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Egypt govt resigns ahead of election Move paves way for Sisi to run

KUWAIT: HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah (right) meets HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah as he left for New York yesterday to undergo routine medical tests. — KUNA

New visit visa type in works

CAIRO: Egypt’s military-installed government resigned en masse yesterday in a surprise move ahead of a presidential poll likely to bring defence minister and army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to power. A limited reshuffle to allow Sisi to step down as defence minister and enter elections had been expected, but the en masse resignations led by the increasingly unpopular prime minister Hazem Al-Beblawi surprised even some in the cabinet. Appointed in July after the military ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, Beblawi’s government came under pressure to step aside amid a worsening economy and a spate of militant attacks and labour strikes. The resignations might lead to a new cabinet without the baggage of Beblawi’s government ahead of Sisi’s expected run in the presidential election this spring. Sisi, who emerged

as the country’s most popular political figure after ending Morsi’s divisive one-year rule, has not yet announced his candidacy, but aides say he has already decided to run and will make the announcement soon. The field marshal, who is the defence minister and first deputy prime minister in the outgoing cabinet, has to resign from the government and the army before he can officially announce his candidacy. Beblawi defended the government’s performance in an address announcing the resignations. “The government assumed its responsibilities and duties... the government did not spare any efforts to get Egypt out of a bad phase,” Beblawi said in reference to the security and economic problems. “This is not the time for personal interests. Continued on Page 13

Yanukovycc sought for ‘mass murder’

By A Saleh KUWAIT: The Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor announced a new type of work visa for visitors valid for a few days that allows a foreigner to carry out a specific task and which cannot be transferred into a residence visa. The visa, called ‘work visit visa’, while be different from the traditional ‘commercial’ visit visa that is valid for a month and can be renewed for three months. Visa transfer is currently closed while reports suggest that foreign recruitment will be reopened at the beginning of April. Meanwhile, chairman of the National Assembly’s human rights committee MP Faisal Al-Duwaisan demanded that the government discuss a comprehensive report on human rights with panel members before it presents it to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva on Oct 27, 2014. “The government is constitutionally obligated to discuss this issue with the legislative authority since it tackles a domestic issue despite the fact that the report is sent to a foreign organization,” Duwaisan said in a statement yesterday. “Furthermore, the UNHRC had requested that Kuwait’s delegation includes members from the parliament and the judicial authority.” Duwaisan also announced that the committee prepared a report “that points out the government’s failure to address faults mentioned in the UNHRC’s 2010 report”.

TO OUR READERS Kuwait Times offices will be closed today on the occasion of National Day. Hence there will be no issue of the paper tomorrow (Feb 26, 2014). Happy holidays!

Hazem El-Beblawi

MEERUT, India: A leopard squeezes through a hole in the wall of the Meerut Cantonment Hospital as a policeman approaches on Sunday. — AFP

Leopard in Indian city triggers panic NEW DELHI: A leopard sparked panic in a north Indian city when it strayed inside a hospital, a cinema and an apartment block while evading captors, an official said yesterday. Authorities closed schools and colleges in Meerut, 60 km northeast of the Indian capital, after the leopard was discovered prowling the city’s streets on Sunday, a senior city official said. “Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to track the leopard down. We have launched a massive hunt for the beast,” said additional district magistrate

S K Dubey. The cat was found inside an empty ward of an army hospital on Sunday before wildlife officers were called and managed to fire a tranquiliser dart into it, Dubey told AFP. “But despite that he managed to break (out through) the iron grilles and escaped. He then sneaked into the premises of a cinema hall before entering an apartment block. After that we lost track of the cat,” he said. Continued on Page 13

KIEV: Ukraine issued an arrest warrant yesterday for its ousted pro-Russian president over “mass murder” and appealed for $35 billion in Western aid as Moscow denounced Kiev’s new reformist team as illegitimate. The dramatic announcements by the ex-Soviet nation’s untested but enthusiastic Western-leaning ministers approved by parliament over a chaotic weekend that saw president Viktor Yanukovych go into hiding - came as a top EU envoy arrived in Kiev to buttress Ukraine’s sudden tilt away from Russia. Three months of relentless protests over Yanukovych’s shock decision to spurn an historic pact with the European Union in favour of closer ties with its old masters in the Kremlin culminated in days of carnage last week in Kiev that claimed almost 100 lives. Russia reacted with outrage to the “mutiny” in a country with centuries-old roots to Moscow that President Vladimir Putin views as an integral part of an economic and possibly even military - alliance counterweighting the EU and NATO blocs. But Western powers have been cautiously throwing their weight behind the overthrow of a democratically elected leader by a parliamentary action whose constitutional legitimacy remains open to debate. Ukraine’s new leaders hit the ground running on Monday by holding Yanukovych and about 50 other senior state and security officials responsible for the protester deaths. “A criminal case has been launched over the mass murder of peaceful civilians. Yanukovych and a number of other officials have been put on a wanted list,” acting interior minister Arsen Avakov said in a statement. Avakov said Yanukovych had tried to flee the country Saturday out of the eastern city of Donetsk - his political power base and bastion of pro-Russian support - before escaping to Crimea with a team of guards and a cache of weapons the next day. He said the deposed head of state and his powerful administration chief Andriy Klyuev had since “travelled by three cars into an unknown direction, having first switched off their modes of communication”. Ukraine has been reeling from both political and financial crises that have seen the nation of 46 million face the threat of splintering between its pro-Western and more Russified regions and having to declare a devastating default. Continued on Page 13

Dodgy data obscures reality of Gulf boom

KUWAIT: A giant Kuwait flag is displayed at 360 Mall yesterday to mark the national and liberation days. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s economy chugged along at modest annual growth rates of around 2.5 percent in the first three quarters of 2013. Then in the fourth quarter it soared, with gross domestic product jumping 10 percent from a year earlier. That is the picture delivered by data from the government’s statistics office. But it is not a picture which would be recognised by many Saudi companies, which saw their profits crimped by a crackdown on illegal workers late last year, and it is not in line with private surveys of business activity. So many economists have concluded that the official data is faulty in some way, and that actual Saudi GDP in the fourth quarter may be billions of dollars lower than the statistics office suggests. But it is not clear when, or whether, the mystery will be solved. As the wealthy Gulf Arab oil exporters boom and open wider to foreign investment, investors are operating in something of a fog: they must base their judgements on patchy and erratic macroeconomic data. In many cases the data is less reliable than numbers provided by emerging economies in Asia and Africa. In the Gulf, preliminary figures for economic indicators can be off the mark but revisions may occur only many months later, if at all. Release times are irregular;

Bahrain has not announced its monthly money supply data since November. Some data series have been suspended for a few months before resuming. Other data just does not exist. Kuwait, for example, does not regularly publish GDP growth figures, making it almost unique among the world’s rich countries. Because of the region’s oil wealth, economies have so far grown without many visible ill effects. But the costs of having such poor data may increase as the Gulf states develop their financial markets and diversify their economies in an effort to become less vulnerable to the next big drop in oil prices. “The regional central banks have to understand that timeliness and consistency, and scientific production of data, are a necessity if they want to show they are open for investment and business,” said John Sfakianakis, chief investment strategist at MASIC, a Riyadh-based investment firm. A lack of reliable figures for government spending can hurt investment because many firms base their decisions on the level of that spending, he added. Abu Dhabi, which accounts for some 70 percent of state spending in the United Arab Emirates, does not publish its annual budget plans in a comprehensive manner. Continued on Page 13



Kuwait celebrates national days with music, art shows Exhibition opens at 360 mall By Nawara Fattahova KUWAIT: The Kuwait House for National Works (KHNW) is holding the ninth festival titled ‘We All Love Kuwait’ to celebrate the national and liberation days. This celebration includes various activities at 360 mall and the KHNW Museum. This festival is slated for Feb 24-27, 2014, from 10 am to 1pm and 4pm-8 pm. Participants in this event are exhibiting products and providing information about their country or the institution they represent. Local folklore musical band Al Wadi and an Egyptian folk band are performing in this event. Contests for children and giveaway prizes are also included. The exhibition held 360 mall’s Um Kalthom Hall was launched yesterday by Minister of Information Sheikh Salman Al-Hmoud Al-Sabah and Sheikha Fariha Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. It was attended by the Egyptian Ambassador to Kuwait Abdulkareem Sulaiman, the Head of the Egyptian Tourism Activation Authority Nasser Hamdi and Egyptian actors visiting Kuwait and other officials. Sheikh Salman praised the festival and expressed his happiness to open it. “We encourage holding such events and activities especially during the national celebrations. We also appreciate the Egyptian presence in this occasion and sharing the celebrations with us. The bilateral relations are old and strong between the two countries and Kuwait will always support Egypt if they face any crisis,” he pointed out. Countries participating in this exhibition including Japan, India, Iran, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen. Local public institutions are also participating such as the Ministry of Interior, the Fire Department, National Guard, Martyr Office and others. Reyadh Al-Rabeah, Team Leader at Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, is one of the volunteers participating in this event. “We love our country, so we don’t hesitate to help and support such events, especially that this event is held by individual efforts. This event reminds us of the sad memory of the Iraqi invasion and losing many martyrs. We have to remind the young generations of this historical event,” he told Kuwait Times. Earlier, KHNW is celebrating the National and Liberation Days by holding various activities at the 360 mall. This is the ninth year of the ‘We All Love Kuwait’ festival, and the museum has invited Egyptian actors to celebrate with Kuwait as guests of the festival. “We always invite guests to visit Kuwait and share the celebrations with us as an appreciation for the role of their countries in liberating Kuwait from the Iraqi invasion in 1991. This year we have invited 10 guests including actors, a poet, and head of the cinema union from Egypt as guests of honor to support Egypt in their present political situation and to encour-

Govt to present alternative for KAC privatization law?

KUWAIT: Minister of Information Sheikh Salman Al-Hmoud Al-Sabah, Sheikha Fariha AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and other dignitaries at the exhibition. —Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Children allowance In other news, Acting Parliament Speaker Saud Al-Huraiji expressed hope that the government presents alternatives to the children allowance draft law that the cabinet is likely to reject due to its potential negative effect on the national budget. Al-Huraiji, who hoped that alternative proposals would be presented in time to be discussed during the parliament’s session next Tuesday, called for solutions

KUWAIT: Kuwait House for National Works officials addressing a press conference at the Holiday Inn Salmiya Hotel on Sunday. age Kuwaitis to visit it,” said Yousef Al-Amiri, Director of the Kuwait House for National Works during a press conference held on Sunday at the Holiday Inn Salmiya Hotel. “Arab folklore bands will perform at the Um Kalthoum Hall at the 360 mall on Monday and Tuesday. Ambassadors of many countries will attend these activities. And at the museum, an exhibition of Egyptian forces will be launched at 11:00 am on February 26, 2014, in addition to the existing items and exhibits,” he added. Khalaf Al-Anezi of the PR department noted that the demolishing of the museum was postponed for another three years, and the Cabinet issued a decree to put the museum under the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters. Popular Egyptian actress Nilli stated that she and her colleagues came from Egypt to thank Kuwait

for its support of Egypt especially during the latest events. “It was a dream for a long time to make Arabs come together and this dream is now being realized. I hope that the others will also join us as well,” she pointed out. Poet Awad Badawi and actor Mahmoud Qabeel expressed their happiness to be in Kuwait and share the celebrations with the Kuwaitis. Actress Manal Salama was pleased to participate with Kuwait in these celebrations and said: “There was a celebration held recently in Egypt and the Director of the Museum Yousif Al-Amiri attended it, which was great. I hope that more Kuwaitis will come visit Egypt,” she stated. Actor Ahmad Budeir remembered playing his first main role in Kuwait in the ‘Saayda Wasalu’ play, which signifies his longstanding relations with Kuwait.

Ambassadors greet Kuwait on national days Saudi Ambassador Dr Abdulaziz bin Ibrahim Al-Fayez KUWAIT: The message of the Ambassador of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Dr Abdulaziz bin Ibrahim Al-Fayez on the occasion of Kuwait’s 53rd national and 23rd liberation days, and the 8th anniversary of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah assumption of power in the State of Kuwait Kuwait will celebrate its 53rd national day and 23rd liberation anniversary on the 25th and 26th of February, as well as the 8th anniversary of HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s assumption of power. These three auspicious occasions represent three important stages in the modern history of Kuwait. Kuwait’s independence marked the political, economic and cultural launch of modern Kuwait, as the independence of Kuwait was declared during the reign of the late Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, and was followed by Kuwait’s amirs who strengthened the pillars of ruling until HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah took over

KUWAIT: The government plans to reject the Kuwait privatization law after the parliament approved amendments to it last month, a local daily reported yesterday quoting parliamentary sources. Instead, the government plans to present a new law that alters the share percentages of the strategic investors and the initial public offering, and increase the government’s share to 51 percent “so that the KAC remains the state’s national carrier,” according to the sources who spoke to Al-Qabas on the condition of anonymity. State-owned Kuwait Airways announced last Wednesday signing an estimated $4 billion deal with Airbus to buy 25 new aircrafts and lease 12 more, with the first of the leased planes to arrive next December.

and continued the march with wisdom and ability due to His Highness’s experience, knowledge and vision through his years in various posts of responsibility in Kuwait’s government. The 50 years of Kuwait independence makes an occasion to remember the sacrifice and efforts of consecutive generations in cementing the pillars of the modern Kuwait state and the establishment of the state of institutions and stability of Kuwait society. The liberation day anniversary reminds us with the sacrifice of Kuwaiti people and their martyrs during the bitter period of occupation, as it represents the start of the second stage in Kuwait’s contemporary history as it emerged from the heinous occupation crisis. Kuwait was able during a short period to continue the march of development and prosperity, and continue its effective role along with GCC countries as an active element in the Arab group and world community, which seeks the preservation of security and stability in the Arabian

Gulf region, Arab and Islamic worlds and the international community. The elapsing of 8 years since HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah took over as Amir of Kuwait proved his ability to lead Kuwait during this important period in its history, and provide the Kuwaiti state the necessary leadership for development and facing domestic and foreign challenges. I take the opportunity of these three dear occasions in Kuwait to laud the historic and distinguished relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the reign of the two brotherly countries all the way to the reign of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and HH Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and these are relations that are getting stronger as days go by to become an example for international relations at all levels. I also take this opportunity to congratulate HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad AlJaber Al-Sabah, HH the Crown Prince

that help citizens cope with high living costs, while at the same time meet MPs’ ambitions on that regard. The parliament had agreed with a government’s request to postpone voting on a draft law to increase the children and rent allowances for a month so that the government can present alternative that achieve the same results while at the same time prevents negative effect on the national budget. On the same topic, head of the parliament’s financial committee Faisal AlShaya said that Finance Minister Anas AlSaleh was invited to attend the panel’s meeting on Sunday “in order to discuss alternatives to the children allowance’s increase”. The lawmaker said that the government did not present any visions for alternatives as of Sunday. The government is highly expected to reject any laws stipulating financial increases in light of studies that predict fiscal crises starting from 2017 should current spending continue to grow at the present rate. On that regard, a parliament source suggested that the government could reconsider subsidies presented to citizens in order to prevent budget deficit in light of almost full reliance on oil revenues as the source of income.

Tabtabaei confirms plans to go to Syria KUWAIT: Former Islamist MP Waleed AlTabtabaei announced that he plans to return to Syria in order to ‘boost the spirit’ of rebel fighters, days after the court ordered the Interior Ministry to return his passport. Al-Tabtabaei further indicated in statements to Al-Rai daily that he lacks “military experience” to fight alongside rebel troops in their battles against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s army. The former MP had posted pictures on his Twitter account last year which showed him in military garb standing alongside who he said were ‘rebel fighters’ in Syria. He told Al-Rai on Saturday that his first visit was to “support the mujahedeen in their defense of Syria”, reiterating at the same time that his step provides ‘moral support’ to rebel fighters. Meanwhile, Tabtabaei urged Gulf Cooperation Council countries to equip rebel fighters with anti-aircraft weapons in order to stop regime warplanes “that destroyed cities and neighborhoods”. “The Syrian people reject Bashar Al-Assad’s presence,” Tabtabaei declared, “and Gulf states are supposed to respect their desire and help them topple Bashar’s regime”.

Security pact On another topic, Tabtabaei criticized labor unions for their negative reaction to his earlier call in which he asked them to announce their rejection of the Gulf security pact. Indicating that protection of freedoms is “one of the main goals of establishing unions”, Tabtabaei urged unions to announce a “clear position” on the security agreement, which he said can be done through press statements “without resorting to strikes”. Tabtabaei agreed with widespread opinions in Kuwait that indicate that the pact is unconstitutional and limits public freedoms. He believes at the same time that labor unions are not committing to their duties in that regard. “It is sad that unions stopped adopting their principles and became convinced with the financial privileges presented to them,” Tabtabaei proclaimed. Elections Al-Rai also asked Tabtabaei on whether he could consider running for elections under the present electoral system after he boycotted the past two elections. “I have not discussed this issue yet,” he said, adding that he would look into the issue “at the time”.

Citizen dies in accident By Hanan Al-Saadoun

Dr Abdulaziz bin Ibrahim Al-Fayez Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah, HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad AlSabah, the Al-Sabah family and the Kuwait people on the occasion of the national celebrations, and I pray to Almighty Allah to maintain the bounties of security, stability and prosperity of Kuwait, and protect it along with its sister Saudi Arabia from all evil.

KUWAIT: A citizen was killed while his wife and five children were injured during a car accident on Wafra road. • Ahmadi security arrested a citizen who was under the influence of drugs and had drugs in his possession. Meanwhile, a wanted Jordanian was arrested in Hawally in possession of drugs. • A citizen in Firdous said an unknown

person fired at him while he was standing in front of his home. • A police officer told Zahra police station that his weapon and seven rounds were stolen. He accused workers who were doing maintenance work at his home of stealing it. • Saudi expat told police that his daughter has gone missing. A citizen in Sabah AlSalem filed a arson case against an unknown person for torching a tent and three air conditioners.

US Ambassador Matthew Tueller KUWAIT: US Ambassador Matthew Tueller’s message to the people of Kuwait on the Occasion of the 53rd Anniversary of Kuwait’s Independence and the 23rd Anniversary of its Liberation: “I wish to congratulate the Government and people of Kuwait on the 53rd anniversary of their independence, and the 23rd anniversary of Kuwait’s liberation. During the course of my career in the US Foreign Service, I have lived and served in Kuwait three times. After I first arrived in 1991, I was inspired by the enduring spirit and determination of Kuwaitis to rebuild their country. Now, over twenty years later, I still see that spirit and determination expressed through Kuwait’s growing leadership role in a region facing significant challenges. The United States continues to take pride in our strong and multifaceted partnership with Kuwait. This includes security, economic, and cultural ties. Our bilateral relationship extends to the highest levels, as evidenced by Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent visit as head of the US delegation to the second Syria Donors’ Conference here in Kuwait. We commend Kuwait for the leadership it has shown in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, hosting two Syria Donors’ conferences, and setting an example by pledging the largest donations at both conferences, and by responsibly channeling those

Turning to the future, I believe that the bonds between Americans and Kuwaitis will continue to grow and deepen. I can see this now through both the robust number of US businesses wanting to do business in Kuwait and the higher number of Kuwaitis choosing the United States as a destination for their university studies. Each contact whether it is Kuwaiti

Matthew Tueller donations through the United Nations agencies as part of a multilateral response. The United States and Kuwait share an understanding of the importance of ensuring regional peace and security, but our cooperation extends far beyond security. I see the bonds between our two countries reinforced daily, when I meet one of the thousands of Kuwaitis who have studied at an American college or university, hear of someone who has benefited from medical treatment in the United States, or discuss investment opportunities and economic growth with Kuwaiti or US businesspeople. The roots of this person-to-person connection between Kuwait and the American people run deep - back at least to the founding of the American Mission Hospital as Kuwait’s first modern medical facility over a century ago.

students enjoying a weekend holiday from college with their new American friends or an American invited to share Kuwaiti hospitality in a Kuwaiti home, will deepen our understanding and strengthen the ties. I want to thank the people of Kuwait for their hospitality and kindness during my term as US Ambassador.”

Palestine Ambassador Rami Tahboub KUWAIT: As Kuwait celebrates the National Day and Liberation Day anniversaries on Feb 25 and 26, Ambassador of Palestine to Kuwait Rami Tahboub conveyed greetings on behalf of the Palestinian community in Kuwait to HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, and to the Kuwaiti people. “As Palestinians share the joy of the national holidays with their Kuwaiti brethren, they especially cherish the Liberation Day occasion since they continue to suffer under the Israeli occupation,” he said. “We pray to God Almighty that He protects Kuwait’s safety and security, that He saves HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and that

Rami Tahboub He blesses Kuwait with further prosperity. We also pray that the Kuwaiti people share the joy of independence with their Palestinian brethren in the near future.”

KUWAIT: The Kuwait Dive Team removed fishing nets that were stuck at a depth of 5 meters underwater north of the Kuwait Bay. The operation was carried out in cooperation with the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources.



KUWAIT: Creative figures that tell the stories of Kuwait past and present at Ahmadi. These are part of the city’s annual tradition to celebrate the country’s national days.

Ahmadi changes colors to celebrate national holidays KUWAIT: As part of its annual tradition to celebrate the country ’s national days, Ahmadi City has changed colors to twinkle at nighttime with green, white and red lights as an attribute to the Kuwaiti national flag. The city, located in the south and home of most of the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) workers, has not stopped at illuminating its trees and buildings with beautiful lights but has gone further to place around the city creative statutes and figures that tell the stories of Kuwait past and present. KOC’s workers have outdone themselves this year by beautifying their city so that residents and visitors can enjoy the sight of Kuwaiti heritage artistically put together symbolized by tea pots, water wells or dhows, traditional sailing vessels. The national imageries on the streets of Ahmadi do not only represent the past but also take its sightseers to modern day Kuwait by having statues of some of the main landmarks of the country such as Kuwait Towers and the National Assembly building. Ahamdi does not only provide artful celebratory sceneries for its residents and visitors, who also come travelling from neighboring countries to enjoy the festivities, but also offer peace and order by having police officers spread out through the city to organize traffic and break up any disturbances. Head of KOC’s media team Mohammad Al-Basri said that another part of the annual tradition of the City is to offer an award for best home decoration; the award encourages the public to get in the spirit of national holidays by sprucing up their home with national celebrations-themed decorations. Winners of this competition will be announced on Feb 25 and 26, he added. The first prize will be KD 4,000, the second KD 2,000 and the third KD 1,000. Ahmadi is a suburb of Kuwait City founded in 1946 with the discovery of oil there. It is the Headquarters for the Kuwait Oil Company. Ahmadi is famous for its oil refineries and peaceful green surroundings. —KUNA

Military parade to mark national, liberation days KUWAIT: Kuwaitis continue celebrating the country ’s 53rd independence anniversary and its 23rd liberation anniversary as well as the eighth year of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah’s proclamation as the State Amir. Public locations, squares, streets, state buildings have been adorned with the National Flag, while the citizens have attended and taken part in carnivals and ceremonies in the various governorates of the country. A major military parade was held at the location of the old airport, located

near Darwazah Al-Shaab. Old Kuwait was surrounded by a fence with several darwazahs (doorways). Some of the these old wooden gates have been preserved till now. The parade, involving units from the armed forces and the police, was organized to bring to live the memorable key address by the late Amir, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s 11th ruler, at a ceremony held at the same site on June 19, 1962, where His Highness marked the first anniversary of the National Day, and vowed to secure prosperity and justice for the citizens.

Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem, who ruled between 1950 and 1965, also pledged to coordinate closely with Arab states and adopt an international non-aligned policy as well as abide by UN human rights conventions. Kuwait won its independence during Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem’s era, on June 19, 1961. A British-Kuwaiti protection accord dating back to January 23, 1899, was repealed, thus Kuwait proclaimed its full independence. Since 1963, the Kuwaitis have chosen Feb 25 to mark Sheikh Abdullah AlSalem’s assumption to power, as the day

to celebrate the National Independence or the National Day, in addition to the 26th of the same month to celebrate the liberation from the Iraqi occupation in 1991. The natives recall on these occasions struggle of the ancestors and their success in overcoming diverse hardships in the pre-oil times. His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber AlSabah, in a statement on Jan 29, 2008, lauded the Kuwaitis for following steps of the ancestors in staying united and sincerely struggling for service of the homeland. — KUNA


LOCAL kuwait digest

kuwait digest

Excellent step on right path

The demographic imbalance

By Shamlan Y Al-Essa

By Dr Wael Al-Hasawi




he courageous decisions taken by Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Hind Al-Subaih with regards to small projects, and her statements on Kuwaiti youth’s initiatives, who make the majority of Kuwait’s population, is an excellent step on the right path towards economic reforms in the country. Kuwait youth and owners of small business have been suffering for a long time from sterile government procedures, administrative corruption and the spread of bribes and influence. So the youth organized themselves in several groups to work on removing obstacles and government bureaucracy. The youth took the initiative by meeting members of parliament and government officials to explain their views. Some members of parliament responded positively to their demands, and they started to put their questions forward, and threatened to grill former minister Thekra Al-Rashidi if she did not remove obstacles confronting small businesses, and my friend MP Kamel Al-Awadhi played a distinguished role in that. The government responded to the youth’s wishes, though slowly and late, but the wishes were fulfilled. We must emphasize the outstanding role of the fourth authority (media) in explaining the views of small business owners. Al-Watan TV presented a documentary “Hear Me”, in which the sufferings of Kuwaiti youth who own small businesses were broadcast. The film made a wide ranging impact and became the talk of diwaniyas, gatherings and the press, and created a dialogue between citizens on this important issue, because the film presents legitimate questions that made the government respond to their demands following the new government change, which brought an understanding minister to the social affairs and labor ministry who is aware of the importance of small businesses for youth to create a national youth base that relies on itself away from the government’s red tape. What we need to confirm is that the institutional democratic action depends on convincing government and Assembly officials as well as Kuwait public opinion in general, and that this legitimate work requires youth vision, good preparation and creating interest lobby groups that take into consideration youth interests away from politicians who attempt to use our youth to achieve political demands that have nothing to do with the country or its interests. We are living in a democratically open country - we have a government, MPs, press and free media for anyone to express their opinion to any person or group. We have reformist ideas and projects that are in the country’s interest in the long run. We salute the youth who worked on removing obstacles confronting small businesses, and we also thank the government represented by the social affairs minister and members of parliament. I personally hope that the youth take interest in education, because it is not realistic for the government student to cost the state KD 4,900 per year, while private British and American schools charge KD 3,500. Let us all work to develop our country away from popular slogans. —Al-Watan

!! s e Kuwait celebrat

kuwait digest

Our harmful education! By Mudaffar Abdullah


here are six bodies responsible for citizens’ social and psychological health. They are being paid over KD 2 billion to do their jobs, but the results are very frustrating and come in the form of slow learning, suicide, depression, addiction and marital problems. An interview with the psychiatric therapy advisor at the Amiri Diwan’s Social Development Office Dr Vencinzia Typera recently caught my attention. As a former psychiatrist at the Amiri Diwan, she says that Kuwait’s education system has to be reformed in order to treat psychological disorder problems, hyperactivity, addiction, depression, attention deficit and marital problems. As former education ministers already admitted, I personally believe that our education is highly expensive compared to others worldwide, yet it has a very bad outcome, which takes me agree with Typera’s statement. In my view, there are six bodies responsible for citizens’ social and psychological health. They are the ministries of health, awqaf, social affairs, education, information and the Awqaf Secretariat General.

They are paid over KD 2 billion as per the state’s budget for 2014-2015 to do their jobs. They respectively get KD 1.397 billion, KD 234 million, KD 446 million, KD 1.718 billion, KD 195 million and KD 12 million, which are all spent to develop human behavior towards what is thought to be good and help them develop and improve their psychological health. Unfortunately, the results are frustrating and come in the form of the diseases Typera referred to, the same ones mentioned in ministries’ annual statistics. Who can imagine that MoE gets over a billion dinars to end up spreading slow learning amongst students?! Education deficit is greatly harmful to the Kuwaiti society and has negative effects on the economy, development, science and vocations. Typera even added a new burden to the MoE, saying that it has to solve social and psychological problems, which, in other words, means that the kind of education currently provided will do nothing significant except removing illiteracy. So where will education lead the state to?! —Al-Jarida

ince former social affairs and labor minister Thekra Al-Rashidi announced last year a plan to reduce Kuwait’s expatriate population by one million within a decade, no action has been taken in that regard. And instead, the exact opposite happened as the expatriate community increased by nearly 140,000 in 2013. Kuwait’s population is nearing 4 million people, where non-Kuwaitis make up 68 percent. This is a high percentage that continues to increase in light of no action from the government to implement decisions taken to address the demographic imbalance. There are several negative aspects of the failure to control the influx of foreign labor forces to Kuwait, including: 1- Pressure on public services such as streets, hospitals, schools and public places. Given the lack of mega projects to accommodate the demographic increase, much greater pressure and public frustration is expected in the next ten years. 2- The increasing crime risk, as it is difficult to control a country with two thirds of its population comprising of noncitizens, especially since Kuwait is home to people with at least 120 nationalities including countries that have serious security problems. 3- Leaving the door wide open for expatriate labor forces allows terrorists to sneak their way into the country and commit terrorist attacks. Seeing explosions happening around us, it is a duty to have more security protection in Kuwait. 4- The majority of workers that contributed in the expatriate population’s growth are marginal labor forces who provide no use to the country’s development. The majority of them came to Kuwait via visa traffickers, and therefore must be kicked out because they are an element of corruption in the country. 5- Kuwait can save a lot of money in the national budget by reducing the expatriate population by one million, if we consider the almost free healthcare and public services. The government can resort to many solutions in order to reduce the number of expatriate labor forces without affecting major projects. One solution is building special camps for workers who are imported to carry out mega projects. These camps must be built away from residential areas and contain all necessities of life. The Ministry of Public Works did the same in the past when it recruited workers from Korea. Furthermore, increasing fees and setting a minimum wage can help eliminate the process of recruiting marginal labor forces and then throwing them to the street. There is no doubt that the social ministry’s current efforts to prosecute fake companies is the best way to tackle this problem, and I hope to see visa traffickers behind bars soon. NOTE: The Untied States of America has 12 million illegal immigrants who don’t have citizenship. The US government takes heavy taxes from them so that it benefits from their presence instead of being negatively affected by it. —Al-Rai

in my view

GCC-Russia dialogue By Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg


n Saturday the UN Security Council passed a milestone resolution dealing with the humanitarian situation in Syria. It was especially important that it was adopted unanimously, with Russia and China voting for the decision. This development may be considered the first sign that Russia may be rethinking its Syria policy. Last Wednesday, the third ministerial meeting for GCCRussia strategic dialogue was held in Kuwait. The Russian side, in particular, was keen on holding this meeting after it had been postponed previously. Some thought that Russia was planning to make a new announcement or initiative, but it turned out not to be the case, except for some flexibility on the humanitarian side. As such very few tangible results could be achieved from meeting, other than to continue the dialogue and some common understanding regarding the humanitarian situation. A few years ago, to the surprise of many, the GCC and Russia decided to start a “strategic dialogue.” The formal ministerial meeting launching the dialogue took place on Nov 1, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, but preparatory meetings took place over a few years before that date. The Abu Dhabi meeting established, for the first time, a formal mechanism for consultations and cooperation between the GCC as a regional organization and the Russian Federation. It was agreed that the strategic dialogue would cover a wide range of subjects, including trade, investment, energy, education, scientific research, health and the environment, in addition to political coordination and consultation. A memorandum of understanding was signed to that effect in Abu Dhabi in November 2011, an event marked by broad media presence. Based on the understanding in Abu Dhabi, preparations were started for a “joint action plan” to cover those and other topics, spread over a number of years with clear goals and programmed activities. The GCC was looking forward to try a new path of cooperation with the Russian Federation after decades of estrangement, and not-so-benign mutual neglect. Prior to the Abu Dhabi meeting, there were only perfunctory, formalized meetings and consultations, usually at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Starting in 2008, the two sides organized preparatory meetings, designed to prepare the way for the launch of strategic dialogue. Participants at that inaugural meeting spoke of shared determination to enhance peace, security and prosperity, as well as people-to-people contacts to revive shared culture and history. Economic cooperation was among the key goals of dialogue, as was articulated in particular by the Russian side. Exploratory business contacts had started in earnest. For despite great potential that the GCC and Russian economies possessed, there was only limited trade and investment. In 2012, two-way merchandise trade totaled a meager $2.5 billion; Russian exports amounted for 80 percent of that total. Not much when you compare it to GCC trade with China for example, where two-trade exceeded $150 billion. Or with India, Japan, the European Union or the United States, where GCC trade exceeded $100 billion annually. More to the point, the limited volume of GCC-Russia trade was miniscule compared to the combined size of their economies, which exceeded $3.7 trillion last year. Flush with funds from accumulated oil and gas revenues, the GCC and Russian economies are searching for investment opportunities and there is a great potential for mutual-

ly beneficial partnerships. Energy in particular is a natural area for cooperation. Russia is a major oil and gas producers. It competes with Saudi Arabia for the top spot in oil production. As a major gas producer, it co-founded the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), based in the Qatari capital, Doha. Russia is also interested in cooperation in the areas of industry, renewable energies, communications and agriculture. GCC countries are interested in exploring the potential in higher education and scientific research, to provide opportunities for contact and cooperation between universities and research institutions. In the political sphere, the two sides appeared in 2011 ready to reach an understanding. Russian Foreign Minister Serguey Lavrov appeared ready to embrace a solution to the Syrian crisis similar to the GCC initiative in Yemen. However, that auspicious start in Abu Dhabi did not last for long, mainly due to differences over Syria. Soon after that meeting, Russia went on a singular approach that fully sided with the Syrian regime and blocked international efforts to end the crisis. There were serious attempts to bridge the differences. Several high-level meetings were held between the GCC and Russia, in New York, Riyadh and elsewhere, but to no avail. Even as the death toll exceeded 150,000 - innocents killed by Russian-made and provided heavy weapons and airplanes - Russia ignored appeals by the United Nations Arab League, Organization of Islamic Cooperation for intervention to stop the relentless military attacks by the Syrian regime against civilians. Russia has advanced several arguments to justify its support for Assad, but they are largely spurious and do not stand up to scrutiny. It says, for example, that it has no interest in prolonging the reign of Bashar Assad, only that his fate should be decided by the Syrian people. Of course the Syrian people have already made their decision quite clear. Tens of thousands have paid with their lives to get rid of Assad and millions have fled the country rather than stay under his rule. Russia also says that its terrorist groups are taking over the anti-Assad cause and that their victory would have disastrous results for the region. Russia has in mind, in particular, the possible spillover effects on Muslim-majority Russian southern regions. It says that hundreds of Russian Muslims have joined the ranks of anti-Assad groups. However, it is the prolongation of the Assad reign of terror that has made it easy for terrorist groups to find recruits. The sooner the conflict is brought to an end, the sooner those terrorist groups are going to lose their appeal to young recruits. The main argument that Russia uses has to do with old notions of sovereignty and respect for “international law,” which it believes bars intervention even for compelling humanitarian reasons. But this is the weakest argument that Russia has made, for neither the UN Charter nor international law at large prohibit intervention. In fact, the Charter makes it a duty on the Security Council to intervene, by use of force if necessary, in a situation such as Syria that threatens international peace and security. Thus while Russia and the GCC are interested in launching a serious strategic relationship, their efforts have not made much headway as the gulf between them over Syria has widened. On the other hand, the fact that Russia voted for the UNSC resolution on Saturday could be a sign that it may move, slowly, to join the international consensus on Syria.



Wondering what to do during the holidays? By Ben Garcia KUWAIT: The holidays are the time to visit national heritage places and some of Kuwait’s places that offer a taste of tradition. Other options include Failaka Island, desert camping and even boat cruising on Kuwait’s Arabian Gulf coast. Famous pastimes for expatriates include barbeque by the seaside and football and volleyball in open areas far away from the busy streets of mostly holiday revelers dancing to music and spraying foam and water at random. Malls are also open for extended hours while others can enjoy varied cuisines from a number of restaurants throughout Kuwait. Days off are perfect times to visit the farms in Wafra, enjoy a day of outdoor fishing or just hanging out with friends. Tips on where to go on Feb 25 and 26 The National Museum The Kuwait National Museum is a true representation of Kuwaiti heritage as it displays permanent exhibits of various historical artifacts of Kuwait dated from ancient times to present. The museum houses many art pieces from the Al-Sabah collection. One block houses all administrative wings, offices and an auditorium. Planned by Michel

Things to do in Kuwait during the holidays

Kids entertainment MALLS HANGOUT On February 26th, Winter Chillout in Hamra Mall from 5pm to 7pm. Nice outdoor outing with good food and music. *** Al-Kout Mall hosts a fabulous festival for children and adults from February 25th till March 1 from 10am till 10pm. Visitors at the venue can enjoy traditional Kuwaiti performances and displays, Kuwait flag kites, flag face painting and photography with camels and falcons in addition to bungee jumps. *** The Kuwait House for National Works hosts “We All love Kuwait festival” at 360 Mall, Um Khaltoun Hall on the ground floor to host celebrations from February 24th till February 27th . Events start from 10am till 1pm and from 4pm till 8pm. The event features booths from different countries including Egypt, Japan, India, Yemen, Tunisia and Morocco. A program for children will be held in the 360 Mall, too. *** Entertainment events at Avenues for children. SPORTS The weather in Kuwait is getting warmer; this time of the year is excellent for another trilling ride. Did you know that you can also rent a bike in Kuwait? Yes, it’s not cheap, but worth the exercise. You may call Tel 94942122 for details. Rent a bike from Ucycle at 98037123. Shoot hoops Outdoor volleyball court is available too anywhere in Kuwait. The most prominent place for expatriates includes the Marina Crescent Basketball Court and the Seaside Open Basketball Court near the Catholic Church. The venue is usually given free of charge. Book a fishing boat to join other for a day of fishing through ENTERTAINMENT Al Farsi Kite Festival is held between Feruary 24th to 28th. More information about location and timings of the festival at: *** KOC in Ahmadi is hosting a fun-filled afternoon on February 25th and 26th from 4pm till 9pm at the Sports Stadium and the public park. There will be activities and games for children, vintage cars exhibition and small booths exhibition of handicrafts. KID’S CORNER

Sand Sculptures Many activities for children at the Remal International Sand and Light Sculpture Festival at P2BK 2014 in Mishref. *** Sultan Centre in Salmiya, Souq Sharq, Hawally and AlKout will host an enteraining event for children with face painting, arts and crafts, magicians and balloon twisting from 4pm to 9pm. *** Fantasy World is the place for children this holiday. The venues will host lots of fun games and activities. On February 25th at Al Rai store from 7pm till 9 pm and on February 26th at the Avenues store from 7pm till 9pm. *** Souq Sharq hosts Smurf Village Fun event.

Ecochard, the plans of this architectural project were ready by 1960, but construction began only in 1981. The museum also houses a planetarium. During the holidays, the museum is open to public. There are special parades of honor that will be held in front of the museum on Feb 24 and 25. Location: Arabian Gulf Street between the Seif Palace and National Assembly, Kuwait City Failaka Heritage Village Visitors can enjoy and spend some time staying in spacious and comfortable houses recreating the old lifestyle of Kuwait. There are Arabian horses and camels at the Failaka Stables, and visitors can ride them. Among the special establishments of the Heritage Village are Qa’at Al Khair, that can seat up to 450 guests, and the Museum Palace of Sheikh Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah. Failaka Heritage Village has a special beach too, the Wanasa Beach. On the Wanasa Beach, you can play a variety of water sports or simply enjoy the clear water and golden sand. The essence of Kuwait is greatly preserved at Failaka. Kuwait Public Transport Company (KPTC) runs ferry trips every day from Ras Salmiya to Failaka Island. To enquire about the ferry trips, you can contact KPTC on 25742664. Dickson House This is the house of the first British political agent in Kuwait. The house was built in 1870 for a Kuwaiti merchant before the Dicksons moved in in 1929. However, after the invasion, the Kuwaiti National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature restored the house and opened it to visitors. Today, the building is one of the very few manifestations of 19th century Kuwaiti architecture. It is located east of Seif Palace right across the dhow harbor. Memorial Museum Kuwait House of National Works or Memorial Museum houses and encapsulates the horror of the Iraqi invasion. The house also honors and salutes the sacrifices of both Kuwaiti citizens and soldiers from other countries who fought side by side with the Kuwaiti military against Saddam’s forces. The house comprises a set of well-crafted models of the city that are illuminated in time with an audio recording in both English and Arabic. Despite the jingoism, the experience of walking through the darkened corridors, lit only by simulated gun blasts and mortar attacks, and focusing on the heroism of a few for the safety of the many, has a contemporary resonance that transcends the exhibit’s narrow remit. The museum is open during holidays from 9 am-9 pm for a KD 1 entrance fee. Location: The museum is located near the Arab Fund Building and the headquar ters of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation in Shuwaikh.

Sadu House Sadu House is an artistic house and museum in Kuwait City, Kuwait, located near the Kuwait National Museum. It was established in 1980 to protect the interests of the bedouins (native people) and their ethnic handicraft Sadu weaving, which is an embroidery form in geometrical shapes hand woven by bedouin people. The original house originally existed as a mud building in the early twentieth century but was destroyed during the 1936 Kuwaiti floods. By 1984, Sadu House had registered 300 bedouin women producing about seventy items every week. A major tourist attraction in Kuwait City, Sadu House has several chambers each decorated with pottered motifs of houses, mosques etc.

Buildings are seen decorated with lights in the colors of the national flag yesterday. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat Location: Arabian Gulf Road, Next to the National Museum of Kuwait Tel:22432395 Opening Hours: 8.00 am-1.00 pm 4.00 pm-8.00 pm. Saturday-Thursday Green Island Green Island is a part of the sea front constructed in Feb1988. It is the first artificial island in the Gulf region. The island covers an area of 785,000 m≤ with a diameter of 3.14 km and a circumference of 1.5 km. It is linked to the main land by an access way 134 m long. Facilities include an artificial lake filled with water from the Gulf that flows in by taking advantage of the tide, restaurants and cafes, a Roman amphitheater with a capacity of 700 viewers for entertainment, dancing and musical events, a tower that overlooks the island and offers visitors a panoramic view 35 m above sea level and a ëKids Castle’ with its own water field trenches, artificial waterfalls and swings. Other activities include sports activities, entertainment activities, promotions and marketing offers. Green Island is located off the waterfront spanning 21 km of coastline from Shuwaikh to Ras Al-Ardh. Contact them at 22526153 Khairan Resort Khairan Resort is a famous facility located in Khairan near the borders of Saudi Arabia about 110 km from Kuwait City. It is under the umbrella of Touristic Enterprises Company (TEC) inaugurated on Feb 23, 1987. The facility was re-opened after the invasion on Jan 1, 1993 with constant developments and projects aiming to have complete facilities within the resort. Occupying a prime seafront location covering a sprawling area of about 831,900 sq m, Khairan Resort is the ideal place for Kuwaitis and expatriates alike for an utterly relaxing getaway from the stressful daily life. Beautifully landscaped lawns, a neat and clean environment with wide roads, ample parking areas, clean and well maintained beach areas are all part of the Khairan Resort experience. Phone: 23951122 or check the website: Failaka Island Failaka is an Island in the Arabian Gulf about 20 km off the coast of Kuwait City . The name ‘Failaka’ is thought to be derived from ancient Greek meaning outpost. Failaka Island is the most beautiful and admired island in Kuwait. It was originally inhabited by the Greeks who knew the island as ‘Ikaros’. The island has an impressive collection of ruins and other artifacts that are well worth a visit especially for lovers of archeology. To enquire about the ferry trips, you can contact the KPTC on 25742664. Nuzha Touristic Enterprises Cruising the Gulf coast is possible with Nuzha Touristic Enterprises. It can be arranged for a full day or half day but two-hour boat rentals can also be arranged. For weekdays,

a boat is available for KD 125 for two hours for up to 20 passengers complete with a captain and two lifeguards. Half-day rate for the weekend is KD 180 and weekdays at KD 225. Full-day rent during weekdays is KD 440 and KD 510 during the weekend. For special occasions, Nuzha Touristic Enterprises can also arrange balloons and flowers free of charge. For inquiries call 25755835. A trip through Kuwait’s museums and galleries Dar Al-Athar Al-Islamiyyah Location: Al Amricani Cultural Centre Tel: +965 2240 0992 Address: Gulf Road, next to the National Assembly, in front of the Evangelical Church Opening Hours: Monday - Thursday and Saturday from 10 am until 7 pm. Fridays from 2 pm to 7 pm Al Maidan Cultural Center Tel: +965 2563 6561/ 2563 6528 Address: Abdullah al-Salem School, Maidan Hawally, near Al-Shaab Leisure Park Opening Hours: Sunday-Thursday 9 am-5pm, until 9 pm on event nights. Private Art & Craft Museums Tareq Rajab Museum Tel: +965 25317358 Address: Jabriya, Block 12, Street 5 Boushahri Gallery Tel:+965 25621119 Address: Salmiya, Baghdad St.36, in the front of Al Laheeb Mosque Opening Hours: 10 amñ1 pm, 5 pm - 9 pm. Friday and Thursday afternoon- closed Dar Al-Funoon Gallery Tel:+ 965 22433138 Address: Al Watiah, Behbehani Compound, House n. 28 Opening Hours: 10am-1pm 4pm-8pm SundayThursday, Friday and Saturday: by appointment Gallery Tilal Tel: +965 22256101 Address: Shuwaikh, Jahra Road, Tilal Complex Opening hours: 10 am-2 pm, 5.30 am-9.30 pm, Sunday-Thursday, Saturday by appointment. FA Gallery Tel: +965 22 49 8999 Address: Sharq, Block 2, Gulf road, Villa 76, next to Al Amiri Hospital. Opening Hours: 10 am-9 pm



Driver threatens police at Maidan Hawally checkpoint Man found dead on Fahaheel beach KUWAIT: A man faces multiple charges following his arrest Sunday after he offended police officers at a checkpoint in Maidan Hawally. The sports-utility-vehicle driver did not like having to stop at the checkpoint, complaining to officers about their alleged ‘repeated inspections’ on the same road and threatened to cause them trouble through his ‘connections’. The Kuwaiti man was placed under arrest after he threatened police with harm when they asked for his ID. The man was taken to the area’s police station and charged with murder threats, offending a police officer on duty and disobeying police. He remains in police custody in preparation to be transferred to the public prosecution. US soldiers held Five American soldiers were detained briefly after dozens of automatic weapon magazines were found in their luggage at Kuwait International Airport, and were later released by the prosecutor. The US nationals were preparing to catch their flight when inspectors found 32 magazines of M16 and M9 rifles in their suitcases. The five were taken to Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh police station, but were later released after the prosecutor said that the incident is not considered a felony. Illegal resident An illegal resident turned himself over to Jahra police and asked for help to be deported. The Asian man reportedly arrived at the area’s police station and told officers that he does not

have a valid visa. He then asked to be put behind bars and then deported back to his home country. The perplexed officers inspected the man’s ID and discovered that his visa expired nearly a year ago. Investigations indicate that the man was probably under the impression that local authorities have started an amnesty period for illegal residents who wish to go back home without paying fines. Dead newborn Investigations are ongoing to determine the circumstances behind the death of an infant whose body was found in Khaitan. Police and paramedics had arrived to a location in the area where a pedestrian reported discovering a dead baby inside a cardboard box. Criminal investigators were called and they confirmed that foul play was involved, before transporting the newborn’s body to the forensic department for an autopsy. A murder case was filed and investigations are underway to identify and arrest the baby’s parents. Dead body found A man was found dead on the Fahaheel beach and preliminary investigations indicate that he probably drowned while swimming in the Arabian Gulf waters. Paramedics arrived to the scene with police in response to an emergency call reporting the discovery of a dead body on the beach near a mall in the area. Criminal investigators were called after the man was pronounced dead, and their examinations

at the scene did not suggest that foul play was involved. The body was taken to the forensic department for an autopsy, and a case was filed. Suicide attempt A man was hospitalized in a critical condition and was later charged with attempted suicide after medical tests revealed that he consumed a large amount of medications in a bid to kill himself. The case was filed at the Sulaibiya police station where a Kuwaiti man reported that he found his soon unconscious near a supermarket in the area, and rushed him to the hospital. He gave police the diagnoses report which indicated that his son, who is in his twenties, suffered complications of medication overdose. A case was filed and police are waiting for the man’s condition to stabilize so that he can be questioned. Wife beater held A Hawally man faces charges after he assaulted his wife and refused to get her medical attention when she became seriously injured. Police and paramedics had rushed to an apartment in the area on Saturday morning after the Kuwaiti woman managed to make an emergency call before her husband confiscated her cell phone. Police obtained a warrant to raid the apartment after the Kuwaiti man refused to answer the door, and placed him under arrest. He was taken to the area’s police station to face domestic violence charges while his wife was taken to the hospital.

Order to close 23 food stores KUWAIT: Official sources said that Deputy Premier, Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr Abdelmohsen Al-Mudej issued administrative decisions to close 23 food stores including restaurants in Shuwaikh, and food companies because of various violations. The source said that inspection teams from the commercial supervision and consumer protection department discovered the violations in the 23 stores. They found out that some of the stores present rotten

food material, and others with expired goods, in addition to spoiled material. The restaurants that were closed were serving food with spoiled material among its ingredients. Assistant Undersecretary for commercial supervision and consumer protection Abdallah Al-Enezi had ordered closure of 140 stores which did not have commercial licenses, and the violators included stores in famous malls, and others in popular markets.

Kuwaiti ambassador visits central archive in Italy

KUWAIT: Operations and patrols department of Jahra security arrested a man in possession of an AK-47, pistol, rounds and police uniform along with ID cards with different names and drugs paraphernalia.— By Hanan Al-Saadoun

ROME: The State of Kuwait Ambassador to Italy, Sheikh Ali Al-Khaled Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, has held talks with the head of the Italian central archive, Agostino Attanasio, on means of broadening cooperation in the documentary and research domains. The ambassador held the discussions with Attanasio during a visit to the archive headquarters, which keeps files and documents of the state departments and various items since unification of the nation 152 years ago. The chief archivist briefed the ambassador about the systems and regulations at the central archive and facilities and services given to researchers.

Attanasio expressed readiness to host Kuwaiti researchers for researching, training or studying the historic documents. He welcomed a proposal by the ambassador to take part in planned ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the Kuwaiti-Italian relations. During the visit to the archive, located at the state museums’ complex in the Italian capital, ambassador Ali Al-Khaled examined some of the rare documents and letters, including the original copy stipulating establishment of the diplomatic relations between Kuwait and Italy following Kuwait’s independence. —KUNA

KUWAIT: Fakhroo, Saleh Al-Houti and Riham Al-Ayyar with the Best Designed Division team.

NBK Family celebrating with children

NBK family shares spirit of National Day with children KUWAIT: On the occasion of Kuwait’s independence and the Anniversary of its liberation, National Bank of Kuwait’s (NBK) Family paid a visit to NBK Hospital at Sabah Medical district to share happy moments of Kuwait’s national celebrations with the children and their families. “NBK staff have always devoted a considerable part of their time to comfort children and present them with felicitations and gifts as part of NBK’s corporate social responsibility program”, said Ahmad Al-Mahmeed, NBK Public Relations Officer. Al-Mahmeed added: “Sharing the happy moments with the children is our pleasure. We are proud that NBK devotes such attention to supporting Kuwait society and providing compassion and support for those in need, including children. NBK’s commitment to shoulder its corporate social responsibility was the basic motive that led NBK to build its children hospital at Sabah Medical district many years ago.” NBK’s visits to hospitals and care centers

Ahmad Al-Mahmeed reflect the Bank’s high sense of duty and responsibility towards all those in need from different sectors of society. It is a well rooted tradition that has been carried out by NBK each year in its efforts to continuously have an active role in the Kuwait society. The visit to the hospital was emotional and overwhelming for both the children and NBK family.

CEO Peter Kaliaropoulos dancing ‘Ardha’ with employees

Wataniya Telecom staff celebrate national, liberation days KUWAIT: Wataniya Telecom, member of Ooredoo Group, kicked off a daylong celebration of the Kuwait National and Liberation Days with the participation of the members of senior management and employees headed by the GM and CEO Eng. Abdulaziz Fakhroo. The day witnessed exciting festivities and competitions

all in the spirit of this celebration which deeply reflected the belonging and loyalty to the beloved Kuwait. The celebration witnessed the participation of all divisions in a special contest to select the most beautiful designed division which genuinely reflects the national holidays feel and spirit. The aim behind this competi-

Female employees with Kuwaiti traditional ‘Thoub’.

tion is to strengthen the citizenship’s spirit among all employees, for these events are meant to be held to celebrate the most memorable and cherished occasion to all Kuwaitis and residents. Wataniya Telecom showed that the manifestations of joy were not confined to only decorate the building

with flags but surpassed it to hold interactive activities including the National Day contest for the best decorated and designed division. A wonderful engagement from all employees was also amazing when all were dressed in Kuwaiti traditional attires.Fur thermore, employees enjoyed the performance of a folk

Muhammad Al-Marri, Director of Gov. relations and Protocol at the chairman office dancing Ardha.

band which successfully concluded a unique and exceptional celebration organized by Wataniya Telecom staff. Wataniya Telecom will continue to demonstrate its commitment towards the Kuwaiti community and celebrate the patriotic days with pride, joy, devotion and determination for continuous success and development.

Group picture of employees.


Pakistan minister offers Taleban cricket match for peace Page 11

Stigma thrives for 60 million India disabled In India, discrimination, stigma are daily battles NEW DELHI: More than 20 families came to Shanti Auluck’s home in New Delhi with their sons, keen at first to arrange a marriage with her daughter in an age-old Indian custom. But with each visit came apologies and a change of heart. All of the families were turned off by the fact Auluck also has a son with Down Syndrome. “There was this feeling that somehow he might have a negative impact on them, that he might rub off on them. There’s a lot of ignorance about disability,” Auluck said. Finally Auluck, a mother of two and a doctor of psychology, learnt to choose her words carefully. “I’d say yes I have a son. He has a job but he can’t go into academia,” said Auluck. For the 40 to 60 million people with mental and physical disabilities in India, discrimination and stigma are daily battles. In a country where social standing-including through marriage-is all important, having a disability often means being relegated to the bottom of the pile. “A lot of families keep their disabled children behind closed doors because they are embarrassed,” said Auluck, director of Muskaan, a training and work centre for intellectually disabled. A long-awaited bill introduced into parliament this month aims to give more disabled people equal rights-including access to education, employment and legal redress against discrim-

ination. Sonia Gandhi, head of the ruling Congress party, has promised disabled groups the landmark legislation will be passed, seven years after India signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. “This is a game changer,” disabled rights leader Javed Abidi told AFP, after one of the many protests and candle-lit vigils held in Delhi in recent weeks by thousands of disabled to pressure politicians to pass the bill. But others fear the well-meaning bill, even if it is passed, will make no difference to the way in which the disabled are treated, in a country where many existing laws are poorly enforced and often flouted. Disability a curse? Attitudes against disabled people, particularly women, are deeply entrenched, especially in poor rural areas where families are already struggling to make ends meet and social services are few.”This whole scenario makes her more vulnerable-she is treated as a burden in the family, as a result domestic violence and sexual abuse is rampant,” said Shampa Sengupta, who has worked with the intellectually disabled in the eastern city of Kolkata for 25 years. “Both at family level as well as the outside world, people think she is dependent,”

NEW DELHI: An Indian disabled woman holds a placard outside the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters during a protest in New Delhi. — AFP

Hagel proposes shrinking Army to smallest size WASHINGTON: Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel is recommending shrinking the Army to its smallest size since the buildup to US involvement in World War II in an effort to balance postwar defense needs with budget realities, defense officials said yesterday. Hagel announced that and other recommendations in a speech at the Pentagon outlining his priorities for next year’s defense budget. Army leaders have been saying for months that they expect their size would shrink as the nation prepares to end its combat role in Afghanistan this year. The Army, which is the largest of the armed services, currently has 522,000 active-duty soldiers and is scheduled to shrink to 490,000 by 2015 from a wartime peak of 570,000. Hagel is expected to propose cutting it further to between 440,000 and 450,000. Gen Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, has said recently that whatever the future size of the Army, it must adapt to conditions that are different from what many soldiers have become accustomed to during more than a decade of war. He said many have the misperception that the Army is no longer busy. “People tend to think that the Army is out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and there is not much going on,” he said Jan. 23 at an Army forum. “The Army is not standing still. The Army is doing many, many, many things in order for us to shape the future environment and prevent conflict around the world.” The last time the active-duty Army was below 500,000 was in 2005, when it stood at 492,000. Its postWorld War II low was 480,000 in 2001, according to historical tables provided by the Army yesterday. In 1940 the Army had 267,000 active-duty members, and it surged to 1.46 million the following year as the US approached entry into World War II. Navy Rear Adm John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said yesterday that Hagel consulted closely with the military service chiefs on how to balance defense and budget-saving requirements. “He has worked hard with the services to ensure that we continue to stand for the defense of our national interests - that whatever budget priorities we establish, we do so in keeping with our defense strategy and with a strong commitment to the men and women in uniform and to their families, Kirby said. — AP

said Sengupta, who herself battles chronic depression. As a result, forced sterilisation of women, particularly ones with intellectual disabilities, are still common, along with forced abortions for those who do fall pregnant, Sengupta said. In some cases, a disabled woman is married off to a man who is also “given” the woman’s sister as a bride, as a way of smoothing the deal and as a favor to the over-burdened husband, she said. Police are less likely to treat cases of sexual assault against disabled women as seriously, said Sengupta, who is currently helping a family whose blind 14-yearold daughter was raped, allegedly by a neighbor. “There is a perception that disabled girls are worth less so they are given less attention by police. Others are very sympathetic, offering her sweets and saying ‘poor girl.’ But that doesn’t mean her case will be treated in the same way (as others).” Last chance for bill Activist Abidi, born with congenital spina bifida and confined to a wheelchair, agrees more education is needed to change attitudes. But he said the bill was crucial to empower the disabled to take action themselves to correct society’s misperceptions. “This is the start of something. The bill may not be perfect, but nothing ever is, and we are not going to get this chance again,” said Abidi, referring to looming general elections that are likely to see the left-leaning Congress par ty booted out of power and the bill dropped. Millions more people are classed as disabled under the bill, including those with autism and multiple sclerosis, which entitles them to government benefits. These disabled can also use the bill to fight discrimination across all areas. “It means people with mental disabilities in particular have the right to hold a job, have the right to open a bank account and no-one can tell them ‘no’ because of their disability,” said Abidi. Some disabled groups opposed the bill, which would replace a 1995 law, saying it has been watered down from earlier draft versions. But Zorin Singha, who was born deaf, said the current paper was “perfect” for the country’s 18 million hearing impaired, including making captions or sign language interpreters available for all electronic media. Singha said he learnt nothing when he was at school because his teachers, not trained to help deaf students, just kept telling him to speak. The new legislation gives the disabled the right to a decent education. “We have been waiting since independence for this, some of us even longer,” said Singha. — AFP

CNN pulls the plug on Piers Morgan show Page 9

Female party head doubts Egypt path CAIRO: The first woman elected to head an Egyptian political party says evidence suggests the country is not heading toward democratic rule. Hala Shukrallah, a 59-year-old Coptic Christian, says the military-backed authorities have little tolerance for dissent, criticizing their security crackdown that brought mass detentions and trials over the past months. “The road map to democracy is being compromised,” Shukrallah told The

Associated Press yesterday in an interview at her Cairo home in the upscale district of Mohandessin. Shukrallah was elected over the weekend to lead the liberal Constitution Party, succeeding Mohamed ElBaradei, the former interim vice president who resigned in protest against last summer’s deadly crackdown on sit-in protests by supporters of the Islamist president, removed by the military in July. — AP



S Sudan civilians reduced to scavengers on swamp islands NYAL: As the narrow dugout canoe glides softly across the vast swamplands around Nyal, a once sleepy town in South Sudan’s Unity state, the only sound between the rhythmic plops of the paddle is silence. But earlier this month, the swamps were alive with the cracks of gunfire, the screams of the dying and the desperate splashes of those fleeing soldiers and armed youth that forced what local officials say is tens of thousands of people to maroon themselves on islands and scavenge for survival. “Now, we just depend on water lilies and palm tree fruits,” said William Gatkoy, who ran for his life for three hours carrying the smallest of his eight children to reach the nearest dusty patch, where around 100 people have erected dens from palm branches and pieces of cloth. The stones of rapidly diminishing fruits litter the floor, and it takes all day digging through mush to find the black, knobbled roots of water lilies that resemble rotten potatoes. “They’re tasteless. You just eat them to save your life,” said Gatkoy, stroking the scaly arm of one of his dust-caked children suffering from the diet and from drinking water from swamps that double as toilets. On February 7, officials say that around 1,200 soldiers and a small army of young men swarmed Panyjiar county to carry out a killing, looting and razing spree that left 60 dead and 26 wounded.

Home to over 50,000 people, it was always considered a safe haven, even during decades of civil war with Sudan that ended in 2005 and led to the birth of South Sudan in 2011. But a power struggle between leaders hundreds of kilometers away in the new nation’s capital Juba in mid-December revived old ethnic tensions between South Sudan’s largest Dinka tribe and secondary Nuer tribe, then poisoned a shallow well of unity, leaving villagers behind enemy and tribal lines.

ed on a seeping wound where a chunk of hand should be makes him suck in the stale air and wince with his good eye. But Ter says his physical suffering is nothing compared to the pain of losing a life’s work. “They took all my cows and burnt my house,” he said. “I have nothing. I can’t do anything now.” And helping even those who are not stuck on islands will be difficult. Benjamin Bangoang, who ran SoH’s dispensary in Kanynhial, about 10 kilometers from Nhial, fled to the swamps with his family.

Lives destroyed In Panyjiar, an overwhelmingly Nuer area bordered by a Dinka majority, the only place to hide is the swamp. “Our problem here is the government. That’s why we’re afraid,” said Simon Kuol, a local representative for the state-run Relief and Rehabilitation Commission. From the air, the circles of ash and black lines snaking around villages appear to show a scorched earth campaign, with even UN buildings in the county capital Panyjiar collapsing in on themselves. “There were police uniforms, army uniforms and some with civilian clothes,” says William Ter, one of nine gunshot wounded patients admitted to Nyal’s only clinic run by Sign of Hope (SoH), a small German charity. The hard lumps on his leg from the shrapnel make an already elderly man shuffle, but the iodine soaked cloth rest-

Mass killings After seeing six people shot dead, including two women running near him in the swamps, he hid for days in the dark bog. Compelled back to help the wounded, he returned to find only smouldering ruins and bodies. “They came and shot guns around the village and they killed people. Even the drugs that are usually kept with me, they burnt them,” Bangoang said. Peace talks being held in Ethiopia have provided little reprieve from atrocities sweeping silently through villages. In major towns decimated several times by opposing forces, a handful of anonymous aid workers speak of mass rape and killings. Some have watched executions just meters outside United Nations bases, where tens of thousands of people are hiding from soldiers and militiamen hunting house to house for the ethnic rivals.

Relatives arrested over Palestinian girls’ deaths GAZA: Gaza police have arrested family members over the deaths of two Palestinian teenage girls, one of them the victim of a suspected “honor” killing, Hamas authorities said yesterday. Authorities caught relatives of one of the girls as they were trying to bury her in a cemetery near Jabaliya, north of Gaza City, on Thursday, police spokesman Ayyub Abu Shaar said. The girl’s father had “beat her days before her death”, Abu Shaar said. The Gaza-based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) said a post-mortem showed signs of “torture” all over the girl’s body as well as signs of untreated gangrene from years of physical abuse. The rights watchdog said the girl was 17. Police also discovered the body of another girl in the southern Gaza district of Khan Yunis in what could be an “honor” crime, Abu Shaar said. “Her brother killed her, and the case is still being investigated. The murder weapon has been found,” he said, without elaborating. PCHR said the girl was 18 and had fatal knife wounds to the neck. The

group called for a “thorough investigation” into the suspected murders and to “bring the perpetrators to justice”. “PCHR calls on the (Hamas) government in Gaza to take the necessary measures to put a stop to a rise in (these types of incident), and to protect women from violence,” it said in a statement. So-called honor killings, in which a family member murders a relative who is perceived to have soiled the family’s reputation, occur periodically in the Palestinian territories. In 2011, following the murder of a woman in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas pledged to amend a decades-old law under which those citing “honor” as a defense could expect to receive a jail sentence of no more than six months. But women’s rights groups said the amendment, which has not yet been implemented, would do little to change the situation on the ground because a judge could still decide that “honor” was involved and hand down a lenient sentence.— AFP

Egypt presidential hopeful fears return to autocracy CAIRO: Presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabbahi said he fears a return to autocratic rule in Egypt, telling AFP that the army chief, a likely election frontrunner, has failed to dispel these concerns. Sabbahi, 59, who came third in the 2012 presidential election that Islamist Mohamed Morsi won, is seen by his supporters as a serious challenger, but Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is widely tipped to win the poll if he stands. The election, part of a road map outlined by Egypt’s interim military-installed authorities for a return to democratic rule, is expected to be held by mid-April. While his chances of winning against Sisi are seen as slim, Sabbahi said in an interview with AFP that young members of his leftist Popular Current, which he founded in 2012, encouraged him to run for the presidency. Youths who took part in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak “feel that their revolution was being stolen... as their comrades were being jailed and some killed before their eyes”. “Mubarak’s men are now making a comeback,” Sabbahi said, adding that Sisi “has not taken a position that could comfort the youths regarding the danger... which is the return to power of those who symbolised corruption under Mubarak”. Sisi, who has yet to formally announce his candidacy, is the most popular public figure in Egypt after he led the ouster of Morsi in July following mass street protests against the Islamist’s turbulent one-year rule. Sabbahi said his intention to run for the presidency was also driven by concerns that “this election would feature only one candidate (Sisi) and would turn into a referendum”. Sabbahi expressed hope that youths who represented a “key voting” bloc would back him after many shunned the January referendum on a new constitution. He also criticized a law adopted by the interim authorities in November to ban all but police-sanctioned protests, saying it was a “political error” and urged interim president Adly Mansour to release all who were jailed for participating in peaceful protests. The

law “in its present form restricts more than it regulates,” said Sabbahi. “The killers of Khaled Said are still to be sentenced, but the youths who demonstrated to demand that they be held accountable have been sentenced to jail,” he said, referring to a blogger whose killing by police in 2010 became a symbol for the antiMubarak uprising. ‘Respect popular will’ Sabbahi urged the Muslim Brotherhood to acknowledge Morsi’s ouster. “The Brotherhood... should respect the popular will and stop describing the June 30 revolution as a coup, and stop offering any political cover to terrorism,” he said. Millions of Egyptians had taken to the streets on June 30 demanding the resignation of Morsi-the country’s first elected and civilian president-accusing him of monopolizing power and ruining an already deteriorating economy. In the interview, Sabbahi accused the Brotherhood of committing two errors. One was to “monopolize power when they ruled,” and the second was “resorting to violence and capitalizing on terrorism carried out by their political allies,” he said. Egyptian authorities declared the Brotherhood a “terrorist” organization in December after accusing it of a deadly bombing north of Cairo. The movement denied the attack which was claimed by an Al-Qaedainspired group. Sabbahi said he was in favour of tackling terrorism with “utmost firmness” but called for “balance between the imperatives of confronting terrorism and the imperatives of respecting freedoms”. Banking on youths, Sabbahi said the “awareness of Egyptians” would help them choose the candidate “most able to ensure social justice for the majority” and who can best respect “the dignity and freedoms of the people... and establish a democratic regime”. Sabbahi said that even if he lost the election, he would have “at least reconnected the revolutionary forces with the general public”.—AFP

NYAL: Photo shows a compound with its residents who survived an attack that left tens of tukuls (huts) burnt at a village in Panyijiar county, Unity state, South Sudan. — AFP Others have been hacked to death inside these refuges, as former neighbours and colleagues turned on one another. In Panyjiar, which was devastated by floods last year, the increasingly brutal tribal conflict has left Gatkoy and many others high and dry: desperate not to become involved but hoping the ethnic tides will soon allow them back to shore. There are major fears of a major out-

Somali soldiers unleash a sweeping crackdown Army invading Mogadishu homes after attack MOGADISHU: Hooded soldiers carrying sniper rifles have unleashed a sweeping crackdown across Mogadishu in a hunt for militants and weapons after the country’s Al-Qaeda-linked militants group’s latest attack on the country’s presidential palace. Soldiers have been deployed on the city’s key roads following the Friday attack, which saw multiple car bombs and seven gunmen try to penetrate the presidential palace. Al-Shabab’s spokesman vowed that the group would succeed in killing Somalia’s president in a future attack. “The operation is underway,” police Capt Mohamed Hussein said of increased security measures seen in the capital yesterday. “We have rounded up many suspects, but the real criminals will be discovered after investigations.” The tightened security and the latest attack reflect the ongoing threat from Al-Shabab, which has lost control of the capital and the port city of Kismayo since 2011 but still carries out suicide bombings against African Union troops, the UN, the Somali government and prominent Mogadishu businesses. Al-Shabab in recent weeks has increased its attacks, sending mortars into the city and apparently carrying out targeted killings. Then on Friday came its attack on the presidential seat of power. “The enemy has attacked our national symbol of the presidential palace,” said Abdullahi Godah Barre, Somalia’s interior minister after a cabinet meeting Saturday. “Therefore, we shall take a punitive action in response to that attack.” Responding to criticism of lax security, Somalia’s president said the attack would not derail the plan to oust militants from their last strongholds in Somalia’s southern countryside. “Our plan for the offensive against the enemy will not stop,” President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed said. Somalia’s security minister, who bore the brunt of criticism from Mogadishu residents, warned of tougher security measures in the cap-

MOGADISHU: Seven bodies of Al Shebab rebels lie on the ground in front of the presidential palace in Mogadishu.— AFP ital. Soon after, Somali troops were kicking in doors to arrest suspects. “They didn’t leave anything unturned. They also took my husband with them as well,” said Sharifo Abdi, a mother of seven in the city. Residents in the Somali capital who have experienced decades of war fear heightened violence in coming months. Many are not sure the security forces can defend the city against insurgent style attacks. “We hope they can, but it’s a matter of days until they take another blow,” said Hassan Ali, a

against close allies. Classified documents revealing the surveillance were discovered by new prosecutors appointed after a mass purge of the police and prosecution service in the wake of the corruption probe launched in December, the press reports said. The Star reported that so-called Gulenists had wiretapped more than 7,000 people, as well as the headquarters of the opposition Republic People’s Party, since 2011 on the pretext of trying to uncover terrorism plots. Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said that he had been wiretapped, adding: “This is no longer a problem just for the (ruling) AK Party.”—AFP

university student in Mogadishu. “Constant efforts will allow us to regain our faith in the government, instead of a few days of frantic efforts followed by a slide backward.” One security expert said Al-Shabab is increasing attacks in Mogadishu in order to throw off a looming offensive in the areas of the country they control. “It is unlikely that the government would go ahead with the offensive against Al-Shabab while the capital is on fire,” said Mohamed Sheikh Abdi.— AP

Syrian troops, rebels battle for key district

Turkey’s PM targeted in mass phone-tapping ANKARA: Turkish police have eavesdropped on thousands of people including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well as cabinet ministers, the country’s spy chief and journalists, local newspapers reported yesterday. Associates of US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen in the police and the judiciary have tapped the phones of Erdogan as well as politicians and businessmen for three years, progovernment dailies Yenisafak and Star claimed. Erdogan has accused rivals in the influential Gulen group of acting as a “state within a state” seeking to topple his government by instigating a high-level corruption investigation

break of pneumonia and malaria, as well as the diarrhoeal diseases already affecting many stick-legged but heavily paunched children. Despite the pain of seeing his children waste away, Gatkoy is determined to stay for at least two months, when the rains come, and only if he has stockpiled enough black roots to see the family through the next six months. “We worry that when we go out, we will lose our lives,” he said.—AFP

HAY AL-SELLOM: Fighters from the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement carry the coffin of Mahmud Ali Assaf, a comrade killed in Syria, during his funeral in Hay Al-Sellom neighborhood in the southern suburbs of Beirut yesterday. The Shiite group says its involvement in Syria is aimed at safeguarding Lebanon from “terror”, but its Lebanese opponents say the Hezbollah presence there has caused jihadists to attack Syria’s tiny neighbor. —AFP

BEIRUT: Syrian troops battled rebels yesterday over a strategic Aleppo district that could be key to securing a nearby prison and laying siege to the city’s rebel-held east. The Al-Watan daily, which is close to the government, said troops had advanced in the Sheikh Najjar district of Syria’s second city and onetime economic hub. “The army has achieved new progress in Sheikh Najjar industrial city... during its military operation to cleanse the vicinity of the Aleppo central prison and lift the siege on it,” the newspaper said. The prison has been attacked multiple times by rebels hoping to free the approximately 3,500 detainees inside, who are reportedly being held in dire conditions. In early February rebels launched a major assault on the facility, beginning with a suicide car bombing at its main entrance. Opposition forces were able to overrun parts of the facility for hours, before regime warplanes unleashed a bombing campaign against them. The rebels were pushed back, but retained control of part of the sprawling complex. Large parts of the fence surrounding the building collapsed during the attack, and the rebels have continued to try to penetrate the facility. Rebels carried out another suicide bombing at the prison Thursday, killing at least eight soldiers. Al-Watan yesterday quoted “military experts” as saying that army units were battling to take strategic areas in Sheikh Najjar that overlook the outskirts of the prison. The newspaper said the army hoped to station artillery there to help fend off attacks on the prison “which have intensified in recent days.” Nazeer Al-Khatib, an opposition activist from Aleppo, said his contacts there had confirmed the fighting in Sheikh Najjar. “Ahrar Al-Sham and other members of the Islamic Front (rebel alliance) have deployed reinforcements to the Sheikh Najjar front,”

said Khatib. “The most intense fighting is happening there, because the rebels know that should it fall to regime hands, Aleppo will be under siege, like areas of southern and eastern Damascus.” Aleppo has been largely divided between government control in the west of the city and rebel control in the east since fighting broke out there in mid-2012. But regime forces have made advances on the southeastern outskirts of the city in recent months, securing and reopening the international airport there. Norway in danger Meanwhile, Norway ’s intelligence agency said yesterday that it fears an increased “terrorist threat” to its country due to dozens of Norwegian nationals fighting in the Syrian conflict. At least 40 or 50 people with links to Norway have fought, or are currently fighting, with forces opposed to the Bashar Al-Assad regime and run the risk of returning as seasoned radical fighters, the Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS) wrote in its annual threat assessment report. “We conclude that the threat has already increased and will continue to increase throughout 2014,” the head of NIS General Kjell Grandhagen said, adding that these “jihadists” are often in the most radical Islamic groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front. The NIS estimates that about 2,000 rebel fighters have travelled from Europe to fight the Syrian regime but did not reveal how the figure was calculated. Norwegian daily Verdens Gang also reported yesterday that about a dozen women have left Norway for Syria to join rebel groups. In late 2013 the fate of two teenage girls of Somali origin hit the headlines in Norway when they left to join a jihadi group in Syria and were located weeks later by their father who brought them home. — Agencies



US drone, phone taps used to hunt Mexican drug lord New details emerge from the manhunt

CNN’s Piers Morgan

CNN pulls the plug on Piers Morgan TV show WASHINGTON: CNN president Jeff Zucker pulled the plug on British host Piers Morgan’s TV show after its ratings plunge, ending the former tabloid editor’s three year run on US television. Morgan, who irked US gun owners after launching a crusade for greater gun control, struggled after stepping into the shoes of popular, down-to-earth host Larry King in the coveted 9:00 pm primetime slot. “CNN confirms that ‘Piers Morgan Live’ is ending,” CNN vice president of communications Barbara Levin said. “The date of the final program is still to be determined.” King, known for his ability to connect immediately and easily with ordinary Americans, hosted “Larry King Live” on CNN from 1985 to 2010. Now 80, King still wears his trademark wide-rimmed glasses, shirt with rolled-up sleeves and suspenders as he hosts a show broadcast on Hulu, Ora TV and Russia’s RT television. Too British for US TV? Morgan, in contrast, was inherently British-and it was not just his accent, which for many viewers was grating, smug and condescending. Morgan made repeated references to cricket, a sport with little US presence, and professed his ignorance about American football and preference for the round football, soccer. In an interview with The New York Times, Morgan said the show had “run its course,” adding that he and Zucker “have been talking for some time about different ways of using me.” He also acknowledged the show was underperforming. “It’s been a painful period and lately we have taken a bath in the ratings,” Morgan said, adding that the show suffered especially on slow news days. “Look, I am a British guy debating American cultural issues, including guns, which has been very polarizing, and there is no doubt that there are many in the audience who are tired of me banging on about it,” he added. Morgan, whose contract ends in September, said he

was weighing a different role at CNN where he would have fewer, higher-impact appearances, such as through major interviews with “big celebrities and powerful people.” Unbelievably stupid man Morgan attracted national attention when he took a tough gun-control stance following the December 2012 massacre at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut. Gun rights activists soon posted a petition on the White House website calling for Morgan to be deported for allegedly attacking the Second Amendment rights of ordinary Americans after making anti-gun comments. It gathered 109,334 signatures. The petition was posted after Morgan told gun advocate Larry Pratt on his show: “You’re an unbelievably stupid man, aren’t you?” America has suffered an epidemic of gun violence over the last three decades. The vast majority of weapons used have been semiautomatic weapons obtained legally by the killers. Morgan was editor of the Daily Mirror newspaper from 1995 to 2004 and before that was editor of Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World, which closed amid a phone hacking scandal in 2011. On Twitter, the handful of Morgan fans were drowned out by the flood of snide and nasty tweets. “About time,” read a typical tweet. “He was an idiot, boring, embarrassment.” “Piers Morgan show being dropped by CNN, a move likely to upset one or maybe even two people,” read another. One prolific tweeter not commenting yet was blogger Andrew Sullivan, Morgan’s British-born US-based nemesis. The two have clashed repeatedly, with Sullivan claiming that his rival was a relentless self-promoter tainted by his role in the tabloid phone hacking scandal. Morgan insists that he’s “never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, or published any stories based on the hacking of a phone.” —AFP


in brief

Dingell, longest-serving congressman, to retire WASHINGTON: A person familiar with his plans says Rep John Dingell of Michigan, the longestser ving congressman in US histor y, will announce his retirement yesterday. The 87year-old Dingell was first elected in 1955, filling the House seat vacated by his late father. The person was not authorized to speak publicly ahead of Dingell’s announcement. He became the longest-serving member of Congress last year. Dingell is the former chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Democrat has been a master of legislative deal-making and staunch advocate for the US auto industry. Dingell has played a role in a number of major pieces of legislation, including President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, Medicare. His plans were first reported by The Detroit News and The Detroit Free Press. Pentagon to use only 100% American flags WASHINGTON: It is the ultimate symbol of chest-thumping American patriotic pride and now the United States flag must be “100 percent made in the USA”-at least where the Pentagon is concerned. A new law requires the Department of Defense-a major consumer of flags for everything from ships to bases to burials-fly only flags wholly sourced from home shores. “My recently signed law makes sure every flag bought by the US Department of Defense is 100 percent Made in America, with American products,” Congressman Mike Thompson, whose district is home to a manufacturer of flags, wrote on his Facebook page. “Our men in women in uniform should serve under American-made flags like those made at NBI, and our tax dollars should be spent on American-made flags,” the Vietnam war veteran said. The move-effective last Friday-garnered generally warm praise on Facebook. Obama takes ‘year of action’ to Minnesota WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama is taking his “year of action” tour to Minnesota, heading to St Paul on Wednesday to announce a new competition encouraging investments to create jobs and restore infrastructure. Obama will be speaking at St Paul’s newly renovated Union Depot transportation hub. The White House did not provide further details of the competition but described it as part of the president’s “year of action,” a series of policy initiatives the White House is undertaking without the help of Congress. Last week, for example, Obama touted increased fuel efficiency standards for trucks at a Safeway distribution center in Maryland, highlighting steps the grocery store chain has taken to use less fuel in its fleet of trucks.

MEXICO CITY: US authorities announced plans to seek the extradition of Mexico’s most powerful drug lord after his capture in a US-backed operation that included a drone, cellphone intercepts and elite Mexican marines. As prosecutors in New York prepared their request, new details emerged Sunday from the manhunt that led to the capture of Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, whose empire has smuggled drugs to the United States, Europe and Asia. The US surveillance drone was used for two weeks between mid-January and mid-February to back up a massive operation in the northwestern city of Culiacan, a US government official said on condition of anonymity. Guzman eventually slipped out of Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa state, after escaping through tunnels under one of his safe houses as the marines closed in on him, Mexican and US officials said. Under pressure, the 56-year-old drug capo, who had been on the run since escaping from prison 13 years ago, fled further south to the beach resort city of Mazatlan. It was there that the elite marine unit captured him on Saturday, in the fourth floor of a condominium, with a surprisingly small entourage that included one lookout, one bodyguard and a woman believed to be his beautyqueen wife, the US official said. Guzman went down without a single shot. “Cellular telephone intercepts were involved in the arrest,” the official said. The US Drug Enforcement Administration had provided intelligence information to the marines. The US official said the remote-controlled aircraft was not used in Mazatlan, but it had been deployed in Culiacan to corroborate other intelligence and that Mexico’s military had authorized its use. One of the world’s most wanted man, Guzman had been spending most of his time in the bustling city of Culiacan, living in houses with escape tunnels, extra thick walls

former Venezuela general in armed standoff at home CARACAS: One of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s most outspoken critics has become the latest rally cry for opposition protesters after engaging in an armed standoff with security forces Sunday. Retired army Gen Angel Vivas sported a flak jacket, assault rifle and handgun as he defiantly addressed dozens of neighbors from the balcony of his home in eastern Caracas. “I’m not going to surrender,” the 57-year-old Vivas yelled to a crowd of cheering followers. Supporters rushed to Vivas’ defense after he announced to his 100,000-plus followers on Twitter that a group of “Cuban and Venezuelan henchmen” had come looking for him. The officers withdrew after the crowd built barricades outside Vivas’ house. Vivas’ lawyer said they didn’t have an arrest order. Maduro on Saturday ordered Vivas’ arrest for allegedly encouraging students to stretch wire across streets where they’ve set up barricades in recent weeks. The president blames the apparent booby trap for the death of a government supporter who raced into a barricade on a motorcycle. Vivas, one of the government’s fiercest critics in the frequently vicious world of Venezuelan social media, rose to prominence in 2007 when he resigned as head of the Defense Ministry’s engineering department rather than order his subalterns to swear to the Cuban-inspired oath “Fatherland, socialism or death.” The standoff Sunday occurred after hundreds of grandparents danced and paraded their way to the presidential palace to express support for Maduro, who is struggling to contain a wave of anti-government protests that have left at least 10 people dead and more than 100 injured. Speaking at the rally, Maduro invited sectors of the opposition as well religious and labor leaders to participate in a meeting Wednesday to discuss ways to restore calm in Venezuela. Meanwhile, Maduro is readying crisis talks to try to defuse a deadly wave of protests that have brought the biggest challenge yet to his government. “This is a national peace conference I am calling for Wednesday with all social, political, union and religious groups,” Maduro told supporters outside the presidential palace. Groups of mainly elderly people marched Sunday in downtown Caracas in support of Maduro, a day after Venezuela’s largest demonstrations in weeks of escalating protests left 25 people injured. Maduro is grappling with the biggest crisis of his government since narrowly being elected last year after the death of leftist icon Hugo Chavez, with at least 10 people killed since protests erupted on February 4. Hundreds of thousands of pro- and antigovernment protesters had hit the streets of the capital on Saturday, leading to night-time clashes with security forces that were some of the most serious to date. Student and opposition demonstrators are campaigning over bleak economic prospects, including a shortage of food and commodities, repression by police and a dire job market. Dozens of people, including opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, have been arrested or wounded. While the dialogue has no precedent in Maduro’s term, political analyst John Madgaleno said participation by longtime opposition leader Henrique Capriles could put the former presidential candidate in a position to benefit if the talks pans out. Capriles “could be the sort of middle ground, after Leopoldo Lopez pushed for an end to Maduro’s government. Pro-government demonstrators Sunday dressed in red-the color of the socialist administration-held Venezuelan flags and pro-Maduro banners, protesting what they called “fascist violence” by student opposition. “That’s enough youth violence. This is a country of peace. We want a future of peace,” Cristina Marcos, 60, told reporters during a rally that began in the morning at the Plaza Bolivar and headed towards the Miraflores Palace, where the president spoke. —Agencies

and steel-reinforced doors, officials said. “It’s a big city where he has his contacts, his women, his houses,” the US official said. Officials had hoped that Guzman would flee to a rural, more open space to capture him, and his decision to run to Mazatlan around three days before his arrest was a surprise,

ered Guzman’s natural successor. US seeks extradition Nabbing Guzman, who is considered the world’s biggest drug trafficker, was a major victory in President Enrique Pena Nieto’s push to rein in drug violence in his country. The Sinaloa cartel’s turf wars with rival gangs contributed

flee again in a repeat of his legendary 2001 escape from prison in a laundry cart. “I think that would be the best course for not only Mexico, but also the United States, in ensuring that what happened in 2001 does not happen again,” Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee,

SINALOA: View of the bedroom of the apartment of the Miramar condominium in which Mexican drug trafficker Joaquin Guzman Loera aka ‘El Chapo Guzman’ (inset) was arrested in Mazatlan, State of Sinaloa, Mexico. —AFP the official said. His arrest capped a months-long operation that resulted in the arrests of a dozen Sinaloa cartel operatives, including alleged bodyguards of Guzman’s top associate, Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada. Several cellphones were seized from the detainees and later used to establish wiretaps as part of the operation against the Sinaloa cartel, said an official from the Mexican attorney general’s office. The official said authorities are still searching for Zambada, who is consid-

to a wave of drug violence that left more than 77,000 people dead in the past seven years. The United States had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture, with several indictments in cities from New York to San Diego. Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, said prosecutors there “plan to seek his extradition.” A senior Republican lawmaker called for Guzman’s extradition, warning that “the biggest fish ever” may try to

told ABC television. A Mexican foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment on the planned extradition request. An official in the Mexican attorney general’s office said Guzman has to finish the 20year sentence he avoided by fleeing eight years into his prison term. But he is also facing new charges of drug trafficking, using illegal funds, organized crime and possession of weapons reserved for the military, the official said. The captured kingpin is not facing murder charges. —AFP



Showtime as Italy’s PM unveils new program ROME: Italy’s new Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was to unveil details of his ambitious government program yesterday as he faced a confidence vote in parliament in a key test of his power to unite warring factions and secure a solid majority. The new premier is expected to present plans for rapidly overhauling the tax system, job market and public administration in his speech to the Senate, which will put his newly-formed cabinet to a confidence vote. The former mayor of Florence is expected to win based on the support of his own centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and his coalition partnersthe centrists and the New Centre Right (NCD) party.Political analysts will however be paying close attention to the size of the majority he manages to secure, as an indication as to whether the new government has a chance of living out its mandate until 2018 or whether the country will end up back at the polls. Renzi seized power last week after unseating his predecessor Enrico Letta and has promised speed and efficiency in tackling recession-hit Italy’s ills, vowing not to be dragged down by the weight of Italian bureaucracy or hampered by political squabbles. “By keeping up the momentum, Renzi is increasing the chances of these important reforms going through despite likely resistance from various camps,” Christian Schulz, senior economist at Berenburg, said in a note. “Much will depend on the concrete reform proposals and how they will

be watered down in the inevitable political wrangling afterwards,” he said. Italy’s European partners will be watching the first steps taken by the

country’s new Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, who brings to the table his experience as chief economist at the Organisation for Economic

ROME: Newly appointed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi gestures as he delivers a speech during a debate for a confidence vote at the Italian Senate yesterday in Rome. — AFP

Cooperation and Development (OECD). ‘Bellyache about this govt’ New secretary of state Graziano Delrio this weekend said Italy would stay within the European Union’s deficit ceiling of 3 percent of GDP, contradicting earlier comments by Renzi. He said the government would cut taxes on non-wage labour costs through cuts to spending, but also suggested a possible rise in taxes on investments like short-term treasury bills. “From a government which made ‘new’ and ‘fresh’ its calling card, one could have hoped for more things ‘new’ and ‘fresh’. Not just one of the more classic ‘deja vus’ of Italian politics: Taxes,” the Corriere della Sera said. The government appeared to do an about-turn on the subject late Sunday, issuing a note saying “we are not planning nor will there be any new tax”, suggesting some confusion and lastminute decisions in the brand new cabinet. On Sunday, Renzi took to Twitter to respond to questions from followers in a sign of changing times under the country’s youngest-ever prime minister. The 39-year-old promised a “surprise” on the digital economy and said he was gearing up for “the mother of all battles” against Italy’s stifling and reformblocking bureaucracy. Whether he can secure enough support to implement his reforms is yet to be seen. “There are many senators who have bellyached about this government,” said Francesco Grignetti in La Stampa daily. — AFP

British, Scottish cabinets clash on vital oil industry UK PM visits North Sea oil platform

ENTEBBE: Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni signs the Anti-Homosexuality Bill yesterday in Entebbe. — AFP

Uganda president signs anti-gay bill ENTEBBE: Uganda’s president yesterday signed a controversial anti-gay bill that has harsh penalties for homosexual sex, saying it is needed to deter what he called the West’s “social imperialism” promoting homosexuality in Africa. President Yoweri Museveni signed the bill at his official residence in an event witnessed by government officials, journalists and a team of Ugandan scientists whose report -which found that there is no proven genetic basis for homosexuality - cited by Museveni as his reason for backing the bill. “We Africans never seek to impose our view on others. If only they could let us alone,” he said, talking of Western pressure not to sign the bill. “We have been disappointed for a long time by the conduct of the West. There is now an attempt at social imperialism.” Without naming them, Museveni accused “arrogant and careless Western groups” of trying to recruit Ugandan children into homosexuality, prompting local pressure for the law. The new law calls for first-time offenders to be sentenced to 14 years in jail. It also sets life imprisonment as the maximum penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” defined as repeated gay sex between consenting adults as well as same-sex acts involving a minor, a disabled person or where one partner is infected with HIV. Government officials applauded after he signed the bill, which in its original draft called for the death penalty for some homosexual acts. That penalty was removed from the legislation following an international outcry. Rights groups repeatedly urged Museveni not to sign the bill, saying it is unnecessary in a country where

homosexuality is already illegal under a colonialera law that criminalized sex acts “against the order of nature.” Some European countries such as Sweden have threatened to cut aid to Uganda if the measure was enacted and US President Barack Obama warned that signing the bill would “complicate” this East African country’s relationship with Washington. “By signing this bill, Museveni has not only let down gay Ugandans; he has also failed the very constituencies he claims to be protecting, including children,” said Maria Burnett, a Uganda researcher for Human Rights Watch. “Laws to protect children from abuse by perpetrators of either the same or the opposite sex are on the books, but are poorly enforced in Uganda; policing consensual same-sex activity between adults and criminalizing talking about sexual rights will only distract from important police work and take away resources from the hard work of protecting children from abuse.” Burnett added that the bill is “a dramatic blow to freedom of expression ... criminalizing the expression of divergent views doesn’t bode well for anyone in Uganda.” But the bill is widely popular in Uganda, where it has been championed by Christian clerics and many politicians. Homosexuality is criminalized in many African countries. Nigeria last month passed an anti-gay law. In signing the bill, Museveni said he had previously thought homosexuality was merely “abnormal” sexual behavior that some people were born with - the reason he once opposed harsh penalties against gays. —AP

Homosexuality laws in African countries PARIS: Many African countries, with the notable exception of South Africa, have laws that ban or repress homosexuality. Yesterday, Uganda’s president signed into law a bill that includes life terms for those convicted several times of practicing homosexuality. According to a report by rights group Amnesty International in June, homosexuality was illegal in 38 out of 54 countries in the region, and punishable by death in Mauritania, Sudan and Somalia. Following are some of the countries which have adopted repressive laws against homosexuals: UGANDA: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a controversial bill that establishes life terms in prison for repeat homosexuals despite pressure from Western partners. The law also outlaws the promotion of homosexuality and requires people to denounce gays. NIGERIA: A law that took effect in January provides for jail terms of up to 14 years for gay couples who live together and 10 years for public displays of affection between gays. Homosexuality also carries the death sentence in northern states where Islamic law runs parallel to the state and federal justice systems, though the punishment is rarely, if ever, applied. CAMEROON: Homosexual relations can be punished with up to five years in prison. GAMBIA: Homosexuality is punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment. ZAMBIA: Same-sex relationships have been banned since British colonial rule, and a sodomy conviction carries a 14-year prison sentence. SENEGAL: Anyone convicted of an “improper or unnatural act with a person of

the same sex” faces up to five years in jail. TUNISIA: Sodomy between consenting adults is punishable by up to three years in prison. MOROCCO: Homosexuality is punishable by six months to three years in prison, but is tolerated in practice provided practitioners do not flaunt their sexual orientation. ALGERIA: Anyone charged with a homosexual act faces up to two years in prison, but people are rarely prosecuted. In several countries homosexuality is a taboo subject, but with certain zones of tolerance: ZIMBABWE: President Robert Mugabe is known for saying that gays and lesbians are “worse than pigs and dogs”. However, the group Gays and Lesbians is authorized. MALAWI: In November 2012 President Joyce Banda suspended sodomy laws until they are debated by parliament. Under the country’s penal code, men can be sentenced to up to 14 years and women to five years for homosexuality. OTHER COUNTRIES: CHAD, GABON, IVORY COAST and MALI do not criminalize homosexuality, but SOUTH AFRICA leads the way on gay rights. Since the end of apartheid in 1994, South Africa has had one of the world’s most liberal legal frameworks for homosexuals. The constitution bans all discrimination based on sexual orientation. The parliament legalized gay marriage in 2006, making the country the only one in Africa to recognize unions between people of the same sex. But despite these laws, gays in South Africa still face homophobia and violence, and women are often victims of “corrective rape”, in which men rape lesbians to “convert” them to heterosexuality. — AFP

ABERDEEN: The British and Scottish governments held rival cabinet meetings in Scotland’s oil capital yesterday to stake their claims for the industry’s future-a key battleground in the independence debate ahead of a referendum in September. British Prime Minister David Cameron took his ministers from London to Aberdeen on Scotland’s northeast coast, to announce investment plans for the North Sea oil and gas sector. The fate of North Sea revenues is a major issue ahead of the September 18 referendum on whether Scotland should go it alone and end its 300-year-old political union with England. Cameron flew by helicopter to an offshore oil rig to stress how the United Kingdom had the wherewithal to invest in North Sea exploitation. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond took his pro-independence regional government from Edinburgh to Portlethen, just outside Aberdeen, to bang the drum for keeping North Sea oil revenues within Scotland. Cameron visited British energy giant BP’s ETAP platform some 217 kilometers off the coast. “The broad shoulders of one of the top 10 economies in the world has really got behind this industry and will continue to stay behind this industry so we get the maximum benefit out of it for all of the UK, including Scotland,” he said. “We can afford the tax allowances, the investment, the long-term structure that is necessary to make sure we recover as much from the North Sea as possible.” “I profoundly believe the United Kingdom will be better off if we all stay together.” While they were both in the Aberdeen area, Salmond challenged Cameron to a head-to-head debate on independence. “Let’s get this referendum game on,” the Scottish National Party leader told reporters. Cameron’s Conservatives, their Liberal Democrat junior partners in the British government and the Labor opposition are all campaigning to keep the United Kingdom intact. It is only the third time that the British cabinet has ever sat in Scotland, as Cameron strives to convince voters of the economic case to stay in the union. ‘Unprecedented challenges’ In a statement released yesterday, Cameron’s Downing Street office revealed new measures for the oil sector. They include plans for the industry and government to work closer to share infrastructure and geophysical information and to ensure that licences are awarded with a view to extracting the maximum amount of oil. Downing Street said the measures would increase Britain’s energy security and reduce reliance on imported oil and gas, which was pushing up domestic fuel bills. It warned that the UK Continental Shelf, source of the country’s oil, faces “unprecedented challenges” that could only be met by Britain as a whole. “Tax revenues from oil and gas in 2012-13 were £4.7 billion ($7.8 billion, 5.7 billion euros) lower than the year before-a drop of more than 40 percent,” said the statement. While the UK could absorb such volatility, it equated to two thirds of Scotland’s spending on education, it said. It is thought there are 30 to 40 years of production remaining. Salmond insisted control of North Sea resources would be better handled by an independent Scotland. He wants to create a sovereign wealth fund from oil receipts in the way that Norway has. He said the London government had profited from but misused North Sea revenues. “The reason they want to hang on to Scotland’s resources is

ROME: Newly appointed Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi gestures as he delivers a speech during a debate for a confidence vote at the Italian Senate yesterday in Rome. — AFP that they’ve done so well out of them over the last 40 years. I think the next 40 years should be Scotland’s turn,” he told the BBC. He added: “We’ve had 16 tax changes in the North Sea in 10 years, we’ve had 14 oil ministers in the last 17 years. “One thing that Scottish control of oil and gas resources will offer is a much more stable, long-term policy.” Opinion polls have consistently shown a majority of Scots preferring to stay in the UK, although the gap with those who want independence has narrowed. An ICM poll of 1,004 Scottish adults for the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, conducted throughout last week, found some 37 percent would vote for independence while 49 percent said No. — AFP

Russia sentences anti-Putin activists, detains protesters MOSCOW: Russian police detained hundreds of protesters yesterday outside a court that sentenced seven activists to prison terms of up to four years for demonstrations against Vladimir Putin’s third presidential inauguration. The Moscow court sentenced the seven defendants to penal colony terms of between two and a half and four years for what the judge ruled to be “mass riots” during the 2012 demonstrations, a high-profile case that has become a symbol of the harsh crackdown on opposition protests since Putin returned to the Kremlin. Several hundred supporters gathered outside the court shouting slogans as security forces and riot police ordered them to disperse. More than 200 people were detained for “attempts to breach public order”, a Moscow police spokesman said. Some of those detained wore prison uniforms, while one wore a Putin mask. Lawyer Dmitry Agranovsky called the sentences excessive after his client, Yaroslav Belousov, was sentenced to two and a half years. “The sentences are harsh and inappropriate. They were issued based on the political situation, not on the nature of the charges,” he said. An eighth defendant, the only woman in the case, was given a suspended sentence of three years and three months. The eight defendants were found guilty on Friday of taking part in mass riots and hitting policemen at a rally ahead of Putin’s inauguration on May 6, 2012. Most of the defendants have been held in custody since 2012. Amnesty International called the guilty verdict against the activists a “hideous injustice” and condemned the hearings as a “show trial”. The court had postponed the sentencing until yesterday in a move viewed by the opposition as an attempt to avoid publicity during Sunday’s closing ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Two members of protest punk band Pussy Riot who

were released from prison in December, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were among those supporting the defendants outside the courthouse. Both women were detained, Alyokhina wrote on Twitter, posting a photograph of them sitting in a police van. Protest leader Alexei Navalny was also held, writing on Twitter that police were “detaining people without any reason”. The case was opened after street clashes on Bolotnaya Square in central Moscow, after tens of thousands marched through the city centre in protest at Putin’s return to the Kremlin. Judge

Natalya Nikishina said yesterday as she began reading out the sentence that the defendants “took part in mass riots, their shared blame is established and proved”. The clashes on Bolotnaya Square led to dozens of arrests and injuries on both sides. Investigators have said the opposition planned to overthrow the government and destabilize the country. The defense said the case was based entirely on conflicting police testimonies that were not supported by any evidence, and that the scuffles could not be qualified as mass riots due to a lack of grave injuries or property damage. — AFP

Pope makes first overhaul of the Vatican in 25 years VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis yesterday announced the first major overhaul of the Vatican’s outdated and inefficient bureaucracy in a quarter-century, creating an economics secretariat to control all economic, administrative, personnel and procurement functions of the Holy See. Australian Cardinal George Pell was named prefect of the new economics secretariat. He reports to a new 15-member economy council made up of eight cardinals reflecting various parts of the world and seven lay experts. The aim of the new structure, the Vatican said, is to simplify and consolidate the existing management structures, improve oversight, internal controls and transparency and provide more support for the Vatican’s works for the poor. The change, announced in a press release, represents the biggest reshuffling of the Vatican’s organization since Pope John Paul II in 1988 issued the apostolic constitution, Pastor Bonus, the blueprint for the Holy See’s various congregations, pontifical coun-

cils and offices. The change appears to significantly weaken the Vatican’s powerful Secretariat of State, which previously had administrative control over the Holy See while also handling diplomatic relations. That the new entity is called the Secretariat of the Economy would suggest some sort of hierarchical parity with the Secretariat of State. The new body covers the finances of the Holy See - the central governing structure of the Catholic Church and the Vatican City State, the 44-hectare city state in central Rome which includes the profit-making Vatican Museums and Vatican’s post office. An auditor will be empowered to conduct audits of any Vatican agency, at any time, the statement said. Francis appointed a commission of inquiry last summer to recommend ways to improve efficiency and transparency and reduce waste. Last week, with Francis’ Group of Eight cardinal advisers present, the commission reported its findings. —AP



Minister offers Taleban cricket match for peace Pakistan’s minister provokes derision on social media

BANGKOK: Anti-government protesters lock the gates of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with chains and seal it with glue during a demonstration in Bangkok yesterday. — AFP

Thai violence escalates Army chief cautions nation may ‘collapse’ BANGKOK: Thailand’s army chief warned yesterday the country risks “collapse” unless it pulls back from escalating violence after attacks in recent days left three children dead in the kingdom’s worst political unrest since 2010. Twenty-one people have now been killed and more than 700 wounded in violence linked to almost four months of antigovernment demonstrations. Protesters want to unseat Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and dilute the influence on Thai politics of her billionaire brother Thaksin, a former premier who lives in exile to avoid jail in Thailand for corruption. A brother and sister, aged four and six respectively, and a 59-year-old woman died after a grenade attack on Sunday afternoon on a busy Bangkok shopping district. Police said the grenade was fired into the crowd by unknown attackers from an M79 shoulderheld launcher. They said an officer also died yesterday, nearly a week after being shot in the head in a gunbattle with protesters in Bangkok’s historic heart, a stone’s throw from the city’s backpacker zone, which killed five others-including another policeman. Attacks have mainly been mounted in Bangkok, although a drive-by shooting late Saturday on a protest rally in the eastern province of Trat killed a five-year-old girl. The current unrest is the most severe in the bitterly divided kingdom since protests by Thaksinallied “Red Shirts” against a previous government in 2010 sparked clashes and a military crackdown that left more than 90 people dead. “As days go by, there will be more violence until it cannot be controlled,” army chief Prayut Chan-O-Cha warned in a rare televised live speech.

“If losses continue, the country will collapse for sure and nobody will win or lose,” he said. Prayut urged reconciliation and talks. He said troops are “ready to do their duty” but “do not want to use force and weapons to unnecessarily fight with the Thai people”. He did not elaborate. Supporters of Thaksin have accused the demonstrators of trying to incite the military to seize power again, in a country which has seen 18 successful or attempted coups since 1932. The army chief’s comments are closely scrutinised for signs of possible intervention. Violence ‘hard to control’ The head of the government’s security response to the protests also predicted more unrest. “From now on violence will keep happening, for sure, so anyone who is not involved in the protests should not go to them,” said Labor Minister Chalerm Yubamrung. “I accept that it is hard to control.” The government says it has been hamstrung by a court ruling last week banning it from using force to disperse peaceful protesters. Authorities say semi-automatic weapons fired at them last week indicate the protesters have heavily armed support, while television footage has shown apparent protesters firing handguns in clashes. The shocking deaths of the three children over the weekend earned swift condemnation from UN chief Ban Ki-Moon. Prime Minister Yingluck labeled them “terrorist acts”. The UN children’s fund UNICEF also urged protesters to keep children away from the rallies, which have for many weeks been treated as boisterous family occasions. —AFP

ISLAMABAD: A top Pakistani minister provoked derision on social media yesterday after he suggested the Taleban could swap their guns for cricket bats and offered to host a match with the militants to revive stalled peace talks. Pakistan’s government entered into a formal dialogue with the Taleban earlier this month, but the process faltered after the militants executed 23 kidnapped soldiers. The military has retaliated with a series of air strikes in the tribal areas that border Afghanistan and are home to the Taleban’s top leadership, killing dozens. But with talks on a sticky wicket, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said yesterday that cricket could offer hope. “I have information that the Taleban keep an interest in cricket. So if this message can go through to them, we can have a cricket match with them which can have a better result,” he told reporters in Islamabad following an exhibition game. “The Taleban follow the Pakistan cricket team with keen interest so this can be a platform.” Reaction to the announcement was overwhelmingly negative on Twitter, which is used mainly by the country’s English-speaking elite. In a reference to bloody toll inflicted by the Taleban on Pakistan’s forces over the years, one user called @MidhatZ, said: “Cricket on a red pitch and may be they could bowl with our soldiers heads?” Another user, @kursed, termed the minister a “bloody lunatic” and said “he should invite the families of those beheaded” by the Taleban to the match. Cricket is Pakistan’s main pastime and is sometimes termed the country’s “second religion” after Islam. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is a diehard fan. And former cricketer Imran Khan now leads Pakistan’s third largest political party. Cricket diplomacy has helped thaw ties between Pakistan and rival India in the past, with a visit by military ruler General Zia Ul Haq to Jaipur in 1987 to watch a Test match seen as key in cooling raised tensions. Taleban commander killed In another development, unknown gunmen yesterday killed a senior commander of the Pakistani Taleban who had a government bounty on his head, officials and family said, in what is seen as a case of internal rivalry. Asmatullah Shaheen, who was believed to be in his mid-40s and a former interim chief of the militant group, had a 10-million-rupee ($95,000) bounty on his head. He was ambushed in Dargah Mandi village near Miransha, the main town of the troubled North Waziristan tribal district. Despite his seniority, Shaheen was also seen as a highly controversial figure within the Pakistani Taleban and

Western colleges find common ground on Malaysian campus NUSAJAYA: At Newcastle University’s medical school, students tread redbrick paths through a green campus bearing Victorian touches in a scene that befits a top college in northern England. But this setting is sweltering tropical Malaysia, where select departments of several European universities have joined in a shared-campus concept to tap growing Asian demand for sought-after Western degrees. Distance and cost concerns combine to keep many Asian students and Western universities apart. But the shared nature of facilities in the 123-hectare (305-acre) “EduCity” in southern Malaysia, and resulting lower start-up costs, allows institutions to gain an Asian foothold while passing

oping Asia. Non-EU enrollment in universities in Britain grew by 20 percent to 300,000 students from 2008 to 2012, according to the British government. It forecasts four million students per year will seek study abroad globally by 2024, one-third of them from China and India. “Our ambition is to market this opportunity regionally, so a big target for us is going to be the Indonesian-type market, potentially Vietnam, potentially Thailand, and of course China and India,” said John McBride, CEO of the University of Southampton at EduCity. Unfinished construction Launched in 2011 as part of a vast Malaysian development zone, EduCity

JOHOR BAHRU: Students attend a swimming lesson at Marlborough College at EduCity in Nusajaya, southern state of Johor Bahru. — AFP savings on to students. Malaysian student Kanesh Rajoo pays just 60 percent of the 120,000pound tuition ($200,000) charged at Newcastle University Medical School’s UK campus and saves a small fortune in British living costs. “Because of the reputation of obtaining a recognised UK degree, I will probably have an upper hand (in Malaysia’s job market) as compared to those from a local university,” Kanesh said while studying in NUMed’s spacious library. Multi-university concepts have been tried elsewhere with mixed success but the Malaysian government project hopes to set itself apart by cherry-picking respected individual university departments. Colleges, meanwhile, get a slice of a growing education market in devel-

has six institutions on site including NUMed, the University of Southampton’s engineering programme, and various offerings by the Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology and Britain’s Reading University.It also includes the Johan Cruyff Institute, a sports-management school founded by the Dutch football legend, plus noted primary and secondary schools such as Britain’s 170year-old Marlborough College. At least 10 institutions, including eight universities, are expected by 2015. “You don’t have to spend the capex required to build an entire university,” said Joanne Oei, EduCity’s managing director. The government estimates buy-in costs at 20 million ringgit ($6 million) per institution. By comparison, an

unrelated Malaysia campus of Britain’s Nottingham University established in 2005 cost six times that. Malaysia has bent rules to allow 100 percent foreign ownership in the venture and offers various tax incentives. Built on former oil-palm plantations, EduCity has a 14,000-seat sports complex, accommodations in a 570-bed “student village”, and other shared features on a campus mixing wide green lawns mixed with unfinished construction. Enrollment doubled this school year to more than 1,200 undergraduates, mostly Malaysian. Onefifth of all students are foreign. An eventual student body of 16,000 is targeted. Teething troubles There have been teething problems, however. “None of us were happy,” said Peter Osbourne, head of Reading University’s presence, of a Malaysian-built student village viewed as sub-standard and underequipped. NUMed spent extra to build its own cafeteria, unhappy with the student village’s. Concerns also have been raised about the quality of the student experience at the still relatively isolated, no-frills facility. The nearest city is about 30 kilometers away. Transport options are thin. “Current students are only at university for a certain period of time, and for us to tell them how great EduCity is going to be, doesn’t actually help their experience,” said NUMed provost and chief executive Reg Jordan. Said Malaysian student Dhanya Menon: “I guess it’s different (from Newcastle). “I don’t think many of us go out every night but we do have fun during the weekends and hang out (at a humble nearby shopping mall).” But analysts said as EduCity works on drawing in international students, it could have a solid core market in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where concerns have risen over poor-quality state-run universities and shrinking academic freedoms. Many in Malaysia’s sizable Chinese and Indian minority communities also are left out by affirmative-action policies for ethnic Malays that favor the country’s majority ethnic group in college placements. Such factors have been blamed for fueling a “brain drain” of talent overseas, just as Malaysia grapples with tougher regional economic competition and a resulting need for more qualified personnel.”Which uni you went to is going to be a quick way for employers to sort through applications,” Wan Saiful Wan Jan, head of Malaysian think-tank IDEAS, said of the growing regional economic competition. — AFP

observers do not believe his death will have a major impact on the future of stalled peace talks with the government that began earlier this month. “Unknown attackers opened fire on Asmatullah Shaheen’s car. He along with three associates died on the spot,” a security official in Miranshah said. A close relative of Shaheen told AFP that in addition to those killed, two other people travelling in the car were critically wounded. The attackers fled the scene in a separate vehicle, the security official said. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the killing, but a local security official blamed a rival militant group. Shaheen was leader of the Bhittani tribe and also chairman of the Taleban’s supreme council for more than two years. But a militant source close to Shaheen said he was removed from the post in December after developing several differences with some militant commanders. Shaheen gained notoriety after claiming responsibility for a suicide attack on a Shiite procession in Pakistan’s largest Karachi city which killed at least 43 people and wounding more than 100 in December 2009. He was responsible for storming a paramilitary outpost in the northwestern district of Tank in 2011,

killing one troop during the fighting and kidnapping 15. Eleven of the detainees were later executed while the rest escaped. An intelligence official in Peshawar said Shaheen was also wanted for mastermind other attacks on Pakistan troops that included suicide attacks. Imtiaz Gul, an security analyst and author of “The Most Dangerous Place - Pakistan’s Lawless Frontier” said that the killing was the result of Shaheen’s several enmities. “Militant groups have fought against each other in past and killing of Asmatullah Shaheen is apparently because of those internal differences”. Earlier this month, Pakistan entered into talks with the Taleban aimed at ending their seven-year insurgency. But the militant group continued carrying out attacks on a near-daily basis, and the dialogue was suspended last week after the insurgents claimed they had executed 23 kidnapped soldiers in a northwestern tribal region. Since then the Pakistan Air Force has been carrying out air strikes in the volatile tribal regions which border Afghanistan, killing dozens. Gul, the analyst, said he was skeptical the process could resume. “The future of these talks is bleak,” he said. — Agencies

Children become latest victims of Thai violence BANGKOK: The father grimaced and wept as he struggled to contain his grief at the death of his two children in a grenade attack during a weekend trip to a mall in downtown Bangkok - the latest casualties in Thailand’s months of political crisis. “I’m asking and pleading to every side to let my children be the last case (of violence) on Thai soil,” Tayakorn Yos-ubon, 33, said, his voice shaking, before retrieving their bodies from the morgue yesterday. Korawit, 4, and his sister Patcharakorn, 6, were not part of the anti-government demonstrations. They had piled into a three-wheeled “tuk-tuk” taxi after eating at a KFC with their cousin and an aunt when the attack occurred Sunday near a busy intersection occupied by the protesters. The siblings, along with a 5-year-old girl who died Saturday in another attack on a rally site in the eastern province of Trat, are the first children to be killed in the country’s recent political unrest, which has claimed at least 20 lives and injured more than 700 since November. Police have not arrested any suspects in the weekend attacks. The Thai public

has recoiled in shock over the children’s deaths, and yet there seems to be no sign that either side in the impasse is softening its position. City residents have braced for more violence. “ We don’t know who did it but it shouldn’t have happened to children, my children,” Tayakorn said. “I didn’t expect my kids to be brilliant. I just wanted them to be good people and to be able to get by in this society,” he added. “But this society, right now, is very cruel. Very, very cruel.” The 9-year-old cousin suffered brain and lung damage and is in intensive care. UNICEF yesterday called for the protest zones to be made “child-free” and urged parents to keep their children away. UNICEF “condemns the violence that resulted in these tragic and senseless deaths and injuries to children,” it said in a statement. A police officer who was shot in the head during a clash with anti-government protesters last week also died yesterday. Protesters, mostly representing the urban elite and those in the south, are pressing for the resignation of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. —AP



Korean reunion provides answers to lifetime of questions BUCHEON: Kim Se-Rin always knew it would be impossible to get all the answers to more than 60 years’ worth of questions in just 12 hours. But he got the ones he needed. Kim, 85, was one of 82 elderly South Koreans who returned Saturday from a bittersweet, emotionally fraught reunion with North Korean relatives from whom they have been separated since the 1950-53 Korean War. With tens of thousands of South Korans waitlisted for one of the rare gatherings, Kim was all too aware of how lucky he was to be selected. But the meeting with his younger sister, now 80, had still filled him with trepidation. “There were just so many things I wanted and needed to know,” Kim said after his return in his daughter’s home in Bucheon, west of Seoul. The first son of an affluent farming family in the North Korean county of Hwangju, he had left his hometown in December 1950 at the height of the Korean War to join the South Korean army. That he went without telling his parents, his brother or his two sisters became a source of life-long guilt and regret, that he hoped he could partly excise by meeting his sister. Although the reunion in a North Korean mountain resort was tagged as a three-day event, the time officially allotted for the divided family members to meet totaled just 12 hours. “I peppered her with questions,” Kim said. “About her life, when our parents passed away, about

my younger brother...” Pain, and propaganda It was only at the time Kim was selected that he discovered for the first time his younger sister was now the only living member of his immediate family. “She told me my brother went to medical school and worked in Pyongyang Central Hospital for a long time before he died. “He was seven years younger than me. I feel so sad that he passed away before me,” he said. Like many who crossed to the South, Kim often fretted over his family’s well-being, especially because, as landowners, they would have been likely targets for class struggle in the communist North. “The most important thing for my father was to know what happened to the family during the war and how they lived for all those years afterwards,” said Kim’s daughter, Kim Young-Soon, who accompanied him to the reunion. Their parents, Kim’s sister told him, had died during the war. “She had photos and they talked a lot about their shared memories,” said Kim Young-Soon. “It made my father happy and he was thankful that he had the chance for this meeting before he died. You have to understand, he’s 85 years old and it was his lifelong wish.” Pooled media reports of the reunion in North Korea suggested that, for some participants, the event had failed to live up to their sky-high expectations. Some complained that their North Korean relatives

had spent valuable time parroting state propaganda on issues like the US troop presence in the South. Rare, high-level negotiations between Seoul and Pyongyang had been required to prevent the North cancelling the reunion over South Korea’s refusal to postpone its annual military drills with the United States which began Monday. ‘First and last memory’ Kim Young-Soon said her aunt had stressed the key role of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in organizing the reunion, but otherwise politics hadn’t overly tainted the meeting. Her overriding memory was of a private moment in their hotel room, away from the glare of the TV cameras. Her aunt had seemed uncomfortable and her feet were swollen, so her niece massaged them with ointment. “She fell asleep so fast,” Kim recalled. “She was nearly 80 years old and she must have been awfully tired. So I kept massaging her, holding her hands and touching her face while she slept. “I wanted to touch her as much as I could, because that would be my first and last memory of my aunt.” It was the first meeting of divided families in more than three years, as the reunion program was suspended following the North’s shelling of a South Korean border island in 2010. Cross-border ties are currently enjoying something of a thaw, but precedent suggests that such periods are often short-lived in what

MOUNT KUMGANG: Ryu Keun Cheol of South Korea receives a kiss from his sister Yu Keun-Bae of North Korea during a family reunion held in the North Korean resort area of Mount Kumgang. — AFP remains a highly volatile relationship. When Kim Se-Rin said goodbye to his younger sister on Saturday, he knew it was, in all likelihood, their final farewell. But he tried to make it a positive moment. “I believe Korea will be unified one day. Nowadays, people can live up to 100 and my goal is 95,” he said. “So I told my family in North Korea to think like that.”— AFP

Myanmar housemaids arrive in Hong Kong; welfare fears grow Myanmar women the ‘most vulnerable’ to abuse HONG KONG: Hong Kong yesterday received its first official group of maids from Myanmar since the former junta-ruled nation allowed its citizens to work abroad as domestic helpers, as the city tries to plug a shortage. An initial group of 19 women-drawn from around 200 expected over the next three months-arrived in the semi-autonomous Chinese territor y, said the agency which arranged their employment. They are the first group legally in Hong Kong following a change last year to Myanmar’s migration law as the nation opens up. Some 300,000 helpers, mainly from Indonesia and the Philippines, are already in Hong Kong. Concerns about the welfare of domestic workers have grown after an Indonesian maid was allegedly scalded and beaten repeatedly over an eight-month period by her Hong Kong employer. The allegations last month sparked angry protests by domestic workers and saw other maids come forward alleging abuse. The employer is facing criminal charges. Immigration Department data showed that 47 Myanmar nationals were already working in Hong Kong, but were brought in on an individual basis by fellow

citizens with Hong Kong residency. Campaigners from activist group HK Helpers Campaign said Myanmar women were the group “most vulnerable” to abuse in the region. Activists handed out Burmese-language advice leaflets to the new arrivals at the airport yesterday. “ They have limited skills in Cantonese and English. They are not Internet-savvy... They are probably the most vulnerable group (of maids) from Southeast Asia,” Tom Grundy said. Myanmar began to emerge from decades of harsh military rule in 2011. Women from the long-isolated nation have been working legally for several months as domestic helpers in Singapore, but with limited rights according to Yangon-based Andy Hall, a migration activist and researcher. He said Myanmar implemented “almost no regulation” on agencies wishing to employ the workers, and their fate in Singapore was “really concerning” and involved “serious debt bondage”. Hong Kong is facing a potential shortage of domestic helpers from traditional providers. Indonesia last year reiterated it would ban the export of domestic workers from 2017. Between

HONG KONG: In this file photo, demonstrators shout slogans during a march in support of an Indonesian maid who was allegedly tortured by her employer in Hong Kong. Hong Kong has received its first official group of maids from Myanmar since the former junta-ruled nation allowed its citizens to work abroad as domestic helpers, as the city tries to plug a shortage. — AFP 1,000 and 2,000 m ai ds f ro m Myanmar are expected in Hong Kong in the next year, said Law Yiu-keung of the Golden Mind

agency, which brought them to Hong Kong. Foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong by law must be paid at least HK$4,010

($517) a month, are entitled to free food and accommodation, and receive statutor y holidays.—AFP

Japan ponders revision of ‘comfort women’ apology

PYONGYANG: North Koreans aim the air guns at a shooting gallery near the Daedong River in Pyongyang, North Korea yesterday. — AP

Military drills to test inter-Korean detente SEOUL: South Korea kicked off its annual joint military exercises with the United States yesterday, despite vocal opposition from North Korea which will test a recent upswing in cross-border ties. The start of this year’s drills overlaps with the first reunion for more than three years of families divided by the Korean War-an event that has raised hopes of greater North-South cooperation. Pyongyang had initially insisted that the joint exercises be postponed until after the reunion finishes today, but Seoul refused and-in a rare concession-the North allowed the family gathering to go ahead as scheduled. The annual “Key Resolve” and “Foal Eagle” drills-routinely condemned by North Korea as rehearsals for invasion-will last until April 18 and involve a combined total of 12,700 US troops and many more from South Korea. “Key Resolve” lasts just over a week and is a largely computer-simulated exercise, while the eight-week “Foal Eagle” drill involves air, ground and naval field training. Seoul and Washington insist they are both defensive in nature, playing out various scenarios to combat a North Korean invasion. Last year’s drills fuelled an unusually sharp and protracted

surge in military tensions, with Pyongyang threatening a pre-emptive nuclear strike, and nuclear-capable US stealth bombers making dummy runs over the Korean peninsula. US defense officials have indicated-in an apparent effort to mollify the North-that this year’s drills will be slightly toned down, with no aircraft carrier and no strategic bombers. However, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim MinSeok insisted yesterday there would be “no readjustment” in the scale of the maneuvers. Pyongyang eyes benefit Saturday’s edition of the North’s ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun slammed the exercises as a “vicious attempt” to undo the goodwill generated by the family reunion. Such rhetoric was only to be expected, and analysts say the North is unlikely to go much further for fear of jeopardizing the credit it sees itself as having banked by agreeing to the divided family meetings. “The North’s strategy is clearly to gain some economic benefit on the back of the family reunion,” said Ahn Chan-Il, director of the World Institute for North Korea Studies in Seoul.

In particular, North Korea wants the South to resume regular tours to its Mount Kumgang resort, which provided a much-needed source of hard currency in the past. South Korea suspended the tours after a woman tourist was shot dead by North Korean security guards in 2008. South Korean President Park Geun-Hye has made it clear that Seoul considers the reunion a “first step”-suggesting that her administration is willing to consider some reciprocity down the road. John Delury, a professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University, believes Park and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un are at a point where their respective national interests could dovetail to their mutual benefit. “Once she begins to act with resolve things could move quickly if Kim is ready to play ball,” Delury wrote on the closely-followed North Koreafocused website 38 North. The North’s threat to cancel the reunion over the joint drills was withdrawn during talks earlier this month that marked the highest-level official contact between the two Koreas for seven years. Both sides agreed to keep the dialogue going, although without any specific timetable or agenda.—AFP

TOKYO: Japan will consider revising an apology for its wartime system of sex slavery, a top official said yesterday, a move that will draw fury in South Korea and beyond if the historic statement is watered down. Evidence given by “comfort women”-a euphemism for those forced to work in military brothels-that forms the basis of the 1993 Kono Statement, is to be re-examined, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said yesterday. The move is the latest in a series of statements and gaffes from senior officials around Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that are being interpreted as questioning accepted wisdom on Japan’s brutal wartime behaviour in East Asia. These have included the assertion by a member of NHK’s board of governors, a man appointed by Abe, that the 1937 “Rape of Nanking”, when Japanese forces committed mass rape and murder following the capture of the city, had been fabricated for propaganda purposes. No mainstream historian holds this view. “The testimonies of comfort women were taken on the premise of their being closed-door sessions. The government will consider whether there can be a revision while preserving” the confidence in which they were given, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. Suga’s comment came after a weekend opinion poll, jointly conducted by the nationalistic Sankei Shimbun daily and Fuji TV, in which 59 percent of respondents said the apology should be revised. The issue was inflamed when Katsuto Momii, the new head of Japan’s national broadcaster NHK, said sex slavery was common in many militaries and was only wrong when judged against modern morality. Respected historians say up to 200,000 women, mostly from Korea but also from China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Taiwan, were forced to serve as sex slaves in Japanese army brothels. However, a minority of right-wing Japanese insist there was no official involvement by the state or the military and say the women were common prostitutes. In 1993, after hearing testimony from 16 Korean women, a statement issued in the name of then-chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono acknowledged official complicity in the coercion of women into sex slavery. It offered “sincere apologies and remorse” to the women and vowed to face the historical facts squarely. But repeated wavering on the issue among senior right-wing politicians has contributed to a feeling in South Korea that Japan is in denial and is not sufficiently remorseful. Verification team Last week, Suga told parliament that the government “would like to consider” setting up a verification team with academics who would look again at the 16 women’s accounts. On the same day, Nobuo Ishihara, former deputy chief cabinet secretary who played a key role in working out the Kono statement, told parliament that Japan had conducted no checks on the former comfort women’s accounts to verify their stories.—AFP


in brief

Thieves make off with giant Australia mango SYDNEY: Thieves armed with heavy machinery and cranes made a daring midnight heist in northern Australia, stealing a 10-metre, seven-ton mango monument, officials said Monday. The Big Mango, a towering likeness of the fruit which is abundant in the statue’s hometown of Bowen, in Queensland, is one of more than 150 “Big Things” erected as kitschy tourist attractions across Australia. The famous fruit, which was unveiled in 2002, appeared to have been harvested overnight in an ambitious raid, said Bowen Tourism chairman Paul McLaughlin. “It looks like it was sort of two o’clock this morning-type thing. There was ... some heavy equipment and it looks like they’ve taken the mango,” McLaughlin told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.He said he thought it was a joke when he was first informed of the mango’s abduction but “I’ve come out and sure enough the mango has disappeared”. McLaughlin said there was surveillance camera footage of the heist and he was sure the plundered fruit would be found. “At the end of the day it’s a bloody big mango and I’m sure someone will see it and we’ll find it anyway,” he told the Brisbane Times. “I think it’ll definitely turn up, no doubt about that. We’re not sure what has happened but I’m sure we’ll get it back.” There are giant fruits all over Australia, including the Big Banana, the Big Pineapple, the Big Strawberry and multiple Big Apples and Oranges. Philippine police arrest top rebel commander MANILA: Philippine police arrested a key commander of the main Muslim rebel group that recently concluded a peace deal with the government, the national police chief said yesterday in a move criticized by the insurgents. Director-General Alan Purisima said police and marine forces arrested Wahid Tundok, a commander of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front wanted for multiple murder and other charges, on Sunday at a checkpoint in southern Cotabato city. Tundok and several of his armed followers were taken to a local military headquarters for questioning. Rebel deputy leader Ghadzali Jaafar said immunity guarantees under a cease-fire agreement cover Tundok and that talks were underway with the government to free the men. The cease-fire, he said, should remain in place and Tundok’s arrest should not affect the gains made in the peace talks. Tundok once belonged to a rebel unit whose leader broke off from the main Moro group with hundreds of insurgents because of their opposition to peace talks. Tundok stayed with the main group and has helped army troops battle the breakaway, hardline insurgents, according to the main rebel group. The government and the rebels last month completed all four key agreements that would comprise a peace pact, which calls for the 11,000-strong guerrilla force to be deactivated. Under the deal, the government will grant amnesty to Muslim rebels facing or convicted of rebellionrelated charges. 500 migrants force their way into Spain’s Melilla MADRID: Some 500 African migrants stormed a triple barbed-wire border fence yesterday that divides the Spanish territor y of Melilla from Morocco, with about 100 making it over, an official said. The migrants targeted two different sections of the border and were “very violent” as they used “sticks and threw rocks at Spanish and Moroccan police”, said a spokeswoman for the Spanish government’s representative in Melilla. About 100 of the roughly 500 migrants involved in the border assault managed to enter Melilla, she added. The Moroccan interior ministry said at least 27 people had been wounded, including 13 members of its security forces hit by rocks that the migrants hurled at them as they stormed the border fence. Moroccan police arrested around 100 migrants, including 14 who were taken to hospital in the nearby town of Nador suffering injuries caused by the barbed wire that the Spanish authorities have placed on top of the barrier as a deterrent. It was the latest in a series of coordinated assaults by African migrants on the border of Melilla, which along with fellow Spanish territory Ceuta has the European Union’s only land borders with Africa. The two cities sit across the Mediterranean from mainland Spain, surrounded by Moroccan territory. On February 17 about 150 African migrants made it into Melilla in another mass assault by migrants bearing sticks and stones. At least 14 migrants drowned in Moroccan waters on February 6 while trying to enter Ceuta by sea after several hundred tried to storm the land border. Cross-border raid kills four in I Coast ABIDJAN: State radio in Ivory Coast says four people were killed in a cross-border raid staged from neighboring Liberia. The report said the attack occurred early Sunday morning in the southwestern town of Grabo near the Liberian border. It was unclear whether the dead were civilians or soldiers. Sulaiman Momodu, information officer for the UN refugee agency in Liberia, said about 100 Ivorians crossed into Liberia after the attack. More than 50,000 Ivorian refugees remain in Liberia following Ivory Coast’s 2010-11 postelection violence that claimed more than 3,000 lives. The conflict erupted after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to leave office after losing the election to current President Alassane Ouattara. An untold number of pro-Gbagbo fighters also fled to Liberia after the conflict, and sporadic cross-border raids have occurred since mid-2011. Jordan foils bid to smuggle large weapons from Syria AMMAN: Jordanian border guards foiled an attempt to smuggle a large amount of ammunition from Syria and arrested five people yesterday, the army said. “Border guards foiled an attempt to smuggle a large amount of ammunition and other material from Syria into Jordan, at around 1:30 am,” the army said in a statement on its website. “The guards arrested five people and seized their car,” it added without giving any further details. Jordan says smuggling across the border with Syria has risen by 300 percent in the past year and that hundreds of trafficking attempts have been foiled. The number of licensed weapons stands at 120,000. But the interior ministry also estimates that there are more than one million unlicensed guns in the nation of seven million people. The kingdom is home to more than 500,000 Syrian refugees.



Dodgy data obscures reality of Gulf boom Continued from Page 1 The Gulf countries have enough money to create agencies compiling accurate, regular statistics if they wish. So the reasons for the data problem appear complex. The biggest reason may be simply that governments see no strong need for data. Economies are still driven by oil revenues, which depend mainly on external rather than domestic demand. Monetary policy is basic, with central banks rarely adjusting interest rates or liquidity supplies. Since authorities are not continually fine-tuning policies in response to economic trends, they do not view collecting timely, detailed data as a priority. Also, because of their reliance on oil revenues, Gulf governments generally do not collect individual income or value-added taxes. Tax systems are a key source of raw numbers for economic statistics in other countries. Many Gulf companies have secretive cultures and are reluctant to disclose any information on their business, even to governments - a major headache for state statisticians. An additional factor may be the secretive nature of the Gulf governments themselves, which tend not to debate sensitive issues in public. In some cases, they may be accumulating data but choosing not to reveal it, or not bothering to do so. “A lot of data is collected, so it is available for policy makers, but is not published,” said Paul Gamble, director in the sovereign group at credit rating agency Fitch Ratings. Authorities are making efforts to strengthen their data services; the emirate of Abu Dhabi, for example, has launched a comprehensive public statistics website over the last few years. Gamble said Gulf data had improved enough over the past decade “to give a broad guide to economic performance”. But policy makers and businessmen still face puzzles such as Saudi Arabia’s fourth-quarter GDP. The government’s statistics office announced that the country’s GDP grew 3.8 percent in 2013, but did not give a number for the fourth quarter. Calculations by Reuters and private economists show the 2013 figure can only be reconciled with the data for the first three quarters if fourth-quarter growth is a sky-high 10 percent. Over the past year, Saudi Arabia’s official figure for its 2012 GDP growth was put at 6.8 percent, then revised down to 5.1 percent, then raised again to 5.8 percent. The statistics office did not reply to Reuters questions about the numbers. “Data has improved but of course there is a credibility gap in terms of data being convincing and believable,” Sfakianakis said. “Too often we see extreme revisions in macro indicators. They are not properly communicated. If you change GDP by 2 percentage points...they highlight major statistical lapses in your survey.” Dodgy data also leads to mysteries such as the population of the UAE. According to the UAE’s National Bureau of Statistics, the population was last officially estimated at 8.3 million in 2010, but adding together individual estimates for the UAE’s seven emirates produces a total of only about 5.6 million. Rashid Al-

Suwaidi, director-general of the NBS, told Reuters that “technicalities” were probably behind the difference but that a full explanation would need a closer look. “Once they do a population census, this issue will be resolved. In the meantime we have to live with these two different estimates,” said Harald Finger, the International Monetary Fund’s mission chief for the UAE. It is not clear when the next census will be conducted. If the UAE ends up concluding that the smaller number is correct, that could be a disappointment to investors for whom the size of the country’s market is a key factor. Challenges In the absence of reliable official data, many businessmen and analysts use private surveys and estimates of certain sectors to gauge economic trends though the private surveys face many of the same obstacles as government statisticians. German car maker Opel estimates the region’s car market is growing about 10-15 percent annually. If that is the case, official data showing Gulf economies growing at rates of around 3-5 percent may be understating reality. While the shortage of reliable data in the Gulf may matter little when economies are booming, it can become dangerous when there is a major downturn. It can slow authorities’ realisation that trouble is brewing, and add to investors’ jitters. Dubai found this in 2009 when some of its statelinked companies ran into trouble, forcing multi-billion dollar debt restructurings. A lack of data about Dubai’s economy and state finances caused many investors to assume the worst, triggering a panic that hit emerging markets around the world. Since then, Dubai has begun revealing more information, though not as much as developed economies. It has still not sought a rating from credit rating agencies, which would require a higher level of disclosure. Many Gulf states are considering reforms of their public finances, and ways to develop their capital markets and foster private-sector businesses, to ensure their economies and political stability are not held hostage to oil prices. Poor data hinders these efforts. For example, Gulf states have been considering the introduction of a sales tax to widen their revenue bases; the tax would have to be introduced across all six Gulf Cooperation Council economies to prevent consumer spending from migrating to lower-tax countries. But without clear data on consumption, population and growth, it is hard for authorities to estimate the impact and benefits of the tax. In the long run, GCC countries hope to integrate their economies and financial markets further, perhaps eventually forming a single currency area. But as the euro zone has found, a single currency requires coordination of economic policies, and that would be difficult without comparable data. “They cannot have a monetary union without having harmonised data. We are not yet there,” Sfakianakis said. “If there is political will everything will fall into place. Political will does miracles in the region.” — Reuters

Egypt govt resigns ahead of election Continued from Page 1 The nation is above everybody.” The cabinet said in a statement it resigned “in light of the current situation that the country is going through.” The mass resignations could have been triggered by the pressure on Beblawi himself to step down. “If the prime minister resigns, then the whole cabinet resigns,” Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid, a political science professor at Cairo University, said. The resignations could also work in Sisi’s favour, he added. “If Field Marshal Sisi decides to run, he would like to run with a government that has a good reputation and can help him by resolving some of the urgent problems faced by the people.” Beblawi said his government would remain in a caretaker role until the interim president signs off on the resignations, the official MENA news agency reported. Government spokesman Hany Saleh told AFP that yesterday’s decision was taken because there was a “feeling that new blood is needed”. The government’s resignation came as Hamdeen Sabbahi, a prominent candidate for the election, told AFP he fears a return to autocracy in Egypt three years after its Arab Spring uprising.

While his chances of winning against Sisi are seen as slim, Sabbahi said he was urged to run by the young people who led the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak. They “feel that their revolution was being stolen... as their comrades were being jailed and some killed before their eyes,” he said in an interview. In the more than seven months since Morsi’s overthrow, Egypt has been battered by protests and militant attacks that have damaged its vital tourism industry and scared off investors. Beblawi’s government has announced two stimulus packages funded by Arab Gulf states but still faces accusations of incompetence, even by many Sisi supporters. The expansion of the crackdown on Morsi’s supporters to more secular activists has also alienated some who supported the overthrow last year of Egypt’s first democratically elected leader. Some leading secular activists who spearheaded the overthrow of Mubarak and then called for Morsi’s ouster have since been jailed for unauthorised demonstrations. But many Egyptians, weary after three years of unrest, view Sisi as a strong hand that can restore stability to the country. — AFP

A Belarus interior ministry special forces a soldier demonstrates his ability to sustain a blow during a competition to mark the Defenders of the Fatherland Day at their training centre outside Minsk on Sunday. Belarus alongside Russia and other countries of the former USSR celebrates the Soviet holiday on Feb 23 each year. Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the holiday was given its current name in 2002 by Russian President Vladimir Putin. — AFP

Yanukovycc sought for ‘mass murder’ Continued from Page 1 World finance chiefs meeting in Sydney at the weekend raised the possibility of drumming up a huge rescue package that could fill in for $15 billion promised to Yanukovych by Putin - money that is now on potentially permanent hold. Ukraine’s interim finance minister Yuriy Kolobov said the “planned volume of macroeconomic assistance for Ukraine may reach around $35 billion” by the end of next year. Russia’s vocal displeasure at the changes convulsing its neighbour has translated into fears that Moscow’s massive rescue may be abandoned after only one payment of $3 billion that came through in December and has been used up. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued one of Moscow’s firmest responses to date by condemning the “armed mutiny” in Ukraine. “The legitimacy of a whole number of organs of power that function there raises great doubts,” he was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. “Some of our foreign, Western partners think otherwise,” Medvedev fumed. “This is some kind of (an) aberration.” Russia’s finance minister added to the pressure by warning that Moscow would have to raise duties on its goods if Kiev reversed Yanukovych’s decision and still signed the EU partnership pact. But a European Commission spokesman said such a deal could not be finalised until after Ukraine’s May 25 snap presidential election because this needed to be “a full sovereign choice”. Ukraine’s new interim leader Oleksandr Turchynov warned that Kiev would have no alternative but to default on $13 billion in foreign obligations due this year should the West fail to fill in for Moscow’s suspended aid. Financial assistance from European powers was set to dominate the agenda of a two-day visit by EU foreign

policy chief Catherine Ashton. Ashton’s office said her talks yesterday with Ukraine’s interim leader focused on finding “a lasting solution to the political crisis and measures to stabilise the economic situation”. The EU last year extended the promise of Ä610-million ($840million) loan if Kiev adopted a comprehensive economic restructuring package prescribed by the IMF - something that Yanukovych had mostly failed to do. Economists believe a much larger figure may be coming Ukraine’s way despite EU leaders’ hesitance to take the politically unpopular decision of releasing vast sums of foreign assistance at a time of high unemployment and slow growth in their own countries. London’s Capital Economics consultancy said Ukraine probably needed a bailout of around $20 billion to sustain its finances over the next year. Turchynov vowed Sunday to draw up a “government of the people” and warned Russia that he expected the Kremlin to respect Ukraine’s pivot to the West. He has until today to cobble together a coalition cabinet and find a prime minister willing to take up the challenge of keeping Ukraine from falling off the economic cliff before the presidential polls. Turchynov is a close ally of Yulia Tymoshenko - an iconic but divisive former premier who was released by parliament on Saturday from a controversial jail sentence she was handed by Yanukovych’s team - and is not himself expected to run for the presidency. Tymoshenko began to build up her credentials on Sunday by fielding a telephone call from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and meeting a string of Western ambassadors in Kiev. But her spokeswoman stressed that the 53-year-old - who had appeared before the crowds in a wheelchair on Saturday because of back problems - had made no decision about running in May. — AFP

Leopard in Indian city triggers panic Continued from Page 1 Authorities have urged the closure of markets in the city of 3.5 million until the animal, which has left six people injured, was captured, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency. Police, soldiers and wildlife officials were trying to hunt it down but their efforts were being hampered by large crowds keen to catch a glimpse of the cat, PTI said. Photos showed the beast pushing its way through a lattice wall at the hospital as a policeman in riot helmet, stood ready to hit it with a baton. The leopard was also pictured leaping off a building site as people scrambled out of the way. Last week another leopard killed a fiveyear-old boy in the central state of Chhattisgarh, the latest in a string of incidents raising concerns about depleting habitats for big cats which is forcing them

into populated areas. Video footage from Mumbai last year showed a leopard creeping into an apartment block foyer and snatching a small dog. A tiger on the prowl in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh since last December is believed to have killed some ten people, and wildlife officials are still trying to hunt it down. Conservation group WWF called for better management of forests and other habitats for India’s leopard population, which numbered 1,150 at a 2011 census. “Leopards are large territorial mammals, they need space to move around. Some of their corridors are getting blocked so there is bound to be an interface,” Deepankar Ghosh of WWF-India told AFP. “We can’t put all the leopards into cages. We can’t remove all the people living near forested areas. We have to manage the situation the best way we can.” — AFP




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Games over, will Putin take the gloves off? By Timothy Heritage


or more than two weeks while Russia hosted the Winter Olympics, President Vladimir Putin did his best to show the world that he and his country have a soft side. Now the Sochi Games are over, Western governments are concerned the smile will disappear and the gloves come off in Russia’s tug-of-war with Europe over the fate of Ukraine. The circus artists, dancers and flag bearers hardly had time to leave the stadium after the closing ceremony in Sochi before Russia announced it had recalled its ambassador from Ukraine for consultations in Moscow. Russian state television could not even wait for the end of the Games to launch a scathing attack on the ousted Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich. Accusing him of betrayal, presenter Dmitry Kiselyov said: “The consequences are irreversible. Ukraine is one step from a split and probably already beyond the threshold of civil war.” The president has not spoken in public about the fall of Yanukovich, but Kiselyov is a Putin loyalist who has the president’s trust. He will soon take over a media organisation intended to polish Russia’s image. Western leaders are concerned Russia may be so worried about losing influence in Ukraine, the cradle of Russian civilisation, that it could use force to prevent the vast country to its west forging closer ties with the European Union. US President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, said it would be a “grave mistake” if Russia sent troops to Ukraine - although the Kremlin has not suggested it would. Britain’s foreign minister, William Hague, warned against what he called external duress or Russian intervention and said: “There are many dangers and uncertainties.” Putin spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel by phone and Berlin quoted him as saying he wanted Ukraine to stay together, despite media speculation that Russia might want to take control of Russian-speaking regions in the east of the country. But he said nothing in public about the bloody drama in Ukraine, which he wants to lure into a planned trading bloc to challenge the economic might of China and the United States. Moldova and Georgia are watching closely. Like Ukraine, the two former Soviet republics want to deepen ties with the European Union but also risk upsetting Moscow. Georgia is particularly wary because it fought a five-day war with Russia over two breakaway Georgian regions in 2008.

Welcome Diversion The Olympics proved a welcome diversion for Putin. Russia topped the medals table, fears of an attack by Islamist militants fighting Russian forces in the Caucasus mountains proved unfounded and the sports facilities were widely praised. Putin dropped in on some of the national teams, sipped wine with American team officials and at one point allowed himself to be photographed with a Games volunteer on the ski slopes. “The friendly faces, the warm Sochi sun and the glare of the Olympic gold have broken the ice of scepticism towards the new Russia,” said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak. “The Games have turned our country, its culture and the people into something that is a lot closer and more appealing and understandable for the rest of the world.” The jury may be out on that. During the Games, protests were limited to a small, scruffy park far from any Olympic venues and had to be arranged with city authorities in advance. A court upheld a three-year prison sentence against a local environmental activist accused of damaging a regional leader’s property but best known for his campaigning against ecological damage he says was caused by Olympic construction work. At what they called a “show trial”, eight protesters were convicted in Moscow on Friday of rioting and violence against police at a 2012 protest against Putin. Their sentences were due to be handed down on Monday, the day after the Games ended. “Will the Kremlin draw any lessons from the Maidan (protests in Kiev)?” opposition leader Boris Nemtsov asked in a blog. “Will they give citizens back their freedom and give up their never-ending rule? I doubt it very much.” ‘Cosmetic Moves’ Moves before the Games such as freeing former oil executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was Russia’s most famous prisoner, and an amnesty under which two members of the Pussy Riot protest group were released from prison are dismissed by Putin’s opponents as cosmetic and intended merely to appease the West. The Kremlin denies this. It also denies cracking down on opponents and using the courts for political purposes. Putin proved immune to criticism of the high cost of the Games, thought to be around $50 billion, and said there was no evidence of widespread corruption. If presented with such evidence, he would investigate it, he said. —Reuters

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Threat of Israel boycotts more bark than bite By Crispian Balmer


hough voices are getting louder inside and outside Israel about the threat of economic boycotts for its continued occupation of Palestinian territories, there seems little prospect of it facing measures with real bite. With a number of European firms already withdrawing some funds, Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid has warned that every household in Israel will feel the pinch if ongoing peace talks with the Palestinians collapse. US Secretary of State John Kerry has also warned that Israel risks a financial hit if it is blamed for the failure, but investors and diplomats say they are unconvinced. It is true that some foreign firms have started to shun Israeli business concerns operating in East Jerusalem and the West Bank - land seized in the 1967 war - and the European Union is increasingly angered by relentless Jewish settlement expansion. But the bulk of Israeli business is clustered on the Mediterranean coast, a world away from the roadblocks and watchtowers of the West Bank, and not even the Palestinian leadership is demanding a total economic boycott. “The boycott is being used like a bogeyman, a scary story you tell a child at night,” said Jonathan Medved, CEO of OurCrowd, a crowdfunding platform looking to provide venture capital to Israeli companies. “The truth is that Israel is a world leader in water technology, next-generation agriculture, cybersecurity, healthcare innovation and start-ups. What sane person is going to walk away from that?” he said, speaking by telephone during a visit to South Africa to seek out potential partners. Europe Stirs Embargoes, sanctions and boycotts, along with

internal resistance, helped bring about the isolation and eventually the end of apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s. Pro-Palestinian, or anti-Israeli, activists hope to use the same tactics to force Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sign a deal to create an independent Palestine based on the 1967 borders. They believe recent action by a handful of European firms to distance themselves from Israel might be the start of something big. In December, Dutch firm Vitens said it would not work with Israeli utility company Mekorot because of its West Bank footprint. The following month a large Dutch pension fund, PGGM, ended its investment in five Israeli banks because of their business dealings with settlements considered illegal under international law. Denmark’s Danske Bank blacklisted Bank Hapoalim for the same reason. These moves sent a jolt through the Israeli government. “If the negotiations with the Palestinians break down and a European boycott begins, even partially, Israel’s economy will go backwards, every person will be directly affected in their pockets,” Lapid said in a speech earlier this month. Unlike some of his cabinet colleagues, the finance minister supports the need to pull back from much of the occupied territories in an effort to secure an elusive peace accord. Looking to convince the sceptics, Lapid said failure to strike a deal could lead to a 20 percent drop in exports to the European Union and a halt in EU direct investment, warning that this would cost the Israeli economy 11 billion shekels ($3.1 billion) a year. Supporting his case, Lapid points to an EU decision last summer to bar financial assistance to any Israeli organisations operating in the West Bank, and warns this could be expanded. But EU diplomats say business with firms oper-

ating in the settlements, such as skincare company Ahava, represent less than 1 percent of all IsraeliEU trade, which last year totalled $36.7 billion, up from $20.9 billion a decade earlier. The European Union matters because it is Israel’s largest trading partner and it is the only place where murmurings of sanctions have so far been raised outside the Arab world, where only Egypt and Jordan have formal ties with Israel. However, Europe is not united on how to deal with Israel and has not yet even agreed to introduce EU-wide labelling to make clear if goods come from settlements, much less anything more radical along the lines suggested by Lapid. “There is no EU boycott,” the president of the European parliament, Martin Schultz, said this month during a visit to Jerusalem during which he questioned whether the 28-nation bloc would want to penalise Israel if the U.S.-backed talks failed. EU governments say it is up to each firm to decide its own investment strategy. While a handful of states, including Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, discourage links with the settlements, there are no consequences for ignoring that steer, beyond the “potential reputational implications” a British Foreign Office agency warns of on its website. Schultz said he was “not convinced about economic pressure”, and also cast doubt on the need for clear labelling of settlement goods that would allow consumers to chose. “Does it carry such a large weight that it could really change something?” he asked reporters. Divestment The international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement seeks something much more emphatic, eager to turn all Israeli brands into

toxic property as a way of forcing the government to roll back settlements and sign a full peace deal. Omar Barghouti, the BDS co-founder, told Reuters he sensed a changing international atmosphere and was particularly buoyed by news of divestments from Israeli banks. “We’re talking about a completely different league here. Forget boycotting settlements, (that is) peanuts. Targeting the banks, that’s where the money is, that’s the pillar of the Israeli economy,” said Barghouti. However, divestment moves by the likes of Danske Bank appear to be the exception rather than the norm. Germany’s biggest lender Deutsche Bank AG denied reports last week that it was set to boycott Israeli banks, while the giant Dutch pension fund ABP announced this month that after a review, it saw no need to cut ties with Israeli banks. All the while, foreign firms continue to pour into Israel. According to the latest Bank of Israel data, direct investment was $10.51 billion in the first nine months of 2013, up from $9.5 billion for the whole of 2012. Exports to Europe rose 6.3 percent last year. Global brands such as Google, Cisco, Microsoft, Twitter, Apple, AOL and Facebook have all invested in Israel, so, like it or not, users of computers, smartphones and apps could well be supporting Israeli engineering. “All the talk about boycotts has not so far caused any damage to our economy,” Uriel Lynn, president of the Israeli Chambers of Commerce, told Reuters. “Israel has gone through much harsher boycotts in the past. For example, we did not have commercial relations with China for years, and for a time we could only buy crude oil from Mexico and Egypt. So we can definitely withstand boycotts.” —Reuters

How BuzzFeed is reinventing itself By Jennifer Saba


uzzFeed has come a long way from cat lists. This month one of its journalists was on the ground in Kiev reporting on the crisis in Ukraine, and last December it published an in-depth article on a Chinese dissident living in Harlem, New York. The kittens haven’t disappeared, but these days there is serious journalism as well. When Facebook Inc tweaked its News Feed filters in December to weed out low-quality stories and other content, many were waiting to see if it would hurt publishers including BuzzFeed, the leading purveyor of “sponsored content” on the Web. But that didn’t happen to BuzzFeed, which continues to log impressive increases in readership. Founder and CEO Jonah Peretti attributes that to the company’s investment in building a news operation to complement its staple of entertainment and advertising-sponsored articles. “There used to be this view that online publishing was about blogs that were very low-cost,” said Peretti, 40, who helped start the popular The Huffington Post, now a unit of AOL Inc. “You couldn’t do things like investigations or have reporters. You could just do a smart take or snark on things. If you wanted to actually say, ‘I’m going to sit down and talk to people and spend more than three hours on a story,’ then you go work in old media. I think that is changing.” Founded in 2006, BuzzFeed is now among the top 10 most-visited news and information sites in the United States, joining the ranks of established media outlets like CNN and The New York Times. Over the past year, BuzzFeed’s traffic has soared fourfold, with more than 160 million unique visitors, according to online measurement and advertising firm Quantcast.

The social news and entertainment company is famous for producing advertising-sponsored “listicles” that go viral, such as lists of golden retrievers (sponsored by a pet food brand) or popular quizzes like “Which billionaire tycoon are you?” (News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch took the quiz and got himself.) Less known outside media circles is BuzzFeed’s foray into serious journalism, which began two years ago when it hired Ben Smith, a former Politico reporter, as its editor-in-chief. Headquartered in New York, BuzzFeed now has more than 150 journalists, an investigative reporting unit, bureaus in Australia and the United Kingdom, and foreign correspondents in farflung places like Nairobi and the Middle East. Its expansion comes amid a wave of investor interest in new media companies that are trying to capitalize on a decade-long wave of job cuts at newspapers, and new technology that has upended how news and advertising are produced and distributed. “As these social technology spaces like Google, Facebook and Twitter compete with each other, they want to be the place you come and live in digital land,” said Amy Mitchell, director of journalism research at the Pew Research Center. “A part of what people look for is news.” BuzzFeed, which has about 400 employees, raised $46 million in venture capital from the likes of Lerer Ventures, Hearst, RRE and Japan’s SoftBank. “On the journalistic side, their new level of ambition makes a difference to me as an advertiser if it grows their audience,” said Andrew Essex, vice chairman at advertising agency Droga5. Supplier to Social Media Pipes BuzzFeed and other media companies, ranging from upstarts like Vox Media and Upworthy to established

media outlets such as the Washington Post, depend on social media to fuel readership. BuzzFeed gets about 75 percent of traffic referrals from social media, and the majority of that is from Facebook. Last August, Facebook made a change to News Feed, which is prominently featured on a user’s home page, pushing more stories through the stream. Many media sites saw their referral traffic soar. From September 2012 to September 2013, BuzzFeed’s traffic jumped 855 percent, Facebook said in a blog post. But in December, Facebook made another adjustment to News Feed’s filters to improve the “quality” of the content. BuzzFeed appears to have benefited - the number of people who visited the site rose 20 percent from December to mid-February, according to Quantcast. But other sites have suffered a drop in traffic since Facebook’s tweaks. An oft-cited rival of BuzzFeed is Upworthy, which aggregates material across the Web to help its content go viral. It experienced a dip in traffic during the same period. Upworthy, which grew at an even faster clip than BuzzFeed last year, experienced a 22 percent decrease in unique users from December to mid-February, according to Quantcast. To be sure, there are many reasons why the number of people visiting a site can fluctuate from month to month, including seasonal factors and news items. An Upworthy spokeswoman pointed to the site’s sharp rise in unique users from October to November, and said the number of people visiting Upworthy is still up significantly since October. Facebook’s dominance in social media is similar to Google’s leading position in Web search. When the Internet giant made several changes to the formula that determines search query results to ensure more “quality” information, that hurt some media companies that

relied on high search results, including Demand Media and Rap Genius. Peretti said he is not worried that Facebook could harm BuzzFeed’s prospects because the company distributes its content through other social media platforms, such as Twitter and LinkedIn. As long as there is benefit for the consumer, he said, any traffic fluctuations should work out in the long run. BuzzFeed expects revenue to double to $120 million this year, according to a person familiar with the company. BuzzFeed declined to give financial figures. Peretti would only say that the company is profitable. A Mash-Up BuzzFeed’s investors say they are focused on the company’s growth, including news, and decline to discuss exit strategies such as an initial public offering or sale to another company. “BuzzFeed must be in the real news business,” said Kenneth Lerer, chairman of BuzzFeed and an investor in the company through New Yorkbased Lerer Ventures. “You have to deliver the whole package. There are not a lot of companies serving that demo with hard news,” he said, referring to readers between the ages of 18 and 34. BuzzFeed says it plans to hire more journalists and is keen to expand its foreign news coverage. Still, some media experts say balancing a mix of serious stories with sponsored content can be difficult. For instance, BuzzFeed published a list of “alleged” secret menu items at McDonald’s Corp, such as the Monster Mac, McCrepe and Pie McFlurry. The list looked like an ad sponsored by the hamburger chain, but it was actually a tongue-in-cheek article produced by a BuzzFeed staff writer. “The one question for BuzzFeed as they move further to produce their own journalism is whether they will

be able to successfully straddle that line of content on their site that is purely for commercial gain and content that is meant to inform people about issue or events they care about,” said the Pew Research Center’s Mitchell. No one expects sponsored content to go away, especially as advertisers are expected to earmark more dollars toward the ad form. Several major news organizations, including The New York Times, The Guardian, Time Inc and Hearst, are publishing sponsored content. It offers more lucrative advertising rates at an average costper-thousand-users of around $10, compared with a banner ad that typically offers only 50 cents to $1 on the ad exchanges. “We don’t question news organizations that create entertainment content anymore,” said Kyle Acquistapace, partner and director of media at the advertising firm Deutsch LA, about BuzzFeed’s news expansion. “What causes the question mark in BuzzFeed is if it can credibly make news when the top thing on its home screen is ‘28 things that people with big boobs can simply never do.’ Can that door swing both ways? I think it can. It’s a great mash-up.” BuzzFeed is confident that chasing hard news is good for business. Its indepth report about the Chinese dissident in Harlem, Dr Gao Yaojie, had more than 700,000 views. A 6,000word story about buying a house in Detroit for $500 got 1.5 million views. For comparison, The New York Times’ popular “Snow Fall” interactive feature got about 3.5 million views. “There are things now that we can try and do that may have been out of our reach before,” said Smith, BuzzFeed’s editorin-chief. “We can step back and swing for the fences. We can send reporters down rabbit holes, which I’m really excited about.” —Reuters



Cilic continues hot run

Cricket WCup preparations

James out of Bulls game

DELRAY BEACH: Marin Cilic’s run of red-hot form continued on Sunday as he beat Kevin Anderson 7-6 6-7 6-4 to win the Delray Beach Open title. Cilic was playing in his third consecutive final, having lost in Rotterdam last week after winning the title in Zagreb two weeks ago. The 25-year-old Croatian was pushed to the limit in a topsy-turvy match of powerful serves that lasted a little over three hours. After they split the first two sets in tie-breaks, Cilic fended off four break points in the deciding third set and broke Anderson’s service twice to clinch the title. South Africa’s Anderson, who was looking for his second title in Delray Beach in three years, blasted 18 aces to Cilic’s 16. Cilic had entered the final having had little time to recover from his semi-final with American John Isner that was not completed until early on Sunday after being delayed for three hours due to rain. He showed no signs of fatigue as the power-hitting duo went shot for shot before Cilic claimed the first set tie-break 8-6. Anderson swung back in the second set where he broke Cilic early to take a 3-1 advantage before losing the next three games and having to rally to win the tiebreak 9-7.

CAPE TOWN: South Africa will play a minimum of 23 warm-up one-day internationals against five different countries to boost their preparation for next year’s World Cup, the country’s cricket board said yesterday. The three-time semi-finalists have had no previous World Cup success and a litany of dramatic failures have earned them a cruel reputation as “chokers” in the limited overs format. “With it being a World Cup year in 2015, we have placed a lot of emphasis on the 50-over format and have tried to maximise our preparations by playing as many matches as possible in conditions that will be similar to those in New Zealand and Australia,” coach Russell Domingo said in a statement yesterday. The board also announced six tests in a six-month period between July and January next year that includes fulfilling a two-match series against Sri Lanka postponed last year. The top-ranked test team will play two tests and three one-day internationals in the island nation in July, followed by a single test in Zimbabwe in August and then a triangular ODI series there also involving Australia. If they reach the final of the triangular in Harare, that will take to 24 the number of their pre-World Cup ODIs. South Africa have arranged a threematch ODI series in New Zealand in October and then take on Australia away in three Twenty20 internationals and five ODIs in November. The Proteas will host a three-test series and five ODIs against the West Indies in December and January before heading to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.—Reuters

NEW YORK: Miami Heat forward LeBron James was scratched from Sunday’s home game against the Chicago Bulls because of a fractured nose, only the second game he has missed this season. The 10-time NBA All-Star broke his nose late in the fourth quarter of Thursday’s 103-81 win against Oklahoma City after being accidentally hit in the face by Thunder center Serge Ibaka. James sat out the rest of that game, had his nose reset by a doctor on Friday and missed team practice Saturday. “He didn’t stand up and put up his dukes and fight us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstrajoked to reporters when asked about his decision to withhold James from Sunday’s game against the Bulls at the American Airlines Arena. “We still understand the big picture. The fact that we don’t play until Thursday, it makes the most sense.” Miami’s next game is at home to the New York Knicks on Thursday, giving James a full week to rest and recover from his broken nose. The 29-year-old James, who has won two NBA championship titles with the Heat, is averaging 26.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game this season. —AP

Day outlasts Dubuisson

Ryan Whiting

Whiting has big shot put, Cain dominates 1,500m SOPOT: Reigning world indoor champion Ryan Whiting delivered a massive shot put and teenager Mary Cain ran away with the women’s 1,500 metres at the US world championship trials on Sunday. World indoor pole vault record holder Jenn Suhr also made the US team for the March 7-9 world championships in Sopot, Poland, but was beaten into second place by Mary Saxer at Albuquerque, New Mexico. Whiting showed he was ready for another go at gold with his big throw of 22.23 metres (72 feet, 11 1/4 inches), a mark only five men have topped indoors. “Mentally, I’m a lot more ready,” Whiting said of his chances of a world title repeat. “There’s no reason I can’t be a contender.” Cain, showing why she is America’s top female middle distance runner, surged to the lead with three laps to go in the 1,500 and won by nearly three seconds. “The last 400 was a lot of fun,” said the 17-year-old high school student, who clocked four minutes 7.05 seconds. “I am super excited,” said Cain of the upcoming world championships. “This 4:07 at altitude has given me a lot of confidence. I didn’t know we were running that fast. “The last 300 was kind of tough, just from the breathing and altitude but I felt really good.” Team mate Treniere Moser claimed second in 4:09.93 as the high altitude of Albuquerque hindered distance runners but aided sprinters and jumpers. The top two finishers in each event at the trials qualified for the world champi-

onships provided they had met the qualifying standards. That assured Suhr of a trip to Poland. The Olympic champion, who set the world indoor pole vault record of 5.02 metres (16 feet 5 1/2 inches) in Albuquerque last year, never could find her comfort zone. Saxer’s first attempt clearance of a personal best 4.71 metres (15 feet, 5 1/2) was the difference. Suhr missed her only try at that height before failing twice at 4.76m (15 feet 7 1/4). Her best was 4.66m (15 feet 3 1/2). “Any time that you meet where you have to qualify, you can’t jump to win. That’s what I did last year, and that’s why you can jump higher,” Suhr said. “Not having to jump a lot of bars and to jump odd bars just to make sure I can get top two. It’s a different type of jumping, but we’re right where we need to be.” Runner Francena McCorory and hurdler Nia Ali also produced 2014 world leading marks. McCorory became the first woman to dip under 51 seconds in the 400m this year as she won in 50.85 seconds. Ali clocked 7.80 seconds in the 60 metres hurdles to improve her world lead withJanay DeLoach Soukup a mere twohundredths of a second behind. The 60 metres races also were fast with Marvin Bracy winning the men’s run in 6.48 seconds, just off Briton James Dasaolu’s world lead, and Tianna Bartoletta edging Lekeisha Lawson by a hundredth of a second in 7.08 seconds. —Reuters

Mary Cain

Jamaican Campbell cleared by CAS KINGSTON: Jamaican sprinter Veronica Campbell-Brown has been cleared to resume her career by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), her Americanbased lawyer Howard Jacobs said yesterday. The twice Olympic 200 metres champion was suspended by her country’s national federation last year following a positive

test for a banned diuretic. “I can confirm that Veronica Campbell-Brown has been cleared by CAS,” Jacobs told Reuters by email. “All of her past results have been reinstated and she is free to compete effective immediately,” he said, adding that Campbell-Brown intended to compete at the upcoming world indoor championships.—Reuters

MARANA: Jason Day fended off a stunning fightback by Frenchman Victor Dubuisson to clinch the biggest title of his career with a oneup victory after 23 holes in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship final in Marana, Arizona on Sunday. A commanding three up lead after 12 holes on an afternoon of light breezes at Dove Mountain, Australian Day was caught by the Frenchman, who recorded clutch birdies at the 13th and 17th, followed by an amazing par from a greenside bunker at the 18th. Dubuisson then conjured two miraculous upand-downs from desert scrub at the 19th and 20th holes to keep the match alive before Day sealed the win by sinking a four-footer for birdie at the 23rd, the driveable par-four 15th. The Frenchman, who had missed the green to the right off the tee, hit a high lob wedge 20 feet past the cup and missed the birdie putt coming back before the Australian made his to secure the title. “I’ve never wanted something so bad in my life,” an emotional Day, 26, told CBS Sports after clinching the winner’s cheque for $1.53 million. “Obviously I didn’t want it to go this long but Victor, he has a lot of guts and he has got a great short game. He got it straight out of a cactus twice. “The biggest thing was just how much do I want it, how much do I want to win? I kept saying that to myself last night, kept visualising myself with the trophy. I am just glad that I could finish it off, but it was a close one.” It was Day’s second triumph on the PGA Tour, following the 2010 Byron Nelson Championship, and his first success in one of the elite World Golf Championships ( WGC) events which bring together the game’s leading players. Dubuisson, who had never previously played match play golf until his WGC debut this week, appeared to be on the way to a heavy defeat after he recorded five bogeys in the first seven holes to reach the turn three down. However, the 23-year-old Frenchman raised his game on the back nine and trimmed the deficit to two with a birdie at the par-five 13th where he was just off the edge of the green in two shots. Both players parred the short 16th before Dubuisson won the par-four 17th with a magical birdie to trail by just one. STUNNING APPROACH The Frenchman, who booked his place in the final with a one-up victory over veteran South African Ernie Els earlier on Sunday, had ended

MARANA: Jason Day of Australia poses with the Walter Hagen Cup after defeating Victor Dubuisson of France on the 23rd hole of the World Golf Championships — Accenture Match Play Championship. —AFP up in a fairway bunker off the 17th tee, but struck a stunning approach to 12 feet above the hole. Day, in the right rough off the tee, hit his second shot to 20 feet and narrowly missed his birdie attempt before watching steely-eyed as Dubuisson coolly sank his putt for a three. The Frenchman’s late bid for the title looked decidely shaky at the par-four 18th when he pulled his approach well left into a greenside bunker. Day, who beat American Rickie Fowler 3&2 in his Sunday semi-final, was on the back fringe of the two-tiered green in two, 70 feet above the hole, from where he ran a very slick first putt 10 feet past the cup. Dubuisson conjured a miraculous shot from the sand for his ball to end up five feet away and the Australian, with the title on the line, left his par putt inches short of the cup. Ice-cool, the Frenchman knocked in his par putt to level the match and force extra holes. ASTONISHING MOMENTS Two astonishing moments were produced by Dubuisson before Day finally clinched the title.

At the 19th, the par-four first, the Frenchman ended up in desert scrub over the back right of the green with his approach. Day then struck a wedge into the left greenside bunker before Dubuisson, using soft hands, somehow hit his third shot from behind a cactus, through sand, rocks and a television cable strung in front of him, to four feet. After the Australian had splashed out to six feet, he sank the par putt before Dubuisson followed suit to remain all square. One hole later, at the par-four ninth, the Frenchman missed the green badly to the left with his approach, his ball ending up in a bush from where he amazingly hit his third to seven feet, prompting a wry smile from Day. The Australian was on the back fringe in two from where he cosied his approach putt to within two feet of the cup. Dubuisson, non-plussed, duly sank his par putt to keep the match alive. “I know he was the (world’s) number one amateur back in 2009,” said Day about the gutsy Frenchman. “He has got a lot of game and you’re going to see a lot of him for years to come.” —AP

Lindenwood long shot, shot at NFL combine INDIANAPOLIS: Pierre Desir long ago became resigned to the likelihood that his lifelong NFL dream might not come true. The 6-foot-1, 198-pound cornerback had greater responsibilities than impressing a bunch of football scouts. He worked his way through a growing Division II college in St. Charles, Mo. With no athletic scholarship, he supported a wife and two children by devoting more than 20 hours a day to his job, schoolwork, practice and family. So when he starts working out Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium with the other defensive backs at the NFL’s scouting combine, it’s no wonder Desir will seemingly hear the roar coming from the living room back home. “It’s a combine party,” he said, explaining how his family and parents planned to watch the workouts on television. “I can almost see my 7-year-old daughter, yelling ‘Go Daddy’ and not knowing which one I am out there.” For years, it seemed nobody knew about Desir or whether he would ever make it big. Low scores on college entrance tests sabotaged his chance to play at a Division I school. Two successful seasons at Washburn College in Kansas, his first Division II school, raised Desir’s football profile. It dropped again when he moved back near St. Louis, where both sets of parents could help out. When he tried to resurrect his football career at Lindenwood University, officials at Washburn, a conference rival, refused to grant his release, preventing Desir from getting a scholarship. But Desir didn’t fret. He went to work. “What happened is that I would wake up at about 5 in the morning, get my older daughter ready for school, go to the temporary service and they’d pick out a few guys to go to different work stations,” he said. “You might work on the sewers or in the sewers. I’d go to class, say 11 to 2 or something and then after school, I’d go pick up my daughter. Last year, I had to do the same thing, but I worked at Charter Communications. So I’d go to school from 10 to 2 and work from 4:30 to 2:30 and then get back up at 5.” Sprinkle in a little football practice and film work to the daily routine and Desir didn’t have much time for anything else. While this 23-year-old draft hopeful might seem to have the unlikeliest story of the players

at this weekend’s combine, the hallways at Lucas Oil Stadium are littered with similar stories of trials, tribulations, underdogs and smallschool long shots. Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin made his first combine appearance Sunday, one month after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament during a Senior Bowl practice. Colvin only got rid of his crutches last week and says doctors have told him he should be ready to practice by the start of training camp, a promising sign heading into May’s draft.

Pierre Desir Cornerback Travis Carrie came to Indy after six seasons at Ohio University, enduring hip surgery and two torn labrums in his right shoulder after missing one year in high school so he could recover from heart surgery to repair a birth defect. Baylor cornerback Demetri Goodson followed his heart to Gonzaga, where he played basketball for three seasons, two as the starting point guard. Then he returned to his home state, followed the lead of his NFL playing brother, Mike, and got an extra year of eligibility

through an NCAA medical waiver. Last season, after two injury-plagued seasons in Waco, Goodson joined the short list of college athletes who have played in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and a bowl game. He turns 25 in June. “I think they were kind of iffy about it at first,” Goodson said when asked about Baylor’s reception following his basketball stint. “They had to feel me out a little bit and get to know me. After about the third game of the season I think they knew I could play.” Desir never doubted he could play, either. After redshirting in 2008, Desir led the MidAmerica Intercollegiate Athletic Association with seven interceptions for Washburn in 2009 and followed that with five more picks in 2010. When life became too difficult on the road, Desir and his family packed up and moved back home. Desir wound up enrolling at Lindenwood, which didn’t admit men until 1969, didn’t play football until 1990 and had produced exactly two NFL alums - running back DeDe Dorsey and defensive tackle Brian Schaefering. None of that mattered to the native of Haiti who grew up playing soccer. “I think it speaks to what I’m willing to go through, where my mind was at, and I still wanted to pursue my football dreams,” he said. The football scouts took notice, showing up at practices and games in a locale they had rarely visited. They pored through film and questioned coaches to dig into Desir’s background. What they found was a big cornerback who could hold up against receivers big and small, key traits for NFL teams looking to copy the defensive blueprint of Super Bowl champion Seattle. All Desir has to do now is take advantage of this golden ticket. History says most combine invitees will get drafted and those who make the 53-man roster will earn a six-figure salary as a rookie - putting Desir and his family on the cusp of living in a real dream world. “Being a father helped me become more focused,” said Desir, who would be Lindenwood’s first draft pick. “Now I just have to prove I have the skill set to go out and compete with these guys.” —AP



What to do with mountain resort with Games gone? ROSA KHUTOR: Stanislav Kuznetsov has a headache like no other: it measures 780,000 square metres and covers a large expanse of Russian mountainside. The Gorky Gorod resort in the snowy Caucasus peaks above Sochi was packed during the Winter Olympics. Now the Games are ending, Kuznetsov’s job is to keep filling the nine hotels. And the holiday apartment. And the luxury stores. And the large supermarket complex, which includes a massive artificial beach and lake on the top floor. “We are seriously thinking about the future,” said Kuznetsov, deputy chairman of the board at Russian state lender Sberbank, which owns 92 percent of Gorky Gorod. His challenge epitomises the broader struggle that Russia faces to get a lasting return on an estimated $50 billion spent on developing the region for the Sochi Games. Kuznetsov appeared upbeat when he spoke to Reuters text and television in an interview on Friday, two days after hosting a major brainstorming session on what to do next with a complex than can accommodate up to 6,000 people.

He talks of a bright future in both winter and summer, offering access to the mountains and the Black Sea coast. But in an earlier more informal conversation he had been franker about Gorky Gorod, which translates as Gorky Town. “My personal opinion is that to give this town the chance of a new life we will need a powerful new vision of its future,” he told reporters on Feb 5. “Obviously there is a fear about what will happen, that without a big new idea the significant success of this real estate will of course be put in doubt.” ATTRACTING RUSSIANS Sitting still is not an option, since the overall investment by Sberbank and others totals 80 billion roubles ($2.3 billion) and this money needs to be made back. Another complicating factor is that Gorky Gorod is not the only mountain complex with rooms to fill. Energy giant Gazprom runs the nearby Laura complex while oligarch Vladimir Potanin built Rosa Khutor. Kuznetsov sees few problems filling rooms in the months to come, since Sochi will host a Group of

Nick Casal He began working out a month later. Last year, he was cleared to fight by the New York Athletic Commission after passing a barrage of tests. “Obviously, I have a hard head. It runs in the family, so thanks dad,” Casal said, laughing. Ray Casal, who also serves as his son’s trainer, determined the best course of action was to take it slowly. “I think he deserves to be eased in. But I found in 40 years of doing this that no fight’s easy. And this might be his most difficult fight,” Casal said. “But, I have confidence in my son in that corner. Otherwise, I don’t think I would be able to work the corner.” Casal has watched closely as his son has shown familiar signs of regaining the form he displayed before the attack. “Every week I saw it coming back,” Casal said. “My coaches were pounding him in the ring, and I wasn’t holding back any more for him. And then I started feeling a little more comfortable.” Before being hurt, Casal reeled off four consecutive victories, capped by a thirdround TKO of then highly regarded Michael Anderson in October 2011. That win put Casal on track to face Provodnikov, who has since become the WBO light welterweight champ.” “I believe, that night I would have beat him,” Casal said. “So we’ll see. We’ll fight again in the future.” One step at a time, said his father, who regards it “a miracle” that his son is alive.—AP

PRICES TUMBLE Visitors polled by Reuters in the streets of the resort had mixed opinions about whether they would come back. “I find the area pretty and I could imagine going skiing here but I think there are many other closer ski areas that you’d go to for less money, effort, no visa and so on,” said Jana Passkoenig from Germany. “I like it very much ... I wasn’t expecting to see something like this. If we come here in the future we would start skiing right away, will stay here and ski,” said Nikolai Frolov from the city of Ufa in the Ural mountains. One way to fill rooms is to offer good deals. “We understand this is a new resort and to attract people, even Russian

guests, we need to attract them with prices as well,” says Maria Volkova, a public relations specialist with Interstate, a firm that operates four of the hotels. Once the Games are over, the price for a regular room will be just 3,700 roubles, including breakfast. Kuznetsov often uses the word “comfort” and the modern accommodation shown to reporters in four separate hotels bore little resemblance to old-style Soviet rooms which contained a single bed, ancient sheets and a noisy fridge. Sberbank also plans to raise funds by selling around 1,500 apartments and according to Kuznetsov, aims to get its money back in five to seven years. Albert, who worked for 12 years in the chic Swiss resort of St Moritz, dismisses this as unrealistic. “People want to get rich in months, not even in years, not in decades. That’s the biggest problem in Russia, that people can’t wait,” he told Reuters. “They want to get back their investment in hotels maybe in seven or eight years when the whole world knows it comes back in 20 to 25 years.” —Reuters

Golden moments may not be enough for NHL

Casal returning to ring after near-fatal assault NIAGARA FALLS: There’s a thunderboltshaped scar on the back of Nick Casal’s head, and a poster promoting a title fight that never occurred on the wall next to the light welterweight’s practice ring. These are among the reminders Casal carries from the time he nearly lost his life after being clubbed repeatedly to the head and body by a crowbar-wielding assailant two years ago. And these unlikely souvenirs also serve as motivation for Casal as he prepares to re-enter the ring in a bid to restart what had been a promising career. “We put that up as a reminder,” Casal said Sunday, pointing to the poster of the World Boxing Organization intercontinental title bout in which he was supposed to face Ruslan Provodnikov in June 2012. “It’s just a reminder of where I was at, and that’s where I’m going to get back to.” The first step is set to begin Thursday, when the 28-year-old Casal (22-4-1) is scheduled to fight Shakha Moore (11-19-3) at the Niagara Falls Conference and Events Center. “It means a lot,” Casal said. “I just want to do it for myself. I was getting ready, lined up for a big fight when, obviously, that happened.” He is referring to what happened in the early hours of May 12, 2012. That’s when Casal was awoken by a call from his girlfriend, asking him to meet her at a nearby home in the town of Niagara. What Casal didn’t know until he arrived was the home belonged to her ex-boyfriend, Michael Vicki. As Casal and his girlfriend were preparing to leave, he was struck with a crowbar from behind by Vicki. Casal turned to defend himself but was eventually struck at least 15 times before being left on the side of the road. Rather than going to a hospital, Casal instead inexplicably went home where, four hours later, he was found by his mother and a family friend lying on the bed in a pool of blood. Casal was rushed to a hospital and spent three hours in surgery. Doctors required more than 200 stitches to close several gashes, including one on the back of his head and another on his right temple. His tooth was chipped and his arm severely swollen, but not broken. Remarkably, tests revealed Casal’s skull was not fractured. Vicki pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree assault last April, and was sentenced to five years in prison. Casal, by comparison, was already long into planning his comeback.

ability to attract conventions, spa tourists and people who variously want a skiing holiday in winter and an outdoor experience in summer. Some eight million people visit the hot, pebbly beaches of Sochi every year and most of them would love the chance to cool off in the mountains as they admire the snow, he said.

Eight summit in June and a Formula One race in October. In general, though, officials say foreign tourists are unlikely to flock to the region any time soon, if only because there are virtually no direct flights to Sochi from abroad and some potential travelers are put off by visa requirements. This means Kuznetsov needs to attract plenty of Russians to the brand new resort to keep the area busy. “No one will invest in a space that after a big event is more or less a ghost city,” saidCarsten Albert, manager of two upmarket hotels in Gorky Gorod. Two kinds of domestic tourists on the target list are those with money who usually travel abroad and those who vacation in Russia but might think Gorky Gorod is too expensive. “Many people say the climate here is ver y similar to a Swiss valley,” said Kuznetsov, claiming that the air blowing up from the Black Sea is infused with oxygen from the waters. “To be honest, we can already compete with the major resorts in Europe.” He is also optimistic about the resort’s

SOCHI: If the Sochi Games are to be the last for theNational Hockey League (NHL), then the world’s best players brought their Olympic curtain down in thrilling but controversial style. Canada brought the competitive curtain down on the Games in impressive fashion, capping an unbeaten run through the tournament by sweeping past Sweden 3-0 as they retained their title. But outside of Canada, the gold medal game is likely to remembered for the chaotic events surrounding the finish when it was announced that Sweden’s Nicklas Backstrom, who plays in the NHL for the Washington Capitals, had been forced to miss the final due to a failed dope test. The ham-handed handling of the drug test, the way it was managed and announced and Sweden’s fury about it, is likely to add further stress to an already tense relationship between the International Olympic (IOC) Committee, theInternational Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the NHL, as the league considers ending their Olympic relationship. “Our opinion is that IOC has destroyed one of the greatest hockey days in Swedish history,” said an enraged Swedish general manager Tommy Boustedt. “This can further jeopardise participation of NHL players in Olympic Games because I know that both that NHL and NHLPA are incredibly upset about this.” The NHL was quick to make their feelings felt issuing a statement making it clear that in their eyes Backstrom had done nothing illegal and would not face sanction, putting the league at odds with the IOC. “It is our further understanding that the positive test was the result of a common allergy medication taken by the player knowingly, with the approval of the team doctor and without the intention of gaining an illegal or improper performance-enhancing benefit,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly in a statement. “In addition, the specific substance that resulted in the positive test is not currently on the league’s prohibited substances list.” While NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was full of praise for the Olympic experience during his visit to Sochi, the league has refused to commit to the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang as they consider ending their Olympic involvement after five Games. The NHL has refused to make a long-term commitment and indications are that team owners no longer believe the worldwide exposure they get from competing on the Olympic stage is worth shutting down operations for

SOCHI: Sweden’s goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist (right) vies with a Canadian player during the Men’s ice hockey final in this file photo at the Bolshoy Ice Dome. —AFP two weeks in the middle of the season and handing over their most valuable assets (the players) to the IOC. Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider has been among the most vocal dissenters, saying before the start of the Sochi Olympics, “I hate them”. Snider is likely to find plenty of support among his peers with several teams getting back damaged goods, like the New York Islanders who will be without John Tavares, the NHL’s third leading scorer, after he sustained a season-ending knee injury during Canada’s game against Latvia. Certainly Canada have benefited from the presence of the NHL’s best, winning three of the five gold medals on offer since joining the Olympic programme at the 1998 Nagano Games. NHL players have also made ice hockey one of the Games’ hottest tickets, particularly in Sochi where teams played in front of packed houses at the futuristic Bolshoy Ice Dome. The tournament produced pleasant surprises and massive disappointment, none bigger than host Russia’s crushing quarter-final exit. Russia President Vladimir Putin’s plans for a golden finish to the his own Games were cancelled when Finland claimed a party pooping

quarter-final win. There was more disappointment for Russian hockey fans when their team faced off against the United States in a rematch of the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic ‘Miracle on Ice. The rematch took place in an electric atmosphere and there was little between the teams, as shown by the game finishing level at 2-2 after overtime. It then took the Americans no less than eight rounds of an epic shootout to snatch it. While there was disappointment across Russia the celebrations raged in Slovenia, a country with just 148 senior men’s players and seven ice rinks, became the underdog darlings of the Games as they reached the quarter-finals in their first Olympic campaign. As the sport’s North American superpowers go back to consider whether they will deign to grace future Games with their presence, the reaction of the Slovenians was an uplifting reminder of what the Olympics still mean to most of the world. “ We definitely made histor y just being feels remarkable,” said Slovenian forward Anze Kopitar. “ We’ve been fortunate enough to write this fair ytale, it’s hard to believe.”—Reuters

Winners and losers at the Sochi Winter Games `Women’s ski jump: After years of lobbying to be included in the Olympics women ski jumpers finally had their day in Sochi when the first Olympic competition was held. When U.S. ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson sped down a snow-covered ramp and hurtled into the air at 90kph, a piece of Olympic history was made in the Russian mountains. Ninety years after the first male ski-jumpers competed at a Winter Games, women were finally granted the chance to prove their mettle in one of the ultimate sporting tests of power, technique and sheer daring. • Canadian curlers: Not one but both gold medals went to Canada as their ice-cold competitors snatched top spot in both the men’s and women’s competitions. • Vladimir Putin: The Russian President came, saw and conquered the Games, smiling, toasting and cheering. From visiting the United States house to snapping pictures with volunteers, he managed to successfully portray a different picture from the one in the run-up to the Games when he soaked up criticism and snubs from world leaders over his country’s human rights record and the government’s anti-gay propaganda law. Jenny Jones

• Team GB: Snowboarder Jenny Jones became an instant household name back home when she made history in Sochi by winning slopestyle bronze which was Britain’s first Olympic medal on snow. The team equalled their record winter Games medal haul of four, grabbing a gold, a silver and a bronze as well. • Security: a top issue before the Games with Islamic militants threatening to attack the Games and concerns over how Russian

security would tackle the large influx of foreign visitors, athletes and reporters. The Russian hosts clearly won a gold medal as the tens of thousands of officers blended into the crowds of fans and volunteers with security generally soft-handed. • Pussy Riot: The protest group got the world’s spotlight shifted on them when they were first harassed and then beaten with whips in Sochi. Imprisoned members were released after about two years shortly before the Olympics but they refused to stay quiet. They never ceased accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of human rights violations and repression and had their moment during the Games in front of the world’s media. • Mikaela Shiffrin: The teenager had no problem slipping into absent Lindsey Vonn’s ski boots as the new poster girl of American Alpine skiing. With an Olympic gold medal around her neck at the age of 18, Shiffrin is pure gold dust for a sport preparing to wave goodbye to a generation of greats. Under the glare of the floodlights, Shiffrin, known on the circuit as the “Mozart of Skiing” produced a high-speed waltz through the gates to become the youngest ever Olympic slalom champion. • Ole Einar Bjoerndalen: The Norwegian veteran took his tally of Olympic medals up to 13 to become the most decorated Winter Games athlete. Bjoerndalen, 40, edged ahead of former cross-country skier Bjorn Daehlie and moved alongside his compatriot as the all-time leading winter Games gold medallist with eight. • New events: there were 12 new events in Sochi with snowboard slopestyle kicking off

proceedings and captivating audiences the world over with sensational gravity-defying tricks. Ski slopestyle followed suit as did snowboard parallel slalom, women’s ski jumping, biathlon mixed relay, a new figure skating

Jenny Jones team event and a luge team relay. While no more are planned for inclusion at the Pyeongchang 2018 Games, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach gave them a thumbs up.

• Darya Domracheva: The athlete from Belarus dazzled in Sochi, becoming the first woman to win three biathlon titles at the same winter Olympics when she claimed gold in the 12.5km mass start, the 12.5km pursuit and 15km individual titles. • German lugers: Germany may have failed as a team to equal their good medals haul from Vancouver but there was no sign of failure for the country’s lugers who completed a clean sweep. Mens and women’s events were easily won as was the inaugural team relay. • Dutch speedskaters: Rarely has a nation dominated a sport so thoroughly. They won 21 of 30 individual medals and four medal sweeps, turning the Adler arena orange. They topped their sensational performance by also winning the men’s team pursuit. • India: the Asian nation became the first country to be re-admitted to the Olympic family during a Games when the IOC lifted a ban and allowed the Indian flag to be hoisted in the athletes’ village. The three Indian athletes had marched at the opening ceremony under the Olympic flag due to the IOC suspension triggered by tainted officials being elected to theIndian Olympic Association board. Fresh elections and a ban on those officials led to the IOC overturning its suspension. LOSERS: US speedskaters: The Americans went home without a medal for the first time since the 1984 Sarajevo Games, despite proclaiming their team of 17 skaters could match the feat of the 2002 squad who won a record eight medals in Salt Lake City. Even a switch of their hi-tech suits midway through the competitions could not avert their flop.

• Germany: A traditional winter sports powerhouse, Germany had set out to repeat their successes in 2010 when the country finished in the top three in the medals table along with Canada and the United States. Instead of the 30 medals they had hoped for, German athletes collected 19 to finish in sixth place. They also had to send biathlete and former cross country Olympic champion Evi Sachenbacher-Stehle back home after she was caught doping. • Stray dogs: Thousands of them roamed the streets of the Russia Black Sea resort prior to the Games, many kept as guard dogs by workers in the Olympic construction sites. Only a few were left when the Games started with authorities rounding them up. Animal rights groups said they were put down with local officials claiming kennels had been set up. “They were detained,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams. • Shaun White: Rotten tomato instead of flying tomato as the the greatest snowboarder of his generation fell flat on his face in Sochi. He skipped the new slopestyle event to focus on the halfpipe and was instantly accused of playing it safe. The gamble did not pay off as he left Russia with no prize. • NHL hockey: Speculation was rife even before the tournament started that NHL players may not make the trip back to the Olympics again given the clash with league dates and the 2018 winter Games to be held in South Korea’s Pyeongchang. They may not be really missed following flat performances by the big names. The United States lost 5-0 to Finland in the bronze medal match while Russia’s big names also disappointed with the hosts flying out in the quarterfinals, also to Finland. —Reuters



Nets snare Lakers as Heat stop Bulls

Duaij Al-Otaibi and Dr. Ahmad Koura with winning archers and referees.

Archery tournament concludes By Abdellatif Sharaa KUWAIT: The Liberation Olympic Archery Tournament concluded Saturday in the presence of President of Kuwait and Arab Shooting Federations, Member of ISSF Engr Duaij K halaf Al- O taibi, and I nternational Lec turer on Olympic Archery officiating Dr. Ahmad Koura. The tournament was officiated by Kuwaiti judges who participated in the first officiating course that was held in Kuwait lately. Eng Duaij Al- O taibi said, “we are pleased to hold this tournament as we see national judges officiating with competence and were appreciated by all.” He said archery tournaments will be regularly organized, with all success elements available, and officiating will be a major element in the development of the sport. Al-Otaibi thanked president of the Asian Shooting Confederation, ISSF Vice president Sheikh Salman Al-Humoud AlSabah for sponsoring the tournament,

and appreciated his vision as he gave officiating a special interest, to the print “where we have officials at the highest level in the shot gun and air gun events, and now we have referees in archery who can run local and international events that we hope to organize in the future.” Al-Otaibi asked archers and officials to exert more efforts and work together to further develop this noble sport. Results of the tournament are as follows: General competition - men - Olympic archery: Ahmad Al-Shatti, Mohammad Musallam, Fahad Al-Rashidi. General - men - compound: Ahmad Al-Shatti, Abdallah Al-Ajmi, Salem Al-Saeed. General - men - Olympic beginners: K halid Qambar, Abdallah Taha, Mohammad Nabeel. Olympic - juniors - boys: Ali Al-Mutairi, Mohammad Al-Mutairi, Zaid Al-Saaed.

LOS ANGELES: Jason Collins played his first game with the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday night, becoming the first openly gay player in the four major US professional sports leagues, and Deron Williams had 30 points in a 108-102 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Collins was signed to a 10-day contract Sunday, nearly 10 months after his announcement on April 29 in Sports Illustrated. He had two rebounds and five fouls in 10 scoreless minutes. The 12-year veteran spent his first six-plus NBA seasons with the Nets and helped them get to the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003. This was the 35-year-old center’s first NBA game since April 17, 2013, with Washington. Paul Pierce scored 25 points, helping the Nets end an 11-game losing streak against the Lakers. Pau Gasol had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who never led and lost for the 24th time in 30 games with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Xavier Henry all sidelined by injuries. HEAT 93, BULLS 79 With LeBron James watching from the bench in a suit and tie, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade powered Miami to the victory. James was a late scratch after he broke his nose in Thursday’s win at Oklahoma City, and his teammates picked up the slack. Bosh had 28 points and 10 rebounds, and Wade added 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. The Bulls also were also short-handed. Starter Jimmy Butler was a late scratch because of bruised ribs. Joakim Noah had 20 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks for Chicago, which had won five in a row. The Bulls shot 36 percent. Miami, playing at home for the first time in 20 days, extended its winning streak to five games.

points for the slumping Nuggets, who lost for the seventh time in the last eight games. The Nuggets fell to 1-5 without leading scorer Ty Lawson, who missed a sixth game because of a fractured left rib. Down 58-51 after Foye hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter, the Kings responded with a 21-2 run that put them in front 72-60 with 4:55 left in the period.

CLIPPERS 125, THUNDER 117 Jamal Crawford scored 36 points to help the Clippers get the win. Matt Barnes scored 24 points and Chris Paul had 18 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds for the Clippers, who snapped a two-game skid. Kevin Durant had 42 points and 10 assists and Serge Ibaka added 20 points for the Thunder, who lost their second straight. It was the most points the Thunder have allowed this season. Oklahoma City overcame a 15-point deficit late in the third quarter to take a 115-112 lead on a 3-pointer by Durant with 2:43 to play, but the Clippers controlled the game from there. A 3-pointer by Crawford with 1:30 remaining gave Los Angeles a 119-115 lead.

ROCKETS 115, SUNS 112 Patrick Beverley sank the go-ahead 3-pointer with 34.3 seconds to play and Houston escaped with the win. Dwight Howard scored 25, James Harden had 23 and Beverley 20 for the Rockets, who trailed by 10 entering the fourth quarter. Goran Dragic scored a career-high 35 points for the Suns, but missed a 3 at the buzzer. Gerald Green had 18 of his 23 points in the third quarter, and Markieff Morris finished with 21 points. Beverley, who scored 12 in the fourth, made two free throws that boosted Houston’s lead to 113-110 with 20 seconds to go before Dragic scored on a layup to cut it to 113-112 with 14.7 seconds to play. Donatas Motiejunas sank two free throws with 14.1 seconds left to put Houston up 115-112.

KINGS 109, NUGGETS 95 Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points, Rudy Gay had 32 and Sacramento earned its first win in Denver in six years. DeMarcus Cousins added 27 points for the Kings, who snapped a nine-game losing streak to the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. It was Sacramento’s first win in the Mile High City since a 118-115 victory on April 5, 2008. The Kings have won three of their last four games overall. Randy Foye and Evan Fournier each scored 27

TRAIL BLAZERS 108, TIMBERWOLVES 97 Damian Lillard had 32 points and the shorthanded Trail Blazers rallied for the victory. Thomas Robinson had 14 points and a careerhigh 18 rebounds for Portland, which won its second straight after a three-game slump. Kevin Love scored 31 for Minnesota, which had won three in a row. It was Love’s franchisebest fifth straight game with 30 or more points. The Blazers played without All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed his third straight

LOS ANGELES: (Left to right) Paul Pierce No. 34 of the Brooklyn Nets, Pau Gasol No.16 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Andray Blatche of the Brooklyn Nets react to a foul in the second half at Staples Center. —AFP game with a groin injury. After trailing by as many as 18 points in the first half, Nicolas Batum’s fast-break layup gave Portland an 84-80 lead going into the fourth quarter. After Robinson’s basket, Victor Claver dunked to extend the lead to 88-80. WIZARDS 96, CAVALIERS 83 John Wall scored 21 points and Bradley Beal had 17, leading Washington to the road victory. The Wizards held the Cavaliers to 11 fourthquarter points to return to .500 at 28-28 on the season. They also strengthened their hold on the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The strong defensive performance in the final period came after Washington lost Nene to a sprained left knee midway through the third quarter. He had eight points, four rebounds and four assists in 21 minutes. Luol Deng led Cleveland with 17 points. The Cavaliers played without center Anderson Varejao (sore back) and guards Dion Waiters (hyperextended left knee) and C.J. Miles (sprained left ankle). Spencer Hawes, playing his second game since being acquired from Philadelphia on Thursday, had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland. RAPTORS 105, MAGIC 90 Kyle Lowry scored 28 points, DeMar DeRozan had 24 and the Raptors handed the Magic their 15th straight road loss. Terrence Ross scored 16 and Amir Johnson had 12 points and eight rebounds before leaving with a sprained right ankle in the Raptors’ fifth victory in six games. Toronto improved to 12-3 in its past 15 home games and moved six games above .500 for the first time since Feb 24, 2010, when its record was also 31-25. —AP

Pakistan starts defense of Asia Cup in Dhaka Al-Otaibi hands Dr. Ahmad Koura a memento.

An archer in action.

Duke holds on to beat NC State DURHAM: With the tension of tournament time coming up, coach Joanne P. McCallie wanted a test for No. 7 Duke. She can always count on getting one from North Carolina State - even when it looked like another blowout for the Blue Devils. Tricia Liston scored 24 points and Duke held on to beat No. 14 N.C. State 83-70 on Thursday night. Haley Peters scored five of her 13 for the Blue Devils (24-3, 11-2 ACC) after the Wolfpack trimmed their 24-point lead to four. “Exactly what we need,” McCallie said. “We need a lot more of those games, the idea of playing a very quality opponent, the idea of a hot shooter that we lost and didn’t find, of making incredible plays on our end. ... It’s this kind of year for those kind of games.” Alexis Jones and Richa Jackson each scored 12 for Duke, which never trailed and withstood a furious rally to take hold of second place in the conference behind unbeaten and second-ranked Notre Dame. The Blue Devils blocked a season-best eight shots, seven in the first half. Kody Burke had career highs of 30 points and six 3-pointers for NC State (22-5, 9-4), hitting three straight 3s during the rally. “That’s the reason we had a chance,” first-

year coach Wes Moore said. “She got us back in the game and gave us some momentum, and our kids fed off of that.” Her last one made it 70-66 with 31/2 minutes left. But NC State came up empty on its next four possessions - either missed shots or turnovers by freshman guards Miah Spencer and Ashley Williams. “You’ve obviously used a lot of energy to get there, but we had some momentum and you could feel it,” Moore said. And then Peters hit what Moore called “the big shot.” Her 3-pointer from the corner with 2 minutes left made it a seven-point game. She then stuck back Jones’ missed 3 to put Duke up 75-66 with about a minute remaining, and the Blue Devils pulled away for their third straight win in the series. “We just refocused when it got to a point where they caught back up,” Liston said. “We started getting stops on the defensive end. We started locating their shooters.” A tight finish should have been expected - even after the Blue Devils jumped out to that huge lead: Since McCallie took over at Duke in 2007, eight of the 10 meetings have been decided by 14 or fewer points. “No one’s ever going to quit in those games,” she said.—AP

DHAKA: Pakistan is determined to defend its trophy, but Sri Lanka’s captain Angelo Mathews remains optimistic as the two cricket giants face off in the opening match of the five-nation Asia Cup today, in the run-up to the Twenty20 World Cup. Pakistan, which won the title in 2012, is aiming to put pressure on its opponents with a team balancing experienced players and newcomers. Both teams are focusing not just on the opening match but on the whole tournament. “We have played a lot against Pakistan and India,” Mathews told reporters at a news briefing yesterday. “We know them and they also know us.” “All the teams are even. They will want to win the matches. We also would like to win. Hopefully there will be a really good competition,” he added. For today’s opening match at Fatullah, Sri Lanka has one thing in its favor - it played here a month ago against Bangladesh, winning two tests, three one-day internationals and two Twenty20s. “I think we need to show more good performance to go further,” Mathews said. “We beat Bangladesh 3-0 - that doesn’t mean that it would be easier for us to win the Asia Cup. It will be a tough tournament and there will be huge challenges.” He continued, “The main challenge will be to tackle spinners successfully. All the teams have good spinners.” Pakistan’s skipper Misbah-ul-Haq said Sunday they are taking spirit from the series wins over Sri Lanka and South Africa, and will fight to defend the Asia Cup title. The team beat Bangladesh in the 2012 final. While the team has several relatively inexperienced players including Sharjeel Khan, Sohaib Maqsood, Mohammad Talha, Bilawal Bhatti and Anwar Ali, it also has Misbah himself and Mohammad Hafeez, who will play the key role in batting. “Ahmed Shehzad has been part of our team for quite a while, he has been doing well,” Misbah said. “Sharjeel Khan had an average series, but he gave glimpses of being a good player, he can time the ball well. We are looking forward to seeing him develop into a good player,” he said. He has faith in Sohaib Maqsood too. “Maqsood played well in South Africa and against Sri Lanka. With experienced players, a few youngsters like Anwar Ali and Bilawal Bhatti, they are putting together some good scores. I am happy that it is a good, balanced unit,” he said. The Pakistan skipper is not willing to take the Asia Cup tournament lightly, and is even serious about first-timer Afghanistan. “All teams have ability to win against any side,” he said. “It will be good competition. The last Asia Cup was witness of that: Bangladesh beat two big teams and they came close to us. You can expect any team can win against any team. Squads: Pakistan Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Sharjeel Khan, Shahid Afridi,

DHAKA: Bangladeshi cricket captain Mushfiqur Rahim (left), Pakistan cricket captain Misbahul-Haq (second left), Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli (third left), Afghanistan cricket captain Mohammad Nabi (second right) and Sri Lankan cricket captain Angelo Mathews (right) hold the Asia Cup trophy during a trophy unveiling ceremony. The Asia Cup 2014 will be hosted by Bangladesh from today — March 8. —AFP Umar Akmal, Sohaib Maqsood, Fawad Alam, Saeed Chandimal, Lasith Malinga, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Ajmal, Abdul Rehman, Junaid Khan, Umar Gul, Kusal Perera, Kumar Sangak k ara, M ahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera, Anwar Ali, Bilawal Bhatti, Mohammad Talha Dhammika Prasad, Suranga Lakmal, Chaturanga De Silva, Sachithra Senanayake, Ajantha Mendis, Sri Lanka Angelo M athews (captain), Dinesh Ashan Priyanjan. —AP

South Africa skipper Smith salutes team’s comeback PORT ELIZABETH: South Africa achieved something in the second test that would have been beyond most teams, said captain Graeme Smith after his side’s 231-run win over Australia on Sunday. The world’s top-ranked outfit came under under-fire after their crushing 281-run defeat in the opening test but Smith was proud at the way his players responded as they set up a thrilling third and final match in Cape Town on Saturday. “We have had to draw on past experiences in this match to find a way to win,” he told reporters after South Africa bowled Australia out for 216 in their second innings on the fourth day. “It has been a difficult week for us after the Pretoria test. We knew we needed to be smart and clinical and work on good ideas on how we could respond. “I would say not many teams could respond in the way we did but it is something this side has done before,” added Smith. Having set a daunting victory target of 448,

South Africa were on the back foot when the tourists raced to 126 without loss but fired-up paceman Dale Steyn suddenly got the ball to reverse-swing and claimed four victims as Australia lost 10 wickets for 90 runs. “Dale always ranges from very angry to extremely angry when he bowls,” Smith joked. “But it was a hell of an effort from all the bowlers. “The intensity they showed with the ball on a wicket that did not do that much was amazing. To get nine wickets in a session is remarkable. “We always know Dale is one spell away from being able to create something for us. It is great to see that when the game is on the line he can respond like that.” Smith had an ominous warning for the Australians too. “Dale was carrying an injury going into this series,” said the captain. “He did not bowl much in the lead-up to the first test and he’s going to get better and better the more he bowls and the more we play.”—Reuters



Problems for Zenit, pies for Dortmund

MANCHESTER: Manchester United’s Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa (second right) laughs with Manchester United’s Serbian defender Nemanja Vidic (right) during a training session at their Carrington complex ahead of the UEFA Champions League football match against Olympiakos. —AFP

United, Olympiakos in crunch clash GREECE: Winning the Champions League has never been more important for Manchester United. Just to get a chance to rejoin Europe’s elite again. With United in an unusually lowly Premier League position, 11 points from the fourth Champions League place, qualifying for next season’s Champions League through the usual domestic route seems unlikely. So David Moyes’ side wants to build a strong first-leg lead at Olympiakos today to smooth the passage to the quarterfinals. And beyond, given how essential winning the May final is to the club’s pride and global standings. Here are five things to know about today’s round of 16 game in Greece: RESPITE IN EUROPE If only United’s European form had been replicated domestically, it wouldn’t be so bleak for Moyes during his first season in charge. In the Premier League, United is meekly surrendering the trophy, sitting in sixth place, only ahead of Everton on goal difference and having played an extra game. But United eased through the Champions League group stage with four wins, including an eye-catching 5-0 rout at Bayer Leverkusen, and two draws. Going through as group winner ensured the three-time European champion avoided potentially trickier teams at the start of the knockout phase. “Teams don’t want to play Manchester United,” Moyes said. “They know what it stands for as they have been successful. I hope we can play well enough to get through this round and see what happens next.” CONSTRASTING FORM While it’s miserable for United domestically, Olympiakos is unstoppable, sitting 23 points clear at the top of the Greek Super League. Just nine goals have been conceded in 26 games. “They are undoubtedly the best team in Greece, no question about it,” Moyes said. “They also have a lot of Greek internationals who will go to the World Cup and it will be a really tough game.” STOP ROONEY Olympiakos has lost all four previous encounters with United, and knows any chance of a reversal in fortunes hinges on stopping strikers Robin van Persie and

Wayne Rooney. Both scored on Saturday as United ended a three-match winless run in the league by beating Crystal Palace 2-0. And Rooney travels to Greece with his future settled, having signed a lucrative new United deal through 2019 on Friday. “The team will be very proud if they can stop Rooney and Van Persie scoring, Olympiakos director Pierre Issa said. “It’s a challenge to stop them. We will have to work hard.” STRIKER SHORTAGE Where will Olympiakos’ goals come from? There are just two fit strikers: Michael Olaitan and Nelson Valdez. Top scorer Javier Saviola is out of Tusday’s game with a thigh injury he sustained in the 4-0 win at OFI Crete on Saturday, and Konstantinos Mitroglou joined Fulham last month, “Mitroglou was a really good goalscorer for them and a main player,” Moyes said. “Does it weaken them? I think they’d rather have him than not but probably felt the offer was so good they had to take it. Since then, they’ve brought in two or three other players as well and I couldn’t be sure who will and won’t play.” RACISM IN THE STANDS UEFA will be keeping a close eye on the Olympiakos supporters on Tuesday after racist behavior by some during the final group stage match against Anderlecht led to UEFA sanctions. The lower tier of the north stand at Karaiskakis Stadium will be closed as punishment, and further racism could lead to the entire stadium being closed to fans for the next UEFA fixture. —AP

Matches on TV (Local Timings) UEFA Champions League Zenit v Dortmund 20:00 beIN SPORTS 2 HD beIN SPORTS 13 HD beIN SPORTS 5 HD Olympiakos v Man United 22:45 beIN SPORTS 2 HD beIN SPORTS 11 HD beIN SPORTS 13 HD

Osasuna shock Atletico 3-0 to leave Real three points clear MADRID: Atletico Madrid’s La Liga title challenge faltered when they slumped to a shock 3-0 defeat at Osasuna on Sunday that left Real Madrid three points clear at the top. Champions Barcelona and Real were held to draws at Osasuna’s El Sadar stadium in Pamplona earlier in the season and Atletico fell behind in the sixth minute when Alvaro Cejudo arrived unmarked at the back post at a corner to volley into the net. An error by fullback Juanfran allowed Emiliano Armenteros space to score with a long-range drive in the 21st minute and Roberto Torres nodded a third goal three minutes before the break. It was the first time Atletico conceded three goals in the first half since Argentine coach Diego Simeone took over at the end of 2011. Simeone rested several regulars before

bringing on playmakers Koke and Arda Turan and attacking midfielder Raul Garcia in the second half. Atletico forward Diego Costa, who has 21 goals in La Liga this season, toiled up front but a typically gritty defensive performance from Osasuna kept him at bay as they climbed to 12th on 29 points. Barcelona, Real and Atletico were level on 60 points before the latest round of matches but after Real cruised to a 3-0 win over Elche on Saturday, Barca were beaten 3-1 at Real Sociedad as coach Gerardo Martino’s decision to rest key players backfired. Barca and Atletico won impressively in midweek Champions League action but were unable to carry their form into the weekend. Real, who are unbeaten in 26 matches in all competitions and visit Atletico next Sunday, are top on 63 points with 13 games left.—Reuters

PAMPLONA: Atletico Madrid’s Brazilian forward Diego da Silva Costa (right) vies with Osasuna’s goalkeeper Andres Fernandez (left) during the Spanish League football match. —AFP

ST PETERSBURG: Borussia Dortmund fans will be offered tea and pies at Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday but there will be no such generosity on the pitch with the Russians intent on reaching their first Champions League quarter-final. Zenit would appear to be rank outsiders against last season’s runners-up after scraping through the group stage with a measly six points, the lowest-ever total with which a team has reached the round of 16. They mustered only one win in six group games and finished their campaign by losing 4-1 at Austria Vienna. They will also be rusty after a two-month winter break and will have to close part of the Petrovsky stadium as a punishment for racist behaviour by their fans in the Austria Vienna match. Even in an unusually mild Russian winter, it all adds up to a pretty grim outlook, yet Zenit coach Luciano Spalletti is anything but discouraged, claiming that the group stage results did not reflect their performances. “The team live for this competition and their careers are driven by it,” the Italian, whose team will be playing their first competitive match since early December, told “We have played in the Champions League for many years now, and we’ve fought well this season. We have many important qualities which means we can play at this level,” he added. “We drew the home match against Porto when we should have won, and it was the same against Austria Vienna, where we played with 10 men for more than an hour. “We deserved to collect more points, but overall we can be happy with our performance.” HEAVY DEFEAT Dortmund amassed 12 points in a much tougher group, featuring Napoli, Arsenal and Olympique Marseille although their domestic form has been inconsistent. After winning the Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012 and finishing second last season, they have had some ups and downs this season and are currently third. On Saturday, they suffered their heaviest away defeat for four seasons when they went down 3-0 at Hamburg SV but coach Juergen Klopp was confident they would rally. “We have often shown the right reaction in the Champions League in the past after losing league games,” he said. “It’s a completely different competition,”

ST.PETERSBURG: Borussia Dortmund’s players attend a training session in Russia’s second city of Saint Petersburg on the eve of UEFA Champions League last 16, first-leg football match against Zenit Saint Petersburg. —AFP added midfielder Nuri Sahin. “We will be well prepared in St Petersburg and we want to get a good result to bring back toDortmund.” Zenit have been ordered to close the four sections of the Petrovsky stadium used by their ultras and organise extra security measures following the incidents in Vienna, where their fans displayed racist banners and let off fireworks. The club’s general manager Maxim Mitrofanov said that season ticket holders for the ultras sections would not be allowed in other parts of the stadium, even if they bought tickets. He also warned of delays entering the

ground as club employees checked that none of the banned fans was trying to get in. “We understand that it’s hard to be outside at the stadium for a long time,” he told Zenit ’s website ( “Petrovsky does not have the most comfortable infrastructure, unfortunately, especially in winter time. So we’re going to give Borussia fans hot tea, and treat them to pirozhki (Russian pies). “We’ll show them true Russian hospitality, to soften the influence of any cold weather on the match atmosphere.” —Reuters

Juventus defeat Torino in Serie A derby match MILAN: Carloz Tevez struck again to help Juventus beat Torino 1-0 in the Turin derby on Sunday as Antonio Conte’s side maintained its charge to a third straight Serie A title. Tevez scored on the half hour mark, although Torino will feel aggrieved not to have been awarded a late penalty when Omar El Kaddouri appeared to be tripped by Andrea Pirlo. “It was a penalty on El Kaddouri,” Torino coach Giampiero Ventura said. “It’s disappointing because if (referee Nicola) Rizzoli had seen the penalty maybe we would have witnessed a different game. If we had drawn today it would have been a fair result.” It was Tevez’s 13th goal of the season and sees him move level with Giuseppe Rossi at the top of the goalscoring table. The Fiorentina striker was injured at the beginning of January and is out for the rest of the season. Juventus moved nine points ahead of second-placed Roma, which has a game in hand. “It wasn’t easy,” Conte said. “But we conceded very little to Torino. There was contact but fortunately the referee chose well. “We were calmer last year. Behind us we have a team like Roma, which is more dangerous that Napoli was last year. They don’t make mistakes, they have enthusiasm and desire.” In the race for the final Europa League spot, Torino slipped four points below fifth-placed Inter Milan which could only draw 1-1 at home to relegation-threatened Cagliari. Hellas Verona almost squandered a three-goal lead but held on to win 3-2 at struggling Livorno and moved a point behind Inter. Luca Toni scored his 12th of the season for Verona. Elsewhere, AC Milan recovered from its disappointing Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid by winning 2-0 at Sampdoria, which had former Rossoneri striker Maxi Lopez sent off. New signings Adel Taarabt and Adil Rami both scored their second Milan goals. Also, Chievo Verona beat Catania 2-0 in a relegation fight and Udinese drew 1-1 against Atalanta. In the evening match, bottom club Sassuolo levelled twice - including one equalizer by

TURIN: Juventus’ French midfielder Paul Pogba fights for the ball with Torino’s defender Cesare Bovo (hidden) during the Italian Serie A football match. —AFP

former Lazio striker Sergio Floccari - but lost 3-2 at Lazio. Stefano Radu struck twice for Lazio, including a stunning opener off the inside of the post from more than 30 meters (yards). Juventus had won all 12 of its home league matches this season and hadn’t lost in the derby since 1995 - a run of 15 matches. Play had to be halted when Ciro Immobile - who is co-owned by Juventus and has already scored 13 goals this season broke the goal with a fierce shot into the sidenetting which pulled the net off its support. Juventus took the lead after 30 minutes when Tevez controlled Kwadwo Asamoah’s cross with his back to goal and swiveled to fire an unstoppable effort into the near bottom corner. There was controversy 10 minutes from time as El Kaddouri appealed furiously for a penalty but the referee instead booked the on-loan Napoli midfielder for

diving. Replays appeared to prove El Kaddouri right but his dramatic fall may have cost him. Cagliari had lost five of its past six matches but took a surprise lead four minutes from halftime, Mauricio Pinilla converted a penalty after Victor Ibarbo’s shot was deflected off Walter Samuel and onto Juan Jesus’ arm. Inter leveled seven minutes after the break when Yuto Nagatomo crossed to the far post where Mauro Icardi headed on for Rolando to bundle in from close range. Inter almost snatched all three points but Icardi’s header crashed off the crossbar in the final minute. Milan’s chances of a European spot were reignited after another solid performance moved it five points behind Inter. Milan had put on by far its best display of the season in the 1-0 defeat to Atletico in the first leg of its Champions League tie but had a massive injury list which includ-

ed Mario Balotelli. However, it continued from where it left off on Wednesday and took the lead in the 12th minute. Taarabt’s header from Rami’s cross was parried by Angelo Da Costa at point-blank range but the on-loan Queens Park Rangers midfielder turned in the rebound. The Morocco international was involved in the controversial second goal, crossing for Rami to head home after Da Costa had fumbled. Sampdoria players were furious as they felt Milan striker Giampaolo Pazzini had crashed into their goalkeeper. Substitute Maxi Lopez was sent off in the 72nd, receiving a second yellow card for comments to the referee immediately after being booked. Chievo moved out of the relegation zone with its first win in 10 matches and is a point above Livorno and two ahead of Catania. —AP



Lennon sets new targets for unbeaten Celtic GLASGOW: Celtic manager Neil Lennon has challenged his players to make history by smashing the club’s own record points haul in the Scottish Premiership. The Hoops boss has watched proudly on as goalkeeper Fraser Forster first surpassed the club’s clean sheet record before setting a new Scottish shut-out record in the 2-0 win on Saturday. The English ‘keeper has now gone 13 consecutive matches and 1,215 minutes without conceding a goal as he closes in

on Edwin van der Sar’s British record. Now Lennon has set his sights on surpassing another landmark in what could be a record-breaking league campaign. Lennon was part of the Celtic team that racked up 103 points under Martin O’Neill in the 2000/2001 season. However, the Parkhead boss believes his squad can top that, with his side on target to reach 108 points if they win their remaining 12 games. “It would be quite something to get

more than 100 points and more than we got under Martin in 2002,” Lennon said. “It is a target we are aiming for. We want to try to remain unbeaten until the end of the season but it might be a step too far.” Celtic head north to Aberdeen today looking for their 16th consecutive league win but they will find it tough at Pittodrie. The Dons defeated Lennon’s side at Parkhead a fortnight ago to knock the Hoops out of the Scottish Cup and were the last side to score past Forster on

league duty way back in November. Derek McInnes’ side are Celtic’s closest challengers, albeit 24 points off the pace after a surprise 3-1 defeat to Partick Thistle on Saturday, and Lennon knows his side can expect a tough test today. “Aberdeen are the only team to have scored against us in quite a while now and they provide us with very stiff opposition,” Lennon said. “They played very well against us a couple of weeks ago. Our focus is on maintaining this run now.

We’ve broken the clean sheet record and we would like to go as long as possible unbeaten but that is going to be very difficult. “It’s got all the ingredients for a great game and we will need to maintain our focus between now and the end of the season if we are to remain undefeated.” Elsewhere today, Ross County host Inverness Caledonian Thistle at Victoria Park for the Highland derby and St Johnstone welcome Motherwell to McDiarmid Park. —AFP

Pressure on Japan to wrest Asian club crown from China

Barcelona’s Brazilian forward Neymar

Barca pays 13.5m euros to tax office over Neymar BARCELONA: Barcelona paid 13.55 million euros ($18.6 million) to Spanish tax authorities yesterday to cover any potential irregularities in its signing of Neymar, all the while maintaining its innocence of the fraud charges levied against it. The Spanish champion said in a statement it had paid the “complimentary” amount to cover any “eventual interpretations that could come out of the contracts signed relating to the transfer of Neymar. Meanwhile we are convinced of the legality of our initial fulfilment relating to our tax obligations.” Barcelona’s actions take the price of Neymar’s transfer to more than 100 million euros ($138 million) after the Catalan club initially said it had paid 57.1 million euros ($74 million) for the Brazil forward. That sum does not include bonus payments made by Barcelona or the 22-yearold’s salary, meaning his total cost likely exceeds the record-breaking 100 million euros-plus spent by rival Real Madrid on Gareth Bale last summer. Spanish tax authorities had charged Barcelona with fraud on Thursday, alleging it swindled the state of 9.1 million euros ($12.5 million) through payments to vary-

ing companies and false contracts. Barcelona said it had “scrupulously” met its financial obligations in signing the player from Brazilian club Santos and it would continue to work with the state authority in the matter. Neymar’s signing forced the resignation of Sandro Rosell as president last month, after one club member’s petition to learn more about the intricate details of what has become a club-record signing were kept in the dark. Rosell has preached financial prudence while signing lucrative sponsorship deals that have put advertising on the front of Barcelona’s jersey for the first time in the history of an institution that considers itself “more than a club” and a symbol of Catalan values. Rosell is being investigated by the same Spanish court that laid the fraud charges against the club. Of the initial transfer fee, Brazilian club Santos received 17.1 million euros ($23 million) while Neymar ’s father, who also goes by Neymar, earned 40 million euros ($55 million). Barcelona said the decision to make the payment came after an emergency board meeting on Sunday. —AP

Minnows Gibraltar ready for Euro baptism of fire NICE: It was almost inevitable that when the draw for the 2016 European Championship qualifiers took place on Sunday, tiny Gibraltar would find themselves together with Spain. The British Overseas Territory, little more than a rock jutting out of the bottom of the Iberian peninsula, has long been the source of tension between Spain and Britain. Spain’s political claim to Gibraltar was behind their decision to vote against them being accepted as the newest members of UEFA last year, although that was not enough to block their entry. It was, however, enough to persuade UEFA to prevent them from playing in the same group in the Euro 2016 campaign, Gibraltar’s first with the international big boys, so when they came out alongside Spain in Group C on Sunday in Nice, a quick alteration was made to place them in Group D instead. Rather than playing the reigning world and European champions, they will come up against Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Poland, Scotland and Georgia. It is arguably the most daunting of the nine qualifying groups for the 24-team finals in France, but Gibraltar, with its population of around 30,000, are just delighted to be a part of it all. “We’re extremely happy with the draw and we’ve got Germany there as arguably the biggest name within the group,” the Gibraltar Football Association’s CEO Dennis Beiso, told AFP. “But also the fact that we’ve drawn Scotland and the Republic of Ireland is very symbolic. We have excellent relations with both associations, we have done for a good number of years now, and to be able to welcome them to our home away from home in

Portugal, but also to be able to go to Dublin and Glasgow, is just absolutely tremendous for us.” Just as they did in November, when they held Slovakia to a goalless draw in a friendly, Gibraltar will play their games in Faro on Portugal’s Algarve while they await construction of an 8,000-capacity venue on the rock itself. That, Beiso says, will be ready by September 2016, when they hope to have been accepted by FIFA to play a part in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. ‘MOMENTOUS CHANGE’ He admits the step up to the international big time has led to a “momentous change on and off the pitch” for Gibraltar, but now the preparations will begin in earnest for their opening qualifier, which will be at ‘home’ in Faro against Poland on Sunday, September 7. Gibraltar have implemented the same eligibility rules as the home nations, meaning that any player wishing to represent the national team must either have been born there or have direct family links. The 49-year-old coach Allen Bula admits that his talent pool is probably the smallest of any UEFA member as a result - even San Marino has a population of 33,000. But he has introduced British-based professionals such as veteran former Manchester United defender Danny Higginbotham and Scott Wiseman of Preston North End to help out the team. “I’m looking at the long-term. I need the right balance and the right players to give us more professionalism on and off the field and help our local players who have been there for quite a lot of years,” said Bula.—AFP

SEOUL: Pressure is mounting on Japanese clubs to emulate the regional dominance of their national side as the Asian Champions League kicks off today, with J-League sides looking to break a five-year drought in the continental competition. The J-League has fallen behind its South Korean and Chinese domestic counterparts in recent years, with Gamba Osaka’s 2008 title followed by three South Korean wins and the victory by a Marcello Lippi-led Guangzhou Evergrande of China last season. Japan, along with Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia, has four representatives in the 32 team tournament that is divided into west and eastern zones until the quarterfinal stage for geographical reasons. J-League champion Sanfrecce Hiroshima is the leading contender, despite having crashed out in last year’s group stage without a single victory. “Last year we were not technically or tactically inferior but over powered by our opponents’ physical strength,” said Sanfrecce coach Hajime Moriyasu, who led the club to a second successive J.League title in 2013. “ We need to win our home games. The teams that compete in the AFC Champions League use different tactics when playing home or away. We have to get those vital three points in our own stadium.” Cerezo Osaka boasts veteran Uruguay striker Diego Forlan,

who signed in February in a deal reportedly worth $5.6 million. The 2010 World Cup Most Valuable Player will link up with highly-rated Japanese international Yoichiro Kakitani.

ten continental titles in total. With talent being lost to the increasingly lucrative Chinese Super League, a continuation of such success will be challenging, despite three of its four representatives - Jeonbuk

Marcello Lippi Forlan is not the only big name import looking to make his mark in the Champions League, with Italian international Alessandro Diamanti joining Guangzhou in its quest to become the first team since 2005 to defend the title. “I know that Guangzhou is the champion, but it will not be easy to win the title again,” Diamanti said. South Korea teams have contested the past five finals and boast

Motors, Ulsan Horangi and Pohang Steelers - all having lifted the trophy in the past decade. The other Korean representative is 2013 runner up FC Seoul. The club has seen two of its biggest stars, Dejan Damjanovic and Ha Dae-sung, leave for Chinese clubs in deals worth a combined total of almost $10 million. “Ha and Dejan are big losses for the team,” midfielder Yun Il-rok said. “But . Seoul

are still strong as a team and it does not matter so much about the specific players,” said Yun. Three Australian teams are contesting the Champions League for the first time this year, with Central Coast and Melbourne Victory aiming to improve on poor past performances, while Western Sydney Wanderers makes a debut in just its second season of existence. In the western half of the draw, 2011 champion Al Sadd of Qatar returns to the tournament for the first time since. That win over Jeonbuk Motors in a penalty shootout is the only win for the western part of the confederation since 2005. Iran has yet to record a title triumph in the current version of the tournament, which was launched in 2003. Foolad Khouzestan is in the competition for the first time and has high ambitions. “There are lots of advantages to being a new team in the AFC Champions League,” said midfielder Shahab Karami. “Nobody really knows what we are capable of, so we have a great opportunity to surprise a lot of teams.” The 2003-winner Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates has struggled to make a mark in recent years. Boasting stars such as Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan and Omar Abdulrahman, who has recently been linked to English giants Arsenal and Manchester City, the team is targeting a return to the top of Asian football. —AP

Shiffrin enters as veterans exit swinging Olympic doors ROSA KHUTOR: US teen Mikaela Shiffrin claimed slalom gold to usher in a new wave of younger skiers as a raft of decorated veterans exited the revolving doors of the Olympic Winter Games. Shiffrin became the youngest ever slalom champion at just 18, a year after claiming world gold, the perfect fresh-faced and selfassured tonic for a sport hit by the absence of injured media darling Lindsey Vonn. “It is OK to be confident, it does not jinx anything, it is not arrogant, it is a fact that you come to the Olympics to win,” Shiffrin said. “I know that my fastest skiing is fast enough for gold. Miracles are not random. You control your own destiny. You can make your own journey. “I am already dreaming of the next Olympics and winning five gold medals.” While the American teenager could realistically be around for at least the next three Olympics, two veterans of women’s alpine skiing will not be reappearing at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games: Tina Maze and Maria HoeflRiesch. Maze of Slovenia ended the alpine skiing as the most successful skier in both sexes after claiming golds in the downhill and giant slalom, the former shared in a frustrating first with unheralded Swiss Dominique Gisin. “It’s more than we expected. If you believe, it can happen. I wanted to show my best, especially here, the most important race of the season,” said Maze, who also won two silvers at the Vancouver Games in 2010. HoeflRiesch won combined gold and super-G silver to go with two Vancouver golds, and she and Maze, both proven performers on the world championships and World Cup stages, will be sorely missed in 2018. THRILL-LOVING MILLER There were also two medals apiece for Austrians Anna Fenninger (super-G gold, giant slalom silver) and Nicole Hosp (combined silver, super-G bronze). With Matthias Mayer claiming a surprise gold in the opening men’s downhill, and veteran Mario Matt-now the oldest Olympic champion in alpine ski-

ing-and Marcel Hirscher completing a 1-2 in the closing slalom, Austria secured a total of nine medals (three gold, four silver, two bronze) to top the nations’ table. It was thrill-loving American Bode Miller who had set the pace in speed training on a Rosa Khutor course he described, in a back-handed compliment, as one where “someone could get killed”. But Miller, in his fifth Olympics, had to settle for a super-G bronze, becoming the oldest skier to finish on the podium, at 36 years and 127 days, with his sixth Winter Games medal. Miller’s teammate Ted Ligety again proved his mastery in the giant slalom to win the discipline. But Ligety was unable to reproduce his treble gold medal-winning performance from last year’s world championships in Schladming, and in the absence of speed queen Vonn, the US team finished second to Austria in the medal table (2-1-2). The men’s results were generally a mixed bag, with Miller and

Norwegian colossus Aksel Lund Svindal failing to go home with what they were tipped to win. Svindal, in particular, seemed flat, unable to carry over his impressive World Cup form and the Norwegian eventually left Russia early after running out of patience with an ongoing allergy. JANSRUD AN IDOL His teammate Kjetil Jansrud won the super-G and claimed downhill bronze, his country’s only medals, Italian Christof Innerhofer won Italy’s two in the downhill and super-combined (silver and bronze). Jansrud’s victory in the second speed event meant Norway have now won the last four men’s Olympic super-G titles following Kjetil Andre Aamodt’s victories in 2002 and 2006, and Svindal’s win in 2010. “Jansrud is absolutely an idol for young Norwegians,” beamed Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg after the race. One to watch for the future is certainly 19-year-old Henrik Kristoffersen, who claimed

Gold medallist US skier Mikaela Shiffrin.

bronze in slalom after negotiating a second run set by Croat Ante Kostelic which Ligety branded “borderline unsportsmanlike” after 12 of the top 30 bombed out. There was a shock win for Switzerland’s Sandro Viletta in the super-combined, one of several random results for skiers with few or even no World Cup podiums to their name. French unknown Steve Missillier won giant slalom silver and American Andrew Weibrecht claimed super-G silver after winning bronze in Vancouver and doing nothing in between. “It’s been a pretty difficult four years,” Weibrecht philosophised. “It’s not like Roger Federer who won maybe 120 tennis matches and lost just one. “It’s the essence of ski racing, you have to learn to manage disappointment a lot of the time.” It snowed only once in three weeks of training and competition, but a team of 500 piste workers did an amazing job in keeping the courses in, largely, very good condition. —AFP

Problems for Zenit, pies for Dortmund



Barca pays 13.5m euros to tax office over Neymar


Pakistan starts defense of Asia Cup in Dhaka

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DAYTONA BEACH: Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet, Marcos Ambrose, driver of the No. 9 Stanley Ford, Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota, and Bobby Labonte, driver of the No. 52 Pheonix Construction Chevrolet, are involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500. (Inset) Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrates in Victory Lane with the the Harley J Earl trophy. — AFP

Earnhardt Jr. ends decade long drought DAYTONA BEACH: Through rain and wrecks, on Daytona’s longest day, this was a drought Dale Earnhardt Jr. was determined to end. NASCAR’s most popular driver won the Daytona 500 for the second time - a decade after his first victory - to snap a 55-race losing streak dating to 2012. The victory Sunday night ended a streak of futility at Daytona International Speedway, where he finished second in three of the previous four 500s. “Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said Earnhardt, who climbed from his car in Victory Lane and hugged every member of his Hendrick Motorsports crew. “I didn’t know if I’d ever get the chance to feel it again and it feels just as good.” As he crossed the finish line in his No. 88 Chevrolet, the few who withstood a rain delay of 6 hours, 22 minutes screaming their support, Earnhardt euphorically radioed his crew, saying: “This is better than the first one!” He was met by Rick Hendrick after his victory lap, and the team owner climbed into the driver’s window for a ride to Victory Lane. “The world is right right now - Dale Junior just won the Daytona 500,” teammate Jeff Gordon said. “That’s a sign it’s going to be a great season.”

Rain stopped the race about 45 minutes after it began for a delay of more than six hours. When it resumed, Earnhardt dominated at the track where his father was killed in an accident on the last lap of the 2001 race. He led six times for a race-high 54 laps - all after the rain delay - and seemed to have it under control until things got chaotic near the end. There were 42 lead changes and four multi-car accidents as the field closed in on the checkered flag. An accident with seven laps to go triggered by pole-sitter Austin Dillon, driving the No. 3 Earnhardt’s father’s number making its return to the Daytona 500 for the first time since 2001 - set up a final two-lap shootout to the finish. Earnhardt got a great jump past Brad Keselowski on the restart, and had Gordon behind him protecting his bumper. But Denny Hamlin came charging through the field and Earnhardt suddenly had a challenger with one lap to go. Then an accident farther back involving former winners Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray brought out the caution and the win belonged to Earnhardt. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart,” Earnhardt said. “This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.” Hamlin, who won two other races in the

buildup to Sunday was trying to become the first driver to sweep Daytona, wound up second in a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. He was strongest before the rain delay, but had an issue with his radio when the race resumed and had difficulty hearing his spotter. “It was tough and disappointing because I definitely could have used my spotter there at the end,” Hamlin said. “I’m trying to look up at the scoreboard, trying to figure out how many laps are left. I’m so 50-50 on whether I’m (mad) or I’m happy. I just don’t know. Any other year, I probably would have been jumping up and down.” Keselowski finished third in a Team Penske Ford, and said after watching a replay he knew he had no chance to win once drivers behind him committed to their moves and Hamlin came charging alongside him. “I don’t feel like there’s anything I could have done differently,” Keselowski said. But as a driver who got his break when Earnhardt hired him to drive for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series, Keselowski was able to deal with his disappointment. “If there’s ever a guy who is due, it’s the guy who finished second three out of the last four years. He was due,” Keselowski said. “So I’m happy for him and happy for all those guys. He’s probably my best friend in the garage outside of my teammate.” Hendrick took fourth and fifth with Gordon

and last year’s race winner, Jimmie Johnson, in what quickly became a company-wide celebration. “He’s been knocking on the door of the 500 for a lot of years. He got it done tonight - did an awesome job,” said Johnson, who beat Earnhardt to the finish line a year ago. The win means Hendrick already has one of his four drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Under the new win-and-get-in format announced last month, Earnhardt is now eligible to race for the title and can spend the next 25 races preparing for the postseason. “We might be in the Chase - I ain’t going to worry about that,” Earnhardt said from Victory Lane. “Trust me, man, we’re going to have a blast this year.” Rain wreaked havoc on the event for the third time in six years, and this year’s race was stopped after 38 laps as a strong storm blew into the area. The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning in the area and advised people to take shelter, and fans fled from the grandstands. NASCAR rolled out the track drying system Air Titan for several failed attempts over the delay. It was the only on-track activity for more than six hours, but there was plenty of behind-the-scenes fun as drivers desperately tried to stay entertained. David Ragan made a pizza run in his firesuit, Hamlin played basketball, Clint Bowyer answered fans questions on Twitter and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s crew practiced tornado drills.

Nadal proves his form with masterful Rio win

Federer serves up hot starter at Dubai Open DUBAI: Grand Slam record-holder Roger Federer began the second phase of what he hopes will be a revival of his fortunes by racing into the second round of the Dubai Open. In the process, he displayed some care-free hitting, lively footwork, and an air of authority which evoked his greatest days. Beating Benjamin Becker, the German once ranked in the a top 40, 6-1, 6-4, was some way from suggesting these might return, but Federer did look pleasingly upbeat and confident as he dispatched a competent middlerange opponent in only 62 minutes. The 32-year-old Swiss legend, now ranked only eight, wants to do well in Dubai to show his Australian open semi-final last month represented a step forward and not backwards, and that his game still has the potential to reach its former levels. “I’m playing top tennis right now, so I don’t need to top that stuff,” Federer claimed for his Melbourne efforts, which saw him beat Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and former Australian Open finalist Tomas Berdych. “For me it’s a matter of staying healthy now, staying consistent, and getting to semifinals and finals consistently and giving myself opportunities really. I feel I am in good enough shape as in a year at least now.” Certainly Federer has never made a more eyecatching start to this tournament. He made several effective forays to the net and found an extra gear with his ground strokes when he had chances to break serve, which he did twice in the first set and once in the second.

He also managed one moment of pure theatre. Forced by a Becker lob to make a hasty retreat from the net, Federer not only managed that but responded with a hot dog — a shot between the legs- - which parabolaed into a perfect counter-lob, and set up an unanswerable drop shot. “It’s rare to hit a lob with a hot dog, and I’m happy he got the ball back,” said Federer, probably wishing not to humiliate Becker, though the rapture with which the winning two-shot combo was received must have been disconcerting. Federer’s only faltering moments came while he was closing the match out at 5-4. He failed to convert two match points, made three unforced errors in a row and went break point down when he volleyed wide. But afterwards he seemed satisfied with his work. “You have to be a little bit confident to play attacking tennis,” he said. “Thank god I served well, which you have to in the quicker conditions here in Dubai. Then if you hit well you have an opportunity to come in.” It had been, he suggested “really good fun out there.” Relaxation was at the root of his confidence, and days of practice on these Dubai courts was how he engendered the confidence. “Really I’ve been preparing for this like for a really big tournament. I’ve been here since Saturday now, or Friday”, Federer said. “I’ve had over a week’s preparation with not much to do other than practise, so it’s been a really good preparation. I hope it’s going to pay off.”

It hit absurd levels as Fox Sports tried to fill the air time with a replay of the 2013 race that hundreds of thousands did not understand wasn’t a live broadcast. Social media exploded with congratulatory tweets for last year’s winner, Johnson, who posted on his account: “I hear I won the #Daytona500? Haha! I also have friends confused and texting congratulations to me.” Fellow drivers had fun with the widespread error, too. “Wait a minute! I’m confused, did @JimmieJohnson win or not?” Bowyer tweeted. Plenty of fans on Twitter were confused throughout the replay, tweeting along as if the race was live. Deadspin ran some of them under the headline, “Scores Of Idiots Don’t Realize Fox Is Airing Last Year’s Daytona 500.” Even NASCAR couldn’t resist jokingly weighing in on the confusion. “Congrats @JimmieJohnson amazing,” tweeted Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations. Piling onto the strange story line, Fox’s raindelayed coverage was sponsored by the movie “Noah,” which opens March 28 and stars Russell Crowe as the title character who builds an arc to save creation from a massive flood. When the cars finally got back on track, Earnhardt took off. He had some challenges, particularly from the Roush Fenway Racing duo of Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards, but he managed to break free every time it mattered. — AFP

DUBAI: Roger Federer of Switzerland returns the ball to Benjamin Becker of Germany during their match on the first day of the ATP Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. —AFP If he wins the title back he will prevent Novak Djokovic from equalling his record of five titles here. He next plays the winner between Radek Stepanek, the gifted former top ten Czech, and Michael Russell, the 106th ranked American, and is seeded to play Djokovic in the semis. Djokovic begins his campaign on Tuesday against Denis Istomin, the world number 54 from Uzbekistan. — AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO: World number one Rafael Nadal shrugged off the injury concerns that wrecked his Australian Open bid as he dismantled Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 7-6 to win the Rio Open on Sunday. The 13-time Grand Slam winner showed no evidence of the back injury that hampered him in Melbourne as he wrapped up his 48th ATP title against an opponent with no answer to the relentless pressure exerted by the Spanish clay-court legend. And by winning a 43rd career clay court title, the 27-year-old threw down a gauntlet to pretenders to his French Open crowd which he defends in Paris in May. Nadal went into the match with a 4-0 winning record against Dolgopolov with the Ukrainian never having even broken the world number one’s service. And the Spaniard was on top quickly in the first set, breaking Dolgopolov’s second service game to love as the Ukrainian made a succession of unforced errors. Dolgopolov could find no rhythm against Nadal’s trademark topspins on the Rio clay and made little inroads into the world number one’s service games as he raced into a 4-1 lead in less than 20 minutes. Dolgopolov held his next service game with three aces and earned a break point in the crucial seventh-the best of the matchwhich Nadal saved with incredible retrieving and a sublime drop shot. Nadal snuffed out two further break point opportunities and finally took the game himself as Dolgopolov, seeking to shorten the points in intense humidity, shelled a forehand long. The disappointment of squandering

three break points appeared to deflate the Ukrainian and Nadal took the first set 6-3 with a love service game in 39 minutes. The second set followed a similar pattern, as Nadal broke the mercurial Ukrainian in his second service game, taking it with a drilled backhand that Dolgopolov was unable to dig out at his feet. Dolgopolov hit several exquisite winners, especially from the backhand wing but struggled to find a consistent enough game to trouble Nadal, who hit only a handful of unforced errors in the whole match. To his credit, the Ukrainian refused to buckle and broke Nadal’s serve for the first time ever as the world number one attempted to serve out the match. The success appeared to galvanise Dolgopolov who held his serve to take a 6-5 lead, forcing Nadal to hold for a tie-break, which he did. In the tie-break, Dolgopolov hit a crucial double-fault followed by an unforced error on his backhand to give Nadal an early lead and the world number one needed no second invitation, taking the set 7-6 and the match in one hour and 41 minutes. Nadal had a less-than-smooth run-in to the final, surviving two match points to edge compatriot Pablo Andujar in the semifinal 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (12/10). In contrast, Dolgopolov pulled off a shock against second seed David Ferrer in the other semi-final, beating the Spaniard 64, 6-4. Earlier in the day, Japanese player Kurumi Nara won her first WTA crown, beating Klara Zakopalova from the Czech Republic 6-1, 4-6, 6-1. —AFP

‘Leaner’ HSBC bank unveils profits jump to $16.2bn


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UK oil firms to pay for new regulatory body


Page 23 Markaz registers net profit of KD7.46m for 2013

Heathrow airport passenger numbers up 3.4% in 2013

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LONDON: (L-R) Bosnian Prime Minister Vjekoslav Bevanda, Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, Montenegro’s Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaci and EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti attend a press conference following the prime ministers’ session at the European Bank for Reconstruction and development (EBRD) “Investing in the Western Balkans” conference in London yesterday. The EBRD conference brought together seven prime ministers from the Balkans. —AFP

EU-IMF creditors back in Greece for talks Athens eyes deal in two weeks to help pay debts ATHENS: EU-IMF creditors began a new audit of Greek finances yesterday, with Athens hoping for a deal in two weeks to help it meet debt repayments, a finance ministry source said. “The talks begin today,” the source told AFP. “We want this to be over by March 10 owing to the country’s need to repay maturing debt,” the official added. Greece needs to repay 6.6 billion euros ($9.0 billion) in treasury bills by late April, according to the debt management agency. Greek state news agency ANA said there were 8.3 billion euros in euro-zone loans and another 3.6 billion euros from IMF loans to be claimed by Athens, pending from last year. The talks began ahead of a Bank of Greece announcement, expected by next week, on the

estructuring requirements of the country’s four main lenders-National Bank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and Eurobank. According to Greek reports, preliminary estimates based on stress tests by private analysts BlackRock indicate that about five billion euros will be required to help the banks cope with ongoing challenges, including mounting bad loans. However, the Financial Times reported yesterday that according to IMF estimates, close to 20 billion euros could be required. The Bank of Greece declined to comment. “We will not comment (on the FT report),” a BoG source said. “The results will be released very soon.” The so-called ‘troika’ of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund first bailed out

Greece in 2010 with a program worth 110 billion euros. When that failed to stabilize the economy, they agreed a much tougher second rescue in 2012 worth 130 billion euros, plus a private sector debt write-off of more than 100 billion euros. Greece has struggled to meet the terms of this second package but hopes it has now done enough to satisfy the troika, especially in achieving a ‘primary budget surplus’-that is, in the black before debt costs. Greece says it achieved a primary surplus, before interest charges, of 1.5 billion euros in 2013. Threat to stop debt-service payments EU data agency Eurostat is expected formally to announce the size of the surplus in April. “I

Kuwait falls before three-day holiday MIDEAST STOCK MARKETS DUBAI: Kuwait’s bourse retreated 0.5 percent yesterday, slumping to its lowest level since Jan 19 in its fourth straight loss, ahead of a threeday public holiday. Kuwait-listed shares in Bahraini firm Gulf Finance House slipped 1.6 percent, although the company posted fourthquarter net profit that more than doubled. Its Bahrain-listed shares tumbled 6.5 percent. Saudi Arabia’s bourse rose to a 67-month high yesterday as investors shifted funds towards real estate shares, while most other regional markets closed on a positive note. The Saudi real estate sector’s index gained 3.7 percent; developer Jabal Omar jumped 5.5 percent. Investors tend to shift from blue chips after earnings season towards other sectors that may have more upside. Petrochemical shares edged up with Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) climbing 0.2 percent. “Saudi petchems are trading at reasonable valuations - they should do well in the medium term with good dividend support,” said Nitin Garg, petrochemical analyst at SICO Bahrain. “Product prices will remain strong because supply is limited and demand is growing. SABIC and Tasnee (National Industrialization ) are trading at attractive valuations, while others are at fair prices.” The wider index climbed 0.4 percent to its highest level since July 2008. In the United Arab Emirates, Dubai’s bourse recovered sharp losses driven by profit-taking to end flat at 4,124 points, bouncing from an intra-day low of 4,026 points. “Based on how fast the market has been

going up, we need a correction for the longterm uptrend to be sustainable,” said Bruce Powers, technical analyst and president at WideVision. Any close below last week’s low of 4,098 points would increase the chance of a significant pull-back, he added. Retail investors’ favorite Union Properties led gains, up 4.7 percent after the firm’s board recommended lifting its foreign ownership limit to 25 percent though current foreign ownership is only 4.35 percent. Abu Dhabi’s bourse came off lows to gain 0.2 percent. After soaring in the past 12 months it is now moving sideways, and Powers expects it to remain choppy for the time being. In Qatar, Gulf International Services (GISS) surged 8.9 percent to a record high after its board proposed a full-year dividend of 2 riyals per share, up from 1.5 riyals in 2012. But the firm posted a higher fourth-quarter net loss of 211 million riyals ($58 million). GISS was the main support for the Qatari index, which ticked up 0.1 percent to a 67-month high. EGYPT Cairo’s benchmark advanced 0.5 percent, closing above the psychologically important level of 8,000 points for a second session. Real estate firm Amer Group jumped 10 percent, leading trading activity after the board recommended 0.3 Egyptian pounds of cash dividend for 2013 and 0.5 bonus share for each share held. The developer posted a 79 percent drop in net profit for 2013. — Reuters

am certain that a deal will be achieved before the next Eurogroup (on March 10),” deputy prime minister Evangelos Venizelos said on Saturday after talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. “The results of sacrifices by the Greek people are extremely impressive. The fiscal adjustment is unique,” said Venizelos, head of the socialist party in the government coalition. He added that Greece still had to enact “structural measures, measures that boost competitiveness, modernize the state, open the market”. The government has pledged to eliminate regulatory restrictions in food processing, retail trade, building materials and tourism that are “potentially harmful” to competition according to a study commissioned by Athens last year from

the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. However, Samaras faces risky local elections in May in which his conservative party’s main rivals, the anti-austerity leftist party Syriza, are poised to score major gains. Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras said on Sunday that a leftist government would demand an emergency EU summit on public debt. And if Greece were to be denied debt relief “we will cut off debt service payments, even unilaterally, if necessary to meet the needs of the Greek economy and society,” he told To Vima weekly. “However, I do not think this will happen. It’s in nobody’s interest,” Tsipras said. The Greek central bank has warned that electoral bickering could hurt the economic recovery. — AFP

Raider Icahn takes aim at eBay NEW YORK: Corporate raider Carl Icahn took aim at eBay yesterday, calling it to hive off payments unit PayPal while blasting its directors for conflicts of interest and its CEO as “asleep”. In a harsh attack on the online marketplace and auction site, Icahn said eBay needs to unleash PayPal to allow it to grow more aggressively to compete better in the online payments sector. “We believe creating two dedicated and highly focused independent businesses would provide employees and stockholders the best opportunity to remain competitive over the long term,” Icahn wrote in an open letter to the company. “We hope that all eBay stockholders recognize that PayPal is at a critical point in its development and that the payments market is rapidly evolving around it.” Icahn’s letter said his investment units, including Icahn Partners, Icahn Master and High River, have acquired 27.8 million shares of eBay, 2.15 percent of those outstanding. He savaged the company’s board, particularly directors Marc Andreessen and Scott Cook, as not working in the interest of shareholders, and said chief executive John Donahoe “seems to be completely asleep”. “How can Mr. Donahoe be the right person to make the strategic decisions necessary to achieve long-term value creation when he relies on his ‘worldclass board of directors’ with competing interests that challenge their fiduciary responsibility to eBay stockholders?” Icahn said. He cited private gains Andreessen made on former eBay subsidiary Skype to the detriment of eBay shareholders after having allegedly resisted spinning off Skype in a public offering. And he said that Cook, holding $1 bil-

Carl Icahn lion of stock in financial software and payments firm Intuit and serving on that company’s board, had strong interest in a direct competitor of PayPal. Icahn nominated two of his employees to join the eBay board and called on other shareholders to support them. eBay condemns ‘mudslinging’ EBay quickly rebutted the letter, rejecting all of Icahn’s arguments and criticisms as “mudslinging”. “As we are sure our other shareholders would agree, we prefer to engage in more constructive and substantive discussions of why, in our view, PayPal and eBay are better together,” it said. The company defended Donahoe as “widely respected” for engineering eBay’s turnaround and Silicon Valley veterans Andreessen and Cook as “impeccably qualified” for their positions. It said the nominating committee of the eBay board would review Icahn’s nominations “in due course”. “Even if our board does not support the

nominations, ultimately shareholders will decide whether they believe Mr. Icahn’s employees are better qualified” than directors like Cook or Andreessen, who was already slated to step down this year, eBay said. EBay shares were up 3.0 percent at $56.24 in early trade. Veteran wall Street activist investor Icahn, 78, is coming off a series of proxy attacks on companies which he declared “victories” for shareholders and which, on paper, have brought him hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. In pushes against Dell and Apple, he credits himself with driving up share prices, as well as convincing Apple’s board to increase its share buyback program by $50 billion. And he took partial credit for the $25 billion Actavis takeover last week of fellow pharmaceutical company Forest Laboratories, in which he held a stake. “Great result for all... Forest Labs shareholders-proves again that activism works,” he tweeted last week. — AFP




‘Leaner’ HSBC bank unveils profits jump to $16.2bn Caution over growth in emerging markets LONDON: HSBC announced yesterday a 15.5-percent rise in annual net profits as the bank, Britain’s biggest, pushed on with a major cost-cutting program last year. The group’s share price tumbled in London morning trade on news that pre-tax profits undershot analysts’ consensus forecast. HSBC also voiced caution over growth in emerging markets, amid weakness for the bank in Latin America. Profit after tax climbed to $16.2 billion (11.8 billion euros) in 2013, the London-headquartered lender said in an earnings statement, adding that it was increasing its bonus pool by 6.0 percent. Net profit had stood at $14.03 billion in 2012, when HSBC was hit by US money-laundering fines, misselling scandals and a huge accounting charge. “Our performance in 2013 reflects the strategic measures we have taken over the past three years,” said HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver, referring to the bank’s cost-cutting program which has reduced its worldwide staff total by 41,000 since 2011. “Today the group is leaner and simpler than in 2011 with strong potential for growth,” Gulliver said in comments included in the bank’s earnings statement. He said the bank was “opti-

mistic about the longer-term prospects of emerging markets” despite its own expectations “of greater volatility in 2014 and choppy markets”. The bank will mean-

while push on with its savings program, having announced in May plans to cut costs by a further $2.03.0 billion between 2014 and 2016. HSBC added that its pre-tax profit

rose 9.0 percent to $22.6 billion last year, lower than market expectations of $24.5 billion according to a survey by Dow Jones Newswires.

HONG KONG: People queue at an ATM of an HSBC branch in Hong Kong. Banking giant HSBC announced yesterday a 15.5-percent rise in annual net profit to $16.2 billion (11.8 billion euros). —AFP

Investors could spurn RSA profit warning

British insurance premiums may spike on Flood Re entry LONDON: British insurance premiums could rise if the country’s governmentbacked Flood Re insurance mutual comes into effect next summer, said Rob Childs, the chairman of Lloyd’s of London insurer Hiscox Ltd. The terms of Flood Re, a mutual fund through which insurers will offer subsidized cover to 350,000 households in flood-prone areas, were decided in late June by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the government. “They’re going to make a levy on all homeowners, on all people who buy home insurance. And that, of course, could then result in increased premiums on the whole in the UK,” Childs, a member of the Council of Lloyd’s, told Reuters. The scheme is set to exclude Britain’s most expensive homes from subsidized cover. However, these homeowners will be required to pay the 2.2 percent levy on home insurance. “You would expect that if the insurers had losses, they would push the premium up in any event and they would (additionally) have to load it by 2.2 percent,” Peel Hunt analyst Mark Williamson said. The fund has received renewed attention after a series of unusually heavy storms that began in December - particularly in the south of England - flooded thousands of homes, damaging transport links and shutting down businesses. Hiscox, which reported its full-year results yesterday, said it expected to reserve 5 million pounds to cover floodrelated claims for January and February, having already set aside 11 million pounds for December. The company’s London-listed stock was down as much as 1 percent at 650 pence on Monday morning, about 36

The bank’s share price tumbled 3.68 percent to 630.3 pence on London’s FTSE 100 index, which was down 0.51 percent. “Annual profits at the bank are up 9.0 percent but fall short of expectations, and while the firm remained optimistic on long term prospects they also kept a cautious tone for the year ahead, with emerging markets remaining vulnerable,” said Toby Morris, senior trader at CMC Markets. The bank’s bonus pool for 2013 increased to $3.92 billion on an annual basis. HSBC had a global headcount of 254,000 at the end of 2013 after making cost savings of $1.5 billion last year and $4.9 billion since 2011. “This comfortably exceeded our (three-year) target of $2.5-3.5 billion and provides good momentum into 2014,” Gulliver said. There was no update of a worldwide probe into suspected rigging of foreign exchange trading after HSBC was drawn into the investigation last November. Its performance in 2012 had meanwhile been hit in part by a $1.9-billion fine to settle US allegations of money laundering that were said to have helped Mexican drug cartels, terrorists and Iran. HSBC was founded in Hong Kong and sees Asia as its main market. —Reuters

percent below its intrinsic value of 886.2 pence, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine’s model of how much a stock should be worth when considering expected growth rates over the next 15 years. ‘UNFAIR AND UNWORKABLE’ Hiscox, which underwrites cover for oil rigs, kidnappings, fine art and vintage cars, among others, said it found the Flood Re plans that were hammered out in late June “unfair and unworkable”. It said the scheme would exclude Britain’s most expensive private homes, residences built after 2009, and rented and leased properties from subsidized insurance, but that these residents would still need to pay the levy to fund Flood Re. “We just think that’s taxation without representation,” Childs said, adding that Hiscox had discussed its concerns with both the ABI and the government. “A plan that excludes one-sixth of homeowners is unlikely to be equitable.” ABI spokesman Stephen Sobey said Hiscox had made repeated requests to have this addressed. “The government decided that it would be unfair for customers in smaller homes to have to subsidize the largest private homes,” he said. The underwriter posted a 12.4 percent rise in full-year profit to 244.5 million pounds ($408 million) as it recorded fewer claims during a benign US hurricane season. It also said its reinsurance business would continue to shrink in 2014 after it reported a decline of about 16 percent in its reinsurance rates due to aggressive competition from both traditional and new sources of capital. Net premiums rose 7 percent to 1.28 billion pounds. —Reuters

ment of Hester, who built a reputation since the 2008 financial crisis as a troubleshooter having salvaged RBS by slashing assets and costs, is a game changer, making them more inclined to put up the money themselves. “There’s quite a lot of goodwill towards Hester. I suppose that’s why he’s there. He can probably spin a story to get some new equity, whatever route it is,” said one of RSA’s institutional shareholders. Panmure Gordon analysts say RSA needs to raise around 500 million pounds to stave off a credit downgrade, with up to 400 million to be gathered by issuing new shares to investors and the rest covered by dividend cuts and sales of non-core assets. The broker also said it expects a 43 percent drop in RSA’s operating result to 377 million pounds, driven by the losses in Ireland and weather-related claims. Bernstein Research analysts see a more aggressive move - up to 1 billion pounds raised “to err on the safe side”, of which half would come from a rights issue, around 180 million pounds from cutting the dividend and the rest through “management actions”. While the goodwill towards Hester from shareholders bodes well for a successful rights issue to raise the bulk of the required new capital, he could opt for a small placing and avoid holding the process up with a shareholder vote. But to avoid a vote, the shareholder said, the placing would need to be for less than 10 percent of the company - or about 350 million pounds, which may not be enough. “My suspicion would be if you did that, you’d end up not raising enough. The key thing is, you don’t want to come to the market and have to do it again,” the shareholder said. —Reuters

LONDON: British insurer RSA publishes 2013 earnings on Thursday, but investors are set to mostly ignore last year’s numbers and focus on the bigger question - how management plans to plug a gaping hole in its balance sheet. RSA’s results will mark the first outing for newly appointed Chief Executive Stephen Hester, the former head of Royal Bank of Scotland who joined early in February with the insurer in the midst of a strategic review. His most pressing task will be to raise new capital - possibly as much as 1 billion pounds ($1.67 billion) according to some analysts following an accounting scandal at RSA’s Irish arm and substantial costs from claims linked to bad weather in Europe. The company has said all options are being considered and has highlighted a dividend cut, asset sales and rights issue as possible courses of action. The Irish accounting issues were uncovered last year and contributed to a series of profit warnings, leading to the departure of several senior executives including Hester’s predecessor Simon Lee. At stake is the firm’s credit rating, already lowered in December to A- by Standard & Poor’s. Further downgrades could lead to brokers refusing to sell RSA products. A cut to BBB+ would be “potentially disastrous,” Panmure Gordon said yesterday. With large areas of southern England - including affluent, expensively insured London suburbs hit by floods since the year end, the need to raise capital is becoming ever more pressing. GOODWILL RSA shares traded nearly 3 percent lower on Monday morning, after the insurer confirmed late on Sunday a rights issue was possible but that it had not made a final decision. Investors say that the appoint-

Tesco Kipa says in talks with various companies ISTANBUL/LONDON: Tesco, the world’s No 3 retailer by sales, is in talks with several companies over a possible restructuring of its struggling business in Turkey. The British retailer has been in Turkey since 2003 but has suffered poor trading from its 191 stores recently, with underlying sales at Tesco Kipa falling 10.7 percent in its second quarter to the end of August. Last October, Tesco said its business in eastern Turkey could be restructured, but it would not exit the country. Under pressure to turn around falling sales in its main domestic market, Tesco has done deals to sort out problem businesses in Japan, the US and China and analysts have speculated that Turkey could be next. “Tesco is in the first stages of talks with various companies regarding various options,” Tesco Kipa said in a statement to the Istanbul stock exchange yesterday. It did not name any of the companies or any of the options. A spokesman for Tesco declined to elaborate. Kipa’s statement was prompted by a Financial Times report on Friday, citing people familiar with the situation, which said Tesco was looking at combining its operations in Turkey with the country’s biggest food retailer Migros. Migros is owned by private equity firm BC Partners. —Reuters


in brief

ADCB plans to issue five-year bond DUBAI: Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank aims to price a benchmark-sized five-year bond yesterday after releasing initial price guidance for the dollardenominated trade, a document from lead arrangers said. The transaction, for which books have already opened, is initially earmarked to price at between 150 and 155 basis points over midswaps, the document said. ADCB, Abu Dhabi’s third-largest lender by market value, has chosen Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, Barclays, ING and JP Morgan Chase to arrange the transaction. Iraqi Basra crude exports set to fall LONDON: Exports of Iraqi Basra Light crude oil are set to fall in March compared to February to 2.155 million barrels per day (bpd), a preliminary program showed yesterday. February was initially pegged at 2.225 million bpd. Realized exports often differ from the initial program as extra cargoes are added or poor weather conditions delays loadings. Saudi inflation to fall below 3%: CB DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s central bank expects the annual inflation rate to fall further below 3 percent in the first quarter of this year, it said in a report yesterday. “The general inflation rate is expected to continue declining below 3 percent during the first quarter of 2014, in line with the fall of the inflationary pressures in the food and beverages group...” it said, citing commodity price index projections by the International Monetary Fund. Consumer price growth in the world’s top oil exporter has been easing gradually since hitting a peak of 4.0 percent in April 2013. It edged down to 2.9 percent in January this year, the lowest level since early 2007, from 3.0 percent in the previous month. Analysts polled by Reuters in January expected average inflation in the OPEC member to remain steady at 3.5 percent in 2014 and climb to 4.0 percent in 2015. Amer Group net profit falls 79% CAIRO: Egyptian real estate company Amer Group posted a 79 percent drop in net profit for 2013. Amer Group, which owns hotels, restaurants, malls, and other businesses, made 31.996 million Egyptian pounds ($4.60 million) last year, compared with 155.554 million pounds in 2012, it said in a statement yesterday. Revenues for 2013 dropped to 877.7 million pounds compared with 1.15 billion pounds a year earlier.

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 Saudi Riyal Qatari Riyal Omani Riyal Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham

ASIAN COUNTRIES 2.765 4.558 2.691 2.154 2.848 223.750 36.439 3.629 6.336 8.691 0.271 0.273 GCC COUNTRIES 75.390 77.680 734.410 750.900 76.992

ARAB COUNTRIES Egyptian Pound - Cash 39.550 Egyptian Pound - Transfer 40.160 Yemen Riyal/for 1000 1.319 Tunisian Dinar 179.770 Jordanian Dinar 399.240 Lebanese Lira/for 1000 1.897 Syrian Lira 2.015 Morocco Dirham 35.547 EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer 282.600 Euro 389.710 Sterling Pound 470.800 Canadian dollar 255.280 Turkish lira 129.810 Swiss Franc 320.050 Australian Dollar 254.340 US Dollar Buying 281.400 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 259.95 261.74 321.50 390.89 282.05 475.96 2.81 3.630 4.540 2.157 2.847 2.696 76.86 750.70 40.51 401.43 733.51 77.89 75.34

SELL CASH 256.95 262.74 319.50 391.89 285.05 478.96 2.83 3.900 4.840 2.592 3.382 2.790 77.32 752.77 41.11 407.08 740.81 78.44 75.74

2.965 3.835 86.505 46.745 9.665 129.810

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

0.006425 0.000069 0.219494 0.019726 0.001869 0.009185 0.008353

0.006706 0.000075 0.225494 0.028226 0.002449 0.009365 0.008903

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 0.743146 0.036834 0.000078 0.000183 0.394368 1.0000000 0.000138 0.024374 0.001195 0.727993 0.076913 0.074723 0.002165 0.174841 0.126221 0.075960 0.001283

0.751146 0.039934 0.000079 0.000243 0.401868 1.0000000 0.000238 0.048374 0.001830 0.733673 0.078126 0.075423 0.002385 0.182841 0.133221 0.077109 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 282.350 256.905 471.410 389.890 318.650 745.540 76.850 78.400 76.160 397.915 40.505 2.153 4.545 2.687 3.627 6.317 693.510 1.275

Australian Dollar New Zealand Dollar

SELL CASH Europe 0.007345 0.463194 0.006145 0.047893 0.382274 0.042417 0.085820 0.008087 0.039142 0.311670 0.126221 Australasia 0.244892 0.227498

SELLDRAFT 0.008345 0.472194 0.018145 0.052893 0.389774 0.047617 0.85820 0.018087 0.0444141 0.321870 0.133221 0.256392 0.236998

Al Mulla Exchange Canadian Dollar US Dollars US Dollars Mint

America 0.248621 0.278500 0.279000

0.257121 0.282850 0.282850

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

Asia 0.003320 0.045211 0.034347 0.004309 0.000019 0.002677 0.003268 0.000252 0.081945 0.003069 0.002392

0.003920 0.048711 0.037097 0.004710 0.000025 0.002857 0.003268 0.000267 0.087945 0.003239 0.002672

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) 282.000 390.000 471.250 255.350 4.543 40.155 2.151 3.628 6.315 2.690 751.000 76.850 75.300



German business confidence hits 2.5-year high FRANKFURT: German business confidence hit the highest level for more than two and a half years in February, as the outlook for Europe’s biggest economy continues to hold up, data showed yesterday. The Ifo economic institute’s closely watched business climate index climbed to 111.3 points this month, the highest level since July 2011. In January, the index had stood at 110.6 points. “The German economy is holding its own in a changeable global climate,” Ifo chief Hans-Werner Sinn said in a statement. Ifo calculates its headline index on the basis of companies’ assessments of their current business and the outlook for the next six months.

The sub-index measuring current business rose to 114.4 points in February from 112.4 points in January, while the outlook sub-index slipped to 108.3 points from 108.9 points. Nevertheless, “expectations regarding future business developments ... remain optimistic,” Sinn insisted. “German businesses remain diehard optimists,” said ING DiBa economist Carsten Brzeski. Gross domestic product data for the fourth quarter came in better than expected and further positive hard data are set to follow, Brzeski said. “Of course, there are also risks,” the expert noted, pointing to an unexpected slowdown, further emerging market turmoil and a Chinese hard landing.

But such concerns should disappear quickly, Brzeski believed. “While some performances of Germany’s Olympic athletes over the last two weeks might have disappointed, the economy’s performance is again en route for a gold medal,” he said. Nataxis economist Johannes Gareis, too, felt that “all in all the German business climate remains more than upbeat, suggesting that Germany’s business sector is on a growth course heading into 2014.” But Capital Economics economist Jonathan Loynes was more cautious. “The survey has been consistently over-optimistic relative to the hard data over the last year or so, so its implications for growth should not be interpreted too literally,” he

said. “Overall, the Ifo survey supports the broader evidence suggesting that the German economy is expanding at a steady but unspectacular pace,” Loynes argued. Berenberg Bank economist Christian Schulz said that despite its apparent strength, the German economy “is not completely immune to the emerging market turbulences.” But “fortunately, Germany can rely on domestic demand as the key driver of growth at the current stage of the cycle. Private investment is rebounding after a long period of decline. And the Ifo index reassuringly points to strength in another key component of domestic demand, namely consumption,” he said. — AFP

UK oil firms to pay for new regulatory body British oil and gas output falls

NICOSIA: Angry electricity authority workers scuffle with riot police outside the entrance to Parliament during a strike to protest government plans to privatize the state-run organization in Nicosia, Cyprus, yesterday. — AP

Scuffles in Cyprus over privatization move NICOSIA: Hundreds electricity authority workers laid siege to parliament yesterday as scuffles broke out with police during a protest against the privatization of telecoms, electricity and ports, officials said. Demonstrators threw stones, fruit and plastic water bottles at riot police as they tried to enter the building where MPs were discussing the controversial privatization bill, witnesses said. Police inside and outside the building kept the protesters from entering the building, even though they broke through an initial police cordon. Damage to parliament’s generator during the disturbance saw the power supply cut for an hour, and a number of police and demonstrators were reportedly slightly hurt. Parliament speaker Yiannakis Omirou condemned the behavior of demonstrators as “unacceptable”. Electricity authority unions have called for a strike today-their second-that is expected to trigger rolling power cuts. Industrial action has also been taken by telecoms and port authority staff. The strikes are the first of their kind since heavily-indebted Cyprus agreed to an international bailout in March 2013. Cyprus has agreed to a two-year road map to privatize key state utilities in order to raise a required 1.4 billion euros ($1.9 bil-

lion) under the bailout agreement. But critics fear the government will underprice the utilities, and that privatization will harm both workers and consumers. State-run telecom firm Cyta is expected to be privatized first, followed by the electricity and ports authorities. Nicosia needs to approve legislation on privatization before it receives its next disbursement of 236 million euros in bailout cash expected in April from the so-called troika of the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank. In return for a 10 billion-euro bailout, international creditors demanded the winding up of the island’s second largest banker Laiki and a haircut on deposits over 100,000 euros in Bank of Cyprus, its largest lender. The utilities need to be restructured to attract foreign investors, and the sell-off will not go ahead until 2016 when Cyprus is expected to exit recession. The government says workers’ rights would be protected and that employees could have the option to buy shares. In return for a 10 billion-euro bailout, international creditors demanded the winding up of the island’s second largest bank Laiki and a haircut on deposits over 100,000 euros in Bank of Cyprus, its top lender. — AFP

Egyptian pound strengthens CAIRO: The Egyptian pound strengthened slightly at a central bank foreign currency sale yesterday. On the black market the pound weakened slightly and traders said news that the government had resigned, a move that should pave the way for army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to declare his candidacy for the presidency, had little immediate market impact. “I don’t think this news will have much economic effect because it was expected and already factored in. Also it is expected that the key ministers, interior minister and most of the economic ministers, will remain,” said Moheb Malak, economist at Prime Securities. “I don’t think this changes much. The policy of the transitional government is expected to remain in the same direction,” he said. The central bank sold $38.6

million to banks with a cut-off price of 6.9509 pounds to the dollar, fractionally stronger than the cut-off price of 6.9511 from Thursday’s auction. The bank had offered to sell $40 million. On the black market, the dollar was sold at 7.35 pounds yesterday, slightly weaker than the 7.33 pounds on Thursday. The pound has been under pressure during three years of political turmoil. Foreign currency reserves were around $17 billion in January, down from $36 billion before the uprising that led to president Hosni Mubarak’s downfall in 2011. The central bank introduced dollar currency sales over a year ago. Last month, it held a $1.5 billion exceptional auction, its largest ever, to restock the market with dollars and curb unofficial currency trading. — Reuters

Moscow warns of import duty hike if Kiev signs EU pact BERLIN: Russia’s economy minister warned Ukraine in an interview yesterday that Moscow will raise import duties on its goods if Kiev signs a partnership agreement with the European Union. “We say to Ukraine: you have the right to go your own way,” Alexei Ulyukayev was quoted as telling German business daily Handelsblatt. “But we will then be forced to raise import duties.” Russia is currently a major market for Ukrainian exports. Ulyukayev said that, because of free trade within the Moscowdominated Commonwealth of Independent States, Russia would be flooded with duty-free goods from the EU if Kiev signed an association agreement with the bloc. Ukraine’s refusal three months ago to sign such an EU trade pact sparked a crisis that spiralled into deadly clashes and the downfall of president Viktor Yanukovych. Ulyukayev ruled out the possibility of Ukraine signing such a pact and also

remaining a major trading partner of Russia. “One is not compatible with the other,” he was quoted as saying, adding that Moscow favored “trilateral negotiations between Russia, the EU and Ukraine” on the issue. He also said that further Russian loans for Ukraine would be conditional on the make-up of its next government. “We first need to know who will be in the government, which program it will follow and who will be prime minister.” The minister warned that the economic situation is rocky in Ukraine. “The situation there is changing day by day,” he said. “But it’s already clear that Ukraine faces recession.” He warned of the impact of the dire economic situation on Ukrainian-Russian joint ventures as well as Russian banks, which are heavily invested in the neighboring country. “Many investment funds are withdrawing their money from Ukraine-and in many cases also from Russia,” he said. — AFP

LONDON: Britain urgently needs its oil and gas companies to pay for a new regulatory body to encourage industry collaboration and counter plunging North Sea production rates, a government review, the first since the mid1990s, said yesterday. Britain’s oil and gas output - worth up to 200 billion pounds over the next 20 years - has fallen around two thirds since its peak at the turn of the century. The North Sea is thought to contain billions of barrels of hard-to-reach oil but with many platforms and pipelines coming to the end of their working lives, time is fast running out to get at them. The review’s task was outlining how to make that easier. About 99 percent of oil and 60 percent of gas production from offshore Britain is expec ted to come from Scottish waters until 2040. The first strategy assessment of the country’s oil and gas potential in more than 20 years was published on the same day as Prime Minister David Cameron holds his first full cabinet meeting in Scotland, aimed at persuading Scots - who vote on secession on Sept. 18 - to stay in Britain. The oil and gas industr y, whose major North Sea operators include BP, Statoil and Shell, is expected to foot the bill for the new regulator which the government said will be set up immediately. “I believe industry will have to pay, but in return should be granted appropriate service level agreements,” said Sir Ian Wood, author of the report and former chairman of oil services company Wood Group, without providing figures. Government revenues from North Sea production fell more than 40 percent to 4.7 billion pounds in 2012-13, underlining the sector ’s impor tance to Britain’s economic recovery. The new regulator will block any major investments that do not sufficiently focus on extracting maximum potential from North Sea fields, a move which could result in some

operators losing their licenses, Wood said. Wood, whose report estimates that about 24 billion barrels of oil equivalent could still be buried beneath the UK part of the North Sea, also recommended the regulator should enforce rules for companies to share exploration data more quickly. “I fully back Sir Ian Wood’s recommendations and we will start implementing them immediately,” said Britain’s Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey in a statement.

A focus on more drilling for oil and gas in more remote areas could benefit companies who specialize in that area such as Seadrill, Noble or Rowan, experts in oil and gas exploration work. “We strongly welcome the proposal for a new arm’s length regulator with additional powers and resources...The report is a game changer,” said Malcolm Webb, chief executive of Oil & Gas UK, Britain’s fossil fuel industry lobby group. — Reuters

SIMIZA: Wild flowers cover the ground in a olive growth in Simiza, southern Greece. Plans to extend a brutal efficiency drive to olive oil production have been met with anger and disbelief. If proposals from a government funded study are adopted, olive oil blended with cheaper vegetable oils will soon go on sale as part of an effort to modernize Greece’seconomy, which was rescued from near bankruptcy four years ago. —AP

Nigerian CB reassures after governor dismissed LAGOS: The acting head of Nigeria’s central bank reassured investors yesterday that the removal of the former governor would not change policy to strengthen the economy, the second-biggest in Africa. President Goodluck Jonathan suspended the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor Lamido Sanusi last Thursday over allegations of misconduct in a move seen by analysts as politically motivated. Jonathan appointed Sarah Alade, the CBN’s most senior deputy governor, to take the helm pending parliamentary confirmation of Zenith bank head Godwin Emefeile to succeed Sanusi. Alade said “recent changes at the CBN will not in any way affect the monetary policy direction and pursuit of the bank’s primary mandate of maintaining price and financial system stability”.

Nigeria has the second-biggest economy in Africa after South Africa, which is one of the BRICS leading emerging economies. Markets in Nigeria reacted negatively to Sanusi’s dismissal, with the naira falling sharply against the US dollar, while most stocks in the banking sector also dipped. Alade said in an advertisement published in Nigerian newspapers that the CBN had the capacity to meet the demands of foreign exchange users and there were no plans to devalue the currency. “With the current level of reserves at seven months of imports cover as at end-December 2013, the bank’s ability to intervene in the foreign exchange market is not in doubt,” she said. Nigeria’s economy grew at 6.87 percent in

2013 and was “strong, sound and resilient” despite the turmoil at the CBN. Inflation had been in single figures for the last 13 months, she added. The exchange rate has also remained stable, she said, promising to sustain the momentum. “The bank is committed to sustaining these achievements through the use of appropriate policy tools to ensure price and financial system stability,” she said. Sanusi has rejected the claims against him, believing he was removed for highlighting alleged widespread graft in the oil and gas sector. He told AFP in an interview on Sunday that President Jonathan was a “simple man” who had been undermined by “extremely incompetent ... extremely fraudulent” aides. — AFP

Algeria to start new LNG plant ALGIERS: Algeria will start up a new plant to liquefy natural gas (LNG) this year, with a annual capacity of 6 billion cubic metres, Energy and Mines Minister Youcef Yousfi told a state news agency yesterday. The OPEC member and gas producer, which aims to bolster production in its lagging energy sector, earlier this year started production from a new LNG unit at the eastern town of Skikda. “A new unit is expected to come online this year, with the same capacity,” Yousfi told state news agency APS. He appeared to be referring to a unit that has been under construction in the western town of Arzew. Yousfi also said the In Amenas gas plant, hit by Islamist militants attack early last year, would resume full production in months. Last month, the minister said he expected the plant to fully restart “within weeks”. The plant is currently producing 20 million cubic metres per day out of a total capacity of 30 million cubic meters. BP, Nor way ’s Statoil &lt and state -owned Sonatrach jointly operate the facility, in which 40 workers died during the attack. BP and Statoil have withdrawn their staff since the assault, demanding better security conditions, though Algerian officials say they have met all demands for improved protection. “Specific measures have been taken to prevent such a tragedy from happening again in the future and provide partners with maximum assurance regarding the safety of their personnel,” Yousfi said yesterday.

Separately, the APS reported that Algeria on Monday started production from a new gas processing plant with a total capacity of 3.6 billion cubic meters per year. The Gassi

Touil plant will be supplied from 42 wells out of 52 planned, it said, citing unnamed official at the Sonatrach at a ceremony at the plant in the southern province of Ourgla. — Reuters

PARIS: China’s Trade Minister Gao Hucheng and French Foreign Trade Minister Nicole Bricq listen to questions during a press conference following the 22nd Franco-Chinese commission for Trade and Investment yesterday at the French Economy Ministry. — AFP



Emerging markets fall on China worries LONDON: Emerging stocks fell yesterday as Chinese shares posted their biggest loss in seven weeks on worries about the property market, while Ukraine’s debt insurance costs dropped sharply on expectations of western aid. Ukraine said yesterday it needed $35 billion in foreign assistance over the next two years and appealed for urgent aid after President Viktor Yanukovich was forced out of office at the weekend. In China, stocks slid around 2 percent after news reports stoked fears that banks have begun tightening loans to developers before next week’s annual parliamentary meetings. That fuelled worries about a slowdown in China’s property market and growth outlook. “People are having a more negative view about China’s economy now

than at the start of the year and it’s still playing out,” said Peter Attard Montalto, emerging markets economist at Nomura. The MSCI emerging equities index fell 0.34 percent though emerging sovereign debt spreads edged in by 1 basis point to 362 basis points over US Treasuries. Ukraine’s five-year credit default swaps (CDS) fell 161 basis points from Friday’s close to a 3-week low of 946 bps, according to Markit. “Political considerations in this instance override economic or financial ones and ... western aid is likely to be substantial enough to prevent a credit event from taking place in the short term,” Goldman Sachs said in a client note, referring to the risk of default or restructuring. Ukraine’s 2023 dol-

lar bond rose 6 points to a four-week high of 90 cents on the dollar, according to Reuters data. The 2017 dollar bond gained 7.8 points to a threeweek high of 95, while the 2022 dollar bond rose 5 points to a three-week high of 90. But the hryvnia fell to a five-year low. Analysts said the country is running out of foreign exchange reserves to support it and is likely to focus its use of funds on repaying dollar debt. “Given that international reserves have likely, on our estimates, declined ... to $12-14 billion, we think downside risks to the UAH (hryvnia) remain large,” Goldman Sachs added. Other emerging European currencies were generally steady, supported by the news from Ukraine. The rouble

hit a six-day high against the dollar. Nigeria’s naira fell 0.6 percent and stocks hit three-month lows in sustained weakness since President Goodluck Jonathan suspended graft-fighting central bank governor Lamido Sanusi last week. Sanusi said on Friday he would go to court to challenge the suspension. Egyptian stocks were trading at 5-1/2 year highs as the military-backed government resigned, in a move likely to pave the way for army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to declare his candidacy for president. Venezuela’s five-year CDS eased but remain at extremely distressed levels above 2,000 bps, according to Markit, after nearly two weeks of violent anti-government protests that have killed at least eight people. —Reuters

TOKYO: A man uses a mobile phone in front of a securities firm’s electronic stock board in Tokyo, yesterday. Asian stock markets mostly fell yesterday after a slower increase in Chinese property prices added to jitters about the strength of the world’s No 2 economy. —AP

Gold rises as investors ditch dollar LONDON: Gold rose to a near fourmonth high yesterday, adding to last week’s gains, as investors ditched the dollar and equity markets on persistent worries over the pace of the US economic recovery and China’s growth. Weak US manufacturing data on Friday and a slowdown in the rise in home prices in China for the first time in 14 months in January, raised fresh concerns over the health of the world’s biggest economies, drawing investors towards gold, often seen as an insurance in times of troubles. “Fears about economic conditions in China and the US are driving investors back into gold,” Quantitative Commodity Research owner Peter Fertig said. “We would have to wait for data for the month of March to get a clearer picture about the state of the US the meantime gold should see some consolidation...the next pivot technical resistance stands at (the) Oct 28 high of $1,361.” Spot gold rose as high as $1,334.50 an ounce in earlier trade, its highest since Oct. 31. It was trading at $1,330.05 by 1037 GMT, up 0.7 percent. The metal has gained more than 9 percent so far this year, following a 28percent drop in 2013 that put an end to 12 years of gains. US gold futures for April delivery rose $9.70 an ounce to $1,333.40. The dollar index fell 0.1 percent, while European shares were also lower as investors assessed continued signs of a slowdown in China and the United States, which could impact the pace of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s stimulus withdrawal. However, minutes released last week from the Fed’s most recent meeting sug-

gested the reduction in monetary stimulus will continue for now. At a G20 meeting during the weekend, the world’s top economies have embraced a goal of generating more than $2 trillion in additional output over five years, signalling optimism that the worst of crisis-era austerity was behind them. Hedge funds and money managers raised their net long position in gold futures and options in the week to Feb. 18, data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed on Friday, after prices broke through tough resistance at $1,300 an ounce. The net-long or bullish money held by hedge funds and other speculators across 22 US commodity markets rose to $119.5 billion in the Feb. 18 week from $102 billion during the week to Feb. 11, Reuters calculations of the CFTC data showed. Holdings of the largest goldbacked exchange-traded-fund (ETF), New York’s SPDR Gold Trust increased 0.34 percent on Friday from Thursday. PHYSICAL DEMAND Premiums for gold bars in Hong Kong were stuck in a wide range of $1.30 to $1.70 an ounce to spot London prices, unchanged from last week. Gold premiums in Singapore, a centre for bullion trading in Southeast Asia, were also unchanged from last week at $1.20 to $1.50 an ounce to the spot London prices. Political tensions in Thailand have yet to spur safe-haven buying but could affect trading activity. Silver rose 0.3 percent to $21.89 an ounce, platinum gained 0.5 percent to $1,426.74 an ounce and palladium fell 0.1 percent to $738.22 an ounce. —Reuters

Brent crude steadies around $110 after fall LONDON: Brent crude oil steadied around $110 a barrel yesterday after resisting sharp declines in some other risk assets on news of further supply losses in Africa and expectations of revived oil demand growth. Libyan oil output plunged further over the weekend, falling to 230,000 barrels per day (bpd) on Sunday after a new protest shut the El Sharara field. Before nationwide protests started in the middle of last year, Libyan oil production was closer to 1.4 million bpd. “As long as the Libyan security situation is unstable, global oil prices will be buoyed,” said Michael Poulsen, analyst at Danish consultancy Global Risk Management. Brent crude was down 30 cents to $109.55 a barrel by 1100 GMT, after settling higher for a second straight week. US oil fell 20 cents to $102.00, after climbing for the sixth week in its longest winning streak in more than a year. Oil markets also found support from a fairly upbeat meeting of the world’s top economies in Sydney, which announced a target of generating more than $2 trillion in additional output over five years while creating millions of new jobs. Oil demand tracks global economic growth closely. “The outlook is momentarily positive

for energy prices,” said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets. “It is more the demand side of the equation. Reasonable global growth in oil demand is expected.” Investors also kept an eye on global political tensions and the potential for further disruption to oil exports. “One of the reasons for the price staying up around $110 is the geopolitical risk, with reduced exports coming out of Libya, negotiations over lifting sanctions on Iran going very slowly, Syria remaining in the background and maybe Ukraine as well as South Sudan,” said Christopher Bellew, oil futures broker at Jefferies Bache. In South Sudan, the capital of the main oil-producing Upper Nile region, Malakal, remains divided between the army and rebels, government officials say. On Saturday, the national government over-ruled Upper Nile state’s plan to partially shut down oil production and evacuate foreign workers after the rebel offensive. A petroleum ministry official said that South Sudan’s oil production had fallen to about 170,000 bpd even before the rebel strike on Malakal, a drop of around a third since the fighting erupted in December. —Reuters




Obama looks to governors for help with economy WASHINGTON: His domestic priorities stalled in a divided Congress, President Barack Obama is looking for allies among America’s governors. The president was to meet with governors of both parties at the White House, following a Sunday dinner in which he told state leaders their cooperation “is vital to make sure we’re doing right by the American people.” “I look forward to working with each of you, not just in our meetings tomorrow, but throughout this year - what I

hope to be a year of action,” Obama said at a black-tie dinner with dozens of leaders who were in town for a meeting of the National Governors Association. “When we’ve got a Congress that sometimes seems to have a difficult time acting, I want to make sure that I have the opportunity to partner with each of you in any way I can,” the president said. It’s unclear whether some Republican governors are willing to collaborate with the Democratic president ahead of the

November midterm elections. Republicans were planning to share their ideas for improving the nation’s economy. They include eliminating federal regulations and further delaying key provisions of Obama’s health care overhaul. In a Sunday interview, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said he would encourage the president to use his executive authority to jumpstart the economy. Jindal said while it was “blatantly unconstitutional” for the president to ignore federal laws, Obama’s

position allows him to work around Congress in constructive ways. “Instead of new regulations, new spending that haven’t worked, I would argue he should use his newfound executive power to actually promote jobs,” Jindal said, adding that Congress should be doing more as well. “It’d be hard to argue they could be doing less.” The White House has planned a series of events this week designed to highlight the president’s desire for action. In a

Sunday message entitled, “We’re not sitting still,” Obama’s senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said the president this week would “announce new action on manufacturing, infrastructure and transportation jobs, and a new initiative to ensure everyone who is willing to work hard has a shot at success.” Not every governor will meet with the president. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie left the NGA meeting early to attend his daughter’s birthday and prepare for a budget address. —AP

Heathrow airport passenger numbers up 3.4% in 2013 CEO: More capacity at Heathrow would boost UK GDP

PARIS: French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (center) visits yesterday, the Paris international agricultural fair at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris. The fair will take place from February 22 until March 2. — AFP

Euro-zone inflation stable at 0.8% in Jan BRUSSELS: Euro-zone inflation held steady at 0.8 percent in January from the same figure in December, official data showed on Thursday, easing concerns of deflationary pressure on growth. A second estimate from the Eurostat statistics office showed year-on-year inflation in the 18-nation euro-zone dropping from 2.0 percent in January 2013 after falling steadily in recent months. In the 28-nation European Union, inflation fell to 0.9 percent against 1.0 percent in December and year-on-year decreased 2.1 percent. The data will ease pressure on the European Central Bank (ECB) over concerns about deflation and the need for a further easing of monetary policy. However Eurostat showed annual negative rates in Cyprus (-1.6 percent), Greece (1.4 percent) and in Bulgaria (-1.3 percent).

The highest rates were in Britain and in Finland, which each saw a 1.9-percent rise. Tobacco registered the highest rise in January at 0.8 percent. The figures came amid fears that disinflation could harm a growing but lackluster recovery in the euro-zone. Tough EU government austerity policies to combat the debt crisis have sucked demand out of the economy, pushing inflation way below the ECB’s target of close to 2.0 percent. Deflationfalling prices in real terms-can encourage consumers to put off buying goods in the expectation that if they wait, they will become cheaper. That in turn weakens the economy as companies reduce output accordingly, hitting employment and demand, thereby setting off a downward spiral. —AFP

Poland urges Ukraine to focus on economy not ‘revenge’ WARSAW: Poland’s prime minister yesterday warned Ukrainians against taking revenge on their deposed president Viktor Yanukovych and his entourage, urging them instead to focus on their faltering economy. Ukraine issued an arrest warrant on Monday for Yanukovych over the “mass murder” of protesters and appealed for $35 billion (25 billion euros) in Western aid to pull the crisis-hit country from the brink of economic collapse. “ The greatest challenge facing Ukraine today is not taking revenge, but saving the Ukrainian economy and public finances,” Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters in Bialystok, eastern Poland. “If the revolution is to bear good fruit, then it can’t be based on the idea of revenge,” Tusk said, adding that “behaviour (in Kiev) must be very decent on the one hand and very responsible on the other”. The dramatic moves made Monday by the ex-Soviet nation’s new Western-leaning team-approved by parliament over a chaotic weekend that saw the proRussian leader go into hiding-came as a top EU envoy arrived in Kiev to buttress its sudden tilt away from Moscow. Three months of protests over Yanukovych’s shock decision to spurn an historic pact with the EU in favour of closer ties with its

old masters in the Kremlin culminated in days of carnage last week in Kiev that claimed almost 100 lives. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, along with his French and German counterparts, brokered a roadmap to end bloodshed on Friday in Kiev. While it left Yanukovych in power, opposition forces took charge of the capital on Saturday after he disappeared overnight.An ex-communist EU and NATO member that has pulled off impressive economic development, Poland has long been active in drawing eastern neighbour Ukraine closer to the West. Most recently, the two countries co-hosted the Euro 2012 football championships. Poland was also key in setting up the EU’s Eastern Partnership program, designed to draw ex-Soviet states closer to the West, a move strongly opposed by their former master Russia. Ukraine is the largest member of the group, which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova. Analysts say inking the EU association accord, which Yanukovych dropped in November, would severely dent Moscow’s sphere of influence. Russia’s economy minister warned Ukraine yesterday that Moscow will raise import duties on its goods if Kiev now goes ahead and signs it. —AFP

LONDON: Britain’s biggest airport, Heathrow, served 3.4 percent more passengers last year, an increase the airport said bolstered its case for a new runway. Heathrow, situated west of London, is at the centre of a long-running political tussle over airport expansion in the south-east of England. It was shortlisted last year as a location for a new runway. The chief executive of Heathrow Ltd., Colin Matthews, said yesterday that the airport was serving more passengers from countries in Asia and Latin America. “We would have more flights to those countries if we had more capacity,” he said in an interview. “With more capacity, we would make a bigger contribution to UK GDP.” Passenger traffic at Heathrow, the third busiest airport in the world, reached a record 72.3 million in 2013, up from 70 million the year before. Aircraft using the airport were larger and fuller than they were in previous years, Heathrow Ltd. said. The airport is operating close to capacity. Around 470,000 flights departed and landed in 2013, meaning the airport is operating at 98 percent of the 480,000 flight capacity permitted. Lawmakers and business leaders agree that south-east England needs new runways to help the country remain economically competitive. But building more capacity in the densely populated area is unpopular with voters, and a decision on expansion has been repeatedly pushed back. That decision may now come in the second half of next year, when the Airports Commission is due to issue its final recommendations on where a new runway should be built. Matthews was positive on the work of the Commission. “I think it’s the best chance, we, speaking as a country, have got of coming to what is inevitably a difficult deci-

sion,” he said, adding that he believed the economic case for expanding Britain’s airport capacity was clearer and better understood than in the past. EARNINGS GROWTH Heathrow Limited, owned by

aeronautical income per passenger received by Heathrow helped lift earnings. Earlier this year, Britain’s airport regulator put a cap on what Heathrow can charge airlines, leading the company to warn it might struggle to expand its business.

Inside the passenger area of Heathrow Terminal 5. unlisted Heathrow Airport Holdings (HAH), reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of 1.42 billion pounds in 2013, 23.1 percent higher than in the year before. The airport’s higher passenger numbers combined with a rise of 15.1 percent in the average

Matthews said Heathrow would decide whether to launch an appeal against that price cap at some point in March. While the price cap would not directly affect the case for funding any new runway at Heathrow because of differing timelines, Matthews said it was damaging for

period” saw people staying home for holidays. Chief executive Christoph Mueller welcomed the results, but insisted the company could have improved further. “2013 was the first year of significant growth for Aer Lingus since the global economic downturn. While I am broadly satisfied with our financial performance ... I believe that we could have done better.” Mueller said Aer Lingus would focus on two key areas in 2014 — service and cost. He announced a two-year plan, called “CORE”, aimed at streamlining the business. “We are about to embark on a twoyear program with a total saving target of 30 million euros,” Mueller told a conference call. Chief financial officer Andrew Mcfarlane linked the company’s caution outlook to a pension dispute with staff, higher airport charges and an IT upgrade at the airline. —AFP

Ferrovial, its largest shareholder with a 25 percent share. Partners include Qatar Holding, China Investment Corp. and the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. HAH also owns and runs three other British airports, at Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton. —Reuters

US economists divided over pace of Fed tapering WASHINGTON: Business economists are almost equally divided over whether the US Federal Reserve will pare back bond purchases at the current pace through year’s end or take a small break to let the economy recover further. The views were unveiled yesterday by the National Association for Business Economics. The NABE conducted its twice-a-year survey of 230 mem-

bers between Jan. 30 and Feb. 6, before Janet Yellen’s first appearance before Congress as central bank chair. About 43 percent of NABE members thought the Fed would complete its so-called “tapering” in the fourth quarter. About 42 percent thought the tapering would finish in 2015 or later. At each of the last two policy meetings, the

Aer Lingus targets savings as profits fall DUBLIN: Aer Lingus expects stable operating profits this year alongside a 30-million-euro savings plan which will slash jobs, the Irish airline said yesterday. The outlook came as Aer Lingus said its net profit edged up to 34.1 million euros ($46.86 million) in 2013 from 33.9 million euros a year earlier. Operating profit was down 11.6 percent to 61.1 million euros, the group said in its annual results statement. Aer Lingus said it expected an operating profit “broadly in line” with 2013. Sales meanwhile rose 2.3 percent last year to reach 1.425 billion euros. The long-haul arm of the business performed strongly, with revenue up 11.1 percent to 381.6 million euros and passenger numbers up 12.2 percent. But short-haul revenue for 2013 was down 3.3 percent as “extremely good weather in Ireland and northern Europe in the peak summer

sentiment. “If regulators make decisions that mean the returns are too low, then investors will put their investment into other countries rather than here,” he said. Parent company HAH is co-owned by Spanish infrastructure firm

ARLINGTON: Alan Greenspan, Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, shakes hands with Larry Summers (right), former US Treasury Secretary and a former economic adviser to US President Barack Obama, prior to speaking on the current and future state of the US economy at the Economic Policy Conference hosted by the National Association for Business Economics in Arlington yesterday. — AFP

Fed cut bond purchases by $10 billion to the current pace of $65 billion a month. There are seven meetings left in 2014. A majority of those surveyed agreed with the Fed’s gradual end to its accommodative stance, with 57 percent saying current monetary policy is “about right.” About 37 percent thought it was “too stimulative.” Cutting back on the bond purchases and the prospect of further cutbacks has already prompted mortgage rates to rise. Most respondents thought the Fed would wait until 2015 to start raising its key short-term interest rate above the current level near zero. Yellen told Congress earlier this month that the Fed would keep the rate near zero “well past” the time the unemployment rate falls below 6.5 percent, as long as inflation remains low. The unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in January, a five-year low. About 36 percent of respondents thought the Fed would raise the federal funds rate in the first half of 2015, while 37 percent thought the rate hike would come in the second half. Just 12 percent thought a hike would occur in the second half of this year, while 15 percent thought it would happen in 2016 or later. As for government spending, 21 percent thought fiscal policy was “too stimulative,” while 37 percent thought it was “about right.” About 39 percent thought fiscal policy was “too restrictive.” Nearly all the respondents - or 83 percent did not think Congress should put a permanent cap on the debt limit at its current level around $17 trillion. Respondents were also split on the economic impact of the new federal health care law. While 18 percent thought the Affordable Care Act would boost growth, 42 percent thought it would have no impact and 30 percent thought it would hurt growth. —AP

Quantitative growth targets ‘problematic’ FRANKFURT: Setting quantitative growth targets for the global economy is “problematic,” but a pledge by the world’s biggest economies to boost global growth is positive, a top ECB official said yesterday. “I feel that setting quantitative growth targets at the level of the G20 (Group of 20) is problematic for various reasons,” the head of the German central bank or Bundesbank, Jens Weidmann, told the daily Die Welt in an interview.

However, “initiatives to boost investment, employment and growth are fundamentally positive. And that’s why the Australian initiative should be welcomed,” said Weidman, who as head of the German central bank sits on the European Central Bank’s governing council. At a meeting in Sydney, Australia at the weekend, the world’s 20 biggest economies vowed to boost global growth by more than $2 trillion over

five years, shifting their focus away from austerity as a fragile recovery takes hold. Finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20, which accounts for 85 percent of the world economy, issued an unusually brief two-page statement to drive “a return to strong, sustainable and balanced growth in the global economy”. Germany and its central bank have long been perceived as favoring aus-

terity rather than growth. Weidmann told the newspaper that “the most important thing is that countries do their economic homework. “Instead of setting goals for variables which cannot be steered politically, anyway ... concrete measures should be taken that ensure a growth-friendly environment allowing companies to invest and recruit employees. The G20 statement takes this into account,” Weidmann said. —AFP



Markaz registers net profit of KD7.46m for 2013 KUWAIT: Kuwait Financial Centre KPSC “Markaz” announced a net profit of KD7.46 million for the year ended 31st December 2013, Earnings per Share (EPS) of 13 Fils as compared with a net profit of KD4.04 million (8 Fils per share) during the same period in 2012. Markaz’s improvement in earnings came as a result of favorable returns from investments across all asset classes which represented a gain of 5.53 percent return on average assets as compared to 2.84 percent in 2012. Markaz’s total equity base increased by 7 percent to KD 109.18 million at the end of December 2013in comparison to KD 101.89 million at the end of 2012. Markaz’s total assets under management (AUM) reached KD 975 million with an increase of 10 percent compared to KD 883 million as of 31st

December 2012. In compliance with regulatory measures by Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK), the financial leverage ratio of Markaz reached 0.25:1 in comparison to the imposed rate by CBK of 2:1, which shows the low leverage rate of Markaz. While the quick ratio, the ratio of liquid assets due within one month should not be less than 10 percent of total liabilities according to CBK, Markaz’s rate was 26.19 percent. Those percentages reflect Markaz’s strategy in maintaining a strong leverage ratio to ensure its shareholders’ wealth growth. Subject to the requisite consent of the relevant authorities and approval of the General Assembly, Markaz Board of Directors recommended a cash dividend of 10 Fils per share to be distributed to the shareholders of record as of the date of the General

Diraar Y Alghanim, Chairman, Kuwait Financial Centre, Markaz

Assembly. On this occasion, Markaz’s Chairman, Diraar Y Alghanim, stated, “Markaz’s solidity as a financial institution and its stable performance during these volatile investment conditions shows its ability to forecast future market trends, as dependence on research in investment activities has become a fundamental requirement to enhance the financial strength of institutions operating in the asset management and financial services industry.” Alghanim added, “These good results would not have been possible without the tender and loyalty of Markaz’s employees and the dedication they have towards developing dynamic investment solutions and client services under the supervision of an active and professional management.”

Etisalat celebrates ‘150m subscribers’ milestone

LuLu Exchange Chief Executive wins Indian CEO Award in Financial Services category


n a recent glittering ceremony marking ITP Publishing Group’s Indian CEO Awards 2014, Adeeb Ahamed, Chief Executive Officer of the LuLu Financial Group, was conferred with the award in Financial Services category. The Indian CEO Awards 2014, in its third edition this year, was held at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, on Monday, 17 February. The award recognizes good commercial leadership of NRIs in the Middle East. This year’s panel of judges were unanimous in their decision that Ahamed’s credentials were unmatched in the financial services category. LuLu International Exchange and its affiliates won the accolade on account of its impressive growth and strategic objectives that have propelled it to the top positions within the industry and the region. Under Ahamed’s stewardship, LuLu International Exchange Group has achieved a number of firsts for the region. Since taking on the role of the CEO of LuLu International Exchange in 2009, Ahamed has led the six-year old company towards rapid growth. His efforts to reach out to his customers by creating a service oriented culture focused on customer satisfaction and integrity eventually paid off and now the company operates in seven countries with over 80 global branches. In addition, Ahamed’s management style was highlighted for his ability to drive teams and colleagues to deliver their best. The panel of judges were most impressed with LuLu Exchange’s exponential rise to

amazing heights within a short period of time, and its efforts to operate a business based on sustainable and responsible corporate practices. “It is an honor and a privilege to be recognized for one’s effort by such respected business stalwarts in the industry. The award will help me reassert my commitment to set management benchmark standards in the region’s financial industry,” said the CEO on the sidelines of the award ceremony. He further added, “With the support of an incredible team of associates at LuLu International Exchange Group, we have modified our organizational structure and business processes to embrace a more unified, customer-centric business model and improve company performance. I dedicate this award to all my associates at LuLu International Exchange Group.” Among others honored at this year’s award ceremony in different categories were, renowned Indian lawyer Ashish Mehta, who walked away with the coveted ‘Outstanding Contribution’ prize at the CEO Indian Awards 2014, while DM Healthcare chairman Dr. Azad Moopen won the CSR Award. Dubai Islamic Bank CEO Dr Adnan Chilwan was voted Banking CEO of the Year, while the Philanthropy award went to K V Shamsudhenn. Al Tayer Motors CEO Ashok Khanna won Motoring CEO of the Year, and Eros chief executive Deepak Banbani bagged Electronics CEO of the Year. Diva Modelling founder Nicole Rodrigues Larsen won Female CEO of the Year.

Wataniya Telecom customers enjoy 50% discount on Remal Int’l Festival Ticket KUWAIT: Wataniya Telecom, member of Ooredoo Group, announced yesterday that all customers, members of the first loyalty program of its Kind in Kuwait “Nojoom” will now enjoy 50% discount upon booking their tickets to visit the charming Remal International Festival located in Mishref until April 26, 2014. Members of Nojoom will enjoy a rich program of activities consisting of more than 2,000 vivid shows conducted by international teams, special children’s programs including a treasure hunt in a maze, light shows and the Garden Of

Lights which will be the first of its kind in Kuwait and the region. Additionally, a selection of coffee shops and restaurants will complete the festival, guaranteeing an unforgettable cultural and entertainment experience. Wataniya has launched Nojoom 3 years ago which is considered the biggest Rewards Program in the country and the first of its kind too. It has been tailored around making day-to-day user experiences meaningful and privileged. Further details of Wataniya Nojoom can be found on

Rosette Group, GOExport forge strategic alliance KUWAIT: Rosette Group has announced its partnership agreement with the prominent export and FMCG company in Switzerland GoExport (Global Outsourced Export); aspiring to benefit from their 30 years of experience and deep knowledge of the Fast Moving Consumer Goods business worldwide and bring it to the state of Kuwait and the GCC. This relationship will align the two companies with an aim to develop and enhance the level of FMCG business services. The CEO of Rosette Group Abdulaziz AlAnjeri attended the private ceremony held at the Swiss embassy in Kuwait accompanied by his Senior Group Advisor Gregory Stevens, along with GOExport’s General Manager Rossano Cabrino, and Paolo Tosi of the Beijing, China, GoExport offices, with the attendance of His Excellency Etienne ThÈvoz - Swiss Ambassador to Kuwait who was witnessed the formation of promising partnership between a Kuwait based company and a Swiss company. Distinguished with its profound experience in the FMCG business field worldwide, GOExport’s list of professional services range from private label projects, commercial, industrial and franchising agreements, definition of the marketing & commercial strategies &

actions to the distribution network planning and organization to implement growth in turnover. On this occasion, Abdulaziz Al-Anjeri emphasized his positive visualization of the future outcome of this affiliation stating that “this event is of great significance in Rosette Group, whereby we gain access to international standards of quality, techniques and experience which shall lead Rosette Group to more success in different professional fields.” Rossano Cabrino added: “Rosette Group has joined the company as a full partner bringing financial expertise and Middle East distribution knowledge for the future growth of the company.” Etienne Thevoz - Swiss Ambassador to Kuwait - also declared his great “pride in seeing such a collaborative agreement believing that it is a definite step to exchange international experience which will result in mutual success”. It is also worth noting that Rosette Group and GOExport will announce their partnership and future plans& strategies in an official private VIP ceremony at Burj Khalifa, Dubai, end of this month in conjunction with “Gulfood” which is the biggest food and hospitality show in the world, held annually in Dubai.

BARCELONA: During his keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Group and member of the GSMA Board, praised the UAE Government initiative to provide its citizens with world class Smart Government services. The speech came at an important moment for the Etisalat Group, the leading telecoms operator in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, as they celebrated reaching 150 million subscribers. This milestone was achieved across 15 international markets. Julfar presented the compelling growth journey of the company at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. This also marked the first keynote address to date by the Etisalat Group CEO at this prestigious global event. In the quest to be the leading and most admired emerging markets telecom group, Julfar noted that achieving 150 million subscribers was a great milestone for Etisalat. Drawing parallels between the fast-paced development of the UAE and Etisalat, Julfar said: “ Today, Etisalat plays a key role in the Mobile Government strategy of the UAE and is on course to achieve 100 per cent Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) penetration - a world-first.” “We were the first network in the Middle East to launch

Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar GSM, Internet services, 3-G and LTE,” said Julfar. “What is fascinating in this dynamic growth journey is the transformational role that mobile plays to enrich people’s lives. At no time in human history has one technology revolutionized the way we do business, the way we are entertained, and ultimately, the way we live.” Julfar said that the support of the UAE Government and the

Telecommunications Regulatory Authority helped drive the advancement of the country’s telecom sector. “We hope to replicate similar success across all our high growth international markets that we operate in, with the support of all stakeholders.” Highlighting the growth achieved in Saudi Arabia, where Mobily, Etisalat’s operating brand, is the second largest operator in the Kingdom

and has one of the world’s busiest data networks with 1.3 petabytes consumed daily, Julfar said the company is also actively participating in various Mobile for Development programs in Africa. Presenting an optimistic picture of the telecom industry globally, Julfar said the sector is entering a brand new era, but the most critical driver of growth will be “the ability of the telecom providers to adapt, change and innovate.” Noting the way customers are migrating online services from computers to their smart phones, he added: “We see a new wave of connectivity, where Big Data meets Big Community and where the demand for products and services is outgrowing any other industry.” Julfar said the future growth strategy of Etisalat is defined by its focus to ‘aspire forward,’ with the primary goal of providing customers not only “great efficiency but also greater customer experiences.” Calling on the global players to work closely, Julfar said: “What we need now is for all stakeholders - regulators and partners - to work closer together, align their interests, and move this industry forward to a brighter future. This demands moving from a mindset of competitive value destruction to collaborative value addition.”

Al-Tijaria achieves net profit of KD 15,016,495 KUWAIT: Abdul Fatah M R Marafie in his capacity as Chairman & MD of CRC stated that the operations of the company for the financial year ended on 31.12.2013 resulted in achieving net profit of KD 15,016,495 with an increase of 37.3 percent as compared with year 2012. The Earnings per share(EPS) increased by 37.3 percent to reach 8.83 fils/share. The said profits led to an increase in the financial indices of the year 2013 as compared with year 2012. The Return on Equity(ROE) reached 5.8 percent, i.e. an increase of 34 percent. In addition, Return on Assets(ROA) reached 4.3 percent, i.e. an increase of 33 percent; whereas the Return of Capital(ROC) of the company increased to 8.8 percent with an increase of 48 percent. The operations of the Company remarkably improved in many aspects and maintained an income increase including the income of real estate sector that includes properties & hotel revenues whereas the total revenue of the properties and hotels reached approximately 18 million Kuwaiti dinars in 2013 which reflected the strong growth of revenues by 20 percent as compared to last year. The company continued adopting a policy aiming to reduce the cost of debt whereas it registered a decrease of 22.4 percent. That resulted in thereof the financing burdens of the Company registered a decrease in the value of Kuwaiti Dinars 1,247,973 during the year 2013 as compared to the previous year. Due to the efforts of the Company as well as the trust in the company & its financial solvency of the financing parties as well as the restructuring of some debts during the second quarter of the year 2013, most of the company debts are considered

long term which represent 85.7 percent of the total debt. This positively affected the cash flow and strengthening the working capital. The results and accomplishments reflect the exerted efforts in light of the strategic commitment announced by the company, which focuses on constantly seeking to seize promising investment opportunities which achieve added value to the shareholders’ funds, in addition to being a conservatory policy which aims at maintaining shareholders’ rights and exposing the real value of the company assets. Based on this principle, extensive studies were conducted on the company assets, including associated companies, in accordance with the requirements of the International Financial Reporting Standards(IFRS) The required provisions were made and thus rendered the company distant from any fluctuations or risks to surrounding markets. Based on the achieved results, the BOD of Al Tijaria recommended distribution of cash dividends 6 percent of the par value of the shares. It worth mentioning that the recommendations of the Board on the distribution of profits were made based on deliberate and specific foundations which rely on the continuity and expansion of the company activities and growth of its revenues in accordance with the prospect of the projects and operating revenues of the company to create an added value for shareholders. Abdul Fatah added that the Company is always seeking to maintain the continuous growth rates, while enhancing profit margins and managing cash flow as well as achieving the ideal revenue for the invested capital to achieve quality and value. The Company also follows low risk policies and strategies for acquiring good

assets and maintaining balance and diversity of real estate investments between lucrative real estate and strategic assets, leading to an increased growth and creation of sustainable added value to our shareholders and partners. Abdul Fatah, in his name and on behalf of the BOD members and Executive management and employees af the Company, congratulated His Highness the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah AlAhmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Crown Prince, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, on the National Day and Liberation Day and wished everyone blessings, security and prosperity. He also expressed his gratitude and appreciation to all shareholders, BOD members, Executive management as well as employees of the Company for their efforts, continuous support, and hard work for reaching the desired goals.

S&P 500 hits record on merger, acquisition NEW YORK: US stocks rose yesterday, advancing in a broad rally as merger activity boosted the S&P 500 to an all-time high. Despite the day’s gains, many investors were concerned that markets were getting overvalued with recent data failing to meet expectations, though the latter has largely been blamed on harsh winter weather rather than worsening fundamentals. RF Micro Devices Inc agreed to buy TriQuint Semiconductor Inc for about $1.6 billion, while Men’s Wearhouse Inc raised its cash tender offer for rival men’s clothing retailer Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc JOSB.O to $63.50 per share from $57.50. Shares of RF climbed 15.5 percent to $6.70 while TriQuint gained 20 percent to $11.04. Men’s Wearhouse rose 7.7 percent to $48.57 while Jos. A. Bank was up 8.8 percent at $59.89. “Seeing merger activity is a good sign for a continued growth market, but we’ve started to taper back our domestic holdings in favor of international markets which seem cheaper given the S&P’s (price-to-earnings ratio),” said Paul Radeke, vice president at the Minneapolis-based KDV Wealth Management, which has about $660 million in assets under management.

Yesterday’s deals followed Facebook’s massive acquisition of messaging company WhatsApp last week. Humana Inc and UnitedHealth Group were both among the S&P’s biggest percentage gainers, with Humana up 5.5 percent to $109.24 after it said the government’s proposed cuts to the private Medicare program appeared less than it had forecast. UnitedHealth rose 3.1 percent to $76.09. Aetna Inc rose 1.6 percent to $71.52 after giving a 2014 earnings outlook. The Dow Jones industrial average was up 126.53 points, or 0.79 percent, at 16,229.83. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 13.68 points, or 0.74 percent, at 1,849.93. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 31.93 points, or 0.75 percent, at 4,295.34. Nine of the S&P’s 10 sectors rose on the day, with energy shares up 1.7 percent following positive comments from KLR Group on Noble Energy, which jumped 4.3 percent to $69.74. More than twothirds of companies traded on the New York Stock Exchange rose on the day, while 63 percent of Nasdaq-listed companies gained. Overseas markets remained in focus after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was oust-

ed following deadly street protests, leaving a potential power vacuum and an ailing economy. Ukraine’s finance ministry said the economy required $35 billion in foreign aid over the next two years, with the first tranche needed within two weeks. While most US companies have limited direct exposure to Ukraine, investors worry that the instability in the region could spread throughout emerging markets. In the latest US data, the National Activity index fell to 0.39 in January from 0.16 in December while financial data firm Markit’s preliminary February read on the services sector fell from 56.7 to 52.7. Pfizer Inc shares rose 1.4 percent to $31.91 after the company said that its drug Prevenar 13 prevented communityacquired pneumonia in individuals age 65 and older in a study. Verizon Communications Inc dipped 1.2 percent to $46.70 after the company gave a 2014 revenue outlook. Many traders are looking ahead to Thursday, when Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will speak to the Senate Banking Committee in her semi-annual testimony about monetary policy. —Reuters



WhatsApp founders swap struggle for billionaire status SAN FRANCISCO: Jan Koum, an immigrant from Ukraine, was so poor as a teenager that he used saved his old Soviet notebooks for school and queued with his mom for food stamps. Brian Acton lost a small fortune in the dot-com bust and was rejected for jobs at Twitter and Facebook. Now, the friends behind the hot mobile messaging startup WhatsApp are the newest tech industry billionaires. Facebook this week bought WhatsApp in a stock-and-cash deal worth up to $19 billion and gave Koum a seat on the social network’s board of directors. Koum signed the Facebook takeover contract at the unused building where he and his mother once queued for food stamps in the Silicon Valley city of Mountain View, where WhatsApp is located, according to Forbes Magazine. Koum, who turned 38 on Sunday, has described growing up as a rebellious Jewish child near Kiev and having little when he immigrated to California at with his mother the age of 16 just after the Soviet Union’s breakup. His father did not make it to the United States, where the family sought to escape anti-Semitism and oppressive tactics of secret police. Soviet childhood “Jan’s childhood made him appreciate communication that was not bugged or taped,” Sequoia Capital partner Jim Goetz said in an online post. “When he arrived in the US as a 16-year-old immigrant living on food stamps, he had the extra incentive of wanting to stay in touch with his fami-

ly in Russia and the Ukraine.” Koum’s mother brought with her a cache of pens and Soviet-issued notebooks to save money on school supplies, according to Forbes magazine. A self-described trouble-maker at school, Koum had a job sweeping the floors in a grocery store. After his mother was diagnosed with cancer, they got by on disability payments, Forbes reported. Koum learned computer networking from man-

Co-founder and CEO of Whatsapp Jan Koum.

uals bought from, and eventually returned to, a used book store, according to the account. He enrolled in a state university in Silicon Valley and was working on the side with a computer security firm when he met Acton while on assignment at Yahoo in 1997. Acton was employee number 44 at the Sunnyvale, California-based Internet firm and shared a “no-nonsense” attitude with Koum. Within a year, Koum was working as an engineer at Yahoo and the pair were on their way to being close friends. Koum eventually chose Yahoo over college. When Koum’s mother died of cancer in 2000, his mentor Acton stepped in with support. Acton, meanwhile, reportedly lost millions investing during the famous dot-com boom that ended with an infamous dot-com bust. Acton and Koum left Yahoo in 2007 and took a year off, exploring South America and playing the sport of Ultimate Frisbee, according to Forbes. They both applied for jobs at Facebook after coming home. Both were rejected. In a Twitter post from 2009, Acton said that an effort to win a job at one -to-many messaging ser vice Twitter was rebuffed. Koum was living off dwindling savings when the iPhone and Apple’s online App Store prompted a certainty that an exciting new frontier was opening. He tapped into the local Russian immigrant community to pursue his idea of a smartphone messaging service synched to people’s contact lists. Koum enlisted Acton, who was jobless and

devoting energy to a less promising startup. Koum and Acton in 2009 founded WhatsApp, which took its name from a play on the phrase “What’s Up?” No Ads, no gimmicks They devoted themselves to a credo of “No Ads. No Games. No Gimmicks.” A note stating just that and signed by Acton remains taped to Koum’s desk, according to venture capital firm Sequoia, which invested in the startup early. The “contrarian approach” of gathering no information about users for targeting ads was shaped by Koum’s aversion to tactics of secret police in communist countries, Goetz said in an online note. The formula led to stunning growth to more than 450 million users, with 50 billion messages handled daily. The founders jokingly described themselves at the website as “two guys who spent a combined 20 years doing geeky stuff at Yahoo!” Koum describes himself in his Twitter account profile with a Kanye West quote, “We on a galaxy the haters cannot visit.” Koum has nearly 12,000 followers at Twitter but follows only “Jesus Christ, Silicon Valley,” an account devoted to Internet industry humor. In a conference call discussing the acquisition, Facebook chief and founder Mark Zuckerberg described Koum as being a “valuable thought partner” for several years. WhatsApp is a platform for sending images, video, audio, or text messages for free over the Internet using data connections of smartphones. — AFP

Smartphone giants scramble for profits in tough market Sony Mobile enters the fray for wearable devices

BARCELONA: The ‘Zip’ devices by Fitbit are presented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, yesterday. The Mobile World Congress runs from the 24 to 27 February where participants and visitors alike can attend conferences, network, discover cutting-edge products and technologies at among the 1,700 exhibitors as well as seek industry opportunities and make deals. — AFP

WhatsApp to allow free voice calls by mid-year BARCELONA: Fresh from a $19-billion (14billion-euro) takeover by Facebook, mobile messaging service WhatsApp said yesterday it will launch free voice calls by mid-year. The introduction of free calls, revealed on the opening day of the four-day World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Spain, would match rival application Viber’s similar offering. “We are going to introduce voice on WhatsApp in the second quarter of this year,” WhatsApp founder Jan Koum said. Facebook, whose 29-year-old billionaire creator Mark Zuckerberg was the star speaker on the opening day of the industry fair, announced a stock and cash purchase of WhatsApp on Wednesday. “Five years ago we had no users, no product,” said Koum. “Today we have 465 million active users,” he said, adding that the company still had no marketing, relying mostly on word of mouth to prosper. WhatsApp had not planned any changes in the light of the Facebook takeover, Koum said. “Mark really understands that for WhatsApp to stay successful it really needs to stay independent,” he said. Viber, one of WhatsApp’s key rivals, offers free voice and messaging. Japanese online shopping group Rakuten announced this month it would buy Viber’s Cyprus-based developer, Viber Media, for $900 million. ‘A brilliant move’ Facebook’s $19-billion deal for the redhot mobile messaging service WhatsApp is a savvy strategic move by the world’s biggest social network, even if the price tag is staggeringly high, analysts say. The agreement unveiled-seen as the largest for a venture-backed tech startupgives Facebook entry into emerging markets and importantly keeps the free-messaging app out of the hands of rivals such as Google. “Although the deal appears to be pricey... we think that it has compelling strategic logic,” Shebly Seyrafi at FBN Securities said in a research note Thursday. While Facebook is paying a high price by any measure, Seyrafi said “we see other benefits to the deal,” pointing out WhatsApp’s big user base in countries such as Brazil, South Africa and China. “We think that in addition to the revenue obtainable from WhatsApp itself, Facebook will benefit from better integration... that will make Facebook more engaging while driving further growth internationally and in mobile,” the analyst said. Facebook shares shook off early declines and rose 2.3 percent to close at $69.63, despite the fact that the company is diluting its value with the massive cash-andstock acquisition. The purchase includes $12 billion in Facebook shares and $4 billion cash. It calls for an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp founders and employees that will vest over four years. Analyst Stephen Ju at Credit Suisse said the move appears to make sense from a long-term viewpoint. “Looking past the sticker shock of $19 billion... we view this as an offensive move to gain additional share of the consumer’s time spent-which should

engender additional opportunities for monetization,” he said. Key in emerging economies Trip Chowdhry at Global Equities Research called the move a “very smart and an essential acquisition for Facebook,” because WhatsApp works on less expensive “feature phones” still predominant in emerging economies such as India. “Most of the developing world still is on the feature phone, as the majority cannot afford a smartphone,” Chowdhry said. “WhatsApp is the only application that runs equally well on feature phones and on smartphones.” Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler said Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp “solidifies its position as the top company in mobile globally” excluding China, where Facebook is banned. Sandler said that even though Facebook is not planning to deliver ads on WhatsApp for now, this may change over time. “We believe that as users become accustomed to native mobile advertising and as the quality of the various monetization strategies improve, we expect opportunities to emerge,” he said in a note to clients. Victor Anthony at Topeka Capital Markets said the deal will help diversify Facebook with a broader set of mobile services. “As was the case with PayPal, YouTube and Instagram, hindsight will be the best judge of how valuable this acquisition will be,” Anthony said in a research note. “The valuation appears reasonable on a per user basis. From what we see, the acquisition makes strategic sense and the combined company will likely accelerate user growth of both platforms, similar to what we see with Instagram.” Staving off Google threat Jack Kent at IHS Technology said the move helps Facebook “neutralize a competitive threat.” “To understand Facebook’s rationale, the focus must be on the cost of Facebook not buying WhatsApp rather than the price Facebook paid for WhatsApp,” Kent said. “Facebook could not risk WhatsApp’s 450 million monthly and 315 million daily active users falling into the hands of a competitor such as Google.” Fellow IHS analyst Eleni Marouli said the deal allows Facebook to get better data on users worldwide, which has value in itself. “WhatsApp’s strong presence in key emerging markets such as Brazil and India will provide Facebook with insights in countries that are still largely under-monetized,” Marouli said. “Building good mobile data on consumers in these markets is essential as they are not only mobile-first in their use of the Internet, but often mobile-only.” Youssef Squali at Cantor Fitzgerald pointed out that Facebook may be able to use WhatsApp to create a new kind of telecom service which has not existed so far. “While WhatsApp is currently a cross-platform mobile messaging service, it is likely to morph into a gateway for global calling and video solutions over time, dramatically expanding its revenue potential,” the analyst said. — AFP

BARCELONA: Smartphone giants released eyecatching new devices as the world’s biggest mobile fair opened yesterday, fighting for new ways to profit in a tougher market. Besides a slew of sleek, new premier smartphones, the world’s biggest smartphone maker Samsung and its rivals unveiled an array of smart watches and bracelets to unlock new revenues. The four-day Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, opens after a deceptively buoyant 2013, when sales surged 42.3-percent to 968 million units. The growth was powered almost entirely by developing markets, however, disguising a slowdown in mature markets such as Western Europe and the United States, which are the most profitable. Samsung faces other significant challengers for potential customers’ wrists both at home and abroad. Hours after Samsung launched the Gear 2, rising Chinese smartphone maker Huawei revealed a connected watch of its own. Huawei, already a major force in building mobile networks and the world number three smartphone maker in 2013, showed off its TalkBand, to be sold for 99 euros ($136). South Korean manufacturer LG said on the same day that it would launch its first smartwatch in 2014. Sony revealed its Xperia Z2 smartphone yesterday, the first new edition of its flagship device since it announced this month the sale of its stagnant PC business to focus instead on smartphones and tablets. The waterproof phone, available from March, has a full high definition 5.2-inch screen and a 20.7 megapixel camera that can take ultra-high resolution 4K video, along with noise-cancelling audio. The struggling Japanese group revealed, too, an Xperia Z2 Tablet, also waterproof, and a more affordable Xperia M2 smartphone. But Sony Mobile also entered the fray for wearable devices, releasing the SmartBand SWR10, a bracelet that comes with an application allowing users to log events and photographs taken during the day as well as tracking

BARCELONA: A visitor looks at a mobile device at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, on February 24, 2014. — AFP how far they walk and checking their sleep cycle. “Our SmartWear experience goes far beyond health and fitness,” Sony Mobile chief executive Kunisama Suzuki boasted. Zuckerberg is star speaker At the same time, the online world is elbowing its way into the mobile market. Facebook’s 29-year-old founder Mark Zuckerberg is the star speaker on the opening day of the fair in Barcelona, fresh from his $19 billion (14-billioneuro) takeover of smar tphone messenger WhatsApp. He has come a long way in the mobile world in a short time. When Facebook sold its shares

to the public in an initial public offering in May 2012, “it literally had no mobile advertising revenues,” said Eden Zoller, analyst at the research house Ovum. “It did actually have a pretty strong mobile user base at IPO but what it had failed to do at that time was actually monetise those mobile users,” she said. But the social network-boasting more than 1.2 billion members-quickly repaired its strategy. By the end of 2013 mobile devices accounted for 53 percent of Facebook’s advertising revenue, bringing in $1.2 billion in the last quarter and more than $3 billion over the whole year. — AFP

Firefox to power $25 smartphone BARCELONA: Firefox OS, an upstart smartphone operating system aimed a challenging the Apple and Google duopoly, will power a new category of $25 smartphones for developing countries, the California-based nonprofit Mozilla Foundation said Sunday. Mozilla sought to show off the success of its system, launched a year ago to prise open a market in which Google’s Android was at the heart of 78.4 percent of all smartphones sold last year and Apple’s iOS in another 15.6 percent, according to figures from technology research house Gartner Inc.On the eve of the opening on Monday of the four-day Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Mozilla announced the commercial launch of seven new devices using Firefox OS including Chinese handset maker ZTE’s smartphones Open C and Open II, as well as a range of Alcatel OneTouch tablets. “We are also enabling a whole new category of smartphone, priced around $25 (18 euros), that will bring even more people around the world online,” said Mozilla chief operating officer Jay Sullivan. The entry-level smartphone would rely on integrated circuits made by Chinese electronics manufacturer Spreadtrum, he said.”Firefox OS is off to an amazing start. We launched our first smartphones in July, and have since expanded into 15 markets,” Sullivan said. People in Latin America and Eastern Europe had upgraded from simple “feature phones” to Firefox OS smartphones with downloadable applications and Internet access, he added. “Sales have far exceeded our targets. But 2013 was just the beginning. In 2014, we are differentiating our user experience and our partners are growing the portfolio of devices.” In 2014, Spanish giant Telefonica will sell Firefox OS-based devices in another seven countries, mostly in South America, Sullivan said. Mozilla did not say how many Firefox-powered smartphones have been sold since the system’s launch last July. The foundation did say, however, that it expected Firefox OS to spread to other devices including smart televisions. —AFP

BARCELONA: A device with the new Firefox OS is presented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, yesterday. — AFP

LG to launch new smartwatch SEOUL: LG will launch its first smartwatch in 2014, the head of its mobile unit said yesterday, tapping into the nascent market for wearable devices seen as the mobile industry’s new source of growth. The announcement from the South Korean smartphone maker came after industry leader Samsung on Sunday launched the second generation of its own Internet-enabled smartwatch, the Gear 2. “We are working on the development of wearable device... more specifically in the form of a watch,” Park Jong-Seok, the CEO of LG Electronics’ mobile unit, told reporters. “(It) will come out this year,” he said, adding the watch would be remotely linked to smartphones. “We’re working hard to put on the table

something that other companies have not offered yet,” Park said, without elaborating further. LG-the world’s fourth-largest smartphone maker-has not yet entered the market for wearable devices currently dominated by firms like Samsung, Sony and Pebble. Rising Chinese smartphone maker Huawei also unveiled Sunday a connected watch called TalkBand to rival Gear 2, on the eve of the world’s biggest mobile fair in Barcelona, Spain. A typical smartwatch allows users to make calls, receive texts and emails, take photos and access apps. So far, few companies have managed to generate large consumer excitement or sales in the market, also eyed by firms like Apple and Google. —AFP



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

Indonesia announces world’s biggest manta ray sanctuary JAKARTA: Indonesia instituted the world’s biggest manta ray sanctuary covering millions of square kilometres as it seeks to protect the huge winged fish and draw more tourists to the sprawling archipelago. New legislation gives full protection to the creatures across all the waters surrounding Southeast Asia’s biggest country, which for years has been the world’s largest ray and shark fishery. Protection group Conservation International hailed the “bold” move and said it was influenced by a recent government-backed review that showed a single manta ray was worth one million dollars in tourism revenue over its lifetime. This compares to between $40 and $500 if caught and killed, the group said. Many foreign tourists come to Indonesia every year to dive in some of the world’s

most biodiverse waters and manta rays are a favourite sight. The gentle beasts have wingspans up to 25 feet (7.5 metres), which they flap to propel themselves gracefully through the water. “Indonesia now has the secondlargest manta ray tourism industry in the world, with an estimated annual turnover of $15 million,” said Agus Dermawan, a senior official from the ministry of marine affairs and fisheries. “Given the huge area of reefs and islands in our country, if managed properly, Indonesia could become the top manta tourism destination on the planet.” The Maldives currently has the largest manta ray tourism sector. Indonesia is one of the few places in the world where tourists can easily see both species of manta rays, the oceanic and reef varieties. The new legislation

China demand threat In recent years the number of rays have declined rapidly due to voracious demand in China-in particular for the creatures’ gills-for use in traditional medicine. The new legislation protects manta rays within Indonesia’s 5.8 million square kilometres (2.2 million square miles) of ocean, banning fishing of the rays and their export. It came a year after the local government in Raja Ampat announced the creation of a 46,000-square-kilometre shark and ray sanctuary. The decision by Jakarta also followed a landmark deal last year to restrict exports of manta rays and several species of shark by the 178-member Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

protects both. Taking tourists out to view rays and other sea creatures provides livelihoods for many people working in popular dive spots across Indonesia. Key populations can be found near the resort island of Bali, Flores island in eastern Indonesia and Raja Ampat off the northwest tip of New Guinea island. Raja Ampat, a famous diving spot, is one of the few places in the world where both species of ray can be seen in the same place at the same time. Manta rays thrive in Indonesia due its coral reefs and an abundance of the tiny sea animals the creatures feed on. They are social, gentle and intelligent-they have the largest brain to body ratio of any fish. Rays have little fear of humans which makes them popular with tourists but extremely vulnerable to being caught.

However Conservation International conceded it would be hard to ensure Indonesia’s new ban on fishing and exporting manta rays was followed in a country made up of more than 17,000 islands where law enforcement is often weak. Tiene Gunawan, the group’s Indonesia marine programme director, said that “enforcement is lacking in Indonesia” but added her organisation, other NGOs and government were working with fishermen to encourage them to follow the rules. “We are still hopeful this will work,” she said. Indonesia joins countries including Ecuador, the Philippines, New Zealand and Mexico in granting full protection to their manta rays. The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies both species of manta ray as vulnerable. —AFP

Colorado, Utah move to hike smoking age to 21 Lawmakers make it harder for kids to obtain cigarettes DENVER: Two Western states with some of the nation’s lowest smoking rates are considering cracking down even more by raising the tobacco age to 21. Utah and Colorado lawmakers both voted favorably on proposals last week to treat tobacco like alcohol and take it away from 18to 20-year- olds, a move inspired by new research on how many smokers start the habit as teenagers. “By raising the age limit, it puts them in a

to curb access to cigarettes by teens. The director of tobacco studies at University College London didn’t know of any other countries considering a tobacco age threshold of 21, but he said raising the tobacco age from 16 to 18 in the United Kingdom proved to be “a public health winner.” Altria Group Inc., which owns the country’s largest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, said in a statement Friday that they support 18 as the minimum age to purchase tobacco, which

MONUMENT: A high school student, who preferred not to be identified, smokes a cigarette in a de facto smoking area just off the property of Lewis-Palmer High School, in Monument, Colo., Feb 20, 2014. A proposal to raise the tobacco age to 21 in Colorado is up for its first review in the state Legislature. The bipartisan bill would make Colorado the first with a statewide 21-to-smoke law. —AP situation where they’re not going to pick it up until a much later age,” said Marla Brannum of Lehi, Utah, who testified in favor of the idea there. In Colorado, the testimony was similar that pushing the tobacco age could make it harder for teens to access tobacco, and possibly reduce usage rates among adults. “What I’m hoping to do is make it harder for kids to obtain cigarettes,” said Rep. Cheri Gerou, a Republican who sponsored the measure. Both proposals face several more votes. But they’re the furthest any states have gone

Congress approved in 2009. “While we recognize that these are difficult issues, we believe Congress has established a thoughtful process for understanding the issue better, and we intend to engage in that process, with FDA, as it takes its course,” the statement said. First cigarette Altria said the company supports efforts to prevent underage use of tobacco. A paper published last year in the journal Annals of

Internal Medicine said that 9 out of 10 daily smokers in the US have their first cigarette by 18 years of age, and that about 90 percent of cigarettes purchased for minors are obtained by people between 18 and 20 years old. The Washington-based Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids advocates the higher smoking age and argues that it could make a serious dent in tobacco deaths down the road. “We see this as sort of an added step to reducing smoking rates,” in addition to higher tobacco taxes and other curbs, said Campaign vice president Peter Fisher. Armando Peruga, program manager of the World Health Organization’s Tobacco Free Initiative, said he supported the U.S. proposal, provided that it would be strictly enforced and that it was accompanied by other tobacco control measures, such as high taxes and smoke-free regulations. “It needs to be part of a comprehensive policy to counter the tobacco industry’s influence on young people,” Peruga said. Four states, including Utah, already require tobacco purchasers to be 19. The others are Alabama, Alaska and New Jersey. Fisher said the 21-for-tobacco bills are also pending in state legislatures in Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Maryland lawmakers considered and rejected the idea this year. New York City last year raised the tobacco age to 21, as did Hawaii County, Hawaii. Legal age Utah already has the nation’s lowest smoking rate, about 12 percent in 2011 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Colorado isn’t far behind, at about 18 percent in 2011, according to the CDC. Despite the low rates, health advocates in both states testified that a higher tobacco age could depress the rates even further. “Moving it to later, obviously we can help reduce use,” said Bob Doyle, head of the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance. When the legal age of smoking was raised from 16 to 18 in the UK, there was a significant drop in the number of people who started smoking, University College London’s Robert West said. “The ages from 18 to 21 is a period of huge uptake and even if you’re able to delay (teenagers) from starting smoking rather than preventing it altogether, there would be a significant health benefit. You’re essentially allowing the rather scrambled adolescent brain to settle down and avoid smoking during that period before they turn 21, after which they may decide they absolutely do not want to smoke anyways,” he said. —AP

BEIJING: A woman on a wheelchair covers her face as she passes by the iconic bird’s nest National Stadium on a hazy day in Beijing, China, Sunday. China’s environment ministry said Sunday that it had sent inspectors to Beijing and other areas of the country to inspect polluting industries and check construction sites amid a spell of severe air pollution. —AP

Beijing issues rare air pollution alert BEIJING: When the air gets really bad, Beijing says it has an emergency plan to yank half the city’s cars off the road. The only problem is: It may be difficult to ever set that plan in motion. It wasn’t triggered in January, when the city recorded extremely poisonous air pollution. And not this week, when pollution was expected to continue for several days at hazardous levels. A rare alert issued Friday was an “orange” one - the second-highest in the four levels of urgency - prompting health advisories and bans on barbeques, fireworks and demolition work, but no order to pull cars from the streets. Thick haze “Yesterday, I thought it was bad enough when I went out to eat. But this morning I was hacking,” a Beijing pedestrian who gave her name as Li said Friday, as a thick haze shrouded the city. Still, the government did not issue the red alert. Beijing’s alert system requires a forecast of three days in a row of severe pollution for the highest level. Days of extreme pollution or polluted skies that are expected to clear in less than three days do not trigger the most stringent measures. A period of pollution in January that saw density readings of PM 2.5 particles exceeding 500 micrograms per cubic meter prompted only the mildest, blue-level alert. That density is about 20 times as high as the 25 micrograms considered safe by the World

Health Organization. PM refers to “particulate matter,” a mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets, the size of which is linked to their potential for causing health problems. The measures that went into effect Friday also ask members of the public to use public transportation and to turn off their cars rather than let them run idle, as well as call for water sprinkling on the street and dustcontrol measures at building sites. The most stringent level, red, would order half of Beijing’s 5 million cars off the road - based on the last digit of their license plate. Ma Jun, of the non-governmental Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing, said that accurately forecasting three days of heavy pollution is technically difficult. But in any case, he said, the government is reluctant to adopt the most disruptive measures, because it would be nearly impossible to notify all drivers of the rules and to adequately boost the capacity of public transportation to accommodate the extra passengers. “When the alert is at a low level, the measures are not effective, but those for the highlevel alert are not feasible,” Ma said. “The government is reluctant to raise the alert level.” However, Ma credited the government with becoming more open in recent months about air pollution levels, and noted that many people receive real-time government updates about Beijing’s air quality on their mobile phones, so that they can take protective measures. —AP

Pandas get red-carpet welcome in Belgium

BRUSSELS: Airport workers take photos of Chinese Panda Xing Hui after its arrival at Zaventem airport in Brussels yesterday. The pandas received a distinguished arrival by Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo as they arrived on the chartered Boeing 747. The two pandas, a male Xing Hui, and a female, Hao Hao, will have a new home at the Pairi Daiza Park in Southern Belgium. —AP

BRUSSELS: Two giant pandas, on loan from China for the next 15 years, received a red carpet welcome in Belgium yesterday where they were greeted by Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo. Hao Hao, a four-year-old female whose name means “Friendly”, and Xing Hui (“Shining Star”), a male of the same age, landed around midday (1100 GMT) at Brussels airport after their journey in a pagoda-style cage onboard a cargo plane. Their plane, arriving after a 15-hour flight from Sichuan in southwest China, taxied into place through an arc of water from the hoses of Belgian firefighters. The pandas, each weighing over 110 kilos

(242 pounds), emerged to find around 100 journalists and dozens of children from a nearby school waiting to welcome them. “We are very honoured and proud that China agreed to lend Belgium two of its national treasures,” said Di Rupo. The new arrivals were then whisked under police escort to the Pairi Daiza zoo in the town of Brugellette, 60 kilometres (37 miles) outside Brussels. Entry tickets to the zoo were entirely sold out on Sunday, even though zookeepers had warned that Hao Hao and Xing Hui will not be making any public appearances until they have acclimatised and finished a period in quarantine, due to end on April 5.

The zoo has spent some 10 million euros ($14 million) to prepare a vast enclosure for its new stars in its “China Garden”, comprising a pool, cave and bamboo plantation. “They have flown over a thousand mountains and a thousand rivers to arrive in Belgium,” said China’s ambassador to Belgium, Liao Liqiang. The Belgian press has also reported that one million euros per year is being paid as “rent” for the pandas, which have been a valuable tool for soft diplomacy and revenue collection for China over the years. Giant pandas are an endangered species, with only 1,600 left in the wild in China and 300 in captivity around the world. —AFP

Asteroid smashes into Moon PARIS: A Spanish astronomer yesterday said he had witnessed a fridge-sized asteroid smash into the Moon, in the biggest lunar impact by a space rock ever recorded. The rare episode was seen by Jose Maria Madiedo, a professor at the University of Huelva, Britain’s Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) said. On September 11 last year, Madiedo was operating two lunar-observing telescopes when he spotted a flash in the Mare Nubium, an ancient, dark lava-filled basin. The flare, which occurred at 2007 GMT, was briefly almost as bright as the northern hemisphere’s Pole Star, the RAS said. It would have been visible to the naked eye to anyone who happened to be looking at the Moon at that moment in good viewing conditions, the RAS said.

There followed a long afterglow, lasting another eight seconds-the longest and brightest ever seen for a lunar impact. “At that moment, I realised that I had seen a very rare and extraordinary event,” Madiedo told the society. Madiedo and colleagues calculate that the rock had a mass of around 400 kilos (1,000 pounds), with a diameter of between 60 centimetres (two feet) and 1.40 metres (56 inches). It hit Mare Nubium at around 61,000 kilometres (38,100 miles) per hour. Madiedo has posted two clips on Youtube ( and The speed was so high that the rock turned molten on impact and vaporised, leaving a thermal glow visible from Earth as a flash, and bequeathing a 40-metre (130-feet) crater in the Moon’s pocked surface.

The impact energy was equivalent to an explosion of around 15 tonnes of TNT, more than triple the largest previously seen event, claimed by NASA in March 2013. Madiedo’s team calculate that rocks of this size may strike Earth about 10 times more frequently than was generally thought. Earth, though, is protected by its atmosphere and asteroids of this size burned up as dramatic “fireball” meteors. By way of comparison, the rock that exploded above Chelyabinsk, Russia, on February 15 2013, is believed to have measured about 20 metres (65 feet) across and weighed some 13,000 tonnes. It is considered to have been at the lower end of medium-sized asteroids. The Spanish observation is published in the RAS journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. —AFP

RAWALPINDI: In this Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 photo, Eldery Pakistani patients and residents at St. Joseph’s Hospice, from left, Ruth Robet, 60, reads the newspaper next to her roommate, Wazeera, 65, while sitting around the stove part of their morning routine, at the female ward of the hospice, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Mohammed Aqeel spent weeks at home in Pakistan waiting for death after suffering a debilitating spinal cord injury in a car crash before friends suggested he come to St. Joseph’s Hospice on the outskirts of the capital, Islamabad. —AP

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


Rare, polio-like disease found in California children WASHINGTON: A rare, polio-like syndrome that has no known cure has emerged in a small number of children in California, US researchers said yesterday. Five cases of sudden onset paralysis were described by Stanford University experts at the American Academy of Neurology annual meeting in

Philadelphia. “Although poliovirus has been eradicated from most of the globe, other viruses can also injure the spine, leading to a polio-like syndrome,” said Stanford neurologist and lead author of the case reports, Keith Van Haren. “In the past decade, newly identified strains of enterovirus have been linked to

polio-like outbreaks among children in Asia and Australia,” he said in a statement. “These five new cases highlight the possibility of an emerging infectious polio-like syndrome in California.” Polio has been largely wiped out across the globe, thanks to the introduction of an effective

vaccine in the mid 1950s. However, outbreaks of the highly contagious disease continue in parts of the world, including Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. The California children tested negative for polio, and all had been vaccinated. The patients showed similar symptoms, such

as sudden loss of movement in one or more of their limbs, resulting in paralysis usually within two days. Three of the five youths had respiratory illness before their symptoms began. Two have tested positive for enterovirus-68, a rare virus that has been previously associated with polio-like symptoms. —AFP


W H AT ’ S O N


—Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat


appy 17th birthday to Lydia who celebrates her big day tomorrow. God bless you abundantly. Blessings from brothers Dr Emmanuel and Joshua, sister Rachel and dad David and mom Anna. Love from all of National Evangelical Church Kuwait.

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.

Safat Home launches heritage collection from India


afat Home launches heritage collection of home furniture from India in lovely acacia wood and Sheesham wood at their showroom in Shuwaikh and Al Rai. The heritage collection furniture, which includes large variety of Indian rosewood coat, tables etc are directly imported from Jaipur in India, a place renowned for their amazing craftsmanship in weaving, wood work, handcrafts and marble.

Large variety of hand block printed cotton linen ranges, lovely hand tufted rugs, beds, cupboards, cabinets, hand carved marble and tables in wood with exquisite and unique work are displayed at their showroom. The colors chosen for the upholstery and sofas, seating and cushions for the heritage collection range are beautiful. Elegant Marble tables from semi precious stones and each piece is one of its

kind handmade by artisans in India They have specially flown an artisan from India to demonstrate the weaving of rug for the visitors to their showroom. They will be demonstrating live weaving o dhurries, Kilims, and hand tuffed rugs during the launch days at their Shuwaikh and Al Rai showrooms. The live weaving, music, henna artist and other activities will be available at their Al Rai showroom near 4th Ring Road from

27th Feb till 1st March, 2014 every day evening from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm Safat Homes by Alghanim are located in Alrai and Shuwaikh. Safat Home Alrai boasts two floors of furnishing and dÈcor showcased in concept rooms. The Safat Home in Shuwaikh is conveniently located off Canada Dry street near Alghanim Service centre.

Proud 2 be Kuwaiti 2014 The P2BK 2014 event at the Kuwait International Fairgrounds Mubarak Al-Abdullah, 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. 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.

Gulf Bank’s customer contact center available 24/7


n the occasion of National and Liberation day, Gulf Bank’s Head Office and all branches will be closed from Tuesday 25 February until Thursday 27 February 2014. The Bank will commence normal working hours on Sunday 2 March 2014. During the holiday, customers will continue to have round-the-clock access to Gulf Bank on 1805805, where Gulf Bank staff are available 24 hours to directly assist customers. Customers can also log on to Gulf Bank’s website,, to get more information about the Bank’s latest products and services. On this occasion, Gulf Bank would like to convey its sincere congratulations and best wishes to the Amir of the State of Kuwait His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak AlHamad Al-Sabah - May Allah Almighty safeguard and preserve them for their nation, as well as to the government and people of Kuwait.



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Burgan Bank working hours during National and Liberation holidays


urgan Bank announced that its airport branch will resume normal working hours during Kuwait’s upcoming National and Liberation holidays, from today until 27 February 2014, in order to accommodate banking requirements for all the customers during the public holidays. The bank’s branch will operate from 8:00 am to 10:30 pm. For more information on any products or services, customers are required to contact Burgan Bank’s call center 1804080 during the holiday. On this occasion, Burgan Bank extends its best wishes and greetings to the public on Kuwait’s nationwide celebrations of both the 53rd Independence Day and the 23rd Liberation day.

‘Keli 2014’ opens today


eli 2014’, a two-day theatre festival of Gulf Malayali Diaspora, commences today at Khaitan Indian Community School Auditorium. Indian Ambassador Sunil Jain will officially inaugurate the two-day festival at 4.30 pm. 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 Meenambalam Santhosh - will adjudge the five plays taking part in the competition. Well-known South Indian film and theatre actress Valsala Menon will be the guest of honour. Today, two plays will be staged starting at 5.30pm. First play will be ‘Amme Mappu’ by Kalpak Kuwait followed by ‘Pashu’ by Nirbhaya Theatre. Tomorrow, three plays will be presented from 4 pm onwards. They are ‘Kottukaranum Kure Thullakkarum’ by Thanima Kuwait, ‘Ushna Mekhalayile Penkutty’ by Future Eye Theatre and ‘Randam Bhavam’ by Kala Kuwait. Entry will be free on both days. All art lovers are welcome.

Annual Day celebrations at IES


ndian Educational School (Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan), Kuwait hosted their 7th annual day on 13th and 14th of this month in a specially arranged auditorium in the school premises. Yashwanth Sinha, the former Union Minister of Finance, and Member of Parliament, Government of India was the chief guest. 130 students in the middle and senior wings made their appearance in their unique attempt of staging the classical play, the Merchant of Venice of the paragon of playwrights William Shakespeare, 387 seven students in the primary wing appeared on the stage in their cultural fiesta christened Navarasa-the Colours of Life. Hundreds of parents had gathered to relish the nectar of a month long hard work of their children. A long galaxy of leaders from different walks of life like Sinha, Sunil Jain, Indian Ambassador to Kuwait, Santhanagopal, Director, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, India, Ramachandran Menon, Chairman, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in the Middle East, Sooraj Ramachandran, Director, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in the Middle East, Alex Joseph, Director Bhavan Institute of Educational Research and Training made the event epoch-making. Principals of various schools viz. Shafiq Ahmed of Integrated Indian School, Mrs Shyamala Divakaran of Gulf Indian School, Mrs Kalyani Mukherji of Kuwait Indian School, Dr Binu Mon of Indian Community School added splendor. Exhortations of Yashwant Sinha gave the crowd their wings of patriotism, and there were literally many moments when they avowed to take up their responsibilities as the civic citizens of their country. The short and sweet speech of the chief guest wanted people to hold fast the roots, the culture, and values of ancient tradition of India. For him the real mantra of success EECC comprises Excellence, Ethics, Commitment and Courage, he said. Having watched the programmes

of both the days, the chief guest admired the rare blend of quality teaching and talented students in Bhavan, Kuwait. He was also well appreciative of the success story of Bhavan in the Middle East. Sinha reminded the parents of their great responsibility of being the role models for their children. Sunil Jain, hon’ble Indian ambassador to Kuwait motivated the gathering with the memories of his student life. He also discussed the basic educational needs of the Indian expatriates in Kuwait, and the challenges the field faces. Students who proved their excellence in their academic life were honoured by the chief guest. The prestigious Bhavan Gold Medal given for the topmost student in the Board Exams was bestowed upon Ahana Shivaskandan who is currently pursuing her Bio-Chemical Engineering in

the Alberta University, Canada. Ahana had attended the two year integrated IIT JEE programme in the school, and had attained this accolade without the help of any private tutors. Members of the teaching and non-teaching staff who were appreciated for the best performance include Ms Elizabeth Thomas, Ms Rajni Menon, Ms Sabiha Kazi, Ms Uma Maheshwari and Suresh V Balakrishnan. The ceremonious release of Tejas the school magazine also was done by the chief guest on the occasion. Suresh. V, faculty head of English senior secondary and the principal T Premkumar welcomed the gatherings on the first and the second day respectively. When Ms Jaemi the head of the department English, middle and senior school, proposed the vote of thanks the first day, Ms Jyothi Suresh, teacher CBSE did the honours the second day.


W H AT ’ S O N

Culinary journey during Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner at Al Baraka Grand ballroom


he prestigious Chaine des Rotisseurs dinner was held at Al Baraka Grand Ballroom, Crowne Plaza Kuwait. The 120 fine cuisine enthusiasts included Ambassadors of France, Japan, Spain, Greece, Canada, Malaysia, Turkey, Serbia, Romania and Lebanon and dignitaries and was held in the presence of Benoit Fragniere Membre du Conseil D’administration & Magistral and Chancellier de Suisse who came down specially to intronize 80 members and promote 20 members from the association. As part of the celebrations, Mohammed Najia was also honoured for his outstanding contribution to the Chaine des Rotisseurs in Kuwait as Bailli Delegue for the past 30 years where his dedication to the aims of the Chaine are without equal. “Food is Art” and no one could bring the saying to life more than FAUCHON. Exclusively catered by FAUCHON, the four-course gourmet dinner was praised by all for its culinary arts. The guests were kept entertained

by the in-house pianist playing classical music and later by the live band, “Latin Fire “who added to the ambience of the exquisite setup at the Grand Ballroom. The event, being one of the largest Chaine des Rotisseurs dinners held in Kuwait, welcomed its 80 new members. The Chaine des Rotisseurs is an International Association of Gastronomy, with over 25,000 members worldwide. Established in over 80 countries, it started in Kuwait in the year 1982 and now has over 120 members. The distinctive character of the association is to bring together amateurs and professionals, from all over the world, whether they are hoteliers, restaurateurs, or executive chefs, who share the same values of quality, fine dining, the encouragement of the culinary arts and the pleasures of the table. The evening began with welcoming speeches by Mohamed Najia and the intronisation ceremony for 80 new Chaine des Rotisseurs members. After

the guests enjoyed the gourmet FAUCHON dinner served with great style and precision. Chef Thierry Foehrenbach, Executive Chef of FAUCHON who pushed the boundaries to entice and satiate the ChaÓne members and their guests with his culinary masterpiece, created the menu. Each menu item was a culinary masterpiece in itself. Each course harmonized perfectly with the previous courses and the dessert was the pinnacle course, making a true French indulgence. Chef Thierry mesmerized the guests by the extraordinary WOW dessert buffet, as he revealed it with much ado and grandeur. The classic French dishes by Fauchon honored the traditions and practices of French cuisine. The ambience of Al Baraka grand ballroom was exquisite where every minute detail taken into account. Exquisite cutlery and specially designed Ice carvings donned each table. Mohamed Najia congratulated Ramy Haykal, General Manager,

Crowne Plaza Kuwait, Chef Thierry Foehrenbach, Elie Saliba- F&B manager & Mohamed Bseiso - General Manager, Al Baraka Grand Ballroom and the entire kitchen and service staff for their impeccable service and in making the whole evening an ethe-

real and an unforgettable culinary journey. The Al Baraka Grand Ballroom opened in November 2012. The lavish and exquisite interior harmonizes perfectly with the exclusive catering of the world-renowned FAUCHON. Al

Baraka’s attention to detail with its interior, incorporates the finest materials crafted with artistic and cultural flare, truly embracing the vision of creating an unforgettable experience both visually and gastronomically.

OSN to bring fun family experiences with Spider-Man and The Hulk at Marina Mall


Annual IKEA soft toys for education campaign raises hope for 11 million kids


hrough the annual IKEA Soft Toys for Education campaign, IKEA customers and co-workers enabled €10.1 million to be donated to help improve children’s education in Africa, Central- and Eastern Europe as well as Asia. Through this campaign, IKEA Kuwait alone sold 22,156 toys, which raised €22,156 contribution to IKEA Foundation. The donation is made by IKEA Foundation and is directed to UNICEF and Save the Children projects. The annual IKEA Soft toys for Education campaign ran from November to December 2013 in all IKEA stores around the world. For each soft toy, €1 was donated to UNICEF and Save the Children by the IKEA Foundation. Since the start of this annual campaign in 2003, the IKEA Foundation has raised nearly €67 million, which has helped improve the educational opportunities of more than 11 million children in 46 countries. The donations help UNICEF and Save the Children train teachers in child-friendly teaching methods, improve child protection systems, supply educational materials, and increase school attendance rates. Thanks to this year’s donation, the IKEA Foundation will support 19 UNICEF and Save the Children projects in 18 countries: UNICEF’s share will fund the Schools for Africa initiative in eight countries and the Schools in Asia initiative in China. Save the Children’s share will support education for children of the most marginalised groups in Asia and Eastern Europe. IKEA Kuwait would like to thank its customers for their support and encourages more to join in helping improve the educational opportunities of children everywhere.

SN, the region’s leading pay-TV network, and the provider of fun family experiences, is bringing superhero lovers in Kuwait the opportunity to interact with SpiderMan and The Hulk at Marina Mall. On February 27 and 28, 2014, from 6pm to 10pm, Marina Mall’s Dome area will play host to an interactive and engaging experience with Marvel’s renowned heroes, Spider-Man and The Hulk. Children and visitors will have the opportunity to meet the world’s bravest crusaders, and pose for photographs, in addition to taking home souvenirs. Marvel’s superhero tour of Kuwait organised by OSN is part of the broadcasters commitment to bring fun family experiences to residents across the region and bring the magic of TV to life. The network recently held a GCC tour with Marvel’s Spider-Man, with great success. Watch Marvel Universe featuring your favourite shows including Ultimate Spiderman (s2), Avengers Assemble and Hulk Agents of Smash on Disney XD only on OSN.

Best celebrations of National, Liberation days at The Palms Beach Hotel & Spa


he Palms Beach Hotel & Spa introduces distinguished Packages for the Occasion of Kuwait’s National & Liberation days. Families can celebrate these joyful occasions through an unforgettable stay at the hotel’s spacious and luxurious suites. The package includes one or two bedrooms suite with spacious living & dining room for two adults & one child or for four adults & one child. The offer is rich with valuable benefits for the families to enjoy these occasions; the entire family can entertain themselves in a relaxed and luxurious environment. Guests can avail form the special added benefits of this packages which includes rich buffet breakfast and lunch or dinner in Palmerie Restaurant which offers a wide variety of Arabic & International cuisine with live cooking stations. In addition to the special family gift & Palms gift vouchers. Seafood lovers can enjoy Al Muhallab Seafood Restaurant, with rich authentic local seafood flavor & original legacy of Kuwait’s traditions with a direct & fascinating view over the gulf waters where Al-Muhallab offers a wide variety of seafood which will appeal to all connoisseurs and satisfy the most difficult taste buds while Tagine Restaurant & Lounge offers

Commercial Bank of Kuwait to serve clients 24/7


he Commercial Bank of Kuwait serves clients during the National Holiday through its two branches at the Kuwait International Airport, and answers their inquiries on the 24 hours hotline 1888225. Clients can also perform banking operations on the bank’s ATMs around the country, or online at

Embassy Information

you a new & modern experience that reflects the magic & beauty of art to savor sumptuous delights along with the new added dishes in a captivating & stylish ambiance. The Palms has also planned special kids’ fun programs & entertainments at the Junior Care Center, The Little Palm & around the pools to include: competitions face painting, and other activities designed to spread happiness & laughter. Moreover, families can enjoy access

to the hotel’s premier Beach Club, first of its class and furnished with the latest sport’s equipments and overlooking the beach and swimming pools, not to forget the Orchid Spa with its special discounts on massage and beauty treatments run by people with the industry’s best expertise. The Palms Beach Hotel & Spa located in Al Bedaa, Al Ta’awon Street at Salwa area which is considered the closet spot to shopping district.

EMBASSY OF AUSTRALIA On the occasion of Kuwait’s National and Liberation days, the Australian Embassy wishes to advise that it will be closed on: Tuesday 25 February 2014; Wednesday 26 February 2014. nnnnnnn

BANGLADESH EMBASSY The Embassy of the People’s Republic Bangladesh in Kuwait will remain closed on 25-26 February on the occasion of Kuwait’s National and Liberation days of Kuwait.


TV PROGRAMS 00:15 Doctors 00:45 New Tricks 01:35 My Family 02:05 Walk On The Wild Side 02:35 Famous, Rich And Jobless 03:25 Spooks 04:15 The Weakest Link 05:00 Mr Bloom’s Nursery 05:20 Nuzzle & Scratch: Frock n Roll 05:40 Boogie Beebies 05:55 Bobinogs 06:05 The Large Family 06:15 Mr Bloom’s Nursery 06:35 Nuzzle & Scratch: Frock n Roll 06:55 Boogie Beebies 07:10 Bobinogs 07:20 The Large Family 07:30 The Weakest Link 08:15 My Family 08:45 Only Fools And Horses 09:15 Eastenders 09:45 Doctors 10:15 Call The Midwife 11:05 New Tricks 12:00 The Weakest Link 12:45 My Family 13:15 Only Fools And Horses 13:45 Eastenders 14:15 Doctors 14:45 Call The Midwife 15:35 New Tricks 16:30 The Weakest Link 17:15 Eastenders 17:45 Doctors 18:15 Being Erica 19:00 Last Of The Summer Wine 19:30 The Vicar Of Dibley 20:00 Call The Midwife 20:50 Life On Mars 21:40 The Impressions Show With Culshaw...

00:00 The Planners 00:50 Come Dine With Me 01:40 MasterChef Australia 02:55 Fantasy Homes By The Sea 03:40 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 04:25 Bargain Hunt 05:15 Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: London 05:40 Come Dine With Me 06:30 Gok’s Clothes Roadshow 07:15 Fantasy Homes By The Sea 08:00 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 08:45 The Planners 09:35 Celebrity MasterChef 10:25 Come Dine With Me 11:15 Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: London 11:40 Come Dine With Me 12:30 Gok’s Clothes Roadshow 13:20 Fantasy Homes By The Sea 14:05 Antiques Roadshow 15:00 Homes Under The Hammer 15:55 Homes Under The Hammer 16:55 Bargain Hunt 17:35 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition 18:20 Antiques Roadshow 19:15 Homes Under The Hammer 20:10 Rachel Khoo’s Kitchen Notebook: London 20:35 Bill’s Kitchen: Notting Hill 21:00 Food & Drink 21:30 Come Dine With Me 22:20 Antiques Roadshow 23:15 Bargain Hunt

00:30 01:20 02:10 03:00 03:50 04:15 04:40 05:05 05:30

Gold Rush Alaska Gold Diggers Gold Divers: Under The Ice Car vs Wild Border Security Auction Kings Dallas Car Sharks How Do They Do It? How It’s Made

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

Sons Of Guns Car vs Wild Flying Wild Alaska Fast N’ Loud Border Security Auction Kings Dallas Car Sharks How Do They Do It? How It’s Made Gold Rush Alaska Gold Diggers Gold Divers: Under The Ice Border Security Auction Kings Dallas Car Sharks North America Fast N’ Loud Ultimate Survival Dirty Jobs Car vs Wild Sons Of Guns How Do They Do It? Auction Kings Dallas Car Sharks Manhunt Survive That!

00:40 Weird Or What? 01:30 Weird Connections 02:00 The Gadget Show 02:25 Tech Toys 360 02:50 Man-Made Marvels China 03:45 Nyc: Inside Out 04:35 Da Vinci’s Machines 05:25 Moon Machines 06:15 The Gadget Show 06:40 Tech Toys 360 07:05 Building The Biggest 08:00 Building The Future 08:50 Eco-Tech 09:40 The Gadget Show 10:05 Tech Toys 360 10:30 Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman 11:25 Building The Biggest 12:20 Da Vinci’s Machines 13:10 Moon Machines 14:00 Nyc: Inside Out 14:50 Weird Connections 15:20 The Gadget Show 15:45 Tech Toys 360 16:10 Man-Made Marvels China 17:00 The Science Of Star Wars 17:55 Da Vinci’s Machines 18:45 Building The Biggest 19:35 Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman 20:30 Unchained Reaction 21:20 Punkin Chunkin 2010 22:10 The Gadget Show 22:35 Tech Toys 360 23:00 Unchained Reaction

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

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

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

My Babysitter’s A Vampire That’s So Raven Hannah Montana Shake It Up Good Luck Charlie Austin & Ally A.N.T. Farm Jessie Dog With A Blog Wolfblood Gravity Falls Good Luck Charlie Violetta A.N.T. Farm Austin And Ally Gravity Falls Jessie Good Luck Charlie Dog With A Blog Violetta Jessie Wolfblood Dog With A Blog Gravity Falls Shake It Up Austin And Ally A.N.T. Farm Good Luck Charlie Wizards Of Waverly Place Wizards Of Waverly Place

00:15 My Sri Lanka With Peter Kuruvita 00:45 One Man & His Campervan 01:10 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 02:35 Eat Street 03:00 My Sri Lanka With Peter Kuruvita 03:30 Bondi Rescue 03:55 Eat Street 04:25 Deadly Arts 05:20 Somewhere In China 06:15 Earth Tripping 06:40 Maverick Chef 07:10 Eat Street 07:35 My Sri Lanka With Peter Kuruvita 08:05 One Man & His Campervan 08:30 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 09:00 Mega Food 09:55 Eat Street 10:20 My Sri Lanka With Peter Kuruvita 10:50 Bondi Rescue 11:15 Eat Street 11:45 Deadly Arts 12:40 Somewhere In China 13:35 Earth Tripping 14:00 Maverick Chef 14:30 Eat Street 14:55 My Sri Lanka With Peter Kuruvita 15:25 One Man & His Campervan 15:50 Food Lover’s Guide To The Planet 16:20 Mega Food 17:15 Eat Street 17:40 My Sri Lanka With Peter Kuruvita 18:10 Bondi Rescue 18:35 Eat Street 19:05 Deadly Arts 20:00 Eat Street 20:30 My Sri Lanka With Peter Kuruvita 21:00 Mega Food 22:00 Deadliest Journeys 22:25 First Ascent 22:55 One Man & His Campervan 23:20 Delinquent Gourmet 23:50 My Sri Lanka With Peter Kuruvita

00:00 01:00 02:00 03:00 04:00 05:00 05:30 06:00 07:00 08:00 09:00

Inside Dogtown Brilliant Beasts Megastructures Adventure Wanted Mad Scientists Mad Scientists Megastructures Is It Real? Inside Dogtown

Green light often highest hurdle on road to Oscars


BREAKING POINT ON OSN MOVIES HD ACTION 10:00 11:00 12:00 13:00 13:30 14:00 15:00 16:00 17:00 18:00 19:00 20:00 21:00 22:00 23:00

00:30 The Daily Show Global Edition 01:00 The Colbert Report Global Edition 01:30 Hello Ladies 02:00 Eastbound & Down 02:30 Girls 03:00 The Cleveland Show 03:30 New Girl 04:00 Seinfeld 05:30 Seinfeld 06:30 Friends 07:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 08:00 Seinfeld 08:30 Seinfeld 09:30 2 Broke Girls 10:00 Trophy Wife 10:30 Friends 12:00 Two And A Half Men 12:30 Seinfeld 13:00 Seinfeld 13:30 Friends 14:00 New Girl 14:30 2 Broke Girls 15:00 Trophy Wife 15:30 The Daily Show Global Edition 16:00 The Colbert Report Global Edition 16:30 Two And A Half Men 17:00 Late Night With Jimmy Fallon 18:00 The Simpsons 18:30 New Girl 19:00 The Crazy Ones 19:30 Trophy Wife 20:00 The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 Modern Family 22:30 Modern Family 23:00 The Big C 23:30 Late Night With Seth Meyers

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Brilliant Beasts Megastructures Adventure Wanted Mad Scientists Mad Scientists Megastructures Is It Real? Inside Dogtown Brilliant Beasts Air Crash Investigation The Border Ape Man Air Crash Investigation Master of Disaster

C.S.I. Strike Back Betrayal The Americans Revenge The Blacklist C.S.I. Revenge The Blacklist Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show Emmerdale Coronation Street The Ellen DeGeneres Show The Fosters Grey’s Anatomy Mistresses The Killing

00:00 No Man’s Land: The Rise Of Reeker 02:00 Beverly Hills Cop 04:00 Breaking Point 06:00 Men In Black 3 08:00 Alien Tornado 10:00 Beverly Hills Cop 3 12:00 Wrath Of The Titans 14:00 Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life 16:00 Beverly Hills Cop 3 18:00 Abandoned 20:00 Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life 22:00 Summer’s Blood

00:00 Beverly Hills Cop-18 02:00 Breaking Point-18 04:00 Men In Black 3-PG 06:00 Alien Tornado-PG15 08:00 Beverly Hills Cop 3-PG15 10:00 Wrath Of The Titans-PG15 12:00 Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life-PG15 14:00 Beverly Hills Cop 3-PG15 16:00 Abandoned-PG15 18:00 Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life-PG15 20:00 Summer’s Blood-18

00:00 American Cowslip-18 02:00 21 Jump Street-18 04:00 Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult-PG15 06:00 12 Wishes Of Christmas-PG15 08:00 Home Alone: The Holiday Heist-PG 10:00 Uptown Girls-PG15 12:00 Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult-PG15 14:00 Snowmen-PG 16:00 Uptown Girls-PG15 18:00 Celtic Pride-PG 20:00 Venus & Vegas-PG15 22:00 Tin Men-PG15

01:00 The Next Three Days-PG15 03:15 Flower Girl-PG15 05:15 Cinderella PT 1-PG15 07:00 Cinderella PT 2-PG15 09:00 The Next Three Days-PG15 11:15 The Lady-PG15 13:30 The Chorus-PG15 15:15 A Woman-PG15 17:00 Cheerful Weather For The Wedding-PG15 19:00 Girl In Progress-PG15 21:00 Broken City-18

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Cosmopolis-18 Beyond Borders-18 The Door In The Floor-18 Hide Away-PG15 Tora! Tora! Tora!-PG15 Raggedy Man-PG15 Tricks Of A Woman-PG15 Dirty Teacher-PG15 Raggedy Man-PG15 The Caller-PG15 American Gangster-18

01:00 House At The End Of The Street-PG15 02:45 Skyfall-PG15 05:15 The Double-PG15 07:00 Playdate-PG15 09:00 Rise Of The Guardians-PG 10:45 Skyfall-PG15 13:15 Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3: Viva LA Fiesta!-PG 15:00 Remember Sunday-PG15 17:00 Rise Of The Guardians-PG 19:00 The Guilt Trip-PG15 21:00 Les Miserables-PG15 23:45 Flight-18

00:00 Excision-R 02:00 Dating Coach-PG15 04:00 Barnyard-PG 06:00 People Like Us-PG15 08:00 Thunderstruck-PG 10:00 Frankenweenie-PG 12:00 Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth-PG15 14:00 The Greatest Movie Ever Sold-PG15 16:00 Thunderstruck-PG 18:00 Haywire-PG15 20:00 Colombiana-PG15

01:00 World Golf Championships Highlights 02:00 Super Rugby 04:00 Futbol Mundial 04:30 Top 14 Highlights 05:00 World Golf Championship Highlights 06:00 Trans World Sport 07:00 Snooker The Welsh Open 10:00 World Golf Championship Highlights 11:00 Live AFL Premeirship 14:00 World Club Challenge

01:00 Trans World Sport 02:00 Top 14 Highlights 02:30 World Golf Championships Highlights 03:30 WWE SmackDown 05:30 WWE Bottom Line 06:30 Futbol Mundial 07:00 Premier League Darts 10:30 Top 14 Highlights 11:00 Super Rugby 13:00 Top 14 15:00 HSBC Sevens World Series 18:00 Super Rugby 20:00 Trans World Sport 21:00 AFL Nab Challenge

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Chelsea Lately The Spin Crowd Style Star E!ES Extreme Close-Up E!ES THS Style Star E! News Scouted Married To Jonas Chasing The Saturdays The Wanted Life E! News Extreme Close-Up E!ES Style Star Kourtney And Kim Take Kourtney And Kim Take Eric And Jessie: Game On Eric And Jessie: Game On The Drama Queen E!ES Married To Jonas Giuliana & Bill Giuliana & Bill Fashion Police Chelsea Lately

00:30 The Killer Speaks 01:30 The First 48 02:30 My Ghost Story 03:30 Serial Killer Profile 04:30 The Killer Speaks 05:30 Private Crimes 06:00 Beyond Scared Straight 07:00 The First 48 08:00 Nightmare In Suburbia 09:00 Fred Dinenage: Murder Casebook 10:00 Crimes That Shook Britain 11:00 Killers 12:00 Beyond Scared Straight 13:00 Born To Kill 14:00 Look Who’s Stalking 15:00 Killers 16:00 The Yorkshire Ripper: Peter Sutcliffe 17:00 Curious & Unusual Deaths 17:30 Private Crimes 18:00 Homicide Hunter 19:00 The First 48 20:00 The Devil You Know 21:00 Beyond Scared Straight 22:00 Private Crimes 22:30 Born To Kill 23:30 Frenemies

his year’s Academy Awards nominees reflect a Hollywood truism: The margin between the dust bin and the Oscar red carpet is often razor thin. The development process of any film can be lengthy and arduous, full of challenges in obtaining financing or a studio executive’s stamp of approval. The biggest obstacle on the road to the Academy Awards is, for many films, simply getting a green light. That’s especially true nowadays, when studios have pulled back on their output and turned their focus almost exclusively to blockbusters. It makes for an annual Oscar irony: When Hollywood gathers to celebrate itself at the Academy Awards, it fetes not its standard business, but its oddities, its rarities, its freaks that somehow managed to squeeze through the cracks. “The Wolf of Wall Street,” for example, might seem like a no-brainer: Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, loads of sex and drugs. But even “The Wolf,” nominated for five Oscars including best picture, came very close to never getting made. After developing the film, Warner Bros. dropped it in 2008. Scorsese would later lament having “wasted about five months of my life” waiting for the Warner Bros.’ OK that never came. It wasn’t until years later (and after other directors were considered) that the project came together, with independent film company Red Granite Pictures financing the film’s $100 million budget, and Paramount Pictures distributing. “It’s actually kind of a miracle that this movie happened, especially the fact that we were allowed to keep the tone that we wanted all the way to the end,” says DiCaprio. “When was the last time you saw a film like this happen? I don’t know. It doesn’t fit into any specific category or box. It’s an epic. It’s a giant Hollywood epic. It’s almost like a film you’d have to make 30 or 40 years ago when directors had free rein.” The bet paid off not only in accolades, but at the box office. “The Wolf of Wall Street” has made more than $335 million worldwide. The case of “Dallas Buyers Club” (six nominations, including best picture) is even more remarkable. A film that’s now counted among the nine best of the year by the Academy took nearly two decades to get made. Co-producer and co-screenwriter Craig Borten first sold the script in 1996 after meeting and interviewing Ron Woodroof, a Texan who combated AIDS with drugs smuggled from other countries. At one time, Woody Harrelson was attached to star with Dennis Hopper directing. Later, after the script was sold to Universal Pictures, Brad Pitt was lined up to play Woodroof, with Marc Forster directing. Another

This photo released by Paramount Pictures shows, Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,” from Paramount Pictures and Red Granite Pictures. — AP

iteration brought in Ryan Gosling and director Craig Gillespie. It was only revived with Matthew McConaughey (the best actor front-runner) and director Jean-Marc Vallee after the rights to the screenplay went dormant and Borten and co-producer Melisa Wallack were able to buy them back. And still, just weeks before filming began, investors pulled their money. The breach was filled partly because McConaughey gave it an air of inevitability. He had already begun losing weight for the role and discussed it on TV talk shows. Made for just $5 million and shot in 25 days, “Dallas Buyers Club” finally got made, long after AIDS dwindled from the headlines. Specialty division Focus Features acquired the film, which has made $30.5 million worldwide. Several of the Oscar nominees have relied on a single person to change their fate. When “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen accepted the Golden Globe award for best drama, he thanked producer Brad Pitt: “Without you, this film would have never got made.” Similar kudos have gone to the young producer Megan Ellison, whose Annapurna Pictures bankrolled two best-picture nominees: David O. Russell’s “American Hustle” (jointly with Sony Pictures) and Spike Jonze’s “Her” (released by Warner Bros.). The 28-year-old Ellison, daughter of billionaire Larry Ellison, has been roundly hailed for backing the kind of edgy, auteur-oriented films that are struggling to find financing. (In recent years, she’s produced “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Master” and “True Grit.”) But such deep-pocketed, director-friendly financiers are few, and the route is exceptionally narrow for the kind of prestigious pictures honored at the Oscars. With “Nebraska” (nominated for six Oscars, including best picture), filmmaker Alexander Payne managed a seemingly impossible feat: getting a studio (Paramount) to produce a black-and-white film. But it took lengthy negotiations, and had to survive a series of film division closings. “Nebraska” was first with Paramount Classics, then Paramount Vantage, and finally ended up with Paramount Pictures. The domino-effect journey of “Nebraska” reflects a larger shift in the industry. Particularly over the last decade, studios have moved away from smaller and medium-sized dramas, instead concentrating resources on blockbuster and genre releases that can earn hundreds of millions globally. Payne’s mantra is advocating for the $20-25 million adult comedy or drama. Instead of always swinging for the fences, he believes in the more reliable double. In the current climate, the handful of ambitious, adult-oriented films that do get produced are almost exclusively appraised through the prism of Hollywood’s awards season. The strange effect is that these few films that have clawed their way onto screens are then set against each other for months of Oscar wrangling. “The eight, 10, 12 good English-language films are all released in the last quarter of the year and expected to gird for battle for Oscars and Golden Globes and all that stuff,” says Payne. “And they’re just movies. They may be fragile movies, human movies. They just need to find an audience on their own without having comparative judgment made along with it.” — AP

Classifieds TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2014


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Hyundai Azera 2008. Full options, sun roof, navigation, leather seats. KD. 2500/- negotiable. Call: 65860200 Toyota Yaris, model 2013, mileage 3,500 white exterior, price KD 2,550. Phone: 99240654. (C 4649) 19-2-2014 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

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LOST It is notified for the information that my original qualifying examination certificate of main secondary examination of year 2010-

2012 and roll no. 8106150 issued by CBSE, India has been actually lost. Name of candidate: Mohamed Muzammil, Abu Halifa, Block-1, Street-1, Building 1, Flat 25, Kuwait. Mob: 66823168. (C 4651) 23-2-2014

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

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Directorate General of Civil Aviation Home Page (



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s ta rs CROSSWORD 470

STAR TRACK Aries (March 21-April 19) Much can be accomplished in the workplace today. Your instinctive orientation at this time is toward getting down to the basics. This is a time when you can expect a little boost, some sort of extra support or recognition from those around you. Learning how and why people do and think what they do is a fun pastime for you at this time. You may feel that you are in touch and in harmony with others; the lines of communication are open. You can demonstrate great understanding and sensitivity to the needs of others. Sex, power and money are compelling aphrodisiacs. Secrets, taboos and mysteries appeal to a deep instinctive yearning. You may be taking on an extra job today in order to earn that hide-away money for your emergency fund.

Taurus (April 20-May 20) If you are unhappy with one line of work you may want to consider another line of work. Many of you find that temporary job agencies fill your needs quite well. There are few bonuses, but if you are in demand, you could call your own shots. Wise investing, or just consistently saving on each payday, will do away with the need for bonuses and vacation pay. Family matters could come to your attention at this time and listening without commenting is important just now. If necessary, ask for time to think through a subject. This matter will work out before it is brought to your attention again. Financial opportunities may be tempting. This may be something you will want to mention to family members when appropriate.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

ACROSS 1. An informal term for a father. 5. (Phoenician) A fertility goddess. 12. An international organization based in Geneva that monitors and enforces rules governing global trade. 15. A city in northwestern Syria. 16. Not equal in amount. 17. (informal) Informed about the latest trends. 18. Type genus of the Carangidae. 20. A village in eastern Ireland (northwest of Dublin). 22. A long difficult walk v 1. 23. Of or relating to or containing balsam. 25. Relating to or coming from the south. 28. A metric unit of length equal to one hundredth of a meter. 29. A dark gray mineral with a metallic luster that is a source of tin. 36. A town in northern France on the Strait of Dover that serves as a ferry port to England. 37. A radioactive element of the actinide series. 39. Made tough by habitual exposure. 40. A Turkish unit of weight equal to about 2.75 pounds. 41. Tropical American tree grown in southern United States having a whitish pink-tinged fruit. 43. A humorous anecdote or remark. 44. An alloy of copper and zinc (and sometimes arsenic) used to imitate gold in cheap jewelry and for gilding. 48. A small carpenter's plane with the cutting edge near the front. 51. Comprises true vertebrates and animals having a notochord. 53. Feeling mild pleasurable excitement. 54. A very light colorless element that is one of the six inert gasses. 55. 300 to 3000 megahertz. 56. A member of a Caddo people formerly living in north central Texas. 61. The Mongol people living the the central and eastern parts of Outer Mongolia. 65. Flat and uninspiring. 67. The (prehensile) extremity of the superior limb. 69. A branch of the Tai languages. 70. The wood of the sabicu which resembles mahogany. 73. Any of various large tropical carnivorous lizards of Africa Asia and Australia. 75. A master's degree in business. 76. A unit of surface area equal to 100 square meters. 77. The craniometric point at the lowest point on the lower edge of the orbit. 79. Tag the base runner to get him out. 80. Having any of numerous bright or strong colors reminiscent of the color of blood or cherries or tomatoes or rubies. 81. Tiny bits of protoplasm found in vertebrate blood. 82. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. DOWN 1. A written agreement between two states or sovereigns. 2. (botany) Of or relating to the axil.

3. A republic in western South America. 4. The great hall in ancient Persian palaces. 5. Growth from increase in cell size without cell division. 6. A silvery malleable metallic element that resists corrosion. 7. Vietnamese New Year. 8. Jordan's port. 9. Living in or characteristic of farming or country life. 10. An official language of the Republic of South Africa. 11. Angular distance above the horizon (especially of a celestial object). 12. Hit hard. 13. A native American tent. 14. An organization of countries formed in 1961 to agree on a common policy for the sale of petroleum. 19. A group of southern Bantu languages. 21. (Sumerian) Goddess personifying the primeval sea. 24. The act of scanning. 26. (astronomy) A measure of time defined by Earth's orbital motion. 27. Being or occurring in fact or actuality. 30. Flightless New Zealand birds similar to gallinules. 31. The mission in San Antonio where in 1836 Mexican forces under Santa Anna besieged and massacred American rebels who were fighting to make Texas independent of Mexico. 32. A healthy state of wellbeing free from disease. 33. An ancient city in southeastern Greece. 34. Someone given to teasing (as by mocking or stirring curiosity). 35. Having a specified kind of border or edge. 38. A compartment in front of a motor vehicle where driver sits. 42. The 12th letter of the Greek alphabet. 45. A sultanate in northwestern Borneo. 46. A condition (mostly in boys) characterized by behavioral and learning disorders. 47. A small restaurant where drinks and snacks are sold. 49. An accidental hole that allows something (fluid or light etc.) to enter or escape. 50. Sole genus of the family Naiadaceae. 52. Scandinavian liquor usually flavored with caraway seeds. 57. Add ions to. 58. Of or relating the leg from the knee to the foot. 59. To fix or set securely or deeply. 60. Before noon. 62. A genus of Lamnidae. 63. Cubes of meat marinated and cooked on a skewer usually with vegetables. 64. Jordan's port. 66. A river in north central Switzerland that runs northeast into the Rhine. 68. The general activity of selling. 71. (informal) Uncomplimentary terms for a policeman. 72. The address of a web page on the world wide web. 74. Remaining after all deductions. 78. A soft silvery metallic element of the alkali earth group.


Ambition and achievement are qualities you hold in special regard now. This is a time for getting ahead and for combining business and pleasure, a time to enjoy your career and savor its rewards. The social graces pave your path to success. Ideas to increase your income may come to you from your family and friends later today. You are full of ideas and ready to listen to other people’s ideas as well. You are capable of handling a business yourself—you could consider this for one of your future goals. A work partnership should be thought through carefully. A temporary accountant could be your answer in the paperwork department. You will be shopping for items pertaining to your job today, perhaps a new suit or some luggage.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) There are some positive changes headed your way this morning. For whatever reason, you will have time to work with young people this morning. You may be a guest speaker or a new teacher; whatever the case you are helpful. You may have some ideas running around in your head that could be helpful in guiding these young people toward their personal choice of a future profession. Learning where they might want to use their talents and helping them to realize they are very talented is a very positive insight for them. Taking some of your ideas to the industry world, there may be future opportunities for young adults to work or observe the work within the professional field they may have an interest. This is some action that progresses nicely.

Leo (July 23-August 22) Real insight into your own inner workings or psychology could surface today, and in a manageable form. You may be in the mood for deep and penetrating conversations. There could be an opportunity for a round-table discussion to answer office questions. Your viewpoint will be heard—patience. Expect a sense of support from those around you. You may want to create a beautiful space for a guest that will be visiting soon. This could be a family member or a very good friend. For more space, you might take the things you don’t play with anymore and sell them on the internet. If you just can’t seem to get rid of the excess you might store the items in a rental storage place. This way you can create a place for them over time.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) Today is a natural for self-expression and lends itself to your particular ideas and thoughts. When some service-type person treats you poorly, you may wish you could find ways to show disapproval. There is someone who waits on you or serves you that deserve your praise and you will remember them by writing a letter to the appropriate supervisor. A great many problems for that person will be lifted. Smart as a fox, you solve problems and sail through the day. There is an opportunity to encourage others in the benefits of seeing two sides of a problem. The example you show gives others a guide in thinking outside the box, so to speak. This evening, listening to family members tell about their day is fun. A few chuckles are likely to occur.

Libra (September 23-October 22) Creating a structure to empower and maintain your ideals and principles becomes a high priority; an article of faith. By taking on greater responsibilities of this kind, you become an inspiration to others. Remember to compromise your differences with customers, co-workers or higher-ups and you will see fast, positive results to what you are trying to achieve. Progressive people and idealistic groups or concepts play a more important role in your life now, as a new trend begins. This is a concern for something bigger than any one person—the good of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Dare yourself to smile at someone once an hour today, and see what happens—invite others to join you. Do not keep someone waiting this evening—good surprises are nearby.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) You may feel left out or passed over just now. Your own requirements may appear to limit you from where the rest of the gang is headed. This is of short duration, however. Some quiet time can be enjoyed just now if you just go with the flow. Careful study will yield dividends today. The aspect between one astrological planet and another creates the right condition for some really good financial growth. Keep the pace steady and don’t jump ahead too soon. You can wade right through any problems you might encounter this afternoon. You demonstrate great understanding to the needs of others and are now in a good position to communicate with difficult customers as well as higherups. If the weather permits, enjoy the out-of-doors this afternoon.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) Be prepared, it is now time to sign up for a lecture, class or group that can give you some wonderful insights and stimulation toward mental growth. Intelligent conversations and the mental stimulation that is found in the atmosphere of a classroom, group conversation or a university create a boost to your energy. You are also coming to a time that you could comfortably take a vacation and set aside some time for healing through fun activities. Anytime between now and the end of this month is a good time to set aside for a short three or four day rest by the ocean or lakeside cabin—somewhere near water. To save a little extra money toward this trip, begin practicing a little price comparison. You may be very proud of your efforts.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) You will find you have lots of energy and drive, perfect for starting something out or taking care of business. You may have been noticing the misuse of some funds that needs to be brought to a supervisor’s attention—wait a while longer before making your report; there could be more to this than you know. A little detective work and some time may give you further information; easy does it. When an agreement is made today, make sure you do not leave someone out that would like to be included in some after-work plans. Meetings, conferences or business travel can be lucrative now. Attend to any turmoil on the job at this time and try to stay out of issues that do not affect you. Make a little extra effort to return a favor to a neighbor this evening.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) Some days are just not good for making decisions. If you feel forced into making decisions today, make sure it is for the good of the whole. Anything that can wait should be moved to a waiting position; or put on hold until you have all the facts. You will reach a resolution after careful consideration of the facts. Young people may want you to purchase needed items for school or a group activity. Teach them to shop wisely by giving them rewards for finding the best buys. Discovering the background of people and perhaps even helping them with a family genealogy layout is a fun hobby that you could enjoy. This evening you may decide that a college course on research and the subject of genealogy just might be a lot of fun.

Pisces (February 19-March 20) Coordinating events for a company’s executive conference or the like may take up much of your day. Research, ask questions and gather information about several prospects. Figuring out how to organize projects and people is apt to become a topic of special interest—and a challenge at this time. As you make your presentation, prepare several ideas for approval—eliminating more research. Respect, status and achievement are central goals for you as a new phase begins in your life. A financial venture comes to your attention this afternoon. Obtain advice before obligating yourself. Your whole world may seem hypnotic or dreamy this afternoon. Poetry and art may be possible. Movies, books and all forms of escape prove enjoyable.

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Sama Safwan Abu Halaifa Danat Al-Sultan

Fahaeel Makka St Abu Halaifa-Coastal Rd Mahboula Block 1, Coastal Rd

23915883 23715414 23726558


Modern Jahra Madina Munawara

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24575518 24566622


Ahlam Khaldiya Coop

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New Shifa Ferdous Coop Modern Safwan

Farwaniya Block 40 Ferdous Coop Old Kheitan Block 11

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Tariq Hana Ikhlas Hawally & Rawdha Ghadeer Kindy Ibn Al-Nafis Mishrif Coop Salwa Coop

Salmiya-Hamad Mubarak St Salmiya-Amman St Hawally-Beirut St Hawally & Rawdha Coop Jabriya-Block 1A Jabriya-Block 3B Salmiya-Hamad Mubarak St Mishrif Coop Salwa Coop

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Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh








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


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Psychiatrists Dr. Esam Al-Ansari


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LIFESTYLE M o v i e s


M u s i c


This CD cover image released by ATO Records shows “Overstep,” by Mike Gordon.

Gordon creates accessible sound


In this Sunday February 23, 2014 photo released by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, actress and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie, center foreground, meets with young Syrian refugees at an informal tented settlement in Zahleh, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. —AP

Angelina Jolie visits Syrian children in Lebanon A

ctress and UN special envoy Angelina Jolie made a surprise visit to Lebanon to draw attention to the challenges facing thousands of Syrian refugee children and to highlight the massive displacement Syria’s three-year conflict has created, officials said yesterday. During a three-day visit, Jolie visited unaccompanied children living in the eastern Bekaa Valley, where much of the poorest Syrian refugees in Lebanon reside, as the United Nations Refugee Agency Special Envoy. The 3,500 children are those who were orphaned, or separated from their families as they fled into Lebanon. They form part of the nearly one-third of all Syrians who have been displaced from their homes since an uprising against the President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. About 2.5 million Syrians have become refugees; and another 4.2 million are displaced within Syria, the UN estimates - some one-third of the country’s pre-war population. “Meeting these children was a heart-rending experience,” said Jolie in a statement issued via the UN. “They have lost their families and their childhood has been hijacked by war. They are so young, yet they are bear-


critical and commercial success, “Frozen” marks a second renaissance for Walt Disney’s legendary film studioand is widely tipped to win its first ever Oscar for best animated feature next weekend. The movie, which has made nearly $1 billion, is the culmination of a revival driven by fierce competition and the studio’s purchase of rival Pixar in 2006, bringing boss John Lasseter into the Disney fold. Critics have hailed “Frozen” as one of Disney’s best ever movies, following the success of “The Princess and the Frog” (2009), “Tangled” in 2010 and 2012’s “Wreck-It Ralph.” If the movie does win at next Sunday’s 86th Academy Awards, it will be Disney’s first best animated feature Oscar since the category was created in 2001. Disney has come a long way since the turn of the millennium, when the studio had been sidelined by Pixar and its string of blockbuster hits from “Toy Story” and “Cars” to “Finding Nemo,” Ratatouille” and “Up.” “Just like ‘Great Mouse Detective’ was a step up from the nadir of ‘Black Cauldron,’ so ‘Princess and the Frog’ was more successful than the earlier films like ‘Home on the Range’ and ‘Meet the Robinsons’,” said Tom Sito, professor of cinema at the University of Southern California (USC). It is not Disney’s first comeback. The 1970s and 80s were tough for the studio, until a new generation of animators arrived to create films like “The Little Mermaid” (1989), “Beauty and the Beast” (1991) and 1994’s majestic success “The Lion King.” Ironically, the Prince Charming of this latest rebirth had been the

ing the burdens of their reality as if they are adults.” The tiny Mediterranean country of Lebanon, which neighbors Syria, has absorbed nearly one million refugees, swelling the country’s population by onefifth. The concentrated numbers of refugees have overwhelmed Lebanon’s infrastructure, raised rents and flooded the public health and education systems throughout the country. The poorest refugees huddle in tents made out of old billboard advertisements on land they rent out from farmers in the Bekaa Valley; the shelters offer little against the country’s bitter winters and hot summers. Parents of thousands of Syrian children have pulled them out of schools, because they cannot afford the modest Lebanese school fees, or because they need them to work - often as shoe shiners and car cleaners. During her visit, Jolie called on the international community to ensure the implementation of a recent UN resolution that called for humanitarian assistance to reach Syrian civilians. On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution demanding immediate access everywhere in Syria for humanitarian aid. The resolution, which marked a rare instance of unity on

studio’s main rival: Lasseter, co-founder of Pixar, who was named Disney’s animated creative director after his company became part of Mickey’s empire eight years ago. “Since the merger with Pixar in 2006, Disney Animation is once more under the direct guidance of an animator, John Lasseter. This had not been the case since the death of Walt Disney in 1966,” Sito, a former Disney animator, told AFP. The “Toy Story” and “Cars” creator “brought in a lot of new talent to the storytelling departments: clever young writers and directors ... We also (saw) a return to the movie-musical format after a 20-year hiatus, which for Disney has always been a specialty,” he added. Music is at the heart of “Frozen”: the movie’s keynote tune “Let It Go” is a frontrunner to win the best song Oscar next weekend. Peter Del Vecho, producer on the film, said Lasseter “changed the culture at Disney Animation. We’re a different studio than Pixar, but a lot of the same ideas that he learned there, he

File photo shows Actor Sam Worthington attends the Cinema Society premiere of “Man on a Ledge” in New York. —AP

the security council, doesn’t threaten sanctions but it does express the council’s intention to take “further steps” if the resolution isn’t implemented Jolie said her meeting was also to thank Lebanon for hosting the refugees. “The generosity and solidarity shown by Lebanon and Lebanese to its neighbor serves as an example to the world for which we should all be grateful. We all need to help them bear this burden,” Jolie said. Also in Syria, activists said that military aircraft have struck a rebel-held town near Damascus, as government forces intensified their efforts to subdue opposition-held communities around the capital. An activist who uses the name Mamoun Abu Saker said three strikes targeted homes in the town of Nashabiyeh yesterday. Abu Saker says at least four people were killed, and others are still buried under rubble. He said two strikes first hit the homes, and then as people rushed to rescue casualties, another strike hit the same area. The Britainbased Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the strikes, but not the death toll. The Observatory has a network of activists on the ground. In recent months, Syrian forces loyal to Assad are focusing their efforts on

imported to us. “The main thing he imported was that we as filmmakers have to take ownership of our product. John sets a very high bar in terms of story, in terms of research, and you always want to hit that bar,” he told AFP. But the studio’s culture is also highly collaborative, with directors and screenwriters on projects able to voice their opin-


olice say actor Sam Worthington has been arrested in New York City for punching a photographer after the man kicked Worthington’s girlfriend in the shin. The 37-year-old “Avatar” actor was arrested on an assault charge following the incident Sunday evening.

ions about others’ films after in-house development screenings. “The best idea wins, you’re encouraged to make mistakes and to take risks,” said Del Vecho. “We’re responsible for each other’s films, meaning that I went to ‘Tangled’ screenings, I went to ‘Wreck-it Ralph’ screenings and gave notes just as filmmakers and writers on other projects come and give us notes. Our movie couldn’t have evolved without that kind of open collaborative environment.” The other factor driving Disney’s renaissance has been increasingly tough competition from rivals like Blue Sky (“Ice Age,” “Rio”), DreamWorks Animation (“Shrek,” “Kung-Fu Panda,” “Madagascar”) and Illumination, which makes the “Despicable Me” films-the second of which is also nominated next Sunday. “A rising tide raises all boats. It is very important for the art of animation to have competitors at other studios,” said Sito. “Walt Disney did some of his best work while fighting off challenges from Max Fleischer and Looney Tunes. “When (Disney) was alone in the 1960s and 70s feature business, an outdated repetitive aesthetic caused their films to grow stale, despite the quality of their technique,” he added. “The success of ‘The Lego Movie’ and ‘Despicable

The Australian actor was released and is due back in court on Wednesday. Police did not say what caused the scuffle. The photographer, 37-year-old Sheng Li, was arrested on charges of reckless endangerment, assault and harassment. He’s being held pending arraignment. It wasn’t immediately clear

hen Mike Gordon steps away from his day job playing bass for mega jam band Phish, he tends to get even more experimental and weird than normal, which is saying a lot. But on “Overstep,” his fourth solo album not counting two collaborations with Leo Kottke, Gordon creates a much more accessible and radio friendly record. That’s not to say it’s boring, because it’s not, or predictable, because it isn’t. But what it does have is a more solid rock base, perhaps thanks to the increased role of longtime collaborator and lead guitarist Scott Murawski and producer Paul Q. Kolderie, who previously worked with Radiohead. What Gordon may have given up in control, he gains by creating a more unified and satisfying sound. Don’t worry, Gordon lovers. There’s still plenty of his off-the-wall lyrics. Take “Ether,” the first track, where he dreamily describes floating around and encountering a Cyclops and using rocket components to build a new girlfriend. “Yarmouth Road” is the best song of the bunch, propelled by a Jamaican-influenced bounce, Murawski’s wah-wahing guitar and Gordon’s plea to “come on home and hang with the bees and buzz with the honeycomb.” —AP

A file photo shows US director Quentin Tarantino posing during the photocall of his movie “Django Unchained” in Rome. —AFP


uentin Tarantino is to attend France’s equivalent of the Oscars-its Cesar awards-in Paris on Friday along with actress Scarlett Johansson, organizers said. The “Django Unchained” director will be giving an honorary Cesar to the “Don Jon” and “Her” actress, the awards president, Alain Terzian, told AFP late Sunday. The French event will be held just two days before the US Oscars. Neither Tarantino nor Johansson are in the running for an Academy Award statuette, though “Her”, a movie to which Johansson lends her sultry voice, is in the Oscar Best Picture race. Tarantino won a Cesar for best foreign film back in 1995 for his hit “Pulp Fiction” and an honorary Cesar in 2011 for all of his work. Johansson, who is engaged to a French journalist, will be recognized at the Cesars for a career in which she has already made 35 films. However she could be in for a mixed reception in the French media. Last month she went on US television to declare that Parisians lived up to their rude stereotype. She also created a stir internationally by ditching her role as ambassador for British charity Oxfam in favor of continuing with an Israeli company, SodaSteam, which runs a factory on illegally occupied Palestinian territory. —AFP

Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin performs during the Vina del Mar International Song Festival February 23, 2014 in Vina del Mar, Chile. —AFP





Marni seized by nomadic spirit


ilary Swank, Eva Herzigova and Monica Bellucci gave Milan Fashion Week a burst of star power on Sunday, the fifth day of Milan Fashion Week that featured preview collections for next fall and winter by Dolce&Gabbana, Missoni, Marni and Ferragamo. And one young designer found his pot of gold. Enchanted Sicily Romance flourishes in Dolce&Gabbana’s Sicilian fairy tale, inhabited, according to the designers’ fanciful notes, by elves, fireflies, fairies and knights. Never has little Red Riding Hood been so fashionable, in a luxurious red fur with matching hood, and then a romantically flowing sheer red organza dress in a floral print, worn with a pointed red hood with black undertones. And who better than Domenco Dolce and Stefano Gabbana to design the perfect wench dress, a sheer number that wraps fetchingly around the curves with snug lace-up bodice, in burgundy, green and crimson. The duo also sent some relatively unadorned outfits down the runway, emphasizing the tailoring of the underlying collection without the distraction of appliques and accents. Their final flourish: a battalion of models dressed in bejeweled and sequined minidresses, at times with crocheted and sequined helms - perfect for a “k-night” out. Eva Herzigova and Monica Bellucci were on hand for the fairy tale collection, set in a magical forest of knotty olive trees.

the body,” Missoni said. The knit-work was bold and graphic, rather than the traditional tight Missoni zig-zag, and the colors were soothing pastels contrasted by flashes of turquoise, mustard and orange. Colored booties, and sometimes berets with a crochet lining, finished the looks.

Models on parade at the end of the Dolce & Gabbana women’s Fall-Winter 2014-15 collection, part of the Milan Fashion Week, unveiled in Milan, Italy. — AP/AFP photos

A family affair Rosita Missoni watched her daughter Angela’s creations from a seat near the runway entrance accompanied by her grandchildren. She said she felt “the pride of having created a business, a job, which my children enjoy to continue. I think this is a privilege.” The presence of three Missoni generations was a touching show of familial strength, following the death of CEO Vittorio Missoni, Angela’s brother, in a plane crash in January 2013 followed four months later by the death of family patriarch and company cof o u n d e r Ottavio Missoni at age of 92.” — AP

Missoni pastels The Missoni woman is free and relaxed, comfortable enough to wear oversized men’s jackets over soft, form-fitting dresses, easy sportswear or swinging skirt. The collection is for “a free-spirited woman,” designer Angela Missoni said. She wants to be comfortable with masculine outerwear like parkas, a hunting jacket or gilet, but the “the silhouette underneath is close to

Actress Hilary Swank, center, attends the Salvatore Ferragamo women’s FallWinter 2014-15 collection, part of the Milan Fashion Week, unveiled in Milan, Italy. —AP

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lifestyle F A S H I O N

Salvatore Ferragamo Missoni

Armani Milan Fashion Week


amid industry shifts


iorgio Armani rounded off Milan Fashion Week yesterday, as reports of an investment in a young designer by luxury giant LVMH and a Chinese firm’s purchase of historic label Krizia signaled shifts in the industry. Italy’s 79-year-old fashion king bowed and applauded at the end of his catwalk show, which featured a color palette of greys and blacks set off with lime-colored linings, top pockets and trouser stripes. Trouser suits and jackets were roomy-a key trend during the autumn/winter 2014-2015 fashion week collections this year, which have also been filled with opulent furs, global nomad looks and bold colors.

DSquared2 also showcased their latest designs yesterday with an eccentric show set in an insane asylum that included an actual pillow fight and where the designs were part sado-masochist, part 1960s glamour. As the celebrity parties and behind-the-scenes transactions wound down in Italy’s fashion hub, two reported business deals were the talk of the town. Women’s Wear Daily, a leading trade journal, reported that the world’s top luxury firm, France’s LVMH, was preparing to announce a joint venture with the Romebased up-and-coming designer Marco de Vincenzo. The investment, which the report cited its sources as saying would include a “significant” minority holding in the label and the possibility of increasing the stake in future, has been rumored for months. Backstage after his own show on Sunday, de Vincenzo spoke as if it were already a done a deal, saying: “Now I can be calmer from the point of view of production because if you are on your own the risks increase”. But there was no official confirmation from LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton), which owns Bulgari, Dior, Fendi, Loro Piana and Marc Jacobs among others. LVMH has recently invested in two up-and-coming British fashion brands, J.W. Anderson and Nicholas Kirkwood, reflecting growing interest in younger trends and sources for growth in the fashion sector. Rival French luxury group Kering, which owns Gucci, has taken stakes in London-based Christopher Kane and young French-American designer Joseph Altuzarra. Sicily-born de Vincenzo, who moved to Rome to attend the European Design Institute at 18 and worked as an accessories designer at Fendi, is best known for his experimental use of fabrics and geometric patterns. De Vincenzo, who made his Milan debut in 2009,

again showed his focus on material with Sunday’s collection, which included dresses in Lurex-a sparkling yarn-and pleated skirts that opened to reveal metals. The label said in a press release that the collection “continues to explore motifs that deceive the eye to create personal paths in design”, with materials that are “manipulated, sliced, engraved, embossed, embroidered and fused to the point of transfiguration”. — AFP

Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani acknowledges the applause at the end of his Giorgio Armani women’s FallWinter 2014-15 collection, part of the Milan Fashion Week, unveiled in Milan, Italy, yesterday. — AP

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lifestyle F A S H I O N


Designers Dean and Dan Caten acknowledge the audience at the end of their show for fashion house Dsquared2.

Top quotes from Milan Fashion Week From the frivolous to the profound, here are 10 top quotes from designers, fashionistas and industry players as Milan’s fashion week wrapped up yesterday. 1- “It’s very futuristic. Nobody does this. It’s spectacular!”: Yurata, fashion editor from InStyle magazine in Moscow, at the Fendi show after the fashion house deployed drones to film the catwalk. 2- “It’s about self-satisfaction more than the exhibitionism to be popular at a party or with men”: Gucci’s Frida Giannini describing her latest collection. 3- “I’ve always had a fetish for shoes!”: Jane Reeve, new chief executive of Italy’s national fashion chamber, over a risotto at the chamber’s welcome brunch. 4- “My biggest inspiration came from Buddha’s idea that a lotus is an embryo of the world. I’m a story teller”: Indian designer Rahul Mishra after winning the international Woolmark Prize. 5- “This is kind of our moment”: luxury handbag maker Furla’s chief executive Eraldo Poletto, referring to the boom in global accessories that saw his turnover grow by seven percent last year. 6- “I think everyone would be happier to produce everything in Italy but with these oppressive taxes it’s an impossible undertaking”: Giorgio Armani backstage, speaking to the Milano Finanza daily. 7- “The artisan is creative here. He becomes a designer too”: luxury shoe maker Alberto Moretti at the unveiling of his latest collection, inspired by France’s last queen, Marie Antoinette.

9- “Fashion today is beautiful but too expensive. Let’s try and take it down a notch and go back to creating”: Roberto Cavalli to business daily Il Sole 24 Ore. 10- “I’m never taking these sunglasses off. Ever”: overheard at Marni catwalk from waspish Americanaccented woman in black fur-trimmed coat and “Wayfarer” Ray-Bans. — AFP


8- “When Madonna calls me to make a stage costume, I get working straight away, thinking about the embroidery et cetera. There are so many things to do!”: an ebullient Fausto Puglisi, rising fashion-world star, ahead of his catwalk.

Angelina Jolie visits Syrian children in Lebanon



A Kuwaiti man walks by a building’s wall painted with the national flag in Kuwait City yesterday. Kuwait celebrates the 53th National Day of Independence on February 25, and the 23rd Liberation Day from the Iraqi invasion on February 26th. —Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

DRCongo dandies give new meaning to fashion victim


he finishing touches on their flamboyant outfits may be wanting but the Democratic Republic of Congo’s modernday dandies will even use paper to make themselves look special. “I love the clothes of Japanese and other designers but I’d rather dress in paper,” said Cedrick Mbengi. The 23year-old is a dedicated follower of the “sapeurs”, a sartorial subculture of colorful Congo dandies

inspired by-but not always faithful to the world’s great couturiers. For Mbengi, paper was revealed to him as a “fabric like any other” in a dream in 2004 and he crafts his outfits with a variety normally used to wrap up fish, meat or peanuts. But what sets him apart from competitors is his finale at “sapeur” fashion shows: he rips off his “clothes” and has no problem standing there in his-cot-

Sapeurs, members of “La Sape” movement, the acronym for “Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes” (The Society for the Advancement of Elegant People), take part in a tribute to the founder of the movement Stervos Niarcos Ngashie, on February 10, 2014 at the Gombe cemetery in Kinshasa. —AFP photos

ton-underwear. The SAPE-the Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes, which loosely translates as the Society of Tastemakers, or Atmosphere Setters and Elegant People-was born in neighboring Congo-Brazzaville in the 1960s. But the roots of the African dandy tradition can be traced back to colonial times when locals first encountered elegant European styles. The “sapeurs” initial idea was to sport clothes, shoes and accessories designed by the world’s most venerated couturiers, the likes of Gaultier, Vuitton, Cerruti, Versace, Yamamoto, Miyake, Weston and Dolce&Gabbana. But the dandies in the DR Congo have gone decidedly eccentric. ‘Clothes are living creatures’ In the capital Kinshasa, where many of the 10 million residents earn barely enough to survive, thousands of confirmed or would-be “sapeurs” strut their stuff in hand-me-downs that often came from the Congolese diaspora, according to the artists’ collective Sadi. But many expats are also struggling financially and can no longer fund the tastes of those back home, said art historian Lydia Nsambayi of the ISAM institute for applied arts in Kinshasa. “So when the ‘sapeurs’ realised they could not maintain their lifestyle, they bought the brands in thrift shops or mixed their own creations with Yamamoto, for example.” Some turned to ready-to-wear, such as Spain’s successful clothing and accessories retailer Zara. Others created their own line, like Mbengi with his “100% Paper” brand or Bwapwa Kumeso, who in 2009 created “Kadhitoza”, or “The Beautiful Creature” in the language of the Chokwe ethnic

group which is spoken in the country’s south. “Our continent’s animals inspire me,” said the 44-year-old Kumeso, who uses lots of linen, pure new wool or oil-impregnated gabardine. “Bats, elephants, ducks, cockroaches... Clothes are living creatures.” “I love Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake. But I design very extravagant clothes, more extravagant than what they do!” he said. “I do convertible clothing whose aspect changes, so using snaps, a waistcoat can be turned into a bag, for example.”

Wemba, Congolese rumba star and one of Africa’s most popular musicians, and has managed to get some of his items on sale in a boutique at Kinshasa’s Ndjili international airport. “These initiatives should be encouraged,” said art historian Lydia Nsambayi. “Without a proper fashion industry, it’s all about craftsmanship. —AFP

‘All about craftsmanship’ Every February 10, the “sapeurs” commemorate the movement’s founder, artist Stervos Niarcos Ngashie who died that day in 1995 in a French prison while serving a sentence on drug-related charges. Dozens of members sport their personal look while dancing on tombs in northern Kinshasa’s Gombe cemetery, where their hero is buried. For nothing in the world would Cedrick “100% Paper” Mbengi, who was dismissed as “crazy” when he started his business, or Bwapwa “Kadhitoza” Kumeso miss the event. Tailor Roger Bakandowa, initially unconvinced of Mbengi’s talent, is now sewing trousers, overalls, hats and shirts designed by him. “What I find interesting in ‘100% Paper’, ‘Kadhitoza’ and others is that they’re looking for the personality in clothes,” said Bakandowa. Critics accuse the DR Congo sapeurs of “lacking quality”, but there are signs of improvement. “Kadhitoza” takes pride in having dressed Papa

Graffiti art highlighted in NYC exhibition S

pray-painted at night on a Lower East Side handball court, the “Howard the Duck” mural showed the comic book character peeking from behind a trash can with the words: “Graffiti is a art, And if art is a crime, Let God forgive all.” That 1978 work helped propel the illicit graffiti art movement out of the subway and into the mainstream. So it’s only fitting that a canvas recreation of that mural (the original was painted over around 1988) is a part of a major exhibition on graffiti art opening Tuesday at the Museum of the City of New York. “It was the shot heard around the world,” said its creator Lee Quinones, also known by his tag

Image shows a painting by Keith Haring, untitled, 1982.

LEE. “This was a movement that needed a visual manifesto. I wanted to bring that conversation that was so elusive in the subways above ground, to a context almost similar to a museum.” Only 18 at the time, Quinones became known among his generation for covering a 10-car subway train. He and an artist named Fab 5 Freddy were among the first to earn gallery recognition with a 1979 exhibition in Rome. What makes the New York “City as Canvas” exhibition unique is that it focuses only on works from the city that were collected over the years by East Village artist Martin Wong, who befriend-

This undated image provided by the Museum of the City of New York shows “Untitled by Sharp” —AP photos

ed and mentored many of the graffiti artists, including Quinones, and promoted their oncerenegade art form. Wong’s collection of more than 300 such works was donated to the Museum of the City of New York before his death in 1999. About 150 are in the exhibition, which runs through Aug. 24. In addition to the “Howard the Duck” oil canvas, which Quinones made for Wong, other highlights include a compilation of ink-drawn tags collected by Wicked Gary, founder of the first graffiti writing club, the ExVandals, and a member of a collective of writers called the United Graffiti Artists who were the first to exhibit their work in a gallery setting. Graffiti exploded in New York in the 1970s because of the subway - an expansive canvas for the young renegade artists. The seminal 1983 documentary “Style Wars” and other media attention contributed to its spread beyond New York. But only a handful of the largely teenage graffiti artists were “doing what we would call masterpieces, blanketing whole sides of trains,” said the exhibit’s curator, Sean Corcoran. They included DAZE (Chris Ellis), CRASH (John Matos), FUTURA 2000 (Leonard Hilton McGurr) and LEE - all successful artists today - who succeeded in connecting the subculture to a broader audience by virtue of their artistic talent. Wong “had the foresight to scoop all this stuff up when no one else in New York was thinking about it seriously,” said Sacha Jenkins, a writer and filmmaker who has written extensively on the graffiti movement. —AP

Image shows painting by Lee Quiones named Howard the Duck, 1988. (Inset) Image shows a painting by Sane Smith untitled, 1989.

25 Feb  
25 Feb  

Kuwait Times