obvious that in Turkey any government involved in corruption... has lost trust and credibility,” it said in a statement. Erdogan’s government has ordered the sacking of dozens of police chiefs linked to Gulen or who oversaw sweeping raids on December 17 that saw the detention of dozens of people including the ministers’ sons and highprofile businessmen. Among those charged with bribery is Suleyman Aslan, the chief executive of Turkey’s state-owned Halkbank, which is accused of being involved in illegal gold sales to Iran in return for energy imports. “It is the first time in the history of the Turkish republic that a prime minister is defending thieves. How can someone who defends thieves be prime minister,” said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party. Anti-government demonstrators have taken to brandishing shoeboxes at anti-government protests after $4.5 million in cash was found stashed in boxes in Aslan’s home. —AFP

FRANKFURT: Brokers are pictured at the last trading day of the year at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, western Germany, yesterday. — AFP

Gold slips, set for biggest annual loss in 32 years LONDON: Gold fell in thin holiday trade yesterday, heading for its biggest annual loss in more than three decades at nearly 30 percent, as rising appetite for risk and the prospect of a global recovery tarnished its allure. European stocks hovered around five-year highs after two weeks of strong gains, following from a sixyear peak in Japanese shares. “What’s currently driving investors is the idea that commodities are out of fashion and equities are in demand,” Quantitative Commodity Research owner Peter Fertig said. “And, with low inflation pressures, there is still some downside risk for gold as long as the stock market remain relatively robust.” Gold is usually seen as an hedge against inflation, which has stopped to be a concer for investors for the time being. Spot gold fell to a session low of $1,200.79 an ounce in earlier trade and was down 0.6 percent to $1,205.40 by 1456 GMT, while U.S. gold futures for February delivery slipped $9.00 to $1,204.90 an ounce.

“For the time being, price moves will be exaggerated by the lack of liquidity ... but in the absence of any fresh macro news I don’t think we are going to break below $1,190 or above $1,225,” MKS SA head of trading Afshin Nabavi said. Gold’s performance in 2013 has put an end to 12 straight years of growth, with prices hit by the US central bank’s decision to rein in its monetary stimulus, which will raise the opportunity cost of holding the non-yielding asset. Expectations that the US economy will improve and the rest of the world’s growth will stabilise in 2014, have further undermined the case for holding bullion, as investors look to put their money in riskier assets like equities. In wider markets, the dollar fell 0.4 percent versus a basket of currencies as the 10-year U.S. notes yield steadied below an earlier two-year high. FUND HOLDINGS FALL Heavy outflows from gold-exchange traded funds

also reflected investors’ diminishing interest. Holdings on SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell three tonnes on Friday to their lowest since Jan. 2009 at 801.2 tonnes. The physical market saw a few deals among trading houses and jewellers, keeping premiums for gold bars steady at $2 an ounce to the spot London prices in Hong Kong, a centre for bullion trading in East Asia. Premiums in Singapore were steady at $1.50 an ounce to the spot London prices, but there wasn’t much activity. China’s net gold imports from Hong Kong fell 42 percent to 76.393 tonnes in November from 131.19 tonnes in October, reflecting a drop in demand after strong purchases in previous months. Silver fell 1.9 percent to $19.67 an ounce. Silver is down 35 percent this year in its worst annual performance since at least 1982. Spot platinum was down 1.2 percent at $1,355.50 an ounce, snapping four consecutive sessions of gains. Spot palladium was up 0.6 percent to — Reuters

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

2.706 4.583 2.684 2.163 2.858 225.600 36.541 3.639 6.388 8.653 0.271 0.273 GCC COUNTRIES

Saudi Riyal Qatari Riyal Omani Riyal Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham

75.590 77.886 736.360 752.890 77.197

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 254.91 268.22 322.04 392.27 282.50 469.52 2.74 3.634 4.569 2.164 2.857 2.685 76.98 751.90 40.75 402.07 734.68 78.01 75.46

SELL CASH 255.000 268.000 323.000 395.000 285.200 473.000 2.800 3.800 4.880 2.600 3.400 2.760 77.300 752.700 41.100 407.100 740.800 78.400 75.700

ARAB COUNTRIES Egyptian Pound - Cash Egyptian Pound - Transfer Yemen Riyal/for 1000 Tunisian Dinar Jordanian Dinar Lebanese Lira/for 1000 Syrian Lira Morocco Dirham

40.200 40.390 1.322 172.930 400.300 1.902 2.020 35.419

EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer 283.350 Euro 392.860 Sterling Pound 470.360 Canadian dollar 267.560 Turkish lira 133.850 Swiss Franc 321.990 Australian Dollar 254.730 US Dollar Buying 282.150 GOLD 20 Gram 10 Gram 5 Gram

228.000 116.000 60.000

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 Thai Bhat

Selling Rate 282.700 269.510 461.550 390.375 319.945 746.465 76.945 78.500 76.255 398.510 40.993 2.160 4.567 2.652 3.632 6.379 694.370 3.745 09.800

Syrian Pound Nepalese Rupees Malaysian Ringgit Chinese Yuan Renminbi

3.010 3.855 88.370 46.975

Singapore Dollar South African Rand Sri Lankan Rupee Taiwan Thai Baht

0.219643 0.020797 0.001873 0.009337 0.008383

0.225643 0.029297 0.002453 0.009517 0.008933

Bahraini Dinar Egyptian Pound Iranian Riyal Iraqi Dinar Jordanian Dinar Kuwaiti Dinar Lebanese Pound Moroccan Dirhams Nigerian Naira Omani Riyal Qatar Riyal Saudi Riyal Syrian Pound Tunisian Dinar Turkish Lira UAE Dirhams Yemeni Riyal

Arab 0.744472 0.037468 0.000078 0.000187 0.395076 1.0000000 0.000137 0.022650 0.001198 0.729292 0.077050 0.074857 0.002169 0.168785 0.137302 0.076096 0.001286

0.752472 0.040568 0.000080 0.000247 0.402576 1.0000000 0.000237 0.046650 0.001833 0.734972 0.078263 0.075557 0.002389 0.176785 0.144302 0.077245 0.001366

Bahrain Exchange Company COUNTRY SELL CASH Belgian Franc British Pound Czech Korune Danish Krone Euro Norwegian Krone Romanian Leu Slovakia Swedish Krona Swiss Franc Turkish Lira

Australian Dollar New Zealand Dollar

Canadian Dollar US Dollars US Dollars Mint

Bangladesh Taka Chinese Yuan Hong Kong Dollar Indian Rupee Indonesian Rupiah Japanese Yen Kenyan Shilling Korean Won Malaysian Ringgit Nepalese Rupee Pakistan Rupee Philippine Peso Sierra Leone

SELLDRAFT Europe 0.007358 0.459169 0.006292 0.047994 0.382905 0.041919 0.086863 0.008110 0.039251 0.310379 0.137302

0.008358 0.468169 0.018292 0.052994 0.390405 0.047119 0.86863 0.018110 0.044251 0.320570 0.144302

Australasia 0.242122 0.223789

0.253622 0.233289

America 0.258580 0.279000 0.279500

0.267080 0.283350 0.283350

Asia 0.003560 0.045101 0.034419 0.004345 0.000019 0.002602 0.003293 0.000258 0.082361 0.002976 0.002488 0.006401 0.000069

0.004160 0.048601 0.037169 0.004746 0.000025 0.002782 0.003293 0.000273 0.088361 0.003146 0.002768 0.006681 0.000075

Al Mulla Exchange CurrencyTransfer 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

Rate (Per 1000) 282.500 390.700 467.300 265.300 4.568 40.637 2.159 3.635 6.376 2.683 752.300 77.000 75.500



Brent edges up amid unrest in South Sudan, Libya SINGAPORE: Brent oil edged toward $113 per barrel yesterday, supported by unrest in oil-producing African nations. Escalating violence in South Sudan in the past two weeks is threatening to cut the country ’s crude output further, adding to supply outages in Libya, where production is running at a mere 250,000 barrels per day (bpd). “Brent is relatively well-supported above $110 a barrel by lower output in Libya and South Sudan,” said Chee Tat Tan, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore. Brent crude for February delivery rose 42 cents to $112.60 a barrel at 0744 GMT, after settling 20 cents high-

er on Friday. U.S. crude futures for February delivery were down 1 cent at $100.31 a barrel. The contract broke above the $100-mark on Friday for the first time since Oct. 21 and settled 77 cents higher, fuelled by a decline in U.S. oil inventories. Despite an offer of a truce to end the conflict in South Sudan last week, the country’s army fought ethnic militias over the weekend in a battle that has left at least 1,000 dead and split the oil-producing country barely two years after it won independence from Sudan. Oil output in South Sudan had fallen by nearly a fifth to 200,000 bpd after the

More years ahead of a raging Bull markets We can easily say that since the melt down of the years 2007 and 2008, global equities have been in a bull phase that might go on for more years. It started in 2009 and it carried on the following years and accelerated this year with a powerful move. The Standard& Poor’s 500 Index is going to close this year with record highs.

Hayder Tawfik It is up nearly 30% since the start of this year. It is not only reaching record highs but it surpassed the previous high that was recorded in March 2000 with more than 10%. This is what we call a raging bull market. Some other equity indices are not far from their previous highs. When an equity index hits new highs, it may spend some time consolidating or it may face a correction but the S&P 500 went straight through the previous high without stopping. This is very important milestone and it is usually the sign of a bull market. Investors should be aware that equity valuations are not cheap and as we learned from past experience an extended overvaluation can last longer than we imagine. It can go up much further on the back of good economic growth outlook and corporate earnings growth. We think that momentum has been playing big part in pushing valuation higher. Apart from the US equity indices some other markets such as the Euro zone and Japan have much more to go because they are not expensive yet. Bull markets need fuel to continue the upward march. We have talked in the past about the positive elements that will help the markets to go up. LOW INTEREST RATES Very low record interest rates are here to stay even with the tapering on the way. Inflation is no longer the daily worry for central bankers to fight. As for corporate health, they have been cutting their way to permanent profitability growth. They have slashed costs, built up big cash positions, delayed or cancelled investment spending, have reduced their financing costs by billions of dollars by borrowing in the bond market at record low rates and more importantly for earnings, they have been buying back record amounts of their shares. Again we should be fully aware that some of these measures can be reversed quickly but we at Dimah Capital do not see that happening in the coming couple of years. US equity indices are the biggest in the world and by far the most important for international investors, in particular

the S&P 500. They tend to set the trend and the direction for the rest of the world. Since the crash back in 2007, most investors have shied away from the markets and either looked for other asset classes to invest in or left their money in the safety of bank deposits earning very minimal rates. Others piled into either the real estate investments which have been quite rewarding or went into the bond markets. Record amounts of money went into the bond markets throughout the last few years. Those bond investors at some point will assess their overweight in the bond market, when they receive their year-end miserable performance. We are at a time of history when the world’s free capitalist systems need more than ever healthy and rising stock markets. It was the Federal Reserve who started this bull market with its incredible Quantitative Easing measures and the monthly bonds buying at record amounts. AGEING BULL MARKET The Federal Reserve passed the bat to the Japanese central bank under the new Prime Minister to do the same and more. We are wondering if at some time next year it will be the turn of the European central bank to play its turn and come up with similar measures, It is indeed way overdue for the European Central bank as the Euro zone economy is still in a bad shape and the latest strength of the Euro against the US dollar and the Yen will kill any hope of a recovery led by exports. It has always been my belief that there is a co-ordination between the main three central banks in the west to help and maintain the free capitalist system for any collapse. It might not be written agreement but it can be explained by the events over the last few years. The biggest risk for this ageing bull market is, if the Federal Reserve loses control over the movement in interest rates and with it loses its nerve and act quite irrationally. We have full confidence that the masters at the Federal Reserve will make sure they do not upset their bosses in Washington and ruin their chances of winning another election comfortably soon. So we have learned from the past that suggest a new bull market is on the way and it could last few years. This bull market has come after a big crash in the financial markets. A crash that lead to a massive review by central banks about the way the financial institutions operated and measures were put in place to stop another melt down in the financial markets. Corporate have restructured their business models to keep up with new rules and regulations and set themselves more realistic targets to achieve their objectives. In a summary we can say that this bull market has born out of big upheavals in the political and economic environments that started back in 2007. We think what is happening today is the big expectation by investors that central bankers and politicians have managed to stop or eliminates future financial crises and this can only be good for the stock markets. It is a big hope but investors should at least enjoy the bull market for the time being and do not underestimate the power of a bull even in its old age.

EU ready to offer Portugal more help LISBON: The European Union is ready to offer Portugal further aid once its current bailout expires in May, Economics Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said yesterday. “Europe will keep its word” and continue to help Portugal, but only on condition it “continues reforms already under way,” Rehn wrote in an editorial for business daily Diario Economico. “The absolute priority is to successfully conclude the current programme,” Rehn wrote, while warning that it was “indispensable that Portugal maintain budgetary discipline and structural reforms in the upcoming years”. Portugal has been living under the strict rules of a 78-billion-euro rescue programme agreed in May 2011 with the socalled troika of the EU, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. In exchange for rescue loans, Portugal agreed to push through austerity measures and deep reforms that have sparked recession, pushed up unemployment and met with increasing resistance from unions and voters.

While spearheading the bailout programme, the government of Pedro Passos Coelho has so far faced the growing opposition, which is often made worse by high court decisions that slap down austerity measures as illegal. Earlier this month, the constitutional court struck down another austerity proposal, this time a plan to cut public servant pensions above 600 euros by 10 percent, a centrepiece measure of the 2014 budget. Yesterday, the junior minister tasked with defending the pension cut, Helder Rosalino, was shuffled out of government replaced by finance official Jose Maria Martins. Officially, Rosalino left government for personal reasons, but Portuguese media reported that the minister manoeuvred for the exit, frustrated by the difficulty in pushing through troik a-mandated reforms. Rosalino had first sought to leave office in July, but was persuaded to stay after the surprise resignation of thenfinance minister Vitor Gaspar, which nearly brought an early end to the Coelho government. —AFP

Unity state oilfields shut early last week due to fighting. TOTAL STRIKE ENDS In Libya, oil security guards have threatened to block a gas pipeline to the capital Tripoli, escalating a wave of strikes at oilfields and export terminals that has reduced exports to a trickle. Brent was also supported by a deal to end a strike at Total’s Gonfreville refinery in France on Friday. The refinery was the last of five sites to halt a walkout that began two weeks ago and affected more than half of the country’s refining capacity.

US crude oil stocks fell 4.7 million barrels last week as the Gulf Coast continued to shed inventories, even as US oil production reached a 25-year high. Nymex crude has increased 8.2 percent in December due to the falling US stockpiles, helping narrow the gap to Brent by as much as $8.13 a barrel. While the spread between the two benchmarks widened yesterday to $12.29 a barrel, it is expected to narrow as the Keystone XL pipeline is launched in the United States. The pipeline will allow rising inventories at the Cushing, Oklahoma oil hub to move to the US Gulf Coast, where a large share of the coun-

try’s refining capacity is concentrated. “We are calling for the spread to fall below $10 by the end of January, when the Keystone pipeline becomes operational,” said Tan of Phillip Futures. US crude has lost value relative to Brent due to infrastructure constraints amid rising shale oil production, causing a supply glut in Cushing, where the main Nymex oil contract is priced. Yesterday, experts from Iran and six world powers will resume talks on how to roll out last month’s landmark nuclear deal in Geneva, hoping to resolve numerous technical issues before the accord can take effect. —Reuters

Soaring compliance costs clip wings of Mideast, Africa banks Compliance costs hurt regional banks DUBAI: While it may be the most common given name in the world, the global banking system seemingly can’t cope with Mohammed and its various different spellings. When it comes to false positives - where a person or transaction is incorrectly flagged for contravening sanctions - the total at Middle Eastern banks is around twice that of many international lenders because of the high use of names like this, said John Garrett, chief compliance officer at National Bank of Abu Dhabi. Rectifying these mistakes costs banks and their customers both time and money and highlights the rapidly increasing compliance costs which lenders in the Middle East and Africa must deal with. Compliance teams face an increasing array of rules, both due to failings exposed by the financial crisis and as banks work with more partners around the world than ever before. JP Morgan Chase is due to spend an extra $1 billion on controls this year and had added 4,000 compliance staff since 2012, CEO Jamie Dimon said in September. Such figures are far beyond anything banks in Africa and the Middle East can comprehend, let alone apply themselves. Bank of Sharjah, an Abu Dhabi-listed lender with a market value of $1.01 billion, is more than doubling its compliance team in the next 12 months - to 10 people from four currently - its chief executive, Varouj Nerguizian, said. It is also spending millions of dollars on new software, he added. Converging factors should be proving a boon for Middle Eastern and African banks. More trade involves emerging markets, providing more business opportunities - such south-south trade is forecast by Standard Chartered to represent 40 percent of global trade by 2030. And international banks are pulling out of servicing some markets as the cost of ensuring compliance is too high. Barclays’ decision in June to stop dealing with remittances to Somalia, the country’s biggest foreign currency stream, left those who used this service seeking other avenues. But Western lenders now also avoid doing business with some Middle East and African banks because such institutions cannot meet compliance standards demanded outside their local markets. “The truth of the matter is, on the ground, a lot of these institutions really don’t

have the basic infrastructures to be able to comply,” Gordon Acha, head of financial institutions Africa for Citigroup, said. He has rejected working with some lenders on the continent, fearing their poor compliance systems will result in the American bank being fined. The need to be spending significant sums on compliance creates resentment among banks in the Middle East and Africa. “We don’t like FATCA and we don’t want it, but we don’t have a choice,” Abdulaziz Al-Ghurair, chairman of lobby group the UAE Banks Federation and chief executive of Dubai lender Mashreq , said, referring to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, which forces banks to disclose assets held by citizens of the United States overseas. It would cost UAE banks not less than 100 million dirhams ($27 million) to get the right systems and infrastructure in place to deal with FATCA, Ghurair added. THE HUMAN COST It isn’t just the monetary outlay which is prohibitive, but the difficulty in recruiting and retaining compliance staff. Much was made of the difficulties the new oversight body at the European Central Bank would have hiring 770 supervisors in the 12 months prior to launch, and the wider impact on national regulators and the private sector. This escalator effect sees talent hovered up at the top, leaving smaller lenders in less glamorous locations struggling. The high turnover of compliance staff has also raised questions over whether all the new rules can be effectively implemented, even in developed markets. Rising demand for skilled employees means a lot of staff are new and inexperienced, said Sam Moss, director of investor relations at FirstRand. The second-largest bank by market value in South Africa has 112 full-time and 57 part-time compliance staff out of around 34,000 employees. There are also other complications that international lenders wouldn’t have to think about in their home markets. Local policies which encourage positive discrimination in recruitment place restrictions on the potential hiring pool, said one source at a southern African bank who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of his remarks. For example, South Africa’s Black Empowerment

Act sets out quotas for the hiring of black locals, while Saudi Arabia’s Nitaqat policy gives targets for local citizens to be employed in different industries, including financial services. For local and global names alike, there is also the fact that rules governing compliance are not universal, with sometimes conflicting standards in different jurisdictions. While the United States classifies Hezbollah as a terrorist group, a status which triggers financial sanctions, until July the European Union did not - meaning banks were under no obligation to act in Europe but, if they operated in both jurisdictions, risked incurring the wrath of US regulators if they did not. CONSEQUENCES The penalties for banks violating the rules, especially those imposed by the United States, are more severe than ever. HSBC Holdings was fined $1.92 billion by a US court last year for lax controls, while Noor Islamic Bank embarrassed Dubai - a traditional US ally - in 2011 when the state-owned bank was found to be handling billions of dollars of Iranian oil revenues. The biggest change is that enforcement action is now coming from the US Department of Justice and not just banking regulators, said Bill Fox, global financial crimes compliance senior executive at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch. “Four or five years ago, that would have been a truly extraordinary situation, while today it’s almost expected that not only will regulators take action but possibly prosecutors too,” he said of the quasi-criminal situation this now creates. Such powers extend beyond US borders because of the threat to exclude an institution from being able to administer transactions in US dollars - known as dollar clearing. This necessity to comply with US regulations not only heaps further costs on Middle Eastern and African banks but risks changing the nature of compliance from ensuring the health of the banking system to a focus on avoiding blame. “If something happens, the main challenge is to prove to the Americans and the West - or those that are in charge - that you have been playing it properly. So if something goes wrong despite all your efforts, you wouldn’t be blamed,” said Bank of Sharjah’s Nerguizian. —Reuters

Wells Fargo sets $591m settlement with Fannie Mae WASHINGTON: US bank Wells Fargo has reached a $591 million settlement to resolve mortgage claims with state-controlled lender Fannie Mae, the two companies announced yesterday. Fannie Mae said Wells Fargo will pay $541 million in the fourth quarter to resolve repurchase requests on certain loans originated prior to 2009, and was credited for prior repurchases. Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest US bank by assets, said it had accrued the cost of the agreement on September 30. The settlement resolves Fannie Mae’s claim that Wells Fargo overstated the quality of mortgage securities it sold the quasipublic mortgage finance giant in the run-up to the 2008 financial crash. “We have closed out our legacy repurchase reviews with this agreement with Wells Fargo,” said Timothy Mayopoulos, president and chief executive of Fannie Mae. “This agreement represents a fitting conclusion to our year of hard work to put legacy issues in the rear view mirror and begin 2014 focused on improving the future of housing finance.” Shares in Wells Fargo dipped 0.1 percent to $45.46 in early trade. In addition to the Wells Fargo settlement, Fannie Mae has reached resolutions this year with a number of lenders on repurchase issues and other matters, including Bank of America ($11.6 billion), CitiMortgage ($968 million) and JPMorgan Chase ($670 million). Fannie Mae and sibling Freddie Mac were rescued by the government during the financial crisis, which was marked by an implosion in the housing market that delivered huge losses to holders of trillions of dollars worth of securities backed by what turned out to be low-quality sub-prime mortgages. Both companies remain under US government “conservatorship,” with the US Treasury maintaining control through its preferred stock in both companies. —AFP

MINNESOTA: This May 24, 2009 file photo shows the sign for a Wells Fargo bank in Woodbury, Minnesota. US bank Wells Fargo has reached a $591 million settlement to resolve mortgage claims with state-controlled lender Fannie Mae, the two companies announced yesterday. —AFP

TEXAS: In this Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 file photo, a sale pending announcement sits atop a for sale sign in a home’s yard in Richardson, Texas. National Association of Realtors releases pending home sales index for November yesterday. —AP

Signed contracts to buy US homes level off WASHINGTON: The number of Americans who signed contracts to buy existing homes in November was essentially unchanged from October, suggesting sales are stabilizing after several months of declines. The National Association of Realtors said yesterday that its seasonally adjusted pending home sales index ticked up to 101.7 from 101.5 in October. The October figure was revised lower from an initial reading of 102.1. Higher mor tgage rates and strong price gains over the past two years have slowed sales. The pending home sales index had fallen for five straight months before November. And completed sales of existing homes fell for three straight months, the Realtors said earlier this month. There is generally a one- to two-month lag between a signed contract and a completed sale. The average interest rate on a 30-year mortgage edged higher to 4.48 percent last week, from 4.47 percent the previous week. Rates jumped about 1.25 percentage points from May through September, peaking at 4.6 percent. That increase occurred after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated that the Fed would start to slow its bond-buying program before the end of the year. Earlier this month, the Fed announced

it will reduce its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases by $10 billion a month starting in January. The bond purchases are intended to push down longer-term interest rates and encourage more borrowing and spending. Robert Kavcic, an economist at BMO Capital Markets, said that recent housing market indicators have been mixed. Applications for mortgages to purchase homes fell to a nearly two-year low last week, he said. Still, “we continue to believe that the U.S. housing market will absorb the upward move in mortgage rates and push higher in 2014, helped by still-attractive affordability, better job growth and improved confidence in the recovery,” Kavcic said. Despite the recent declines, home resales should reach 5.1 million in 2013, the best total in seven years, the Realtors forecast. That’s 10 percent higher than 2012’s total of almost 4.7 million. But it’s still below the 5.5 million that is consistent with a healthy housing market. The Realtors forecast that sales will remain largely flat in 2014 and then rise to 5.3 million in 2015. Steady job gains should make it easier for more people to buy homes. And mortgage rates remain low by historical standards. Signed contracts rose in the South and West last month, while falling in the Northeast and Midwest. —AP



Cooper Tire ends buyout agreement with Apollo FINDLAY: Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is calling off its proposed $2.2 billion sale to India’s Apollo Tyres, a deal that would have created the world’s seventh largest tire company. The Findlay, Ohio, company said yesterday that financing is no longer available and continues to claim, as it has for months, that Apollo breached the terms of the agreement. The boards of both companies and Cooper

shareholders had approved the buyout, but negotiations with the union representing Cooper employees became a sticking point. After Apollo sought a better price because of the labor issues, Cooper accused the company of stalling negotiations with the unions. Cooper took its claim to a Delaware court, but the court ruled last month that Apollo did not

breach its obligation to quickly reach a pact with the United Steelworkers union. Cooper did not further elaborate yesterday on how it believes on how Apollo ignored terms of the deal and did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment. The company did say that it’s become clear that the deal signed in June will not close. “The right thing for Cooper now is to focus on continu-

ing to build our business,” Chairman and CEO Roy Armes said in a statement yesterday. Shares of Cooper fell 6.6 percent, or $1.51, to $21.45 before markets opened. Company shares soared to nearly $35 in June after it announced the buyout, but they have fallen steadily since then. Monday’s pre-market drop put the stock down about 15 percent so far this year. — AP

How retirement systems vary, country to country NEW YORK: Retirement systems vary widely from country to country. In China, policymakers are just beginning to expand retirement benefits to everyone. In Australia, people have been compelled for years to save for their own retirements. Italy and Germany are raising retirement ages and cutting benefits. Here’s a look at retirement systems in key nations: UNITED STATES The United States is struggling to finance its promises to future retirees. Social Security is the core of its system. Social Security payments are financed by a tax on both workers and employers. The payments average $1,269 a month. Two-thirds of retirees rely on Social Security for most of their income. Americans can collect as early as age 62 but don’t receive the full benefit unless they wait later to collect - until age 66 for those born from 1943 through 1959 and age 67 for those born after. Many also rely on corporate pensions. But companies have been replacing them with 401(k)-style plans. These plans require employees to save and invest themselves. But many who are eligible for 401(k) or similar plans don’t enroll in them, contribute too little or raid their accounts before retirement. CHINA China’s population is aging rapidly. That has left a shortage of working-age people to pay into the pension system. For now, the retirement system remains generous for most city dwellers. Urban workers pay 8 percent of their income toward retirement; their employers add 20 percent. The pensions equal about half of pre-retirement income. Men are eligible for pensions at 60, women at 50 to 55. Only about half of adults are covered by the urban pensions or similar pensions that are available to government workers. In 2009, China introduced a pension plan for rural areas. But it’s barely begun. And it pays rural retirees an average of just $12 a month. Policymakers are considering raising the retirement age for urban workers. China tightly regulates investing, making it difficult for workers to put money in riskier investments that offer higher returns and the potential to build significant retirement savings. China is reviewing ways to ease investment restrictions. JAPAN An ageing Japan is struggling to finance the retirement of its baby boom generation. It has a three-part system: Workers receive a flatrate pension of about 66,000 yen ($657) a month from a fund partially financed by worker contributions. They also receive a second pension based on their earnings, financed entirely by their contributions. And they can contribute to additional plans that are voluntary. They can collect the flat-rate pension after contributing for 25 years; they become eligible for a full benefit after 40 years. The flat-rate and earnings-based pensions combined replace an average of only about 25 percent of pre-retirement income. Many older Japanese, who had lifetime jobs with good benefits, have accumulated hefty savings. But younger workers, who came of age amid a sluggish economy and corporate cutbacks, are struggling to save. GERMANY Germany’s retirement system is generous for many, but getting less so. The post-World War II economic boom financed comfortable retirements. The system still provides the bulk of income for retired people - about 70 percent as of 2010. Germans can retire with a full pension at 65, though the age is gradually rising. People born after 1964 face a retirement age of 67. The system replaces 58 percent of average take-home pay. The pensions are funded by a payroll tax with no investment assets backing the government’s promises - a so-called pay-as-you-go system. Pensions are tied to earnings during a person’s working years. But the formula now reduces pension levels as the ratio of retirees to workers rises. There’s an additional benefit that serves as a safety net for very low-income retirees. Many people who work for major employers also have company-based pensions. FRANCE Older French workers who want to retire early have a good deal: The minimum age for a full pension for most of them is just 62 as long as they’ve contributed to the system for at least 41.5 years. France has a tax-funded pension and mandatory employer programs. A worker who earned France’s median wage receives 60.8 percent of pre-retirement takehome pay. In October, France raised the contribution period to receive a full public pension from 41.5 to 43 years - but only after 2020. By then, most of France’s baby boomers will have retired. BRITAIN Britain’s government pension system is designed to protect retirees from misery, not make them comfortable. British retirees receive just 38 percent of their income from government pensions, far less than German and Italian retirees; British retirees get 26 per-

cent from company pensions. Britain has a multi-tier state pension system, funded by a payroll tax in which higher earners pay more. The first tier is a basic state pension. For someone who’s contributed for a full 30 years or more, it equals 110.15 pounds ($177.34) a week. It’s the same for all retirees regardless of how much they contributed. A so-called second state pension is supposed to reflect an employee’s earnings more closely. Complicated? Yes. Pending legislation would create a single-tier state pension. BRAZIL Brazil is ranked second-best of 20 countries evaluated by the Center for Strategic and International Studies for maintaining retirees’ incomes. But it’s only No. 18 in its ability to pay for its retirement system over the long term. In the 1980s, Brazil introduced a generous government pension system before it became rich enough to afford one. The system is financed with a payroll tax; higher-paid workers contribute more. Brazilians need contribute for only 15 years to receive full benefits at age 65 (for men) or 60 (or women). Men can retire at 53 if they’ve contributed to the system for 30 years, women at age 48 if they’ve contributed for 25 years. For Brazilians who earned average wages, Brazil’s pensions replace 97 percent of their old take-home pay, well above a 69 percent average for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Brazil will strain to pay those pensions as its population ages. ITALY Italy’s state pension program used to offer generous benefits, but they’ve been gradually declining since 1995. Until a 2004 reform, Italians could retire with generous benefits as early as age 57. Austerity measures enacted in response to Italy’s debt crisis will raise the retirement age to 66 by 2018. Pensions, along with other programs like unemployment benefits, are funded by taxes. Despite the cutbacks that will reduce pensions for future retirees, Italians still rely mostly on the state pension. There’s been discussion of ways to prod people to save more by encouraging or requiring company -based pensions or private savings. Only about a quarter of Italians are covered by a company pension. Italians get 72 percent of their retirement income from the government. AUSTRALIA Australia’s system is considered a model in ensuring that people save enough for retirement. A 1993 program requires employers to contribute an amount equal to 9.25 percent of a worker’s income into a retirement fund. (The required contributions will rise to 12 percent by 2020.) Australians can’t withdraw money in their accounts before retirement. Most Australians also receive a government pension financed from general tax revenue. In the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ rankings of 20 countries’ retirement systems, Australia is ranked fourth-best in ensuring comfortable incomes for its retirees. It is sixthbest in its ability to finance its system. SOUTH KOREA South Korea’s retirement system is stingy and getting stingier. A government program pays benefits depending on average income and years of contributions. Full pensions are available at age 60; the age will rise to 65 by 2033. In 2008, the typical retiree could expect a government pension equal to half of average pre-tax earnings. But that figure is being gradually lowered to 40 percent in 2028. Employees and employers must contribute 4.5 percent of wages each toward retirement. The self-employed can choose to pay up to 9 percent. Companies also offer 401(k)-style pensions, severance packages or individual retirement accounts. Workers can receive both the government and employer plans. But many elderly South Koreans are struggling: They are living longer than they had expected and didn’t save enough for old age. Many also counted on their children to care for them in retirement - a system that’s breaking down as younger workers prefer to live on their own. The country has the developed world’s highest poverty rate among the aged: 45.1 percent, compared with an average 13.5 percent for 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. DENMARK Denmark offers a basic government pension and a supplementary benefit in which people receive less as their income rises. Government pensions are funded on a pay-asyou-go basis from tax revenue. There’s also a government pension based on an individual’s contributions at work. Additionally, 90 percent of full-time workers are covered by company pensions. The typical retiree receives nearly 95 percent of average pre-retirement, take-home pay. The poorest pensioners receive an annual payment of 7,800 kroner ($1,400). The retirement age is 65, rising to 67 starting in 2024. After 2025, the retirement age will be indexed to life expectancy to account for longer lifespans. — AP



High volatility due to thin markets KUWAIT: The holiday season quietness continued as most of the major global markets were off duty most of last week due to the Christmas break. However, the Fed’s announcement to taper its QE program continues to be the most important topic on the table amid signs that economic growth is gaining momentum. Market expectations that the Federal Reserve will continue to reduce its monetary stimulus after tapering quantitative easing this month as the US economy becomes stronger. Policy makers will possibly reduce bond purchases in $10 Billion increments over the next seven meetings before ending the program in December 2014. Based on a limited trading session last week due to the holidays, the US Dollar had a mixed performance staying relatively weak against most of its counterparts except for the Japanese Yen. This is shown in the performance of the Dollar Index, which opened the week trading at 80.53 levels, and stayed flat in the Asian session during the holiday before falling at the end of a short week, closing sessions at 80.338. On the other hand, the Euro was supported by thin-trading and stayed almost flat going into the break before gaining some strength on Friday, aided by low liquidity. The Euro started the week at 1.3669, gaining dramatically on Friday to touch a high of 1.3892. The 17-nation currency managed to trade upwards supported by a better-than-estimated French consumer spending and tiny liquidity. The single currency ended the week at 1.3741. The Sterling Pound followed suit, climbing at the end of the week after the holiday in a very thin market. Cable opened the week at 1.6329 levels, and reached a high of 1.6577 on Friday. Finally, the currency closed at 1.6478. The Japanese Yen was the biggest loser last week,

loan borrowing last month stood at GBP 10.3 billion, jumped 37% on the same month in 2012.

NBK’s Weekly Money Market Report as it weakened against the greenback. The currency opened the week trading at 104.08 and going as high as 105.18 on Friday. The Japanese Yen ended the session high at 105.15. The Japanese Yen fell 15% this year, the most among 10 developed-market currencies. University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment The University Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index surged to a 5-month high this month, signaling that Americans are confident in the US economy, and spending will continue to rise. The consumer confidence climbed to 82.5 in December from 75.1 recorded the previous month. As employment picks up and housing outperforms, household wealth and sentiment increases. This was the highest reading for the index since July, but came slightly under economists’ expectations of 83. US Durable Goods Orders US Durable goods orders climbed 3.5% in November, exceeding market expectations of a 0.9% increase, after falling 0.7% in October. Excluding demand for transportation equipment, orders for long-lasting goods such as computers and machinery increased last months by the biggest advance in 10months, signaling a solid economic expansion going into 2014 for the American economy. US New Home Sales The number of new home sales dropped 2.1% to an annual rate of 464,000 in November from a revised 474,000 in October, holding near a five-year high. The

slight drop indicates that the housing recovery was gaining momentum even as mortgage rates climbed. The ramp up in home purchases came as a response to the higher demand caused by employment gains and record-high stock prices.

Asia BOJ Monetary Policy Meeting Minutes

French Consumer Spending French household expenditure on goods increased by 1.4% in November, coming after 0.1% drop in October. The figure has exceeded economists’ forecasts of 0.3%. This increase was mainly due to a decrease in expenditure on energy products. Expenditure on engineered goods has been increasing continuously since June.

The Bank of Japan meeting minutes showed that one board member has stated that a slowdown in growth could represent a downward shift in trend. The BOJ is buying more than JPY 7 trillion (USD 66.9 billion) of government bonds each month in an attempt to end 15 years of deflation. BOJ officials see significant scope to boost bond purchases if necessary to achieve their 2% inflation target. The US Dollar rose toward a 5-year high against the Japanese Yen as markets bet on a divergence in monetary policy with the US Federal Reserve paring stimulus while the Bank of Japan continues unprecedented easing. The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, has said that “the Japanese economy is making progress toward escaping deflation and that economic improvement is broadening.” He also mentioned that the country was out of deflation for the first time in four years. Bank of Japan Governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, said “consumer inflation will exceed 1% in the first half of next year and help the central bank achieve its goal of changing the public’s perception that deflation will persist”.

United Kingdom BBA Mortgage Approvals UK Mortgage approvals in Britain remained more than a third higher in November than a year earlier as government supports for home buyers helped the property recovery gather pace. Figures from the British Bankers’ Association showed that gross home

Commodities Gold Price Gold fell 3.2% in December for a fourth monthly loss after the US Federal Reserve stated to taper its quantitative easing program. The metal climbed to $1,215.95 on Thursday, the highest since December 19, and declined 9.0% since the end of September.

US Unemployment Claims Fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits than expected, indicating that the US labor market is in a better shape. Jobless claims dropped by 42,000 to 338,000. The four-week moving average was 348,000, an increase of 4,250 from the previous week’s revised average of 343,750. The yearend holidays is a time where jobless claims volatility are high, making it difficult to adjust for fluctuations. Europe

China $3 trillion local govt debt stirs alarm Foreign banks estimate smaller debt-total

SEOUL: Staff members of the Korea Exchange applaud as they threw confetti for the media during the year’s market closing ceremony near a screen showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) at the Korea Exchange in Seoul, South Korea, yesterday. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index closed the year’s last trading at 2,011.34. — AP

Asian shares mostly up as tough year draws to a close HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly rose yesterday, with Tokyo cheered by the yen’s fall to a five-year low against the dollar and regional traders broadly upbeat towards the end of a tumultuous year. Tokyo enjoyed its best performance in more than four decades in 2013, while Chinese stocks were the worst regional performer. Tokyo rose 0.69 percent, or 112.37 points, to close at 16,291.31 as the index surged 56.72 percent over the past 12 months, the best annual performance since 1972. Sydney added 0.61 percent, or 32.7 points, to 5,356.8 and Seoul closed 0.45 percent higher, adding 9.06 points to 2,011.34. Shanghai slipped 0.18 percent, or 3.72 points, to 2,097.53. Hong Kong ended flat, edging up 1.63 points to 23,244.87. Manila and Bangkok were closed for public holidays. The Nikkei, which is closed on today, was boosted for the final trading day of the year as the yen came under further selling pressure, boosting exporters. “This has been a boom year-it’s been a long time since we’ve seen such a robust performance,” said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities of the Tokyo stock market’s rise. “The rise beat most investors’ expectations and many seem to think it will be another boom next year.” Exporters were the main beneficiaries, as the weaker yen makes their goods cheaper overseas and swells the yen value of their repatriated earnings. Yen tumbles against dollar, euro The dollar hit 105.41 yen in the morning session, its highest since October 2008. In the afternoon it sat at 105.38 yen compared with 105.13 yen in New York Friday. The euro fetched 144.87 yen against 144.37 yen in New York, after touching 145.69 yen Friday, also its highest since October 2008.

This year the yen has lost about a fifth of its value against the dollar and more than a quarter against the euro. Europe’s single currency bought $1.3750 Monday against $1.3743 Friday. The euro has enjoyed strong buying since Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann, who sits on the European Central Bank’s Governing Council, told a German newspaper last week that soft inflation figures should not justify unfettered monetary easing. On Wall Street Friday the Dow edged down 0.01 percent and the S&P 500 dipped 0.03 percent, after ending at record highs again in the previous session. The tech-rich Nasdaq slipped 0.25 percent. In Shanghai shares gave up earlier gains to end down Monday as dealers remain wary about a possible slowdown in the Chinese economy. There are also worries about growing debt in the country that some analysts fear could hammer the financial system. Traders this week will be watching the release of manufacturing data from around the world, which will provide the latest snapshot of the state of the global economy. Global markets have seen a mixed year, with most enjoying strong buying in the first half thanks to the US Federal Reserve’s stimulus programme, which provided cheap cash for investment in mostly emerging economies. However traders began pulling out of emerging markets from May after Fed chief Ben Bernanke said the bank could begin to wind down its bond-buying operations as the US economy showed signs of strengthening. In oil trade New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for February delivery, was down 11 cents at $100.21 in afternoon trade. Brent North Sea crude for February gained 31 cents to $112.49. Gold fetched $1,203.35 at 0810 GMT compared with $1,211.56 late Friday.

Al Tijari announces winners of Daily Draw with Najma Account KUWAIT: Commercial Bank of Kuwait held the Al Najma Account Daily draw on 29th December 2013. The draw was held under the supervision of the Ministry of Commerce & Industry represented by Saquer Al Manaie. The winners of the Najma Daily Draw are :Name Eisa Rhyel Al Enezi Menhaj Bibi Hekmat Talal Humod Al Hajri Tahani Abu Al Fotouh Ali Mousa Al Bloushi

Prize KD 7000 KD 7000 KD 7000 KD 7000 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.

BEIJING: Calls for China to accelerate financial reforms grew louder yesterday after figures showed its indebted local governments owe nearly $3 trillion in a debt build-up that some analysts called alarming. The National Audit Office, China’s state auditor, said in a report local governments had total outstanding debt of 17.9 trillion yuan at the end of June, a sum that includes contingent liabilities and debt guarantees.The debt load is in the middle of market forecasts and leaves China with total government debt of around 58 percent of gross domestic product. Analysts said this suggested China is not on a verge of a fiscal crisis - the figure is less than half the debt burdens in Japan and Greece where public finances are strained - but warned the world’s second-biggest economy needed to urgently reduce debt if it wanted to safeguard growth and financial stability. This is especially because the long-awaited report showed some governments were using new loans to repay more than a fifth of their debt, and that authorities still relied heavily on selling land to pay off old loans. China’s mountain of local government debt is among the biggest threats to its economy as investors worry a good part of it cannot be repaid since most of the money borrowed had paid for non-lucrative public infrastructure. The prospect of defaults have raised fears that they could saddle Chinese banks with a load of bad debt and destabilise China’s financial system. “While China’s total government debt remains low by the OECD standards, the pace of the rise is still alarming,” ANZ economists Liu Li-Gang and Zhou Hao said in a note. “This national debt audit result could indicate that China’s local government debt almost doubled in about 2-1/2 years.” NEW POLICIES Beijing acknowledges the risks and have promised to curtail fiscal dangers by revising policies. New policies include letting investors pay for the building of some public works, allowing governments to tap more financing sources, and pegging performances of governments to total debt incurred. Yesterday’s results are a first step in China’s latest efforts to tidy its public finances. Beijing had ordered the audit in August, the first of such since 2011, amid growing public scepticism about the accuracy of official debt data. Despite reiterations from Beijing that China’s local government debt levels had stabilised in the past three years, Monday’s results showed debt incurred by local authorities was up 67 percent compared to the 2011 audit. However, the audit is more comprehensive than 2011’s because it includes money borrowed by more than 33,000 township governments. In all, the auditor reviewed the finances of nearly 36,300 local governments to compile the latest figures. Prior to Monday, the most pessimistic market estimates of what local governments owe have been close to $4.1 trillion. “China’s government debt risks are in general under control, but some areas have certain dangers,” the state auditor said. It said risks include fast rising debt levels, with county governments seeing the quickest increase in leverage, heavy debt burdens in some unnamed regions and sectors, and government dependence on land sales to repay loans. About 37 percent of debt owed by provincial, city and county governments are backed by land sales revenues, it said. Of all debt directly incurred by China’s central and local governments, 5.4 percent are overdue and have not been repaid. “Although current overall risks of local government debt are under control, risks would definitely increase sharply if the debt continues to rise so quickly,” said Pan Xiangdong, chief economist at Galaxy Securities in Beijing. “ We expect the (central) government to restrict the borrowing behaviours of local governments.” Under China’s laws, local governments are

barred from borrowing directly from banks or investors to protect the country’s fiscal health. Yet despite not being able to borrow, local authorities are responsible for most of China’s public spending but take only half of fiscal income. Local governments in 2010 received 48 percent of total fiscal income but were responsible for 80 percent of public spending. The funding shortfall has forced local authorities to set up firms over the years to borrow on their behalf, leading to a rapid rise in government debt outside official balance sheets. “We expect the government to unveil detailed plans for fiscal reform,” said Shen Jianguang, an economist with Mizuho Securities in Hong Kong. “ The key to solving the debt (problem) depends on changing the distribution system for fiscal income between central and local governments, as well as (changing) local governments’ over-reliance on land sale revenues.” Shen said. RATING IMPACT? No credit rating agency was immediately available for comment on Monday about whether the

figures would have an impact on China’s sovereign credit rating. Fitch, which cut China’s long-term local currency credit rating to A-plus from AA-minus in April, estimated then that China’s government debt was equivalent to 49 percent GDP. At 58 percent of GDP, China’s total debt is a long way from Japan’s 240 percent and Greece’s 160 percent, ANZ data showed. Still, if Beijing forces local governments to reduce their debt and borrowings in coming months, that may deal another blow to China’s already slowing economy, ANZ warned. As it is, China’s $8.5 trillion economy is forecast to grow at its slackest pace in 14 years this year at 7.6 percent. To keep its economy on an even keel, Ting Lu from Merrill Lynch-Bank of America said Beijing should aim instead to pick up some of the debt burden from local authorities, and replace shortterm borrowings with longer-duration loans. “To maintain both economic growth and financial stability, China should avoid simplistic deleveraging and debt reduction,” Lu said. — Reuters

MUMBAI: An Indian child looks out of his father’s shop in Mumbai yesterday. Wholesale inflation jumped to a 14-month-high of 7.52 percent, while rising food costs also pushed up consumer price inflation (CPI) to a higher-than-expected 11.24 percent. India’s central bank kept its key interest rate unchanged but warned it “will act” to tighten monetary policy if inflation soars further. — AFP

India clears Tesco’s $110m supermarket investment NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: India’s foreign investment regulator has approved a $110 million investment plan by Tesco, formally paving the way for the British retailer to venture into Asia’s third-largest economy. Tesco this month took the initial steps to becoming the first foreign company to set up a chain of supermarkets in India’s $500 billion retail sector after announcing it had applied tobuy a 50 percent stake in Tata Group’s Trent Hypermarket. The deal was widely expected to be cleared without much political opposition thanks to Tesco’s low-profile approach and its decision to expand at a slow pace, consultants said. The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) also approved a proposal by British telecoms group Vodafone to take full ownership of its Indian business in a $1.6 billion deal. That proposal, however, needs final approval from the Indian cabinet. Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram told reporters that Tesco and Vodafone’s proposals had been approved. Tesco’s decision to invest in India is seen as a vote of confidence in an economy that grew at its slowest pace in a decade in the past fiscal year and is struggling to

attract foreign investors. The venture also provides a boost for the Indian government after its decision to open up the supermarket sector in September 2012 received a muted response from overseas retailers put off by ambiguous foreign participation rules and political opposition. A senior Tesco official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, had told Reuters it took months of arm-twisting and assurances by the government to persuade the company to take the plunge. In October the world’s biggest retailer WalMart called off a joint venture with India’s Bharti Enterprises, citing unfriendly regulations. Tesco has had a franchise agreement to provide support to Trent’s Star Bazaar chain since 2008, but is now expected to open three or four stores a year under a slow expansion plan designed to comply with sourcing regulations. Tesco’s India investment follows declining third-quarter sales in all nine of its continuing overseas markets for the second consecutive quarter. The world’s third biggest retailer, which makes about two thirds of its revenue in Britain, is currently in the midst of a $1.6 billion turnaround plan. — Reuters


BUSINESS VIVA offers prepaid customers 10% extra credit for recharges

Talal and Abdullah.

Talal Al-Ajmi and Ahmad.

Talal and Abdullatif.

Ali Alghanim & Sons Automotive Instagram campaign generates over 80 entries KUWAIT: The popular online photo and video-sharing site Instagram was all abuzz with news of the recently launched BMW X5 in Kuwait. The excitement is a result of the BMW Group importer Ali Alghanim & Sons Automotive ‘15 Seconds for 1,000 KD’ competition which saw over 80 individuals upload short videos that showcased the models unique features in a bid to win a grand prize. Beating off stiff competition, Abdullah Al Failakawi took home the first place prize of 1,000 KD for his creative portrayal of what he liked best about the all-new BMW X5. Shot with a BMW X5 in motion on the road, the 15 second video featured a combination of dynamic music and highlighted all aspects of the new vehicle including the exterior and interior. What sealed the deal for Abdullah was the clever use of both a day and night setting combined with multiple shots of the vehicle. Rounding off the competition in the second and third place were Ahmed Hajji and Abdullatif Morad. They were

the recipients of cash prizes of 500 KD and 300 KD respectively. Ahmed Hajji’s submission showcased a 360 degree view of a static BMW X5, while boxing-out the interior and exterior features - ending with an inside look of the Ali Alghanim & Sons Automotive showroom. Abdullatif’s third place submission blended symphonic classical music in the background as he focused on the large infotainment display in the all-new BMW X5 through which users can experience BMW’s complete ConnectedDrive offering. Commenting on the conclusion of the competition, Mr Yousef Qatami, General Manager of Ali Alghanim & Sons Automotive (BMW Group), said: “We are thrilled with the results and would like to thank all participants for taking the time to create a video for BMW. Special congratulations go to Abdullah Al Failakawi, Ahmed Hajji and Abdullatif Morad for their creativity and ability in showcasing the versatility of the all-new BMW X5. This competition has reaf-

firmed how much passion our customers have for BMW in Kuwait and we will strive to develop more unique ways to engage with them.” Designed to encourage social media fans to get creative, the BMW Group importer invited participants to create a short video highlighting their favourite feature of the pioneering Sports Activity Vehicle and upload it to ‘Instagram’. All participants were evaluated on the presentation of the video in terms of audio and visual content, background music and visibility of the vehicle in the video. The BMW X5 is BMW Group’s best-selling Sports Activity Vehicle and has over the years continued to set new standards in the automotive industry in terms of its unusually sporty characteristics and innovative on-road technology. The recently launched third generation model in Kuwait will once again establish a new benchmark in its class and ensure that this X model family member stays in pole position.

KUWAIT: VIVA, Kuwait’s fastest growing telecom operator, announced the launch of its latest promotions for prepaid customers; additional 10% free credit for recharge values of KD 10 and KD 20. VIVA’s unique promotion dedicated to its prepaid customers comes in line with VIVA’s commitment to offer clients more value for their money. VIVA is dedicated to being a pioneer in offering special promotions that meet the needs and requirements of its customers. Through the launch of this offer, VIVA emphasizes the importance of giving customers the best value for their money, and keeping them in touch with their families and friends for longer times at lower rates. VIVA’s prepaid customers can recharge their phones either online via the company’s website, through Automated Charging Machines (ACM) conveniently located throughout Kuwait, or by using the conventional recharge vouchers that are easily available. This offer demonstrates VIVA’s commitment to present customers with the latest in the technology world, and ensure that it is accessible to all through specially designed bundles and packages. To find out more about VIVA’s numerous competitions, promotions, products and packages visit any of the 48 VIVA branches, one of the VIVA authorized distributors, the company’s website at or contact its 24 hour call center at 102.

Small jet makers see big chance as China prepares to open skies

Gulfstream, Cessna, Bombardier gear up for demand

NBK’s services available during New Year holiday KUWAIT: National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) has taken all necessary measures to ensure providing customers with the best services during the New Year holiday throughout Hala Watani, Mobile Banking (Android, BlackBerry, iPhone and iPad), Online and ATM services. All NBK branches will be closed starting from Wednesday 1st of January 2014 and will resume work on Sunday 5th of January 2014. Hala Watani, NBK Online and ATM will be available 24 hours and ready to serve customers. Customers can also conduct all their transac-

tions through NBK Mobile Banking application. Customers may call 1801801 or visit for further information. For customers outside Kuwait, NBK the largest international presence with more than 170 branches worldwide. NBK’s international presence spans many of the world’s leading financial centers including London, Paris, Geneva, New York and Singapore, as well as China (Shanghai). Meanwhile, regional coverage extends to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Turkey.

LOS ANGELES: In this Friday, April 9, 2010, file photo, Summett Kumar, a Crocs ambassador, works at a Crocs store inside the Beverly Center shopping mall in Los Angeles. Crocs shoes is getting a $200 million bailout from private equity fund Blackstone and CEO John McCarvel is retiring, according to reports yesterday. — AP

Crocs CEO leaving as Blackstone invests $200m NIWOT: The company that makes Crocs shoes is getting a $200 million bailout from a private equity fund, and its CEO is retiring. Crocs says it will use the money from Blackstone, plus cash on hand, for a $350 million share buyback. The deal gives Crocs a cash infusion, gives Blackstone two seats on the board and preferred shares that pay a 6 percent dividend, and gives shareholders an additional return by way of the buyback. Crocs shares peaked above $75 in 2007 as buyers snapped up the clogs known for being comfortable but ugly. But it hasn’t been able to add new products with the same popularity. Shares fell to around $1 in late 2008 before beginning a recovery. In premarket trading Monday they rose $1.69,

or almost 13 percent, to $15.02. Crocs also said late Sunday that CEO John McCarvel is retiring and giving up his board seat around the end of April. He has been with Crocs since 2005, and had been president and CEO since 2010. The company said it has begun an outside search for his replacement. McCarvel called the Blackstone investment “a vote of confidence in our company and our brand.” Crocs also said fourth-quarter revenue will be at the low end of the $220 million to $225 million it had predicted, and its quarterly loss will be at the worse end of the 20 cents to 23 cents per share it had predicted. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been expecting a loss of 20 cents per share on revenue of $222 million. — AP

BEIJING: Ferraris and Rolls-Royces have become common sights in China’s cities as a new class of super-rich indulge a growing appetite for luxury, but tight regulation has meant the private jet, the ultimate status symbol of the global elite, remains rare. Recent rules changes, however, indicate that China is preparing to open its skies to private aircraft, in a move that may herald the greatest expansion of business and private aviation in the last 30 years. Last month, China’s aviation regulator simplified flight approval procedures for private aircraft and lowered the threshold for obtaining a private pilot license. More importantly, the implementation of little-noticed guidelines issued by China’s State Council and the Central Military Commission in 2010 will gradually lift the ceiling for low-flying aircraft by 2020. For companies such as Cessna, Gulfstream, Dassault Aviation SA and Bombardier Inc, which have spent the last decade trying to build their China business, it may present a unique opportunity to expand in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market. “This tells everyone publicly that China now endorses the use of business aircraft and general aviation just like any other countries worldwide,” Roger Sperry, Gulfstream’s senior vice president of international sales, told Reuters in an interview. “I’m nothing but optimistic.” General aviation, which refers to all flights that are not operated by airlines, charter firms or the military, is already a $150 billion business in the United States. In contrast, there are only 1,610 registered general aviation aircraft in China, the latest figures from the China General Aviation Association show. That compares with about 228,000 in the United States, according to Craig Spence, secretary general of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations. NO INTEREST Joseph Tymczyszyn, a former representative of the US Federal Aviation Administration in China, said when he mentioned private aircraft to Chinese industry officials nine years ago he was told commercial aviation was the priority. “When I talked to CAAC about general aviation in 2004, Ma Tao said, ‘Don’t waste your time and money, nobody is interested in that’,” Tymczyszyn, a co-founder and executive director of the US-China Aviation Cooperation Program said. Ma, then the deputy director general of the Flight Standards Department of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), was among a group of Chinese aviation officials who often visited the United States, where their experience of general aviation began to change attitudes, Tymczyszyn recalled. Still, in a country where the military controls 80 percent of airspace there were formidable obstacles to expanding private air travel. Approval for a three-hour trip on a private plane would take at least two weeks and was never guaranteed. Lack of facilities where small planes can take off, land or refuel, as well as a dearth of low-altitude aviation maps, have

meant hopping on a private plane to visit the other side of the country for the weekend remains a dream for even the most wellheeled. “We had a few sales in 2006, 2007 and 2008, but very limited in numbers,” recalled Jean Michel Jacob, senior vice president of international sales with France’s Dassault Falcon. Sales started to pick up in 2010 and so far the French company has sold 30 jets in China, with 20 scheduled for delivery in 2014-2015. For US rival Gulfstream, owned by General Dynamics Corp, Greater China represents about 6 percent of a worldwide delivery of 2,150 jets, compared with 65 percent to the United States. Business jet sales in China for Canada’s Bombardier have topped 100, while Textron Inc’s Cessna has sold more than 70 planes. All are gearing up for growth. BEAUTIFUL POTENTIAL In November 2012, Gulfstream’s Beijing maintenance centre, with an 82,000 sq ft (7,600 sq m) hangar, opened for business. Dassault Falcon, which has maintenance facilities in Hong Kong and Shanghai, is scheduled open a new one in Beijing next year, and plans to recruit more native Chinese speakers to its sales team. Cessna has already started delivery of its Grand Caravan EX made at its China venture with state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). Delivery of its Citation XLS+ jets built by a separate venture with AVIC is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to William Schultz, senior vice president of Business Development at Cessna Aircraft’s China operations. Bombardier forecasts overall business jet deliveries in Greater China at 2,420 in 20132032, with 1,000 to be delivered in 2013-2022, rising to 1,420 during 2023-2032. The growth,

industry insiders say, would be fuelled in part by demand for smaller jets in a country where large-cabin models, such as Dassault’s Falcon 7x or Gulfstream’s G550 and G650, are among the best sellers. “There is a beautiful potential in this market,” Beijing-based Jacob told Reuters. BEAT THE JAMS Guidance issued by regulators in 2010 aims to open up airspace below 1,000 meters (3,280 ft) by 2015 and expand to airspace below 3,000 meters by 2020. Pilot scheme were started in Changchun in the northeast, and Guangzhou and Hainan Island in the south, where private aircraft owners need only submit flight plans before 3 pm the previous day, unless they encroach on militarily sensitive areas. The experiment was expanded to other cities in 2012 and will spread other regions gradually. “It’s pretty much like the way China transformed itself from a planned economy to a market-oriented economy in the 1980s,” said Ke Yubao, executive secretary general of statebacked Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of China. “It all started from the Shenzhen special economic zone and then spread to other parts of the country.” Besides investing billions in new airport construction, for both commercial and general aviation, China has also been making progress with low-altitude aviation maps, a source said. And once general aviation spreads its wings, there may be fewer frustrated drivers in China increasingly congested cities, where traffic can move at snail’s pace in rush hours and weekends. “I laughed when I saw people in a Ferrari going one mile an hour in a Beijing traffic jam. If you buy a Cirrus or Cessna, you can actually go 150 miles an hour and it’s more fun,” said Tymczyszyn. — Reuters

PepsiCo franchisees open talks on intra-UAE merger DUBAI: Dubai Refreshments (DRC) said yesterday it would open talks with fellow PepsiCo franchisee, Abu Dhabi Refreshments Company, about a possible merger, in the latest example of United Arab Emirates rival firms to consolidate. Both companies are distributors of PepsiCo soft drinks and snacks in the region. The merger was being looked at “as an opportunity to create greater synergies for both the companies”, a statement to the Dubai bourse from DRC said. No values were given in the statement. DRC has a market capitalisation of around $300 million. Should a merger happen, it will be the latest between firms in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the same sectors, as the UAE looks to consolidate companies operating in the same sectors to create larger companies that can compete better on a global stage, and also as a way to support Dubai with cash as it faces repayments on

government-related restructured debt. The merging of Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s aluminium businesses has already been announced, while a tie-up between the two emirates’ stock markets is being prepared. The Dubai-Abu Dhabi Refreshments merger would differ from the aluminium and bourse mergers because neither drinks company is stateowned. Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashed Al Maktoum, the brother of Dubai’s ruler, is the largest shareholder in DRC with a 20 percent stake, with three other local families holding more than 5 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data. Fifty-nine percent of DRC is publicly listed, although the stock is barely traded. Its shares were unchanged at 12.25 dirhams ($3.34) in Dubai, having last traded on December 12. Abu Dhabi Refreshments Co is fully-owned by the Al Dahery Group, according to Zawya, a Thomson Reuters unit. — Reuters



Ethiopia spearheading green energy in sub-Saharan Africa Multi-billion dollar projects in green technology ASHEGODA: From the sky, the 84 glimmering white turbines at Ashegoda wind farm shoot up from the ground like massive spokes, standing out high amid vast expanses of yellow wheat. Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, mostly populated by cattle farmers who grow the country’s staple grains, is an unlikely site for a modern French-run wind farm, let alone sub-Saharan Africa’s largest. With its multi-billion dollar projects in wind, hydropower, solar and geothermal energy, Ethiopia’s pioneering green energy efforts aim to supply power to its 91 million people and boost its economy by exporting power to neighboring countries. “Ethiopia stands alone in Africa as using green energy for transformative growth,” said Ahmed Soliman, from Britain’s Chatham House think tank. Current energy production capacity stands at 2177 megawatts (MW), with ambitions to reach 10,000 MW by 2015. Ashegoda’s turbines, which tower above young boys in tattered clothes watching over their livestock, have a total capacity of 120 megawatts, making it the biggest on the subcontinent. The project was built by France’s Vergnet Group, and is the first of several planned wind farms in the country, including a 204 MW Chinese-built site under construction in the

southeast. Ashegoda, 780 kilometers (484 miles) from Addis Ababa, is part of ambitious plans to transform Ethiopia into a middle-income, carbon-neutral country by 2025. The $313 million (230 million-euro) wind farm, funded by the French government and several private French banks, is an indication of growing interest from European companies in Ethiopia, where Chinese, Indian and Turkish investments are also growing. Both France and Ethiopia’s government are “very enthusiastic to reinforce even more links”, said Romano Coutrot, site manager at the wind farm, adding Ashegoda is one of Vergnet’s “most important” projects globally. Regional example? The project took four years to complete and became fully operational in October, but faced several hurdles along the way. Soaring up to 80metres (262-feet) high, the turbines had to be driven to landlocked Ethiopia on semi-paved roads from Djibouti, which posed a major challenge. Completion was further delayed to relocate the site five kilometers north after the aviation authority said it was interfering with its airspace. Coutrot admitted that doing business in Ethiopia can be challenging, with infrastructure shortfalls

and crippling bureaucracy. “The taxation system, customs, the relationship with authorities, it’s sometimes a bit difficult,” he said, speaking from his office on site amid the imposing turbines. Ethiopia ranks 125 out of 189 countries on the World Bank’s ease of doing business index. “Government services like customs, land issues, other government services are improving,” said Minister for Water and Energy Alemayehu Tegenu, insisting the government was committed to improving conditions for investors. The government says its investment in green energy is a central pillar of its development plan, crucial in a country where the majority of people live on less than $2 a day. “Health, education, communication, water supply, industry, these all need sustainable and reliable power supply,” Alemayehu said. Only 53 percent of the country currently has access to electricity, with large swathes of Ethiopia’s rural regions in the dark and relying on firewood for basic household needs. “Unless you have this kind of ambitious plan, the pace of population pressure will take over and you won’t see any change,” said Belay Simane, professor of environment at Addis Ababa university. The country is already exporting power to Djibouti and Sudan, with a line to transport energy to Kenya under construction. Soliman said it will

solidify Ethiopia’s role as a leader in green energy in the region. “Ethiopia will have a competitive regional advantage, not having to rely on economically and technically less-feasible sources of energy such as gas or oil to meet growing demands, which many East African countries are doing,” Soliman said. The hard currency earned from these power exports will go toward increasing the number of renewable energy projects in Ethiopia, according to the government. Heavy investment in the green energy sector extends beyond economics: the country is keen to avoid the mistakes of countries such as China or India, that experienced rapid economic growth but with grave environmental costs. “If we invest in these resources, we can develop in a green way without affecting the environment like they did in Europe,” said Fisseha Gebremichael, Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation’s Ashegoda project manager. Alemeyahu said he hopes Ethiopia’s aggressive investments in wind and other renewable energy resources will persuade other African countries to follow suit. “We don’t want to keep African populations in the dark for a long time, we have to run very fast to access light for industry and for social and economic development,” he said. — AFP

Google in 2014: What to expect Google had a superb year in 2013, adding around 35% to its share price and producing some fantastic devices, but where does it go from here? Mountain View has spent much of the last year joining up its products, so 2014 will likely see more of their rhetoric becoming a reality perhaps not through new products but features added to their current line up. It wants to integrate its services with more aspects of your life, so climb aboard as we make ten Google-shaped predictions for 2014:

Flying cars: How long until takeoff?


ver since the first cars arrived on the world’s roads, people have been wanting to fly them. They’ve become a trope of science fiction, featuring in heavyweight titles like Star Wars, Blade Runner, Back to the Future and more recently Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Flying cars are about as synonymous as jetpacks are with our concept of “the future”. But the Martin Jetpack is due to go on sale in 2014, putting us squarely within sight of that future and raising the question posed so many times over the past few decades that it’s fast becoming a trope of its own. “Where’s my flying car?” Right here, says an American company called Terrafugia, which was founded in 2006 by a team of graduates from MIT led by CEO Carl Dietrich. Terrafugia is developing a pair of flying cars - the Transition is a light aircraft whose wings fold down so that it can be driven on a road - it’s been tested in flight a number of times, and isn’t a huge departure from a traditional light aircraft. The more conceptual TF-X was revealed earlier in 2013 and has a fixed-wing design that can takeoff and land vertically. A flying lesson The story begins in 1917 with the Curtiss Autoplane. It resembled a Ford Model T with triplane wings on top, and was armed with a four-blade propeller. It never achieved full flight, however, only making a series of hops before the United States entered the first World War and Curtiss’s skills were needed elsewhere. In 1921, a Frenchman named RenÈ Tampier built a four-wheeled biplane and drove it two hours across Paris to the Air Salon, and five years later in 1926, Henry Ford himself showed off a mass-market single-seat aeroplane called the Flivver. The tiny plane was designed specifically to be small enough to fit into his office, and caused an immediate stir in the media. It even inspired one columnist from the New York Evening Sun to write a poem: “I dreamed I was an angel / And with the angels soared / But I was simply touring / The heavens in a Ford.” Sadly, however, the project was abandoned a couple of years later after an attempt at a distance record ended with the death of the test pilot. A similar fate befell the Convair Models 116 and 118, which both resembled a car with a plane glued to the top. The 116 flew 66 successful test flights in 1946 and 1947, spurring the development of the 118, which Convair hoped would be rented from airports in large numbers. Sadly, however, the second test flight of the Model 118 ended in disaster after the pilot took off with little to no fuel aboard. Although he checked the fuel gauge before takeoff, it turned out that he had checked the car’s fuel gauge, not the aircraft’s, and was forced into a crash landing shortly thereafter. Happily, the pilot walked away with only minor injuries, but the 118 wasn’t so lucky, and Convair swiftly lost its appetite for flying cars. Ford returned in 1956 with the Volante Tre-Athodyne, a sleek-looking 3/8-scale concept that used ducted fans to lift it off the ground. The company happily admitted

in a press release that “the day where there will be an aero-car in every garage is still some time off”. They weren’t wrong. In 1962, the US army got interested in flying jeeps, and commissioned Chrysler, Curtiss-Wright and Piasecki to build prototypes. Chrysler’s VZ-6 flipped over in its first untethered flight, and the Curtiss-Wright VZ-7 failed the meet the army’s exacting standards, but the most successful was the Piasecki VZ-8 Airgeep, which came equipped with ejector seats and a tricycle undercarriage, and could even be fitted with floats to make it a flying boatcar. However, despite performing well, the flying jeep programme was eventually cancelled in favour of helicopter development In the 70s and 80s, flying cars ceased to become a serious consumer proposition with the rise of popular air travel. Only Paul Moller, a Canadian engineer, persisted with the dream. His Skycar has been in development for around 50 years, at a cost of more than $200,000,000. Despite being available for pre-order since the 1990s, however, the Skycar M400 has only been demonstrated in public once - hovering, tethered, in 2003. All other announced public demonstrations have been cancelled. In 2007, Moller announced the M200G Volantor, a flying-saucer style hovercar that can fly up to three metres above the ground with the use of fans. In 2009, Moller filed for bankruptcy, but then announced a pair of new designs in 2012. Practical flying That brings us up to the present day, and Terrafugia. “There are many lessons to be learnt,” says Dietrich of the failures of the past. “Perhaps the biggest and most nonobvious is not to overestimate the rate of adoption of a new form of personal transportation - there is a long history of overly optimistic business plans in this space.” Of course, Terrafugia isn’t the only company working on flying cars and similar vehicles. Aerofex are looking at hoverbikes, Volkswagen has a hovercar concept that uses electromagnetic levitation, and Hyundai engineers also submitted a design for a flying car to the company’s annual ideas content. An Israeli company, Urban Aeronautics, is getting in on the action too with its X-Hawk. But right now it looks like Terrafugia’s Transition is the closest to something we might actually be driving in the sky. “The Transition is the practical flying car that we can certify with today’s regulations, and TFX is the flying car we could build with today’s technology - and that we intend to create once we develop the certification path,” said Dietrich. “Our plan is to get a relatively simple product, the Transition, to market as soon as possible while writing new international standards that will be used as the basis for future, more rapid, aircraft certification,” he added. “Then leverage the associated revenue, experience base, intellectual property base, and credibility to create the flying car that is as close as possible to the ideal form of personal transportation that we can achieve today.” If Dietrich gets his way, that flying car might not be so far away after

Beyond KitKat The recent release of Android 4.4, codenamed KitKat, was a relatively minor update to Android, as Google sought to perfect its mobile OS - and it was a disappointment for those who were hoping for a shiny new version of Android. However, it’s now even more likely that a fresh version of Android will land mid-2014, possibly at Google I/O. What’s more, as each version of Android is codenamed with a dessert or confectionary following on alphabetically from its predecessor, it creates obvious speculation about which Lbased sweet it could be. It could be “liquorice” but we’ll put our money on “Lion Bar” after the recent love-in with Nestle. Between Android 4.1 and 4.4, the look and feel of Android hasn’t altered much, so expect this to be a big part of Android 5.0, perhaps echoing iOS’s colorful design after year’s of Android 4.0’s gloomy all-black theme. Chromecast for everyone Google’s had a good year with Chromecast but expect much bigger things in 2014. Aside from the obvious global roll out, Mountain View has already said that it’s looking to create an open SDK, so third party developers can create their own apps and uses for Chromecast. The result, at least in the short term, could be app streaming from a much bigger pool of core Android apps, which means you’ll be able to enjoy what you see on your phone in the comfort of your living room. What’s more, Android 5.0 could see app streaming features as a key improvement. Google does the robot December’s purchase of Boston Dynamics, the robot-building super-brains responsible for BigDog and the Cheetah Robot might have raised a few eye-brows, but 2013 has seen it suck up a slew of small robotics businesses. Google insiders have called this spending spree a “moonshot’ headed by Andy Rubin, the brain behind Android. However, the New York Times has it on good authority that Google wants to shake up the manufacturing industry. “While Google has not detailed its longterm robotics plans, Mr. Rubin said that there were both manufacturing and logistics markets that were not being served by today’s robotic technologies, and that they were clear opportunities,” wrote John Markoff. So what does that mean for 2014? Well prepare to see Google more active in the business market and watch out for nifty advances in the driverless car project, that has come out of Google X. Nexus 10 (2014) From Google’s “moonshot” comes a much safer bet: that the unloved Nexus 10 will get an upgrade in 2014. The 10-inch iPad rival hasn’t had much love from Big G, and never managed to permeate the tablet market in the same way as its little brother the Nexus 7. However, the previous generation of the Nexus 10 was a well-built device, which if put on a serious diet, could rival the iPad Air. All signs are pointing to a huge power boost, with Sanpdragon 800 and 3GB of RAM all tipped for the new Nexus, which could land as early as CES in January! Google Glass finally gets a release One of the most exciting gadgets of 2013 was the Google Glass, but it only made it into the hands of select developers, so will 2014 be

In this file photo, Longe Optical President Jeff Ostermann explains how Google Glass operates, in Fort Wayne, Ind. Longe Optical has developed a way to retrofit prescription lenses to Google Glass, the latest creation from the search-engine company. — AP

the year the public can get their hands on Glass? In its current form, we’d say not. TechRadar has had hands on time with Google’s superspecs and the current software is far from releasable. Even the design, gorgeous as it is, has its issues for wearers of genuine spectacles. That doesn’t mean a new version won’t be revealed this year, but we’re skeptical about whether it will see a proper release.Google isn’t historically a hardware business, and it struggled to release products globally and maintain stock in 2013. Whether it can bring such a contentious and highly anticipated product to market so quickly after its conception is debatable Google cashes in on PC Armageddon The PC market has been slowly dying for the last two years, and 2014 is expected to be no different - but we can fully expect to see Google cash in on Microsoft’s misery. 2014 will see a huge push for Chromebook and after a much improved 2013, with some stunning new devices at the high end. We’d bet on an upgrade to the Pixel in 2014 and even more top tech at the low end. Microsoft has shown that it’s nervous about low-priced Chromebooks pulling the rug from underneath Window 8’s feet, so the obvious way to react is for Google to go even lower. The new HP Chromebook 11 retails for £220, so expect a model to sink to £199 or even £149 in 2014. Android gaming goes mainstream One of the stories of 2013 has been Android becoming the OS of choice for fledgling gaming systems, such as Ouya, Nvidia Shield and Gamestick, but until now they’ve been niche products. With such a stir created in 2013, the market is wide open for a big brand in 2014. At the end of last year, Samsung finally unveiled an

Android gaming controller, so could this be the first step into a larger Android gaming strategy? With its big brand and big bucks it could make a decent Android console, and with so many Samsung smartphones out there, a console could be a huge addition to the All Share family. Voice search Google was vocal about voice search in 2013, so expect to see it implement its new features throughout 2014. Google Now - Mountain View’s answer to Siri - has already benefited from voice commands so expect a big push for more commands and better answers in other products, starting with the next Android and continuing into other areas... Google in your home Expect to see much more of Google beyond your smartphone in 2014, and it certainly has its eye on your home. In 2013, it opened a show home in London, showing off existing ways Google services can aid you life, and voice was a main feature. Chromecast is another existing example of Google muscling into your living room, so connected apps with voice features and smart location services will be the story of the year. Google in your car Google doesn’t make great cars and Audi doesn’t make top internet services, so isn’t it strange that when you buy a new motor and it features a proprietary system of inferior maps, poor media controls and frustrating voice recognition? This is why 2014 might finally be the year Android comes to cars. Android’s diversity and open nature means its perfect for car companies to work with, enabling users to finally access proper maps, apps and services and finally bring the car into the digital age. —


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

Soil pollution hurts farming BEIJING: More than 8 million acres of China’s farmland is too polluted with heavy metals and other chemicals to use for growing food, a Cabinet official said yesterday, highlighting a problem that is causing growing public concern. The threat from pollution to China’s food supply has been overshadowed by public alarm at smog and water contamination but is gaining attention following scandals over tainted rice and other crops. The government triggered complaints in February when it refused to release results of a nationwide survey of soil pollution, declaring them a state secret. The figure given at a news conference by Wang Shiyuan, a deputy minister of the Ministry of Land and Resources, would be about 2 percent of China’s 337 million acres of arable land. Some scientists have given higher estimates of as much as 60 million acres, or one-fifth of the total, though it is unclear how much of that would be too badly contaminated for farming. The issue poses a dilemma for communist leaders who want to maximize food production but face public pressure to ensure safety after an avalanche of scandals over shoddy infant formula and other goods. Explosive growth The explosive growth of Chinese industry, overuse of farm chemicals and lax environmental enforcement have left swathes of the countryside tainted by lead, cadmium, pesticides and other toxins. Investigations by the Ministry of Environmental Protection have found “moderate to severe pollution” on 3.3 million hectares (8.3 million acres), Wang said at a news conference. “These areas cannot continue farming,” Wang

said. He did not say whether the information came from the national pollution survey. Farmers already are prohibited from raising crops for human consumption in areas across China that are deemed too badly polluted. But tainted rice and other crops have made their way into the food supply. The ruling Communist Party’s latest five-year development plan, which runs through 2015, promises to reduce heavy metal pollution and clean up contaminated areas. Wang said the government is working on a long-range plan and expects to spend several tens of billions of yuan (several billion dollars) a year on the effort. He gave no details but scientists say one possible approach is to plant trees or other vegetation that will absorb heavy metals from the soil but will not be consumed by humans. Complaints by farmers about lead and other pollutants in their water supplies have led to protests against battery factories. A key concern among scientists is cadmium, a carcinogenic metal that can cause kidney damage and other health problems and is absorbed by rice, the country’s staple grain. In May, authorities launched an investigation of rice mills in southern China after tests found almost half of supplies sold in Guangzhou, a major city, were contaminated with cadmium. In February, the newspaper Nanfang Daily reported tens of thousands of tons of cadmiumtainted rice was sold to noodle makers in southern China from 2009 to this year. It said government inspectors declared it fit only for production of non-food goods such as industrial alcohol but a trader sold most of the rice to food processors anyway. — AP

OKAWVILLE: Larry Hasheider driving his truck past his farm in Okawville. There’s a lot of conversation about traditional agriculture recently, and much of it is critical. —AP

Explosion of talk about food transforms marketplace OKAWVILLE: Add one more item to the list of chores that Larry Hasheider has to do on his 1,700-acre farm: defending his business to the American public. There’s a lot of conversation about traditional agriculture recently, and much of it is critical. Think genetically modified crops, overuse of hormones and antibiotics, inhumane treatment of animals and over-processed foods. This explosion of talk about food - some based on fact, some based on fiction - has already transformed the marketplace. Slow to respond and often defensive, farmers and others in agribusiness have for several years let critics define the public debate and influence consumers. Now, the industry is trying to push farmers and businesses to fight back, connecting with those consumers through social media and outreach that many in agriculture have traditionally shunned. “We as farmers now have another role in addition to being farmers,” Hasheider says as he takes a break from harvesting his corn crop. “It’s something you have to evolve into.” In addition to corn, Hasheider grows soybeans, wheat and alfalfa on the farm nestled in the heart of Illinois corn country. He cares for 130 dairy cows, 500 beef cattle and 30,000 hogs. And now, he’s giving tours of his farm, something he says he never would have done 20 years ago. “We didn’t think anyone would be interested in what we were doing,” he says.Like a lot of other farmers, Hasheider was wrong. Take the issue of genetically modified foods. There has been little scientific evidence to prove that foods grown from engineered seeds are less safe than their conventional counterparts, but consumer concerns and fears - many perpetuated through social media and the Internet - have forced the issue. A campaign to require labeling of modified ingredients on food packages has steadily gained attention, and some retailers have vowed not to sell them at all. Persuasive argument Makers of the engineered seeds and the farmers and retailers who use them stayed largely silent, even as critics put forth a simple, persuasive argument: Consumers have a right to know if they are eating genetically modified foods.Modified seeds are now used to grow almost all of the nation’s corn and soybean crops, most of which are turned into animal feed. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a well-known critic of food companies and artificial and unhealthy ingredients in foods, has not opposed genetically modified foods, on the basis that there’s no evidence they are harmful.Still, director Michael Jacobson says, the issue has taken on a life of its own to the general public. Companies like Monsanto Corp. “try to argue back with facts, but emotions often trump

facts,” Jacobson says. “They are faced with a situation where critics have an emotional argument, a fear of the unknown.” Perhaps no one understands this dynamic better than Robert Fraley, who was one of the first scientists to genetically modify seeds and now is executive vice president and chief technology officer of Monsanto. He says the company was late to the public relations game as critics worked to vilify it, even holding marches on city streets to protest Monsanto by name. Fraley says he has spent “more than a few nights” thinking about the company’s image problem. He says Monsanto always thought of itself as the first step in the chain and has traditionally dealt more with farmers than consumers. Urban legends About a year ago, in an attempt to dispel some of the criticism, the company started addressing critics directly and answering questions through social media and consumer outreach. The company is also reaching out to nutritionists and doctors, people whom consumers may consult. Fraley is personally tweeting - and, like Hasheider, he says it’s something he never would have thought about doing just a few years ago. “We were just absent in that dialogue, and therefore a lot of the urban legends just got amplified without any kind of logical balance or rebuttal,” Fraley says of the criticism. At a recent conference of meat producers, David Wescott, director of digital strategy at APCO Worldwide, told ranchers they needed to do a better job connecting with - and listening to - mothers, who often communicate on social media about food and make many of the household purchasing decisions. “It’s a heck of a lot more convincing when a mom says something than when a brand does,” says Wescott, who says he has worked with several major farm and agriculture companies to help them reach out to consumers, especially moms. Other farm groups, like Illinois Farm Families, are inviting moms to tour the fields. Tim Maiers of the Illinois Pork Producers Association says the group has found that consumers generally trust farmers, but they have a lot of questions about farming methods. One of the moms, Amy Hansmann, says that though she remains concerned about the amount of processed foods and chemicals in the food supply, her experiences touring conventional farms with Illinois Farm Families changed her thinking. She was particularly amazed by the big farmers’ use of technology and attempts to be sustainable. Hansmann says that before the tour, her perception from the media was that these big farmers were “evil capitalists” who focused only on their businesses and not on the care of the land or animals.—AP

OKAWVILLE: Larry Hasheider walking along one of his corn fields on his farm in Okawville. Hasheider grows soybeans, wheat and alfalfa on the farm, nestled in the heart of Illinois corn country where he also has 130 dairy cows, 500 beef cattle and 30,000 hogs and even gives tours, something he says he never would have done 20 years ago. —- AP

DENVER: In this Dec 5, 2013 photo, a worker processes marijuana in the trimming room at the Medicine Man dispensary in northeast Denver.

DENVER: Marijuana matures in ideal conditions at the Medicine Man dispensary and grow operation in northeast Denver.

Legal cannabis sales begin in Colorado ‘Showcase for the world’ DENVER: A gleaming white Apple store of weed is how Andy Williams sees his new Denver marijuana dispensary. Two floors of pot-growing rooms will have windows showing the shopping public how the mind-altering plant is grown. Shoppers will be able to peruse drying marijuana buds and see pot trimmers at work separating the valuable flowers from the less-prized stems and leaves. “It’s going to be all white and beautiful,” the 45-year-old exindustrial engineer explains, excitedly gesturing around what just a few weeks ago was an empty warehouse space that will eventually house 3,700 square meters of cannabis strains. As Colorado prepares to be the first US state to allow recreational marijuana sales, starting Jan 1, hopeful retailers like Williams are investing their fortunes into the legal recreational pot world - all for a chance to build even bigger ones in a fledgling industry that faces an uncertain future. Officials in Colorado and Washington, the other state where recreational pot goes on sale in mid2014, as well as activists, policymakers and governments from around the US and across the world will not be the only ones watching the experiment unfold. So too will the US Department of Justice, which for now is not fighting to shut down the industry. “We are building an impressive showcase for the world, to show them this is an industry,” Williams says, as the scent of marijuana competes with the smell of sawdust and wet paint in the cavernous store where he hopes to sell pot just like a bottle of wine. Will it be a showcase for a safe, regulated pot industry that generates hundreds of millions of dollars each year and saves money by not locking up drug criminals, or one that will prove, once and for all, that the federal government has been right to ban pot since 1937? Mindless criminals Cannabis was grown legally in the US for centuries, even by George Washington. After Prohibition’s end in the 1930s, ending a ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages, authorities turned their sights on pot. The 1936 propaganda film “Reefer Madness” warned the public about a plant capable of turning people into mindless criminals. Over the years, pot activists and state governments managed to chip away at the ban, their first big victory coming in 1996 when California allowed medical marijuana. Today, 19 other states, including Colorado and Washington, and the District of Columbia have similar laws. Those in the business were nervous, fearing that federal agents would raid their shops. “It was scary,” recalls Williams, who along with his brother borrowed some $630,000 from parents and relatives to open Medicine Man in 2009. “I literally had dreams multiple times a week where I was in prison and couldn’t see my wife or my child. Lots of sleepless nights.” That same year, the Justice Department told federal prosecutors they should not focus investigative resources on patients and caregivers complying with state medical marijuana laws - but the department reserved the right to step in if there was abuse. In Colorado, the industry took off. Shops advertised on billboards and radio. Pot-growing warehouses along Interstate 70 in Denver grew so big that motorists started calling one stretch the “Green Zone” for its frequent skunky odor of pot. The city at one point had more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks coffee shops, with some neighborhoods crowded with dispensary signwavers and banners offering free joints for new customers. Local officials have since ratcheted back such in-your-face ads. New questions But the marijuana movement didn’t stop. Voters in Colorado and Washington state approved recreational pot in 2012, sold in part on spending less to lock up drug criminals and the potential for new tax dollars to fund state programs. The votes raised new questions about whether the federal government would sue to block laws flouting federal drug law. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper famously warned residents not to “break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly,” and activists predicated a legal showdown. That didn’t happen. In August, the Department of Justice said it wouldn’t sue so long as the states met an eight-point standard that includes keeping pot out of other states and away from children, criminal cartels and federal property. Colorado law allows adults 21 and older to buy pot at state-sanctioned pot retail stories, and state regulations forbid businesses from advertising in places where children are likely to see their pitches. Only existing medical dispensaries were allowed to apply for licenses, an effort to prevent another proliferation of pot shops. Only a few dozen shops statewide are expected to be open for recreational sales on New Year’s Day. Legal pot’s potential has spawned businesses beyond retail shops. Marijuana-testing companies have popped up, checking regulated weed for

potency and screening for harmful molds. Gardening courses charge hundreds of dollars to show people how to grow weed at home. Tourism companies take curious tourists to glass-blowing shops where elaborate smoking pipes are made. One has clients willing to spend up to $10,000 for a week in a luxury ski resort and a private concierge to show them the state’s pot industry. Genie is out Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, maker of pot-infused foods and drinks, is making new labels for the recreational market and expanding production on everything from crispy rice treats to fruit lozenges. “The genie is out of the bottle,” says company president Tripp Keber. “I think it’s going to be an exciting time over the next 24 to 48 months.” It’s easy to see why the industry is attracting so many people. A Colorado State University study estimates the state will ring up $606 million in pot

whether the regulatory system is up to the task of controlling a drug that’s never been regulated. There are public health and law enforcement concerns, including whether wide availability of a drug with a generations-old stigma of ruining lives will lead to more underage drug use, more cases of driving while high and more crime. As state officials watch for signs of trouble, they will also have to make sure they don’t run afoul of the Department of Justice’s conditions. To stop the drug from getting smuggled out of state, regulators in both states are using a radiofrequency surveillance system developed to track pot from the greenhouses to the stores and have set low purchasing limits for non-residents. Residency requirements Officials concede that there’s little they can do to prevent marijuana from ending up in suitcases on the next flight out. The sheriff in the Colorado county where Aspen is located has suggested plac-

DENVER: In this Dec 5, 2013 photo, a worker processes marijuana in the trimming room at the Medicine Man dispensary in northeast Denver. — AP photos sales next year, and the market will grow from 105,000 medical pot users to 643,000 adult users overnight - and that’s not counting tourists. Toni Fox, owner of 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, anticipates shoppers camping overnight to await her first-day 8 a.m. opening. She’s thinking of using airport-security-line-style ropes to corral shoppers, and suspects she’s going to run out of pot. A longtime marijuana legalization advocate, she knows it’s a crucial moment for the movement. “We have to show that this can work,” she says. “It has to.” The challenges, activists and regulators say, are daunting in Colorado and Washington state. One of the biggest questions is whether they have built an industry that will not only draw in tens of millions of dollars in revenue but also make a significant dent in the illegal market. Another is

ing an “amnesty box” at the city’s small airport to encourage visitors to drop off their extra bud. To prevent the criminal element from getting a foothold, regulators have enacted residency requirements for business owners, banned out-ofstate investment and run background checks on every applicant for a license to sell or grow the plant. Whether the systems are enough is anyone’s guess. For now, all the focus is on 2014. This being Colorado, there will be more than a few joints lit up on New Year’s Eve. Pot fans plan to don 1920sera attire for a “Prohibition Is Over!” party. Williams says he’s done everything he can, including hiring seven additional staffers to handle customers. All he has to do is open the doors. “Are we ready to go? Yes,” he says. “What’s going to happen? I don’t know.” —- AP

Tradition blamed for breaking one-child rule BEIJING: China’s top film director Zhang Yimou has said he violated the country’s one-child policy because of the traditional belief that having multiple children would lead to greater prosperity, state media said. After months of rumours that he had fathered as many as seven children with several different women, Zhang issued an apology on December 1 acknowledging that he has two sons and a daughter with his current wife, and another daughter with his ex-wife. Zhang, who faces an official penalty largely based on his and his wife’s income in the years before each child was born, also claimed that one year he only earned $450. In an interview with the official Xinhua news agency Sunday, the director of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening and closing ceremonies said he broke the law because his father told him before dying that he wanted a grandson to “carry on the family name”. “Traditionally my parents and I thought the more children one has, the more prosperous the family would be,” he was quoted as saying. Previous Chinese media reports have speculated the fine could be as high as 160 million yuan ($26 million) and some lawyers are demanding one billion yuan from the director of “Red Sorghum” and “Raise the Red Lantern”. But according to the documents Zhang pro-

vided, his total income in 2000 was only 2,760 yuan (now $450), Xinhua said. “A film director’s income is irregular-there are good years and there are bad years,” Zhang was quoted as saying. His total income in the relevant years came to 3.6 million yuan, the report said, adding that his wife is a housewife. That will put the fines at more than seven million yuan, still the highest ever known for such offences, a lawyer in Beijing estimated, according to Xinhua. The one-child policy was put in place to control China’s booming population, and officials say it has been key to the country’s rising prosperity. But with demographic experts warning of a labour shortage within the next two decades, China’s Communist Party leaders last month moved to expand the exceptions to the policy after a key meeting in Beijing, allowing couples to have two children if one of the parents is an only child. Zhang has come under mounting criticism for taking advantage of his fame and wealth, but said his family had suffered because they had broken the rules, according to the report. “We were hiding here and there as ‘extra-birth guerillas’”, Zhang said, referring to a TV comedy in the 1990s about a couple who went on the run to have multiple babies. “My fault has negatively affected my children’s childhood significantly,” he added. — AFP

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


Federal health care sign-ups pass 1 million mark HONOLULU: The government’s rehabilitated health insurance website has seen a December surge in customer signups, pushing enrollment past the 1 million mark, the Obama administration says. Combined with numbers for state-run markets, that should put total enrollment in the new private insurance plans under President Barack Obama’s health law at about 2 million people through the end of the year, independent experts said. That would be about two-thirds of the administration’s original goal of signing up 3.3 million by Dec. 31, a significant improvement given the technical problems that crippled the federal market during much of the fall. The overall goal remains to enroll 7 million people by March 31. “It looks like current enrollment is around 2 million despite all the issues,” said Dan Mendelson, CEO of Avalere Health, a market analysis firm. “It was a very impressive showing for December.” The administration said that of the more than 1.1 million people now enrolled in the federal insurance exchange, nearly 1 million signed up in December. The majority came days before a pre-Christmas deadline for coverage to start in January. Compare that with a paltry 27,000 in October, the federal website’s first, error-prone month. “We experienced a welcome surge in enrollment as millions of Americans seek access to affordable health care coverage,” Marilyn Tavenner, the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a blog post announcing the figures. The numbers don’t represent a full accounting for the country. High performers The federal website serves 36 states. Yet to be reported are December results from the 14 states running their own sites. Overall, states have been signing up more people than the federal government. But most of that has come from high performers such as California, New York, Washington, Kentucky and Connecticut. Some states continue to struggle. Still, the end-of-year spike suggests that the federal insurance marketplace is starting to pull its weight. The windfall comes at a critical moment for Obama’s sweeping health care law, which becomes “real” for many Americans on Jan. 1 as coverage through the insurance exchanges and key patient protections kick in. The administration’s concern now shifts to keeping the momentum going for sign-ups, and heading off problems that could arise when people who’ve already enrolled try to use their new insurance. “They’ve got the front end of the system working really well,” said insurance industry consultant Robert Laszewski. “Now we can move on to the next question: Do people really want to buy this?” He also estimated 2 million will probably be enrolled this year.

The fledgling insurance exchanges are online markets for subsidized private coverage. Obama needs millions of mostly younger, healthy Americans to sign up to keep costs low for everyone. Open enrollment runs until the end of March. Little bit behind Tavenner said fixes to the website, overhauled to address widespread technical problems, contributed to December’s figures. But things haven’t totally cleared up. Thousands of people wound up waiting on hold for telephone help on Christmas Eve for a multitude of reasons, including technical difficulties. “We have been a little bit behind the curve,” acknowledged Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, whose state has the highest proportion of uninsured residents. “Obamacare is a reality,” conceded one of the law’s opponents, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who as House oversight committee chairman has been investigating the rollout problems. However, he predicted it will only pile on costs. “The fact that people well into the middle class are going to get subsidies is going to cause them to look at healthcare...sort of in a Third World way of do we get subsidies from the government for our milk, for our gasoline and, oh, by the way, for our healthcare,” said Issa. For consumers who successfully selected one of the new insurance plans by Dec. 24, coverage should start on New Year’s Day. That’s provided they pay their first month’s premium by the due date, extended until Jan. 10 in most cases. But insurers have complained that another set of technical problems, largely hidden from consumers, has resulted in the government passing along inaccurate data on enrollees. With a flood of signups that must be processed in just days, it remains unclear whether last-minute enrollees will encounter a seamless experience if they try to use their new benefits come Jan. 1. The White House says the error rate has been significantly reduced, but the political fallout from website woes could pale in comparison with the heat that Obama might take if Americans who signed up and paid their premiums arrive at the pharmacy or the emergency room and find there’s no record of their coverage. Officials are also working to prevent gaps in coverage for at least 4.7 million Americans whose individual policies were canceled this fall because they fell short of the law’s requirements. The administration has said that even if those individuals don’t sign up for new plans, they won’t face the law’s tax penalty for remaining uninsured. A few states offering their own updates have posted encouraging totals, including New York, where more than 200,000 have enrolled either through the state exchange or through Medicaid, a government program expanded under Obama’s health law to cover more people. In California, a tally released Friday showed nearly 430,000 have enrolled through the exchange so far. — AP

BEIJING: Chinese delegates attending a meeting at the Great Hall of the People smoke cigarettes in Beijing recently. — AP

China bans officials from smoking in public ‘A major breakthrough’

BEIJING: China, which has the world’s largest number of smokers, is making another effort at limiting smoking by banning officials from lighting up in public. This time, the edict is coming from the highest levels of the ruling Communist Party and government. Until Sunday’s notice from the State Council, or China’s Cabinet, and the party’s central committee, efforts to curb smoking in public places were largely limited to city and other local-level measures. The health ministry pushed out guidelines banning smoking in venues including hotels and restaurants in 2011, but these were criticized as having no clear punishments or details on how such bans would be enforced. The new rules, which campaigners hope will help bring about a nationwide law banning smoking in public places, call on officials to lead by example by stubbing out their cigarettes. Officials are not allowed to smoke in schools, hospitals, sports venues, on public transport or any other places where smoking is banned, or to smoke or offer cigarettes when performing official duties, the official Xinhua News said. They also cannot use public funds to buy cigarettes, and within Communist Party or government offices tobacco products cannot be sold nor adverts displayed. “This is likely a major breakthrough. For the first time, very high-level attention and support is being given to anti-

tobacco efforts,” said Ray Yip, head of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s China program. The foundation has been working on smoking cessation campaigns in the country. “This likely will lead to meaningful legislation and enforcement related to smoking,” Yip said.China, with a population of 1.35 billion, has more than 300 million smokers. Experts say huge revenues from the state-owned tobacco monopoly have hindered anti-smoking measures. An order banning party officials from smoking indoors, handed down from the highest levels of power, could help to reduce its influence. Smoking, which is linked to an average annual death toll of 1.4 million people in China in recent years, is one of the greatest health threats the country faces, government statistics show. The annual number of cigarettes sold in the country increased by 50 percent to 2.52 trillion in 2012 compared with 10 years earlier, according to the Chinese Association on Tobacco Control, which is overseen by health authorities. “Smoking remains a relatively universal phenomenon in public venues. Some officials smoke in public places, which has not only jeopardized the environment and public health, but tarnished the image of party and government offices and leaders and has a negative influence,” the circular read, according to Xinhua. — AP


W H AT ’ S O N

ABK extends best wishes for New Year


l Ahli Bank of Kuwait extends season’s greetings to its customers and the people of Kuwait at the onset of New Year, with wishes for a wonderful 2014. During the upcoming end of year holiday ABK branches will be closed on Wednesday, January 1 and Thursday, January 2nd, and will resume business as normal on Sunday January 5.” ABK’s call center Ahlan Ahli at 1899 899 and Ahli Chat via our website will be accessible round the clock; customers can also conduct their banking transactions online or through the iAhliapp.

Gulf Bank close for New Year holiday


ulf Bank’s Head Office and all branches will close on Wednesday, 1st January 2014 and Thursday, 2nd January 2014 in celebration of the New Year. The Bank will commence normal working hours on Sunday, 5th January 2014. During the holiday, customers will continue to have round-the-clock access to their accounts through the Bank’s mobile banking service. Numerous transactions including transfers and payments can be made using the mobile banking application which is available on iPhone, BlackBerry and Android. Customers also have 24 hour access to the Customers Contact Center on 1805805 and the Gulf Bank website, Gulf Bank’s management and staff take this opportunity to wish everyone a Prosperous 2014.


AOU celebrates graduation of 545 students

he Arab Open University in Kuwait celebrated the graduation of 545 students for the academic year 2012/2013 in a ceremony attended by Dr Ali Fakhrou, chairman of the executive committee of the AOU Board of Trustees, who represented Chairman of the AOU Board of Trustees HH Prince Talal Bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud. The event, hosted inside the Jumeirah Hotel in Misseelah, was also attended by AOU Rector Dr Moudhi Al-Hmoud, Director of the AOU - Kuwait Branch, Dr Nauyef Al-Mutairi, and Secretary General of the Private Universities Council in Kuwait, Dr Habeeb Abul.

CBK to serve clients on New Year holiday


he Commercial Bank of Kuwait announced that its two branches at the Kuwait International Airport will remain open during the New Year Holiday as part of the bank’s effort to offer banking services to clients throughout national holidays. Clients can still access services through the call center at 1888225, online on and through ATMs around Kuwait.

Embassy of India holiday notice

Movenpick FTZ embodies human painting for the year 2014

The Embassy of India will be closed on the following dates during the month of January 2014. 1 January 2014, Wednesday - New Year’s Day 14 January 2014, Tuesday - Eid - E - Milad 26 January 2014, Sunday - Republic Day

Puthuvalsarathanima 2014


HANIMA, the prominent socio-cultural Group in Kuwait actively involved in promoting traditional art & cultural forms as well as striving for religious harmony is celebrating their New Year program - Puthuvalsarathanima 2014 - on Saturday, January 4 from 6 pm onwards at United Indian School, Abbassiya. The main attraction of the event is a ‘Traditional Carol Singing Competition’ which is one of its kind in Kuwait. Winners will receive trophies & prizes sponsored by Thanima. Leaders representing various religious beliefs will deliver New Year messages highlighting the importance of religious harmony and the need for peaceful co-existence. Thanima invites all to the program to share the nostalgic experience of traditional carol singing and New Year celebrations. Entry to the event is free.




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he Movenpick Hotel Kuwait, located specifically in the Free Zone, celebrated its tenth anniversary for its presence in the State of Kuwait, as well as for its services towards the Kuwaiti tourism and economy, in parallel with the celebration of the coming of the year 2014; for this reason, the hotel management symbolized the year 2014 by tangling the hands of the hotel staff in order to provide high value inspirational and exceptional experiences for hotel

guests in 2014 and has also cut a cake to celebrate the event, designed upon by the hotel logo and ten years of success. The Movenpick hotel Kuwait proved itself as a unique hotel that suits the entire family, as it offers many of the services that meet the different needs and desires during the past ten years, because of its location in Shuwaikh and its proximity to the airport, Port and shopping malls such as Avenues. In this same context, the General

Manager of the Movenpick Hotel Kuwait Hassan Hassanein said “We have witnessed an eventful year, and we are very grateful for the support we have received from the media, the local community, and all those who contributed to our success to consolidate the position of the Movenpick Hotel Kuwait throughout the past, in particular, and during the last ten years, in general, in providing upscale Swiss service to our dear guests.”

Entertainment City announces New Year holiday timings


he Entertainment City welcomes visitors during the New Year holiday on special timings from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm, the Touristic Enterprises Company announced in a statement yesterday. The special timings apply to the holiday on Wednesday and Thursday, whereas the facility welcomes visitors during the weekend on Meshari Al-San’ousy regular timings from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm. Meanwhile, Vice President for the Entertainment City Affairs, Meshari Al-San’ousy, announced that a special program is prepared for the New Year holiday featuring laser shows, DJ displays and competitions.

W H AT ’ S O N


Embassy Information 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. nnnnnnn

EMBASSY OF SOUTH AFRICA The Embassy of the Republic of South Africa has the honour to inform that on the occasion of the Christmas and New Year, the Embassy will remain closed from 24 December 2013 and will reopen again on 5th January 2014. nnnnnnn

EMBASSY OF SLOVAK The Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Kuwait would like to inform the public that on the occasion of the New Year and the Independence Day of the Slovak Republic, the Embassy will be closed on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 and on Wednesday, January 01, 2014 and on the occasion of Catholic Epiphany Holiday, the Embassy will be closed on Monday, January 06. nnnnnnn

TEC hosts celebration to mark Bangladesh Independence Day


he Touristic Enterprises Company hosted a celebration at the Touristic Park to mark the 42nd Independence Day of Bangladesh, featuring the Bangladeshi ambassador, embassy staff and members of the Bangladeshi community in Kuwait. Folklore dances and other activities were held as part of the event.

Burgan Bank’s working hours during New Year


urgan Bank today announced that its airport branch will resume normal working hours during the upcoming New Year holiday, on Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd of January 2014 in an effort to accommodate banking requirements for travelers’ during the public holiday. The bank’s branch will operate from 8 am to 10:30 pm. For more information on any products or services, customers are required to contact Burgan Bank’s call center 1804080 during the holiday. On this occasion, Burgan Bank extends its best wishes and greetings to the public on the arrival of the New Year.

Al Kout Mall to celebrate New Year with exciting program


l Kout Mall will host an exciting lineup of New Year’s festivities for all to enjoy, which will include live music, traditional Kuwaiti performances, freestyle football show and fun-packed activities for children, including games and giveaways. The celebrations will start on December 31st and will showcase a range of different music genres, from classical Arabic to flamenco guitar, as well as international music and fountains dancing to symphonies every day from 9 am to 11 pm - providing ever more reason to be outdoors during the pleasant change of weather. Set against a backdrop of stunning views of the sea, boasting a 150-berth marina and a performing fountain centerpiece, Al Kout’s exclusive location and modernArabian property will provide a unique New Year’s experi-

ence for everyone, with activities that will span non-stop until January 4. “Al Kout loves to help its shoppers celebrate the holidays and create a festive feel” says Jumana Atallah, the Center Manager. “We are constantly striving to reflect the spirit of the season, and seeing as it’s the perfect time to be outdoors, we want to encourage the communities to get out and get active. We’re lucky to have great weather this time of year, and so much of Al Kout’s charm lies in its beautiful open-air spaces.” With a selection of approximately 100 international, regional and local brands that will still be servicing their customers throughout the festivities, Al Kout Mall will be offering the perfect mix of shopping and leisure for all its guests - and a New Year celebration that will surely set a precedent for the months to come.

IBS, Kuwait awarded Associate Membership to Council of British International Schools


he International British School (IBS), Kuwait is proud to announce that it has become an Associate Member of the prestigious Council of British International Schools (COBIS). IBS is the first ever Kuwait school to receive membership of COBIS. A COBIS Internationally have approved schools in over 50 countries worldwide and is seen as a mark of quality for the member institutions. Speaking at a press conference to announce the membership, Headmaster William Deacon, who joined the school in September, said, “There are several key requirements for associate membership of COBIS such as, the school curriculum is broadly in line with the National Curriculum for England and Wales, the teaching staff are appropriately qualified and are predominantly native or fluent English speakers, the

teaching methodology and practices are in line with UK practice and the buildings & facilities are adequate for the number of pupils at the school and comply with local regulations and UK guidelines. In addition to the above standards, is a successful inspection of IBS every three years according to standards set by the UK Government by a licensed inspectorate. We are happy to announce that IBS has successfully complied with all the required standards.” “Furthermore, IBS has had to design and implement a number of important policy documents on Child Protection, School Development Plan, Health & Safety, Staff and Student Discipline Policy and Emergency Procedures.” he added. IBS continues to develop its quality of education delivered in the school and

having its progress monitored and inspected by COBIS. This ensures that COBIS schools represent the highest standards of British education in a rapidly growing international market where quality education is of utmost importance. IBS is located in Al Fahaheel in a modern purpose-built site that is designed to create a positive environment that fosters learning. IBS is proud to be a registered ‘Cambridge International Primary School’ examination centre. The primary curriculum at IBS has been adapted to meet high standards to ensure that students have the best possible learning opportunity. The professional teaching staff at IBS is committed to ensuring all students, who are learning through the National Curriculum of England and Wales, reach their full potential.

EMBASSY OF INDIA India and Kuwait have enjoyed historically close, warm and friendly ties. The visit of His Highness Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, Prime Minister of Kuwait to India in November 2013 has imparted a new thrust to the strengthening further of the bilateral ties. To facilitate travel of Kuwaiti nationals to India for business, tourism, medical and study purposes, the embassy has adopted the following visa structure for Kuwaiti nationals with immediate effect:

Please apply Indian visa online at and deposit visa application, with applicable visa fee and service charge, at either M/s. BLS International Services, Emad Commercial Centre, Basement floor Ahmed Al-Jaber Street, Sharq, Kuwait city (Telephone: 22986607 - Fax: 22470006) or M/s. BLS International Services, Mujamma Unood, 4th floor, Office No.25-26 Makka Street, Entrance 5, Fahaheel, Kuwait (Telephone: 22986607 - Fax: 22470006). For additional information, please contact Second Secretary (Consular) in the Embassy at In addition, a service charge of KD 5 will also apply for each visa service provided. nnnnnnn

EMBASSY OF US The US Embassy in Kuwait has new procedures for obtaining appointments and picking up passports after visa issuance. 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 +965-22271673). 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. nnnnnnn

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:



00:15 Little Britain 00:45 Little Britain 01:15 Little Britain 01:45 Little Britain 02:10 Eastenders 02:40 Doctors 04:10 Alone In The Wild 05:00 Boogie Beebies 05:15 Balamory 05:35 Teletubbies 06:00 Little Robots 06:10 Buzz & Tell 06:15 Boogie Beebies 06:30 Balamory 06:50 Teletubbies 07:15 Little Robots 07:25 The Weakest Link 08:10 Alone In The Wild 09:00 Eastenders 09:30 Doctors 10:00 Dinnerladies 10:30 Dinnerladies 11:00 Dinnerladies 11:30 Dinnerladies 12:00 Dinnerladies 12:30 Dinnerladies 13:00 Eastenders 13:30 Doctors 14:30 Great Ormond Street 17:00 Eastenders 17:30 Doctors 18:00 Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff: Christmas Special 20:00 BBC Proms 2011: Comedy Prom 21:40 Absolutely Fabulous: Xmas 2011 22:40 Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff: Christmas Special 23:10 Dead Boss 23:40 Dead Boss

00:00 Cash In The Attic 00:45 Hairy Bikers’ Bake-ation 01:35 A Taste Of Greenland 02:25 The Restaurant Inspector 03:10 The Restaurant Inspector 03:55 The Restaurant Inspector 04:40 The Restaurant Inspector 05:25 Hairy Bikers’ Bake-ation 06:15 A Taste Of Greenland 07:05 The Restaurant Inspector 07:50 The Restaurant Inspector 08:35 French Food At Home 08:55 Masterchef: The Professionals 09:20 Food & Drink 09:50 Rick Stein’s Spain 10:45 Masterchef: The Professionals 11:10 Food & Drink 11:40 The Little Paris Kitchen 12:05 Masterchef: The Professionals 12:35 Hairy Bikers’ Bake-ation 13:25 A Taste Of Greenland 14:15 New Scandinavian Cooking 14:40 Come Dine With Me 15:30 Come Dine With Me 16:25 Come Dine With Me 17:15 Come Dine With Me 18:05 Come Dine With Me 18:55 Come Dine With Me 19:45 Come Dine With Me 20:35 Come Dine With Me 21:30 Come Dine With Me: Supersize 23:05 Come Dine With Me

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The Hunger: Death Race Bush Pilots Battleground: Rhino Wars Mythbusters Specials Border Security Storage Hunters Flip Men How Do They Do It? How It’s Made Sons Of Guns Mythbusters Specials Flying Wild Alaska Fast N’ Loud Border Security

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

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Storage Hunters Flip Men How Do They Do It? How It’s Made The Hunger: Death Race Bush Pilots Dual Survival Border Security Storage Hunters Flip Men Alaska: The Last Frontier Fast N’ Loud Ultimate Survival Dirty Jobs Mythbusters Specials Sons Of Guns Storage Hunters Flip Men How Do They Do It? How It’s Made Get Out Alive With Bear

Oddities Dark Matters Food Factory Dark Matters: Twisted But Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Food Factory Oddities Oddities Oddities Oddities Deadliest Space Weather Deadliest Space Weather Deadliest Space Weather Deadliest Space Weather Deadliest Space Weather Deadliest Space Weather Deadliest Space Weather Deadliest Space Weather Deadliest Space Weather Deadliest Space Weather

The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody Sonny With A Chance Sonny With A Chance Suite Life On Deck Suite Life On Deck Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody Sonny With A Chance Sonny With A Chance Suite Life On Deck Suite Life On Deck Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place Austin And Ally Austin And Ally A.N.T. Farm A.N.T. Farm Gravity Falls Mako Mermaids Mako Mermaids Mako Mermaids Mako Mermaids Ratatouille Prank Stars Wolfblood Suite Life On Deck A.N.T. Farm Austin And Ally Shake It Up That’s So Raven Jessie Good Luck Charlie

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Mako Mermaids Mako Mermaids Mako Mermaids Mako Mermaids Violetta Teen Beach Movie Good Luck Charlie Dog With A Blog Violetta Austin And Ally Jessie Good Luck Charlie Shake It Up Austin And Ally Jessie Good Luck Charlie Shake It Up A.N.T. Farm Good Luck Charlie

00:15 Andy Bates American Street Feasts 00:40 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 01:05 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 01:30 Heat Seekers 01:55 Meat & Potatoes 02:20 Outrageous Food 02:45 Siba’s Table 03:10 Siba’s Table 03:35 Andy Bates American Street Feasts 04:00 Andy Bates American Street Feasts 04:25 Food Wars 04:50 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 05:15 United Tastes Of America 05:40 Chopped 06:30 Iron Chef America 07:10 Food Network Challenge 08:00 Unwrapped 08:25 Unwrapped 08:50 United Tastes Of America 09:15 Unique Sweets 09:40 Kid In A Candy Store 10:05 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 10:30 Staten Island Cakes 11:20 Charly’s Cake Angels 11:45 Amazing Wedding Cakes 12:35 Jenny Morris Cooks Morocco 13:00 Reza’s African Kitchen 13:25 Charly’s Cake Angels 13:50 Siba’s Table 14:15 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 14:40 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 15:05 Guy’s Big Bite 15:30 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 15:55 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 16:20 Roadtrip With G. Garvin 16:45 Chopped 17:30 Barefoot Contessa - Back To Basics 18:00 Amazing Wedding Cakes 18:50 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 19:15 Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives 19:40 Siba’s Table 20:05 Charly’s Cake Angels 20:30 Chopped 21:20 Amazing Wedding Cakes 22:10 Iron Chef America Special 23:00 World Class: Bartender Of The Year 23:50 World Class: Bartender Of The Year

01:00 The Colbert Report Global Edition 01:30 South Park 02:30 Veep 03:30 Go On 04:30 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 06:30 Friends 07:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 10:30 Friends 13:30 Friends 14:00 Go On 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:30 Melissa & Joey 19:00 The Crazy Ones 20:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 The New Normal 22:30 Louie 23:00 Veep

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The Food Truck The Food Truck Bizarre Foods America International House Hunters International House Hunters Travel Testers Bizarre Foods America

Asala Nasry to host Mohammed Abdo exclusively on OSN


rab superstar Asala Nasry will kick off the third season of ‘Sola,’ airing exclusively on OSN Ya Hala HD!, with musical legend, Mohammed Abdo, in a special episode marking the New Year. Featuring a tete-a-tete with the superstar and details on his life, the show will also encompass of performances of some of the biggest hits from his musical career. The episode will begin with a performance of Bas Lahza, from his newest album, in addition to a duet with Asala Nasry entitled Tefargna Al Sinin. Audiences can also catch upcoming Egyptian star, Karem Sulaiman, and the maestro, Waleed Fayd. Don’t miss out on one of the Arab world’s foremost musical talents, exclusively on OSN Ya Hala HD, on Thursday, Jan 2 and Friday, Jan 3, at 20:00 KSA.

THE TREE OF LIFE ON OSN MOVIES HD 23:30 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

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Royal Pains Top Gear (UK) The Newsroom Rescue Me Royal Pains Coronation Street Royal Pains Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show Bones Bunheads Grey’s Anatomy Top Gear (UK) Hemlock Grove Rescue Me

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Switched At Birth Treme Boardwalk Empire Coronation Street Coronation Street Switched At Birth Live Good Morning America C.S.I. Switched At Birth Parenthood C.S.I. Switched At Birth Boardwalk Empire Treme

00:00 Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines 02:00 Creature 04:00 Graystone 05:45 Tombstone 08:00 Alien Tornado 10:00 Blackthorn 12:00 Wild Wild West 14:00 Metal Shifters 16:00 Blackthorn 18:00 Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows 20:15 Metal Shifters 22:00 How I Spent My Summer Vacation

00:00 Creature-18 02:00 Graystone-18 03:45 Tombstone-PG15 06:00 Alien Tornado-PG15 08:00 Blackthorn-PG15 10:00 Wild Wild West-PG15 12:00 Metal Shifters-PG15 14:00 Blackthorn-PG15 16:00 Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows-PG15 18:15 Metal Shifters-PG15 20:00 How I Spent My Summer Vacation-PG15 22:00 Special Forces-PG15

00:00 For A Good Time, Call-18 02:00 Detroit Rock City-18 04:00 I Don’t Know How She Does It-PG15 06:00 Celtic Pride-PG 08:00 Police Academy 7: Mission To Moscow-PG15 10:00 Blame It On The BellboyPG15 12:00 I Don’t Know How She Does It-PG15 14:00 Who Framed Roger RabbitPG 16:00 Blame It On The BellboyPG15 18:00 New Year’s Eve-PG15 20:00 American Reunion-18 22:00 Wanderlust-R


International House Hunters International House Hunters International House Hunters International House Hunters Hotel Impossible Trip Flip Trip Flip

01:30 Matching Jack-PG15 03:15 Would Be Kings-PG15 05:00 Dirty Teacher-PG15

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Here-PG15 Down The Shore-PG15 Les Miserables-PG15 Remember Sunday-PG15 Hide Away-PG15 Waiting For Forever-PG15 Sparkle-PG15 Trishna-18 The Bang Bang Club-18

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Kill For Me-18 Final Analysis-18 Young Adult-PG15 Cool It-PG15 Carnage-PG15 The Terminal-PG15 I’ve Loved You So Long-PG15 We Bought A Zoo-PG The Terminal-PG15 Wish You Were Here-PG15 Hamlet—PG15

01:15 Beastly-PG15 03:00 Bernie-PG15 05:00 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part One-PG15 06:30 The Tree Of Life-PG15 09:00 Katy Perry The Movie: Part Of Me-PG 11:00 Midnight In Paris-PG15 13:00 Rise Of The Guardians-PG 15:00 This Means War-PG15 17:00 Katy Perry The Movie: Part Of Me-PG 19:00 Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away-PG 21:00 The Dark Knight Rises-PG15 23:45 Rock Of Ages-PG15

01:00 Teo: The Intergalactic Hunter 02:45 Luke And Lucy: The Texas Rangers 04:30 Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva LA Fiesta! 06:00 Teo: The Intergalactic Hunter 08:00 Eleanor’s Secret 10:00 Dr Seuss’ Cat In The Hat 11:30 Gaturro 13:00 Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva LA Fiesta! 14:30 Gabe The Cupid Dog 16:00 Puss In Boots 18:00 Dr Seuss’ Cat In The Hat 20:00 Ice Age: Continental Drift 22:00 Gabe The Cupid Dog 23:30 The Adventures Of Don Quixote

00:00 Cash-PG15 02:00 Premium Rush-PG15 04:00 A Heartbeat Away-PG15 06:00 One Life-PG15 08:00 Brave-PG 09:45 Chimpanzee-PG 11:15 Premium Rush-PG15 13:00 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey-PG 16:00 Brave-PG 17:45 The Bourne Legacy-PG15 20:00 Prometheus-PG15 22:00 The Watch-18

02:00 Trans World Sport 03:00 Top 14 05:00 The Fedex Cup 06:00 PGA Tour Year In Review 07:00 Darts 11:00 EURO Tour Weekly Review Of The Year 12:00 The Fedex Cup 13:00 PGA Tour Year In Review 14:00 The Open Championship 15:00 The USPGA Championship 16:00 Super Rugby Final Highlights 16:30 Currie Cup Final Highlights 17:00 ITM Cup Final Highlights 17:30 Super League Final Highlights 18:00 NRL Final Highlights

18:30 HSBC Sevens World Series 22:00 Darts

00:30 01:30 02:30 03:30 06:30 07:00 08:00 09:00 12:30 13:00 17:00 19:00 20:00 22:30

America’s Cup Review Show The Fedex Cup Playoffs PGA Tour Year In Review Live NHL Top 14 Highlights America’s Cup Review Show Champions Tour HSBC Sevens World Series Top 14 Highlights Darts NHL America’s Cup Review Show NFL NHL

00:00 Golfing World 01:00 AFL Premiership Highlights 02:00 Super Rugby Final Highlights 02:30 PDC Worlds Darts Championship 06:30 ICC Cricket 360 07:00 Golfing World 08:00 Pro 12 10:00 AFL Premiership Highlights 11:00 Super Leauge Final Highlights 11:30 NRL Final Highlights 12:00 Super Rugby Final Highlights 12:30 Currie Cup Final Highlights 13:00 ITM Cup Final Highlights 13:30 Pro 12 15:30 ICC Cricket 360 16:00 Euro Tour Weekly 17:00 The Fedex Cup Play Offs 18:00 PGA Tour 19:00 The Open Championship 20:00 The USPGA Championship 21:00 Golfing World 22:00 Super Rugby Final Highlights 22:30 Currie Cup Final Highlights 23:00 ITM Cup Final Highlights 23:30 Super League Final Highlights

01:00 03:00 04:00 05:00 07:00 08:00 09:00 10:00 11:00 12:00 12:30 16:00 17:00 18:00 20:00 23:00 23:30

00:00 00:30 01:00 Rides 02:00 03:00 04:00 05:00 06:00 06:30 07:00 Rides 08:00 09:00 10:00 10:30 11:00 Rides 12:00 12:30 13:00 13:30 14:00

‘Before Midnight’ team featured at Santa Barbara Film Festival

NHL Ping Pong World US Bass Fishing Porsche GT 3 Cup Challenge WWE NXT WWE Bottom Line Ping Pong World US Bass Fishing AFL Premiership Highlights ICC Cricket World Live Cricket Twenty 20 WWE Experience WWE NXT NHL Prizefighter Porsche GT 3 Cup Challenge Porsche GT 3 Cup Challenge

Airport 24/7: Miami Airport 24/7: Miami World’s Greatest Motorcycle Future Scream Machines Off Limits Hotel Impossible Extreme Parking Airport 24/7: Miami Airport 24/7: Miami World’s Greatest Motorcycle Globe Trekker Descending Airport 24/7: Miami Airport 24/7: Miami World’s Greatest Motorcycle Xtreme Waterparks Trip Flip The Food Truck The Food Truck Bizarre Foods America


he screenwriters behind the “Before” film trilogy Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy and Richard Linklater - will sit down for an in-depth conversation as part of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, organizers announced Sunday. The session will be held on Sunday, Feb 9, the festival’s final day, following screenings of “Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight” at the Lobero Theater. “This trilogy creates one of the most authentic portrayals of love on the screen,” said the fest’s executive director Roger Durling said, “and it’s an undeniable gift to be able to experience all three movies in one day as well as to host its three talented creators.” The trilogy has been a favorite with critics since the first film, “Before Sunrise,” was released in 1995. Starring Hawke and Delpy, it followed a young couple meeting for the first time on a train who decide to spend the whole day together in Vienna with the chance of never seeing one another again. The sequel, “Before Sunset,” was released nine years later in 2004, with Hawke’s Jesse and Delpy’s Celine meeting each other again by chance in Paris. The film, which was cowritten by Hawke, Delpy and director Linklater, was nominated for an Academy Award for adapted screenplay. The characters were most recently together in this year’s “Before Midnight,” in which Jesse and Celine are nine years into their relationship and vacationing in Greece. The film, which was again co-written by Hawke, Delpy and Linklater, was released in May by Sony Pictures Classics and is one of the year’s best reviewed films, with a 98 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Hawke, Delpy and Linklater have been nominated for the Independent Spirit and Broadcast Film Critics awards for their “Before Midnight” screenplay and won the LA Film Critics award for adapted screenplay. Delpy received a Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a comedy or musical. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs from Jan 30 till Feb 9. — Reuters

Italian distributor apologizes for ‘Slave’ posters


he Italian distributor of the film “12 Years A Slave” has apologized for promotional posters attacked as racist for featuring Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, despite their relatively minor roles, and not the film’s star, Chiwetel Ejiofor. BIM Distribuzione said in a statement yesterday the “inappropriate materials have now been withdrawn” and expressed “regret any distraction this incident may have caused.” BIM said the new posters feature only Ejiofor, who has been nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of a freed black man who is abducted and sold into slavery. The distributor said the posters featuring Pitt and Fassbender were aimed at “giving wide representation of what is told in the film itself.” The film by director Steve McQueen opens in February in Italy. — Reuter

Classifieds TUESDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2013


NO SUN+TUE+WED 1:15 PM 3:30 PM 5:30 PM 7:45 PM 9:45 PM 12:05 AM

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MUHALAB-1 MANDELA: Long Walk to Freedom (DIG) HOURS (DIG) MANDELA: Long Walk to Freedom (DIG) MANDELA: Long Walk to Freedom (DIG)

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360º- 2 MANDELA: Long Walk to Freedom (DIG) MANDELA: Long Walk to Freedom (DIG) MANDELA: Long Walk to Freedom (DIG) MANDELA: Long Walk to Freedom (DIG) MANDELA: Long Walk to Freedom (DIG)

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AJIAL.4 SILENCE (DIG) (Malayalam) SILENCE (DIG) (Malayalam)

6:45 PM 9:15 PM


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ACCOMMODATION Abraq Khaitan full room and sharing room available for decent bachelor with Goan in double bedroom flat with internet, kitchen facility, beside main road and bus stop, near police station round about. Contact: 24745162 or 97523316. (C 4602) 24-12-2013

FOR SALE One year used furniture bedroom set, double coat with custom made special mattress, side table, four door cupboard with mirror. All KD 95, price negotiable, if interested call 66619705. (C 4605) 30-12-2013

LOST It is notified for the information that my original qualifying examination certificate of mains CBSE Secondary School Examination Grade Sheet cum Certificate of Performance (2010-2012) and roll number 8106218, issued by CBSE (Govt of India) has been actually lost. Govind Shajan, Civil ID No: 296120701624, flat 31, building 1, street 2, block 12, Salmiya, Kuwait, Phone: 96614238. (C 4604) 28-12-2013

SITUATION VACANT Driver needed for Kuwaiti family, full-time & part-time. Call 60623330. (C 4603) 26-12-2013

112 Prayer timings Fajr:












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Departure Flights on Tuesday 31/12/2013 Flt Route Time 982 AHMEDABAD 00:05 981 WASHINGTON 00:55 206 LAHORE 01:05 573 MUMBAI 01:10 44 CHITTAGONG 01:45 635 FRANKFURT 02:10 773 ISTANBUL-ATATURK 02:55 416 KABUL 03:30 854 DUBAI 03:50 381 DELHI 03:50 306 ABU DHABI 04:00 613 CAIRO 04:10 1085 DOHA 04:15 68 DUBAI 04:40 1077 DOHA 05:15 283 DHAKA 05:30 70 DUBAI 06:30 164 DUBAI 06:55 765 ISTANBUL-SABIHA 07:05 212 BAHRAIN 07:15 545 ALEXANDRIA 07:15 771 ISTANBUL-ATATURK 07:30 54 DUBAI 08:30 156 LONDON 08:45 787 JEDDAH 09:25 671 DUBAI 09:30 126 SHARJAH 09:40 856 DUBAI 09:55 302 ABU DHABI 10:05 1071 DOHA 10:10 56 DUBAI 10:20 214 BAHRAIN 11:25 541 CAIRO 11:30 406 SOHAG 11:50 165 ROME 11:50 404 ASYUT 12:15 103 LONDON 12:20 776 JEDDAH 12:25 6522 LAMERD 12:45 405 BEIRUT 12:55 785 JEDDAH 13:00 342 DAMASCUS 13:30 176 DUBAI 13:45 580 SOHAG 13:50 611 CAIRO 14:00 481 TAIF 14:10 872 DUBAI 14:15



58 1079 673 773 741 617 473 222 501 252 646 238 304 1073 858 538 641 128 511 216 184 266 554 134 64 402 1081 218 62 648 331 361 120 571 351 171 230 403 308 220 301 60 860 205 1075 575 502 411


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s ta rs CROSSWORD 415

STAR TRACK Aries (March 21-April 19) ARIES This time favors practical endeavors, as well as expanding or creating a business. Your goals are especially clear and your planning ability is sharp. There is a final need to push for some impressive results with regard to work. Success at this time depends on how well you know your own motivations. You should be experiencing financial gain now, perhaps a bonus. Spend some time alone in thought. You will work very hard on your own personal projects at this time. Your inner confidence shines. You are particularly sensitive to beauty and this time favors buying art objects or other things of beauty. Purchases today are likely to be a good investment over the long run. You plan to spend this evening in the company of loved ones.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) Relationships with other people are the main keys to your satisfaction this day. You may be working with a relative or spouse and find that it is important you have some new ideas or input that would demonstrate unexpected thinking. Suggest a field trip to a museum or art show. It will give employees a chance to take pleasure in each other’s company and perhaps enjoy a new opportunity to expand their thinking. Perhaps a tour would be stimulating. You will not be stealing ideas but you will be opening up to creative thinking. You are respected for your ability to think outside the box, so to speak. This is a very nice day, one with a great many possibilities. Taking in a movie or reading a good book this evening may be a fun escape.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

ACROSS 1. A guided missile fired from shipboard against an airborne target. 4. (meteorology) Of an air current or wind. 12. Having only superficial plausibility. 15. An accountant certified by the state. 16. Relating to or resembling a buffalo. 17. The United Nations agency concerned with international maritime activities. 18. A river in north central Switzerland that runs northeast into the Rhine. 19. Punish with an arbitrary penalty. 20. Closed with a lace. 22. (informal) Exceptionally good. 24. A small cake leavened with yeast. 25. Tropical American feather palm whose large nuts yield valuable oil and a kind of vegetable ivory. 26. At full speed. 28. A republic on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean. 29. (dialect) A short straight stick of wood. 32. Scarabaeid beetle considered divine by ancient Egyptians. 34. A city in west central Mexico. 37. A rare silvery (usually trivalent) metallic element. 41. The compass point midway between northeast and east. 42. Remote city of Kazakhstan that (ostensibly for security reasons) was made the capital in 1998. 47. A siren of German legend who lured boatmen in the Rhine to destruction. 49. A fibrous amphibole. 51. Brazilian tree with handsomely marked wood. 52. An enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of many body compounds (e.g., epinephrine and norepinephrine and serotonin). 53. A gonadotropic hormone that is secreted by the anterior pituitary. 54. A master's degree in fine arts. 56. The United Nations agency concerned with atomic energy. 58. A landlocked republic in northwestern Africa. 61. Muslims collectively and their civilization. 63. A city in southern Turkey on the Seyhan River. 65. A barrier constructed to contain the flow or water or to keep out the sea. 67. English inventor who published the first book illustrated with photographs (1800-1877). 70. (formal) By means of this. 72. Shackle that consists of a metal loop that can be locked around the wrist. 74. North American republic containing 50 states - 48 conterminous states in North America plus Alaska in northwest North America and the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean. 75. An oral poliovirus vaccine (containing live but weakened poliovirus) that is given to provide immunity to poliomyelitis. 76. An insignia used by the medical profession. 78. 3 to 30 gigahertz. 79. The 7th letter of the Greek alphabet. 80. Small class of minute arthropods. 81. Headdress that protects the head from bad weather. DOWN 1. Someone who works (or provides workers) during a strike. 2. South American armadillo with three bands

of bony plates. 3. God of death. 4. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. 5. Small Australian marsupial having long snout and strong claws for feeding on termites. 6. At right angles to the length of a ship or airplane. 7. West Indian shrub or small tree having leathery saponaceous leaves and extremely hard wood. 8. Verse in the meter used in Greek and Latin poetry consisting of strophes of 4 tetrametric lines. 9. Neckwear consisting of a long narrow piece of material worn (mostly by men) under a collar and tied in knot at the front. 10. Not out. 11. A cavity in the mesoderm of an embryo that gives rise in humans to the pleural cavity and pericardial cavity and peritoneal cavity. 12. A unit of weight used in some parts of Asia. 13. A cylindrical spikelike inflorescence. 14. A genus of delicate ferns belonging to the family Osmundaceae. 21. According to the Old Testament he was a pagan king of Israel and husband of Jezebel (9th century BC). 23. A desert in central Asia. 27. A city in southern Japan on Kyushu. 30. (of a musical instrument) Intermediate between alto and baritone or bass. 31. A drama set to music. 33. An intensely radioactive metallic element that occurs in minute amounts in uranium ores. 35. The civil and religious leader of a Muslim state. 36. Type genus of the Amiidae. 38. An audiotape recording of sound. 39. Eaten as mush or as a thin gruel. 40. Boiled or baked buckwheat. 43. Cubes of meat marinated and cooked on a skewer usually with vegetables. 44. A Tibetan or Mongolian priest of Lamaism. 45. A rare heavy polyvalent metallic element that resembles manganese chemically and is used in some alloys. 46. The act of detecting something. 48. The expensive white fur of the ermine. 50. Exhibiting self-importance. 55. As much as a teacup will hold. 57. The act of concealing yourself and lying in wait to attack by surprise. 59. Having or showing knowledge and skill and aptitude. 60. The immature free-living form of most invertebrates and amphibians and fish which at hatching from the egg is fundamentally unlike its parent and must metamorphose. 62. The sacred city of Lamaism. 64. The elementary stages of any subject (usually plural). 66. (quantifier used with mass nouns) Great in quantity or degree or extent. 68. A law passed by US Congress to prevent employees from being injured or contracting diseases in the course of their employment. 69. United States sculptor (1860-1936). 71. A branch of the Tai languages. 73. Slightly insane. 77. Diabetes caused by a relative or absolute deficiency of insulin and characterized by polyuria.


Though your nature may seem a bit on the quiet or reserved side today, it should serve you well. This is still a great time of the year to cook and as the good cook that you are, you may decide to bring samples to share with everybody. Perhaps a time could be set aside occasionally, to trade recipes in the hopes of making a meal more interesting or easier, etc. You may find yourself put to task by your friends and this may be in the workplace as well as outside of work. This evening, you find you have lots of energy for making improvements to your surroundings or life conditions. The motivation to improve is available. Your emotions should be well under your control and it would be easy to communicate your desires as well as to please another.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) Career decisions that show you the possibility of some real success may just not fit in with your schedule today but can be included in the changes you want to make for next year. You probably are not going to be able to appreciate a job where you would be held back from expressing yourself. You are the only one that can lay the concrete for your path to success—you may be asking yourself if it is time for the road to turn. You are interested in broadening your options and becoming the best you can possibly be. There are many aspects to consider—let your conscience be your guide—it will not deceive you! You may need to help some young people solve problems this evening. You turn into a cook tonight and decide to do some grilling.

Leo (July 23-August 22) Your creative and intuitive talents are what guide you today. Some may see you as a bit eccentric because of your rather unique and unusual approach to things. All in all, you should benefit well from your actions. In fact, someone that you would not have thought to be so supportive will be on your side in your endeavors at this time. This afternoon proves to be an excellent time to work together or just socialize. You will definitely want to get with the program, as your managerial and directional abilities will be guiding you in a progressive direction. At home this evening, you may become responsible for the care of young children. This is a benefit since you enjoy their company; later you will enjoy someone near your age.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) This will be the kind of day that we all long for, easygoing and calm, with everything running in a smooth manner. It is easy for you to understand the feelings of others and you can usually create a desire in the onlookers to purchase whatever it is that you are selling. As a result, you are probably a very good salesperson. Although there are a few problems this day, everyone is patient. A proposition may come to your attention, but you would be wise to set it aside for further consideration sometime in the future. Your more reserved qualities are apparent and should be valuable. You may want to run in a new year’s charity run; if this is so, you will probably want to purchase some warm underclothes as it might be very cold at that time.

Word Search

Libra (September 23-October 22) You may find some new answers to old questions or have breakthroughs with regard to your professional state of affairs. Others appreciate and admire your independence. You could find yourself with the offer of manager or coordinator. It is a good thing that you have prepared and stored all sorts of finger food for impromptu parties because, as you clear away your e-mail that has accumulated over the past few days, you will find lots of invitations and your finger food would make a good contribution to those you want to see. You enjoy entertaining and are a very good cook! You could find many opportunities to entertain people in your home soon. Cousins are in town, old friends as well, and you are looking forward to all the reunions.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) You have a great respect for law and order and an appreciation for responsibilities and duty. This is an excellent time for getting work accomplished that must be done. In fact, your personal power enables you to accomplish things at this time that would otherwise be difficult. This is a very good day for all types of mental work and communications. Your mind is sharp and you are able to state your case clearly and forcefully. You probably will not find a better day to work out any kind of business negotiations, begin a course of study or do some organizing. This is also a good day to get rid of any backlog of paperwork, or to make those phone calls that you have been putting aside. Rest as much as you can this afternoon—tonight is for friendships!

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) The two main things that are going to satisfy you now are relationships and elegance. You do not necessarily have work on your mind today. A quick once-over with some of the paperwork will help you feel as though you were tending to at least one thing. This afternoon you help with arrangements for a social, either at church or some neighborhood gathering. Things that are harmonious and beautiful are deeply satisfying. Close personal ties to other people are a focal point for your feelings at this time. Marriage and other partnerships could be the key for these emotions. Your inner self and emotions are accented. Expect a sense of support and goodwill from those around you. Poetry and art may be possible now. Enjoy some quiet time this evening.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) You may be working especially hard to get things and people organized. You always have a sense of ambition and can hold up your end of most any responsible task. Do not take it upon yourself to do someone else’s work today. You will be pushing yourself enough with the plans you have for tonight. You are an admirable person and you nurture your health. You enjoy helping others and may find that you and a friend do your best health program when you join together in an exercise program. Be careful not to overextend yourself; pace yourself. A silent and live auction or a charity drive today will be worth attending. This is a successful drive to help the city increase funds for a shelter and for aid to the needy through the winter.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) There are opportunities to work on group-planning committees today. There could be a little bit of frustration associated with trying to get things accomplished quickly. If you move too rapidly in making decisions, you could make mistakes that you regret, so just take one step at a time. A friend of yours tends to see the lighter side of things in general and when the day becomes a bit crowded it might be good to just take a break and call that friend for a little chat. You will also be helping them more than you realize. There is a moment of praise in how you choose your friends. Everything conspires to reveal you at your most elegant in social encounters this evening—if that is what you desire. If you desire to be at home, family members are appreciative.

Pisces (February 19-March 20) Others will find you most persuasive and almost charismatic in speech and communication. Things are very natural for self-expression and work particularly well with new ideas and thoughts. If you have been trying to convince higher-ups of better business techniques, now is the time. Positive energy is in the air and you should feel a super sense of support and harmony. Someone younger than you may look up to you for some answers or ideas. You will delight in helping others. Understanding and being sensitive in this situation is a wonderful prerequisite to having a special time with someone you love. Expect a good conversation with those that you love and care for the most. Smile, it is an infectious act. Enjoy the evening!

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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23915883 23715414 23726558


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24575518 24566622


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25726265 25647075 22625999 22564549 25340559 25326554 25721264 25380581 25628241






















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lifestyle G o s s i p

Adele to get cooking lesson from Nigella A

dele is to have a private cookery lesson from Nigella Lawson. The ‘Rolling in the Deep’ hitmaker will team up with the celebrity TV chef next year after her 13-month-old son Angelo’s “godfairies” gave her the baking master class as a Christmas present. A source told the Daily Star newspaper: “Adele has a group of close male friends who she calls ‘Angelo’s Godfairies’, because she isn’t religious and doesn’t believe in traditional godparents. “One of her close circle thought to give her the Nigella present this Christmas because she’s become so keen on cooking.” The 25-year-old singer has become such a fan of Nigella’s that she has been religiously following her Christmas turkey in brine recipe, as well as

cooking up delicious edible decorations. The source explained: “Adele loves cooking traditional English meals and nobody does that better than Nigella. “Adele admires her and is keen to learn more, so it was the perfect present for her.” Meanwhile, Nigella has had a tough time over the last year, including splitting from her husband Charles Saatchi, hitting the headlines for her alleged drug abuse, and being caught up in a legal battle with her former nannies Francesca and Elisabetta Grillo, who were cleared of defrauding the former couple.

Olly Murs ‘can’t wait’ to have children


he 29-year-old singer - who has been dating model Francesca Thomas for 17 months - insists he isn’t ready to settle down just yet, but he looks forward to getting married and starting a family in the future. Asked what the future holds, he said: “It’s not something I’m looking for right now, but I can’t wait to have kids. Most guys, at some point, have a dream to get married and have a little one in their arms.” The ‘Dear Darlin’ singer hates girls who play games and insist he is always “honest” with the people he is dating after seeing tricks backfire on his friends. He told Cosmopolitan magazine: “I hate all that; playing silly games where you ignore each other. “If you like someone then just go for it. Some of my mates play games, then they regret it because the girls get bored of them. Girls used to do it with me and I’d get annoyed. You need to be honest with each other.”

Cardle checks


eona Lewis would sing ‘Happy’ at Simon Cowell’s wedding. The music mogul recently claimed he would have all his acts perform when he weds girlfriend Lauren Silverman and his ‘X Factor’ protÈgÈe - who shot to fame in 2006 with Simon’s guidance - believes he would make her sing the hit ballad, which she recorded in 2009. Leona told BANG Showbiz: “He’d probably get me to sing ‘Happy’ because I think that’s one of his favourites of my songs.” The track is about taking chances no matter the potential risk, with lyrics including: “I gotta find my place, I wanna hear my sound, don’t care about all the pain in front of me, ‘cause I’m just trying to be happy.” Simon, 54, is expecting his first child - a boy - with Lauren and Leona, 28, admits it’s “weird” to think of her close

pal becoming a father. She added: “It’s so weird. I never thought I’d see the day but I think it’s amazing. It’s so lovely having a baby. I’m so happy for him.” Fatherhood won’t stop the music executive from being heavily involved in Leona’s career, however, as she insists he works very closely with her on her music. She explained: “Simon’s still the head of my label, still my A&R man ... so all my music, I send to him and we’ll kind of sit down and listen to things together and go through it and see what we’re feeling, what we’re not feeling. So he’s still very much involved in it.” Leona’s album ‘Christmas, with Love’ is out now.

One Direction give each other girl advice


he ‘Best Song Ever’ group - comprising Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson - are with each other all the time so it is only natural that they turn for one another for support when they are having love problems. Harry the only single member of the band - said: “Yes [we give each other girl advice]!You know we travel all the time together, so if someone’s having problems with a girl, they’ll come into the car, the put it out into the car and tell everyone what’s going on. Then we all kind of give our advice to them and talk about it.” Harry - who

has been romantically linked with famous women including Kendall Jenner, Taylor Swift and Caroline Flack - thinks you cannot predict when you fall in love, as it could happen “at any time”. Quizzed on the best way to get his attention, the hunk said: “It depends really. If I spotted the right girl, it could be at any time. I think love sometimes finds you when you’re least expecting it and often when you’re not looking for it.”


having plastic surgery

att Cardle has reportedly checked himself into rehab. The 30-year-old singer - who shot to fame after winning ‘The X Factor’ in 2010 - is said to have signed up for a 28-day program at The Priory rehabilitation centre in London last night after allegedly becoming hooked on prescription pills temazepam and Valium. Friends of the ‘When We Collide’ hitmaker claim he turned to the drugs after struggling to deal with the stress of releasing his last two albums independently following his split from his record label last year. A pal told The Sun newspaper: “Matt is all over the place at the moment. “His last two albums have done well in the charts, but the amount of work he has had to put in has been unreal - and it all started to get too much for him. “In order to calm himself down he started taking Valium and then temazepam, but things got so bad that he couldn’t get up in the morning without taking pills. “He began to realise he had a problem and decided to do something about it and get clean before his tour.” Matt is determined to ditch his alleged addiction before kicking off his UK tour next April.

Britt Ekland regrets

into rehab Lewis to sing at Cowell’s wedding M

he former Bond girl - best known for starring opposite Sir Roger Moore in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ - blames her insecurities about turning 50 for her decision to go under the knife 20 years ago, and wishes she had chosen to age gracefully instead. The 71-year-old star told the new issue of Britain’s HELLO! magazine: “I’ve realized this is just not me, but it is what it is and you have to live with it. Whatever I did 15 or 20 years ago, I’d never have done now. I turned 50, and you get insecure. “The funny thing is for the last few years my career has been in the theatre, and natural expression is seen as a good thing. I think people look so much better if they don’t have surgery.” Age does have its advantages, however, and the Swedish-born star is thrilled with becoming a grandmother to Cash, her son Nicholai’s child. She gushed: “As soon as they told me it was OK to announce, I went into full-on ‘grandma mode’. When I first saw the baby he was so tiny. I thought, ‘Oh my God, maybe I’ll break him.’ “Within one day, my instincts came back and knew exactly what to do.” Brit - who rose to fame in 1964 thanks to her whirlwind marriage to comedian Peter Sellers - wants her grandson to become fluent in Swedish, so she only speaks to the baby in her native tongue. She added: “I come around every Saturday at 8am - I have my own keys so I let myself in. I take Cash, and Nic and Alison go back to sleep. I lock myself in his room and speak to him in Swedish. He’ll call me ‘farmor’, which means ‘father’s mother’ in Swedish.”


lifestyle G o s s i p

Mumford and Sons pretend to be Irish


‘I would love to do movies’

Britney Spears:

umford and Sons say convincing people they’re Irish is the secret of their success. The ‘I Will Wait’ band are from England, but their use of traditional instruments - including accordion, mandolin and double bass - and close harmonies means some people mistake them for being from neighboring Ireland. Keyboard player Ben Lovett said: “Everyone thinks we’re Irish. There’s an Irish bar in every town - it’s the secret of our success.” Banjo player Winston Marshall also points out the roots of their sound and some of their instruments, such as the banjo, aren’t even from

Europe, adding: “We’re in a long line of English people pretending to be Americans and not being as good as Americans.” The band - also including Marcus Mumford and Ted Dwayne - are known for spending long periods touring around the world, particularly in the US, but aren’t huge fans of having to do it in a bus. Marcus added: “I went camping on a stag weekend and hated it. [And] you can’t be relaxed on the bus. You still brush your teeth outside and spit it out, just like on a campsite.”


ritney Spears would “love to act” in movies. The 32year-old singer - who kicked off her ‘Piece of Me’ Las Vegas residency on December 27 - previously starred in 2002’s ‘Crossroads’ alongside Zoe Saldana and Kim Cattrall and has a desire to hit the big screen once again. She told E! News: “I would love to act. I would love to do movies. If it was the right part, it would be really cool ... I love funny movies.” Britney’s recent favorites include comedy ‘We’re the Millers’ starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis and the 2011 hit ‘Bridesmaids’ with Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. The blonde beauty also enjoys watching 44-year-old Jennifer Lopez in Hollywood hits. Jennifer’s hits include ‘The Wedding Planner’, ‘Maid in Manhattan’, ‘Monster-in-Law’ and more recently ‘Parker’. Britney added: “I also love Jennifer Lopez movies. I love Jennifer Lopez.” The ‘Perfume’ singer has been busying preparing for her two-year residency at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino and kicked off the opening night last week with a hit-filled set and the likes of Miley Cyrus, Mario Lopez and Katy Perry were all in attendance.

Harris struggled

Iron Man 3

named highest-grossing film of 2013


ron Man 3’ has been crowned the highest-grossing film of 2013. The Robert Downey Jr -starring superhero adventure took in a massive total of $1,215,439,994 at the global box office, wiping out competition from runner-up ‘Despicable Me 2’ with total takings of $918,573,535. Meanwhile, the sixth instalment of racing franchise ‘Fast & Furious’ - which stars the late actor Paul Walker - came in third place with $788,679,850. ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ has already grossed $771,484,011 in the few weeks since its release, while animated comedy sequel ‘Monsters University’ rounded out the top five with $743,559,607, according to Box Office Mojo. Blockbusters ‘Man of Steel’, ‘Gravity’, ‘Thor: The Dark World’, ‘The Croods’ and ‘World War Z’ completed the top ten. It seems Downey Jr has found a winning formula with Marvel’s ‘Iron Man’, since his role as playboy billionaire Tony Stark has made him the best paid actor in Hollywood with estimated earnings of $75 million. Thanks to 2012 superhero team-up movie, ‘ The Avengers’, Iron Man has also became the highest-earning superhero on the big screen of all time, raking in a combined figure of $3.8 billion.


The top 20 highest-grossing movies of 2013 1. Iron Man 3 - $1,215,439,994 2. Despicable Me 2 - $918,573,535 3. Fast & Furious 6 - $788,679,850 4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - $771,484,011 5. Monsters University - $743,559,607 6. Man of Steel - $662,845,518 7. Gravity - $652,394,288 8. Thor: The Dark World - $627,858,622 9. The Croods - $587,204,668 10. World War Z - $540,007,876 11. Oz the Great and Powerful - $493,311,825 12. Star Trek Into Darkness - $467,365,246 13. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - $426,244,000 14. The Wolverine - $414,828,246 15. Pacific Rim - $407,602,906 16. GI Joe: Retaliation - $375,740,705 17. Frozen - $363,012,773 18. Now You See Me - $351,723,989 19. The Hangover Part III - $351,000,072 20. The Great Gatsby - $348,840,419

treats his girlfriend to new BMW


ason Derulo treated his girlfriend Jordin Sparks to a brand new BMW for Christmas. The 24-year-old singer splashed out on the champagne-colored vehicle and then decorated it with two orange bows before surprising the 24-year-old beauty over the festive period, and she took to Instagram to express her delight at receiving the generous gift. In a message accompanying a picture of the motor, she wrote: “I still can’t believe it! He surprised me on Christmas but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t dreaming before I posted it! ha! Thank you so much @jasonderulo! I love you baby! Omg omg omg. (sic)” Jason recently revealed he was heading to Jordin’s home for the festive period but he is yet to disclose what the singer bought him for Christmas, however, hopefully for the ‘Trumpets’ hitmaker’s sake he didn’t get socks. He recently told BANG Showbiz: “I’m going to Jordin’s for Christmas. I’m not really sure what I want, don’t get me socks though.” Jason has had an expensive month as he splashed out on an array of gifts for Jordin’s 24th birthday on December 22, and shortly afterwards she took to Instagram to post a picture of the pair kissing and thanked him for making her feel special. She wrote: “As the sun sets on my birthday, I can’t help but be thankful. I’m thankful for another year on this this earth. I’m thankful for all I’m able to do. I’m so thankful for my amazing family....and I’m thankful for this man, who makes me feel like I am the most beautiful, loved & cherished woman to walk this planet. Thank you for my birthday weekend baby, it was the best one yet! I love you.

with Mandela role


aomie Harris felt “conflicted” portraying Winnie Mandela. The ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ actress admits she struggled to figure out how to play the controversial former wife of the late Nelson Mandela - who was once accused of human rights violations and cheating on her husband - and says meeting her alter ego did little to help her turmoil. She explained: “From reading about her, I was formulating an idea of who she was. From talking to people I was formulating another idea. My director had a strong idea about how he wanted her to be played ... I felt really torn, conflicted. “I was scared and fascinated [meeting her]. I thought I would finally be able to put all these pieces together, but I didn’t. You can’t especially with someone as complex as her. I asked how she wanted to be portrayed and she said, ‘You’ve done your research, you were chosen for this role, I trust you.’ It allowed me to own it.” The stunning actress was offered the role after working with director Justin Chadwick on ‘The First Grader’ but admits she didn’t realise how challenging the role would be because she was too busy shooting James Bond film ‘Skyfall’. She said: “I started doing my research and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what the hell did I say yes to?’ I had no idea about her complexity, that she’s a million different people in one.”

Springsteen’s new

Paloma Faith’s fashion armour album leaks on Amazon B P aloma Faith uses clothes as “armour”. The ‘Picking Up the Pieces’ singer says getting dressed for a show gives her extra “confidence” for her performance and she believes fashion is “empowering”. She said: “Fashion should be fun and empowering. It gives me confidence; it’s like armour for me. “I love getting dressed up before a show - psychologically it’s really powerful.” Paloma insists she has no fashion regrets and always “forgives” herself when she makes a sartorial mistake. She said: “Fashion regrets are bad for the soul. I forgive myself for the odd fashion faux pas. “Don’t put pressure on yourself to fit into certain clothes. Embrace who you are. Everything is a celebration of individuality now . I’m excited by it - it’s my time.” The 32year-old singer favors vintage stores and looks to Dita Von Teese and Marilyn Monroe for style inspiration. She said: “Clothes from the 50s suited my shape better.”

ruce Springsteen’s new album leaked on Amazon at the weekend. The musical legend’s upcoming LP ‘High Hopes’ was briefly available on the online retailer’s mobile website on Saturday for fans to download the tracks individually on MP3. The album originally wasn’t due for release until January 13 and Amazon has since realized the error and taken down the album. However, it is believed fans have already placed the songs on a number of illegal file sharing sites. ‘High Hopes’, which was recorded in New Jersey, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Australia and New York City, features Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello on numerous tracks, as well as a cover of Suicide’s ‘Dream Baby Dream’. Meanwhile, the 64-year-old star recently admitted the record was put together in an abnormal manner, unlike other artists who have a structure. He said earlier this month: “The best way to describe this record is that it’s a bit of an anomaly. But not much. I don’t really work linearly, like a lot of people do.” However, Springsteen previously said ‘High Hopes’ was a trip down memory lane for him because he picked a mixture of new material, covers and re-recorded versions of existing songs which he felt “deserved” to be recorded properly.


lifestyle F E A T U R E S

Spanish artist fights for Franco punching ball


irst, he stuffed Spanish dictator Francisco Franco into a fridge. Now, he has transformed Franco’s head into a punching ball. Not surprisingly, 36-year-old Spanish artist Eugenio Merino’s headline-grabbing works have won few fans among the late dictator’s admirers. Indeed, the National Francisco Franco Foundation, which sued unsuccessfully over Merino’s earlier Franco-in-a-fridge sculpture, is taking him back to a court in Madrid in outrage over his latest work, “Punching Franco”. The punching ball is a silicone representation of Franco’s head, complete with dark sunglasses missing a lens. The head sits on top of a tall stand with a heavy base and a spring. “Punching Franco” is now owned by a photographer but has returned to the artist’s studio for repairs after its new owner’s parrot nibbled away at the general’s ears and nose. “For people who were repressed or never won justice, it is a way to unburden themselves, a kind of catharsis,” Merino told AFP. But the Franco Foundation, created in 1976, a year after Franco’s death, to defend his legacy, does not see it in the same way. Led by Franco’s only child, the 87year-old Maria del Carmen Franco y Polo, the foundation filed suit last month seeking 12,000 euros ($16,000) in damages, plus legal costs, and a declaration that its honor has been hurt by the “grotesque and offensive” sculpture.”It is in bad taste because that could be his father or mine, placed in such a way as to say: ‘Break his nose, punch his head’,” complained the foundation’s deputy president, Jaime Alonso. “It is low, and vulgar, and unworthy of civilization and a supposed sculptor,” he told AFP. The artist’s lawyers say he is being harassed by the Franco Foundation’s lawsuits. The Madrid

Spanish artist Eugenio Merino, 36, poses with his silicone sculpture ‘Punching Franco’, representing former Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. — AFP photos

Franco period remained something of a taboo in Spain, which in 1977 passed an amnesty for political crimes committed in the 1936-39 Civil War and ensuing dictatorship. The artist noted, for example, that Spanish human rights judge Baltasar Garzon had found himself facing charges of abuse of power for trying to investigate the disappearance of some 114,000 people during Franco period. Though finally acquitted on that charge, Garzon was disbarred for ordering wiretaps in a separate corruption case. More recently, Merino recalled, two Spanish ex-policemen refused to be extradited to Argentina to face accusations of torture under the Franco regime. “For me, an artist has to be close to what is happening,” said

court rejected in July an earlier Franco Foundation lawsuit against Merino’s “Always Franco”, a sculpture of Franco in green uniform and dark sunglasses with his knees bent inside a Coca-Colastyle fridge with a glass door. Artist chopped up Franco’s yacht In that case, the judge said “Always Franco”, which was the star attraction at a Madrid art fair in February 2012, did not injure Franco’s reputation and was the product of Merino’s constitutionally protected right to artistic expression. This time, Merino’s lawyers say, the Franco Foundation is acting in bad faith, repeating the same arguments that have already been rejected by the court. In any case, like Merino’s earlier work, “Punching Franco” makes no reference to the foundation and cannot therefore injure its reputation, they say. The punching ball was put on public show this summer in a “Days Against Franco” exhibition organized by the Anti-Fascist Artists’ Collective, which laments that Spain is unable to view

File photo shows Raffael Dickreuter, a 32-year-old freelance pre-visualization artist who was born in Switzerland, poses at his workstation in West Hollywood, Calif studio. — AP photos

As new film

hubs flourish, artists become nomads


with perspective the consequences of Franco’s 40-year dictatorship. Among the exhibiting artists was Fernando Sanchez Castillo, who in 2011 bought Franco’s former yacht, the Azor, and chopped it into pieces as a raw material for sculptures. Merino said the

Merino, as he showed off a yet-to-becompleted sculpture of late North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-Il, who died December 17, 2011 and was succeeded by his son Kim Jong-Un. The sculpture of Kim Jong-Il will be displayed in a fridge, too. — AFP

ven as new filmmaking centers help spread Hollywood’s wealth around the world, the boost to local economies comes at a personal cost to the specialists who must follow the work. As movie production migrates from place to place, friendships get left behind and raising a family can be difficult. But the life can be exciting for a highly skilled class of adventurers -those not averse to expenses-paid hotel rooms, restaurants and living abroad. Just ask Hiroshi Mori, a 49-yearold pre-visualization artist whose digital scenesetting work has been used in movies such as “The Avengers” and “Men in Black: 3.” In the last several years, the Hawaii native has worked in Sydney, New York and Albuquerque, NM, not to mention Los Angeles, home of the company he co-owns, The Third Floor. “If you’re single, it can be a great lifestyle. You’re put up in a hotel. Production pays for it. It’s fun, it’s great,” he says. “Some people love to travel and some people don’t because of very practical reasons. But that is the reality of the business now.” Still, the inherent uncertainty of

filmmaking is compounded by globe-spanning moves every few months or years. “One day, you might be told to travel to London or Hawaii or somewhere, and all of a sudden, a week later, everything has changed,” says Raffael Dickreuter, a 32-year-old freelance previsualization artist who was born in Switzerland but lives in West Hollywood, Calif. “You cannot believe anything until it happens.” The blog VFX Soldier has become a conduit for film workers frustrations about the chaos caused as locales around the globe compete through tax incentives. “We’re tired of the cycle of displacement,” says Daniel Lay, the 33-yearold hair and cloth special effects director who runs the blog. “The idea that it’s creating a sustainable industry is not true.” Exacerbating the strain is a contract system that rewards low fixed-price bids. That can force effects houses to absorb the cost of last-minute change requests and push workers hard. High-profile bankruptcies, including that of “Life of Pi” house Rhythm & Hues Studios Inc. in February, point to a system gone awry. —AP

Iconic Polaris lounge to rejoin Atlanta skyline P

olaris, the landmark blue dome that once dominated Atlanta’s skyline, will soon reopen, nearly half a century after it was built. When it made its debut in 1967, the Polaris lounge’s futuristic flying-saucer shape and prominence atop what was the city’s tallest hotel made it instantly recognizable in postcards. Its blue bubble-shaped top lit up the night sky, and it drew visitors from miles around. “It was really a symbol of Atlanta for the whole country, and we want that to be the case again,” said Walter Woods, marketing manager at Hyatt Regency Atlanta. The Polaris has been vacant since 2004. Now, the hotel is refurbishing the structure and adding a bar that rotates for a panoramic view. The plan is to reopen the Polaris sometime in March, said Peter McMahon, general manager of the hotel. “It was the place of special occasions,” McMahon said, adding that he often hears from people who remember riding the Hyatt’s glass elevators to reach the Polaris, perched on top of the hotel’s main building. Rock star Jim Morrison described the “strange sensation” of riding the elevators to the Polaris during a 1970 interview, before he died the following year. “The elevators are, like, kind of Victorian rocket ships,” Morrison - in Atlanta at the time for a film festival with The Doors’ doc-

umentary “Feast of Friends” - said in an audiotaped interview. The elevators to Polaris are a key part of the overall experience, the designers renovating the space said. “It’s a transporter room. You get in there and you leave the building and you arrive in this spaceship,” Brian Finkel of the architectural and design firm the Johnson Studio said in a hotel video update on the renovation. Finkel’s colleague Bill Johnson said aspects of the Polaris’ history will be apparent when it reopens. “We weren’t trying to make a museum, but at the same time we were trying to preserve some of the retro parts that really are still cool today,” Johnson said in the video. The 22-story Hyatt Regency was Atlanta’s first major hotel built downtown since the 1920s, according to the exhibition “Rendering Atlanta” the city’s History Center. It was Atlanta architect John Portman’s first significant hotel project featuring the open-atrium design he came to be known for, the exhibit notes. That expansive atrium was the first of its kind in worldwide, Woods said. The Atlanta History Center also has in its collection fragments of the original blue plastic material used when the dome opened in 1967, said Donald Rooney, director of exhibitions at the Atlanta History Center. In 2012, the

tains in the distance. Inside, a full kitchen is planned for the renovated lounge. Drinks will include cocktails popular when the Polaris opened, McMahon said. Among them: A peach daiquiri, once the Polaris’ most popular. The Polaris work comes after a $65 million renovation of the overall hotel began in 2011, McMahon said. It’s also taking place as tourist attractions such as the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the College Football Hall of Fame are under construction in downtown Atlanta. “It’s really tying into the resurgence of what’s going on downtown,” McMahon said. — AP

Polaris, the landmark blue dome that once dominated Atlanta’s skyline stands at right, Friday, in Atlanta. — AP photos material was replaced with glass, still with the deep blue color. Longtime Hyatt Regency employee David Faulkner recalls seating guests in the Polaris during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Faulkner, who now plans meetings and conventions, remembers how women would

sometimes leave their purses on the ledge next to their table - but the structure rotated, and purses would slowly disappear, leading to a bit of panic. Over the years, taller buildings were constructed nearby, but the space still offers dramatic views of metro Atlanta and the moun-

How to make ‘Fresh-Fruity-Muesli’

How to make perfect ‘Hash Browns’ Ingredients

about 180 - 250gr nature yogurt fresh pineapple, sliced some wholegrain cornflakes fresh watermelon, sliced fresh raspberries, washed some mint if you need - some additional sugar

Ingredients 2 large russet potatoes 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 medium onion, finely chopped Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons vegetable oil Recipe: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes well and dry with paper towels. Poke several holes in them with a skewer to allow steam to escape. Place the potatoes on a small baking sheet and bake, uncovered, until tender, about 1 hour. Allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in a plastic bag with a resealable closure overnight. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/3-inch dice. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the onion to a small bowl. Add the vegetable oil to the skillet and heat until almost smoking. Add the potatoes and leave to form a crisp crust. Do not disturb the potatoes until the crust is formed, about 5 minutes. Check to see if a crust has formed; if so, give a quick stir. If not, continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the crust has formed. With a spatula, turn over large chunks of the crusted potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking until golden brown. Stir in the onion, season again with salt and pepper, and stir until the hash is heated through, about 3 minutes. Serve hot.

Polaris, the landmark blue dome that once dominated Atlanta’s skyline stands atop the Hyatt hotel.

Welcome to our newest section, KT Foodie. Kuwait Times loves food, recipes, healthy eating and all the many kitchen gadgets and cooking techniques now available and want to share with our readers as we discover more about the world of food. Please email us at or with your favorite recipes, cooking tips or questions. We hope to hear from you and wish you Bon Appetit!

Recipe: Slice the pineapple, watermelon and wash the raspberries. Give the yogurt into a small bowl, top with the cornflakes, watermelon slices, pineapple slices, raspberries and some mint leaves. If you want to have it a bit sweeter - just add some sugar.

How to make ‘Grilled Eggplant Salad’ Ingredients: 1 large American eggplant 1 large ripe tomato, 1/2-inch thick slices 1 onion, 1/2-inch thick slices 2 serrano peppers 5 big garlic cloves, halved lengthwise 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice 1/2 tsp smoked paprika 1/2 tsp ground cumin Course sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste 2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped Recipe: Preheat oven to 450F. Make ten 1/2-inch slits into eggplant and insert a garlic wedge in

each. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper on top. Put on roasting sheet and roast for about 40 minutes, remembering to turn every 10 minutes or so. Eggplant is cooked when the skins have collapsed and the flesh has softened. Halfway through the cooking of the eggplant, place the onion, tomatoes and chili peppers on the same cooking sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. When all the vegetables are done roasting, remove stem from eggplant and dice up everything and throw in serving bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss everything together. Serve hot or chilled with toasted wedges of pita bread. —


lifestyle M U S I C



Prolific Padukone rises to top of Bollywood A-list I

f any Bollywood star can claim 2013 as their year, it is Deepika Padukone. With four hit films, the former model has risen to the top of the A-list-and now has Hollywood in her sights. But she isn’t

Indian Bollywood film actor Deepika Padukone poses for pictures on the red carpet at a promotional event for the Hindi film Chennai Express in Feltham, west London.

putting her giddy fame down to luck. “I did work at an abnormal pace, juggling three films at a time, and I think the payback has been worth it,” the elegant 27year-old told AFP in an interview in her adopted hometown Mumbai, the entertainment capital. Padukone has catapulted to Bollywood’s big league after just six years in the movie industry, but her entry into films was hardly conventional. In an industry known for blatant nepotism and dominant acting dynasties, she has carved out a career despite being neither of showbiz parentage nor from Mumbai. Born in Copenhagen, she grew up in Bangalore, inheriting athletic genes from her father Prakash, a badminton world champion. She was a state-level basketball, badminton and baseball player before becoming a model, and her experience and visibility in that job landed her film offers when she was as young as 19. Her acting debut came in 2007 in “Om Shanti Om”, opposite Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. Her struggle, she said, was in understanding colleagues, the craft and finding comfort in front of the camera. “When you begin working in your early 20s you are also understanding yourself and meeting many people who have an influence on your life-some good, some bad,” said the actress, smartly dressed in a high-collared shirt and trousers, with a hint of makeup on her flawless skin. If she saw early stardom with her debut film, Padukone has also faced some poor showings at the box office. Her 2010 films “Lafangey Parindey ” (Rogue Birds), “Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se” (We Play Wholeheartedly) and “Karthik

Calling Karthik” all flopped. She praised the role of her followers in keeping her motivated. “Fans give you love. I know mine love me for who I am and not just because of the success of my films, because even in the years when my films were not doing well, I felt the same love from the audience and fans.” Padukone agreed that 2013 has been career-defining, with the hits “Race 2”, “Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani” (This Youth is Crazy) and “Chennai Express”, again costarring Shah Rukh Khan, which became the most profitable movie in India. Also this year “Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela” (The Battle of Bullets: Ram-Leela), an interpretation of Romeo and Juliet, won Padukone near-universal praise. There were even reports of her being considered for a role in the next instalment of the “Fast & Furious” franchise-although the film is now uncertain after US actor Paul Walker’s fatal car accident. “I know how close I was to doing that film, but I choose to stand by my earlier commitments here,” she said. “‘Fast & Furious’ didn’t work out, for whatever reasons. But it’s ridiculous for people to say that the stories were floated for publicity. Sometimes I think it’s destiny,” she said.

Hollywood hopes But she suggests Hollywood projects remain a real possibility. “I am sure there will be something else.” Padukone has thus far mostly played the romantic female lead in typically commercial Bollywood films, combining song, dance, comedy and action. In real life, director Homi Adajania describes her as having an “intense drive”, combined with loyalty and “wisdom to play the game with

In this photograph Indian Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone poses as she arrives to attend a party she hosted in Mumbai. — AFP photos poise”. She credits her background in sports with her disciplined approach. “If my backhand is weak then before the next tournament I better practice my backhand properly,” she said. “When a film does well or does not do well, you analyze it and work on the things that did not work.” Padukone has also faced constant interest from gossip columns, whether over her love lifeespecially her former relationship with fellow star Ranbir Kapoor-or supposed tiffs within the small group of Bollywood A-listers. “I think it is more media-created than reality,” she said of rivalries with other actresses. “That may have existed earlier, but I

don’t think it exists now. We may not be the best of friends but that is because we don’t have the opportunities or the time. “It’s not that we don’t want to. I think we are all secure in the work we do.” Padukone’s next films include “Finding Fanny”, an English-Konkani language satire and “Kochadaiiyaan” (The King with a Long, Curly Mane), a Tamil period film with south Indian superstar Rajnikanth. “It’s nice to be appreciated and loved. I know that I have the ability to make people laugh, cry or smile,” she said. “That I have a certain influence on people’s lives is very humbling-and a responsibility to bear.” — AFP

Polish composer

Wojciech Kilar dies, aged 81


This film image released by Paramount Pictures shows Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in a scene from ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’ — AP

‘Hobbit,’ ‘Frozen’

lead box office to record year O ver the bustling post-Christmas weekend, Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” continued to lead the box office, landing in the No. 1 slot for the third weekend in a row. The Warner Bros prequel earned $30 million, bringing the domestic gross to $190.3 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday. Disney’s animated adventure, “Frozen,” took the No. 2 position, earning $28.9 million over the weekend and $248.4 million domestically after six weeks at the multiplex. “‘Frozen’ probably had the best release date of the year because they positioned themselves to completely dominate the family film marketplace over the holidays,” said box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Rentrak. “To be No. 2 in its sixth week is a total reflection of that.” Reigning box-office champion “Hobbit,” “really contributed to this record box office that we have at the end of the year,” he added. “With ‘Hobbit’ and ‘Frozen,’ we are talking $450 million at the box office between those two films alone. They are absolutely killing it here at the end of the year.” This year is poised to be a banner one at the box office, and it is projected to surpass 2012’s $10.8 billion by nearly 1 percent, making this the highest annual take ever. Paramount held two slots in the top five over the weekend, with the comedies “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” starring Will Farrell, and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” featuring Leonardo DiCaprio. Sequel “Anchorman 2” came in at No. 3 with $20.2 million, and Martin Scorsese’s dark comedy, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” took the No. 5 spot, earning $19 million after opening at No. 2 on Christmas Day with $9.15 million. “Some people are calling the performance of ‘Anchorman’ a bit of a disappointment, but it will be a $100 million gross at the end of the day,” Dergarabedian said. “All of the marketing certainly raised its profile. It will have a good showing.” “Anchorman” met studio expectations over the Christmas holiday. “We are thrilled and we feel the movie will play well in theaters for a while,” said Don Harris, president of distribution at Paramount. “The first film brought in $84 million, and this one will be well north of that.” ‘Wolf’ stands different in the market At nearly three hours long, “Wolf” does not have as many showings in a day as the rest of the pictures currently in theaters, yet it’s holding its own at the multiplex. “The movie is very much out there in terms of content, and that’s a good thing,” added Harris. “It’s different than anything else in the marketplace. I think people are surprised that it’s a lot of fun.” At No. 4, Sony Pictures corruption saga, “American Hustle,” made $19.6 million. David O. Russell’s entertaining take on the Abscam investigation of the 1970s, starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, has grossed $60 million domestically and gained seven Golden Globe nominations. Oscar hopeful “Saving Mr Banks,” Disney’s making of “Mary Poppins” story, starring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks, came in at No. 6, making $14.3 million. Fox’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” Ben Stiller’s dramatic turn, which he also directed, took seventh place, earning $13 million. “‘Mitty’ is a feel-good film and with the combination of our excellent exit polls and audience friendly rating at PG-13, I think we are going to play well into the New Year,” said Chris Aronson, president of distribution at Twentieth Century Fox. “This has been an incredibly fragmented and healthy marketplace as we’re expected to finish with a record year.” And despite lackluster reviews, Keanu Reeves’ martial-arts film “47 Ronin” managed to slide into the top 10 at No. 9 with $9.9 million in its opening weekend. Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. 1.” The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” $30 million ($98.3 million international). 2.”Frozen,” $28.9 million ($50.5 million international). 3.”Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” $20.2 million ($8 million

This image released by Disney shows Elsa the Snow Queen, voiced by Idina Menzel, in a scene from the animated feature ‘Frozen’. — AP international). 4.”American Hustle,” $19.6 million ($1.7 million international). 5.” The Wolf of Wall Street,” $19 million ($6.5 million international). 6.”Saving Mr. Banks,” $14.3 million ($300,000 international). 7.” The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” $13 million ($27.2 million international). 8.” The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” $10.2 million ($9 million international). 9.”47 Ronin,” $9.9 million ($13.8 million international). 10.” Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas,” $7.4 million. Estimated weekend ticket sales Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the US and Canada) for films distributed overseas by Hollywood studios, according to Rentrak: 1.” The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” $98.3 million. 2.”Frozen,” $50.5 million. 3.” The Secret Life of Mitty,” $27.2 million. 4.”Police Story 2013,” $18 million. 5.”47 Ronin,” $13.8 million. 6.” The Physician,” $13 million. 7.”Personal Tailor,” $12.5 million. 8.”Walking With Dinosaurs,” $12.3 million. 9.” The Attorney,” $12 million. 10.” The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” $9 million. — AP

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Stephen Fry, left, and Ryan Gage in a scene from ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’. — AP

ojciech Kilar, a Polish pianist and composer of classical music and scores for many films, including Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning “The Pianist” and Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” died Sunday. He was 81. The composer died in his hometown of Katowice, southern Poland, following a long illness, according to Jerzy Kornowicz, head of the Association of Polish Composers. “The power and the message of his music, as well as the noble character of Wojciech Kilar as a person, will stay in my memor y forever,” said Kornowicz. Polish film director Kazimierz Kutz said working with the composer “was pure pleasure. He would come, see my movie and a month later he would bring extremely good music that was always beyond my expectations.” Polish Conductor Antoni Wit praised Kilar’s generosity, saying he “liked to share whatever he had with others.” A modest man who often avoided public attention, Kilar’s main love was composing symphonies and concertos, and he always put that above movies, even though he wrote the scores of dozens of films. He drew inspiration from Polish folk music and religious prayers and hymns, which he had learned in Latin as an altar boy. But it was film music, especially for Coppola’s 1992 erotic horror movie, that brought this prolific vanguard composer to the world’s attention and commissions from other celebrity directors, including Jane Campion and her “Portrait of a Lady.” Kilar once said the three criteria that made him write film music were, in this order: the name of the director, the salary and the script. In a 2007 interview with PLUS, a journal about Polish-American affairs, he recalled asking Coppola in Los Angeles what kind of music he was expecting and the director replied: “I did my part. You are the composer. Do what you want.” Kilar’s dedication to composing primarily for the concert halls even led him to lose a commission to write the score for Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. “In a movie, music is just one of the many elements,” Kilar once said. “Serious music, which I compose, is signed with my name only, and I get real pleasure from that.” Kilar wrote music for more than 130 movies in Poland and abroad, but “Dracula” won him the Best Score Composer award from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers in 1992. His dense, broad and heart-swelling music is very evocative and seems destined to illustrate movies. Richly instrumented, it uses repetition of a simple melody, making it sound like romantic classical music. His trademark sounds involve basses and cellos. Classical music exercises bored Kilar when he was learning to play the piano as a child. Only when he got to know contemporary music by Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and Karol Szymanowski did he find his passion in life. In the 1950s he tried composition in a neoclassicist style, in vogue at that time. After studying in Paris, he became one of Poland’s three leading vanguard composers in the 1960s. The other two were also giants: Krzysztof Penderecki and Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki, who died in 2010. They experimented with sound quality, serialism and the 12tone techniques. Kilar’s best known works from the time are the jazzy “Riff62”; “Diphtongos,” a composition for a choir with orchestra; and a minimalist “Upstairs-Downstairs” for two children’s choirs and an orchestra. A turning point came in 1974 with “Krzesany,” a symphonic poem for an orchestra, inspired by

highlander music of the Tatra mountains region of southern Poland. From then on, Kilar drew inspiration for his classical music from Polish tradition and Catholic church music. Most of his works were written for symphony orchestras - often with a solo voice, or instrument or choir - and range from symphonies and concertos to religious choral pieces such as the powerful “Exodus” of 1981, “Angelus” in 1984, and the “Magnificat,” written in 2006. Kilar was born on July 17, 1932, in Lviv, a former Polish city now in Ukraine, to a doctor and an actress. The family moved to Rzeszow in southeastern Poland, then to Katowice in the south, where Kilar continued the musical

In this May 6, 2011 file photo Polish pianist and composer Wojciech Kilar is pictured in Katowice, Poland. Kilar. — AP education that he had started in Rzeszow. He studied piano, music theory and composition in Rzeszow, Krakow and Katowice before graduating in 1955 with top honors from the State Music Academy in Katowice. He made Katowice - the heart of Poland’s industrial and coal mining region - his home, finding charm and peace in the area and its people. A well-known anecdote says that when Coppola asked the composer what it took to write music like his, Kilar cryptically replied: “You need to live in Katowice.” He was known to also consider Katowice a place of hard work, where toil and effort are respected. At a 2006 meeting with his music fans, Kilar said he was happiest “at home, in silence, with my loved ones, with my cat.” But he also said it was fantastic to conduct a symphony orchestra and see “violinists bent over their instruments, the gold of the brass, the drums on the other side.” In 2003 the British Academy of Film and Television Arts gave the composer an award for his score for “The Pianist.” Kilar also wrote music for Polanski’s “The Ninth Gate.” In Poland, he was known for working with three influential Polish film directors: Andrzej Wajda, Krzysztof Kieslowski, and Krzysztof Zanussi. Kilar told the PLUS journal he would like to be remembered as a “good human being, someone who brought a little happiness, hope and reflection into life and into the world and perhaps a bit of faith.” His wife of over 40 years, Barbara, died in 2007. They had no children. City officials in Katowice were working on funeral arrangements. — AP

Prolific Padukone rises to top of Bollywood A-list



An actor portraying the comic book character Spiderman stands amidst falling confetti on the Hard Rock Cafe marquee during the annual confetti test in Times Square, Sunday in New York. — AP

Brazil’s Indian Games opportunity for cultural exchange L

eaving a cloud of dust in his wake, a burly warrior of a man rushes into view carrying a huge log on his shoulder. His face painted and grimacing with the effort, he heaves it on to a teammate and keeps running as if his life depended on it as he chases a victory for his tribe in Brazil’s Indigenous Games. Just as at any other major sports event, partisan fans look on anxiously, shaking their maracas furiously and belting out ancestral songs to cheer on their contestants. Tawra and fellow members of his Kariri Xoco tribe dance around their colleague Tanawi to celebrate his participation in the bow and arrow-small matter that he lost. Tanawi himself stands in the middle almost in a state of lethargy while his supporters dance. They explain they want to give him strength and deepen the bond they have with their man. Such demonstrative and enthusiastic shows of support were a regular feature of the 12th International Games of Indigenous peoples which came to a close on Saturday in the central city of Cuiaba. Some 1500 athletes representing 49 indigenous Brazilian tribes and representatives from another 17 nations attended the jamboree as a colorful preview for the other Games Brazil will host in just under 1000 days-the Rio Olympics. The event also offered a foretaste for the first World Indigenous Games which Brazil will also host next year. As

A Nepalese Gurung community woman in traditional attire smiles as she dances during Tamu Loshar.

well as showing themselves dab hands with the bow and arrow, contestants also showed their prowess in a range of traditional disciplines such as throwing the lance and the “tree trunk race,” a relay race involving the carrying of wooden cylindrical logs weighing more than 100 kilos. “We want to show we have true authenticity and great diversity that has to be seen with regard to inclusion” in the panoply of Brazilian culture, explains Jaruco Tanao, who travelled four days by boat and bus from Acre in the north of the country to compete. Tawra, 24, had a similar odyssey just to get to the start line, taking three days to arrive by bus from Alagoas in the north-east, while Zuri Duarte, a 21-year-old from the Harakmbut tribe came from Peru. Both were first-timers at the event and were happy to grasp a rare chance to indulge in some cultural interchange with contestants from fellow ancient indigenous cultures. That was certainly the case with Iguandili LÛpez, who came from Panama to show off the dance of the Guna with his PataxÛ tribe-their bodies painted bright yellow. Keyuk Yanten of the Patagonian tribe Tewelche was also there with Mapuche Indians from southern Chile. “It is fascinating how the Brazilian tribes retain this purity,” marveled Iguandili. There are some 900,000 Indians in Brazilless than 0.5 percent of the total population of 200 million.

Tawr· is the son of a “white” woman and an indigenous father, though he insists: “I feel I am Indian.” His tribe is one of the many which are demanding recognition of ancestral land rights and protesting about the encroachment of farming colonies. The ParecÌ, the host tribe at the Games who hail from the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, whose capital is Cuiab·, play a ball game exclusively with their heads. Up against the EnawenÈ-NawÈ tribe, the ParecÌ launched themselves into the contest as they fought for possession of the handmade ball. Head football was a demonstration sport at the Games, and any mention of football had all the tribes chasing around the pitch with the passion one might expect from any Brazilian given the country’s five World Cup triumphs. The Brazilian government is mulling holding an Indigenous World Cup next May, just a month before the FIFA-sanctioned “real thing” in 12 Brazilian cities, Cuiaba included. “The team is excellent - though the keeper is not up to much,” grinned Tawr· as he went between the sticks in a match ending in a 4-2 win to the Kariri XocÛ. Tawra’s female colleagues had to resort to penalties but won their match with the Har·kmbut tribe. The matches were played on a baking hot pitch but in good spirits, the only tears coming from a little girl who was left abandoned on the touchline as her mother went to play. — AFP



US man lands ‘corrected’ 1918 stamps In this combination of two 2013 photos released by the United States Postal Service, a reissue of two versions of the famous “Inverted Jenny” postage stamp is shown. — AP


A Nepalese Gurung community man, attired in traditional clothing prepares to participate in a parade to mark Tamu Loshar.

Nepalese Gurung community men perform a traditional dance during Tamu Loshar in Katmandu, Nepal, yesterday. Tamu Loshar is the New Year of the Gurung community, an indigenous community who also call themselves “Tamu.” — AP photos

collector credits a hunch with helping him land one of just 100 sheets of stamps recently issued by the United States Postal Service featuring a corrected version of its rare and famous error, the 1918 “inverted Jenny.” Art Van Riper bought the stamps in Waverly, NY, after reading that the Postal Service had printed a new batch of inverted Jenny stamps celebrating the 95-year-old edition that, by mistake, featured an upside-down biplane. He also read that, as a way to draw more people into stamp collecting, the Postal Service randomly distributed 100 sheets featuring the plane rightside up among the 2.2 million sheets replicating the original and distributed nationwide. “I needed some stamps and thought ‘what the heck,’” Van Riper said by phone earlier this month from his Sayre, Pa, home, on the New York border. “I just had a feeling that maybe there would be one in Waverly.” He intended to purchase five sheets of the $2 stamps, at $12 a sheet, and use them to mail Christmas presents and for stocking stuffers. Postal clerk Betty Gable persuaded him to take more. “I told him our office had 45 and he might as well buy them all,” she said. The last one would probably be the one with the right-side up airplane, she told him. “I’ll be a son-of-a-gun it was,” said Van Riper, who has a jewelry store and said he collects oddities ranging from baseball cards to old steins. Van Riper’s was the fourth of the 100 sheets to turn up since the post office launched the campaign in September, USPS spokesman Mark Saunders said. One of the four is listed at $25,000 online, Van Riper said, but he doesn’t have plans to sell his sheet. Among stamp collectors, the inverted Jenny, produced by a printing error, is gold. Only one sheet of 100 stamps commemorating the nation’s first airmail flight was sold. One of the stamps recently sold for $977,000, according to the Postal Service. — AP

31st Dec 2013  

Kuwait Times