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Court postpones Barrak’s trial to summon premier

UN probe demands justice for N Korea atrocities

150 FILS




Venus takes revenge on Vesnina in Dubai

Slave epic big BAFTA winner as ‘Gravity’ soars




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MoI reassures residents amid rising crackdowns Seatbelt, phone violations drop by half By Nawara Fattahova

Foreign worker recruitment to open on April 1 KUWAIT: Local companies can start recruiting foreign workers in less than two months, while the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor is expected to make an official announcement in this regard sometime before then. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor announced last month that transferring visit visas to work permits in the private sector was suspended in order to introduce better regulations to organize the operation, amid complaints that it contains flaws that allow violations including visa trafficking and issuance of visas illegally. The ministry has closed foreign labor recruitment multiple times in the past few years in a bid to curb the state’s increasing demographic imbalance, with exception given to companies that have contracts signed with the government to carry out developmental projects. There is currently a list of nearly 50 job categories where employers can receive permission to recruit foreign labor forces. According to sources quoted by Al-Qabas yesterday, the ministry plans to open the door for foreign labor recruitment by April 1. It allows private companies to hire staff freely as long as they meet a set of Continued on Page 13

in the


Indian pupil jumps to death in Dubai DUBAI: A 14-year-old Indian schoolgirl jumped to her death from the 17th floor of a Dubai tower after her father scolded her for cheating in an exam, local media reported yesterday. A cleaner alerted police after he found the girl’s body lying on the ground in the Jumeirah Lake Towers neighborhood, Khaleej Times reported. Police investigators found that a teacher had caught the girl cheating in an exam and warned her that she would be expelled if it happened again. At home, her father scolded her when he found about the cheating incident, the paper said. “Her parents told us that when she returned home, she was distraught and very upset. Her father, who came to know about the cheating, also chided her. She went to her room and locked the door,” the daily cited a police officer as saying. The parents only found out about their daughter’s suicide when police informed them.

450 Indian migrants die in Qatar in 2 yrs NEW DELHI: More than 450 Indian migrants working in Qatar have died in the last two years, according to new data from the Gulf state which is under pressure over its rights record ahead of the 2022 World Cup. In response to a Right to Information request filed by AFP, the Indian embassy in Qatar gave figures detailing the number of deaths in 2012 and the first 11 months of 2013. On average about 20 migrants died per month, peaking at 27 in August last year. There were 237 fatalities in 2012 and another 218 in 2013 up to Dec 5. The embassy did not give any details about the circumstances of the deaths, but the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said the data showed an “exceptionally high mortality rate”. The embassy in Qatar says that the exact number of Indians in Qatar is unknown, but it was estimated at close to 500,000 at the end of 2012, about 26 percent of Qatar’s total population.

Female editor wants others to follow her RIYADH: Somayya Jabarti, the first female editor of a Saudi national daily, hopes to see more women take up top media posts in the ultra-conservative Muslim state. She was named at the weekend as editor-in-chief of the Saudi Gazette, one of the two main English-language dailies in the Gulf kingdom. “The success will not be complete unless I see my peers who are also Saudi women in the media take other roles where they are decision-makers,” Jabarti said in an interview posted on Al-Arabiya News website. “There’s a crack that has been made in the glass ceiling. And I’m hoping it will be made into a door,” said Jabarti, who served as deputy editor since 2011. “Being the first Saudi woman (newspaper editor) is going to be double the responsibility... One’s actions will reflect upon my fellow Saudi women,” she said.

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KUWAIT: Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani meets HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah yesterday after he arrived on an official visit to Kuwait. — KUNA

KUWAIT: Faced with rising complaints of an increased number of checkpoints in various areas, high-handed behavior of some policemen and impoundment of vehicles for trivial reasons, a senior Interior Ministry official reassured yesterday that anybody who feels he has been treated unfairly has the right to complain. “We aim to preserve safety and security in the country, and through these checkpoints we have arrested many violators of traffic and other laws in addition to criminals. Policemen are doing their job, but they are humans and can make mistakes. Any citizen or expat can complain at the ‘Control and Inspection’ department of the Ministry of Interior if he feels a policeman has overstepped his authority,” Lt Gen Sulaiman Al-Fahd, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior, said during a meeting with the local media at his office yesterday. “When there is security, people will live in comfort, which is our goal. The ministry has certain priorities that we are working on achieving, such as solving the traffic problem. This is not a problem unique to Kuwait - it exists all over the world - but we lack a traffic culture such as leaving the house earlier, respecting traffic rules and others,” he pointed out. “We aim to improve services and paperwork at all departments of the ministry. Furthermore we aim to eliminate drugs in the community and increase the quantities of narcotics seized. The media plays a key role in fighting criminality and increasing awareness among the public of cooperating with security forces,” stressed Fahd. Continued on Page 13

Co-pilot hijacks own plane to Geneva GENEVA: The co-pilot of an Ethiopian Airlines plane hijacked his aircraft yesterday while the captain was in the bathroom and forced it to land in Geneva so he could seek asylum, police said. The Ethiopian was swiftly arrested after scaling down a rope out of the cockpit window, and prosecutors said the chances of his demands being met were slim. The co-pilot said he seized his chance to take over flight ET-702 from Addis Ababa to Rome by locking himself in the cockpit when the pilot went to the bathroom, police spokesman Eric Grandjean told AFP. Addis Ababa identified the man as 31year-old Hailemedehin Abera Tagegn, who had been working for the airline for five years, and said he was “medically sane”. The co-pilot-turned-hijacker told

police “he felt threatened in his country and wants to seek asylum in Switzerland,” Grandjean said. A total of 202 passengers and crew were on board the Boeing 767 as the drama unfolded. “The co-pilot told air transport authorities he had a problem with his plane and needed to fill up with jet-fuel. He then set off a distress signal indicating the plane was hijacked, before saying he had engine trouble,” Grandjean said. Head of operations at Geneva airport, Xavier Wohlschlag, told the ATS news agency the hijacker’s request to land was initially denied. The green light was not given until around 5:30 am (0430 GMT), as the passenger jet, which was first escorted by Italian fighter jets and later reportedly by French ones, circled the region. Continued on Page 13

GENEVA: Police stand around the aircraft after passengers were evacuated from a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines plane at the airport yesterday. The rope (left) used by the co-pilot to scale out of the cockpit window can be seen. — AP



Court postpones Barrak’s trial to summon premier MP queries oil minister over clean fuel project By B Izzak KUWAIT: The court of appeals yesterday postponed its hearing in the trial of former MP Musallam AlBarrak until April 7 after justice staff failed to summon the prime minister to testify in the case. The court had in December agreed to demands by Barrak’s defense to summon Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, the finance minister and other officials to testify in the case in which the opposition leader is accused of insulting HH the Amir. Last year, the criminal court sentenced Barrak to five years in jail, the maximum penalty under the law, for allegedly insulting the Amir in public and undermining his authorities at a public rally held on Oct 15, 2012. But the appeals court later nullified the ruling for being based on false legal basis and decided to hold the retrial itself instead of sending it back to the criminal court. Barrak had already challenged the court’s decision to conduct the retrial itself to the court of cassation. Barrak was at the court yesterday but no proceedings were held as the witnesses did not come. The court renewed its

order to summon the senior officials for the April 7 hearing. After leaving the Palace of Justice where the hearing was held, Barrak strongly lashed out at National Assembly Speaker Marzouq AlGhanem over his position towards the controversial Gulf security pact. Barrak claimed that Ghanem had initially supported the pact and collaborated with the government to ratify it in the Assembly but had to change his mind after a strong popular opposition. Ghanem announced on Sunday that no voting will take place on the pact in the current term which ends in June as a majority of MPs - both supporting and opposing the agreement wanted a delay in the voting until they have studied the pact thoroughly. In another development, MP Khalil Abul said yesterday he has sent questions to Oil Minister Ali AlOmair over the newly-awarded clean fuel project which is expected to cost around KD 4 billion. Abul said he asked the oil minister about the expected number of jobs the project will create for Kuwaitis and requested any study that has been made on the issue. The lawmaker

said the project’s value will certainly be less if it does not create a good number of jobs for Kuwaitis. Kuwait National Petroleum Co (KNPC) last week awarded the project in three separate contracts to nine foreign companies with work expected to commence in April. The project aims at upgrading two of the three existing refineries at Mina Al-Ahmadi and Mina Abdullah to boost production and make them environment-friendly. The company plans to shut down the third refinery at Shuaiba after the completion of the project in five years. MP Ali Al-Rashed in the meantime sent a series of questions to Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah regarding a Kuwaiti team formed in 2003 after the fall of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to search for around 600 Kuwaiti prisoners of war and missing believed to have been held or killed by Iraq. Rashed inquired about the number of POWs whose remains have been found by the team and whether they were found in Iraq or in the Kuwaiti desert. He also asked if the team had sought international expertise in its mission and its financial cost.

GCC pact ‘continuation of strategic cooperation’ KUWAIT: The security pact among Arab Gulf states is a continuation of the strategic cooperation amongst them and represents a step forward in the path towards a union, suggests a Kuwaiti journalist. In an interview on state T V Sunday evening, Khaled Al-Janfawi said that this agreement ensures that the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council - Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - work collectively according to their national legislations and international commitments. The controversy surrounding this agreement in Kuwait is healthy

and illustrates the tolerance, the high level of liberties and freedom of speech in the country. He warned of dangers if the controversy was to find its way to the public, underlining the need for the matter to be discussed in a rational, experienced and constitutional manner through democratic and constructive dialogue that aims to achieve the best interests of Kuwait and its people. Earlier statements by National Assembly Speaker Marzouq AlGhanim calling for patience in adopting the agreement and revising it thoroughly in order to ensure

that it does not run counter to the constitution were commended by the journalist. The pact, he said, ensures cooperation and coordination between the states on fighting organised crime, transnational crimes, cybercrime and money laundering. It also focuses on ensuring the security and stability of Gulf states, and does not limit personal liberties or freedom of speech. It carries positive and human aspects and serve the best interests of Gulf nationals, protecting them particularly during travel within the six states, he said. —KUNA

Service Hero reaches partnership with ACSI By Ben Garcia KUWAIT: The Service Hero awards coincided with the announcement of their partnership with the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) yesterday. A press conference was held at their headquarters to announce Service Hero’s partnership with ACSI, a move that will give more value and credence to the Service Hero satisfaction ratings conducted annually by Service Hero. A local firm dedicated to setting companies’ standards to the highest grade possible, Service Hero is committed to offering an effective and beneficial service tool that will provide companies with credible and trustworthy feedback which would allow them to improve and build on their existing services. “It’s a proud moment for us, because it means that our index created five years ago has been so credible that even the ACSI believes in our credibility. It is a testament to the quality service presented by Service Hero to participating companies and consumers, and reinforces the value of it,” said Faten Abu-Ghazaleh, Service Hero President. “If the satisfaction is strong between customers and the company, you know that the company will last for a long time,” she added. “It just needs to be maintained and we help companies measure their satisfaction ratings.” Service Hero wants companies to know their standing in a more scientific and fact-based surveys. “We are very transparent on how we do our service ratings based on 100 percent consumer feedback. Our role is to maintain that transparency - the reports we produce helps each company on their journey to prosperity and success. It helps them improve economic performances in the long run. We have various categories - banks, telecom operators, etc - we give them the data and show them their weaknesses and where their strengths are,” AbuGhazaleh mentioned. Longtime inspiration She commended the ACSIService Hero awards - a gold standard in national customer satisfaction measurement. “The American

KUWAIT: Faten Abu-Ghazaleh and Dr Forrest Morgeson III pictured during the press conference yesterday.—Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) which began in 1996 has been the longtime inspiration of Service Hero. Today, Service Hero has the privilege to work alongside an adept team that will support the performance of Service Hero, particularly with the addition of Dr Forrest V Morgeson, Director of Research at the American Customer Satisfaction Index, to Service Hero’s advisory council,” added Abu-Ghazaleh. ACSI is the only national crossindustry benchmark of customer satisfaction that represents the US economy. It also runs the index in a number of countries, namely across South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Morgeson’s responsibilities extend to managing ACSI’s academic research, statistical analysis and its international licensing program. With his vast experience and a track record of major achievements and researches on the financial impact of customer satisfaction in the private sector, Morgeson will be able to provide Service Hero with valuable input and counsel, required to reinforce its position in Kuwait as an imperative economic tool. Primary indicator “Today, ACSI plays a significant role in the US economy, as the national ACSI score acts as a primary indicator of economic health. This fact reinforces the value of the index

and the results it brings to the table. By partnering with Service Hero, we are underpinning this value as we promote this index to act as a measuring factor for other economies in the near future,” said Morgeson. “We have a number of things we follow to give credibility to what we’ve been doing. We are transparent in our measurements - the data is always available on our website, and we follow international protocols and the European model, plus an advisory council comprised of the top four universities in Kuwait as well as for more individuals from private firms,” he said. This partnership will allow Service Hero to apply ACSI’s global benchmark system that allows companies a comparison to other similar brands in different markets around the world, hence increasing the benefits of this exercise to participating companies. After running a national customer satisfaction index in Kuwait for 4 years now and collecting over 45,000 assessments, 14 out of 16 categories have improved in satisfaction since 2010. While all service dimensions increase, the most notable improvement has been on satisfaction with call centers and value for money. The affiliation with ACSI will ensure that the Service Hero index continues to add value not only to companies but also to the Kuwait economy.

KUWAIT: NCCAL’s assistant Secretary General for antiquities and museums Shehab Al-Shehab and other officials at the exhibition.—Photos by Fouad Al-Shaikh

Stamps, rare books, exhibition opens KUWAIT: An exhibition for dedications, stamps, rare books and manuscripts opened here yesterday. The Exhibition is organized by the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters (NCCAL) and is held at the Kuwait National Library. NCCAL’s assistant Secretar y General for antiquities and museums Shehab Al-Shehab said in a statement that the aim of the exhibition

was to highlight the collection of the Kuwait National Museum which reflects the chronology of the country since 1958 to the present time. Al-Shehab added that the exhibition, which was inaugurated by the NCCAL’s Secretary-General, Ali AlYoha, comes within the framework of participating in the country’s national celebrations, saying the exhibition features collections of various state

institutions and members of the community which contribute to enriching the national memory and to be a reference for the next generations and a useful material for scientific research. He expressed the NCCAL’s keenness to organize such exhibitions for the sake of encouraging owners of private collections of dedications, stamps, rare books and manuscripts. — KUNA



Arbitration ‘fast, effective way of solving conflicts’ Kuwait hosts major conference By Nawara Fattahova KUWAIT: The International Arab Federation for Arbitration in Kuwait held its first conference yesterday at the headquarters of the Arab Cities Organization in Shuwaikh, in cooperation with the law faculty of Alexandria University, SIMS Training Institute and the

Arab African Center for Arbitration. The conference is followed by a course titled ‘Training Arab International Arbitration Consultants’. Consultant Faris Al-Shimmari, Deputy Trusty and Public Commissioner of International Relations, said that arbitration is a fast and effective way of solving conflicts. “Arbitration is known since ancient times in

KUWAIT: Saad Al-Shimeri, Mohammed Al-Shimeri, Mabrouk Shaout and Dr Jabir Al-Shafie

different cultures. Arabs practiced arbitration even before Islam (1,500 years ago), and there was an arbitrator in each tribe. Islam highlighted arbitration in marriage to solve conflicts between spouses, and it was also used in war decisions. With time and booming of business activities and trading, organizations practicing arbitration were founded to resolve business conflicts,” he pointed out. “Arbitration is a special form of jurisdiction and is based on joint will. This means that all conflict or relationship parties agree to solve their conflicts that will take place or have already taken place through arbitration, and they give up their right to go to court,” added Shimmari. Consultant Mabrouk Shaout, Chairman of the International Arab Federation for Arbitration, expressed the importance of arbitration. “Arbitration has more benefits than jurisdiction due to being much faster as a trial is a long procedure, which is very important for commercial conflicts in particular. Also, a trial is public, and many parties prefer secrecy, which is present in arbitration, in addition to other benefits,” he noted. Dr Jaber Alshafie, Head of the Sharia and Law Faculty at Alexandria University spoke about the history of arbitration and its increasing popularity in modern times, and mentioned some international centers for arbitration.

Students start second semester with 35% absence KUWAIT: Despite the strict rules set by the education ministry to prevent students from absence especially after vacations and holidays, it seems that these rules failed to prevent 35 per cent of some primary school pupils from not showing up. In this regard, informed educational sources said that compared to other stages, primary schools witnessed high percentages of absence

that reached 60 per cent in some schools. The sources added that various educational zones have asked for full reports on absence rates to be sent to MOI’s assistant undersecretary for public education so that strict measures that go as far as deprivation from sitting for final exams of dismissal could be taken against them. On another concern, educational sources said that MOI decided increasing the excellent

performance rewards for both teaching staff members and employees to give Kuwaiti teachers excellence rewards varying from KD 1,500 for class A specialized teachers to KD 750 for class C teachers. The proposal made by the ministry also suggested that nominees for the bonus must at least have shown excellent performance during the most recent year in addition to the usual conditions.

Preparations continue for national celebrations By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: Kuwait Municipality continued its preparations for the national celebrations by hanging flags of Kuwait in all streets across the country. Director of Decorations at Municipality Public Relations Ahmad AlBakheet said 44,000 flags were raised for

the National and Liberation days celebration all over the country, following the hoisting of the flag at Bayan Palace. He called upon citizens and expatriates to cooperate with his department’s workers, especially that they are exposed to danger while working. He said the flags must be put up the right way green on top and red at the bottom.

Gang uses citizens’ stolen IDs to get telecom promotions KUWAIT: Administrative sources at a local telecom company said that local telecom companies have been losing an average of KD one million monthly because of forgery and fraud related to the promotional offers they make. The sources stressed that the suspects were a gang including members who have been using stolen ID cards of citizens to get promotional offers made by any of the local telecom companies amidst intense competence , which made executives be more lenient with customers. “However, many of them turned out

to be impersonating or representing citizens without their knowledge”, stressed the sources noting that the fraud was discovered when some citizens sued the telecom companies and won their cases on grounds that CCTV cameras in those companies’ branches did not prove their presence while making any of the concerned transactions. “The authorities responsible for identifying and arresting this gang seems to be so lenient about the matter”, said the sources warning that the case was snowballing and that proper measures should be taken to stop it.

200,000 people in Kuwait depressed KUWAIT: Sheikh Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah Award for Journalistic Excellence ceremony in progress.—Photos by Fouad Al-Shaikh

Sheikh Murabak Award honors winning journalists KUWAIT: Under auspices of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak AlHamad Al-Sabah, the ceremony of sixth Sheikh Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah Award for Journalistic Excellence was held at KUNA premises Sunday evening. HH the Prime Minister was represented at the ceremony by First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad AlSabah in the presence of Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Sabah Al-Salem AlSabah, and KUNA Board Chairman and Director General Sheikh Mubarak Duaij AlIbrahim Al-Sabah. Addressing the ceremony, Sheikh Mubarak Al-Duaij welcomed the audience and voiced joy for KUNA hosting of this highly prestigious journalistic award. “The Award, named after one of Kuwait’s dedicated patriots - the late Sheikh Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, grew in eminence over the last six years thanks to the kind patrionage of HH the Prime Minister,” he said. “It has become one of the main tributaries for strengthening the status of the Kuwaiti journalism and motivating talented journalists,” Sheikh Mubarak Al-Duaij pointed out. He thanked the chairman and members of the higher organizing committee of the award as well as the chairman and members of KUNA’s workers union for the great efforts they have made to set the stage for this event. “The award-giving ceremony coincides

with a dear national occasion, that is the National Days which materializes the brightest portraits of our solidarity, and belongingness and dedication and to our homeland,” he added. On his part, Faisal Mubarak Al Qenai, secretary of Kuwait Journalist Association (KJA), extolled HH the Prime Minister for his kind patronage of the competition, which reflected his care and appreciation for the role of the profession in serving the interests of the homeland. Al-Qenai congratulated the winners of this year’s awards and expressed best wishes for all participants. Meanwhile, Ayman Al-Ali, head of the organizing committee, congratulated HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah on the sixth anniversary of his assumption of power. “Since its inception, six years ago, the award has focused on contributing to the promotion of the journalistic profession through honoring the eminent journalists,” he said. “It’s a source of pride for the Kuwaiti journalism that HH the Prime Minister, the patron of the competition, stated unequivocal opposition to any kind of restrictions on freedom of the press,” Al-Ali noted. “HH the Prime Minister’s trust in journalists encouraged the organizing committee to double efforts to promote the profession in collaboration with the State Ministry for Youth Affairs and the UN Development Program

(UNDP), as well as local and foreign press organizations,” he added. Al-Ali thanked KUNA chief Sheikh Mubarak Al-Duaj for the unlimited support to the competition and its organizing committee. The winners of the sixth Award - the general category - are Youssof Mohammad AlMutairi - the first prize, Al-Qabas daily, Bashayer Al-Ajmi - Al-Rai, Musaad Hosni - AlAnbaa, Mohey Amer - Al-Jarida, Hamad Dakheel Al-Ajmi Alam Al-Yawm, and Saud Sultan and Mubarak Al-Enezi - KUNA. The winners of the news report category awards include are Asaad Ahmad Abdullah the first prize, Al-Qabas, Mohammad Hassan Barakat - Al-Taqaddum Al-Ilmi (The Scientific Advancement) magazine, and Samie Najeh AlDulaimi - KUNA’s English desk. The photography category award winners are Ahmad Sorour Al-Samaadi - the first prize, KUNA, Ra’ed Wajih Nasser - Al-Jarida, and Abeer Adnan Hakem Mohammad - youth media people incentive award. Other winning youth media people are Ali Hussein - the visual division, Al-Watan TV, Salem Khaled Al-Mothen - reportage division, KUNA, Israa Abdulraheem Al-Kandari - Afaq university magazine, Youssof Ali Al-Abdullah Al-Jarida, Majed Bjad Al-Mutairi - Al-Nahar daily, Fawwaz Za’ar Al-Otaibi - KUNA, Hammad Gharib Al-Mutairi - KUNA, Mahmoud Jawad Bushehri - news report, KUNA, Rashed Khaled Al-Fandi - KUNA, and Zahraa Abdulaziz AlKadhemi — KUNA.

KUWAIT: More than 200,000 people in Kuwait suffer disorders related to depression, a large number compared to the country’s population of nearly 4 million, according to official statistics. The official statistics seem to indicate that around 5 percent of Kuwait’s population suffer depression, which is a very high rate compared to other countries, according to senior psychiatry consultant in Kuwait. “The percentage drops below 4 percent in Scandinavian countries and below 4.5 percent in countries like Australia, India and Canada according

to a recent study published by the University of Queensland in Australia,” said Dr Abdullah Al-Hamadi, the head of the forensic unit at the Kuwait Center for Mental Health. There are many types of clinical conditions diagnosed in Kuwait, including premenstrual syndrome, antenatal and postpartum depression, as well as seasonal affective disorder, according to Dr. Al-Hamadi. He warned at the same time that failure to seek treatment can lead to social problems as well as ‘unhealthy treatment methods’ such as drug abuse.

KUWAIT: Ambassador of Chad to Kuwait Ali Aghbash met Kuwait Red Crescent Society Director Abdurrahman Al-Oun and discussed the ongoing charity work in his country. The two sides discussed boosting cooperation to provide aid to thousands of refugees who fled the infightings in the nearby Central African Republic.



30 kg jewelry stolen from Jahra shopping complex Man injured in Farwaniya fight KUWAIT: Investigations are ongoing to identify and arrest suspects who stole 30 kg of gold after breaking into a jewelry shop in Jahra Sunday. The shopkeeper said in his statements to police that he came to work to discover that the display windows were broken and KD 300,000 worth of jewelry was stolen. The suspect reportedly did not steal cash that was left in the drawer and the safe inside the store. Investigators are reportedly having a hard time identifying the suspect since the theft happened at a shopping complex that lacks security or CCTV cameras. Burglars caught Jahra detectives arrested a former army recruit and his girlfriend on charges of stealing jewelry in the area. Investigations had been ongoing in a case reported by a man who said that a person in police uniform stopped him in Jahra and stole 700 gm of gold worth KD 8,000, which he was taking to a jewelry shop that he works in. Detectives eventually identified a woman who they saw selling jewelry in Jleeb AlShuyoukh shops, which was later identified as stolen. The woman was monitored and inadvertently led police to the man in a camp in Jahra. The man was placed under arrest and was taken with the woman to the police station. Investigations revealed that the man used a police uniform to commit the robbery, and then handed the jewelry over to his girlfriend, who

sold it in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh and the two split the money. The couple were referred to the proper authorities to face charges. Motorcyclist killed A motorcyclist died in an accident reported on the Second Ring Road. Paramedics arrived at the scene with police in response to an emergency call, but discovered that the young man had already succumbed to his injuries. Criminal investigators were summoned afterwards in order to examine the scene and then transfer the body to the forensic department. According to eyewitnesses’ report, the man lost control over his motorcycle after colliding with another motorcyclist who was not injured in the accident. The bike then lost balance and flipped over, leaving its rider with a fatal head injury. A case was filed for investigations. Drug overdose A man was hospitalized in a critical condition after he overdosed on drugs in a public parking lot near the beachfront in Salmiya. Paramedics and police arrived at the scene in response to an emergency call about a man motionless inside a car. The Kuwaiti man was discovered to be still alive but comatose. He was taken to Mubarak Hospital and admitted in the intensive care unit after medical examinations revealed that he suffered complications of a drug overdose. A case

was filed for investigations. Farwaniya fight A man was hospitalized in a critical condition after he was stabbed during a fight reported in Farwaniya. Paramedics and police rushed to location outside a fast food restaurant in the area where the fight was reported, and found the victim bleeding heavily from a stab wound. The Egyptian was taken to Farwaniya Hospital and admitted in the intensive care unit. Investigations are ongoing in search for the suspect. Pedestrian dead A pedestrian died after he fell from a footbridge. Paramedics discovered after arriving at the scene that the 44-year-old Egyptian man had no pulse. They pronounced him dead at the scene after they failed to resuscitate him using CPR. An investigation was opened to determine whether the incident was an accident or foul play was involved. ‘Fowl’ play A Kuwaiti man in his thirties filed a case at Kabd police station reporting theft of rare-breed birds from his private property in the area. The man explained in his statements that the robbery took place while the farm was empty, and that he discovered it when he went there recently to check on his birds. Investigations are ongoing.

KUWAIT: The cabin of a large truck caught fire near Sultan Center in Sulaibiya. Sulaibikhat fire center extinguished the fire and no injuries were reported. —By Hanan Al-Saadoun

Sudanese VP meets KFAED chief KHARTOUM: Sudanese First Vice President Bakri Hassan Salih met yesterday Director General of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) Abdulwahab Ahmed Al-Bader and his accompanying delegation following the signing of a loan agreement with Sudan to set up 12 integrated factories for the benefit of the mining sector in Sudan. Al-Bader said that the meeting tackled the relations between Kuwait and Sudan, as well as Kuwait Fund contributions in Sudan to support development projects through loans and grants. The meeting also touched on what has been implemented from the decisions of the international donor conference for the reconstruction of Eastern Sudan, which was hosted by Kuwait in December 2010, and the projects lunched by the Fund. Al-Bader said that the Sudanese First Vice President expressed Sudan’s appreciation of the KFAED’s major role in Sudan which began 63 years ago for the first loan, until they reached 26 loans, noting that such loans contributed to the establishment of major development projects, especially infrastructure, dams and electricity. —KUNA

Sheikh Thamer arrives in India NE W DELHI: Kuwait ’s Chairman of the National Security Apparatus Sheikh Thamer Ali Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, along with other top officials, arrived in the capital New Delhi yesterday, Kuwaiti Embassy in India said in a statement. The statement said that Sheikh Thamer, who will be on a three-day official visit, was greeted upon arrival by the Kuwaiti Ambassador to India, Sami Al-Sulaiman, Indian Deputy National Security Advisor Nehchal Sandhu, senior Indian officials and Kuwait Embassy’s diplomatic staff. —KUNA

KUWAIT: Commerce and Industry Undersecretary Abdelaziz Al-Khalidy said the ministry will not hesitate in taking legal measures against real estate companies that violate the rules of real estate exhibitions. Al-Khalidi who spoke after the opening of the February Real Estate Exhibition said the ministry is going ahead in catching every violation made by organizing companies or participants to guarantee the right of citizens when they purchase any real estate — be it in Kuwait or abroad.

KPI to open first petrol station in Luxembourg KUWAIT: Kuwait Petroleum International (KPI) has won the bid for the opening of its first highway site in Luxembourg, localized on the E25 motorway from Luxembourg to Belgium (direction Belgium), according to KPI’s CEO Bakheet Al-Rashidi. Al-Rashidi said yesterday that the motorway site is considered to be one of the biggest in the world, adding that this achievement is an important milestone for Q8 for its 2030 Strategy as it will bring the company a step forward in reaching market leadership position in the Benelux. The Luxembourg government has officially confirmed the bid which means that Q8 will take over the station as of the first of May 2014, he stated. “The new site will contribute greatly to

the success and the results of our company and I’m very happy with this remarkable new addition to the Q8 network” said KPI’s VP Strategy and Finance and Acting VP Europe Khalid Al-Mushaileh. Al-Musaileeh praised the efforts of the team of Q8 at North West Europe and IDS organizations who worked very hard for this achievement, also expressing his gratitude towards KPI and KPC planning and Finance who suppor ted this project. Moreover, he also praised the efforts of the former Kuwaiti Ambassador to Belgium Nabeela Al-Mulla in supporting the company’s project. Managing Director Kuwait Petroleum North West Europe Azzam Al-Mutawa on his part said “I’m delighted with this amaz-

ing achievement in winning our very first highway station in Luxembourg, this objective was a dream since 20 years”. Highway petrol stations in Luxembourg are well-known stops for tourists, since filling up the tank in Luxembourg is generally more advantageous in price than in other European countries. The new Q8 branded station on the E25 highway will not only meet price related expectations of customers, but will also concede to what car drivers are looking for nowadays, which is a 24 hours full service petrol station offering varied and complete services”. The Q8 highway site on the E25 motorway will comprise 2 forecourts with 12 filling positions for trucks, 20 for cars and

three for liquefied petroleum gas. Because environmental performance is considered as a great priority, Kuwait Petroleum is continuously looking to improve the energy-efficient construction of its stations. Kuwait Petroleum Luxembourg is one of the major players on the Luxembourg fuel market with over 40 service stations. Apart from the sale of fuels, the company is also active on the market for the production, marketing and sale of Q8 lubricants, and also supplies fuels to professional end consumers and resellers. Q8 also produces and sells “special products”, including bitumen. Kuwait Petroleum Luxembourg owns one of the major depots in Luxembourg in Bertrange. —KUNA


in brief

Syrian actress banned KUWAIT: Following repeated insults by Syrian actress Raghda about Kuwait, Information Minister Sheikh Salman Al-Humoud Al-Sabah issued a decision banning the broadcast of any TV or radio drama she features in, or publishing any reports about her. The ban was confirmed by Sheikh Salman during a response to a parliamentary inquiry filed by the deputy speaker Mubarak Al-Khrainej about the measurers taken against the actress. Sheikh Salman also stressed that the interior ministry had been notified of the insulting remarks the actress had made so that it could take similar suitable measures. KD130m to develop landlines KUWAIT: Official sources at the communications ministry announced that the ministry was awaiting the approval of the Central Tenders Committee (CTC) of a tender to develop telephone landlines and link them to modern systems. The sources added that the upgrading process would involve providing operators with modern equipment and large capacity cables. They also noted that eight international companies have already made their bids to CTC offering to execute the KD 130 million project. Road closed KUWAIT: The traffic department said two lanes on Fahaheel Expressway will be closed from today (18/2/2014) from 11 pm until 5:30 am and on Friday and Saturday from 6 am until noon for one week. Drivers should be cautious and follow traffic signs, the department asked.

KUWAIT: A meeting was held between the office of pilgrimage affairs in the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs and the Civil Service Commission over the weekend. Rumi Al-Rumi (Director of the office of Hajj), Satam Khalid AlMzeen (head of the Hajj affairs), Mohammed Anezi Mohammed Al-Anwzi (chief division of secretarial), Naji Kamel Awad Allah Naser (Center for information Systems), Abdul Haddi Al-Abdul Al-Haddi (CSC) and Hamed AlNassar attended it.

Thief in custody KUWAIT: Jabriya detectives arrested an exconvict after he stole the mobile phone of a citizen. A citizen told police that her mobile phone was stolen while she was in a phone shop in Jabriya. Surveillance tapes in the store were reviewed and the suspect was identified, as he was arrested before for theft. When searched, a stick of hashish was also found on him.



‘Combat illegal trafficking of sharks’

Khalil Abdullah

Rakan Al-Nisf

Dr Mohammed Al-Feeli

Dr Abdullah Al-Wutaid

MPs, activists denounce Gulf security pact National Democratic Alliance holds seminar By A. Saleh KUWAIT: The Gulf Security Pact contradicts completely with the Kuwaiti constitution and is raised at a suspicious time that gives the impression that the Kuwaiti government is trying to cover up for something, said guests at a seminar organized recently by the National Democratic Alliance. The liberal group hosted lawmakers, politicians and constitutional experts in the seminar that took place Sunday night. MP Rakan Al-Nisf argued while speaking about the agreement that it does not provide a clear definition for ‘internal affairs’ that is mentioned by several of its articles. “While seminars and demonstrations are held regularly in Kuwait,” Al-Nisf said, “those activities are banned in other Gulf states. Is that classified under ‘internal affairs’?” The lawmaker further criticized extradition conditions “which violate the rights of Kuwaitis and expatriates that the constitution guarantees”. He also rejected arguments which warn that failure to approve the pact harms Kuwait’s position in the Gulf Security Council, indicating that Kuwait rejected similar proposals in 1981 and 1994. Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim said yesterday that ratifying the Gulf Security Pact is highly unlikely to happen during the current term which ends by the end of June. Approved by GCC leaders in December 2012, the pact requires parliamentary approval to become effective in Kuwait. “Delaying the pact’s discussion is a good step, but only means delaying the inevitable,” Al-Nisf said. “The best solution is to cancel it since some of its articles are ambiguous”. MP Khalil Abdullah agreed in the meantime that AlGhanim’s announcement, while commendable, does not pro-

vide an end to the problem. “The agreement is unconstitutional and violates Kuwait’s sovereignty,” the lawmaker reiterated. MP Abdullah, who is a member of the National Islamic Alliance, announced plans to refer the issue to the Constitutional Court if the parliament ends up ratifying the pact. He further questioned the government’s timing to press the agreement to the parliament, saying that this step “aims to provoke the public, create instability in the political scene, or cover up for something else”. Constitutional expert Dr Mohammed Al-Feeli also spoke during the seminar, as he explained that the general position to reject the pact in Kuwait does not reflect a desire to reject security cooperation between GCC states. “The rejection is based on the fact that the pact includes articles which contradict with the Kuwaiti constitution and threatens citizens’ freedoms,” Dr Al-Feeli explained. National Democratic Alliance member Dr Abdullah AlWutaid also demanded the cancelation of the ‘unconstitutional’ Gulf Security Pact ‘as soon as possible’. “Freedoms is the center of human struggles and the main pillar of life,” Dr Al-Wutaid said. “Humans struggled for centuries to become freed from slavery which had hampered course of human history”. The Gulf Security Pact was met by stiff opposition from political groups, MPs and activists, in the past few weeks based on the notion that it breached the Kuwaiti constitution and other laws and would suppress freedoms in the country. Several political groups have called for public rallies to denounce the agreement and to apply pressure on the government not to go ahead with the ratification process.

Dive Team: night sailing at Kuwait Bay dangerous

KUWAIT: Construction works for the Jaber Causeway project in progress in Kuwait Bay.

KUWAIT: The Kuwait Dive Team urged people to stay highly alerted while sailing in Kuwait Bay during the night, in order to avoid construction works for the Jaber Causeway project. Team leader Waleed Al-Fadhel announced in the meantime that an ‘operations room’ was set up to follow up with the contractor’s commitment to safety conditions at the project’s site. Furthermore, the team will look for any environmental violations at the Kuwait Bay that is considered one of the world’s most important places for marine species’ reproduction. Al-Fadhel also credited Ministry of Public Works officials for their ‘prompt response’ to notes about issues that the team detected so far in its inspection tours. The KD738 million project will connect the Ghazali Bridge with the new Subbiya City with a 36km long causeway.

DUBAI: Head of the Department of Maintaining Biodiversity Conservation at the Kuwait Environment Public Authority Mona Al-Hussain called yesterday for exerting more efforts to curb the illegal trafficking of sharks and marine species. In statements on the sidelines of her participation in a workshop on combatting trafficking in sharks and marine species, Al-Hussain said that “such kinds of workshops help in capacity building to protect sharks and marine species.” The three-day event is organized by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Middle East and North Africa Office in cooperation with the UAE Environment Authority. She pointed out that the workshop helps provide environment conservation teams with the required skills and knowledge to curb the growing random hunting and trafficking in such species that are threatened with extinction. Al-Hussain said that the workshop witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks (CMS) and shark listed species. But, noted that Kuwait is studying the MoU and is expected to sign it soon. Kuwait has been eager to join international efforts to conserve environment and to prevent wildlife trafficking. Last December, IFAW MENA’s office joined Kuwaiti authorities to organize a four-day training workshop on prevention of wildlife trafficking for officials concerned with wildlife trade. The training was conducted in collaboration with the

Environment Public Authority, Kuwaiti General Administration of Customs, and Saudi Wildlife Authority (SWA). For his part, the IFAW’s Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed said that that CMS memorandum of understanding is very important to push forwards the efforts to combat trafficking in sharks and other threatened species. He added that the workshop, attended by 65 environment experts from 13 Arab countries, tackles key tops such as introduction to CMS convention and the main CMS listed species, memorandum of understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks and shark listed species, establishment shark catch quotas, listed species of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora , national and regional legislation for shark catch regulation, and recommendations on ways for improving implementation of legislation. Founded in 1969, the International Fund for Animal Welfare saves individual animals, animal populations and habitats all over the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW provides hands-on assistance to animals in need, whether it’s dogs and cats, wildlife and livestock, or rescuing animals in the wake of disasters. We also advocate saving populations from cruelty and depletion, such as our campaign to end commercial whaling and seal hunts. — KUNA


LOCAL kuwait digest

kuwait digest

The story of ‘Stupid Susan’!

r uar y da eb



Society without transparency By Ahmad Al-Sarraf

By Dr Sajed Al-Abdali


T Al-Anbaa

t is normal to expect that it will not be easy for the health ministry, for example, to admit that its medical apparatus is lacking, or for the defence ministry to conceal the bad training of its soldiers, or for the justice ministry to admit that its personnel do not know the law well, because these are bureaucratic entities and it is not easy for them to admit any weakness or lack of knowledge. But what is the excuse of a nonprofit organization such as the Transparency Society to work in darkness? Rumors were spread about its implosion and the clash of interest between most of those in it or their political affiliations. They clash with the goals of the society, and its grave supervisory mistakes made some members of the board of directors who have legal and social weight to resign. Meanwhile, the society president acts alone in taking important decisions without consulting the board. If this is true, then it is regretful for the rest of board members to remain without a clear stand, and more regretful for the president not to resign, or at least make a statement with total transparency in which he explains the truth behind what is being said about his behavior and political affiliations that may have forced him to take decisions or stands that are not characterised with transparency. We hope that the social affairs ministry sends a question to the society about the reason behind these mass resignations from the board. We repeat the demands that the society be transparent, and start with itself before asking others to do so, because what took place there should not be kept under the lid. Also, attempts to search for replacements for those who resigned is something very foggy and full of undesired manipulations. Note: A former oil minister increased the salaries of oil employees in a scary manner and created the largest financial problem. A former health minister sent two sincere doctors into retirement because he does not like them! And now the cassation court ordered the return of the two doctors to their jobs. The funny part is that the minister who made the first decision is now the health minister and should eat his previous decision! So will he be questioned about the wrong decision he made, and cost the country so much and preoccupied the judiciary for years?! —Al-Qabas


in my view

Small changes in the society By Saad Dosari


ew years ago, it would have been considered strange for a group of men and women of different age groups hailing from different backgrounds, all gathered in one place and minding their own business. A young man with his sleeveless shirt, a girl with earphones hanging to her ears, a elegantly graying man and another with a modern haircut, are all walking and jogging up and down the newly developed walking areas in the city of Jeddah. While people jogging in their sports attires in open areas may be a routine thing in the rest of the world, it is a sign of social change in the Kingdom. Whether you like it or not, Saudi cities are not known to be very friendly to pedestrians. They were built to make it easier for cars to move around, not humans. Although, the network of Saudi roads is wide and complex, it lacks the basic facilities for pedestrians. Crossings, signals and signs meant to control pedestrian traffic are absent, and even wherever they exist, they do not work properly. And even if we assume that they are working, they mean nothing to most Saudi drivers because, perhaps, we lack this culture. Years ago, I had been to Europe. I was surprised to see cars stopping for me and allowing me to cross the road. Some of those drivers must have been equally surprised by my response, as I stood in the middle of the road wondering as to why did he stop and instead of cursing me they just kept looking at me waiting for me to cross the street. I was coming from a culture where crossing a street is more of an adventure, something similar to the famous arcade game, Frogger!

Many would argue that we were forced to build our cities like that due to our weather conditions. This is debatable. We do have a harsh weather that does not usually make it possible to move around comfortably but the lack of basic infrastructure for pedestrians has only aggravated the situation. Even in a breezy cool night, we are hesitant to walk down the grocery store at the end of the street. In such a scenario, the trend of people thronging the walking areas is a healthy sign. It shows that people are becoming receptive to the idea of going outdoors for health reasons. This health awareness, per se, is a positive trend. We live in a country that is ranked 7th in the world when it comes to diabetes among adults between 20-79 years, according to reliable sources. We live in a country where 35.6 percent of the population is overweight, according to a study published on We live in a country with more than one fourth of its adult population suffering from hypertension. That is why when people are using these walks with health issues at the back of their minds; it is definitely a positive trend. A sea change in the attitudes of people can be noticed, as we fine men and women using same walking areas without reports of cases of harassment. For a conservative society, so sensitive to any man/woman interaction or being present in the same place, this shows that we are a civilized society that had been living under the shadows of unwarranted fears. That does not mean that unscrupulous elements had totally disappeared. These small signs indicate that the Saudi society is changing and for the better one must say.

he question here is how many attempts does it take before one gives up realizing his dreams? At what age will he stop pursuing such dreams? How many times have we given up some aspirations thinking they are impossible to achieve? When the 50-year-old Scottish woman Susan Boyle faced a jury for the first time on a TV singing contest with her poor looks and difficult English rural accent, everybody mocked her including the audience and the jury. Their mockery even increased when jury member Simon Cowell asked about whom she wanted to be like and she replied: “I wanna be like Ellen Page”, who is one of the most famous British singers. However, as soon as the daughter of the poor miner started singing, the audience was caught in amazement at her unexpected mezzo soprano voice. Boyle sang ‘I Dreamed A Dream’, a song she chose from Les Miserables, with roaring applause from both the audience and the jury members. After appearing on TV, the program was uploaded on YouTube and achieved a viewership of tens of millions. She made her way to the top through social networks and managed to achieve her lifelong dream of singing side-by-side with Ellen Page. Four months later, her first album, I Dreamed A Dream, was released and named after the song she sang on the program. The album made euro 5 million and Boyle is now one of the most famous opera singers in Britain and the world. Her market value is around euro 22 million and she currently spends her time travelling amongst world capitals to perform. I am not telling this story because of my interest in Susan Boyle’s singing career. I am more concerned with reviewing a different angle of life. Her childhood was not a happy one. She had problems at school. Her teacher believed she was retarded and her classmates mocked her and called her ‘Stupid Susan’. Following painful school years, Susan graduated with poor marks and initially worked as an assistant chef, a job she did not keep for long. Susan’s childhood passion for singing made her never stop practicing and rehearsing at her town’s church. She then kept singing on various occasions here and there, which did not bring her any noticeable success until she appeared on TV talent show two decades later. Today, critics admit that her voice and performance were magnificent and that her talent did not develop on the show but rather existed long before it. The moral of this article is that success does not come out of the blue. It is always the result of long, hard work. Susan Boyle never gave up or stopped pursuing her dream despite her old age. She kept relentlessly trying until the heavens unexpectedly smiled for her and she achieved even more than what she had ever dreamed of. The question here is how many attempts does it take before one gives up realizing his/her dreams? At what age will he/she stop pursuing such dreams? How many times have we given up some aspirations thinking they are impossible to achieve? I believe that the story of ‘Stupid Susan’ and those of other creative people who had never given up hope and persistently kept trying to achieve their dreams must make us reconsider our own attitudes in life! —Al-Jarida

kuwait digest

Political race over Gulf pact By Dr Mubarak Al-Therwa


t is the main issue of discussion in the political scene today, and could be the decisive factor since it affects public freedoms that the constitution guarantees. This is in short what several MPs have stated. The question is - does the Gulf security pact affect the state’s sovereignty, or does it protect its borders and security? What are the positions of former MPs and political forces? The Cabinet had stated at an early stage that the Gulf security pact does not contradict with the Kuwaiti constitution. It was a preemptive attempt to prevent any misconceptions or false interpretations to the agreement’s articles before they are made public. This made MP Rakan Al-Nisf question whether the Cabinet has even consulted the fatwa and legislation department’s opinion or not. MP Saleh Ashour, meanwhile, exposed ‘tactics’ carried out secretly in the parliament in order to secure enough number of votes to pass the ‘unconstitutional’ pact. Ashour joined current and former MPs who voiced their rejection to what they perceive as a threat to national sovereignty as well as citizens’ rights and dignity. Former parliament speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun called for public action to reject the ‘catastrophic’ agreement, urging political forces to join efforts in order to thwart it and “protect national independence and citizens’ freedoms”. Former deputy speaker Khalid Al-Sultan says meanwhile that the pact must be rejected “because it targets the freedoms and rights of the Kuwaiti people”, and is “in violation of sharia principles as well as the Kuwaiti law and constitution”. MP Riyadh Al-Adasani insists in the meantime that the Gulf security pact violates Kuwait’s constitution and sovereignty, and transform the country into a ‘police state’. Former MP Faisal Al-Mislem describes the agreement as a ‘door of evil that is better kept closed’, saying that everyone will be affected by the ‘decline in national gains once [the pact] is passed’. Political groups responded to these goals by hosting public events to discuss ways of rejecting the agreement. The National Democratic Alliances organized a seminar to talk about the risks of approving the pact, which was attended by members from the Kuwait Democratic Forum. Meanwhile, the Islamic Constitutional Movement said in a

statement that the ‘unconstitutional’ pact was unacceptable. And while MP Adnan Abdulsamad said that passing the ‘unconstitutional’ agreement opens the door for “anyone who seeks to speak negatively about the parliament”, former MP Osama Al-Shaheen said that it signals the beginning of efforts to target Kuwaitis’ democratic gains, while former MP Hassan Al-Qallaf warned that approving it could ‘spark’ public demonstrations. It seems to me that MPs are racing to voice their objection to the Gulf security pact in order to show their ‘high sense of security’ and make national and historic positions that will be remembered by generations to come, if the agreement ends up being approved. What adds to this race’s significance is the 2014 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, in which Kuwait dropped 13 spots to take the 91st rank. The drop came due to limitations practiced by authorities on press freedoms, which is also common in the United Arab Emirates which ranks at 118, and Saudi Arabia which is ranked at 164. I believe that there are crimes that require cooperation and coordination between Gulf Cooperation Council countries such as online crimes, money laundering and terrorism. But the real question is this - what is the source of all of this concern? I think that public disturbance towards the pact stems from people’s lack of trust on whether authorities in their respective countries can properly enforce the agreement, and out of fear that the authorities can lead the country to become a police state. What supports these sentiments is the fact that many concepts and terminologies used in the agreement are considered ambiguous, and subject to different interpretations according to the ideologies of each country. A lot of intellectuals are skeptical in the meantime about their governments’ ability to execute the pact without violating the rights of GCC citizens. It is a true crisis of confidence that exposes a flaw in the relationship between people and their governments. Therefore, governments of GCC countries need to look into the reasons and find solutions that address the social, media, cultural and political sides of the issue. Can the Gulf security pact cure political, social and cultural problems? —Al-Rai

kuwait digest

That’s what we need! By Hassan Al-Essa


n order to realize the menace of the GCC security pact on freedom, one needs only to read the justification made by a government source in which he stressed to Al-Watan that “some necessities require passing the agreement that has already been approved by all GCC states except for Kuwait and not signing it would cause Kuwait a great deal of embarrassment”. This agreement is all about unifying suppression methods in all GCC states. The source also said that Kuwait is flying solo, which means that he is calling to tailor Kuwaiti legislations to be in harmony with those in other GCC states regardless of their respective legal and constitutional developments. Article 16 of the agreement, pertaining handing over defendants — not only those indicted or convicted by courts of law — very clearly contradicts the constitution and the justifications made by the authorities about Article 1 of the

agreement which stipulates that member states should cooperate according to their own respective legislations. This is very funny. What is the meaning of suspending some of the agreement’s articles contradicting national legislations? This clearly presumes the existence of contradiction. Why then was the agreement made since local national legislations are superior to it?! We need to admit that this agreement is nothing but a security revolt of regional regimes against the Arab Spring changes and their possible impact on the region. The agreement is dedicated to fighting crimes of opinion and the already missing political freedoms. It also enhances existing regimes’ protection and ability to control each and every drop of the ‘petrodollar’ Gulf region. It is also one form of counterrevolution, as if that is all what we need here in Kuwait! —Al-Jarida


Nuke talks will ‘lead nowhere’: Khamenei

Renzi to form new Italian govt Page 9

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SEOUL: Protesters shout anti-North Korea slogans with placards of defaced images of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the late leader Kim Jong Il in the background during a rally. — AP

UN warns Kim Jong Un on accountability 372-page report catalogues starvation, torture, executions GENEVA: North Korean security chiefs and possibly even Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un himself should face international justice for ordering systematic torture, starvation and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities, UN investigators said yesterday. The investigators told Kim in a letter they were advising the United Nations to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court (ICC), to make sure any culprits “including possibly yourself” were held accountable. North Korea “categorically and totally” rejected the accusations set out in a 372-page report, saying they were based on material faked by hostile forces backed by the United States, the European Union and Japan. The unprecedented public rebuke and warning to a ruling head of state by a UN Commission of Inquiry is likely to further antagonize Kim and complicate efforts to persuade him to rein in his isolated country’s nuclear weapons program and belligerent confrontations with South Korea and the West. The UN investigators said they had also told Kim’s main ally China that it might be “aiding and abetting crimes against humanity” by sending migrants and defectors back to North Korea to face torture and execution - a charge that Chinese officials had dismissed. As referral to the Hague-based international court was seen as unlikely, given China’s probable veto of any such move in the UN Security Council, thoughts were also turning to setting up some form of special tribunal on North Korea, diplomatic and UN sources told Reuters. “We’ve collected all the testimony and can’t just stop and wait 10 years. The idea is to sustain work,” said one. ‘Strikingly similar’ to Nazi era M ichael K irby, chairman of the independent Commission of Inquiry, told Reuters the crimes the team had catalogued were reminiscent of those committed by Nazis during World War Two. “Some of them are strikingly similar,” he said. “Testimony was given... in relation to the political prison camps of large numbers of people who were malnourished, who were effectively starved to death and then had to be disposed of in pots, burned and then buried... It was the duty of other prisoners in the camps to dispose of them,” he said. Asked why the report had specifically mentioned Kim, Kirby told journalists: “A great deal of responsibility must lie on such a person. If you are at the centre, then you have power to change things.” “I do expect that the report will galvanize action on the part of the international community,” he said. Kirby, asked how many North Korean officials might be guilty of having committed the gravest crimes, replied: “The potential would be running into the hundreds, I would think.” The independent investigators’ report, the size of a telephone directory, listed atrocities including murder, torture, rape, abductions, enslavement, starvation and executions. “The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world,” it said. The findings came out of a year-long investigation involving public testimony by defectors, including former prison camp guards, at hearings in South Korea, Japan, Britain and the United States. Defectors included Shin Dong-hyuk, who gave harrowing accounts of his life and escape from a prison camp. As a 13-year-old, he informed a prison guard of a plot by his mother and brother to escape and both were executed, according to a book on his life called “Escape from Camp 14”. North Korea’s diplomatic mission in

Geneva dismissed the findings. “We will continue to strongly respond to the end to any attempt of regimechange and pressure under the pretext of ‘human rights protection’,” it said. The two-page North Korean statement, in English, said the report was an “instrument of a political plot aimed at sabotaging the socialist system” and defaming the country. Rights violations listed in the document and forwarded to Pyongyang for comment several weeks ago, “do not exist in our country,” the statement added. “Deliberate starvation” Abuses were mainly perpetrated by officials in structures that ultimately reported to Kim - state security, the Ministry of People’s Security, the army, the judiciary and

Workers’ Party of Korea, according to the investigators, led by Kirby, a retired Australian chief justice. “It is open to inference that the officials are, in some instances, acting under your personal control,” Kirby wrote in the three-page letter to Kim published as part of the report. The team recommended targeted UN sanctions against civil officials and military commanders suspected of the worst crimes. It did not reveal any names, but said that it had compiled a database of suspects from evidence and testimony. Pyongyang has used food as “a means of control over the population” and “deliberate starvation” to punish political and ordinary prisoners, according to the team of 12 investigators. Pervasive state surveillance quashed all dissent. Christians were persecuted and women faced blatant discrimination. People were sent to prison camps with-

out hope of release. North Korea’s extermination of political prisoners over the past five decades might amount to genocide, the report said, although the legal definition of genocide normally refers to the killing of large parts of a national, ethnic or religious group. North Korean migrants and defectors returned by China regularly faced torture, detention, summary execution and forced abor tion, said the repor t. Kirby warned China’s charge d’affaires in Geneva, Wu Haitao, in a Dec 16 letter that the forced repatriations might amount to “the aiding and abetting (of ) crimes against humanity”, it said. Wu, in a reply also published in the report, said the fact that some of the North Korean migrants regularly managed to get back into China after their return showed that the allegations of torture were not true. — Reuters



Niger arrests 20 Boko Haram militants NIAMEY: Niger has arrested about 20 Boko Haram Islamist militants from neighboring Nigeria who are suspected of planning attacks in Niger’s south east, Nigerien security officials said yesterday. The alleged plot to strike Diffa, a Nigerien town that borders Nigeria’s Borno state, highlights the cross-border threats following a Nigerian army offensive against militants that has pushed thousands of refugees and some insur-

gents across the porous border into Niger. Niger ’s army chief General Seyni Garba told troops in Mali during a visit that the militants were preparing attacks on markets and other gathering places in retaliation for Niger’s stance against extremists in the region. Niger has emerged as a firm ally of France and the United States in the fight against AlQaeda-linked groups in the Sahel. It is a

base for French and US surveillance drones and Niamey has deployed 650 troops to neighboring Mali to back a French-led campaign against Islamists there. “The bloodbath planned by the terrorist organization to punish our country has fortunately been avoided,” Garba was quoted as saying in yesterday’s edition of Le Sahel, a Niger state-owned newspaper. Garba, speaking while visit-

ing Nigerien troops in the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, said the arrests took place in Diffa. He did not say how many militants were held or when the detentions took place. A Nigerien security official told Reuters that 20 Boko Haram militants, all Nigerians, were arrested in the sweep late last month. “It was a cell that was planning attacks on Diffa and the surrounding areas,” the officer said, asking

not to be named. Another military officer said the cell was identified by Niger’s anti-terrorism unit and placed under surveillance as soon as they entered Niger’s territory. While much of the Western security focus is on Niger’s vast northern desert zone that borders Mali, Algeria, Libya and Chad, officials say the spillover from the conflict in northern Nigeria is equally worrying for the Niamey government. — Reuters

Kerry visits UAE for talks on Syria ABU DHABI: US Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Abu Dhabi yesterday for discussions with Emirati officials on the deteriorating situation in Syria, nuclear talks with Iran and the Middle East peace process. Kerry flew to Abu Dhabi from Indonesia, where he laid into the Syrian government and Russia for the lack of progress in talks aimed at ending the crisis. Kerry slammed Russia, along with Iran, for continuing to support the government, which he said had allowed it to “double down” on its attacks against civilians. The UAE and other Gulf Arab states have been supportive of the Syrian opposition and Kerry plans to discuss such assistance as well as humanitarian aid, US officials said. Earlier, Kerry accused President Bashar Assad of stonewalling in peace talks and called on Russia to push its ally to negotiate with opposition leaders. “Right now, Bashar Al-Assad has not engaged in the discussions along the promised and required standard that both Russia spoke up for and the regime spoke up for,” Kerry said during a news conference in Jakarta with

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa. He said Assad’s team “refused to open up one moment of discussion” of a transitional government to replace Assad’s regime. “It is very clear that Bashar Assad is trying to win this on the battlefield instead of coming to the negotiating table in good faith,” Kerry said Peace talks last week in Geneva ended with no progress toward breaking the impasse in the nearly 3-year-old conflict in Syria. Kerry, who called Syria “a tragedy to the world,” also had harsh words for Assad’s allies in Moscow. “Russia needs to be a part of the solution and not be contributing so many more weapons and so much more aid that they are in fact enabling Assad to double down, which is creating an enormous problem,” he said. Russia has told the US it was committed to helping create a transitional government, Kerry said, but has not delivered “the kind of effort to create the kind of dynamic by which that could be achieved.” On Sunday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moallem blamed the US for the breakdown in negotiations, saying

the US tried to “create a very negative climate for dialogue in Geneva.” UNArab League mediator Lakhdar Brahimi apologized to the Syrian people for failing to reach progress. “I am very, very sorry, and I apologize to the Syrian people that their hopes which were very, very high that something will happen here,” Brahimi said. Syria’s conflict started as largely peaceful protests against Assad in March 2011 but later degenerated into a civil war in which more than 140,000 people have been killed, according to activists. The UN’s human rights office said in January it has stopped updating the death toll from the war, confirming that it can no longer verify the sources of information that led to its last count of at least 100,000 in late July. Millions have been driven out of their homes, seeking shelter in neighboring countries and in safer parts of their homeland. Washington and its European and Persian Gulf allies are backing the opposition in Syria’s conflict. Russia and Iran are supporting Assad’s government. “The talks themselves are taking a recess for the moment,” Kerry said yesterday. — AP TRIPOLI: Libyans celebrate the third anniversary of the Libyan uprising at Martyrs square. —AFP

Hezbollah vows victory in Syria BEIRUT: The chief of Lebanon’s Shiite movement Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, vowed on Sunday that the group would prevail against extremists fighting in neighboring Syria. “We will win this battle, God willing,” he insisted, after describing the group’s role in the conflict in Syria as a fight against “takfiris”-extremist Sunni Muslims. Hezbollah, a staunch ally of the Syrian regime, has dispatched fighters to the conflict to bolster government troops, finally admitting their presence in April 2013. Nasrallah has regularly defended the decision by saying Hezbollah is countering jihadist fighters,

although extremists make up only a portion of those fighting against President Bashar Al-Assad. He devoted much of the lengthy address to defending the group’s involvement in Syria, which has drawn accusations from some in Lebanon that the group is entangling the country in the war next door. “It’s a question of time,” he said of Hezbollah’s vic tor y in the fight. “Planning and preparations... exist, but it’s a question of time,” he added during the televised address to commemorate the assassination of three senior Hezbollah members. He described the fight in Syria, which a

Britain-based monitoring group estimates has killed several hundred Hezbollah members, as a “decisive, historic battle”. Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict has been controversial in Lebanon, where many Shiites back the Syrian regime and many Sunnis support the Sunni-dominated uprising. Hezbollah’s strongholds in Beirut and elsewhere have been targeted in a string of car and suicide bomb attacks that have killed civilians, with jihadist groups saying the blasts are revenge for the Shiite movement’s role in the Syria conflict.—AFP

Libya marks ’versary mired in uncertainty Ordinary Libyans weary of parliamentary infighting TRIPOLI: Libyans yesterday marked the third anniversary of their revolt which ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi fearful for the future of a country plagued by lawlessness. Putting on a brave face, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who was briefly abducted last year by militants, said revolution had achieved the goals of “ending tyranny and securing freedom of expression”. “The February 17 Revolution is a challenge that Libyans must live up to,” he said in a speech to the nation broadcast on television Sunday night, acknowledging the “difficulties” ahead. Although no official ceremonies were organized for the anniversary, spontaneous celebrations have taken place since Saturday across Libya and culminated in festivities yesterday in the capital Tripoli. The streets have been decked with Libya’s revolutionary flag, volunteers have cleaned up streets and painted over sidewalks, and multicolored lights strung across the main roads. But for many Libyans there is little to celebrate. “There is nothing to be proud about,” one Tripolitanian said on Twitter. University student Ahmed Fitouri agreed. “Nothing has been accomplished these past three years.

We are stuck.” Three years after the uprising, Libya is still struggling to rebuild an army capable to end waves of unrest blamed largely on wellarmed Islamists and ex-rebels. The government and the interim parliament, the General National Congress, have come under increasing criticism by Libyans who accuse them of corruption and failing to give them a better life. Common criminals roam the streets, while rival tribes in various parts of the country shoot it out to settle long-standing disputes. Politicians, security officials, journalists, judges and even the US ambassador have been gunned down in a wave of lawlessness that has grown since Gaddafi was captured and killed in October 2011. Disgruntled citizens have managed to blockade and shut down Libya’s oil terminals, threatening to bankrupt a government that relies almost exclusively on oil revenues to operate. Economy taken beating On the political front, the GNC, the country’s top authority, infuriated Libyans when it decided to extend its mandate by 10 months beyond a February 7 deadline. But deputies on Sunday said the parliament has

reached consensus on holding early elections, apparently yielding to popular pressure and threats that divisions could unleash further unrest. The economy of oil-rich Libya has also taken a beating due to chronic security problems and industrial actions since the end of Gaddafi’s four-decade autocratic rule. The oil ministry and the World Bank estimate Libya has lost more than $10 billion in revenues because of the crisis that erupted last July when striking workers and proautonomy demonstrators in eastern Libya began blockading the country’s main terminals Post-war reconstruction has been slow and major infrastructure projects put on the back-burner, while the multinationals have yet to make a return. The World Bank, in a report issued last month, stressed “the urgent need for economic diversification in order to ensure long-term financial and economic stability”. “We must set aside out differences on the occasion of this historic event, in memory of the martyrs who fell so that we can enjoy freedom,” said Tripoli University professor Ali Toukabri. Analyst Soufiene Al-Machri blamed the impasse on politicians who are hanging on to power. —AFP

Nuke talks will ‘lead nowhere’: Khamenei TEHRAN: Iran’s top decision-maker Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said yesterday that nuclear talks with world powers would “lead nowhere” but that he was not opposed to them. Iran is due to resume talks on Tuesday in Vienna with the P5+1 group-Britain, France, the United States, Russia and China plus Germany-aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord on its controversial nuclear program. After a decade of failure and rising tensions, US President Barack Obama has put the chances of an agreement at “5050”, while Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has predicted “difficult” discussions. “I repeat it again that I am not optimistic about the negotiations and they will lead nowhere, but I am not against them,” Khamenei said in remarks published on his website Under a landmark interim deal clinched in November, Iran agreed to freeze some nuclear activities for six months in exchange for modest sanctions relief and a promise by Western powers not to impose new restrictions on its hard-hit economy. Western powers and Israel have long suspected Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside its civilian program, charges denied by Tehran. Under the “comprehensive” deal now being sought, which the parties aim to conclude and commence implementing by November, the powers will want Iran to scale back its activities permanently. These might include closing the underground Fordo facility, slashing the number of centrifuges used to enrich uranium, reducing its stockpile of fissile mate-

rial and altering a new reactor being built at Arak, diplomats say. In exchange, Iran would see all UN Security Council, US and EU sanctions lifted. Khamenei said Iran would abide by its pledge to pursue the negotiations, adding that Iranian officials should “continue their efforts.” “The work that has been started by the foreign ministry will continue and Iran will not violate its commitment, but I repeat it again, it will lead to nowhere,” Khamenei said. Iran “will never succumb to the bullying and blackmailing of America,” which Khamenei said uses the nuclear issue as a pretext to pursue hostile policies towards Iran. “The nuclear issue is an excuse for America (to continue) its animosity. Now, the American spokesmen are bringing up the

issues of human rights and missiles.” ‘Hedging his bets’ Khamenei’s remarks on eve of nuclear talks were seen by analysts as a warning to Washington in case the negotiations fail. “Ayatollah Khamenei wanted to emphasize that Iran will continue the negotiations based on the logic of a winwin situation,” Amir Mohebian, an analyst close to Iran’s conservative camp, told AFP. “It can be stopped if this logic is not respected, and the Americans will be held accountable for it,” he added. Alireza Nader, an analyst at the Rand Corporation, a US-based think tank, said Khamenei’s support for the negotiations is rooted in his desire to ease the pressure of crippling economic sanctions.— AFP

TEHRAN: Iranian women and a girl hold up portraits of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a meeting yesterday. — AFP



Renzi to form new Italian govt Negotiations with partners likely to last days

KIEV: A man walks past graffiti reading “Revolution 2014” on a building yesterday.—AFP

Ukraine oppn eyes curbs on Yanukovich’s powers KIEV: Ukraine’s opposition leaders yesterday pressed President Viktor Yanukovich to accept curbs on his powers that would allow them to form an independent government to defuse a 12-week stand-off on the streets and save the economy from collapse. A government amnesty for activists detained during mass unrest came into force after protesters ended their occupation of Kiev’s City Hall and other municipal buildings in the country. But tension remained high with the opposition accusing Yanukovich and his allies of delaying discussion that could lead to his relinquishing what they see as “dictatorial” powers. They suspect him of trying to slow down the momentum of the protest movement. But with foreign currency reserves depleted by repeated moves to prop up the weak hryvnia and fears of a devaluation growing by the day, Yanukovich is increasingly under pressure to name a new prime minister to replace the Russian-born Mykola Azarov, whom he sacked on Jan 28. His choice could speed up disbursement of fresh credits under a $15 billion bailout package from Russia - a quick fix for the heavily indebted economy. But if he resists calls for constitutional change and names another hardliner, the streets could return to uproar. “People want a complete rebooting of the system, that’s the main thing,” said boxerturned-politician Vitaly Klitschko, one of three opposition leaders who are pressing for a return to an old constitution that would remove presidential control of the government and the judiciary. “We are being told that this constitution can only be drawn up by September. But we are in a critical situation when people are demanding to be heard immediately,” he said yesterday at a meeting of parliamentary factions. The unrest was sparked by Yanukovich

in November when he spurned a free trade agreement long in the making with the European Union and opted for $15 billion in Russian credits and cheaper gas. The revolt spiralled into countrywide protests at perceived sleaze and corruption in the Yanukovich administration, and has triggered a tussle between East and West. As Russia beckons with the aid package, the United States and its Western allies have urged Yanukovich to move back towards an IMF-backed deal with Europe. Club-wielding militia An amnesty came into force yesterday after scores of protesters, including a masked and club-wielding “self-defence’ militia numbering about 100, ended a two-month occupation of city hall. The amnesty, applauded by the European Union and the OSCE rights body, means that criminal charges will be dropped against those protesters for violations committed between Dec 27 and Feb 2. That period includes a week of clashes in January involving radical activists in which six people were killed and hundreds of police and protesters injured. Despite the conciliatory moves, the mood on the Maidan, the local name for Independence Square which is the focal point of the protests, remained truculent yesterday. “I can’t see that anything much has changed people still want the leadership to go. And the amnesty law does not change anything. Parliament has got to understand that everything has to be changed - the constitution, the laws, the president and even the parliament,” said Viktor Stelmakh, 45, from the Zhytomyr region west of Kiev. “I don’t want today’s Yanukovich to be simply replaced by another new Yanukovich,” he added. —Reuters

ROME: Italian centre-left leader Matteo Renzi said yesterday he would begin talks to form a new government within 24 hours, and expec ted to lay out a program of reforms to be completed over the next few months. Renzi needs to seal a formal coalition deal with the small centre-right NCD party to secure a majority and to name his cabinet before seeking a formal vote of confidence in parliament, probably later this week. He has promised a radical program of action to lift Italy out of its most serious economic slump since World War Two, but will have to deal with the same unwieldy coalition which failed to pass major reforms under its previous leader. “In this difficult situation, I will bring all the energy and commitment I am capable of,” he told reporters after a 90-minute meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano when he was given a mandate to form a new government. “The sense of urgency is extraordinarily delicate and important but it’s also true that, given the time horizon we have set of a full parliamentary term, we’ll need a few days before formally accepting the mandate,” he said. The 39-year-old mayor of Florence has been expected to take over since he engineered the removal of his party rival Enrico Letta as prime minister at a meeting of the Democratic Party leadership last week, following growing impatience with the slow pace of economic reforms. The euro-zone’s third largest economy is technically no longer in recession since it scraped back into growth in the four th quarter of 2013. However, it remains profoundly marked by the crisis with a 2 trillion euro ($2.7 trillion) public debt, a rapidly crumbling industrial base and millions out of work. Renzi has promised swift action to

create jobs, reduce taxes and cut back the stifling bureaucracy weighing on employers and business, but has offered few specific policy proposals and a promised Jobs Act expected last month has been delayed. However, he said he expected to lay out full reforms to Italy’s electoral law and political institutions by the end of February, to be followed by labor reforms in March, an overhaul of the public administration in April and a tax reform in May. Economy ministry choice eyed With the formal steps leading to the formation of a new government underway, attention has focused on Renzi’s likely choice as economy minister who will be vital to reassuring Italy’s international partners. Speculation has concentrated on Lucrezia Reichlin, a professor at the London School of Economics who is also in the running to become deputy governor of the Bank of England. If confirmed, her appointment would continue a series of technocrat finance ministers following Bank of I taly official Fabrizio Saccomanni, the incumbent, and his predecessor Vittorio Grilli, a senior official from the Treasury. Other possible candidates include Fabrizio Barca, a minister in the technocrat government of Mario Monti which ran Italy from 2011 until last year, and Giampaolo Galli, a PD member of parliament and former Bank of Italy economist with a background in the business association Confindustria. Renzi declined to comment on the possible makeup of his cabinet. “Our attention is on content and not other issues,” he told reporters after meeting the president. One area which European Union partners will be watching closely is budget policy, an area where Letta stuck to strict Brussels orthodoxy, squeezing the deficit within the 3 per-

Matteo Renzi

cent of GDP ceiling. Renzi has said that Italy should be allowed to break the borrowing limits in exchange for structural reforms to encourage economic growth, an approach which could cause conflict with EU partners including Germany. Financial markets, which nearly sent Italy crashing out of the euro-zone little more than two years ago, have reacted favourably to his expected nomination with 10 year bond yields falling to their lowest level in eight years yesterday. — Reuters

Rescued S Africa miners arrested BENONI:Twenty two artisanal gold miners who came out of a disused and temporarily blocked shaft near Johannesburg over the last two days have been arrested and will be charged with illegal mining, South African police said yesterday. Ten of the men emerged blinking in the sunlight and covered in yellow-brown dust yesterday in a field in Benoni, a town east of Johannesburg, adding to a dozen who came up the previous day after a crane removed a concrete slab blocking their exit.

They were given a cold drink and medical check before being taken away to the nearby police station Reporters were not allowed to speak to them, and police and private mine security guards stood guard at the entrance to the ventilation shaft in case an unknown number of other miners who refused to come up changed their minds. Illegal mining of abandoned shafts is common in the gold mines around Johannesburg, with informal miners living underground in dangerous, cramped condi-

tions for weeks on end as they dig out small parcels of gold-bearing ore. Many are illegal migrants from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Lesotho. Fatal accidents are common, and underground battles between rival groups have also been reported. Bullion producer Gold One, which owns the mine, had blocked the shaft with a large slab to prevent access but the illegal miners burrowed around it. The slab then shifted, blocking their exit until it was removed by rescue workers. — Reuters



Excessive radiation levels found at Mexico waste site NEW MEXICO: Underground sensors have detected excessive radiation levels inside a nuclear waste storage site deep below New Mexico’s desert, but no workers have been exposed and there was no risk to public health, US Department of Energy officials said on Sunday. An air-monitoring alarm went off at 11:30 pm local time Friday indicating unsafe concentrations of radiation inside the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in what DOE officials said appeared to be the first such mishap since the facility opened in 1999. As of Sunday, the source of the high

radiation readings had yet to be determined, and a plan to send inspection teams below ground to investigate was put on hold as a precaution. “They will not go in today. It’s a safety thing more than anything. We’re waiting until we get other assessments done before we authorize re-entry,” DOE spokesman Bill Mackie said. The facility, located in southeastern New Mexico near Carlsbad, is designed as a repository for so- called transuranic waste, which includes discarded machinery, clothing and other materials contaminated with plutonium or other radioisotopes heav-

ier than uranium. The waste, shipped in from other DOE nuclear laboratories and weapons sites around the country, is buried in underground salt formations that gradually close in around the disposal casks and seal them from the outside world. No workers were underground when the apparent radiation leak was detected in the vicinity of the plant’s wastedisposal platform, and none of the 139 employees working above ground at the time was exposed, the Energy Department said. The alarm automatically switched

the underground ventilation system to filtration to keep any releases from reaching the surface, DOE officials said. Subsequent testing of surface air in and around the facility showed the incident posed no danger to human health or the environment, Mackie said. Air-monitor alarms at the facility have been tripped in the past by malfunctions or fluctuations in levels of radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas. But officials said they believe this to be the first real alarm since the plant began operations. Just a few dozen essential person-

Northeast US hit with another winter blast Thousands left without power BOSTON: The latest blast of snow to hit the northeastern United States dumped more than a foot (30 centimeters) in part of Massachusetts and packed heavy winds that left thousands without power Sunday on Cape Cod. The weekend snow-

storm comes on the heels of an earlier storm that blanketed the East Coast with snow and ice, caused at least 25 deaths and left hundreds of thousands without power. In Canada, the city of Toronto has called an extreme cold weather

WINCHESTER: A lawyer clears his sidewalk in Winchester. —AP

alert as the temperature is expected to drop to -15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) on Sunday night. The alert, in effect until further notice, was called to trigger additional services for the homeless. Canada’s Atlantic provinces are

bracing for a blast of winter weather. Environment Canada says the storm will move toward Newfoundland on Sunday, with heavy snow and high winds expected across the island. The storm comes days after a fierce mix of snow, rain and wind closed schools and left thousands of customers without power in parts of eastern Canada. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in parts of Newfoundland were warning residents only to venture out in emergencies because of whiteout driving conditions. Coastal areas in Maine and south of Boston appeared to get the worst of the storm overnight. In Massachusetts, 15 inches(38 centimeters) of snow was reported in Sandwich and 10 inches(25.4 centimeters) was reported in New Bedford and Plymouth. In Maine, 17 inches(43 centimeters) was reported in Hancock. A winter storm warning remained in effect in northeast Maine through the afternoon, the National Weather Service said. Wind gusts of more than 50 mph (80 kph) were reported Saturday night on Cape Cod, where utility NStar said about 3,200 customers were without power on Sunday, down by more than half from earlier in the day. —AP

nel, including security officers, remained at the site over the weekend. Inbound waste shipments had already been suspended at the plant since a truck caught fire there earlier this month in an accident that left several workers suffering smoke inhalation. “We’re in shutdown mode,” Mackie said. The facility in the Chihuahuan Desert normally receives up to 6,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste a year and employs more than 800 workers. The site is expected to continue to accept radiological materials until 2030, Mackie said. —Reuters

Florida village becomes refuge for sex offenders PAHOKEE: Deep in the swamps of southern Florida, Miracle Village lies miles away from the nearest town, surrounded by sugar cane fields. Nearby, the irrigation canals are swarming with alligators. While the name suggests an idyllic rural getaway, the former plantation near Pahokee now is almost exclusively home to men who spent time in prison for sex crimes. “Between 115 and 120 sex offenders live here at the moment,” says Pat Powers, a Miracle Village resident and its executive director. A burly man in his 60s, Powers spent 12 years in prison for molesting a minor under the age of 16. He now attends weekly therapy sessions and works tirelessly to maintain the community’s church with its moldy ceilings, a result of the unyielding heat and humidity, even in winter. Until the 1960s, sugar cane workers from the Caribbean used to live here for part of the year. Then mechanization took over, meaning sugar companies needed far fewer workers, and the plantation fell into disrepair. Powers remembers the area being “completely rat-infested” when Christian non-profit organization Matthew 25 Ministries started using it to house sex offenders in 2009. Today, the lawns are well-kept and most of the houses are either renovated or in the process of being refurbished by residents. “Nobody is forced to live here,” Powers explains. But for most, Miracle Village was the only choice. After jail time, public shame Finding a place to live after prison proved to be an almost insurmountable challenge for Powers, as Florida law forbids any sex offender from living within 1,000 feet (about 300 meters) of a school, playground or park. And even after offenders find homes that meets all residency requirements, landlords often refuse to rent to them.

As a result, hundreds of sex offenders in Florida are believed to be homeless, living under bridges or in the wilderness. But residency requirements are not the only impediments to starting a new life. Each US state runs a website that allows any citizen to view the address and personal information of anyone ever convicted of a sex crime. This makes finding a job particularly hard, and even daily trips to the supermarket can become a hassle. “You go to a store, WalMart, or you go grocery shopping, and as soon as you walk in, there is a bulletin board, and it’s got your picture on it. Somebody sees you-next thing you know, you’ve got cops all over you. Everywhere you go, you are harassed,” says resident David Woods. “Once you are in the registry, you are on it for life,” Powers adds. “Even after you die, you stay on the registry.” Are all sex crimes equal? Powers readily admits that this may be a fair punishment for having molested a child. But he thinks different rules should apply to younger offenders such as 19-year-old Matthew Richey, one of the new arrivals in Miracle Village. Richey was a minor himself when he had sex with his then 15-year-old girlfriend. He says he doesn’t believe his name should be on the registry with rapists and pedophiles. “It doesn’t matter what the crime was, you are automatically called baby rapist... horrendous sex crimes and they all lump them together-there is no difference, they don’t care,” Richey says. Making the whereabouts of sex offenders available is meant to “give the public access to information important to their ability to protect themselves and their families against sexual offenders,” according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website. —AFP

FORT MEADE: This file photo shows the sign outside the National Security Agency (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. —AP

Can NSA unite liberals, tea partyers? WASHINGTON: Hoyt Sparks says he has no use for liberal Democrats and their “socialistic, Marxist, communist” ways. Toni Lewis suspects tea party Republicans are “a bunch of people who probably need some mental health treatment.” Politically speaking, the tea-party supporter in rural North Carolina and the Massachusetts liberal live a world apart. Who or what could get them thinking the same? Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency. By exposing the NSA’s vast surveillance web, Snowden created a link between tea partyers and liberals two tribes camped on opposite sides of the nation’s political chasm. These people to the right and left of mainstream America sound a lot alike now. Sparks, a federal retiree in the Blue Ridge mountain town of Sparta and a political independent, condemns the NSA programs as “a breach of privacy which violates the Constitution.” Lifetime Democrat Lewis, a social worker in the city of Brockton, near Boston, says, “When we’re violating the rights of U.S. citizens, I think that’s a dangerous line to be walking.” Whether they are Republicans, Democrats or independents, almost half of Americans say they support the tea party movement or call themselves liberal. Compared with their more moderate Republican or Democratic peers, tea partyers and liberals are significantly more likely to oppose the collection of millions of ordinary citizens’ telephone and Internet data, an Associated Press-GfK poll shows. By a 2to-1 margin, these two groups say the government should put protecting citizens’ rights and freedoms ahead of protecting them from terrorists.

Nearly 6 in 10 Republicans support the tea party movement. Nearly 4 in 10 Democrats call themselves liberals. Combined, they are buoying a coalition of conservative and liberal lawmakers pushing to rein in the NSA, while party leaders balk at anything that might weaken the agency’s ability to foil terrorists. Why does the NSA unite the right and left ends of the political spectrum? “More extreme political views lead to more distrust of government,” said George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin, who’s studied the tea party’s focus on the Constitution. People at the far ends of the political spectrum are less likely than middle-of-the-road voters to feel government is responsive to them. On the flip side, Somin said, moderates generally don’t follow politics as closely as people at the extremes, so they may be less aware of the scope of the NSA’s activities. Obama a point of contention “The whole thing is wrong,” says Virginia Greenfield, a tea-party supporter in Cortland, NY. But, she says, “most people don’t want to believe that the government would do what it’s doing.” Liberals, who tend to trust government to handle many matters, also tend to be suspicious of intrusions into privacy or civil liberties. That aligns them on some issues with libertarians, the champions of individual rights who make up a substantial portion of the tea party movement. Another segment of the tea party social conservatives - deeply mistrusts President Barack Obama and his administration, an attitude likely to extend to the NSA

while he’s in charge. Obama is a point of contention in the anti-surveillance coalition. Eight in 10 tea partyers dislike the way he’s handled the issue; only about half of liberals disapprove. Still, the NSA brings liberals closer to the tea-party way of thinking than usual: On other big issues, liberals’ approval for Obama generally hovers around 70 percent. When it comes to Snowden, tea-party supporters and liberals are back in step about half of each group says the former NSA contractor did the right thing. Among non-tea party Republicans and nonliberal Democrats, a strong majority thinks he was wrong to reveal classified programs. Christina Ott, who works on her family’s farm near Woodbury, Tenn., found Snowden’s action inspiring. “I thought it was somebody taking a moral stand and a big risk,” said Ott, a liberal Democrat. She isn’t surprised to find herself siding with the tea party for once. Regardless of their political views, Ott said, the people who worry about mass surveillance are the ones “who are paying close attention and believe it is possible for things to go badly wrong.” But Lewis, an Obama fan, is shocked to agree with tea partyers about anything. “I can’t explain it. It’s kind of scary,” she said, joking: “Now I might have to rethink my position.” The AP-GfK Poll was conducted Jan. 1721 using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probabilitybased online panel. It involved online interviews with 1,060 adults. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points for all respondents. Those respondents who did not have Internet access before joining the panel were provided it for free. —AP



No survivors found on missing Nepal plane KATHMANDU: Nepalese troops yesterday recovered 18 bodies from the snowblanketed wreckage of a plane that crashed into a hillside, the latest disaster to hit the country’s internationally-blacklisted airlines. Body parts and debris from the Nepal Airlines plane, which was carrying 15 passengers and three crew, were found scattered in a village next to the scene of Sunday’s crash in the mountainous western region. Rescuers dug through snow that had blanketed passengers’ bodies overnight in Arghakhanchi district, 226 kilometres (140 miles) west of the capital, a police official at the scene said. “It was horrible, we found burned body parts. Only eight people had undamaged faces,” local police official Kiran Khatri told AFP in a phone interview. The plane’s black box flight recorder was also found as the government announced an investigation into the cause of the tragedy, Mohan Krishna

Sapkota, spokesman for the tourism and civil aviation ministry, told AFP. “The government has formed a fourmember probe team to investigate the accident,” Sapkota said, adding that investigators would report within two months. The Twin Otter propeller plane, carrying locals and one passenger from Denmark, lost contact with air traffic controllers shortly after taking off from the popular tourist town of Pokhara on Sunday afternoon. The state-run carrier’s aircraft, in regular use since 1971, encountered heavy rain en route to the town of Jumla, 353 kilometres west of Kathmandu. The torrential downpour eventually forced helicopters to stop their hunt for the plane on Sunday. Police resumed their search at first light yesterday, finally spotting scattered pieces of the wreckage during an aerial search of Arghakhanchi.

Poor safety record The crash, which left the aircraft shattered into small parts, comes only weeks after all the countr y ’s airlines were banned from flying to the European Union. Former finance minister Ram Sharan Mahat told AFP it could not have come at a worse time. “The European Union has already questioned our safety. So this accident is more damaging for us. “We have to be serious about improving our safety records,” Mahat said. An airline spokesman said engineers had refurbished the plane in recent weeks, leaving it in good condition. “The preliminary report shows that the cause of the crash was the bad weather,” said spokesman Ram Hari Sharma. “When the plane took off from Pokhara airport the weather condition was fine”, Sharma said. “ We cannot predict when the clouds cover the land.” But Kathmandu-based aviation

expert Hemant Arjyal said the accident made it “pretty clear that our safety has not been up to the standards”. “It’s well below the world average,” Arjyal told AFP. The Himalayan nation, which counts tourism as a major contributor to its economy, has suffered a number of air crashes in recent years, which have usually been attributed to inexperienced pilots, poor management and inadequate maintenance. Arjyal, an engineer and member of the non-profit Nepal National Aviation Council, blamed the reluctance of authorities to investigate accidents thoroughly. “There is a tendency to investigate only if all people on board have died in the crash,” he said. “This makes the job of the investigating officials easy. Now you can blame the dead crew.” Instead, he said, officials needed to probe nonfatal accidents as well to understand the reasons behind Nepal’s appalling safety

record. A Chinese tourist and a local pilot were killed when an ultra-light aircraft crashed into a hill in Pokhara last October. Fifteen people were killed at the same airport in May 2012 when a plane carrying Indian pilgrims crashed into a mountain. In September 2012, 19 people including seven Britons and four Chinese were killed after an Everest-bound plane crashed minutes after taking off from Kathmandu in an accident which the government blamed on a panic-stricken pilot. At the time of the blacklisting last December, EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said the country’s safety record “does not leave us any other choice”. Government officials said the ban was “unfortunate” and came after months spent on upgrading safety and monitoring aircraft. “Officials say that they have improved. If we have improved, there should have been no crash at all yesterday,” said Arjyal. —AFP

Snowstorm leaves 19 dead in Japan TOKYO: A severe snowstorm sweeping across Japan has killed 19 people and left more than 1,600 injured, media and officials said yesterday, as the extreme weather sparked widespread transpor t chaos. At least 19 people have died in snow-related incidents after the record-breaking storm, the topselling Yomiuri Shimbun reported, with the storm now battering the northern island of Hokkaido. Many of the casualties were involved in car accidents, while others were crushed to death after roofs collapsed. More than 6,900 people were trapped in small communities cut off by snow-blocked roads and railway lines, the Yomiuri said, while gasoline deliveries to some petrol stations were delayed due to impassable roads. In Yamanashi prefecture west of Tokyo, stores were facing a serious fresh food shortage, the Yomiuri and public broadcaster NHK repor ted, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promising to send a government team to help the struggling area. “We will do everything we can to protect the lives

and possessions of people in cooperation with local governments and relevant ministries,” he told parliament yesterday. Toyota, Honda and Suzuki were forced to suspend operations at a total of nine of their factories in central and eastern Japan yesterday due to par ts shor tage and workers’ absence following the heavy snow, company spokesmen said. Honda said the suspension affected production of some 2,000 cars, while Toyota and Suzuki said the impact was not immediately k nown. Toyota said one plant would remain closed until at least today morning, while Suzuki and Honda have yet to announce their schedule for today at the closed assembly lines. The storm is now moving towards northernmost Hokkaido, Japan’s meteorological agenc y said, warning of heavy snow, blizzards and avalanches as well as high waves along the northeastern coast, which was battered by a quake -sparked tsunami almost three years ago. Despite aroundthe -clock clearing efforts, hun-

dreds of cars yesterday remained stuck on some mountain roads, leaving drivers stranded, local officials told AFP. National Route 18 that runs through Gunma and Nagano prefectures north of Tokyo is still partly closed, with cars stuck along several k ilometres due to the heavy snow. Members of Japan’s SelfDefense Forces have also stepped in to help. “Efforts to remove snow from the roads are continuing with Self-Defense Forces servicemen working from 7:00 am this morning,” said an official at the Karuizawa ski resort in Nagano prefecture. The transportation ministry and municipal governments are delivering emergency aid to stranded drivers, officials said. Snow began falling Friday morning in the capital Tokyo and had piled up to 26 centimeters (10 inches) by early Saturday, a week after the heaviest snowfall in decades left 11 people dead and more than 1,200 injured across the nation. Most snow in the capital has melted, but forecasters predict more falls in the region around Tokyo later this week. —AFP

BANGKOK: An anti-government protestor dressed in a colorful costume crosses a road blockade yesterday. —AFP

Thai PM under siege Defiant Thai protesters besiege govt buildings BANGKOK: Protesters seeking to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra surrounded Thai government headquarters yesterday in response to police efforts to clear them from the streets, as farmers besieged her temporary office to demand payment for rice. Thailand has been in crisis since November, when Bangkok’s middle class and the royalist establishment started a protest aimed at eradicating the influence of Yingluck’s brother Thaksin, a populist former premier ousted by the army in 2006 who is seen as the power behind her government. Data published yesterday showed the economy grew just 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter from the third and, with the country likely to be without a fully functioning government for months, the state planning board slashed its forecast for 2014. About 10,000 anti-government demonstrators surrounded Government House in Bangkok, taking back control of a road the police had cleared them from on Friday in the first real sign of a pushback by the authorities after months of protests. These protesters view Yingluck as a proxy for Thaksin, who has lived in exile since 2008 rather than face a jail term for abuse of power handed down in absentia that year. “We will use quick-dry cement to close the gates of Government House so that the cabinet cannot go in to work,” said Nittitorn Lamrue of the Network of Students and People for Thailand’s Reform, aligned with the main protest movement. It was a symbolic gesture, Yingluck having been forced to work elsewhere since January. The separate

protests by rice farmers could turn out to be more damaging for Yingluck. Rural voters swept her to power in 2011, when her Puea Thai Party pledged to pay rice farmers way above market prices for their harvest. But the programme has run into funding problems and some farmers have not been paid for months. “End of our tether” Television showed farmers climbing over barbed wire fences and barriers at a Defence Ministry compound where Yingluck has set up temporary offices. They pushed back riot police, who retreated from confrontation, but did not enter the building. “The prime minister is well off but we are not. How are we going to feed our children? I want her to think about us,” said one protesting farmer. “Farmers are tough people, they wouldn’t normally speak out but they are at the end of their tether.” Farmers’ representatives later met ministers, but when Finance Minister Kittirat Na Ranong came out to speak to the crowd he was pelted with plastic bottles. The government hopes to sell about 1 million tonnes of rice through tenders this month to replenish its rice fund and is also seeking bank loans to help it pay the farmers. The Government Savings Bank said on Sunday it had lent 5 billion baht ($153 million) to the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), which runs the rice scheme. It did not say what the money would be used for, but some depositors, apparently hearing on social media that it would be used for the rice payments and would therefore

help the government, took their money from the bank yesterday. “Today the bank’s clients took out around 30 billion baht. Most clients who withdrew were in Bangkok and the south. Around 10 billion baht was deposited. This doesn’t impact the stability of the bank,” Worawit Chalimpamontri, president of the savings bank, told a televised news conference. He said there would be no more interbank lending to the BAAC because the loan was “misused”. He did not elaborate. The 30 billion baht withdrawn represents about 1.6 percent of total deposits, according to Reuters calculations. Disrupted election Yingluck called a snap election in December and has since led a caretaker administration with only limited powers. The election took place on Feb. 2 but it was disrupted in parts of Bangkok and the south, the powerbase of the opposition, and it may be many months before there is a quorum in parliament to elect a new prime minister. The Election Commission has set April 27 as the date to re-run voting that was disrupted but the government said yesterday it wanted the much earlier date of March 2. “According to the law, the House of Representatives must convene 30 days after a general election,” Pongthep Thepkanjana, a deputy prime minister, said after a meeting between the commission and government. That date seems improbable, especially as the commission and government can’t agree on procedures for fresh voting and the Constitutional Cour t may be asked to rule. —Reuters

Indian editor charged with sexual assault PANAJI: Indian police charged the high-profile editor of an investigative magazine yesterday with sexually assaulting a female colleague in the elevator of a five-star hotel in the resort state of Goa. Police also said Tehelka Editor Tarun Tejpal tried to evade arrest for several weeks after being accused, with officers searching for him in Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi and Hyderabad. Tejpal has been in custody since Nov 30 and faces a bail hearing today. The 2,846-page charge sheet, including testimony from 30 witnesses, also accuses him of rape and wrongfully restraining the woman under newly expanded laws which broaden the definition of rape to include some other forms of sexual assault. If convicted he could face up to seven years in prison. The case has stunned many in India, in

part because Tejpal was the face of a weekly investigative magazine that has pushed Indian society to confront corruption and sexual violence. The woman said Tejpal assaulted her twice in a hotel elevator, on Nov 7 and 8, when the magazine was hosting its annual conference of Indian leaders, newsmakers and celebrities. The woman’s duties at the conference involved escorting Robert De Niro and his daughter to events. As the allegations became public, Tejpal first apologized for “a bad lapse of judgment, an awful misreading of the situation” and said he was stepping down for six months. Later, he described the sexual encounter as consensual and fleeting. Tejpal, 50, came under investigation after the woman told the magazine’s managing editor about the alleged assault. The woman has not been

Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal named in line with Indian laws protecting identities in sexual assault cases. Indian media chronicled every turn in the case, from leaked emails and police reports to a resignation letter in which the accuser said she endured “intimidation, character assassination and slander.” —AP



Indian villagers ride bicycles up an embankment of an irrigation canal as they return home on the outskirts of the eastern Indian city of Bhubaneswar yesterday. Some 800 million people in the country live in poverty, many of them migrating to big cities in search of a livelihood and often ending up on the streets. — AP

Co-pilot hijacks own plane to Geneva Continued from Page 1 It finally landed in Geneva at 6:02 am, about an hour and a half after it was due in Rome. “He parked the plane on the taxiway, he cut the engines then opened the cockpit window, threw out a rope and used it to descend to the tarmac,” Grandjean said. “He ran towards the police and immediately identified himself as the copilot and hijacker.” Tagegn said he acted alone, but as a precaution all those on board were frisked as they left the plane. The runway was crowded with police and other emergency vehicles as passengers filed out with their arms up in the air or on their heads before boarding waiting buses. Geneva’s chief prosecutor Olivier Jornot said there were no signs of violence towards the passengers or crew. He said Tagegn’s reasons for feeling in danger in Ethiopia were unclear, as he had not expressed any “political or other motives”, and that an asylum claim seemed unlikely to succeed. “Technically there is no connection between asylum and the fact he committed a crime to come here. But I think his chances are not very high,” he told reporters. The man risks a 20-year prison sentence. “So far it is known that he was medically sane, until otherwise is proven through the investigation which is going on right now,” Ethiopian Information Minister Redwan Hussein told reporters in Addis Ababa. He said the hijacking had not been violent. “There was not any threat, there was not any attack or threat attempt made to the passengers, because the only thing (that) happened was between the pilot and the co-pilot,” he told AFP. Hussein said Ethiopia may ask for his extradition. Ethiopian Airlines pilots had visas to travel freely to

Europe, he said, adding that it made no sense to hijack one’s own plane given “that the anti-hijacking law in any country is severe” and can lead to up to 20 years in prison. he said among the 193 passengers on board the Boeing aircraft were 139 Italians, 11 American and four French nationals. Robert Deillon, CEO of Geneva airport, said air traffic controllers learnt the plane had been hijacked when the co-pilot keyed a distress code into the aircraft’s transponder. “There is ... a code for hijack. So this copilot put in the code for ‘I just hijacked the aircraft’,” he said. As the plane was over Italy at the time, two Italian Eurofighters were scrambled to accompany it, he said. Flights to and from Geneva were either diverted or cancelled during the drama, but operations resumed about two hours later, said airport chief executive Robert Deillon. Up to 30 flights and 4,000 passengers flying during the busy ski season were estimated to be affected, he added. Ethiopian nationals and the country’s flag carrier have been involved in several hijackings in the past. At least 50 people were killed when a hijacked Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet crashed in the Indian Ocean in 1996. The last time a hijacked aircraft landed in Switzerland was in 1995, when a Spaniard hijacked a Majorca-Paris flight to protest at France’s Pacific nuclear testing. All on board were unharmed, and the man was ruled to be mentally ill. In all, 14 hijackings have occurred in Switzerland since 1969, when Arab militants seized an Israeli passenger plane at Zurich airport, fatally wounding a pilot. One hijacker died in a subsequent assault by Israeli special forces and three others were arrested. — Agencies

MoI reassures residentsa mid rising... Continued from Page 1 Fahd also spoke about the role of security forces in protecting the country from terrorism. “Many countries have been affected by regional political events. Kuwait is cooperating with neighboring countries and all our police forces are doing their duty in the best way and are prepared for any emergency. In general, there is a shortage in our staff as the interest to take up this occupation is not high among citizens. So we are now working on training GCC nationals who will join the ministry soon,” he noted. Fahd praised the role of the local press and said that it’s still very effective despite the rising prevalence of

social media, but cautioned that it has to be neutral always and verify news from trustworthy sources. Separately, the number of traffic tickets against drivers with unfastened seatbelts or using their phones while driving dropped by nearly half on the second day of a campaign that began on Saturday, a local daily reported yesterday. Al-Qabas had reported on Sunday that more than 59,000 tickets were issued during the first four hours since the Traffic Department at the Interior Ministry launched the campaign. The daily reported yesterday that around 30,000 tickets were issued on the second day of the campaign, which shows the ‘success’ of the traffic department’s plan to enforce laws pertaining to drivers’ safety.

US Navy to deploy laser for first time BATH, Maine: Some of the Navy’s futuristic weapons sound like something out of “Star Wars,” with lasers designed to shoot down aerial drones and electric guns that fire projectiles at hypersonic speeds. That future is now. The Navy plans to deploy its first laser on a ship later this year, and it intends to test an electromagnetic rail gun prototype aboard a vessel within two years. For the Navy, it’s not so much about the whiz-bang technology as it is about the economics of such armaments. Both costs pennies on the dollar compared with missiles and smart bombs, and the weapons can be fired continuously, unlike missiles and bombs, which eventually run out. “It fundamentally changes the way we fight,” said Capt Mike Ziv, program manager for directed energy and electric weapon systems for the Naval Sea Systems Command. The Navy’s laser technology has evolved to the point that a prototype to be deployed aboard the USS Ponce this summer can be operated by a single sailor, he said. The solid-state Laser Weapon System is designed to target what the Navy describes as “asymmetrical threats”. Those include aerial drones, speed boats and swarm boats, all potential threats to warships in the Arabian Gulf, where the Ponce, a floating staging base, is set to be deployed. Rail guns, which have been tested on land in Virginia, fire a projectile at six or seven times the speed of sound - enough velocity to cause severe damage. The Navy sees them as replacing or supplementing old-school guns, firing lethal projectiles from long distances. But both systems have shortcomings. Lasers tend to lose their effectiveness if it’s raining, if it’s

dusty, or if there’s turbulence in the atmosphere, and the rail gun requires vast amount of electricity to launch the projectile, said Loren Thompson, defense analyst at the Lexington Institute. “The Navy says it’s found ways to deal with use of lasers in bad weather, but there’s little doubt that the range of the weapon would be reduced by clouds, dust or precipitation,” he said. Producing enough energy for a rail gun is another problem. The Navy’s new destroyer, the Zumwalt, under construction at Bath Iron Works in Maine, is the only ship with enough electric power to run a rail gun. The stealthy ship’s gas turbinepowered generators can produce up to 78 megawatts of power. That’s enough electricity for a medium-size city - and more than enough for a rail gun. Technology from the three ships in that DDG-1000 series will likely trickle down into future warships, said Capt James Downey, the program manager. Engineers are also working on a battery system to store enough energy to allow a rail gun to be operated on warships currently in the fleet. Both weapon systems are prized because they serve to “get ahead of the cost curve”, Ziv said. In other words, they’re cheap. Each interceptor missile aboard a US Navy warship costs at least $1 million apiece, making it cost-prohibitive to defend a ship in some hostile environments in which an enemy is using aircraft, drones, artillery, cruise missiles and artillery, Thompson said. With a laser operating on about 30 kilowatts of electricity - and possibly three times that in the future - the cost amounts to a few dollars per shot, Thompson said. — AP

Foreign worker recruitment to open... Continued from Page 1 conditions put together in order to prevent violations of labor laws. Basically, an employer must provide a valid license and documents to prove that there are vacancies in his company’s file in the database. He must also prove that he has hired the minimum number of national manpower as required by the law, and that he is paying his staff regularly. The sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity further indicated that a work permit is issued after the end of a legal trial period of 90 days. A worker must provide a clean criminal record and medical report that shows that he or she has passed necessary tests before

coming to Kuwait. The ministry will impose ‘strict penalties’ against companies who fail to provide jobs for workers they recruit, the sources added. The step aims to prevent visa trafficking, a form of human trafficking that happens when an employer deceives people into paying money - often large amounts - for a work visa issued for a nonexistent job. Meanwhile, the ministry began Sunday receiving applications to transfer commercial visas to work permits, and will continue to do so until March 31, according to a senior ministry official. Jamal Al-Dousary, the assistant undersecretary for the labor sector, said Sunday that the Capital Labor Department received 70 transfer applications on Sunday. — Al-Qabas




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Threat of Syria war worsening By Sara Hussein


yria’s regime and rebels are likely to ratchet up military pressure on the ground after the failure of peace talks, setting the scene for a grim escalation of fighting, analysts say. Barely a day after a second round of peace talks in Geneva broke down on Saturday, the rebel Free Syrian Army fired its military chief Selim Idriss, citing “the paralysis within the military command these past months”. A source inside the Syrian opposition told AFP that Idriss - who was appointed to the role in Dec 2012 - had faced criticism for failings on the battlefield. The timing of Idriss’s replacement by another senior military commander is significant, with analysts predicting that the most likely outcome of the peace talks stalemate will be a renewed focus by both sides on military operations. “I fear that the failure of the Geneva talks will lead to military escalation - it will probably get worse before it gets better,” said Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. “Both sides will try to show that they can change the balance on the ground in their favour, and that they aren’t forced to negotiate out of weakness.” Aron Lund, editor of the Carnegie Endowment’s Syria in Crisis website, echoed that position. “Neither side seems to believe in a negotiated solution at the moment,” he told AFP. “Even if they want one in the longer run, they’ll both want to improve their positions first. So, more war.” No let-up in violence Even during the talks, there was little let-up in military operations by both sides that are estimated to have killed more than 140,000 people since the conflict began in March 2011. Throughout the first round of discussions, held in January in Switzerland, the regime unleashed a fierce aerial assault involving the use of explosive-packed barrel bombs in the northern city of Aleppo. And during the latest round, it began an operation to capture Yabrud, the last remaining rebel stronghold in the Qalamun region of Damascus province. The town lies on a strategic highway linking Damascus and the country’s third city Homs. It is also near the border with Lebanon, and the offensive - including multiple air strikes - has already pushed hundreds of residents across the border into the Lebanese town of Arsal. Lund said scepticism about the value of negotiations could also extend to foreign nations backing the Syrian rebels, who pushed the opposition to attend. He said rebel forces aligned with the foreign-based political opposition could now be “rewarded” with new military supplies. “Even those states that ultimately believe in renewed talks might want to show that torpedoing the UN’s negotiations will carry a cost for Assad,” he said. Pyrrhic victory Karim Emile Bitar, a senior fellow at the Institute for International and Strategic Relations, said an upcoming visit by US President Barack Obama to Saudi Arabia “might prove decisive”. Like Washington, the kingdom backs the opposition, and has reportedly stepped up its supplies of advanced weapons to rebel forces despite US hesitation. “Either the Saudis successfully pitch him (Obama) on another sustained military effort towards regime change in Syria, or Obama convinces the Saudis to rein in the rebels,” he said. Despite the failure to achieve progress, both sides can claim some measure of victory - albeit Pyrrhic - by having failed to concede ground. The regime leaves having escaped significant pressure from its allies, particularly Russia, to discuss a transitional government. And the opposition managed to secure backing from some key rebel forces on the ground, and may now have convinced its backers to increase the flow of weapons and allow it to focus on military actions. But the nature of those victories underscores the intractability of the conflict and the likelihood of continued violence, said Charles Lister, a senior fellow at the Brookings Doha Centre. “A large majority of the military opposition has little interest in a political solution to the conflict and this is unlikely to change,” he said. The regime, meanwhile, will see Geneva as proof that the opposition has no leverage over it. “It has faced its opposition and not lost on any count,” Lister told AFP. “This could well open the way for further military offensives.” —AFP

All articles appearing on these pages are the personal opinion of the writers. Kuwait Times takes no responsibility for views expressed therein. Kuwait Times invites readers to voice their opinions. Please send submissions via email to: or via snail mail to PO Box 1301 Safat, Kuwait. The editor reserves the right to edit any submission as necessary.

Crossing Evros: Last chance for refugees By Emma Beals


he bridge across the Evros River is rife with tourists. Couples and bus tours full of middle-aged women pose for photographs on the bridge while cafe balconies bustle with visitors taking tea and enjoying the late winter sun over a drink. The river is the life-blood of the tourist industry here, but in Edirne is also the staging point for refugees from Syria in Turkey who want to cross by land into Greece or Bulgaria. For them, the river is the last, and often lethal, barrier to finding their way to a better life in Europe. Nearly a kilometre wide at some points, the river is a fast flowing body of water. Most refugees cross in the dark of night in order to avoid being detected by the Turkish army or the European border police, Frontex, who, along with the Turkish army, detain thousands of Syrians as they try to cross the river each year. “You don’t pay for the boat,” Kawa explains. “You pay for the car on the other side. You have five minutes from when you get to the shore to reach the car. If you’re not in it, they go without you.” Kalan and his friend Hawar are back in Istanbul after an

unsuccessful attempt to cross from Greece into Turkey. They’re Kurdish, from the northern part of Syria known as Rajava. Hawar is keen to escape after being imprisoned and tortured in Iraqi Kurdistan, having left Rojava for a better life there. He hopes to reach Europe and bring his family out after him. Edirne, itself, is heaving with Syrians. A huge, newly built detention center in an old army barracks is located on the outskirts of town. It’s heavily guarded and the border police aren’t pleased to greet visitors. Large trucks rumble through town loaded with rock. A local man explains, “That’s for the wall.” In Dec 2012, Greece built a wall along its land border to stem the flow of migrants in to its country. The European border agency, Frontex, reports that the difficulties in crossing into Greece due to the increased border presence has resulted in an influx in migrants choosing to cross into Bulgaria, with a threefold increase in numbers during the second and third quarters of 2013. Greece, however, is still receiving the second highest number of illegal entries of any European Union member state, behind Italy. The crossing itself is dangerous, but what

might happen to refugees once they’re caught is even more terrifying. PRO ASYL, a human rights organization for refugees, produced a report late last year based on dozens of interviews, which accused the Greek police of pushing boats of Syrians back across the Evros and into the sea. In the report, the group alleges that after being caught on the Greek side of the river, they were either pushed back or returned to their boat; and after being detained on land, sent back to Turkey. “When taken back to the river, refugees told PRO ASYL, they were ordered not to make any noise or move and were allegedly threatened with guns. They were forced to enter their boat with the policemen and were turned back to the Turkish side. In many cases, interviewees reported that while being pushed back, the police had tied their hands behind their backs with plastic handcuffs,” the report says. Dangerous journey For those with a visa the crossing is simple. A few kilometres down the road is a legal border crossing into Greece, in the other direction to Bulgaria. Within minutes anyone with the right papers finds themselves in

a small border town where the Duty Free store is the most popular location. A small road weaves along the river on the Greek side and before long closes into a protected military zone. Locals sit in small groups on the river banks and fish; anyone not fishing, or unable to produce identification, is told to move along. Evidence of the dangerous journeys that take place is everywhere. A boat is tied to the shore on the Greek side, waiting to ferry Syrians across the river later in the evening. The fields are littered with water bottles and the remnants of small fires lit by those who have crossed during the freezing winter nights. The attempt by migrants remaining anonymous to cross the river a couple of days ago was thwarted by the increased guards on the river, but that doesn’t mean their journey wasn’t traumatic and dangerous. Having paid a smuggler, they set off from Istanbul as part of a large group, all trying to cross into Greece. Upon arrival at a location just outside of Edirne, they were held in an outhouse on a farm and told to wait. Hours went by and the smuggler returned, telling the hopeful migrants that, “You can’t

cross tonight. There are too many patrols.” Their hopes were dashed. They remained in the building all day and into the next night, unable to leave for fear of being seen. Again, the smuggler returned and said the crossing was too dangerous, that they would be caught. This time he said they must return to Istanbul and tried to charge each of them an additional Ä100 [about $137] for the return drive to Istanbul. When they refused they were chased out of the barn by the farm’s owner. They ran through the fields trying to find a way back to the city. One farmer threatened to call the police but they told him they would implicate him in a smuggling ring if he did. He let them go. Finally, a local resident took pity on them and arranged for three cars to bring them to Edirne where they caught a bus back to Istanbul where they’re waiting to try again. Hawar is unable to return to Syria and isn’t welcome in the neighbouring countries. He has survived torture and is haunted by his past. His enterprise, trying to get to Europe, is giving him a focus and keeps the memories at bay - for now. “I’ll keep trying,” he says. “I have no choice.” —Media Line

Sadr exit may be ‘gift’ to rivals By W G Dunlop


owerful Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s announced exit from politics two months before elections may be a “gift” to rivals but could also be another temporary withdrawal, experts say. Sadr’s political career began with his fierce opposition to the presence of foreign troops in Iraq after the 2003 US-led invasion, and has spanned more than a decade. His rise, aided by the reputations of two famed relatives - including his father, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Mohammed Sadiq Al-Sadr - who were killed during Saddam Hussein’s rule, eventually translated into political clout. At the time of his weekend announcement, Sadr’s movement held six cabinet posts, the deputy speakership of parliament and 40 seats in the legislature. “I announce my non-intervention in all political affairs and that there is no bloc that represents us from now on, nor any position inside or outside the government nor parliament,” Sadr said in a statement. His exit so close to parliamentary elections in April may “benefit other (Shiite) parties,” said Aziz Jabr, a political science professor at Baghdad’s Mustansiriyah University. One of the main beneficiaries could be Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, a Shiite whom Sadr has criticised as a “dictator”, he said. Maliki “got rid of him without making a major effort, and it is like a gift,” said Jabr. Kirk Sowell an Amman-based

political risk analyst and the publisher of Inside Iraqi Politics, said that if Sadr’s bloc loses votes in April, they may go to the Shiite Fadhila party and Maliki. “Almost all of Sadr’s gain in 2010 came at Fadhila’s expense. Maliki could also benefit since their bases overlap quite a bit,” Sowell said. Sadr was the commander of the Mahdi Army, a widely-feared militia that

battled US forces and played a key role in the brutal Sunni-Shiite sectarian conflict in which thousands of people were killed. He later suspended the militia’s activities. In recent years, his focus has increasingly shifted to religious studies in both Iran and Iraq that have taken him out of the country for extended periods of time. Some commentators said there

were potential downsides to his exit for Iraq, including political writer Sarmad Al-Taie, who said the cleric has become a “supporter of the path of political reform, and worked to reduce sectarian tensions.” Possibility of return It was not immediately clear whether Sadr’s withdrawal was

Iraqi men walk past a giant portrait of Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr displayed yesterday in the capital Baghdad. —AFP

temporary or permanent, and he has left politics previously only to resur face later on. Sadrist officials were unable to offer explanations for what they said was a surprise announcement, that has left some wondering if Sadr will still make a political comeback. Sadr “usually backs out of the political limelight when he is physically threatened” or “when the Sadrist movement has to do something politically expedient that Sadr wants to disassociate from,” said Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Of Sadr’s possible return, Knights said: “Nothing is permanent in Iraq except death.” But Sadr’s decision to quit politics this time has a more final air than past announcements. “He had a period when he was in Iran unofficially out of politics a few years ago, then last fall he had his ‘self-isolation’ from politics that lasted just a few weeks,” Sowell said. “All these actions have been aimed at tr ying to give himself a greater degree of religious authority,” he said. But Sadrist MPs announcing their resignations “makes this appear more serious” than past departures, said Sowell. Sadr has also ordered the closure of his movement’s political offices but said that others related to social welfare, media and education will remain open. —AFP



Gebrselassie to set pace at London marathon

WCup coaches gather in Brazil for workshop

S Africa recall all-rounder Morkel for World T-20

LONDON: Haile Gebrselassie will be lead pacemaker for the elite men’s race at the London Marathon, organisers announced late yesterday. Ethiopian Gebrselassie, a multiple Olympic and world champion over 10,000 metres as well as a former marathon world record holder, will pace the first 30 km at world-record speed at the April 13 event, five days short of his 41st birthday. A strong field will include Britain’s double Olympic and world champion distance runner Mo Farah, marathon world record holder Wilson Kipsang and fellow Kenyan and London course record holder Emmanuel Mutai. Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda and London champion Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia will also compete. “Haile is an icon of distance running, a man who has broken 27 world records on the track and road during his long and brilliant career, and we can’t think of anyone better to set our elite men up for a crack at the world marathon record,” race organiser Hugh Brasher said in a statement. “Everyone knows how difficult it is to break the world record on London’s course, especially with such a competitive field, but with Haile pacing and four of the fastest marathon runners in history in the race, there’s a real chance we will see something special.” —Reuters

FLORIANOPOLIS: All 32 coaches of the World Cup finalists are scheduled to gather in one of the Brazil’s leading tourist resorts for a workshop this week as the country seeks to put its best foot forward months before the kick off of the 2014 finals. Cloudy conditions and rain on Santa Catalina Island will take some of the shine off the usually hot and humid tropical paradise as participants debate and discuss the finer details of the tournament. Usually the workshop is more of an information seminar for FIFA, which gathers together not only the coaches but delegation leaders, team managers, security officers, team doctors and media personnel from each qualified nation. They undertake a thorough run-through of the rules and regulations, from major issues such as transport and training to more mundane things like the maximum permissible size of equipment manufacturers’ logos on the players’ kits. Ahead of recent World Cups, however, there has been lively debate among the coaches, who use the rare opportunity of direct access to organisers to voice concerns over issues like the number of preparatory days, exacting travel schedules and training facilities.—Reuters

CAPE TOWN: South Africa recalled hard-hitting all-rounder Albie Morkel yesterday in their squad for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh starting next month. The 32-year-old, older brother of fast bowler Morne, last played in the 20-over format for the Proteas at the previous World Twenty20 held in Sri Lanka in 2012. South Africa have also included uncapped left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks in their squad. The Cape Cobras player set a record for the most wickets during the domestic Twenty20 competition concluded earlier this month with 28 from 11 matches at an economy rate of just over seven. It is this form that also recently earned him a contract with King’s XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL). “Beuran’s claims could not be ignored and the experience that Albie will bring on board is important for a high profile tournament of this nature,” convener of selectors Andrew Hudson said in a media release. “The bulk of these players (11 out of 15) were part of our squad that won their Twenty20 series in Sri Lanka last year under similar conditions (to Bangladesh).”—Reuters

Watson wins at Riviera PACIFIC PALISADES: Bubba Watson was rewarded for his impressive early season form when he stormed to his first PGA Tour title since the 2012 Masters with a two-shot victory at the Northern Trust Open on Sunday. Four strokes off the pace going into the final round, the American left-hander seized control with five birdies in the first eight holes on the way to a flawless seven-underpar 64 at a sun-splashed Riviera Country Club. Watson, who has long relished playing at the revered venue despite never having posted a top-10 finish in seven previous starts, capped his round in style, rolling in a 14-foot birdie putt at the last to post a 15under total of 269. “I am hitting the ball really well ... and it worked out this week,” an elated Watson told CBS Sports after clinching his fifth PGA Tour title and the winner’s cheque for $1.206 million. “Things are great right now,” said the American, who went bogey-free at Riviera over the weekend as he fired successive 64s. Watson’s final round was the lowest by a champion at Riviera since Doug Tewell’s 63 in 1986 sealed a seven-shot victory. He came into the tournament having recorded two top-10s in his first four starts on the 2013-14 PGA Tour, his best finish a tie for second at the Phoenix Open earlier this month. “Today, I got hot early, holed a bunker shot on six to really get it going and went bogey-free in the last round,” said Watson. “I was looking at: ‘There’s a number out there and I’m going to shoot it. I have to shoot it and I have to go out there and play good golf’. “You’re always looking at trying to beat the golf course first, so that was my goal,” said the American, who was embraced after the round by his wife Angie and their son Caleb, who will celebrate his second birthday in two weeks’ time. Long-hitting American Dustin Johnson, one of four players who held at least a share of the lead during Sunday’s final round at Riviera, closed with a five-birdie 66 to finish alone in second. Late yesterday’s qualifier

Jason Allred and fellow American Brian Harman signed off with 68s to share third place at 12-under, a stroke better than 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, who also carded a 68. MAINTAINED ADVANTAGE American journeyman William McGirt, bidding for his first PGA Tour victory, began the last day with a two-shot lead but slid back with a 73 to finish five strokes behind Watson. McGirt had maintained his overnight advantage with a comfortable two-putt birdie at the par-five first, the easiest hole on the course. However, he stumbled with a bogey at the tricky par-four second, where his approach ended up just short of the green before he ran his first putt nine feet past the hole. On a course running fast and firm under a dazzling sun, several of McGirt’s closest pursuers began to pile on the heat and, for a while, four players were tied at the top at 12-under: McGirt, Watson, Harman and Schwartzel. Watson, who had holed out from a greenside bunker to birdie the sixth, broke the deadlock by draining a 16-footer to birdie the par-four eighth before reaching the turn in a blistering five-under 30. The American left-hander, who made the cut by just two shots after scores of 70 and 71 before charging up the leaderboard with a sizzling 64 in the third round, then forged two strokes clear with a birdie at the parfive 11th. Watson did well to par the treacherous 12th, where he sank an eight-foot putt, before Johnson trimmed his lead to just one with a birdie at the 15th. Watson refused to buckle and held on to secure victory with pars on the next five holes before collecting his seventh birdie of the day at the par-four 18th. “He must be hitting the ball great and be in great control of his golf ball because the golf course, the greens, are really firm,” Schwartzel said of Watson’s performance. “It’s difficult. You need to hit good shots here.” —Reuters

PACIFIC PALISADES: Bubba Watson poses with the trophy after winning the Northern Trust Open at the Riviera Country Club. — AFP

DAYTONA BEACH: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet, qualifies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. — AFP

Dillon on pole for Daytona 500 DAYTONA BEACH: With the famed No. 3 on his car and memories of the late Dale Earnhardt fresh in his mind, Austin Dillon took the fabled number out of hibernation and straight to the top at Daytona. Dillon reawakened the days of The Intimidator and proved he can handle the spotlight thrust on his ride in the 3, winning the pole Sunday for the season-opening Daytona 500. He took the top spot with a lap at 196.019 mph in NASCAR’s season opener in a car Richard Childress has refused to field at NASCAR’s top level since Earnhardt’s fatal accident on the last lap of the 2001 race. But with his 23-year-old grandson ready to move to the Sprint Cup Series, Childress allowed Dillon to use the number widely associated with the seven-time champion. Earnhardt won 67 races, six championships and the 1998 Daytona 500 driving the No. 3. Dillon was a kid when he posed for a picture with Earnhardt in Victory Lane following his breakthrough 1998 win. He’ll have many more memories from this milestone, like the congratulatory handshake he received from Richard Petty when qualifying ended. FAMILY TREE NASCAR’s family roots run deep, so Childress never had to leave the family tree to find the right driver for the number. Dillon has been using it in NASCAR national competition since 2009, when he made his Truck Series debut in the No. 3. He won the Truck championship in 2011 driving the No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, and the Nationwide title last season in the same number. So Childress knew - he always knew and has insisted that Earnhardt gave his blessing long before his death - that Dillon could use the number if he ever made it to Cup. Dillon doesn’t take the responsibility lightly. “Everybody wants to see this number perform well, and that’s what my goals are,” Dillon said.

“I love getting in that race car and driving it. I think once we get through some of these races here at the beginning of the year, everything will sink in and I’ll get comfortable and be able to have some fun.” It’s the fourth time the No. 3 has won the pole for the Daytona 500. Buddy Baker did it in 1969, Ricky Rudd in 1983 and Earnhardt in 1996. But this one was emotional all the way through RCR, which had its ups-and-downs in performance in the 13 years since Earnhardt’s death. Now Dillon comes in at another changing of the guard, as Kevin Harvick, the driver who slid into Earnhardt’s seat the week after his death, has moved to another team. SHOT IN THE ARM Engine builder Danny Lawrence, who made his debut with the company at the 1998 Daytona 500 with Earnhardt, said the company ran on adrenaline after Earnhardt’s death. Dillon has now given the organization a shot in the arm. “On the sentimental side, I was really pretty good about this 3 thing,” Lawrence said. “But when I saw that car hit the race track today, it kind of tore me up a little bit. Austin is such a good guy, he has been great for our company.” Said Childress: “The energy that he brings to our whole organization is huge. He’s been in the shop so long, him and his brother, Ty. I can remember Dale pushing them around on a creeper down there in the garage when they were just little babies, so that’s how far they go back.” Martin Truex Jr., driving a Chevrolet for Furniture Row Racing, qualified second with a lap at 195.852 mph. Truex’s engine is built by Earnhardt-Childress Racing, giving the company a sweep of the Daytona 500 front row. “Obviously without that thing under the hood, we wouldn’t be where we are,” said Truex, who won the Daytona 500 pole in 2009 with an ECR engine when he drove for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.

TRACK RECORD “Got a pretty good track record of qualifying here with an ECR engine under the hood, and obviously they’re building some big power. The rest of the field is set Thursday through a pair of qualifying races, but Childress and the ECR engines are strong: They had five cars in the top 12 on Sunday. Childress knew he had a shot at the pole, if not with Dillon then from another one of his four Richard Childress Racing entries. All were fast in January testing, and again in two Saturday practice sessions. But it was Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., the first driver to make his qualifying attempt, who set the pace early and held down the provisional pole for most of the session. RCR drivers Brian Scott and Paul Menard failed to bump Earnhardt, and it was surprisingly Ford driver Greg Biffle who finally did it as the 33rd driver to take his turn. Ryan Newman then took his shot for RCR and missed, and Dillon was the next driver out. He and crew chief Gil Martin knew the spotlight was on the No. 3, and stayed focused on the task at hand, even as Childress seemed to be on pins and needles. “You try to keep the blinders on,” Dillon said of the pressure to win the pole. “For me, it was hitting those shifts, putting in a good line. The funny thing is, there is a build-up to it, and my grandfather, me and Gil said, ‘Calm down, you’re nervous!’ He said, ‘I’m not nervous. I’m concerned.’ “So now he doesn’t have to be concerned. We’re on the pole, and things can be a little bit calm.” Childress celebrated by pumping his fist in the air. He won’t be so reserved next week, admitting if Dillon pulls off a win, he’ll celebrate in a far different way. “The 3 is special to all of us; the family, the Earnhardt family, to every one of us,” he said. “But I think it’s special because Austin, our family is in the car. The emotion will fly if the 3 rolls in there on Sunday. I won’t hold it back, I promise.” -— AP

Tour de France champion Froome eyes Oman title MUSCAT: Tour de France champion Christopher Froome says he wants to show last year’s success was no fluke as he kicks off his 2014 campaign in the Tour of Oman that starts today. The 28-year-old Kenyan-born Briton built up the momentum to take cycling’s most prestigious title with a victory last year in Oman and hopes to put down a marker in a field full of strong rivals. “I want to back up everything I achieved last season and prove to people that I am a legitimate champion,” Froome told his Team Sky’s website. He added that he was more relaxed ahead of the Oman race but stressed he was expecting a hard battle in the heat.

“Oman is always a place where you don’t quite have the same kind of pressure as in Europe in terms of the press and thousands of spectators,” he said. Froome’s main rivals are likely to be Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali, who won last year’s Giro d’Italia and Spain’s Joaquim Rodriguez from Team Katusha, who was third in the general classification in last year’s Tour de France. “It’s certainly going to be a high level of racing and from the competitors who are lining up there it’s shaping up to be a pretty tough race,” said Froome. Other strong contenders will be Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck, who is hoping to get his career back on track after last year’s suspension for a banned diuretic.

Dutchman Robert Gesink, who won the Tour of Oman in 2011, will also be hard on Froome’s wheel. Froome won the Tour of Oman last year in fine style, beating previous Tour de France winners Alberto Contador and Cadel Evans. The Sky star had a 27-second advantage over Spain’s Contador in the overall standings with Australia’s Evans 39 seconds away in third. The fifth edition of the Tour of Oman is a hilly sixstage event, with the main climb coming on Saturday which has a steep mountaintop finish. The race finishes on Sunday. Froome said his winter training in South Africa should stand him in good stead for the heat of the

Oman course. “It’s like Australia here in that the sun is really powerful,” he said. “It’s something that’s very different to the European summer. In Europe the sun isn’t quite as strong, whereas here it burns you properly.” Froome revealed that his main motivation was to back up his stellar achievements of last year to avoid doubts over his performance in the drug-ridden sport. “I hope last year’s not going to be a one-off for me because that would raise doubts,” he said. “I want to back up my results for the next five years at least to prove that nothing was a fluke. My results will stand the test of time and I want to erase any doubt about them - that’s a massive motivation.” — AFP



Perera leads Sri Lanka to ODI win over Bangladesh DHAKA: Thisara Perera’s brilliant counter-attack inspired Sri Lanka to a 13-run victory over Bangladesh in the first one-day international in Dhaka yesterday, giving the tourists the lead in the three-match series. Perera smashed an unbeaten 80 off 57 balls to lift the tourists from a hopeless 67-8 in the 22nd over to 180 all out after Bangladesh won the toss and elected to field. Sensing an opening, Sri Lanka hit back to bowl out the hosts for 167 in the 40th over of the rain-curtailed match at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium. Bangladesh, riding on opener Shamsur Rahman’s 62 off 49 balls and 44 from Mominul Haque, were cruising at 114-2 in the 20th over when the batting came apart. Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews claimed three wickets and

off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake took another two as Bangladesh lost their last eight wickets for 53 runs. Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim rued three dropped catches when Perera was on seven, 30 and 78. “Those catches were important,” Rahim said. “But Perera attacked very well. I thought 180 was chaseable after Shamsur and Mominul batted so well. “But we just could not get past the finish line. Losing close matches seems to have become a habit with us, we need to find a way to win.” Mathews praised Bangladesh’s effort and said he expected them to come back hard in the remaining two games. REDUCED OVERS “Credit goes to them, they

bowled so well,” he said. “It was a good effort by Bangladesh. They are a strong team, especially at home, and we must improve our game further.” Perera proved to be Sri Lanka’s hero after the tourists were left in tatters in a match reduced to 43overs-a side from the stipulated 50 due to bad weather. Perera and Senanayake ensured Sri Lanka did not fall below 147, their lowest one-day total against Bangladesh, by adding 82 runs for the ninth wicket. Perera, who helped Sri Lanka record last-ball wins over Bangladesh in two Twenty20 matches last week, hit six sixes and four boundaries in a superb rearguard action. Senanayake made 30 as Sri Lanka put on 113 valuable runs for the last two wickets after the spectacular collapse by the top order. Bangladesh lost Anamul Haque off the second ball of the innings, caught in the slips off Lasith Malinga, but Shamsur and Mominul put on 79 for the second wicket.

MAN OF THE MATCH Perera, who was named man of the match, broke the threatening stand by having Mominul caught at point for a fluent 44 that contained seven boundaries. Bangladesh moved to 114-2 in the 20th over when their two main batsmen, Shamsur Rahman and Shakib Al Hasan, were run out in the space of five runs. Shamsur was given out by the third umpire after television replays showed the batsman’s feet in the air after his bat got stuck just outside the crease as he went to complete a second run. Senanayake swung the match Sri Lanka’s way by removing Nasir Hossain and Mohammad Mahmudullah in three deliveries to make it 133-6 in the 29th over. Mathews grabbed three of the last four wickets to seal the victory which came when Robel Hossain became the third Bangladesh batsman to be run out. The second and third matches will be played at the same venue on DHAKA: Sri Lankan cricket captain Angelo Mathews (left) reacts after winning Thursday and Saturday. Sri Lanka had won both the preceding Test the first One-Day International (ODI) cricket match against Bangladesh. — AFP and Twenty20 series. — AFP

SCOREBOARD DHAKA: Full scoreboard of the first one-day international between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Dhaka yesterday: Sri Lanka K. Perera lbw b Rubel 20 T. Dilshan c Rahim b Rubel 3 K. Sangakkara c Sunny b Al-Amin 8 D. Chandimal run out 13 A. Priyanjan lbw b Shakib 6 A. Mathews b Sunny 3 K. Vithanage run out 7 N. Kulasekara b Sunny 0 T. Perera not out 80 S. Senanayake b Shakib 30 L. Malinga c Anamul b Gazi 0 Extras: (lb1, w9) 10 Total (all out, 40 overs) 180 Fall of wickets: 1-22 (Dilshan), 2-28 (K. Perera), 3-43 (Sangakkara), 4-52 (Priyanjan), 5-58 (Chandimal), 6-62 (Mathews), 7-64 (Kulasekara), 8-67 (Vithanage), 9-149 (Senanayake), 10-180 (Malinga) Bowling: Al-Amin 8-1-34-1, Rubel 8-0-37-2 (w5), Shakib 7-029-2 (w1), Sunny 6-2-31-2 (w1), Gazi 7-0-22-1, Mahmudullah 4-0-26-0.

Bangladesh Anamul Haque c Mathews b Malinga 0 Shamsur Rahman run out 62 Mominul Haque c Dilshan b T. Perera 44 Mushfiqur Rahim c Sangakkara b Mathews 27 Shakib Al Hasan run out 3 Nasir Hossain c Mathews b Senanayake 8 Mohammad Mahmudullah c Priyanjan b Senanayake 0 Sohag Gazi c Vithanage b Mathews 6 Arafat Sunny c Sangakkara b Mathews 5 Rubel Hossain run out 4 Al-Amin Hossain not out 2 Extras:(b1, lb2, w2, nb1) 6 Total (all out, 39.2 overs) 167 Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Anamul), 2-79 (Mominul), 3-114 (Shamsur), 4-119 (Shakib), 5-133 (Nasir), 6- 133 (Mahmudullah), 7-142 (Gazi), 8-161 (Sunny), 9-162 (Rahim), 10-167 (Rubel). Bowling: Malinga 8-1-37-1 (w2, nb1), Kulasekara 6-0-38-0, Mathews 7.2-1-21-3, Senanayake 9-0-33-2, T. Perera 9-1-35-1. Sri Lanka won by 13 runs.

WELLINGTON: New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum reverse sweeps on his way to 281 not out against India on the fourth day of their second cricket Test match at Basin Reserve. — AP

McCullum torments India with another double ton WELLINGTON: New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum struck a second double century in successive tests to bat his side to safety at the end of the fourth day of the second test against India at Wellington’s Basin Reserve yesterday. McCullum was on 281, his highest Test score and the second highest by a New Zealander, at the close of play after having shared a world record stand for the sixth wicket with wicketkeeper BJ Watling who was dismissed for 124 in the third over after tea. Debutant Jimmy Neesham was on 67 at the close of play with the hosts on 571 for six, a lead of 325 runs and seemingly in a position where they cannot lose the match and series with a day’s play remaining. New Zealand had won the first test at Eden Park by 40 runs and India had needed to win the game to level the twomatch series. “It has been a great day,” an exhausted McCullum told Radio Sport. “Today I thought BJ and myself were able to put ourselves in a really strong position. PARTNERSHIP “The way Neesh came in and we created that partnership we are really pleased with where we are and we have to make some decisions overnight.” McCullum was within sight of Martin Crowe’s New Zealand best score of 299, set against Sri Lanka at the same ground in 1991 and could become the first New Zealand player to score a triple century if he continues to bat on the final day on Tuesday. McCullum and Watling had continued their resurrection of New Zealand’s innings having been thrust together at 94 for five and in danger of losing the game inside three days. Instead, they combined for a 352-run partnership, a world record for the sixth wicket, surpassing the 351 that Sri Lankan duo Mahela and Prasanna Jayawardene scored against India in 2009. It was also the third highest by any New Zealand combination in Test cricket. Andrew Jones and Crowe hold the highest partnership for New Zealand after they scored a then-world record of 467 against Sri Lanka in 1991 at the Basin Reserve. Watling, however, fell six balls after they set the world record on the second delivery of the third new ball when he was trapped in front by Mohammed Shami for 124, ending his 367-ball, 510-minute stay. McCullum, who scored 224 in the first test at Eden Park, is the second New Zealand batsman after Stephen Fleming to have scored three test double-centuries. All of McCullum’s have come against India, his first a 225 in 2010. McCullum and Watling came together shortly after lunch on Sunday, still 152 runs from making the visitors bat again.

SCOREBOARD WELLINGTON: Scoreboard at the close of play on the fourth day of the second test between New Zealand and India at Wellington’s Basin Reserve yesterday. New Zealand first innings 192 India first innings 438 New Zealand second innings (overnight 252-5) P. Fulton lbw b Khan 1 H. Rutherford c Dhoni b Khan 35 K. Williamson c Dhoni b Khan 7 T. Latham c Dhoni b Shami 29 B. McCullum not out 281 C. Anderson c & b Jadeja 2 BJ Watling lbw b Shami 124 J. Neesham not out 67 Extras: (b-5, lb-11, nb-7, w-2) 25 Total (for six wickets, 189 overs) 571 Fall of wickets: 1-1 2-27 3-52 4-87 5-94 6-446 Bowling (to date): I. Sharma 39-4-124-0 (nb-6), Khan 4312-129-3 (w-2), Shami 40-5-136-2, Jadeja 49-10-108-1, R. Sharma 11-0-40-0, Kohli 6-1-13-0 (nb-1), Dhoni 1-0-5-0 Previous result: New Zealand won the first test by 40 runs to lead the two-match series 1-0.

Berdych credit’s serve for Rotterdam victory

Jayawardene, Thirimanne return for World Twenty20 COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Batsmen Mahela Jayawardene and Lahiru Thirimanne have been named in Sri Lanka’s 15-member squad for the WorldT20 in Bangladesh next month after injury layoffs, while strike spin bowler Rangana Herath will have to prove his fitness for his inclusion. Both Jayawardene and Herath had returned from Bangladesh having missed Twenty20 and one-day international matches there due to injuries. Thirimanne returned home from United Arab Emirates last December midway through playing Pakistan. Uncapped seam bowler Chathuranga de Silva will take Herath’s place if the senior hasn’t recovered in time for the tournament starting March 16. Sri Lanka would have four specialist spin bowlers if Herath returns, including allrounder Sachithra Senanayake. There are eight specialist batsmen, including seam bowling allrounders Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera. Both Jayawardene and Thirimanne are also part of a 15member squad for the Asia Cup, also in Bangladesh preceding the WorldT20. Squads: WorldT20: Dinesh Chandimal (Captain), Lasith Malinga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Sachithra Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis, Seekuge Prasanna, Rangana Herath or Chathuranga De Silva. Asia Cup: Angelo Mathews (Captain), Dinesh Chandimal, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kusal Perera, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne, Ashan Priyanjan, Thisara Perera, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Sachithra Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis, Chathuranga De Silva. — AP

AGGRESSIVE The naturally aggressive McCullum curbed his attacking instincts and battled problems with his shoulder and troublesome back in taking his side to a six-run lead at stumps on Sunday. They guided New Zealand to 440 for five at tea, having notched up milestone after milestone throughout the day with the ground announcer seemingly making a new announcement every five minutes. Watling, who had brought up his ton when he clipped a Zaheer Khan half-volley off his legs to the midwicket fence after lunch, moved through to 124 before India took the third new ball. Shami had a loud appeal turned down on the first delivery but was successful on the next, with Watling banging the ground with his bat and slowly walking off looking like a man who had failed to score rather than one who had potentially helped save the match for his team. McCullum brought up his 250 with his third six and then took a minor role in his flourishing partnership with Neesham, which was worth 125 by the end of the day. “The last hour was a bit of a daze in all honesty and I was just trying to get through,” McCullum said. “Thankfully Neesh was playing some shots in and ticking the board over because I was just hanging in there if I’m brutally honest.” — Reuters

ROTTERDAM: Czech Tomas Berdych, holds up his trophy and celebrates his victory over Croatian Marin Cilic during the men’s singles final of the 41st ABN AMRO world tennis tournament. — AP

ROTTERDAM: Tomas Berdych credited his steady serve for helping him end a 16-month title drought with a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Marin Cilic in the Rotterdam World Tennis on Sunday. The Czech Republic third seed could not contain his satisfaction after finally lifting a title. “It feels so amazing, it’s been so long, To win the title here is a real bonus. I’m extremely happy with how I handled things throughout the week.” The ATP number seven handed Croatia’s unseeded Cilic his first loss after nine straight wins which took him to the Zagreb title a week ago. It was the ninth career title for the new champion, off to his best season start with a 12-2 record. Berdych had not lifted an ATP trophy since Stockholm, October, 2012. He suffered through 2013 as the only player in the top 10 not to win a title, losing finals in Marseille, Dubai and Bangkok. “I’ve been serving well all week, it was the strongest part of my game. My mental strength also saved me. This shows me that my tennis is not based on just one factor. I had a good all-round performance.” The victory in 75 minutes lifted Berdych to 5-2 over the 37th-ranked Cilic, a former top ten player who served a ban last year over a technical anti-doping

infraction. Berdych is the first Czech to win the Rotterdam honours since his Davis Cup teammate Radek Stepanek eight years ago. Cilic admitted to fading a bit after his recent efforts. “It was a tough one today, I felt a bit tired after 13 days of matches and he was serving really well. “At the start I had some small chances with three break points in the third, game but I could not take advantage of them. “I made some strange unforced errors but it’s understandable due to my fatigue. Overall it was a good tournament for me, I played good tennis, I had a good run.” Berdych overcame early bad luck, missing on two Hawk-Eye electronic challenges and replaying a point after a ball went dead. Berdych stayed on top of his game with a break of Cilic for 2-1, taking the first set in 45 minutes. The seed seized control with a break to start the second set as a Cilic backhand flew long. A fourth double-fault from Cilic handed over another break for 5-2, with Berdych finishing off the contest a game later on his first match point. Berdych lifted the title after losing serve only once this week, in the quarterfinal against Jerzy Janowicz. He is due to play Dubai starting in a week. — AFP



Longest skating race destined for Dutch triple SOCHI: Sven Kramer has redemption on his mind as he bids to bounce back from the dumbfounding error that cost him an Olympic gold medal four years ago. This time, the Dutch are expecting not one, but all three medals in the 10,000 meters, the longest race in speedskating. So most of the pressure will be applied from within the team today, with Bob de Jong and Jorrit Bergsma among the leading contenders in what is expected to be a fourth medal sweep for the Netherlands at the Sochi Games. The Dutch team has won 16 of 24 medals so far in Sochi, and has been relentless in the pursuit of more. The 10,000 always was going to be a Dutch dominated race, but it became even more so when

Russian favorite Ivan Skobrev and the entire Norwegian team withdrew. “They are simply not good enough,” Kramer said of the Norwegians. That leaves Belgian Bart Swings and defending champion Lee Seung-hoon of South Korea as the only realistic challengers to an all-orange podium. “There are not a lot of people at the top,” Kramer said. Lee won Olympic gold at Vancouver in 2010 when Kramer was sent into the wrong lane by his coach on a changeover when the gold medal seemed wrapped up. It has left Kramer focused on the 10,000 so much that he even gave up a shot at gold in the 1,500 to be sure to be at his best today. He successfully defended his 5,000 title on the

opening weekend of the games, when Bergsma finished third in a Dutch sweep of the medals. Beyond the 10,000, Kramer is also expected to lead the Dutch to team pursuit gold on Saturday, hoping to catch the golden triple that eluded him four years ago. For two seasons now, Bergsma and De Jong have been his toughest rivals over 10,000. “The 10K is about the Dutch,” said Kevin Crockett, a South Korea coach, “the Dutch have it to lose.” De Jong is the freethinker among the three of the Dutch trio in the 10K, plotting his own trail to the long distance race. He even went up to the mountains for several days because he wanted to chill out with some friends on the Dutch ski team.

At 37, he could become the oldest male speed skater in 86 years to win an Olympic medal. He won silver over the distance in Nagano 16 years ago and added gold at the 2006 Turin Games. Bergsma beat Kramer to win the 10,000 world championships in Sochi last year and is considered the main challenger to the title. The dearth of non-Dutch challengers takes away from an event many consider boring to start out with. It is a race of 25 laps which statisticians love for the changing lap times but which can be excruciatingly long if riders are off the pace quickly. The fact that Skobrev and the Norwegians withdrew at the last moment only shapes to make it worse. — AP

US crush Sweden 6-1

SOCHI: Canada’s skipper Jennifer Jones delivers the stone during women’s curling competition against South Korea at the 2014 Winter Olympics.— AP

Tears flow in Sochi as US fails again in curling SOCHI: American curler Ann Swisshelm blew her nose in a tissue, wiped away some of her tears and stared down a sheet of ice for the final time in her career at the highest level of her sport. At the end of the sheet was an electronic scoreboard. It read: South Korea 11, USA 2. If that made for bleak reading for Swisshelm and curling fans all over the United States, they should avoid looking at the overall women’s standings. The US women’s team finished the Olympic curling tournament Monday in last place for a second-straight Winter Games, this time with just one win in nine games. The US men’s team didn’t fare much better, finishing next to last at 2-7. “I just wish I could start all over again,” said US player Debbie McCormick, who was the team’s skip in 2010. Understandably, back-toback Olympic failures are leading to questions about the structure of curling in the US at the highest level. At present, teams in the US are self-formed and made up of players who balance curling with their full-time jobs. US skip Erika Brown, 41, is a mother of two and a physician’s assistant who fits in curling practice during her lunch break. Teammate Jessica Schultz, 29, is a physical therapist’s assistant. Their team must compete against other teams made up of part-time curlers at the U.S. Olympic trials to reach the games. Most rival nations tend to cherry-pick the best players for one elite team, which receives all the funding from that country. Britain, for example, lavished 5 million pounds ($8.4 million) on its top curlers in the last Olympic cycle. Russia and China have similar elite teams. Will the US have to go this way to stay competitive? “I’m not in support of that,” Brown said. “Just because, as somebody who has been in this game for so long, it’s about the team and about relationships you develop. “As much as it’s an Olympic business these days, you’re still in a pretty small, intimate team. I think there’s enough top curlers in the US that you can continue generating good competition.” Swisshelm said she wouldn’t wish a such a system on anyone, in part because there is no professional tour or a way for a full-time curler to make a living in the game once their

Olympic career is done. “But if an organization goes to cherry-picking athletes and you have a mistimed injury, you have no education, no job skills,” Swisshelm said. “What do you do?” USA Curling accepts that changes need to be made to give the US men’s and women’s teams a chance of winning gold. But Rick Patzke, chief operating officer of USA Curling, doesn’t foresee a time - at least in the near future - where the US has a single elite team. “I think you need to bring more than just four people up,” he said. “I think you need to have a program that funnels the right people to the top. “We have always tried to embrace the traditions and culture of the sport but, on the flip side, if we aren’t in the Olympics, how much interest are we losing? I think there has to be an understanding in the organization: Are we all in, in pursuit of medals? Or do we just have one foot in? There’ll be good discussions in the coming weeks.” Heading into the Olympics, the Americans were seen as long shots for a podium finish. Erika Brown’s rink finished fourth in the world championship last year and all four members of the team had previous Olympic experience. But there has been embarrassment in Sochi, including conceding an Olympicrecord seven points in one end to Britain. And huge defeats: to Britain (12-3), Denmark (9-2) and South Korea. And heartbreaking losses: a 7-6 extra-end defeat to first-place Canada and a 7-6 defeat to second-place Sweden. “You have the No. 1 golfer in the world in Tiger Woods and every now and then he misses the cut,” Swisshelm said. “Nobody begrudges him an off week. Unfortunately for us, that off moment happened right here in the Olympics.” The 45-year-old Swisshelm, of Chicago, said the defeat to Korea was her last competitive game. She doesn’t know what’s in store for her next. Brown, of Madison, Wis., said Sochi will likely be her last Olympics. McCormick, of Rio, Wis., will be 44 by the 2018 Games arrive in Pyeongchang. The US women’s team is likely to have a very different look by then. They hope, too, for different results. “We have to figure out how we elevate the best of the best in the US to be the best of the best in the world,” Patzke said, “because it’s not happening right now.” — AP

Shiffrin eyes giant slalom ROSA KHUTOR: American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin will bid to win the first of two Olympic medals when she takes to the Rosa Khutor piste for Tuesday’s women’s giant slalom, also featuring celebrated violinist Vannesa Mae. Shiffrin, crowned world slalom champion at the age of 17 last year, is attempting to become the youngest American to win an Olympic gold medal in alpine skiing-she’s now 18. She has downplayed her role in boosting the US team’s medal count, saying: “I’m not really actually thinking about it that way. I’m going in to compete my best in my events. “And if that means that it ups our medal count, that’s great, because I am also here to compete for the US. But I don’t think I’m the only one. I can be one of the ones.” The selfassured teenager has twice made the World Cup podium in the giant slalom this season, something she says has been a principal aim. “I’m really excited to have two podiums this season. I’m really looking forward to the giant slalom, not just the slalom race. I want to medal in the two event,” she said. One of her main rivals will likely by Germany’s Maria HoeflRiesch, who admitted Sunday she was suffering from a slight cold. “I just woke up and felt like I’ve a sore throat. I tried to ignore that illness. It’s nothing serious,” she said, putting it down to a heavy schedule. “Our programme was rather dense prior to the Olympics as well and we had a tight schedule. If you remember,

one race was cancelled, so for giant slalom I only practised in December. “That’s maybe not enough time to prepare for giant slalom, but for the race I can participate in a relaxed manner,” said the 29-year-old, who has already won gold in the super combined and silver in the super-G at the Sochi Games. MAE SWAPS VIOLIN One famous participant in the giant slalom will be professional violinist Vanessa Vanakorn, better known as Vanessa Mae. The 35-year-old British former child prodigy was born in Singapore to Thai and Chinese parents, but grew up in London where she become renowned for what she has described as her “techno-acoustic fusion”. Because Thailand has no skiers ranked in the world top 500, it is allowed to send one man and one woman for the slalom and giant slalom events if they have an average of no more than 140 points over five internationally recognised races. A stronger performance earns fewer points.Mae, a British citizen who has been training in Zermatt in Switzerland for several years, qualified after racing four times in Slovenia in a desperate bid to compete, under her father’s surname Vanakorn. “I’m British but realistically there is no way I could represent my own country. Because my natural father is Thai, they have accepted me,” she told the Daily Telegraph.—AFP

SOCHI: Alex Carpenter and Kacey Bellamy scored just 66 seconds apart in the first period as the United States crushed Sweden 6-1 yesterday to reach the final of the Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament. The Americans dominated the semi-final from the opening faceoff, holding a whopping 29-1 shot advantage in the first period, with Sweden not managing their first shot until nearly 14 minutes into the contest. Amanda Kessel, Megan Bozek, Brianna Decker and Monique Lamoureux also scored for the Americans, who have now beaten Sweden 12 out of the past 13 times they have faced each other in major international games. “It’s awesome,” said American for ward Lamoureux. “I think it’s something we were expected to do. We’ve been preparing for it for the last four years and putting in a lot of work.” Jessie Vetter made just eight saves for the USA while Swedish goaltenders Valentina Wallner and Kim Martin Hasson faced 70 shots between them. Valentina was especially busy as the United States peppered her with 47 shots in 32:21 minutes of playing time. “They showed they are one of the best teams in the world,” said Swedish coach Niclas Hoegberg. If Canada win the second semi-final later Monday, as expected against Switzerland, it will mark the fourth time in the past five Olympics, the USA and Canada have faced each other in the gold medal game. The USA won four straight games against Canada in a pre-Olympic exhibition series including one by a commanding 5-1 score. But the Canadians beat the US 3-2 in a preliminary round game of the Sochi tournament. Reigning world champions the USA have 65,700 registered female hockey players in the country compared to just over 3,000 for the Swedes. The lopsided score also underlines the con-

SOCHI: Jessica Lutz of Switzerland (17) scores against Goalkeeper Shannon Szabados of Canada during the second period of the 2014 Winter Olympics women’s semifinal ice hockey game. — AP tinued huge variations in quality in the women’s game. Carpenter opened the scoring on the powerplay in the first period for the Americans on a lucky bounce. Her shot from directly in the front of the net was going wide but it hit the knee of Swedish defenceman Emilia Andersson.

Defenceman Bellamy made it 2-0 just 66 seconds later when her shot from the point beat a screened Swedish netminder Wallner. Kessel scored 11:19 into the period to make it 3-0. The USA added two more goals in the second period and one in the third. Anna Borgqvist scored the consolation goal for the Swedes. — AFP

Unbeaten men’s hockey teams prepare for big finish

KRASNAYA POLYANA: The team from Jamaica JAM-1, piloted by Winston Watts and brakeman Marvin Dixon, start their third run during the men’s two-man bobsled competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics. — AP

Fairy tale over for Jamaican bobsleigh team ROSA KHUTOR: Jamaica’s Olympic bobsleigh adventure ended with a whimper yesterday as the country that once inspired the Hollywood smash hit “Cool Runnings” finished second from bottom at the Sochi sliding centre. Jamaica, who qualified for the Winter Games after a 12year absence, were hoping to represent their country with the same vigour and enthusiasm shown by their 1988 Calgary counterparts, who inspired the movie. But despite vocal support from the crowd, Winston Watts and Marvin Dixon were unable to produce the miracle they needed in the third run to make up their time deficit from the first two heats-finishing 29th out of 30 runners in the two-man bob. “I promised to slide today faster than yesterday,” Watts said after the third run. “And we did so. Unfortunately it was not enough to go further. “I give thanks for my health and my strength that allowed me to compete with all these young guys. I’m not a guy who likes to quit, I’m a fighter.” Meanwhile, Watts said his performance in Sochi was also a message to the other “small” countries. “Hopefully, we sent a message to the smaller countries, you don’t need snow to do bobsleigh. You don’t need snow to do winter sports,” he said. Before yesterday’s run, the Jamaicans’ Twitter account showed a picture of brakeman Marvin Dixon kissing a “lucky egg” but neither that nor a Bob Marley flag in the crowd could inspire them to success in their distinctive yellow, green and black sled. The Jamaicans finished a huge 6.50sec behind the leading Russian team and 3.02sec off the Dutch team, who took 20th spot-the cut-off point to qualify for the fourth run. The team were helped on their journey to Russia by donations from around the world and buoyed by the goodwill of their global fan-base. “All the people here like us,” Watts said. “No, that’s not correct. I should say all the people here love us...and we love them too.”—AFP

SOCHI: Canada, Sweden and the US men all made it through the first week of the Olympic hockey tournament without a loss. Their reward is an extra day off before the medal chase begins. Early perfection isn’t always an advantage in this tense tournament, however. No team that went unbeaten in group play has won an Olympic gold medal since the NHL joined the games in 1998. Every champion was forced to regroup after getting beaten early in the tournament, from the Czech Republic in 1998 to the host Canadians four years ago in Vancouver. Olympic veterans realize the tone of this 12-day event changes after the opening-round games. Although nobody is under as much pressure as the host Russians, every player realizes one mistake in the second week can destroy their nation’s Olympic aspirations. “Obviously these (elimination) games always have a bit more of a different feel, but you don’t want to have to change the way you play a whole lot,” Canada captain Sidney Crosby said. “I think we’ve been playing the right way here for three games. I think we’ve gotten better.” The three unbeaten teams and Finland will get their extra day of preparation Tuesday while the remaining eight teams play a qualification-round game. But even practice can be a hazard in Sochi. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Sweden’s 2006 Olympic star, had a nasty collision with defenseman Erik Karlsson during practice yesterday and needed a few minutes to recover. Lundqvist said he’ll be fine. Here are five things to watch when the Olympic men’s hockey tournament begins the games that count: FILTHY PHIL: TJ Oshie is getting all the ink, but the leading scorer of the entire Olympics is U.S. forward Phil Kessel, who has four goals and three assists in the Americans’ three victories. Kessel has been superb lately for his Toronto Maple Leafs, and he’s still rolling on the shores of the Black Sea. During his hat trick against Slovenia on Sunday, his jaw-dropping goal on a mid-air pass by Joe Pavelski ranks among the top American highlights from anybody not named Oshie. OVI’S TIME: Alex Ovechkin scored a goal 1:17 into his home Olympics, and the NHL MVP hasn’t found the net since then. The Washington Capitals star isn’t finding much space to operate on his line with Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Semin. Ovi also wasn’t chosen to participate in either of the Russians’ two

shootouts, although that particular skill contest isn’t his specialty. These games are indescribably important to Ovechkin, who is essentially the public worldwide face of the Russian team. Any frustration he might be feeling has been kept in check publicly, but he’s undoubtedly putting pressure on himself to deliver goals in the elimination games, starting Tuesday against Norway. UNCLEARLY CANADIAN: While Canada didn’t lose a game in the preliminary round, it’s tough to tell how well the most loaded roster in Sochi will do when the games really count. Finland might have provided a blueprint on overcoming Canada’s talent during the teams’ meeting Sunday: Push Canada’s forwards to the perimeter of the big international ice, relentlessly knock pucks off Canada’s sticks, and allow Canada’s goalies to grow weary with boredom before striking for a scoring chance. Canada’s topend offensive talent hasn’t produced much at the Olympics, although defensemen Drew Doughty and Shea Weber have improbably picked up the goal-scoring slack. The Canadians might just be getting started, or they might be in deep water quickly. SMOOTH SWEDES: Sweden’s finish on top of the table is even more impressive because of its significant injuries. Henrik Zetterberg, Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen are all out of the tournament, leaving a perennial international power without a significant part of its core. True, the Swedes had arguably the easiest group in qualification, and they had to sweat out a 1-0 win over lively Switzerland. But as long as the Swedes have Lundqvist in net, they’re a contender to add another gold medal to their top prize from Turin in 2006. Without a misstep in the quarterfinals, Sweden is likely to meet Russia or Finland on Friday for a spot in the goldmedal game. BEST OF THE REST: Aside from Russia, which qualification-round team has a chance to make a splash in the quarter finals? Don’t sleep on Switzerland, which allowed just one goal in three games during preliminary play. Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller has posted two Olympic shutouts, and his teammates play a smart, sophisticated defensive scheme in front of him. The Czech Republic also might be heating up after winning its preliminary-round finale, and Slovenia will attempt to continue its implausibly successful Olympic debut against Austria. — AP



Venus settles a score with Vesnina in Dubai

LONDON: Liverpool’s English midfielder Steven Gerrard (center) celebrates in this file photo. — AFP

Gerrard: Arsenal defeat will not hold us back LONDON: Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard says Sunday’s defeat to Arsenal in the FA Cup will not halt his team’s momentum as they head into the crucial final stretch of the season. Goals to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Lukas Podolski gave Arsenal a 2-0 advantage soon after halftime, before the German tripped Luis Suarez in the box after an hour, allowing Gerrard to pull a goal back from the spot. Liverpool continued to press and thought they had another spot-kick when Oxlade-Chamberlain felled Suarez, but their appeals were waived away by referee Howard Webb. The defeat was a disappointing end to a thrilling eight days for the Merseysiders, who turned in one of the performances of the season in beating the Gunners 5-1 at Anfield the previous weekend, before a lastgasp penalty to Gerrard gave them a late win over Fulham midweek, victories that lifted them to within four points of leaders Chelsea with 12 matches remaining. Their form has them within sight of Champions League qualification for the first time since the 2009-10 season, and being talked about as outsiders for the title. Gerrard said missing the chance to extend their Cup run would not derail their league ambitions. “There is nothing to be down about. Sometimes you just don’t get what you deserve from games and this was an example of that,” the 33-year-old told the Liverpool Echo. “We have to move on, dust ourselves off and go again against Swansea next Sunday. “The way we’re playing at the moment, we’re a match for anyone. Going forward we look so dangerous and we are creating more than enough chances to win games. “People are talking about us being a top side and rightly so. We need to bounce back quickly - that’s what top sides do after a setback. “They don’t feel sorry for themselves, they look to the future and focus on getting back to winning ways.” Manager Brendan Rodgers said after the match they were denied a “blatant penalty” after OxladeChamberlain’s tackle on Uruguayan Suarez, comments Gerrard supported. “In my opinion it was a stonewall penalty,” he said. “It was even more blatant than the penalty which was awarded. The referee

was very close to the incident. It’s one you expect to get. “Howard Webb is a top referee and I’m sure he will have a look at it himself. “He obviously did not think it was a foul, but I am disappointed with the decision. “It was a big decision that didn’t go our way. That might have been the goal which would have given us a replay.” — Reuters

Inspector to probe fire at Brazil World Cup stadium SAO PAULO: An independent inspector will look into possible structural damage caused by an October fire at a World Cup stadium in western Brazil, following a Reuters report that the blaze was far worse than government officials have previously said. The inspector, whose visit to the stadium in the city of Cuiab· was already scheduled for Monday, will report his findings back to world soccer body FIFA and Brazilian officials, FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said by telephone on Sunday. “We’re looking into the allegations” that the fire caused structural damage to the stadium, Fischer said. Reuters reported on Saturday that the Oct. 25 fire at the still-unfinished Arena Pantanal caused structural damage that could “compromise the overall stability of the construction,” according to a previously undisclosed report by state prosecutors in Mato Grosso state. The 18-page document, which was written in December based on an inspection by a local civil engineer, contains photos that it says are of cracked concrete in the stadium’s pillars as well as less severe damage to its steel frame. The state agency overseeing the stadium’s construction denied on Sunday that the fire had caused structural damage and said the prosecutor’s report was drafted before recent repairs were completed. The repairs, the agency said in a statement, were followed by stress tests and assurances given by the builders to the state agency that no structural damage exists.—Reuters

FIFA urges Brazil to keep protests peaceful BRASÔLIA: FIFA yesterday recognized Brazilians’ right to peaceful protest but urged them to eschew violence as June’s World Cup approaches. “You can have pacific demonstrations, it’s a right, it’s a right in any democracy around the world,” FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said during a visit to Brasilia. “But a non-peaceful demonstration, people are just trying to create problems, people are just trying to fight against the authorities,” said Valcke, adding it was for the police to keep order. Brazil is braced for protests before and during the tournament, which kicks off on June 12 in Sao Paulo, with many citizens angry at the billions of dollars the event is costing. Last year’s dress rehearsal event, the Confederations Cup, saw more than a million people take to the streets nationwide to protest the cost of the World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics in a country where many basic public facilities are poor. Although more recent protests have been on a smaller scale, many have ended in violence after becoming more radical with anarchist groups organizing them online. On February 6, a march in Rio against a fresh round of transport fare hikes the issue which sparked last year’s protests-ended in tragedy with the death of a TV cameraman. Santiago Andrade died after being struck in the head by a flare thrown by a protester. “The cameraman was brutally killed,” Minister for sport Aldo Rebelo reflected yesterday.

In response to the ongoing protests and with radicals threatening more during the World Cup the Brazilian government is preparing legislation to deal with violent demonstrators. Congress is also debating anti-terrorism draft legislation which would bring stiffer punishments for acts of vandalism causing damage to public property. In the latest of a series of visits to Brazil, Valcke was visiting Brasilia’s Mane Garrincha stadium, one of three to suffer fatal accidents during construction in recent months. There have been three fatal accidents in Manaus in the northern Amazonia region and one in Sao Paulo, due to host the June 12 World Cup opener between Brazil and Croatia. After six stadiums missed a FIFA deadline of December 31 for completion Sao Paulo is now scheduled to have pre-event tests in mid-April. More pressingly, Valcke is to reveal Tuesday if the stadium at Curitiba, where construction has been lagging behind schedule, will be retained or dropped. Transport links in the city are also not set to be completed until after the tournament. Curitiba is slated to host four matches starting with the June 13 meeting of Chile and Australia. Having begun his latest tour at the weekend in Manaus, where he praised the Arena Amazonia, Valcke was due Tuesday in the southern city of Porto Alegre before heading to Florianopolis for a FIFA preWorld Cup seminar for the 32 team coaches. — AFP

DUBAI: Last week’s assertion by Venus Williams that she still has what it takes to deliver at the highest level acquired some credence when she impressively settled a score to reach the second round of the Dubai Open yesterday. The 33-year-old seven times former Grand Slam title winner had lost to Elena Vesnina in both their previous meetings but outplayed the world number 33 from Russia by 6-3, 6-2 in little more than an hour. Encouraging too was that Williams, who has to cope with an immune deficiency on a daily basis, maintained her high standard right till the end and finished looking fresh. “Every time I played her before she played unbelievably well,” she said. “I don’t think she was at her best today, but I’m thankful there will be more matches.” Williams was referring to an early loss in Doha last week after holding match points against Petra Kvitova, the former Wimbledon champion from the Czech republic. To capitalise on tenacious efforts to regain health and fitness she needs to compete as often as possible - but so far this year in four tournaments she has played only nine matches. She struck the ball with controlled aggression off the ground and also served well, perhaps the key to the whole performance. She landed more than 60 percent of her first deliveries, often regarded as the measure of good serving, and won points behind the vast majority of them. Having consolidated that break of serve and closed out the first set, her momentum increased, and she was soon 3-0 up in the second set and motoring. By the end she had secured a double break. “The more matches I play, the better I will feel,” she said. “You know, in moments where I’m controlling the match, the better I will feel in moments where things are close. “I feel like I have just gotten a little rusty sometimes in those areas. Yeah. That’s pretty much it.” Williams, whose younger sister Serena will also compete in Dubai after returning earlier from injury than expected, said that she was staying around because she loved the game. “Tennis keeps you young. I love the game. I love being out there and giving my all.” Her reward is a second round against either Angelique Kerber, the sixth seeded German who was last week’s runner-up in Doha, or Ana Ivanovic, the former world number one from Serbia who beat her in last month’s final in Auckland. Serena Williams will play Ekatarina Makarova, Russia’s world number 24, in the second round. Another American, Sloane Stephens, is in danger of dropping out of the world’s top 20 after a second successive first round loss. Stephens, who was beaten in straight sets by Petra Cetkowska of the Czech Republic in Doha, went down 7-5, 6-3 to another Czech, Lucie Safarova. “Some days, you’re like, this sucks, my life sucks — but it could be way different and I could be in a completely different situation,” said 20year-old Stephens, who revealed she was now going to return home to Florida. “I’m just thankful for everything that I have, and it’s nothing to be, you know, too down about.” — AFP

DUBAI: US Venus Williams returns the ball to Russia’s Elena Vesnina during their match in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship. — AFP

Nishikori retains Memphis title MEMPHIS: Japanese top seed Kei Nishikori won his second consecutive ATP US Indoor Championships crown on Sunday, beating big-serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 7-6 (7/0) in the final. It was the fourth career ATP title for the 24-year-old from Shimane, including Delray Beach in 2008, Tokyo in 2012 and last year and this year at the $647,000 Memphis tournament. “It’s an amazing feeling,” Nishikori said. “I had never defended a title before.” Nishikori, ranked 16th, took the $103,100 top prize at the first ATP event where he was a top seed and collected his first victory in three career meetings with 80thranked Karlovic, who won $54,300. Nishikori was the first repeat champion at Memphis since Germany’s Tommy Haas in 2006 and 2007. The only other was US legend Jimmy Connors. Karlovic, who fired 56 aces to reach the final without dropping a service game, failed in his bid for a sixth career ATP crown despite blasting 20 aces past Nishikori, who had eight of his own in response. Nishikori inflicted the only service break of the week against Karlovic in the third game of the first set with a backhand winner, then held twice at love and denied Karlovic’s only two break points of the

match in the eighth game. It took four set points in the 10th game before Nishikori claimed the opening set after 41 minutes off back-to-back netted Karlovic backhands. Karlovic saved two break points in first game of the second set and five more in the third game, denying Nishikori with his 10th, 11th and 12th aces of the match and two service winners as they battled into a tie-breaker. Nishikori overwhelmed Karlovic in the decider, opening with a forehand winner and a service winner and then watching a forehand from the Croatian sail long. Nishkori smacked two forehand service return winners for a 5-0 lead and finished matters after 90 minutes on a service winner. Karlovic, 10 years older than Nishikori at 34 and more than a foot taller at 6-foot-11 inches (2.1 meters), had won both prior matches against the Asian star, in last year’s first round at Delray Beach and a 2012 Davis Cup meeting. Nishikori, coached by retired US star Michael Chang, won two singles matches to spark Japan over Canada in Davis Cup play earlier this month and reached the fourth round of the Australian Open, losing to world number one Rafael Nadal. —AFP

MEMPHIS: Kei Nishikori, of Japan, holds the winner’s trophy after defeating Ivo Karlovic, of Croatia, 6-4, 7-6 (0) in the singles final at the US National Indoor Tennis Championships. — AP

Afghanistan stun Australia in Under-19 World Cup ABU DHABI: Qualifiers Afghanistan stunned Australia in the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup yesterday, beating the three-time champions by 36 runs. Afghanistan, who qualified for the tournament by winning the Asian Cricket Council’s U19 Elite Cup, batted first after winning the toss and compiled a decent total of 253 before being bowled out in the last of their 50 overs. In reply, Australia could only muster 217 before they were bowled out in exactly 48 overs. It was Afghanistan’s first win in the tournament after being losing their opening match to Bangladesh by 10 wickets on Saturday and they are now tied with Australia on two points in group B. They next take on minnows Namibia tomorrow while Australia, who have a better run rate, take on Bangladesh in a virtual knock-out encounter on the same day. Afghanistan proud captain, Nasir Jamal, said: “I don’t think many people expected us to defeat Australia but we did it and we did it convincingly. “We hope the people at home are enjoying the victory as much as we are. We play for our country and our people and we love to make them happy and proud.” Afghanistan’s innings was built around three half-centuries-Mohammad Mujtaba’s 75, which included five fours and two sixes, Ihsanullah’s 63 and Hashmatullah Shaidi’s 57. After losing opener Usman Ghani with just

two runs on the board, man-of-the-match Mujtaba added 126 runs for the second wicket with Ihsanullah. Shaidi then anchored the innings and was the ninth batsman to be dismissed in the 50th over.

Afghanistan captain Nasir Jamal.

In contrast, only four Australian batsmen managed to reach double figures and only James Bazley, who remained unbeaten on 54, converted it into anything substantial. Right-arm pace bowler Abdullah Adil claimed four wickets while left-arm orthodox Sharafuddin Ashraf chipped in with three. The fortunes of Australia’s under-19 side contrast markedly with the senior XI, who followed up a 5-0 whitewash of Ashes rivals England with a convincing 281-run win in the first test against South Africa. In another match played in Dubai Monday, defending champions India survived a mighty scare from Scotland. Chasing a meager target of 88 after Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav claimed a hat-trick, India lost half their side for 22 before Sarfaraz Khan and Deepak Hooda saw them through. BRIEF SCORES: Afghanistan beat Australia by 36 runs Afghanistan 253 all out in 49.2 overs (Mohammad Mujtaba 75, Ihsanullah 63, Hashmatullah Shaidi 57; Cameron Valente 3-59, James Bazley 3-69) Australia 217 all out, 48 overs (James Bazley 54 not out, Jaron Morgan 47, Jake Doran 45, Damien Mortimer 43; Abdullah Adil 4-45 ; Sharafuddin Ashraf 3-55).— AFP



Brazil’s worst nightmare if Argentina wins World Cup RIO DE JANEIRO: For Brazilians, not winning the World Cup would be bad enough. Even worse would be bitter rival Argentina winning in Brazil where 200 million locals are expecting to celebrate. “This would be every Brazilians worst nightmare,” said Newton Cesar Santos, the Brazilian author of a 600-page history of the BrazilArgentina rivalry - Brazil X Argentina: Stories of the Biggest Classic in World Football. “Let anybody win, but not Argentina.” There are many intense football matchups: The Netherlands vs. Germany and England vs. Scotland. But none rivals Brazil vs. Argentina. Some of Brazil’s national self-esteem rests on being the world’s lone football superpower. It’s the only country to have played in every World Cup and won the most title - five. The South Americans set the standard for flair, and 73-year-old Pele remains the game’s most famous brand. It wasn’t always this way. It the early history of football, it was Argentina that was the power in South America. The game arrived there before it did in Brazil. But that changed when Brazil won the 1958 World Cup, long before Argentina won its first of

two - and a highly disputed victory, at that - 20 years later. “Argentina was always much more developed than Brazil,” Santos explained. “Argentina didn’t have slavery, we did. They had industry. They had everything first. As a country, we admitted we were a kind of second-class country compared to Argentina.” In truth, football has delivered where politicians have failed. Both countries have been through economic instability, dictatorships, coups, and runaway inflation. But the football has usually been world class. Brazil has Pele, Argentina has Maradona and the debate about who is better never ends. The records? It depends whose record. The Argentine Football Association and the Brazilian Football Confederation have slightly different results. Santos has kept his own record. “Brazil and Argentina records disagree about what is an official match or not,” Santos said. “Of course, each has a record that favors its national team.” Santos calculates that from over 99 matches, Brazil has won two more. Santos says the first official match was Sept. 27, 1914 in Buenos Aires,

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which Brazil won 1-0. Argentina fielded its first national team in 1902, according to Santos, 12 years ahead of Brazil. “Amazingly, people have not paid that much attention to the numbers,” Santos said. “Everyone knows it’s very even.” Santos says there is a sector of Brazilian society hoping for Brazil to lose in the World Cup. “They are against this government and they figure a loss could create instability, more demonstrations and force social changes,” he said. The reality of this year’s World Cup is that while Argentina may have a better team and an easier draw, Brazil has the advantage of playing at home. Brazil is placed among the favorites with Spain, Argentina and Germany, in part because it’s the host nation. Brazil’s problem is the draw and, although the team led by young forward Neymar is good, few rank it as one of Brazil’s greatest. Its chances of winning are given as probably 25 percent. Not great odds. Brazil has a relatively easy four-team group with Mexico, Croatia and Cameroon, but is likely to face either Spain or the Netherlands in its first game of the knockout stage. Next up could be one of three former World Cup champions - Uruguay, Italy or England.

Argentina has the world’s top player in Lionel Messi and an easier draw with Bosnia Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria, and may not face a difficult match until the quarterfinals. Many Brazilians fear what may happen in the streets if Brazil is eliminated, particularly if it happens before the final. “I think if Brazil loses early, or does anything but win, people will come out and express their frustration,” said Marta Nagai, a Brazilian physician working in Rio. “All the issues about the big spending will be questioned.” And of course Argentines would like nothing better than to see Brazil fold. If it’s in the final at the Maracana, all the better. It happened in 1950, the last time Brazil hosted the World Cup. Brazil lost the deciding match of the final group stage to Uruguay 2-1, a loss that’s never forgotten in Brazil lore. “The most beautiful thing that can happen this year is Argentina winning the World Cup in Brazil,” said Celia Dominguez, who works in a dental office in Buenos Aires. “To make it even better. Let’s have Argentina win the final against Brazil with Messi scoring a penalty in the final minute. This is just to make the Brazilians suffer more.” — AP

PSG out to brush aside off-form Leverkusen

By Ahmad Al Othman


inally, Champions League football is back! Waiting for more than two months was never an easy thing, and I assure you football fans will set their timers at 10:45 local time to witness the classics of the season. The Etihad Stadium is set to host the first leg of the last 16 as cash-rich Manchester City take on league leaders Barcelona. Two high-flying sides that have been performing excellently throughout their league campaigns lock horns in what could be a goalfest and an open match. We’re just glad the wait is over! Although they beat Bayern Munich back in December at the Allianz Arena, it still wasn’t good enough to prevent City from finishing second and drawing a group winner. Had they scored one more goal in that match, they certainly would’ve faced another opponent. Manuel Pellegrini is praised for his attacking and midfield control during his reign at City, but today he’s not up against any ordinary rival - it’s the one and only Barcelona. Messi and Co have resumed normal business after their recent blip, with wins against Sevilla and Rayo putting them on top with TEN goals in the process! With the Argentine back to his best, it’s up to Kompany and the rest to negate his presence and halt his movement. However, if Man City over-concentrates on Messi, it’s Sanchez, Pedro, Fabregas and Iniesta who could do the damage and create chance after chance. Xavi and Busquets will be hoping to control the game from the scruff of the neck against a side featuring Yaya Toure and Silva. The home side would look to exploit the defensive frailties shown

by Barcelona throughout the season. Evidently, it’s the Blaugrana’s weakest link compared to their majestic midfield and fierce attack. Mascherano, Pique and Puyol haven’t been having the best of seasons, and at times it was down to Victor Valdes who saved the day and kept opponents at bay. The Catalans would surely favor playing their first leg away at England, which gives them an advantage of playing the return one at Camp Nou. This wasn’t the case back in 2009 when Andres Iniesta scored that memorable last-minute equalizer at Stamford Bridge to cancel Essien’s wonder strike and guide Barca to the triumphant final. City would have a decent chance going into the second leg if they can prevent Barcelona from scoring tonight. Pellegrini would surely command his team to be more rigid and inflexible in their pitch roaming. He needs his fullbacks to stick to their positions and not get carried away when moving the ball forward, while his midfield has to be at their best against Barcelona’s superiors. The Etihad is expected to be rocking and their faithful Sky Blue fans to be at their vocal best to spur the team on. A clean sheet is vital for City today, as they’re expected to be in the receiving end in the away leg. Aguero and Fernandinho are expected to miss today’s clash, so it’s down to Negredo and Navas to up their game and enter their fans’ hearts. There will be goals and I am quite sure Barcelona will score at least once, but it’s down to City to keep their quarterfinal qualification chances alive. Match prediction: Manchester City 2, Barcelona 1

Cruz Azul extend Mexican lead MEXICO CITY: Marco Fabian scored deep into second half injury time to give Mexican first division leader Cruz Azul a 1-0 victory over Puebla on Saturday in round seven of the Clausura championship. Toluca kept pace in second with a 3-0 win against Veracruz, also Saturday, but remain three points behind, while Pumas missed the chance to go third as they drew 1-1 against Atlas on Sunday. In other weekend games, Santos Laguna defeated Tijuana 3-2, Leon won 2-0 against Monterrey, Chivas beat Queretaro 2-1, Tigres drew 0-0 with Chiapas, Atlante overcame Pachuca 1-0 and Morelia secured a 1-0 victory over America. Fabian controlled the ball, twisted and lofted a shot from the edge of the penalty area to hand Cruz Azul its sixth victory in seven games. Paraguayan Edgar Benitez slid the ball in from close range to open the scoring in the 6th minute for Toluca, with Isaac Brizuela extending the lead four minutes

after halftime following a swift attack. Pablo Velazquez completed the scoring in the 86th with a left foot shot from inside the penalty area. Ismael Sosa equalized in the 76th for Pumas after Arturo Gonzalez struck from just outside the penalty box to give Atlas the lead in the 21st. — AP

Matches on TV (Local Timings) UEFA Champions League Man City v Barcelona beIN SPORTS 13 HD beIN SPORTS 11 HD beIN SPORTS 3 HD beIN SPORTS 1 HD


Leverkusen v PSG beIN SPORTS 5 HD beIN SPORTS 2 HD


LEVERKUSEN: Bayer Leverkusen must brush off recent poor form if they are to stop Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Paris SaintGermain’s march to the Champions League quarter-finals in today’s last 16, first-leg clash. Leverkusen have their work cut out containing maverick Ibrahimovic and overcoming the formidable obstacle of high-scoring PSG if they are to reach the last eight for the first time since 2002. Any side with Ibrahimovic in their ranks is dangerous and the Parisians finished as comfortable winners of Group C, scoring 16 goals in the process. The 32-yearold boasts the superb return of eight goals from five Champions League matches this term, leaving him second only to Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who has nine. The Sweden star already has three more than in his previous best seasons in the competition with Inter Milan in 2007/08 and AC Milan in 2011/12. Sami Hyypia-coached Leverkusen have had far from an ideal preparation, crashing to their second straight home defeat, their fifth loss in seven games, when they went down 2-1 to Schalke 04 in Saturday’s Bundesliga match. The defeat followed second-division Kaiserslautern’s shock 1-0 extra time German Cup win at Leverkusen’s BayArena last Wednesday, but Hyypia refuses to panic. “If we play like we did against Schalke, we will be able to live with Paris,” said the ex-Liverpool defender. “Only playing well doesn’t bring us points, we have to be more effective and score goals. I hope we manage that against Paris.” Hyypia will be able to call up Germany winger Sidney Sam, who was rested for the Schalke defeat after announcing in January that he will join the Royal Blues at the end of the season. Having reached the quarter-finals for the first time last season, big-spending PSG are gunning to be crowned European champions for the first time. “I think it would mean a lot,” said Ibrahimovic, who scored in PSG’s 3-0 win at home to Valenciennes on Friday to stay top of the French league. “If we can get further than the quarter-finals this year, it would be a big step for us. “This project has been ongoing for two years and I’ve been here for one-and-a-half - it is developing.” Leverkusen’s last foray into the Champions League’s knockout rounds came two years ago when they lost 3-1 at home to Barcelona in the last 16’s firstleg, only to be humiliated 7-1 in Spain when Lionel Messi hit a record five goals. With the return leg in Paris on March 12, Leverkusen will need to tighten up at the back. The Werkself need to correct their deep-lying defence, which was punished when Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar headed Schalke’s late winner. Hyypia will be without Australia winger and knee injury-victim Robbie Kruse, who is out for the season, while ex-Bayern Munich midfielder Emre Can is suspended. Uruguay forward Edinson Cavani is missing for PSG with a hamstring injury, while defenders Zoumana Camara, calf, and Christophe Jallet, back, are rated doubtful. Nevertheless, PSG head to Leverkusen in buoyant mood after Friday’s win kept them top of the French league with a five-point lead. “The primary goal before the Leverkusen match was to take the three points,” said PSG coach Laurent Blanc. “The players were thinking about Leverkusen, but they ignored that and got the job done.” — xAFP

GERMANY: Players listen to PSG’s coach Laurent Blanc during a training session ahead of the Champions League round of the last 16 first leg soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Paris Saint-Germain today. — AP

South American coaches add spice to Champions League

TOUGH TRANSITION South American players have long been hugely influential in European football but, until recently, coaches

have struggled to adapt in the modern era even when they their records suggested they had all the right credentials. Carlos Alberto Parreira lasted only a few months at Spanish club Valencia after leading Brazil to World Cup victory in 1994 while the hugely successful Boca Juniors and Velez Sarsfield coach Carlos Bianchi fared just as badly, with short spells at AS Roma and later Atletico Madrid. Argentina’s Ramon Diaz and Colombia’s Francisco Maturana were others who failed to make it on the other side of the Atlantic. The new generation has proved far more adaptable, although there is little connection between Pellegrini, Martino and Simeone who took very different routes to Europe. Pellegrini, a qualified engineer and former Chile defender, coached five clubs in his homeland then worked in Ecuador and Argentina before carving out his reputation in a five-year spell at Spain’s Villarreal, leading them to the Champions League semi-finals in 2006. Martino, whose only major title as a coach was Argentina’s Final championship with Newell’s Old Boys last season, took an even more unlikely route, coaching modest clubs in Argentine and then Paraguay’s Cerro Porteno and Libertad before making a positive impression during five years as coach of the Paraguay national team. Martino is widely regarded as a disciple of former Argentina, Chile and Athletic Bilbao coach Marcelo Bielsa , who also inspired Guardiola when he visited Argentina before his hugely successful spell in charge of Barcelona. Simeone, often describing as playing with a knife between his teeth, is a former Atletico Madrid player strongly identified with the club which he has revitalised since coming back as coach at the end of 2011. Seedorf, his opposite number on Wednesday, was born in the former Dutch colony of Suriname and ended his career in Brazil with Botafogo, where he commanded enormous respect. “The Brazilian league is very different and it gave me a lot to be able to face this new adventure,” Seedorf, who won the Champions League four times as a player, told Milan’s website ( “My experience with Botafogo helped me to prepare for this new job,” added Seedorf, who took over in January with the club in disarray..— Reuters

Clarence Seedorf

Manuel Pellegrini

BERNE: After years of trying, South American coaches are finally gaining a foothold in European football and their growing influence will be heavily felt as the Champions League round of 16 gets under. Three of the eight teams in action this week are coached by South Americans, AC Milan’s Clarence Seedorf was born and ended his playing career on the continent and Bayern Munich’s Pep Guardiola said he was inspired by what he learned during a visit to Argentina. Two of them meet in the week’s top clash as Manchester City, coached by urbane Chilean Manuel Pellegrini, host Gerardo Martino’s Barcelona today. “I have always been interested in Pellegrini’s career both in Europe and before, when he was coaching in South America,” said Argentine Martino, a surprise appointment by Barcelona before the start of the season. “He is one of the best coaches in the world. I feel very satisfied to be facing him in this tie.” Atletico Madrid, revitalised by former Argentina captain Diego Simeone, travel to AC Milan on Wednesday where they seem certain to give Seedorf a baptism of fire as he makes his coaching debut in a competition in which he was immensely successful as a player. Guardiola’s Bayern Munich visit Arsenal the same evening as the two sides meet at the same stage for the second season in a row. Overall, the round of 16 has a familiar ring to it after a predictable group stage where the only major surprise was the elimination of Serie A champions Juventus. Ten of the 16 teams reached the same stage last year and Manchester City are the only knockout phase debutants. Predictably, the English Premier League and Bundesliga dominate with four teams apiece, while Spain’s La Liga has three. Bayer Leverkusen, second in the Bundesliga, host big-spending Paris St Germain in the other of this week’s ties today. The remaining four first legs will all be played the following week with Olympiakos-Manchester United and Zenit St Petersburg-Borussia Dortmund on Feb. 25 and Galatasaray-Chelsea and Schalke 04-Real Madrid on Feb. 26.

McCullum torments India with another double ton



PSG out to brush aside off-form Leverkusen


Brazil’s worst nightmare if Argentina wins World CupPage 19

SOCHI: US Charlie White and US Meryl Davis compete in the Figure Skating Ice Dance Free Dance at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the Sochi Winter Olympics yesterday. — AFP

First Olympic ice dance gold for US SOCHI: Two-time world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White finally claimed a first Olympic figure skating ice dancing gold for the United States with new world record scores yesterday. Vancouver silver medallists Davis, 27, and White, 26, led all the way to seal the title by 4.53 points following a routine filled with difficult lifts and rapid footwork ahead of reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada. Russia’s Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov won bronze after the free dance final at the Iceberg Skating Palace. “We’re so excited, we’re in shock a little. I’m not sure what we’re feeling,” said Davis, after claiming a 15th Olympic gold medal for the United States but the first outside of men’s or women’s singles. “It kind of all came together for us and we’re so pleased to be here. We’re in disbelief.” The Americans, who train with the Canadian dancers in Detroit under Russian-born coach Marina Zoueva, completed their medal set after their silver in Vancouver and team bronze in Sochi. They scored 116.63 points for their free skate to “Scheherazade”-over two points higher than the previous record they achieved in the team event just over a week ago. After already setting a new record in the

short dance on Sunday they scored an overall total record of 195.52, beating their previous best from the Grand Prix final by over four points. “The crowd was really alive out there today for all the teams and we fed off the energy,” said White. “We were well prepared by our coach Marina (Zoueva) in coming here and doing our job.” “I felt like we had done everything we could from the beginning of this competition, in practice, team event, this event. And 17 years of hard work was justified. To come away with a gold medal is amazing.” The Canadians, who Zoueva led to gold four years ago, scored 114.66 points for their skate to “Petit Adagio, Waltz in Concerto No. 2” for an overall total of 190.99. “That was another great skate for us,” said Moir. “There was a lot of pressure tonight. We felt it more this afternoon probably than yesterday. We just wanted to go out and have a great skate for us and have our moment and we felt like we did that.” Virtue and Moir became the first Canadians to win three Olympic medals in figure skatingtwo silver in Sochi in addition to their Vancouver gold. Virtue added: “With more experience comes more pressure, more expectation and I think what we had in Vancouver, maybe

the benefit was not knowing what the Olympics are really all about and having not experienced it, but I think coming in we knew exactly the magnitude and the scope of it.” Ilinykh and Katasalapov had already won gold in the new team event in which the Canadians finished silver medallists and the Americans took bronze. They scored 110.44 for their emotional performance to “Swan Lake” which earned a standing ovation from their adoring home crowd for 183.48 overall. Olympic debut France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat finished off the podium in fourth. Since it made its Olympic debut at the 1976 Innsbruck Games it is just the fourth time that a nonRussian or former Soviet team have won ice dancing. For Russia it was a sixth consecutive medal in ice dance-the first time they have medalled in the same event in six straight Winter Games in any sport. Ice dancing is a different discipline and less athletic than pairs skating. It resembles ballroom dancing-the dancers have to stay close together and there is less lifting and more intricate, rhythmic footwork.

Meanwhile, Anton Kushnir completed a Belarus double in the aerials competition by winning men’s Olympic gold yesterday. Following Alla Tsuper ’s victor y in the women’s competition, he also succeeded compatriot Alexei Grishin as Winter Games winner after the defending champion was knocked out in the heats. “I was just lucky today to be honest,” said the humble champion. “I like to jump when my competitors are at a high level, it stimulates me. “Unfortunately the Chinese athletes made mistakes. I thought it would be close and decided on small technical issues but they made mistakes.” Australian David Morris was a shock silver medallist while Jia Zongyang took bronze for China ahead of his world champion teammate Qi Guangpu. Morris tried the least complicated jump in the final but he said it wasn’t a case of simply hedging his bets. “To be honest I’d never been to a super final before so I thought, I’ve never been here, I’ve got as far as I can possibly get, I’d be happy with a fourth. “I don’t expect to beat some of these guys with their huge jumps so I didn’t have the pressure like I have to win this. I came down and did the jump and just tried to put it on my feet and

let them (try to) beat me. “I’m never going to out-jump those guys.” Kushnir managed a staggering score of 134.50 in the super final to win by some margin over the competition, although both Chinese athletes crash-landed their jumps. Morris’s jump scored a modest 110.41 while neither Chinese broke the 100 barrier. Jia said he had no regrets about trying such a tough jump in the super final. “If I didn’t try this jump maybe it would have been a safer plan but I would have regretted it,” he said. Just as in the women’s competition, China had two competitors in the super final but could manage only one medal in each and no gold. “The Chinese team could have done better,” admitted Qi. Either Jia or Qi had top-scored on all three rounds before the super final but neither could pull it off when it mattered most. Earlier in the day Grishin was knocked out after finishing second last in the first heat and then failing to make a top six finish in the second-chance, second heat. China’s World Cup winner Liu Zhongqing, the Vancouver bronze medallist, also had a disaster and crashed out after finishing 18th out of 21 in the first heat and last out of 15 in the second. — AFP

East win All-Star game

NEW ORLEANS: The Eastern Conference’s Kyrie Irving No. 2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers heads for the net as the Western Conference’s Kevin Love No. 42 of the Minnesota Timberwolves defends during 2014 NBA AllStar game. — AFP

NEW ORLEANS: The Eastern Conference finally stopped Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin as it stopped its losing streak at the NBA All-Star game. Kyrie Irving had 31 points and 14 assists and was voted the game’s MVP, Carmelo Anthony made a record eight 3pointers and scored 30 points, and the East rallied for a 163-155 victory over the West on Sunday night in the highest-scoring All-Star game ever. “It’s a great honor,” Irving said. “We had a few MVPs. Everyone out here today is an MVP.” Durant and Griffin each finished with 38 points, four shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s All-Star game record. But the East scored the final 10 points to pull out a game it trailed by 18. “We wanted it,” LeBron James said. “I’ve been a part of the last three and in defeat.” Irving scored 15 points in the fourth quarter as the East ended a threegame losing streak. James had 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. “The superstars of our league were just telling us to compete on every play,” Irving said. “Trying to play as much defense as possible. You know, sticking to our game plan. We had a game plan going in and we executed.” The 318 points broke the record of 303 set in 1987. Griffin shot 19 of 23, while Durant finished with 10 rebounds and six assists. But the West was shut out after Durant’s 3pointer gave it a 155-153 lead with 1:59

left. Indiana’s Paul George made three free throws, Anthony nailed his final 3-pointer, and James scored to make it 161-155. George closed it out with two more free throws and finished with 18 points. The game that usually doesn’t get tight until the final minutes was close throughout the fourth quarter, neither team leading by more than four until the final minute. Chris Paul had 11 points and 13 assists, and first-time All-Star Stephen Curry had 12 points and 11 assists for the West. But the best point guard on the floor was Irving, who shot 14 of 17 and helped the East ring up 87 points in the second half after it surrendered a record 89 in the first. In a colorful tribute to New Orleans, players wore sneakers and socks that ranged from green and blue to orange and purple, making the game look like a Mardi Gras parade. The parade was one of layups and dunks for the West, which scored 44 points in the first quarter and 45 in the second. Griffin had 18 points in the first quarter and Durant had 22 at halftime, both two shy of records set by Glen Rice in 1997. And there was plenty of music, the rosters and starting lineups introduced around a concert by Pharrell Williams, who was joined by his own All-Stars in Nelly, Busta Rhymes, Sean “Diddy” Combs

and Snoop Dogg. Magic Johnson led a band, too, encouraging the All-Stars to join him in singing “Happy Birthday” after the first quarter to Hall of Famer Bill Russell, the NBA’s greatest champion who was celebrating his 80th. The All-Stars played better than they sang. The East finished with 61 percent shooting, needing all sorts of offense after it simply couldn’t defend Durant and Griffin. Durant made 6 3-pointers and easily blew past the 28.8 points he had been averaging in All-Star games, which was an NBA record. Outside of the ugly sleeved jerseys, it was a good look for the NBA’s midseason showcase, bouncing back strongly from an uneven All-Star Saturday night. The new format of the slam dunk contest Saturday wasn’t a hit, but every night is a dunk contest when Griffin is involved. The guy who once jumped over a car to win a slam dunk contest had eight slams in the first 11 minutes, the backboard often barely finished shaking from the last one when he threw down the next. The West began to open a gap in the second quarter behind a hometown star and a former one - Anthony Davis of the Pelicans and ex-New Orleans guard Paul. Durant made a 3-pointer with 26 seconds left to make it 89-76 at the break, one point better than he and the West had two years ago in Orlando. — AP

Olympics medals table SOCHI: Winter Olympics medals table yesterday (after

five of five gold medal events): Germany Russia Netherlands United States Norway Switzerland Belarus Canada Poland China Sweden Austria France Japan Czech Republic Slovenia South Korea Great Britain Slovakia Italy Australia Finland Latvia Croatia Kazakhstan Ukraine

Gold 8 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Silver 3 7 5 4 3 2 0 7 0 2 5 5 0 3 3 1 1 0 0 2 2 2 1 1 0 0

Bronze 2 6 7 9 7 1 1 4 0 1 2 1 4 2 1 3 1 1 0 3 1 0 2 0 1 1

Total 13 18 17 18 15 8 6 15 4 6 9 8 6 6 5 5 3 2 1 5 3 2 3 1 1 1

Kuwait spending boosted by transfers in Q3 ’13 Page 22


Slowing Japan economy stokes tax-rise fears Page 25


2014 Cadillac CTS Sedan is engineered for excellence

Embattled India govt defends record in pre-election budget Page 23 Page 26

TOKYO: Businessmen and women cross a road in Tokyo yesterday. Japan’s economy logged its best performance in three years as Premier Shinzo Abe’s growth blitz drove the expansion, but weak second-half data and an April sales tax rise are likely to dampen hopes for a firm recovery. — AFP

NBK appoints Isam Al-Sager as Group CEO Shaikha Al-Bahar named Deputy Group CEO following general assembly

Isam Jasem Al-Sager

KUWAIT: The Board of Directors of National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) Group has appointed Isam Jasem Al-Sager as NBK Group Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Ibrahim Shukri Dabdoub who will retire effectively following the Bank’s General Assembly Meeting. The Board of Directors has also appointed Shaikha Khaled Al-Bahar as the Deputy Group CEO. Al-Sager is currently NBK’s Deputy Group CEO, a position he held since 2010. He also held the position of NBK Kuwait CEO between 2008 and 2010 after being appointed as NBK Kuwait Deputy CEO in 1998. Prior to that, Al Sager held a range of managerial positions as the General Manager of Retail and Wholesale Bank ing Group since 1992 and Head of Domestic Credit and Marketing in 1987. Shaikha Al-Bahar is currently NBK Kuwait CEO, she was appointed to that position in 2010. Prior to that, she was NBK Kuwait

Deputy CEO between 2008 and 2010 and held several managerial positions including the General Manager of Corporate Banking Group since 2003. NBK Group CEO Ibrahim Dabdoub has decided to retire following the Bank’s next General Assembly Meeting. Dabdoub’s successful career at NBK extends for over 53 years, of which 30 years at its helm. Dabdoub has successfully led the bank to becoming one of the leading financial institutions in the Middle East with operations in 16 countries and total assets of $66 billion, while maintaining its ranking among the world’s safest banks with the highest credit ratings in the Middle East. Dabdoub will continue to serve the bank as an advisor to the Board of Directors. NBK’s Board of Directors stressed that NBK will continue with its current strategy

strengthening its leading position both locally and regionally, building on its strong reputation and long track record of solid performance and remarkable achievements. The Board of Direc tors said that the appointment of Isam Al-Sager and Shaikha Al-Bahar is testimony to the stability of NBK’s management team and reflects the bank’s successful succession planning. The Board of Directors has confirmed its complete confidence in Al-Sager and Al-Bahar and extended its full support for them to achieve the bank’s future ambitions and create value for its shareholders. The Board of Directors also extended its sincere appreciation to Dabdoub for his contribution to NBK’s success during his 30 years term as the Group CEO transforming the bank into a well-established regional institution.

Hollande tries to woo foreign businesses PARIS: President Francois Hollande appealed to foreign business leaders to invest in France yesterday, offering them simpler and more stable tax policies as his unpopular government tries to spur growth and create jobs. Hosting 30 heads of French units of foreign companies at his Elysee Palace, Hollande pledged to guarantee that taxes on an investment would not rise later - as has happened in the past - and VAT and duty rules for firms would be streamlined this year. The Socialist president, who last month announced France would phase out 30 billion euros ($41 billion) in charges on companies by 2017 to reverse its slide in trade competitiveness, also said French business taxes would be harmonized with those of its neighbors, especially Germany, by 2020. He did not indicate the legal basis for his pledge of stable taxes on investments in the euro zone’s second-largest economy. “The objective is to ensure the stability of tax standards and mechanisms,” Hollande told leaders of Siemens, Samsung Electronics, Volvo, General Electric and Nestle, among others. “A business, whether French or foreign, that wants to invest will have a commitment from the administration that the tax rules will remain the same, and that will be a guarantee.” The government believes a rebound in company investment can help boost growth in France’s GDP to at least 0.9 percent this year after stagnation in 2013. It hopes that even such modest growth will help bring down joblessness from near 11 percent. France ‘more complicated’ Yesterday’s meeting aimed to reassure for-

eign business leaders unnerved by France’s high overall tax rate, history of tense industrial relations and frequent run-ins with business such as his government’s threat in 2012 to nationalize an ailing steel plant run by ArcelorMittal. But his comments to the business leaders came the same day as a new law was introduced in parliament to impose tough fines on firms that shut operations still deemed economically viable. The law was prompted by Hollande’s 2012 campaign promise to steelworkers at ArcelorMittal’s Florange blast furnaces in northern France that he would pass legislation to protect their jobs in case of a shutdown. Despite a government threat to nationalize them, the furnaces were later closed. “I know that France, and this was confirmed by our discussions, is seen as a more complicated country than others,” said Hollande, who last week delivered a pro-business message to entrepreneurs on a visit to Silicon Valley in California. One participant at yesterday’s meeting, Austrian industrial investor Ernst Lemberger, said France needed to simplify its burdensome tax system and lower labor costs. “The country has got everything it needs to succeed but still it’s been behind neighboring countries in taking the necessary economic reforms,” Lemberger told LCI television. The Foreign Ministry estimates on its website the total stock of foreign direct investment is around $1 trillion, behind only that in the United States, China and Britain. But it also has over-protective labor laws and high and rising taxes, the two main deterrents to more robust foreign or domestic investment, according to employers and economists. — Reuters

Shaikha Khaled Al-Bahar

Industries Qatar edges higher; region mixed MIDEAST STOCK MARKETS

PARIS: French President Francois Hollande gestures as he delivers a speech after a working session of a ‘Strategic Council for Attractiveness’ with international business leaders at the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris yesterday. — AFP (See also Page 25)

DUBAI: Blue-chip Industries Qatar surged to a nine-year high yesterday as a surprise hike in dividends attracted buyers even though the firm’s fourth-quarter profit trailed estimates. Industries Qatar boosted Doha’s measure while other regional markets were mixed. Shares in the metals and petrochemicals conglomerate jumped 7.4 percent to 193.10 riyals, their highest since April 2005. The firm’s board proposed a dividend of 11 riyals per share or 110 percent of its nominal value, up from 8.5 riyals in 2012. Qatar’s bourse is up 1.5 percent. The dividend hike comes despite a 5 percent drop in annual profit due to weak fertilizer prices. “We see the company as well positioned to maintain a payout ratio greater than 80% in the medium-to-longterm driven by lower leverage and limited announced capex,” Ankit Gupta, assistant vice president of research at NBK Capital, said in a note. NBK Capital’s fair value for the stock is 162.5 riyals and Gupta expects some increase in the fair value on 2013 dividends beat, and improved dividend outlook in the medium term. Qatar’s benchmark rose 1.5 percent, its biggest one-day gain in six weeks, to hit a 67-month high. Dividends in the Gulf region have helped boost share prices

more than positive earnings and in IQ’s case, even offset weak earnings. Strong dividend and bonus share payouts by Saudi banks have also spurred investor confidence in recent weeks but the index slipped 0.3 percent in profittaking yesterday. Petrochemical sector was the main culprit. Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) shed 0.9 percent and the sector’s index lost 0.8 percent. Banking shares index was little changed after gaining 5.7 percent so far in 2014. In the United Arab Emirates, bourses were mixed with Dubai extending gains as the index climbed 0.8 percent to a new fiveyear high, boosted by a renewed real estate and tourism boom in the emirate. Shares in Emaar Properties advanced 1.2 percent ahead of the firm posting estimate-beating fourth-quarter profit, which surged 48 percent. Emaar made a profit of 756 million dirhams ($206 million), well above the average estimate of 622 million dirhams. Shares in telecommunications firm du and budget carrier Air Arabia also gained as investors made their bets before the announcement of fourth-quarter results. Abu Dhabi’s measure slipped 0.2 percent after touching a multi-year intraday high of 4,920 points. — Reuters



Iran: Russia could build nuke reactor in exchange for oil

Kuwait spending boosted by transfers in Q3 ’13 NBK ECONOMIC REPORT KUWAIT: Public finance figures for Q3 FY 2013/14 (October to December) reveal a large jump in government spending compared to Q2, driven by a rise in current spending. However, expenditure is still not particularly high for this stage of the year and within the overall total, capital spending continues to disappoint. Ultimately, underlying spending growth could end up at around 8-9 percent this year, but strong oil revenues will ensure another huge budget surplus of more than 20 percent of GDP. Total government spending reached KD 9.6 billion in the first nine months of the fiscal year, surging KD 4.5 billion from the first six months and up 18 percent from a year earlier. Most of this increase came from current spending, which rose 20 percent y/y and almost doubled from its end-2Q levels. Although large, the increase in current spending is not especially surprising: due to reporting issues, it can be volatile on a quarter-to-quarter basis. Moreover, because current spending accounts for around 90 percent of all spending, its volatility has a large impact on the spending figures overall. More than half of the increase in current spending came from the large ‘miscellaneous & transfers’ component, which jumped to KD 5.0 billion from KD 2.6 billion at end-2Q. Although details for the entire period are not available, it looks likely that the jump was driven by a rise in transfer payments to the state social security fund, PIFSS. As an inter-departmental transfer, this proportion of the increase in spending has limited significance for the domestic economy. As such, 3Q’s large rise in spending overstates the stimulus to the economy. By contrast, recorded capital spending remained soft in December. Although it rose by KD 0.3 billion to KD 0.7 billion in Q3 from Q2, it actually fell 4 percent y/y. Moreover, at below 27 percent of the full year budget, the rate of capital spending remained subdued for this stage of the year. Ultimately, we expect recent signs of progress on a number of small and large capital projects to filter through to more upbeat official spending data - though perhaps not until next year. On the other side, total government revenues stood at KD 24.0 billion in December, down slightly in year-on-year terms. The fall is largely a result of the softening in oil


prices over the past year, which has reduced oil revenues. This more than offset a notable rise in non-oil revenues, likely generated by payments from the UN Compensation Commission. Despite the y/y drop, overall revenues remain buoyant in historical terms and are already onethird above the government’s budget projection for the year as a whole. The combination of rising spending and softer oil revenues pushed the 9 month budget surplus down 11 percent y/y. But at KD 14.3 billion, the surplus remains extremely large. Moreover, part of the decline is probably due to the expenditure timing issues mentioned above. If so, this effect should even out by the end of the year, possibly through a smaller than usual upward adjustment to spending in the end year accounts. Ultimately, we expect a full year budget surplus of around 23 percent of GDP, only slightly down on the 25 percent recorded in FY12/13.

in brief

Mashreq hikes foreign ownership limit to 49% DUBAI: Dubai’s Mashreq has increased the limit on foreign ownership of its shares to 49 percent, its chief executive said yesterday, in line with a wider move by companies in the United Arab Emirates to open up to international investors. Companies and banks in the UAE and Qatar are reviewing their foreign ownership caps ahead of a planned upgrade by international index compiler MSCI to emerging market status for these countries in May, which is expected to attract fresh foreign money. On Sunday, property developer Deyaar said it would allow foreign investors to own shares for the first time, up to a limit of 25 percent, subject to shareholder approval.

Gulf Marine Services plans London IPO DUBAI: Abu Dhabi-based Gulf Marine Services (GMS) said yesterday it intended to sell shares on the London Stock Exchange to fund its growth plans, with the oil and gas services firm targeting a market valuation of $1 billion once listed. It is the latest privately-owned firm from the United Arab Emirates to look outside the Middle East for a stock market listing. Several have chosen London, giving them access to a wider group of investors and less stringent ownership rules than in their home market. The resurgence of local stock markets - in 2013, the value of Dubai’s bourse more than doubled, while Abu Dhabi’s climbed 63 percent - has not stemmed the tide. GMS plans to sell new shares worth $100 million, as well as an undis-

closed number of shares currently held by private equity backers, according to a regulatory filing in London. Abu Dhabi private equity firm Gulf Capital currently owns 79 percent of GMS and will offer shares in the initial public offering (IPO) through two subsidiaries. Horizon Energy and Al Ain Capital also have holdings. The statement did not specify how much each party would contribute to the IPO. While the price of shares will be set at a later date, a source familiar with the matter said GMS was targeting a market capitalization of $1 billion after the IPO. Given that a minimum of 25 percent of a company must be listed for inclusion in FTSE indices, this would indicate the IPO will be worth at least $250 million. The source would not be drawn on a

MOSCOW: Russia could build a second reactor at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant in exchange for Iranian oil, the Iranian ambassador to Moscow said in remarks published yesterday. Russia could also supply Iran with trucks, railroad tracks, minirefineries or other goods to pay for the oil, ambassador Mehdi Sanaei told the daily Kommersant, under a deal Reuters revealed was being negotiated last month. Reuters reported Iran and Russia were negotiating to swap up to 500,000 barrels of oil per day for goods in the deal that would undermine Western efforts to maintain economic pressure on Tehran while global powers seek to curb its nuclear program. In an interview published a day before the six powers including Russia resume talks with Tehran on a nuclear deal, Sanaei confirmed Russia and Iran were discussing supplies of “a few hundred thousand barrels per day”. “Iran could use some of the proceeds (to pay for) the construction by Russia companies of a second unit at the nuclear power plant in Bushehr,” he said. Russia built the first reactor at Bushehr, Iran’s sole nuclear power plant. Sanaei said it was possible the oil deal, and a broad memorandum on economic cooperation, could be signed before August. —Reuters

tor of jack-up barges, collapsed due to financing issues and differences over its valuation. Since then, Gulf Capital has been preparing GMS for an IPO on a major stock exchange such as London. “It is their strategy. We cannot force companies to list here,” Abdullah al-Turifi, the chief executive of UAE equities market regulator the Securities and Commodities Authority, said at an event on regulation in Abu Dhabi on Monday. “But we will encourage them to dual list.” Other UAE-based firms to have listed in London in the last two years include Dubai’s DAMAC Properties, which raised $348 million in December, and Abu Dhabi-based healthcare firms Al Noor Hospitals and NMC Healthcare. —Reuters

timetable for the IPO. However, if GMS followed a traditional schedule of two weeks of roadshows and two weeks of bookbuilding, the listing would take place towards the end of March. Proceeds from the $100 million sale of new shares will be use to buy a small vessel called the Keloa for $37.5 million, repay $20 million of shareholder loans and expand its business, the statement added. Bank of America-Merrill Lynch and Barclays are global coordinators of the offering with JP Morgan Cazenove also acting as a bookrunner. Rothschild is the financial advisor to the company. Previous attempts to sell all of GMS, which started operations in 1977 and is currently the Middle East’s largest opera-

Egyptian pound inches up slightly at CB sale CAIRO: The Egyptian pound was up slightly at a central bank foreign currency sale yesterday, and continued to trade at weaker rates on the black market. The central bank sold $39.6 million to banks with a cut-off price of 6.9512 pounds to the dollar, compared with the 6.9513 pounds at the last auction on Thursday. The bank had offered to sell $40 million. On the black market, one market participant said the dollar has been trading for about 7.30 pounds since Thursday, another said it has been offered for about 7.35. The pound has been under pressure during three years of political turmoil in Egypt. Foreign currency reserves were $17 billion in December, down from $36 billion before the uprising that led to president Hosni Mubarak’s downfall in 2011. The central bank introduced dollar currency sales a year ago. Last month, it held a $1.5 billion exceptional auction, its largest ever, to restock the market with dollars and curb the unofficial currency trading. Emaar Q4 net profit up 48%, beats estimates DUBAI: Emaar Properties, Dubai’s largest real estate developer, reported a 48 percent jump in fourth-quarter net profit yesterday, beating analysts’ estimates, as it benefited from a renewed real estate and tourism boom in the emirate. The builder of the world’s tallest tower posted a quarterly profit of 756 million dirhams ($206 million), compared with 512 million dirhams in the corresponding period of 2012, the company said in a statement on Dubai’s bourse. Analysts in a Reuters poll had predicted on average a net profit of 622 million dirhams. The developer, which launched several new projects last year, said its total value of sales in Dubai for 2013 was 12 billion dirhams, nearly three times the amount in 2012.

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

ASIAN COUNTRIES 2.781 4.560 2.690 2.157 2.855 225.010 36.426 3.628 6.343 8.739 0.271 0.273 GCC COUNTRIES

Saudi Riyal Qatari Riyal Omani Riyal Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham

75.363 77.653 731.150 750.630 76.965

ARAB COUNTRIES Egyptian Pound - Cash 39.550 Egyptian Pound - Transfer 40.148 Yemen Riyal/for 1000 1.318 Tunisian Dinar 178.970 Jordanian Dinar 399.100 Lebanese Lira/for 1000 1.896 Syrian Lira 2.014 Morocco Dirham 35.313 EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer 282.500 Euro 388.860 Sterling Pound 475.730 Canadian dollar 258.460 Turkish lira 129.990 Swiss Franc 318.850 Australian Dollar 256.790 US Dollar Buying 281.300 20 Gram 10 Gram 5 Gram

GOLD 240.000 121.000 62.500

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

SELL DRAFT 259.84 259.85 320.83 390.36 282.45 468.11 2.82 3.636 4.544 2.160 2.842 2.684 76.97 751.77 40.57 401.99 734.55 78.00 75.45

SELL CASH 256.84 260.85 318.83 391.36 285.45 471.11 2.84 3.906 4.844 2.595 3.377 2.790 77.43 753.84 41.17 407.64 741.85 78.55 75.85

2.970 3.840 86.245 46.960 9.665 129.075

Philippine Peso Sierra Leone Singapore Dollar South African Rand Sri Lankan Rupee Taiwan Thai Baht

0.006422 0.000069 0.220704 0.019936 0.001888 0.009221 0.008392

0.006702 0.000075 0.226704 0.028436 0.002468 0.009401 0.008942

Bahrain Exchange Company

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

Arab 0.742881 0.036820 0.000078 0.000184 0.394226 1.0000000 0.000138 0.024361 0.001194 0.727733 0.076886 0.074697 0.002164 0.175064 0.126176 0.075932 0.001283

0.750881 0.039920 0.000079 0.000244 0.401726 1.0000000 0.000238 0.048361 0.001829 0.733413 0.078099 0.075397 0.002384 0.183064 0.133176 0.077081 0.001363

Syrian Pound Nepalese Rupees Malaysian Ringgit Chinese Yuan Renminbi Thai Bhat Turkish Lira

COUNTRY Belgian Franc British Pound Czech Korune Danish Krone Euro Norwegian Krone Romanian Leu Slovakia Swedish Krona Swiss Franc Turkish Lira

Dollarco Exchange Co. Ltd Rate for Transfer US Dollar Canadian Dollar Sterling Pound Euro Swiss Frank Bahrain Dinar UAE Dirhams Qatari Riyals Saudi Riyals Jordanian Dinar Egyptian Pound Sri Lankan Rupees Indian Rupees Pakistani Rupees Bangladesh Taka Philippines Pesso Cyprus pound Japanese Yen

Selling Rate 282.250 259.962 474.200 388.205 317.255 745.275 76.825 78.375 76.135 397.775 40.489 2.156 4.551 2.689 3.626 6.326 693.260 3.775

Australian Dollar New Zealand Dollar

SELL CASH Europe 0.007342 0.467114 0.006094 0.047774 0.381376 0.042392 0.081514 0.008083 0.039765 0.310309 0.126176 Australasia 0.247029 0.229923

SELLDRAFT 0.008342 0.476114 0.018094 0.052774 0.388876 0.047592 0.81514 0.018083 0.044765 0.320509 0.133176 0.258529 0.239423

Al Mulla Exchange Canadian Dollar US Dollars US Dollars Mint

America 0.251812 0.278400 0.278900

0.260312 0.282750 0.282750

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

Asia 0.003332 0.045194 0.034334 0.004279 0.000019 0.002693 0.003262 0.000255 0.082177 0.003068 0.002391

0.003932 0.048694 0.037084 0.004680 0.000025 0.002873 0.003262 0.000270 0.088177 0.003238 0.002671

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

Transfer Rate (Per 1000) 281.900 388.550 473.150 259.000 4.558 40.148 2.158 3.635 6.325 2.698 750.500 76.750 75.300



$800m Australian tax payout for Murdoch firm SYDNEY: Rupert Murdoch’s Australian operations pocketed an Aus$882 million (US$800 million) tax rebate from the new conservative government, reports said yesterday, blowing a major hole in the country’s budget. The massive payout to News Corp.-one of the largest ever made by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) — related to complex shuffling of assets through local and overseas businesses in 1989 that netted the company a Aus$2 billion tax deduction,

according to The Australian Financial Review. According to the AFR, the payout was a significant element of the Aus$17 billion spending blowout unveiled by the new government in December. In July 2013 Australia’s Federal Court ruled that News Corp ought to be allowed to claim the deduction and the ATO had 28 days to decide to appeal. The business daily said the ATO decided against such a move, as

Murdoch’s Australian newspapers waged a concerted campaign against the thenLabor government, openly urging voters to remove them from office with a series of scathing headlines. Then-prime minister Kevin Rudd claimed Murdoch was agitating against Labor in exchange for concessions from the conservatives, who went on to win power in September 2013, the AFR said. Prime Minister Tony Abbott refused to comment on the allegations Monday,

saying the payout “is something which is news to me and I’ll have to take that one on notice”. The ATO would not speak about the News Corp case but said it followed strict procedures when deciding whether to lodge an appeal and sought “external legal counsel opinion on the prospects of success”. “Careful consideration is given to a range of factors, including the costs to all parties of proceeding and the importance of the particular case to clari-

fying the law for the benefit of the wider community,” an ATO spokesman told AFP. Other major spending included an Aus$8.8 billion cash injection to the central bank and Aus$1.2 billion for a government’s military-led crackdown on people-smugglers. Murdoch’s News Corp is the dominant media player in his native Australia, controlling 70 percent of capital city newspaper circulation. The firm also has significant online and television assets. —AFP

Embattled India govt defends record in pre-election budget Fiscal deficit to be checked at 4.6% of GDP: FM

KOLKATA: Elderly Indian Muslims selling leather bags talk to each other as they wait for customers near a parking lot in Kolkata yesterday.— AP

Sri Lanka keeps rates steady, retains foreign capital COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s central bank kept interest rates steady yesterday, saying the economy showed signs of improvement with foreign cash unlike most emerging markets facing capital outflows. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka in its monthly review decided to hold lending rates at multi-year lows of 8.0 percent, but hinted that there could be further cuts after a 50 basis point reduction last month. “Longer term lending rates, which displayed some downward adjustments in January, have space to decrease further,” the bank said. It noted modest flows of foreign capital into the Sri Lankan economy despite the reduction in the US bond-buying program which has triggered a flight of capital from other emerging markets in recent weeks, the bank said. “The effect of the tapering of the US quantitative easing (QE) program on the Sri Lanka economy is expected to be minimal”, the bank said attributing it to “investors who have a serious and long term view of the Sri Lankan economy”. It said Sri Lanka attracted a net inflow of $119 million this year. Last week, the bank said record remittances and tourism earnings helped wipe out a trade deficit in 2013 and improve foreign reserves in a country relying heavily

on external debt. Sri Lankans employed abroad sent home $6.8 billion last year, up 13 percent from 2012 while earnings from tourism jumped 35 percent to $1.4 billion in 2013, according to official figures. They showed Sri Lanka’s overall balance of payments ended up with a surplus of $991 million, compared to a modest surplus of $151 million in 2012 and a deficit of $1.06 billion in 2011. The improvement in the balance of payments was also helped by garment exports which increased by 26 percent while the island’s main export commodities of tea and coconut also increased significantly. Europe and the United States are the main markets for Sri Lankan-made clothing. Imports on the other hand fell to $17.99 billion in 2013, down 6.2 percent compared to 2012 because of a lower oil import bill. Sri Lanka also sold $1 billion in bonds last month, despite warnings from the International Monetar y Fund against increasing the external debt. Sri Lanka’s debt is estimated at nearly 80 percent of its GDP. The economy recorded 8.0 percent-plus growth for two straight years after troops crushed separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, but the pace has slowed in the last two years. — AFP

Morgan Stanley appoints Delivanis as MENA IB head DUBAI: Morgan Stanley named Patrick Delivanis as the head of investment banking in the Middle East and North Africa, a spokesman confirmed yesterday, replacing Klaus Froehlich who is relocating to Frankfurt for a senior investment banking role. Delivanis, who was instrumental in advising on the state-backed merger of Abu Dhabi proper ty firms Aldar Properties and Sorouh Real Estate, has been with the bank’s investment banking team in Dubai since 2007. Froehlich, the current MENA head, is relocating to Europe as global head of capital markets for Germany and Austria. Prior to his stint in the Middle East, he was the bank’s head of equity capital markets for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. A

spokesman for the bank in Dubai confirmed Delivanis’ appointment and Froehlich’s move to Frankfurt. Investment banking activity in the Middle East is showing signs of a slow revival as mergers and acquisitions activity picks up and equity sales recommence after a long hiatus. Investment banking fees in the Middle East grew 20 percent last year, data compiled by Thomson Reuters showed. In 2013, Morgan Stanley was one of the advisers to telecoms operator Etisalat in a block sale of its 9.1 percent stake in Indonesia’s PT XL Axiata and also advised French lender Societe Generale in the sale of its Egyptian arm to Qatar National Bank. —Reuters

NEW DELHI: India’s embattled government said yesterday it had lifted tens of millions of people out of poverty as it announced an interim budget ahead of elections that it is widely tipped to lose. Finance Minister P Chidambaram trumpeted the Congress-led government’s achievements during its decade in office, as he presented the budget to cover spending until the general elections due by May. Struggling to be heard above protesting lawmakers, Chidambaram steered clear of a populist spending spree to win over voters, despite almost certain defeat at the polls to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Chidambaram said the fiscal deficit would be contained at 4.6 percent of gross domestic product in the current financial year, beating his own target of 4.8 percent. The minister estimated that the fiscal deficit would shrink further to 4.1 percent in the next financial year. “I can confidently assert that the fiscal deficit is declining, the current account deficit is constrained, inflation is moderated; exchange rate is stable,” the minister told the parliament. “All of this is a result of hard work, my mother and Harvard (University) taught me the value of hard work,” he said. “I reject the argument of policy paralysis,” he added. “Let history be the judge of the last 10 years.” Asia’s third largest economy is facing the worst economic slowdown in a decade, with growth at 4.5 percent last year, along with shrinking manufacturing, poor jobs growth and stubbornly high inflation. Opinion polls show the Congress party headed for defeat at the elections, with voters disenchanted by a string of corruption scandals as well as perceived mismanagement of the economy and policy paralysis. But Chidambaram said the government had successfully steered India through the global economic slowdown, before listing a string of domestic achievements, including helping the poor and hiking food production. “Our greatest achievement is lifting 140 million

NEW DELHI: Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, center, shows a briefcase containing interim budget for the fiscal year 2014-15, with state ministers of finance Namo Narain Meena (left) and J D Seelam as they arrive at parliament in New Delhi yesterday. — AP people out of poverty,” he told lawmakers, cent spending increase for the defense sector, some of whom were angrily chanting against to boost pensions for retiring personnel, as well plans to create a new state in the country’s as a moratorium for students paying back soft loans. India’s economy grew at just 4.5 percent southeast. “Only a handful of countries were able to last year, far below the near double-digit growth keep their heads above the water (because of enjoyed in the past decade. Yesterday the ministhe global slowdown) and India was one of ter forecast growth of 4.9 percent in the current them.” In an attempt to boost India’s slumping financial year which ends March 31. While cutmanufacturing sector, he announced a cut in ting expenditure to lower the fiscal deficit is a excise duties for the car industry, including for standard procedure worldwide, rolling back the SUVs from 30 percent to 24 percent and from government’s presence can also hurt growth in a country with widespread poverty and scant 12 percent to eight percent for other vehicles. In other measures, he announced a 10 per- infrastructure, analysts say. — AFP

Asking prices for UK homes rise at fastest pace LONDON: Asking prices for homes in Britain rose at the sharpest rate in more than six years over the past 12 months despite a big rise in new listings coming onto the market recently, property website Rightmove said yesterday. Rightmove’s February house price index showed the price of properties coming on to the market in the four weeks to Feb. 8 were 6.9 percent higher than a year earlier, the biggest increase since November 2007. January’s index showed a 6.3 percent rise. “New sellers are now asking over 16,000 pounds ($26,600) more than those who came to market a year ago, a rate of increase not seen since before the credit crunch took hold in 2008,” Rightmove director Miles Shipside said. Britain’s economy has been growing faster than most of its industrialised peers, with the housing market standing out as it benefits from falling unemployment, record low interest rates and government mortgage schemes. But concerns about the speed of recovery in the market prompted the Bank of England in November to announce it would remove incentives for mortgage lending under its Funding for Lending Scheme. The sector remains supported by the government’s Help to Buy mortgage guarantee program. Month-on-month house price inflation - which is not seasonally adjusted - surged to 3.3 percent in February’s survey from 1.0 percent in January. Rightmove said February was typically a strong month for asking prices, and that the latest rise was the second largest for a February since the index began in September 2001. Housing shortages were pushing up prices despite some signs of extra construction, Rightmove said. “Supply and demand imbalances remain and are getting worse in many markets, as a result of years of under-provision of additional housing stock, especially in the areas where the local economy and employment are strong,” Shipside said. —Reuters

Shunning creditors, Iceland goes it alone REYKJAVIK/STOCKHOLM: Iceland’s government feels it can shun international investors while enjoying economic growth - witness its dismissive response to a $5 billion lawsuit over Icesave debts and a tough stance on paying bond creditors. The centre-right administration, elected last year, has turned its back on talks to join the European Union, largely opting to go it alone in rebuilding an economy shattered by a banking collapse. That had forced the nation of 320,000 to take an international bailout and slash public spending, but now the economy is growing at the fastest pace since before the crisis and better than many EU countries - expanding by 3 percent in 2013. Meanwhile, the tough stance over creditors remains popular with voters despite capital controls that hamper foreign investment. “There are no good reasons for Iceland becoming financially isolated, and we have seen things developing in the right direction,” Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson told Reuters. Foreign visitors have flocked to the island. Tourist revenues for the year to the end of September were 267 billion Icelandic crowns ($2.3 billion) up from 73 billion in the whole of 2008. Earnings from fishing and aluminum are up 60 percent and 25 percent respectively in the 20082012 period. “Iceland has recovered faster than most others,” Eirikur Bergmann, professor of politics at Iceland’s Bifrost

University, said. “Of course, capital controls skew the economy, so in the long run it needs to be sorted, but there doesn’t seem to be any immediate need to rush into doing that.” Indeed, economists say the protective shell around the economy also makes things difficult for local businesses while the island’s financial markets are being distorted. But for now, there is little public appetite for the compromises needed for reintegration into the financial mainstream. Earlier this week Iceland’s Depositors’ and Investors’ Guarantee Fund said Britain and the Netherlands had filed a $4.87 billion claim with a Reykjavik court over money they paid out to cover domestic savers losses in Icesave accounts when Landsbanki collapsed in late 2008. Iceland’s prime minister dismissed the suit, saying that the two countries would not get much for their efforts as there was no state guarantee for the debt. His lack of concern reflects a sense of wounded pride following the banking collapse and the Icesave spat when the British used anti-terrorist laws to seize Icelandic assets. Support for joining the EU has slumped and there has even been talk of adopting Canada’s currency, not the euro. “I actually thought the Icesave dispute had ended and this suddenly popped up,” 41 year-old Gudrun Gunnarsdottir said. “It’s another case of the big countries trying to use their strength against a smaller nation.” — Reuters

Turkish lira steady ahead of interest rate meeting ISTANBUL: The Turkish lira was steady yesterday ahead of a central bank meeting today when the bank is seen sticking to its newly tight monetary policy stance. Turkey’s central bank is expected to keep key interest rates on hold after a dramatic hike at an emergency policy meeting on Jan. 29 called to halt a sharp decline in the lira. “We consider the recent monetary tightening as essential to alleviate depreciation pressures on the Turkish lira, thereby improving the inflation outlook,” a note from Finansbank said. “Nevertheless, as financial markets remain fragile, we doubt it was strong enough to overcome currency weaknesses altogether.” Bond, currency and stock markets in developing countries have swung wildly in recent months as the US Federal Reserve’s tapering of its quantitative easing program and concerns about a rapid slowdown in China have spooked investors. However, emerging markets staged a modest recovery yesterday as sentiment improved and dealers reported an influx of funds to many emerging markets. Turkish

stocks also gained. The main Istanbul share index rose 1.13 percent to 65,617.83 points by 0848 GMT, broadly in line with the wider emerging markets index, which rose 0.85 percent. Having suffered a violent sell-off over the past month, the lira firmed after the central bank fought back with the rate hikes. The lira traded at 2.1830 to the dollar yesterday, against 2.1820 late on Friday. It touched a record low against the dollar of 2.39 on Jan 27.But analysts were already looking to the next pressure points for emerging markets, with some investors braced for an “April tipping point”, when the Fed’s stimulus withdrawal in real terms is expected to start having a more material impact on the economy. The yield on the 10-year benchmark bond stood at 10.19 percent from 10.17 percent on Friday. Following a sell-off spurred by the sharp rate hike which inverted the yield curve, the yield on the 2-year benchmark bond was higher at 10.77 percent, up slightly from 10.75 on Friday. — Reuters

Doctors, health workers and protesters gather yesterday outside a branch of the state health fund EOPYY in an Athens’ suburb, as doctors and other staff refuse to hand over control of the organization’s polyclinics despite the demands of the Health Ministry. — AFP



Record inflows help fuel European stock rally PARIS: European stocks rose yesterday, extending a brisk two-week rally fuelled by record inflows as an increasing number of investors bet on the region’s economic recovery. Easing worries over emerging markets as well as data showing brisk lending in China boosted shares in miners, with BHP Billiton up 1.3 percent and Glencore Xstrata up 1.5 percent. At 1130 GMT, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.5 percent at 1,338.67 points, a level not seen in 3-1/2 weeks. The benchmark index, which has surged 5.3 percent over the past two weeks, is

about 1.1 percent below a 5-1/2 year high hit in January. European equity funds have enjoyed net inflows of $17 billion since the beginning of 2014, according to the latest data from EPFR Global, marking a record start to the year and in sharp contrast to massive outflows from emerging market funds. Within Europe, equity funds focused on Italy and Spain have been leading the way in terms of inflows, EPFR said. Both countries have recently seen their bond yields retreat sharply. Italian 10-year government bond yields hit an eight-year low of 3.622 percent yesterday, after ratings agency

Moody’s lifted its outlook on the country’s credit rating to ‘stable’ from ‘negative’ and as Rome prepared for a new government. “Investors are quite sanguine about the economic and political situation in peripheral Europe, and that’s a very positive signal,” said David Thebault, head of quantitative sales trading at Global Equities in Paris. “Ten-year bond yields continue to fall across the board, a sign of stability which has prompted a lot of investors to come back.” Italian shares were steady yesterday, with Milan’s FTSE MIB up 0.03 percent. The index outperformed on Friday, rallying a 1.6 percent,

as investors welcomed the prospect centreleft leader Matteo Renzi will become prime minister. Renzi said yesterday he will begin official consultations to form a new government in the next 24 hours and expects to lay out reforms to be completed within the next few months. The MIB is up nearly 8 percent so far this year, trading at a 2-1/2 year high and strongly outperforming a 1.6 percent rise in the FTSEurofirst 300 in 2014. In core European markets, the UK’s FTSE 100 index was up 1 percent, boosted by buoyant mining stocks, while Germany’s DAX index was up 0.1 per-

cent. Paris’s CAC 40 was up 0.03 percent after hitting a three-month high earlier in the session. The French benchmark has been rising for 10 sessions in a row. “The CAC is back at its year high, and even if there’s a need for a pause at some point after such a long winning streak, it could easily break out on the upside in the next few weeks,” Barclays France director Franklin Pichard said. European shares have been supported by relatively good corporate results in the current earnings season, with 58 percent of companies reporting inline or better-than-expected profits, according to Thomson Reuters Starmine.

While in absolute terms net profits are still falling, a pick-up in corporate revenue, up 2.3 percent overall, and a slight improvement in economic growth in the euro zone is fuelling investors’ hopes that earnings will pick up this year. Bucking the trend yesterday, Bouygues slipped 0.8 percent after unveiling a 1.4 billion euro ($1.9 billion) writedown on its investment in Alstom to reflect the train and turbine maker’s weaker cashflow forecasts. ThyssenKrupp fell 1.5 percent. Traders pointed to Citigroup’s decision to cut its recommendation on the stock to “sell” from “neutral”, citing inflated valuations. —Reuters

TOKYO: People walk by a clothing store with a winter sale advertisement in Tokyo yesterday. —AP

Gold jumps on weak dollar, US growth fears LONDON: Gold hit a 3-1/2 month high yesterday as fears over US economic growth after a series of disappointing data sent the dollar to a six-week low, lifting demand for the metal. Spot gold touched its highest level since Oct. 31 at $1,329.55 an ounce earlier in the session and was trading up 0.7 percent at $1,326.88 by 1123 GMT. The metal posted its biggest weekly gain since August last week, up 4 percent. US gold futures climbed for a ninth session running, up 0.6 percent to $1,327.10 an ounce, and were on track for their longest rising streak since July 2011. Gold has risen 10 percent this year, after a 28 percent drop in 2013 that snapped a 12-year run of gains. Prices have been boosted by weak US and Chinese economic data, while emerging market jitters have hurt some equity markets last month, spurring demand for bullion - usually seen as providing insurance in times of troubles. But global shares have rebounded this month, unusually rising in tandem with gold. Investor risk appetite tends to diminish interest in gold. “We have had a pause in selling off emerging markets, bond volatility has fallen ... so the traditional things which you would assume are taking place when gold is going bid because of its insurance component are not currently active and yet gold is being bought,” said Sean Corrigan, chief investment officer at asset manager Diapason. “The only traditional sort of signal that we have here to maybe explain the last couple of weeks pick-up is the fact that the dollar has been weaker.” The dollar hit a sixweek low against a basket of currencies after US manufacturing output data on Friday showed an unexpected fall in January. Speculators raised their bets in gold futures and options to a three-month high, according to data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Regulatory

filings also showed hedge fund Paulson & Co maintained its stake in the world’s biggest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, SPDR Gold Trust, in the fourth quarter. But investor confidence is not uniformly positive and holdings of the SPDR fund fell 5.10 tons to 801.25 tons on Friday - the first drop in three weeks. They have remained relatively stable over the past few weeks, compared with last year’s 500tonne outflow. Analysts said that without any meaningful shift in investor sentiment and given the positive macroeconomic outlook, gold’s rally may be short-lived. “The question is how much further it can run ... it could be pushed towards the mid-1,400 but I have my doubts that we are back in a bull market,” Corrigan said. Physical demand Gold premiums in India, the world’s second-biggest consumer of the metal after China, recovered 21 percent from their four-month low as the federal government kept the import duty steady at a record 10 percent. Premiums recovered to $75 an ounce on London prices from $62 an ounce on Friday, when they fell due to speculation over a cut in customs duty. India’s finance minister said yesterday that the government would look into relaxing gold imports curbs.Buying in China picked up from Friday’s levels. Premiums for 99.99 percent purity gold on the Shanghai Gold Exchange rose to about $7 from $5.50 on Friday, though volumes were lower. Silver climbed to its highest level since November at $21.96 an ounce, before trading up 1 percent at $21.68. The metal has gained 12 percent since the start of the year. Platinum was unchanged at $1,424.70 an ounce, while palladium gained 0.3 percent to $736.75 an ounce. —Reuters

Oil steadies around $109 on US winter demand LONDON: Brent crude oil steadied around $109 a barrel yesterday, supported by a weak dollar, supply disruptions and a severe winter across North America that has boosted heating demand. Speculators and hedge funds have sharply increased bullish bets on crude oil to near their highest ever, U.S. market data showed, with prices driven higher by a jump in demand for U.S. heating fuel. The dollar languished at a six-week low against a basket of major currencies, supporting commodities such as oil that are priced in the currency. Brent crude oil slipped 20 cents to $108.88 a barrel 1145 GMT, having reached an earlier high of $109.40. US oil gained 40 cents to $100.70. “The US winter and weak dollar are both supporting the market,” said Carsten Fritsch, senior analyst at Commerzbank. “But there is a chance of a sharp correction. The risk is limited as long as the US weather stays cold. But when it gets warmer, prices could come down sharply.” Economic data are also a risk for oil. Disappointing US figures on Friday revived worries about demand from the world’s top oil consumer. US manufacturing output unexpectedly fell in January, recording its biggest drop in more than 4-1/2 years, in the latest indication the economy got off to a weak start this year. Part of the explanation was probably the severe winter weather, but some economists are concerned that recovery

may be stalling, which would curb demand for fuel. The next set of significant data is the HSBC flash PMI survey of manufacturers for February, due on Thursday. US crude oil, also known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, has risen steadily over the last six weeks and is now close to the top of its range over the last four months. Strategists say further gains in US crude futures may be limited as refineries take plants down for maintenance. “We expect the upward momentum in WTI to slow down if it crosses the $101 a barrel level again, partly from the weight of softening US Gulf Coast balances,” Barclays analysts said. “Refinery maintenance in the Gulf Coast is expected to peak at the start of March, and runs have already started to slow down.” Oil also found support from Chinese data showing banks disbursed the highest volume of loans in any month in four years in January, a surge that suggests the world’s No 2 economy may not be cooling as much as some fear. Supply disruption fears continued to keep a floor under prices. Libya’s oil production has dropped to 390,000 barrels per day (bpd) as protests have partly blocked flows from the El Sharara oilfield, the state National Oil Corp said. Protesters led by a former antiGaddafi rebel have seized three oil ports in eastern Libya since August, cutting off around 600,000 bpd of export capacity, to demand more regional autonomy and a greater share of oil wealth. —Reuters



Slowing Japan economy stokes tax-rise fears Abe’s bid to stoke growth faces threat

KABUL: Afghan trader, Abdullah, washes his hands near a barn at a livestock market on the outskirts of Kabul yesterday. The Afghanistan economy is largely based on agriculture and herding with cattle a major source of income. — AFP

Currency will weather Turkey, Ukraine fall-out: Georgia TBILISI: Georgia will be able to keep its currency stable even though it may be hit by fallout from financial problems in nearby Turkey and Ukraine, its economy minister said. Georgy Kvirikashvili also said in an interview with Reuters that the former Soviet republic would press on with attempts to deepen ties with the European Union without upsetting Moscow, a goal that has eluded Ukraine’s leaders. Ukraine’s hryvnia currency lost 3 percent of its value last week and is trading near a 4-1/2-year low. The Turkish lira lost more than 10 percent in a month after a government corruption scandal became public in mid-December. Both are also under pressure from general fund flows from emerging markets following the US Federal Reserve’s cutback on the stimulus that has boosted the emerging asset class over the past few years. Georgia’s lari currency has also depreciated in recent months. “We monitor events in Ukraine with big interest and concern ... (and) the Turkish lira has depreciated,” Kvirikashvili said in Tbilisi, capital of the South Caucasus country of 4.5 million which lies on a transit route for Caspian oil and gas to Europe. “The situation in countries around us has an impact on the Georgian economy, of course.” “But we have a rise in exports and imports, and the current account deficit is going down. This, and our decision to help the agriculture sector, gives us hope that there will be no surprises in terms of our currency stability,” he said, referring to recent government moves to boost agriculture. The lari had fallen to 1.78 against the US dollar by Jan. 31, compared with 1.66 in October. It now stands at 1.73. Georgia’s central bank chief told Reuters this month that he did not expect any more major fluctuations by the lari and added that the central

bank had enough currency reserves to protect the currency. Georgia’s currency reserves fell by 1.7 percent in 2013 to $2.8 billion. Emerging market turmoil The World Bank expects Georgia to register economic growth of 6.3 percent in 2014. The International Monetary Fund has suggested growth will be 5 percent. But with the lari depreciating since November, Georgia’s central bank last week raised its key refinancing rate to 4.00 percent from 3.75 percent, even though inflation is currently below the government’s annual target of 4.0 percent. Georgia initialed an agreement on free trade and other ties with the EU on Nov. 29 and intends to sign the deal in August 2014. The deal is expected to boost investment in Georgia, which has appointed a new prime minister and president in the past few months and hopes a period of political instability is over. “The biggest rise in terms of exports last year was to the EU countries and we expect a further rise this year,” Kvirikashvili said. He voiced hope that Russia would not be alarmed by Georgia’s European integration. The two countries fought a five-day war in 2008 over two breakaway regions in Georgia, and Russia is wary of any moves that might reduce its ability to have influence in former Soviet republics. “We need to be cautious (with Russia) as major political problems between our countries are still unresolved and we don’t expect a quick solution any time soon,” Kvirikashvili said. Kvirikashvili said foreign direct investment would exceed $1 billion in 2014 and growth was likely to increase to 5 percent this year from 3.1 percent in 2013. He identified the energy sector, the processing industries, transport and tourism as the sectors of most interest to foreign investors. — Reuters

Italian borrowing costs drop to eight-year low PARIS: Italy’s borrowing costs dropped to an eight-year low yesterday, after rating agency’s Moody’s raised outlook and as the country awaited a new, reform-driven government. On Friday, Moody’s raised the outlook for the Italian economy from negative to stable, while holding its notation at “Baa2”. This is a signal that the agency does not intend to lower the rating further in the medium term. In mid-morning trading, the yield or interest rate indicated by trading in existing benchmark 10-year debt bonds fell to 3.651 percent from 3.687 percent late on Friday. This brings substantial relief to public finances from dangerously high rates 18 months ago. The yield, which indicates the interest which Italy will have to offer when it next issues 10-year bonds to finance its public deficit and debt, has now fallen to the lowest level since February 2006. That date was before the global financial crisis, and then the debt crisis which threatened to break up the euro-zone and put heavily indebted members such as Italy in severe difficulty. Italy, with the third-biggest economy in the euro-zone after Germany and France did not come close to needing a bailout, but confidence fell and its borrowing costs rose close to danger levels. Now confidence has risen, raising demand for the bonds. This has caused the fixed return on the bonds to fall automatically as a percentage of the new, higher price. “The decision by Moody’s did not come really as a surprise,” said Credit Agricole CIB economist Frederik Ducrozet. But Italy still had “a lot to do” to win an upgrade of its debt rating. The 10-year yield fell against the background of a change of government with the 39-year-old leader of the Democratic Party, and mayor of

Florence, Matteo Renzi, set to be asked to form a government. Rating agencies generally have taken a more positive line on the euro-zone in recent months. Markets see reforms This is because there are signs of economic recovery, and because political and financial tensions have eased, notably because of a conditional commitment by the European Central Bank to buy the bonds of countries in trouble. Ducrozet said: “In general, the market is tending to see the glass half full in the euro-zone, even with regard to political uncertainty.” He said: “The market hopes that Renzi will be rather more flexible” than the party colleague he ousted, Enrico Letta “and there is maybe room for reforms even though the political obstacles are the same.” At Credit Mutuel-CIC “investors are reacting positively to this switch of government but the risk of a period of instability and of new elections cannot be overlooked.” They said that Renzi “will have the advantage over his predecessors of benefiting from a calmer climate with the country coming out of recession at the end of 2013 and the raising of the country’s outlook to stable by Moody’s.” At Unicredit in London, chief economist Erik Nielsen commented in his weekly review on Sunday that a Renzi government would be “good news” despite uncertainty, and “it is worth noting that his vocal supporters include a very large number of young Italian business people”. He added: “I remain confident that the balance of policies will be what Italy needs ... Renzi brings energy, determination to reform Italy, and communication skills to Rome - as well as a democratic and popular mandate to reform.” -—AFP

TOKYO: Japan’s economy slowed to a crawl in the last quarter of 2013, data showed yesterday, exacerbating fears that an April sales tax rise will derail Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s bid to stoke growth after almost two decades of deflation. While the world’s number three economy grew 1.6 percent over last year-its best performance in three years-it slowed to 0.3 percent in the October-December quarter, presenting a major challenge for Abe and his much-touted policy blitz, dubbed Abenomics. The lackluster fourth-quarter growth was far lower than the 0.7 percent widely expected by economists, according to a Nikkei business daily survey. And the full-year figure only modestly beat Japan’s expansion in 2012 before Abe launched his bid to restore the country’s fading status as an economic superpower. Since the conservative Abe swept national elections in late 2012, the yen lost about a quarter of its value against the dollar-giving a boost to Japanese exporters. The Nikkei shares index soared 57 percent in 2013, its best performance in more than four decades, while Japan’s growth led G7 nations in the first half of last year. Critics, however, fear that the controversial sales tax rise to 8.0 percent from 5.0 percentseen as crucial for cutting Japan’s eye-watering national debt-would curtail the budding recovery in an economy beset by years of deflation. Data released last month showed Japan’s consumer prices logged their first annual rise for five years in 2013. Lackluster exports were largely to blame for the slowing growth, said Yoshiki Shinke, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute. “ The Abenomics scenario of a cheaper yen leading to higher exports and higher consumption has not materialized,” Shinke said. “The lower yen has boosted stock prices, which propped up consumption. But export growth has not been strong.” Japan is also saddled with ballooning trade deficits owing to a surge in energy imports after the tsunami-triggered Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

TOKYO: Skyscrapers are seen in central Tokyo yesterday. Japan’s economy logged its best performance in three years as Premier Shinzo Abe’s growth blitz drove the expansion, but weak second-half data and an April sales tax rise are likely to dampen hopes for a firm recovery. The 1.6 percent expansion last year marked the first annual figures under Abe and his policy blitz dubbed Abenomics, after the conservative swept national elections on a ticket to restore Japan’s fading status as an economic superpower. — AFP Abe has called on firms to hike wages as consumers face higher prices for ordinary goods, while many complain they have yet to reap the benefits of the growth campaign. Tokyo also launched a special $50 billion stimulus package to counter any downturn from the nation’s first sales tax hike since the late nineties, which shortly preceded years of tepid growth. Consumers still cautious Abe said yesterday that springtime labor negotiations would likely generate widespread wage hikes, although there has been little evidence so far of big pay or capital spending rises. “We expect that the trend of rising salaries will expand more than last year,” Abe told parliament. His point man on the economy, Akira Amari, added that “domestic demand remains in a good shape”.

“The economic trend is pointing upward, led by private -sector demand,” the economy minister told reporters. Consumer and corporate spending in the latter half of the year failed to take off, underscoring a still-cautious mood among households and in the country’s boardrooms. “Last-minute spending to avoid the higher sales tax will likely lead to an acceleration in demand in (the first quarter), followed by a slump in the second quarter,” Capital Economics said. The strength in overseas economies, particularly the United States, will be a key factor for Japan’s economy this year, Dai-ichi’s Shinke added. “It would reasonable to expect further growth as overseas economies are expected to fare better this year,” he said. Separately, revised December factory output data yesterday came in at 0.9 percent from a month ear-

lier, weaker than a preliminary 1.1 percent expansion. But the tax rise is perhaps the biggest threat to Abe’s efforts and has led to speculation the Bank of Japan (BoJ) would be forced to expand its already unprecedented monetary easing drive later this year to counter a slowdown. The program launched by the BoJ, which kicks off a two-day meeting yesterday, is a cornerstone of Abe’s policy, meshing big government spending and central bank easing. It also calls for deeper reforms, most yet-to-be -seen, including free-trade deals, more flexible labor markets and bringing more women into the workforce. The Japanese economy grew 1.4 percent in 2012 and contracted 0.5 percent in 2011 as the country was hammered by the quake-tsunami disaster and subsequent nuclear crisis. —AFP

Fiat’s access to Chrysler funds curbed by cap, debt covenants MILAN: Indebted Italian carmaker Fiat said yesterday that its access to the cash of US subsidiary Chrysler, which it took full control of last month, was limited by a cap on dividends from the unit and its debt covenants. Part of the motivation for the auto group’s $4.35 billion deal to take full ownership of the No 3 US carmaker was to give Fiat access to Chrysler’s finances so it could invest in new models to revamp its loss-making operations in Europe. Analysts have raised concerns about Fiat’s growing debt pile and its ability to fund a strategy that will shift the automaker’s focus to its upscale Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands from an over-reliance on low-margin mass-market models. Responding to a request for clarification from market regulator Consob, Fiat said that beyond the cap, dividend payments were also subject to the condition that Chrysler’s liquidity exceeds a threshold of $3 billion. It said Chrysler’s liquidity totalled $14.7 billion at the end of 2013. Fiat also said intercompany financing was limited by covenants that require deals to be approved by a majority of “disinterested” members of the Chrysler board of directors. Fiat said it had enough resources to fund its

activities, however. “On the basis of the group’s available liquidity, credit lines in place and available for investment in industrial activities, in addition to the ability to access capital markets ... the group believes its capital resources are more than adequate to meet the projected funding requirements,” it said in a statement. Following a rating cut by Moody’s last week, Fiat said the downgrade would only trigger a marginal rise in commitment fees on a revolving credit line of 2.1 billion euros ($2.87 billion), currently undrawn. The company also said it expects the downgrade’s impact on future borrowings to be limited. Moody’s cut Fiat’s rating to four notches below investment grade last week, citing weaker-than-expected 2013 results and challenges to the carmaker’s outlook for this year given eroding profitability in Latin America. Expanding on the 2014 outlook given at the end of January, Fiat said it expected volumes and revenues in the EMEA region to be “substantially in line with 2013”, given flat demand and pricing pressures. In Latin America, a key market for the Italian auto group, Fiat expects to maintain its market position despite higher competition, while overall car demand in that region is forecast to remain at 2013 levels. — Reuters

German economy picked up in winter months FRANKFURT: Economic momentum in Germany seems to have picked up noticeably in the winter months, the Bundesbank central bank wrote in its monthly report yesterday. “The underlying dynamics of the German economy are likely to have increased in the winter months,” the Bundesbank said. “An indication of this is the continued improvement in the assessment of both situation and outlook of companies and private households,” the report said. But the pick-up would likely only be reflected in gross domestic product growth after the turn of the year, it continued. The main factors behind the acceleration were continued robust domestic demand and increased impulses from foreign demand, the Bundesbank wrote. Last week, official GDP data showed that German growth picked up fractionally at the end of last year, propelled by buoyant exports and increased investment. GDP grew by 0.4 percent in the period from October to December, slightly faster than analysts’ expectations, and was up from growth of 0.3 percent in the preceding three months, the federal statistics office Destatis said. — AFP

PARIS: (Front row, L to R) French Economy, Finance and Foreign Trade Minister Pierre Moscovici, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, French President Francois Hollande, French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, French Minister for Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg, Minister for Higher Education and Research Genevieve Fioraso pose for a family photo with international business leaders after a working session of a ‘Strategic Council for Attractiveness’ at the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris yesterday.—AFP



Warba Bank cosponsors 19th Economy Makers’ Exhibition

2014 Cadillac CTS Sedan is engineered for excellence Strong, lightweight structure is foundation for nimble, refined driving experience KUWAIT: Yusuf A Alghanim Automotive is proud to announce that the All-New 2014 Cadillac CTS sedan brings a renewed spirit of driver engagement and exceptional refinement to the midsize luxury segment, rooted in a lightweight, rigid structure that fosters class-challenging performance and quietness. Cadillac’s acclaimed rear-drive architecture is the foundation for the new CTS’s driving experience. The All-New CTS sedan is longer, lighter and stronger than the previous CTS sedan structure, which enabled more precise ride and handling tuning, as well as a quieter driving experience. The allnew Cadillac is distinguished by a 6-cylinder, 3.6-liter engine, an element that positions the Cadillac as one of the top ten engines according to Ward’s Auto World, due to its ferocious power that generates 321 hp. CTS offers as well with another model that comes with a 4-cylinder, 2.0-liter Turbo engine with 272 hp, which is considered the best in its class. Indeed, many elements that contribute to the CTS sedan’s balanced feel also enhance its refinement. The engine, for example, is located approximately 30 mm farther forward in the chassis, a dynamic that not only contributes to the car’s nearly 50/50 weight balance, but its quietness. That’s because the engine is further removed from the passenger compartment, which allows room for a thick, soundabsorbing pad on the front-of-dash panel that separates the engine compartment and interior. Segment-exclusive Magnetic Ride Control is expanded to a wider range of CTS sedan models, available or standard with every engine and transmission combination, reinforcing the luxury sedan’s light, direct feel with real-time damping that

delivers exceptional smoothness and ride refinement. Low mass brings weighty rewards Innovative applications of lightweight materials - including the first aluminum doors ever on a GM production vehicle help the 2014 CTS weigh in with an approximate base curb weight of 1,633 kg. That’s about 91 kg less than its competition and approximately 7-percent less than the current model. The unique aluminum front and rear door structures save about 7.5 kg per door over traditional steel structures. Aluminum is also used for the hood, while other advanced materials, including magnesium and lightweight, high-strength, low-alloy steels and bake-hardenable steels, enabled engineers to tailor the CTS’s structure down to the last gram, ensuring strength and refinement were achieved without unnecessary mass. Along with the body structure, the suspension employs extensive use of aluminum, including many of the links for the front suspension. Engineers were careful to balance the mass to ensure Cadillac’s signature refinement wasn’t sacrificed. The rear suspension cradle, for example, is made of steel, which helps quell noise and vibration, while providing counterweight to the powertrain at the front of the car to help the CTS achieve its nearly 50/50 weight distribution. Also, unique lower-front chassis braces provide stiffening reinforcement to the structure to support the connected driving feel and a smoother, quieter ride. Indeed, the lighter, longer body-frameintegral structure is approximately 40-percent stiffer than the current model and achieves the best global torsional stiffness ratings in the segment.

Nimble, controlled driving experience Engineers capitalized on the new CTS sedan’s low curb weight and stiff structure with carefully selected chassis and suspension components that enable its more nimble and responsive driving experience. In fact, the lightweight structure fostered a snowball effect of other lower-mass components. The solidity of the CTS sedan’s new structure also enabled Magnetic Ride Control’s expanded application in the lineup, offering more customers the ride and handling advantages of the technically advanced real-time damping system. It delivers more precise body motion control, “reading” the road every millisecond and changing damping as quickly as five milliseconds. Quietness and refinement Along with its more solid feel and responsive driving experience, the new CTS sedan is a very quiet car - an attribute rooted in the stronger, lighter structure. Advanced acoustic measurement and analytical technologies, including devices that record and play back sound exactly as humans hear, were used to evaluate sounds and sound levels in test vehicles. Engineers listened to the recordings through special headphones in an acoustically optimized quiet room, allowing them to analyze the entire spectrum of sounds and eliminate, refine or enhance specific noises. The result is an exceptionally pleasing ride experience that’s quiet when expected and pleasing when audible feedback is in order. Active noise cancelation also contributes to the CTS sedan’s refined performance, reducing noise levels by up to 20

decibels in certain conditions. It is enabled by the Bose sound system and a unique processor that takes input from several interior-mounted microphones and sends opposite-tuned frequencies through the sound system’s speakers to cancel out undesirable sounds. Active noise cancelation also contributes to the car ’s low curb weight, because less dense, heavy sound-damping material is required throughout the body structure. The materials used to help suppress, block or eliminate noise, however, are technically advanced, and represent countless hours of analysis that determined optimal location and application size. Premium care by Cadillac As with all Cadillac vehicles, the 2014 Cadillac CTS comes with the most comprehensive suite of owner benefits to give luxury owners everything they need including free service and maintenance every 4 years or 100,000 km, 24-hour roadside assistance for 4 years or unlimited mileage, warranty for 4 years or 100,000 km and courtesy transportation and replacement vehicle. Adding to the luxury Cadillac offers its customers is Yusuf Ahmed Alghanim & Sons Automotive’s service center that is distinguished by its continuous and successful efforts in providing the highest quality of services. Being one of the largest in the world, the service center is equipped with a large variety of the most advanced equipment operated by a team of skilled professionals and effective consultants who ensure timely service. Visit Cadillac Alghanim’s showroom to test drive the All-New 2014 CTS, and to become acquainted with this luxury ride and to also know more about its exceptional features and remarkable performance.

KUWAIT: In line with its ongoing commitment to keep pace with all constructive social events which bolster the bank’s position in the local market, Warba Bank yesterday announced its participation as a cosponsor in the 19th Economy Makers and Employment Opportunities Exhibition, organized by the College of Business Administration at the University of Kuwait. The event is organized under the patronage and in the presence of Sheikh Salman AlHomoud Al-Sabah, the Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs, and in the presence of Prof Dr Rashid Al-Ajmi, Dean of the College of Business Administration; Dr Mishari Al-Hajri, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies; Dr Mohammed Al-Fahad, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs; Dr Fahad Al-Mudhaf, Supervisor of Ahmad Bouresli, College’s Student Training Office; as well as an elite group of individuals Senior Manager, interested in both business and job Human Resources opportunity sectors. Group at Warba Bank The participation comes in alignment with Warba Bank’s social responsibility towards the Kuwaiti youth; it also supports the bank’s remarkable role in promoting the local banking sector, assisting youth cadres, and investing the new expertise in this field. Ahmad Bouresli, Senior Manager, Human Resources Group at Warba Bank, said: “Supporting the Kuwaiti youth is one of the bank’s main priorities. The 19th Economy Makers and Employment Opportunities Exhibition is one of the most prominent annual events which give new graduates of business administration a comprehensive insight into the private sector’s companies, especially in the banking and financial sector, which motivates them to engage in such sector being one of the most efficient economic sectors in Kuwait.” “Warba Bank is always keen to consolidate its presence in the local banking and financial sector, and to approach the youth, receiving their suggestions, offering them the solutions and advice necessary for them to determine their job choices, and raising their awareness on the most important pillars of success in the world of banking,” added Bouresli. He indicated that: “Warba Bank is always pleased to communicate with the Kuwaiti youth. Warba receives the new graduates in its interactive stand within the Economy Makers and Employment Opportunities Exhibition. In addition, Warba staff members are available at the Exhibition to answer any enquiry about the bank’s recruitment process. Candidates can apply through Warba Bank’s stand or via the bank’s career portal;” It is noteworthy that the 19th Economy Makers and Employment Opportunities Exhibition has commenced its activities today, February 18th, and will last until February 20th.

Three ex-Barclays staff charged in Libor scandal LONDON: Britain’s Serious Fraud Office yesterday charged three former employees of Barclays over the Libor interest rate-rigging scandal, dealing a fresh blow to the embattled banking giant. The scandal over Libor, an interest rate at the heart of the global economy, has badly damaged the reputation of London’s financial centre and several big names in world banking, notably British bank Barclays. The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said it had launched criminal proceedings “in connection with the manipulation of Libor”, while the three are alleged to have “conspired to defraud between 1 June 2005 and 31 August 2007”. The charged were named as Peter Charles Johnson, Jonathan James Mathew and Stylianos Contogoulas in a brief statement issued by the SFO. The trio will appear at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court at a date to be decided. Barclays made no official reaction, while its share price was 0.81-percent higher at 255 pence in London afternoon trading. —AFP

Zain announces final winners of Mini Cooper, $10,000 cash prizes

KUWAIT: Al-Andalus Commercial Establishment officials during the opening of its eighth branch at Ajial Mall Fahaheel.

KUWAIT: Zain, the leading telecommunications company in Kuwait, announced yesterday Mohammed Saleh Al Dhafiri winner of the Mini Cooper car in the company’s third and final weekly draw, and Salem Shamrokh Al-Shimmari winner of the $10,000 cash prize in the third and final weekly draw. Today’s winners’ announcement comes as part of Zain’s most recent promotional campaign which targeted technology and smartphone savvy customers. The promotion involved the subscription in any of Zain’s various postpaid packages for smar tphones for a chance to win a MINI Cooper or $10,000. Zain announced that is has concluded this promotional campaign that was launched in January 2014 by announcing the winners of the $60,000 cash prizes and 3 MINI Cooper cars. The ‘Win a MINI Cooper’ campaign came in line with the company’s interest in providing its customers with the best offers and promotional campaigns. The promotion, which received high feedback from the company’s customers, involved the subscription in any of Zain’s various postpaid packages for smartphones for a chance to win a MINI Cooper or $ 10,000.

Zain customers were qualified to enter the draw upon subscribing i n a ny o f t h e u n i q u e p a c k a g e s offered by the company to its customers to suit their various smartphones needs. The company spares no effort in being the first to introduce unprecedented promotions and offers to present the latest in the world of communications technol-

ogy for all smar tphone fans and to its 2.5 million loyal customer base in Kuwait, the largest in the country. To find out more about Zain’s multiple services, offers, and products customers are advised to visit the company’s official website, or call the customer contact center on 107, or visit any of the company’s nearest branches in Kuwait.

US stocks correction fear fades despite valuation angst Al-Andalus opens 8th branch at Ajial Mall KUWAIT: Al-Andalus Commercial Establishment opened its eighth branch at Ajial Mall Fahaheel. A grand ceremony was held on this occasion in the presence of Director General Raed Basheer and Deputy Director General Ismail Al-Hourani along with a large number of businessmen and media persons. Al-Andalus, the official agent of Samsung Electronics in Kuwait, always works on providing additional services for its valued customers. The organization seeks to expand in

Kuwait market which is witnessing an unprecedented revival. Al-Ahmadi area is witnessing significant developments prompting Al-Andalus to open its 8th branch at Ajial Mall. The branch serves a large number of residents in Ahmadi governorate who are happy to have a branch of Al-Andalus (Samsung) close to them. The aftersales department follows up services to ensure that customers are rendered hassle-free aftersales services.

A rapid recovery in US stock prices after the recent slide may be enough to make many investors who remained bullish feel a little smug. That would be a mistake, market strategists say. Investors should instead take the emerging markets scare that drove stocks down about 6 percent at the end of January as a warning of more risks to come. Things have changed from 2013, they stress, and this is no longer a market that will lift all boats indiscriminately. So playing some defense is appropriate. Cantor Fitzgerald, for one, said it was considering new hedges at these levels. Peter Cecchini, global head of equity

derivatives in New York, said markets would be “far more sensitive to bad news” in the current environment, which “presents a new volatility paradigm in which risk management will be rewarded rather than punished.” With few obvious justifications for stocks climbing further, investors are left in the position they were in at the beginning of the year: unsure about the economy and earnings, but facing an environment where few other assets offer the same potential return as the equity market. Despite the rebound in the past two weeks that has taken the S&P 500 to

within 0.5 percent of its all-time closing high, investors have been more circumspect in their approach. Trading volume on down days has far outpaced the action in positive sessions, indicating traders are more eager to unload shares than chase gains. Investment flows have followed a comparable pattern, according to Lipper’s fund-tracking data. Investors returned money to equity funds in the latest week, adding nearly $6.9 billion in the period ended Feb 12, but that pales in comparison to the more than $22 billion yanked from stock funds over the previous two weeks. —Reuters



Spain to force search engines to pay to display some content MADRID: News media companies in Spain will be able to charge search engines such as Google for displaying copyrighted content under a new law proposed by the Spanish government on Saturday. The measure echoes similar drives around Europe. Publishers in Portugal, France, Belgium and Germany have pushed for compensation in some form or another for links, snippets, headlines and lead paragraphs that appear in news search engines and aggregators such as Google News and Yahoo news. The search engines draw revenue from advertising placed near news content and media companies have fought for a share of it. The new rule was intro-

duced in the draft of an intellectual proper ty law that the centre -right People’s Party government will present to parliament for approval, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria told a weekly news conference. Under the proposed changes, the search engines would not have to seek permission to publish brief fragments but would have to pay “an equitable remuneration for the use”. The government did not say how it would be determined which fragments must be paid for and how amounts would be calculated. This has been a matter of fierce debate elsewhere in Europe.

A spokeswoman for Google in Spain said the company could not comment because it had not yet seen the exact wording of the intellectual property reform bill. ‘Long-standing demand’ The Association of Spanish Newspaper Editors, k nown by its Spanish-language acronym AEDE, applauded the proposal. “We are very satisfied with the intellectual property law, which recognises a long-standing demand from news editors,” said Irene Lanzaco, deputy director of the association. Spanish media have been hit hard by a prolonged economic recession as

adver tising spending has plunged. Dozens of newspapers and other media have shut down and 9,500 journalists have been laid off in the last four years. European countries have taken different approaches to the issue of news content on search engines. A year ago Google agreed to pay 60 million euros into a special fund to help French media develop their presence on the Internet, but search engines will not pay publishers in France for displaying content. Germany passed a new copyright law last March that allows media there to charge search engines for using their content, but the original bill was watered down and links and small

excerpts of text were exempted. Spain’s proposed reform on search engines and content is just one element in a major overhaul of intellectual property rules that the government has been working on since last year. Internet pirac y is widespread in Spain, which is considered to be one of Europe’s worst offenders for illegal downloading of music, films and games. The draft bill approved by the cabinet on Friday envisages speedier processes to shut down piracy sites and establishes sanctions for sites that redirect users to illegal downloading sites, adver tisers on piracy websites and companies that process payments to piracy sites. —Reuters

Tools for medal chase include video analysis apps for athletes SOCHI: Teams striving for medals from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are turning to video analysis apps to help them finetune their performance and give them a competitive edge. “We only get a handful of (practice) runs, specifically six runs of official training, which is why video analysis becomes crucial,” said Scott Novack, director of high per formance for the US Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. The team uses Ubersense, an app for iOS devices, to review runs in slow motion and to compare them side-by-side. “The Sochi track has three uphill sections, and it’s very long. If you lose speed uphill by hitting one of the walls, it can slow you down by hundredths of a second, and in this sport that could be the difference between getting the gold or silver medals, or not getting a medal at all,” Novack said in an interview from the Sochi. Several people stand at different curves that present challenges and use the app to record the performance. The clips are automatically synched across all devices, allowing the main coach to review them and identify where improvements can be made. “He knows the start times and down times of every video and he can figure out where the athletes gain speed and where they lose it and then make adjustments,” Novack said. At the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the team used a more complex configuration incorporating a Slingbox, which is a TV streaming device, to analyze the live broadcast of their performance. “In between runs, we were reviewing the video and that helped contribute to the two Olympic medals that we were able to get in Vancouver,” Novack said, referring to

the team’s gold for their four-man bobsled team, and the bronze for the two-woman bobsled team. Coach’s Eye Olympic athletes and their trainers also use Coach’s Eye, which is available for iOS, Android and Windows 8 devices. The program lets them review videos in slow motion, highlight areas for improvement, zoom and focus on particular areas, and add text and audio commentary. Michel Hamelin, the coach of Canadian skier Alex Bilodeau who won a gold medal in men’s moguls in Sochi, said in an email from Sochi that the app made it “easier to compare two runs with the side-by-side video comparison, and quickly make adjustments.” “Having the video review system on their iPad means coaches are able to take it out there on the hill filming wherever they are practicing or training, “ said Mike Kujansuu, marketing manager for Coach’s Eye at the Michigan-based company TechSmith. Sometimes coaches will follow an athlete down the hill on skis to get the best recording angle, he added. Mike Willard, CEO of California-based Sportstec USA, which makes video analysis software and apps, said that at the elite level the difference between gold, silver, bronze and nothing is very small. He added that analyzing the competition to understand weaknesses is just as crucial as analyzing one’s own performance. “If it’s a direct competition sport, you’re not competing against the clock, you’re going to look at your competition carefully,” he said. — Reuters

China says Kerry’s call for Internet freedom naive BEIJING: China criticised US Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday for his “naive” call for more Internet freedom in the country, and wondered why his discussion with Chinese bloggers had not touched upon Edward Snowden. During an approximately 40-minute chat with bloggers in Beijing on Saturday, Kerry expressed his support for online freedom in China, as well as for human rights in general. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said outsiders had no right to pass judgement and misunderstood the real situation. “If China’s Internet had not gone through enormous development in the past few years then where would these bloggers have come from?” she told a daily news briefing. “China’s affairs must be decided by Chinese people based on their own national condition. Using methods like this to push China in a direction of change they want, isn’t that rather naive?” Hua added. “I think the topic of this discussion could have been even more open, for example discussing Snowden’s case and issues like that,” she said, referring to the former US National Security Agency contractor whose leaks have embarrassed Washington. Last year, China’s Communist Party renewed a heavy-handed campaign to control online interaction, threatening legal action against people whose perceived rumours on microblogs such as Sina Weibo are reposted more than 500 times or seen by more than 5,000 people. Rights groups and dissidents have criticised the crackdown as another tool for the party to limit criticism and to further control freedom of expression. The government says such steps are needed for social stability and says every country in the world seeks to regulate the

Internet. Tight controls Kerry said he had urged Chinese leaders to support Internet freedom and raised the issue of press freedom, in a country with tight controls on what the media can say and which blocks popular foreign social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. “Obviously we think that the Chinese economy will be stronger with greater freedom of the Internet,” he said. Blogger Zhang Jialong asked if the United States would get together with the “Chinese who aspire for freedom” and help “tear down the great Internet firewall”, complaining that US companies were helping Beijing block access to sites like Twitter. Kerry said it was the first time he had heard complaints that US companies were helping the Chinese government control access to the internet and that he would look into it. Microsoft Corp denied this week it was omitting websites from its Bing search engine results for users outside China after a Chinese rights group said the U.S. firm was censoring material the government deems politically sensitive. The United States and China have long clashed over freedom of expression and human rights, with Washington frequently calling for the release of dissidents such as anti-corruption campaigner Xu Zhiyong and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. Kerry said that he had raised human rights at high levels. “We constantly press these issues at all of our meetings, whether it is in the United States or here, at every level, and we will continue to do so,” he added. But it was not the United States’ role to lecture, he said, as “no one country can come crashing in and say ‘do this our way, it is better’”. — Reuters

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Prime ministrer Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2ndL) provides students with tablet devices, as part of his ambitious “Fatih” project, yesterday in Istanbul. — AFP

Turkey PM urges students not to become ‘Internet slaves’ Erdogan denies accusation of online censorship ANKARA: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan yesterday urged youngsters not to become “slaves to the Internet” as he handed out free tablet computers to students. The premier also used the occasion to again defend his government’s controversial push to tighten control of the Internet, a move that has drawn widespread criticism. “The Internet is a very important tool but it can become the biggest threat of our time at the hands of evilminded people,” Erdogan told a group of primary and secondary school pupils and teachers in Ankara. “Don’t become slaves to the Internet, don’t become the slaves of computers,” he said at a ceremony marking a government initiative to hand out 100,000 tablets to students across the

country. Turkey’s parliament triggered a storm of protest at home and abroad earlier this month after it approved restrictions to the Internet which include giving authorities the power to block webpages deemed insulting or as invading privacy. Critics of Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) say the legislation is an attempt to stifle dissent. The timing of the law has also raised eyebrows as it comes as Erdogan is grappling with a high-level corruption investigation that has implicated key allies, and some of the details of the probe have been leaked online. But Erdogan has vehemently denied accusations of online censorship, and yesterday said

the proposed Internet curbs were vital to protect the privacy of young people. “We do not aim to limit the freedom of anyone. On the contrary, we want to protect our youth from blackmailers, usurpers and crooks,” he said. Rights groups have urged President Abdullah Gul not to sign the Internet bill into law. Erdogan has long been suspicious of the Internet, branding Twitter a “menace” last year for helping organise mass anti-government protests in which six people died and thousands were injured. His tough stance on the Internet as well as his crackdown on police and prosecutors in response to the corruption probe has raised questions internationally about the state of democracy in Turkey. —AFP

South America’s first Apple store opens in Rio RIO DE JANEIRO: Some 1,700 impatient shoppers lined up for hours Saturday for the grand opening of Apple’s store in Rio de Janeiro-the first official outpost in South America. First in line was Thiago Cuba, 31, who said he was looking forward to shopping at the glistening new computer store in a tony section of Rioeven though he was experiencing sticker shock. The price of Apple prices in Brazil “continue to be very high,” but gradually are coming down, Cuba told the O Globo newspaper. “There are some (Apple products) here that are close to what they would cost in dollars,” said Cuba, as he prepared to shell out hard-earned reales for a new printer, headphones, and some cell phone cases. “I expect that the prices will fall,” he said, adding that “the quality of the products is worth it.” Part of the reason the products are so expensive here is the high import taxes in Brazil. An iPad Air that costs $499 in the United States, goes for more than $700 in Brazil. Apple officials said they were delighted finally to tap the enormous pent-up demand of customers in this huge country with its burgeoning

population of middle class consumers. Robust economic growth over the past decade has allowed more than 40 million people to exit poverty and join the ranks of the middle class. “We are very excited about the first of what we hope will be many stores in Brazil,” said Steve Cano, Apple’s senior vice president, speaking to

the Valor business newspaper. Brazil-South America’s most populous country — is the world’s seventh-largest economy and Latin America’s biggest. There are just 26 million smartphones in a population of some 200 people, making the market ripe for growth.—AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO: Staffers of Apple Store welcome customers as they open the second day in the new store at Barra da Tijuca, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Sunday. Some 1,700 impatient shoppers lined up for hours on the eve for the grand opening of Apple’s store in Rio de Janeiro — the first official outpost in South America. — AFP

Hit videogame ‘The Last of Us’ gets new chapter SAN FRANCISCO: Sony Computer Entertainment America added a new chapter Friday to popular videogame “The Last of Us,” filled with combat against zombie-like infected people and tailored for PlayStation 3 consoles. “The Last of Us: Left Behind” is the game’s first single-player downloadable content and is billed as a prologue to the award-winning action title that sold more than three million copies in the three weeks after its release in June. “Left Behind” puts players into the role of the game’s young heroine, Ellie, and strives to “flesh out” experiences that turned her into the character introduced last year. Made by Naughty Dog studio and published by Sony, the game plays out in the aftermath of a pandemic that turns much of the population into zom-

bie-like creatures that kill with bites. Players were gripped by an intensely emotional dynamic between the main characters struggling to survive. “In 2013, players across the world fell in love with Ellie,” said “Last of Us” creative director Neil Druckmann. “She’s been described as a bold, courageous and endearing young woman who overcame extraordinary emotional and physical challenges.” The PlayStation online shop priced “Left Behind”. It is free for players who bought “season pass” subscriptions with the original game. Meanwhile, US videogame hardware sales surged in January, with Sony’s new-generation PlayStation 4 consoles leading the charge, according to figures released. People spent $241 million on videogame hardware, predominately consoles, in

January compared to $205 million in the same month a year earlier, when a fifth “leap week” gave figures a particular boost, according to industry tracker NPD Group. Sony’s PS4 led overall hardware sales, followed by Microsoft new-generation Xbox One consoles, NPD reported. PS4 sales were nearly double that of Xbox One in the month, Sony said citing the NPD report. “Demand for PlayStation 4 remains incredibly strong,” Sony PlayStation brand marketing senior VP Guy Longworth said in a release. “It’s clear gamers are choosing PlayStation as the best place to play.” Membership in the PlayStation Plus subscription service for games, films, and other digital entertainment has nearly doubled since the PS4 launched in November, according to Sony.

Meanwhile, videogame software sales sank about 40 percent in November to $224 million, down from $373 million in January of 2013. The decline was due to a big drop in the number of new titles released for play, said NPD analyst Liam Callahan. Activision’s military shooter game “Call of Duty: Ghosts” was the best selling game on a “top 10” list that included “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag” and “Grand Theft Auto V.” Traditional format videogame sales overall for January were $664 million, down 21 percent from the prior January but nearly flat if the extra “leap” week is factored in, according to NPD. When money spent on mobile games, rentals, digital downloads, subscriptions and social network play are added in, sales for January tallied $1.05 billion, NPD reported. — AFP


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

Number of test-tube babies born in US hits record percentage NEW YORK: More test-tube babies were born in the United States in 2012 than ever before, and they constituted a higher percentage of total births than at any time since the technology was introduced in the 1980s, according to a report released yesterday. The annual repor t was from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), an organization of medical professionals. SART’s 379 member clinics, which represent more than 90 percent of the infertility clinics in the

country, reported that in 2012 they performed 165,172 procedures involving in vitro fertilization (IVF), in which an egg from the mother-to-be or a donor is fertilized in a lab dish. They resulted in the birth of 61,740 babies. That was about 2,000 more IVF babies than in 2011. With about 3.9 million babies born in the United States in 2012, the IVF newborns accounted for just over 1.5 percent of the total, more than ever before. The growing percentage reflects, in

part, the increasing average age at which women give birth for the first time, since fertility problems become more common as people age. The average age of first-time mothers is now about 26 years; it was 21.4 years in 1970. Although the rising number of testtube babies suggests that the technology has become mainstream, critics of IVF point out that the numbers, particularly the success rates, mask wide disparities. “It’s important for people to

understand that women over 35 have the highest percentage of failures,” said Miriam Zoll, author of the 2013 book “Cracked Open: Liberty, Fertility and the Pursuit of High Tech Babies.” Earlier data from SART showed that the percentage of attempts that result in live bir ths is 10 times higher in women under 35 than in women over 42. And in the older women fewer than half the IVF pregnancies result in a live birth. Zoll added, “these treatments have consistently failed two-thirds of

the time since 1978,” when the first test tube baby was born, in England. After years in which IVF physicians were criticized for transferring multiple embryos to increase the odds of pregnancy because that sometimes resulted in the birth of triplets and even higher multiples, often with dangerously low birthweights and other health risks - infertility clinics transferred fewer embryos per cycle in 2012 than 2011. As a result, the number of twin and triplet births were both down. — Reuters

Few eligible patients can get weight loss surgery ‘All major surgeries are risky’

PESHAWAR: In this Feb. 2, 2014 photo, a Pakistani health worker vaccinates a child against polio, in Peshawar, Pakistan. Pakistan’s beleaguered battle to eradicate polio is threatening a global, multi-billion dollar campaign to wipe out the disease worldwide. Because of Pakistan, the virus is spreading to countries that were previously polio-free, UN officials say. —AP

Pakistani polio strain threatens global campaign PESHAWAR: Just a few weeks ago, 11month-old Shaista was pulling herself up, giggling as she took her first wobbly steps with the helping hand of her teenage mother. Then the polio virus struck and Shaista was no longer able to stand, her legs buckling beneath her weight. Today, her mother cries a lot and wonders what will become of her daughter in Pakistan’s male-dominated society, where a woman’s value is often measured by the quality of her husband. “It is not a hardship just for the child, but for the whole family,” said the child’s 18-yearold mother, Samia Gul. “It is very difficult for a poor family like us. She will be dependent on us for the rest of her life.” Shaista is one of five new polio cases to surface in Pakistan in just the first month of this year. Last year, Pakistan recorded 92 new cases, beating Nigeria and Afghanistan - the only other polio-endemic countries - by almost 2 to 1, the World Health Organization said. Pakistan’s beleaguered battle to eradicate polio is threatening a global, multi-billion-dollar campaign to wipe out the disease worldwide. Because of Pakistan, the virus is spreading to countries that were previously polio-free, UN officials say. “The largest polio virus reservoir of the world,” is in Peshawar, in northwestern Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan, according to WHO. Shaista and her parents share a two-room mud house with a couple of goats, a half-dozen squawking chickens and 10 other relatives in Pakistan’s western Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, or KPK, province, where Islamic militants often gun down health workers distributing vaccines and send suicide bombers to blow up police vehicles that protect them. The latest casualty was a police constable killed Tuesday protecting a team of vaccination workers in northwest Pakistan. During a two-day vaccination campaign in Peshawar earlier this month, 5,000 police were deployed to protect health workers, most of whom earn barely $2 a day. Fresh cases Fresh cases of polio - traced through genetic sequencing to the Pakistani strain of the disease - are showing up in countries that were previously polio-free, including Syria and Egypt, as well as in the Gaza Strip, said Ban Khalid Al-Dhayi, the spokeswoman for UNICEF in Pakistan. UNICEF is tasked with persuading a reluctant tribal population that lives along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan - perhaps one of the most dangerous places on the planet - to vaccinate their children. “A lot of countries that spent so much money and resources eradicating polio are worried,” Al-Dhayi said in an interview. Pakistan’s neighbors are particularly vulnerable. The same genetic sequencing found that 12 of the last 13 new polio cases in Afghanistan originated in Pakistan. Just last week, a 3-year-old was diagnosed with polio in the Afghan capital of Kabul, the first case since 2001. Neighboring India, with a population of 1.2 billion, has been polio-free for three years. Fearful that Pakistan could wipe out that achievement, India is demanding that Pakistani visitors provide proof of vaccination. It wasn’t so long ago - 1988 - that more than 350,000 people, most of them children under 5, were afflicted by polio in 125 countries where the disease was endemic. Today the disease is endemic in only three. Last year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a multi-billion-dollar charity that funds polio vaccinations, vowed to wipe out the crippling disease by 2018. Underlining the danger that Pakistan poses to achieving that goal, Al-Dhayi said there are 350,000 Pakistani children in just one small area of the country who have not been vaccinated - and it takes only one child left unvaccinated to reverse global gains against the disease. The area - North and South Waziristan - is too dangerous for health workers to venture.

Islamic militants, many with ties to al-Qaida, banned polio vaccinations there in 2012 to press their demand that the United States end its use of drones to target their hideouts. Militants have also created suspicion among ultraconservative parents in Pakistan’s deeply religious northwest, saying the polio vaccine will make their children impotent. The vaccine, they claim, is a ploy by the West to limit the world’s Muslim population. Biggest setbacks But health workers and militants alike agree the biggest setback was the highly publicized use of a Pakistani doctor and a vaccination ruse to ferret out al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in May 2011. Dr. Shakil Afridi is in jail in Pakistan for his role in the CIA operation that uncovered bin Laden’s hideout in the northwestern city of Abbottabad, 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the capital, Islamabad. While Afridi never got DNA samples from the bin Laden family, his involvement in the covert operation that led to bin Laden’s death caused residents to look with suspicion on many vaccination programs. Devastating for the polio campaign were the images of Afridi standing beside a banner promoting polio vaccinations as television commentators told of his collusion with the CIA. “We have deep sensitivity about the polio vaccination after the martyrdom of the great mujahed and leader of Muslims, Sheikh Osama bin Laden,” Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told The Associated Press. “We still have strong suspicions that the vaccination campaign could be used again and again to spy on Muslims and the mujahedeen.” The ruse also turned the polio campaign violent. The first attack against a health worker occurred in June 2012, said Dr. Imtiaz Ali Shah, the KPK provincial government polio campaign coordinator. Since then, 40 people participating in vaccination campaigns have been killed in Pakistan and another 39 injured, according to UNICEF figures. “Before 2011, we never saw health workers being attacked,” he said. “Now there are parts of Pakistan that are so volatile that vaccinators can’t go there.” Mohammad Wasil’s 19-year-old son, Hilal, was killed by militants as he vaccinated children in rural northwest Pakistan. Sitting on a bed made of rope in his village, where women are rarely seen without the allenveloping burqa, Wasil said his son volunteered because he loved children and wanted to earn money for his education. Still, there have been small gains. In 2012, new polio cases in northwest Pakistan were found in 13 districts; a year later, that was reduced to six districts. But the virus is stubborn, and in the provincial capital of Peshawar, it keeps reappearing, forcing tens of thousands of children to be revaccinated because they may not have built up enough immunity. “That makes everyone suspicious,” said AlDhayi, the UNICEF spokeswoman. “They wonder whether there was something wrong with the vaccine or with the new vaccination being administered.” It has been impossible to eradicate the polio virus from Peshawar, says Shah, because people from the heavily infected tribal regions that are off limits for health workers arrive daily in the city, bringing with them a fresh outbreak. The tribal regions “are producing so many cases and the (tribal people) travel regularly,” he said. Al-Dhayi said some of the new polio cases showing up elsewhere in Pakistan have also been tracked to Peshawar and other areas of northwest KPK province. In the meantime, UNICEF is trying to get Pakistan’s senior Islamic clergy to support the polio campaign, with some success, according to Al-Dhayi. Among those recruited is the so-called father of Afghanistan’s Taliban movement, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq.—AP

WASHINGTON: Like 78 million other Americans, MaryJane Harrison is obese. And like many critically overweight Americans, Harrison cannot afford to have weight loss surgery because her health insurance doesn’t cover it. The financial burden makes it nearly impossible for her to follow the advice of three physicians who have prescribed the stomach-shrinking procedure for Harrison, who is four-feet, 10 inches and weighs 265 pounds. Harrison’s health insurance plan, provided by UnitedHealth, excludes coverage of any surgical procedures for weight loss. As a result, she and her family are trying to raise $15,000 to pay for the surgery that she thinks will save her life. “I am now 53 and I don’t think I’m going to live to be 55,” says Harrison, 53, who lives outside of San Antonio and has tried for years to lose weight through dieting and exercise. . “When you feel your health deteriorating this fast, you know it.” UnitedHealth said it can’t legally comment on Harrison’s health plan unless she signs a privacy waiver. But Harrison declined to sign one due to concerns about how the company might use the information. Harrison’s case underscores a surprising trend: While the number of obese Americans persists at record levels, the number of patients undergoing weight loss surgery hasn’t budged in a decade. Last year, about 160,000 US patients underwent weight loss surgery - roughly the same number as in 2004. That’s only about 1 percent of the estimated 18 million adults who qualify nationwide for the surgery, according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. “If we were talking about breast cancer, no one would be content with having only one percent of that population treated,” says Dr. John Morton, professor of surgery at Stanford University. “Yet if you look at the impact of obesity on life expectancy, it’s by far one of the most dangerous conditions we have in public health.” Surgeons blame a combination of factors for the stagnating numbers, including the economic downturn and a social stigma against resorting to surgery to treat weight problems. But insurance coverage is the largest hurdle, they say. Nearly two-thirds of health plans sponsored by employers don’t cover weight loss surgery, which can cost between $15,000 and $25,000. Those that do often mandate that patients meet a number of requirements, including special diets and psychological evaluations, before they can get the procedure covered. Bariatric surgery And early signs indicate many of the same challenges seen in the private market have carried over to the new, state-run insurance exchanges that are part of the health care overhaul: Only 24 states require insurers to cover weight loss surgery for patients. And when the procedure is covered, many plans require patients to pay up to 50 percent of the cost out of pocket. Insurers have said for years that bariatric surgery should only be used as a last resort, hence the many preliminary requirements and evaluations. “All major surgeries are risky. This one is life altering, and if there is an approach that’s less invasive and less risky for the patient, you want to try that one first,” says, Susan Pisano, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, an insurance industry trade group. But the insurance hurdles are pushing up against new medical guidelines urging doctors to more aggressively address obesity, including referring patients for surgery. Guidelines issued in November by the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and the Obesity Society call on doctors to calculate a patient’s body mass index - an estimate of body fat based on weight and height - each year, and recommend surgery for those who face the most

serious health problems. More than a third of US adults are obese defined as someone with a BMI of 30 or higher and that’s been the case since the middle of the last decade. Weight loss surgery is recommended for those with a BMI of 40 or those with a BMI of 35 who have other risk factors for heart disease such as diabetes or high blood pressure. A 5foot-9 person would be obese at 203 pounds. The most popular procedure is gastric bypass, which involves stapling off a small pouch from the rest of the stomach and connecting it to the small intestine. Patients eat less because the pouch holds little food, and they absorb fewer calories because much of the intestine is bypassed. Another procedure called gastric banding places an inflatable ring over the top of the stomach to restrict how much food it can hold. The latest long-term studies show that the typical patient loses about 30 percent of their excess weight with the bypass procedure and 17 percent with the band after three years. That compares with weight loss of just 2 to 8 percent with diet and lifestyle changes. Researchers estimate the initial costs of surgery are recouped within 2 to 9 years, as patients cut down on prescriptions, trips to the doctor and emergency hospital care. Cure diabetes On top of all that, two groundbreaking 2012 studies suggest bypass surgery can reverse and possibly cure diabetes. But only 37 percent of health plans that are sponsored by employers cover weight loss surgery, according to benefits consulting firm Mercer. At large corporations, the coverage rate is higher at 58 percent, but most

eating habits and visit their physicians for regular weigh-ins and check-ups. Surgeons say many patients are unable to keep up with the appointments and never qualify for surgery - a fact which they say helps insurers control costs. “Half of the people I see drop out because they can’t commit to the time away from their jobs,” says Dr. Carson Liu, a bariatric surgeon in Los Angeles. “Insurers know that 50 percent of patients will drop out.” America’s Health Insurance Plans, the industry trade group, says companies are simply following federal guidelines that recommend surgery for “carefully selected patients” who have failed other methods. Problem of severe obesity But the National Institutes of Health guidelines insurers point to were issued in 1998, when weight loss surgery was still an emerging field with serious risks. At the time, about 1 in 100 patients died in surgery. The death rate today is 1 in 1,000, making it as safe as a hip replacement, according to surgeons. Weight loss surgery is now nearly universally accepted in American medicine. Still, the approach is not an easy fix. Patients must dramatically cut the amount and variety of food they consume, otherwise they will experience cramps, diarrhea and other unpleasant side effects. Additionally, about 20 percent of patients who get the gastric band regain nearly all of their weight within three years - a fact that has led to a decline in popularity for that procedure. Only a small percentage of bypass patients regain their weight. Doctors who support weight-loss surgery

SAN ANTONIO: In this Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, photo, Mary-Jane Harrison plays with her grandson David, in San Antonio. Like nearly 78 million American adults, Harrison is obese, and because of stress fractures in her legs she is unable to walk up or down the stairs of her twostory home. — AP Americans work for smaller businesses. The benefit is often hardest to find in states that have the highest levels of obesity, such as Mississippi and Arkansas, where less than 25 percent of employers cover weight loss surgery. Both states have obesity rates over 34 percent, the highest in the country. When insurers cover weight-loss surgery, it often comes with a number of requirements. Patients must first pass a psychological evaluation, showing that their obesity is not due to an eating disorder or other mental problems that can contribute to weight gain. Most insurers then require six to 12 months of doctor-supervised dieting, in which patients keep a journal of their

warn that it’s not a cost-effective solution for America’s obesity epidemic in the long run. Dr. David Katz of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center says a smarter approach lies in educating children and adolescents early on about healthy eating and exercise habits. “We created the problem of severe obesity and we have to deal with it, but scalpels aren’t the only solution,” he says. “There is a better way.” But for Harrison, who takes 11 medications to control conditions related to her weight, surgery increasingly seems like her only hope. “I spend every day worrying about how much time I have left. Everything hurts and my health issues get worse all the time,” Harrison says. — AP

‘Killer heroin’ causing fatal overdoses in East POINT PLEASANT: On an icy night last month, a man entered a grocery store here, walked past the displays of cake mix and paper towels, and went into the bathroom, where he injected himself with heroin. Hours later, the man was found dead in the bathroom with a needle still in his arm, authorities said. They believe the man was one of more than 80 across the country who have died in recent weeks after injecting heroin laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate. As the number of people who use, and fatally overdose on, heroin has skyrocketed in recent years, authorities are seeing the return of an alarming development: heroin that, often unbeknownst to the user, is spiked with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a narcotic that is typically administered to people in chronic pain, including end-stage cancer patients. It is also used as an anesthetic. It is considered 80 times more powerful than morphine and can kill by inhibiting breathing. “The dealers push this as being a super high, which it is, but it’s also lethal,” said Ellen Unterwald, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the Temple University School of Medicine. Users typically don’t know how much fentanyl is mixed in, and she said just a small amount can be fatal because the drug is so potent. “A very small amount can exert a very significant effect,” said Eric Strain, director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment and Research at Johns

Hopkins University. In Maryland, at least 37 people have died from the combined drugs, according to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and in western Pennsylvania, authorities said they caused 22 deaths in recent weeks. In Rhode Island, 25 people have died from the laced heroin, and in Vermont state police have warned that pure fentanyl is being sold as heroin. Addicts turning to heroin After Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead with a syringe in his arm this month, investigators in New York tested the heroin found in his apartment for fentanyl, but found that it did not include the additive. With more and more addicts turning to heroin because crackdowns on powerful prescription opiate painkillers have made them more expensive and inaccessible, there is concern that more people may be exposed to fentanyl-laced heroin during this wave than in previous ones, including in 2006 when hundreds of people from Chicago to Philadelphia died after injecting the drugs. Last month the Drug Enforcement Administration put out a bulletin warning local authorities of what it dubbed “killer heroin,” a mixture that was up to half fentanyl. It urged first responders to “exercise extreme caution” when coming into contact with any heroin because Fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin. It is unclear where

the fentanyl is coming from. It is typically only distributed in hospitals. It can be administered in the form of a patch, a drip or a lollipop, which patients in pain suck on. Heroin dealers put so-called stamps on the bags that hold their product, allowing users to delineate between different batches. Oftentimes they are product logos. Authorities said bags bearing the stamps “Bud Light,” “Theraflu” and “Income Tax” have tested positive for fentanyl. “A lot of those people thought that Bud Light was really hot, it’s really good stuff, it sends you over the edge,” said Ocean County, N.J. Prosecutor Joseph Coronato. “It’s a marketing tool, almost.” Ocean County has been besieged by heroin and prescription drug overdoses in the past two years; in 2012 there were 53 overdoses in the county that hugs the Jersey Shore and last year there were 112. “The demand is so high. That’s the problem that’s out there,” Coronato said. T.J. Smith, a spokesman for the police in Anne Arundel County, Md., said there have been four cases within the last year of heroin found with fentanyl in it, which he called an “unusually high number” in the county. Smith said heroin - both pure and laced with fentanyl - is driving a major increase in property crime. He said the drug has undergone a major change in the past year, with more potentially fatal doses found with fentanyl.— AP

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


Free healthcare campaign at Shifa Al Jazeera Medical Group KUWAIT: Shifa Al Jazeera Medical Group of Kuwait is conducting a free healthcare campaign on 25th Feb, National Day and 26th Feb, Liberation Day. The management team including Shifa Al Jazeera Medical Group’s regional sponsor Dr Khalid Al Khandari, regional manager Musthafa Hamza, medical directors Dr Abdul Naser & Dr Biji Basheer, general manager Ibrahim Kutty, administration manager Abdul Aziz mentioned that this is to articulate the social commitment towards the nation and all its residents during the colorful Hala February celebrations this year. “The importance of such medical campaigns are that as of every year, about 14 to 15 percent of the patients are diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, renal stones, etc which goes a long way in saving lives, because if left undetected these chronic illnesses can lead to extreme health conditions”, highlighted Dr Abdul Nazer, medical director at Shifa Al Jazeera Medical Center, Farwaniya. This medical camp Shifa Al Jazeera offers free consultation and file opening for all specialists, like general medicine, dermatology, gynecology, pediatrics, orthopedics, ENT, ophthalmology, dental department etc. Along with the free campaign the man-

agement offers 25% discount for the lab investigations and 8% in the pharmacy which will be an added support to the residents who are unable to avail premium quality healthcare due to low income. Master health checkup for KD 15, comprehensive health checkup for KD 65, free follow-up for 10 days are also offered and request the residents to make the maximum exploitation of this opportunity at both the medical centers of the group located in Farwaniya and Fahaheel. They also conveyed a message to the residents to expect some unique offers in their Jleeb Shuyoukh branch which is expected to open soon. The management also mentioned about the facilities provided with the help of the most modern medical equipments with the support of highly qualified technicians which marks Shifa Al Jazeera Medical Group as an exceptional one among the competitors. Another noticeable factor is the assortment of doctors from different nationalities like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen which creates a homely atmosphere for the patients to convey their health problems to the doctors in their mother tongue. The unique topic

about Shifa Al Jazeera Medical Group not only in Kuwait, but also in the other GCC countries could be cited as, routinely the charges for any kind of services are very reasonable and even though, the management are always scheduling for such civic caring events which has to be a motivation to others in serving the needy ones at the maximum. “This kind of healthcare campaign assist the society to discover their health status and take necessary measurements to hold a stable health condition themselves”, mentioned Dr Biji Basheer, the medical director of Shifa Al Jazeera Medical Center, Fahaheel. The management also conveyed the gratitude of the Chairman, Dr K T Mohammed Rabeeullah, towards the whole residents of Kuwait for supporting the Shifa Al Jazeera Medical Group, especially mentioning the thankfulness towards HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed AlJaber Al-Sabah, the most respectful ruler and the Crown Prince to the State of Kuwait HH Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed AlJaber Al-Sabah for achieving their great visions and missions in bringing the country to a perceptible position with the most modern aspect of developing the country to an exceptional leading position.

MIAMI: Baseel Farah walks out of Leading Insurance Agency as the insurance agency helps enroll people in health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act in Miami, Florida. — AFP


W H AT ’ S O N AROUND KUWAIT Remal Sand Sculpting Festival The Remal International Festival is open at the Kuwait International Fairgrounds. 73 of the world’s best sand artists came to Kuwait and worked together to reimagine the stories of 1001 Nights and according to the organizers, the sand park will be the world’s largest. For a preview of what to expect, check out my previous post on this festival at Kuwait International Fairgrounds until April 26 from 12 noon. Proud 2 be Kuwaiti 2014 The P2BK 2014 event at the Kuwait International Fairgrounds Mubarak AlAbdullah, Hawally and will end on February 25th. This year the set up is going to be similar to last years with an outdoor old souk that was built specifically to host this event. There will be a ton of Kuwaiti businesses participating including already established ones as well as new ones plus you have the Remal sand sculpting festival taking place alongside it as well. Bayt Lothan: Handcrafts Heritage 3 The 3rd annual Mawruthna Al Hirafi takes place from February 16th to the 18th from 5pm to 9pm at Bayt Lothan, Arabian Gulf Street, Kuwait City, Hawally Governorate, Kuwait, Salmiya, Kuwait. Mawruthna Al Hirafi is an event that takes you back in time and showcases traditional Kuwaiti craftsmen and their lifestyle. Live music will be hosted by a variety of famous Kuwaiti artists. Design Diwan: Pathways Through Art We are delighted to announce the details of our 3rd diwaniya, happening on Wednesday February 19th from 6-8pm at the Modern Art Museum, Kuwait City, Al Asimah, Kuwait. Our guest speaker is artist Amira Behbehani on the topic “Pathways Through Art,” a discussion of the role of the artist in modern society. Cinemagic: Upstream Color Thursday, February 20th 2014 at 7:30pm at CineMagic Kuwait Ltd, Salem Al Mubarak Street, Kuwait. Upstream Color. One of the most unique films of all time, adored by critics from all corners, a film that had audiences and critics discussing it to no end after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. Shane Carruth, the man behind Primer which we screened last year, Directed, Produced, Wrote, Scored, Shot, Edited, and Starred in this utterly mad film. I won’t even try to explain the plot as it cannot be explained. K’S PATH adoption drive at Pet Spa K’S PATH adoption drive taking place on Saturday 22nd of February from 4 to 7 pm at Pet Spa Al Rai. Come and meet the wonderful, adoptable dogs from K’S PATH. Guided Tour: House of Mirrors The House of Mirrors is home to the family of the late renowned artist, Khalifa Al-Qattan. His wife has spent vast amounts of time creating scenes on the walls, the floors & even the ceilings to showcase what can be done with broken pieces of mirror and glass when accompanied by an artists’ touch. Enjoy a cup of tea, an artful snack and a guided tour to view the splendors of this ‘bedazzled’ home. Cameras are welcome. February 24 @ 5 pm - 8 pm. Cinemagic: Beasts of the Southern Wild Thursday, February 28th 2014 at 7:30 pm at CineMagic Kuwait. Beasts Of The Southern Wild Winner of the Camera d’Or at The 2012 Cannes Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, along with 65 other worldwide awards, Beasts of the Southern Wild covers the tragedy of a Louisiana bayou cut off from the world by a levee as seen through the eyes of 6year-old Hushpuppy. Her life is about to change as she is faced with both her hot tempered father and mother.

Art and Feast festival Kozhikode District Association Mahilavedi is organising Art & Feast Festival-2014, a full day program for ladies and children on 21st February 2014 at Indian Community School, Khaitan from 9.30 AM onwards. A variety of Arts & Cookery competitions with very attractive prizes for women of all ages aim to promote their talents. The festival will be inaugurated by Mrs. Gargy Jain, wife of Ambassador of India to Kuwait. The presence of the Master chef Mrs Jumanah Kadri who is reputed all over GCC as well as India for her unique and mouthwatering traditional and multinational cuisines, as a judge for the cooking competitions adds to the attraction of the event. The different competitions for ladies are organized as follows Cooking Competition (Pudding/Snacks-Ladies, either one or both) Hair Decoration (18 Years onwards-Ladies) Registration: Ladies of all Communities in Kuwait can participate in these competitions. Details of the competitions are available at our website The candidates can register online through our website or through the following Mobile numbers: 97896263, 97141673, 69391238 & 55839915. The registrations are open only for a limited number of candidates and hence hurry up to confirm your chance.

Peace concert at KNES


ear 1 and Year 2 pupils from Key Stage 1 Kuwait National English School (KNES) in Hawally performed recently extremely well, reaching excellence with a concert on the

theme of Peace. A theme which falls in line with the school’s guiding statement of Kuwait National English School, peace is needed so much in this part of the world. All

the universal moral values which are inculcated in all pupils even the young ones at KNES will promote the necessary spirit of cooperation and peace in general.

It was a beautiful concert; parents, staff and Madame Chantal Al Gharabally, School Director felt very proud about the performance of the young pupils from Kuwait National English School.


W H AT ’ S O N

Alshaya brands recognised at 2014 horeca Kuwait Wins 10 major culinary awards


ome of Kuwait’s best known restaurant brands, operated by leading international franchise operator, M.H. Alshaya Co., as well as the company’s Central Production Kitchen, have recently won a total of nine medals and one top trophy at the annual Hotel, Restaurant and Catering awards, known as Horeca Kuwait.

The participating brands: Dean & Deluca, Asha’s, Gaucho Grill, Noodle Factory, Katsuya, Veranda and the company’s Central Production Kitchen brought in a medal tally of one gold, five silver and three bronzes, reflecting Alshaya’s commitment to delivering an outstanding dining experience to its customers. The results build on success in the previous year when

brands operated by Alshaya won four medals Overall it was Alshaya’s upscale delicatessen brand, Dean & Deluca which won the most medals, including one bronze, three silver and one gold, the latter awarded in the live Sushi category. Two of Alshaya’s newer luxury dining concepts Katsuya by Starck and Veranda at Harvey

Nichols, were also recognised for their culinary excellence. Three medals were won by newlyopened Katsuya and a silver medal went to Veranda which also garnered five Certificates of Merit. The Noodle Factory won the much-coveted Best Hygiene and Food Safety Practices trophy against more than 140 contestants. A further

twelve Certificates of Merit were awarded to Alshaya by the judging panel of eight international chefs. Overseen by a panel of eight international judges, Horeca Kuwait’s stringent cooking and food preparation competitions this year attracted almost 150 chefs, competing in sixteen categories.

‘Journey to the secrets of the old orient’


ar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah showed the “Journey to the secrets of the old orient” film, as well as the book that came with it in celebration of the Dar’s 30th anniversary of Americani Cultural Center, which is holding this activity.

PGA coaching program


.G.A. Everton sponsored by Porsche Centre Kuwait, Behbehani Motors Company hosted Barcelona Boys in the Under 13 and Under 14 age groups this weekend. The boys played out two exciting matches in an excellent spirit of sportsmanship. The first PGA coaching program of 2014 ends this week with a new course commencing 28 February.

Cinemagic: The Act of Killing

Diwaniya: Bedouin tents and desert customs

aturday, February 22nd 2014 at 7:30 pm The Act Of Killing at CineMagic Kuwait Ltd, Salem Al Mubarak Street, Kuwait. One of the rawest and most intriguing films of the year, winning over 32 awards,and nominated for Best Documentary at this year’s Oscars, The Act of Killing is a terrifying but unmissable film. A documentary that challenges former Indonesian death squad leaders to reenact their real-life mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.

odern day Kuwaitis are the descendants of several nomadic tribes and clans who ultimately settled on the coast of the Arabian Gulf during the eighteenth century to avoid the persistent drought of the desert. When they arrived at the coast, the clans built forts to protect themselves from other nomadic tribes who still traversed the desert. Until now, ethnic Kuwaitis are still struggling to maintain their cultural heritage in an increasingly complex society. February 18 @ 7 pm - 9 pm. AWARE Center, Villa 84, Street 50, Block 3, Surra, Kuwait.

Stage set for ‘Keli 2014’


he stage is set for ‘Keli 2014’, a two-day theatre festival of Gulf Malayali Diaspora, on Feb 25 and 26 at Khaitan Indian Community School Auditorium. The festival is held under the aegis of Kuwait Chapter of Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi (KSNA), a Kerala Government body. Three renowned theatre personalities from Kerala — Dr P V Krishnan Nair, T M Abraham and Santhoshkumar — will adjudge the five plays taking part in the

competition. On Day 1 (Feb 25), two plays will be staged starting at 4.30 pm. First play to be staged is ‘Amme Mappu’ by Kalpak Kuwait followed by ‘Pashu’ by Nirbhaya Theatre. On day two, three plays will be presented from 5pm onwards. They are ‘Randam Bhavam,’ by Kala Kuwait, ‘Ushna Mekhalayile Penkutty’ by Future Eye Theatre, Kuwait and ‘Oru Kottukaranum, Kure Thullakkarum’ by Thanima Kuwait. Entry will be free on both days. All art lovers are welcome.





00:30 The Weakest Link 01:15 Live At The Apollo 02:00 Alan Carr: Chatty Man 02:45 Him & Her 03:15 Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle 03:50 Moone Boy 04:15 The Weakest Link 05:00 Me Too! 05:20 Nina And The Neurons: In The Lab 05:35 Bobinogs 05:45 Jackanory Junior 06:00 Garth And Bev 06:10 Poetry Pie 06:15 Me Too! 06:35 Nina And The Neurons: In The Lab 06:50 Bobinogs 07:00 Jackanory Junior 07:15 Garth And Bev 07:25 Poetry Pie 07:30 Little Prairie Dogs 07:40 Tough Guy Or Chicken? 08:30 A Farmer’s Life For Me 09:20 The Weakest Link 10:05 My Family 10:35 As Time Goes By 11:05 One Foot In The Grave 11:35 The Weakest Link 12:20 Tough Guy Or Chicken? 13:10 A Farmer’s Life For Me 14:00 Doctors 14:30 Doctors 15:00 Doctors 15:30 Doctors 16:00 Doctors 16:30 The Weakest Link 17:15 Monty Halls’ Island Escapes 18:05 Tess Of The D’urbervilles 19:00 Last Of The Summer Wine 19:30 My Family 20:00 Stella 20:45 New Tricks 21:35 Friday Night Dinner 22:00 Live At The Apollo 22:45 Him & Her 23:15 The Weakest Link

00:10 Cash In The Attic 00:55 Phil Spencer - Secret Agent 01:45 Phil Spencer - Secret Agent 02:35 Fat & Fatter 03:25 Bargain Hunt 04:10 Bargain Hunt 04:55 Fantasy Homes Down Under 05:40 Fantasy Homes Down Under 06:25 Fantasy Homes Down Under 07:10 Fantasy Homes Down Under 08:00 Cash In The Attic 08:45 Fantasy Homes Down Under 09:30 Design Rules 09:55 Design Rules 10:20 Rhodes Across The Caribbean 11:05 Rhodes Across The Caribbean 11:50 The Hairy Bikers Ride Again 12:20 Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: London 12:45 MasterChef 13:40 MasterChef 14:35 Fat & Fatter 15:30 Bargain Hunt: Famous Finds 16:15 Bargain Hunt: Famous Finds 17:00 Bargain Hunt: Famous Finds 17:45 Bargain Hunt: Famous Finds 18:30 Bargain Hunt: Famous Finds 19:15 Bargain Hunt: Famous Finds 20:00 The Hairy Bikers: Mums Know Best 20:55 Come Dine With Me: Supersized 22:30 Antiques Roadshow 23:20 Bargain Hunt: Famous Finds

00:30 Gangland 01:30 Psychic Kids 02:30 Psychic Kids

03:30 04:30 05:30 06:30 07:30 08:00 08:30 09:00 09:30 10:00 10:30 11:00 11:30 12:00 12:30 13:00 13:30 14:00 14:30 15:00 16:00 17:00 18:00 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 22:30 23:30

09:15 How Tech Works 09:40 The Gadget Show 10:05 The Tech Show 10:30 Scrapheap Challenge 11:25 Scrapheap Challenge 12:20 Scrapheap Challenge 13:10 Scrapheap Challenge 14:00 Scrapheap Challenge 14:50 Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger 15:20 The Gadget Show 15:45 The Tech Show 16:10 Strangest Weather On Earth 16:35 Strangest Weather On Earth 17:00 Europe’s Secret Earthquakes 17:55 Ways To Save The Planet 18:45 How The Earth Works 19:35 Unchained Reaction 20:30 How Tech Works 20:55 How Tech Works 21:20 How The Earth Works 22:10 The Gadget Show 22:35 The Tech Show 23:00 How Tech Works 23:25 How Tech Works 23:50 How The Earth Works

Psychic Kids My Ghost Story The Haunting Of Psychic Kids Curious & Unusual Deaths Curious & Unusual Deaths Curious & Unusual Deaths Curious & Unusual Deaths Curious & Unusual Deaths Curious & Unusual Deaths Curious & Unusual Deaths Snapped: Women Who Kill Snapped: Women Who Kill Snapped: Women Who Kill Snapped: Women Who Kill Snapped: Women Who Kill Snapped: Women Who Kill Snapped: Women Who Kill Snapped: Women Who Kill Deadly Wives I Killed My BFF I Killed My BFF Martina Cole’s Lady Killers Snapped: Women Who Kill Snapped: Women Who Kill Snapped: Women Who Kill Curious & Unusual Deaths Killers Britain’s Darkest Taboos

00:05 Alien Mysteries 00:55 The Unexplained Files 01:45 Weird Or What? 02:35 How It’s Made 03:00 How It’s Made 03:25 How It’s Made 03:50 How It’s Made 04:15 How It’s Made 04:40 How Do They Do It? 05:05 How Do They Do It? 05:30 How Do They Do It? 06:00 How Do They Do It? 06:30 How Do They Do It? 07:00 Fast N’ Loud 07:50 World’s Top 5 08:40 How It‘s Made: Dream Cars 09:05 How It’s Made: Dream Cars 09:30 Gold Rush - South America 10:20 Gold Fever 11:10 Ice Cold Gold 12:00 Destroyed In Seconds 12:25 Destroyed In Seconds 12:50 Destroyed In Seconds 13:15 Destroyed In Seconds 13:40 How It’s Made 14:05 How It’s Made 14:30 How It’s Made 14:55 How It’s Made 15:20 How It’s Made 15:45 Auction Kings 16:10 Auction Kings 16:35 Auction Kings 17:00 Auction Kings 17:25 Auction Kings 17:50 Border Security 18:15 Border Security - Series Specials 18:40 Border Security - Series Specials 19:05 Border Security - Series Specials 19:30 Border Security - Series Specials 19:55 Mythbusters 20:45 What Happened Next? 21:10 What Happened Next? 21:35 Head Games 22:25 Gold Rush - South America 23:15 Gold Fever

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

Deadly Devotion I Married A Mobster I Married A Mobster Serial Killers Disappeared Killer Kids Deadly Devotion I Married A Mobster I Married A Mobster Serial Killers I Almost Got Away With It Stalked: Someone’s Watching Stalked: Someone’s Watching Stalked: Someone’s Watching Stalked: Someone’s Watching Dr G: Medical Examiner Dr G: Medical Examiner Dr G: Medical Examiner Dr G: Medical Examiner On The Case With Paula Zahn On The Case With Paula Zahn True Crime With Aphrodite

Disappeared Disappeared Disappeared Disappeared On The Case With Paula Zahn On The Case With Paula Zahn On The Case With Paula Zahn On The Case With Paula Zahn Deadly Women True Crime With Aphrodite

6 6 6

00:40 The Colony 01:30 Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger 02:00 Mega World 02:50 Futurecar 03:45 Futurecar 04:35 Futurecar 05:25 Futurecar 06:15 The Gadget Show 06:40 The Tech Show 07:05 How Does That Work? 07:35 How Does That Work? 08:00 How The Earth Works 08:50 How Tech Works

The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody Jonas Jonas Suite Life On Deck Suite Life On Deck Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody The Suite Life Of Zack & Cody Jonas Jonas Suite Life On Deck Suite Life On Deck Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place Austin And Ally Dog With A Blog A.N.T. Farm A.N.T. Farm That’s So Raven Shake It Up Good Luck Charlie Dog With A Blog Gravity Falls Wolfblood My Babysitter’s A Vampire A.N.T. Farm Ratatouille

00:00 02:00 04:00 06:00 08:00 10:00 12:00 14:00 16:00 18:00 PG15 20:00 22:00

00:00 02:00 04:00 06:00 08:00 10:00 12:00 14:00 16:00 18:00 20:00 22:00

I Think I Do-PG15 Love’s Kitchen-PG15 A Cat In Paris-PG Surf’s Up-PG Today’s Special-PG15 Nacho Libre-PG Love’s Kitchen-PG15 3 Holiday Tails-PG Today’s Special-PG15 The Expendables 2-PG15 Butter-18 Age Of Heroes-PG15

The Good Doctor-PG15 Gone-PG15 Albert Nobbs-18 The Bang Bang Club-18

02:00 03:00 03:30 06:30 07:00 11:30 12:00 16:00 18:00 18:30 19:00 20:00 20:30 21:00 22:30 23:00

Trans World Sport NFL Game Day Snooker Futbol Mundial PGA Tour PGA European Tour Weekly Live PGA European Tour Live LV Cup Futbol Mundial ICC Cricket 360 Trans World Sport Inside The PGA Tour PGA European Tour Weekly Live PGA Tour Inside The PGA Tour Live PGA Tour

01:15 Firelight-18 03:15 Young Adult-PG15 05:00 The History Boys-PG15 07:00 New York Stories-PG15 09:00 Departures-PG15 11:15 Five-PG15 13:00 Bobby Fischer Against The World-PG15 15:00 The Crucible-PG15 17:15 Five-PG15 19:00 Wind Chill-PG15 21:00 London-18 23:00 Mahler On The Couch-18

00:30 01:00 01:30 02:00 02:30 07:00 08:00 08:30 09:00 11:00 11:30 15:00 15:30 18:30 20:30 21:00

Futbol Mundial NFL Game Day ICC Cricket 360 PGA European Tour Weekly PGA European Tour Trans World Sport Futbol Mundial NFL Game Day NHL ICC Cricket 360 Live Cricket Twenty20 Futbol Mundial HSBC Sevens World Series LV Cup NFL Game Day Live NHL

Cottage Country-PG15 Ghostbusters-PG Ghostbusters II-PG The Brothers Solomon-PG15 Scrooged-PG15 Ghostbusters-PG Ghostbusters II-PG A Thousand Words-PG15 Scrooged-PG15 Blame It On The BellboyThe Sitter-18 The Dream Team-PG15

Here-PG15 Courage-PG15 Love Finds A Home-PG15 The Chateau Meroux-PG15 Here-PG15 Beware The Gonzo-PG15 Resistance-PG15 Taken Back: Finding Haley-

DOOM ON OSN MOVIES HD ACTION 12:25 12:35 13:00 Fairies 13:25 Fairies 13:50 Fairies 14:15 Fairies 14:40 Fairies 15:10 Fairies 15:35 Fairies 16:00 Fairies 16:25 Fairies 16:50 17:10 17:20 17:45 18:10 18:30 18:55 19:20 19:40 20:05 20:30 20:50 21:15 21:40 22:00 22:25 22:50 23:10 23:35

Prank Stars Dog With A Blog The Adventures Of Disney The Adventures Of Disney The Adventures Of Disney The Adventures Of Disney The Adventures Of Disney The Adventures Of Disney The Adventures Of Disney The Adventures Of Disney The Adventures Of Disney Pixie Hollow Games Toy Story Toons Jessie Dog With A Blog Gravity Falls Wolfblood My Babysitter’s A Vampire Good Luck Charlie Jessie Austin & Ally Good Luck Charlie Dog With A Blog Gravity Falls Shake It Up Austin & Ally A.N.T. Farm Good Luck Charlie Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place

00:00 Chelsea Lately 00:30 The Dance Scene 00:55 The Dance Scene 01:25 20 Acts Of Love Gone Wrong 03:15 THS 04:10 E! Investigates 05:05 Extreme Close-Up 05:30 Extreme Close-Up 06:00 THS 07:50 Style Star 08:20 E! News 09:15 Scouted 10:15 Eric And Jessie: Game On 10:40 Eric And Jessie: Game On 11:10 Married To Jonas 11:35 Married To Jonas 12:05 E! News 13:05 Giuliana & Bill 14:05 Giuliana & Bill 15:00 Giuliana & Bill 16:00 Giuliana & Bill 17:00 Giuliana & Bill 18:00 E! News 19:00 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 20:00 The Drama Queen 21:00 The Drama Queen 22:00 Eric And Jessie: Game On 22:30 Eric And Jessie: Game On 23:00 Party On 23:30 Chelsea Lately


00:00 The Veteran-18 02:00 Doom-18 04:00 Soldiers Of Fortune-PG15 06:00 The Da Vinci Code-PG15 08:45 Nick Of Time-PG15 10:30 The Apparition-PG15 12:00 Skyline-PG15 14:00 Nick Of Time-PG15 16:00 Virtuosity-PG15 18:00 Skyline-PG15 20:00 How I Spent My Summer Vacation-PG15 22:00 Legendary Amazons-PG15

01:00 Drift-PG15 03:00 The Host-PG15 05:15 Tinker Bell And The Secret Of The Wings-FAM 07:00 Bobby Fischer Against The World-PG15 09:00 You Got Served: Beat The World-PG15 11:00 The Wishing Well-PG15 13:00 A Christmas Kiss-PG15 15:00 Wild Card-PG15 17:00 You Got Served: Beat The World-PG15 19:00 The Impossible-PG15 21:00 Pitch Perfect-PG15 23:00 Side Effects-18

01:00 03:15 05:00 07:00 09:00 11:15 13:00 15:00 PG15 17:00 19:00 21:00 23:00

True Crime With Aphrodite


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22:00 How I Spent My Summer Vacation

00:15 Deadliest Journeys 00:45 The Witch Doctor Will See You Now 01:40 Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled 02:35 The Real Man’s Road Trip 03:30 David Rocco‚Äôs Dolce Vita 03:55 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 04:25 Eat Street 04:50 Bondi Rescue 05:20 Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled 06:15 Street Food Around The World 06:40 David Rocco’s Amalfi Getaway 07:10 Bondi Rescue 07:35 Bondi Rescue 08:05 When Vacations Attack 09:00 Kimchi Chronicles

09:25 Street Food Around The World 09:55 Street Food Around the World 10:20 Deadliest Journeys 10:50 A World Apart 11:45 Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled 12:40 Bondi Rescue 13:05 Bondi Rescue 13:35 Extreme Tourist Afghanistan 14:30 Eat Street 14:55 Bondi Rescue 15:25 Banged Up Abroad 16:20 Don’t Tell My Mother 17:15 Banged Up Abroad 18:10 Street Food Around the World 18:35 Deadliest Journeys 19:05 Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled 20:00 Street Food Around The World 20:30 David Rocco’s Amalfi Getaway 21:00 Bondi Rescue 21:30 Bondi Rescue 22:00 Scam City 22:55 Street Food Around the World 23:20 Eat Street

00:30 Brain Games 01:00 Wild Russia 02:00 Untamed Americas 03:00 Big, Bigger, Biggest 04:00 World’s Toughest Fixes 05:00 World’s Toughest Fixes 06:00 Animal Mega Moves 07:00 The Best Job In The World 07:30 Wild Scotland: The Western Isles 08:30 Brain Games 09:00 Wild Russia 10:00 Untamed Americas 11:00 Alaska Wing Men 12:00 The Two Million Year Old Boy 13:00 That Shouldn’t Fly 14:00 Wild Russia 15:00 Lords of War 15:30 Wild Scotland: The Western Isles 16:30 Nat Geo’s Most Amazing Photos 17:00 Adventure Wanted 18:00 Aftermath 19:00 Salvage Code Red 20:00 Aftermath 21:00 Prehistoric Predators 22:00 Salvage Code Red 23:00 Megacities

00:20 World’s Weirdest Brains And Babies 01:10 Outback Wrangler 02:00 Swamp Men 02:50 World’s Weirdest Extreme Body Parts 03:45 How Big Can It Get 04:40 Brilliant Beasts 05:35 Unlikely Animal Friends 06:30 Animal Intervention 07:25 Caught In The Act 08:20 Fish Tank Kings 09:15 Expedition Wild 10:10 Animal Mega Moves 11:05 Animal Mega Moves 12:00 Shark Men 12:55 The Invaders 13:50 World’s Weirdest: Animal Taboo 14:45 Secrets Of The King Cobra 15:40 Wild Scotland: The Western Isles 16:35 Wild Scotland: The Western Isles 17:30 Secret Brazil 18:25 Animal Mega Moves 19:20 Shark Men 20:10 The Invaders 21:00 World’s Weirdest: Animal Taboo 21:50 Secrets Of The King Cobra

22:40 Wild Scotland: The Western Isles 23:30 Wild Scotland: The Western Isles

00:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 01:00 The Colbert Report 01:30 Saturday Night Live 02:30 Louie 03:00 Arrested Development 03:30 Baby Daddy 04:00 Seinfeld 04:30 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 05:30 Seinfeld 06:00 Raising Hope 06:30 Friends 07:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 08:00 Seinfeld 08:30 Seinfeld 09:00 Arrested Development 09:30 That Mitchell And Webb Look 10:00 Two And A Half Men 10:30 Friends 11:00 The Tonight Show With Jay Leno 12:00 Raising Hope 12:30 Seinfeld 13:00 Seinfeld 13:30 Friends 14:00 Baby Daddy 14:30 That Mitchell And Webb Look 15:00 Two And A Half Men 15:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 16:00 The Colbert Report 16:30 Last Man Standing 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 Arrested Development 18:30 The Simpsons 19:00 2 Broke Girls 19:30 Two And A Half Men 20:00 Whitney 20:30 Web Therapy 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 Saturday Night Live 23:00 Don’t Trust The B In Apartment 23 23:30 Whitney

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C.S.I. New York Helix Banshee House Of Cards The Glades Almost Human C.S.I. New York Burn Notice Made In Jersey Almost Human Helix The Glades Emmerdale Coronation Street Made In Jersey C.S.I. New York Emmerdale Coronation Street Made In Jersey Franklin & Bash Suits Supernatural House Of Cards

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The Killing Jar The Veteran Doom Soldiers Of Fortune The Da Vinci Code Nick Of Time The Apparition Skyline Nick Of Time Virtuosity Skyline

Review: ‘Dinner With Friends’ has lots to chew on


hen a long-married couple gets divorced, their entire inner circle suffers a ripple effect; even their friends can go through painful adjustments. Donald Margulies’ 2000 Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Dinner With Friends” chronicles consequences that test loyalties among longtime friends and within marriages when one of a close pair of couples erupts in a bitter breakup. The foibles and personalities of Margulies’ finely delineated characters remain fresh and contemporary in the smart revival that opened Thursday night at Roundabout Theatre’s Laura Pels Theatre. As he often does, Margulies raises important questions about relationships while providing few answers. Although all the characters are only seen together once, in a flashback to the beginning of their foursome, their intertwined friendships and long history are cleverly illustrated through Margulies’ trenchant dialogue in a series of brief, telling scenes. Thoughtful, straightforward direction of an expressive cast by Pam MacKinnon allows characters to silently reveal their reactions to disturbing epiphanies. Tom and Beth, (Darren Pettie and Heather Burns), getting unamicably divorced, seem immature and uncommunicative. Their happily settled, food-obsessed friends Gabe and Karen, (outstanding portraits by Jeremy Shamos and Marin Hinkle), are deeply concerned with their friends’ situations, but soon find themselves nervously examining the potential fragility of their own marriage. Unrepentant, narcissistic Tom leaves Beth and their two children for another woman after 12 years of marriage. Pettie imbues this bullying, petulant man-boy with a suave obtuseness, breezily tossing off Tom’s destructive, self-pitying and often ignorant remarks. The character seems like a parody of men who refuse to suck it up and deal with the responsibility (and ups and downs) of family life, raising kids and sustaining long-term relationships. Hinkle adds comedic flair to her character’s touchingly self-aware introspection, while Shamos brings a powerful depth to Gabe’s sorrowful, contemplative stares into space. Burns is a little opaque as passive-aggressive Beth. Seemingly fragile and vulnerable, Beth purposely punctures the complacency and compassion of both Gabe and Karen along her road to recovering from the breakup. In the final poignant scene, as Karen and Gabe mourn the loss of their friends and their own youthful abandon, Karen asks him ruefully, “What does this say about our friendship? What were all those years about?” And as they cling to one another in their too-small bed, Margulies leaves open the question of whether a marital bed is a safe enough life-raft to navigate both the turbulent changes and complete ordinariness that life can bring. — AP

Classifieds TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2014



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I, Mundayadankandy Puthiya Purayil Jaseel, holder of Indian Passport No. F9952543 residing at Kadeeja Manzil IX 223, Haji Metta, P.O. Kanhirode, VIA Koodali, Kannur, Kerala 670592, hereby change my name to Jaseel Ebrahim. 17-2-2014 SITUATION WANTED


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IT-Engineer young and energetic with bachelors degree in electronics & telecommunication, passed in first class (honors), and holding Master Degree in Business Administration, having working experience in India and abroad, holding Kuwait residence is looking for suitable employment. Contact: 96681344. (C 4643) 17-2-2014

Nissan Pathfinder 2003 model, good condition. Call 97277135. Cooker with bottle and regulator, washing machine, tumble dryer condenser, microwave mirror four door wardrobe, queen size bed mattress as new, sofa and lounge chairs coffee tables, desk and office chair TV 42” LCD dining table and four chairs side board bookcase, chopping block mobile. Ph: 94400865. (C 4647) 18-2-2014 ACCOMMODATION Sharing accommodation available for Pakistani bachelor in 2B/bath apartment in Khaitan, rent KD 90. Contact: 96618664. (C 4648) 18-2-2014

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Time 00:05 00:10 00:30 00:45 00:55 00:40 01:05 01:10 01:45 02:10 02:15 02:35 02:45 02:50 02:55 03:05 03:10 03:15 03:45 04:20 05:35 05:40 05:50 06:40 07:40 06:45 06:25 05:50 07:50 07:50 07:55 08:15 08:45 08:50 08:10 08:15 08:40 09:00 09:20 09:40 09:55 10:05 10:40 11:55 12:10 12:50 13:00 13:50


1078 165 514 561 672 546 500 472 1072 857 303 562 640 510 127 215 982 1080 63 678 166 104 786 774 542 742 674 618 393 217 647 61 618 572 129 177 605 636 229 402 307 859 219 1074 59 415 239 981 981 185


13:55 11:30 13:45 12:55 14:00 14:05 14:30 14:35 16:40 16:40 16:50 16:50 16:55 17:15 17:25 17:30 18:00 18:40 18:45 18:55 19:10 19:35 18:45 19:30 18:05 18:20 19:25 19:00 19:15 19:30 19:55 20:05 20:05 20:10 20:20 18:20 20:25 20:55 21:10 21:20 21:35 21:40 21:45 22:00 22:00 22:05 22:20 22:30 23:10 23:20




Time 00:05 00:10 00:15 00:15 01:10 01:45 01:45 02:10 02:20 02:45 02:55 03:45 03:50 04:00 04:05 04:10 04:15 05:00 05:15 06:20 06:30 06:35 06:55 07:05 07:05 07:15 07:15 07:30 08:30 08:45 08:50 09:15 09:25 09:30 09:40 09:50 09:55 10:05 10:20 10:55 10:55 11:00 11:25 11:25 11:30 11:50 12:20 12:25 12:55 13:00


176 223 611 872 58 1079 673 741 617 473 501 773 238 304 1073 858 538 641 128 511 216 184 266 982 554 64 1081 3942 218 283 62 648 120 361 607 571 351 604 343 636 171 230 403 308 220 301 60 860 205 415 1075 411


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stars CROSSWORD 463

STAR TRACK Aries (March 21-April 19) TIdeas and interaction with an older person may be in the picture today. Good advice from a guide or older person may be of great importance now. Working with—rather than against—the flow should be easy to do. This is a very lucky day for making plans or decisions and finding your way through just about any problem you may discover. You feel successful and able to solve problems. A formal approach to a group meeting will help you to achieve more than you had hoped was possible. This is a good day. In particular, you will do well in activities that include children, young people and your home and surroundings this evening. You could feel real support and harmony at this time for circumstances and those around you.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) You may find someone you meet today is too secretive for your taste. Your thoughts and ideas go against their secretive, power-oriented manner; keep moving forward. Ambitious schemes and the pursuit of success and status take on a high priority. This brings a focus on the practical, the successful, the pragmatic—whatever it takes to get you ahead. The meek may inherit the earth, but the shrewd will collect the rent. The cost of living seems to be going up and although your income will improve a great deal over the duration of this year, it will not improve overnight. You may decide to call a family meeting this evening. Make some adjustments in the budget—perhaps a family member has good ideas that you can use.

Gemini (May 21-June 20) ACROSS 1. An narrative telling the adventures of a hero or a family. 5. The presence of potassium in the circulating blood. 12. The executive agency that advises the President on the federal budget. 15. A steep rugged rock or cliff. 16. Any heathlike evergreen shrub of the genus Epacris grown for their showy and crowded spikes of small bell-shaped or tubular flowers. 17. Seed of a pea plant. 18. (British) A recreational facility including a swimming pool for water sports. 19. Large genus of tropical trees or shrubs or climbers including fig trees. 20. A village of huts for native Africans in southern Africa. 22. A white mineral consisting of magnesium sulphate and potassium chloride. 23. United States comedian and film actor (1880-1946). 24. An official prosecutor for a judicial district. 25. (of complexion) Blemished by imperfections of the skin. 28. A yellow trivalent metallic element of the rare earth group. 29. (Akkadian) God of wisdom. 30. Any of a number of fishes of the family Carangidae. 32. A game in which numbered balls are drawn and random and players cover the corresponding numbers on their cards. 33. A state of southwestern India. 35. Relatively low in price or charging low prices. 37. Above average in size or number or quantity or magnitude or extent. 38. A state in the western United States. 41. An intensely radioactive metallic element that occurs in minute amounts in uranium ores. 42. The basic unit of money in Albania. 44. A cookout at the seashore where clams and fish and other foods are cooked--usually on heated stones covered with seaweed. 47. Animal reproductive body consisting of an ovum or embryo together with nutritive and protective envelopes. 49. A Chadic language spoken south of Lake Chad. 52. A country north of Ethiopia on the Red Sea. 53. An Old World reptile family of Sauria. 55. United States liquid unit equal to 4 quarts or 3.785 liters. 56. Angular distance above the horizon (especially of a celestial object). 57. A percussion instrument consisting of a pair of hollow pieces of wood or bone (usually held between the thumb and fingers) that are made to click together (as by Spanish dancers) in rhythm with the dance. 58. A rare silvery (usually trivalent) metallic element. 60. A logarithmic unit of sound intensity equal to 10 decibels. 62. Of or relating to or characteristic of Thailand of its people. 63. A federal agency that supervises carriers that transport goods and people between states. 65. A particular geographical region of indefinite boundary (usually serving some special purpose or distinguished by its people or culture or geography). 69. A compartment in front of a motor vehicle where driver sits. 73. An often persistent bodily disorder or dis-

ease. 75. (Old Testament) In Judeo-Christian mythology. 79. Pompous or pretentious talk or writing. 80. An amino acid that is found in the central nervous system. 81. Writing that provides information (especially information of an official nature). 82. Evergreen tree of eastern Asia and Philippines having large leathery leaves and small green-white flowers in compact cymes. 83. Mild yellow Dutch cheese made in balls. 84. Not in a specified place physically or mentally. 85. Type genus of the Aceraceae. DOWN 1. The clock time given by a clock carried on board a spacecraft. 2. An elaborate song for solo voice. 3. Large family of important mostly marine food fishes. 4. Lacking gonads. 5. An oral cephalosporin (trade names Keflex and Keflin and Keftab) commonly prescribe for mild to moderately severe infections of the skin or ears or throat or lungs or urinary tract. 6. To or from every one of two or more (considered individually). 7. Resinlike substance secreted by certain lac insects. 8. Concerned with promoting unity among churches or religions. 9. A form of address for a married woman. 10. Being one more than one. 11. Relating to the use of or having the nature of an interrogation. 12. A translucent mineral consisting of hydrated silica of variable color. 13. English economist noted for his studies of international trade and finance (born in 1907). 14. Strong lightweight wood of the balsa tree used especially for floats. 21. A forbidding stronghold. 26. Tag the base runner to get him out. 27. Angle that resembles the hind leg of a dog. 31. A Bantu language spoken by the Chaga people in northern Tanzania. 34. Essential oil or perfume obtained from flowers. 36. A tricycle (usually propelled by pedalling). 39. Widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions for its fragrant flowers and colorful fruits. 40. Heal or recover. 43. A family of Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in southeastern Asia. 45. An Arabic speaking person who lives in Arabia or North Africa. 46. A unit of length equal to 1760 yards. 48. Primitive predaceous North American fish covered with hard scales and having long jaws with needle-like teeth. 50. A soft silvery metallic element of the alkali earth group. 51. Goat grass. 54. Not reflecting light. 59. A radioactive element of the actinide series. 61. The 11th letter of the Greek alphabet. 64. A mound of stones piled up as a memorial or to mark a boundary or path. 66. Antiquity that as survived from the distant past. 67. Related on the mother's side. 68. Essential oil or perfume obtained from flowers. 70. (Babylonian) God of storms and wind. 71. A small cake leavened with yeast.


You may have to sidestep emotional issues that seem to be going nowhere. Listen attentively to what loved ones are saying and then decide on how you fit into the picture. Compromise can end disagreements, thus allowing family, home, relatives and real estate to play a bigger part in your life. A tolerance for differences and an understanding of human frailties are goals you strive to accomplish. There is insight into a difficult situation now. You want to belong on a private, intimate and personal level, to be needed and to feel it’s okay to have needs. Everything seems to be working together this evening to bring about a new understanding and an opportunity for play and togetherness. Goodhearted laughter is a strong healing tool.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) Taking care of business is a major theme today. You crave organization and practicality and you want to get things accomplished. Some rather convincing gossip may tempt you but the further you distance yourself from the gossip, the better. Wait a while longer and the facts will be revealed. You enjoy time to yourself and you usually prize those times that are shared with a loved one in comfortable, friendly type settings. Set aside some time today to tell your loved one how much he or she is appreciated. You may also be able to discuss your plans and decisions regarding some life dream. Plan one thing a week that you can do together like photography or antique hunting. Build on your relationship in this way and you will have a strong foundation.

Leo (July 23-August 22) This is the type of day that can be much like a day after a big party or performance. Because your work has brought you many opportunities to achieve and show off your talents, it may have also been full of exhausting energy lately. You know things need to be done for today, but getting there may become a huge effort. Allow your mind and body to have intermittent rest periods by deep breathing a minute and then exhaling and picturing your body relaxed; follow the flow of the day. You will benefit from taking an inward direction, turning away from the outward world a bit and allowing new information to filter through. Young people are a welcomed distraction this afternoon. A relaxed evening can be enjoyed, perhaps a movie.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) Work continues today—even at home. Circumstances that surround you tend to pull you into a group project. Work will eventually come to a successful end and afterwards a few of you may want to enjoy each other’s company through different surroundings. This could mean an early dinner and a movie for a group of you. If the result of your work together is a party or wedding, of course, all will enjoy this evening. You are in top thinking form and guests or anyone visiting from out-of-town will get the royal treatment in your care. You are able to make changes, additions, suggestions or lend support to others. You appear more charming and refined than usual this evening. Tonight may be the night you enjoy the company of someone new.

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Libra (September 23-October 22) There are no easy outs from the work chores today so keep your head down with determination and take one step at a time. You will see results soon and be proud of your accomplishments. Because you are good in the art of conversation, you could find work in the many areas of communication. Television, radio, writing, sales or a number of other endeavors could bring about a great deal of profit for you. Good luck is with you when you use your intuition today. Stay objective and keep that sense of humor active. You will be making great strides in all you do, especially if you can keep a mental effort going to balance logic and emotions. Romance and other things that tug at the heartstrings come your way this evening.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) This is not a time to push new ideas or be involved in seeking new projects. This is a better time to buckle down and tend to matters at hand. Perhaps today is the day you finally clear away old business. You might like to ignore responsibilities and do some socializing, but realities will demand that you tend to business for now. This evening you can work on plans for a getaway vacation. If you have already set plans in motion, you can sit back and let them firm up for now. Fishing, golf, shopping, bowling, scuba diving, you name it. Planning time away from some of your stresses of late will bring you some physical and mental relief. Someone understands how you feel and is sympathetic. Make every effort to show your sweetheart your appreciation.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) Concentrate on closing your projects or business and consolidate your profits in order to get the most benefit out of them. It is time to go forward with plans. An easy manner will make conversations and interactions go well. You have a knack for knowing how to put people, ideas and things together profitably. Respect, status and achievement are central goals for you as a new phase begins in your life. The good life, and all that is fine and luxuriant, may be what you value just now. You could enjoy making your own way and finding solutions to whatever problems you have. You will be pleased when people ask for your advice and counsel. You can demonstrate great understanding and sensitivity to the needs of others and make a good mentor.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) This is a very lucky day for making plans or decisions and finding your way through just about any problem you may discover. You feel successful and able to contend with difficulties. Good advice from a guide or older person may be forthcoming. This is a good day. Group activities are highlighted this afternoon and you enjoy lots of laughter. You could be most persuasive with others and eloquent in your communication skills. The situation is a natural for self-expression and lends itself to your particular ideas. A good conversation with those you love is likely this afternoon. You have a clear vision into your own inner sense of values, how you appreciate and love. Tonight is a good time to examine and think about future plans.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) Before breakfast, you may receive good news from an unexpected source. Your intuition is heightened and you will profit from your instincts. Sorting things out and keeping them running in a reasonable manner will keep you busy in the workplace today. Over the long term, your life is getting better and better. The short-term difficulties are frustrating but are the perfect challenge to building your capable expertise; take frequent breaks. Remember, the operative word here is—short term. An end to an old problem is a relief and new possibilities are on the horizon. There is also a new and positive relationship building. What you want may not be what will make you happy; keep yourself open to the blessings. Instead of giving answers . . . Ask questions

Pisces (February 19-March 20) Improvements in your financial life and your self-image are obvious by anyone that knows you. You have recently been able to place funds in a special account for next year as well as an emergency fund. Your investments are showing a good return. You could find yourself giving generously to those in need. It seems as though the more you spend, the more you make. Banking, investments, foreign trade and the travel and publishing industries may be your specialty. A greater appreciation for things of value and the idea of value itself is in order. This could be a period of great material gain; it is certainly a time when material things have a great deal of importance. If you are single you may find a special relationship close to home.

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lifestyle A w a r d s

Slave epic big Bafta winner as Hollywood descends on London British director Steve McQueen poses with the award for best film for “12 Years A Slave”.

British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor poses with the award for a leading actor for his work on the film “12 Years a Slave”.

(From second left) US producer Dede Gardner, US producer Jeremy Kleiner, British director Steve McQueen, Producer Anthony Katagas and US actor Brad Pitt pose with their awards for best film for “12 Years A Slave” at the BAFTA British Academy Film Awards at the Royal Opera House in London. —AP/AFP photos


Years a Slave”, the distressing tale of a man sold into slavery, was the big winner at the Baftas on Sunday, giving the Steve McQueen directed picture a huge pre-Oscars boost. The film, adapted from Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir, took the coveted

Australian actress Cate Blanchett poses with the award for a leading actress for her work on the film “Blue Jasmine”.

best film prize at a star-studded ceremony at London’s Royal Opera House. It scored an earlier success when British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, who portrays free black man Northup as he is kidnapped and enslaved in the United States, walked away with the best actor prize. Ejiofor said he was “so deeply honored and privileged” to receive the award and praised McQueen. “This is yours by the way, I know that, you know that,” he told the director. “I’m going to keep it but it’s yours”. London-born McQueen used his acceptance speech to thank his “one and only mother” and to highlight the issue of modern day slavery. “There are 21 million people in slavery as we sit here,” he explained. “I just hope 150 years from now our ambivalence will not allow another film-maker to make this film”. McQueen’s work beat off competition from crime-comedy “American Hustle”, pirate

drama “Captain Phillips”, space sci-fi thriller “Gravity” and “Philomena”, the tale of an Irishwoman searching for a son taken by nuns. However, “Philomena” did win in the adapted screenplay category. Leading actor Steve Coogan praised the “real Philomena Lee”, revealing that she was in the audience. Rising star Jennifer Lawrence won the best supporting actress award for her role in “American Hustle” and Barkhad Abdi claimed the best supporting actor prize for his portrayal of a Somali pirate in “Captain Phillips”. McQueen missed out on the best director award, which instead went to Mexican Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity”. Accepting his award, he said: “You cannot tell from my accent but I consider myself a part of the British film industry”. The stellar adventure enjoyed a hugely successful evening, receiving six prizes. Australian Cate Blanchett paid tribute to late colleague Philip Seymour

(From left) Neil Corbould, Nikki Penny, David Shirk, Chris Lawrence and Tim Webber pose with their awards for special visual effects for their work on the film “Gravity”.

British composer Steven Price poses with the award for original music for his work on the film “Gravity” flanked by presenters British singer-songwriter Laura Mvula and British rapper Tinie Tempah.

US director Ron Howard poses as he collects the award for editing on behalf of film editors Dan Hanley and Mike Hill for their work on the film “Rush”.

Hoffman, calling him “a continual profound touchstone”, as she claimed her best actress award for her part in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine”. “Phil, buddy, this is for you, you bastard,” she said. “I hope you’re proud.” Jolie surprise appearance The British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards are the highlight of the British film calendar and a useful guide to which way the Academy Awards might go on March 2. Hollywood stars including Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt rubbed shoulders with British royalty at the glitzy ceremony. The superstar couple made an unexpected appearance on the red carpet in matching tuxedos and signed autographs for hordes of fans camped outside the venue. Bafta president Prince William was also at the ceremony, which was hosted for a ninth time by actor Stephen Fry. He opened proceedings with a tribute to Helen Mirren, who received Bafta’s highest accolade, the Academy Fellowship “in recognition of her exceptional contribution to film”. Mirren, who has played Elizabeth II on stage and screen, was presented with the award by William, who called her “an extremely talented British actress who I should probably call granny”. The 68-year-old actress quoted Shakespeare’s Tempest during her acceptance speech. “We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep,” she said. “My little life is rounded with this honor, thank you very much indeed.” The British capital has recently suffered freak storms, but conditions were fine if cold on Sunday, allowing stars to dazzle on the red carpet. Mirren wore a navy blue dress with chiffon sleeves while fellow dame Judi Dench, nominated for best actress, wore a dark velvet gown with turquoise cuffs. Oscar-winner Emma Thompson arrived wrapped up in a red dress and white coat with a huge furry collar, while “American Hustle” star Amy Adams posed for photographers in a floor-length black gown from Victoria Beckham. Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale and Tom Hanks, all nominated in the Best Actor category, were also in London for the event. —AFP

Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuaron and British producer David Heyman pose flanking presenter US actress and TV personality Oprah Winfrey with their awards for an outstanding British film for “Gravity”.

Somali-American actor Barkhad Abdi poses with the award for a supporting actor for his work on the film “Captain Phillips” with presenter British actress Emma Thompson.

US director David O Russell and writer Eric Warren Singer pose with their awards for an original screenplay for the film “American Hustle” flanking presenter US actor Stanley Tucci.


lifestyle A w a r d s

Hair and make up stylists Evelyne Noraz, Lori McCoy-Bell and US directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee pose with the award for an US director Joshua Oppenheimer poses with the award for a docuKathrine Gordon pose with their awards for make-up and hair for animated film for “Frozen” flanked by presenters David Oyelowo mentary for the film “The Act Of Killing” flanked by presenters British actress Imogen Poots and British actor Jack Huston. their work on the film “American Hustle”. and US actress Gillian Anderson.

Production designers Catherine Martin and Beverley Dunn pose Director Yousif Al-Khalifa, producer James Walker and British director Peter Greenaway poses with the outstand- Britain’s Prince William, Duke of with the award for production design for their work on the film writer Sarah Woolner pose with the award for a British ing British contribution to cinema award. Cambridge “The Great Gatsby” alongside presenters British actor Richard E short animation for the film “Sleeping With The Fishes”. Grant and French actress and model Olga Kurylenko.

James W Griffiths and Sophie Venner pose with their awards for a British short film for “Room 8”.

US actor Christian Bale, US director David O Russell and US actor Bradley Cooper.

US actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson

Italian director and writer Paolo Sorrentino and Italian producers Nicola Giuliano and Francesca Cima pose with the award for a film not in the English language for “The Great Beauty”.

US actor Brad Pitt and his wife Angelina Jolie arrive on the red carpet for British actress Helen Mirren poses with the academy fellowship award the BAFTA British Academy Film Awards. with presenter British actor Jeremy Irons.

Mexican actress and British actor Will Poulter poses with the director Lupita Nyong’o rising star award.

US actress Maggie Gyllenhall and British actor Michael Sheen pose after presenting an award.

British actress Emma Thompson, her daughter Gaia Wise, Tindyebwa Agaba and Greg Wise arrive on the red carpet.

Winners at 47th Bafta awards Visual effects:

Best film: “12 Years a Slave”

Director: Alfonso Cuaron (“Gravity”)

Costume design: “The Great Gatsby”

Outstanding British film: “Gravity”

Original screenplay: “American Hustle”


Short animation: “Sleeping with the Fishes”

Actor: Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”)


Make-up and hair: “American Hustle

“Room 8”

Actress: Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”)

Documentary: “The Act of Killing”


Supporting actor: Barkhad Adbi (“Captain Phillips”)

Foreign film: “The Great Beauty”

Production design: “The Great Gatsby”

Supporting actress: Jennifer Lawrence (“American Hustle”)

Cinematography: “Gravity”

Animated film:



Sound: “Gravity”


Short film:

Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer: Kieran Evans (writer-director, “Kelly + Victor”) Rising Star award: Will Poulter —AFP

British writer and director Kieran Evans poses with the award for an outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer for his work on the film “Kelly and Victor” with presenter British actor Steve Coogan.


lifestyle F a s h i o n

Cara Delevingne models The Cara Delevingne Collection created by Mulberry at London Fashion Week Autumn/ Winter 2014 on Sunday at Claridges in London. — AP/AFP photos

London Fashion Week Day 3:

Cara, Kate lead pack T

he rain and gale force winds have subsided, at least for now, and that’s good for preening and peoplewatching at London Fashion Week, which hit Day 3 Sunday. Models Cara Delevingne and Kate Moss, who showed up as a VIP, were the center of media attention at a flurry of shows, including Topshop Unique, Vivienne Westwood, Temperley and Preen. London was more glamorous than usual, even by usual fashion week standards, as the twice-yearly style event coincided with the award ceremony for BAFTA, or the British Academy for Film and Television Arts. Some of Sunday’s highlights and low moments follow: Cara Delevingne designs for Mulberry Mulberry didn’t have a catwalk show this season, but that’s probably OK. They have model of the moment Cara Delevingne. The British luxury label enlisted Delevingne to design and model a range of handbags for them, and the mini collection, which can be worn as backpacks, on the shoulder air or handheld, was unveiled Sunday at London luxury hotel Claridge’s. Delevingne wore a simple white slip dress and went barefoot to model the bags, appearing on a swing in a ballroom transformed into a misty forest scene. She twirled and walked around for a bit, accompanied by two male models and a few dogs, and the whole show was over in less than five minutes. It was a little underwhelming even given Delevingne’s star power, but Mulberry got the publicity it wanted. The brand needs all the help it can get, after the recent departure of creative director Emma Hill and disappointing sales over Christmas. Vivienne Westwood promotes anti-fracking Never mind the fashion: Vivienne Westwood has it down to a T. More importantly, the veteran designer wants to talk about fracking and the floods wreaking havoc in Britain. The grand dame’s show notes urged guests to join a rally against fracking, a technique the energy industry uses to extract oil and gas from rock by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals. She also told reporters backstage that climate change must be addressed to stop the damage caused by extreme weather conditions. Environmental concerns aside, the designer showcased a collection that was signature Westwood, with tartan, expertly nipped in blazers, and perfectly draped dresses. “I really wanted to emphasize, to epitomize, my English look,” she said. “This show was very easy. Even before I did it, I knew it well myself.” Singer and songwriter Jessie J, who wore an orange Westwood jumpsuit paired with a turban made from a Burberry scarf, was a fan. “She pushes me as an artist,” she said, adding: “I could wear this 10 years on, and it’d still be fashionable.” Kate won’t talk London Fashion Week wouldn’t be complete without an appearance by Britain’s most famous model. Just don’t expect Kate Moss to stop and shoot the breeze with reporters. Moss stirred a brief commotion as she arrived as a front row guest at Topshop’s runway show, causing everyone to put down their champagne and canapes and raise their smartphone cameras. But Moss, who has long supported the brand, was as cool and unapproachable as ever. She chatted and laughed with Topshop boss Philip Green

British businessman Sir Philip Green and British model Kate Moss attend the Topshop Unique collection during London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2014.

and her friends, but ignored journalists’ pleas for a quick word about the clothes, the weather, or anything at all. All she would do is say - through a spokeswoman- that her khaki green boiler suit, worn with a vintage shaggy black jacket, came from Topshop. The supermodel was happy, though, to pose for pictures with her half-sister, Lottie Moss. The 16-year-old, who is just starting out in modelling, sat with Kate, Green and American Vogue editor Anna Wintour, who has taken in several shows since fashion week started Friday morning. But Joely Richardson has plenty to say The movie and TV star, who is part of the Redgrave acting dynasty, has a message for designers: Be nice. She says she is drawn to Alice Temperley not only because of her designs - Richardson calls them “beautiful, romantic, ultrafeminine, sexy” - but because of the designer’s unusually kind personality. “The clothes are No. 1, but she’s very family oriented, very kind and very, very inspired,” Richardson said moments before Temperley’s catwalk show started Sunday. “When you go into her shop, she has a few pieces that are just there for inspiration. I love that mentality. I’m just starting to wear some of her pieces, and when I work with someone, I really like it if they’re nice as well.” She was wearing black toreador pants topped with a striking fuchsia jacket (by Temperley) and spent the minutes before the show chatting with model Yasmin Le Bon. The show was an ambitious blend of monochromatic outfits, brightly-colored ensembles, including many with semi-sheer tops and some with floral themes, and short dresses or tops set off with thigh-high leather boots. Every outfit had a finished, well-executed feel. “I thought it was really beautiful,” said socialite Peaches Geldof, who was wearing an elegant fulllength sleeveless dress that revealed her tattoos. “I love all her stuff. It’s so recognizable, so ‘20s influenced, very romantic.” The force is strong at Preen The designers behind Preen have three words for their new collection: Hot sci-fi geek. Annie Hall met Darth Vader on the label’s catwalk, a showcase inspired by 1970s fashion and popular culture. There were Diane Keaton-inspired loose printed dresses and high-waisted, wide leg pants, but the designers took kooky cool to another level by taking inspiration from Star Wars fans and their parkas. “We really wanted this geeky girl, a hot geek,” said co-designer Justin Thornton backstage, as two Storm Troopers goofed around nearby. The extreme winter climates this year helped inspire the many warm coats, furry hooded jackets and fluffy fur stoles, though Thornton said they have a minor movie character to thank for the trapper hats the models wore. “That’s from Annie’s brother, the lunatic who drives the car in the dark,” he said. — AP

British businessman Sir Philip Green and British model Kate Moss attend the Topshop Unique collection during London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2014.

Preen by Thornton Bregazzi


lifestyle F a s h i o n

NY fashion designer found dead in Hudson River


olice have identified the body of a man found floating on the Manhattan side of the Hudson River as that of a fashion designer who was reported missing last week. Police say 55-year-old Michele Savoia’s body was discovered off Chelsea Piers on Sunday afternoon not far from where he lived aboard his boat. The cause of death has not yet been determined.

It wasn’t clear how Savoia ended up in the river, but police do not suspect foul play. He was last seen alive leaving a nearby nightclub early Thursday morning. Savoia reportedly designed hand-crafted suits for celebrities and had a boutique on the Lower East Side. — AP

This undated photo provided by the New York City Police Department on Saturday shows fashion designer Michele Savoia. — AP

Pyjamas and traffic signs at London Fashion Week


aul Smith brought Paisley prints and pyjamas to the catwalk at London Fashion Week on Sunday, while Vivienne Westwood took a look through her back catalogue for a thoroughly English collection. On a day filled with shows by established British names, Greek designer Mary Katrantzou also showed her maturing style with a line of clothes drawing on symbols from around the world-including road signs. To the soundtrack of a mash-up of Fleetwood Mac’s greatest hits, Paul Smith’s autumn/winter 2014 collection was a mix of printed silk dresses, pyjamas and jumpsuits, soft grey suits and cosy fur gilets in blue and bright red. There were Paisley prints-in black and white on a coat, in muted colors on flowing silk dresses, or on neck scarves worn with simple suits-as well as striped pyjamas. Stripes were also a feature of Westwood’s Red Label show, where pinstripes adorned skirts, dresses and trousers, matched with a clean white shirt, yet more stripes or a jacket in bright red-a color that struck a bold chord across the collection. The designer drew on her archive for this season’s quirky take on aristocratic English style, which used Harris tweed for swaying coats and skirt suits with matching pillbox hats, and black velvet for jodhpurs cut off at the knee. There were sophisticated outfits worn with pearls and court shoes, but also fur-edged berry hot pants, the imagined wardrobe of a privileged, adventurous woman. Speaking to AFP backstage before the show, Westwood pointed to the “swagger and volume” of a fitted black tweed coat worn over a frilly shirt. “This girl is going somewhere. She cares about the world and she wants to find out about the culture of the past, and about the future and to help save the planet,” the designer said. Westwood is a committed campaigner for action against climate change, and dedicated Sunday’s show

Mary Katrantzou

to her fight against shale gas exploitation in Britain. Textures at Mary Katrantzou It was a day of classic British brands, including Pringle of Scotland, Margaret Howell and Temperley London, which showcased some beautiful prints in blue, one of the season’s key colors. But day three of London Fashion Week also saw shows by Unique, the high-end label of British high-street chain Topshop, and one of the young stars of the event, Mary Katrantzou. Katrantzou made a name for herself with stunning dresses adorned with tromp l’oeil prints of oversized jewelry, but now in her fifth year at London Fashion Week, she is expanding her repertoire. Staying sexy and feminine with sweeping gowns and short shift dresses, the designer played with texture, overlaying pleats, intricate laces, applique and brocades and a shimmering chain-mail that clinked as the models walked down the runway. Katrantzou drew on historic and modern symbols for her embellishments, including road signs-a web of No U-turn signs and warning triangles were applied to fragile lace dresses. “I love prints, and so many people know my work through print, but I felt this season I could diversify,” the designer told AFP backstage, still buzzing after the show. Creating her famous graphic prints has in the past taken up much of her time, but “this season it felt right for me to free myself up a little” to work on other areas, she said. Among the models walking at Katrantzou’s show were two older women, who she said reflected a “more complete collection” offering a range of clothes for customers young and old. — AP Models present creations from designer Paul Smith during the 2014 autumn / winter London Fashion Week in London. — AFP photos

Slave epic big Bafta winner as Hollywood descends on London



Performers from a Chinese ballet company, Zhang Yashu (top), Tang Chenglong and Mi Xia, perform during a photo shoot in front of the Australia’s iconic landmarks Opera House and Habour Bridge in Sydney yesterday. One of China’s celebrated dance companies is bringing one of the country’s biggest ballet production to Australia for a series of performances in Sydney and Melbourne.—AFP

Bulgarian minority honors age-old wedding rites

Letve Osmanova, 21, and Refat Avdikov, 21, stand among relatives during their wedding ceremony.

A Bulgarian Muslim woman carries her child during a wedding ceremony.


explained. “I am proud of our tradition that is so rare,” a smiling Letve said ahead of the ceremony, a winter feast for the proud village of some 3,500 inhabitants.

he communists tried hard to stamp out the culture of Bulgaria’s rural Pomak minority, and since then tough times in the European Union’s poorest country have made many leave, but one village is keeping traditions alive. Nestled in the southern snowcapped Rhodope Mountains, each winter Ribnovo rolls back the centuries for workers returning from construction and farming jobs in Germany and Britain to tie the knot in extraordinary Muslim weddings. For happy couple Letve Osmanova and Refat Avdikov, both 21, their two-day nuptials start with a display of the bride’s dowry-everything from socks and a washing machine to the marriage bed-on the street for all to admire. The main part comes on day two when away from prying male eyes, two aunts ritually slap a thick layer of white face paint onto Letve’s face, then stick on hundreds of colorful sequins to form flowers. A red veil

and streaks of shiny tinsel garlands frame the bride’s painted face, rendering her unrecognizable and more like a doll than a woman. She is then led through the village home in a merry procession accompanied by traditional music and presented to her husband-to-be, her brightly colored attire contrasting with his more “European” get-up of white suit and black shirt. Alcohol, however, is forbidden. And in this closed Pomak society-whose Christian ancestors were converted to Islam during Bulgaria’s Ottoman rule from the 14th to 19th centuries-the young couple were also not allowed any public show of tenderness before the wedding. Not only that, the bride also keeps her eyes closed throughout the proceedings. She is allowed only to peek at a small hand mirror until an imam marries the couple. Then Refat takes her home and washes her face with milk, the groom’s uncle Mustafa Avdikov

Communist repression Bulgaria’s communists, ruling from after World War II until 1989, were hostile to any religion including the mainstream Orthodox Church. But Todor Zhivkov’s regime was particularly intolerant of Muslims and especially the Pomaks, forcing them to abandon wedding and circumcision rites and their colorful outfits. They were even forced to adopt Slavonic names. The word “Pomak” means “people who have suffered”. There are some 200,000 Pomaks today, part of a sizeable Muslim minority of nearly one million out of Bulgaria’s population of 7.4 million. Others live in Turkey, Greece, Albania and elsewhere. One woman in Ribnovo, 86-year-old Sevie

Beeva, who was forced to change her name to Sofka, says she still has painful memories. “I stopped going to work in order not to hear that name,” she recalls. Another, 82-year-old Fatme Kuchukova, told AFP she remembers how locals threw stones at the police when they came to rename them in 1964. “We do not tell the young of these humiliations,” she said. But these weddings “show us as we are: generous and attached to our family values.” Bulgaria, now a democracy, has been a member of the European Union since 2007, but this has brought its own challenges to Pomak identity, with many lured to the big cities and other countries in search of work. Newlyweds Letve and Refat are the lucky ones, having found a way to remain in their traditional homeland. “We will stay in Ribnovo: She is a seamstress and I am a forester,” Refat said. “Life is so nice here on the mountainside.”—AFP

Dogs take part in the animals’ carnival parade “Blocao”, at Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro.—AFP photos

Dogs have their day at Rio pre-Carnival party


bout 100 dogs got their own day at a pre-Carnival bash in Rio de Janeiro. A 10-man brass band and a singer belting out Rio’s anthem song “Cidade Maravilhosa” (Marvelous City) kicked off the fest as dog owners gathered to party with pooches on Copacabana beach Sunday. Fabricio Gonsalves was wearing the same colorful Hawaiian lei as his black and white French bulldog,

Belinha. “Dogs love Carnival, too!” was his explanation for the event. Several canines wore tiny tutus, a few were dolled up like Snow White and one mutt had a forehead full of Indian bindis. A lone cat rode safely atop his owner’s shoulders, wearing blue angel wings. Rio has hundreds of “bloco” street parties in the weeks leading up to Carnival, which this year opens Feb 28.—AP

Letve Osmanova, 21, poses during her wedding ceremony in the village of Ribnovo, southwestern Bulgaria. —AFP photos

Bulgarian Muslim women look on from a balcony during a wedding ceremony in the village of Ribnovo.

18 Feb  

Kuwait Times

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