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Kerry heading to Kuwait with focus on Syria




Bullock, Timberlake win at People’s Choice awards

Messi strikes twice in Cup on injury return

46 Max 16º Min 7º

NO: 16043- Friday, January 10, 2014

Divine art PAGE 4

Local FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Kuwait’s my business

FOGGY: There was low visibility in Kuwait City yesterday morning when thick fog blanketed the city. — Photo by Joseph Shagra

What are you worth? Go tell it to the marketplace! By John P Hayes


e have become the cheapest and most powerful advertising tools to some businesses,” one of the bloggers at posted in a recent article. The blogger went on to explain that Kuwait businesses expect bloggers to “run” to an event, take photos, and provide “huge publicity” that the business “might not even deserve.” “For a meal, or a goodie bag, we are expected to like whatever they are advertising and compliment it, saving them lots of cash.” An unhappy blogger Uh oh. What’s this all about? Trouble in the Kuwait blogosphere? Bloggers may be getting fed up (literally and figuratively) as they figure out their value to the local marketplace. The His&Her blogger concluded, “If this is what we are to them, just a tool of advertising, then I will put higher standards on which event or invitation I accept.” This blogger’s comments could inspire a new training program about how business people (not just bloggers) should spend their time. And, with the beginning of a new year, it’s a good time to learn or review this lesson: Figure out what you are worth to the marketplace, set your price, and act accordingly. Most business people do not learn this lesson all at once. Most of us need to be reminded of the lesson over and over again. Are you in business for profit? Since a blogger inspired this column, let’s say you’re a blogger. Not all bloggers are business people - in fact, in Kuwait most bloggers are hobbyists who just want to share their passions, ideas, thoughts and (especially) their photos. But some bloggers are indeed business people who generate revenue from their posts, and if you’re one of them, you have to calculate your value to the marketplace. Unfortunately, you can’t buy a book or visit a website and learn what you’re worth in Kuwait, but you still must determine your value and make sure that you get it. One way not to do that is to run to every event you’re invited to and promote it! Why are you here? Business people, especially when they’re just getting started, tend to do what they do without much thought. New bloggers, for example, will allow the marketplace to make decisions for them. Ask them why they’re attending a particular event and they’ll answer, “Because I was invited!” But now you know that’s not a good enough reason. Ask the same question of an experienced blogger whose in business and he’ll answer, “Because I’m getting paid.” He might not be that blunt or honest, but that’s what he’s thinking, and you can be sure he’s getting paid one way or another. Don’t misinterpret what I’m saying. Business people don’t do everything for money, and they don’t always walk away with a paycheck. However, successful business people understand their value and they don’t give that away. Yes, I know there are businesses in Kuwait that do not exist to make a profit, but I’m not writing about them. I’m writing about businesses that are in it for profit and understand that if they don’t get paid, one way or another, they won’t remain in business. However you get paid - it’s not always about taking cash to the bank (sometimes it’s just about networking) - the amount ultimately determines your value to the marketplace. Don’t give that power away to the marketplace. How can you prevent it? By doing what your business demands, not what the marketplace demands. Act accordingly. Develop your strategic plan The best way to protect yourself is to have a strategic plan for your business, but sadly, most small businesses do not. The owners of small businesses frequently tell me they don’t have time to plan (because they’re busy doing what the marketplace demands), or they don’t know how. Those excuses are unacceptable if you’re in business for profit. Given that this is the first weekend of a new year, now is the time to sit down and figure out your value, set your price, and (begin to) act accordingly. Once you do that, the marketplace will respect your value. For the blogger, the best invitations will now become obvious. NOTE: Dr John P Hayes teaches marketing at GUST. For more than 30 years he operated an international marketing agency that served primarily franchised and entrepreneurial businesses. Contact him at

Local FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Conspiracy Theories

Thank God it was not liposuction By Badrya Darwish


uys, let’s talk about something nice this weekend. I promise not to talk about Syria and the refugees. I promise not to talk about the daily explosions in Lebanon. Of course, I promise not to talk about the great country of Iraq and the mass killings that happen every day. Last but not least - I promise not to talk about the land of the pharaohs and the great Nile and what the people there are going through every day. I am sure you know I am talking about Egypt. There are conspiracies, accusations, terrorism and Al-Qaeda. Previously the only terrorist group was Al-Qaeda. Now there are hundreds of groups like them - Nusra Front, Dae’sh (ISIL), which I do not even know how to pronounce in Arabic, the Free Army etc, etc. As if Al-Qaeda alone was not enough for us. We got used to it. I do not know which new group might come tomorrow. Let’s talk about my hair for a change. I am not the person who regularly frequents salons and hairdressers. Honestly if they live on me and those like myself, they will be out of business. For a change I decided to get highlights as I was impressed with the ads on TV. I am human after all and am affected by ads. To my bad luck, I fell in the hands of the worst girl in the salon. She pulled my hair for four hours. On top of it she would not let me relax for a minute. I was just nodding my head, not even following her incessant talk. I was counting the minutes to run out of the salon. You feel it when the wrong person is doing something for you. My instinct was right. When she washed my hair, I realized the disaster. Of course I tipped her and thanked her with a big smile, but deep inside, I was boiling and wanted to punch her in the face. Instead, I ran home crying. To ease things for me, my friend suggested to go and indulge myself with a nice massage. I agreed. After the hair battle, I decided to try to relax. It must have been the wrong day for me. I went to one of the most well-known massage parlours, but I will not mention the place because the advertising department will ruin the rest of my hair later. All I will say is that it was a five-star spa where I booked for what is called a Swedish relaxing massage. I am not sure why it is called Swedish massage. I was prepared to get relaxed but instead I felt as tense as I have never been before. I thought that the girl at the reception booked me for oil moisturizing instead of the one-hour Swedish relaxing massage. There was not a single minute in this hour when I was not thinking of getting up, smacking the masseuse and walking out. Forget the money I paid. I made the same mistake I did with the hairdresser. I kept quiet and tense for an hour. Of course, in the end I tipped her. While leaving the spa I wondered, “What was the tip for?” Usually you tip people for good service. In my case, I think I tipped them for ruining my day. I believe all of you have experienced something similar sometime. Thank God, that day I did not go for a facial, liposuction, cheek enhancement or lip implants or some of the more sensitive and permanent jobs. That was my ultimate compensation. Have a good weekend and better luck with your beauticians! @BadryD

HANGING OUT: One of Kuwaití’s most known placesSouq Sharq. — Photo by Yasser Al Zayyat


Local FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Calligraphy By Hassan Abdel Bari


ead: In the name of thy Lord Who createth, (1) Createth man from a clot. (2) Read: And thy Lord is the Most Bounteous, (3) Who teacheth by the pen” (Al-Alaq) It was with these divine words that the revelation of the Holy Quran to the unlettered Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) started, which emphasizes the significance of knowledge, reading and writing in Islam. Almighty Allah also said: “Lo! We, even We, reveal the Reminder, and lo! We verily are its Guardian.(Al-Hijr-9), which is a vow to preserve the Quran from alteration. These verses show how important the Holy Quran is in the lives of Muslims.

Hence stem Muslim endeavors to preserve it in the best forms using the most valuable materials and techniques, including calligraphy, which is the vehicle used to ornament and write Quranic scripts in a manner that suits the greatness of Almighty Allah’s words. Arabic calligraphy is, thus, one of the most important forms of Islamic art. The Quran gives calligraphy a solemnity that has contributed to elevating it from its simple functional task to more sublime aesthetic levels. Arabic calligraphy is a tool of spiritual evolution that affects both artists and audiences alike. The Quran has made souls more sensitive and ennobled towards sensual pleasures and made them more qualified to enjoy supreme spiritual ones. This is reflected in calligraphy, ornamentation and applied arts in general. With this in mind, Kuwait Islamic Arts Center (KIAC) organizes an international convention of Islamic arts, the sixth edition of which was held at the Grand Mosque this month. The head of KIAC, Fareed Al-Ali, who is also a prominent Kuwaiti calligrapher and member of the UNESCO’s International Art Society, the Egyptian authority for Arabic Calligraphy, UAE’s Formative Arts Society and the Arab Formative Arts and Graphics Society, said that this year’s calligraphy exhibition included over a hundred paintings displaying several types of scripts as well as a special exhibition of the Kufic script in which 60 calligraphers and illuminators from around the world took part. He added that the exhibition also included daily calligraphy and ornamentation workshops for both adults and children. Syrian calligrapher Ahmed Abu Nayef, a mechanical engineer who was born in Syria and lives and works in Kuwait, said that he had always had a passion for calligraphy and was licensed by calligraphy master Hassan Celeby to teach calligraphy at KIAC as well as in schools in both Kuwait and Syria. He has participated in the writing of a full copy of the Holy Quran in Ottoman style. One of the leading participants in this year’s convention was American calligrapher Elinor Aishah Holland, who got her BA in Comparative Religion cum laude from Temple University, studied colloquial Arabic at Cairo University and was licensed by IRCICA to teach the naskh and thuluth scripts.

A Quranic, Islamic art

Dr Mamoun Sakkal Exchanging Expertise Speaking to Kuwait Times, Holland said that she was impressed by her first visit to Kuwait. “The people here are very friendly and hospitable and I was completely amazed by the efforts they exert to reach out and promote intercultural and interfaith dialogues,” she said, pointing out that both the conference and the exhibition provided a great opportunity for Muslim calligra-

phers from around the world to meet and exchange expertise. Besides Quranic verses in various styles of calligraphy, the regional political situation was clearly present in two calligraphy paintings in the Kufi script by American calligrapher of Syrian origin Dr Mamoun Sakkal. He wrote the words ‘Syria’ and ‘Aleppo’ in these paintings using the colors of the Syrian flag but with separated letters to indicate that his home country was being torn apart. “This is my first visit to Kuwait, though my friendship with Fareed Al-Ali goes way back”, he said pointing out that they had jointly taken part in several exhibitions outside Kuwait. He also expressed admiration with the role KIAC played in promoting Islamic arts. Sakkal was commissioned to design the corporate Arabic typefaces for the Burj Khalifa and Armani Hotel in Dubai in addition to the Kuwait-based e-paper Awan. He is also Microsoft’s Arabic language expert whose Arabic fonts are widely used in Windows systems. Tunisian calligrapher Amer Ben Jeddou is a primary teacher, painter and calligrapher. He started calligraphy studies in his late youth, depending mainly on tutorial pamphlets before he received further training supervised by calligrapher Mohammed Yassin. He won IRCICA’s award in Kufic script twice. “I always feel at home in Kuwait”, he stressed, expressing appreciation for the chance to meet fellow calligraphers from various Muslim countries. Frequent participant Hajj Nor Deen Mi Guang Jiang of China has been a frequent participant in KIAC’s exhibitions since their inception. He was awarded a certificate in Arabic calligraphy from Egypt in 1997 and became the first Chinese to be honored with such a prestigious award. He was ranked amongst the top 500 most influential Muslims from 2009 to 2012. His work has been displayed in galleries and museums around the world as the first Chinese-Arabic artist. This writer’s favorite painting at the exhibition was one of two painted by Moroccan artist Mohamed Amzil in which he combined calligraphy and painting using different techniques and materials. Amzil is the secretary general of the National Association of Plastic Arts and advisor to the Moroccan Plastic Artistic Syndicate. Amzil’s two paintings were displayed for sale at the exhibition for $5,000 each. Husam Matar, another Syrian calligrapher at the convention, held live calligraphy workshops before audiences and wrote whatever they asked, such as names that he gave away as souvenirs. Visiting KIAC’s exhibition is becoming more like an addiction because of this writer;s passion towards arts in general and the sanctity of using Islamic arts to promote Islam worldwide.

Local FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Exam cheat sheets now a homegrown ‘industry’ ‘Entrepreneurs’ cater to demand after print shops refuse jobs By Nawara Fattahova


fter the fad of cupcakes and karak tea - businesses whose popularity turned out to be short-lived - a new moneymaking scheme is gaining momentum: Cheat-sheet printing. Previously, printing and translation offices used to provide the small-sized chits for cheating in exams, but due to complaints from parents and teach-

ers, these offices no longer provide this service. Local ‘entrepreneurs’ spotted the demand and quickly stepped in to fill the void, launching home businesses. The advertising of cheat-sheet services on social media, especially Twitter and Instagram, has also played a great role in the development of this ‘business’. One of the most famous cheat-sheet entrepreneurs, ‘Brshaama’, sells her work on Twitter for affordable prices starting from KD 1.5 depending on the quantity a student needs. The price depends on whether the

cheat sheet is printed only on one side or both and on the material - paper or tissue. Printing cheat sheets on tissue carries the most expensive price tag. Brshaama makes cheat sheets for university, college, and institute students only, excluding school students of all grades. On her Twitter account, she claims that when she needed the cheat sheets for herself, she faced obstacles from the printing offices who refused to print them. “This was the inspiration for my business,” she posted. She said that business has been lucrative for the few months since its establishment, adding that she uses a delivery service to send the chits. Her account was mysteriously closed down yesterday after a local newspaper published a story on her on Wednesday. Against the Law? There is no ban for printing cheat sheets, various print offices explained. However, due to the nature of the task, they say they refuse to print such materials. A clerk in an office in Kuwait City claimed the existence of a decree issued by the Ministry of Interior which bans the printing of cheat sheets. The clerk, however, refused to mention the number of the decree or what it states. Another clerk in a Hawallybased office admitted that there is no official rule or a law banning the printing of cheat sheets, but most offices don’t do it as they see it as immoral and unethical. “The owner of the office forbids us to print cheat sheets and we have to follow his orders. Providing cheat sheets is unacceptable in the community and it may cause problems,” Ayman of the Hawally print office told Kuwait Times. There are other banned activities that the office doesn’t execute. “For instance, we don’t make color photocopies of civil IDs. We do not print any official document containing a stamp in color. We also don’t make official rubberstamps unless the customer provides his civil ID and military or official ID,” the clerk explained. “In the past, an expat was deported after he used a fake stamp made in our office for illegal purposes, and we faced problems too. So the office is very strict now over any suspicious orders that

can cause problems,” he added. Under the Table After contacting more than ten printing offices in different areas, one office in Shuwaikh agreed to print the cheat sheets for this reporter. The arrangement with them required the transaction to be conducted secretly. “Such kinds of orders are done under the table. I will finish the work in a few hours and send it by email. A hundred A4 pages will be minimized into 10 pages, each containing 10 mini pages, at a total cost of KD 10,” said Lutfi, an employee in this office, claiming this work is illegal and denying at the same time having any official or ministry decree forbidding such printing. Another printing office in Farwaniya also accepted an order to print small-sized papers. The catch was the client should order not less than 500 copies. According to attorney Khalid AlJuweisri, preparing or printing cheat sheets is legal. “There is no article in the law forbidding printing cheat sheets, but

an office can be sued for running a different activity than what’s registered in its license,” Juweisri said. He explained that if a bookshop printed cheat sheets, it would be different from its stated commercial activity. “I suggest to include an article regarding this activity in the criminal law as it’s an educational crime,” he said, adding that cheat sheets spoil the students and their impedes their knowledge. The employees of such shops are adults and they attract or provoke youngsters to commit this crime, while they should warning them not to indulge in such bad behavior,” he pointed out. Col Adel Al-Hashash, PR and Media Director, Ministry of Interior, said the ministry has not issued any decree in this regard. “There is no such decree at the ministry and we never pursued any printing office for minimizing scientific or educational documents. Maybe the printing offices claim they have a decree banning this activity just to get rid of annoying customers who demand printing cheat sheets,” he pointed out.

Available at The Sultan Centre & Carrefour



Private vs public lives and your smartphone

By Hussain Al-Qatari


hey are twins. One encased in black. The other in white. That’s how I tell them apart and more importantly, that’s how I keep them separate. One represents my public life. The contacts and interaction, the public profiles and interviews. The other is reserved for private, close family and friends. Together they are the center of my work and life - my two smartphones. Like many people today, I carry two phones. The smartphone has become a focal point in everyday life. A portable computer, a social media management tool, a telephone, a messaging center, a notepad, voice recorder, camera and more. It does everything and I need it for everything - from recording interviews for my work to keeping in touch with my friends abroad. Everything we do involves our phones. We order our food via Talabat, our groceries via Taw9eel, and even the latest trendiest clothes and accessories via WhatsApp from various Instagram vendors. We also do the essentials like checking emails, communicating with business professionals via LinkedIn, keeping in touch with friends and family on Facebook, venting out and checking news on Twitter, and many other things that are not done on the computer anymore. I’m typing this article on my phone, for example, and I often record my interviews and seminars on the iPhone Voice Memos app. But there is a bit of prejudice against people with multiple phones. We are deemed pretentious or silly or simply trying to show off. The reality is that our phones are a major part of our life and sometimes you have to separate the private and personal from the public. One phone (black) for private and the other (white) for public. In Arabic, ‘dhaher’ means apparent, obvious or public and ‘batin’ means internal or private. This is commonly referred to when speaking about doors or the walls surrounding houses. Nowadays, it can easily be applied to our phones. Three phones A young local banker explains his reason for having three phones. “They’re all iPhones. The screen backgrounds are of different colors. There is one that’s on my business card, used to keep in touch with clients at the bank. I switch that off on weekends and leave it at work. There’s my personal phone which I carry 24/7, and then there’s the third phone which I keep for my Instagram business,” Ali said. His Instagram business is a gadget store selling phone and tablet accessories, and although it doesn’t have a lot of traffic, he still feels the need to keep it separate from his other ‘lives’. “The last thing you want is a phone call interrupting your anniversary dinner with your wife

asking about pocket charger compatibility with Blackberries,” he explained. People across the professional spectrum use two phones to keep their work life separate from their personal life. Speaking with a teacher who carries two phones, she explained why. “One is for everyone and one is strictly for family and friends,” she said. “I have to follow up with parents of my students, and it’s really not practical at all to rely on the landline at the school office,” she explained. Parents use texts and WhatsApp to communicate, sometimes at really odd hours. “Some parents send me messages on weekends - sometimes even during the summer vacation - and while it’s really sweet and nice to know how my students are doing, sometimes I don’t like to deal with these when I’m not in teacher mode. I could be in weekend mode, or in girls-night-out mode when I get these messages,” she said. As a journalist, I hand out a lot of business cards and regularly give my phone number to contacts, sources and officials. I decided to get a second phone just for family and friends in order to help create a line between my public and private lives. I haven’t regretted the decision - I can switch off my work phone and still stay in touch with friends and family on weekends and on vacations.

Local FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Being bossed while being boss

Local Spotlight

Expat diseases By Muna Al-Fuzai

With experience gained from Kuwait, expats start businesses back home


ssistant Undersecretary of Public Health Affairs at the Ministry of Health (MoH) Dr Qais Al-Duwairi said 2,233 expatriates have been deported because they were sick and unfit to work and stay in Kuwait. Some of them tested positive for HIV while others had hepatitis C, B and tuberculosis (TB). I agree that such illnesses cannot be tolerated in any society, and the MoH has all the right to keep such workers away and send them home. But I also wonder how much time did those people stay in Kuwait since their arrival until this decision was taken. We are not a country of quick decisions, so my concern is that these people may have mixed with others and maybe infected them. So what about the new people who may be infected now? They can now be in danger and can easily infect others without knowing! I know that there are some other common illnesses among expats such as dental issues. Many come from villages with limited education and lack knowledge on how to keep their teeth clean and strong. Let’s also keep in mind that none of the workers like cleaners have health insurance. This campaign is good but I wish it had started a long time ago. One of my good foreign friends remarked how areas like Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh seem out of place and far away from downtown areas in Kuwait City and Jabriya, Surra, etc. I think Jleeb has the largest gathering of expats who may or may not have illnesses like AIDS, hepatitis C, B and TB. Why doesn’t the MoH start a campaign to check people in this area and help find solutions to common complaints like dental issues, at least for the ones who are fit to stay and work in Kuwait. GCC countries have started implementing an automated system of medical tests of expatriate employees to stop the spread of diseases from one country to another and save the lives of many healthy and innocent people. We are a small society with a big majority of expats and I think this step should have been taken a long time ago. Still, better late than never.

NOTE: Opinions expressed by columnists are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Kuwait Times.

By Sunil Cherian


hey may be working in Kuwait, faithfully following their company job descriptions. But on the other side of the sea, they are bosses. They are the workers turned entrepreneurs who live dual lives of employees and employers. They travel across the Arabian Sea for the smooth flow of their businesses on either shore, sleeping in the air fighting jetlag. Dinars, dirhams and dollars, just as euros and yen, are the forces behind many businesses, from hotels to barbershops to recruiting agencies. Business flourishing, they finally settle down in their home countries. Some, however, come to Kuwait to capitalize again. Boby John, formerly a sound engineer with Al-Nasar Recording Studio, Hawally, opened his own studio in Andheri, Mumbai. While he was in Kuwait he worked all night and dreamt all day of setting up a studio back home. “Mumbai was the best place I thought,” said Boby, “as it is the film factory of the world.” He employs two people at Prathibha, the studio named after his daughter who was born in Kuwait and who he thinks brings luck to him. Specialized in sync sound technology, Boby’s studio removes the unwanted noise in the soundtrack of a film that used live sound recording instead of dubbing. At present he is editing the sound of Daughters of Mother India, a documentary by Vibha Bakshi on the Delhi girl who was raped on a bus over a year ago. “Mumbai is tough, unlike Kuwait”, Boby said. “Here there are a lot of middlemen who outsource the movie post-productions. So it’s a play on chance”. Boby’s wife Shailaja, formerly a nurse at the Armed Forces Hospital, Kuwait now is a full time ‘housewife’ who takes care of their 2 school going kids in morning and afternoon shifts. “Life seemed easier in Kuwait,” Shailaja

Boby John, 43, sits at his sound recording studio in Mumbai. Boby’s work experience in Kuwait as a sound engineer helped him find his capital to start his own studio, he said. said, “as it moved according to a schedule”. Dual lives Preman Illath, a Mangaf-based businessman travels to Mumbai almost every month. As a supplier of household items to many supermarkets in Kuwait, his body is used to meetings in Mumbai - then off to the airport - and another meeting in Kuwait. “I don’t have any nostalgic feelings,” laughs Preman. “But if I stay longer in Mumbai, I start missing Kuwait”. A striking similarity, Preman said, between both places is the expat communities. The associations here and there conduct stage programs, help the needy and celebrate the cultural festivals. Preman, also a writer and social activist is part of Janasakthi (people power) Mumbai that organizes Malayalam classes for expat children.

Harsh Gupta, a Salmiya based computer programmer at a private company in Kuwait City does not miss Mumbai, where she and her husband owned a medical transcription center. “Prices are sky-rocketing in Mumbai”, she said. “Education is a big business there. A capitation fee at the time of admission is in lakhs (hundreds of thousands). At one school I know they teach Sanskrit in English. Life in Kuwait is more organized. In Mumbai they are planning charging you for your car parking. One day municipal officials come and tell you the flat you’ve been living for years is illegal. Worse, the mal-structured skyscrapers are falling, killing people.” The medical transcription center is closed now, the couple said, after legal and business battles. “But now we are back in Kuwait, our second home”.

A man sells books at a traffic signal in Mumbai, India’s largest city that hosts the highest number of expats. — Photos by Sunil Cherian


Local FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Kerry heads to Kuwait with focus on Syria WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State John Kerry is hitting the road again this weekend for discussions about the war in Syria in France and Kuwait, just two weeks before peace talks are due to get underway. In his 22nd trip since becoming secretary of state, Kerry will also push his vision for a Middle East peace treaty, with plans to brief Arab League ministers on progress so far. Less than a week after returning from Israel, the top US diplomat will leave again tomorrow, heading first for Paris and a meeting of ministers from the “Friends of Syria” grouping, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday. During his stay in the French capital, Kerry will also have discussions with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday. The two ministers were the prime organizers of Syria peace talks, due to open on January 22 in the Swiss city of Montreux, before political teams then move to Geneva for further UN-led negotiations from January 24. It is set to be the first time since the war erupted in March 2011 that the Syrian regime of President Bashar AlAssad sits down with the opposition to

discuss an end to hostilities. But while the regime has said it will attend, the fractious, exiled opposition postponed a vote on whether to participate until January 17. “The debates were very heat-

John Kerry ed among the different groups that make up the coalition. It was not possible to take a decision,” a source close to the opposition said, speaking in Istanbul. US officials have been working behind the scenes to try to persuade the Syrian opposition to attend, saying the

peace conference would be “the best opportunity to bring an end to the civil war and the suffering of the people in Syria”. “They’re a pivotal part of having a successful conference,” Psaki said, saying it would be “significant because it would be the first time that the opposition and the regime are there at a conference together.” But she refused to speculate what would happen if the opposition ultimately refuses to attend the talks. “We’re working with them to put together a delegation,” she said. “I’m not going to get ahead of where we are in the process.” Kerry had been expected to return to Israel next week as he seeks to hammer out a framework to guide the negotiations in the coming months.But Psaki said no decision had yet been made on when the top US diplomat might return for more talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Instead, he plans to travel to Kuwait for a Syria donor’s conference to be held on Jan 15, which is set to be attended by some 60 countries. The first such conference in Jan 2013 led to $1.5 billion in pledges of aid to help the Syrian people of which some 75 percent have honored. —AFP

Egyptians in Kuwait vote in referendum Tight security measures at embassy

The Municipality yesterday destroyed 4 tons of expired food items after a raid on a Rai foodstuff warehouse. Most of the food consisted of inedible cooking oil, pickles, honey and sauces. —By Hanan Al-Saadoun

KUWAIT: Egyptian Ambassador to Kuwait Abdul Kareem Sulaiman highly appreciated the support Kuwait’s foreign and interior ministries provided to help facilitate the voting process in a referendum for the new Egyptian constitution at the embassy in Daiya. He stressed that special forces, ambulances and fire engines have been deployed outside the embassy since the beginning of the voting process for Egyptians abroad that started Wednesday, Jan 8 and will end Sunday, Jan 12 at 9 pm.“The number of voters on the first day was unprecedented in any previous elections,” he stressed, noting that despite the cold weather, around 4,300 voters cast their votes on the first day. He also noted that to avoid traffic jams, the embassy provides buses to take voters from the Green Island to the embassy. Sulaiman said that the embassy also provides facilities for voters who do not have access to the Internet and accordingly could not fill the voting form. He also underlined that the embassy is completely neutral and not taking sides of any group or faction. Notably, many Egyptians expressed

KUWAIT: Egyptians vote in the constitutional referendum at the Egyptian Embassy in Daiya yesterday. —Photo by Fouad Al-Shaikh their joy in taking part in the referendum. “A million yeses to the new constitution and thanks to Allah who saved Egypt from traitors just in time despite the price we had to pay in blood and lives lost,” said Samia Abdul Raziq. Another Egyptian, apparently from upper Egypt, held a banner outside the embassy that read: “A thousand YES to

the constitution. Egypt was and will not be broken and there is no place in it for the unpatriotic, those who used weapons against fellow Egyptians and those who pretend to be pious and religious!”. A third Egyptian said having a new constitution would be a huge step forward and that it would create more stability for the greater good of Egypt. —Al-Watan


Tunisia PM resigns, Protests hit south


Deep freeze has its silver linings


NJ Gov faces political fallout over traffic jam


SHAKHORA: A young Bahraini girl wearing a mask poses during an anti-government protest in the village of Shakhora, west of Manama. —AFP

Bahrain suspends reconciliation talks Suspension raises prospect of further instability

MANAMA: The Bahraini government has suspended reconciliation talks with opposition groups aimed at ending nearly three years of political deadlock in the US-allied country, raising the prospect of further instability. The spokesman for the talks stressed that despite the breakdown, the channels for communication remained open, but with the opposition having boycotted the talks for months, over the arrest of some of their leaders, prospects looked bleak. The talks began in February last year, as part of a new drive for progress after mass protests led by majority Shiite Muslims erupted in early 2011 demanding reforms and a bigger share of power in the Sunni-led government of the kingdom. But the discussions made little progress, with both sides

unable to compromise on the opposition’s main demands for a constitutional monarchy and a government formed from within an elected parliament. The unrest has turned the small state, home to the US Fifth Fleet, into a frontline in a region-wide tussle for influence between Shiite Muslim Iran and Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia. State news agency BNA said late on Wednesday that government representatives made the decision to suspend the talks after opposition members failed to show up for a meeting in Manama. They stopped attending the meetings as long ago as September in protest at the arrest of Khalil AlMarzouq, a leader of the opposition group AlWefaq, on charges of inciting terrorism. “The participants in the National Dialogue have today decided

to suspend sessions. They have announced their decision after attending the 28th session,” the news agency, BNA, said. The agency said government representatives and members of parliament blamed “five political associations” - a reference to the opposition groups - for the breakdown in dialogue. Isa Abdul Rahman, spokesman for the dialogue talks, said the decision did not mean an end to the dialogue. “The announcement stressed that the channels of communication remain open, but nothing can be finalized (in any bilateral talks) except by the reconvening of the dialogue,” Abdul Rahman told Reuters. Marzouq, who has since been released on bail, blamed the government for the collapse and said the opposition was still committed to dialogue. “The authority had not been

looking for partners ... because it does not believe in partnership,” Marzouq said in comments carried by Wefaq’s website. Representatives of the government and parliament said they would continue “consultations and national work towards consolidating political gains”, BNA said without elaborating. Bahraini Shiites complain of discrimination by the country’s ruling Sunni minority in jobs, housing and education - a charge the government denies. A previous attempt at reconciliation in 2011 collapsed when the opposition walked away from the talks, saying they were not carried out fairly. Opposition members complained then that Wefaq was given only one out of 60 seats in the dialogue, the same number as very small progovernment parties. —Reuters


International FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

‘Village of Widows’ determined to rebuild in India flood disaster DEOLI: Cradling her newborn daughter at her home in a remote valley in the Indian Himalayas, Dhanita Devi tells of her determination to fight for her family’s survival. Devi’s husband was killed, along with thousands of others, when flash floods and landslides tore through the mountains of northern Uttarakhand state in June. Devi, 22, was left alone, with no income and few savings, to provide for her three children and elderly mother-in-law. But Devi says she will do “whatever it takes” to stop her family sliding into desperation.”I have never worked before. That was my husband’s job, but if he is not here to take care of us, then I need to be the man of the family,” Devi, whose husband owned a roadside eatery, told AFP. Entire villages were destroyed when surging rivers and landslides triggered by early monsoon rains crashed through the popular pilgrimage region, killing some 6,000 people during a peak tourist season. Although focus centred at the time on the thousands of Hindu pilgrims caught in the disaster, many locals who worked in the temple tourism trade were also swept away or crushed under buildings and rocks. Devi is among 34 women from one hamlet alone whose husbands and sons never returned from Kedarnath, the nearby temple town where they worked and the epicentre of the disaster.These women lost not only their loved ones but their sole source of income, while her home, a cluster of hamlets officially known as Deoli-Bhanigram, was sadly dubbed the “Village of Widows”. Devi’s determination to push ahead has been helped by a local charity, which in December started

teaching women sewing, candle-making, basic computer and other skills as well as literacy lessons to help them find a livelihood. “I will learn to sew, learn whatever it takes to run my house. My children’s future is in my hands now,” Devi said.Charity founder Bindeshwar Pathak said he was moved to act after reading of the village’s plight. Pathak’s Sulabh International, which has a history of helping Indian widows, “adopted” the village in August, providing a 2,000 rupee ($32) monthly allowance for women and $16 for children. Although the money was welcomed, it was a far cry from the between $650 and $2,400 monthly wages that their husbands earned running roadside eateries or as guides to the remote temples in and around Kedarnath. Pathak says the allowance is a first step, and has launched the training programme for the women in the hope that they can eventually become “self-dependent, resourceful.” ‘Just cry and sleep’ Flanked by snow-capped mountains, the women of Deoli hamlet crowd around the 22 shiny sewing machines and a dozen computers the charity has donated, curious but apprehensive. While the women say they are determined to learn ways to provide for their families, the trauma of losing their loved ones is raw. “All I do is just cry and sleep. I don’t have the energy to do anything else. How can I learn something new at this age and make enough money out of it?,” said Binita Devi Shukla, 32, a mother of two, as she struggled with the foot

Only 14% want Gandhi to be Indian PM: Poll NEW DELHI: Only 14 percent of voters believe Rahul Gandhi would make the best prime minister for India, a survey found yesterday, just days after his endorsement by outgoing Congress premier Manmohan Singh. The survey for The Times of India found 58 percent of respondents want Narendra Modi, the candidate of the main nationalist opposition party in this year’s general election, to be the next prime minister while 25 percent opted for the anti-corruption champion Arvind Kejriwal. The poll makes grim reading for the ruling Congress party, which had been hoping that the youthful Gandhi would significantly increase its apparently slim chances of victory in the election due by May. Gandhi, 43, is expected to be named at a party meeting on January 17 as Congress’s candidate for premier after the 81-year-old Singh confirmed last Friday that he would step down after the polls. In a rare press conference, Singh said that Gandhi-whose father, grandmother and great-grandfather all served as prime minister-has “outstanding credentials” to lead the world’s largest democracy. But yesterday’s survey, which was conducted among voters in India’s eight largest cities, highlighted the media-shy bachelor’s failure to connect with voters already dismayed by a sharp slowdown in the economy and a series of corruption scandals on Singh’s watch. While respondents were not directly asked which party they would vote for, the survey showed that 81 percent of voters want Kejriwal’s fledgling Aam Aadmi party to contest all the seats. Kejriwal was installed as chief minister of Delhi last month after Aam Aadmi’s stunning showing in a state election there, in which Congress saw its number of seats fall from 43 to just eight. Senior figures in his party have said Aam Aadmi would contest most of the seats at the general election although it faces a huge task to raise money and identify candidates. The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the overwhelming favourite to win most seats. Modi, the right-wing chief minister of Gujarat state, was chosen last September as its candidate for prime minister. No party is expected however to win a majority in the parliament, with regional factions likely to hold the balance of power. — AFP

DEOLI: In this picture, Indian widow Bijiya Devi, who lost her husband during massive floods in the northern Indian states last June, speaks with an AFP reporter before taking part in vocational training at Deoli-Bhanigram village in India’s northern Uttarakhand state.—AFP pedal of one of the sewing machines. The women also worry about their daughters’ future in a region where, like many parts of India, marriage is a pressing priority. With little money, they fear they cannot pay for a wedding or a dowry-a centuries-old tradition that is banned but still widely practised.— AFP

International FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

South Sudan battle rages as peace talks roll on JUBA: South Sudan’s government said yesterday it was battling to retake the key rebel-held town of Bentiu, as thousands of civilians continued to flee fighting across the country. The ongoing fighting, mainly in the oil-rich north and around Bor in the centre, came as peace talks being held in neighboring Ethiopia appeared to be deadlocked. The rebels say they will only agree to a ceasefire if the government frees a group of alleged coup plotters detained after the fighting began more than three weeks ago, although the government has ruled this out. Army spokesman Philip Aguer told AFP that troops loyal to President Salva Kiir were now “next to Bentiu,” capital of Unity State and one of South Sudan’s main oil-producing areas, and that clashes were continuing yesterday. He added that government troops were also some 15 kilometers from Bor, capital of the restive Jonglei state and situated 200 kilometers north of Juba the only other major town in rebel hands. An AFP correspondent in Minkammen, on the other side of the swamps of the crocodile-infested White Nile river from Bor, said hundreds of people are making a perilous journey by boat and on foot to escape the fighting, joining 80,000 others-the single largest concentration of people

displaced by the conflict. Many recount tales of horror, including civilians mown down with machine guns as they fled, and gunmen torching entire villages and looting the crops. “They had a machine gun raised up on a sandbank, and they fired and fired and fired as we swam,” said Gabriel Bol, a cattle herder. “The bullets were hitting the water, but we knew we could not stop or they’d shoot us.” In Bentiu, a local resident described an atmosphere of “fear” as civilians brace themselves for an anticipated government onslaught. Unity State is where much of fledgling oil producer South Sudan’s best-quality crude is pumped. The country’s oil production has dropped by around a fifth since the fighting began, depriving the impoverished nation of a key source of foreign currency. “There are no goods on sale. We are just expecting fighting. Everything is dangerous. People are leaving for their villages in fear,” said the resident, who asked not to be named. PEACE TALKS DEADLOCKED The unrest began on December 15 as a clash between army units loyal to President Kiir and those loyal to ex-vice president Riek Machar. It has escalated into war between government troops and a loose alliance of ethnic militia

forces and army units who have defected to the rebel side. The exact toll of the conflict is unclear. The UN has said well over a thousand people have died, although sources from a number of relief organizations say they believe the number of fatalities is well into the thousands. In Washington, the State Department insisted that talks on a possible ceasefire were making progress, although diplomats have admitted the main stumbling block remains the fate of political prisoners. “The discussions have made progress on a proposed cessation of hostilities,” US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in Washington. “Disagreements remain on the issue of the release of political detainees. Obviously, the discussions are continuing, but that’s where things stand at this moment,” she added. The government is currently holding 11 of Machar’s allies, many of them senior figures and former ministers, and has been under pressure from IGAD-the East African regional bloc brokering the Addis Ababa talksas well as Western diplomats to release them as a goodwill gesture. The demands have been resisted until now, with the government arguing the detainees should be put on trial for their role in what the president says was an attempted coup.— AFP


in brief

Egypt courts jail 113 pro-Morsi protesters CAIRO: Egypt’s courts yesterday jailed 113 supporters of Egypt’s deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi to up to three years for taking part in unauthorized and violent protests, judicial sources said. One Cairo misdemeanor court condemned 63 Morsi supporters to three years in prison and fined them 50,000 Egyptian pounds ($7,200, 5,250 euros) each over protests in November, the officials said. They can post bail of 5,000 pounds to stay out of jail until an appeal hearing. The government installed by the military after Morsi’s ouster passed a law in November banning all but police-sanctioned protests, amid a crackdown on Islamists that has killed more than 1,000 people in street clashes. Another Cairo court sentenced 24 Morsi supporters to three years for being in a “terrorist gang” and attacking policemen in a protest, the officials said. A Cairo court also sentenced 26 students from Al-Azhar University to two years and a half in jail for vandalism and clashes in the university’s dormitory in November. ProMorsi students have regularly clashed with police in protests on campuses, relative safe havens for Islamists whose street rallies are now immediately dispersed by police. In December, the government declared Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist organization” after accusing the group of responsibility for a suicide car bombing at a police building that killed 15 people. Turkey’s govt seeks to curb Internet freedom ISTANBUL: The Turkish government has moved to impose strict controls on the Internet by monitoring the activities of online users and blocking certain keywords, a parliamentary source said yesterday. The proposals are contained in a bill submitted to parliament by Turkey’s family and social policy ministry and are the latest in a string of government moves testing freedom of expression in the aspiring EU member state. The draft legislation will allow the authorities to block keywords deemed problematic and limit access to video-sharing websites that include them, the source said. It will allow officials to keep a record of all activities of Internet users for two years and monitor which websites they have visited, which keywords they have searched for and their activities on social networking sites. “The draft bill is designed to ‘protect the family, children and youth from items on the Internet that encourage drug addiction, sexual abuse and suicide,” Hurriyet newspaper said. In December, Google released data showing that Turkey topped the Internet giant’s content removal request list. But the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) rejected comparisons with China, which is notorious for its Internet censorship.

KASSERINE: Tunisian protesters clash with police (back) in the central town of Kasserine. — AFP

Tunisia’s PM resigns

Protests rock Tunisia’s south TUNIS: Tunisia’s Islamist Prime Minister Ali Larayedh resigned yesterday to make way for a non-partisan caretaker government as part of a deal with his opponents to complete a transition to democracy. Three years after an uprising against autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia is in the final stages of establishing a full democracy before elections that would be a rare bright spot in an unstable region. Illustrating the country’s continued fragility, troops in the city of Tatouine fired into the air and police used tear gas earlier against protesters demonstrating over economic conditions, the state news agency said. Larayedh’s moderate Islamist party Ennahda agreed late last year to the deal which called for its government to hand over to a non-partisan cabinet led by Mehdi Jomaa, a technocrat who will govern until the elections. “I have just handed my resignation to the president,” Larayedh told reporters. “The president will appoint the new Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa shortly, and he will present his new cabinet in the next few days.” One of the most secular countries in the Arab world, Tunisia has struggled with divisions over the role of Islam and the rise of Islamist militants since the uprising in 2011 that inspired other revolts in the region. Tunisia’s transition has been mostly peaceful since 2011. But the killings of two secular opposition leaders by gunmen last year galvanized Ennahda’s secular foes who took to the streets to demand its members resign from power, accusing them of being too lax with hardliners. After weeks of wrangling, Ennahda reached a compromise with main opposition Nidaa Tounes to resign once parties had finished writing the new constitution, set a date for elections and appointed an electoral council to oversee the vote. Much of that agreement has been done: The national assembly is voting on the last clauses of the new charter this week and on Wednesday night the assembly

appointed a nine-member electoral commission. CHALLENGES AHEAD But Tunisia’s new government will have to tackle economic reforms to cut back its deficit while managing simmering popular discontent over the high living costs and lack of economic opportunities since the revolution. After two days of protests in several cities over an increase on vehicle taxes, Larayedh said earlier the government would suspend the tax reform. The state news agency said troops opened fire into the air and police used tear gas to repel hundreds of protesters in Tatouine, where they attacked two police stations and an Ennahda party office. No injuries were reported and local residents said the army had brought the situation under control later the same day. International lenders such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are keen for Tunisia to cut back on public subsidies to control its budget deficit. But public spending cuts risk sparking anger among the population. Authorities say Islamist militants from the Ansar Al-Sharia group, whose leader pays allegiance to Al-Qaeda, are also a growing threat for the small North African country whose economy relies heavily on foreign tourism. A suicide bomber blew himself up at popular beach resort late last year - Tunisia’s first such attack in a decade. Islamist parties who rose to political power after the 2011 revolts in Egypt and Libya have fared less well than Ennahda, whose compromise with secular opponents will allow them to again take part in elections this year. Egypt’s democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi faces trial after the military ousted him, and Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood-allied party is locked in political crisis with secular foes in their parliament. — Reuters

International FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Khamenei says nuclear talks reveal US enmity ANKARA: Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said yesterday that nuclear negotiations with world powers had revealed US enmity towards the Islamic state. Khamenei was speaking hours before the resumption of talks between Iran and the European Union in Geneva. “We had announced previously that on certain issues, if we feel it is expedient, we would negotiate with the Satan (the United States) to deter its evil,” Khamenei told a gathering, reported by the official IRNA news agency. “The nuclear talks showed the enmity of America

against Iran, Iranians, Islam and Muslims.” Iran and the EU hold talks in Geneva yesterday to discuss the practical details of implementing a nuclear agreement reached in Geneva in November. US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman is also due to take part. The Geneva deal was designed to halt Iran’s nuclear advances for six months to buy time for negotiations on a final settlement. Scope for diplomacy widened after Iran elected the pragmatic Hassan Rouhani as president in June. He had promised to

reduce Tehran’s isolation and win an easing of sanctions. Despite fierce criticism by political and religious hardliners, who see the agreement as an infringement of Iranian sovereignty, Khamenei had previously backed the accord. Under the deal, Iran will curb its atomic activities in return for some easing of the international sanctions that have battered the oil producer’s economy. Iran says its nuclear work is entirely peaceful but the West suspects it is aimed at acquiring a nuclear bomb capability. — Reuters


International FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Deep freeze has silver linings for natural world TRAVERSE CITY: From a field station in northern Wisconsin, where the previous night’s low was a numbing 29 degrees below zero, climate scientist John Lenters studied computer images of ice floes on Lake Superior with delight. It may be hard to think of this week’s deep freeze as anything but miserable, but to scientists like Lenters there are silver linings: The extreme cold may help raise low water in the Great Lakes, protect shorelines and wetlands from erosion, kill insect pests and slow the migration of invasive species. “All around, it’s a positive thing,” Lenters, a specialist in the climate of lakes and watersheds, said Wednesday. Ice cover on the Great Lakes has been shrinking for

MUSKEGON: Chris Tinney, 41, in seen in West Western Avenue in Muskegon, Mich. —AP

decades, but this year more than 60 percent of the surface is expected to freeze over at some point - an occurrence that could help the lakes rebound from a prolonged slump in water levels. Even agriculture can benefit. Although cold weather is generally no friend to crops, some of southern Florida’s citrus fruits can use a perfectly timed cool-down, which they were getting as midweek temperatures hovered around freezing. “A good cold snap lowers the acidity in oranges and increases sugar content, sweetens the fruit,” said Frankie Hall, policy director for the Florida Farm Bureau Federation. “It’s almost been a blessing.” Scientists noted that subzero temperatures and pounding snowfalls like those that gripped much of the nation for several days are not unheard-of in the Midwest and Northeast and used to happen more frequently. For all the misery it inflicted, the polar vortex that created the painfully frigid conditions apparently broke no all-time records in any major US cities, according to Jeff Masters, meteorology director of Weather Underground. “I’m just happy to see that we have a normal winter for once,” said Lenters, who works for Limnotech, an environmental consulting firm in Ann Arbor. As the climate has warmed, the absence of bitter cold has actually been damaging. The emerald ash borer, an insect native to Asia, arrived in the US around 2002 and has killed about 50 million ash trees in the Upper Midwest. But some locales this winter may have gotten cold enough to kill at least some larvae, said

Obama to curb NSA access to phone records WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama is expected to restrict National Security Agency access to Americans’ phone records and rein in spying on foreign leaders, according to people familiar with a White House review of the government’s surveillance programs. Obama could unveil his highly anticipated decisions as early as next week. On Thursday, the president is expected to discuss his review with congressional lawmakers, while his top lawyer plans to meet with privacy groups. Representatives from tech companies are meeting with White House staff on Friday. The White House says Obama is still collecting information before making final decisions. Among the changes Obama is expected to announce is more oversight of the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, a classified document that ranks US intelligence-gathering priorities and is used to make decisions on scrutiny of foreign leaders. A presidential review board has recommended increasing the number of policy officials who help establish those priorities, and that could result in limits on surveillance of allies. Documents released by former National Security Agency systems analyst Edward Snowden revealed that the US was monitoring the communications of several friendly foreign leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The revelations outraged Merkel as well as other leaders, and US officials say the disclosures have damaged Obama’s relations around the world. Obama and Merkel spoke by phone Wednesday, but U.S. officials would not say whether they discussed the NSA issues. The president also is said to be considering one of the review board’s most aggressive recommendations, a proposal to strip the NSA of its ability to store telephone records from millions of Americans and instead have phone companies or a third party hold the records. The NSA would be able to access the records only by obtaining separate court approval for each search, though exceptions could be made in the case of a national security emergency.—AP

GRAND HAVEN: Ice covers the lights along the Grand Haven South Pier on Wednesday, in Grand Haven, Mich. — AP Robert Venette, a US Forest Service research biologist in St Paul, Minn. A reading of minus 20 will usually produce a 50 percent mortality rate, and “the numbers go up quickly as it gets colder than that,” Venette said. While the freeze won’t wipe out the ash borer, it will give communities a chance to develop plans for limiting the bug’s spread, he said. Other pests that originated in warmer places could be affected as well, including the gypsy moth, the hemlock woolly adelgid and the European beetle that carries Dutch elm disease, said Lee Frelich, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Forest Ecology. Native insects have evolved to cope with deep freezes. Extreme cold also

reins in invasive nuisance plants such as kudzu, which has ravaged the Southeast but has yet to find its way north, said Luke Nave, a University of Michigan assistant research scientist. “As long as these cold snaps continue to occur, they will help reinforce the current range limits for certain plants,” Nave said. Water levels have been below normal in most of the Great Lakes since the late 1990s because of high evaporation and occasional lack of rain and snow. A year ago, Lakes Michigan and Huron hit their lowest points on record. Cargo ships were forced to carry lighter loads to avoid running aground in shallow channels. Marinas lost business and wetlands dried up.—AP

Christie faces political fallout Aide caught in messages engineering traffic jam TRENTON: This was supposed to be a month of celebration for New Jersey Gov Chris Christie’s political future. But after personal messages revealed that his administration may have closed highway lanes to exact political retribution, the prospective Republican presidential candidate is faced with what may be the biggest test of his political career. Wednesday’s revelations thrust a regional transportation issue into a national conversation raising new questions about the ambitious governor’s leadership on the eve of a second term designed to jumpstart his road to the White House. The critics quickly emerged across New Jersey and beyond, high-profile Democrats and Republicans among them, including some who know the 51-year-old governor best. “What are these people doing?” asked a baffled former New Jersey Republican Gov Tom Kean, whom Christie has often described as a mentor. “The closer to the governor this is, the more harm that it’s going to do.” Emails and text messages released Wednesday suggest that one of Christie’s top aides engineered traffic jams in a New Jersey town last September to punish its Democratic mayor. The messages do not directly implicate Christie, but they appear to contradict his assertions that the closings were not punitive and that his staff was not involved. An “outraged and deeply saddened” Christie responded late in the day by saying he was misled by his aide, and he denied involvement. “This completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without

my knowledge,” he said in a statement. “People will be held responsible for their actions.” The messages that prompted Christie’s response were obtained by The Associated Press and other news organizations amid a statehouse investigation into whether the lane closings that led to the tieups were retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie for reelection last fall. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly wrote in August in a message to David Wildstein, a top Christie appointee on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A few weeks later, Wildstein closed two of three lanes connecting Fort Lee to the heavily-traveled George Washington Bridge, which runs between New Jersey and New York City. Beyond the specifics of the lane closures, critics suggest the incident reflects a darker side of Christie’s brand of politics that contradicts the image he’d like to project as he eyes the presidency. The governor repeatedly sidestepped criticism that he bullied adversaries in an overwhelming re-election victory in November. Facing a little-known and underfunded opponent, he cast himself as a different kind of Republican: a compromising, consensus builder who ultimately earned strong support from minorities, union members and even many Democrats. It was described as the opening argument for Christie’s prospective White House run. That argument is now clouded, at least temporarily, during one of the most important transitions of his political career. In less

than two weeks, he is scheduled to celebrate his second inauguration in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty on historic Ellis Island, a symbolic beginning to a second term designed to expand Christie’s bipartisan appeal. He also is expected to unveil his second-term priorities - solidifying his presidential resume - in a state-of-the-state address later this month, while beginning an aggressive national travel schedule as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Even if Christie navigates the current situation quickly, Republican operative Hogan Gidley said it would almost surely come back to haunt him in a presidential run. He described Christie’s “bulldog style” as both a political asset and a liability. “I don’t necessarily think it’s Christie’s policy that’s going to ultimately catapult or sink his campaign; I think it’s his personality,” said Gidley, a senior adviser to 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum. The messages also raise questions about Christie’s most recent appointee to the Republican Governors Association, Bill Stepien, who was in communication with Wildstein about the lane closures while managing Christie’s re-election campaign. Wildstein, a childhood friend of the governor, is scheduled to testify Thursday before a state Assembly committee but is fighting the subpoena. National conservative opinion leaders joined Christie’s critics Wednesday, while the Democratic National Committee released a web video that details Christie’s earlier assurances that neither he nor his staff had anything to do with the closures.—AP


International FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Japan chemical plant blast kills 5 TOKYO: An explosion at a Japanese factory that had previously attracted the attention of safety inspectors killed at least five people and injured a dozen more yesterday. The blast happened in the early afternoon at the plant in the central city of Yokkaichi, when maintenance crews were working on a heat exchanger used in the production of silicon products, a plant spokesman told AFP. Initial reports put the death toll at two, but they were quickly revised upwards. “Five people are dead. 12 people have been injured, of whom nine sustained only minor injuries,” said a spokeswoman at Mie prefectural police. A separate police spokesman told AFP the plant, run by Mitsubishi Materials, makes parts for solar panels and automobiles, using polymers

made from silicon, hydrogen and chlorine. “An explosion occurred but there is no fire. We received an emergency call at 2:09 pm (0509 GMT)... and at 2:21 pm the incident appeared to have calmed down,” he said. Television footage showed around a dozen firefighters setting out stretchers for victims at the site, where a pipe appeared to have fallen to the ground and other machinery parts were scattered nearby. “I heard a boom and saw white smoke rising from the plant,” a 56year-old worker at a nearby plant was quoted by the Sankei Shimbun as saying. “I don’t remember there ever being such a serious accident in Yokkaichi before.” A separate police spokeswoman said detailed inspections to determine the cause of the

accident had not yet begun because of the danger of secondary explosions, although she added that there was no known risk of a toxic chemical leak. Hiroki Morofuji, an official at the plant, said the blast had involved maintenance workers at the premises, which are sited in a heavily industrialised region. Mitsubishi Materials, headquartered in the Japanese capital, makes a range of products including auto parts, silicon wafers for memory chips used in consumer electronics, and cement for road and bridge construction. “Some 170 people were working at the plant,” a Tokyo-based spokesman said. “Operation at the plant has been suspended. We still don’t know the cause of the explosion.”

He confirmed a report by Dow Jones Newswires that the Yokkaichi factory was ordered by local officials to shut down for several months in 2010 after an on-site inspection discovered it was generating high-pressure gas without necessary permits. The company, which reported sales of about $12.2 billion in its latest fiscal year, has more than 22,000 employees and operations across the globe including in the United States, Brazil, Germany and India, according to its website. The death toll is the largest in an industrial accident in Japan since an undersea tunnel collapsed at an oil refinery in February 2012, trapping five people. In October last year a fire at a hospital in southern Japan killed at least 10 elderly people, including staff. —AFP

Forced abortion highlights abuses in China’s regulation

QUEENSLAND: In this photo released by the Australian Bat Clinic, 15 heat-stressed baby Flying Foxes (bats) are lined up ready to feed at the Australia Bat Clinic near the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia yesterday. —AP

Australia swelters in heat wave CANBERRA: Bats are dropping from trees, kangaroos are collapsing in the Outback and gardens are turning brown. While North America freezes under record polar temperatures, the southern hemisphere is experiencing the opposite extreme as heat records are being set in Australia after the hottest year ever. Weather forecasters in Australia said some parts of the sparsely populated Pilbara region along the rugged northwest coast were approaching 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) yesterday. The record high of 50.7 degrees Celsius (123.3 F) was set in 1960 in Oodnadatta, South Australia state. Outback resident Gian Tate, 60, spends much of the day soaking in a small wading pool at her home near Emu Creek in the Pilbara region, a

remote area off the electric grid. The thermometer outside her home registered 50 degrees Celsius (122 F) on Wednesday, she said. Tate and her husband rely on two electric fans to cope with the oven-like heat and rarely turn on the small air conditioner in their bedroom because of the high cost of fuel to run their generator. “We’ve just got to live with it; there’s nothing you can do,” she said. Brazil is also sizzling, with the heat index reaching 49 degrees Celsius (120 F). Zookeepers in Rio de Janeiro were giving animals ice pops to beat the heat. The late arrival of the monsoon in northern Australia, which has a cooling effect, is contributing to the searing heat, said Karly Braganza, the manager of climate monitoring at the Bureau of Meteorology. Global warming also is

playing a role, he said. So far, this year’s heat wave, which started around Christmas and has moved counterclockwise across Australia’s north, is not as extensive or prolonged as last year’s. But it would likely continue and move toward South Australia state, Braganza predicted. “Certainly looking at the forecast over the next week, it’s looking like that heat is going to continue,” he said. Since Dec 27, records have been set at 34 locations across Australia - some by large margins - where temperature data has been collected for at least 40 years mostly in Queensland and New South Wales states. In the mining town of Narrabi in New South Wales, the new record of 47.8 degrees Celsius (118 F) exceeded the previous record by 3.6 degrees Celsius (6.5 F). —AP

BEIJING: When her mind is clear, Gong Qifeng can recall how she begged for mercy. Several people pinned her head, arms, knees and ankles to a hospital bed before driving a syringe of labor-inducing drugs into her stomach. She was seven months pregnant with what would have been her second boy. The drugs caused her to have a stillborn baby after 35 hours of excruciating pain. She was forced to have the abortion by officials in China’s southern province of Hunan in the name of complying with national limits on family size. “It was the pain of my lifetime, worse than the pain of delivering a child. You cannot describe it,” Gong, 25, said in a recent interview in Beijing. “And it has become a mental pain. I feel like a walking corpse.” Since the abortion more than two years ago, Gong has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. She traveled with her husband to the capital to demand help paying for her treatment, but she ended up being hauled away in her pajamas by police, a detention recorded on video by The Associated Press. Forced abortions are considered an acceptable way of enforcing China’s population limits, but they are banned when the woman is more than five months pregnant. Yet no one has been held accountable for Gong’s late-term abortion, and other women in similar cases also struggle to get justice and compensation. Observers believe forced late-term abortions are on the decline, though reports continue to surface. A British broadcaster reported one in the eastern province of Shandong in September. Although China in November announced an easing of its “onechild” policy to allow more couples to have a second child, the overall system remains in place and local governments are still required to keep to population quotas. The new policy would not have applied to Gong because it allows couples to have a second child only if both the mother and father have no siblings. “The system has not changed at all,” said Liang Zhongtang, a demographer at Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. “It still forbids you from having more children than permitted by the government, so the game - and forced later-term abortions - are unavoidable if you want to have children the government does not allow.” China’s government bans abuses by local enforcers, but nevertheless requires them to successfully carry out family-planning policies. A pregnancy could be several months along by the time they hear about it, or it could become late-term while officials attempt to negotiate a settlement - probably a hefty fine - with the parents. “The problem arises when the enforcers are serious about implementing the policy. If the enforcers are not brutal, the policy cannot be enforced,” Liang said. “So, who in the government can be the arbiter of justice in such cases?” Beijing introduced measures around 1980 to restrict family sizes, limiting most urban couples to one child and rural families to two if the firstborn is a girl. Forced abortions and sterilizations became prevalent. An outcry over forced late-term abortions peaked in June 2012 when family of Feng Jianmei in the northwestern province of Shaanxi revealed her forcibly aborted 7-month fetus on the Internet, drawing widespread fury, attracting international media and prompting the top family planning official to reiterate the state stance against such misconduct. —AP


International FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Surreal fact, outlandish fiction in North Korea SEOUL: Determining whether stories about North Korea are true or false means delving into a very wide, grey area where the genuinely surreal mixes confusingly with the patently absurd. For example, which of these reports about leader Kim Jong-Un appears-at least on paper-the more likely? That he executed his uncle by feeding him naked to a pack of starving dogs, or that his birthday celebrations in Pyongyang were led by a serenade from a former cross-dressing, NBA all-star with a penchant for facial piercings and celebrity wrestling? The latter is borne out by a YouTube video showing ex-Chicago Bulls guard Dennis Rodman’s off-tune rendition of “Happy Birthday” before an exhibition basketball match watched by Kim on Wednesday. On the other hand, the death-by-dog story, which was picked up by some international media, was apparently based on a satirical tweet posted on a Chinese website. This was then picked up by Chinese newspaper Wen Wei Po, leading to shocked headlines in the Western media. Differentiating fact from fiction is particularly difficult when it comes to North Korea given the country’s profound isolation, which makes any story not sanctioned by its highly secretive regime almost impossible to verify. At the same time, international interest in what goes on in North Korea is enormous, especially when it comes to sensational stories that satisfy a widespread perception of the country as brutal, backward and bizarre. These factors combine to create a cavernous media echo chamber that provides resonance and substance to rumor and speculation. Elements can then be cherry-picked and put together into a sensational news item, as happened with the rumors swirling around Kim’s purge and execution of his uncle and political mentor Jang Song-Thaek last month. The most spectacular version would read something like this: Kim Jong-Un had his elderly uncle, who had an affair with Kim’s wife, fed naked to a pack of 120 starving dogs, thereby inducing a heart attack in his aunt who now lies in a vegetative coma. A number of these elements originated from the mainstream South Korean media and North Korean defector-run websites-both of which, analysts note, have a vested interest in painting the North and its leadership as a source of unimaginable horror. ‘A weird, wild place’ Choi Jung-Hoon, director of the Free North Korea radio station in Seoul, said the media frenzy surrounding Jang’s execution had proved particularly fertile ground. “News from such a closed country like the North still remains limited ... leaving unconfirmed speculation to fill the void,” Choi, himself a defector, told AFP. “People are just imagining what they believe may go on in North Korea-a weird, wild place where apparently anything can happen,” said Choi, who fled his homeland in 2007. “Sometimes the picture they draw is so ridiculous, so different from the country I lived and know.” But North Korea is complicit in fostering the atmosphere that generates the sensational headlines. Its relentless bolstering of the personality cult surrounding the ruling Kim dynasty and its apocalyptic, high-decibel threats of nuclear war are mostly meant for domestic consumption, but are nevertheless pounced on by the rest of the world as evidence of a country driven by paranoid delusion. The language used by the state media in denouncing Jang was especially breathless and colorful, accusing him of womanizing, drug-taking and general decadence, and labeling him “despicable human scum... worse than a dog”. Such hyperbole is the default setting for North Korean propaganda and its tone only serves to lend credence to the more outlandish stories published about the regime. As well as ravenous dogs, other reported methods of execution in North Korea have included flamethrowers and mortar shells. The North’s refusal to deny or confirm most reports helps keep the rumor mill turning over, although it has taken umbrage at some stories concerning Kim Jong-Un. A report that Kim had undergone plastic surgery to look more like his grandfather, North Korea’s founding leader Kim Il-Sung, was denounced by state media as a “hideous criminal act”. It also threatened to kill the authors of a story that Kim used Adolf Hitler’s memoir “Mein Kampf” as a leadership guide, and condemned reports that it had executed several state performers by machine-gun to cover up the allegedly decadent past of Kim’s young wife. —AFP

PYONGYANG: This photo shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (center), his wife Ri Sol-Ju (left) and former US basketball star Dennis Rodman watching a basketball game between former NBA players and North Korean players at Pyongyang Gymnasium. —AFP

Rodman apologizes for rant Former NBA star blames outburst on drink

PYONGYANG: Dennis Rodman apologized yesterday for comments he made in North Korea about a detained American missionary, saying he had been drinking and was under pressure as he organized a game with former NBA players. The former basketball star issued the apology through publicist Jules Feiler in an email message to The Associated Press, a day after he sang “Happy Birthday” to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the start of the friendly game. Rodman has been slammed for not using his influence with Kim to help free Kenneth Bae, the missionary in poor health who is being confined in North Korea for “anti-state” crimes. In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Rodman implied Bae was at fault. “I want to apologize,” Rodman said yesterday. “I take full responsibility for my actions. It had been a very stressful day. Some of my teammates were leaving because of pressure from their families and business associates. My dreams of basketball diplomacy was quickly falling apart. I had been drinking. It’s not an excuse but by the time the interview happened I was upset. I was overwhelmed. It’s not an excuse, it’s just the truth.” Rodman said he wanted to apologize first to Bae’s family. “I’m very sorry. At this point I should know better than to make political statements. I’m truly sorry.” In the interview, Rodman was asked whether he would raise the issue of Bae during his visit. “Kenneth Bae did one thing,” Rodman replied. “If you understand what Kenneth

Bae did - do you understand what he did in this country?” Asked to explain, Rodman declined to respond. Bae, a KoreanAmerican Christian missionary and tour operator based in China, has been detained for more than a year. North Korea sees missionary work as a threat to its authoritarian government. Bae’s sister, Terri Chung, said his family couldn’t believe what Rodman had said. “Here’s somebody who is in a position to do some good for Kenneth and refuses to do so,” Chung told KOMO Radio in Seattle on Wednesday. “And then after the fact, instead, he decides to hurl these unqualified accusations against Kenneth. It’s clear he has no idea what he’s talking about. I’m not sure who he’s talking to, where he’s getting his information, but he’s certainly no authority on Kenneth Bae.” The US State Department distanced itself from Rodman and said it did not want to “dignify” his activities or comments in Pyongyang by commenting on them. But spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the department was open to speaking with Rodman on his return. “We have not reached out to him. We’ve said before, if he wants to reach out to us, we’re happy to hear from him and what he has to say,” she told reporters. Rodman dedicated the game to his “best friend” Kim, who along with his wife and other senior officials and their wives watched from a special seating area. The capacity crowd of about 14,000 at the

Pyongyang Indoor Stadium clapped loudly as Rodman sang a verse from the birthday song and then bowed deeply to Kim, seated above him in the stands. Rodman said he was honored to be able to play the game in the North Korean capital and called the event “historic.” Some members of the US Congress, the NBA and human rights groups, however, say he has become a public relations tool for North Korea’s government. The government’s poor human rights record and its threats to use nuclear weapons against rival South Korea and the United States have kept it a pariah state. Kim shocked the world in December by having his uncle, once considered his mentor, executed after being accused of a litany of crimes including corruption, womanizing, drug abuse and attempting to seize power. Rodman has refused to address those concerns while continuing to forge a relationship with Kim. Rodman is the highestprofile American to meet Kim, who inherited power after the death of his father in late 2011. Rodman has said he is not a statesman and instead is seeking only to build cultural connections with the North through basketball that may help improve relations between Pyongyang and Washington. Along with Rodman, the former NBA players included ex-All Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson and Vin Baker. Also on the roster were Craig Hodges, Doug Christie, Charles D. Smith and four streetballers. —AP

Singapore tycoon’s mom saved from kidnappers SINGAPORE: Two Singaporean men were arrested yesterday on suspicion of kidnapping the mother of a local supermarket tycoon and receiving a cash ransom of Sg$2.0 million ($1.6 million), police and local media said. The two men, aged 41 and 50, were arrested shortly after they picked up the ransom money from a suburban park and released the 79-year-old victim, a police statement said. They did not identify her

but the Straits Times newspaper reported that she is the mother of Lim Hock Chee, founder and chief executive of the Sheng Siong supermarket chain which is listed on the main board of the Singapore Exchange. In a video posted on the newspaper’s website, Lim said his mother was lured outside her home into a car by the kidnappers after they told her he had been seriously injured in a fall. She was held

for about 12 hours. The supermarket chain has more than 30 outlets across Singapore and registered total revenue of Sg$637.3 million ($501 million) in the year to December 2012. Lim was listed in Forbes’ Singapore’s 50 Richest List in 2013, with a net worth of Sg$515 million. Police said the original ransom demand was for Sg$20 million. “Kidnapping for ransom is very rare in Singapore but is a very severe offence

which is punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty,” deputy commissioner of police Hoong Wee Teck said in the statement. Singapore, a regional financial centre and one of Asia’s richest and safest cities, takes a tough stand against crime. The death penalty-carried out by hanging-is mandatory for certain crimes such as murder and can also be imposed for other serious offences such as kidnapping and drug trafficking. —AP


International FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

French restaurant’s ‘no Pakistani’ rule lands chef in soup ISLAMABAD: With coarse-grained pork sausages, blood pudding and fine wine on his menu, Philippe Lafforgue thought he had cooked up the perfect recipe for expats in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. But the Frenchman’s refusal to serve Pakistanis unless they were accompanied by a foreigner has landed him in the soup in this deeply conservative country home to some of the most dangerous Islamist militants on the planet. It all started with a Twitter comment one evening in December. Cyril Almeida, a prominent Pakistani journalist, complained about a restaurant which refused reservations from anyone except “foreign-passport holders”. Established in October, “La Maison” is a small French bistro tucked away on the ground floor of Lafforgue’s house in a posh, tree-lined area in the heart of the capital.

After being refused a table, Almeida turned to social media, launching a campaign with the hashtag “NoToApartheid.” “It is so obviously offensive and obnoxious... why should a private individual establish a club or an establishment which blocks out the very people of the country it is operating in?” Almeida told AFP. He published the address of “La Maison” online, contacted the police, the ministry of the interior and the local member of parliament. The results were almost immediate: two senior police officials tried to book a table at the tastefully decorated restaurant replete with ornate carpets and works of art. But like Almeida, their efforts proved in vain. Officers then raided La Maison, shut it down, arrested two local staff and confiscated some 300 bottles of wine, beer and even Perrier-

possibly thinking the sparkling mineral water was champagne. Twitter outcry Pakistan’s twittersphere, made up in large part by the country’s small but influential elite, reacted sharply. Some compared the policy to the kind of discriminatory attitudes seen during the colonial era when Pakistan was still part of British-ruled India. Lafforgue, who moved to Pakistan in 2005, says he has been taken aback by the reaction and insists he acted in good faith. After deciding to serve French delicacies like andouilletes (a coarse-grained pork sausage) and boudins (blood pudding), he says he believed he had no choice but to refuse locals in order to abide by the law. Former socialist prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto banned alcohol in 1977,

bowing to pressure from Islamic parties. But authorities allow its sale to nonMuslims, primarily for festive purposes, and “non-Muslim foreigners”. Islam bans the consumption of pig products-and therefore certain types of sausage. But while even many liberal Muslims avoid pork, many enjoy alcohol discreetly at closed-door gatherings. “All that I have done was to abide by Pakistani law. If I did something illegal, I would have been condemned by mullahs and visited by the police (earlier),” says Lafforgue, who was previously a chef in France and moved to Pakistan to work as a firework technician. In the diplomatic enclave, a highsecurity area of the capital which houses most foreign embassies, private restaurants and clubs sell alcohol to foreigners and their Pakistani guests. —AFP

Taleban suicide blast kills famed Karachi cop

Aslam killed ‘for torturing Taleban’s associates’ KARACHI: A senior police investigator known for arresting dozens of Pakistani Taleban was killed yesterday in a car bombing, a sharp blow to efforts to crack down on militant groups seeking to gain a foothold in the sprawling southern city of Karachi that’s vital to the country’s economy. Chaudhry Aslam was traveling through a commercial area in the port city when a powerful explosion ripped apart the vehicle he was traveling in, police officer Amir Farooqi said. The blast killed two other officers with him, Farooqi said. Aslam was known for being one of Karachi’s toughest police officers who had escaped previous attempts on his life. In September 2011, a suicide

bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives outside his home. That blast killed eight people, though Aslam escaped unharmed and vowed to continue his work. “This is a cowardly act,” Aslam told local television at the time. “I’m not scared. I will not spare them.” The Pakistani Taleban claimed responsibility for that bombing and for the one that killed Aslam. In a telephone call to The Associated Press, Pakistani Taleban spokesman Sajjad Mohmand said that they killed Aslam for torturing their associates. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the killing, saying that it would not deter the morale of law enforcement agencies battling militancy.

RAWALPINDI: Supporters of Pakistan’s former president and military ruler Pervez Musharraf hang a poster of their leader outside the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology where Musharraf is admitted. A Pakistani court trying Musharraf for treason ordered him to appear at a hearing next week, despite his lawyers saying he was too sick to attend yesterday. —AP

In recent years, Karachi has seen a sharp growth in violence, which many worry has given militant groups such as the Taleban an opportunity to expand their presence in the massive city. Aslam played a leading role in arresting scores of militants and other criminals there in recent years. “He was a very brave man, that’s for sure. He had a lot of courage in him,” said Sharfuddin Memon, an adviser to the chief minister of the province in which Karachi is located. “Whenever there was some blast he was there on the scene right away without being scared.” Memon said Aslam’s death could have been in response to a recent crackdown on crime by authorities in the city. After Karachi went through its most violent year on record in 2012, authorities launched an operation last September to crack down on criminal and militant networks there. Meanwhile, a Pakistani court trying former army chief and President Pervez Musharraf for treason yesterday ordered him to appear at a hearing Jan 16, despite his lawyers saying he was too sick to attend. The ruling was announced in Islamabad by court registrar Abdul Ghani Soomro, who also said that a medical report on Musharraf’s health submitted earlier this week to the court indicated he had not suffered a heart attack as was rumored. Musharraf has been staying at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology since last week when authorities rushed him there instead of taking him to court. The prosecution claimed the dramatic hospital detour was a ploy to avoid appearing in court. Musharraf’s defense lawyers have been pushing for him to be exempt from proceedings or even to be allowed to leave the country for treatment abroad. —AP

DHAKA: Bangladeshi policemen keep vigil during an ongoing blockade called by the main opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), yesterday. —AP

Bangladesh swears in contested parliament DHAKA: Bangladesh’s newly-elected lawmakers took their parliamentary oath yesterday after an election condemned by critics as a farce and with feuding political leaders still locked in a deadly confrontation. Led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, members of parliament from the ruling Awami League and lawmakers from her allies were sworn in, parliament’s spokesman Joynal Abedin told AFP. “Of the 300 lawmakers, 284 have taken the oath today. Others will be sworn in later,” Abedin said. The Awami League won nearly 80 percent of the seats in Sunday’s walkover parliamentary polls, which were boycotted by the opposition and hit by the deadliest election violence in the country’s history. Analysts say the new assembly could be short-lived since Hasina faces a worsening political crisis and mounting calls for new polls from the international community and the opposition. The opposition, led by two-times former prime minister Khaleda Zia who is under de facto house arrest, called for a non-stop blockade of roads, rail and waterways from Wednesday to topple the government. The blockade was only partially imposed in the capital, with many activists behind bars after a crackdown by security forces in the weeks before Sunday’s election. Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) described the weekend vote as a farce and the United States said it lacked credibility. Elected unopposed A total of 153 Awami League members or allies were elected unopposed ahead of polling day as a result of an opposition boycott, imposed over Hasina’s decision to change the electoral system. Hasina, daughter of the country’s independence hero Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was later elected the leader of parliament and would form a government by Sunday, her spokesman Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury told AFP. —AFP

Business FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

China records 2.6% inflation

Sizzling euro-zone periphery run continues ahead of ECB PAGE 20


TEXAS: American Airlines Capt Paul Wannberg (left) and First Officer Robert Popp prepare a Boeing 757 jet for take off from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Grapevine, Texas. — AP

Airlines go on record jet shopping spree Unwanted jets head to Russia or Africa ROSWELL: Capt Paul Wannberg glides an old Boeing 757 over the New Mexico desert, lining up with the runway. A computerized voice squawks elevation warnings. Forty feet. Thirty. Twenty. Ten. Touchdown. Outside the cockpit window sit nearly a hundred airplane carcasses, perfectly lined up. They are jets that nobody wants anymore. And after 26,057 takeoffs and landings - this 24-year-old American Airlines plane is about to join them. “This is my first time here, and it’s a sad place,” First Officer Robert Popp tells the control tower. Airlines used to store planes in the desert during slow travel months. Sometimes, unwanted jets would be sold to carriers in Russia or Africa. Today, a man on the other end of the radio responds, “they’re chopping them up.” Airlines are on the largest jet-buying spree in the history of aviation, ordering more than 8,200 new planes with manufacturers Airbus SAS and The Boeing Co in the past five years. There are now a combined 24 planes rolling off assembly lines each week, up from 11 a decade ago. And that rate is expected to keep climbing. The new planes allow the airlines to save on fuel, now their biggest cost, while offering passengers more amenities - some for a fee. Passengers can plug in to work or be entertained by a seat-back TV and fly some international routes nonstop for the first time. And the commercial divisions of Boeing and Airbus get a steady stream of cash for years, which is a key reason investors have doubled the

companies’ stock price in the past year. The bulk of the planes are going to new or quickly-growing airlines that serve an expanding middle class in India and the rest of Asia. The International Air Transport Association expects the number of passengers worldwide to grow 31 percent to 3.9 billion in the next four years. US airlines are buying as well. After suffering through the Sept 11 terrorist attacks, bankruptcies and recessions, they’re now strong enough financially to buy new jets. Domestic carriers spent $11.6 billion last year on capital improvements - including new planes up from $5.2 billion in 2010. With the price of fuel nearly four times what it was 10 years ago, airlines need to replace aging gas-guzzlers - like the American 757 that Capt Wannberg parked in the desert in Roswell. The plane showed its age. Many armrests originally came with ashtrays. The seatback pocket on 27D was hanging by its last thread. And the window shade at 1F wouldn’t close. American would have had to spend $6 million to $10 million for heavy maintenance checks on the airframe, overhauls of the engines and other part replacements to keep the plane flying. Instead, it went to Roswell. There, the dry air prevents the aluminum airframe from corroding. Spare parts will be harvested from the jet; eventually it will be chopped up for scrap metal. It’s a fate many US planes are facing. On Monday, Delta Air Lines retired the last of its DC-9s, a 35-year-old jet that

had been the workhorse of US airlines for decades. Over the past five years US airlines have retired nearly 1,300 other planes - more than 20 a month to various desert facilities in the last five years, according to Flightglobal’s Ascend Online Fleets, which sells and tracks information about aircraft. American’s old 757 will be replaced by one of 460 new single-aisle jets that the airline ordered in July 2011 - the largest single airplane order in history. The first one entered service on Sept 16, and American is currently taking delivery of an additional new plane every week - models like the A321 from Airbus or the Boeing 737. Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines and just about every other US carrier has a large order in place. Nearly 1,500 new planes will be delivered to US airlines by Airbus and Boeing over the next decade. Several hundred smaller regional jets are also on order with other manufacturers. “We are producing twice as many airplanes today as we were 10 years ago,” says Mary Prettyman, Airbus’ vice president of strategic marketing for the Americas. It will take Airbus eight years to fill all its current orders. “It’s unprecedented.” The new planes cater to passengers’ changing habits. Instead of reading a paperback book or magazine from the airport gift shop, travelers today are surfing the Internet or reading on their Kindle or iPads. American designed the interior of its new planes with the concept that “your life should never be

interrupted because you are flying,” says Alice Liu, managing director for onboard products for the airline. So this new generation of planes provide passengers with larger overhead bins, power outlets and USB ports, better lighting and a less-claustrophobic feel. There’s also less noise and - in many cases - individual TVs. “We want to give you a sense of as much space as possible,” says Mike Henny, Delta’s director of customer experience. “A darker space doesn’t feel as spacious as a lighter one.” Some models can fly longer distances, opening up new nonstop routes. And the planes are more reliable, meaning fewer mechanical delays or cancelations. Then there are the showoff features, meant to woo high-paying customers. First class passengers between New York and Los Angeles or San Francisco on American will benefit from an onboard cappuccino machine starting this week. JetBlue is adding four seats that will be walled off from the rest of the cabin with their own doors in its new premium cabin on the same routes starting with Los Angeles June 15. The decision to buy new planes is being driven by high fuel prices, low interest rates and Wall Street financing mechanisms that allow airlines with junk bond ratings to borrow money at favorable terms. American was even able to borrow $2.7 billion for new planes while it was still in bankruptcy restructuring. “It certainly is an opportunistic time. There’s no doubt about that,” says John D. Rainey, United Airlines’ chief financial officer. —AP


Business FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

China has the most outbound tourists

LOS ANGELES: Homeless women sit amid their belongings on a street in downtown Los Angeles, California. Poverty in the world’s largest economy remains far from being eradicated fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson declared a war on poverty in America in his first State of the Union address on this date in 1964, with a US Census Bureau report revealing on January 7 that nearly one in three Americans experienced poverty for at least two months during the global recession between 2009 and 2011. And in 2012, poverty affected some 47 million Americans, including 13 million children. —AFP

Sizzling euro-zone periphery run continues ahead of ECB Euro, pound claw back vs dollar

LONDON: Euro-zone periphery bonds and stocks rallied for a third day yesterday, as investors cast aside their normal caution ahead of policy meetings at the European Central Bank and Bank of England. Neither bank was expected to change interest rates, but markets were on alert for any signs of future moves in monetary stimulus or shifts in the economic outlook. A jump in the eurozone sentiment index to a 29-month high for December set a positive mood for the ECB meeting and helped European stocks overcome an early wobble. Spanish and Italian bourses had both jumped more than 1 percent by 1100 GMT, while Portugal’s main stock market added over 0.5 percent to take its gains so far this year past 8 percent. Both the euro and sterling were also able to claw back some ground they have conceded in recent days to the dollar, which had been lifted by strong US data. The pound looked the firmer of the two gainers at $1.6469. The euro was up 0.3 percent at $1.3600, but with euro-zone inflation bumping along at very low levels, HSBC FX strategist David Bloom expected the ECB to reiterate it remains on guard later - a move that could weaken the currency. “I would say at least some dovish rhetoric from

the ECB, but from the Bank of England we are not expecting much at all ... I think this mini dollar-rally, on the view the Fed is going to taper (the amount it pushes out as stimulus) and the ECB is going to loosen (eventually), is going to stay with the market.” ECB chief Mario Draghi has been at pains to stress in recent months that the bank is prepared to ease its record low interest rates even further below 0.25 percent and test out other, more unconventional, policy options if necessary. With euro-zone inflation running at just 0.8 percent in December, deflation could become a risk if prices continue to slow. In most respects though, the euro-zone has got off to a good start this year. Germany’s economy is gaining strength and bailed-out Ireland has seen a strong return to borrowing markets, which in turn has lifted Portugal and other ‘periphery’ members. Euro-zone growth is set to lag that of Britain, however, and some traders suggested the Bank of England could release a rare post-meeting statement to acknowledge the UK economy’s progress, though HSBC’s Bloom doubted it would. ASIA WOBBLES The BOE is due to make its policy announce-

Oil up towards $108 LONDON: Oil rose towards $108 a barrel yesterday, as caution prevailed on prospects for a solution to Libya’s oil exports deadlock. Brent crude for February delivery was 69 cents higher at $107.84 per barrel at 1047 GMT, after settling 20 cents lower the day before. Brent prices fell as much as $6 per barrel last week, after Libya said it would restart its key El Sharara oil field. It is now producing around 650,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil, of which 510,000 bpd is being exported, Oil Minister Abdelbari Arusi told Reuters on Wednesday. This is well up from a trough below 100,000 barrels per day late last year but still around half of exports before protests paralyzed the sector. Analysts said expectations that exports would quickly surge back towards the 1.4 million barrels per day before strikes at oilfields began last July had evaporated due to escalating tensions between the Tripoli government and an armed grouping controlling three eastern oil ports. “The market was too optimistic about developments in Libya and it’s clear that the conflict is far from resolved and it’s not going in the right direction,” said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodity analyst at SEB in Oslo. Libya said on Wednesday it will stop doing business with, and take to court, any foreign firms trying to buy oil from eastern ports seized by armed protesters. The statement came after tension built this week with rebels inviting foreign firms to buy crude from them and the Libyan navy firing warning shots near a tanker it said was trying to load oil illegally. —Reuters

ment at 1200 GMT, with the ECB due at 1245 followed by a news conference at 1330 GMT. In Asian trading, shares once again wavered after a lacklustre performance on Wall Street overnight, following Federal Reserve minutes and ahead of the US jobs report on Friday. Seasonal bellwether or just hocus pocus, the first five trading days don’t bode particularly well for 2014. Since 1950, the direction of the S&P500 index of US blue chips in the first five trading days of the year has predicted the full-year direction more than 85 percent of the time. At Wednesday’s cutoff, it was just in the red. Perhaps more relevant for more hard-headed investors will be the fourthquarter earnings season in the United States, which kicks off yesterday with earnings from mining giant Alcoa , as usual. “This is the “show me” year in terms of earnings,” said Bill O’Neill, head of wealth management research at UBS. “You have to see an improvement.” A sharper-than-expected slowdown in China’s annual consumer inflation in December caused some jitters in Asia but market reaction was limited. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan shed 0.4 percent after snapping a five-day losing streak on Wednesday. Despite a weaker yen, which should help exporters, Japan’s Nikkei benchmark lost 1.5 percent. COPPER BOTTOM Among commodities, gold was a tad higher at $1,227.05 per ounce, steadying after touching a one-week low on Wednesday. US crude futures advanced 0.3 percent to $92.62 a barrel, rebounding from a five-week low hit overnight after data showed a large build-up of stockpiles at the US benchmark delivery point. Brent crude also gained 0.6 percent, to $107.80 per barrel, while copper prices, highly sensitive to the economic outlook for top consumer China, slipped 1.2 percent to $7,256.25 on its way to a twoweek low. “I’m a bear on copper prices - I think $7,000 is a more sustainable level,” said Helen Lau, a senior commodities analyst with UOB Kay Hian in Hong Kong. “The dollar will continue to strengthen because of US tapering (stimulus withdrawal), and China’s economic growth is slowing down.” —Reuters

BEIJING: Nearly 100 million Chinese tourists visited foreign countries last year, and they are likely to extend their lead as the world’s biggest-spending travelers, state media reported yesterday. A total of 97 million Chinese tourists left the country in 2013, up 14 million from the previous year, the state-run China Daily reported, citing official data from China’s National Tourism Administration. The figures underline the rapid rise in the numbers of Chinese travelling abroad, who numbered just 29 million in 2004. Chinese travelers spent $102 billion overseas in 2012, making them the world’s biggest spenders ahead of Germans and US tourists, and are almost certain to have surpassed that record last year, the report said, citing researcher Song Rui. China’s economy has boomed over the past decade, expanding the ranks of its middle-class who are hungry for foreign travel after the country’s decades of isolation in the last century. European Union and Asian countries have moved to ease visa application procedures for Chinese tourists in recent years, keen to cash in on their big-spending habits. “Chinese tourists spend so much abroad that some foreigners are calling us ‘walking wallets’,” Song, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted as saying. Hotels and retailers around the world have stepped up efforts to woo Chinese visitors. London’s renowned Harrods department store says it now has 70 Mandarin-speaking staff and more than 100 China Unionpay terminals allowing direct payment from Chinese bank accounts. —AFP

Gold steadies after two days of losses LONDON: Gold steadied yesterday after two days of losses as the dollar index retreated from the previous day’s sevenweek high, while traders took to the sidelines ahead of a report on the US jobs market today. The monthly non-farm payrolls data for December is being watched for clues on the timetable for further tapering of US monetary stimulus, traders said. Weekly US jobless figures yesterday could also prompt some moves in gold. Spot gold was at $1,226.54 an ounce at 1052 GMT, little changed from Wednesday, while US gold futures for February delivery were up 80 cents an ounce at $1,226.30. The metal has risen 1.8 percent this month as stock markets corrected and Chinese consumers bought ahead of the Lunar New Year, but its early strength has waned, with a rebound in European stocks to 5-1/2 year highs keeping a lid on gains. “Last year, gold was often negatively correlated with the S&P 500,” Peter Fertig, a consultant with Quantitative Commodity Research, said. “At the beginning of this year, money was flowing back from stocks into gold, but as we’ve seen a stabilization of the stock market, we’ve seen money leaving gold and going back into equities.” The metal hit a one-week low after Wednesday’s ADP private sector jobs report lifted expectations that the US Federal Reserve will taper its bond-buying scheme sooner rather than later after opting to cut purchases by $10 billion a month in December. “For tomorrow, I expect the labor market report will come in slightly above expectations, as has already been indicated by the ADP report,” he said. “That will overall be positive for the stock market and negative for the precious metals.” Minutes of the Fed’s last policy meeting released on Wednesday signaled the bank would take a cautious approach to scaling back the program. Expectations that the scheme was coming to an end was a key factor in last year’s 28 percent plunge in gold prices. The European Central Bank is also due to announce its interest rate decision at 1245 GMT, followed by a news conference on policy at 1330 GMT. CHINESE BUYING STEADIES Buying of gold in China, which is tipped to have taken over from India as the world’s biggest bullion consumer last year, steadied yesterday after a strong start to the week, dealers said. Premiums on the Shanghai Gold Exchange held at $17. The world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, New York’s SPDR Gold Shares, reported its first outflow of the year yesterday, of 1.5 tons, taking its holdings to a five-year low of 793.121 tons. Last year the fund saw an outflow of more than 550 tons, the first year its holdings had fallen since its launch in 2004. —Reuters


Business FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

China demolishes landmark inn once hailed as symbol of change BEIJING: When they introduced market reforms that would shake the world, China’s rulers celebrated a tiny privately owned Beijing hotel that survived decades of state planning as an example to the nation. Now in a twist of fate the Tianyi Inn has been demolished, apparently overcome by the very changes it once symbolized. The hotel reportedly endured as Beijing’s only private business even during the worst excesses of Mao Zedong’s rule, when capitalists were often vilified, but was torn down in late December to make way for a government-backed modernization project. Its former owners say they have not been compensated and live in constant fear of arrest. “Until we were demolished, the government always protected us,” said Qiao Shuzhi, 63, the son of the inn’s founder, who supported China’s Communist Party when it was still an underground movement. “Now it’s not safe any more, so I won’t stay there,” he added. His father Qiao Tianmin was granted a “Special Business Operation Licence” in 1953 by Beijing’s chief of police, seemingly as a reward for his service to the communists as China fought against Japan. “He was a farmer with just a few months of schooling, he couldn’t work as a party cadre... so they permitted him to open a small business,” Qiao said. The hostel began as little more than a spare room, where a single heated bed slept up to eight people each night-a miscellany of farmers, builders and craftsmen who arrived in Beijing for work and were charged a pittance to stay. The business never made the Qiao family a fortune but was unique in the city during an era when virtually all Chinese worked in government-controlled work units and the ruling party planned all aspects of the economy. It even survived the tumult of Mao’s decade-long Cultural Revolution, launched in 1966, when those labeled “capitalist roaders” were beaten and even killed. “That we remained open during the Cultural Revolution is really a miracle,” Qiao recalled. His father-who died in 1991 - maintained it was protected on special orders from former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai, he added. ‘EXISTENCE HAS A REASON’ After Mao’s death in 1976 the party sought to revive China’s wrecked economy with pro-market reforms, and seized on the humble west Beijing boarding house as an example of the kind of private business they hoped to foster. The People’s Daily, the party’s mouthpiece, ran a frontpage editorial about the inn in 1979 headlined “Having more Mom and Pop stores is a good thing”. The party-run Beijing Daily said on its front page the same year: “That it survived the great calamities created by Lin Biao and the Gang of Four is a miracle... its existence has a reason.” The 1980s were a comparative golden era for business, Qiao said, as emerging entrepreneurs and migrant workers from across China headed to the capital, and a new building was added to cope with demand. But the establishment soon faced competition from scores of other privately run hotels as the city transformed, and in latter years its guests were mostly poor travelers visiting family at a nearby hospital. Last year the district government earmarked the inn and the surrounding streets as a “village within the city”-a designation for dilapidated areas that usually precedes their demolition and replacement with new buildings-and ordered locals to move out. Such mass demolitions are common in China, where residents often complain they are poorly compensated for the loss of their homes by local governments who rely for income on land sales to property companies-which have profited richly from the nation’s economic boom. In 2011 China outlawed violence during evictions and stipulated relocated residents must be paid market-rate compensation. But rights groups say these regulations are often ignored. Qiao refused to leave, but returned home one morning to find two digging machines mauling the two-storey white-tiled building with his belongings still inside, he said. He was seized by a group of unidentified men and held for more than 10 hours, he said. “Our inn was celebrated as an example,” he said. “We say that our home should not be demolished, and if it is then at least build us a new one.”—AFP

Spanish debt costs ease Euro-zone hopes rise

MADRID: Spain saw its borrowing costs ease yesterday at its first debt sale of the year, reflecting broader signs of financial recovery in crisis-hit euro-zone economies. A year and a half ago, repayment rates on Spanish debt were in danger territory, sparking warnings that the country would have to be bailed out like Portugal and Ireland. But rates on the three countries’ debt have eased, and the yield on Spain’s five-year bond yesterday hit the lowest rate since the launch of the euro currency. Separately, in its first debt auction of 2014, Spain’s treasury sold 5.287 billion euros ($7.12 billion) in a sale of five- and 15-year bonds, with demand more than double the supply, the central bank said. “This strong bond sale shows that market confidence in these countries is so strong now that they can probably withstand some volatility as well,” said Christian Schulz, an economist at Berenberg bank. The repayment rate on Spain’s 15-year bond declined strongly to 4.192 percent from 4.809 percent in the previous comparable sale on September 19. On the five-year bonds, the rate fell to a rate of 2.382 percent from 2.697 percent reached on December 19. On the secondary markets that reflect dayto-day investor appetite for buying up Spanish debt, its benchmark 10-year

bond yield slipped further into the comfort zone, to 3.71 percent from 3.79 the previous evening. The yield on Spain’s five-year bond hit the lowest rate since the launch of the euro, easing to 2.235 percent yesterday morning from 2.326 percent the evening before. Schulz said there was “a broad, strong market sentiment which is getting ever more robust and resilient, which is positive for the euro-zone periphery, not just Spain but also Italy and so on”. After international authorities bailed out Portugal and Ireland in 2010 to stop their public finances collapsing, economists warned that Spain or even Italy could be next. The jitters prompted the European Central Bank to promise it would prevent struggling countries dropping out of the eurozone. That move is now credited with restoring confidence and driving a recovery over recent months, along with tough economic reforms by governments in Spain and other indebted countries. “The ECB’s safety net has allowed this recovery to start,” said Schulz. Now, he added, “Ireland, Portugal and Spain are racing ahead because they have done their homework.” Spain timidly emerged from recession in the third quarter of 2013, official data show, but the unemploy-

ment rate remains painfully high at about 26 percent. Meanwhile Spain’s risk premium, which measures how much its 10-year yield exceeds that of safe-haven Germany, eased to 1.78 percent yesterday-far below the dangerous levels above six percent reached in 2012. On Tuesday, Ireland took a major step on the road to economic recovery with its first bond issue since exiting its international rescue program. It raised 3.75 billion euros in a sale of 10-year bonds, with the yield at 3.543 percent, while demand reached 14 billion euros-hailed by the authorities as a sign of renewed appetite for Irish debt. “Ireland led the way for sure, exiting the bailout arrangements,” Schulz said. “Spain and Portugal look really strong now as well. They have very balanced recoveries, export-led, manufacturingled-not in any way credit bubbles building, but solid recoveries.” Portugal was due later to issue medium-term debt in its first such operation for a year. It is due to exit its rescue program on May 17. However Greece, the first euro-zone country to need a bailout, while making substantial progress in dealing with its deep problems, still has a mountain to climb in dealing with a huge overhang of debt.— AFP

China records 2.6% inflation BEIJING: China’s inflation rate was 2.6 percent in 2013, official data showed yesterday-well below the 3.5 percent target set by the government in the world’s second-biggest economy. The figure for the consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) was unchanged from 2012. Analysts broadly welcomed the statistics, saying they pointed to a stable outlook for prices and a reduced chance of monetary tightening. Inflation has slowed markedly since 2011, when annual CPI spiked to 5.4 percent. The second year in a row of benign inflation data came as China’s economy showed some signs of strength in the second half of last year, after a growth slowdown during the first six months. For the month of December, inflation came in at 2.5 percent compared with the same month the year before, slowing from the 3.0 percent year-on-year figure registered in November. The December result was the same as the median increase of 2.5 percent predicted in a survey of 13 economists by Dow Jones Newswires. Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists Lu Ting and Zhi Xiaojia said the CPI figure bodes well for managing liquidity conditions in China, which were volatile last year. “Subdued inflation would be supportive of a neutral monetary (policy) rather than tightening,” they said in a research note. They emphasized that over the past two months markets have shown concern over whether the central bank, the People’s Bank of China, would tighten credit supply if CPI rises approached the

SHANGHAI: A vendor sells vegetables in a market in Shanghai yesterday. China’s inflation rate was 2.6 percent in 2013, official data showed well below the 3.5 percent target set by the government in the world’s second-biggest economy.— AFP government’s 3.5 percent target. “We thus believe a well-below 3.0 percent CPI inflation could be good news for the markets as monetary tightening is not justified,” they said. China’s producer price index (PPI), which measures prices for goods at the factory gate, declined 1.9 percent in 2013, according to the NBS. PPI also fell 1.4 percent year-on-year in December, continuing a long string of decreases. China’s economy probably grew 7.6 percent in 2013, according to a government report cited by state media last month, slightly above the country’s official target and just below the figure of 7.7 per-

cent in 2012, the worst performance in 13 years. Official figures last week showed that China’s manufacturing growth slowed in December for the first time in six months, suggesting the economy faced headwinds at the end of last year. Yao Jian, spokesman at the commerce ministry, said yesterday that China’s total trade in goods last year was expected to reach $4.14 trillion. That would mark about a seven percent increase from 2012, less than the government’s target of eight percent. China’s General Administration of Customs is scheduled to announce 2013 trade figures today.—AFP


Business FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Food companies cut 6.4 trillion calories WASHINGTON: Some of the nation’s largest food companies have cut calories in their products by more than 6.4 trillion, according to a new study. The study sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that between 2007 and 2012 the companies reduced their products’ calories by the equivalent of around 78 calories per person per day. The total is more than four times the amount those companies had pledged to cut by next year. Seventy-eight calories would be about the same as an average cookie or a medium apple, and the federal government estimates an average daily diet at around 2,000 calories. The study said the calories cut averaged out to 78 calories per day for the entire US population. The 2010 pledge taken by 16 companies - including General Mills Inc., Campbell Soup Co, ConAgra Foods Inc, Kraft Foods Inc, Kellogg Co, Coca-Cola Co, PepsiCo Inc and Hershey Co - was to cut 1 trillion calories by 2012 and 1.5 trillion calories by 2015. The Robert Wood Johnson

Foundation signed on to hold the companies accountable, and that group hired researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to painstakingly count the calories in almost every single packaged item in the grocery store. To do that, the UNC researchers used the storebased scanner data of hundreds of thousands of foods, commercial databases and nutrition facts panels to calculate exactly how many calories the companies were selling. The researchers aren’t yet releasing the entire study, but they said Thursday that the companies have exceeded their own goals by a wide margin. Dr James Marks, director of the Health Group at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, said the group is pleased with the results but the companies “must sustain that reduction, as they’ve pledged to do, and other food companies should follow their lead.” The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is a nonpartisan philanthropic and research organization that works to improve the nation’s health. Even though the companies that made the

Bank of England keeps interest rate at 0.50% LONDON: The Bank of England voted yesterday to hold its key interest rate at a record-low level of 0.50 percent and maintain the level of stimulus pumping around the recovering economy. “The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee today voted to maintain Bank Rate at 0.5 percent. “The Committee also voted to maintain the stock of asset purchases financed by the issuance of central bank reserves at £375 billion ($617 billion, 454 billion euros),” a statement said. The BoE will provide the reasons behind its widelyexpected decisions in minutes of the meeting to be published on January 22. The Bank of England, under governor Mark Carney, has stated that it will not raise borrowing costs from 0.50 percent at least until the unemployment rate falls to seven percent, under a “forward guidance” policy. British unemployment stands at a four-year low level of 7.4 percent as jobs creation in the private sector offset huge cuts in state spending. On Monday, finance minister George Osborne warned that Britain needs to find an extra £25 billion of painful cuts after next year’s general election. That follows £17 billion in planned cuts this year and £20 billion in 2015. The BoE’s main task is to use monetary policy as a tool to keep annual inflation close to a government-set level of 2.0 percent to preserve the value of money. Britain’s 12-month inflation rate slowed to 2.1 percent in November, the lowest level for four years, as food and energy price rises slowed. The central bank’s continued stimulus, or quantitative easing (QE), program, has not kept inflation at high levels as had been feared by some analysts. The Bank of England launched QE in March 2009, coinciding with its decision to cut its main lending rate to 0.50 percent, where it has stood ever since. Under QE, the central bank creates cash that is used to buy assets such as government and corporate bonds with the aim of boosting lending-and economic activity. Despite government austerity, Britain cemented its economic growth recovery in the second half of last year, in large part thanks to a housing market revival amid cheap home loans. Loans handed out by retail banks have managed to stay relatively low thanks to them being able to borrow cheaply from central banks. But at the same time, banks are offering low returns on savings, hitting pensioners in particular. Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 0.8 percent in the third quarter of 2013 — the fastest pace for three years-and the country’s unemployment is falling faster than expected, according to the latest official data.—AFP

commitment represent most of the nation’s most well-known food companies, they sold only around a third of all packaged foods and beverages at the beginning of the study. Missing are many off-label brands sold under the names of retailers, and it’s unknown whether those products have changed. It is also unclear how the reduction in calories translates into consumers’ diets. When the companies made the pledge in 2010, they said one way they would try and reduce calories would be to change portion sizes in an attempt to persuade consumers to eat less. The companies also said that they would develop new lower-calorie options and change existing products so they have fewer calories. Evidence of those efforts are visible on any grocery store shelf. Many products now come in lower calorie versions, are baked instead of fried, or sold in miniature as well as larger versions. Marks says he believes that companies’ efforts to package smaller servings 100 calorie packs of popular snacks, for example - and smaller cans of sugary

drinks may have contributed to the reduction in calories. He says the main contributors most likely were the public’s increasing willingness to buy healthier foods and companies responding to those consumers. The companies involved are all part of an industry coalition of food businesses called the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation that has organized to help reduce obesity. The foundation pledged to reduce the calories as part of an agreement with a group of nonprofit organizations and made the 2010 announcement as part of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to combat childhood obesity. Lisa Gable of the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation says the study’s findings “exceeded our expectations.” She said the companies achieved the goal by coming together and also competing to make new lower-calorie foods. Market studies have shown that many of the healthier foods have outperformed other products, she said. “This is a very significant shift in the marketplace,” Gable said.—AP

Qantas struggles as Moody’s downgrades airline to ‘junk’ A sharp deterioration in core domestic business SYDNEY: Australian carrier Qantas said it was facing some of its toughest-ever challenges yesterday as Moody’s downgraded its credit rating to junk, with the airline battling intense competition and spiraling costs. Moody’s cited “a sharp deterioration in the company’s core domestic business” following the airline’s shock profit warning and announcement of job cuts in December, which had already prompted Standard and Poor’s to assign it junk status. Qantas is now rated Ba2 by Moody’s and BB+ by Standard and Poor’s, meaning it is considered a “junk” product by professional investors. It will increase the cost of financing for the carrier and restrict access for investors that do not put their money in lower-rated companies, deepening woes for the cash-strapped airline. “They are in a complete freeze, worrying about paying interest rather than spending capex on where it should be going-a new fleet, upgrading facilities, etc,” said IG Markets analyst Evan Lucas. The downgrades follow a dire forecast in December of a half-year loss of up to Aus$300 million (US$267 million) and the decision to axe 1,000 jobs due to “immense” cost pressures. Qantas chief financial officer Gareth Evans said the news was not unexpected and underscored the difficulties faced by the company, which include record fuel costs and fierce competition from domestic rival Virgin Australia. Its shares closed 2.27 percent higher at Aus$1.125 on a broadly buoyant market, with investors already pricing in a downgrade after Moody’s put Qantas on credit review last month. “Earnings conditions have deteriorated rapidly in recent months and we now face some of the most challenging circumstances in our history, including an uneven playing field in Australian aviation,” Evans said in a statement to the Australian stock exchange.

ADELAIDE: Photo shows a Qantas flight (top) being on final approach as another Qantas aircraft taxis at Adelaide airport.— AFP “We continue to talk to the Australian government about options for resolving this situation.” Qantas claims foreign ownership restrictions of 49 percent imposed when it was privatized in 1995 have put it at a disadvantage in relation to Virgin, which is now majority-owned by state-backed Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and Abu Dhabi-based Etihad. It has been lobbying Canberra to ease the foreign investment cap or intervene with a capital injection to shore up its business. December’s grim forecast doused hopes that Qantas had turned a corner by signing a major partnership with Dubai-based Emirates and reversing its 2012 annual loss-the first since privatization-with a modest Aus$5 million full-year profit announced in August. Competitive pressures were singled out as a key concern by Moody’s sen-

ior vice president Ian Lewis in yesterday’s downgrade. “The downgrade to Ba2 reflects a worse-than-expected impact on Qantas’s credit profile of a marked sharp deterioration in the company’s core domestic business, which has been a key supporting factor of its previous investment-grade rating”, said Lewis. “The cause of the deterioration in the operating profile is largely due to the aggressive competitive actions by Qantas’s key domestic competitor, Virgin Australia Holdings.” Qantas is undertaking a structural review, which is due to report back next month on options speculated to include the potential divestment of its Jetstar assets in Asia. Evans said Qantas stood ready to take “the necessary decisions now-however tough they might be-to ensure we remain strong and disciplined in the years ahead.”— AFP

Pe t s FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Go for the gold! W

ithout any control over their own environment, goldfish rely on us to provide them with the proper goldfish care that they deserve. To enhance the quality of the goldfish’s life, it’s important to plan things right from the beginning, not rushing trough any part of the process. Goldfish care here we come! While the early history has been lost, it is known the Chinese began developing them before 1000 AD. As we know them today, goldfish with their bright colors and many forms, in no way resemble with their wild ancestors, the Carp. Through the centuries, the goldfish’s popularity has ever increased, being the most modified species of animals. This is mainly due to them being fairly easy to care for and very pretty to look at, with many different varieties. They’re great for teaching young children about responsibility and also make excellent office decorations for someone like Andrew Barken Fisher Investments Vice President who may not have the time to maintain something more complicated like a saltwater aquarium. Like people, goldfish have a varied personality. Some of them are timid, while others are very outgoing. One thing is certain, that goldfish typically are non-aggressive creatures. However, stress can change their behavior into an extreme behavior. It’s very common that goldfish become very attached to other goldfish and play all day. Goldfish do have to rest periodically trough the day. They have no eyelids and it is required to have the lights turned off in the night so that they can get a good sleep. A healthy goldfish spends little or no time at the surface. If you observe your goldfish floating or gasping at the surface, this is an indicator of little or no oxygen in the water. Bowl, aquarium or pond Many goldfish owners keep their goldfish in a bowl. But, when you take a look at it, most common goldfish sickness problems stem from poor water quality. A goldfish should never be kept in a bowl. Why? It’s too small! For instance how are goldfish going to get all the oxygen they need? A goldfish requires at least 10 gallons (38 liters) of water. And that is just for a tiny goldfish. Goldfish need to live in aquariums or ponds. Some suggested places to locate your aquarium are: An office (very relaxing for your clients) The kitchen (kitchen floors usually deal with water spills so water changes won’t be a problem) Your lounge area Water temperature Goldfish are classified as cold water fish and can live in an unheated aquarium at a temperature comfortable to humans. However, rapid changes in temperature can kill them. Maintain a steady temperature. The immune system of fish gets compromised below 50oF(10ºC). Parasites and

other infections can often become more active when the temperature increases rapidly. If the water temperature in your house varies considerably from day to day, then you need to install a heater in your tank. “Fancy” goldfish varieties require a water temperature between 60oF(15oC) and 75oF(24oC). Water temperature is also very important when breeding goldfish. Goldfish breeders stimulate their goldfish by increasing the water temperature during the day. How to do a water change Weekly water changes are at the core of your goldfish care. Weekly water changes keep ammonia levels low, increase oxygen in the tank and clean all the waste product that have accumulated in the gravel. What you need: Gravel cleaner 5-liter bucket Water conditioner Old cloth towels Step 1: Preparation Place the towels on the floor to catch any drips or mess. Add fresh tap water to a bucket or a water jug. Ensure you add the correct amount of water conditioner to the water before you add it to the tank. Adjust water temperature using cold tap water and boiled water. Boiled water removes the germs. Place the draining bucket on the towels. Ensure the bucket is lower that the level of the bottom of the tank (gravity will drain water away) Step 2: Remove the water Place the gravel cleaner inside the tank. Suck firmly on

the end of the gravel cleaner pipe till the water starts to flow. Move the gravel cleaner from one corner of the tank to the next. Press it into the gravel to collect the waste matter. You will see dirty, clowdy water draining into the bucket. Remove as much of the waste products as possible. Place your finger over the end where dirty water is coming out so it won’t suck up clearer water. Continue this until you have removed 20-30 percent of the water in the tank Step 3: Add the new water Ensure you have not vacuumed any small fish. Gently add the treated fresh water till the aquarium is full. Let it settle. Place the cover on the tank at once. Mixing and overcrowding goldfish Did you know you have to choose the goldfish varieties to keep together with great care? Or you can end up with unnecessary goldfish care stress. By combining the wrong goldfish varieties in the same tank, you will have problems like: goldfish bullying, stress, slower goldfish not feeding properly etc. A rule of thumb is to keep goldfish in the same aquarium if they are similar in type, size and speed. Your goldfish need plenty of space to move, swim and play. You can’t expect them to be happy if you don’t give them a lot of room to move about. This gives them the chance to engage in a range of normal behaviors. —

The right way to care for your goldfish

Pe t s FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Goldfish have a personality of their own


ouldn’t it be amazing if you could get to know your goldfish better, learn more about its behavior and become best friends? Of course you want it! It’s common that owners get to love their pets more and more once they learn more about them. First of all, it’s normal to see your goldfish swim, play and explore during the day and sleep at night. Do fish sleep? Yes, but because they have no eyelids, they can’t close their eyes like we do. The goldfish behavior can be influenced by the environment, tank mates and also by its owner. As you spend your time every day at the aquarium or pond getting to know your fish, you might seem surprised to find out that your goldfish are learning more and more about you. Everyone knows that every creature on this planet needs a friend. Don’t hesitate to buy one pair of goldfish or even more if your budget allows you to get a bigger aquarium. Having a friend, your goldfish will be less exposed to stress, will have a partner to play with, nib at each other, pecking the gravel and talk about what’s on the menu today. Is it true that goldfish can recognize people when they swim up to the glass of the tank? Yes, this is normal goldfish behavior and very common these days. Goldfish are not as smart as other pets like cats or dogs, but they can easily tell that the people they live with love them. Usually goldfish swim up to meet you because they think you are going to feed them. They know they depend on you and love you back. Goldfish love to: Play all day and explore your aquarium (large spaces) Eat tasty and healthy food (varied diet) Have lots of friends Take a nap once in a while (when they get tired) Hide behind a plant or in a cave when they feel danger Mate during breeding season (get frisky when water becomes warm) Eat from owners hand (when they get used to you) Goldfish don’t like to: Swim upside-down Stay all day at the bottom of the aquarium Live in an unhealthy environment Live in small places like bowls or small tanks Contact diseases Eat only goldfish flakes every day Have to swim at the top to get more oxygen Get chased by other fish Get touched by the owner Have the lights turned on at night Listen to loud music Scratch itself against the sides It’s so simple, even a 6-year-old can tell if their goldfish is happy and healthy by using the goldfish behavior like/hate tips. Aggressive goldfish? A goldfish personality can vary from fish to fish. Goldfish are typically non-aggressive to goldfish or any other fish, but as weird as it sounds they love to eat their own eggs if these are not removed from the aquarium. You must know that during the mating sea-

son male goldfish tend to become a bit aggressive and “chase” the female. Unfortunately goldfish tend to get aggressive with each other and start nipping at other fish when they are stressed. This happens when they are not eating well, don’t have enough room to move about and it rarely happens to pick on other sick fish. As soon as you see goldfish become aggressive you need to separate them. However, you can overcome similar goldfish behavior problems if you follow the basic tips. It’s a simple and exact process to follow. It’s common for owners to start feeding their goldfish by hand once their pets get used to them. It’s a fact that goldfish have memory that lasts up to 3 months. That means they can recognize different human voices and faces. FAQs Q: Two goldfish keep fighting in my five gallon aquarium. What should I do? A: You simply can’t add one goldfish in a five gallon tank, forget two. You need at least 10 gallons of water per goldfish. A minimum 25 gallon tank will keep your goldfish from fighting and also keep them happy. Q: Why does my goldfish float upside down for hours after he eats? A: Swimbladder disorder is a very common problem and it occurs when owners overfeed their goldfish. This happens when the fish becomes constipated and causes it to float to the surface and hang there, like a helium balloon stuck on the ceiling. To overcome this problem you need to starve your fish for two days or feed him few cooked peas(or beans) also for two days. To prevent this from happening in the future, you need to feed your fish what they can eat in two minutes, once a day. Also a varied diet consisting of fruit and veggies are highly recommended. Q: Why is my goldfish changing color? A: This is a normal situation. Some goldfish change their scale coloration from orange to black or from black to orange as they age. Keep an eye on your goldfish, but don’t worry at the moment. However, if there are signs that their scales are pale and start to lose their brightness then you may have a problem. Sometimes it’s because a disease or the poor fish is lacking vitamins. Feed veggies and fruit daily. Q: Why is my goldfish gulping at the surface? A: The problem here is with your water quality. Your goldfish is not getting enough oxygen. Check your pump and make sure the water is not toxic. If you have a bowl or a small tank (under 10 gallons) you need to upgrade and do 20-30% water changes every week or twice a week (for two weeks.) Q: Why won’t my new goldfish eat? A: Goldfish are a bit stressed when being moved into a new tank. Give them a day or two, then try again. Make sure you remove the uneaten food out of the tank so you don’t get a buildup in ammonia. Q: Why did my goldfish stop eating? A: Most goldfish problems stem from one thing: poor water quality. You need to do a 30 percent water change and keep this up once a week. Don’t forget about not to overfeed (This also applies for goldfish that are not moving from the bottom of the tank).

Tips on feeding goldfish


o you think goldfish can thrive only by eating goldfish flakes and pellets? By the time you finish reading this article you will know everything about feeding goldfish. Goldfish are natural omnivores and in the wild they eat algae, plants, leaves, plant roots, insects, larvae, worms, snails, and even small fish. It’s best to try to mimic what goldfish would eat in the wild. However, most aquarium goldfish do not have a varied diet. It’s normal for the owners to feed them man-made fishflakes. These contain varied dry foods, bulking agents, minerals and a mixture of vitamins. This is not a balanced enough diet and goldfish are not getting enough fiber. If you exclusively feed dried-food to your goldfish, you can expect to see constipation type problems. The Swimbladder disorder is when the goldfish swims upside-down at the surface and hang there. When this happens it’s hard for goldfish to feed breathe or eat. By reading this you already know more about feeding than many other goldfish owners. You can start feeding goldfish healthy food today! Your goldfish have high need for fresh vegetables, fruit and live food like daphnia or freshwater shrimp. You can feed your goldfish flakes but not as a main source of food. To keep their digestive tract clear you need to give them extra vegetables. You are probably very excited about your new goldfish and you want to feed them as much as you love them. Overfeeding is the most common mistake goldfish owners do. Did you ever overfeed your goldfish? Tips for a healthy goldfish diet: • Feed your goldfish once a day. Don’t worry about starving your fish. All he needs is what it can eat in 2 minutes • Feed your goldfish fruit and veggies regularly (every 2 days) • Make sure that all hard vegetables like carrots, beans, rice are cooked, peeled and finely chopped up • Goldfish have their favorites just like you do, so keep a note of what foods they enjoy • Feed larvae, shrimp or daphnia only as occasional treats, they are protein rich and can cause constipation • Keep an eye on your goldfish and notice how healthy they are. If they are floating at the top of the tank, you need to take steps and deal with the Swimbladder • If your goldfish is gasping at the top of the tank for too much time this doesn’t mean it’s asking for food. Healthy fish spend little or no time at the surface. Your goldfish may not have enough oxygen.

Opinion FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Fall of Fallujah bitter pill for US veterans By Dan De Luce


BOR: A woman covers her face as a UN helicopter takes off from Minkammen, 25 km south of Bor, where people receive food aid and other items from a recent ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) delivery. — AFP

Risking S Sudan swamps to escape raging battles By Peter Martell


ooms of battle echo from the frontline of South Sudan’s raging conflict, as tens of thousands who have fled the brutal fighting take rest under whatever shade of a tree they can find. Many recount tales of horror, including civilians mown down with machine guns as they fled, and gunmen torching entire villages and looting the crops. “They had a machine gun raised up on a sandbank, and they fired and fired and fired as we swam,” said Gabriel Bol, a cattle herder. “The bullets were hitting the water, but we knew we could not stop or they’d shoot us.” Like thousands of others, he and his four young children risked crossing the crocodile-infested White Nile river to flee the key town of Bor, capital of war-torn Jonglei state. Some 80,000 have fled the rebel-held Bor region to once sleepy villages since violence erupted over three weeks ago, according to the United Nations. The fighting has taken the world’s youngest nation to the brink of all-out civil war. “Many were killed in the water. We floated downstream... then we came across, swimming from island to island to escape,” Bol said, as he waited in a long line for food and blankets donated by aid agencies, including Oxfam and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. “We came only in the clothes we had, nothing else.” Thousands of exhausted civilians are crowding into the fishing village of Minkammen, a once-tiny riverbank settlement of a few thatch huts 25 kilometers southwest of Bor across vast green swamplands of the Nile. Children cool off from the fierce heat by diving into the waters of the Nile, as their mothers cook up meals from grain handed out from the aid agencies. Sounds of fighting can be heard from across the wide river. KILLINGS, HOMES TORCHED Fighting in South Sudan began on December 15 as a clash between army units loyal to the President Salva Kiir and those supporting his former deputy, Riek Machar. It has since escalated into a conflict between government troops and a loose alliance of ethnic militia forces and mutinous army commanders. “They looted everything in the town, there were many killed in the fighting,” said

Samuel Chiek Aler, an elderly priest from Bor, now living in the thin shade of small tree. Some say violence is worse than even one of the most notorious episodes in South Sudan’s painful history, when during the two decades long civil war against the government in Khartoum, rival rebel forces turned on each other in 1991, culminating in a brutal massacre in Bor. Elderly grandmother Nyanwut Bior says the recent fighting was more brutal. “They killed our family, they killed our people, they burnt our home, they burnt our crops,” said Bior, who comes from a small village outside Bor. “The first war (1991) was better, because that time we didn’t have to leave our homes.” Some have risked a crossing from Bor by boat, travelling at night and drifting at times without engines to slip through frontlines and avoid being attacked by either government or rebel forces. “We came through safely on the boat, with about a hundred others,” said John Kur, sitting in the shade of a tree, where he and his family had set up home-a plastic mat as a bed, and mosquito nets tied from branches. “Other boats have been fired at.” Aid workers are busy digging latrines and providing clean water. “It’s the single biggest site of displaced civilians we have... the result of an exodus from the city of Bor,” said Toby Lanzer, United Nations humanitarian chief in South Sudan, speaking in the capital Juba.”So much needs to be done... we’ve been sending trucks up there, simple things like blankets and mats.” On the ground, aid workers are trying to ensure that people remain as healthy as they can. “We are setting up a system to chlorinate water so it is good to drink,” said Lam Jordan, Oxfam’s emergency coordinator in the village, as he worked on putting two giant bladders of water by the muddy banks of the river. Despite being close to the fighting, those displaced appear to be relaxed, believing the wide swamps offer a safe haven and an escape from the battles. “The river is a good boundary, but the conflict is not far away,” said John Parach, local coordinator for the government’s relief agency. “People keep coming every day, we are doing out best to support them.” But those who fled are deeply bitter. “I’m never going back,” said Bol. “Even if they sign a peace deal, I can’t trust these people after I what I saw them do.”— AFP

or American veterans of Fallujah, seeing Al-Qaeda militants regain control of the Iraqi city is a painful sight, leading some to question what they were fighting for nearly 10 years ago. The bloodiest combat of the US war in Iraq took place in Fallujah in two intense battles in 2004, with US Marines rolling back militants in days of brutal street fighting. But now Al-Qaeda flags are flying over Fallujah in western Anbar province after extremist gunmen swept into the city last week. Their gains illustrate how security is unraveling in Iraq, two years since US forces pulled out of the country. “It’s a bitter pill to swallow,” said David Bellavia, a retired Marine staff sergeant who was awarded the Silver Star, one of the military’s most prestigious combat decorations, for his role in the battle. “This administration has decided Iraq is not important,” he told a local blog in his hometown of Batavia in New York state. Some Republican lawmakers, including Fallujah veteran Duncan Hunter argue that the violent extremists could have been contained if President Barack Obama had pushed harder to keep some US troops on the ground in Iraq. “I think the overwhelming feeling is anger,” said Hunter, who served with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment in Fallujah. “The administration let our victories count for nothing.” Other veterans were more philosophical, saying it was never clear what American forces were doing there in the first place and it was up to Baghdad to secure Iraqi cities. “Over the years looking back on my two deployments to Iraq, I have wondered if there was something from there that was worth all the fighting, death and destruction. “I haven’t found that yet,” said Chris Garrett, writing on a Fallujah veterans Facebook page. Throughout the Iraq conflict, Fallujah and the Anbar region stood out as a hotbed of insurrection. In April 2004, the death and mutilation of four employees from the private security firm Blackwater led to a US offensive against insurgents in Fallujah. The American troops were accused of employing harsh tactics and causing excessive civilian casualties in their fight with militants. Coalition forces later handed over control to local Iraqis in the city but insurgents gradually reasserted themselves, leading to the second battle of Fallujah in November-December 2004. More than 10,000 US Marines took the fight to the insurgents in what was codenamed “Operation Phantom Fury,” backed up with massive artillery fire as they rooted out militants block by block. The cost was high, both for the US troops and Iraqi civilians killed in the fighting. “It’s heartbreaking to see the deterioration of the situation in Iraq, especially given the many sacrifices of US service personnel to give Iraqis a chance for a better future,” said Peter Mansoor, a retired colonel who served as executive officer to the former commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus. After Washington sent in reinforcements in 2007, US forces “were the glue that held Iraq together” and “were seen as honest brokers by most Iraqi sects and factions, especially the Sunnis who had partnered with US troops to fight Al-Qaeda,” Mansoor said. The withdrawal of US forces from Iraq was a mistake that opened the way for extremists to resurge, he said. Fellow “Phantom Fury” veteran Theodore Lester shared a similar view, saying the fall of Fallujah was inevitable. “We broke it, taped it back together, then claimed it was brand new as we threw it down and walked out the door,” Lester wrote on Facebook. “This is the beginning of a new civil war for them. My only surprise is that it didn’t happen sooner.” Senator John McCain, a Vietnam veteran and an outspoken critic of Obama’s handling of Iraq, said he was appalled but not surprised by events in Anbar. “The fact is, there were 95 soldiers and Marines killed in the second battle of Fallujah, over 600 wounded, and now that all, of course, is wasted,” McCain said. But even Obama’s fiercest critics on Iraq are not calling for sending American soldiers back into the country. It may be to difficult to watch Al-Qaeda gaining a foothold in a city where so many Americans fought and died to keep them out, but the time for combat has passed, veterans said. “Operation Phantom Fury was a success, we took a full-fledged city of insurgents and gave ‘em hell,” Eric Hernandez wrote on Facebook. “We won and did our part... It’s not our problem anymore so they can keep it.”— AFP


Sandra Bullock, winner of the Favorite Movie Actress, Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress and Favorite Comedic Movie Actress poses in the press room at the 40th annual People's Choice Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, in Los Angeles. — AP (se Pages 34 & 35)

Beauty FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Keep skin summer fresh in winter


s temperatures drop, heaters clank on, and the wind whips up, the battle for healthy skin begins. Dry air takes away the thin layer of oil that traps moisture in the skin, flaring itchy and painful conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and severe dry skin. “If we stop producing moisture or if heating sucks it out of the skin, and it’s not being replaced, that will tend to cause little cracks that affect the barrier of the skin,” says Alan Menter, MD, chair of psoriasis research and the division of dermatology at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. Any trauma to the skin, such as cracking, causes an inflammatory response, which can make skin more susceptible to flare-ups of psoriasis and eczema. But you can minimize the toll the next few months will take on your skin by preparing now. Here’s our action plan to keep you comfortable and flare-free. Bathe briefly When it’s cold outside, some of us prolong our hot showers and baths, which is a recipe for dry, irritated skin, says Dr Menter. Instead he recommends: 1. Keep the shower as brief as possible and use lukewarm, not hot, water. 2. Switch to less aggressive, moisture-rich soaps made for sensitive skin, such as those made by Dove and Aveeno. 3. Gently pat yourself dry to avoid traumatizing or overdrying the skin. 4. Apply moisturizer while your skin is still slightly damp. Therapeutic baths, such as oatmeal baths

or sea salt baths, may help some patients, but they tend to take time, and some salt treatments can be drying, so it’s important to moisturize afterward. Moisturize, moisturize Whether you have eczema, psoriasis, or severe dry skin (known as xerosis), you need to replace any moisture the dry air steals away. “As soon as the weather gets dry, I tell my patients to start a regular regime of moisturizing. The best time to do it is right after they bathe,” says Dr Menter. Bruce Strober, MD, PhD, director of the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Center at NYU Medical Center in New York City, understands that not everyone, especially men, will take time to do so. “I tell patients that I don’t care how they moisturize, just do it regularly in a way that you like.” He recommends targeting problem areas first. “There are so many good over-the-counter products out there. Eucerin is one, and Cetaphil. They’re inexpensive and work well,” says Dr Menter. To get better results, Christine Yuan, 22, who lives with eczema and psoriasis, wraps her problem areas in plastic wrap for 30 minutes to an hour after moisturizing. “It takes time,” says Yuan, “but your skin is baby soft!” Get comfortable Dress for less irritation. If your skin does flare up, choose soft, breathable fabrics, like cotton, instead of itchy woolens or polyester. Loose-fitting clothing will also help to keep your skin from chafing and becoming irritated by perspiration.

Change the air around you Dr Strober suggests that his patients use a humidifier to increase moisture levels in the home. Experts recommend keeping the humidity level between 30 percent and 50 percent (which you can measure with a hygrometer). Stay healthy Because psoriasis and eczema involve immune system responses, experts believe that many bacterial, viral, or fungal infections can make them worse. Dr Strober recommends getting a flu shot, if your primary care physician agrees that it’s appropriate. “Ask your primary doctor, and then get it and any other vaccinations that might help you fight infection.” And follow basic steps to keep yourself healthy, like washing your hands frequently, getting good sleep, and exercising. Stay healthy Because psoriasis and eczema involve immune system responses, experts believe that many bacterial, viral, or fungal infections can make them worse. Dr Strober recommends getting a flu shot, if your primary care physician agrees that it’s appropriate. “Ask your primary doctor, and then get it and any other vaccinations that might help you fight infection.” And follow basic steps to keep yourself healthy, like washing your hands frequently, getting good sleep, and exercising. Stay healthy Because psoriasis and eczema involve immune system responses, experts believe that many bacterial, viral, or fungal infections

can make them worse. Dr Strober recommends getting a flu shot, if your primary care physician agrees that it’s appropriate. “Ask your primary doctor, and then get it and any other vaccinations that might help you fight infection.” And follow basic steps to keep yourself healthy, like washing your hands frequently, getting good sleep, and exercising. Phototherapy for psoriasis Winter also brings a decrease in the amount of sun exposure-not a good thing since sunlight can help relieve psoriasis. In fact, 60 percent of psoriasis patients reported improvement with sunlight in a 2004 Clinical and Experimental Dermatology study. “The issue is two-fold,” says Dr Strober. “First, people wear garments that cover the skin and have a tendency to stay indoors. Second, the potency of ultraviolet light is lessened in the wintertime.” So phototherapy (in which patients are exposed to UVB or UVA rays) makes sense for patients “who are responsive to UV light,” says Dr Strober. “But you need to come in at least two to three times a week.” The bonus, though, is it is covered by many insurance policies. PUVA, a combination of UVA rays and psoralen, a medication that increases the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet light, is another option. In a 2006 study published in Archives of Dermatology, clearance rates were roughly 80 percent for psoriasis patients who received PUVA and 50 percent for patients who received narrow-band UVB. —

Food FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Chicken soup for the soul A

nywhere a chicken walks the earth, a cook stalks behind with a big soup pot. Chicken soup is simply the gold standard of global comfort food. Here are 25 favorites from around the world. First up: Good Old-Fashioned Chicken Old fashioned chicken noodle soup Ingredients 8 cups chicken stock or fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth 2 (4-ounce) skinless, bone-in chicken thighs 1 (12-ounce) skinless, bone-in chicken breast half 2 cups diagonally sliced carrot 2 cups diagonally sliced celery 1 cup chopped onion 6 ounces uncooked medium egg noodles 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper Celery leaves (optional)

Noodle Soup is classic American comfort food. But it can cross to the wrong side of the road if there are too many odds and ends, if noodles bloat and meat gets dry. But here’s a cure, if common chicken soup leaves you cold: a purist’s ideal, using

flavorful stock, fresh-cooked chicken, traditional veggies, and egg noodles that lend starchy body to the broth.

Remove chicken from pan; let stand for 10 minutes. Remove chicken from bones; shred meat into bite-sized pieces. Discard bones. 2. 2. Add carrot, celery, and onion to pan; cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add noodles, and simmer 6 minutes. Add chicken, salt, and black pepper; cook for 2 minutes or until noodles are done. Garnish with celery leaves, if desired.

Preparation 1. 1. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes.

Classic Chicken Soup Ingredients 1 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken 6 carrots, peeled 4 celery stalks 1 large yellow onion, quartered 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns Preparation Rinse the chicken inside and out and pat it dry with paper towels. Place the chicken in a large pot. Cut 3 of the carrots and 2 of the celery stalks

Spicy Thai Coconut Soup Ingredients 2 teaspoons canola oil 1 cup sliced mushrooms 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper 4 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger 4 garlic cloves, minced 1 (3-inch) stalk lemongrass, halved lengthwise 2 teaspoons sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste) 3 cups chicken stock or fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth 1 1/4 cups light coconut milk 4 teaspoons fish sauce 1 tablespoon sugar 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)

1/2 cup green onion strips 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Cream of Chicken Rice Soup Ingredients 4 quarts water 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 2 carrots, chopped 1 onion, chopped 1/4 cup butter 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup rice, uncooked 2 teaspoons salt 2 cups milk 1/2 cup cornstarch\

Preparation Bring water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add chicken and cook until done. Remove chicken from broth to cool, reserving broth in Dutch oven. Meanwhile, sautÈ carrots, celery, onion and parsley in butter in a large skillet until tender. Add garlic and cook one minute. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces. Add sautÈed vegetables and chicken to reserved broth. Stir in rice and salt and simmer 15 minutes. Mix together milk and cornstarch; add to soup. Stir until thickened.

Preparation 1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms and the next 4 ingredients (through lemongrass); cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chile paste; cook 1 minute. Add Chicken Stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, and sugar; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 10 minutes. Add chicken to pan; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Discard lemongrass. Top with onions, cilantro, and juice.

into 1-inch pieces. Quarter the onion. Add the cut vegetables to the pot with the salt, peppercorns, and enough cold water to cover (about 8 cups). Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the top, until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and let cool. Strain the broth, discarding the vegetables. Return the broth to the pot. Thinly slice the remaining carrots and celery. Add them to the broth and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat and add it to the soup. Ladle into individual bowls.

Health FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014


f you’ve gone through a traumatic experience, you may be struggling with upsetting emotions, frightening memories, or a sense of constant danger. Or you may feel numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. When bad things happen, it can take a while to get over the pain and feel safe again. But with the right treatment, self-help strategies, and support, you can speed your recovery. Whether the traumatic event happened years ago or yesterday, you can heal and move on.


What is emotional and psychological trauma? Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless and vulnerable in a dangerous world. Traumatic experiences often involve a threat to life or safety, but any situation that leaves you feeling overwhelmed and alone can be traumatic, even if it doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s not the objective facts that determine whether an event is traumatic, but your subjective emotional experience of the event. The more frightened and helpless you feel, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Causes of emotional or psychological trauma An event will most likely lead to emotional or psychological trauma if: It happened unexpectedly You were unprepared for it You felt powerless to prevent it It happened repeatedly Someone was intentionally cruel It happened in childhood Emotional and psychological trauma can be caused by single-blow, one-time events, such as a horrible accident, a natural disaster, or a violent attack. Trauma can also stem from ongoing, relentless stress, such as living in a crime-ridden


How to deal with emotional and psychological stress

trauma neighborhood or struggling with cancer. Not all potentially traumatic events lead to lasting emotional and psychological damage. Some people rebound quickly from even the most tragic and shocking experiences. Others are devastated by experiences that, on the surface, appear to be less upsetting. A number of risk factors make people susceptible to emotional and psychological trauma. People are more likely to be traumatized by a stressful experience if they’re already under a heavy stress load or have recently suffered a series of losses. People are also more likely to be traumatized by a new situation if they’ve been traumatized before - especially if the earlier trauma occurred in childhood. Childhood trauma increases the risk of future trauma Experiencing trauma in childhood can have a severe and long-lasting effect. Children who have been traumatized see the world as a frightening and dangerous place. When childhood trauma is not resolved, this fundamental sense of fear and helplessness carries over into adulthood, setting the stage for further trauma. Childhood trauma results from anything that disrupts a child’s sense of safety and security, including: An unstable or unsafe environment; separation from a parent; serious illness; intrusive medical procedures; sexual, physical, or verbal abuse; domestic violence and neglect.

Health FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014 can worsen your trauma symptoms and exacerbate feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise boosts serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals. It also boosts selfesteem and helps to improve sleep. For maximum results, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of activity on most days. Eat a well-balanced diet. Eating small, well-balanced meals throughout the day will help you keep your energy up and minimize mood swings. While you may be drawn to sugary foods for the quick boost they provide, complex carbohydrates are a better choice. Foods rich in certain omega-3 fats-such as salmon, walnuts, soybeans, and flaxseeds-can give your mood a boost.

Following a traumatic event, or repeated trauma, people react in different ways, experiencing a wide range of physical and emotional reactions. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to think, feel, or respond to trauma, so don’t judge your own reactions or those of other people. Your responses are NORMAL reactions to ABNORMAL events. Emotional and psychological symptoms of trauma: Shock, denial, or disbelief Anger, irritability, mood swings Guilt, shame, self-blame Feeling sad or hopeless Confusion, difficulty concentrating Anxiety and fear Withdrawing from others Feeling disconnected or numb Muscle tension: These symptoms and feelings typically last from a few days to a few months, gradually fading as you process the trauma. But even when you’re feeling better, you may be troubled from time to time by painful memories or emotions-especially in response to triggers such as an anniversary of the event or an image, sound, or situation that reminds you of the traumatic experience. Grieving is normal following trauma Whether or not a traumatic event involves death, survivors must cope with the loss, at least temporarily, of their sense of safety and security. The natural reaction to this loss is grief. Like people who have lost a loved one, trauma survivors go through a grieving process. This process, while inherently painful, is easier if you turn to others for support, take care of yourself, and talk about how you feel. When to seek professional help Recovering from a traumatic event takes time, and everyone heals at his or her own pace. But if months have passed and your symptoms aren’t letting up, you may need professional help from a trauma expert. Seek help for emotional or psychological trauma if you’re: Having trouble functioning at home or work Suffering from severe fear, anxiety, or depression Unable to form close, satisfying relationships Experiencing terrifying memories, nightmares, or flashbacks Avoiding more and more things that remind you of the trauma Emotionally numb and disconnected from others Finding a trauma specialist Working through trauma can be scary, painful, and potentially retraumatizing. Because of the risk of retraumatization, this healing work is best done with the help of an experienced trauma specialist. Finding the right therapist may take some time. It’s very important that the therapist you choose has experience treating trauma. But the quality of the relationship with your therapist is equally important. Choose a trauma specialist you feel comfortable with. Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel safe, respected, or understood, find another therapist. There should be a sense of trust and warmth between you and your trauma therapist. After meeting a potential trauma therapist, ask yourself these questions: Did you feel comfortable discussing your problems with the therapist? Did you feel like the therapist understood what you were talking about? Were your concerns taken seriously or were they minimized or dismissed? Were you treated with compassion and respect? Do you believe that you could grow to trust the therapist? Treatment for psychological and emotional trauma In order to heal from psychological and emotional trauma, you must face and resolve the unbearable feelings and memories you’ve long avoided. Otherwise they will return again and again, unbidden and uncontrollable. Trauma treatment and healing involves: Processing trauma-related memories and feelings Discharging pent-up “fight-or-flight” energy Learning how to regulate strong emotions Building or rebuilding the ability to trust other people Trauma therapy treatment approaches Trauma disrupts the body’s natural equilibrium, freezing you in a state of hyper-arousal and fear. In essence, your nervous system gets stuck in overdrive. Successful trauma treatment must address this imbalance and reestablish your physical sense of safety. The following therapies are commonly used in the treatment of emotional and psychological trauma: Somatic experiencing takes advantage of the body’s unique ability to heal itself. The focus of therapy is on bodily sensations, rather than thoughts and memories about the traumatic event. By concentrating on what’s happening in your body, you gradually get in touch with trauma-related energy and tension. From there, your natural survival instincts take over, safely releasing this pent-up

energy through shaking, crying, and other forms of physical release. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) incorporates elements of cognitive-behavioral therapy with eye movements or other forms of rhythmic, left-right stimulation. These backand-forth eye movements are thought to work by “unfreezing” traumatic memories, allowing you to resolve them. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you process and evaluate your thoughts and feelings about a trauma. While cognitive-behavioral therapy doesn’t treat the physiological effects of trauma, it can be helpful when used in addition to a body-based therapy such as somatic experiencing or EMDR. Emotional and psychological trauma recovery tips Recovering from emotional and psychological trauma takes time. Give yourself time to heal and to mourn the losses you’ve experienced. Don’t try to force the healing process. Be patient with the pace of recovery. Finally, be prepared for difficult and volatile emotions. Allow yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling without judgment or guilt. Trauma self-help strategy 1: Don’t isolate Following a trauma, you may want to withdraw from others, but isolation makes things worse. Connecting to others will help you heal, so make an effort to maintain your relationships and avoid spending too much time alone. Ask for support. It’s important to talk about your feelings and ask for the help you need. Turn to a trusted family member, friend, counselor, or clergyman. Participate in social activities, even if you don’t feel like it. Do “normal” things with other people, things that have nothing to do with the traumatic experience. If you’ve retreated from relationships that were once important to you, make the effort to reconnect. Join a support group for trauma survivors. Being with others who are facing the same problems can help reduce your sense of isolation and hearing how others cope can help inspire you. Volunteer. As well as helping others, volunteering can be a great way to challenge the sense of helplessness that often accompanies trauma. Remind yourself of your strengths and reclaim your sense of power by comforting or helping others. Trauma self-help strategy 2: Stay grounded In order to stay grounded after a trauma, it helps to have a structured schedule to follow. Stick to a daily routine, with regular times for waking, sleeping, eating, working, and exercise. Make sure to schedule time for relaxing and social activities, too. Break large jobs into smaller, manageable tasks. Take pleasure from the accomplishment of achieving something, even it’s a small thing. Find activities that make you feel better and keep your mind occupied (reading, taking a class, cooking, playing with your kids or pets), so you’re not dedicating all your energy and attention to focusing on the traumatic experience. Allow yourself to feel what you feel when you feel it. Acknowledge your feelings about the trauma as they arise and accept them. Accepting your feelings is part of the grieving process and is necessary for healing. If you are feeling disoriented, confused, or upset, you can do the following exercise: Sit on a chair. Feel your feet on the ground. Press on your thighs. Feel your behind on the seat and your back against the chair. Look around you and pick six objects that have red or blue. This should allow you to feel in the present, more grounded, and in your body. Notice how your breath gets deeper and calmer. You may want to go outdoors and find a peaceful place to sit on the grass. As you do, feel how your body can be held and supported by the ground. Trauma self-help strategy 3: Take care of your health A healthy body increases your ability to cope with stress from a trauma. Get plenty of sleep. After a traumatic experience, worry or fear may disturb your sleep patterns. A lack of sleep can make your trauma symptoms worse and make it harder to maintain your emotional balance. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day and aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Avoid alcohol and drugs as their use

Reduce stress. Making time for rest and relaxation will help you bring your life back into balance. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises. Schedule time for activities that bring you joy-favorite hobbies or activities with friends, for example. Helping someone deal with trauma It can be difficult to know how to help a loved one who’s suffered a traumatic or distressing experience, but your support can be a crucial factor in their recovery. Be patient and understanding. Healing from emotional or psychological trauma takes time. Be patient with the pace of recovery and remember that everyone’s response to trauma is different. Don’t judge your loved one’s reaction against your own response or anyone else’s. Offer practical support to help your loved one get back into a normal routine. That may mean help with collecting groceries or housework, for example, or simply being available to talk or listen. Don’t pressure your loved one into talking but be available when they want to talk. Some trauma survivors find it difficult to talk about what happened. Don’t force your loved one to open up but let them know you are there to listen whenever they feel ready. Help your loved one to socialize and relax. Encourage them to participate in physical exercise, seek out friends, and pursue hobbies and other activities that bring them pleasure. Take a fitness class together or set a regular lunch date with friends. Don’t take the trauma symptoms personally. Your loved one may become angry, irritable, withdrawn, or emotionally distant. Remember that this is a result of the trauma and may not have anything to do with you or your relationship. Helping a child recover from trauma It’s important to communicate openly with children following trauma. Let them know that it’s normal to feel scared or upset. Your child may also look to you for cues on how they should respond to traumatic events so let him or her see you dealing with symptoms of trauma in a positive way. How children react Regression. Many children may try to return to an earlier stage when they felt safer and more cared for. Younger children may wet the bed or want a bottle; older children may fear being alone. It’s important to be patient and comforting if your child responds this way. Thinking the event is their fault. Children younger than seven or eight tend to think that if something goes wrong, it must be their fault-no matter how irrational this may sound to an adult. Be sure your child understands that he did not cause the event. Sleep disorders. Some children have difficulty falling to sleep; others wake frequently or have troubling dreams. If you can, give your child a stuffed animal, soft blanket, or flashlight to take to bed. Try spending extra time together in the evening, doing quiet activities or reading. Be patient. It may take a while before your child can sleep through the night again. Feeling helpless. Being active in a campaign to prevent an event like this one from happening again, writing thank you letters to people who have helped, and caring for others can bring a sense of hope and control to everyone in the family. —

Tr a v e l FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Life’s a beach uring this season, you might want to take a look at some irresistible getaways that can put you on world-class slopes or white-sand beaches.


Yunque Rain Forest, and the hauntingly beautiful La Parguera bioluminescent bay. Oh, and there’s also the world-class beaches if you insist on doing nothing much at all.

ORLANDO, FLA. Theme Park Heaven There’s a good reason folks around the world book theme park vacations a year or more in advance: While admission to the parks ain’t cheap-often topping $80 per day for adults-you can get a break on airfare and hotel reservations by booking early. Orlando, Fla., is the epicenter for park sharks-it’s home to Universal Studios Florida, SeaWorld Orlando, and Walt Disney.

OAHU, HI Pacific Paradise In the dead of winter, the classic image of Oahu’s hotel-lined Waikiki Beach can either haunt your dreams or, if you book now, be yours to savor in person. The Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu stretches from the Ala Wai Canal to Diamond Head, a volcanic cone misnamed by 19th-century explorers who believed the rocky cone held diamonds. Take a stroll on Beach Walk, where you’ll find gift shops and art galleries (including a ukulele shop) and casual dining options that include traditional Hawaiian dishes and live music.

LAGUNA BEACH, CALIF. Surfin’ Safari You’re under no obligation to actually catch a wave just because you visit Laguna Beach, an iconic seven-mile stretch of sea and sand in Southern California’s Orange County-most visitors are content to swim and soak up the warmth of the sun. But if you’re so inclined, lessons with a champion surfer come with a money-back guarantee that you’ll “get up”-surf slang for standing on the board on your first lesson (, group lessons from $75 per person). If you can bring yourself to towel off and put your shoes back on, good vibrations can also be found in nearby Laguna Village, a prime spot for browsing quality art galleries and other shops-a reminder of the town’s roots as an artists’ colony. TULUM, MEXICO South of the Border Tulum invites you to do as much, or as little, as you like. On Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, the seaside community is home to pristine Caribbean beaches famous for their giant sea turtles and the site of preColumbian Mayan ruins, including temples and castillos dating back to the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. Admission to the cliff-hugging ruins is only about $5. PUERTO RICO Caribbean Dream Where can you prowl the winding streets of an old-world-style city, explore a rain forest, and pay an eerie nighttime visit to a bay that glows in the dark, all without leaving the United States? Only Puerto Rico offers historic Old San Juan, the teeming, colorful El

BOZEMAN, MONT. Rocky Mountain Skiing For those who’d prefer not to escape winter but rather to plunge deeper into it, Montana throws its arms open wide. The minute you step off the plane in Bozeman, the cold, pine-scented air will remind you that you’re not in Wherever You Came From anymore. Powder hounds swear by Bridger Bowl ski lodge, in the nearby Bridger Mountain range (part of the Rocky Mountains). The lodge offers ski lift/lodging packages with local hotels starting at $139/person for two days of skiing and one night’s lodging. If you decide to mix your powder with a spoonful of learning, drop by the Museum of the Rockies, at Montana State University, to delve into Montana’s Native American and pioneer history and to see some of the world’s finest dinosaur fossils. ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. Southwestern Sun A winter sojourn to the Southwest doesn’t have to mean just golf courses and exhibition baseball. Albuquerque presents an eclectic dance card to visitors: The Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum is a hotspot for hot-air balloon enthusiasts-and also for those content to just watch those gentle giants take flight. The Pueblo Cultural Center presents one of the world’s most impressive collections of Southwestern Native American art, including changing exhibits by contemporary artists. If, after soaking up New Mexico’s distinc-

tive desert landscape, you want to find out more about how the land took the shape it did, head to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. COSTA RICA Tropical Fun This Central American nation’s reputation for allaround beauty, adventure, and affordability is well deserved. Start with the markets, museums, and nightlife of capital city San Jose, then head to Arenalthe kind of rumbling, lava-spewing volcano you may have thought existed only in movies. And if an active volcano isn’t enough to get your adrenaline flowing, dive into Manuel Antonio national park to cavort with monkeys, or just go take a hike-no, we really mean take a hike-in the cloud forests near Monteverde and Santa Elena along the continental divide. CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, ITALY Italian Skiing This stunning region of Italy’s Dolomite Mountains-featuring peaks over 9,000 feet above sea level-was the site of the 1956 Winter Olympics and has always attracted a swanky European crowd, including movie stars and royals. But strict zoning has kept the area true to its surprisingly Teutonic roots, and you’ll see white-timber houses that look as if they were transplanted out of a fairy tale. The popular Cortina d’Ampezzo ski resort offers a seven-day Dolomiti Superski pass, which gives you access to all the area’s slopes for about $40 a day, and booking your trip now can nab you reasonable airfare and hotel rates for this

tony enclave. SMUGGLER’S NOTCH, VT. Northeast Skiing With incredible ski destinations in the American west and the mountain ranges of Europe, it’s easy for easterners to forget that there are some awesome slopes under their noses. For one-stop shopping, Smugglers’ Notch, in Vermont’s Green Mountains, is convenient, affordable, and regularly ranks among the top favorites of ski enthusiasts. Here, a little more than an hour’s flight from New York City, you’ll find weeklong packages that include a mountainside condo, lift tickets, snow tubing, and a family entertainment and recreation center. NHA TRANG, VIETNAM The Perfect Beach Yeah, the airfare to Vietnam from the US’s West Coast is not cheap, averaging between $900 and $1,300 round-trip, but once you get there, food and lodging can be quite reasonable. The beaches of Nha Trang, on the country’s south central coast, are a major wintertime draw, and many visitors are more than happy to skip major cities like Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi in favor of this laid-back beach town. Besides superb surf, scuba, and sunbathing, Nha Trang offers a number of temples dating as far back as the 9th century and Vietnam’s signature cuisine, which blends French Colonial influence with traditional Southeast Asian claypot and noodle dishes.

Lifestyle FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

The Panasonic HX-A100 wearable wi-fi camera sits on display at the International Consumer Electronics Show, Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014, in Las Vegas. — AP photos

Trade show attendees pass by an LG Ultra HD 3D wall display.

Few ‘wearables’ balance fashion and function


adget lovers are slipping on fitness bands that track movement and buckling on smartwatches that let them check phone messages. Some brave souls are even donning Google’s geeky-looking Glass eyewear. For the technology industry, this is exciting time, but also a risky one. No one really knows whether the average consumer can be enticed to make gadgets part of their everyday attire. The question is: Can tech companies create wearables with the right mix of function and fashion? Wearable computing devices are igniting an explosion of hope and creativity that’s engaged both startups and big companies including Samsung, Sony, LG and others. At the International Consumer Electronics Show this week, companies are showing off hundreds of new watches, wristbands and eyeglasses with built-in video screens or cameras. The industry is encouraged by the attention Google’s Glass is getting. The device is worn like a pair of glasses and projects a small video screen into the wearer’s field of vision. Companies are also encouraged by the success -albeit on a small scale- of the Pebble and Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatches. Intel Corp, the world’s largest maker of computer processors, is on the wearable computing bandwagon, too. Its CEO, Brian Krzanich, demonstrated a onesie that can measure a baby’s temperature, pulse and breathing rate. It sends a wireless signal to a parent’s “smart” coffee cup, which shows a smiley face in lights if the baby is sleeping well and a worried face if the child is too hot or close to waking up. The outfit can also send a signal to a smart bottle warmer, so it can be ready with warm formula when the baby wakes. “We want to make everything smart,” Krzanich said, showing off the brains of the onesie -a computer the size of a stamp. The smart onesie is one example of the many gadgets at the show that are designed to demonstrate what technology can do. What’s less clear is whether they tackle real problems, and improve life so much that people will care to buy them. The wearables industry is haunted by an earlier false start: Bluetooth headsets, which were commonplace a few years ago, fell out of favor. The shift away from phone calls and towards texting was one factor, but many say it simply became uncool to walk around in public with a listening device protruding from one’s ear. It’s easier to convince consumers to wear gadgets on their wrists, and that’s where most of the industry’s energy is focused. “The wrist is one of the few places where it’s socially acceptable and technologically feasible to wear a gadget,” says David Rosales, the chief technology officer of Meta Watch Ltd, a spin-off of watchmaker Fossil. Rosales has been making smartwatches for years, but only now does he believe they can break into the mainstream. It’s

Magellan Echo smart sports watches sit on display.

not so much a matter of technology - smartwatches worked fine in 2006, as one of social acceptance, he says. Smartwatches are still a small market: the Consumer Electronics Association estimates that just under a million of them will be sold in the US this year, up from 600,000 in 2013. “I don’t think consumers get the idea of smartwatches,” says Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at research firm NPD Group. In a survey, the group found that the feature US consumers most desire in a smartwatch is the ability to make and receive calls - something the watches generally don’t do. He thinks the image a smartwatch projects of the owner is a more important driver. “I think this is about jewelry ... I think at least in the near term, it’s about what having one of these things says about me and my personal brand,” Crupnick says. “It’s human nature to brand ourselves.”

Fitness bands are also an effective way to brand oneself, and they’ve seen a big surge in interest recently. The CEA says that last year, 13 percent of US consumers said they intend to buy a wearable fitness product in the next 12 months, up from 3 percent the year before. But the staying power of these products is questionable much of their motion tracking can be done by smartphones, which already contain the motion sensors that let the fitness bands act as advanced pedometers. At CES, some bands are being revealed that do more than phones can; Epson’s Pulsense, for instance, measures a wearer’s heart rate by shining a light through the skin. Glucovation, a startup from Carlsbad, Calif., is among the companies that want to take wearables one step further: into the skin. It’s developing a patch with a tiny needle that measures the wearer’s blood glucose level and relays it wirelessly to a smartphone. That could be useful not just for diabetics, but for anyone trying to control their eating habits. The patch, which is at least two years away from being sold, would be worn discretely under clothing. Google Glass is the opposite: it’s blatant and in your face, literally. Many people balk at the image of the man-machine integration it conveys, and since it contains a forward-facing camera, the gadget has given rise to privacy concerns. In theory, Glass wearers could be recording or taking pictures of anything they see, unbeknownst to others. But even if some people balk at wearing gadgets of their own accord others- such as children and workers -may not be able to avoid wearables. New York-based Filip is making colorful, rubbery wristphones for kids. They can track the kids location and can place calls to five pre-programmed numbers. They can also show text messages, like “Time for dinner!” AT&T started selling them in November for $200. Startup XOEye Technologies is building cameras into safety glasses. They can stream live video for 45 minutes over Wi-Fi before they need a recharge. The wearer can talk to and hear whoever’s watching the video. In effect, the glasses provide a way for an expert or supervisor to look over the shoulder of a remote worker to walk them through repairs. Conversely, an expert could wear the glasses and walk the viewer through a process. At XOEye’s trade show booth, a screen showed high-quality eye-perspective video from an employee at the company’s office in Ann Arbor, Mich., working on an electrical box.—Reuters

The Kolibree toothbrush sits on display.

The June bracelet by Netatmo sits on display.

Lifestyle FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Bullock sweeps

People’s Choice Awards S

andra Bullock reigned supreme at the 40th annual People’s Choice Awards, taking home four trophies as the evening’s top winner. The actress was named favorite movie actress, comedic actress, dramatic actress and shared the favorite movie duo award with “Gravity” co-star George Clooney. Bullock’s buddy comedy, “The Heat,” co-starring Melissa McCarthy, was awarded favorite comedic movie. Fans deemed Ellen DeGeneres their favorite daytime TV host, making her the woman who has gained the most People’s Choice Awards with a total of 14 trophies. “As a young girl growing up in New Orleans, if anyone would have told me I was going to win 14 People’s Choice Awards I...I mean 12, yes. 13, maybe. But 14?” joked DeGeneres, host of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” who said that she wanted to make the show for everyone from old, young, black, white, guy and straight. “Iron Man 3” scored three awards including favorite movie, action movie and the film’s star, Robert Downey Jr, channeling Iron Man in his acceptance speech, received the favorite action movie star honor. Justin Timberlake also nabbed three awards. Among them was the favorite album accolade for “The 20/20 Experience.” In a sweet moment, he thanked his “beautiful wife,” Jessica Biel, “for teaching me patience and the little things like just putting the dishes in the dishwasher. It goes a long way. Fellas, you’re welcome.” Katy Perry, who was not at the show, scored the win for favorite video for the third year in a row, following up last year’s award for “Part of Me” and 2012’s honor for “Last Friday Night” with her hit “Roar” this year. A pregnant Drew Barrymore, who joked that DeGeneres had called her fat backstage, presented her “Blended” co-star Adam Sandler with the comedic movie actor award. After debuting her talk show “The Queen Latifah Show” in 2013, fans crowned Queen Latifah their favorite new talk show host. Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev, the stars of “The Vampire Diaries,” earned the award for best on-screen chemistry at the People’s Choice Awards. The duo, who had their round of break-ups and make-ups on-screen and off, joked about their coupledom. “The good thing is chemistry,” said Dobrev, with her arm

Actress Sarah Michelle Gellar accepts the Favorite Actress In A New TV Series award for “The Crazy Ones” onstage.

around Somerhalder, who she is no long romantically attached to. They managed to make a would-be awkward moment entertaining by addressing their buzz-worthy pairing head-on. Shemar Moore heavily hit on fellow presenter Malin Akerman, cracking jokes about ebony and ivory and saying he didn’t see a ring on her finger. She played right along, leaning in as the crowd cheered them on. Stephen Colbert won the favorite late night talk show host

Singer Britney Spears accepts the Favorite Pop Artist award onstage.

Actor LL Cool J is seen onstage.

Cast and crew of TV show Big Bang Theory accepts Favorite Network TV Comedy award onstage at The 40th Annual People’s Choice Awards at Nokia Theatre LA Live on January 8, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. — AP/AFP photos

Actor Robert Downey Jr accepts the Favorite Action Movie Actor award onstage.

Lifestyle FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Actress Sandra Bullock accepts the Favorite Movie Actress award onstage.

Actors Adelaide Kane (left) and Torrance Coombs, winners of the Favorite New TV Drama award for ‘Reign,’pose.

award, Britney Spears picked up the favorite pop artist honor, and Kaley Cuoco received the favorite comedic TV actress prize as well as the favorite TV comedy award, along with the rest of the cast of “The Big Bang Theory.” Sara Bareilles performed her hit “Brave,” country star Brad Paisley took the stage to sing “The Mona Lisa” and OneRepublic sang “Counting Stars.” Jennifer Hudson was the show’s second humanitarian award recipient for her work with children via her Julian D. King Gift Foundation. Bullock gained the show’s first humanitarian award in 2013 for her efforts in storm-ravaged New Orleans. Accompanied on stage by her sister Julia, Hudson, holding back tears, accepted the favorite humanitarian award. “My mother always taught us without family you have nothing,” Hudson said. “Whether you know it or not, we all are family. What happens to the other happens to us. It’s one thing to be a celebrity and have power, but it means nothing if we’re not making a difference and helping someone else. It feels good to see positivity acknowledged. Where we come from all you hear about is who shot who and who went to jail. There is more to life than the block you live on. We want to show them that I came from the same area and if I can do it, you can do it too.” LL Cool J presented Hudson with the award. The Oscar-winning actress created the Chicago based Julian D. King Gift Foundation with her sister, Julia Hudson, in honor of her nephew, Julian King, who was murdered in 2008 at the age of 7. “2 Broke Girls” stars Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs hosted the show at the Nokia Theatre. — AP

Actors Nina Dobrev (left) and Ian Somerhalder, winners of the Favorite On Screen Chemistry award for “The Vampire Diaries,” speak onstage.

Emily Deschanel (left) and Michael Weatherly present the award for favorite actress in a new TV series.

Actor Joseph Morgan, winner of the Favorite Actor In A New TV Series award for “The Originals,”poses.

Actress Jennifer Hudson (left) and sister Julia Hudson accept the Favorite Humanitarian award onstage.

Actors Joseph Morgan (left) and Lucy Hale speak onstage.

Movie: “Iron Man 3” Movie actor: Johnny Depp Movie actress: Sandra Bullock Movie duo: Sandra Bullock and George Glooney, “Gravity” Action movie: “Iron Man 3” Action movie star: Robert Downey Jr Comedic movie: “The Heat” Comedic movie actor: Adam Sandler Comedic movie actress: Sandra Bullock Dramatic movie: “Gravity” Dramatic movie actor: Leonardo DiCaprio Dramatic movie actress: Sandra Bullock Family movie: “Despicable Me 2” Horror movie: “Carrie” Thriller movie: “Now You See Me” Year-end movie: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” Network TV comedy: “The Big Bang Theory” Comedic TV actor: Chris Colfer Comedic TV actress: Kaley Cuoco Network TV drama: “The Good Wife” Dramatic TV actor: Josh Charles Dramatic TV actress: Stana Katic Actor in a new TV series: Joseph Morgan Actress in a new TV series: Sarah Michelle Gellar TV crime drama: “Castle” Competition TV show: “The Voice” Cable TV comedy: “Psych” Cable TV drama: “The Walking Dead” Cable TV show: “Homeland” Cable TV actress: Lucy Hale TV anti-hero: Rick Grimes, “The Walking Dead” TV bromance: Sam, Dean and Castiel, “Supernatural” TV gal pals: Rachel and Santana, “Glee” On-screen chemistry: Damon and Elena, “The Vampire Diaries” Sci-fi/fantasy TV show: “Beauty and the Beast” Sci-fi/fantasy TV actor: Ian Somerhalder Sci-fi/fantasy TV actress: Kristin Kreuk TV movie/miniseries: “American Horror Story” Daytime TV host(s): Ellen DeGeneres New talk show host: Queen Latifah Late night talk show host: Stephen Colbert Streaming series: “Orange is the New Black” Series we miss most: “Breaking Bad” New TV comedy: “Super Fun Night” New TV drama: “Reign” Male artist: Justin Timberlake Female artist: Demi Lovato Breakout artist: Ariana Grande Pop artist: Britney Spears Country artist: Taylor Swift Hip-hop artist: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis R&B artist: Justin Timberlake Band: One Direction Alternative band: Fall Out Boy Song: “Roar,” Katy Perry Album: “The 20/20 Experience,” Justin Timberlake Music video: “Roar,” Katy Perry Music fan following: Lovatics, Demi Lovato. — AP

Lifestyle FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014


amed film director Zhang Yimou must pay more than $1.2 million in fines for having three children in violation of Chinaís strict family planning rules, officials said yesterday. A district government in the eastern city of Wuxi said in an online statement that investigators concluded that the director of ìHeroî and ìHouse of Flying Daggersî and his wife, Chen Ting, flouted family planning policies by having the children without approval and before they got married in 2011. China limits most urban couples to one child and rural families to two if the first-born is a girl. Zhang, who has a daughter with his first wife, could legally have one child with Chen, but the two were not married when their first child was born and did not have a birth permit, in violation of Chinaís rules. The fines are based in part on the coupleís annual income. The government of Wuxiís Binhu district said they earned a total of about $580,000 in the years before each of the children was born. Reports that Zhang had violated the

countryís one-child rule started to circulate in May. Binhu authorities said they were put in charge of the investigation in July because Chen is a registered resident of the district even though she lives in Beijing. By late last year, Wuxi family planning officials publicly complained they could not get in touch with Zhang, who eventually issued an apology for the ìnegative social impactî he had created and promised cooperation with investigators. Zhangís studio confirmed in a statement that Zhang, 63, has fathered two sons and one daughter with Chen, 32, but denied reports of other children born before they were married. The case raised questions among members of the public about whether Zhangís social status had allowed him to dodge the family planning rules for years. The district government said it adopted more severe standards in levying the fines against Zhang and Chen because their violations were particularly flagrant. Zhang, who is 63, and Chen, 32, have 30 days to pay the fines. They may also seek an administrative

Zhang Yimou

Director Zhang Yimou fined $1.2m for having 3 kids

review or file a court petition if they object to the fines. Zhang could not immediately be reached yesterday for a response, although he

said in December that he would willingly accept any punishment meted out in accordance with state rules. — AP

Popular Chinese microfilm

turned into a movie A

Indian Bollywood actors Anupam Kher (left) and Shraddha Kapoor pose for a photograph while attending the ‘Life Ok Screen Awards’ nomination party in Mumbai, India. — AFP

Beyonce urged to donate

money from song


eyonce is being asked to donate proceeds from her song “XO” after controversy arose from her use of an audio clip from the deadly space shuttle Challenger disaster in the tune. An online petition, launched by Florida resident Sarah McNulty, urges the “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” singer to donate a quarter of the proceeds from the song to the Challenger Learning Center, which works to continue the Challenger Seven’s mission to explore and educate young minds in space and science education. (The organization was launched by the families of the astronauts who died in the tragic mission, using money received in legal retribution from NASA.) “Challenger is one of those tragedies that is perpetually a very raw wound for everyone, especially those in the space industry, and I believe that it should never be treated as anything but,” McNulty, an aerospace industry employee who lives on Florida’s Space Coast, said of the petition. “It’s never okay to trivialize a tragedy, but trivializing a tragedy such as Challenger, which was meant to be an inspirational mission to enlighten and inspire the nation and give us heroes to look up to, is a crime.” As of this writing, the petition had gathered a little over 3,900 signatures, out of its goal of 4,000. The 1986 Challenger disaster, the result of a faulty Oring on one of the shuttle’s solid rocket boosters, caused the death of seven crew members, including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe. Beyonce drew heat for sampling audio from the disaster in “XO,” with Challenger widow June Scobee Rodgers expressing disappointment on the space agency watchdog website — Reuters

Chinese online microfilm, “Old Boys,” which was watched by tens of millions and helped to establish the genre here, is being made into a feature-length movie. The filmmakers presented a trailer at a media event yesterday in Beijing and said “Old Boys: The Way of the Dragon” would be shown in Chinese cinemas in May. The project’s genesis as a 43-minute microfilm that netted nearly 70 million views on a video website demonstrates how online films are influencing China’s traditional movie industry. “If people like me wanted to make a movie 10 years ago, we had to get approval from government agencies and officials first,” said director and actor Xiao Yang. “But now, with the Internet, we can show our works to an audience directly and we get feedback from the audience directly. When my work gains a large number of viewers, it starts to influence investors.” Xiao’s microfilm “Old Boys” kickstarted the Chinese microfilm phenomenon - films around 40 minutes or less that are distributed online and generally viewed on mobile phones or laptops. They have become intensely popular with people born in the 1980s or later. Today, microfilm producers face fierce competition for sponsorship and advertising, so many try to cater for mass viewing and employ comedy elements and sexual themes. The original film is a story with comedic elements of a wedding host and a barber who reminisce about their school-day dreams of making it big in music. They decide to team up for a talent show, performing Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” but their hopes are dashed by the producer, who doesn’t want them in the com-

petition. The school-day nostalgia and the pair’s sadness at losing out on their childhood dreams struck a chord with the viewing public when the film was released online in 2010. Its main song became a karaoke favorite. The movie starts where the microfilm left off, with the duo played by the same actors, director Xiao and Wang Taili, who wrote three of the movie’s songs - heading to New York to seek fame. The trailer

The overwhelming popularity of online viewing is redefining how China’s mainstream industry markets itself and chooses themes. Xiao said that after his microfilm became popular online, investors approached him. “What is popular online is a good indication of what will be popular with young people,” said Shao Dan, Youku Tudou’s director of international communications. “So Young,” one of 2013’s biggest

Chinese film director and actor Xiao Yang (right) and actor Wang Taili (left) speak onstage as they promote their new movie ‘Old Boys: The Way of the Dragon’ in Beijing yesterday. — AP shows the pair doing kung fu moves at John F. Kennedy airport while being chased by two North Korean assassins, who the two also play. The microfilm came about after the pair, known as the Chopsticks Brothers, posted their own music videos online and garnered attention. They were later sponsored to make “Old Boys” by the popular video website Youku and the staterun China Film Group as part of a project to showcase promising young microfilm makers.

Chinese box office winners, started life as a Web novel about a young woman’s journey into adulthood that gained lots of fans online. The 2011 movie “Love Is Not Blind,” about a young woman’s heartbreak, was low-budget, but it concentrated its marketing online, including videos of people tearfully relating their own tales of being lovelorn. It came out in time for China’s Singles Day, reaping box office revenue that was many times its investment. —AP

Lifestyle FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Jenna Bush Hager, a special correspondent for NBC’s “Today” show, addresses fans before Canadian singer David Thibault, 16, performs Elvis Presley songs during an annual birthday celebration at the Automobile Museum at Graceland in Memphis, Tenn Wednesday, Jan 8, 2014. (Right) This 1972 file photo shows Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, during a performance. — AP photos

Fans gather at Graceland for Presley’s birthday T elevision and radio personality Wink Martindale remembers the day nearly 60 years ago when Elvis Presley’s first single, “That’s All Right,” played for the first time on the radio. It was July 8, 1954, and a fresh-faced Martindale was working as a disc jockey at WHBQ in Memphis. He was at the studio when legendary producer Sam Phillips brought by an acetate copy of the song Presley cut at Phillips’ Sun Records. DJ Dewey Phillips - no relation to Sam - played the song on his influential “Red, Hot and Blue” radio show, and rock n’ roll history was made. “It was almost like an out-of-body experience,” Martindale told Presley fans who came to Graceland on Wednesday to celebrate the late

icon’s 79th birthday. “That was the beginning of Presley-mania.” Martindale and Jenna Bush Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush, attended the annual birthday party at Presley’s longtime Memphis home. The event featured a cake cutting and the singing of “Happy Birthday” by 16-year-old Canadian David Thibault (TEE’-bo). Bush Hager, a correspondent for the “Today” show, was at Graceland to tour the home and tape a segment with Thibault. The teen from Quebec has gained fame after his singing of “Blue Christmas” garnered millions of views on YouTube. Bush Hager, Thibault, and Martindale participated in the cakecutting along with producer Knox

Phillips, who is Sam Phillips’ son and a member of the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. Martindale was a longtime friend of Presley, who dated Martindale’s wife Sandy before they married. After his days in Memphis, Martindale went on to TV fame as host of Teenage Dance Party and the game shows Gambit and Tic Tac Dough. Presley was born in Tupelo, Miss., on Jan 8, 1935, and moved to Memphis with his parents at age 13. He was 42 when he died Aug 16, 1977. — AP A fan shows her love of Elvis Presley as Elvis impersonator Jeff Rainey performs for the crowd during the 79th birthday celebration for Elvis Presley.

At one year, S Korean babies get gilded parties I

Dalmatian dog “Chimmi” poses during a photocall to promote the “Cacib 2014” pedigree dog exhibition yesterday in Nuremberg, southern Germany. More than 3,500 dogs will compete during the show this weekend. — AFP

t takes a lot more than a cake and a song to celebrate a baby’s first birthday in South Korea, where in the past disease and starvation claimed so many lives that the completion of an infant’s first year was a major milestone. The first birthday, or ‘doljanchi’, is now an event where affluent parents in one of the world’s richest countries flaunt their wealth, connections and even their offspring’s gilded career prospects at lavish parties. At one party in Apgujeong, dubbed the Beverly Hills of Seoul, one-year-old Dot-byul peered down at a tray of items symbolising various professions - including a stethoscope for a doctor, a judge’s gavel and a microphone. Dressed in a white princess gown with every moment captured by a professional photographer, she paused for a gurgle and then wrapped her tiny hands around a golf ball, in a gesture seen as signifying that she will grow up to be a golfer. ‘We can hold low-key celebrations for her second, third and future birthdays, but for the very first I wanted to throw this party to show Dot-byul that everyone came here today to bless her,’ said her mother Kim Jae-yeon, whose hus-

band runs an information technology business. The trappings of Dot-byul’s party were typical. A slide show and a decorated ‘photo table’ with framed pictures chronicled her young life. Another table, adorned with flowers and candles, featured a three-tier cake. Guests gave packets of money, as they would at a wedding, and received gift bags packaged with the baby’s picture and boxes of tea. Gift bags at first birthday events can contain mugs, rice, towels, candles or other items. Parents devote considerable thought to the gifts to differentiate their party from others. Fewer babies, more money Although starvation is no longer a threat, children have become precious commodities in another sense. As fewer South Koreans marry and more women pursue careers, the birthrate in this Asian country has plummeted. The average number of babies born per woman fell to 1.23 in 2010 from 4.53 in 1970, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says. That was the lowest rate among rich countries listed by the OECD.

‘People these days attach a greater meaning to ëdol’ because they do not give birth to a lot of children,’ said Jung Ji-hyon, who threw a traditional banquet for her baby boy. Other parents choose Western-style celebrations. The more lavish, the better. ‘I will only have two kids at most and I want to do everything I can do for them. I would feel terrible to see my daughter feel inferior to her peers,’ said Jennifer Song, a 28-year-old housewife who is pregnant with her second child. Song said planning for a ‘dol’ ceremony was more stressful than for a wedding, another tradition that has become a huge financial burden for young South Koreans. In 2012, Song paid 10 million won ($9,400) for her first born’s ‘dol’ at the Westin Chosun Hotel in central Seoul, and is already planning the party for her next child. ‘As soon as I learned of my pregnancy, I called the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which is known for its outdoor celebrations, to reserve a place, but they put me on a waiting list,’ she said. There is now a cottage industry to tap into the money spent on the first birthday celebrations. —Reuters




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Books FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Do self-help books really help?

By Professor Timothy D Wilson


isit the self-help section on Amazon or browse the shelves of your local bookshop and you will find hundreds of books that promise to improve your life in any number of ways. You can read, among other things, about the secrets to daily joy and lasting fulfillment, how to find career success, five simple steps to emotional healing, and how to stop worry and anxiety from ruining your relationships. Little wonder, then, that these books sell in huge numbers - and sell fast, particularly during an economic downturn. While UK book sales were down recently by 1 percent overall, sales of self-help books for the same period soared by 25 percent. In the US, the self-help market is worth more than $10 billion a year. Yet the very fact that there are so many self-help books on the market is likely to be a sign that none of them is particularly effective. After all, if one of them really did unlock the secret to everlasting happiness, wouldn’t it corner the market and crowd out all the others? Instead, there is what is known in the selfhelp industry as the ‘18-month rule’ - which is that the person most likely to buy a book this week is someone who bought one 18 months earlier. In his book Sham: How The Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless, author Steve Salerno argues that there are huge costs associated with the public acceptance of the self-help movement. Buying into the overblown claims such books make, he argues, can lead to you blaming yourself for failure when you don’t achieve the outcome you hoped for - and avoiding treatments that actually work. I tend to agree. Furthermore, very little of the advice offered in self-help books has been tested scientifically, despite the fact that there are ways to do so. Indeed, there have been many good scientific studies on how to become happier. Most self-help authors are either unaware of this research or opt not to discuss it. Instead, they offer mantras and ‘remedies’ that are designed to make people feel good but they don’t actually cure what ails them. What’s the harm in that, you might ask, as long as people know what they are getting? Maybe a better analogy is that reading a self-help book is like buying a lottery ticket. For a small investment, we get hope in return - the dream that all our problems will soon be solved, without any real expectation that they will be. But I think there may be real harm in selfhelp books. As an example, let’s take a look at one of the most popular publications of recent years, The Secret (‘Whatever you dream of can be yours’), written by Australian TV producer Rhonda Byrne. The Secret The Secret was distributed as a film and a companion book in 2006. Championed by Oprah Winfrey, it shot into the bestsellers list. Worldwide, the DVD has sold more than two million copies, and the book more than four million. In 2007, Byrne was listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 people who shape the world. So what exactly is Byrne’s secret? It turns out to be pretty simple: the ‘law of attraction’, which says that thinking about something makes it more likely to happen to you. Once you understand this basic ‘law of the universe’, there are three simple steps to getting

whatever you want. First, think about it, focusing on the positive and not the negative. If you are trying to shed a few pounds, for example, Burns advises you should not think about the fact that you are too heavy. Those negative thoughts will make you heavier. Think, instead, about slipping on a pair of your favorite jeans and buttoning them over a perfectly flat stomach. The second step is to believe in what you want, and have faith that it will soon be yours. Again, no negative thoughts allowed. Those jeans will fit perfectly; and very soon. The third step is to ‘live’ the idea of having what you want, feeling as you will once you get it. Imagine what it will be like to wear those jeans, and adopt those feelings now. On The Secret website, enthusiasts claim they’ve solved their financial problems, met their perfect partner, even cured their infertility thanks to Byrne’s book. But how can positive thoughts have such power? In fact, scientific research shows that some forms of positive thinking are, indeed, beneficial. Again, though, self-help books typically

Rhonda Byrne reports that she cured herself of farsightedness in three days by imagining that she had perfect eyesight - to the point where she no longer needs reading glasses. Even more startlingly, in the book a woman claims that she cured herself of breast cancer in three months, without medical treatment, by believing that she was healed. ‘Illness cannot exist in a body that has harmonious thoughts,’ Byrne says. Little wonder there have been reports of people seeking therapy when ‘the universe’ has failed to deliver. So what will really make us happy? Research reveals there are three key ingredients to human happiness: meaning, hope, and purpose. For us to feel truly content we need a spiritual and ethical framework - be it religious or otherwise - that gives us an understanding of our place in the world, in a way that allows us to make sense of why bad things sometimes occur. Second, it helps to be optimistic - not because positive thoughts magically attract things to us, but because optimistic people cope better with adversity. Third, it helps to

The step-back-and-ask-why-approach This helps people get over events from their past that they find particularly upsetting or depressing. Close your eyes, and go back to the time of the experience and see the scene in your mind’s eye. Now take a few steps back (in your mind). Move away from the situation to a point where you can now watch the event unfold from a distance and see yourself in the event. As you do this, focus on what has now become the distant you. Now watch the experience unfold as if it were happening to the distant you all over again. Replay the event as it unfolds in your imagination as you observe your distant self. Take a few moments to do this. As you continue to watch the situation unfold to your distant self, try to understand his/her feelings. What were the underlying causes and reasons?

ignore this research and embed their messages in questionable ideologies. In Rhonda Byrne’s case, the belief system is a New Age philosophy that is unabashedly evocative of the Da Vinci Code. The ‘Secret’ has been known by a select few throughout history, Byrne informs us including the Babylon-ians, Plato, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Abraham Lincoln and Albert Einstein - but has been hidden from the rest of us until she uncovered it. Quite how it works is unclear; but apparently that’s why it’s a secret! Like many self-help books, there are other problems with The Secret besides its questionable science. One is the blame it confers on people who don’t succeed in attracting what they want. If you don’t get those Louboutin shoes, that promotion, or you have an accident, well, apparently it’s your fault. You were obviously thinking negative thoughts.

view ourselves as strong protagonists who set our own goals and make progress toward them. In other words, to have a sense of purpose. The good news is that there are relatively simple exercises any of us can do to shape our views in these directions. Each of the following techniques has been shown, scientifically, to make people happier.

progress toward them. Caring for our families is the most important goal for many of us, and for many of us there are ways we can do it better. Others find meaning and purpose in their religions, professions, communities or hobbies. Whatever it is that gives us a sense of purpose, we should be sure to make time in our lives to pursue it. People often forget to follow it when choosing careers or deciding how to spend their leisure time. The do good, be good principle Some of us may be slightly pessimistic, and some of us endure blows such as losing our jobs or seeing a relationship disintegrate. But by engaging in volunteer work, actively trying to find the positive in whatever we must endure, and making sure that we keep ourselves connected to other people, it has been shown that the reality of our situation will actually change to match our behavior. —

The pennebaker exercise Is there something in your life that you are particularly worried or upset about right now? If it has been on your mind for several weeks, you might want to try this technique. All you have to do is commit to writing about your problem for at least 15 minutes a day for three or four consecutive days - ideally, at the end of the day, and without interruption. Writing your thoughts and feelings down about a specific issue really can help you to analyse and change your feelings and approach to it.

Maintain a sense of purpose When everything we do feels futile, we should remind ourselves of our most important goals in life and find ways of making



Aries (March 21-April 19)

Think of yourself as a marathon runner. You have a very long distance to travel, but the sweetness is not just to be found in crossing the finish line, but rather in relishing all the sights along the way. While your head today is overflowing with plans and ideas, you begin to feel deflated when you begin to consider all the logistics of realizing these dreams. Fret not, Aries. The planets have blessed you with an energy level that is equal to the task, so go ahead and get started!

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

It's time for you to tap in to that inner resource that you have always known existed. Your ability to heal is extraordinary, and there's no point in denying it any longer. Your mind is like a sponge, thirsty to soak up any new knowledge or practice about the healing arts. You might spend today browsing a New Age bookstore. Or why not spend a relaxing hour lying flat out on a table, learning from the skilled fingers of a master masseuse?

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

Once begun is half done, as the saying goes. This certainly applies to you today, Gemini. Yes, it's true that you have a considerable amount of work ahead of you, but surely you know that you can get it done. Trite as it may sound, making a list (no, you don't have to check it twice) will help you break the projects down into manageable chunks. It's so much easier to focus only on the next step rather than the entire Herculean task.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)

How annoying when work gets in the way of pleasure, but there are times when professional opportunities are simply too good to pass up. That beguiling creature you've had your eye on will just have to wait for you another day. For now, Cancer, focus on the business at hand. With the current aspect at play, the payoff could be tremendous!

Leo (July 23-August 22)

One disadvantage of attics is that so much junk tends to get stored up there. Today is the day for you to clean house. You've been putting this off long enough and now must face the dust and debris in your own personal attic. Whether it's emotional messes that need cleaning up or business matters that beg for attention, know that you will be hurting yourself and your future prospects if you delay any longer.

Virgo (August 23-September 22)

It seems your ship is about to come in, Virgo. At least, the planets seem to think so. Your years of cultivating business relationships will pay off in the form of increased sales or new business opportunities. It seems this success spills over into your personal life as well. Life on the home front has never been more serene. You are the conductor of this melodious symphony that is your life. Congratulations!

COUNTRY CODES Libra (September 23-October 22)

Why does being patient have to take so long? quipped one frustrated soul. Could it have been you, Libra? Waiting has never been your strong suit, there's no question about it. You will get through today more easily if you concentrate on finding an outlet for your pent-up frustration. A visit to the gym or a vigorous cleaning of the house would help.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21)

We all know the adage, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." But you can't help feeling that you have tried and tried and tried to no avail. All that is about to change, Scorpio, as you begin to reap the fruits of your labors. You can expect to see things from a new, unusual perspective. This will allow you to sidestep the obstacles that have been blocking you recently. Pay extra attention today and make a mental note, if not a physical one, of any unusual ideas you have.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21)

Whatever you want, Sagittarius, you need only ask for it and there is a good chance you will get it. And it's about time, too. It seems you have been working exceptionally hard lately. You are certainly due for a raise, if not a promotion. Gather your thoughts, collect your supporting evidence, and ask for what you deserve. If your yen for more public recognition is nagging at you, then take steps today to ensure that you get more time in the spotlight.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19)

It's time once and for all to tie up all those loose ends of projects left undone. Much as you may dread it, think of it this way, Capricorn: by completing these tasks you clear space for exciting new projects to come your way. Know that everything bodes well today for all things financial and professional. Perhaps you'll get that bonus that's due you!

Aquarius (January 20- February 18)

Junk mail and a few telephone solicitations would almost be a welcome relief from the intense communications you've been having with people lately. All this intensity is interesting, to be sure, but also more time consuming than you'd like. You barely have time to handle your own affairs, much less those of others. If you begin to feel yourself at the bursting point, call your own personal time-out. A shower or bath would do you a world of good, Aquarius.

Pisces (February 19-March 20)

It isn't nearly as bad as you think, Pisces. In fact, things are definitely looking up. Of course, you'll never know that if you refuse to drag yourself out of bed to see for yourself. Your hard work of the last few months has left you enervated and somewhat drained. But today you begin to see the payoff! It's time to get up, get dressed, and dazzle the world with your brilliance. You know you can do it.

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Kuwait 00965 Kyrgyzstan 00996 Laos 00856 Latvia 00371 Lebanon 00961 Liberia 00231 Libya 00218 Lithuania 00370 Luxembourg 00352 Macau 00853 Macedonia 00389 Madagascar 00261 Majorca 0034 Malawi 00265 Malaysia 0060 Maldives 00960 Mali 00223 Malta 00356 Marshall Islands 00692 Martinique 00596 Mauritania 00222 Mauritius 00230 Mayotte 00269 Mexico 0052 Micronesia 00691 Moldova 00373 Monaco 00377 Mongolia 00976 Montserrat 001664 Morocco 00212 Mozambique 00258 Myanmar (Burma) 0095 Namibia 00264 Nepal 00977 Netherlands (Holland)0031 Netherlands Antilles 00599 New Caledonia 00687 New Zealand 0064 Nicaragua 00505 Nigar 00227 Nigeria 00234 Niue 00683 Norfolk Island 00672 Northern Ireland (UK)0044 North Korea 00850 Norway 0047 Oman 00968 Pakistan 0092 Palau 00680 Panama 00507 Papua New Guinea 00675 Paraguay 00595 Peru 0051 Philippines 0063 Poland 0048 Portugal 00351 Puerto Rico 001787 Qatar 00974 Romania 0040 Russian Federation 007 Rwanda 00250 Saint Helena 00290 Saint Kitts 001869 Saint Lucia 001758 Saint Pierre 00508 Saint Vincent 001784 Samoa US 00684 Samoa West 00685 San Marino 00378 Sao Tone 00239 Saudi Arabia 00966 Scotland (UK) 0044 Senegal 00221 Seychelles 00284 Sierra Leone 00232 Singapore 0065 Slovakia 00421 Slovenia 00386 Solomon Islands 00677 Somalia 00252 South Africa 0027 South Korea 0082 Spain 0034 Sri Lanka 0094 Sudan 00249 Suriname 00597 Swaziland 00268 Sweden 0046 Switzerland 0041 Syria 00963 Taiwan 00886 Tanzania 00255 Thailand 0066 Toga 00228 Tonga 00676 Tokelau 00690 Trinidad 001868 Tunisia 00216 Turkey 0090 Tuvalu 00688 Uganda 00256 Ukraine 00380 United Arab Emirates00976

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Yesterdayʼs Solution

C R O S S W O R D 4 2 5

ACROSS 1. Liveliness and energy. 4. Large Old World butterflies. 11. A vertical spar for supporting sails. 15. A flat wing-shaped process or winglike part of an organism. 16. Any of the chemical elements fluorine or chlorine or bromine or iodine or astatine. 17. A Loloish language. 18. Found along western Atlantic coast. 20. A city in central Alabama on the Alabama river. 21. The habitation of wild animals. 22. The capital of Turkey. 24. An independent agency of the United States government responsible for collecting and coordinating intelligence and counterintelligence activities abroad in the national interest. 26. A port city in southwestern Turkey on the Gulf of Antalya. 27. A case or sheath especially a pollen sac or moss capsule. 29. A note appended to a letter after the signature. 31. Large burrowing rodent of South and Central America. 35. Earnest and conscientious activity intended to do or accomplish something. 39. A gonadotropic hormone that is secreted by the anterior pituitary. 42. Mythical bird of prey having enormous size and strength. 44. (prefix) Opposite or opposing or neutralizing. 45. A palace and fortress built in Granada by the Moslems in the Middle Ages. 50. English aristocrat who was the first wife of Prince Charles. 51. The capital and chief port of Qatar. 52. (Greek mythology) Goddess of the earth and mother of Cronus and the Titans in ancient mythology. 53. Tropical starchy tuberous root. 56. (zoology) Lacking a tail or taillike appendage. 58. A region of Malaysia in northeastern Borneo. 60. An amino acid that is found in the central nervous system. 61. A rechargeable battery with a nickel cathode and a cadmium anode. 64. Lower in esteem. 69. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. 70. The mountain peak that Noah's ark landed on as the waters of the great flood receded. 73. The capital and largest city of Bangladesh. 75. According to need (physicians use PRN in writing prescriptions). 76. A tricycle (usually propelled by pedalling). 78. English illustrator of several of Dickens' novels (1815-1882). 79. A sweetened beverage of diluted fruit juice. 80. Absence of the natural lens of the eye (usually resulting from the removal of cataracts). 81. Give over.

6. Thickening of tissue in the motor tracts of the lateral columns and anterior horns of the spinal cord. 7. Leather covering the toe of a boot or shoe and reinforcing or decorating it. 8. Large sweet juicy hybrid between tangerine and grapefruit having a thick wrinkled skin. 9. Something (especially a game) that is played again. 10. (Irish) Mother of the ancient Irish gods. 11. Stem of the rattan palm used for making canes and umbrella handles. 12. Jordan's port. 13. One of the two main branches of orthodox Islam. 14. A mountain lake (especially one formed by glaciers). 19. An emblem (a small piece of plastic or cloth or metal) that signifies your status (rank or membership or affiliation etc.). 23. A silvery ductile metallic element found primarily in bauxite. 25. A chronic inflammatory collagen disease affecting connective tissue (skin or joints). 28. (astronomy) The angular distance of a celestial point measured westward along the celestial equator from the zenith crossing. 30. Having or revealing little emotion or sensibility. 32. Fermented alcoholic beverage similar to but heavier than beer. 33. Fairly small terrestrial ferns of tropical America. 34. Of or relating to or located in or near the mitral valve. 36. A landlocked desert republic in north-central Africa. 37. Designer drug designed to have the effects of amphetamines (it floods the brain with serotonin) but to avoid the drug laws. 38. (Norse mythology) God of war and strife and son of Odin. 40. Unknown god. 41. Food mixtures either arranged on a plate or tossed and served with a moist dressing. 43. Noisy quarrel. 46. Squash bugs. 47. An autonomous province of Georgia on the Black Sea. 48. A literary language of Chinese Turkestan (named for one of the sons of Genghis Khan). 49. Largest known toad species. 54. The blood group whose red cells carry both the A and B antigens. 55. An official prosecutor for a judicial district. 57. In bed. 59. (Babylonian) A demigod or first man. 62. A United Nations agency created to assist developing nations by loans guaranteed by member governments. 63. A stick that people can lean on to help them walk. 65. Related to or located at the back. 66. A dull persistent (usually moderately intense) pain. 67. Harsh or corrosive in tone. 68. Tear down so as to make flat with the ground. 71. Informal abbreviation of `representative'. 72. Hormone secreted by the posterior pituitary gland (trade name Pitressin) and also by nerve endings in the hypothalamus. 74. A drug combination found in some over-the-counter headache remedies (Aspirin and Phenacetin and Caffeine). 77. A soft silvery metallic element of the alkali earth group.

Yesterdayʼs Solution

DOWN 1. A metabolic acid found in yeast and liver cells. 2. A feeling of strong eagerness (usually in favor of a person or cause). 3. A kind of heavy jacket (`windcheater' is a British term). 4. (Zoroastrianism) Title for benevolent deities. 5. An informal term for a father.

Daily SuDoku

Yesterday’s Solution


Sports FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Jayawardene notches ton, gives Sri Lanka upper hand DUBAI: Mahela Jayawardene defied a left-hand webbing injury to notch his 32nd century and Kaushal Silva missed his by five runs as Sri Lanka gained an upper hand over Pakistan in the second Test in Dubai yesterday. Jayawardene, who received three stitches after he dropped a catch on Wednesday, scored 106 not out and shared an invaluable 139-run partnership with Silva (95) to guide Sri Lanka to 318-4 at close on the second day. Sri Lanka have gained an important 153 runs lead over Pakistan’s first innings score of 165 and a chance to take a lead in the three-Test series after the first match ended in a draw in Abu Dhabi last week. Jayawardene, grimacing while playing strokes, toiled his way to a remarkable knock, hit paceman Bilawal Bhatti for his 12th boundary to reach three figure mark off 215 balls, raising his bat in delight before he was embraced by skipper Mathews. Mathews, 42 not out, has so far added 91 for the unbroken fifth wicket stand

with his illustrious partner to consolidate Sri Lanka’s position. Jayawardene, the 36-year-old former captain, has so far batted for 330 minutes for only his second century against Pakistan and his first in 21 months since his hundred against England in Colombo in April 2012. Jayawardene-Silva ensured Sri Lanka overcome a disappointing start to the day after they lost Kumar Sangakkara (26) and Dinesh Chandimal (12) in the space of 13 runs. Silva, who survived a confident caught behind appeal off paceman Rahat Ali when on 26, helped Jayawardene to score 83 runs in the second session without being separated, taking their team to 132-3 at tea. Silva was finally dismissed leg-before by Mohammad Hafeez soon after tea. He hit ten boundaries during his defiant 330-minute stay at the crease. Silva pulled off-spinner Saeed Ajmal to midwicket boundary to reach his second Test half-century and then had two fours off Ali to help Sri Lanka overhaul Pakistan’s total.

Philadelphia 3 Montreal 1, NY Rangers 3 Chicago 2, Colorado 4, Ottawa 3 WESTERN CONFERENCE PACIFIC DIVISION W 32 27 26 23 21 15 14

L OTL 8 5 11 6 13 5 13 9 12 9 22 6 27 5

Chicago St. Louis Colorado Minnesota Dallas Nashville Winnipeg

CENTRAL DIVISION 29 8 30 7 27 12 23 17 20 15 19 19 19 22

Boston Tampa Bay Montreal Detroit Toronto Ottawa Florida Buffalo

EASTERN CONFERENCE ATLANTIC DIVISION 28 13 2 26 13 4 25 15 5 19 14 10 21 18 5 19 18 8 16 21 6 12 26 4

9 5 4 5 7 6 5

DUBAI: Sri Lankan batsman Kaushal Silva plays a shot during the second day of the second cricket Test match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. —AFP

SCOREBOARD DUBAI: Scoreboard at close on the second day of the second cricket Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Dubai stadium yesterday: Pakistan 1st innings 165 (Khurram Manzoor 73; N. Pradeep 3-62, R. Herath 3-26) Sri Lanka Ist innings (overnight 57-1) D. Karunaratne lbw b Junaid 32 K. Silva lbw b Hafeez 95 K. Sangakkara lbw b Ali 26 D. Chandimal c Ali b Junaid 12 M. Jayawardene not out 106 A. Mathews not out 42 Extras: (b1, lb2, nb1, w1) 5

Total: (for four wkts; 106 overs) 318 To bat: P. Jayawardene, S. Lakmal, S. Eranga, R. Herath, N. Pradeep. Fall of wickets: 1-40 (Karunaratne), 2-75 (Sangakkara), 3-88 (Chandimal), 4-227 (Silva). Bowling: Junaid 26-5-75-2, Ali 265-109-1, Ajmal 27-9-45-0, Bhatti 21-2-75-0 (1nb, 1w), Hafeez 6-1-11-1

Flyers soar over Canadiens

NHL results/standings

Anaheim San Jose Los Angeles Vancouver Phoenix Calgary Edmonton

Jayawardene, who failed in both the innings of the first Test with five and nought, successfully overturned a legbefore decision against him by Australian umpire Bruce Oxenford when on 26. Pakistan took the second new ball in the 81st over and could have been rewarded in the next over had wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed not spilled a simple chance from Mathews off Ali when the batsman had just six. Resuming at 57-1, Sri Lanka had hoped experienced batsman Sangakkara would score more but the left-hander fell in the sixth over of the day. Left-arm paceman Ali, who went wicketless in the first Test, trapped Sangakkara leg before Junaid, who had innings best figures of 2-75, then had Chandimal caught at deep fine-leg off an uppish hook shot. Pakistan’s bowling woes were highlighted by Ajmal’s failure for a second successive innings. He went wicketless in 49 second innings overs of the first Test and once again failed to make an impact in his 27 overs. —AFP

GF 151 144 114 121 129 100 119

GA PTS 113 69 114 60 91 57 113 55 127 51 137 36 161 33

169 155 127 108 123 105 125

127 97 111 114 131 131 139

67 65 58 51 47 44 43

126 123 115 114 122 129 102 74

94 102 106 121 132 145 136 118

58 56 55 48 47 46 38 28

METROPOLITAN DIVISION Pittsburgh 32 12 1 147 107 65 Philadelphia 23 17 4 117 119 50 NY Rangers 22 20 3 111 121 47 Washington 20 16 6 128 128 46 Carolina 18 16 9 105 124 45 New Jersey 17 18 9 103 113 43 Columbus 19 20 4 117 126 42 NY Islanders 16 22 7 124 149 39 Note: Overtime losses (OTL) are worth one point in the standings and are not

PHILADELPHIA: Sean Couturier, Zac Rinaldo and Michael Raffl scored to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to their 10th straight home victory, 3-1 over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night. The surging Flyers returned home after a 5-1 trip that sent them to fourth in the Eastern Conference. Brushing off 1-7 and 4-10-1 starts to become one of the hottest teams in the NHL, they are 92 since Dec. 17 and have found new life under coach Craig Berube. The Flyers haven’t lost at home since Nov. 7 against New Jersey. They’re on their longest home winning streak since they won 11 straight Oct. 27-Dec. 5, 2003. Steve Mason was again sensational in goal, stopping 19 shots for his 18th win. Tomas Plekanec scored for the Canadiens. RANGERS 3, BLACKHAWKS 2 Carl Hagelin broke a tie with 5:57 left to lift New York last Chicago. Marc Staal started the winning sequence with a long slap shot that was stopped by Corey Crawford, who also got in front of Hagelin’s first rebound attempt. But Hagelin stayed with the play and flipped the puck into the open right side. Brad Richards and Mats Zuccarello also scored for New York, which earned its first win in Chicago since a 3-2 victory on Jan. 16, 2009. Henrik Lundqvist made 35 saves. Jonathan Toews and Brandon Bollig scored in the second period for Chicago, which had recorded at least one point in a season-high 10 games. It was the Blackhawks’ first home regulation loss since a 4-3 setback against Dallas on Dec. 3.

AVALANCHE 4, SENATORS 3 Paul Stastny had the tying goal and two assists and Tyson Barrie scored 33 seconds into overtime to complete Colorado’s comeback victory over Ottawa. Jan Hejda and Jamie McGinn also scored for Colorado. The Avalanche were down 3-2 in the third and

pressed for the tying goal. John Mitchell nearly tied it when his shot went off the inside of the right post. Stastny tied it moments later when he deked goalie Craig Anderson with 2:20 left. Clarke MacArthur had a goal and an assist for Ottawa, and Jason Spezza and Kyle Turris also scored. —AP

PHILADELPHIA: Vincent Lecavalier No. 40 of the Philadelphia Flyers takes a third period penalty for hooking David Desharnais No. 51 of the Montreal Canadiens at the Wells Fargo Center. —AFP

Sports FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Nets halt Warriors’ run NEW YORK: Joe Johnson scored 27 points in the Brooklyn Nets’ season-high fourth straight victory, a 102-98 win Wednesday night that snapped the Golden State Warriors’ 10game winning streak and prevented the first 7-0 road trip in NBA history. Kevin Garnett scored 11 of his 13 points in the final quarter and stole Stephen Curry’s pass with the Warriors down three in the final half-minute. Shaun Livingston made the tiebreaking free throw with 1:12 left when he appeared to get away with hooking Curry, then Johnson made four in a row for just enough breathing room to allow the Nets to remain unbeaten in 2014. Curry scored 34 points for the Warriors, who were bidding for a franchise-record 11th consecutive victory. But until Curry’s jumper with 5.8 seconds to go, they didn’t make a field goal after Klay Thompson’s 3-pointer with 4:07 remaining that gave them a 93-89 lead. HAWKS 97, PACERS 87 Kyle Korver scored 17 points, Pero Antic added 16 and Atlanta raced to a big lead before holding off weary Indiana and beating the team with the NBA’s best record. The Hawks snapped a three-game losing streak and extended Indiana’s misery at Philips Arena, where the Pacers (28-7) haven’t won since 2006. They dropped their 12th in a row in Atlanta, the team’s longest active road losing streak against any team. Indiana looked very much like a squad playing its fourth game in five nights and also had dealt with travel issues because of the arctic weather. The Pacers managed just 12 points in the first quarter and 32 in the opening half - both season lows. Paul George led Indiana with 28 points. CLIPPERS 111, CELTICS 105 Blake Griffin scored 29 points, Jamal Crawford added 26, and Los Angeles defeated Boston to improve to 16-3 at home. Jared Dudley scored 18 points and Darren Collison had 15 points, six assists and five rebounds in place of the injured Chris Paul. DeAndre Jordan had 11 points and 13 rebounds in giving Clippers coach Doc Rivers a second win over his old team this season. Los Angeles improved to 12-10 without Paul in the lineup since he arrived in 2011. He’s out six weeks with a separated right shoulder. Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley scored 24 points each in Boston’s sixth straight loss overall and ninth in 10 games. The Celtics have dropped six in a row on the road while continuing to struggle without the injured Rajon Rondo, who has a torn ACL in his right knee.

Rockets used a big third-quarter run to take the lead and send the injury-riddled Lakers to their third straight loss. The Rockets trailed by a basket in the third quarter before going on a 17-2 run to take an 80-67 lead and roll to win. Harden continued his recent torrid scoring with his third straight 30-point game. He has piled up 113 points in the last three games combined. Nick Young scored 25 points to lead Los Angeles, and Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks scored 21 each. TRAIL BLAZERS 110, MAGIC 94 Nicolas Batum had 14 points, 10 rebounds and a careerhigh 14 assists for his fourth career triple-double and Portland handed Orlando its fifth straight loss. LaMarcus Aldridge kept Portland in it despite a sluggish start and finished with 36 points and nine rebounds. The Blazers, who came in having lost four of their last six, avoided a season-high three-game losing streak. Arron Afflalo had 22 points for the Magic, who were without center Nikola Vucevic. He sustained a concussion in a loss to the Clippers on Monday and is day to day. WIZARDS 102, PELICANS 96 Trevor Ariza scored 21 points, John Wall added 20 and Washington beat New Orleans to win for the sixth time in its last seven road games. Bradley Beal added 17 points, Jan Vesely 12 and Marcin Gortat and Nene 11 each for the Wizards, who recorded their second road win in as many nights. Eric Gordon scored 23 points and Anthony Davis 21 for the Pelicans, who were coming off a four-game road trip that saw them endure a two-day delay in Indianapolis because of the winter storms that paralyzed air traffic this week. RAPTORS 112, PISTONS 91 Kyle Lowry had 21 points and nine assists, Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Toronto handed slumping Detroit its sixth consecutive loss. DeMar DeRozan shook off a slow start to finish with 19 points and Terrence Ross had 17 for the Raptors, who went 31 for 34 from the free throw line to snap a two-game skid and win for the sixth time in eight games. Amir Johnson had 10 points and 11 rebounds for Toronto, which leads the Atlantic Division. Brandon Jennings had 22 points and Rodney Stuckey returned after missing the previous three games with a sore right shoulder to score 14 for Detroit, which has not won since a 115-92 victory at Cleveland on Dec. 23. The Pistons have dropped eight of nine overall. — AP

NBA Results / Standings San Antonio 112, Dallas 90 , Toronto 112 Detroit 91, Atlanta 97, Indiana 87, Brooklyn 102 Golden State 98 , Washington 102, New Orleans 96, Houston 113 La Lakers 99, Phoenix 104, Minnesota 103, Portland 110, Orlando 94, La Clippers 111, Boston 105.

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

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

Eastern Conference Atlantic Division L W 17 17 14 21 13 23 12 22 12 23 Central Division 28 7 15 18 14 22 12 23 7 27 Southeast Division 27 8 19 17 16 17 15 21 10 25 Western Conference Northwest Division 27 8 27 9 17 17 17 18 12 25 Pacific Division 25 13 24 14 21 13 14 22 11 22 Southwest Division 28 8 23 13 20 16 15 19 15 19

PCT .500 .400 .36 .353 .343

GB 3.5 15 5 5.5

.800 .455 .389 .343 .206

12 14.5 16 20.5

.771 .528 .485 .417 .286

8.5 10 12.5 17

.771 .750 .500 .486 .324

.5 9.5 10 16

.658 .632 .618 .389 .333

1 2 10 11.5

.778 .639 .556 .441 .441

5 8 12 12

SUNS 104, TIMBERWOLVES 103 Goran Dragic had 26 points, nine assists and six rebounds and Gerald Green’s baseline jumper with 3.9 seconds left to help Phoenix stun0 Minnesota. The Suns (21-13) trailed by six points with just over 90 seconds to play, but closed the game on a 7-0 run for maybe their most improbable win yet. Channing Frye scored 22 points and hit five 3-pointers, and Green finished with 14 points for Phoenix, which was playing the second game of a back-toback. Kevin Martin scored 20 points for the Wolves, but his runner at the buzzer clanked off the rim. Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love combined to shoot 10 for 36 and the Timberwolves failed to get over .500 on their seventh straight try. SPURS 112, MAVERICKS 90 Tony Parker scored 25 points, Tim Duncan had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and San Antonio never trailed in cruising past Dallas. Marco Belinelli had 17 points, Kawhi Leonard added 12 points and Patty Mills scored 11 for San Antonio (28-8), which recaptured the Western Conference’s best record ahead of Oklahoma City (27-8). Monta Ellis had 21 points and Vince Carter added 14 points. No other player scored in double figures as the Mavericks lost their seventh straight to the Spurs. Dirk Nowitzki was limited to eight points, shooting 3 for 14 and making his only two free throws attempts. Both teams were on the second night of a back-to-back, with San Antonio winning in overtime at Memphis and the Mavericks topping the Los Angeles Lakers in Dallas. ROCKETS 113, LAKERS 99 James Harden tied a season high with 38 points and Dwight Howard added 20 points and 13 rebounds to propel Houston past Los Angeles. Howard got his first win against his former team as the

HOUSTON: Pau Gasol No. 16 of the Los Angeles Lakers works the ball against Dwight Howard N0. 12 of the Houston Rockets during the game at the Toyota Center. — AFP


Sports FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Qatar comments fall-out leaves FIFA under attack

Erick Thohir

Inter fans still searching for Thohir’s project for the club ITALY: Inter Milan’s new president Erick Thohir said after Monday’s defeat to Lazio that the result would not alter his belief in the project for the club. His comments have left many Inter fans asking the same question: What project? The Indonesian business tycoon was appointed as chairman of Inter Milan in November after his International Sports Capital bought a 70 percent stake in the club, ending Massimo Moratti’s 18-year reign at the helm. The purchase raised hopes of a new dawn for the team which has fallen on hard times following the heady heights of 2010 when they won a Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League treble under Jose Mourinho. But since his takeover, very little has been heard about Thohir’s plans, except that he will spurn the big-spending approach of Paris St Germain and Manchester City. “We will buy players, but we’re going to be careful with our spending,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport shortly after taking charge. “Our objective is financial restructuring, creating a club which is in sound financial health, as agreed with Moratti.” There was also a brief mention of a new stadium, which would be a huge improvement on sharing the increasingly run-down San Siro with AC Milan, but nothing concrete. Thohir, who is part owner of Major League Soccer club DC United and NBA team the Philadelphia 76ers, flies to Milan from Indonesia for big games and usually limits his comments to platitudes about how he is looking forward to the match. This has frustrated the local media, used to the old-fashioned method of door-stepping Moratti, who would oblige by feeding them almost daily quotes from the street in front of his office or out of his car window. Supporters are hoping that the January transfer window will provide more clues and there are hopes that the new owners will take an Arsenal-style approach based on spotting and developing exciting young talent. That would be a far cry from the present side where aging Argentina pair Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso still feature regularly and Rodrigo Palacio is often a lonely figure in attack. Coach Walter Mazzarri hinted that Inter’s priority would be to reduce the squad, rather than look for new players. “We’re a work in progress here because we have players who aren’t featuring much and deserve to be playing more elsewhere,” he said. “We should aim first of all to use this transfer window to adjust the number of players we have in this squad so that we can train well, with others going out to get some experience under their belts or so that their value can increase. “That’s the sort of choice we need to make. People need to know what’s going on.” Inter’s 1-0 defeat at Lazio left them a modest sixth in the table, below promoted Hellas Verona and eight points behind third-place Napoli in the coveted Champions League playoff spot. Their next Serie A match is at home to Chievo on Monday (2000), giving them a chance to make up some ground on Napoli, who have a much tougher fixture at Hellas Verona on Sunday (1400). As the championship reaches the halfway mark, leaders Juventus (49 points) will be looking for their 11th successive win away to Cagliari on Sunday (1400) while AS Roma, eight points behind in second, host improving Genoa (1400).—Reuters

PARIS: World football’s ruling body came under withering fire yesterday following FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke’s claim Wednesday that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be played in winter. Valcke’s assertion was quickly refuted by FIFA but that didn’t stop a storm breaking out over the whole affair. And UEFA chief Michel Platini was quick to stick the boot in, accusing the world football governing body of making arbitrary decisions beyond its remit. As UEFA president, Platini sits on the FIFA Executive Committee, headed by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, but he claimed Valcke’s comments suggested that body was being bypassed by FIFA’s top shots. “At the last Executive Committee meeting in October it was decided that a deep consultation process should be launched throughout football and that no decision would be taken before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil,” Platini told French sports newspaper L’Equipe. “It was also decided that no-one should speak about this subject until then. “Therefore I don’t understand why it has been discussed publicly. Two months ago it was Blatter who spoke about it, this time it’s Valcke, but it’s a decision to be made by the FIFA Executive Committee. “But maybe the Executive Committee no longer serves any purpose. If the decision has already been made then there’s no need for us to meet. “Essentially, some people like to talk.” European media were quick to pick up on the internal strife with Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport running the headline: “Qatar 2022 chaos: when will it be played?” Gazzetta went on to say: “It’s still ‘only’ nine (sic. eight) years away but already Qatar 2022 is the most complicated World Cup in history. “One of the problems-and not the only one given the union conditions of local (foreign) workers-is: when will it be played?” France’s L’Equipe was no less damning of the conflicting noises emanating from FIFA’s halls. “FIFA hit by cold snap,” it said, before adding: “By announcing a little prema-

COSTA DO SAUIPE: This picture taken on December 5, 2013 shows FIFA General secretary Jerome Valcke speaking during an interview on the eve of the Brazil 2014 FIFA Football World Cup final draw. —AFP turely the 2022 World Cup’s displacement to winter, general secretary Jerome Valcke has created a new turmoil in world football.” On Wednesday, the second most powerful man in international football, told Radio France: “The dates for the World Cup (in Qatar) will not be June-July. “To be honest, I think it will be held between November 15 and January 15 at the latest.” FIFA were quick to issue a statement insisting he was merely expressing his personal opinion rather than official policy. But such a move would cause havoc in many European leagues and perhaps the most angered by Valcke’s words were the English. Oliver Kay, the chief football correspondent for Britain’s The Times newspaper seemed resigned to the move. “It was another careless, premature statement from one of the most powerful men in world football, but it pointed to two inescapable truths,” he wrote. “The first is that the 2022 World Cup will not take place in the summer heat of Qatar. The second is that, for all its talk of “very deep consultations”, FIFA is merely going through the motions before rub-

ber-stamping the first winter World Cup.” Another newspaper, The Daily Mirror, was equally indignant. “Switching the World Cup to winter would spark chaos in leagues across the world, including the Premiership (Premier League), as they struggle to play fixtures with games in November, December and January scrapped.” Players in England took to social media outlet Twitter to vent their fury. “World Cup in mid season #clueless #shambles,” wrote West Bromwich Albion and Ireland full-back Steven Reid. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, though, as in Spain the Football League president Javier Tebas urged all interested parties to simply roll up their sleeves and make the best of it. “Everyone needs to make an effort, but it doesn’t seem to me to be particularly serious, it’s not that dramatic,” he said in an article in El Pais. “Everyone has to make concessions so that the World Cup can go to every part of the world. “We can’t discriminate against one area because their summer temperatures are too high.” —AFP

Messi primed to thwart Atletico’s title ambitions MADRID: Atletico Madrid can banish any lingering doubts about their title credentials when they host Barcelona tomorrow but will have to subdue a resurgent Lionel Messi if they are to vanquish the champions. It has been almost 20 years since the Spanish capital’s second club mounted a genuine challenge for the La Liga crown as Barca and Real Madrid, the world’s two richest teams by income, have shared the spoils apart from brief flurries of success from Valencia and Deportivo La Coruna. Last season’s third place was the best Atletico had managed since they won a league and King’s Cup double in 1996 and they even spent two seasons in the second division at the start of the millen-

nium. Current coach Diego Simeone, a former Argentina midfielder who was in the 1996 team, has revived memories of those glory days since he took over at the end of 2011, honing a mean defence and getting the best out of players like forward Diego Costa and midfielder Koke. Atletico, the King’s Cup holders, have won all their matches at their Calderon stadium this season apart from the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup in August when they drew 1-1 with Barca. Victory tomorrow (1900 GMT) would put them three points clear of the Catalan giants with half the season played, while Atletico’s city rivals Real Madrid are five points behind in third

and play at Espanyol on Sunday (1800). Koke, who earned a call-up to the Spain squad last year, has played a key role in Atletico’s resurgence, developing a lethal partnership with Costa and netting some important goals himself, including the winner in Saturday’s 1-0 victory at Malaga. However, beating Barca to head the standings at the halfway stage of the campaign would be a mere “anecdote” as what counted was the state of play at the climax of the season in May, he warned on Wednesday. “It is irrelevant if you win this match if in the end you have not achieved your objectives,” he told a news conference that coincided with his 22nd birthday.—Reuters

Sports FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Moyes banks on better luck in Swansea sequel LONDON: The threat of a fourth consecutive defeat is looming large for Manchester United and their manager David Moyes, yet the beleaguered Scot feels things are on the verge of turning for his struggling side. Swansea City return to Old Trafford for the second time in a week on Saturday, buoyed by their victory at the same ground in the FA Cup third round and no doubt encouraged for another assault by their opponents’ ongoing problems. Sunderland became the latest club to upset Moyes’s team in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final on Tuesday, the first time since 1932 that United had lost their first three games of the year. The two cup defeats followed a stinging home reverse in the league against Tottenham Hotspur that left United seventh in the table and 11 points adrift of leaders Arsenal. Yet Moyes, hand-picked by predecessor Alex Ferguson and given the security of a six-year contract, is not panicking. “I’ve been here before and done it before,” Moyes said on the club website ( “I just sense that it’s on the verge of turning, we’re about to get a bit better. You need a little bit of good fortune to go for you, and it looks as if we’re not getting enough of that at the moment. “I can sense in the dressing-room that there’s an urge to fight our current position.” United’s fans booed them off the pitch following their cup defeat by Swansea, but it was a different story at the Stadium of Light where they made an effort to rally behind Moyes’s cause, singing his name despite their team’s limp performance. Moyes described their support as “exceptional”, but is well aware that it is a results business and those in the boardroom as well as on the terraces will soon start demanding an upturn in fortunes. “If you’re going to be in this job you’ve got to win, and the last few games I’ve not won,” he said. “It’s part of football management. It’s never going to be an easy ride. To be the manager of Manchester United is a big challenge, whether it’s on the back of wins or defeats.” One thing in Moyes’s favour is the congested Premier League table where, despite United’s poor form, they remain only five points off fourth place and the final Champions League qualification spot. All the current top four play away from home this week and the Premier League lead could change hands three times over the weekend. Third-placed Chelsea can stake an early claim on the summit when they kickoff the action at Hull City on Saturday before second-place Manchester City, who crushed West Ham 6-0 in their League Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday, travel to Newcastle United on Sunday. Leaders Arsenal, who are two points clear of Chelsea and one ahead of City, visit Aston Villa on Monday. A 3-1 defeat by Villa in the opening match of the season spurred the doommongers, who had been prophesying a difficult campaign for Arsene Wenger’s team, into overdrive. However, it preceded their transfer-record signing of Germany playmaker Mesut Ozil and eight wins from their next nine games propelled Arsenal to the top of the standings. Liverpool, who remain on the fringes of the title race six points behind Arsenal, travel to Stoke City on Sunday where the Merseysiders have never won a Premier League fixture. In the five matches at the Britannia Stadium since Stoke returned to the top flight in 2008, the visitors have lost three and drawn two. —Reuters

Manchester United’s manager David Moyes

LONDON: Manchester City’s Belgian defender Vincent Kompany (left) and Manchester City’s Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo (center) react as West Ham United’s Senegalese midfielder Mohamed Diame shoots (right) during the English League Cup semi-final first leg football match. — AFP

Negredo fires City to brink of final West Ham destroyed 6-0 in League Cup MANCHESTER: Alvaro Negredo plundered a hat-trick as Manchester City destroyed hapless West Ham United 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday to all but qualify for the League Cup final. West Ham had seen a second-string team embarrassed 5-0 at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup on Sunday, but even the return of several first-team players could not prevent a mauling by City’s ruthless forwards in the semi-final first leg. A smartly taken brace from Negredo and a goal from the marauding Yaya Toure put City 3-0 up, with Negredo completing his hat-trick in the second half before Edin Dzeko sealed victory with two goals of his own. Manuel Pellegrini’s City have now scored 59 goals in their 15 home games to date this season and their place in the final appears a formality ahead of the return leg at Upton Park on January 21. “It’s never finished until the end, but I think that today we have one leg in the final,” City manager Pellegrini told Sky Sports. “For me the most important thing was not to score the six goals, but it was the way that this team must play. It’s very important to continue scoring goals, but also it’s very important not to concede goals. “We have to play another game, the second leg, in London and we’ll try to continue to play, independent of what we did here today.” For injury-ravaged West Ham, meanwhile, focus will reluctantly return to the fight to haul themselves out of the Premier League relegation zone. “It’s not unique to us, is it? Manchester City have done this to Tottenham and Manchester United,” said manager Sam Allardyce. “We knew they had to have an off night and they didn’t. Their finishing was outstanding in every sense of the word. “We haven’t got a fully fit squad and we are in a hole and we need to dig ourselves out.” Allardyce made eight changes to the team thrashed at

Forest, handing a debut to new loan signing Roger Johnson, while Toure and Vincent Kompany were among the returning players in a strong City XI. Speaking ahead of the game, which took place a day after Manchester United lost 2-1 at Sunderland in the other semifinal, Allardyce said that a draw would be an ideal result, but the visitors were quickly overrun. Samir Nasri had driven a low cross across the face of goal and Javi Garcia had headed wide from a David Silva corner by the time Negredo broke the deadlock in the 12th minute. It was a goal of arresting simplicity, with Negredo haring onto a raking 60-yard pass from Toure and lashing an impeccable left-foot volley into the bottom-right corner. After West Ham goalkeeper Adrian saved from first Silva and then Nasri, Negredo made it 2-0 in the 26th minute with a shot into the roof of the net from strike partner Dzeko’s through ball. Toure had given City a scare by limping to the touchline after injuring himself in a slide tackle, but after returning to the fray he added to the hosts’ lead with a characteristic driving run followed by a low shot. Had Dzeko shown more composure, City’s half-time lead might have been even greater, but at no point did West Ham threaten to turn the game into a contest. Allardyce introduced Carlton Cole up front at half-time, but within four minutes City were four goals up as Negredo completed his hat-trick by sweeping home a shot from Silva’s deflected pass. It was the Spaniard’s second City hat-trick, after a treble against CSKA Moscow in November, and Dzeko got in on the act in the 60th minute when he converted a low cross from Gael Clichy. As West Ham’s fans took to angrily goading Allardyce, City took their foot off the pedal, but in the 89th minute Aleksandar Kolarov got to the byline and cut the ball back for Dzeko to complete the rout. — AFP

Sports FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014


Leading trio back to business as Ligue 1 resumes PARIS: Ligue 1 action resumes today as Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco and Lille pursue their quest to become 2014 French champions following the winter break. Monaco get things started today when they travel to struggling 2012 champions Montpellier looking to erase their three point deficit to PSG, who are in action tomorrow in Corsica at rock bottom Ajaccio. Lille have somehow managed to stay in touch with their financially stronger rivals, after former Montpellier title-winning coach Rene Girard fashioned a first half of the season that saw them lose just three times in 19 outings. The northern outfit, who last won the French title in 2011 under current Roma boss Rudi Garcia, come into the weekend four points off top spot as they await eighth-placed Reims in the final match on Sunday evening. Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri said earlier this week that he wants to slash his extensive squad during the transfer window but admits it is a luxury problem that most managers would love to have. “I would like to reduce the squad because it is not easy to train with 24 or 25 players,” said the much travelled Italian, whose former clubs include Inter Milan, Roma, Juventus, Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Napoli. “It is not always easy to sell players but I am professional and the players are all professional, but to have so many players allows me to have more choice for my selection,” he added. His Colombian striker Radamel Falcao finished the first half of the season with nine league goals, six behind PSG top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and his goal last weekend helped the Cote d’Azur club into the next round of the French Cup as they came back to defeat lower division Vannes 3-2. PSG were forced to spend several days in Brittany as they awaited the necessary conditions to play their twice-postponed cup tie against Brest before finally prevailing 5-2 on Wednesday. Ibrahimovic was once again their catalyst with a first-half hat-trick to sink the second division side. Laurent Blanc’s side have lost just one match in all competitions this season, a league defeat at bogey side Evian. Saint-Etienne sit alone in fourth after defeating Evian 1-0 in a rescheduled midweek fixture as they overtook Bordeaux. They can keep their run of form going at Guingamp tomorrow, albeit with 90 minutes added football in their legs, after the Evian triumph. Bordeaux have closed in on the European places despite a dreadful start to the campaign, but a 13-point deficit to PSG may likely be a bridge too far as they get set to tackle Toulouse at home tomorrow. Marseille, Nantes and Reims are locked in a tie for sixth on 29 points and play Evian away, Lorient at home and Lille away respectively. Second from bottom Sochaux have been busy in the early days of the window as coach Herve Renard brought in two of his former Zambian African champions Stoppila Sunzu and Nathan Sinkala, as well as Marseille’s Ghanaian striker Jordan Ayew on loan. Renard, who is in charge of his first Ligue 1 side, has his work cut out to erase the team’s six point ladder to safety. They return to action with a testing trip to seven-time champions Lyon, while third from bottom Valenciennes are three points behind Montpellier heading into a key home tie against Bastia. — AFP

SPAIN: Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi scores during the Spanish Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) football match at the Camp Nou stadium. — AFP

Barca stroll past Getafe Messi strikes twice on return from injury MADRID: Lionel Messi came off the bench and scored twice on his return from injury and Cesc Fabregas also netted a double as Barcelona strolled to a 4-0 win at home to Getafe in their King’s Cup last 16, first leg on Wednesday. Messi was given a rousing ovation by the home fans when he replaced Andres Iniesta in the 64th minute at the Nou Camp, the World Player of the Year’s first appearance since straining a thigh muscle in November. Dominant Barca, who rested a number of regulars, were already two goals ahead by the time the Argentina forward entered the fray after Fabregas headed them in front in the eighth minute and added a penalty in the 63rd. Messi looked fit and sharp during his half-hour on the pitch and his successful return to action is good news for Barca coach Gerardo Martino with tomorrow’s La Liga clash at title rivals Atletico Madrid looming. His first goal came in the 89th minute when he collected a loose ball in the penalty area and slotted into the corner from close range. His second in added time was a trademark dash in from the right wing and he left the Getafe defenders floundering before lifting the ball high into the net and bringing the adoring home faithful to their feet. There was a festive atmosphere despite the giant stadium being less than half full and former Barca coach Tito Vilanova, who is battling the cancer that forced him to step down at the end of last season, was watching from the stands. If they successfully negotiate next week’s second leg in Madrid, Barca will meet Rayo Vallecano or Levante, who play their first leg late yesterday, in the quarterfinals. “It’s clear that he (Messi) hasn’t for-

gotten how to play football,” Barca captain Carles Puyol said in an interview with Spanish television broadcaster Antenna 3. “He has been training very well and as you could see those are the kind of goals the best players can produce,” the Spain defender added. “There is a very long way to go in the league but it’s a very important game (on

Pedro with a clever floated cross. It was fitting way for the Barca fans to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of the greatest nights in the club’s history, a 5-0 La Liga win against bitter rivals Real Madrid on Jan. 8 1994, when Brazil forward Romario netted a hat-trick. In Wednesday’s other first legs, seconddivision Alcorcon surprised top-flight

SPAIN: Barcelona’s midfielder Cesc Fabregas celebrates his goal during the Spanish Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) football match. —AFP

Saturday) against what I think is one of the best teams in the world. “Let’s see what we can do and the important thing now is to recover well from tonight’s efforts.” Messi scored one of the best goals of his career against Getafe in a Cup game in April 2007 and although Wednesday’s second effort was not in the same league the pace, skill and lethal finish were typically brilliant. As well as scoring twice, he fizzed a free kick narrowly wide and almost set up

Espanyol with a 1-0 home win, while Real Betis won by the same score against visiting Athletic Bilbao. Third-tier Racing Santander came from a goal down to draw 1-1 at home to Almeria. Valencia forward Helder Postiga headed an equaliser in the final minute of added time to snatch a 1-1 draw at home to holders Atletico on Tuesday, while last season’s beaten finalists Real Madrid host Osasuna late yesterday. — Reuters

Sports FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2014

Del Potro in semis, all over for Kvitova MELBOURNE: Juan Martin del Potro continued his encouraging buildup to the Australian Open by reaching the semi-finals of the Sydney International yesterday, but women’s contender Petra Kvitova was stunned by a Bulgarian qualifier in the last four. World number five Del Potro was dragged into a scrap by Radek Stepanek and needed to recover from a mid-match meltdown before fending off the Czech veteran 64 3-6 6-3 to set up a clash with 2008 champion Dmitry Tursunov. Mixing patchy phases with occasional flashes of brilliance, the 2009 US Open champion appeared close to losing his cool at times and joked that only his shortage of racquets had prevented him from slamming one into the hardcourt in frustration. Del Potro has stuck to his older-generation Wilson racquets religiously but has only two left, and is reluctant to change to a new one before the year’s first grand slam. Fiery Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis famously destroyed four of his racquets during a loss against Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka at the 2012 Australian Open, and Del Potro said he had been similarly tempted when struggling against Stepanek. “Yeah, I was close, but I can’t do that yet. When I get eight or ten racquets, I will smash all of them,” he quipped to reporters. Defending champion Bernard Tomic strolled past Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4 6-3 and will meet another Ukrainian in Sergiy Stakhovsky in the other semi-final. Despite crashing out of the semi-finals to 107th ranked Tsvetana Pironkova, second seed and former Wimbledon champion

SYDNEY: Angelique Kerber of Germany hits a return during her semi-final singles match against Madison Keys of the US at the APIA Sydney International tennis tournament. — AFP Kvitova was relaxed about her 6-4 6-3 loss Melbourne, world number seven Tomas three days ahead of the start at Melbourne Berdych advanced to Saturday’s final in the Park. “I think the matches I played were great, invitational Kooyong Classic with a 6-4 6-1 vicand I have three under my belt,” the Czech tory over Japan’s top-ranked Kei Nishikori. world number six said. “So I think it’s really Berdych will play the winner of an all-French good to have this record coming to Australian semi-final on Friday between Richard Gasquet Open.” Pironkova, a one-time Wimbledon and Gilles Simon.Thirteen proved an unlucky semi-finalist, is the first qualifier to reach the seeding in Melbourne for a second year in a Sydney final and will battle German row as Spaniard Nicolas Almagro was forced Angelique Kerber, who swatted aside to pull out of the year’s first grand slam with a Madison Keys in straight sets, for the title. In shoulder injury.—Reuters

Ferrer scrapes past Garcia-Lopez AUCKLAND: Top seed David Ferrer snuffed out a determined challenge from fellow Spaniard Guillermo GarciaLopez yesterday to reach the semi-finals of the Auckland Open. American John Isner, seeded third, also advanced into the final four, along with Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun and Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain. World number three Ferrer, who is seeking a record fifth title in the warm-up event for this month’s Australian Open, looked to be cruising to victory as he took the first set 6-3, then broke Garcia-Lopez in the first game of the second. But his countryman, ranked 58 in the world, held on stubbornly and snatched two service games off Ferrer late in the set to win it 7-5 and force a decider. The pair exchanged breaks again in the third set but Ferrer, covering every inch of the court, was able to gain an advantage and close it out 6-4. “He played unbelievable tennis. I’m very tired now,” said the 31-year-old, who will meet Lu in the semis after the Taiwanese world number 62 defeated American Steve Johnson 6-4, 6-4. Isner, a winner in Auckland in 2010, emerged victorious from a ferocious arm wrestle with fifth seed Phillipp Kohlschreiber of Germany which did not produce a single service break. The pair matched each other blow-for-blow over two hours 25 minutes of play, Isner finally edging ahead to win 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5). The lanky American, who was nursing a sore ankle late in the match, said he was fortunate to prevail in a contest that could have gone either way. “I was up against a gutsy opponent so I knew I have to give it everything I had,” he said. “It wasn’t necessarily pretty for either of us but when you’re playing guys as good as him it comes down to a point here and there. I got a bit lucky today.” Isner’s semi-final opponent is Bautista Agut, who beat American Jack Sock 6-1, 6-3 in a stop-start match hit by rain interruptions. “It’s not easy when you stop and get cold then start again,” the Spaniard said. “But I kept focus all the match and played good, that’s what got me through.” — AFP

Djokovic seeks ‘mental edge’ MELBOURNE: Boris Becker’s first priority will be to help Novak Djokovic gain a “mental edge” when the pressure rises at the grand slams, the Australian Open champion said in Melbourne yesterday. Djokovic, who will bid for a fourth straight title at Melbourne Park when the tournament gets underway on Monday, announced last month he had hired the six-times grand slam-winning German to be his head coach. The 46-year-old Becker was a keen observer at the invitational Kooyong Classic, where Djokovic prepared for the heat of the year’s first grand slam with a 7-5 6-1 exhibition victory over Argentine world number 42 Juan Monaco played out in steamy conditions. “I’m really glad and honored to have Boris in our team as my head coach,” Djokovic said in a courtside interview after the sweaty contest at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, a former host venue of the Australian Open until 1987. “I sincerely hope he can bring that mental edge because he recognises the situations that one top player is facing, especially during the grand slams and the pressures and expectations, and the clutch moments. “That’s what we’re hoping to work on and improve the most. And of course a couple of other elements of my game. I can never serve as well as he did, but I can just hope to improve.” Becker’s appointment follows world number four Andy Murray’s successful partnership with Ivan Lendl, who helped the Briton break through with wins at the 2012 US Open and last year’s Wimbledon after losses in his first four grand slam finals. Roger Federer’s hiring of Swede Stefan Edberg, also announced last month, means Rod Laver Arena will have no shortage of 1980s legends in the players’ box in the coming weeks. After working hard late in the season to take Serbia to the Davis Cup final, Djokovic has had a low-profile buildup, shunning the season-opening events after playing an exhibi-

tion tournament in Abu Dhabi. But he was pleased to get back in front of an appreciative Melbourne audience, clowning around with a TV camera before his match with Monaco and raising cat-calls from the crowd when he turned a regulation shirt change into a playful strip-tease. After a scratchy opening set, Djokovic quickly found his

Novak Djokovic of Serbia

range, racing away in the second to close out the match in 67 minutes. “It’s great to be back, I love Australia, I love coming back here. I miss it,” he said. “You don’t get (ranking) points and it doesn’t really count winning or losing the match (here) but of course you want to win, especially when so many people are coming.” — Reuters


Nets halt Warriors’ run Page 43

SPAIN: Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi scores during the Spanish Copa del Rey (King’s Cup) football match Barcelona vs Getafe at the Camp Nou stadium. — AFP

Barcelona stroll past Getafe


10th Jan  

Friday Times

10th Jan  

Friday Times