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Kuwait, NATO to strengthen cooperation


Chileans return homes after huge quake kills 6

Qatar emir visits Sudan at time of Gulf tensions

Real overwhelm Dortmund as Ronaldo equals scoring record

NO: 16124

become sharia-compliant


150 FILS

7 Bank 15 votes20to 5Commercial Most shareholders approve conversion to Islamic banking conspiracy theories

It’s not a one-man show By Badrya Darwish


raffic! We talk about traffic in the morning, in the afternoon and midday. Some people living here say that they even dream about traffic. It has been very bad on our streets and everybody has taken the problem lightly. I have noticed that various government departments do not work in coordination with each other. If this continues, there will be no serious solution to the traffic problem in Kuwait except trivial and silly remarks attributing the traffic problem to expats. As if an expat is going to drive two cars at the same time. Or the latest news from parliament, which was less discriminatory - to fine Kuwaitis who have more than one car or driver. I have an answer to this: If I have two cars, I am not going to drive them at the same time. I say we stop suggesting such ideas and stop the animosity. I have said it many times before: It is not up to Abdulfattah Al-Ali (Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic at the Ministry of Interior) alone to solve the problem. It is not a one-man show. Abdulfattah has been panicking about the traffic too. I do not blame him for this. I blame him for interfering with the freedom of the press, after he ordered journalists from Al-Rai TV (a local Kuwaiti TV channel) to stop filming on the streets of Kuwait a story focused on traffic. First of all, the streets are a public place, so why can’t journalists film there? They are not filming in Bayan Palace or inside the Ministry of Interior or any other area where a special permission is needed. They are simply doing a story on traffic in a public place where any social media user can take a photo and post it on Instagram or forward it with Whatsapp. Is Abdulfattah Al Ali going to order all those who take pictures with their mobile phones to be arrested? But this is not my issue. Abdulafattah Al-Ali and his department should meet other ministries, representatives from the municipality, the public works and transport ministries, as well as ministries of education and health, the oil sector, etc. It is not a decision to be taken only by Abdulafattah Al-Ali to solve it. How to change the timings of different sectors like schools and separate the timings of primary and secondary schools? Government employees could come a bit earlier or later than the school timings. The oil sector can also adjust their timings to help traffic. These suggestions are not going to solve the problem 100 percent, but I am sure that if they all sit together, they will come up with a solution to cut down at least 50 percent of the traffic jams in Kuwait. These are only temporary measures to solve the problem till a serious solution is reached, which is a good, efficient and reliable transportation system. By the way, guys. Traffic is not a Kuwait problem only. Most of the big cities in the world face congestion and they find solutions. There is no need to travel to London or Paris - just look at our neighbors Dubai. They have an excellent metro system and buses that are used by many residents. Dear municipality people, MPs and traffic departments, take a trip to Dubai. I am sure you all like Dubai. Look at the transport system there. Discuss it and study it nicely. If you give us a very efficient bus system, I assure you I will stop using my car. Many others will do so too. Have a good day and light traffic on the way to your homes!

KUWAIT: Commercial Bank of Kuwait (also known as Al-Tijari) announced yesterday it will convert from a conventional bank to a sharia-compliant one. The decision was approved by a majority of 85 percent of the shareholders who attended ordinary and extraordinary meetings of the general assembly, Board Chairman Ali Mousa Al-Mousa announced. “Although the majority of the shareholders voted for the move which was on the top of the agenda of the ordinary meeting, the decision does not take effect immediately - it is just a first step in a legal process involving several studies and approvals that will need time to implement before the shift,” he noted. “The general assembly also approved the issuance of subordinate bonds with a total value of KD 120 million, keeping with the bank’s plans for expansion and the provisions of

Basel III,” Mousa disclosed. On the financial results of 2013, Mousa affirmed the bank’s commitment to the principles of corporate governance in all its policies and activities that are subject to constant revision. “The shareholders’ equity in the bank grew by 1.8 percent to KD 562 million compared to the previous year, the third largest in Kuwait. The total value of assets grew by 7.1 percent year on year to KD 3.9 billion, the fifth largest in the country’s banking sector,” Mousa said. The bank’s operating and net profits hit KD 102 million and KD 23.5 million respectively in 2013, he added. The general assembly also approved the recommendation of the board of directors to distribute cash dividends of 7 fils per share and bonus shares amounting to 11 percent for each 100 shares. — KUNA (See Page 21 for chairman’s message)

KUWAIT: Commercial Bank of Kuwait Board Chairman Ali Mousa Al-Mousa speaks at a press conference yesterday. — Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Why is Kuwait falling behind? KUWAIT: With a youthful, well-educated population, strong relationships with both neighbors and world powers and consecutive years of record budget surpluses, major oil producer Kuwait should be as dynamic a hub for the region as Dubai or Doha. But while others in the Gulf have powered ahead, attracting foreign investment and developing infrastructure, Kuwait has stagnated, frustrat-

ing the people of a country once seen as a Middle East trailblazer. This frustration is especially evident among young Kuwaitis, cosmopolitan and often educated abroad, who complain of bureaucratic red tape and dysfunctional politics, but also acknowledge complacency among their fellow citizens. Continued on Page 15

Free wi-fi at airport KUWAIT: MPs are seen during a session of the Assembly yesterday. — KUNA

Ghanem denies threats to dissolve Assembly HRW: Probe bedoon torture By B Izzak KUWAIT: National Assembly Speaker Marzouk Al-Ghanem denied yesterday that threats to dissolve the National Assembly were issued during Tuesday’s closed session, saying only HH the Amir has the power to dissolve the Assembly under the constitution. The Assembly agreed following a secret debate Tuesday to delay until the next term in October a draft law to raise the children’s allowance, which prompted the rumors. “No one dares to threaten to dissolve the National Assembly

because under the constitution, only the Amir has such powers,” Ghanem told reporters outside the Assembly. He also said that most leaks from the closed session were incorrect and inaccurate, adding that MPs are not allowed to leak information made during the secret sessions. Ghanem said that the postponement of the children’s allowance and other issues with a financial cost was the right decision to give the government enough time to prepare its financial strategy regarding wages, subsidies and others. Continued on Page 15

Sahara desert dust brings smog to UK LONDON: European pollution and dust swirling in from the Sahara created a “perfect storm” of smog in Britain yesterday, prompting authorities to warn people with heart or lung conditions to cut down on tough physical exercise outdoors. Air pollution in some areas reached the top rung on its 10-point scale, the environment department said.

The smog was caused by pollution from Britain and industrialized areas of the continent - trapped in place because of light winds - mixing with dust blown up from a storm in the Sahara desert. Many motorists across England awoke this week to find cars covered in a film of red dust left by overnight rain. Continued on Page 15

Kuwaiti student stabbed to death BOURNEMOUTH, England: A Kuwaiti woman found dead in a Bournemouth flat was stabbed to death, an inquest has heard, the BBC reported yesterday. The body of student Mashael Albasman, 25, was found on March 30 in a first-floor flat at a property on St Michael’s Road. An inquest which was opened and adjourned in Bournemouth heard the cause of death was stab wounds. A man, 58, who was at the property, has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody. Police were called to what they described as a “serious incident” shortly after noon on Sunday. The man was known to the victim, said police, and suffered injuries that later needed hospital treatment. — Agencies

Max 22º Min 16º High Tide 02:27 & 13:46 Low Tide 08:16 & 20:53

LONDON: A cyclist wears a mask as he cycles along The Mall as Sahara dust blanketed part of Britain in smog yesterday. — AP

KUWAIT: The Civil Aviation Authority announced yesterday free wireless Internet is now available at Kuwait International Airport (from April 1). The wi-fi service provided is of very high speed and requires no password or code, said Fawaz Abdul-Aziz Al-Farah, the chairman of the authority in a statement to KUNA. Users can access the Internet via free.airport.wi-fi, he said, indicating that the service is provided following an

agreement with a specialized company. The wi-fi service is currently available at the passengers’ entrance, luggage zones, transit section, departure gates and other parts of the main airport building. In the second phase of the project, the free service will be available at the affiliate commercial complex, he said, affirming that it will be eventually provided in all areas of the airport. — KUNA



Amir attends national operetta KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah patronized and attended the national operetta ‘Kuwait of Sincerity and Loyalty’ yesterday at Bayan Palace theatre. Visiting Turkish President Abdullah Gul and his spouse

also attended the operetta. The event was also attended by His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim, former parliament speaker Jassem Al-Kharafi, senior sheikhs, Deputy

Chief of the National Guards Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmad AlJaber Al-Sabah, Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber AlMubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled A-Hamad Al-

Sabah, Deputy Minister of Amiri Diwan Affairs Sheikh Ali Jarrah Al-Sabah and senior officials. The operetta consisted of a number of patriotic chapters performed by a group of students of various educational grades. — KUNA

British Visa Application Centre opens Tourists from Kuwait to

KUWAIT: British Ambassador Frank Baker and other officials at the opening of New Visa Application Centre on Tuesday.

KUWAIT: The British embassy introduced New Visa Application Centre and New Payment Methods on Tuesday. The Visa Application Centre (VAC) relocated to Tijaria Tower, 25th Floor, Soor Street, Kuwait City. The new application centre aims to provide a first class experience to its customers. The centre - which is larger than the previous onewill provide far greater comfort, especially for those customers opting to use the VIP facility, which can be accessed for an additional fee. In addition, in line with international changes from the UK Home Office to improve visa customer service; all applications will need to be submitted online via Once this online application form is completed, customers must also make the payment for their visa online. Customers will also choose an appointment and will still need to visit the VAC in person to provide their biometric information. From April 6, the Visa Application Centre will no longer accept payment in person and all applications must be paid for online. The new online application system allows people to create an account and stores their personal details which can be used for repeat applications, making the system faster and simpler. It will no longer accept cash payment. Online payment can be made using Visa, MasterCard and the e-wallet Skrill service. As the online payment facility is a worldwide operation, KNET is not accepted, as they are not part of the global WorldPay system. Speaking at the opening of the new application centre, British Ambassador Frank Baker said: “I am delighted to be here today to open our new visa application centre along with our partners from VFS Global. This initiative demonstrates our on-going efforts to deliver high levels of service to our Kuwaiti friends. Last year we welcomed more Kuwaitis to the UK than ever before, with demand for UK visas growing by over 40 %. We hope the new streamlined services will encourage ever move visitors to come to the UK.” Matt Heath, Regional Director for UK Visas and Immigration said: “We’re always looking for ways to improve our visa services for our high value customers in Kuwait, the new online system and new application centre are part of our commitment to ever increasing levels of customer service. To avoid disappointment people must now fill out their visa application form and pay for their visa online. From 6 April we will no longer be accepting cash payments or paper application forms. All customers also need to make sure they have an appointment.”

Oman increased 10%

Oman holds tourism roadshow By Ben Garcia KUWAIT: Tourist arrivals to Oman from Kuwait increased 10 percent in 2013, Oman’s Ministry of Tourism revealed at a roadshow at Radisson Blu Hotel on Tuesday. Oman boasted a 33 percent increase in tourists from the GCC countries and a steady increase in global tourists in general. Speaking at the roadshow, Said Al-Battashi noted: “Last year we hosted about 2.1 million tourists from all over the world. The roadshow aims to increase awareness of our tourist destinations and to present to you our best places.” The event was part of the sultanate’s strategy to promote Oman as a short break tourist destination for regional travelers. Salim Al-Mamari, Director General of Tourism Promotion, Oman Ministry of Tourism, said: “It is part of our well-devised strategy for 2014 to promote Oman as an ideal destination for short breaks targeting GCC tourists through roadshows. Such events enable us to reach out to existing and potential visitors and spread awareness about the sultanate’s developed tourism sector.” According to Mamari, many tourists in the region are constantly on the lookout for new yet cost-effective holiday destinations where they can spend quality time relaxing with family and friends. “These roadshows high-

light the hospitality offerings of the country. We are confident that the roadshows will contribute in increasing tourist footfalls in Oman in the upcoming tourist season.” Tuesday’s meetings included presentations to generate awareness on Oman’s travel offerings to travel agents as well as tourists. Oman boasts of a superior hospitality and tourism infrastructure, including cultural, beach and adventure tour options, excellent year-round weather, luxurious hotels and resorts, international cuisines and world-class airports offering instant connectivity to regional cities. Oman Air, the national airline of Oman, also presented products and services of Oman Air as the sole partner airline of Oman’s Ministr y of Tourism. Oman Air has twice daily flights to Muscat and thrice every Friday, said Gireesh Bhaskar, Country ManagerKuwait. He underlined the airline’s commitment to service excellence, from their seats in the business class to economy class. He said Oman Air passengers can now experience a whole new level of on-ground services with Oman Air’s premium front-end check-in facility exclusively for first class and business class guests, along with Oman Air’s premium lounges located at Muscat International Airport.

KUWAIT: Said Al-Battashi at the Oman tourism road show.— Photo by Joseph Shagra


LOCAL kuwait digest

In my view

New income sources


By Abdullatif Al-Duaij


By Labeed Abdal


embers of the parliament’s financial committee decided to approve a proposal to increase the children’s allowance, despite strong opposition from the government who argues that the increase adds to the burden on the public funds. The ‘smart’ government believes or tries to explain to MPs that the increase will add tens of millions of dinars annually to the state’s budget, and that that sum will ‘break’ the budget which records multibillion-dinar surpluses every year. Meanwhile, I do not think that any lawmaker objects or has concerns over adding a few millions to the budget in light of the current state of wealth and successive increases in oil prices. If the government was really as smart as it tries to be like, it would have confronted MPs with the social and demographic consequences for the increases. The costs of those consequences could exceed hundreds of millions of dinars if calculated properly. Increasing the children allowance encourages child birth, which in turn increases costs of healthcare, education, housing, job requirements and other services that the rentier state provides to citizens here. The cost of that exceeds the calculations of the parliament and cabinet combined, and by hundreds of times. The strange thing about the parliament in Kuwait’s history is that it always has been primarily concerned with its monitoring role, and the only legislation job MPs do is legislating laws that force the government ‘spend’ more and give additional privileges to Kuwaiti voters. No one can actually blame MPs for that, as the increases are paid directly from oil incomes. It is not like there is anyone in Kuwait who can be credited for the increase in the income that the state gains from selling oil. Global demand determines price increases and subsequent raise in incomes that the majority of lawmakers continue to spend irresponsibly. There are warnings and strong indications about the risk that the state’s budget would one day fall short of keeping up with the growing rentier spending. The question here is: What stops MPs, or the government from encouraging MPs, to look for new sources of income that bring parallel, not alternative, revenues to oil incomes? Really, why do the majority of MPs insist on spending what we have now, but ignore productivity and creating new revenues? Is it because overspending is the trait of those who do not have a job or anything else to waste time with?! —Al-Qabas

Turkey- Kuwait bilateral ties


he visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gul to Kuwait, which came days after he was visited by a media delegation consisting of editors-in-chief of Kuwaiti newspapers, reaffirms the deep bilateral relations that the two countries share. They also confirm the strong relationship between Turkey and HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, a veteran diplomat and peacemaker with a history of efforts in mediating between conflicting nations, as well as gathering donors to help nations affected by calamities. There is no doubt that exchanging visits with

kuwait digest

First blame the parents By Fakhri Rajab


hen both parents leave early in the morning for work, leaving behind their little children for domestic workers to take care of on top of household duties that include car washing, watering the garden, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc, what time does that leave for a housemaid or male servant to spend for themselves? From answering her employer’s son who orders her to fetch him a glass of water, to obeying her employer’s daughter who asks for her clothes to be ironed because she wants to go shopping, maids in Kuwait are often forced to handle responsibilities that usually are supposed to be taken care of by parents. I do not understand how parents leave their children who are God’s gift for them in the hands of strangers, who sometimes do not differentiate between halal or haram (what is allowed or prohibited in Islam), are not deterred by religion, or come from poor places the makes them become filled with a desire of revenge the more they are oppressed daily by people who enjoy a life of luxury. Insults, humiliation The story does not end for the maid when the parents come back from work. It is actually the start of a new journey of suffering. The father comes yelling for lunch to be served, and the mother goes to the maid to put food on the table as quickly as possible. Already exhausted from taking responsibility of the house and children, the

maid has to listen as her female employer yells at her because lunch was not served on time, food was not cooked the way she had told her, or other reasons. This is an example of insults and humiliation that a maid goes through in one day. Imagine going through the same amount of oppression, humiliation and oppression for 365 days a year?! After lunch, the parents take a nap. When they wake up, they want to have a cup of tea. Who is going to prepare and serve the tea? Who else but the maid? After that, the father goes outside to hang out, then spend some time at the diwaniya, while the mother goes to visit her mother or relatives, then goes to the mall. Both parents don’t come back until midnight, but who takes care of the children in the meantime? Who else but the maid?! The result? Tragedies such as recent crimes in which employers’ children were the victims, prompting public outrage against domestic workers in Kuwait as people accuse them of being criminals. The real crime however is when parents leave full parental responsibility towards their child to the housemaid. Even during the brief time they spend inside the house, parents these days rarely answer their kids who come to them looking for parental affection! Parents spend most their time outside the house, leaving the housemaid to play the role of the mother, father and sometimes, sadly, the executioner. Domestic workers are human beings, not slaves. Treating them humanely is the best way to ward off crimes. —Al-Qabas

There is no doubt that exchanging visits with Turkey reflects the strong relations between the two nations, as well as their governments who continue to work to improve bilateral ties. Turkey reflects the strong relations between the two nations, as well as their governments who continue to work to improve bilateral ties. HH the Amir’s latest visit to Turkey played a great role in opening new channels for joint work in several fields including oil, construction, investment and banking. Meanwhile, Turkey has become a favorite destination for Kuwaiti tourists in recent years, especially following the Arab Spring revolutions that hurt tourism in other countries favored by Kuwaiti tourists such as Egypt, Tunisia and Syria. I hope to see more official visits exchanged between Turkey and Kuwait, and between Turkey and Gulf Cooperation Council states as an economic unit, in order to boost cooperation with Turkey in various fields.

in my view

The mirage of peace By Ramzy Baroud


s the US-imposed April 29 deadline for a “framework” agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority looms, time is also running out for the American administration itself. The Obama administration must now conjure up an escape route to avoid a political crisis if the talks are to fail, as they surely will. Chances are the Americans knew well that peace under the current circumstances is simply not attainable. The Israeli government’s coalition is so adamantly anti-Arab, anti-peace and anti any kind of agreement that would fall short from endorsing the Israeli apartheid-like occupation, predicated on colonial expansion, annexations of borders, land confiscation, control of holy places and much more. Ideally for Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies in the right, far-right and ultranationalists, Palestinians would need to be crammed in disjointed communities, separated from each other by walls, Jewish settlements, Jewish-only bypass roads, checkpoints, security fences, and a large concentration of Israeli military presence including permanent Israeli control of the Jordan Valley. In fact, while politicians tirelessly speak of peace, the above is the exact “vision” that the Israelis had in mind almost immediately following the 1967 war - the final conquest of all of historic Palestine and occupation of Arab lands. Palestinians are currently paying the price of earlier Israeli visions, where Vladimir Jabotinsky’s “Iron Wall” of 1923 was coupled with the Allon plan, named after Yigal Allon, a former general and minister in the Israeli government, who took on the task of drawing an Israeli design for the newly conquered Palestinian territories in 1967. Not only would it not make any sense for a Zionist leader like Netanyahu - backed by one of the most rightwing governments in Israeli history - to bargain with Palestinians on what he considers to be Eretz Yisrael - the Whole Land of Israel - he has shown no desire, not even the most minuscule, to reach an agreement that would provide Palestinians with any of their rightful demands, true sovereignty notwithstanding. It is implausible that the Americans were unaware of Israel’s lack of interest in the whole undertaking. For one, Israeli extremists like Naftali Bennett - Israel’s minister of economy and the head of the rightwing political party the Jewish Home - are constantly reminding the US through unconstrained insults that Israel is simply not interested in peacemaking efforts. The Americans persist, however, for reasons that are hardly related to peace or justice. Previous administrations suffered unmitigated failures in the past as they invested time, effort, resources, and reputation, even to a greater extent than to Obama’s, in order to broker an agreement. There are the familiar explanations of why they failed, including the objection to any US pressure on Israel by the pro-Israel Zionist lobby in Washington, which remains very strong despite setbacks. The lobby maintains a stronghold on the US Congress in all matters related to Israel and Israeli interests anywhere. Preparing for the foreseeable failure, US Secretary of State John Kerry remained secretive about his plans, leaving analysts

in suspense over what is being discussed between Mahmoud Abbas’s negotiators and the Israeli government. From the very start, Kerry downgraded expectations. But the secrecy didn’t last for long. According to Palestinian sources cited in Al-Quds newspaper, PA president Abbas had pulled out of a meeting with Kerry in Paris late February because Kerry’s proposal didn’t meet the minimum of Palestinian expectations. Most commentary dealing with the latest US push for a negotiated agreement would go as far back as Bush’s Roadmap of 2002, the Arab peace initiative earlier the same year, or even the Oslo accords of 1993. What is often ignored is the fact that the “peace process” is a political invention by a hard-liner, US politician Henry Kissinger. The idea was to co-opt the Arabs following the Israeli military victory of 1967; the sudden expansion of Israel’s borders into various Arab borders, with full US support and reinforcement. It was Kissinger himself who lobbied for massive US arms to Israel that changed the course of the 1973 war, and he was the man who worked to secure Israeli gains through diplomacy. While many are quick to conclude that the “peace process” has been a historical failure, the bleak estimation discounts that the intent behind the “peace process” was never to secure a lasting peace, but Israeli military gains. In that sense, it has been a splendid success. Over the years, however, the “peace process” became an American investment in the Middle East, a status quo in itself, and a reason for political relevance. During the administration of both Bushes, father and son, the “peace process” went hand in hand with the Iraq war. The Madrid Peace Talks in 1991 were initiated following the US-led war in Kuwait and Iraq, and was meant to balance out the extreme militancy that had gripped and destabilized the region. George W. Bush’s Roadmap fell between the war on Afghanistan and months before the war on Iraq. Bush was heavily criticized for being a “war president” and for having no peace vision. The roadmap, which was drafted with the help of pro-Israel neoconservative elements in his administration, in consultation with the lobby and heavy amendments by the Israeli government, was W. Bush’s “peace” overture. Naturally, the roadmap failed, but until this day, Bush’s insincere drive for peace had helped maintain the peace process charade for a few more years, until Bill Clinton arrived to the scene, and kick started the make-believe process once more. In the last four decades, the “peace process” became an American diplomatic staple in the region. It is an investment that goes hand in hand with their support of Israel and interest in energy supplies. It is an end in itself, and is infused regularly for reasons other than genuine peace. Now that Kerry’s deadline of a “framework agreement” is quickly approaching, all parties must be preparing for all possibilities. Ultimately, the Americans are keen on maintaining the peace process charade; the Palestinian Authority is desperate to survive; and Israel needs to expand settlements unhindered by a Palestinian uprising or unnecessary international attention. But will they succeed?

Previous administrations suffered unmitigated failures in the past as they invested time, effort, resources, and reputation, even to a greater extent than to Obama’s, in order to broker an agreement.



Govt appoints new governors Sheikhs Ahmad Al-Nawaf, Faisal Al-Malek highlight list

‘Clusters of Light’ receives rave reviews from art, media figures SHARJAH: Large crowds attended the first three performances of the spectacular oratorio ‘Clusters of Light’, which premiered on Sunday at the Majaz Amphitheatre in Sharjah. The audience, which included several artists, media and cultural personalities, expressed appreciation of the event that portrays the beginnings of Islam through poetry, music, drama and dazzling audiovisual effects. Clusters of Light is based on the biography of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from his birth until his death. Its music is composed by Bahraini composer Khalid Al-Sheikh and performed by more than 200 artists from around the world, led by top Arab stars Hussein Al-Jasmi, Lotfi Bouchnak, Ali Mohammed Hajja and Mohammad Assaf. Amid the music and the voices of

the singers, the narrator told of the time of ignorance and idolatry that reigned at the holy lands, culminating in an attempt - in the Year of the Elephant - to demolish the Kaaba itself. At the very same time, the Prophet (PBUH) was born. The spectacle received rave reviews from various arts and media figures in the Arab world, including stars Jahida Wehbe of Lebanon, Waleed Tawfiq of Lebanon, Abdulrab Edrees of Saudi Arabia, Makadi Nahhas of Jordan, Nadine Al-Asa’ad of Lebanon and Maher Al-Salibi of Syria, in addition to journalists and media figures including Abdulbari Atwan of Palestine, Barween Habib of Bahrain and Chantal Srour of Lebanon. The oratorio concludes with two performances today and tomorrow, starting at 8:30 pm.

Efforts to promote children’s talents in acting, singing ‘Bringing books to life’ By Ben Garcia KUWAIT: Rekindling love for the printed word in children was the primary focus of a show organized at Bayt Lothan on Monday. A local actors troupe, ‘One World Actors Center’ organized the event entitled ‘Bringing Books to Life’. The actors, including professionally trained performers or students from various English schools in Kuwait were all from One World Actors Center. “We develop our own talents here. They are trained under our professional actors/singers from the UK. We are doing this to promote and develop their talents in acting and singing,” said Alison Shan Price, CEO and Founder, One World Actors Center. The Bringing Books to Life event was organized in cooperation with the British Embassy of Kuwait as part of their GREAT Week celebrating British art and culture. “This is just one of many events we organized to showcase the skills and prowess of people we had in the company,” she said adding that on May 1-3 the Alice in Wonderland will be staged in Kuwait to be led by professional stage actors from the UK. Les Miserables will be staged too. Price explained that Oliver Twist, Shakespeare and the Peter Pan were showcased months back. “We were able to raise generous amounts for the children hospice in Kuwait,” Price said. According to Price anyone can join the One World Actors Center and be part of a group of dynamic performers. Fajer Ahmed, owner of Q8 Books supports One World Actors Center and their shows. “We are supporting such an event because we want to promote reading,” Fajer said. She estimated that there are about 15,000 books in the bookstore. “If you want encourage kids to read, the show ‘Bringing Books to Life’ is one creative way to do it,” Fajer said. “The idea of bringing books to life is great. The One World Actors Center

provided the actors to act in front of children visitors. The characters they portrayed are from famous books such as Peter Pan, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, Oliver Twist,” she noted. As part of the event Q8 Books also displayed free books or books that cost a minimal price. “We want kids to take books for free or to buy them for a minimal amount,” she added. “People can come and read here; we welcome that,” Fajer explained stressing that all workers in Q8 Books are unpaid volunteers. Some 99 percent of the books here are not new, explained Fajer. Around 2,000 books are borrowed and sold each month,” she said.

KUWAIT: ‘Bringing Books to Life’ event in progress at Bayt Al-Lothan in Salmiya. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: The government appointed new governors for Kuwait’s six governorates, including three ruling family members this week. The number of Al-Sabah family members among governors dropped from the previous team which included four members. The new governors are as follows (by area) Ahmadi: Sheikh Faisal Al-Malek Al-Sabah, former Kuwaiti Ambassador to Jordan was appointed Governor of Ahmadi, replacing Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Duaij Al-Sabah. Al Asima (Capital): Sheikh Fahad Al-Saad Al-Sabah, son of the late Father Amir Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salem Al-Sabah, was appointed as Governor of Al-Asima (Capital) in place of another ruling family member, Sheikh Ali Jaber Al-Sabah. Sheikh Fahad was previously a consultant at the Amiri Diwan. Hawally: Lt General Sheikh Ahmad Al-Nawaf Al-Sabah, son of the current Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. The new governor recently retired from the Interior Ministry where he most last served as Assistant Undersecretary for Training. He will replace Major Gen Abdullah Al-Faris. Jahra: Former Army Chief of Staff Lt Gen Fahad Al-Amir was appointed as Governor of Jahra, replacing Sheikh Mubarak Al-Hmoud Al-Sabah.

Farwaniya: Former Minister of Social Affairs and Labor Lieutenant General Ahmad Al-Rujaib was appointed as Governor of Far waniya in place of Major General Abdulhameed Al-Hajji. Mubarak Al Kabeer: Major General Thabet Al-Muhanna, who previously served as Assistant Undersecretary for Public Security at the Interior Ministry, replaced Sheikh Ali Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah as Governor of Mubarak Al-Kabeer. The cabinet had recently approved a draft decree regulating the system of governorates and governors’ powers “with the purpose of revamping public services nationwide and reflecting positive public participation,” according to a statement posted on Kuwait News Agency on March 17th. As per the new decentralization efforts, each governorate will have a council with more executive powers over their respective areas, and will gradually be handed over duties currently handled by ministers. Expanding the powers of Kuwait’s six assigned governors, who currently have nominal authorities, provides a viable solution for the government who has been looking for ways to alleviate the mounting pressure on ministers and senior officials at state departments, and effectively improve the quality of the executive authority’s performance.

Kuwait, NATO to strengthen cooperation BRUSSELS: Sheikh Thamer Ali Al-Sabah, president of the national security bureau of Kuwait, yesterday lauded the “distinguished and deep ties “ that bind the countries of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) with NATO. Speaking after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers with the four members of ICI, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, Shiekh Thamer said he was tasked by First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah to attend the meeting held at NATO headquarters today. “We were seeking to hold such a meeting since the launch of the ICI in 2004. Our meeting today reflects the sincere desire to upgrade the cooperation on the basis of common values and interests,” he said. Sheikh Thamer noted that Kuwait began a constructive dialogue with NATO in the first half of 2004 which resulted in Kuwait announcing its acceptance to join the ICI as soon as it was launched in 2004. Since that time Kuwait-NATO ties developed constantly through exchange of visits from both sides including technical and military delegations, he said. Kuwait benefited from some of the expertise of NATO within its Individual and Partnership Cooperation Programme, IPCP, since the time it was called Individual Cooperation Programme, ICP, announced by the NATO foreign ministers in Berlin in 2011. “I am grateful for the swift ratification of IPCP to which Kuwait was the first ICI country to join,” he said and noted the interest of other countries to benefit from it. He said that there are embassies of 18 NATO countries in Kuwait and he hoped hat Kuwait will soon appoint an ambassador to NATO headquarters. ”We, in the state of Kuwait, regard that our developing ties with NATO comes within the framework of the increasing role of Kuwait in the region and outside,” he said. Sheikh Thamer stressed that the cooperation between Kuwait and NATO crystallized by the signing of an agreement on exchange of secret information in 2006 and the creation of NATO-ICC regional centre in Kuwait for which Kuwait has assigned a suitable place in the diplomatic enclave. He noted that NATO chief Rasmussen was to visit Kuwait in the first week of March to sign a transit agreement but it was postponed due to the Ukraine crisis. “We have renewed our invitation to the NATO Secretary General on behalf of the first deputy prime minister and foreign minister to visit Kuwait as soon as possible,” he said. —- KUNA

Kuwaiti youth missing By Hanan Al-Saadoun KUWAIT: A citizen told Hadiya police that his son disappeared two weeks ago. He said his son went to the Applied Education College and did not return, adding that he looked for him in hospitals and police stations. His phone is switched off too. Ahmadi police are investigating. Meanwhile, an Egyptian who is held at Rumaithiya police station said he received a murder threat from a citizen with whom he had financial disputes. A citizen told Rumaithiya police that someone broke into his house and stole KD 3,000 and a laptop, while a Jordanian told them that jewelery worth KD 3,000 was stolen from his home.

One of the musical performances during the Mother’s Day concert

Gulf Bank’s Priority clients during a private viewing of Tiffany & Co’s new collection.

Gulf Bank sponsors children’s piano concert KUWAIT: Gulf Bank sponsored the Mother’s Day Children’s Piano concert organized by the Young Musicians Program team, which was held at the Crowne Plaza - Afrah Ballroom on Mother’s Day on March 21. The concert was led by 23 piano students and supported by seven orchestra members, who gave an outstanding musical performance to an attentive audience. A dedicated team from Gulf Bank was also at the event to give away flowers and chocolates to all the mothers present on this special day. Gulf Bank’s support for the Young Musicians Program is an important part of the Bank’s broad commitment to encouraging young people to develop their talents to the maximum of their abilities. In a further celebration of Mother’s Day, Gulf Bank also hosted a private viewing for its Priority Banking clients at Tiffany & Co.’s flagship store in The Grand Avenue Prestige District on 18 March, 2014. Over 100 of the Bank’s clients attended, where they enjoyed an exclusive presentation of Tiffany’s latest jewelry collection, as well as a timely opportunity to purchase the perfect

Gulf Bank distributed flowers to the mothers that attended the Mother’s Day concert Mother’s Day gift on this special occasion. To find out more about any of Gulf Bank’s products and services, visit one of Gulf Bank’s 57 branches; call the Customer Contact Center on 1805805 for assistance and guidance, or log on to, Gulf Bank’s bilingual website.

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Kuwaiti-financed hospital opens in Jordan

KUWAIT: Drugs Control General Department men arrested a citizen who grew cannabis on the roof of his house. When a warrant was obtained, police found a protected room equipped to grow the plant, and they were 1.5 meter high. Officers found some dried marijuana leaves ready for sale. The suspect is an ex-convict. — By Hanan Al-Saadoun

Homicide probe in death of teenager

AMMAN: Kuwait Ambassador to Jordan Dr Hamad Al-Duaij took part on Tuesday in an inauguration ceremony of Maqasid Al-Khair Hospital, co-financed by Kuwait’s Rahma International Society by over KD 400,000. Representative of Jordanian King, Minister of Health Ali Hiasat inaugurated the hospital, located at Nazal district in the capital, in presence of Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Hayel Daoud, ambassadors, donors, and charity societies. This is a humanitarian day with the opening of Maqasid Al-Khair hospital, Hiasat said expressing his appreciation to Kuwait’s generous contribution as it has always been a pioneer in philanthropic acts and a supportive of the kingdom. He added that the KuwaitiJordanian ties are distinctive, expressing his gratitude to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, govern-

ment and people of Kuwait, as well as who those who contributed to this project. For his part, Bader Borhama, chairman of Arab sector at Rahma International of Kuwaitbased Social Reforms Society, indicated to KUNA that this hospital is one of the major monuments in which Rahma Society sought 10 year ago, in cooperation with Jordanian charity societies, lauding efforts exerted by Ambassador AlDuaij, which helped in inauguration of the hospital. He said the hospital would provide services for the Jordanians and Syrians. Dr Wael Balaawi, hospital director, noted that the 2,500 square feet hospital aims at aiding and treating the poor, adding that 200 operations were performed for free for the poor. He explained the philanthropists were financing the hospital’s needs. — KUNA

Couple hurt in Salmi Road crash KUWAIT: A homicide investigation was opened in the death of a teenager that was reported as a suicide. Paramedics and police arrived at a house where a Kuwaiti woman reported that her 17-year-old daughter was unconscious after she wrapped a cloth around her neck. The girl was rushed to Farwaniya Hospital in critical condition, but died around half an hour later. The mother said during questioning that she opened the bathroom door to check on her daughter who spent a long time inside. She found her unconscious with a piece of cloth around her neck. However, preliminary forensic examination revealed choke marks on the girl’s neck, suggesting that she could have been murdered. The body was transferred to the forensic department for an autopsy to reveal the cause of death. Worker kills self A man committed suicide at a property owned by his employer in Subbiya Tuesday, according to preliminary investigations. Police and paramedics arrived at the scene in response to the Kuwaiti employer’s emergency call, and found the Asian man hanging from a rope tied to the ceiling of his room. Criminal investigators

examined the scene, then transferred the body to the forensic department for an autopsy. A case was filed for investigations. Suicide attempt A man held at Sulaibikhat police station was hospitalized after he tried to kill himself inside his cell. The man, who was being held pending investigations in charges of offending a public employee on duty, used a blade to cut his left wrist. He was rushed to the hospital after police found him bleeding, and his condition was later described as stable. Two held for mugging A policeman was arrested over dozens of muggings aided by a member of the Kuwaiti military. The arrest took place in Mahboula where detectives had recently been dispatched in response to multiple mugging reports by pedestrians in the area. Maj Mohammad Shehab spotted a man who pulled over near a pedestrian, stepped outside his car and then started talking to the man after showing him his ID. The man was caught before he could escape, then taken to the police station after it was revealed that he was trying to steal the

man’s cell phone and cash. The man was identified during investigations as a Kuwaiti man employed at a security department at the Interior Ministry. He admitted responsibility for several muggings in the area, and gave police information of a Gulf national who he said helped him in the crimes. The man, identified as a Defense Ministry serviceman, was nabbed in Riqqa and taken for questioning. He denied the allegations at first, but confessed later when confronted with evidence. The two were charged after their victims identified them in a lineup, and are being held at the Mahboula police station pending procedures to be referred to the public prosecution. Road accident A Saudi couple was hospitalized in a critical condition after they were involved in an accident reported at Salmi Road Tuesday. Paramedics and police were dispatched to the scene following an emergency call about a vehicle that lost balance and overturned. Firefighters removed the driver and his wife from the wreckage and took them in ambulances to Jahra Hospital. They were admitted in the intensive care unit. A case was filed at Taima police station.

Lu&Lu Hypermarket launches Festival of Egypt KUWAIT: Lu&Lu Hypermarket, the largest retail operator in the region, is holding a 11-day Festival of Egypt at all their outlets in Kuwait. The festival was inaugurated at the Hypermarket’s AlDajeej branch by Abdulkareem Mahmoud Suleiman, Ambassador of Egypt to Kuwait, along with the top management from Lu&Lu, and in the presence of a large crowd of shoppers and well-wishers yesterday. The festival, which got underway with a colorful start, will continue until April 12 and is expected to draw shoppers from all walks of life to this eclectic sale, which showcases a wide range of delectable and diverse Egyptian products. Among the food items on display are specialty Egyptian cheese, luscious fresh fruits and vegetables, including oranges, strawberries, pomegranate and toma-

toes, as well as a wide variety of other goods from Egypt. The festival, which highlights the excellent quality of Egyptian products, is also displaying a special cultural extravaganza, featuring traditional music and folkloric dance, such as the horse-dance and tanoura, in the evenings on April 2,3 and 4. The Festival of Egypt provides Egyptians, as well as other residents and citizens in Kuwait, with ample selection of top-notch Egyptian products, as well as an introduction to Egyptian cultural life. The Festival of Egypt is yet another instance where Lu&Lu Hypermarket demonstrates their deep market insight by interacting with customers and providing them with what they need and when they need it, with the clear focus of consolidating their retail dominance in the region.

KUWAIT: Some of the dignitaries who attended the international conference on breast and pelvic cancer yesterday.

Breast, pelvic cancer conference opens KUWAIT: An international conference on breast and pelvic cancer kick-started here yesterday, focusing on the necessity of drawing upon relevant world experience and research. In a keynote speech at the conference, Minister of Health Ali Al-Obaidi said the medical event reflects the Health Ministry’s interest in continuing medical teaching programs. Such programs, which include the convening of conferences, symposiums, workshops, medical and technical lectures, mainly aim to capitalize on diagnosis and therapy technologies, the minister said in the speech, delivered on his behalf by Assistant Undersecretary of the Health Ministry for Private Services Mohammad Al-Khishti.

“Such gatherings are intended to consolidate and strengthen scientific and medical links and to flesh out a clear-cut vision purposed to fulfill present medical requirements,” he said. Medical services in the field of cancer diseases have witnessed a major quantum leap in the methods of early diagnosis and radioactive and chemical therapy, the minister pointed out. Marked advancement in cancer treatment methods has helped in the recovery of many cancer patients, Al-Obaidi added. The two-day conference features 12 seminars on the latest methods of breast cancer treatment and six others on pelvic and prostatic cancer therapy, he noted. — KUNA


Self-immolation stresses woes of Syrian refugees in Lebanon

Amma, Didi, Behenji: Meet India’s female kingmakers Page 13

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IQUIQUE: Firefighters try to extinguish a fire at a restaurant by the seashore. — AFP

Chile’s 8.2 magnitude quake kills 6 SANTIAGO: Authorities lifted tsunami warnings for Chile’s long coastline early yesterday after a magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck the South American nation’s northern coast. Six people were crushed to death or suffered fatal heart attacks, a remarkably low toll for such a powerful shift in the Earth’s crust. The extent of damage from Tuesday night’s quake couldn’t yet be fully assessed, President Michelle Bachelet said, but she wasn’t taking any chances. She declared a state of emergency in the region and sent a military plane with 100 anti-riot police to join 300 soldiers deployed to prevent looting and round up escaped prisoners. Thousands were evacuated from low-lying areas, but most began to return home as the tsunami alerts were lifted along Chile’s long coast. The shaking touched off landslides that blocked roads, knocked out power for thousands, damaged an airport and started fires that destroyed several businesses. About 300 inmates escaped from a women’s prison in the city of Iquique, forcing the closure of the border with Peru. Officials said some two dozen had been captured early yesterday. In Arica, another city close to the quake’s offshore epicenter, hospitals treated minor injuries, and some homes made of adobe were destroyed, authorities said. Mining in Chile, which is the world’s top copper producing nation, was not affected, although world prices for the red metal jumped as the quake raised supply concerns because most of the Chilean

mining industry is in the northern regions. Chile’s Navy lifted tsunami warnings for all of Chile long coastline at around 7 a.m. local time (11 am GMT). The mandatory evacuation orders had remained in effect until nearly dawn for coastal areas north of Antofagasta, a decision backed by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, regarding the coastline of Chile as still dangerous. Bachelet, who just returned to the presidency three weeks ago, spoke well after midnight, five hours after the quake struck and flew to quakehit regions yesterday morning to assess the damage. It was not lost on many Chileans that the last time she presided over a major quake, days before the end of her 2006-10 term, her emergency preparedness office prematurely waved off a tsunami danger. Most of the 500 dead from that magnitude-8.8 tremor survived the shaking, only to be caught in killer waves in a disaster that destroyed 220,000 homes and washed away large parts of many coastal communities. “The country has done a good job of confronting the emergency. I call on everyone to stay calm and follow the authorities’ instructions,” Bachelet tweeted after Tuesday night’s temblor. She said her interior minister would monitor the tsunami threat throughout the night and coordinate the emergency response. “Classes have been suspended, and we will be able to know the extent of the damage in the light of day,” she added. The

tsunami warning center initially had cancelled tsunami watches for areas other than northern Chile and southern Peru. The only US impact might be higher waves yesterday for Hawaii’s swimmers and surfers, it said. The US Geological Survey initially reported the quake at 8.0, but later upgraded the magnitude of the temblor centered 61 miles (99 kilometers) northwest of Iquique. More than 20 significant aftershocks followed, including one of magnitude 6.2. Psychiatrist Ricardo Yevenes said he was with a patient in Arica when the big one hit. “It quickly began to move the entire office, things were falling,” he told local television. “Almost the whole city is in darkness.” The quake was so strong that the shaking experienced in Bolivia’s capital about 290 miles (470 kilometers) away was the equivalent of a magnitude-4.5 tremor, authorities there said. Chile is one of the world’s most ear thquake -prone countries because just off the coast, the Nazca tectonic plate plunges beneath the South American plate, pushing the towering Andes cordillera to everhigher altitudes. The latest activity began with a strong magnitude-6.7 quake on M arch 16 that caused more than 100,000 people to briefly evacuate low-lying areas. Hundreds of smaller quakes followed in the weeks since, keeping people on edge as scientists said there was no way to tell if the unusual string of tremors was a harbinger of an impending disaster. — AP

IQUIQUE: Men look yesterday at a boat pushed ashore in northern Chile, after a powerful 8 earthquake hit off Chile’s Pacific coast. — AFP



Radical Kenyan Muslim cleric shot dead MOMBASA: A prominent hardline Muslim cleric in Kenya was shot dead in Mombasa on Tuesday, amid worsening religious tensions in the strategic port city and gateway to east Africa. Abubaker

Shariff Ahmed, better known as Makaburi, was a vocal supporter of Osama bin Laden and had described last year’s attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, which was claimed by

MOMBASA: In this photo, Muslim cleric Abubakar Shariff Ahmed (right) argues with senior police officers outside the Masjid Musa Mosque in Mombasa, Kenya. —AP

Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab rebels, as “100-percent justified”. Makaburi was also on UN sanctions lists and accused of being a “leading facilitator and recruiter of young Kenyan Muslims for violent militant activity in Somalia”, and of having “strong ties” with Shebab leaders. Senior police officer in Mombasa Richard Ngatia confirmed Makaburi had been killed by “unknown assailants”, and an AFP reporter in the city saw his bloodied corpse. Many of the clerics’ supporters accuse the Kenyan authorities of being behind a string of killings of radical Islamists in the Mombasa and Muslimmajority coastal region, claims that officials have repeatedly denied. Makaburi, dressed in white robes, was shot in the chest. Another young man was also shot dead alongside Makaburi. “One of them is the body of Abubaker Shariff alias Makaburi,” Ngatia told reporters, adding that family members had identified the body. “They were waiting for a car to pick them up when people in a passing car shot at them. We don’t know who killed them and why. We shall conduct an investigation,” he said. There were angry scenes outside the police station where the body had been taken, and police fired into the air to push

back furious supporters of the cleric. Mohamed Ali, who described himself as a “long-time friend of Makaburi”, said he was with the cleric during the shooting, which occurred outside a Mombasa courthouse. “We were expecting to be picked up outside the court, when we heard sudden gunshots. We all went to the ground,” he said. Vocal Al-Qaeda supporter In an interview with AFP only last month, Makaburi had said he was resigned to being killed: “My life is in danger. They will eventually kill me. They do that,” he said. A prominent leader at the controversial Musa Mosque, a scene of frequent unrest in Mombasa, Makaburi presented himself as a simple man promoting “true Islam”, and said the best examples of Islam were to be found in parts of Fallujah in Iraq, Taleban-controlled Afghanistan and Shebab-held areas of Somalia. He also blasted Saudi Arabia as “a Christian country ruled by somebody who pretends to be a Muslim”. The firebrand cleric, who was in his 50s, had praised the suicide commandos who stormed Nairobi’s part-Israeli-owned Westgate mall in September, massacring at least 67 people-among them women

and children-in a four-day siege that was carried out in retaliation for Kenya’s intervention in Somalia to fight the Shebab. “It’s our innocents for your innocents. It was justified. As per the Koran, as per the religion of Islam, Westgate was 100-percent justified,” Makaburi told AFP. Previous killings of clerics have sparked deadly riots, with supporters clashing with the police. Security was immediately stepped up in Mombasa, an AFP reporter said, while religious leaders used local radio to issue appeals for calm. In August 2012, radical preacher Aboud Rogo Mohammed was also gunned down, and in October last year his successor, Sheikh Ibrahim Ismail, met the same fate on a road near Mombasa, again sparking riots. The killing of Makaburi comes just over a week after six worshippers were shot dead in a church near Mombasa, prompting a fresh crackdown by Kenyan security forces and renewed talk among officials of a “shoot-to-kill” policy to deal with the threat of Islamist violence. It also came the day after six people were killed in bomb attacks in the densely populated Nairobi district of Eastleigh, an area often known as Little Mogadishu because of its predominantly Somali population. —AFP

Self-immolation stresses woes of Syrian refugees in Lebanon 2014 UN appeal is only 14% funded: Official BEIRUT: A UN official said a Syrian refugee in Lebanon who doused herself with petrol and set herself alight after her aid was cut was a victim of a lack of funding for the world body’s work. The millionth Syrian refugee will register in Lebanon on Thursday, the UN refugee agency says, adding to the strain on a county of only 4

Khawli’s body was now covered in burns and that she could remain in hospital for months if she survives. Khawli husband is unable to work due to a lung abscess and three of her children have a blood condition and they had relied on the aid. Her story has become well known over the past days, after appear-

ALEPPO: A man carries a child’s body following a reported airstrike by government forces yesterday. —AFP million which is struggling to stop the war from flooding into its territory. Mariam Al-Khawli, who fled Syria with her husband and four children two years ago, set herself on fire last week in frustration at living without the food and cash lifeline provided by the United Nations since August. Her doctor, Gabriel Al-Sabeh, said 70 percent of

ing in news outlets in Lebanon. “We really got hungry ... but they burned my heart before they burned my body. They burned my heart from the inside,” she told Reuters of how she regarded the UN cutback. Ninette Kelley, regional representative for Lebanon at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said: “Right now we have close to 1 mil-

lion refugees and we are able to do a lot with the funding we receive but we simply do not have enough.” She said Khawli’s case was “a very sorrowful reflection of the enormous desperation and need of the refugee community and it is also a telling reminder of the consequences of the Syrian emergency and the unfolding crisis here in Lebanon”. Funds shortfall She said the agency had been in touch with Khawli’s family “for many, many months”, but gave no details of why the funds were cut or how many other families might have been affected. UN aid teams in Lebanon give aid to the most vulnerable first and makes regular checks on families who are not covered, Kelley said. Last month, Lebanon’s foreign minister said the crisis was “threatening the existence of Lebanon”, still recovering from its own bloody 15-year civil war that ended in 1990. Syrian beggars now walk the streets of Beirut and informal tented settlements have sprung up around the country. Syrian rebels and their Lebanese allies fight openly with the army and militants from the Lebanese Hezbollah militia, which supports Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in a war now in its fourth year. The United Nations says 2.5 million Syria refugees have registered in total, more than 10 percent of Syria’s population. Lebanon holds the largest number but Syrians have also fled to Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and elsewhere. A UN appeal for $1.7 billion in 2014 to help the refugees is only 14 percent funded, Kelley said. The mounting cost of the refugee crisis is also a major challenge for Lebanon’s new government, which has to deal with strained public infrastructure as the Syrians seek housing, food, and healthcare at a time of economic slowdown in Lebanon. Showing how the conflict is spilling over, two missiles yesterday hit AlLabwa, a Shiite town in Lebanon that has been hit before by Sunni militants in retaliation for Shiite Hezbollah’s role in Syria. The strikes are the latest in a series of missile attacks, bomb explosions and gun fights that have grown as the Syria conflict has become increasingly sectarian. —Reuters

Modify Iran’s Arak reactor to reduce bomb threat: US VIENNA: Changes to the design of Iran’s planned Arak research reactor could drastically reduce its output of potential nuclear weapon material, US experts said in a proposal. How to deal with Arak is one of several issues that must be tackled in negotiations between Iran and six global powers that got under way in February with the aim of reaching a long-term deal on the decade-old nuclear dispute by late July. Princeton University academics said that annual production of plutonium could be cut to less than a kilogram - well below the roughly eight kg needed for an atomic bomb - if Iran altered the way the plant is fuelled and lowers its power capacity. “These redesigns would not reduce the usefulness of the reactor for making radioisotopes and conducting research,” wrote Ali Ahmad, Frank von Hippel, Alexander Glaser and Zia Mian - members of Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security. “This approach would meet Iran’s needs and

would address the concerns of the international community,” said their article, due to be published on Wednesday by the on-line journal of the Arms Control Association, a US research and advocacy group. Iran denies Western allegations that it is seeking the capability to make nuclear bombs, saying its program is aimed at generating electricity and carrying out peaceful research. Experts from Iran and the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Britain and China are due to meet in Vienna for three days from Thursday to be followed by a third round of political-level talks next week. Western powers fear Arak could provide a supply of plutonium one of two materials, along with highly enriched uranium, that can trigger a nuclear explosion - once operational. The Islamic Republic has said that the 40-megawatt, heavy-water reactor is intended to produce isotopes for cancer and other medical treatments.

Iran agreed to halt installation work at Arak under an interim deal reached with the powers last year. Their positions seem far apart. Iran has ruled out shutting down any nuclear site, including Arak, which has been under construction for years. The United States says it sees no need for Arak as part of a civilian nuclear program. Win-win solution for Arak? However, the head of Iran’s atomic energy organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, in February signaled some flexibility, saying it was prepared to modify Arak to help allay any concerns. Heavywater reactors, fuelled by natural uranium, are seen as especially suitable for yielding plutonium. To do so, however, a nuclear reprocessing plant would also be needed to extract the plutonium. Iran is not known to have any such plant. If operating optimally, Arak could produce about nine kg of plutonium annually, the US Institute for Science and International Security

says. Any long-term deal must lower that amount, experts say. The Princeton University experts said that changing Arak’s fuelling and operating power would make it less of a proliferation concern, even if it were to remain a heavy water-moderated reactor. “The conversion steps described above are technically feasible,” they said in the article titled “A Win-Win Solution for Iran’s Arak Reactor”. Robert Einhorn, a former US State Department official on Iran, said that at a minimum using enriched uranium fuel and reducing the power level would be required for Arak. But he said it would preferably also be converted to a light-water reactor, a more extensive reconfiguration step that Iran may resist. Arak was still a less immediate concern than Iran’s existing uranium enrichment program, which gives it the ability to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a bomb in a couple of months, Einhorn said in a new report. —Reuters

LONDON: Young girls eat their lunch beside a pond at the V&A Museum yesterday. —AFP

Kerry scrambles to save torpedoed peace effort BRUSSELS: US Secretary of State John Kerry was scrambling yesterday to save his faltering Middle East peace efforts, after both Israel and Palestinians delivered him a stunning slap in the face. The top US diplomat, who has made the quest for a longelusive peace treaty his personal holy grail, was blindsided late Tuesday as minutes before a press conference at the NATO headquarters, both sides went rogue. The Palestinians, infuriated by Israel’s refusal to release some 26 Palestinian prisoners by a weekend deadline, announced out of the blue that they were planning to take their claim for statehood to 15 agencies. And Israel, having already broken the terms of a July deal to return to the negotiating table, unveiled tenders for 700 more homes in east Jerusalem. Kerry, who only hours before had held a two-hour breakfast meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem following late -night talks, abruptly cancelled plans to fly back to the region yesterday to see Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas. Instead he was working the phones from the secure US mission at NATO, phoning foreign leaders, a senior State Department official said. It was also more than likely he would be conferring with the White House. He will “conduct several calls with foreign counterparts and the US Middle East negotiating team while in Brussels,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. But it was not immediately clear where Kerry can go from here, with both sides trading recriminations and the fragile peace effort seemingly in tatters. “Kerry has gone as far as he can as mediator, absent major decisions by the parties themselves,” the Washington Post wrote, quoting a senior administration official. If he fails to get the peace talks back on track, it will mark a humiliating blow for Kerry and certain to elicit a round of smug “toldyou-so’s” from many old hands, who have seen hopes raised and dashed over the decades. Kerry himself insisted that it was

“premature to draw... any final judgment about today’s events and where things are”. And he again urged both sides to look at the final goal of peace. ‘Last-ditch’ effort But it was clear yesterday morning that he and his staff had gone into damage limitation mode. The tough behind-the-scenes negotiations, in which Kerry has invested countless hours and energy, had already been complicated by news the US could make a three -way deal under which Washington would free a convicted USborn Israeli spy. The US intelligence community and American right has long opposed the early release of Jonathan Pollard, arrested in 1985 and sentenced to life imprisonment for spying for Israel, even though he’s due for parole in 2015. And there was sharp criticism in the media at news that Kerry and his team were considering using him as a bargaining chip to keep the talks on track. The peace effort “has degenerated into... a desperate race to prevent the talks from collapsing,” the Washington Post editorial board wrote, and arguing against Pollard’s release as a “last-ditch” effort to extend negotiations beyond an April 29 deadline. The chaos and potential fallout from a second failed attempt to broker peace by this US administration would pose a grim prospect for President Barack Obama. While Obama had endorsed Kerry’s efforts publicly, it had always remained unclear just how much he would be willing to back him if things went AWOL. Already under fire both at home and abroad for his perceived weakness in foreign policy, such as a failure to conduct robust efforts to end the war in Syria, Obama and his team may be unwilling to give Kerry more rein to meddle in the Middle East. It could be that after making a comprehensive peace deal his signature issue, Kerry could find that the White House pulls the plug from a process now on lifesupport. —AFP

Iraq suicide bomb kills 6 as UN warns of ‘divisive’ polls BAGHDAD: A suicide bomber killed six army recruits yesterday as the UN’s envoy to Iraq warned that the country’s election campaign would be “highly divisive” amid a year-long surge in bloodshed. The attack came on the second day of campaigning for April 30 parliamentary polls, Iraq’s first since March 2010. Violence is at its highest since 2008 and the country is still struggling to rebuild its battered economy and infrastructure after decades of conflict. UN special envoy Nickolay Mladenov, in an interview with AFP, underscored fears the polls could worsen a long-standing political deadlock in which Iraq’s fractious national unity government has passed little in the way of significant legislation. Yesterday morning, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to an army recruitment centre in

northern Iraq, killing six would-be soldiers and wounding 14 others, a general and a doctor said. The latest attack in Riyadh, a mostly-Sunni town in ethnically mixed Kirkuk province, along with violence elsewhere in the country that left two policemen dead, comes with the country suffering near-daily violence. The bloodshed is part of a long list of voter concerns that include lengthy power cuts and poor running water and sewerage services, rampant corruption and high unemployment. But campaigns are rarely fought on individual issues, with parties instead appealing to voters’ ethnic, sectarian or tribal allegiances or resorting to trumpeting wellknown personalities. A lack of effort at crosssectarian politics could, Mladenov said, be a

major issue. “Campaigning will be highly divisive,” he told AFP from his office in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone complex. “Everyone is ratcheting it up to the maximum, and you could see this even before officially the campaign started.” Personalities not issues targeted The former Bulgarian foreign and defense minister added: “I would hope that it would be more about issues, and how the country deals with its challenges, but at this point, it’s a lot about personality attacks.”“The efforts to reach across the sectarian divide are very weak.” He declined to name specific offenders, instead blaming “all the political parties” for the rhetoric. The sharp rise in violence over the past year has fuelled fears Iraq is slipping back into the sort of all-out communal

conflict that killed tens of thousands in 2006 and 2007. UN figures released Tuesday put the toll for March at 592 dead. That did not include the conflict-hit desert province of Anbar, where militants have kept control of the town of Fallujah, a short drive from Baghdad, for nearly three months. Mladenov also pushed for lawmakers to urgently pass the annual budget, which has languished in parliament over an energy dispute between the central government and the autonomous Kurdish region. “I think the window closes in about two weeks,” Mladenov said of budget negotiations, because any longer would risk turning the spending bill into an election issue, likely further complicating the talks. He continued: “It’s a concern that if you wait for the deal after the elections, that

deal, whatever the results of the election, will be delayed, and inevitably made more difficult.” Asked what the impact would be if the budget were further delayed, or not agreed this year, he replied: “It’s bad for the business climate, it’s unpredictable, it puts projects on hold. So, from an investment perspective, you plan to do certain things and now you can’t pay for them.” “It’s also bad from an accountability perspective.” The tensions between Baghdad and Kurdish authorities in the northern city of Arbil have long been cited as among the biggest threats to long-term stability. Along with the dispute over oil exports, Arbil wants to incorporate a vast swath of territory stretching from Iran to Syria into its three-province autonomous region over the central government’s objections. —AFP



Bombs kill two at Cairo University CAIRO: A series of explosions outside Cairo University killed two people yesterday, including a police brigadier-general, in what appeared to be a militant attack targeting security forces. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Islamist militants have carried out many similar operations against police and soldiers since the army ousted President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July after mass protests against him. The fast-growing insurgency threatens the security of the most populous Arab nation ahead of a presidential election in May - as well as the vital tourist industry on which Egypt relies for revenue. Two bombs, left among trees outside the university, killed the police officer and wounded five other security forces who had been guarding the facility, the ministry said. Shortly afterwards, a third blast killed one person, four security officials said. People screamed and ran for safety after the attacks as panic spread on the streets and on campus in an upmarket area near the zoo in Giza, a Reuters witness said. Police found a fourth bomb in the area. “We expect trouble for the long term. How can

the police protect us when they can’t even protect themselves. It is not possible,” said student Mohamed Abdel Aziz outside Cairo University after the explosions. Responding to yesterday’s violence, Egypt’s presidential spokesman Ahmed AlMuslimani said: “Terrorist groups want Egyptian universities to be known for chaos and bloodshed instead of for modernity and civilization.” Video footage online showed a cloud of smoke hovering above a tree-lined roundabout. A loud blast is heard moments later. Members of the security forces clad in black uniforms are shown moving away from the suspected site of the explosions and then advancing towards it with their weapons drawn. Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the video, which was released by ElYoum el-Sabaa newspaper. Election fears Bombings and shootings targeting the security forces have become commonplace in Egypt since the army deposed Morsi. The government this week put the death toll from such attacks at nearly 500

people, most of them soldiers and police. Analysts predict that militants will escalate violence before the May 26-27 presidential election that is expected to be easily won by Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the general who toppled Morsi. Widely seen as Egypt’s de facto leader since he deposed Morsi, Sisi enjoys backing from supporters who see him as Egypt’s savior who can end the political turmoil and bring prosperity to the country. But he is viewed by the Islamist opposition as the mastermind of a coup that ignited the worst internal strife in Egypt’s modern history. It will be the second time Egyptians have voted in a presidential election in less than two years. But in contrast to the 2012 vote won by Morsi, this election follows a fierce government crackdown on dissent that has included both Islamists and secular-minded democracy activists. Thousands of Brotherhood supporters have been detained and killed in mass protests and clashes with police since Morsi was deposed. Last week more than 500 were sentenced to death in a mass hearing condemned by rights groups and Western

governments. The Brotherhood, Egypt’s best organized political party until last year, has been banned, driven underground and declared a terrorist group by the government. The movement says it is committed to peaceful activism. Senior Brotherhood politician Amr Darrag condemned the violence at Cairo University on his Twitter site and said it showed the clear failure of the security forces to protect Egyptians. Tackling Islamist insurgents based in the Sinai Peninsula will be a far more daunting task for security forces. They have shown their ability to carry out nearly daily attacks despite army offensives against strongholds. The attacks have spread from the largely lawless Sinai to Cairo and other cities, rattling Egyptians who have longed for security since a popular uprising ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011. While the militants are not expected to seize power, their campaign could weaken the government by dealing a major blow to the economy. Tourism, a vital source of hard currency, has been hit hard by the bloodshed. — Reuters

France’s Segolene Royal offers Hollande ‘green’ credentials Green Party keeps distance under new premier Valls

MINAWAO: Nigerian refugees sit by a UNHCR (United Nation Refugee Agency) tent in the refugee camp of Minawao, on the border of Nigeria at the extreme north of Cameroon. — AFP

Refugees from Nigerian bloodshed start afresh MINAWAO: Alima fled fighting between Nigeria’s army and the radical Islamist movement Boko Haram 10 days ago for neighboring Cameroon, where she has joined thousands of refugees who feel abandoned by their homeland. “The only solution was to leave,” the 31-year-old said as she ground maize flour for the evening meal in the courtyard of the Minawao refugee camp in the far north of Cameroon, close to the Nigerian border. “Here, there is no kudi (money in the Kanuri language), but it’s better compared with Nigeria,” adds Alima, who fled from Bama, where the Nigerian army is engaged in repeated attacks on the armed sect. As a Kanuri, Alima belongs to the dominant ethnic group in northeast Nigeria, as do most members of Boko Haram, which has attacked isolated villages, schools and churches as well as military bases in a brutal campaign. Confronted with the violent insurrection, Nigerian troops launched a major crackdown in May 2013 against Boko Haram, which wants to create a separate hardline Islamic state in northern Nigeria. The conflict has claimed thousands of lives since the uprising began in 2009 and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee in fear either to other Nigerian states or neighboring countries. ‘A heavy price’ The state of emergency in three northeast states has largely succeeded in forcing militants out of urban areas but attacks have continued in remoter, rural areas. The government’s response has alarmed human rights organizations as much as atrocities by the Islamists. Amnesty International charged Monday that both the army and Boko Haram may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. “Civilians are paying a heavy price as the cycle of violations and reprisals gather momentum,” Amnesty said, urging the international community to “ensure prompt, independent investigations” into alleged atrocities. Alima told AFP that “it was the weapons of the army that made me flee. The situation was bad.” The United Nations has said that some 300,000 people have fled the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa since the start of emergency rule in May to January 1. Last week, Nigeria’s emergency relief agency NEMA said nearly 250,000 had been internally displaced in the first three months of this year alone. Regional Cameroonian authorities say that no fewer than 30,000 Nigerians have fled over the border to the far north of the country in the past year. At the Minawao camp, set in mountainous territory about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the regional capital Maroua, the number of new arrivals has grown in recent weeks, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The camp currently houses about 2,500 people, Christians and Muslims alike. But the UNHCR also says that thousands more refugees have been taken in by Cameroonian families or subsist in the countryside. Inside the camp, youths have begun digging up mounds of earth in order to build solid clay huts, instead of makeshift shelters under canvas or plastic sheeting. Mohamed Oumarou, a tailor, had a sewing machine to stitch a tarpaulin roof to cover his new house. “The (Nigerian) army burned and looted our homes. The conflict between the soldiers and Boko Haram is raging in our country,” he said. “I am confused. I can’t tell you whether or not I will go back to my country,” Oumarou added bitterly. ‘We want Cameroonian nationality’ Many others gathered nearby claimed the Nigerian authorities were indifferent to the fate of civilians in the conflict, which has claimed more than 1,500 lives in the first three months of the year, according to Amnesty. A Muslim leader at Minawao, Bolama (“Chief”) Mohamed, complained that food was lacking for those who have fled. “Food ... runs out 10 days before the next distribution. There is neither rice nor sugar and many children don’t go to school in the morning because they haven’t had their gruel.”“They get sufficient supplies to live normally,” countered the UNHCR chief in Maroua, Jean-Marie Awono. He pointed out that food is distributed once a month, while the camp has two water pumps, a health centre and a school consisting of 11 buildings. “Some children don’t go to school because their families consider that the school is ‘haram’ (forbidden),” Awono said. Moreover, in the Hausa language, Boko Haram loosely translates as “Western education is a sin” and has attacked schools, killing students and teachers. “We are in a difficult situation, but our government remains indifferent,” said Ali Shouek, chairman of the camp community of refugees. “A delegation from the (Nigerian) embassy came here once, but we’ve had no news since.” “Because our president and our authorities no longer recognise us and don’t value our worth, we would like to obtain Cameroonian nationality,” Shouek added. —AFP

PARIS: Former French presidential candidate Segolene Royal brings green credentials, a high profile and strong political ambition to her new role as energy and environment minister at a crucial time for industry and government. The naming in yesterday’s government reshuffle of Royal, an ex-partner of President Francois Hollande, is seen partly as an attempt to maintain Green Party support for an unpopular Socialist government with a thin parliamentary majority. In 2011, Royal responded to a Greenpeace policy questionnaire with a call for a complete exit from nuclear power within 40 years. She also backed the ban on hydraulic fracturing techniques - or fracking - for shale gas development, and in her constituency of Poitou-Charentes in western France she has pushed hard for renewable power, sustainable farming and energy efficiency. But environmental activists and politicians are skeptical about whether this record will survive her political ambition in a role that is traditionally occupied by lesser-known figures than Royal, who announced her split from Hollande after losing the 2007 election to Nicolas Sarkozy. “This appointment will make a noise, which is no doubt the intention,” said Greenpeace in a statement. “We hope the personality of the minister will not eclipse the crucial issues linked to the environment portfolio, most specifically energy.” Hollande has promised anti-nuclear and environmentalist campaigners a reduction in France’s heavy dependence on nuclear power to 50 percent from 70 by 2025 and a cut in fossil fuel use by 30 percent by 2030 - backed up by a carbon tax. He has also presided over a ban on the use of the shale gas extraction techniques that have helped to revitalise the U.S. economy and which other European governments are encouraging to reduce their energy bills and boost growth. Business groups said they hoped that Royal’s nomination would not mean they would have to start from scratch in difficult talks undertaken with her predecessor Philippe Martin. “We had worked closely with the former minister lately. I hope we won’t have to start it all over again (and) that we will be able to jump on the train while it’s moving,” said Jean-Louis Schilansky, head of oil-sector lobby UFIP. Pro-environment groups already accuse Hollande of footdragging on his commitments since he took power in 2012. They now fear the new prime minister Manuel Valls and economy minister Arnaud Montebourg will put growth before ecology. Experts say nuclear policy in particular is approaching a crucial point, at which decisions need to be taken soon on whether to extend the lives of ageing plants, commit to building new ones, or allow gas-fired stations to fill the gap. Royal will also be a major player in deciding a replacement for Henri Proglio, head of the state-backed power utility EDF , whose term ends in November, and who is seen as too close to conservative former President Nicolas Sarkozy to stay in his post. Hollande has enjoyed Green Party support in parliament, where his Socialist Party has a 3-seat majority. Until Tuesday’s reshuffle, which followed a crushing defeat by the right in municipal elections, there were Greens among his ministers. However, the Greens are unwilling to serve in a government led by Valls due to his conservative stance on social issues such as immigration. With Royal as energy and

Ukraine moves to grant more power to regions KIEV: Crisis-hit Ukraine took the first step yesterday toward granting more powers to the regions in line with Western wishes but stopped well short of creating the federation sought by Russia. The Western-backed team unveiled its high-stakes plan under the dual pressure of tens of thousands of Russian troops massed at its border and a veiled Kremlin threat to raise the price it charges its neighbor for crucial gas deliveries for a second time in a week. But Ukraine’s new government-having won both vital financial backing from the IMF last week and morale support from a meeting of NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday-appeared ready to resist the Kremlin’s attempts to dislodge the more Russified regions in the east of the ex-Soviet country from direct Kiev rule. The government said it would like to eliminate the current practice under which local governors are appointed by the president and move toward an election system. But it said nothing about granting regions the right to set their own trade policies or establish special relations with foreign states. “The main idea behind the concept is to decentralize power in the country and substantially broaden the authority of local communities,” the government said in a statement published on its website. Moscow has sought radical constitutional reforms in Ukraine in the wake of the February overthrow of a proKremlin regime whose rejection of closer ties with Europe sparked months of deadly unrest. Russia would like to see Ukraine transformed into a federation that allows eastern regions in the vast nation of 46 million to adopt Russian as a second state language and overrule some decision coming from Kiev.—AFP

PARIS: French new Minister of Environment and Energy Segolene Royal, (right) gestures with outgoing Environment Minister Philippe Martin during the takeover ceremony yesterday. — AFP environment minister though, Valls may still be able to carry their support in big votes such as on new public spending savings and cuts to payroll taxes for business that he wants to pass in the next few weeks. Taking office, Royal said she was a strong advocate of “social ecology” including water cleanliness, affordable energy, and action on air pollution. She pledged her support for projects ranging from electric cars to ecological construction. “We see in all that, in this ability to innovate and to create, the amazing capacity France has to face up to the challenges in this area,” she said.

Denis Baupin, a Green member of parliament for Paris, said Royal had “undeniable competences” and noted her record in Poitou-Charentes, saying the appointment “signifies clearly that this question of ecology and energy transition is considered important by the government of Manuel Valls”. But Corinne Lepage, environment minister from 1995 to 1997 under the conservative government of Alain Juppe, said she expected the politically ambitious Royal to adhere to the fundamentally pro-nuclear line pursued by France for decades. “She is a politician before everything else. She’s a powerful woman within the Socialist Party.” — Reuters



Australia recognizes ‘neutral’ third gender SYDNEY: Australia’s highest court yesterday recognized the existence of a third “non-specific” gender that is neither male nor female, in a landmark ruling campaigners said will help end years of discrimination. The High Court ruled that not everyone should be forced to identify as a man or woman when dealing with officials, saying some people could legitimately describe themselves as gender neutral. “The High Court... recognizes that a person may be neither male nor female, and so permits the registration of a person’s sex as ‘non-specific’,” it said in a unanimous judgment. The decision ended a long legal battle by sexual equality campaigner Norrie to overturn a New South Wales state edict that gender is an inherently “binary” concept involving only men or women. “I’m overjoyed,” the Sydneybased activist said. “It’s been a long time from start to end but this has been a great outcome. “Maybe people will understand now that there’s more options than just the binary. So while an individual might be male or female, not all their friends might be and maybe they might be more accept-

ing of that.” The 53-year-old, who uses only a single name, was born male and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1989 to become a woman. But the surgery failed to resolve the Scottishborn activist’s ambiguity about sexual identity, prompting a push for the recognition of a new, non-traditional gender. Norrie made global headlines in February 2010 when an application to the NSW Department of Births, Deaths and Marriages accepted that “sex non-specific” could be accepted for Norrie’s records. But soon afterwards the office revoked its decision, saying the certificate was invalid and had been issued in error. At the time, Norrie said the decision felt like being “socially assassinated”. That sparked a series of appeals which resulted in the NSW Court of Appeal recognizing Norrie as gender neutral last year, a decision which the High Court backed yesterday. ‘Outdated notions of gender’ The Human Rights Law Centre, which provided expert testimony in Norrie’s case, said the court

had “rejected outdated notions of gender” in the decision. “Sex- and gender-diverse people face problems every day accessing services and facilities that most Australians can use without thinking twice,” the centre’s litigation expert Anna Brown said. “It’s essential that our legal systems accurately reflect and accommodate the reality of sex and gender diversity that exists in our society. The High Court has taken an enormous leap today in achieving that goal.” Brown said the decision did not mean people could simply identify themselves as “non-specific” and expect legal recognition. Under the law, only a person who had undergone gender reassignment surgery could nominate themselves as “non-specific” after presenting medical evidence to back up their claims, she said. Brown added that it remains unclear who gender-neutral people would be able to marry. “No one has actually looked at that question legally,” she said, adding that there were few international precedents for the decision. In most

states across Australia same-sex couples can have civil unions or register their relationships, but the government does not consider them married under national law. Germany last year passed a law allowing babies born with characteristics of both sexes to be registered as neither male nor female. Several countries including Australia, Germany and Nepal also allow people to have an X on their passport rather than male or female, while social media giant Facebook recently moved to allow users to choose “other” gender options, such as “transsexual”, “intersex” or “androgynous”. Activist group Gender Agenda said the court decision’s impact went far beyond the legal system. “Transgender, gender diverse and intersex people face high levels of stigma, social exclusion and discrimination,” group director Samuel Rutherford said. “To have the highest court in our land say the law recognizes the reality of our existence is not only important in a practical way, but paves the way for achieving equality and freedom from discrimination.” — AFP

Jet mystery may never be solved: Malaysian police Bad weather hampers search BANGKOK: A Thai fireman (left) stands inside a scrap metal warehouse after a massive World War II bomb that workers tried to cut open exploded yesterday. — AFP

Yingluck’s woes mount BANGKOK: A Thai Court accepted a new case against Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday over her removal of the security chief three years ago, compounding her legal problems after months of sometimes violent anti-government protests. Twenty-four people have been killed in the crisis, including a protester shot in the head on Tuesday after weeks of calm in the capital, Bangkok. Yingluck’s supporters plan mass rallies of their own this week to counter attempts to remove her from office by activists determined to stamp out the influence of her brother, ousted ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, seen by many as the real power behind the government. The Constitutional Court accepted a case brought by a group of 27 senators who petitioned it to rule that her removal of National Security Chief Thawil Pliensree in 2011 violated the constitution. Their case is that the prime minister abused her position by moving the security chief to an inactive post. Court spokesman Pimon Thampitakpong said he could not yet say how long the case would last but said it bore similarities to a probe of former premier Samak Sundaravej who was forced to step down in 2008. The Supreme Court ruled that Samak’s appearances on a television cooking show and his acceptance of payment for them was a clear case of conflict of interest. “If she (Yingluck) is found to have violated the constitution then she will no longer be prime minister,” said Pimon, adding that Yingluck would be notified of the case in writing and would have 15 days to mount a defense. Yingluck’s supporters have accused the Constitutional Court of bias in frequently ruling against the government. The court struck down a bill last year that would have made the Senate upper house a fully elected body and quashed a costly infrastructure plan intended to buttress the economy. In another victory for the opposition, the court yesterday threw out a petition by Labor Minister Chalerm Yoombamrung ask-

ing it to rule that the protests aimed at bringing down the government violated the constitution. Yingluck faces separate charges of negligence brought by the National AntiCorruption Commission over a rice subsidy scheme that has run up huge losses. Should it forward the case to the Senate for possible impeachment, she could be removed. That would require the votes of three-fifths of the senators. Thailand’s 150-seat Senate is made up of 77 elected senators. The other 73 are appointed and are largely seen as opponents of the government. Weekend Senate elections suggest it will have a pro-government majority. Anti-government protesters are now banking on military or judicial intervention. The military, which has staged numerous coups since Thailand became a constitutional monarchy in 1932, overthrew Thaksin in 2006. It has stayed out of the fray this time. Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha, who is months away from retirement, has for months parried questions over possible military intervention. “If you were working in a company and didn’t see eye to eye with the company’s owner, would you chase your boss out?” Prayuth asked reporters yesterday in a typically cryptic comment. “I will do as I am told and I will not comment.” Yingluck’s “red shirt” supporters have called for a mass rally in Bangkok on Saturday. More militant factions within her camp say they are gearing up for a fight if she is removed from office. Anti-government protesters first took to the streets to oppose an amnesty bill that critics said would have permitted Yingluck’s brother to return from selfexile. The bill was eventually rejected by the Senate, but protests continued and new demands emerged. Thailand has really been in crisis since Thaksin was ousted in 2006. The conflict broadly pits Bangkok’s middle class and conservative establishment against Yingluck and Thaksin’s supporters in the north and northeast. — Agencies

TOKYO: People walk under cherry blossom trees in full bloom at a park yesterday. Viewing cherry blossoms is a national pastime and cultural event in Japan, where millions of people turn out to admire them annually. — AFP

KUALA LUMPUR: A police investigation may never determine the reason why the Malaysia Airlines jetliner disappeared, and search planes scouring the India Ocean for any sign of its wreckage aren’t certain to find anything either, officials said yesterday. The assessment by Malaysian and Australian officials underscored the lack of knowledge authorities have about what happened on Flight 370. It also points to a scenario that becomes more likely with every passing day - that the fate of the Boeing 777 and the 239 people on board might remain a mystery forever. The plane disappeared March 8 on a flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur after its transponders, which make the plane visible to commercial radar, were shut off. Military radar picked it up the jet just under an hour later, on the other side of the Malay peninsula. Authorities say until then its “movements were consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane” but have not ruled out anything, including mechanical error. Police are investigating the pilots and crew for any evidence suggesting they may have hijacked or sabotaged the plane. The backgrounds of the passengers, two-thirds of whom were Chinese, have been checked by local and international investigators and nothing suspicious has been found. “Investigations may go on and on and on. We have to clear every little thing,” Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. “At the end of the investigations, we may not even know the real cause. We may not even know the reason for this incident.” Police are also investigating the cargo and the food served on the plane to eliminate possible poisoning of passengers and crew, he said.

The search for the plane began over the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea where the plane’s last communications were, and then shifted west to the Strait of Malacca where it was last spotted by military radar. Experts then analyzed hourly satellite “handshakes” between the plane and a satellite and now believe it crashed somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean. A search there began just over two weeks ago, and now involves at least nine ships and nine planes. The current search area is a 221,000square-kilometer (85,000-square-mile) patch of sea roughly a 21/2-hour flight from Perth. The focus of the search has moved several times as experts try to estimate where the plane is most likely to have landed based on assumptions on its altitude, speed and fuel. Currents in the sea are also being studied to see where any wreckage is most likely to have drifted. Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the multinational search effort out of Australia, said no time frame had been set for the search to end, but that a new approach would be needed if nothing showed up. “Over time, if we don’t find anything on the surface, we’re going to have to think about what we do next, because clearly it’s vitally important for the families, it’s vitally important for the governments involved that we find this airplane,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio. With no other data available indicating where the plane went down, spotting wreckage is key to narrowing down the search area and ultimately finding the plane’s flight data recorders, which will provide a wealth of information about the condition the plane was flying under and possibly the communications or sounds in the cockpit. The data recorders emit a “ping” that can be

detected by special equipment towed by a ship in the immediate vicinity. But the battery-powered recorders stop transmitting the “pings” about 30 days after a crash. Locating the data recorders and wreckage after that is possible, but it becomes an even more daunting task. Houston said that only once wreckage from the plane was found “we will then be able to narrowly focus the search area so that we can start to exploit the underwater technology devices that will hopefully lead to where the aircraft is on the bottom of the ocean.” Malaysia has been criticized by the relatives of some Chinese passengers on board, who accuse them of not giving them enough information or even lying about what it knows about the final movements of the plane. Some are staying in hotels in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur, courtesy of Malaysia Airlines. On yesterday, authorities organized a closed-door briefing in Malaysia for the families with officials and experts involved in the hunt. It was relayed by video conferencing technologies to the relatives in Beijing. Several relatives interviewed after session said they were still not satisfied. “The fact is they didn’t give us any convincing information,” said Steve Wang, a representative of some of the Chinese families in Beijing. “They said themselves that there are many different possibilities, but they are judging on the basis of just one of them.” Malaysian officials have on occasion given conflicting accounts and contradictory information over the last three weeks. They maintain they are doing their best in what it is an unprecedented situation, and stress they want the same thing as the families, namely to locate the plane as quickly as possible. — AP

Rohingya excluded from Myanmar census SITTWE: The first thing Khalid was asked when census workers entered his home in Myanmar’s troubled state of Rakhine was his ethnicity. In a clear, confident voice, the father of eight responded “Rohingya.” The workers, most of them school teachers, said thank you, turned around and left. Accompanied by police, the women continued going from home to home in the tiny, dusty Muslim village, carrying their large box of mostly blank questionnaires. And with every same answer they moved on. Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation, only recently emerged from a half-century of military rule. Though it is carrying out its first census in 30 years, hundreds of thousands of members of the long-persecuted Muslim minority are likely to go uncounted. No one knows exactly how many people live in the country. Estimates range between 45 million and 60 million, and getting a more accurate figure is crucial for national planning and development. But the inclusion of questions about race and ethnicity are seen as inflammatory - especially in Rakhine, which is home to an estimated 1.3 million Rohingya Muslims. Though many were born to families who arrived generations ago, the government considers them to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and denies them citizenship and related rights. In the last two years members of the religious minority have been the target of bloody attacks by Buddhist mobs. Up to 280 have been killed and another 140,000 forced to flee their home. Most are now living in hot, dirty camps on the outskirts of the state capital, Sittwe. Hours before census workers started their task Sunday, presidential spokesman Ye Htut announced that Rohingya would have to refer to themselves as “Bengalis” if they wanted to be counted. That drew expressions of “deep concern” by the UN Population Fund - which spent years helping the government prepare for the count. It said it had been promised everyone would be allowed to identify themselves by whatever ethnicity they chose. “In its agreement with the United Nations ... the government made a commitment to conduct the exercise in accordance with international census standards and human rights principles,” the UN said in a statement. “It explicitly agreed with the condition that each person would be able to declare what ethnicity they belong to.” The about-face could spark new tensions, it said, and threatened to undermine the entire process. Rohingya have for the most part refused to bow to pressure by the government and extremist groups to call themselves by another name. On Tuesday, the third day of counting, small groups of census collectors accompanied by armed police and local elders visited Muslim homes and camps in Chaung township. “Ninety nine out of 100 Rohingya families who identified themselves as Rohingya, were not registered,” said 29-year old Mohamad Roshi, who was working as a volunteer for census collectors. “I wasn’t registered either, because I told them I was Rohingya.” Tensions have been rising over the census for weeks, as ethnic Buddhists - worried that the census would serve to legitimize the presences of Rohingya - have hung Buddhist flags on almost every home and office in Rakhine as a form of protest. —AP

PALAWAN: Philippine Marine Lieutenant First Class Mike Pelotera stands to attention with his eight colleagues before receiving bronze cross medals after a five month mission manning the Philippines’ remote outpost on the Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed Spratlys Island in the South China Sea, at the Naval Headquarters in Palawan. — AFP

Philippine troops face China ‘enemy’

PUERTO PRINCESSA: Nine hungry marines guarding the Philippines’ loneliest outpost aboard a rusted World War II vessel had just one option after Chinese vessels blocked fresh supplies from reaching them-go fishing. The troops were 200 kilometers (120 miles) from the nearest major Philippine island, holding on to a tiny reef in the South China Sea as part of a decades-long territorial row that in recent months had grown increasingly hostile. “We knew about the dangers signing on to the job, but my worry was we were running out of supplies,” Mike Pelotera, the leader of the Marine unit, told AFP after his five-month mission ended this week and he returned to shore. “But we are marines and we adapt, we went fishing.” In a remarkable act of military doggedness, the Philippines has since 1999 stationed a tiny number of marines on a former US Navy boat that was deliberately grounded on a group of islets and reefs called Second Thomas Shoal. The 100-metre (328-foot) BRP Sierra Madre, built during World War II then acquired by the Philippines in the 1970s, is now little more than a rusted hull and incapable of sailing. But it has thwarted Chinese efforts to occupy all of the area, which is believed to contain huge deposits of oil and gas. The Philippines grounded the boat at the tiny shoal in response to China’s military occupying Mischief Reef, about 40 kilometers miles away, in 1995. Both are within the Philippines’ internationally recognized exclusive economic zone, and

roughly 1,100 kilometers from the nearest major Chinese landmass. But China claims nearly all of the South China Sea, even waters close to the coasts of the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia. Taiwan has a similarly large claim to China. The competing claims have made the sea, which is also home to some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, a potential trigger for major military conflict. Dozens of Vietnamese soldiers died in losing battles in 1974 and 1988 with Chinese forces for control of the Paracel islands in the sea’s north. China increases pressure China had largely tolerated the Philippines’ plucky effort to hold on to Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratlys archipelago to the south, but last year began increasing pressure to end what it termed an “illegal occupation”. In May the Philippines said a Chinese warship had begun “provocatively” circling the Sierra Madre, and lodged a formal protest. Since then, the Philippine military has reported a near constant presence of Chinese vessels encircling the marines. However China had always allowed the Philippine vessels to sail up to the reef and deliver new supplies to the marines, who generally do tours of duty lasting between three to six months. This changed last month when vessels marked “China Coast Guard” blocked two civilian resupply boats, forcing Pelotera and his men to cast their fishing lines into the sea.—AFP


Amma, Didi, Behenji: Meet India’s female kingmakers PONDICHERRY: The makeup of India’s next government could lie in the hands of a trio of women who command a massive following in their regional heartlands, including a populist former movie star known as “Mother” to supporters. Known more for their charisma than policies, Jayalalithaa Jayaram, Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati are likely to play pivotal roles in coalition negotiations, after India’s marathon general election which begins Monday. Narendra Modi is the frontrunner but his party is not expected to win an outright majority, underlining the growing support for regional parties. It is now three decades since any party won more than 50 percent of seats in parliament. In particular, analysts say Jayalalithaa, chief minister of Tamil Nadu state, could play the role of kingmaker for Modi after telling her supporters it is time for a change in New Delhi. Noticeable by its absence at rallies has been criticism of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with reports saying Jayalalithaa has ordered her party to refrain from speaking out against India’s likely next prime minister. “This Congress government-those looters-must be overthrown!” the 66-year-old-who is usually referred to these days by her fans simply as “Amma” (Mother) — told thousands of cheering supporters at a rally in the city of Pondicherry. Lookalikes of a young Jayalalithaa and the late MG Ramachandran-her on-screen love interest in multiple moviesdanced onto the stage as Bollywood-style songs belted out her praises. Cinema and politics have long been intertwined in Tamil Nadu and her AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) party was founded by Ramachandran in 1972 after he split from the state’s DMK party. Jayalalithaa took over after his death and won the first of three terms as chief minister in 1991, going on to earn the loyalty of supporters with a series of populist schemes but also drawing accusations of corruption and an autocratic governing style. Voter freebies An “Amma canteen” scheme she recently set up offers lunches for three rupees (five cents) and she has promised more freebies if people vote for her party, which is slated to win up to 30 seats. “She’s given us laptops, she’s given us bicycles,” 18-year-old student Janaki told AFP at the rally in Pondicherry, three hours’ drive from the main southern city Chennai. “She does what she promises, so people want to vote for her.” A police raid found more than 10,000 saris and

750 pairs of shoes at her residence in 1997 and a related court case accusing her of illegally amassing wealth is ongoing. But ministers reverently bow down in her presence in Tamil Nadu, a manufacturing hub and one of India’s most prosperous states. “There’s a big iron curtain about the way she operates. Nobody knows how she operates, who are her trusted confidantes,” said GC Shekhar, a journalist who has covered the state’s politics for three decades. If Jayalalithaa is the queen of the south, Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress party rule the roost in West Bengal and its capital Kolkata. Her decision to pull her 18 lawmakers out of the national coalition in 2012 over cuts in fuel subsidies left the Congress-led government reeling. This time round, Trinamool’s share of West Bengal’s 42 seats is expected to be nearer 30. Known as Didi (“Elder Sister”), analysts say it is hard to guess which way Banerjee will jump after results on May 16. For all her castigation of Congress, she has also lashed out at the BJP, aware that Bengal’s many Muslim voters have little time for the hardline Hindu nationalist Modi. If Jayalalithaa’s popularity stems from her glamorous past, Banerjee’s allure lies with her common touch. “Mamata is popular because of her ordinary lifestyle and her ability to interact with the common people in a colloquial language,” Kolkata-based analyst Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury told AFP. Dalit Queen While Banerjee is seen as a big sister, Mayawati is known as the “Dalit Queen” or “Behenji” after a colorful career as champion of India’s lower caste dalits-former untouchables. Mayawati, whose Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has 21 seats in the current Lok Sabha, says India will be “ruined” if Modi comes to power. But she has previously cut a deal with the BJP which enabled her to be chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state. N Sathiya Moorthy, a Chennai-based analyst at the Observer Research Foundation, said the three women had much in common. “Definitely their image, their fighting spirit, their charisma, and their administrative skills to a great extent, have left them in good stead across the board when it comes to voting.” Subhash Agrawal, a Delhi-based analyst, said Modi will have to reach out to them with even the most generous projections putting the BJP several dozen seats short of a majority in the 543-seat parliament. —AFP


World’s largest democracy among its most complex NEW DELHI: In a country where men have long told their wives whom to vote for, Sheila Kumar says she has no intention of letting her husband dictate her vote in next month’s national election. “Never again,” Kumar said as she waited to collect a bucket of drinking water from the communal tap in a south Delhi slum. She sounds every bit the modern Indian woman, a reflection of a country with many of the outward signs of modernity: the glitzy shopping malls, the tech-savvy billionaires and the burgeoning focus on women’s rights. But it’s not so simple. Because even if she won’t allow her husband to choose her candidate, there is someone else who gets that power. “The caste elders will decide who we should vote for,” said Kumar, 43, a member of the small, midlevel Kurmi caste. “We will vote for someone from our own caste. Why should we support anyone else?” As the world’s largest democracy heads to the polls starting Monday, India’s often baffling contradictions are on full display, with age-old traditions of caste loyalty, patriarchy and nepotism often clashing with the values of a modern world. But even though democracy is far from perfect here, it still lurches forward. Elections in India are generally considered free and fair, and even the powerful often fall to defeat at the hands of voters. A strong constitution, hammered out by political leaders who were veterans of India’s struggle for independence from British colonial rule, laid the foundations for the democratic process. The politically independent Election Commission, empowered by the constitution, has the last word on political wrangles. “Politicians know that they are accountable to their electorate. If people have voted them into office, they can just as easily toss them out in the next election,” said Ajoy Bose, a political commentator in New Delhi. Dalits powerful vote bank Still, the challenges are rife. Voting patterns are heavily influenced by caste, the complex social ladder that mobilizes entire communities. Although India’s constitution and laws forbid discrimination on the basis of caste, the social division continues to dominate electoral politics. The former “untouchables,” or Dalits, are a powerful vote bank and political parties make all manner of promises to woo them. Women’s votes are often dictated by the men in the household, although that appears to be changing somewhat with growing literacy and as more women get jobs. But family and community elders still hold enormous sway. Corruption, a longtime scourge in India, is impossible to ignore. And many Indians say the lack of election primaries prevents voters from ushering out the old guard. Apart from caste and social inequalities, the lack of development in much of

MUMBAI: An Indian shopkeeper displays election-themed snap-on mobile phone covers yesterday. —AFP India also poses challenges. In a large swath cutting across the vast hinterland of the Indian subcontinent, rebels inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong have called for a boycott of the polls. The armed guerrillas always threaten to disrupt national elections; this year is no different. The rebels are active in 20 of India’s 28 states, from Bihar in the east through central India, to the borders of the southernmost states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The rebels demand a greater share of wealth from the area’s natural resources and more jobs for farmers and the poor. Nearly 10,000 people have been killed in rebel ambushes and gunbattles between police and rebels since 1979. Security, already tight in rebel areas, will be reinforced with even more troops to protect voters and electoral staff. Similar boycotts are also expected in the violencewracked northern state of Kashmir, where separatist groups have called on people to shun the elections. In the last parliamentary election in 2009, 40 percent of Kashmir’s eligible voters turned out despite rebels’ calls for boycotts and strikes. Separately, in India’s remote but restive northeastern states bordering China, a host of separatist groups warring against the Indian state for decades pose yet another obstacle.

Violence and ‘booth capturing’ The massive size of the electorate is its own unique challenge. The Election Commission has counted 815 eligible voters. The increase in the number of eligible voters since 2009 elections is more than 100 million, or close to the population of the Philippines. Many Indian states are so huge that elections have to be conducted in several phases to enable security forces to be moved around. In two states, elections will be held on six polling dates given their size and histories of violence. One of these is Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state. Its population of 200 million almost matches that of Brazil. Had it been a separate nation, Uttar Pradesh would count as the world’s sixth most populous country. The other sixelection-day state is neighboring Bihar, where polls have often been rocked by violence and “booth capturing,” in which armed supporters of candidates have stormed polling booths and stuffed ballot boxes. In all, around 3 million paramilitary troops and police will be deployed to maintain law and order during the polls, officials said. “The unique thing about Indian elections is that huge numbers of people are voting,” said Bose, the political commentator. “And it’s the poorest who will make it a point to go out and vote. For this one time, people feel a sense of power. They feel they are relevant.” —AP




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Obama weighs costs, benefits of spy release By Stephen Collinson


President Barack Obama faces a classic costs versus benefits conundrum as he considers whether to free Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to save failing Middle East talks. On the one hand, US-born Pollard, 59, is a trump card fast losing its value given that after 28 years behind bars, he may be freed on parole anyway next year. However, the former naval intelligence analyst who turned over suitcases stuffed with US Cold War era secrets to the Israelis in the mid-1980s, is a cause celebre. The intelligence and defense community for years dug in its heels over Pollard, on the grounds he was a US native son who took foreign cash to betray his country. And there is no guarantee that his release now would buy anything more than a stay of execution for a peace process that appears to be going nowhere. Pollard’s name suddenly surfaced again in latest last minute diplomacy to save the US-brokered peace initiative between Israel and the Palestinians. US and Israeli sources indicated that his possible release from a North Carolina jail and repatriation to Israel where he is an honorary citizen, was on the table as both sides bartered over a deal. The idea appeared to be to use the coup of Pollard’s freedom to give Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu political cover to honor a scheduled release of Palestinian prisoners. Fading Peace Hopes Israel has balked at so doing without a guarantee that Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas will keep talking. The Palestinians will not give that assurance until the prisoners are freed. Late Tuesday however peace hopes appeared to be dying faster than Secretary of State John Kerry could resuscitate them as both sides took steps that could scupper talks. Pragmatists argue Pollard is worth more to the Israelis now than to the United States, so is a worthy bargaining chip. “He is at the end of his incarceration, he is not of an intelligence value to us anymore,” said Fred Burton, vice president of intelligence at Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence firm. “Why not try to trade him to get something of value in return?” David Pollock, a former State Department expert in the Middle East, says Pollard had paid a heavy price by spending half his life in jail. “My own view is that it is a card to play and it is okay to play it for the right price,” said Pollock. “It is worth it because it is important for the US national interest to keep the peace process moving - even if it is not going anywhere,” said Pollock, now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Successive Israeli leaders have asked successive US presidents for Pollard - and Netanyahu has tried to leverage his freedom in peace talks over 16 years. Fears of Bad Deal Skeptics however worry Washington may be about to strike a bad deal. Sources said Kerry is dangling a possible release of Pollard by Passover next month as a carrot, to get Netanyahu to release 400 extra Palestinian prisoners and a commitment to extend peace talks into next year. US officials may also seek restraint on Israeli settlement activity for the duration of the talks - to entice Palestinians back to the table. It has always been tacitly acknowledged that Pollard would feature in a US package of incentives for Israel to agree to a final status deal with Palestinians. But skeptics argue the current reported outline of a deal sells this potential trump card short. “It clearly shows the administration is desperate to keep the process going at any cost,” said Khaled Elgindy, a Brookings Institution fellow who has advised the Palestinians on final status talks. “All they are getting is a continuation of the process.” Obama must also guard against further diminishing his own brand as a statesman. A decision to free Pollard followed by intransigence by Netanyahu, or a seemingly inevitable crash of peace talks, would leave him politically exposed. Several key figures in Congress are already restive. “I think this is a serious mistake,” said Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence told MSNBC. Rogers warned Pollard should pay the full price for his crime and that equating him with Palestinian prisoners - some of whom were violent - was inappropriate. One factor weighing in favor of a Pollard release is that resistance in the covert community may have dimmed with time. Ex-CIA chief George Tenet once threatened to quit if Pollard was freed - but the generation of US spies defined by the Cold War has now mostly retired. Current US agents tasked with liaising with Israeli agencies may also see value in a swap - given they could expect a covert payoff that will never be made public. “If you have the Mossad account, or the Shin Bet account (at the CIA) you are looking at this and saying ‘what else can I get if I am going to hand over Pollard,” said Burton, a former counter terrorism agent with the State Department. —AFP

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Europe left waiting for France By Paul Taylor


s President Francois Hollande goes through the French mid-term ritual of sacking his government and appointing a new one, promising a dynamic “fresh start” after a local election drubbing, Europe is left as usual waiting for France. Paris’ partners in Berlin and Brussels are again wondering whether the French will ever keep their promises to the European Union to curb the budget deficit, reform a rigid economy and step up to the mantle of shared leadership of the euro zone. Don’t hold your breath, seems to be Hollande’s answer. The Socialist president coupled the appointment of business-friendly centrist Manuel Valls as prime minister on Monday with vague, contradictory promises on taxation and public spending in the euro zone’s number two economy. He would cut payroll levies for employers, but also for employees. He would cut public spending but also reduce taxes by 2017 - the year when he may seek re-election - and he would also boost purchasing power to provide more social justice. Hollande put no numbers on those promises, but they would not seem to add up, so he dropped a strong hint that Paris would seek yet another delay in meeting its EU budget obligations. “The government will also have to convince Europe that this contribution by France to competitiveness, to growth, has to be taken into account in respecting our commitments,” he said in an artfully

ambiguous passage of his address to the nation. “Because reinforcing the French economy is the best way to change Europe’s orientation.” In other words, if France can boost sluggish growth by easing the tax burden on business and households, it may not get its budget deficit down below the EU treaty limit of 3 percent of gross domestic product in 2015 as promised, but Europe should be grateful anyway for its contribution to the economy. ‘Totally Useless’ Hollande has courted new Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi as a partner in seeking to loosen the straitjacket of EU fiscal discipline in return for economic reforms to spur growth. The trouble is that Paris with a history of non-compliance under conservative presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy was granted two more years to get below the 3 percent target only last year. At the time, EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said France was expected in return to reform its labour market, pension system, unemployment insurance and regulated professions. Now, Hollande would seem to be demanding a further extension in exchange for easing the tax burden on business. Arnaud Montebourg, a left-wing Socialist critic of globalisation who was industry minister in the outgoing cabinet and is likely to be promoted, launched a pre-emptive strike on any EU criticism of French budget plans. “France has to find the ways and means to revive its economy within the European

Union,” Montebourg told France Inter radio on Tuesday. “This isn’t France against Europe, because we are co-owners of Europe. The European Union is totally useless on the question of growth.” The response from euro zone finance ministers, meeting in Athens on Tuesday, was swift. Both Rehn and Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Paris had received more leeway and must meet its obligations. Failure to do so could lead to sanctions and eventually fines. “France is aware of its commitments, they were already given more time and more work needs to be done,” Dijsselbloem said. Official figures released on Monday showed the French deficit strayed off target again last year, reaching 4.3 percent of GDP instead of the planned 4.1 percent, while government debt reached 93.5 percent of GDP and public spending accounted for an all-time record 57.3 percent of economic output. Europe’s northern sticklers for fiscal rectitude, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland, have criticised Rehn for being a soft touch by granting an extension without up-front actions and enforceable commitments on those reforms. Reality Gap There is a reality gap between the government’s conviction that has implemented far-reaching reforms in labour contracts and pensions by negotiation with employers and unions without traditional French street protests, and the European perception that it has taken only timid half-measures insuffi-

cient to balance public finances or unleash entrepreneurship and job creation. European officials tend to roll their eyes when questioned about French reforms, or ask “What reforms?” Rehn upset Paris last year by coining the term “reform a la francaise” to describe an incomplete pension overhaul that made most employees work longer for a full pension, but added to the burden of labour costs. So far Hollande has mostly tried to narrow the fiscal gap by raising taxes rather than cutting spending. That will now change, he promised again on Monday. But while the president has “talked the talk”, EU critics say he has yet to “walk the walk”. Beyond dismay over half-hearted reforms and budget efforts, as well as persistent French traits of protectionism and state interventionism in industry, many European officials complain privately of France’s striking absence from European leadership. “What we really need is for France to become France again,” said a senior EU statesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity. After his election in 2012, Hollande was initially more willing than Sarkozy had been to stand up to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, arguing for a policy mix with more “solidarity” and less austerity imposed on bailed out euro zone countries. But France’s own economic weakness compared to Germany, the absence of bold reforms and Hollande’s reluctance to embrace any greater pooling of sovereignty over economic and fiscal policy in the single currency area have weak-

ened Paris’ voice. “The strength of each country and the personality of its leader depend very much on how it is seen to have accomplished its own homework,” the senior figure said. “If France were seen as more successful in that, it would be more forceful.” Officials who have attended meetings on European policy in Hollande’s office say the president is wary of reviving splits in his Socialist party and the wider left over EU integration and national sovereignty. “When the issue of possible treaty change and sharing more sovereignty comes up, the president says he doesn’t have an electoral mandate for that, and he doesn’t want to split the left over Europe again,” one participant said. “He’s determined to avoid another referendum.” The party was deeply divided by a 2005 plebiscite on a proposed European constitution. While Hollande was a leader of the “Yes” campaign, Valls, Montebourg and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius were prominent in the “No” camp, which won. The EU has gained more supervisory powers over national budgets since then due to the euro zone debt crisis. With far right antiEuropean National Front leader Marine Le Pen gaining ground ahead of European Parliament elections next month, few mainstream politicians on either side of the spectrum are willing to argue for ceding more sovereignty to Brussels. One EU official lamented that waiting for Paris to live up to its European responsibilities was a bit like Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot. “Godot never comes.” —Reuters

West stumbles as force trumps economics

By David Rohde


quarter-century after the fall of the Soviet Union, authoritarian rulers such as Vladimir Putin and Bashar Al-Assad are showing they can and will defy international norms, suppress dissent and use military force. American policymakers are struggling with how to respond. “It’s a big philosophical question about how to deal with a strong state with anti-Western and autocratic proclivities,” said Michael McFaul, the most recent American ambassador to Moscow. “I would say on that score we are kind of confused as a country.” Citing the sweeping unpopularity of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, American officials have embraced economic sanctions as their primary means of pressuring foreign governments. In an interconnected, 21st-century global economy, US President Barack Obama argues, economic sanctions are more powerful than ever. If Russia continues on its current course, Obama warned last week, “the isolation will deepen, sanctions will increase and there will be more consequences for the Russian economy.” He may be proven right. Over the course of 2014, the threat of economic sanctions may result in Putin backing down in Crimea and Ukraine. And historic sanctions against Iran - which slashed oil sales and cut the country off from the world banking system could produce an accord that halts Iran’s nuclear program. If not, a 16th-century Machiavellian truism will re-assert its dominance: The party most willing to decisively use force will prevail over a noncommittal opponent.

“What we’ve seen with Assad and Putin is a willingness to smile at international norms and pursue power politics regardless of the cost,” said Andrew Weiss, a Russia expert at the Carnegie Endowment and former official in the George HW Bush and Clinton administrations. “And if the West is not united and America’s interests are not immediately threatened, the response immediately becomes attenuated.” How to respond has already become an issue in the 2016 presidential race. In the weeks since Putin sent Russian troops into Crimea, Republican senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan all criticized Obama’s response. But none of them called for an American intervention in Ukraine.

Economic Connections Fiona Hill, a Russia expert at the Brookings Institution and a former National Intelligence Council official, said those who believed the collapse of the Soviet Union signified the triumph of Western democratic capitalism were deluding themselves. A large number of Russians remained deeply skeptical of Western norms. “It was only a very small elite around Yeltsin who were buying this,” she said. “Too many people (Westerners) saw what they wanted to see, rather than what was happening.” Then the global financial crisis strengthened a perception in parts of the world that Western democracy was failing - both politically and economi-

cally, Hill added. Shadi Hamid, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center, said Obama’s decision to not intervene in Syria after last September’s chemical weapons attack created a perception of American weakness. Strongmen, such as Egypt’s military ruler, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, had been emboldened. “They think they can get away with more than ever,” Hamid said. “And this is tied to a growing sense of weakness under the Obama administration, whether it’s fair or unfair.” Obama administration officials deny that. They argue that another costly intervention in the Middle East would further weaken the American economy. And they contend that economic and technological strength - not brute force alone - will be the dominant source of power for decades to come. Steven Pifer, a former American ambassador to Ukraine and now a fellow at the Brookings Institution, argued that economic interconnectedness will have an impact on Putin. Pifer said the Russian leader knows he needs trade with the outside world. “While the West may rule out the military option,” Pifer wrote in an email, “it has other tools, including political isolation and financial sanctions that could inflict serious pain on the Russian economy.” Weiss, the Carnegie expert, argued that Russia and Syria represent vastly different situations. Russia is far more economically connected to the world than Syria, he said. And Putin is

not accused of killing thousands of his people and displacing millions in a bid to hold onto power, like Assad. But Weiss said he was unsure that economic sanctions alone would stop the Russian leader. “He’s thinking about things in a very shrewd, pure-power way. “What leverage do we have against Putin?” he asked. “That’s why people are somewhat stumped about what to do.” In the case of Iran, years of false claims from officials regarding its nuclear program finally prompted Europe to agree sweeping economic sanctions that rebounded on Europe more than on the United States. Barring a Russian military incursion deeper into Ukraine, “the Europeans are not willing to go farther,” he said. “They’re happy to compartmentalize and go back to business as usual.” ‘They Want it More’ Hill compared the current world today with the 19th century, when trade was vast but nations still clashed. “The world was incredibly connected,” she said. “And it didn’t produce any greater political outcomes. You remember a lot of gunboat diplomacy.” She said that economic interdependence flows both ways. “There is mutual dependency here,” she added. “There is mutual leverage. We can use it and they can use it.” Experts said that for Putin, Crimea’s port at Sevastopol was vital. In Egypt, Sisi believes he is fighting an existential threat with the Muslim Brotherhood. In Washington, American officials disagree over whether core American interests are at stake, and the autocrats know it. “There is a calculation there,” Hamid said. “They know that they want it more than we do.” —Reuters



A child looks at a polar bear during the opening day of the new polar area at the zoo of Mulhouse yesterday. — AFP

Qaradawi to resume Friday sermons Qatar emir visits Sudan at time of Gulf tensions DOHA/ KHARTOUM: An influential Qatar-based Islamist whose fiery sermons strained ties between Doha and its neighbours said yesterday he would resume preaching after a gap of several weeks, dismissing a suggestion he had been silent due to the diplomatic tensions. “Stopping the sermons is for personal reasons. It has nothing to do with the current situation,” Sheikh Youssef Al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born cleric critical of the authorities in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), told Reuters. “I will start the sermons again not this Friday but the coming one, God willing,” he said in brief remarks. Asked if he had plans to leave Qatar to ease pressure on the government, Qaradawi, a naturalised Qatari citizen, said he would do no such thing. “What you need to understand is that I’m a part of Qatar and they are a part of me. I’ve been here for more than 35 years, I’m a citizen,” he said. The UAE summoned the Qatari ambassador in February over what it said were insults by Qaradawi in a Qatar state television broadcast in which he condemned the UAE as anti-Islamic. The move apparently failed to deter Qaradawi, who said in a sermon shortly afterwards, apparently addressing the UAE: “Were you angry at me because of two lines I said about you? What if I gave an entire sermon just on your scandals and injustices?”

On March 5, in an unprecedented move, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar, accusing Doha of failing to abide by an accord not to interfere in each others’ internal affairs. Qatar denies the charge. The three states were especially angry at Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement that reveres Qaradawi and whose ideology challenges the principle of conservative dynastic rule long dominant in the Gulf. In his remarks to Reuters, Qaradawi downplayed the rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, saying the issue would be resolved soon. He did not elaborate. But he continued to criticise financial support provided by the UAE and Saudi Arabia to Egypt, where the army ousted elected Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Mursi last year. The two countries are among several Gulf Arab states that have provided billions of dollars in aid to Cairo, including to build clinics, schools and housing units, since the overthrow. “None of the money the UAE and Saudi Arabia gave went to improve the lives of the Egyptian people,” Qaradawi said. Separately, Qatar’s emir held talks in Sudan yesterday at a time of strained ties with his country’s Gulf neighbours over its perceived support for the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood. Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani was greeted at Khartoum air-

port by Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir, for what an analyst called a meeting of two regionally-isolated regimes. The leaders held talks at a conference centre along the Blue Nile before Sheikh Tamim left Khartoum after a visit of around three hours. The Sudanese regime, which took power 25 years ago in an Islamist-backed coup, is essentially based on support from the Brotherhood, said Safwat Fanous, a political scientist at the University of Khartoum. He told AFP that the emir’s visit appears aimed to “break the isolation” of Qatar from its Gulf neighbours and Egypt. Sheikh Tamim, in a written statement, said his trip would confirm the “continuous joint consultations” between the two countries on regional developments. The visit also aimed to support “brotherly relations” between people of both nations, he said. Qatar has been a key backer of Sudan’s government, which is “in desperate need of foreign direct investment”, said Khalid Tigani, chief editor of the Elaff economic weekly. After the emir’s departure, Sudan’s Finance Minister Badraldin Mahmoud Abbas told reporters that Qatar will provide Sudan with $1 billion to help boost its reserves of hard currency. Terms of the arrangement were not disclosed. Qatar also agreed to finance energy and agricultural projects, Abbas said, describing the investments as “huge”. — Agencies

Why is Kuwait falling behind? Continued from Page 1 Although thousands took to Kuwait’s streets in 2011 and 2012, seeking moderate political reforms, the demonstrations eventually fizzled, at least partly due to Kuwaitis’ alarm over the chaos and rise of Islamists in the Arab Spring countries. Kuwait’s system of government handouts and well-paid, comfortable state jobs also blunted calls for change, whether in politics or in the state-reliant economy, observers say. “We are very lucky that we are financially very comfortable,” said Maha Al-Baghli, president of the association of business and professional women in Kuwait and an advocate for female entrepreneurs. “On the other hand, it is not encouraging entrepreneurs and hard work,” Baghli told Reuters. Kuwait is one of the world’s richest countries per capita, and more than half of its 1.2 million citizens are under 25. Kuwait’s leaders point to political deadlock in parliament that makes it difficult to get things done. But many observers say the government’s frequent personnel changes, layers of bureaucracy and general ennui are also to blame. “We don’t take the government seriously. They talk, but they do not do,” said one Kuwaiti newspaper editor, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the topic. The trauma of Saddam Hussein’s invasion in 1990 deepened an innate cautiousness in Kuwaiti society, some believe. When asked in 2010 why Kuwait appeared to have lost position to other Gulf states, HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah AlAhmad Al-Sabah told Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “Every country follows its own path, according to the demands of its society.” Fraught Politics Kuwait’s parliament is the oldest and most influential in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council. The Assembly can block legislation and interrogate ministers, who are selected by a prime minister chosen by the Amir. Relations between the elected Assembly and government have often been fraught, however, with six parliamentary elections since 2006 and more than ten different governments, resulting more in political stasis than dynamism. In addition, members of the ruling family tend to hold the top government posts, while Sheikh Sabah has the final say on state affairs. The political standoffs are seen to be a main factor holding up economic reforms and a KD 30-billion ($106.5-billion) development plan for major infrastructure projects, announced in 2010, aimed at turning Kuwait into a regional centre. The plan includes projects such as a new airport, refinery and housing. One major residential city project, planned for years in the southern desert near the Saudi border, appeared on a recent visit to have made little progress. Shafeeq Ghabra, professor of political science at Kuwait University, said there is a growing sense that the current sys-

tem is not working. “There needs to be a political system which is more representative, more equal and more grassroots, with new blood at the highest level - that is able to deal with the issues that have been mounting over the past two decades,” Ghabra said. “You cannot freeze yourself in a moment in history.” Kuwaitis compare their financial centre to Dubai, ruled by United Arab Emirates Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. “It’s leadership,” said the editor, when asked about what makes the UAE, also home to Abu Dhabi, work. Kuwait’s government has not implemented a strategic vision, he said. “(Sheikh Mohammed) has a vision, he has a plan. From arriving at the airport until you leave. You respect this.” The UAE also brooks no dissent, however. The contrast highlights the fact that Kuwait’s example of limited greater freedoms has not impressed its neighbours, commentators say. “The failure of Kuwait to keep pace with its neighbours does have an unfortunate side-effect of dampening support for even partial political participation,” said Kristian Ulrichsen, Gulf expert at the US-based Baker Institute. “Rulers elsewhere look at the political deadlock and take the lesson that this is what happens when too many unpredictable elements are brought into the decision-making process.” Cost of Doing Business One thing that infuriates young Kuwaitis on a day-to-day level is how much easier it can be to do business in other Gulf countries - even next door in deeply conservative Saudi Arabia. When Shawaf Al-Shawaf wanted to register his kitchen tools business in Kuwait, the bureaucratic process took six months. In Saudi Arabia, it took him less than a day. “If I need to go to a government department, I cancel my whole day because I know I will spend the whole time there,” said Shawaf, 24, who set up his company Dolsten in late 2012. A 2013 World Bank ranking on the ease of doing business puts Kuwait at 104 out of 189 economies, by far the lowest in the GCC. The next lowest, Qatar, is at 48 while Saudi Arabia is at 26 and the UAE leads at 23. The government says it wants to make bureaucratic processes easier for small and mediumsized companies and support youth initiatives, and has set up a 2 billion dinar fund to help such projects. But people in Kuwait say the country will only carry out serious economic and political reforms if faced with a crisis, such as a steep fall in oil prices. Oil accounts for nearly all of the state revenues. In addition, high government wages and generous benefits will not be sustainable forever. The International Monetary Fund says spending could exceed income as early as 2017 if it continues to grow at the current rate. “I don’t think that change is likely unless it is forced on them,” a Western diplomat said, declining to be named because of the political sensitivity of the subject. — Reuters

KHARTOUM: President of Sudan Omar Al-Bashir (right) poses for a picture with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani after granting him a Medal of Honor yesterday. —AFP

Sahara desert dust brings smog to UK Continued from Page 1 Paul Cosford of Public Health England told the BBC that people with heart or respiratory problems should “reduce the amount of strenuous exercise outdoors over the next few days.” An unusual combination of factors had conspired “to create a ‘perfect storm’ for air pollution,” according to Helen Dacre, a meteorologist at the University of Reading. “Toxic gases, such as nitrogen dioxide and ozone, as well as fine dust particles in the air blown in from the Sahara and from burning fossil fuels, all contribute to cause problems for people with heart, lung and breathing problems, such as

asthma,” she said. Despite efforts to make industry and automobiles cleaner, air pollution remains a major problem in Britain and across Europe. Last month, Paris took the drastic step of banning half the city’s cars from the roads for a day after a week in which pollution levels exceeded those in notoriously smoggy cities including Beijing and Delhi. Air pollution is the world’s single biggest environmental health risk, responsible for about one in eight deaths, the World Health Organization said last week. Air pollution kills about 7 million people worldwide every year, with more than half of the fatalities due to fumes from indoor stoves and the rest from outdoor pollutants, the WHO said. — AP

Ghanem denies threats to dissolve Assembly Continued from Page 1 He called for halting squandering of public funds in various government sectors, adding that such issues are not resolved through scattered proposals here and there, but through lifting subsidies from several products like diesel and others and also through unification of pay scales. Ghanem said that experiments of the government have not been encouraging so far and stressed that the government must finalize a package of decisions regarding wages and subsidies and warned that if the government fails to present its decisions, the Assembly will make its own. During yesterday’s session, MPs approved amendments to the sports law to allow sports clubs to establish investment projects on their utilities to increase their revenues. MPs also approved a proposal by head of the budgets committee MP Adnan Abdulsamad to ask the Audit Bureau to provide the committee with a list of final verdicts issued in the past five years against government entities under the supervision of the bureau. The request seeks details of cases won or lost and the financial liabilities for lost cases. The request also wants a list of cases being looked in courts. The Assembly also agreed to extend for three months the work of the committee probing the Al-Zour North power plant contract after several MPs claimed the awarding process of the contract was illegal. MPs approved a proposal to ask the legal and legislative committee to complete studying a draft law on collection of illegal weapons within two weeks in order to allow the interior and defense committee to study the bill and complete it before May 13 session. The Assembly approved another proposal calling on the Assembly’s alien practices committee to study vio-

lence by domestic helpers and propose solutions within one month. MPs also approved several bilateral agreements to avoid double taxation but delayed for one month the approval of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to open a regional office in Kuwait. MPs also rejected requests by the public prosecution to list the immunity of MPs Abdulhameed Dashti, Nabil Al-Fadhl and Mohammad Tana. Separately, Human Rights Watch called on Kuwait yesterday to investigate allegations of police torture of three stateless men detained for taking part in protests. Local prosecutors rejected demands by brothers Abdulhakim and Abdulnasser Al-Fadhli and Abdullah Al-Enezi to investigate, New York-based HRW said. “Instead of ordering an investigation when these defendants said they had been tortured, the prosecutor ordered them back to detention,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at HRW. “When a prosecutor ignores torture allegations, it sends the message to police that abuse will go unpunished,” he said. The three men were arrested late February for taking part in a protest by stateless people, known in Kuwait as bedoons, to demand Kuwaiti citizenship and other basic rights. Five others were detained for two weeks and released on bail. The Fadhli brothers, who have been arrested and tried at least twice in the past two years, face charges of instigating illegal protests and assaulting police, while Enezi is accused of insulting HH the Amir. Abdulhakim told HRW from jail that they were repeatedly beaten by police and threatened and authorities had turned down their requests for a medical examination. Most bedoons are born and raised in Kuwait and claim the right to Kuwaiti citizenship. But the government says only 34,000 of an estimated 110,000 stateless qualify for consideration and that the rest hold other nationalities.


S P ORTS McKinnon tackler banned MELBOURNE: An Australian rugby league player has been banned for seven weeks after being found guilty of committing a ‘dangerous throw’ tackle that left an opponent with a broken neck and the prospect of never being able to walk again. Melbourne Storm prop Jordan McLean, a 22-year-old in his second season in the top-flight National Rugby League, was one of three players that brought Newcastle Knights forward Alex McKinnon down in a tackle in Melbourne last week, but the only one to face a judicial hearing. McKinnon, who underwent surgery last week, has been in a serious but stable condition in a Melbourne hospital and communicated with his family on Sunday for the first time since being revived from an induced coma. McLean pleaded not guilty to the throwing charge at the hearing in Sydney on Wednesday, his lawyer arguing that McKinnon had been the victim of a “terrible and tragic accident”. The lawyer also said that McKinnon, 22, had “unfortunately and unwittingly” contributed to his injury by tucking his head into his chest before he hit the ground. —Reuters

Pietersen keen to mentor future stars LONDON: Kevin Pietersen said yesterday he was looking forward to sharing the benefits of his experience with international stars of the future now his own England career had been terminated. “It is good to come to the end of an international career and help others who are the start of an international career,” Pietersen told “I won’t be forceful in my knowledge. But I’ve got experience in training, the mental preparation that goes in to making you successfulwhich I’ve nailed well. “So it’s a case of handing over that knowledge, if someone wants it.” The 33-year-old batsman was sensationally axed by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) in February following the team’s 5-0 Ashes thrashing in Australia. That was despite South Africa-born Pietersen being England’s leading run-scorer across all formats and their top contributor with the bat during the Ashes debacle too. Although he has re-signed with Surrey to play in all formats for the Oval-based county, Pietersen’s immediate future is as a Twenty20 ‘gun for hire’, initially with the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League. Pietersen also plans to take part in both English domestic T20 with Surrey and the Caribbean Premier League equivalent for an as yet to be decided franchise, even though the two tournaments overlap. —AFP

Barkley in fitness race LONDON: Everton will make a late decision regarding the fitness of Ross Barkley for Sunday’s clash against Arsenal after the midfielder was forced off during the weekend’s victory over Fulham with a calf injury. The 20-year-old was withdrawn at halftime of the Premier League match, and manager Roberto Martinez said they would continue to monitor the injury ahead of the visit of Arsenal. The two clubs are battling for fourth place and a spot in next season’s Champions League, with Arsenal one place and four points ahead of the Merseysiders, who have one game in hand. “He is such a powerful boy that he coped with that knock well but obviously it was a problem straight after when the body gets cold,” Martinez told the club website ( yesterday. “He’s such a quick healer and a young man so we hope he is going to recover in time for the game on Sunday. “Over the next three or four days we will have a clearer idea of where he is and we are going to treat every day as it comes.” Barkley, capped three times by England, has been a driving force for the team this season, but Martinez will be wary of rushing him back if he is not fit, having said in February that he brought him back too early after suffering a broken toe. The club was also taking a cautious approach with England defender Phil Jagielka, who has missed the last six matches with a hamstring problem. “It’s important that with the amount of games we will be experiencing that we look after Phil and make sure he is allowed to build a good degree of match fitness,” Martinez added. —Reuters

Dodgers see off Padres SAN DIEGO: Yasiel Puig hit a 410-foot drive for a two-run homer and Zack Greinke won his season debut, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 3-2 victory against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday. Carl Crawford started the game with a base hit and Puig then drove a 2-1 pitch from Ian Kennedy into the balcony on the third deck of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building in the left-field corner. It was his first homer. It was the second time Kennedy faced the Dodgers since June 11, when, while with Arizona, he hit Puig and Greinke with pitches, inciting a brawl at Dodger Stadium. Kennedy was suspended 10 games. He was traded to the Padres on July 31. San Diego loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth against Kenley Jansen, on singles by Yonder Alonso and Will Venable, and a walk to Yasmani Grandal. The closer then struck out pinch-hitter Nick Hundley to earn his second save in two chances. Greinke (1-0) went five innings, allowing two runs and two hits while striking out five and walking two. Seth Smith homered for San Diego. MARLINS 4, ROCKIES 3 Nathan Eovaldi pitched six innings as Miami made the most of five hits to beat Colorado for the second night in a row. The Marlins’ 2-0 start hints at big improvement from last year, when they began 14-41 en route to a 100-loss season. The Rockies are 0-2 after finishing last in the NL West in 2013. Eovaldi (1-0) allowed two runs and struck out six after Jose Fernandez limited Colorado to one run in the season opener. Eovaldi gave up six hits, walked one and reached 99 mph on the radar gun. AJ Ramos struck out Nolan Arenado with runners at the corners to end the eighth, protecting a one-run lead. Steve

Cishek converted his 30th consecutive save opportunity and first of the year by pitching a perfect ninth. Brett Anderson (0-1) pitched six innings and allowed four runs, three earned, in his first start for the Rockies. BRAVES 5, BREWERS 2 Freddie Freeman hit a pair of solo home runs and Jason Heyward added a two-run shot to back a solid outing by Alex Wood. Heyward’s first homer of the season off Kyle Lohse (0-1) put the Braves on top 2-1 in the fifth and snapped a string of 22 scoreless innings against the Brewers. Freeman opened the sixth with his first homer and added a two-out home run in the eighth to make it 4-1. Wood (1-0) settled down after allowing a home run to Carlos Gomez on his first pitch. The left-hander allowed one run on five hits in seven innings. Craig Kimbrel struck out the side in the ninth for the save. Lohse allowed three runs on five hits in seven innings, striking out eight and walking two. DIAMONDBACKS 5, GIANTS 4 AJ Pollock broke out of an 0-for-13 start to the season with three hits, scoring twice and driving in a run for Arizona. Wade Miley (1-1) gave up four runs in the first inning, and then blanked the Giants for the next six, retiring 15 in a row in one stretch. Gerardo Parra had two hits and the sacrifice fly that scored to the go-ahead run in the sixth inning. Brandon Belt hit a threerun home run in the first, his second homer in as many games. Addison Reed, who gave up the gamewinning home run to Buster Posey Monday night, pitched a scoreless ninth for his first save with the Diamondbacks. Juan Guiterrez (0-1) went two innings to take the loss in relief of Matt Cain, who allowed two earned runs in five innings.—AP

HOUSTON: Astros’ Jose Altuve (27) beats the throw to New York Yankees catcher Brian McCann to score a run in the first inning in a baseball game. —AP

Astros pound Yankees HOUSTON: Jesus Guzman and LJ Hoes homered off CC Sabathia to help the Houston Astros roll to a 6-2 win Tuesday in the first game of Derek Jeter’s farewell tour with the New York Yankees. Jeter’s final big league season began by being plunked on the left arm by Scott Feldman. The 13-time All-Star went 1 for 3 with a single. Jeter, who has won five World Series with New York, announced in February that his 20th season would be his last. The Astros added Dexter Fowler and Scott Feldman to improve a team coming off three straight 100loss seasons. On the first day, it worked. Fowler had two doubles as Houston jumped on Sabathia (0-1) for six runs in the first two innings. Feldman allowed two hits in 6 2-3 innings in his Houston debut after signing a three-year, $30 million contract. BLUE JAYS 4, RAYS 2 Drew Hutchison won his first start in almost two years and Adam Lind homered for the visiting Blue Jays. Hutchison (1-0) allowed three hits and walked three over 5 1-3 shutout

MIAMI: Marlins’ Adeiny Hechavarria (3) hits a sacrifice fly to score Jarrod Saltalamacchia as Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario (left) looks on in the third inning of a baseball game. —AP

MLB results/standings LA Dodgers 3, San Diego 2; Houston 6, NY Yankees 2; Miami 4, Colorado 3; Toronto 4, Tampa Bay 2; Texas 3, Philadelphia 2; Atlanta 5, Milwaukee 2; Arizona 5, San Francisco 4; Seattle 8, LA Angels 3. American League Eastern Division W L PCT Baltimore 1 0 1.000 Tampa Bay 1 1 .500 Toronto 1 1 .500 Boston 0 1 0 NY Yankees 0 1 0 Central Division White Sox 1 0 1.000 Cleveland 1 0 1.000 Detroit 1 0 1.000 Kansas City 0 1 0 Minnesota 0 1 0 Western Division Seattle 2 0 1.000 Houston 1 0 1.000 Texas 1 1 .500 Oakland 0 1 0 LA Angels 0 2 0

GB 0.5 0.5 1 1

1 1

0.5 1 1.5 2

National League Eastern Division Miami 2 0 1.000 Washington 1 0 1.000 Atlanta 1 1 .500 Philadelphia 1 1 .500 NY Mets 0 1 0

0.5 1 1 1.5

Central Division Pittsburgh 1 0 1.000 St. Louis 1 0 1.000 Milwaukee 1 1 .500 Chicago Cubs 0 1 0 Cincinnati 0 1 0

0.5 1 1

Western Division LA Dodgers 3 1 .750 San Diego 1 1 .500 San Francisco 1 1 .500 Arizona 1 3 .250 Colorado 0 2 0

1 1 2 2

innings in his first big league game since June 15, 2012. The right-hander had elbow ligament replacement surgery in August 2012. Lind hit a three-run homer in the first off Alex Cobb (0-1). He sent a 3-1 pitch over the center-field fence. Cobb gave up four runs, five hits and four walks in five innings. Jonathan Diaz, filling in for injured Toronto shortstop Jose Reyes, made it 4-0 with his first major league hit, an RBI single in the fourth. INTERLEAGUE RANGERS 3, PHILLIES 2 Adrian Beltre singled home Shin-Soo Choo with the winning run in the ninth inning as the Rangers saved a run on a successful replay challenge. Choo, who also scored the tying run in the seventh, reached base for the fourth time on a walk to start the ninth against Mario Hollands (0-1), who was making his major league debut. After Elvis Andrus’ sacrifice and a walk to Prince Fielder, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg went to right-hander BJ Rosenberg. Beltre then singled, scoring Choo without a

throw. New Texas closer Joakim Soria (1-0) got the win with a perfect ninth inning in his season debut. The first replay review of the series was a successful challenge by Rangers manager Ron Washington and helped keep a run off the board in Philadelphia’s two-run sixth inning. MARINERS 8, ANGELS 3 Brad Miller hit two homers and Erasmo Ramirez pitched seven innings of six-hit ball as Seattle beat Los Angeles again. Justin Smoak hit a three-run double, while Abraham Almonte and Dustin Ackley also had RBI doubles as the Mariners followed up their 10-3 win on opening day with another surprising offensive barrage. Seattle scored 16 runs in its first 15 innings of the year while beating Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, their AL West rivals’ two best starters. Wilson (0-1) labored into the sixth inning for the Angels, who are off to their first 0-2 start since 2001. Ramirez (1-0) backed up his solid spring training, striking out six without walking a batter. —AP

Horse safety back in focus for 3-day Aintree Festival AINTREE: The death of four horses at the recent Cheltenham Festival has brought equine safety back into the British public’s consciousness just in time for the most perilous jumps meeting of them all. The three-day Aintree Festival, headlined by the 41/2-mile (7,200-meter) slog that is the Grand National Steeplechase, begins today with as much focus on whether horses get round the grueling course in northern England in one piece as on who wins the races. Twenty-one horses have died over the feared Grand National fences since 2001. The number of fatalities is on the slide, according to the British Horseracing Authority, which has modified the course in recent years in the face of stinging criticism. But for some, the changes can’t go far enough. “We look forward to the day when it will be consigned to the history books,” Animal Aid campaigner Fiona Pereira said of the Grand National. Animal Aid claims the race has been “five times more dangerous for horses than other jumps races” based on figures from 1987 and 2013. The BHA points to figures that show the National has been

three times more dangerous than other jumps races over the last 10 years. Authorities and lovers of horse racing can find themselves in a difficult place during the Aintree meeting, which will be attended by an expected 150,000 people. For the Grand National on Saturday, Britain can come to a standstill. An estimated 600 million people typically watch the race on TV around the world and organizers say more people bet on the National than any other racing event by some distance. It means, however, there is no place to hide when tragedy strikes - as so often has happened over the past decade. Two horses died in the 2011 and ‘12 races. The 2013 National passed controversy-free - all 40 runners returned unscathed - but two horses died across the festival. And with four horses dying at Cheltenham last month, it remains a hot topic. The BHA says it has invested more than 1.5 million pounds ($2.5 million) in safety and welfare measures since 2009 and has “left no stone unturned in seeking to reduce risk to both horse

and rider whilst maintaining the Grand National’s unique character.” “The evidence shows that races over the Grand National course are becoming safer,” the BHA said in an email to The Associated Press, “reflecting the measures that have been implemented to raise welfare standards. In races run over the Grand National course, including the Grand National itself, the average injury and fatality rate over the last 10 years has decreased compared to that over the last 20 years.” Modifications for the 2013 meeting included restyling fences - removing wooden stakes and replacing them with a more forgiving plastic material - moving the start forward and away from the grandstands to create a calmer environment, and levelling the landing side of some fences, including the fearsome Becher’s Brook. There have been no more changes in the past 12 months, despite many calling for the 40-horse field to be decreased to reduce the carnage seen at some fences as horses get in each others’ way.

“Reviews have provided no evidence to suggest that a reduced field size would reduce the risk of injury to horse or rider,” the BHA says. The Grand National has prize money of 1 million pounds ($1.66 million) for the first time this year owing to a new sponsor. Bookmakers will be hoping for a repeat of last year, when a 661 shot - Auroras Encore - romped to a nine-length win in one of the race’s biggest shocks. Teaforthree is the 8-1 ante-post favorite and is bidding to become its first Welsh-trained winner since 1905. The 13-year-old Tidal Bay is the top weight in the handicap race - no horse older than 12 has won since 1923 - and Monbeg Dude has received plenty of attention as it is part-owned by former England rugby player Mike Tindall and has been given jumping lessons by his wife, Zara Phillips, the grand-daughter of Queen Elizabeth II. Arguably the biggest race away from the Grand National is the Betfred Bowl today, which should be a contest between Dynaste, Silviniaco Conti and First Lieutenant. —AP



Nets clinch playoff berth

PHILADELPHIA: Steve Mason, No. 35 of the Philadelphia Flyers makes a save in this file photo. —AFP

Blues down Flyers ST. LOUIS: Ryan Miller stopped 31 shots and TJ Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk scored in a shootout in the St. Louis Blues’ 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. Western Conference leader St. Louis has 109 points, one fewer than East leader Boston for the top spot in the NHL. Miller, who earned his 29th career shutout, made a skate save against Vincent Lecavalier and a glove save on Claude Giroux in the shootout. One of Miller’s best saves came with 1:30 to go in overtime when he stretched out and denied Jakub Voracek’s bid to slide the puck under his pads. SHARKS 5, OILERS 4 Patrick Marleau scored his 32nd goal of the season with 7:29 left in the third period to lift San Jose over Edmonton. The Sharks had blown a 3-1 lead and were 0 for 5 on power plays before Marleau rocketed a shot past Ben Scrivens after the goalie had deflected a onetimer by San Jose’s Brent Burns. Dan Boyle, Andrew Desjardins and Tommy Wingels also scored for the Sharks, who moved within one point of first-place Anaheim in the Pacific Division. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had two goals and two assists for Edmonton, which lost for the fourth time in five meetings between the teams this season. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle also scored for the Oilers. SABRES 3, AVALANCHE 2 Tyler Ennis scored twice in the third period and again in the shootout as Buffalo edged Colarado. Tyler Ennis scored twice in the third period and again in the shootout to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Ville Leino had the winner in the ninth round of the shootout and Nathan Lieuwen made 33 saves for his first NHL win. The Devils are 0-11 this season in shootouts. They are three points out of the Eastern Conference’s final wild card spot. Dainius Zubrus gave New Jersey a 1-0 lead in the second period and Tuomo Ruutu tipped Andy Greene’s shot past Lieuwen at the 6:58 mark of the third to tie it 2-2. Cory Schneider made 25 saves for New Jersey. AVALANCHE 3, BLUE JACKETS 2 Gabriel Landeskog scored twice, including a power-play goal at 4:27 of overtime to help the Avalanche extend their winning streak to four. Rookie scoring leader Nathan MacKinnon, centering the top line with Matt Duchene expected to miss a month with a knee injury, assisted on both of Landeskog’s scores. Semyon Varlamov stopped 24 shots - including a prime chance by Blake Comeau late in regulation to pick up his league-leading 38th win. With 102 points, Colorado moved three ahead of Chicago for second place in the Central Division. Cam Atkinson and Comeau scored in the second period for Columbus, which is hanging on to the second wild-card spot and eighth playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. LIGHTNING 3, CANADIENS 1 Tyler Johnson scored the go-ahead goal on a short-handed breakaway late in the third period as the Lightning clinched a playoff berth. The win, and losses by New Jersey and Washington, gave Tampa Bay its first postseason berth since 2011 and only its second in seven years. The Canadiens also qualified for the postseason by virtue of the losses by New Jersey and Washington. Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher was on one knee in the low slot when he redirected a rebound past goalie Ben Bishop to open the scoring 10:18 into the first period. Ryan Callahan made it 1-1 on a power play 9:19 into the second, skating through the left circle toward Price and lifting a shot high into the net past Carey Price. Alex Killorn added an empty-netter with 45 seconds left in the third period. JETS 2, COYOTES 1 Andrew Ladd scored in regulation and in the second round of the shootout, and Ondrej Pavelec stopped Antoine Vermette’s attempt to send Winnipeg past Phoenix. The Coyotes dropped into a tie for the final

playoff spot in the Western Conference with the Dallas Stars, who blanked the Capitals 5-0. Dallas has a game in hand with seven left to play. Ladd opened the scoring, firing the puck past Coyotes goalie Thomas Greiss from inside the left faceoff circle 10:01 into the first period. Zbynek Michalek tied it 19 seconds in the middle frame. Jets wing Blake Wheeler was whistled for a high-sticking penalty with 3:45 into overtime, but the Coyotes couldn’t take advantage. Pavelec finished with 28 saves and Greiss stopped 21 shots. HURRICANES 4, PENGUINS 1 Rookie Elias Lindholm scored twice for the first multi-goal game of his career as Carolina denied listless Pittsburgh a chance to wrap up the Metropolitan Division title. Eric Staal and Justin Faulk also scored for Carolina while Jeff Skinner added two assists. Anton Khudobin stopped 30 shots as the Hurricanes avoided being swept in the season series by Pittsburgh for the first time in 18 years. Chris Kunitz scored his 35th goal to give Pittsburgh an early lead, but the Penguins crumbled over the final two periods. Sidney Crosby picked up an assist to push his NHL-leading point total to 100, but Carolina held the otherwise potent Pittsburgh offense in check. MarcAndre Fleury made 24 saves, but received little help playing behind a sloppy defense. STARS 5, CAPITALS 0 Tyler Seguin scored his 33rd goal, Dustin Jeffrey got his first two of the season as Dallas routed Washington in a game between ninthplace teams trying to leapfrog into a playoff spot. Ray Whitney and Ryan Garbutt also scored, Alex Chiasson had three assists, and Kari Lehtonen made 35 saves for his fourth shutout of the season for the Stars. Dallas began the day one point behind the Phoenix Coyotes for the final postseason berth in the Western Conference. The Coyotes hosted Winnipeg later Tuesday. The Stars have won five of six in their push to make the playoffs for first time since 2008 - the same year the Capitals began streak of postseason appearances that is in danger of coming to an end.

NEW YORK: The Brooklyn Nets clinched a playoff berth by beating the Houston Rockets for the first time in eight years, getting 32 points from Joe Johnson in a 105-96 victory on Tuesday. Shaun Livingston added 17 points for the Nets, who extended their home winning streak to 14 games, longest in their NBA history and tops in the league this season. They also pulled within 11/2 games of Toronto and Chicago for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Nets ended a 14-game skid against Houston with their first victory in the series since March 13, 2006. The Nets hadn’t defeated the Rockets at home since March 31, 2003, when they were still playing in East Rutherford, New Jersey. James Harden scored 26 points for Houston, which lost its second straight following a five-game winning streak. Still without Dwight Howard because of a sore left ankle, the Rockets shot just 38 percent from the field. WARRIORS 122, MAVERICKS 120 Stephen Curry made a tiebreaking jumper in the final second of overtime, lifting the Golden State to the win. Curry finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Klay Thompson led Golden State with 27 points, and Jermaine O’Neal added 20. Dallas had a three -point lead until Thompson made a 3-pointer with 1:01 remaining in regulation. O’Neal blocked a Dallas shot with the game tied at 120, setting the stage for Curry’s winning move. He dribbled the ball to the left side of the court and hit from 20 feet. The Mavericks called timeout, but the inbounds pass failed to connect as time ran out. Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 33 points and 11 rebounds. He had 16 in the Mavericks’ 41-point second quarter. Dallas dropped from seventh in the Western Conference to ninth, a half-game behind Memphis and Phoenix in the final two playoff positions. TRAIL BLAZERS 124, LAKERS 112 Damian Lillard scored 34 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 31 points and 15 rebounds as Portland overpowered Los Angeles. The Blazers’ fourth straight victory, coupled with Houston’s loss at Brooklyn, moved Portland within 11/2 games of the Rockets for fourth place in the Western Conference and home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. The Rockets have three games in hand. Nick Young, the fifth and last player off the Los Angeles bench, made his first eight shots and finished 15 for 26 with a season-high 40 points. But it wasn’t enough to prevent the Lakers’ 10th defeat in 14 games. They slipped to 25-49 - the most losses by the club since finishing 33-49 in 1993-94. The franchise hasn’t lost 50 games in a season since 1974-75 (30-52). —AP

NEW YORK: Cleveland Cavaliers Dion Waiters (right) drives against the Brooklyn Nets Marcus Thornton during their NBA game. —AFP

NBA results/standings Brooklyn 105, Houston 96; Golden State 122, Dallas 120 (OT); Portland 124, LA Lakers 112. Eastern Conference Atlantic Division W L PCT Toronto 42 32 .568 Brooklyn 40 33 .548 NY Knicks 32 43 .427 Boston 23 51 .311 Philadelphia 16 58 .216

Indiana Chicago Cleveland Detroit Milwaukee

Central Division 52 23 .693 42 32 .568 30 45 .400 27 47 .365 14 60 .189

Southeast Division Miami 51 22 .699 Washington 38 36 .514 Charlotte 36 38 .486 Atlanta 32 41 .438 Orlando 21 53 .284

GB 1.5 10.5 19 26

9.5 22 24.5 37.5

13.5 15.5 19 30.5

Western Conference Northwest Division Oklahoma City 54 19 .740 Portland 49 27 .645 Minnesota 36 37 .493 Denver 32 42 .432 Utah 23 52 .307

6.5 18 22.5 32

Pacific Division 53 22 .707 46 28 .622 44 30 .595 26 48 .351 25 49 .338

6.5 8.5 26.5 27.5

Southwest Division 58 16 .784 49 24 .671 44 30 .595 44 31 .587 32 42 .432

8.5 14 14.5 26

LA Clippers Golden State Phoenix 4. Sacramento LA Lakers

San Antonio Houston Memphis Dallas New Orleans

RANGERS 3, CANUCKS 1 Martin St. Louis scored his first goal with New York and Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves in the victory over Vancouver. Daniel Carcillo and Benoit Pouliot also scored for New York, which has won seven of eight games and sits comfortably in an Eastern Conference playoff spot. Ryan Kesler scored for Vancouver, and Eddie Lack finished with 28 saves as the Canucks’ slim postseason hopes took another hit. Vancouver entered play five points back of the final wild-card berth in the West and has just five games remaining on its schedule. Tuesday’s game marked the regular-season return of Rangers coach Alain Vigneault to Rogers Arena. Vigneault coached in Vancouver for seven seasons, winning six division titles and leading the Canucks within a victory of the 2011 Stanley Cup. ISLANDERS 4, PANTHERS 2 Josh Bailey had a goal and assist as New York kept up its strong finish with a victory over Florida. New York, on the verge of elimination in the Eastern Conference playoff race, quickly bounced back from Quinton Howden’s shorthanded goal less than two minutes in and sent the Panthers to their fourth straight loss. Travis Hamonic, Matt Martin and Mike Halmo also scored, Colin McDonald had two assists, and Evgeni Nabokov made 20 saves for the Islanders, 4-0-1 in their past five games. Brandon Pirri closed the scoring for Florida, making it 4-2 with his 11th goal - on a power play - with 5.9 seconds left in the game. Scott Clemmensen stopped 36 shots for Florida. MAPLE LEAFS 3, FLAMES 2 Toronto snapped an eight-game losing streak to remain in the playoff chase. Jay McClement, Dave Bolland and David Clarkson scored for the Maple Leafs, who got 20 saves from Jonathan Bernier in his first victory since March 10.—AP

Table tennis winner and runner-up among PSA members.

PSA organizes 1st table tennis championship KUWAIT: Pakistan Sports Association Kuwait organized its first table tennis tournament in Salmiya last week. Sixteen players participated from various communities in Kuwait. The teams were divided in four groups of three. Group A consisted of Zeeshan Boota, Hardeep Flora and Fiaz Butt. Group B consisted of Faisal Khalil, Farooq

Khalil and Kamran Butt, Group C consisted of Iqbal Hussain, Ashraf Hussain and Arif Jariwala while Group D comprised of Feroz Abdul Fatah, Jassim Shahzad & Jose Christo Da Costa. The climax of the tournament was the best of 7 final between Flora and Jariwala. Both players showed their abilities, skills and expertise. After

intense competition, Hardeep defeated Arif 4-1 and became the champion. Chief Guest Sheraz Ali delivered the keynote speech, appreciating PSA for providing a healthy opportunity for table tennis lovers. He also shed light on future plans of PSA, saying that it will bring many opportunities for communities in Kuwait to play various games.

Ogier and Latvala title fight moves to Algarve

Sebastain Ogier in action in this file photo.

LISBON: Portugal’s picturesque Algarve tourist region forms the backdrop for the fourth leg of the world rally championship with world champion Sebastien Ogier defending a wafer thin lead in the drivers’ standings. Ogier was a winner last time out in Mexico and the Frenchman sets off from Lisbon today three points clear of his Volkswagen Polo teammate Jari-Matti Latvala. Ogier has fond memories of the Rally of Portugal, one of the founding events in the inaugural 1973 world rally championship, for it was here that he opened his

WRC account back in 2010. And he did it in style, beating his then Citroen colleague and reigning champion Sebastien Loeb. This weekend’s rally is regarded as one of the toughest legs of the season, the gravel surface stretching drivers and cars to the limit. And the weather, as Ogier acknowledged, can play a vital role. “The Rally Portugal certainly has two faces: when it is dry, the surface is very hard and offers a lot of grip,” he told the sport’s official website, “When it rains, the ground becomes very

soft and muddy, giving you very little traction. “I normally much prefer it when it is dry. However, we are first onto the route this time, so a little rain on the first day would not be bad for us.” Latvala chased home Ogier in Mexico, and the Finn arrives in Portugal his confidence high after winning on the snow and ice in Sweden. And he is desperate to put some gloss on his poor record in Portugal, he was lucky to walk away from a dreadful crash in 2009 when his car rolled 17 times

down a hillside. He led in 2012 before careering off the road in testing weather — a broken drive shaft robbed him of second place 12 months ago. Speaking after rain washed out Tuesday’s opening day of ‘recce’ runs Latvala said: “The rain will definitely harm the roads, which is a shame as they appear to be in very good condition. “The organisers have done a lot of work on them. But we know that once the rain stops, the roads dry out very quickly so I hope that we will have a dry weekend for the rally.” —AFP



Maybe Woods wasn’t built to go the distance NEW YORK: Maybe we were just focused on the wrong body part. Ever since Tiger Woods’ SUV veered off course at the end of his driveway in Florida nearly six years ago, the questions have been about his head. And all the while, it’s the rest of his body - the left side mostly - that’s been breaking down before our eyes. Maybe, like Icarus, it turns out Woods just wasn’t built to go the distance. He broke into big-time golf at 20, thin as a 2-iron and swinging with all the abandon of a kid. He putted without nerves, hit the ball farther and passed so many career signposts so breathtakingly fast, and with such ease, that his future seemed to be on cruise-control already. But Woods is 38 now, and despite sparking the fitness craze that revolutionized professional golf, he’s falling apart like a used car. Woods announced Tuesday he would skip the Masters for the first time in his career to begin yet another rehab from

the latest of at least a half-dozen surgeries. For all the comparisons to Jack Nicklaus, in light of this latest breakdown, it might be more apt to look at Mickey Mantle. A chain-reaction series of injuries hobbled the Yankee slugger through the final few seasons of a career that should have been even better - not to mention longer. Mantle’s bad luck, as one writer memorably put it, was to be “a million-dollar talent propped up on dime-store knees.” At this point it’s worth noting that Mantle had a drinking problem. And that he contributed to his own demise as a ballplayer by staying out late too many nights, something to which Woods has already pleaded guilty. But the way the injuries dogged Mantle at the end, sapping both his power and speed, may turn out to be the more instructive parallel. Woods’ latest surgery, called a microdiscectomy, was to relieve the pain from a pinched nerve in his back. Problems with his back first surfaced last

summer, then resumed this spring, culminating in Woods’ withdrawal from the Honda Classic and a final-round 78 a week later at Doral, where he looked visibly weakened. A bad back is worrisome enough. That it arrives at the end of a string of injuries to Woods’ left leg, knee and elbow, as well as both Achilles tendons - and almost all within the last halfdozen years - makes you wonder whether it’s part of a larger pattern. In a statement on his website, Woods called the setback “frustrating” but “something my doctors advised me to do for my immediate and long-term health.” The website also pointed out that swinging a golf club could have caused the pinched nerve, and as anybody who’s ever swung one for a couple of rounds can attest, it can damage plenty of other body parts as well. Woods has been doing that since age 3, and until the surgeries began piling up, it seemed as if he could go on doing it long enough to win more major tourna-

ments that anyone had. But he’s been stuck at 14 since the 2008 U.S. Open, and suddenly it’s relevant that he’s playing a game that has knocked just about every other great champion off his pedestal by the mid-to-late 30s. Woods certainly knows the litany: Bobby Jones retired at 28; Tom Watson and Byron Nelson never won another after 33; Arnold Palmer, 34; and Walter Hagen, 36. Gary Player won only one after 38 and Nick Faldo his last at 39. Ben Hogan was an outlier, winning into his early 40s. Nicklaus, the one that always mattered most to Woods, won all but one of his by age 40, covering an 18-year span. And the last one, the 1986 Masters at age 46, was what people mean by the phrase, “catching lightning in a bottle.” Woods may still be good for one of those, as well as a few more regular tour events, which he’s continued to win with some regularity. More important, perhaps, he isn’t conceding anything. He needs

four more PGA Tour wins to pass Sam Snead and five more majors to go by Nicklaus. “There are a couple (of) records by two outstanding individuals and players that I hope one day to break,” Woods said Tuesday on his website. “As I’ve said many times, Sam and Jack reached their milestones over an entire career. I plan to have a lot of years left in mine.” Even if Woods is right, this much is already different. A lot of those kids he inspired to take up the game blow their drives past his, and they don’t spit up leads the way Woods’ peers used to the second his name popped up on the leaderboard. The last time some of them saw Woods make a putt that mattered in a major was on TV. So it matters less, at the moment anyway, where Woods’ head is at than how quickly - maybe even whether - the rest of his body heals. Deep as that bunker he was standing in looked before, his shot looks a lot tougher now. —AP

Cepelova upsets Serena CHARLESTON: Serena Williams was eliminated from the Family Circle Cup on Tuesday, stunned 6-4, 6-4 by Jana Cepelova of Slovakia in the second round. “I’m really just dead. I need some weeks off where I don’t think about tennis and kind of regroup,” Williams said after the match. “I’ve had a long couple of years, and I’m really a little fatigued.” Williams, the top seed and defending champion in

Charleston, was looking for her second straight title and her third this year after winning a record seventh Sony Open last weekend. But with only 18 minutes gone in the match, she was down 0-5 on the green clay at the Family Circle Tennis Center. Williams rallied, winning four straight games surrendering only six points and it looked like Cepelova’s lead would be short-lived. But the 20-year-

Serena Williams of the USA reacts in this file photo.

old Cepelova came back and, holding serve in the final game, was able to win the set. Williams said later she feels emotionally and physically spent. “Definitely a little bit of both. But again, I think Jana played really well for her today,” she said. “The good thing is I know I can play a lot better. So it’s always really positive for me.” Cepelova’s run out to a quick lead silenced the crowd, which was in the defending champion’s corner. “I have 5-0 and I was a little bit nervous, but I did it,” said Cepelova, ranked 78th in world. “You know, you play against No. 1 player and you never know. It was a tough situation for me, but I’m really happy that I keep the set.” Williams’ sister, Venus, also struggled on Tuesday, but edged Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-3, 0-6, 7-5. “I’ve actually been pretty sick lately - I’ve been having like a bug,” Venus Williams she said after the match that lasted 2 hours, 15 minutes. “You just have to play your way into the week and just continue to feel better.” Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion has battled injuries and Sjogren’s syndrome, a fatiguecausing autoimmune disease, during the past two years. “I haven’t gotten rid of it. I wish I could have. Unfortunately it just clings to me,” Williams said. “I’ve just learned to handle it mentally and also I try to do things all the time, just always going for optimal health.” Williams seemed in control of the match after she won the first set, surrendering only two points in her last two service games. But the 56th-ranked Zahlavova Strycova rattled off seven straight games to shut out the 28th-ranked Williams in the second set and go up 1-0 in the third. Williams rallied for a 5-4 lead in the third set, but Zahlavova Strycova fought off four match points to tie it at 5-all. Williams then earned a break in the next game - helped by a final point double-fault - and held at love to win the match. Williams staved off what could have been her earliest exit at the Family Circle. She’s making her seventh appearance at the tournament she won a decade ago. Williams, who won the Dubai title this year, said she didn’t get down on herself after dropping the second set. Also Tuesday, No 9. seed Lucie Safarova of Czechoslovakia defeated Virginie Razzano of France 26, 6-4, 6-4. American Vania King beat Julia Glushko 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, and Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia defeated American wild card Shelby Rogers 7-5, 7-5. No. 13 Elena Vesnina of Russia cruised past Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia, 6-2, 6-1, and Shuai Zhang of China outlasted Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (0). In other matches, No. 14 seed Andrea Petkovic of Germany eliminated Lesia Tsurenko of the Ukraine, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-1, and Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino defeated countrywoman Anabel Medina Garrigues 63, 6-2. Peng Shuai of China defeated Caroline Garcia of France 6-2, 6-3. Eugenie Bouchard of Canada, seeded No. 6, dispatched qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia, 6-2, 6-0 while No. 7 seed Samantha Stosur of Australia eliminated Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 6-3, 5-7, 6-1. Teliana Pereira of Brazil ousted eighth-seeded Sorana Cirstea of Romania 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (0). Marina Erakovic of New Zealand defeated Nadia Petrova of Russia, who received a wild card for the tournament, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. —AP

Rafael Nadal of Spain

Nadal eager to return to favored clay courts MADRID: Rafa Nadal is eager to get back to his favoured clay after what he called a “good but not fantastic” start to the year with two titles and two runners-up spots, the world number one said yesterday. Spaniard Nadal, 27, won on the hard courts in Doha at the start of the season before a back injur y wrecked his chances in the Australian Open final at the end of January. He returned to take the title on clay in Rio de Janeiro the following month and reached the final of last week’s Sony Open hard-court event, where he was beaten 6-3 6-3 by second-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia. He will be bidding for a ninth title at the Monte Carlo Masters later this month before more clay events at Barcelona, Madrid and Rome and then the French Open starting at the end of May, where he is also chasing a ninth trophy. Nadal said he was “more pleased than sad” about his performance on the Miami hard courts but admitted that Djokovic had been much the superior

performer. “In the Miami final I was not at the level of Djokovic, obviously he was quite a bit better than me,” Nadal said at an event organised by new sponsor Banc Sabadell. “But it was important for me in terms of confidence for the clay season,” he added. “As always I am coming into the clay swing with the maximum level of hopeful anticipation and I am eager to do well and eager to start training on clay. “I think I have started the season quite well, not fantastic but good. “I have a favorable history on clay but history doesn’t help you much in the present. “The only thing I can do is try to work hard and get to the clay season well prepared in tennis terms and in good physical and mental shape.” Forty-three of Nadal’s 62 singles titles have come on clay, including eight at the Barcelona Open, two in Madrid on red dirt and seven in Rome. He has 13 grand slam singles titles and a record 26 Masters crowns. —Reuters


Spin doctors set up thrilling T20 climax

BANGLADESH: Sri Lankan cricketer Rangana Herath attends the training session at The Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium yesterday. —AFP

DHAKA: Spinners, once considered irrelevant in hitand-run cricket, will play a pivotal role when the World Twenty20 reaches the business end with the first of two semi-finals in Dhaka today. Among the top eight wicket-takers in the elite Super-10 round, six are spinners with South Africa’s leggie Imran Tahir leading the pack with 11 wickets in four games. Defending champions the West Indies, who clash with Sri Lanka today in a repeat of the 2012 final, boast two prolific slow bowlers in Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine. The duo shared six wickets as the Caribbean stars demolished Pakistan by 84 runs in the last league match on Tuesday to qualify for the semi-finals. Sri Lanka have an ace up their sleeve in veteran left-armer Rangana Herath, whose sensational figures of 3.3-2-3-5 destroyed New Zealand in Chittagong on Monday. The second semi-final on Friday between unbeaten India and South Africa could also boil down to a spinners’ showdown between Tahir and Indian pair Amit Mishra and Ravichandran Ashwin. Leg-spinner Mishra’s ninewicket haul in four games has been matched by offbreak bowler Ashwin’s seven wickets, helping India to become the only team to win all four Super-10 matches. “The stats speak for themselves,” said West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo. “It’s good to have two of the best in our team, but all the other sides too have good spinners.” The West Indies start with the advantage of hav-

ing played all their matches at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Dhaka, the venue for the knock-out rounds, while Sri Lanka come in from Chittagong. Sri Lanka will be wary of two destructive finishers in Bravo and skipper Darren Sammy, who flattened Australia and Pakistan with massive big hits late in the innings. “Its a game we were born to play,” said Bravo. “We just want to go there and entertain cricket fans and give them their money’s worth. We play hard, but play fair.” South Africa, branded chokers for their inability to win major titles, seem to have put the past behind them by scripting three narrow wins in Chittagong after losing their opening game to Sri Lanka by five runs. The Proteas beat New Zealand by two runs, the Netherlands by six runs and England by three runs, giving all-rounder JP Duminy added confidence going into the second semi-final against India. “We can take a lot of confidence from those wins,” he said. “Two of those games we were not meant to win, but to win a game out of nothing is something very positive. “India will be a huge challenge, but we are ready. Its a big game, a semi-final of a world event. It does not get bigger than this.” Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said his team was peaking at the right time, but stressed that nothing could be taken for granted in the shortest format. “We have to bat and bowl well again,” he said. “In T20, a couple of overs can change the game so it is hard to predict how it will go.” —AFP

Zain sponsors Kuwaiti car racing champion Ashkanani in Bahrain GT3 KUWAIT: Zain, the leading telecommunications company in Kuwait, announced yesterday the continuation of its main sponsorship of the Kuwaiti car racing Champion Zaid Ashkanani, following his multiple successes in winning the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East title in March. Ashkanani continues to display determination and dedication in his preparation for his next appearance, which is in the forthcoming prestigious Bahrain GT3 Cup race, part of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prize. The 19 year- old champion dis-

played superior motorsport skills during the latest Bahrain GT3 Cup race, which led him to becoming the overall champion and allowed him to raise the Kuwaiti flag high in victory. In just two years of professional racing driving, Ashkanani has been able to beat the odds and enjoy incredible success. Zain wishes Ashkanani all the very best in his future career, with the hope and confidence that he will be able to maintain his high level of enthusiasm and success during the forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prize GT3 Cup race.



Hooliganism still haunts European game LONDON: The violent death of a fan on the opening weekend of the Swedish season on Sunday was a sharp reminder that while riots in Europe’s stadiums are largely a thing of the past, hooliganism has not been eradicated. Modern policing and stewarding, and widespread use of CCTV, has meant that most stadiums are largely trouble-free environments on the inside and few now have the need for fenced segregation. However, as the appalling events in Sweden, when a Djurgarden fan in his 40s died after being assaulted on his way to a game in Helsingborg show, associated violence is still rife in many places. Below we examine the current hooligan situation around Europe: SCANDINAVIA The death of father of four Stefan Isaksson has thrust the hooligan problem back into the spotlight in Sweden. According to police reports he was struck on the head with a blunt instrument before being kicked and beaten as he made his way to see his side take on Helsingborg. The game went ahead as planned, but was abandoned when his fellow fans invaded the pitch having received reports that he had died in hospital from his injuries. NORWAY Home of the Nobel peace prize — is much calmer than its Nordic neighbors, with few violent incidents or organised battles taking place. RUSSIA Soccer hooliganism has been on the rise in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. “Firms”, are now attached to all of the country’s major clubs and fights between hooligans and scuffles with police are a regular phenomenon in the Russian leagues, either starting spontaneously at stadiums or as pre-agreed battles in remote sites. Violence is often accompanied by nationalist or racist slogans and symbols.

In one recent case Spartak Moscow and Shinnik Yaroslavl were fined and ordered to play matches behind closed doors following violence at a cup match where Nazi banners were unfurled. In 2010, several thousand youths rioted outside the Kremlin, clashing with police and attacking passers-by who they took for non-Russians, after the death of an ethnic Russian soccer fan was blamed on a man from the North Caucasus. President Vladimir Putin, seeking to appease soccer fans and soothe the worst outbreak of ethnic violence in Moscow in post-Soviet history, met with football enthusiasts and laid flowers at the grave of the dead supporter, Yegor Sviridov. Many observers, however, say that his death and much of the violence is related to ethnic tensions rather than football. ITALY Italy is famous for its ‘ultras’, groups of hardcore fans who are frequently behind the stadium violence which has dogged all levels of the country’s football since the 1970s. The death of policeman Filippo Raciti during the fighting that followed the Catania-Palermo derby of February 2007 led authorities to introduce a number of hardline measures. These included blanket bans on away fan travel, banning orders handed out by the police rather than the courts and an ID card scheme which has targeted normal fans and hooligans alike. Some major flare-ups still occur, however, with Rome derbies blighted by stabbings and clashes with police, while this season’s match between Bologna and Hellas Verona was the scene of fighting between rival fans. Violence is not limited solely to stadiums, but also the surrounding areas and motorway service stations as fans criss-cross the country in large organised groups. Ultras use knives, but rarely to inflict serious harm, and talk about “light stabbing” to

mean knife attacks on an opposing fans’ buttocks. GREECE Greece is undoubtedly one of European football’s violence blackspots and has a chequered track record of incidents including pitch invasions, stabbings and attacks on police. Fighting involving organised fan clubs is commonplace. The main culprits are the traditional big clubs, Olympiakos Piraeus, Panathinaikos, AEK Athens and PAOK Salonika, and, like in Italy, it is common for the ‘ultras’ factions around those teams to clash both inside and outside of stadiums before and after matches. There is an emerging trend for hooligans to target sports other than soccer, such as handball, volleyball and water polo where there is usually a limited police presence. All of those clubs listed have been punished with heavy fines and have been forced to play matches behind closed doors in recent seasons as part of an attempted crackdown from the government, the Greek FA and the Super League. BALKANS Football hooliganism was non-existent under communist rule in the former Yugoslavia but the country’s bloody breakup in the 1990s let the genie out of the bottle, as it went hand in hand with political strife, ethnic tensions and economic depression. Serbia and Croatia came to the fore, especially the former as the Belgrade derby between bitter city foes Red Star and Partizan became a fixture with a history of regular crowd trouble, producing several fatalities down the years. Violence rarely occurs near the heavilypoliced stadiums, but brawls, in which fans fight each other with iron bars, baseball bats and whatever else they can find, are regularly sighted in Belgrade’s outskirts and even in the city’s central residential areas on match days. An horrific incident occurred in 1999, when a Red Star fan was killed by a pro-

pelled flare launched from the Partizan end that flew across the pitch above the players’ heads and into the visiting supporters’ section. TURKEY Turkey is no stranger to soccer violence with numerous incidents occurring this season. A major Istanbul derby between Besiktas and Galatasaray was halted and later cancelled in September when fans invaded the pitch, with police using teargas to disperse the crowd. Galatasaray were awarded the match and Besiktas were ordered to play four home games with only women and children in the stands. One fan died and another was critically injured when they were stabbed at a protest staged by Fenerbahce fans in July against UEFA’s decision to ban the club from European competition. A similar incident occurred last May when Galatasaray fans stabbed to death a teenager wearing a Fenerbahce shirt at a bus stop after an end-of-season derby in Istanbul. The Turkish football federation replaced their policy of punishing teams with stadium supporter bans in 2011, choosing instead to allow women and children to attend. In March Trabzonspor’s match against Fenerbahce was abandoned in the first half after Fenerbahce players were pelted with objects thrown onto the pitch by home fans. Supporters also clashed with police in the streets of Trabzon following the match and Trabzonspor were later punished with a sixgame “no fans” ban. ENGLAND England, which suffered so badly with hooliganism in the 1970s and 80s that the problem was sometimes described as “the English disease”, has largely put its house in order. A concentrated clamp-down by police, involving detailed intelligence operations, helped identify many of the regular trouble-makers and banning orders kept them

away from grounds. As with many other countries, trouble still occurs further away from grounds while there are still regular problems in many lower league games, often unreported as they take place away from the media spotlight. Generally, however, most grounds are now considered safe destinations and colour-draped fans of opposing teams can usually be seen travelling alongside each other to the game - unthinkable 20 years ago. FRANCE There is a difference between ‘ultras’ and hooligans in France. Ultras are known for their fanatical support and use of flares, but they are usually not out for violence. While hooliganism is on the decline in France, the problem has not been fully crushed, with Paris St Germain and Olympique Lyon two of the clubs where trouble has been known to flare up, especially around European games. PSG implemented the ‘Plan Leproux’ (Robin Leproux, former PSG president) in 2010 to eradicate all fans groups at the club, which had a big impact on disrupting hooliganism. GERMANY Germany has seen cases of hooliganism drop from their height in the 1980s but matches are still marred by clashes, usually outside the stadium or in the city. Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 fans keep police busy whenever the two Ruhr valley sides meet and extensive clashes between the two sides occurred as recently as October 2012, when some 200 fans in total were detained. The league’s (DFL) biggest day-to-day problem however is the use of flares inside stadiums, including in that derby where Dortmund fans lit dozens and threw them into the Schalke tribunes, delaying the start of the game. Dortmund boss Hans-Joachim Watzke has pledged to crack down on his own ultras and Dortmund were sanctioned for their fans’ behavior. —Reuters

Barca get transfer ban for breaching rules on minors

FRANCE: Juventus Turin’s players take part in a training session on the eve of the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match between Olympique Lyon and Juventus. —AFP

Portugal and Spain in battle for supremacy ITALY: Portugal and Spain have provided at least one team in nine of the past 11 finals of the UEFA Cup or Europa League and the two countries dominate the quarterfinal lineup for this year’s competition. The Portuguese pair of Benfica and Porto and Spanish sides Valencia and Sevilla are battling for supremacy in Europe’s second-tier competition with Juventus, which is the biggest name in the last eight and seeking to reach a final that will be played in its home stadium in Turin. The first legs take place today, with Juventus - the leader by 11 points in the Italian league - visiting Lyon. FC Porto hosts Sevilla in the other standout quarterfinal, while it’s also FC Basel vs. Valencia and AZ Alkmaar vs. Benfica. Here is a lookahead to today’s games: LYON-JUVENTUS Eliminating Juventus, the big tournament favorite, will be an uphill battle for a depleted and exhausted Lyon. For its 52nd game this season, the French side will be without defenders Milan Bisevac, Samuel Umtiti, Miguel Lopes and Mouhamadou Dabo, and midfielders Gueida Fofana, Clement Grenier and Yoann Gourcuff. While Lyon is fifth in Ligue 1, Juventus is the runaway leader in Serie A despite a 2-0 loss to Napoli at the weekend. Juventus striker Carlos Tevez, the top scorer in the Italian league with 18 goals, was suspended for the Napoli match but should return for Lyon as the Argentina international seeks a first goal in European competition since April 2009. FC BASEL-VALENCIA The sounds of Basel vs. Valencia will echo around an empty 38,000-capacity St. Jakob Park stadium. UEFA ordered the first leg to be played without fans as punishment after Basel supporters temporarily stopped play during its 2-1 win at Salzburg two weeks ago. After Swiss fans threw fireworks on the pitch in the first half, the referee took both teams to the locker rooms. Basel is making its second straight run at the Europa League title, after being eliminated in the semifinals by eventual winner Chelsea one year ago. While the league-leading Swiss champion can probably look forward to more Champions League football next season, Valencia might need to win this trophy to return to European competition.

Valencia is in a group of teams chasing eighth place in the Spanish league which could earn the last Europa League qualifying spot. Basel is without veteran striker Marco Streller, while Valencia’s main injury absence is Brazil goalkeeper Diego Alves. FC PORTO-SEVILLA For a picture of FC Porto’s woes, look no further than Ricardo Quaresma. The Portugal winger missed a penalty in Porto’s 2-1 defeat at Nacional last weekend, contributing to the defending champion’s second loss in three games and leaving it 15 points off the lead. As Porto’s frustration boiled over amid another miserable performance, Quaresma lost his head and flung himself at an opponent in an on-field fracas that could earn him a lengthy suspension. Porto’s downward slide, which brought the mid-season departure of coach Paulo Fonseca and his replacement with B-team interim coach Luis Castro, contrasts with Sevilla’s rise. The southern Spanish club defeated Real Madrid last week as part of a sixgame winning streak. Porto and Sevilla are both two-time winners of Europe’s second-tier competition, including when was known as the UEFA Cup. AZ ALKMAAR-BENFICA For Dick Advocaat, AZ Alkmaar’s quarterfinal against Benfica is the beginning of the end of his tenure at the Dutch club. The vastly experienced coach, who replaced Gertjan Verbeek in October, announced at the weekend that he will be leaving the club at the close of this season when his contract expires. Out of contention in the Dutch league and knocked out of the domestic cup, the Europa League is his last chance to cap his brief stay in Alkmaar with a trophy. Last year’s losing finalist, Benfica wants to make up for the disappointment of finishing last season empty-handed after letting a potential league, cup and Europa League treble slip out of its grasp. Beaten by Chelsea in the 2013 Europa League final, it also lost the Portuguese Cup final and surrendered its Portuguese league lead two weeks before the end of the season. It’s also into the semifinals of the Portuguese Cup, and has a seven-point lead at the top of the league with five rounds to play. —AP

BERNE: Barcelona have been given a transfer ban for two consecutive windows and fined 450,000 Swiss francs ($509,400) for breaching rules on the international transfer of foreign under-18 players, FIFA said yesterday. The Spanish federation (RFEF) was fined 500,000 Swiss francs after soccer’s world governing body found it had also breached rules on the transfer of minors, FIFA added in a statement. The decision by FIFA’s disciplinary committee means the Spanish champions will be barred from taking part in the transfer market until the end of the 2014/15 season. FIFA described the infringements, which occurred between 2009 and 2013, as “serious” and said Barca had been given 90 days to regularise the situation of the players involved. The RFEF was also given one year to “regularise their regulatory framework and existing system concerning the international transfer of minors in football.” FIFA said: “The RFEF and FC Barcelona were found to have violated several provisions concerning the international transfer and first registration of non-Spanish minors with the club.” “Barcelona has been found to be in breach of... the regulations in the case of ten minor players and to have committed several other concurrent infringements in the context of other players,” it added. A Barcelona spokesman said the club were evaluating the decision and would not make any further comment, including on whether they intended to appeal. The sanctions are another blow to Barcelona’s reputation following the controversy over the transfer of Brazil forward Neymar, whose signing from Santos prompted allegations of misappropriation of funds and tax evasion and resulted in the resignation of the Catalan club’s president Sandro Rosell. Including a payment of 13.5 million euros to the Spanish treasury after fraud charges were laid against the club, the Brazil forward ended up costing just under 100 million euros ($137.94 million). In March, the club’s vice-president Javier Faus said Barcelona would have up to 60 million euros to spend on new players in the close season. KEY PRINCIPLES “The disciplinary committee underlined that FIFA takes the protection of minors in football very seriously,” said soccer’s world governing body. “The protection of minors is one of the key principles included in the agreement concluded between FIFA, (European governing body) UEFA and the European Commission in 2001. “The disciplinary committee acknowledged that young football players are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse in a foreign country without the proper controls. “This particular fact makes the protection of minors in football by the sport’s governing bodies, especially by FIFA, even more important.” FIFA’s rules ban the international transfer of under-18 players except in limited circumstances which must be evaluated by its Players’ Status Committee. “The protection of minors in the context of international transfers is an important social and legal issue that concerns all stakeholders in football,” it said. “Above all, the disciplinary committee highlighted that while international transfers might, in specific cases, be favourable to a young player’s sporting career, they are very likely to be contrary to the best interests of the player as a minor.” FIFA said its investigations were conducted with the help of its electronic transfer matching system. —Reuters

SPAIN: Barcelona’s President Josep Maria Bartomeu (left) talks with Atletico Madrid’s President Enrique Crerezo (right) in this file photo. —AFP

Barcelona’s Five problems MADRID: Spanish giants Barcelona were hit by a one-year transfer ban from football’s governing body FIFA yesterday for “serious” breaches of rules in acquiring under-age players. Here, AFP sports looks at what problems the Catalans could face should the sanction be upheld. l Can’t replace Valdes or Puyol. This summer ’s transfer window was already set to the be the most important in Barca’s recent history as captain Carles Puyol and veteran goalkeeper Victor Valdes have indicated their intention to leave the club in June. Twenty-one-year-old German international ‘keeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen was on the verge of completing his move from Borussia M onchengladbach to replace Valdes with another three signings planned to boost the depth of the squad ahead of next season. Barca are already very short of options at centre-back and the inability to find a successor to Puyol will put enormous pressure on the club’s vaunted La Masia academy. l Another blow to the club’s battered reputation. Just a few years ago Barcelona enjoyed worldwide acclaim for their “more than a club” motto as they had UNICEF rather than a commercial sponsor on their shirts and produced one of the best teams the world has ever seen under Pep Guardiola largely with players from La Masia. However, Guardiola’s departure has coincided with a commercial sponsorship agreement with Qatar Airways and the controversial signing of Brazilian star Neymar which led to Sandro Rosell resigning as the club’s

president and Barca being charged with tax fraud. l Camp Nou referendum up in the air. The news comes at the worst possible time for Barca’s embattled board, led by new president Josep Maria Bartomeu as their proposal for a 600 million euro ($827 million) refurbishment of the Camp Nou will go to a vote of the club’s members on Saturday. It was already expected that the referendum could allow the Barca support to voice their displeasure at the board who refused to call new presidential elections despite Rosell’s resignation in January. l Huge distraction FIFA’s bombshell fell barely 12 hours after Barca had drawn at home to Atletico Madrid in the first-leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday. Gerardo Martino’s men also trail leaders Atletico by just a point with seven games to go in La Liga and face Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final on April 16. The players and coaching staff must once again block out negative news off the field to concentrate on their fight for titles on three fronts. l Could rob La Masia of future talent Whilst the majority of those who graduate from Barca’s academy come from the local Catalan region, Barca have never been adverse to acquiring talent from outwith Spain at a very young age. Most famously of all, four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi left his native Argentine to join Barca aged 13. FIFA’s clampdown may scare off Barca’s future attempts to discover a new Messi. —AFP

Astros pound Yankees


Nets clinch playoff berth



Barca get transfer ban for breaching rules on minors Page 19

SPAIN: Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo (right) scores his side’s third goal past Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller during a Champions League quarterfinal first leg soccer match. — AP

Real overwhelm Dortmund Ronaldo equals scoring record MADRID: Real Madrid eased towards a fourth consecutive Champions League semi-final as Cristiano Ronaldo equalled another goalscoring record in their 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund at the Santiago Bernabeu yesterday. Looking to avenge their semi-final defeat at the hands of the Germans last season, Madrid flew out of the traps and were ahead within three minutes when Gareth Bale poked home from Dani Carvajal’s pass. Isco doubled Real’s lead after 27 minutes as his low shot from the edge of the area curled into the bottom corner. Ronaldo then scored his 14th Champions League goal of the campaign to match the

competition’s record mark for goals in a season set by Lionel Messi two years ago. However, Real’s night was soured somewhat as Ronaldo had to be substituted late on due to what appeared to be a minor knee injury. Madrid had also suffered a disruption just before the game as Angel di Maria was ruled out with gastroenteritis, but they didn’t miss a beat without the Argentine as his replacement Isco pulled the strings in midfield and they started with great intensity. Bale opened the scoring with his 17th goal of the season as he controlled Carvajal’s low

centre before finishing first time. Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller then had to make two brilliant saves from a free-kick each from Ronaldo and Bale. However, there was nothing the German international could do to prevent Isco’s precise low effort finding its way into his bottom right-hand corner. Dortmund posed a far greater threat on the Real goal after the break, but that also left them open on the counter-attack and Bale nearly scored again within three minutes of the restart as Weidenfeller blocked the Welshman’s effort.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had been handed the difficult task of replacing the suspended Robert Lewandowski up front for Dortmund, but he came close to bringing his side back into the game with a shot across goal that flew just wide of the target. Henrikh Mkhitaryan then wasted another good opening for the visitors as his shot was deflected wide by Pepe and within two minutes Dortmund were punished as Ronaldo made it 3-0. The Portuguese was played in by Luka Modric and showed quick feet to sidestep Weidenfeller and roll the ball into an empty net.

Pastore puts gloss on PSG win over Chelsea PARIS: A solo strike from Javier Pastore right at the death clinched a 3-1 victory for Paris SaintGermain in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Chelsea yesterday. An early Ezequiel Lavezzi strike and a David Luiz own goal either side of an Eden Hazard penalty for Chelsea had looked set to give PSG just a narrow advantage ahead of next week’s second leg at Stamford Bridge, but Pastore’s effort leaves the French champions firmly in control of the tie. It will also boost their confidence after the blow of seeing 40goal top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic hobble off injured in the second half, making him a possible doubt for the second leg. Chelsea were without a key attacking element of their own for this game with Samuel Eto’o sidelined due to injury, and yet manager Jose Mourinho left Fernando Torres on the bench at kick-off, with Andre Schuerrle preferred to the Spaniard in attack. PSG, meanwhile, were at full strength with the exception of the injured Gregory Van der Wiel, whose place in the side was again covered by Christophe Jallet. The home side were expected to control possession but few

could have foreseen the extent to which they came flying out of the blocks. Marco Verratti had the game’s first shot on goal after just 17 seconds and the opening goal arrived inside four minutes, mixing delightful build-up play with some questionable defending. Thiago Motta worked the ball out to Blaise Matuidi on the left, and the France midfielder’s cross was met by the head of Chelsea captain John Terry. However, he could only knock the ball down for Lavezzi, who controlled on his chest before firing into the net off the underside of the bar on the half-volley. It was the Argentine’s sixth goal in PSG’s last 10 games and Chelsea looked in shock. Soon after Lavezzi was chopped down by Ramires and the Brazilian picked up a booking that rules him out of next week’s return leg. Lavezzi then outpaced Gary Cahill to latch on to an Ibrahimovic through ball before shooting into the side-netting, but by now the expected roles had been reversed, and PSG were playing on the break. The visitors had started to take the game by the scruff of the neck as they went in search of an equaliser, and they were gifted a penalty in the 27th minute when

Dortmund continued to push for an away goal and only an incredible block by Pepe prevented Mkhitaryan after Iker Casillas could only parry a low cross from the right. Weidenfeller was then forced into more heroics to keep the score down as he tipped over Benzema’s sweetly-struck half-volley from the edge of the area. Ronaldo had to be replaced by Brazilian midfielder Casemiro 10 minutes from time, but the former Manchester United man was able to walk freely as he made his exit, suggesting he should be fit for Real’s trip to Real Sociedad on Saturday.—AFP

Jeonbuk stun Guangzhou

PARIS: Chelsea’s German striker Andre Schurrle (left) vies with Paris Saint-Germain French defender Christophe Jallet during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg football match. — AFP Oscar went down following an uncharacteristically rash challenge in the box by his compatriot Thiago Silva. Eden Hazard, who won the French title on the same ground with Lille three years ago, sent goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu the wrong way from the resulting spotkick. Chelsea might even have taken the lead before the interval when Hazard connected first-time with a hanging Willian cross on the lefthand side of the area, but his volley struck the far post and rebounded to safety. PSG had failed to make the most of their stunning start but they regrouped at the interval and almost seized the lead for the sec-

ond time on 52 minutes, Lavezzi heading just over from another Matuidi left-wing cross. And just after the hour mark they were back in front, Luiz conceding a foul wide on the left and then helping Lavezzi’s wicked delivery into the net. PSG’s momentum was checked again midway through the second period when Ibrahimovic hurt himself playing a pass to Jallet in midfield and hobbled off clutching the back of his right thigh. But the home fans’ concern for the Swede’s fitness was forgotten when Pastore, a late replacement for Lavezzi, wriggled away from the challenges of Cesar Azpilicueta and Frank Lampard before beating Cech at his near post. — AFP

SINGAPORE: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors joined Guangzhou Evergrande at the top of their AFC Champions League group after a superb strike gave the 10-man Korean side a 1-0 win over the defending champions yesterday. Guangzhou entered the Group G match at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium with a 12match unbeaten run in the competition, and a chance to claim a place in the knockout rounds with a victory over their hosts. And their hopes were boosted when the Korean side, who won the tournament in 2006, had Jung Hyuk sent off midway through the second half after the midfielder received his second caution of the game. But, with 14 minutes remaining, Lee Jae-sung spotted that Leonardo was on the run, and lofted a fine through pass to the Brazilian-who met it on the edge of the Guangzhou box with a side-footed volley that gave goalkeeper Zeng Cheng no chance. The victory saw Jeonbuk draw level with Guangzhou with seven points, although the Chinese side lead the group because of their better record in the head-to-head matches between the two sides following their 3-1 win over Jeonbuk in southern China two weeks ago. Guangzhou and Jeonbuk have a threepoint advantage over Yokohama F.Marinos and Melbourne Victory after the Japanese side claimed their first win in the group with a 3-2 triumph over the Australian club at the Yokohama International Stadium. Beaten 1-0 in Melbourne a fortnight ago, F.Marinos began the return match badly as James Troisi converted from the penalty spot in the seventh minute after Shingo Hyodo had tugged back Jason Geria. But the home side turned things around with a pair of goals in five minutes midway through the half. Sho Ito equalised with a

clever chip in the 21st minute, and Kosuke Nakamachi then tucked away a loose ball shortly afterwards to put the Japanese side ahead. Hyodo made amends for giving away the penalty by firing home F.Marinos’ third in the 89th minute, a goal that would prove decisive as James Jeggo found the net for the Australian side in added time. Korean champions Pohang Steelers opened up a three-point lead at the top of Group E with a 4-2 away win over Chinese side Shandong Luneng in Jinan. Go Moo-yul put the visitors ahead against the run of play in the 35th minute at Jinan Olympic Sports Centre, and a fine display of counter-attacking football saw the 2009 champions pull away after the break with goals by Kim Tae-soo in the 65th minute and Kim Seung-dae seven minutes later, before Liu Binbin deflected a shot into his own net in the 83rd minute. Late goals by Du Wei and Han Peng gave some respectability to the score for Shandong, who fell to second place after their first defeat in the group. Shandong are now level on points with Cerezo Osaka, after the Japanese club came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Buriram United in Thailand. Buriram were humbled 4-0 in Japan two weeks ago, but they went two goals up at the interval after Theerathon Bunmathan fired home a 10th minute free-kick and Suchao Nutnum saw his effort go in after an error by Cerezo goalkeeper Kim Jin-hyeon. However, Tatsuya Yamashita came to his side’s rescue in the second half, cutting the deficit in the 65th minute before heading them level in the final minute with an effort that had just crossed over the line before it was hacked clear by the Buriram defence.— AFP


German cabinet signs off on minimum wage Page 22 Egyptian foreign reserves edge up Page 23


Shares extend rally, euro firm

South Asia needs $2.5 trillion infrastructure investment Page 22

Page 24 CBK Chairman’s message

CBK shareholders’ equity KD 562 million Our valued shareholders, our respectable customers, staff members and all stakeholders, I have the pleasure to present to you a brief statement on the Bank’s performance, financial highlights, trends, future outlook and issues of concern. Corporate Governance Corporate Governance principles as adopted by the Kuwaiti banking sector continue to govern the Bank’s business activities. Furthermore, the Bank has been translating such principles into policies and procedures while also subjecting them to ongoing reviews and updates. The Bank’s Management endeavors to adopt Corporate Governance principles and urges all staff members at all levels to fully implement these principles such that, over time, they not only become an indispensable element of our business culture but also a major driver of our conduct for the individual and the organization.

cleaner portfolio. The amount of accumulated debts and loans off-loaded reached KD 486 million over the past four years, namely from 2010 to 2013. Such off-loaded debts are not on-balance sheet items. Nevertheless, the Bank, on best effort basis, seeks settlement for such debts amicably or through judicial process. In terms of profitability, the Bank achieved operating profits of KD 102 million before provisions and reported net profits of KD 23.5 million for the year 2013. Depressed Return on Assets: The Management believes that ROA fell short of expectation at the present time and this necessitates further diagnosis and remedial actions for achieving better ROA comparable to local peers.

Bank’s Financial Performance The Bank’s total shareholders’ equity amounted to KD 562 million with a growth of 1.8% compared to KD 552 million in the year 2012. As such, Commercial Bank of Kuwait is the third largest bank in terms of shareholders’ equity. The Bank’s total assets were KD 3.9 billion with an increase of 7.1% over 2012. The Bank is ranked fifth in the banking sector in terms of assets size. As for credit growth, the Bank extended credit facilities and loans of KD 2.3 billion to its customers with increase of KD 189.3 million and with a growth of 8.9% compared to 2012. The Bank is ranked fifth among Kuwaiti banks in terms of the size of credit facilities and loans extended to customers. In the same context, the year 2013 saw international syndicated loans achieving remarkable growth and reaching KD 71 million of on-balance sheet exposure. The prudent and steady growth in the lending activities and the volume of credit facilities is based on a number of principles most important of which are the following:

Bank’s position and potential CAPITAL ADEQUACY RATIO: The Bank has competitive advantages that underpin and enhance its financial position such as capital adequacy ratio that stood at 18.38% as at the end of 2013 and which comfortably exceeds the minimum 12% requirement of the Central Bank of Kuwait and is more than twice the minimum ratio recommended by Basel. ASSETS QUALITY: Measured in terms of Non Per forming Loans (NPLs), the Bank’s asset quality is sound with NPLs at 1.35% of gross loans (the lowest ratio in the banking sector) compared to 2.76% in 2012. The aggregate provisions were KD 128.2 million resulting in a provision coverage for NPLs at 367% in 2013 compared to 169% in 2012. OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY: The Bank continues to demonstrate its cost leadership in operational efficiency with a costincome ratio standing at 24.14%. BRANCH NETWORK: The Bank operated a large domestic branch network with 50 branches which are mostly located in commercial areas and complexes and all branches are based in Kuwait and it is not anticipated that the Bank would open foreign branches in the near future.

FIRST: Applying risk-focused selective criteria in choosing customers and transactions. SECOND: Prioritizing the enhancement of revenues from each relationship over growth in volume. THIRD: Pro-active provisioning and offloading of doubtful debts to maintain a

Future and Challenges FATCA: Banks and financial institutions across the globe inclusive of Kuwaiti banks are concerned with the issue of implementing Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) which is expected to become enforceable on 30th June 2014. The Act stipulates disclosure to Internal Revenue

KUWAIT: CBK Chairman Ali Mousa Al Mousa addresses the annual general assembly meeting.

Service (IRS) in USA about the financial transactions of the American citizens and other US taxable persons according to tax laws and associated terms after entering into the agreements governing the disclosure process. It is aspired that the competent authorities in Kuwait will accelerate the process of issuing the necessary legislations to secure implementation of the required disclosure, given the fast approaching deadline and the fact that failure to comply may result in many difficulties for financial institutions that are highly correlated with the US financial markets. BASEL III: The year 2013 saw the commencement of implementation of Basel III requirements as identified by the State’s regulators which oversee implementation and application thereof. The requirements of Basel III will substantially impact the banking sector and its activities in Kuwait given the fact that some of these requirements aim at enhancing banks’ capital base. However, the Bank had already taken the necessary steps for implementing such requirements. The Bank is also in the process of issuing subordinated bonds valued at KD 120 million that would qualify as tier 2 capital

in line with Basel III requirements for which all necessary measures are being put in place including endorsement of the issuance in the Extra-Ordinary General Assembly Meeting. Among the impacts of Basel III are the constraints imposed on banks’ investments in securities issued by financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies under the conditions contained in the instructions as well as the phased de-recognition of real-estate collaterals when calculating capital adequacy ratio. Major Projects: The construction projects launched by the State of Kuwait in the present time are relatively huge in terms of cost and size. This in turn requires full cooperation among banks on one hand and between banks and the regulators on another hand to allow banks to extend the required financing commensurate with the size of such projects. Additionally, the general policies and procedures regulating banking business should cope with such unprecedentedly huge projects which Kuwaiti economy sees currently. We emphasize that the banking sector in Kuwait has all the potential and capabilities to extend all financing needed for such projects. It would be helpful if the the

credit policies are adapted to factor in the size and cost of these projects. Competition in Banking Industry The Kuwaiti market saw healthier and fierce competition among banks which results in improved quality and pricing of banking services offered to customers. It is expected that the market will see further competition with foreign banks licensed to operate in Kuwait permitted to operate through more than one branch. We welcome and support this approach, as the ability to cope with competition is the basic parameter that determines the quality for any institution. In addition, this approach complements the international commitment since Kuwait is a founding member in the International Trade Organization. So, it is generally recognized that reciprocity principle is an integral part of such commitment. In conclusion, I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the Bank’s shareholders, employees, customers and other stakeholders for their support and cooperation and to all regulatory authorities for their guidance. — Ali Mousa Al Mousa Chairman

Pilots’ strike grounds Lufthansa Lufthansa cancels about 3,800 flights FRANKFURT: Lufthansa pilots started a three-day walkout yesterday in a dispute over early retirement, effectively grounding Germany’s largest airline in one of the biggest strikes ever to hit the company. Lufthansa has cancelled 3,800 flights during the strike, which runs until the end of tomorrow, and says the stoppage will cost it tens of millions of euros. The pilots’ walkout is the third strike to hit Frankfurt airport, Europe’s third-largest by passengers, in six weeks after industrial action by security staff and public sector workers. With many flights cancelled in advance, Lufthansa passengers mostly stayed away. Lufthansa check-in desks at Frankfurt, the airline’s home base, were being used as ‘rebooking’ desks instead. But queues were short and many had already rebooked online. Those passengers at the airport seemed satisfied with the service being offered. Standing in front of the airport’s main departure board which mostly showed ‘annuliert’ or ‘cancelled’ next to flights, two passengers from Italy were pleased to be on one of the few flights leaving. Lufthansa says it is able to run around 500 flights over the three days, just over 10 percent of its regular service. “We’ve hit the jackpot because we’re on one of the flights that’s still going,” Claudio Valent, a 54 year old who’d come to Frankfurt for a trade fair, told Reuters. “In Italy, we’re used to strikes but we didn’t expect it in Germany.” Early retirement The pilots want Lufthansa to reinstate a scheme that enabled them to receive 60 percent of their pay when they left their jobs before the legal retirement age. Lufthansa pilots used to be forced to retire at 60, leaving them with a five-year gap before legal retirement provisions kicked in at 65. However, the retirement age for pilots was raised to 65 in Europe in 2011 and so Lufthansa says the scheme is no longer needed. “This is a massive attack on our

FRANKFURT: Lufthansa pilots gather for a rally as they went on a three-days-strike in Frankfurt, Germany yesterday. — AP

social rights,” Markus Wahl, board member of pilots’ union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) told Reuters at Frankfurt airport. “We have to send out a clear message.” VC represents most of Lufthansa’s 5,400 pilots. Analysts estimate the strike could cost the airline as much as 50 million euros in lost profit. Lufthansa made a 313 million euro net

profit last year. “We are prepared but this is not a good day for Lufthansa or our passengers,” a Lufthansa spokeswoman said. Brad Doble, managing director of Munich-based branding consultants Lambie-Nairn, said the strike would make passengers think twice about booking with Lufthansa in future. “You can’t just cancel over 400,000 people’s flights

and not think that it’s going to affect the brand,” he said. “Loyalty in the airline industry is fickle, it’s a commoditised industry.” While the pilots union has promised not to strike over the Easter holidays, which start on April 14 across most of Germany and run until the end of the month, they have not ruled out further action. German Transport

Minister Alexander Dobrindt called on Lufthansa and the union to seek a quick resolution. “Every day of strikes limits the mobility of hundreds of thousands of people,” he was quoted as saying by German daily Bild. The strike also affects Lufthansa’s cargo arm and its low-cost carrier Germanwings. — Reuters



Sanctions could destroy Russian economy HAVANA: Foreign investors still face an obstacle course in Cuba despite the passage of a new, more liberal law aimed at attracting capital from outside the communistruled island. Cuba’s National Assembly unanimously approved the law on Saturday, offering tax and other incentives to foreign investors, who are seen as crucial to reviving the country’s stagnant economy. But even as he pitched the new law, Foreign Trade and Investment Minister Rodrigo Malmierca acknowledged to lawmakers many impediments to foreign investment remain. He ticked them off in a speech to the assembly: “The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the American government, the foreign debt situation, the past errors in terms of investment and the restrictions imposed by the lack of foreign currency.” The US embargo, in place since 1962 and denounced daily by Havana and annually by an immense majority of the UN General Assembly, is solidly embedded in US law. It prohibits Americans and Cuban residents of the United States from investing in Cuba and threatens sanctions

against companies who do business in Cuba, whether they are US subsidiaries or foreign companies that also operate in the United States. Nevertheless, US President Barack Obama “holds out the possibility of creating licenses to allow particularly Cuban-Americans to invest in and promote the nascent Cuban private sector,” says Arturo Lopez-Levy, a Cuban academic at the University of Denver. There are some exemptions to the embargo, obtained notably by the powerful American agro-business lobby, and some Cuban exiles have expressed interest in investing in sugar production in Cuba. “The American government should seriously think about it, because Cuba is a market that some Americans greatly wish to reconquer,” said Esteban Morales, of the University of Havana. Inertia, bottlenecks The high cost of servicing Cuba’s foreign debt is another problem limiting the island’s capacity to borrow and adding to its need for direct foreign investment. The

Court cases, bans Although she does not understand why anyone would want to close a profitable factory and make about 2,000 workers redundant, Voronina says her business has been under scrutiny for some time. Last year, Russia’s consumer watchdog banned imports of Roshen sweets from Ukraine, citing health concerns. In 2010, a competitor brought a court case against the business for using a trademark it had the rights to - a silhouette of a swallow made famous on Sovietera sweets. Sometimes the decisions went in her favor, sometimes not. On March 18, the court ruled against the factory in the trademark case. The next day, the men in plainclothes arrived, backed by armed riot police. The business’s accounts were frozen and workers were told to leave. “We are a Russian confectionary producer using foreign capital. Our shares were acquired by a Ukrainian company, it was a market transaction,” she said, adding that her investors had never asked for dividends, happy to plough profits back into the company to employ 2,000 workers from 300 in Soviet times. After becoming part of the Roshen empire at the end of 2001, Voronina said production leapt from about 6,000 tons in Soviet times to 122,000 tons of confectionary in 2013. “I cannot say anything bad about our investors ... they are our partners, they are our owners and they have never done anything bad to us. They have just developed this factory.” Roshen declined to comment further on the situation in Lipetsk, saying only that the factory was closed. But for the women selling chocolates in a kiosk outside the factory gates, the reason for the closure is obvious. Asked whether they sold Roshen chocolates, the answer was a firm “No”. “You won’t find those chocolates here, they’re Ukrainian,” one of the vendors said. Mikhail Podchipayev, a worker from the factory, agreed. “It’s all about Maidan,” he said, referring to the square in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, where the anti-government protests that resulted in Yanukovich’s removal began more than four months ago. The factory had been one of the most popular employers in this city of just over half a million people, but the trickle of workers who enter the building now gossip about rumours of how the management paid Ukrainians more money and were cheating the Russians. Some feel embarrassed to work for Ukrainians, swept up in a wave of Russian patriotism since Moscow annexed Crimea. “There were people working here without the right documents,” said one worker, a Croat who declined to give his name. “Poroshenko should have run a clean operation.” Voronina denies all the charges but the reputation of the factory she spent years building is in jeopardy, the latest victim of increasing hostilit y bet ween Russia and Ukraine, once called a brotherly nation by President Vladimir Putin.

rights and undermines productivity and healthy management. Lopez-Levy, for his part, regrets that the new law fails to specifically allow remittances from Cubans living abroad to be used and treated as foreign investment. The remittances amount to about $2.6 billion a year, making them Cuba’s second most important source of foreign revenues, on a par with tourism. The nascent private sector, which today employs some 450,000 people-compared to four million in the public sector-benefits hugely from remittances. Addressing them in the new law would have created a legal framework for business associations between the Cuban diaspora and those on the island, he said. “All these businesses should receive breaks and incentives, notably in terms of taxes, because of their positive social impact,” said LopezLevy. Addressing them in the new law would have created a legal framework for business associations between the Cuban diaspora and those on the island, he said. “It is a simple economic reform which incomprehensibly has been put off,” said Lopez-Levy.— AFP

German cabinet signs off on minimum wage

Bitter times for chocolate factory in Russia, Ukraine LIPETSK: After three years of court cases involving authorities and competitors, Taisiya Voronina thought she had seen everything in Russia’s rough and tumble business environment. That was until a final ruling this month sent dozens of armed police and plainclothes officials through the Ukrainian owned chocolate factory she manages in southern Russia. Her factory now shuttered, Voronina, who wants little to do with politics, fears she may become another victim in a struggle for influence between Russia and the West in Ukraine. Dozens of men searched her office, took away armfuls of documents and questioned the general director for most of the night, asking questions she said had little to do with the criminal case which has been opened against her - a case she rejects. She is charged with conspiring with unnamed others to use a registered trademark illegally to “extract additional profits”. Her factory workers in the town of Lipetsk suspect they know better. “It’s because of Ukraine,” they whisper, blaming the lack of work on the factory’s owners, the company Roshen and its billionaire boss, Petro Poroshenko, front-runner in Ukraine’s presidential election. With work now stopped and the factory’s accounts frozen, Ukraine has called the move “a dangerous precedent”, a possible prelude to the confiscation of Ukrainian businesses in Russia as punishment for pursuing closer ties with the West. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, denies any political connection to the case in Lipetsk, saying it is “unjust to say that certain selective measures are undertaken against certain companies”. “Russia is interested in maintaining an atmosphere of trust to its investment and business climate,” he said. But critics say Russia, no stranger to using its economic muscle for geopolitical ends, has squeezed assets controlled by businessmen close to Ukraine’s new rulers, focusing on people like ‘Chocolate King’ Poroshenko, who could win a May 25 presidential election. In retaliation, Ukraine has vowed to file compensation claims for assets lost to Russia in Crimea, signaling it could also confiscate Russian assets if not satisfied - a move that would fire up what for now is a simmering economic feud. In what has become the worst standoff in relations between the East and West since the Cold War, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine after the Ukrainian parliament removed Moscowbacked Viktor Yanukovich as president and set a course for closer integration with the West. The new court case is a body blow to a woman who has spent the last 45 years raising the factory in the centre of Lipetsk, a dusty city 440 km southeast of Moscow, “as if it were my child”. “We cannot understand what is happening and why,” Voronina said in an interview, sitting behind a large desk in an office now restored to its original orderliness after plainclothes men arrived on March 19 to search for documents.

last official figure put Cuba’s foreign debt at $13.6 billion in 2010. Since then, Cuba has managed to cancel part of its foreign debt with Russia, Japan and Mexico. While Malmierca did not explain what he meant by “the errors of the past,” Lopez-Levy said that the new law faces many of the same pitfalls as the 1995 foreign investment law it replaced. “The 1995 law was never applied in full because of inertia on the part of the administration and because of several bottlenecks,” he said. For example, the old law like the new one authorized the creation of enterprises with 100 percent foreign capital. But in practice every foreign company operating in Cuba does so through joint ventures in which the state has a majority stake. To these problems, the Cuban government adds another: the hiring of personnel. Under the new law, as in the old, foreign investors have no direct control over their personnel, who must be hired through a state-run agency. “This measure should have been eliminated,” said Morales, because it both goes against workers’

National minimum wage of $11.75 per hour BERLIN: Germany’s cabinet agreed yesterday to a national minimum wage of 8.50 euros ($11.75) per hour - a flagship project for the Social Democrats (SPD) who share power with Angela Merkel’s conservatives. The minimum wage will take effect in Europe’s biggest economy from 2015 but will not cover minors, trainees and some interns. Some employers can continue to pay their workers less until the end of 2016 if they are covered by certain collective agreements. Companies will also be able to pay the long-term unemployed less than the legal minimum wage for the first six months of a new job. “The minimum wage is coming,” SPD Labor Minister Andrea Nahles said at a news conference in Berlin. “It is, above all, good news for people who work hard but get such low wages that they can’t live from them so I hope that with this pay

package we will create more wage justice and that’s good for cohesion in Germany overall,” she added. The minister has reassured employers in sectors where seasonal work is common, such as agriculture, hotels and restaurants, by offering support to help them adjust to the minimum wage. The Bundestag lower house of parliament is due to debate the law in June before passing it in July. The Bundesrat upper house is expected to wave it through after the summer break. Employer lobbies say the plan will cost jobs and introduce too much regulation. But Nahles said: “We’re not expecting any effects, be they positive or negative, on employment at the moment,” pointing to Germany’s previous experience with 13 sectoral minimum wages and the experience of other countries. Of the 28 states in the European Union, 21 have minimum wages. EU states without minimum

wages tend to have smaller low-wage sectors than Germany and a bigger proportion of their workers are covered by collective wage deals between unions and employers. Peter Weiss, head of the workers’ faction in Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), welcomed the cabinet’s decision. “With the general minimum wage we are taking a clear stand against unfair wages,” he said. But Frank Bsirske, head of Verdi trade union, said excluding the long-term unemployed from the minimum wage was discriminatory. German welfare organization Paritaetische Wohlfahrtsverband said said it marked the start of a “two-tier labor market”. Slightly more than a tenth of workers in western Germany earn less than the proposed 8.50 euros an hour, compared with a quarter of workers in eastern Germany, according to data from the IWH institute. — Reuters

KOLKATA: An Indian fruit vendor waits for customers in front of graffiti for the forthcoming elections, in Kolkata yesterday. — AFP

S Asia needs $2.5 trillion infrastructure investment NEW DELHI: South Asia needs up to $2.5 trillion of investment in infrastructure by 2020 if the region is to make further gains in battling poverty and provide for its growing population, the World Bank said yesterday. Despite boasting similar economic growth rates to East Asia, the region lags significantly in its population’s access to water supplies, power grids and roads, and by some measures is comparable to Sub-Saharan Africa, the bank said in a new report. “The South Asia region continues to suffer from a combination of insufficient economic growth, slow

urbanization, and huge infrastructure gaps that together could jeopardize future progress,” said Luis Andres, report co-author and Lead Economist for Sustainable Development for the South Asia Region. To bring its infrastructure up to scratch, the World Bank said the region needs to invest between 6.6 and 9.9 percent of 2010 GDP a year. That is as much as three percentage points over the current 6.9 percent invested by the region, which includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri

Lanka, in 2009. South Asia has “enormous” infrastructure needs, the bank said. More than a quarter of the population still lack access to electricity, far more than the less than 10 percent who lack it in other parts of the developing world. The region also has the highest incidence of open defecation in the world - with 680 million people, or 41 percent of the population relying on it in 2011 - and although 90 percent of people enjoy improved water access, most of this is via public stands, with only 25 percent having access to piped water. —Reuters

EXCHANGE RATES Al-Muzaini Exchange Co. ASIAN COUNTRIES 2.732 4.632 2.729 2.158 2.896 223.180 36.351 3.623 6.355 8.754 0.271 0.273

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

GCC COUNTRIES 75.257 77.543 733.110 749.570 76.856

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

ARAB COUNTRIES 39.250 40.089 1.318 180.370 398.530 1.893 2.011 35.709

US Dollar Transfer Euro Sterling Pound Canadian dollar Turkish lira Swiss Franc Australian Dollar US Dollar Buying

EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES 282.100 394.940 475.200 256.450 127.970 714.180 258.250 280.900 GOLD

20 Gram 10 Gram 5 Gram

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 259.05 257.62 326.02 394.72 281.40 473.05 2.78 3.622 4.607 2.157 2.894 2.788 76.68 748.97 40.42 400.50 731.82 77.71 75.17

SELL CASH 256.05 258.62 324.02 395.72 284.40 476.05 2.80 3.892 4.907 2.592 3.429 2.790 77.15 751.04 41.02 406.15 739.12 78.26 75.57

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 281.900 256.355 470.375 392.508 321.250 744.350 76.730 78.280 76.040 397.280 40.444 2.157 4.648 2.819 3.621 6.330 692.400 3.725

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

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

2.955 3.900 86.850 46.335 9.690 127.050

Bahrain Exchange Company CURRENCY Belgian Franc British Pound Czech Korune Danish Krone Euro Norwegian Krone Romanian Leu Slovakia Swedish Krona Swiss Franc Turkish Lira Australian Dollar New Zealand Dollar Canadian Dollar US Dollars US Dollars Mint Bangladesh Taka Chinese Yuan Hong Kong Dollar Indian Rupee Indonesian Rupiah Japanese Yen Kenyan Shilling Korean Won Malaysian Ringgit Nepalese Rupee Pakistan Rupee

BUY Europe 0.007332 0.462277 0.006264 0.048291 0.385259 0.043228 0.086667 0.008066 0.040128 0.314266 0.125432

SELL 0.008332 0.471277 0.018264 0.053291 0.393259 0.048428 0.86667 0.018066 0.045128 0.324466 0.132432

Australasia 0.246149 0.232670

0.257649 0.241170

America 0.248103 0.278050 0.278550

0.256603 0.282400 0.282400

Asia 0.003293 0.044791 0.034266 0.004372 0.000019 0.002646 0.003256 0.000254 0.082334 0.002842 0.002570

0.003893 0.048291 0.037016 0.004773 0.000025 0.002828 0.003256 0.000269 0.088334 0.003012 0.002850

0.006358 0.000062 0.219262 0.020184 0.001865 0.009189 0.008381

0.006638 0.000068 0.22562 0.028884 0.002445 0.009369 0.008931

0.741953 0.036772 0.000078 0.000181 0.393730 1.0000000 0.000137 0.024316 0.001114 0.726824 0.076790 0.074603 0.002162 0.175706 0.125432 0.075837 0.001281

0.749953 0.039872 0.000079 0.000241 0.401230 1.0000000 0.000237 0.048316 0.001749 0.732504 0.078003 0.075303 0.002382 0.183706 0.132432 0.076986 0.001361

Arab 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

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

Transfer Rate (Per 1000) 281.600 391.900 469.750 254.850 4.633 40.090 2.157 3.625 6.330 2.810 749.850 76.700 75.200



Smuggled Libya oil fuels Tunisia economy - and instability BEN GUERDANE: Anger has been brewing in Tunisia’s smuggling hub of Ben Guerdane since the closure of its main border crossing stemmed the contraband Libyan petrol trade which fuels the local economy. Faced with an increased number of vehicles loaded with cheap fuel exiting its western borders, the Libyan government decided to close the Ras Jedir crossing in early March, Tunisian officials say. Officially, Tripoli said the border post was closed by “mutual agreement” pending “security guarantees” for Libyans living in Tunisia. Protests have since multiplied in nearby Ben Guerdane, resulting in a general strike on Monday that brought the coastal town in southeast Tunisia to a standstill. Trafficking has flourished in Tunisia in the aftermath of its 2011 revolution, while lawlessness has been rife in oil-rich Libya following its own revolt the same year. In a report published in December, the World Bank estimated that informal trade with both Libya and Algeria cost Tunisia at least 600 million euros ($828 million) annually in lost revenues. According to the report, 20 percent of the active population in the Ben Guerdane region work in informal trade, making it “one of the largest employers (if not the largest) in the region.” In Ben Guerdane, discontent has been aggravated, according to protesters, by the Tunisian army’s destruction last week of dozens of vehicles used to smuggle goods through the desert south of Ras Jedir. “These people no longer have enough to live on since the border post was closed,” Ridha Mahdhi, who heads a Tunisian-Libyan friendship association said. He said the smugglers had been bringing Libyan

fuel through the crossing largely unhindered, but were forced to find alternative routes when it was shut. “And because the desert tracks they’ve been following lead through a military zone, the army ransacked 67 vehicles,” Mahdhi added, a claim that could not be verified. One smuggler, giving his name as Ali, said the Tunisian

military would allow them into Libya but then “attack and sometimes loot” their cars on the way back. A Tunisian security source said the smuggling operations benefited the border authorities, who received a cut from every passing vehicle. “They go through Ras Jedir and pay a bribe, or even ‘hire’ the cars of customs offi-

TUNISIA-LIBYA BORDER: A general view shows empty stalls in the southeastern Tunisian town of Ben Guerdane as vendors observe a general strike after the closure of the Tunisia-Libya border. — AFP

cers so that they can do two or three trips a day,” the source said, requesting anonymity. Tidy profits Merchandise smuggled into Tunisia from Libya includes food and manufactured goods, which all earn tidy profits for the traffickers and still undercut Tunisian market prices. But petrol reaps the biggest reward, with a litre bought in Libya at around 8 cents going for around 50 cents (0.5 euros, or $0.69) in Tunisia, still 30 percent less than at the pump. The business has turned into an economic lifeline for Ben Guerdane, which like many other parts of Tunisia suffers from persistent unemployment and lack of investment. With so many people depending on smuggled Libyan goods to support their families, riots broke out in Ben Guerdane when the border was closed in January. “This type of trade has an important economic and social impact in border regions. In many of these regions, informal trade is one of the most important economic activities,” the World Bank said. Khalifa, a public sector worker, said the fact that trafficking supported the majority of people in the region was unlikely to change. “It’s not a secret and the practice won’t stop as there are no factories or projects to create jobs,” he said. But Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa, whose technocrat administration was appointed two months ago, pledged to eliminate trafficking and parallel trade during a visit to the southeast region in early March. He said they caused “huge losses” to the Tunisian economy, according to an official statement which gave no details of planned alternative measures. — AFP

Qatar’s economic growth accelerated to 6.5 percent Economy faces overheating risks, IMF warns

THESSALONIKI: Pensioners shout anti-austerity slogans outside the Health Ministry office in the northern Greek port city of Thessaloniki yesterday. — AP

Greeks evoke past injustices to overcome bailout shame ATHENS: Germany is footing much of the bill for Greece’s 237 billion euro bailout but Athenstrained dentist Aristomenis Syngelakis feels no gratitude; Berlin owes his country billions in reparations for Nazi crimes during World War Two, he says. “They’re wagging the finger at us while they are themselves the biggest cheats,” says Syngelakis, stung by headlines in popular German newspapers calling Greeks lazy swindlers. Syngelakis is one of the leaders of a campaign, backed by opposition parties, to make Berlin pay as much as 162 billion euros ($223 billion) for the hundreds of villages destroyed, thousands of civilians executed and huge sums looted from the Greek central bank by the Nazis in 1941-1944. But this campaign is about more than recovering money; it also aims to heal a deeply wounded national pride. Many Greeks feel the bailout financed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund is just the latest in a series of humiliations inflicted by foreign powers on their fiercely proud nation at the weakest moments of its modern history. Evoking past injustices - some dating from long before the Nazi occupation and blamed on a number of other countries - has become an outlet for Greeks’ anger and frustration during six years of economic crisis. In contrast to Syngelakis, historians say Athens could at most ask Germany for a few billion euros, but public frustration over Greece’s foreign dependency is still directed at Berlin. The Greek government hasn’t officially quantified its reparation claims, and Berlin has long said that it has already honored all its war obligations, including a payment of 115 million deutsche marks (59 million euros) to Greece in 1960. While this sum had a far greater value more than half a century ago, it still fell far short of what the campaign of Syngelakis is seeking. It is also a very small part of the reparations of about 70 billion euros that Germany has paid worldwide since the war, according to Finance Ministry figures. Berlin says the Greek demand has been considered, and rejected. “This question has been thoroughly examined and answered negatively,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said last month after President Joachim Gauck apologized for Nazi war crimes on a visit to Greece. The campaign for war damages has been waged for decades, by both former Greek governments and private citizens. But it has gained momentum due to crippling austerity measures imposed on Greece under the bailout deal four years ago. A fashionable cause As the biggest euro zone economy, Germany is contributing the largest share of rescue - and has also been among the most insistent on the tough conditions which have deepened mass unemployment and a wave of corporate bankruptcies in Greece. German media have also leapt on stories alleging waste, corruption and idleness in Greece which have deeply hurt a country where suicides are up a third from precrisis levels. The government officially raised the reparations issue with Berlin in January, and the main opposition party, Syriza, has declared it as one of its top priorities. “Years ago political parties wouldn’t even agree to see us. Now we’re suddenly in fashion,” 86-year-old actor Stefanos Linnaios told a meeting of the National Committee to Claim German Debt, of which he and Syngelakis are members. However, some believe that the sense of

national despair is being exploited. “Reparations are more a political than a historical claim,” said Katerina Kralova, a historian specializing in contemporary Greece at the Charles University in Prague. “Emotions have been hijacked by the crisis.” Syngelakis, a 43-year-old health economics specialist, has criss-crossed Greece for the past 13 years, encouraging mayors to form a “network of martyr villages and towns”, a pressure group that now counts 91 municipalities. “I will not give up the fight. I owe it to my father who saw his father, grandfather and three brothers killed by the Germans,” said Syngelakis, as he recounted his efforts at an Athens cafe one afternoon recently. Syngelakis and Manolis Glezos, a 94-year-old resistance hero who is leading the campaign, say that they have a once-ina-lifetime chance to get their cause on the Greek and international political agenda. “We have a unique opportunity we mustn’t miss,” Glezos told a packed campaign meeting last month attended by the Dean of Athens University and by the President of the Athens Bar Association. Born to be broke To many Greeks, the bailout is just another shameful episode at the hands of foreigners. Greece was overloaded with debt from its early days as a modern state in 1832. Some historians say powerful nations of the time, including Britain, used the young country’s debt to hold sway over its foreign policy in the 19th century. Foreign intervention split Greece into two rival states in World War One while a 1946-49 civil war between a pro-Western government and Communist insurgents divided Greek society for decades. Memories of the US-backed military junta which ruled from 1967-74 also remain fresh for many. During World War Two, about a thousand villages were razed and more than 20,000 civilians were killed in reprisals by German troops trying to crush the Greek resistance, which had liberated large areas of the country. Nazi troops forced Greece to make an “occupation loan”, a credit line at the Bank of Greece which Germany used to help finance its campaign in north Africa. Runaway inflation and thousands of deaths from hunger in Athens followed. Compensation Greece got after the war fell far short of the $7.2 billion it claimed. Greece got about $13 million from an Allied Commission in addition to the German funds in 1960. Over the years, several Greek governments asked Germany to top up the payments. Separately, private citizens won temporary court rulings to seize German property in Athens and in Italy, but the International Court of Justice in The Hague said in 2012 they had no right to do that. Germany has said it would not make additional payments. According to experts studying the issue, Greece’s only realistic chance for reparations 70 years after the war would be to call in the occupation loan, which the Bank of Greece has tentatively valued at 6 billion euros. Historian Thanos Veremis, vice president of the ELIAMEP think-tank, says Greeks forget that foreign intervention often worked in their favor. Greece would never have shaken off Turkish Ottoman rule without the military assistance of Britain, France and Russia, historians say. International economic control imposed in 1893 helped the country to fix its finances and double its territory in a 1912-1913 war. Greece has also obtained tens of billions of euros in EU funds since joining the bloc in 1981, much of it contributed by Germany. —Reuters

DUBAI: Qatar’s economic growth accelerated to 6.5 percent in 2013 as a pick-up in construction and inflows of foreign workers ahead of the 2022 soccer World Cup offset easing oil production, data showed yesterday. Analysts polled by Reuters in January had expected growth to slow to 5.7 percent in 2013 and 5.5 percent this year from 6.2 percent in 2012. An expansion of Qatar’s gas facilities helped fuel breakneck growth averaging 17 percent a year between 2006 and 2011, but the economy slowed in 2012 as the gas expansion ended and works on a raft of mega projects were slow to start. Qatar is the world’s top liquefied natural gas exporter. Overall economic growth slowed in the final quarter of 2013 due to a sharp fall in the hydrocarbon sector, which accounts for more than half the $202 billion economy, but other sectors continued to expand rapidly. “It’s a very encouraging data set. The headline number may have weakened a little as hydrocarbon activity eased, but non-oil performance remained very strong and that’s what is driving the economy forward,” said Simon Williams, chief economist for the Middle East and North Africa at HSBC. Non-oil gross domestic product

jumped 10.4 percent between October and December, slightly slower than a revised 10.9 percent increase in the previous quarter, preliminary data from the Qatar Statistics Authority showed. “The high growth in the fourth quarter of 2013 is the result of a double-digit rise seen mainly in construction, trading, hospitality and financial sectors coupled with (an) over 12 percent jump in the country’s population,” the authority said. Overall GDP growth slowed to 5.6 percent year-on-year in October-December from an upwardly revised 6.9 percent in the previous quarter. It decelerated on a quarterly basis to 0.6 percent in the final quarter from 3.4 percent in July-September. Output from the oil and gas sector fell 1.1 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter nearly reversing a 1.4 percent rise in the previous three months. That helped put the overall annual rate in the final quarter of 2013 at the lowest level since the third quarter of 2012, the data showed. “The fall in production of crude oil besides closing down of few LNG trains for maintenance (in) the third quarter 2013 is the primary cause of this decline,” the authority said.

Egyptian foreign reserves edge up CAIRO: Egypt’s foreign reserves rose to around $17.42 billion in March from $17.307 billion in February, central bank governor Hisham Ramez said, edging further away from critical lows they hit last year. The reserves fell sharply following the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in early 2011, but have been bolstered since last summer when Gulf Arab states started sending billions of dollars in aid after the army deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. “The reserves that I have increased in the last month,” Ramez said in a television interview late on Tuesday. “We will announce about 17.42 billion (dollars), we have money coming in from things that are very different from the Suez Canal, there’s people coming in selling dollars.” The Suez Canal, the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia, is one of the country’s main sources of foreign currency. Its monthly revenues hit their lowest in four years at $339.3 million in February, the latest month for which Egypt’s state information portal has data. It was not immediately clear whether Gulf states sent more aid during March, when the central bank sold around $500 million in foreign currency auctions. The bank has held regular dollar auctions to commercial banks since December 2012 in order to slow declines in the Egyptian pound, but dollar shortages continue to fuel a foreign currency black market. At an auction on

Monday, it sold $38.3 million at a cut-off price of 6.9575 pounds per dollar. On the black market the dollar was offered for around 7.40 pounds. Dollar repatriation Egypt’s Central Bank said on Tuesday it had covered the entire backlog of dollars owed to foreign investors seeking to repatriate funds from the country, but did not say how much money was involved. “The amount was big and I won’t announce it,” Ramez told privately-owned channel CBC, adding the move was important for Egypt’s investment climate. “The most important thing in dealing with foreign and local investors is when we say we will do something that we go through with it.” Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have showered Egypt with aid in the form of central bank deposits, petrol products and grants since Morsi’s ouster. Over $12 billion was pledged. Qatar, on the other hand, had been a firm backer of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and lent or gave Egypt $7.5 billion during the year the Islamist was president. Last year Egypt returned $3 billion to Qatar, and a central bank source said in January the same amount would be returned in 2014. Ramez said this year Egypt will return $2.5 billion to Qatar around November. “I am not worried because I paid $3 billion in more difficult circumstances,” he said. — Reuters

SHANDONG: A woman lines up mannequin heads on a shelf at a company making fashion wigs for export in Jimo city in east China’s Shandong province. Growth in the developing economies of Asia will edge higher as the recovery in rich countries helps the region weather the slowdown in China, the Asian Development Bank said. — AP

Overheating risks Non-oil growth in Qatar is likely to stay strong this year, with pressure on the government to step up works on an estimated $140-$200 billion worth of pre-World Cup tournament projects that include a new airport, roads, railways and stadiums. That could push up costs and create bottlenecks. “This is still the easy part of the cycle, but as these high rates of growth continue over 2014 and into next year, I expect to see inflation start to rise significantly. Asset prices are also likely to pick up further,” Williams said. The International Monetary Fund warned in March that large public investments in Qatar entail a possibility of overheating in the near term and overcapacity in the medium. Last month, sources familiar with government policy told Reuters that Qatar was likely to reschedule about 15 percent of its planned building projects for coming years. Inflation in the Gulf Arab state of 2.1 million has been holding below 3 percent since July 2013 but economists expect it to climb to 3.9 percent in 2014 and 4.2 percent in 2015. — Reuters

Property stocks, banks lift Dubai MIDEAST STOCKS DUBAI: Dubai’s bourse rose to a new multi-year high yesterday on the back of banking and property stocks, while markets in Abu Dhabi and Qatar slowed their advance as they neared February peaks. Dubai’s benchmark added 1.2 percent on increasing turnover, reaching its highest level since September 2008. Union Properties rose 5.7 percent and another property developer, Deyaar, surged 8.3 percent. The emirate’s property prices rose about 20 percent last year and continue to grow, boosting the profits of developers and construction firms. ‘A lot of investors want to invest in speculative names, the companies that were badly hit in the previous crisis’ which offer the biggest upside potential, said Sebastien Henin, head of asset management at The National Investor. At 2.60 dirhams, Union Properties is still far below its 2008 peak of 5.20 dirhams. The pick-up in the property sector and improving confidence in the state of Dubai’s finances are also helping local banks that have large exposure to real estate and government-related companies. Lender Emirates NBD added 5.0 percent yesterday and Dubai Islamic Bank rose 1.0 percent. An annual meeting between conglomerate Dubai World and its creditors was held yesterday; if its debt restructuring plan proceeds smoothly, that will benefit ENBD, a big lender to Dubai World. ‘These names are benefiting from the reassessment of their loan book risk profiles,’ Henin said. Mobile phone operator du gained 2.0 percent on the final day its shares entitled holders to receive its 2013 dividend payout. Meanwhile, the market in neighbouring Abu Dhabi closed almost flat at 4,955 points as it approached February’s multi-year peak of 5,005 points. National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah dropped 6.1 percent after going ex-dividend. Ras Al Khaimah Ceramics added 1.5 percent and turnover jumped after the company, in a Reuters interview, outlined plans to invest $80 million this year on plant expansions in India and Bangladesh as well as technology upgrades at other plants. Qatar, Egypt The rally in Qatar, sparked by the adoption of a record $60 billion state budget this week, also slowed in declining turnover. The index closed up 0.3 percent at 11,940 points, marginally above the February peak of 11,917 points but not enough to break that resistance decisively. Egypt’s bourse added 0.1 percent after bouncing from a three-week low on Tuesday. Shares in Telecom Egypt climbed 1.8 percent after the country’s telecommunications minister Atef Helmy said the fixed line monopoly would be able to buy a mobile licence for $360 million. The bourse suspended trading in Telecom Egypt at mid-session pending the company ’s response to its inquiries. Telecom Egypt then published a statement saying it had not received any official offers of the licence. — Reuters



Shares extend rally, euro firm in pre-ECB jockeying Dollar reaches 10-week peak vs yen LONDON: World stocks extended their recent rally and the safe-haven yen sagged to a 10-week low yesterday, as investors focused on the positive in a mixed bag of global economic data. Trading was largely cautious before today’s meeting of the European Central Bank and tomorrow’s US jobs numbers. Both could move markets significantly. With Wall Street expected to add to Monday’s

record high later, Europe’s main stocks markets rose 0.3 percent in morning trade. That put them on course for a seventh straight day of gains for the first time in six months. Euro zone inflation slid to just 0.5 percent this month, leading investors to speculate the ECB will soon loosen policy. Messages from policymakers have been mixed,

though. On Tuesday, ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio told a news conference that low inflation was a concern but denied deflation was a threat. That was taken to mean the chances the central bank would move today were low. The euro got a modest lift but had flattened out to stand at $1.3788 at 1100 GMT. It is a shade higher than when the last ECB last met, a fact that won’t have gone unnoticed at

the bank, which has cited the euro as one reason it might cut rates again. “All the money that ran away at the height of the crisis is now coming back in, and that flow, as well as driving this periphery (bond) rally, is keeping the euro high,” said Luke Bartholomew, an Aberdeen Asset Management fixed income and FX strategist. “We are short the euro, long the periphery, but it’s incredibly frustrating being short the euro at the moment.” Greek and Portuguese bonds gained, riding the wave of optimism that has taken their governments’ borrowing costs to post-euro-crisis lows, after almost three years of economic rehabilitation under EU/IMF bailout programs. Property booms Financial markets now appear to have recovered after stumbling earlier this year. A cutback in US monetary stimulus, the geopolitical tug-of-war over Ukraine and signs the Chinese economy was slowing all weighed on markets. Even sluggishness in China is now considered favorable, because it bolsters the case for stimulus. There are signs Beijing is hastening infrastructure spending in response. Chinese state media reported yesterday that several cities may relax restrictions on home ownership, lifting stocks on the CSI300 property sub index 4 percent. “Previously, the government repeatedly talked about controlling the property market, but now they aren’t saying anything about this and instead there have been signs of easing policies,” said Tian Weidong, head of research in Kaiyuan Securities in Xi’an. Elsewhere in the region, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan crept up 0.4 percent to a fresh fourmonth high, South Korea made a threemonth peak while a weaker yen helped recent underperformer, the Nikkei, jump

1.7 percent. US economic news has whetted risk appetite. Manufacturing ISM data showed an expansion after weatherinduced weakness in February. New-vehicle sales also saw a surprisingly brisk rise. The US payrolls report on Friday is expected to show 200,000 jobs added in March. The usual payrolls appetizer comes later at 1215 GMT in the form of ADP employment data. Economists polled by Reuters expect a pick up in hiring to 195,000. “Things are progressing slowly and there is now a strand of dollar strength as people say this is where the US data gets a bit better,” said National Australia Bank strategist Gavin Friend. The brighter tone put pressure the long-end of the US Treasury curve, where yields on 10-year paper rose 2 basis points to the highest in a week at 2.7735 percent. Shorter-dated debt fared better after Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s comment this week that extraordinary stimulus would be needed for some time to come. Will they, won’t they? A Reuters poll of 22 euro money-market traders found 18 expected no change in the ECB’s 0.25 percent refinancing rate this week. The euro stuttered to a halt at $1.3788 as it tried for its fourth straight session of gains. It also gained as the yen softened, reaching 143.30. The dollar reached a 10week top against the Japanese currency at 103.86 yen. Among commodities, Brent crude was flat at $105.54 a barrel. It had shed over 2 percent overnight after Libyan rebels blocking oil ports hinted at a deal with Tripoli, which could increase supply. US crude eased 50 cents to $99.23 a barrel. It also lost around 2 percent on Tuesday, amid expectations domestic inventories would grow. Spot gold was sulking at $1,283.40 an ounce. It touched a seven-week low of $1,277.29 on Tuesday. — Reuters

TOKYO: A man rides a bicycle past an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo yesterday. Asian stock markets pushed higher yesterday on signs of a pickup in the US economy and expectations of further stimulus in Japan. — AP

Gold edges up LONDON: Gold rose yesterday, recouping some strength after two days of losses but remained near its lowest in seven weeks on expectations of strong jobs data in the world’s largest economy. Spot gold edged up 0.3 percent to $1,283.20 an ounce by 0956 GMT, still within reach of its lowest since Feb 11 at $1,277.29 hit in the previous session. Gold futures for April delivery rose $4.00 to $1,284.00 an ounce. “It’s a big data week... in addition to the various economic numbers already seen, we’ve got the NFPs (US non farm payrolls) coming up and there is some repositioning ahead of that,” Mitsubishi analyst Jonathan Butler said. “We have ADPs (employment data) later today.. and there will be a greater search for meaningful clues from the Fed as to whether a genuinely hawkish stance is being taken as suggested a couple of weeks ago or not.” Gold fell in the previous session after data showed US factory activity accelerated for a second straight month in March and auto sales

surged, the latest signs the economy was strengthening after a brutal winter. As US data turn more positive after two months of underperformance due to extremely cold weather, market participants awaited non-farm payrolls tomorrow, which will be preceded by ADP job numbers later and weekly jobless claims today. The negative impact of any strong US data on gold could, however, be cushioned by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s recent defense of the Fed’s easy monetary policy, analysts said. In wider markets, the dollar was unchanged against a basket of currencies, drawing support from steadier US Treasury yields. Returns from US bonds are closely watched by the gold market, given that the metal pays no interest. As a gauge of investor interest, holdings in SPDR Gold Trust , the world’s largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 2.10 tons to 810.98 tons on Tuesday - the lowest since early March. —Reuters

Brent falls below $104 LONDON: Brent oil fell $1 to a near fivemonth low below $105 a barrel yesterday on poor manufacturing data from China and Europe, while investors awaited US inventory data to help assess demand in the world’s top oil consumer. Crude prices on both sides of the Atlantic tumbled nearly 2 percent on Tuesday after the data, which was coupled with news that Libyan rebels could re-open vital oil ports within days. Brent crude oil was down $1.14 to $104.48 a barrel by 1222 GMT, its lowest since Nov 8. US crude oil shed 55 cents to reach $99.19 a barrel, after dropping 1.8 percent in the previous session. In a sign of weakness, the May contract briefly fell to parity with the June contract, threatening to move into a market structure known as contango, which signals ample supplies and weak demand. Contango has been a rare occurrence in the Brent market over the past three years as supply outages from Libya and other countries have tended to keep the contract closest to delivery above those for delivery in the future. “There are more bearish macroeconomic factors weighing on sentiment. We started the week with weaker data from China ... so one of the key contributors to global oil demand growth in recent years is going through a soft patch,” said Harry Tchilinguirian, an analyst at BNP Paribas. “At the same time ... people are looking at the US Federal Reserve tapering continuing, which sug-

gests a stronger dollar environment, and that is bearish for commodities.” Commodities such as crude oil are priced in dollars, which means a stronger greenback makes them more expensive to importers. Surveys showing that factories across Europe eased back on the throttle in March and that China’s vast manufacturing industry contracted for a third straight month have raised expectations that oil demand could falter. Tuesday’s slump was also attributed to news that a rebel group in eastern Libya had agreed with the government to end its seizure of oil ports, raising hopes for an end to an eight-month stalemate that has dried up state income. Eyes on us data Markets are now keenly awaiting oil inventory data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) for more trading cues. Data released on Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute (API) showed crude stocks had dropped 5.8 million barrels in the week to March 28 to 373.5 million barrels. The numbers confounded analysts’ forecasts for an increase of 1.1 million barrels but failed to provide support even to US oil. “If the upcoming EIA weekly release were to reveal lower crude inventories consistent with the API data, we are likely to expect prices to retrace upwards,” Phillips Futures analyst Tan Chee Tat said in a note. —Reuters



IMF ramps up loan conditions despite promises WASHINGTON: The number of conditions the International Monetary Fund attaches to its loans has grown in recent years, despite promises to limit what critics see as onerous requirements, according to a study released yesterday. The Eurodad network of European development groups also said nations desperate for cash are at a disadvantage in their dealings with the IMF, likening them to negotiating “at the barrel of a gun.” The IMF attached nearly 20 conditions on average to each loan it approved in the past two years, Eurodad found. That was more than the number the group had calculated in two prior reports. Many of the conditions also focused on politically contentious areas, such as public sector wage cuts or private sector reform, according to the report. Eurodad looked at the period from October 2011 to August 2013, covering 23 loans. In a 2011 review, the IMF promised to keep “conditionality parsimonious and focused on macro-critical issues.” The

Eurodad report said: “The IMF is going backwards increasing the number of structural conditions that mandate policy changes per loan, and remaining heavily engaged in highly sensitive and political policy areas.” The results were partly skewed by the biggest IMF loan programs during the period covered. Loans to Cyprus, Greece and Jamaica accounted for 87 percent of all funds approved, and had an average of 35 conditions each, Eurodad said. In the case of Cyprus and Greece, they were shaped by the IMF’s European-dominated executive board, which demanded strict budget cuts in exchange for aid, said Eurodad’s director, Jesse Griffiths. The report comes six years after the IMF’s own internal watchdog urged the fund to dramatically reduce the conditions it attaches to loans, arguing they were not entirely effective. Political constraints The IMF’s loan conditions have long been a sore

point for many countries and grassroots groups, who have argued they are excessive and harmful to the poor. Many governments also complain IMF conditions are not well-tailored to country circumstances and political constraints, and may have unrealistic deadlines. They argue conditions reduce a country’s ability to effectively control its economic programs. Griffiths said nations in dire straits are at a disadvantage in negotiating with the IMF. They are desperate to get cash and show financial markets and other donors that their policies have the IMF’s seal of approval. For example, Ukraine had long resisted the IMF’s conditions, but it finally agreed to them this year after saying it was close to default. Ukraine’s prime minister said his government is on a “kamikaze” mission to make painful decisions. “It’s like at the barrel of a gun,” Griffiths said. “Those are decisions that are political and should be made in consultation with the people

in those countries, and not through negotiations” with the IMF. The IMF argues its conditions are necessary to put economies on the growth track, and ensure it gets its money back. Eurodad, however, found most countries were repeat borrowers. Twenty out of the 22 countries with new IMF programs from 2011 to 2013 had borrowed in the past decade, and a majority had borrowed in the previous three years. Some IMF conditions, such as drastic budget cuts that can weigh on an economy, may also make it more difficult for countries to repay their loans. The IMF in 2012 admitted it had miscalculated the economic cost of government austerity. Eurodad said deeper changes were needed, including overhauling the IMF’s governance structure to give developing countries a bigger voice. The IMF in 2010 agreed to an initial step to boost the power of emerging markets, but the reforms have been held up by the opposition of the US Congress.— Reuters


in brief

KUWAIT: Emad Jawad Bukhamseen, Abdullah Gul, and Ali Sabanci during the launching ceremony held at the Sheraton hotel yesterday. — Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

KUWAIT: Turkish President Abdullah Gul sits next to Kuwait’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Ali Al-Ghanem during the Kuwaiti-Turkish economic forum in Kuwait City yesterday.

Pegasus Airlines launches daily flights to Kuwait Turkish low-cost private carrier By Nawara Fattahova KUWAIT: As part of its continuing expansion, Pegasus Airlines celebrated the launch of its Kuwait route in the presence of Turkish President Abdullah Gul yesterday at Sheraton Hotel. It was attended by Pegasus Airlines’ Chairman of the Board Ali Sabanci, Emad Jawad Bukhamseen, CEO and Vice Chairman of the Aviation Division of Bukhamseen Holding Group, and other guests. Pegasus currently flies to 79 destinations in 32 countries after the official launch of its Kuwait route, and offers competitive prices. Pegasus is the fastest growing airline in Europe with the newest fleet connecting Kuwait with 45 destinations, with four flights a week till May 7 - then it increases to daily flights. This is the airline’s seventh destination in the region. “Pegasus gives everybody the right to fly. We are glad to bring Kuwait nearer to Turkey. We believe in the abilities of the Middle East. Kuwait is the seventh destination in the Middle East after Tehran, Erbil, Beirut, Tel Aviv, Doha and Dubai,” said Sabanci. “Through the competitive policy and prices that Pegasus provides, we have become a very popular carrier. Pegasus has provoked competition in Turkey as well as the 32 other countries to which it flies. Our goal is to become the ‘people’s airline’ in all the countries we serve. Passengers can fly to all destinations covered by our network for the most economic price ever. And we suc-

ceeded in achieving this in both Beirut and Moscow,” he added. This will also be possible in Kuwait. “Our passengers in Kuwait will now be able to enjoy high-value flights with Pegasus. Our clients can now fly at affordable rates which will bring touristic and economic benefit to the country. It’s a pleasure for us to include Kuwait into our network,” stressed Sabanci. Bukhamseen expressed his happiness to announce the official launch of Pegasus flights. “This launch is part of the Bukhamseen Holding Group’s achievements in cooperation with Pegasus that starts from Kuwait to Turkey and then to the rest of the world,” he pointed out. “This deal is the biggest of its kind. For the first time in Kuwait, daily flights will be arriving to Kuwait from Istanbul and many other cities around the world for the cheapest prices so everybody can experience tourism in Turkey. Starting the operations of Pegasus in Kuwait will strengthen commercial cooperation between Kuwait and Turkey, and will make travelling to Turkey and other counties much easier,” Bukhamseen added. “We have chosen this partnership due to the performance of Pegasus. It’s the only airline in Turkey that releases its departure timings online. In 2012, Pegasus had a 92.1 percent on-time performance, while it was 90.24 percent in 2013,” he noted. Bilateral relations between Kuwait and Turkey are model. “Turkey has become one of the most in-demand destinations for

Kuwaiti tourists during the past few years. Both nations have a common history, culture and religion. Furthermore, Kuwaiti investment in Turkey has increased, which improved their economy that has grown rapidly during the past 10 years,” Bukhamseen concluded. Al-Huseini Abdulhameed, Deputy GM of the Aviation Division of Bukhamseen Holding Group, said passengers will like to travel onboard Pegasus, the cheapest carrier in Turkey and Europe due to the travel and touristic offers that it provides. “Their services include booking hotels and visiting various areas in Turkey and Europe. Flights to Kuwait are on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, from Sabiha Airport in Istanbul at 22:00, while flights from Kuwait depart at 2:55. Starting from May 7, the flights will be daily,” he explained. Pegasus Kuwait is connected to 45 destinations. “Eleven of these are in Turkey, while 34 are outside including Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Basel, Belgrade, Berlin, Bologna, Brussels, Bucharest, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Moscow, Cyprus, Paris, Rome, Zurich, Stockholm and others,” added Abdulhameed. Passengers can book and find more information about Pegasus flights on The event was held during a three-day visit of a Turkish trade delegation to Kuwait to promote investment in Turkey and the attractive opportunities offered for Kuwaitis and other GCC citizens.

Batelco appionts new group chief executive DUBAI: Bahrain’s Batelco has appointed Alan Whelan as group chief executive, the state-run telecommunications operator said yesterday, nearly 11 months after its former CEO quit. Whelan is an industry veteran whose former employers include BT, AT&T and telecom companies in India and Macao. Whelan joins a company - formally called Bahrain Telecommunications Co - that has reported declining profits in 16 of the past 18 quarters and has suffered an exodus of senior management in the last 12 months. He replaces Sheikh Mohamed bin Isa al-Khalifa, who quit last May. Also departing last summer were longserving Peter Kaliaropoulos, himself a former Batelco CEO, and ex-finance chief Marco Regnier. Bahrain eyes changes to Islamic financing MANAMA: Bahrain’s central bank has released a consultation paper to study possible changes to rules for shariacompliant financing arrangements which the kingdom’s Islamic banks can offer to accredited investors. The move comes as part of a broader push to revamp Bahrain’s efforts in Islamic finance, an industry it helped to pioneer, in the face of growing competition from other centers such as Dubai, London and Kuala Lumpur. The proposed rules would allow Islamic banks to set up special financing contracts on a wakala basis, a common sharia-compliant agency agreement where the investor agrees to bear the full risk of default. But in an apparent move to reduce risks and the possible impact on other Islamic instruments, Islamic banks would be required to segregate those funds from their own balance sheets by establishing special-purpose vehicles that would remain under the banks’ control. EU slaps 300 m euro fine on cable firms BRUSSELS: The European Commission yesterday fined 11 producers of high-voltage power cables a total of 300 million euros for operating a cartel that secretly shared out the global market. “These companies knew very well that what they were doing was illegal. This is why they acted cautiously and with great secrecy,” said EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said. The EU said six European, three Japanese and two Korean firms-that all make up the world’s biggest high voltage cable producers-of sharing markets and allocating customers between themselves. The companies involved in the scheme were Japanese companies VISCAS and JPS, Nexans of France and Italian company Prysmian, which was previously owned by investment bank Goldman Sachs. Swiss company ABB received full immunity, having been the first company to reveal the existence of the cartel.

Britain could produce shale gas in four years

MADRID: People enter an unemployment registry office in Madrid, Spain yesterday. The number of people registered as unemployed in the country fell by 16,620 in March, leaving the total number at 4.8 million, Spain’s National Statistics Agency said. — AP

Spanish firms prepare stock debut as economy improves MADRID: Two Spanish companies said they are preparing to launch on the stock market, the first public offerings since 2011, adding to signs the economy is tentatively recovering from a deep recession. Corporate testing and inspection company Applus+ said yesterday it aims to raise at least 300 million euros ($413.8 million) in its debut share sale. Online travel reservations firm eDreams Odigeo is also selling 370 million euros of shares, including 50 million euros in new shares, and books are due to close today. Spain, which came close to requesting an international rescue in 2012, is slowly emerging from a long recession and professional investors have gained confidence in Spanish assets, despite stubbornly high unemployment. However, the number of jobless in Spain fell in March for the second straight month and the workforce grew. “These data suggest the Spanish labor market has started to improve in tandem with the nascent economic recovery,” BNP Paribas wrote in a research note. Applus+, which is controlled by private equity firm Carlyle, said it will use the money mainly to pay off debt and to fund further expansion. EDreams Odigeo could be valued at up to 1.075 billion euros after sources said on Tuesday it had narrowed its price range to 10-10.25 euros. In both cases shares are being sold to institutional investors. Retail investor confidence was severely damaged by the IPO of bank Bankia in 2011, which was subsequently nationalized. Hundreds of thousands of

ordinary Spaniards who bought shares lost money. The government is trying to get the indebted economy back on track after narrowly avoiding an international rescue in 2012. Spain’s economy grew on a quarterly basis in the second half of 2013, the first time in more than two years and the government is expecting growth of 1 percent this year after it shrank 1.2 percent last year. While there are signs of recovery, the jobless level is among the highest in the European Union and the government just missed its budget deficit target of 6.6 percent of GDP for 2013. It has promised to cut the shortfall to 3 percent by 2016. Many Spaniards say they have not seen any economic improvement but an improved corporate outlook should help job creation and boost tax revenues. Applus+ did not specify how much total proceeds of the sale were likely to be. A source told Reuters last month that the company is targeting a valuation of approximately 2.2 billion euros. The company has financial debts with banks of about 900 million euros. Applus+ provides services for the energy, infrastructure and automotive sectors to manage risk, quality and safety. It reported revenue of 1.6 billion euros and gross operating profit of 200 million euros for 2013 and employed 19,000 staff. The process still requires the approval of Spain’s stock market commission and the publication of a prospectus, and Morgan Stanley and UBS are joint global coordinators. —Reuters

LONDON: Shale gas production in Britain could begin within four years if the current crisis in Ukraine escalates to such an extent that a national state of emergency is declared, the chief executive of Cuadrilla Resources said. Britain is in the early stages of exploring for shale gas to counter its growing dependence on imports, and geologists have estimated it could have shale resources equivalent to several hundred years of demand. Cuadrilla is the only company in Britain so far to have used hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in test wells in Lancashire. It is two to three years away from establishing whether its British shale gas operations are commercially viable, Chief Executive Francis Egan said at an event at think-tank Chatham House on Tuesday evening. If the Ukraine crisis worsens dramatically and Britain declares a state of national emergency and removes all constraints, “it would take two, three or four years to get up to appreciable production rates,” he added. In an emergency situation, Cuadrilla could start constructing a drilling site immediately and start drilling after two months. Drilling a well would take around four months, and three to four wells would be needed to demonstrate the commercial value of shale gas. In normal circumstances, it will take two to three years just to find out whether shale is commercially viable, because it has not yet been established at what rate the wells would flow. Energy consultancy Poyry has estimated it would take up to eight years for a developer to start commercial production in Britain after receiving a licence. Barriers As Russia’s occupation of the Crimea region has led to the

worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, there is increasing urgency for European countries to find alternatives to Russian gas supplies, which arrive via Ukraine. Last week British Prime Minister David Cameron called the current crisis in Crimea a “wake-up call” and said shale gas was a good opportunity for Europe to move away from Russian gas. Russia provides around a third of Europe’s gas, with most of that going to central and southeastern Europe rather than Britain, but Britain will begin to import gas from Russia under formal contract for the first time this year. British domestic gas production from the North Sea basin is declining, and it imports most of its gas from Norway or via liquefied natural gas shipments. North Sea gas production will fall to 19 billion cubic metres (bcm) by 2030 from 108 bcm in 2000, Minister of State for Energy Michael Fallon said at the Chatham House event. “Without shale we are forecasting we will be importing 70 percent of our gas by 2025, which equates to a 10 billion pound ($16 billion) per year import bill,” he added. For shale gas production to begin within four years, Britain would have to opt out of all applicable EU legislation and of regulations by its local authorities. Local opposition to fracking has been another obstacle. Shale gas is ordinary natural gas trapped in dense rock formations. In the fracking process, water, sand and chemicals deep are injected into rock formations to release hydrocarbons. Cuadrilla has been repeatedly targeted by protesters and environmentalists concerned about groundwater contamination, earthquakes and the expansion of fossil fuel use. “There is no short circuit through this. It will take a lot of cups of tea in parish councils until it becomes a ‘so what?’ question,” Egan said. — Reuters

PULASKI: In this photo, equipment is parked at a gas well drilling site in Pulaski, Pa. The gas drilling company Hilcorp that is working the well has asked state officials to invoke a 1961 law in the rural area and allow Utica Shale well bores under the property of four landowners who haven’t signed leases. — AP



Zain Group secures $250 million 4-year Murabaha facility KUWAIT: Zain Group, a pioneer of mobile telecommunications in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, has secured a $250 million four-year Murabaha facility from a syndicate of financial institutions led by Kuwait-based Boubyan Bank and with the participation of Kuwait International Bank and Qatar Islamic Bank. The Murabaha facility which was signed on favorable terms will be used to meet Zain Group’s operational and expansion financing needs. Zain Group CEO Scott Gegenheimer commented: “This Murabaha agreement at these preferential terms underscores the Group’s success in adopting a policy of prudent borrowing to finance general corporate needs.” He continued, “The contract strengthens our relations with the Islamic banking community, taking advantage of

the sector’s facilities. It also comes in the context of our fiscal policy in which we seek to diversify sources of funding.” On his part, the Deputy Chairman and CEO of Boubyan Bank, Adel Abdul-Wahab Al-Majed said, “This agreement marks a clear message on the ability of Kuwaiti banks and their commitment to supporting corporate entities with strong operational performance and robust strategies, while at the same time contributing to the development of the national economy.” Furthermore, Al-Majed added, “Many ground-breaking developments in Boubyan Bank in recent years has earned us a reputation as a leading player in the Islamic finance sector in Kuwait, earning the confidence of major companies, including Zain.” In recent years Zain has invested heavi-

ly in upgrading its mobile networks and in rolling out new services across all its operations taking advantage of the boom in the mobile sector, specifically in the everincreasing demand for efficient broadband services. Most recently, the company introduced 4G LTE superfast broadband services to several key markets namely Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain as well as extensively upgrading and expanding 3G networks in Jordan, Sudan and South Sudan. In Iraq, the network has been upgraded with a Single-RAN, allowing the operator to offer broadband services once the 3G licence has been granted. Additionally, Zain Iraq is aggressively expanding its network and rolling out commercial services in the more affluent northern region of the country.

Zain Group CEO Scott Gegenheimer

Boubyan Bank CEO Adel AbdulWahab Al-Majed

Banks, funds falter Commodity investors turn away

URC wins MEED Quality Award

LONDON: Investors are turning their back on commodities as returns from futures, options and other derivatives fail to live up to expectations. They heyday of commodities as a separate ‘asset class’ appears over. In future, growth will be concentrated in physical arbitrage strategies, where trading houses and the trading arms of energy companies and utilities rather than banks and hedge funds have an advantage. Banks tend to blame increased regulation and compliance imposed on them following the financial crisis for the reduced profitability of their commodity divisions. There is some truth in that. But the bigger problem is that growth in commodity trading has stalled as investors struggle to make money. Following a large inflow of funds into the asset class during the boom of 2004-2008, and then again during the Great Reflation of 2009 and 2010, investors have pulled back. Pacific Investment Management Companyís Commodity Real Return Strategy Fund, the largest investment vehicle in commodity derivatives, has seen its assets under management shrink 25 percent to $14.3 billion from $19 billion at the end of March 2011. Schroders Alternative Solutions Commodity Fund has seen its assets halve from almost $5 billion in August 2011 to $2.6 billion at the end of February 2014. California Public Employees Retirement System, one of the earliest evangelists for allocating investments to commodities as a separate asset class, has cut its exposure to just $2.4 billion from more than $3.5 billion in early 2012. Pimco, Schroders and CalPERS are some of the best-managed commodity funds in the business, yet all three recorded losses in 2013, underscoring just how difficult the environment has become. The downturn extends across the sector. Net long positions controlled by index-type

investors in commodity futures contracts have fallen from $220 billion in January 2011 to $177 billion in January 2014, according to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Banks retreat Investorsí diminished appetite has cut deeply into the fees and other trading income available for the major investment banks and dealers. The average commodity fund lost more than 8 percent of its value in 2013, compounding losses of 3 percent in 2012 and 7 percent in 2011, according to an analysis of Lipper fund data. Major market benchmarks like the Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index and the Standard and Poorís Goldman Sachs Commodity Index have been flat or falling for three years. In a market where the spot price of most commodities has been stable, investors have not been able to earn enough return from taking on risk to cover the cost of storing and financing commodity stocks. ‘Facts and fantasies about commodity futures’, the 2004 research paper that popularized commodities as an asset class for a wider group of investors, promised an equity-like combination of risks and returns, as well as protection from inflation and diversification of a portfolio consisting of stocks and bonds. But returns have proved disappointing. Commodity indices and hedge funds have lost money even as equity markets hit new post-crisis highs. The only diversification has been negative. Protection against price rises has also come to seem less important as aggressive unconventional monetary policies by the major central banks have failed to spark inflation. Waning enthusiasm for commodities therefore comes as no surprise, but it has been very painful for banks and hedge funds that rely on dealing and making markets in commodity derivatives, as

Wataniya to launch Samsung Galaxy S5 KUWAIT: United Real Estate Company (URC), the leading real estate developer in the MENA region announced yesterday that one of its retail projects, Salalah Gardens Mall and Residences (SGM/SGR), in Oman is the National Winner of MEEDís ‘Leisure & Tourism Project of the Year’ as part of the 2014 MEED Quality Awards. With assets over US $ 1.67 billion as of December 2013, URC has proven to be a

market leader in the MENA region through a track record of properties set in prime locations. The MEED Quality Awards Projects recognize companies at the forefront of the industry who introduce projects and add value to communities, both on a social and economic level. Salalah Gardens Mall and Residences was selected as the ‘Leisure & Tourism Project of the Year’ for Oman by a panel of judges who rated projects based

on economic, social and environmental impacts, engineering and design challenges as well as design methodology and innovative techniques. Commenting on the award win, URCís Executive Vice President, Renimah Ali Al Mattar said, ‘It brings us great pleasure to announce that Salalah Gardens Mall and Residences has been selected as ‘Leisure & Tourism Project of the Year’ for Oman by a reputable and regional organization such as MEED. We as developers have a new role to fill, which is to ensure that our commercial projects contribute to the economic and social development of the city. URC had to overcome various challenges with respect to sourcing contractors and materials readily available in order to introduce a project of this standard for the first time in Salalah, Oman.’ Completed in Q2 2013, SGM embraces traditional Omani architectural design with a large landscaped courtyard and integrates modern interior and finishings. The mall has a total built-up area of 86,074 sqm and introduces a wide variety of shopping, dining and entertainment options such as the first modern cinema complex in Salalah, and an indoor arcade and play area. The mall also features a designated souq area for traditional Omani handicrafts and a hospitality component, Salalah Gardens Residences (SGR), comprised of one, two, and three bedroom hotel apartments. For the 4th consecutive year, the MEED Quality Awards have become the premier platform within the construction industry to recognize outstanding real estate projects across the GCC. The program recognizes, celebrates and rewards the project owners and key project teams who completed the highest quality projects in the GCC region between January 2012 and December 2013.

KUWAIT: Wataniya Telecom, member of Ooredoo Group, announced yesterday the unveiling of the long-awaited flagship smartphone from Samsung (Samsung Galaxy S5) which will be available in all its branches by mid-April. Wataniya’s customers will have the chance to experience the new smartphone’s innovative features on the most advanced network in Kuwait. The New S5 will come in different vivid colors, feature a bigger screen, an improved rear camera and biometric functions such as iris recognition or a fingerprint scanner. It will be accompanied with three new Gear smart watches. The new S5 is the first smart phone with a built-in Heart Rate Sensor which enables users to measure their heart rate directly on the phone. It also comes with a feature called “S Health” which acts as a personal fitness tracker. The enhanced S Health leads users through their fitness routines daily and consistently. They can set their goals and achieve them with the help of Galaxy S5’s pedometer and S Health’s constant tracking of their condition, walking distance, calories, speed, duration, and so on. It is also worth mentioning that the S5 is made to last longer and stronger as it is resistant to sweat, rain,

liquids, sand and dust, so the phone is protected from any activity and situation. For better photos, the S5 comes with an HDR (Rich Tone) feature which allows for brighter and vivid captures when there is a strong counter light or when the subject is shaded. In addition to HDR, the Selective Focus allows users to focus on what’s important by blurring the background and accentuating the main subject in defined detail. With the new phone, users will get doubled connection and faster speed. The Download Booster technology utilizes the LTE and Wi-Fi simultaneously to give users an unrivaled network experience. They will experience approximately 80~90% of the added network speed of LTE and Wi-Fi when this feature is turned on. Wataniya is pleased to offer its customers the latest Samsung Galaxy S5and assured the continuous efforts to raise the bar by offering exclusive services and latest products at competitive prices. Wataniya continues to bring the latest and most exciting mobile products to Kuwait through its wide range of premium partners, to ensure that latest telecom innovations are up-to-the-minute for all its customers.

Citadel Capital to close its capital increase to EGP 8b KUWAIT: Citadel Capital (CCAP.CA on the Egyptian Exchange), the leading investment company in Africa and the Middle East, has received key regulatory approvals that will allow it to close its capital increase on 9 April 2014 with full subscription. The rights issue will bring the firm’s issued capital to EGP 8 billion. The Egyptian Financial Services Authority (EFSA) has approved the dates for the second and final subscription period for the capital increase from Wednesday, 2 April 2014 until Wednesday, 9 April 2014, while the General Authority for

Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) has also reviewed and approved a report by the firm’s independent auditor (KPMG / Hazem Hassan) that certifies EGP 3.7 billion in liabilities to coinvestors and shareholders, mainly arising from investment purchases by the firm. Citadel Capital will capitalize an amount equivalent to the uncovered portion of the capital increase, thus ensuring it will be fully subscribed. As part of its transformation into an investment company, Citadel Capital will focus on subsidiaries in five core industries: energy, transportation, agrifoods, mining and cement.

their pool of potential business shrinks. PHYSICAL ARB Interest has now shifted away from financial strategies based on futures, options and index swaps to physical market strategies that try to exploit small price differences related to the delivery time, location and quality of raw materials. Physical arbitrage is the core business of trading firms like Vitol, Glencore, Trafigura, Mercuria, Cargill and Noble, which have correspondingly been able to expand their operations at the expense of the banks. But it is much harder for general financial investors to capture returns from physical arbitrage since it demands much more specialist knowledge and close relationships with both producers and consumers. Even if some specialist funds promise to use their deep industry expertise to generate arbitrage-related performance, investors often struggle to prevent the fund managers and traders from appropriating all the returns. Banks too lack the economies of scale needed to exploit the ultra-thin margins in the arbitrage business. The shift from financial to physical trading has therefore left banks, hedge funds and mutual funds struggling to generate acceptable returns and haemorrhaging their best traders and dealmakers to the trading houses and energy companies. Market forces are shifting talent and capital to institutions and strategies that can employ them more effectively. Bank executives like to blame regulators for driving the business away with intrusive and expensive new rules. But the underlying dynamics of the business have changed in ways which have pushed the banks and hedge funds to the sidelines and seem likely to keep them there in the short term. — Reuters

Al Tijaria Real Estate launches ‘The Lobby’ KUWAIT: Al Tijaria Real Estate Company has announced the start of its new project “The Lobby” to support Small Businesses. It’s the first project of its kind in Kuwait and it took place in Al Tijaria Tower’s Mall located in Mirgab - Sour St. In this context, Mohamed Farouq Al Abdul Raheem - Deputy Manager in Al Tijaria Property Management Department emphasized the importance of “The Lobby” project and its genius idea coming from Al Tijaria; vibrant role in corporate social responsibility and its commitment to encourage youth with small businesses; providing them with the help and support needed by giving them location and space to conduct their commercial activities in unit area of between 13-47 sqm with symbolic monthly renting fees and without any extra cost. Also Al Tijaria will help these young entrepreneurs in their shops’ interior designing in addition to assisting them in getting the required commercial licenses if needed. Mohamed Farouq Al Abdul Raheem added that Al Tijaria has received several reservation requests much higher than the units available; which has resulted in processing the preparation of the 2nd phase of this project prior to the opening of the actual 1st phase. Mohamed Farouq also noted that the communication channels are always open for those wishing to inquire more about this project thru contacting our Property Management Dept by email or by calling any of these numbers 22968899 22968890 : 1805252

Kabul’s ‘Bush bazaar’ hopes election will revive business KABUL: Kabul shopkeeper Haji Najimullah is furious with the Americans. Not for their long military intervention in Afghanistan, but the fact they are leaving, robbing his market stall of an important supplier. Hundreds of stallholders in Kabul’s “Bush bazaar” have made a tidy living selling on “surplus” equipment and rations-much of it pilfered-from the US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan. But business has dwindled to half what it was a few years ago at the market, named after US president George W Bush who ordered the invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks of 2001. Traders are hoping that the election on Saturday to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai will bring stability to the country and boost their fortunes. In the short-term, though, Najimullah admits his biggest worry is the withdrawal of US-led forces. “Americans are the worst kind of people I have ever seen, they are leaving but they have stopped giving away the things they don’t need to Afghans-instead they

burn them,” he raged, standing in his shop piled high with camouflage gear, military boots and combat knives. “The Soviets were better-when they left they also left everything behind for Afghans to use.” Fear of abandonment extends beyond the traders at Bush bazaar-the USled mission has pumped billions of dollars into the Afghan economy and there are concerns of a dramatic financial crash when foreign forces leave. Some Afghans predict a lack of jobs for the fast-growing population could become as big a threat to the country as the militants in the future, and generating economy activity will be one of the major challenges awaiting the new president. Saucy sourcing A few years ago, shoppers at Bush bazaar could get their hands on all sorts of contraband. Illicit pork and alcohol-forbidden in Muslim Afghanistan, along with sen-

sitive military equipment such as sniper sights and nightvision goggles were all to be found in the narrow lanes during the market’s heyday. It was the only place to buy packets of ready-made omelettes, jumbo-size bottles of American sauces and tins of Quaker Oats-all often “sourced” from the giant US military base at Bagram, 60 kilometres (40 miles) from Kabul. US and Afghan fatigues were also on sale, causing grave concern as Taliban insurgents often disguise themselves as soldiers to access bases before launching attacks. Now the stalls mostly stock clothing, boots and so-called “MRE”-”meal ready-toeat”-ration packs from NATO forces, alongside the cheap Chinese goods available at most of the city’s markets. The once-bustling lanes are quiet, which shopkeeper Mostafa blames on the uncertainty that has dogged 2014, a year which sees both the end of NATO’s combat mission and the election to choose a new national leader. “People were afraid of 2014, and now that the year has

begun nothing much has changed, the only remaining concern for them is the election, and once the election passes I hope things will get better,” the 28-year-old told AFP. “I think it is because of the elections that our business is down, so we hope once the things are settled our business will grow again.” Fears and resilience The market was traditionally popular with Kabul’s large community of foreign aid workers, journalists and contractors on the look-out for cheap kit and familiar provisions. But the run-up to the election has seen a series of deadly attacks in Kabul targeting foreigners, including an assault on the Serena hotel last month and the daylight shooting of a Swedish journalist. The increased threat to foreigners has prompted many international organizations in Kabul to tighten their security rules and stop staff visiting markets and other public places. —AFP



31.45% of phishing attacks aimed at stealing money DUBAI: According to the data collected forKaspersky Lab’s study ‘Financial cyber threats in 2013’, cybercriminals are trying harder than ever to acquire confidential user information and steal money from bank accounts by creating fake sites mimicking financial organizations. 0.69% of phishing attacks are targeted at the Middle-East. In 2013, 31.45% of phishing attacks were trading on the names of leading banks, online stores and e-payment systems, up 8.5 percentage points from the previous year. Phishing is a fraudulent scheme used by cybercriminals to obtain confidential user data with the help of fake web pagesimitating Internet resources. Unlike malicious software created for particular operating systems, phishing attacks threaten all devices which can access web pages. That is why they are so popular with scammers -in 2013 aloneKaspersky Lab products protected about 39.6 million users from this cyber threat. Phishing sites aimed at harvesting users’ financial details mainly use the brand names of popular online stores, e-payment systems and online banking systems. In 2013, the most attractive targets were banks, which were used in 70.6% of all financial phishing. That’s a sharp increase from 2012 when bank phishing represented just 52%. Overall, fake bank websites were involved in twice as many (22.2%) phishing attacks in 2013.

World’s biggest online hookup site for married people TOKYO: Ashley Madison, the world’s biggest online hookup site for married people, works only when monogamy is the rule on the surface but, deep inside, couples want to cheat. That’s why it is scoring big in Japan. The nation that prides itself on conformity and proper appearances reached a million users in eight and a half months, the fastest pace among any of the 37 countries where the adultery site operates. The previous record was Brazil at 10 months. The US, which has the biggest number of users at 13 million, took a year to achieve the one million mark. Spain took nearly two years. Extramarital sex and affairs are not new to Japan, but a site such as Ashley Madison is a “a leveling out of the playing field” for women, said Noel Biderman, chief executive of Avid Life Media Inc., which operates There is a tradition of wealthy men taking mistresses in Japan and its male dominated society has provided plenty of outlets for married men to find casual sex. The divorce rate in Japan is relatively low at about two cases per 1,000 people vs four cases in the US, although sinking marriages rates in Japan also lower the divorce numbers. In the 1960s, divorces were even rarer, with fewer than one per 1,000 people. With its slogan, “Life is short. Have an affair,” Ashley Madison has drawn nearly 25 million users worldwide since being started in Canada in 2002. It now has 1.07 million users in Japan after opening here in June last year. Biderman, who is in a monogamous marriage and has two children, insists the social network is just a tool and no one can force anyone to betray a spouse. A friendly uninhibited man with quick answers to almost any question about infidelity, he doesn’t shy from declaring he would cheat if his marriage were sexually unsatisfying. ‘Fantasy dates’ One appeal of the site is that it allows for pseudonyms or anonymity. It’s secure and closed so digital tracks like emails don’t get left behind, reducing the chances of getting caught. It’s far less messy than trying to find an erotic outlet on Facebook or in the office, said Biderman during a visit to Tokyo this week. A small but significant portion of users around the world don’t have affairs and merely flirt in “fantasy dates” in cyberspace, according to Ashley Madison. Singles can join but only if they are willing to get together with married people. Women can use the services for free. Revenue comes from charging the male users. A package of 100 credits costs 4,900 yen ($49), which allow connections with 20

potential partners. Credits are also used for gifts to woo potential lovers, such as virtual flowers. The privately owned company had profit of about $40 million last year. Is revenue was about $125 million, up from $100 million in 2012. Ashley Madison has not been warmly welcomed everywhere in Asia. Singapore’s government blocked access to the site ahead of its launch there late last year amid a public outcry, lambasting the service as a “flagrant disregard of our family values and public morality.” The nation that invented the geisha, Japan is no newcomer to the cheating game. It already has a host of online encounter sites called “deaikei,” which means “meeting people.” “Soap land” is a real place, where scantily clad women give massages and more. “Love hotels,” the official place for secret flings, are a booming business. Nobuyuki Hayashi, a technology consultant and writer, is not surprised Ashley Madison is a hit. Japanese have little resistance to engaging in hanky-panky with strangers, and have relied on cell phone and other social networking technology to hook up, he said. Feeling guilty And with the long “salaryman” hours typical in corporate Japan, immediate gratification becomes crucial, he said. “If you are successful in Silicon Valley, you might go and buy a jet. Here in Japan, there aren’t that many great ways to have fun and so men go and splurge at a caba-club,” said Hayashi, referring to flashy hostess bars. In a survey this year by Ashley Madison of more than 3,500 Japanese users, the top reason for seeking an affair was simple: “Not enough sex” in their lives. Fifty-five percent of the Japanese women respondents and 51 percent of the men gave that as their No 1 reason. While about a fifth of the respondents in the global sample said they felt guilty about having an affair, Japanese felt almost no qualms at all. Only 2 percent of the women and 8 percent of the men acknowledged guilt. Since the survey sample is self-selecting its findings can’t be extrapolated to the broader population. But Japan is not immersed in the Judeo-Christian morality prevalent in Western nations, and prides itself on a culture that celebrates the art of seduction such as “The Tale of Genji.” “The reason people have affairs is that they want to stay married,” said Biderman, noting there’s a lot at stake in a marriage such as social status, jointly owned property, maybe children. A divorce might be messy, even difficult depending on the laws. Underlining Biderman’s view, 84 percent of Japanese women in the survey believed an affair worked as a plus for their marriage. — AP

TOKYO: Noel Biderman, chief executive of Avid Life Media Inc, which operates, poses during a photo session in Tokyo. — AP

Financial phishing targets In 2013, Kaspersky Lab heuristic anti-phishing technologies blocked a total of 330 million attacks, an increase of 22.2% from the previous year Fraudstersuse the brand names of major companies with large client databases in search of abig criminal profit. For example, about 60% of all phishing attacks using fake bank pages exploited the names of just 25 organizations. Among e-payment systems the phishers’ “favorites” are even more clearly-defined: 88.3% of phishing attacks in this category involved one of four international brands: PayPal, American Express, MasterCard and Visa. For several years in a row has been the most popular cover for phishing attacks exploiting the names of online stores. Over the

reported period its name was used in 61% of online trade-related phishing attacks. The Top 3 also included Apple and eBay, but both of them lagged well behind Amazon. “Phishing attacks are so popular because they are simple to deploy and extremely effective. It is often not easy for even advanced Internet users to distinguish a welldesigned fraudulent site from a legitimate page, which makesit even more important to install a specialized protection solution. In addition, phishing causes reputational and financial damage to

clients from cybercriminals and to protect their own reputations may benefit from Kaspersky Lab’s comprehensive Kaspersky Fraud Preventionplatform. It was developed to deliver rigorous, multi-layeredsecurity for online banking and includes programs for customer endpoints, a server solution to check customer transactionsas well as a set of components to develop protected mobile applications. Phishers don’t just imitate the websites of financial institutions - they also frequently attack via social networking sites. In 2013, the number of

organizations that see their brands exploited in phishing attacks,” commented Sergey Lozhkin, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab. The standard anti phishing mechanisms in Kaspersky Lab security solutions for home users and small businesses are supplemented with Safe Money technology that reliably protects user data during online banking or payment sessions. The effectiveness of this technology is confirmed by special trials carried out by independent test labs such as AV-TEST, MRG Effitas and Matousec. Companies which need to safeguard their

attacks using fake pagesof Facebook and other social networking sites grew by 6.8 percentage points and accounted for 35.4% of the total. The ‘Financial cyber threats in 2013’ report used data obtained voluntarily from Kaspersky Security Network participants. Kaspersky Security Network is a globally distributed cloud-based infrastructure designed to quickly process depersonalized data about threats which users of Kaspersky Lab’s products encounter. Statistics about phishing attacks were obtained based on Kaspersky Lab web antiphishing detections.

BlackBerry ending its US licensing deal with T-Mobile NEW YORK: BlackBerry is ending its US licensing deal with T-Mobile, saying the companies no longer have complementary strategies. The disconnect appears to be related to a T-Mobile promotion that BlackBerry took issue with last month. In a blog post in February, BlackBerry CEO and Executive Chair John Chen said that TMobile had emailed an offer targeting BlackBerry users on its network asking them to switch their BlackBerry devices to a competitor’s smartphone. Chen said that BlackBerry had not been told of T-Mobile’s plans in advance and thanked its customers for expressing their displeasure. Chen told its customers that BlackBerry was upset about the offer and that T-Mobile hadn’t spoken with the Canadian company before or after launching the promotion. BlackBerry’s existing licensing agreement with T-Mobile US Inc expires on April 25. Once the deal ends, BlackBerry customers on the T-Mobile network shouldn’t see any change in their service or support, Blackberry said. BlackBerry Ltd, formerly known as Research In Motion, 2said that it will work with T-Mobile to help any BlackBerry customers remaining on the T-Mobile US network or any customers buying devices from T-Mobile’s existing inventory. BlackBerry said it’s also working with its other carrier partners to give its customers options should they want to switch to another carrier. Chen said in a statement that the company hopes to work with TMobile again when their business strategies align. The BlackBerry, pioneered in 1999, had been the dominant smartphone for onthe-go business people and other consumers before the iPhone debuted in 2007 and showed that phones can handle much more than email and phone calls. The BlackBerry has also been hurt by competition from Android-based rivals. On Friday the company reported mixed fourth-quarter results as its adjusted loss was better than expected, but revenue which dropped below $1 billion for the first time since late 2007 - fell short of analysts’ expectations. BlackBerry is transitioning its business from a smartphone company to a software business under Chen, who is deemphasizing the hardware business after last year ’s launch of the BlackBerry 10 failed to spark a turnaround. Chen, who is credited with turning around Sybase, a data company that was sold to SAP in 2010, is putting more emphasis on BlackBerry’s mobile device management business, a collection of software that allows IT departments to manage different devices connected to their corporate networks. He is also emphasizing BlackBerry’s popular BlackBerry Messenger application that is now also available on Apple and Android devices. And he is trying to highlight Blackberry’s embedded QNX software systems, which are used in-vehicle infotainment systems and industrial machines. BlackBerry’s stock dipped 2 cents to $8.08 in premarket trading Wednesday about three hours ahead of the market open.—AP

App happy: Wedding help in the palm of your hand NEW YORK: Doug Appleton’s grandparents couldn’t travel to his New York City wedding last October, but the tech-savvy Floridians were as present on the Big Day as anyone could be from 1,000-plus miles (1,600-plus kilometers) away. Thanks to FaceTime, the two-way Apple video-calling app, Gerald and Jacqueline Sherman watched by video stream as Appleton, 27, and Lauren Becker, 26, tied the knot. The newlyweds even have a picture of the ceremony that captures the Shermans’ faces on the iPhone that was used to connect them. Next, the Shermans joined in the post-nuptial festivities via Wedding Party, an app that instantly uploads photos taken by guests to a website that posts them in chronological order. That allowed them to watch the celebration unfold in real time. “My grandparents get this stuff, which is great,” says Appleton. “They loved seeing what was going on.” Applications that can be downloaded to smartphones and tablets are part of many weddings today, from the initial planning to the honeymoon. The hectic pace of life has encouraged the trend, says Leila Lewis, an industry expert and founder of Inspired By This, a wedding website. “In this day and age, the digital bride is planning the wedding on the go, which means planning from a phone or tablet,” Lewis says. “Brides want to be planning, searching and experiencing weddings conveniently. They want quick access to an abundance of information, and that’s what apps and technology provide.” The proliferation of wedding apps can make choosing which ones to use

overwhelming. Here are just several worth noting: Appy Couple. Sharmeen Mitha-Sehgal created this app after the nerve-wracking experience of trying to keep track of her sister’s wedding itinerary - a wedding in Mumbai, India - using various invitation and social media websites. Appy Couple aims to provide all wedding-related services on one platform. It helps manage RSVPs, send email invites and create a schedule of events. Guests can use it to book travel, share photos and submit song requests to DJs. Lewis likes this one for planning. Also billed as a one-stop-shop for the betrothed, it offers shopping and planning platforms as well as info on trends, from ‘70s-style dresses to serving doughnuts. Evernote. A nod to keeping you and your betrothed on the same page during the wedding planning process. This organizational app - you can snap pictures, make lists and take notes - syncs on devices so that everyone knows what’s going on. Wedding Party. One of the apps designed to boost the experience of the day itself by allowing guests to use their phones to share photos, videos and comments. About a week ahead of her wedding, Becker asked guests to download this app so they could help the Shermans get in on the action. WedPics. Lets couples create personalized photo albums of all the events surrounding their nuptials, from bridal showers to honeymoons, using pictures and videos uploaded by friends. - Tiffany & Co Engagement Ring Finder. The jeweler’s app helps you choose the right diamond. — AP

$2 billion patent trial opens Apple, Samsung trade barbs SAN JOSE: Lawyers for Apple and Samsung exchanged barbs as a major new patent trial opened Tuesday, debating the role of a company not even part of the case-Google. Apple’s legal team vowed to prove that Samsung flagrantly copied iPhone features and should pay more than $2 billion in damages, as the two smartphone giants squared off anew in a California courtroom. Apple attorney Harold McElhinny opened his presentation with a video showing legendary Apple co-founder Steve Jobs introducing the first iPhone in 2007. By putting computing power in smartphones powered by fun software and easy-to-use touch-screens, Apple transformed the market, sending Samsung onto its heels, according to McElhinny. The attorney told jurors in his opening statement that they would see internal Samsung documents and messages showing that the company felt it was suffering “a crisis of design” with the difference between its devices and the smartphone “a difference between Heaven and Earth.” Apple said evidence will show that the South Korean electronics giant sold more than 37 million infringing smartphones and tablets in the United States. California-based Apple would have demanded royalties of about $40 per device to license the patented technology to Samsung, according to McElhinny. The

overall amount being sought by Apple in damages from Samsung will top $2 billion, the lawyer explained. “This case is not about Google,” McElhinny told jurors. “It is Samsung, not Google, that chose to put these features into its phones.” But Samsung’s lawyer told the jurors in the San Jose, California court that the case was indeed about Google, and Apple’s struggle against the maker of the Android operating system which is now winning in the global marketplace. ‘Attack on Android’ “It’s an attack on Android, that is what this case is,” attorney John Quinn said. “Apple is trying to limit consumer choice and gain an unfair advantage over Google’s Android.” Quinn contended that four of the five patents at issue in the trial are not used in Apple mobile devices, but because of features built into Android software by Google engineers litigation was pursued. He promised jurors that Google engineers would be called to testify to how they independently designed Android software and did not copy Apple. Samsung is the world’s leading maker of smartphones and tablets built using Google’s free Android mobile operating system. Android smartphones dominate the global market, particularly in devices offered for lower prices than iPhones. —AFP


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

Syrians adjust to life without limbs Civil war enters its fourth year

LONDON: The skyscrapers of the Canary Wharf business district in London are shrouded in smog, as seen from a viewing gallery on the Orbit sculpture in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park during an tour of the park organized for the media yesterday. — AP

Sahara desert dust brings smog to Britain LONDON: British authorities yesterday warned people with heart or lung conditions to avoid exertion as a combination of industrial pollution and Sahara dust blankets the country in smog. The environment department said the air pollution level could reach the top rung on its 10-point scale. The department said the smog was caused by pollution from Britain and industrialized areas of the continent

staying in place because of light winds, along with dust blown up from a storm in the Sahara desert. Many motorists awoke this week to find cars covered in a film of red dust. Paul Cosford of Public Health England told the BBC that people with heart or respiratory problems should “reduce the amount of strenuous exercise outdoors over the next few days.” The pollution is expected to ease by Friday. — AFP

Fukushima meltdown unlikely to increase cancer numbers VIENNA: Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown in March 2011 is unlikely to lead to a large number of people developing thyroid and other cancers like after Chernobyl in 1986, UN scientists said yesterday. While some children - fewer than a thousand - might have received radiation doses that in theory could increase the risk of thyroid cancer, the probability of that developing also remains low, the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) said in a new study. The Chernobyl reactor explosion sent radioactive dust across much of Europe, while people close to the plant were exposed to radioactive iodine that contaminated milk. Although Fukushima was the world’s worst nuclear disaster since then, the Japanese authorities took action including evacuations that significantly reduced exposure to radioactive substances. “No discernible changes in future cancer rates and hereditary diseases are expected due to exposure to radiation as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident,” UNSCEAR said in a statement accompanying its nearly 300-page study. “The expected low impact on cancer rates of the population is largely due to prompt protective actions on the part of the Japanese authorities following the accident.” Nevertheless, the U.N. body’s report “notes a theoretical possibility that the risk of thyroid cancer among the group of children most exposed to radiation could increase,” it said. The thyroid - a gland in the neck that produces hormones that regulate vital bodily functions - is the most exposed organ as radioactive iodine concentrates there. Children are deemed especially vulnerable.

UNSCEAR said thyroid cancer was a rare disease among young children and their normal risk was very low. “The occurrence of a large number of radiation-induced thyroid cancers as were observed after Chernobyl can be discounted because doses were substantially lower,” it said. No significant change In Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, the countries most affected by Chernobyl, more than 6,000 cases of thyroid cancer had been reported by 2005 in children and adolescents who were exposed at the time of the accident, UNSCEAR says on its website. In Japan on March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9 earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, spewing radiation and forcing about 160,000 people to flee their homes. UNSCEAR said about 35,000 children aged up to five lived in districts where the average absorbed dose to the thyroid was between 45 and 55 milliGrays (mGy), a radiation measurement. But doses varied considerably among individuals, from about two to three times higher or lower than the average. UNSCEAR “considered that fewer than a thousand children might have received absorbed doses to the thyroid that exceeded 100 mGy and ranged up to about 150 mGy,” the report said. “The risk of thyroid cancer for this group could be expected to be increased,” it said. UNSCEAR’s press statement made clear it was still not seen as a big risk, however, with a headline saying: “Low risk of thyroid cancer among children most exposed.” UNSCEAR said 80 leading scientists had worked on the report “Levels and effects of radiation exposure due to the nuclear accident after the 2011 great east-Japan earthquake and tsunami” - and that the material was reviewed by its 27 member states. — Reuters

Flour, eggs in raw cookie dough could lead to food poisoning KUWAIT: Eating raw cookie dough before baking it all the way through could lead to food poisoning, according to Dana Ghareeb, dietitian at “Safe Food, Safe Family”, a community initiative. According to Ghareeb, a study by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States is warning consumers that consuming raw eggs and flour, the main ingredients in raw cookie dough, can be fatal and harbors bacteria like “Salmonella” and “E-Coli”, which could increase chances of contracting foodborne illnesses. According to Ghareeb, “Children are more susceptible to food poisoning and its dangers due to their at-risk immune system which hasn’t been fully developed yet, and unfortunately this also applies to pregnant women due to hormonal changes in their bodies. Raw cookie dough contains flour and raw eggs, which at that state could carry Salmonella. If these two ingredients don’t undergo any specific process to kill the harmful pathogens, then they pose a threat and can lead to food poisoning”. Ghareeb goes on to add that 71 degrees celsius is the proper temperature to bake raw cookie dough and, to ensure that all bacteria is removed from the batter for safe consumption. “People should be responsible and take ownership of their health, as well as their families, and that can happen by eradicating certain practices in home kitchens, like tasting raw cookie dough before baking it all the way through. In fact, it should be standard practice to cook any and all dishes, containing eggs at 71 degrees celsius to reduce contracting a foodborne illness or food poisoning.” Since its launch in November, “Safe Food, Safe Family” has received wide support from several governmental and commercial entities, which include the Ministry of Health, local cooperative societies, as well as malls due to the rise of

KUWAIT: Due to their weakened immune system, children should never be allowed to eat raw cookie dough. food poisoning cases stemming from unsafe practices at home. Guided by a team of nutritionists, and with information available in five international languages: Arabic, English, Hindi, Tagalog, and Malayalam, this community initiative provides educational and seasonal food safety information, instructional videos, and flyers on the “Safe Food, Safe Family” website: that you and your housekeeper can practice in the kitchen. In addition to the website, the initiative also hosts weekly events, and engages the public via social media channels like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. “Safe Food, Safe Family” will be hosting events at various locations across Kuwait over the next month. The events will be open to the general public, and showcasing the most important aspects of food safety.

JIB JANINE, Lebanon: Grimacing, Mustafa Ahmad slid the scarred stump just below his right knee into his new prosthetic leg. Extending his arms for balance, he slowly rose and hobbled across the packed dirt floor toward the door of his ramshackle tent. Wild-haired children peered through a gap in the plastic sheet that serves as the wall of his tent, trying to catch a glimpse of the procedure that finally fitted Ahmad with a prosthesis, more than two years after losing his leg during a bombing raid on his hometown in northern Syria. “I feel like I want to take a long walk, to go see my friends and neighbors,” he said later, his forehead glistening with perspiration. “I feel like my leg is back. I feel normal, like I’m back the way I was.” Syria’s civil war, which entered its fourth year last month, has killed more than 150,000 people, but an often overlooked figure is the number of wounded: more than 500,000, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. An untold number of those - there’s no reliable estimate - suffered traumatic injuries that have left them physically handicapped. Syria’s conflict is not unique in this regard. All wars maim and kill. What varies is the weapon associated with the carnage. In Cambodia, it was land mines. In Iraq, roadside bombs and suicide bombings. In Syria’s case, the culprit is largely artillery and airstrikes. Hardest thing It was shrapnel from a government airstrike in November 2011 on the town of Deif Hafer in Aleppo province that tore off part of Ahmad’s leg. “When I first woke up in the hospital, I felt pain and I knew my leg was gone,” said the shy 19-year-old with a mop of dark hair. “I felt that I was done. I could no longer walk or work or go out. It was me and my bed. I lost all hope.” With few options in Syria, Ahmad initially relied on crutches to get around. He and his father later cobbled together a homemade prosthesis out of plastic and socks. He used it for six months before tossing it aside. “It wasn’t very comfortable,” he said. “It hurt my leg, and it was short so I limped when I walked.” As violence ravaged northern Syria in early 2013, Ahmad, his parents and 11 siblings left Deir Hafer for Lebanon. They now live at the edge of a plowed field in a cluster of flimsy shelters hammered together out of wood, nails and plastic sheeting outside the town of Jib Janine in the Bekaa Valley. He received his new prosthetic leg from Handicap International, a non-governmental organization that, among other things, helps Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan who have lost limbs in the war. “The hardest thing in the past two years was feeling that I didn’t have anyone. It was over for me, I felt that I was done. I was thinking I’d never get a leg and would never be able to walk again,” he said. “Now that I got the leg, I can get a job, go and come as I please, see my friends.”

BEIRUT: Mustafa Ahmad, a 19-year-old who lost his leg in his hometown of Deir Hafer in Aleppo province in November 2011 when government warplanes bombed his neighborhood, is fitted with a prosthetic leg by a Lebanese prosthetic limb maker, at the Syrian refugee camp in Jib Janine, in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon. — AP

Quality of surgery Once outside the tent, Ahmad slowly limped down a dirt path running along a small ditch. Old men and women observed quietly from their tents. Children scampered across the dusty earth to catch his every move. The amount of time needed to adjust to a new limb varies, said Henri Bonnin, a field director for Handicap International. Older adults generally struggle more than young people, as do amputees who lose their leg above the knee. Another determining factor is the quality of the original surgery, which varies widely in a conflict like Syria’s where many amputations take place in a field hospital or makeshift clinic. “These are emergency amputations, so it’s not an orthopedic surgeon, it’s a general surgeon or a dentist who is performing this,” Bonnin said. “It’s done in a severe emergency to save a patient’s life.” Under such conditions, many doctors cut the bone straight across, not at an angle as they should to create a better stump, he said. If the stump is flat instead of cylindrical, patients need a second or third surgery - a painful procedure - to correct the problem and allow for a prosthesis. The physical toll is grueling and apparent to all. But just as difficult for many Syrians is the psychological side of losing a limb. That has been the case for 34-year-old Reem Diab. On Oct. 25, 2012, a shell slammed into her house in the town of Khan Sheikoun in central Syria, killing her husband, Mustafa, and her 15-year-old daughter, Batoul. For

months afterward, Diab was an emotional wreck. Her hair was falling out. Simple tasks proved overwhelming. But what also haunted her, she said, was the fear that her surviving daughter and two sons would be terrified of their mother and the stump that ended just below her right hip. She refused to see them, and sent them to live with their uncle and grandmother instead. “Psychologically, I was not welcoming of anyone, not even my children,” Diab said. “I did not want them to see me in this situation and not be able to cope with it.” She came to Lebanon two months after her amputation, and was fitted with a prosthetic leg in April 2013. A physiotherapist and psycho-social worker from Handicap International visited her for more than a dozen sessions to help with her physical and mental rehabilitation. She slowly adjusted to the prosthesis, although it’s been difficult. “It’s not like your actual leg,” she said. “It feels like a strange object. There’s no balance.” She now lives with her children in a tent set up on the roof of a building in Chtaura, Lebanon. Her mother, father, five brothers and their families share the rooftop with them, cramming into a few rooms slapped together from concrete blocks. Urged on by a physiotherapist, Diab limped down the concrete stairs and into the dusty street outside, where she hobbled along the pavement, wincing as she walked. “My children got used to seeing me with the prosthetic,” she said. “They asked me things like, ‘Why did you leave us?’ But they’re happy that I can walk now.” — AP

Health leaders on drug company boards; a conflict? CHICAGO: Leaders of many US academic medical centers sit on the boards of some of the world’s biggest drug companies, which a study suggests raises the potential for worrisome conflicts of interest. Industry board members oversee company decision-making and have a financial responsibility to company shareholders, the study authors note. Those duties could potentially compromise decisions medical center leaders make that affect patient care, education or research, they suggest. In 2012, they found that 16 of the 17 largest US pharmaceutical companies had at least one board member who also held leadership positions at one of some 30 academic medical centers. The leaders include CEOs, medical school deans, hospital directors or trustees and clinical department chiefs. Annual compensation ranged from almost $107,000 to over $500,000. The study didn’t address if the money went to the board member or their institution. The researchers didn’t call for a ban on these relationships but suggests that medical center leaders could serve on boards but not as voting members. Additional influence These board ties could be potentially worthwhile for both sides and their institutions’ goals, including helping universities find out about industry funding available for research, said Dr. Walid Gellad, the study’s senior author and an

assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. “But the ties may also open the door to additional industry influence over important medical center or university decision-making, and may negatively influence the perceptions and trust of patients, students and the public,” said Gellad. “These risks have to be considered alongside any potential benefits.” The study was published online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The authors collected data from company websites, proxy statements and shareholder reports, and from the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s public database. The study doesn’t identify individual leaders but lists institutions that include some of the nation’s most prestigious centers, including Harvard University, Yale’s medical school, UCLA and Northwestern University. Academic medical centers and universities often have conflict of interest policies. Yale spokeswoman Karen Peart said policy rules “reduce the potential for real or perceived bias in our research activities, clinical decisionmaking, and educational programs.” Northwestern medical school leaders including trustees often sit on industry boards but “are required annually to disclose any potential conflicts of interest,” said spokesman Alan Cubbage. “We take seriously the importance of objectivity in research, education and patient care, as well as in our governance activities,” he said in a statement.

Principled partnerships Ann Bonham, chief scientific officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges, said the study raises important issues for the public to know about, but that compensation for service on an industry board should be viewed in the context of the entire scope of these relationships. “Research breakthroughs result from principled partnerships between scientists in academic medicine and industry, and our hope would be that remuneration for an institutional leader sitting on a board does not halt this progress,” Bonham said. Companies mentioned in the repor t as having board members from academic medical centers include Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. Pfizer spokeswoman Joan Campion said the board members’ “knowledge of the crucial role of research in drug discovery and development and deep understanding of science and medicine are invaluable in our quest to deliver innovative therapies to patients.” She said they are required to “recuse themselves should any conflict of interest arise between them and the company.” J&J spokesman Ernie Knewitz said including academic medical leaders on the board is only natural, given the company ’s aim “to develop and bring to market innovative products for patients that further human health.” But he denied that board members are “‘somehow beholden’” to the company. — AP

Tainted horsemeat eyed in five deaths in Philippines COTABATO, Philippines: Five people are believed to have died from eating tainted horsemeat in the Philippines while as many as 60 may have consumed it, a local official said yesterday. Four horses died from unexplained causes and their meat was given away to residents in the largely rural southern province Sultan Kudarat on March 25, Henry Albana, the

province’s social welfare officer said. Many fell ill after eating it, with the town of Senator Ninoy Aquino particularly affected, Albano added. “ The owners of the horses butchered them, then they distributed the meat to the residents. One of the owners was the first victim,” to die after eating the meat, said Albano. “Provincial officials are trying to locate all the others who ate the horsemeat. I

estimate that as many as 60 may have eaten it,” he said. Albano said some locals believed the horses died from eating grass newly-sprayed with pesticides. Health officials have yet to establish what happened. Horsemeat is not commonly eaten in the Philippines but people in impoverished rural areas often resort to unusual meat sources such as field rats or frogs. — AFP


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

Decline in number of Europe’s bumblebees OSLO: Almost a quarter of Europe’s bumblebees are at risk of extinction due to loss of habitats and climate change, threatening pollination of crops worth billions of dollars, a study showed yesterday. Sixteen of 68 bumblebee species in Europe are at risk, the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) said. It is preparing a global study of the bees, whose honeybee cousins are in steep decline because of disease. “Of the five most important insect pollinators of European crops, three are bumblebee species,” said the IUCN, which groups governments, scientists and conservation groups. “ Together with other pollinators, bumblebees contribute more than 22 billion euros ($30.35 billion) to European agriculture a year,” it said in a statement. Of Europe’s bumblebee species, populations of almost half are falling and just 13 percent are increasing, it said. Often with yellow and black stripes and bigger than honeybees, bumblebees live in small nests of up to 200 and do not make honeycombs. Some bumblebees are commercially bred to pollinate tomatoes, peppers and aubergines in greenhouses. “Climate change, the intensification of agriculture and changes in agricultural land are the main threats” to bumblebees, said the report, the first Red List assessment of threats to bumblebees. The European Union’s top environment official said the 28-nation bloc was taking action to improve the situation.

“The EU recently banned or restricted the use of certain pesticides that are dangerous to bees and is funding research into status of pollinators,” said EU

Environment Commissioner Janez Potonik in a statement. “However, effor ts clearly need to be scaled up,” he added. The IUCN study was funded by

the European Commission. Deformed wing virus The study did not mention the possibility that honeybee diseases were spreading to bumblebees. A study in the journal Nature in February said that deformed wing virus, for instance, was found in both honeybees and bumblebees in Britain. The virus was more prevalent in honeybees, suggesting it was spreading from them to bumblebees. “In general, we don’t know a lot about bumblebee disease,” Stuart Roberts, a member of the IUCN’s global bumblebee assessment team, told Reuters. “Some of these threatened bumblebees are isolated, living in the Arctic or the Alps,” he said. “In those places the chance of picking up a disease from a honeybee is almost nil.” The Arctic species Bombus hyperboreus, living in the Scandinavian tundra and Russia, is vulnerable because global warming is shrinking its habitat, the study said. Populations of the critically endangered Bombus cullumanus, now found only in France, have fallen by more than 80 percent in the past decade, apparently because of a reduction in the amount of meadows with clover, its favourite forage, the study added. Only queen bumblebees survive the winter. Honeybees, living in longer-lasting colonies of thousands of bees, make honeycombs largely to ensure that the insects have food to survive months with no nectarmaking flowers. — Reuters


W H AT ’ S O N

Marina Hotel Kuwait joins ‘Earth Hour’ 2014


nderscoring Marina Hotel’s dedication to environmental sustainability, the hotel proudly participated once again in the important worldwide event “Earth Hour”. Marina Hotel Kuwait marked Earth Hour 2014, by turning off the lights of the hotel on March 29 for an hour. By this action, the hotel joins the efforts of many organizations around the world to draw attention to the worldwide issue of global warming. The activity has a great impact and involves everyone in the hotel to switch off the lights in all guestrooms and public areas. The employees of each department including Sales & Marketing, Front Office, Food & Beverage, Housekeeping, Engineering, Finance, IT, Admin, Human Resources along

with the General Manager, Nabil Hammoud were all present, assisting with candles set-up all over the hotel and creating awareness for the guests to contribute to global environmental change. Nabil Hammoud - General Manager of Marina Hotel said: “We are committed to energy conservation and are encouraging our guests to join us as we turn off our lights in support of this global effort. We are pleased that most of our staff look forward to the event year after year. Earth Hour is important because we are contributing towards a cause by turning off our electronics and non-essential appliances around the property.” “We are and will always be in support for any such

GUST holds ‘Safe Driving Life Saving’ campaign


he Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST) in Kuwait held a seminar entitled ‘Safe Driving Life Saving’ (SDLS) organized by BMG Foundation, a non-profit organization that supported needy credible organizations in KSA, UK and other countries for over 10 years now. As part of the second edition of the campaign, university students across Saudi Arabia and the wider GCC region have been invited to participate in a contest to design comprehensive creative on responsible driving. A panel of experts will select the best three projects out of the 12 that receive the highest votes from social media users. The winners will be generously awarded during the GCC Polo Cup in the UK in an all-expense paid trip. The road-show was attended by senior faculty members including Dr Ghassan Aouad, Vice President for Academic Affairs, as well as head of departments and students from various faculties, in addition to senior guests from Kuwait. This event along with the other annual high profile events organized by the foundation, including the Gulf University for Science and Technology ,the GCC Polo Cup, BMG Foundation Classics and the Diplomacy of Art exhibitions have been excellent opportunities for the public and private sector leaders to

join forces in supporting the Foundation’s mission. Basil Ghalayini, Chairman, of BMG Foundation, thanked Gulf University for Science and Technology, and stressed the importance of joining hands with academic institutions to have their students stimulate their talents and create the most impactful awareness campaigns to reduce the incidence of road fatalities in the region. Dr Ghassan Aouad, Vice President for Academic Affairs, GUST University, said based on his experience in the roads, how dangerous is the driving skills in the GCC countries and that he supports all awareness

campaigns to avoid any serious damage. Kuwait has broken world record in number of traffic deaths, with 17 deaths recorded in every 100,000 cases on the average, local daily reported quoting Chairperson of Traffic safety society Bader Al-Matar. The rampant menace of reckless driving and the high death-toll inspired BMG Foundation to roll-out the ‘Safe Driving, Life Saving’ campaign. Drawing the support of academicians and the community at large, this initiative helps educate the youth on responsible driving techniques and the importance of road safety in ensuring public well-being.

global initiatives, and willing to stand up, get involved in working towards a sustainable future. Through Earth Hour, it is possible to witness how our individual actions add up and really make a difference to the environment. Earth Hour is not just about one day in the year and Marina Hotel has committed to partnering in long term actions and initiatives to promote environmental awareness on a continuing permanent basis” further concluded Mr. Hammoud. Participating in the Earth Hour is an annual initiative where Marina Hotel Kuwait joins the growing list of supporting businesses that are committed to take a stand on climate change and create a cleaner, safer and more

secure future. As a symbolic gesture to warn against global warming for 60 minutes, non-essential lighting and electrical appliances around the property were switched off in an effort to reduce their environmental impact and draw attention to environmental issues. The Earth Hour is an annual international event created by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to raise awareness towards the need and take action on climate change. And even with the challenges of the global economy, leaders and people worldwide remain focused on the growing threat of climate change and place a high priority on environmentally-friendly solutions as one of the ways to overcome those challenges.

ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller’s 6th Annual Arab Youth Survey to be live streamed


SDA’A Burson-Marsteller will launch the findings of the 6th Annual ASDA’A BursonMarsteller Arab Youth Survey, the largest independent study of its kind of the region’s largest demographic, on Monday, April 7 in Dubai. The event will be live streamed at The survey, a ground-breaking initiative of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller the region’s leading public relations consultancy - will be launched at a high-profile panel discussion featuring Fadi Ghandour, Executive Chairman of Wamda Capital and Founder of Aramex; Noura Al Kaabi, CEO of Media Zone Authority-Abu Dhabi (twofour54); Khaled Al-Maeena, Saudi media and political analyst; and Jawad Nabulsi, Founder and CEO of the Nebny Foundation. The panel will be moderated by Andrew Neil, Presenter of the BBC’s Daily Politics show, Chairman of The Spectator and ITP Publishing Group, and will feature a key note address from Don Baer, Worldwide Chair and CEO of Burson-Marsteller and Chairman of the international polling firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB). The 2014 survey, conducted by PSB, involved 3,500 face-to-face interviews with Arab national men and women aged 18-24, covering 16 countries - and is the largest since the annual study began in 2008. The countries included are the six Gulf

Cooperation Council countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain), Algeria, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen - with Palestine added for the first time this year.

Sunil John In front of an audience of local dignitaries and VIPs, the four experts will debate the implications of the findings for governments, the business community, the media and wider civil society, as well as potential policy and decision-making changes needed to

address the concerns of Arab youth. Sunil John, Chief Executive Officer of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, said: “Every year ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller conducts the Arab Youth Survey because we understand how important it is to access reliable data here in the Middle East, where research into public opinion is often limited. This substantial investment in thought leadership, demonstrates our firm belief in the principle of evidencebased communications. He continued: “In the six years since we started the Arab Youth Survey, the region has witnessed dramatic social and political change, much of which is evident in the findings that we have produced. Our Arab Youth Survey has become a barometer of how Middle East youth perceive the changes in their country and the wider region and of whether their aspirations are being met. There are some remarkable findings that can benefit policy makers as well as businesses in reaching out to the 200 million-strong youth population in the Arab region,” he added. For the sixth annual edition of the survey, respondents were interviewed in-depth on subjects ranging from the political to the personal. Topics include the ongoing impact of the Arab Spring; economic and social concerns; attitudes towards democracy; foreign relations; personal values and beliefs, media consumption trends and social media habits.

ICS honors Indian stars at Kuwait Continental Hotel IOC Arts Festival


ndian Overseas Congress (IOC) will conduct Arts Festival 2014 on April 10, 11, 2014 at the United Indian School, Abbassiya. Preparations are on to host this mega event among the Indian expatriates in Kuwait. Entry forms are also available on request through email. Entry forms can be sent to fax no. 24331461. Filled entry forms can be emailed to: Also, the final registration date has been extended till Saturday, 5 April 2014. All Indian children are invited to participate in the various competitions to be held on April 10, 11, 2014 at the United Indian School, Abbassiya.


n Thursday, March 27, Indian Cultural Society held a dinner at Kuwait Continental Hotel in honor of the renowned artistes featured in their ‘Hala Baisakhi Celebration’ which was held in Friday, March 28. The dinner was graced by the Indian ambassador to Kuwait Sunil Jain, his wife and S Swarn Singh (CEOGSGC), the star performers from India , and several other luminaries from Kuwait. At the event, the organizing committee of ICS led by President Ashfaque A Khan & General Manager of KCH Kamal Al-Din Hussain presented mementoes to the ambassador and expressed their appreciation for his encouragement.

ICS expressed special thanks for the hospitality and care shown by Kuwait Continental Hotel and staff to all guests and visitors. The ICS team also highlighted the efforts of their sponsors for their unfailing support to the events organized by the association. Dinner was preceded by a short informal ceremony in which the ambassador presented marks of appreciation on behalf of ICS to the leading stars Anjan Srivastav, Himani Shivpuri, Shibani Kashyap, Vibha Anand, Piyush, Sachin and Sanjay Jha and entire group. Beside the ICS executive families, there were several families from Punjab Cultural Society along with Aijaz Ahmed

(MD- Sahara Ac), Vijay D Kapoor (MD- Shourya Furnishing), Alkesh Thakkar MD-Crescent Co), Laly Singh (MD- Green Spring Group), Karamjit Singh Grover (President -PSC), Chaitali B Roy (journalist), Sharif Rangrez (MD- Eternity Travels), Afzal Khan (MM - Malabar Gold), Dr N Dhir (MDEnglish Optics), Sardar Satpal Singh, Harvinder Kaur, Jaswinder Kaur etc. The dinner was held at the Gardenia Restaurant of the KCH and it was preceded by an impromptu cake-cutting ceremony organized by (Hotel GM- Kamal AlDin). Gift hampers were gifted to all guests present.


Super hit play


ankaar Arts super play will be staged after 5 years by public demand ‘Biwi Jawaan Miya Pareshan’ on April 19, Saturday from 6 -9 pm at the Indian Embassy.

homas Mathew Kadavil receives “Social Excellence award 2014” for outstanding social and volunteering service instituted by Madhyamam Broadcasting Limited (Media One TV) for the best social worker in Kuwait at Sharjah Cricket stadium from Babu Moopan, MD Nippon Toyota , during “Prvasolsavam”.


W H AT ’ S O N

—Photos by Yasser Al-Zayyat

LuLu Exchange opens 11th branch in Kuwait


uLu Exchange, Kuwait’s leading remittance and foreign exchange Company opened its newest branch at Mubarkiya yesterday. The exchange company’s branch count has now risen to eleven in the Sate of Kuwait with the new inclusion which further strengthens LuLu Exchange’s strong network of branches across the country. Sunil Jain, the Indian Ambassador to Kuwait inaugurated the new branch located

in the ground floor of the Zumorrodah Tower at Qibla, Mubarkiya in the presence of the senior management of LuLu Exchange and other dignitaries. Speaking to the media, Adeeb Ahamed, Director - LuLu Exchange Company WLL, Kuwait said, “We are pleased to open this new outlet in Mubarkiya area. Having another branch will enable us to enhance our capabilities and commitment to the

area. We intend to serve the people of the country by opening up more branches in both commercial and residential areas, so that the people have easy access to our facilities. LuLu Exchange is keen on building a strategic network across Kuwait, considering the needs of customers as well as by reacting immediately to changing market dynamics.” “Our expansion is based on extensive

market research and our confidence in longand short-term economic indicators in the State of Kuwait. LuLu Exchange will cater to a large number of the expatriates of this fast growing country. We at LuLu Exh, facilitate financial transaction services that are secure, instant and compliant through state-of-theart systems that deliver flexibility, reliability, and transparency”, Adeeb added. The exchange house currently has

branches each in Al-Rai, Fahaheel, Mahaboula, Mangaf and Mirgab while it has two branches in Farwaniya and Abbasiya regions. LuLu Exchange opened its last branch at Dajeej Area. “This branch is dedicated to the service of our valued customers, with a commitment to bring them only the best, be it service offerings, accessibility, and technology or customer experience in the bargain.” Adeeb mentioned.

Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa dims lights for Earth Hour


umeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa, Kuwait’s idyllic resort, joined forces with the rest of the world and marked the annual Earth Hour by dimming and switching off lights across its property for an hour. On Saturday, March 29, at 8:30 pm local time, hotel colleagues gathered and formed the shape of the Earth holding lit candles to mark Earth Hour. Together with Jumeirah Group’s luxurious properties around the world, Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa turned off its faÁade lights, signage and those on its tress along the garden and the hotel water fountains. This resulted in saved energy of approximately 1,200 kwh. Elsewhere, lights throughout the lobby, food and beverage outlets, Talise Spa and colleagues’ accommodation were all dimmed. Candles were also placed around the fountain and staircases to provide light and save power. Earth Hour originally started in Sydney on March 31, 2007, when 2.2 million people and 2,100 businesses turned off their lights for one hour. Many major cities, inspired by the collective effort, have since joined Earth Hour, which has turned into a global movement.


Announcements Soorya India Festival on April 10


oorya Kuwait Chapter will present ‘Soorya India Festival 2014’ at 7 pm on April 10 at the Indian Community School Auditorium, Senior, Salmiya. This time, Soorya is coming up with a mix of three oldest dance forms of India - a Bharatanatyam recital by well-known danseuse Dakshina Vaidyanathan, a Mohiniyattam recital by exponent Aiswarya Warrier and an Odissi performance by leading Odissi dancers Arupa Gayatri Panda and Pravat Kumar Swain. In addition, a solo fusion by Mridangam maestro Kuzhalmannam Ramakrishnan will also be presented. Indian Ambassador Sunil Jain will inaugurate the festival that aims to promote international integration through culture. Entry is free.

KSNA Ad-Hoc committee


d-Hoc committee of the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi’s (KSNA) Kuwait Chapter will be reconstituted at a meeting at 4 pm on Thursday, April 10 at Indian Community School (Senior), Salmiya which will be presided over by KSNA Chairman Soorya Krishnamoothy. Malayali associations in Kuwait are requested to depute one or two representatives of their associations to participate in the meeting.

A remarkable week of music at BSK

he Music Festival Week took place at The British School of Kuwait (BSK) from March 17-20. Students from Year 2 to 13 performed in two concerts in the Shakespeare Theatre at BSK and one concert at the 360 Mall. Almost 300 students participated in the performances across the week and were a credit to themselves and their school. On Monday the Magnifica Concert featured a wide range of performances and saw the debut of two new ensembles the BSK Samba Band and the BSK Orchestra, also performing on this first night was the well-established

and highly accomplished BSK String Orchestra. Ensembles performed on combinations of piano, strings, woodwind and brass instruments. The Year 4/5 choir dazzled the audience with a stunning rendition of ‘I’ll be there for you’ sung in parts and harmony. We were also treated to a performance by Hai Wei Li, recent winner of the Young Musician of The Gulf, Piano Award. Hai Wei introduced us to a delightful Chinese piano piece entitled ‘Colourful Clouds, Chasing the Moon’. The second concert of the series, Splendida, featured many of the younger performers, some of whom have

been learning their instrument for less than a year as a part of the BSK Wider Opportunities Orchestral programme. This successful programme which is led by the Primary Director of Music, Gary Ruston, is enabling all 8 classes of Year 4 students to learn the Violin, the Clarinet or the Trumpet. This tuition takes place during class music lessons and feeds directly into the BSK Development Orchestra who performed 5 items in the concert. The highlight of which must surely be the combined performance with the Year 2/3 Choir of the Disney classic ‘It’s a Small World’. For the final concert of the week BSK accepted an invita-

tion to celebrate Mother’s Day with a performance at the 360 Mall. Four of the BSK ensembles took turns to perform a selection of music from the concerts in the kind of large open space only a mall can provide. Parents and students alike remarked at how much fun this event was to be a part of and there are plans for similar events in the future. BSK is now preparing for the upcoming ABRSM exams, where new records will be set with 90 students entered across the widest ever range of instruments. Music at BSK is flourishing and full details of the music programme are available from Simon Amura, Secondary Director of Music.



00:45 Human Prey 01:35 Untamed & Uncut 02:25 Shamwari: A Wild Life 02:50 Shamwari: A Wild Life 03:15 Wildest India 04:05 My Wild Affair: The Seal Who Came Home 04:55 Animal Cops Philadelphia 05:45 Wild Africa Rescue 06:10 Wild Africa Rescue 06:35 Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors 07:00 Escape To Chimp Eden 07:25 Weird Creatures With Nick Baker 08:15 The Animals’ Guide To Survival 09:10 Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors 09:35 Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors 10:05 Shamwari: A Wild Life 10:35 Shamwari: A Wild Life 11:00 Animal Precinct 11:55 Escape To Chimp Eden 12:20 Steve Irwin’s Wildlife Warriors 12:50 ER Vets 13:15 ER Vets 13:45 Animal Heroes 14:40 Shamwari: A Wild Life 15:05 Shamwari: A Wild Life 15:30 My Cat From Hell 16:30 The Animals’ Guide To Survival 17:25 Meet The Sloths 17:50 Meet The Sloths 18:20 Animal Maternity Ward 19:15 Call Of The Wildman 19:45 Call Of The Wildman 20:10 Nick Baker’s Beautiful Freaks 21:05 Shamwari: A Wild Life 21:35 Shamwari: A Wild Life 22:00 Call Of The Wildman 22:30 Call Of The Wildman 22:55 Nick Baker’s Beautiful Freaks 23:50 Animal Cops Philadelphia

00:15 Doctors 00:45 Five Daughters 01:35 Alan Carr: Chatty Man 02:20 One Foot In The Grave 02:50 The Omid Djalili Show 03:20 Silk 04:15 The Weakest Link 05:00 Tweenies 05:20 Teletubbies 05:45 Jollywobbles 05:55 Show Me Show Me 06:15 Tweenies 06:35 Teletubbies 07:00 Jollywobbles 07:10 Charlie And Lola 07:25 After You’ve Gone 07:55 One Foot In The Grave 08:30 The Omid Djalili Show 09:00 Eastenders 09:30 Doctors 10:00 Being Erica 10:45 Drop Zone 11:40 After You’ve Gone 12:10 The Omid Djalili Show 12:40 One Foot In The Grave 13:15 Eastenders 13:45 Doctors 14:15 Being Erica 15:00 Drop Zone 15:55 After You’ve Gone 16:25 The Weakest Link 17:10 Eastenders 17:40 Doctors 18:10 Being Erica 19:00 My Hero 19:30 The Cafe 20:00 The Inspector Lynley Mysteries 20:45 Mad Dogs 21:30 Friday Night Dinner 21:55 Walter’s War 22:45 The Weakest Link 23:30 The Cafe 23:55 Eastenders

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00:30 The Devil You Know 01:30 My Ghost Story 02:30 My Ghost Story 03:30 The Ghost Inside My Child 04:30 Private Crimes 05:00 Beyond Scared Straight 06:00 The First 48 07:00 Homicide Hunter 08:00 Homicide Hunter 09:00 Homicide Hunter 10:00 Killers 11:00 Beyond Scared Straight 12:00 Evil Up Close 13:00 I Killed My BFF 14:00 Killers 15:00 Fred Dinenage: Murder Casebook 16:00 Curious & Unusual Deaths 16:30 Private Crimes 17:00 Homicide Hunter 18:00 The First 48 19:00 The Devil You Know 20:00 Beyond Scared Straight 21:00 Private Crimes 21:30 Evil Up Close 22:30 Crime Stories 23:30 The First 48

00:30 Ben Earl: Trick Artist 01:20 The Big Brain Theory 02:10 Mythbusters 03:00 You Have Been Warned 03:50 Border Security 04:15 Storage Hunters 04:40 Game Of Pawns 05:05 How Do They Do It? Turbo Specials 06:00 One Man Army 07:00 You Have Been Warned 07:50 Finding Bigfoot 08:40 Fast N’ Loud 09:30 Border Security 09:55 Storage Hunters 10:20 Game Of Pawns 10:45 How Do They Do It? Turbo Specials 11:35 Ben Earl: Trick Artist 12:25 The Big Brain Theory 13:15 Mythbusters 14:05 Border Security 14:30 Storage Hunters 14:55 Game Of Pawns 15:20 Strip The City 16:10 Fast N’ Loud 17:00 Ultimate Survival 17:50 Wheeler Dealers 18:40 You Have Been Warned 19:30 One Man Army 20:20 How Do They Do It? Turbo Specials 21:10 Storage Hunters 21:35 Game Of Pawns 22:00 Secret Bodyguards 22:25 Secret Bodyguards 22:50 Outlaw Empires 23:40 Hellriders

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01:10 Hunt For A Super Comet 02:00 Moon Machines 02:45 Mythbusters 03:35 Sci-Trek 04:30 Space Pioneer 05:20 Scrapheap Challenge 06:10 What’s That About? 07:00 Rocket City Rednecks 07:25 Rocket City Rednecks 07:55 Junkyard Wars 08:45 Sci-Trek 09:40 What’s That About? 10:30 Mega World 11:20 Space Pioneer 12:10 Scrapheap Challenge 13:00 How Tech Works 13:30 Sci-Trek 14:20 Mythbusters 15:10 Scrapheap Challenge 16:00 Mega World 16:50 What’s That About? 17:40 Moon Machines 18:30 Hunt For A Super Comet 19:20 The Gadget Show 19:45 How Do They Do It? 20:10 Mythbusters 21:00 Freaks Of Nature 21:25 Freaks Of Nature 21:50 Human Body: Ultimate Machine 22:40 Sci-Trek 23:30 Space Pioneer

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Royal Opera sets accent on youth for cut-rate opening night


Scorned: Crimes Of Passion Deadly Sins Double Cross Couples Who Kill Nightmare Next Door Murder Shift Forensic Detectives Extreme Forensics I Was Murdered Stalked: Someone’s Watching Dr G: Medical Examiner Disappeared True Crime With Aphrodite Murder Shift Forensic Detectives Extreme Forensics I Was Murdered Stalked: Someone’s Watching Dr G: Medical Examiner Disappeared True Crime With Aphrodite Murder Shift Forensic Detectives Extreme Forensics I Was Murdered Stalked: Someone’s Watching Dr G: Medical Examiner Disappeared On The Case With Paula Zahn Deadly Affairs I Married A Mobster I Married A Mobster Deadly Women

00:00 Chelsea Lately 00:30 The Dance Scene 00:55 The Dance Scene 01:25 Style Star 01:50 Style Star 02:20 E!ES 03:15 Extreme Close-Up 03:40 Extreme Close-Up 04:10 E! Entertainment Special 05:05 The E! True Hollywood Story 06:00 THS 07:50 Style Star 08:20 E! News 09:15 Scouted 10:15 Married To Jonas 10:40 Chasing The Saturdays 11:10 Eric And Jessie: Game On 11:35 Eric And Jessie: Game On 12:05 E! News 13:05 Extreme Close-Up 13:35 E!ES 14:30 Style Star 15:00 Keeping Up With The Kardashians 16:00 Keeping Up With The

THATʼS MY BOY ON OSN MOVIES COMEDY HD Kardashians 17:00 Giuliana & Bill 18:00 E! News 19:00 E!ES 20:00 #RichKids Of Beverly Hills 20:30 #RichKids Of Beverly Hills 21:00 Fashion Police 22:00 Party On 22:30 E! News 23:30 Chelsea Lately

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Inside Robo-Humans World’s Deadliest Animals Megastructures Space Mysteries Britain’s Greatest Machines Megastructures Breakout Inside Robo-Humans World’s Deadliest Animals Megastructures Storm Worlds Naked Science 2.5 Megastructures Rebuilding Titanic Jurassic C.S.I. Hard Time World’s Deadliest Animals Huge Moves Ultimate Airport Dubai Close Quarter Battle Close Quarter Battle

00:20 Animal Autopsy 01:10 Monster Fish 02:00 I, Predator 02:50 World’s Deadliest 03:45 Cougar Vs Wolf 04:40 Super Predators 05:35 I, Predator 06:30 World’s Deadliest 07:25 Cougar Vs Wolf 08:20 Tiger Queen 09:15 Ape Man 10:10 Pythonathon 11:05 The Pack 12:00 Monster Fish 12:55 Built For The Kill 13:50 World’s Deadliest GPU 14:45 Cheetah Blood Brothers 15:40 Snow Leopard of Afghanistan 16:35 How Human Are You? 17:30 Kenny And Zoltan’s Venom Quest 18:25 Prehistoric Predators 19:20 Built For The Kill 20:10 World’s Deadliest GPU 21:00 Cheetah Blood Brothers 21:50 Snow Leopard of Afghanistan 22:40 How Human Are You? 23:30 Kenny And Zoltan’s Venom Quest


00:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 01:00 The Colbert Report 02:00 Brickleberry 02:30 Eastbound & Down 03:00 The Simpsons 03:30 Back In The Game 04:00 All Of Us 04:30 The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 05:30 Better Off Ted 06:00 The War At Home 06:30 Arrested Development 07:00 Late Night With Seth Meyers 08:00 All Of Us 08:30 Better Off Ted 09:00 The Simpsons 09:30 The Mindy Project 10:00 Modern Family 10:30 Arrested Development

11:00 The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 12:00 The War At Home 12:30 All Of Us 13:00 Better Off Ted 13:30 Arrested Development 14:00 Back In The Game 14:30 The Mindy Project 15:00 Modern Family 15:30 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 16:00 The Colbert Report 16:30 The War At Home 17:00 Late Night With Seth Meyers 18:00 Last Man Standing 18:30 New Girl 19:00 The Mindy Project 19:30 Brooklyn Nine-Nine 20:00 The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon 21:00 The Daily Show With Jon Stewart 21:30 The Colbert Report 22:00 Family Guy 22:30 Brickleberry 23:00 Eastbound & Down 23:30 Late Night With Seth Meyers

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Psych House Of Cards American Horror Story: Breaking Bad Scandal Necessary Roughness Emmerdale Coronation Street Necessary Roughness Emmerdale Coronation Street The Carrie Diaries American Idol Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Breaking Bad

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Good Morning America Rescue Me Good Morning America Royal Pains Live Good Morning America Royal Pains 24 Royal Pains Zero Hour Rescue Me Hemlock Grove

00:00 Summer’s Blood-18 02:00 Inside Man-PG15 04:15 XXX: The Next Level-PG15 06:00 Unbreakable-PG15 08:00 Hellboy-PG15 10:00 Stealth-PG15 12:00 The Dark Knight Rises-PG15 15:00 Hellboy-PG15 17:15 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part One-PG15 19:00 The Dark Knight Rises-PG15 22:00 Freelancers-R

00:00 That’s My Boy-R 02:00 Cottage Country-PG15 04:00 Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult-PG15 06:00 Just Like Heaven-PG15 08:00 Down Periscope-PG15 10:00 Father Of The Bride-PG15 12:00 Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult-PG15 14:00 A Thousand Words-PG15 16:00 Father Of The Bride-PG15 18:00 Hotel Transylvania-PG 20:00 Hot Rod-PG15 22:00 That’s My Boy-R

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Things We Lost In The Fire96 Minutes-PG15 Flower Girl-PG15 Hold Fast-PG15 Saving Grace B. Jones-PG15 Encounter With Danger-PG15 Regarding Henry-PG15 Saving Grace B. Jones-PG15 Switchback-PG15 Rachel Getting Married-PG15 True Confessions-PG15

01:00 Comes A Bright Day-PG15 03:00 The Speed Of Thought-PG15 05:00 Me And You-PG15 07:00 Snow Flower And The Secret Fan-PG15 09:00 The Speed Of Thought-PG15 10:30 Me And You-PG15 12:15 The Wild Hunt-PG15 14:00 The Flowers Of War-PG15 16:30 The Host-PG15 18:45 Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy-PG15 21:00 Being Flynn-18 22:45 Blue Like Jazz-PG15

00:00 The Task 02:00 Underworld: Awakening 04:00 Shadow 06:00 Vanishing On 7th Street 08:00 Ice Quake 10:00 Shadow Conspiracy 12:00 The Blood Bond 13:45 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol 16:00 Shadow Conspiracy 17:45 The Tuxedo 19:45 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol 22:00 Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark

04:00 3 Holiday Tails-PG 06:00 The Wishing Well-PG15 08:00 Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome-PG15 10:00 The Arrangement-PG15 12:00 Red Dawn-PG15 14:00 Interview With A HitmanPG15 16:00 Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome-PG15 17:45 Fast & Furious 6-PG15 20:00 Prometheus-PG15 22:15 21 & Over-18

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Super Rugby NRL Premiership HSBC Sevens World Series PGA Tour Highlights Golfing World AFL Premiership Super Rugby Super Rugby PGA Tour Highlights Golfing World AFL Premiership NRL Full Time Futbol Mundial NRL Premiership Premier League Darts

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AFL Premiership Highlights Indy Car Serier 2014 Golfing World Premier League Darts Top 14 Highlights NRL Premiership PGA Tour Highlights Indy Car Serier 2014 NHL Bellator MMA 2014 Super Rugby

he Royal Opera will slash ticket prices to appeal to students and young people and will revive the racy modern opera “Anna Nicole” for its season opener in September in what management said was a bid to knock the stuffing out of galas. All tickets in the house, whose 2,200 seats can go for as much as 200 pounds ($330), will be priced from 1 pound to 25 pounds for the opening night on Sept 11 and will be sold through the opera’s student standby scheme and in conjunction with a music venue that works with young people, the ROH said. “I think it’s fantastic to have a season opening gala which is something that sounds stuffy and elitist to actually be a night where we celebrate new work ... and is celebrated by selling the whole house to students and young people,” the ROH’s Director of Opera Kasper Holten told Reuters on Monday. Music Director Antonio Pappano, whose contract the ROH announced was being extended until at least the end of 2017, will conduct English composer MarkAnthony Turnage’s opera based on the life of the Playboy centerfold who married an oil billionaire. Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek will reprise the title role which she sang wearing a costume that featured prosthetic breasts for the London premiere in 2011. Holten said that with the extension of his contract the English-born Pappano, who has been the music director of Britain’s premiere opera house for 12 seasons, “is soon becoming one of the longest standing music directors of the Royal Opera and certainly one of the most important and influential ones”. Among singers featured in the next season are German tenor Jonas Kaufmann appearing as the poet hero of Giordano’s “Andrea Chenier”, Swedish soprano Nina Stemme as Isolde in Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” and Russian soprano Anna Netrebko as Mimi in Puccini’s “La Boheme”. The Spanish singer Placido Domingo, a regular at Covent Garden, will add another Verdi baritone role to his repertoire as Doge Francesco Foscari in “I due Foscari”. One of the season highlights is the ROH’s first production of the Polish composer Karol Szymanowski’s 20th-century masterpiece “Krol Roger” (King Roger), a press statement said. Another main house premiere is the ROH’s first production of Kurt Weill’s “Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny”, first performed in Germany in 1930 but banned by the Nazis from 1933. The smaller Linbury Studio Theatre will mount a world premiere of American composer Philip Glass’s “The Trial” based on the novel by Franz Kafka and will stage a new work, “Glare” by the German-Danish composer Soren Nils Eichberg.

Seven new productions All told, the main stage will offer seven new productions, with four directors new to Covent Garden - Italy’s Damiano Michieletto, Katharina Thoma of Germany, Martin Kusej of Austria and American Thaddeus Strassberger, plus new productions from Holten and Britain’s John Fulljames and David McVicar. Other returning singers include Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, who reprises his role as the Dutchman in Wagner’s “Der fliegende Hollander” while Domingo adds a second Verdi baritone role as Giorgio Germont in “La Traviata”. British baritone Simon Keenlyside sings Verdi’s “Rigoletto” for the first time at Covent Garden, Italian tenor Vittorio Grigolo takes on the role of Nemorino in Donizetti’s “L’elisir d’amore” and British baritone Christopher Maltman will sing the title role of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”. Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon will sing Don Ottavio in “Don Giovanni”, British tenor Toby Spence will sing Tamino from Mozart’s “Die Zauberflote” and German soprano Dorothea Roschmann sings her first Royal Opera Don Elvira (“Don Giovanni”). Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak sings Gilda in “Rigoletto” for the first time with the ROH and Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka sings Senta from “Der fliegende Hollander” for the first time at Covent Garden. The Royal Opera, which recently mounted a small production of the 17th-century Cavalli opera “L’Ormindo” at London’s 320-seat Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, said it would produce Monteverdi’s 1607 opera “Orfeo” at London’s “The Roundhouse” music venue as part of its effort to reach new audiences. — Reuters

Photographer blames ‘Avatar’ star’s girlfriend for starting fight


he photographer charged along with “Avatar” star Sam Worthington after a street altercation in Manhattan, on Tuesday blamed the Australian actor’s model girlfriend for starting the fight and wants her arrested, his lawyer said. Mark Heller, the lawyer representing photographer Sheng Li said his client, who appeared in court on charges of assault, reckless endangerment and harassment for the Feb. 23 incident, was attacked by Worthington, 37, and his girlfriend Lara Bingle. Heller also distributed a video of the scuffle to the press. “There’s video showing Lara Bingle aggressively pursuing and coming towards my client. There’s no video of him attacking her; she was the aggressor,” Heller told reporters outside Manhattan Criminal Court. “She has to be charged. There has to be a warrant issued for her arrest,” he added. Li’s case was adjourned until next month. There was no immediate comment from Worthington’srepresentatives. The actor was charged with assaulting Li and is also due to appear in court next month. Heller said Li was doing his job and that Worthington and Bingle were trying to grab his camera and deprive him of his livelihood. “I think we made it clear today that paparazzi are not second-class citizens and they are certainly not celebrity punching bags,” he added. Worthington, born in England but raised in Australia, starred as Jake Sully the 2009 blockbuster “Avatar” and is due to reprise the role in upcoming sequels. He also appeared in “Wrath of the Titans” in 2012. — Reuters

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For immediate sale Volvo — model 2003 - S 40, 4 cylinder, price KD 1,100, run 114,000 km, black color, engine, gear AC excellent condition, interior and exterior neat and clean, no accidents, well company maintained car, computer test ready for inspection anywhere on your expense. For serious buyers call 99072651. (C 4684) 3-4-2014

CHANGE OF NAME I, Sudheer Thopugunta holder of Indian Passport No. K7916639 converted to Islam do hereby change my name to Ali Haider Shaik address in India N.T.R. Nagar K. Kandulavari Palli (vi) Chitvel (MI) Kadapa Dist, AP. (C 4683) 2-4-2014

Prayer timings Fajr:












No: 16124

Mitsubishi Lancer 2012 GLX, dark grey color, excellent condition, km 62,000, KD 1950. Mob: 50994848. SITUATION VACANT An experienced person seeks an opening in accounts/stores. Call 97835420. (C 468) 31-3-2014 ACCOMMODATION Accommodation available in Kuwait city (Maliya) bed space/sharing room available for decent Goan bachelor from 1st April with kitchen facility. Contact: 50195621. 31-3-2014

24835616/7 ,24833199

Directorate General of Civil Aviation Home Page (


Arrival Flights on Thursday 3/4/2014 Flt Route 574 Mumbai 411 Amsterdam/Dammam 539 Cairo 772 Istanbul 1084 Doha 858 Istanbul 441 Lahore 211 Bahrain 764 Istanbul 267 Beirut 853 Dubai 305 Abu Dhabi 576 Kochi/Abu Dhabi 612 Cairo 401 Alexandria 1076 Doha 067 Dubai 770 Istanbul 170 Bahrain 8650 Doha 503 Luxor 069 Dubai 555 Alexandria 157 London 412 Manila/Bangkok 206 Islamabad 1086 Doha 617 Ahwaz 053 Dubai 302 Mumbai 382 Delhi 352 Kochi 512 Riyadh 332 Trivandrum 855 Dubai 362 Colombo 284 Dhaka 125 Sharjah 301 Abu Dhabi 605 Esfahan 1070 Doha 055 Dubai 213 Bahrain 403 Asyut 405 Sohag 165 Dubai 404 Beirut 8053 Dubai 341 Damascus 5483 Mashhad 241 Amman 871 Dubai 561 Sohag 610 Cairo 579 Sohag 057 Dubai 1078 Doha 672 Dubai 546 Alexandria 500 Jeddah

Time 00:10 00:30 00:40 00:45 00:55 01:30 01:30 02:10 02:15 02:30 02:35 02:45 02:50 03:10 03:45 03:45 04:20 05:35 05:40 05:45 05:50 05:50 06:10 06:40 06:45 07:40 07:50 07:50 07:50 07:55 07:55 08:10 08:15 08:15 08:40 08:45 08:50 09:00 09:20 09:30 09:55 10:15 10:40 11:15 11:20 11:30 11:55 12:15 12:30 12:35 12:45 12:50 12:55 13:00 13:05 13:50 13:55 14:00 14:05 14:30


472 562 221 460 788 470 251 535 645 779 8051 135 118 857 1072 303 640 982 510 127 215 777 542 177 1080 786 063 502 618 176 393 674 774 217 614 104 647 328 618 061 572 189 129 480 634 229 071 402 181 307 859 219 1074 417 981 239 059 981 205 185 3718

Jeddah Amman Bahrain Riyadh Jeddah Jeddah Alexandria Cairo Muscat Jeddah Dubai Bahrain New York Dubai Doha Abu Dhabi Amman IAD Riyadh Sharjah Bahrain Jeddah Cairo Dubai Doha Jeddah Dubai Beirut Doha Geneva/Frankfurt Kozhikode Dubai Riyadh Bahrain Bahrain London Muscat Tunis/Dubai Alexandria Dubai Mumbai Dubai Sharjah Taif Frankfurt Colombo Dubai Beirut Dubai Abu Dhabi Dubai Bahrain Doha Amsterdam Bahrain Amman Dubai Chennai/Hyderabad/Ahmedabad Lahore Dubai LGG

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


Departure Flights on Thursday 3/4/2014 Flt Route 560 Sohag 070 Dubai 575 Abu Dhabi/Kochi 164 Dubai 765 Istanbul 545 Alexandria 212 Bahrain 8650 Dhaka 240 Amman 771 Istanbul 054 Dubai 156 London 616 Ahwaz 1087 Doha 534 Cairo 513 Riyadh 787 Jeddah 561 Amman 671 Dubai 126 Sharjah 101 London/New York 856 Dubai 302 Abu Dhabi 606 Mashhad 778 Jeddah 1071 Doha 056 Dubai 501 Beirut 214 Bahrain 541 Cairo 165 Rome/Paris 404 Asyut 402 Alexandria 776 Jeddah 405 Beirut 8054 Dubai 785 Jeddah 342 Damascus 134 Bahrain 176 Dubai 5484 Mashhad 580 Sohag 611 Cairo 872 Dubai 058 Dubai 1079 Doha 673 Dubai 617 Doha 473 Jeddah 188 Dubai 222 Bahrain


Time 06:20 06:30 06:45 06:55 07:05 07:15 07:15 07:15 07:20 07:30 08:30 08:45 08:50 08:50 09:00 09:15 09:25 09:25 09:30 09:40 09:50 09:55 10:05 10:20 10:35 10:55 10:55 11:10 11:25 11:30 11:50 12:15 12:20 12:25 12:55 13:00 13:00 13:30 13:35 13:45 13:50 13:50 14:00 14:15 14:30 14:55 15:05 15:30 15:30 15:40 15:45


481 505 773 471 613 252 646 180 238 8052 304 1073 858 538 641 128 511 982 216 184 266 064 1081 394 218 283 062 328 648 331 120 619 571 351 343 461 543 171 072 230 403 308 220 301 860 205 552 417 1075 060 528 411 415

Taif Jeddah Riyadh Jeddah Bahrain Alexandria Muscat Dubai Amman Dubai Abu Dhabi Doha Dubai Cairo Amman Sharjah Riyadh Bahrain Bahrain Dubai Beirut Dubai Doha Kozhikode Bahrain Dhaka Dubai Tunis Muscat Trivandrum Sharjah Alexandria Mumbai Kochi Chennai Riyadh Cairo Bahrain Dubai Colombo Beirut Abu Dhabi Bahrain Mumbai Dubai Islamabad Alexandria Dammam/Amsterdam Doha Dubai Asyut Bangkok/Manila Kuala Lumpur/Jakarta

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


s ta rs CROSSWORD 506

STAR TRACK Aries (March 21-April 19) You may be chosen to run an errand this morning. Wherever you are needed, you are the one that carries through with the responsibilities of the day. Use this quality of carry-through to create a raise or a promotion. You can draw out a demonstration of how people in the workplace depend on your expertise or reliability to be present and on target with your problem-solving abilities. If it is not the co-workers, it will be the customers that treat you with high respect and you deserve the very best. It may be that you have not gotten your raise or promotion because you have not said much at your employee reviews. Now is the time to be heard. Review your accomplishments and show appreciation for the opportunities. Happy birthday!

Taurus (April 20-May 20) More and more you will be hearing about short-cuts to better budgeting. You will be discovering all sorts of new ways to increase your finances. Most important for you is to stand in front of that desired product and ask yourself if you really want to spend the time and energy it takes to earn the money that will pay for that product. Of course, food is one thing but the pretty twinkle or new toy may be the basic item to reevaluate. You will be able to give good advice when others ask how you manage so well. Although of short duration, you may find yourself puzzled or blocked with regard to some work situation. After lunch, you will be able to gather your thoughts and find a solution. A stranger brings you luck on your way home.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

ACROSS 1. (Irish) Mother of the ancient Irish gods. 4. A crunching noise v 1. 11. Tropical woody herb with showy yellow flowers and flat pods. 15. A unit of absorbed ionizing radiation equal to 100 ergs per gram of irradiated material. 16. A relatively flat highland. 17. The chief solid component of mammalian urine. 18. (Babylonian) A demigod or first man. 20. A brass instrument without valves. 21. Portuguese explorer who in 1488 was the first European to get round the Cape of Good Hope (thus establishing a sea route from the Atlantic to Asia) (1450-1500). 22. A city in southwestern Congo. 24. Angular distance above the horizon (especially of a celestial object). 26. An associate degree in nursing. 27. A New England state. 28. A numerical quantity measured or assigned or computed. 30. A white soft metallic element that tarnishes readily. 32. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. 34. A large and noisy party of people. 38. Small terrestrial lizard of warm regions of the Old World. 42. South American wood sorrel cultivated for its edible tubers. 43. Affected with or marked by frenzy or mania uncontrolled by reason. 44. Used of syllables. 47. A fragment of brick used as a weapon. 49. A dramatic work intended for performance by actors on a stage. 50. Any orchid of the genus Disa. 51. Done or occurring in a brief period of time. 54. Decapod having eyes on short stalks and a broad flattened carapace with a small abdomen folded under the thorax and pincers. 55. (informal) Of the highest quality. 59. A nucleic acid consisting of large molecules shaped like a double helix. 61. Surveying instrument consisting of the upper movable part of a theodolite including the telescope and its attachments. 63. Near or relating to the patella or kneecap. 67. Type genus of the Alaudidae. 71. (Babylonian) God of storms and wind. 72. Any of a class of organic compounds that contain the divalent radical -CONHCO-. 75. Of or relating to alga. 76. A large mass of ice floating at sea. 77. A tricycle (usually propelled by pedalling). 79. Provided with artificial light. 80. (prefix) In front of or before in space. 81. A lack of vitality. 82. The United Nations agency concerned with the interests of labor. DOWN 1. Any of various strong liquors distilled from the fermented sap of toddy palms or from fermented molasses. 2. A quantity of no importance. 3. A city in southern Turkey on the Seyhan River. 4. The complete duration of something.

5. Being ten more than one hundred forty. 6. The capital of Morocco. 7. (Sumerian) Sun god. 8. A desert in southern Israel. 9. Greek coloratura soprano (born in the United States) known for her dramatic intensity in operatic roles (1923-1977). 10. The quality of a color as determined by its dominant wavelength. 11. A clay pipe with a short stem. 12. An elaborate song for solo voice. 13. Perceive sound. 14. A girl or young woman who is unmarried. 19. Low stingless nettle of Central and South America having velvety brownish-green toothed leaves and clusters of small green flowers. 23. Aircraft landing in bad weather in which the pilot is talked down by ground control using precision approach radar. 25. Accompanied by a leader or guide. 29. A gonadotropic hormone that is secreted by the anterior pituitary. 31. Fungus used in the preparation of punk for fuses. 33. Related to or located at the back. 35. An oldster in his dotage. 36. Someone who cuts and delivers ice. 37. A member of an agricultural people in southeastern India. 39. Native to Egypt but cultivated widely for its aromatic seeds and the oil from them used medicinally and as a flavoring in cookery. 40. A cigar made with light-colored tobacco. 41. An intensely radioactive metallic element that occurs in minute amounts in uranium ores. 45. (Mexican) Ground beef and chili peppers or chili powder often with tomatoes and kidney beans. 46. Government agency created in 1974 to license and regulate nuclear power plants. 48. Freetail bats. 52. A person active in party politics. 53. An informal term for a father. 56. The fatty flesh of eel. 57. Eurasian perennial bulbous herbs. 58. West Indian tree having racemes of fragrant white flowers and yielding a durable timber and resinous juice. 60. A projecting ridge on a mountain or submerged under water. 62. A metric unit of volume or capacity equal to 10 liters. 64. Chief port of Yemen. 65. Tasting sour like a lemon. 66. A primeval personification of air and breath. 68. Large sweet juicy hybrid between tangerine and grapefruit having a thick wrinkled skin. 69. The lower house of the parliament of the Republic of Ireland. 70. Of or being the lowest female voice. 73. Small cubes with 1 to 6 spots on the faces. 74. Electronic warfare undertaken to prevent or reduce an enemy's effective use of the electromagnetic spectrum. 78. The branch of computer science that deal with writing computer programs that can solve problems creatively.


As much as you like to be unencumbered, you may find yourself slowed from making any real progress as far as goals are concerned. At this time you will find that your greatest successes come in conquering your doubts. You will succeed by your willingness to complete whatever you have begun. Your intuition is stronglet it guide you. Understanding more about your individuality can be one of the most positive experiences in your life and it empowers you to learn more about other people as well. This is all a question of balancing yourself through mind, body and soul. This is a quest that is truly worthwhile. Children have an extraordinary ability to love unconditionally. If possible, allow a child to occupy your time this evening.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) You may find yourself teaching this wednesday. Perhaps you do substitute teaching and find it a rewarding way to balance your time. Your influence can be helpful in the forming of an individual’s future plans-particularly today. Through helping a person, you may perceive how to proceed with plans of your own. A work project needs a team leader and although you would love the responsibility, it might be best to go with a diplomatic vote. Your dreams have been very insightful recently and you may seek out a good friend that will help you decipher the meaning of your dreams. Consider placing a notepad near you so that if you awaken because of a dream, you can take notes and check it out the next day. You may glean some good insight.

Leo (July 23-August 22) You are at your mental best with sharp ideas. This is an excellent time to make decisions and take care of any incomplete work. It is not yet your time to shine in the limelight, however, so be content to perform any necessary functions without the fanfare or outward enthusiasm from others just now. This should be an extraordinary time for expressing your creativity. A class in creative writing, glass etching, beadwork or some such could be a lot of fun and brings in a little extra money as well. All in all this is a very good day for accomplishing whatever you set out to do, as well as to be creatively expressive. If you ask, a friend or mate might enjoy taking a class at the same time, allowing the both of you to visit and talk about your new craft.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) There could be questions coming your way today concerning how you maintain your cheerfulness or how you cope with certain difficulties. You seem to have a grasp on the ability to create a balance in your life and you have the energies and determination to stay with your strong standards-the energies of the universe work in your favor. You could easily become a mentor to others. Opportunities to expand your thinking through further education may excite you and a chance to join with a friend or teammate confirms any question about you carrying through with this endeavor. This could be a time to make changes in your environment. You may have insights or breakthroughs with regard to your life circumstances. Others value your enthusiasm.

Word Search

Libra (September 23-October 22) You may read about some profound changes in the legal system or in world affairs or in space exploration. You could spend quite a bit of time catching up on all the news that is available to you this morning. Some new information can be useful in the workplace. A recent psychological study confirms what was already obvious to you: the sound of the human voice indicates mood, demeanor and intention in many situations. You are good at deciphering the truth of your customers’ search and are able to help with suggestions for purchase difficulties. The voice indicates satisfaction or frustration and you are able to create a positive outcome. Learn how to relax periodically and clear your thoughts through art or music.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) You could be asked how you keep a cool attitude in difficult situations. Your attitude is that life is too short to worry for very long and this attitude, although it may seem carefree, actually brings about a confidence in decision making. You are a fine mentor to others and can help guide many people into positive directions. Today seems like one of those days where you are asked to guide others more than usual. This helpful action of yours does not assuage you from picking and choosing. Time is important to you and since no one person is given any more time in a twenty-four hour period than anyone else, you set the example of how to allocate your time. Round table discussions are positive and much progress is made in planning and developing new ideas.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) This is a good day. You are at your most practical when it comes to dealing and working with others. You could feel great support from those around you, or circumstances could dictate whatever action will be needed. This is a very lucky day for making plans and finding your way through just about any problem you may discover. This afternoon is a good time for helping the elder members of your family. Be aware of the tendency to become overconfident as you give your elders information or ideas. You will be wise to appreciate the independence that we all need. You feel that you can solve these problems. Good advice from a guide, however, may be given some thought. There is no place like humble! Someone gives you tickets to a future event.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) This is one of those very busy days. Some may have called you four-eyes, nerd or a dork in your youth . . . Now, you are the one that everyone needs to talk with and from whom they need an opinion. You may also find yourself in a variety of surroundings. You may travel around town to different homes and businesses in order to fix technical problems. If you are working within a company building, you will find that new projects and proposals keep you active with interesting co-workers. You will be quite pleased as the day progresses and work keeps you busy. You should squelch a tendency to overindulge in foods that you know are fattening or otherwise unhealthy. You gain more of an interest in diet and nice clothes that fit well.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) Moving and working with the flow, instead of against the flow, will be easy to accomplish. You can count on assistance from others for whatever projects you want to work on. Your instincts for success are strong and you will notice that you have more energy now than usual. You may actively be concerned over the welfare of others. Try listening to their needs before deciding how best to help them. You have such a pleasant and calm way to solve disputes that you are often sought after for your insight and calming ways. Tonight, you and your family work on a plan for improving family finances. Any young people in the family need to learn budgeting and under your tutelage they will do well. A reward system could be favorable.

Pisces (February 19-March 20) You could find that you are appreciated and valued for your feelings and ability to act and get things done. Your mind could be quite clear and natural just now. This is a time when the desire for material success and considerable monetary gain is great. Stay wise in the choice of work that you do. You may be spending a great deal of time communicating with co-workers as well as people outside the workplace. This is a great time to reflect and understand the profession you have chosen as well as the people that work around you. A balance in your emotional life may provide insights into the needs of your loved ones and yourself today. A gift to your loved one made by your own hands will bring much joy and you enjoy exercising your creative abilities.

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


Amiri Hospital


Maternity Hospital


Mubarak Al-Kabir Hospital


Chest Hospital


Farwaniya Hospital


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Ibn Sina Hospital


Al-Razi Hospital


Physiotherapy Hospital






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

Jahra-Block 3 Lot 1 Jahra-Block 92

24575518 24566622


Ahlam Khaldiya Coop

Fahad Al-Salem St Khaldiya Coop

22436184 24833967


New Shifa Ferdous Coop Modern Safwan

Farwaniya Block 40 Ferdous Coop Old Kheitan Block 11

24734000 24881201 24726638

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

25726265 25647075 22625999 22564549 25340559 25326554 25721264 25380581 25628241






















Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh








Kaizen center


















Abdullah Salem




Industrial Shuwaikh






Bneid Al-Gar






Ayoun Al-Qibla










Maidan Hawally






W Hawally






New Jahra


West Jahra


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North Jleeb








N Khaitan





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


Plastic Surgeons Dr. Mohammad Al-Khalaf


Dr. Khaled Hamadi

Dr. Abdal-Redha Lari


Dr. Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rashed

Dr. Abdel Quttainah


Family Doctor Dr Divya Damodar


Psychiatrists Dr. Esam Al-Ansari


Dr Eisa M. Al-Balhan


Gynaecologists & Obstetricians DrAdrian arbe


Dr. Verginia s.Marin

2572-6666 ext 8321


25665898 25340300

Dr. Zahra Qabazard


Dr. Sohail Qamar


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(1) Ear, Nose and Throat (2) Plastic Surgeon Dr. Abdul Mohsin Jafar, FRCS (Canada)



Dr. Fozeya Ali Al-Qatan


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Dr. Abidallah Al-Duweisan


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General Surgeons Dr. Amer Zawaz Al-Amer


Dr. Mohammad Yousef Basher


Internists, Chest & Heart Dr. Adnan Ebil Dr. Latefa Al-Duweisan

22666300 25728004

Dr. Nadem Al-Ghabra


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Soor Center Tel: 2290-1677 Fax: 2290 1688



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Gastrologists Dr. Sami Aman


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Kaizen center 25716707


Dr. Ahmad Al-Ansari 25658888 Dr. Kamal Al-Shomr 25329924 Physiotherapists & VD Dr. Deyaa Shehab


Dr. Musaed Faraj Khamees


Rheumatologists: Dr. Adel Al-Awadi

Dr Anil Thomas

Dr. Salem soso

Dr. Abd Al-Naser Al-Othman


Dr. Khaled Al-Jarallah


Internist, Chest & Heart DR.Mohammes Akkad

24555050 Ext 210

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


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

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

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


lifestyle G O S S I P

Toby Kebbell

Pitt in talks for World War 2 film

to play Fantastic Four villain?


rad Pitt is in talks to star in an untitled World War II film. The 50-year-old actor is negotiating a role in a romantic thriller penned by Steven Knight, which will be produced by Graham King through his GK Films banner. According to reporter Mike Fleming, “While it’s not a done deal yet and not yet set with a distributor, I’m hearing it’s serious and that a big director will be set.” Pitt recently wrapped up filming Second World War epic ‘Fury’ which is set in April 1945 and follows the Allies as they make their final push in Europe. Pitt plays army sergeant, Wardaddy, who commands a Sherman tank called ‘Fury’ and its five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. He stars alongside an A-List cast, including Nymphomaniac’s Shia LaBeouf, ‘Noah’ actor Logan Lerman, ‘American Hustle’ star Michael Pena and The Wolf of Wall Street’s Jon Bernthal. Pitt previously starred in Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Inglourious Basterds’, released in 2009. The film begins in German-occupied France and tells a story of two fictional plots to assassinate Nazi Germany’s political leadership.


oby Kebbell is in talks to play the villain in the ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot. The ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ actor is negotiating the role of Doctor Doom, which American Hustle’s Jack Huston and ‘Anna Karenina’ star Domhnall Gleeson were also being considered for, reports He will join Jamie Bell - who recently starred in Lars von Trier’s ‘Nymphomaniac’ alongside Shia LaBeouf and Uma Thurman - who will take on the role of Ben Grimm, aka ‘The Thing’. The ‘Billy Elliot’ star will be joined by ‘Footloose’ actor Miles Teller as Mr. Fantastic, ‘House of Cards’ actress Kate Mara as the Invisible Girl and Michael B. Jordan - who played Vince Howard in ‘Friday Night Lights’ - as the Human Torch. Josh Trank will direct the superhero film which will see the four characters during their younger years, with Simon Kinberg, Matthew Vaughn and Gregory Goodman producing. The reboot will serve as a prequel to 2005 and 2007 films ‘Fantastic Four’ and ‘Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer’, which starred Ioan Gruffudd as Mr Fantastic, Jessica Alba as Invisible Girl, Chris Evans as the Human Torch and Michael Chiklis as The Thing. The film is slated for a June 19, 2015, release.

: e v o L y e n Court

Janelle Monáe:

Paying homage to Bowie was a dream

Kurt Cobain

kely i l y r e v s i l a c musi


Kerr to ‘enjoy’ body while she is young


ourtney Love says a Broadway musical about Kurt Cobain is “very likely” to happen. The Hole singer previously insisted she wouldn’t want a play about her late husband, who committed suicide aged 27 in 1994, but has since changed her mind and has discussed it with her 21-year-old daughter Frances, her only child with the Nirvana singer. She told NME magazine: “Remember I said I’d never do a musical? Well, that’s not exactly true anymore. After being swarmed by tons of Nirvana fan mail and social-media posts pushing for a musical to become a reality, both Frances and I have thought long and hard and agreed that if we can reach up to the highest shelf and select a team of the greatest and most respected writers, producers and directors, then a Broadway musical is very likely to happen.” The 49-year-old singer insists there would have to be a “great story” to the play that has not been told before and she would dedicate her time to make sure it was a success. She said: “I would devote countless hours with an A-team to create a project that reflects Kurt in the most respectful but honest way possible, so that his story, his music and his legacy can be resurrected onstage for not only the world to see, but more importantly, for our daughter to see.” Courtney claims Kurt’s “spirit” would be there stage with the cast and sitting in the theatre with Frances for the “most emotional experience of our lives.” She added: “It’s an event I feel Kurt wanting me to make happen, an event that pays tribute to his art, to his fans and to his family, an event that’s both rocking and personal.”

Hewitt’s baby weight struggle


ennifer Love Hewitt wants to teach her daughter good self-esteem. The ‘Ghost Whisperer’ actress admits she has often felt down about how hard it’s been to lose weight since giving birth to baby Autumn last November, but she is focusing on staying fit and healthy and hopes to raise her daughter to be equally confident about her body. The 35year-old star said: “If your priorities are right, the baby’s most important. You have to eat to feed to your baby. And I have a girl so I want her to see some day why her mom has good selfesteem and good body issues. “It gets you down sometimes, I’m not going to lie. I’ve had days where I’m like, ‘Ugh, I wish this was easier.’ But it’s not, and that’s OK.” Jennifer - who is married to her ‘Client List’ co-star Brian Hallisay - is trying to stay positive about her weight-loss battle says her new maternity clothing line helps her feel “beautiful”. Speaking at the launch of her A Pea in the Pod maternity clothing line, L by Jennifer Love Hewitt, she told E! News: “It’s hard, it’s really hard. And I wasn’t sure where I was going to fall and what was going to happen and how I was going to feel. It just feels great to sort of be honest about the fact that it is tough and these clothes make it a little easier, make me feel beautiful. “I’m still in a lot of my pregnancy clothes and there is just where I feel good right now. Everything hasn’t returned back to where I want it to be and put on my other clothes and feel good about that.”


iranda Kerr wants to “enjoy” her body “while it lasts.” The former Victoria’s Secret model - who has three-year-old son Flynn with ex-husband Orlando Bloom - says she is comfortable stripping down to her underwear because she “loves” her figure and while she would love to have larger breasts, she is happy to flaunt her toned physique while she is still young. Speaking in the May issue of Britain’s GQ magazine, Miranda said: “I won’t have a body like this forever so I may as well enjoy it while it lasts. I love my body, look after it and enjoy all the changes it goes through. “I loved having a bigger chest while pregnant and I’m lucky to have a small frame. I’m a healthy juicy person.”Miranda believes splitting from her spouse will benefit their son. She added: “Two happy parents are better than two unhappy parents.”

Robbie’s new look for ‘Tarzan’ movie


argot Robbie is dying her hair for the new 3D version of ‘Tarzan’. ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ actress recently went from blonde to brunette for another movie role and is in the process of changing it back to star alongside ‘True Blood’ hunk Alexander Skarsgard in the upcoming Warner Bros. film. She told ITN News: “We start in a couple of months. I got the script, loved it, met with David Yates, the director, I loved his vision and all the pieces came together. I got picked for the role ... [I’m] very lucky. “I just did a film where I had brown hair, it was manky brown, awful, but it was meant to look like that in the film. We made it a nicer, richer color for the Oscars but now I have to go lighter again for ‘Tarzan’.” She added: “I don’t think blondes have more fun though ... people always ask me that but I love this color.” The 23-year-old star also plans to stay in shape for the jungle film by mixing pilates with ballet, which she has been doing during her time in Los Angeles. She explained: “I just posted a picture on Instagram from Ballet Bodies, where I have a trainer, it’s like pilates with ballet techniques. I love it.” Talking about her rise to fame after staring in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, alongside Oscar-nominated actor Leonardo DiCaprio, she said: “It hasn’t changed too many things, I’m just a lot busier, which is a wonderful problem. I’m really lucky and getting the chance to work with people I really want to work with, it’s amazing.” Margot admits she was disappointed Leonardo didn’t win an Oscar for Best Actor for his role in the film but insists he handled it well. She said: “He’s such a humble guy, he would never be a bad sport about those things. I think he’s just grateful to be there and nominated, he doesn’t have a big ego, despite his big profile.”

anelle Monáe says paying homage to David Bowie in a new Pepsi MAX advert was “truly a dream”. The R&B singer appears in the commercial as a busker, singing Bowie’s famous track ‘Heroes’ for small change, and she was thrilled to have been chosen to take part. She said: “‘Heroes’ is one of my favourite David Bowie songs, he’s just the coolest artist out there, so to be able to cover the song and to pay homage to him is truly a dream.” The advert, part of the brand’s Now Is What You Make It campaign, ties in with the World Cup and was filmed in the streets of Rio, where this year’s competition will take place. It also features soccer stars Robin van Persie, David Luiz, Sergio Ramos, Sergio Ag¸ero, Jack Wilshere and Leo Messi, performing impressive tricks with a football. Janelle, who was nominated for International Female Solo Artist at this year’s BRIT Awards, continued: “I love everything the film stands for. To me, it is all about that extraordinary burst of courage and passion which can embolden everyday people in a moment of spontaneity, which is also the message of David Bowie’s venerable song. “I was honored to join Pepsi for this campaign and remind people that now more than ever, we can all be heroes.”

Efron’s ‘Hairspray’ director wants to help him


ac Efron’s ‘Hairspray’ director wants to be his sober coach. Choreographer Adam Shankman reportedly wants to help his friend - who endured two stints in rehab last year for cocaine and alcohol abuse - following recent concerns about his behavour and is encouraging him to follow the same treatment programme he checked into late last year. A source told “Adam sees that Zac isn’t on a great path and has even gotten a little sloppy lately. “And since they’ve been friends for years, Adam has reached out to Zac and is trying to get him into the same program he completed at Passages in Malibu. He’s even offered to be Zac’s sober coach. “Adam really believes in Passages and just wants to see Zac get back into good health. Adam is said to be keen to intervene before the 26-year-old star’s apparent problems affect his career. The source added: “Zac has so much to offer and Adam would hate to see him throw away his career. “If anyone knows what’s going on with Zac, it’s Adam. And he wants to help.” Friends are said to be concerned the ‘17 Again’ actor - who celebrated six months sober in December has fallen off the wagon. Last month, Zac - who broke his jaw after falling over at home in November - was hit in the face during an altercation in a notorious area of Los Angeles, which he told police had taken place when he had run out of gas on his way to a restaurant. He claimed as he and a bodyguard were sitting in their car and waiting for a tow truck, he threw a bottle out of the window and it smashed on the pavement near the alleged attackers. He said three men confronted them because they believed the bottle had been deliberately thrown at them. Two men attacked the bodyguard, then Zac got hit on the mouth when he tried to help. However, sources say Zac’s friend - who has requested to remain anonymous - isn’t a bodyguard at all, but a convicted drug dealer who has been hanging around the star a lot recently. — Bang Showbiz




‘How I Met Your Mother’ finale:

Oh my god, that totally happened! Ted Meets the Mother: As it turns out, she’s the bass player in the band playing at Barnie and Robin’s wedding. A girl bass player? Such a ‘90s cliche. And truth be told, it threw the whole timeline off. Unless Ted and the mother actually met in the ‘90s and then - Oh, my god, we’re though the looking glass here, people ... Barney and Robin Get Divorced: Yeah, that happened. But, as Barney puts it, “This isn’t a failed marriage, it’s a successful marriage that only lasted three years.” Way to look on the bright side, bro! Also, he got another woman pregnant. Beh-behs! Robin Scherbatsky Is Famous, Yo: And distant because of it. As Photo shows Josh Radnor described in a scene feaarrives at the 2014 Film turing a young girl and Independent Spirit an ad on the side of a Awards, in Santa Monica, bus - which, as we all know, is the true measCalif. — AP ure of fame. But she does show up for the wedding between Ted and the mother, despite the fact that she RSVP’d no which is just tacky. Ted Mosby Does Not Rush Into Marriage: Ted and the mom tie the knot after seven years and two kids. Way to take your time and get it right, Ted. The Mother’s Gone. The finale made reference to a time when the mom got sick - complete with a scene with them in a hospital room - referencing a recent episode where it was theorized that the mother passed. At the end Ted’s daughter says, “Mom’s been gone for six years,” clearing a path for him to make a play for “Aunt Robin.” Which he does. ‘HIMYM’ Spinoff: Four things we know so far “How I Met Your Mother” fans can take heart in the fact that, even as their favorite show wrapped up, series creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas are cooking up a spinoff in the form of the pilot “How I Met Your Dad.” While Bays and Thomas have been as tightlipped about the spinoff as they have been about the remainder of “Mother,” some details have emerged as the project takes shape. TheWrap runs down what’s known so far. 1. The two shows might have similar names, but ‘Dad’ Will be a whole new ballgame “If this new show goes next year, it will be a brand-new show. It will be a brand-new story,” Bays told reporters last year at an event celebrating the 200th episode of “How I Met Your Mother.” “We kind of didn’t want it to have any feeling of trying to resuscitate something that has already ended.” 2. OK ... So maybe it will be a little bit like ‘HIMYM’ Despite the creators’ assertion that “How I Met Your Dad” will be “a brand-new show,” Gerwig has said that it will share some qualities with its predecessor - even aside from the very familiar-sounding title. “It’s funny,” Gerwig told E! Online earlier this month. “It shares the heart and soul with the original show, so it has the sweetness and the funniness.” 3. Cristin Milioti won’t be involved Cristin Milioti - who joined the “HIMYM” cast as the titular maternal unit in the finale of the show’s eighth season - would seem to be a natural bridge between the two projects. But that won’t be happening, because Bays and Thomas are burning those bridges. “I almost wish we could use her. She’s good enough to do it, she’s good enough to carry a series,” Thomas told reporters last year. “But the thing that’s most important to us is that ‘How I Met Your Mother’ has its own ending, and then that’s it. It’s contained, it’s done. And then in the fall, if we succeed with the spinoff, we will have to make our case to the audience in a whole new way, with a whole new world, with whole new characters. And that feels right; we want to honor ‘How I Met Your Mother’ with the cleanest ending possible. And then, should [the spinoff ] go forward, that will have to earn the love again in a new way and just be its own charming, different thing.”



Artist plants fake Bieber CDs in LA stores

n artist is making it difficult to believe there’s actually a copy of Justin Bieber’s latest album for sale in Los Angeles stores. Paz, a 25-year-old electronic musician and artist, says he planted 5,000 copies of an album that appears to be Bieber’s “Believe” but actually contains a copy of his own CD at retailers such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target on Tuesday, April Fool’s Day. “We were meticulous,” said Paz, who fancies the stunt as more of a performance art piece than an April Fool’s gag. “We paid a lot of attention to detail because we wanted these to stay up on shelves as long as possible.” From the outside, the wrapped CDs resemble “Believe” right down to the bar code and silky Bieber portrait on the cover. However, Paz’s artwork is inside the back cover, and the disc itself is slathered with images of cats, pizzas and a dog stuffed inside a taco. The CD contains the 13 tracks from Paz’s synth-heavy independent release “From the Bottom of My Heart to the Top of Your Lungs.” The Associated Press independently verified the stunt by purchasing random copies of what looked like Bieber’s “Believe” from widely scattered LA area locations such as a Target store in Burbank and Best Buy stores in West Hollywood and Culver City. In each instance, the CDs were scanned and paid for as if they were Bieber CD’s. But when they were opened outside the store, each con-


tained a copy of Paz’s album, not Bieber’s.

‘Droplifting’ When confronted with the faux Bieber, a

Best Buy manager who requested not to be identified for this story said he wasn’t aware of the swap-out and would pursue the matter with his supervisors. Messages left for Best

In this image an album that appears to be Justin Bieber’s “Believe” sits on the rack at the Best Buy in Culver City, Calif. — AP

How ‘Like Crazy’ director Doremus became so insanely prolific e was 28 years old, had just won the Grand Jury Prize for his fourth feature film and was the toast of indie film circles. But as per usual, all Drake Doremus wanted to do was get back to work. “I didn’t want to dwell on ‘Like Crazy,’ I didn’t want to spend the year enjoying it and going around the world,” Doremus told TheWrap of the afterglow of his victory at 2011’s Sundance. “I did a little bit of that, but I really wanted to go back to work and continue to explore and try something ... This movie was kind of an experiment in a way ... we just kept going, was the idea. Just keep moving.” Now 31, Doremus has just released “Breathe In,” his fifth feature film. It is a significant and enviable accomplishment; for the most part, people his age are dreaming about getting even one movie made, much less several major releases. So, how’d he do it? First, he got started early, releasing his first feature,”Moonpie,” when he was just 23 years old.


Digital Cameras “Make something really small with no money, because that’s where you’re going to learn the most,” Doremus said, outlining his personal filmmaking ethos. “I made a bunch of small movies that weren’t necessarily great films, but I learned a lot.” Now, the boost that Doremus gets from technology allows the filmmaker to employ a similar philosophy while making each feature. Because he uses digital cameras, there’s no limit to the amount he can film. So he keeps recording for seemingly endless takes, allowing his actors space to find the right lines and tone, which they improvise after putting in extensive pre-production work devising their characters’

biographies. Basically, once he gets an idea, he runs to make a film, instead of waiting around for years to develop a notion. “The first takes are very vast and long and there’s tangents of things that don’t really work,” the filmmaker explained. “The second take, we distill it more, then more in the third take, and by the end, it’s usually just the beats we need. It starts out real broad and we explore so many different things, and then it eventually boils down to what it needs to be.” “I love working in that way,” Felicity Jones, who starred in “Like Crazy” and now “Breathe In,” added. “I love the challenge of having to find the words for the characters, writing on the spot is something I quite enjoy.” An enormous amount of time After playing a college student in “Like Crazy,” this time Jones turns back the clock as a British exchange student spending a semester of high school in the Hudson Valley and staying in the home of a couple played by Guy Pearce and Amy Ryan. Pearce, as a musician whose aspirations were interrupted by his wife’s early pregnancy, is drawn to the piano-prodigy Jones, who does little to discourage his advances. “I think it’s just really, fully understanding the character and spending an enormous amount of time in the rehearsal process, creating backstory and creating a fully fledged character,” Doremus said. “In the rehearsal process, we’ll just spend a lot of time doing exercises for the characters to build the characters, and very little time on the scenes that we’re actually going to shoot in the movie. So by the time we get to those scenes, they have a full understanding of how the character

Ellie Goulding would feel something or say something, based on all the work prior.” Surprise factor It does, however, lead to some surprises. “Because it’s shot on digital, you can roll for a long, long time and it’s not too expensive,” Jones explained. “So in many ways it’s like making a documentary in that there will be bits that he can use from different takes, and you’ll know when something hits, and you just hope that when you come to the edit, that they use it.” Seriously, she’s not sure what is going to end up in the movie: “It is always a surprise because you

4. But you know who is involved? Greta Gerwig Ripples of surprise, if not outright dismay, spread through the television-loving community when it was announced that “Frances Ha” star Greta Gerwig had been cast in the lead role of “Dad” as Sally, a female Peter Pan who’s never grown up and is on the verge of a breakup with her husband of less than a year. Gerwig, known for her work in indie films, doing a network sitcom? But Gerwig will also serve as a producer and plans to write for the show, a commitment that suggests her decision to join the show isn’t a quick grab for mainstream cash. — Agencies

Review: ‘Captain or the latest Marvel release, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” most fan boys might prefer a Consumer Reports-style product review. New character introductions: Smooth. Action sequences: Excellent if sometimes lacking finesse. Viewer satisfaction: Likely high. Box-office prospects: Bankable. Teasers for future Marvel installments: Yes, two. With slick design and plushy interiors, “The Winter Soldier” is an excellent product. But is it a good movie? Are the two indistinguishable at this point? Like the recent “Thor: The Dark World,” “Winter Soldier” is a sequel to a pre-”Avengers” franchise starter. The earlier “Captain America: First Avenger” was a mostly clever period film, set in the ‘40s and awash with a charming WWII thriller nostalgia. “Winter Soldier” brings Steve Rogers - the weakling recruit made a brawny Greatest Generation icon, played by Chris Evans - up to present day for a Washington DC conspiracy thriller. Fittingly, Marvel has attracted the default hero of such films, Robert Redford. He’s a major get for the franchise, especially since (unlike in last year’s “All is Lost”) he’s actually talking now. While Rogers runs laps around the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool and jots


Buy, Wal-Mart and Target representatives, as well as Bieber’s spokeswoman, weren’t immediately returned Tuesday night. Why replace Bieber? “The world won’t really miss a Justin Bieber record,” said Paz. Paz, whose full name is Paz Dylan, said he wanted to use so-called “big-box retailers” as his artistic canvas by “droplifting” his music into the hands of consumers. “The general idea is that retail stores make it almost impossible for independent musicians to get their music in there,” said Paz. “I’ve always believed that retail stores can be the best outlets and ambassadors for independent music. They just choose not to be and sell the same recycled (expletive). We thought if they’re going to lock their doors to independent musicians, we’re just going to knock them down and get our music in there.” Paz, who enlisted fellow artists for the citywide switcheroo, declined to say how much it cost to produce the mock albums or what he did with the existing Bieber records on store shelves. “I think legal repercussions are always a possibility when you do performance pieces,” said Paz. “Sometimes you have to take risks for your art.” It’s not Paz’s first music industry prank. Last year, he slipped photos of himself into the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles and hung them on the wall next to the likes of Grammy winners Calle 13 and Maria Rita. — AP

shoot so much footage and don’t know what’s going to make it into the final edit,” Jones added, laughing. In this case, at least, there was a more solid idea of the film’s story by the second time they went to production; after seven months of editing, Doremus and the gang actually scripted out six scenes that, as the director said, “really helped tie it together.” Now, Doremus is moving on to his sixth film, a more scripted movie called “Equals,” which will star Kristen Stewart and Nicolas Hoult. Still, he assures TheWrap, “there will definitely be some improve in there.” — Reuters

(Above) Members of South Korean K-Pop group 4Minute pose during a press conference prior to attending the K-Pop chart show “M Countdown”. (Left) Members of South Korean K-Pop group GOT7 pose during a press conference prior to attending the K-Pop chart show “M Countdown” at the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture yesterday. — AFP photos

America’ zippy but hollow

notes on the pop culture he missed while frozen for 70 years, there’s trouble brewing at S.H.I.E.L.D. Its head, Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson), believes something is amiss with the agency’s latest project: a trio of “helicarriers” that can kill evildoers from the sky even before the evil is done. ‘Winter Soldier’ It’s in this way that Marvel films use a complicated current-events issue - NSA-like spying - to feign contemporary relevance. It’s the appearance of having something to say. Captain America, a standin for a more innocent, noble America, wonders if the helicarriers are like “holding a gun to everyone on Earth and calling it protection.”But that’s about the extent of such talk in “Winter Soldier”: a political thriller without the politics. (Be warned: some small spoilers follow.) Fury, having doubted the project, finds himself a hunted man. Captain America is left to investigate with only a few trustworthy friends: Scarlett Johansson’s scarlet-haired former KGB agent Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. the Black Widow (an “Avengers” toss-in, added like a dash of paprika) and Anthony Mackie’s veteran Sam Wilson (a welcome newbie).The best thing “Winter Soldier” has

going for it is its cast, a uniformly likable bunch, particularly the winning Mackie, whose character dons mechanical wings to become the Falcon. And

then there’s Redford, who plays Alexander Pierce, a S.H.I.E.L.D. director. Redford, naturally, classes up the joint. Historically, in films like “Three Days of the

This image released by Marvel shows Chris Evans, left, and Scarlett Johansson in a scene from “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” — AP

Condor” and “All the President’s Men,” he’s been the regular guy fighting government conspiracy which makes his duplicitous turn in “ Winter Soldier” exciting. Like Jackson, he lends a gravitas to the film that it perhaps doesn’t quite deserve. A separate universe Directing brothers Anthony Russo and Joe Russo (“You, Me and Dupree”) and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (“Thor: The Dark World”) put perhaps a bit more into character development than these films often do. (The biggest misstep is with the handling of the title character, an assassin played by Sebastian Stan, whose true identity is mysterious.) The brightly lit DC environs, too, give the film something of a sense of the real world. Yet when Marvin Gaye’s “Trouble Man” plays - pop-culture homework for Rogers - it’s like a window into another, wholly separate universe. One with soul. It’s getting difficult to tell the Marvel movies apart. The fight scenes on a departing aircraft blur together. The reversals of friend and foe refract like an infinity mirror. The characters are spread across so many movies that you’d need a detective’s cork board to keep it straight. —AP


lifestyle F a s h i o n

Prom dress shopping perilous for plus-size girls This product image released by Sydney’s Closet shows women modeling plus size prom dresses. — AP photos


aria Giorno has nothing against long gowns with high waists and flowing fabric - dresses that are designed to camouflage curves on plus-size women. But the New Jersey high school senior had no interest in buying a loose-fitting style for her senior prom, even though it was all she could find in a size 16 or so at nearby stores. So many stores, Giorno said, “never have anything that’s a little more sexy or a little form-fitting, or anything like that for my age.” Clothes shopping for plussize teens can be frustrating in general, but shopping for a dream prom dress can be a tear-inducing, hair-pulling morass of bad design and few options - especially for girls who want a dress that hugs the body instead of tenting it. “It’s like people kind of assume that’s what I want and that’s what I like. I’m 18. I really like the way the tight dresses look,” said Giorno, who plays roller derby and hopes to study music education in college. She finally found one that didn’t make her look like a bridesmaid - or worse, mother of the bride - at a boutique: a V-neck black lace “fit and flare” style with an open back and pleats above the knee for dancing ease on her big night. Consignment shops and organizations that collect donated prom dresses for girls in need also say they can’t get enough plus-size gowns. Shop owner Kristen Harris went on a mission to collect them after a teen left her store empty-handed and in tears. Harris was tagging stock at her just-opened Designer Diva Consignment Boutique in Abington, Mass., when a plus-size teen shyly approached the ball gowns. Begging for plus-size consignment “I said, ‘Hey hon, what size are you looking for,’ and she said 22, and that’s when I felt like someone had just kicked me in the stomach, because I knew I didn’t have anything that size,” recalled Harris, who desperately pulled some smaller sizes in stretch fabrics for the girl. Moments later, the teen was crying in the dressing room. So Harris began begging on social media for plus-size consignment and hunted down her young customer through Facebook, offering a private appointment and free dress from about 40 she’d collected. “She was so sweet,” Harris said. “I just couldn’t get her out of my head.” Operation Prom, which offers free donated dresses to girls in need in eight states, has also had to hunt for plussize dresses. Noel D’Allacco, founder of the decade-old project, took in about 7,000 gently used dresses and new ones from corporate partners last year, but only about 700 were size 18 and up, she said. The shortage of donated plus-size garments forced her to purchase some. “We are going crazy trying to get plus-size dresses,” said D’Allacco, in Bronxville, NY. “We have this problem, unfortunately, every year. A lot of times we get plus-size donations and

they’re not appropriate for a 17-year-old. They’re for your grandmother to wear. It’s difficult.” ‘They do struggle’ Online options for plus-size prom dresses have proliferated in the past decade. But shopping that way for an already difficult fit, along with restrictive return policies, can feel risky. Giorno was not comfortable searching for her dress online, yet many retailers carry few to none in

stores and on trend for teens. Many designers don’t bother making them in larger sizes, prospective customers say. Sixteen percent of women’s clothing sold in the US is size 14 and up, according to the market research group NPD. But the plus-size women’s business has “pretty much been ignored by the big stores,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief retail analyst. The shop in Pine Beach, NJ, where Giorno found her dress, called New York City Glitz, makes it a priority to stock

This undated images released by New York City Glitz show Maria Giorno, 18, a high school senior from Manchester Township, NJ, models a prom dress at New York City Glitz boutique in Pine Beach, NJ.

These undated images released by David’s Bridal show popular prom gown designs.

trendy plus sizes. “There’s not that much made,” owner Cat Hutton said. “I have companies that I deal with that only carry up to a size 16.” David’s Bridal, with about 300 stores around the country, estimates half of the company’s promworthy choices come in sizes 16 to 22, with interest in those sizes growing every year, said Marissa Rubinetti, a senior buyer. “They do struggle. Creating more plus-size prom dresses They may fall in love with something they see online and they don’t have the opportunity to try it on and buy it,” she said. A decade ago, the company carried a fraction of prom dresses up to size 22, Rubinetti said. Southern stores, particularly Texas, have a higher demand, she said. Stephanie Mekhjian, manager of David’s Bridal in Fort Worth, Texas, estimated 20 to 25 percent of her prom customers wear sizes 18 to 22, including some who travel 100 miles or more to shop there. JC Penney sells plus-size prom dresses online only and offers just three styles. Target does not sell, in its brick-and-mortar stores, dressier styles appropriate for prom in any size, but the company does sell them online. Other retailers restrict all plus-size clothing to websites. “Manufacturers are starting to create more plus-size prom dresses but they are just not as readily available as traditional size prom dresses,” said a Penney spokeswoman, Sarah Holland. Phyllis Librach in St Louis, Mo, knows the heartache of the dress search as both a mother and a dress designer who specializes in plus sizes for special occasions. She started her business 10 years ago after her daughter, now 29, was that curvy girl in tears in search of the perfect prom dress. They finally had one custommade after the teen refused to buy a white wedding gown and dye it for prom. Librach now designs and manufactures her own styles, including prom dresses sizes 14 to 40, which she sells on her site,, and through about 125 boutiques. She started out in the business buying inventory from others, but switched to producing her own after contacting a company that planned to knock off a gown worn by Queen Latifah at an awards show. “I wanted to place an order, a very nice order, and they said, ‘We’re not making the dress in any size larger than 14,’” Librach recalled. “I said, ‘Let me understand this, you’re going to knock off an evening gown worn by a plus-size celebrity and you’re not going to make it for plus-size women?’ So I got angry, I got frustrated and I said, ‘Damn it, I’ll make it myself.’ That dress sold out.” — AP


lifestyle T r a v e l

Rotana launches its first 5-star resort in Salalah R

otana, the leading hotel management company in the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and Eastern Europe, announced the opening of Salalah Rotana Resort on March 18th, the first five-star property in Salalah Beach and the largest in the city by room size and the largest free-standing hotel in Oman. The hotel’s 400 rooms & suites are set in between an elaborate network of manmade waterways that connect all waterfront hotels and residential areas in Muriya’s Salalah Beach Resort to the Indian Ocean. Speaking at the opening, Samih Sawiris, Chairman of Muriya and CEO of Orascom Development, said, “We are delighted to launch the Salalah Rotana Resort as part of Muriya’s Salalah Beach Resort destination. Salalah Rotana Resort is a ground-breaking project in Oman. Utilizing the experience gained by Orascom when developing the pioneering El Gouna resort in Egypt, Muriya has integrated the natural landscape into the design of the hotel to combine traditional architectural aesthetics with Venetian waterways to create a desert oasis. The partnership between Orascom and Omran has allowed Muriya to deliver a landmark resort in Salalah as an example of the commitment of all parties. The resort is peerless in the Sultanate of Oman as the largest hotel in the country and will serve the growing demand for high-quality accommodation in Salalah as tourism continues to grow in the city.” A new journey Omer Kaddouri, President and CEO of Rotana commented saying “We are excited to begin a new journey today at the first hotel to be operated by Rotana in Oman. This stunning property is the 50th hotel to be operated by Rotana and represents the half-way mark in the award-winning hospitality group’s plans for 100 hotels by 2020. Salalah Rotana Resort is the Sultanate’s newest and largest hotel. Oman has always been a key growth market for us to expand into. We pride ourselves in identifying new and upcoming travel destinations people wish to visit and Salalah is growing in popularity. The opening of Salalah Rotana Resort is an exciting one for us, as not only does it take us one step closer to reaching our ultimate vision but it has strengthened the company’s standing as the leading hotel management company in the region.” “We will be working closely Oman’s Ministry of Tourism on developing the country’s appeal and establishing Salalah as a new and upcoming yearround tourist destination. Salalah Rotana Resort’s opening is in line with the Ministry’s strategy to strengthen Oman’s reputation as a luxury hospitality

haven and will set new standards in hospitality which we are renowned for.’ concluded Kaddouri. Fully equipped hotel The resort offer guests a wide variety of food and beverage venues including a lobby lounge cafÈ, allday dining and specialty restaurants as well as a beach restaurant and pool bar. The hotel is fully-equipped to cater to business visitors with a selection of meeting rooms, a business centre, Bodylines leisure and fitness club, a large outdoor pool, massage services, and a kids’ club. Guests can rest, relax and rejuvenate at the resort’s Zen the spa; Rotana’s home-grown spa concept derived from ancient holistic Asian philosophies. A calming space where stress melts away, Zen the spa at Rotana promises to provide each guest the opportunity to ‘rebalance the body’ with a wide variety of relaxing ‘ritual’ treatments from full body massages, facials and soothing wraps. In the coming months, the resort will grow to feature 45 villas and we expect the resort to be fully operational in time for the popular Khareef season when the area receives a large number of visitors. Hamza Selim, CEO of Muriya, said, “Salalah Rotana Resort will make a major contribution to the community by providing additional employment opportunities for Omani nationals and strengthening the local supply chain in support of the country’s developing tourism industry. Salalah is the only tropical destination in the Gulf and the annual Khareef season brings the region’s lush landscape and spectacular waterfalls to life. Salalah Rotana Resort has incorporated the natural environment by filling the waterways with 105,000m2 of seawater that is safe for swimming and refreshed every four days using natural tidal patterns. The opening of Salalah Rotana Resort is a milestone for Muriya and the hotel will develop to become part of an integrated town which will make a major contribution to the number of quality hospitality assets in the Sultanate’s portfolio and put Salalah on the map as a global tourism destination.” Future expansion The resort has also been commended by Sheikh Khalid bin Mussalam Al-Rowas, Director General of the Ministry of Tourism in Salalah, who commented that the hotel will have a profound impact on tourism in the region in line with the Government’s vision for tourism development. Salalah Rotana Resort will offer a fully-integrated destination in the city that supports increased investment and development of infrastructure which includes the new international airport and

expansion of the Port of Salalah. In 2013, 435,000 visitors from the Gulf region visited Salalah during the Khareef season, an increase of over 80,000 on the previous year as visitor numbers continue to rise year on year. The new Salalah Airport is expected to be completed in 2014, with the capacity to handle one million passengers. Future expansion is planned to extend capacity to six million passengers. Salalah Rotana Resort is the second hotel to open at Salalah Beach, which is one of the first of its kind and one of the largest Integrated Tourism Complexes (ITCs) in Oman, along with Muriya’s Jebel Sifah destination in the Muscat Governorate. Spread over an area of 15.6 million square meters with 8.2 km beach front, Salalah Beach is located in one of the most breath-taking natural settings in the Sultanate between spectacular mountains, fresh water springs and tropical scenery. Visitors find themselves immersed in traditional Arabian lifestyles and values expressed through the surrounding architecture, wildlife and frankincense trees.

Bubbling ambitions in China’s ‘hot housands of vats of hot pot seasoning thicken the air around Nie Ganru’s home with a miasma of chili as flamered paste, thick with oil, bakes in the sun. Nie lives and effectively breathes hot pot, the spicy cook-it-yourself communal Chinese meal that made his fortune, and has built a potshaped six-storey museum dedicated to the dish. Now his home town, the megalopolis of Chongqing, is seeking national and ultimately global recognition for the food. “It’s numbing, it’s hot, it’s very flavorful, it has an aroma that hits you in the face, and that’s why everybody likes it,” says the 70-year-old tycoon, who eats it about every other day. Seated at a wooden table crowded with dipping options, Nie plunks capsules of duck blood into a simmering broth teeming with oil, chilis and hot and numbing Sichuan peppers. Others ladle out oil-coated slices of lotus root and cool their tongues with pickled vegetables. “Everyone gathers around a table to eat and it’s harmonious, it’s lively, it’s warm-it’s a great environment,” he says. The museum houses hundreds of pots Nie has collected over more than a decade, including one supposedly used in the palace of the Qing dynasty Qianlong Emperor in the 1700s and another dating to the Western Zhou dynasty of 1046 to 771 BCE.


meal with Nationalist rival Chiang Kai-shek before ousting him in civil war in 1949, his exhibits show. Another mural depicts paramount leader Deng Xiaoping treating officials to hot pot in the late 1970s while strategising the Reform and Opening overhaul that would transform the country. Yet competition for a place on the national list of “intangible cultural heritage” is

Emperors and Confucius Hot pot originated a century ago as a low-brow meal for peasants squatting by the river to cook ox tripe and other offal, but has since followed China into prosperity. The first restaurant opened in the 1930s and the meal’s popularity spread when Chongqing became China’s capital during World War II, drawing the displaced from around the country. As China’s economy exploded in recent decades, hot pot too has boomed, with other regions offering different varieties and upscale venues serving delicacies such as fatty mutton slices, rabbit kidney, prawns and mushrooms. By Nie’s telling, hot pot also played a starring role in modern Chinese history. Communist leader Mao Zedong shared the

Antique hot pots at a hot pot museum and factory.

Workers enjoying hot pot food at a hot pot museum and factory in Chongqing. — AFP photos

Hot pot tycoon Nie Ganru with some of his collection at his hot pot museum and factory.

tough in a huge country with a rich culinary tradition. Only a handful of its more than 1,200 entries are foods, each heavy with history-dishes served in the residences of emperors and the sage Confucius, salt from the ancient Zigong wells and a rice dumpling brand dating back to the 1800s. ‘Good for the body’ Chongqing-which was split out of the more culinarily renowned province of Sichuan in 1997 — is just one of many

pot city’

locales trying to cook up attention by winning recognition for native dishes, says Fuchsia Dunlop, a Chinese food expert and author of Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper. “Certainly the Chongqing hot pot is very distinctive and hugely popular,” says Dunlop. “The entire surface of the pot is covered with these spices... it will really blow your head off.” But, she adds, “If you

to someday join Unesco’s global list-which only features a few food entries, including a set of cuisine customs called washoku from China’s longtime rival Japan, but none from China. “Eating hot pot makes you feel hot, and this can be good for the body,” says 20-year-old Chongqing resident Li Yao. “It helps you sweat.” Doctor Zhang Jingnan, 44, also loves the meal but admits

This photo shows a worker with some of the 5,000 pots of fermenting chilli peppers at a hot pot museum and factory. start trying to label things, intangible cultural heritage in China, where do you stop? It’s such a rich and wonderful culinary culture and there are so many dishes that go back centuries.” So far Chongqing has managed to get itself christened “China’s hot pot city” in 2007 by the China Cuisine Association. It has added hot pot to its own catalogue of intangible cultural heritage, which boasts 278 entries-although half the country’s provinces have compiled even longer lists. The Chongqing Hot Pot Association, which applied for national recognition, also aspires

overindulging is unwise. “From a health point of view it’s not very good,” she says, gathered with her family around a bubbling vat and bowls of rice. Still, she adds, “I don’t think I could live without hot pot.”— AFP

Workers preparing hot pot sauce made of fermented chilli peppers at a hot pot museum and factory.

Artist plants fake Bieber CDs in LA stores



A general view shows sculptures made of waste material titled “Trash People “ by German Artist HA Schult (unseen), yesterday in Ariel Sharon Park, in the suburbs of Tel Aviv. Hundreds of human-size figures constructed from 20 tons of recycled material, including iron, glass, computer parts, cans and more, will dominate the sky line of Tel Aviv city and be placed in the park. — AFP photos

Pakistan accelerates jeep rally to boost desert tourism


n a cloud of dust and diesel fumes, a souped-up 4x4 roars through the silence of Pakistan’s Cholistan desert, cheered on by tens of thousands of spectators. Nearly 90 drivers were drawn to throw their vehicles around the dry, rocky 214-kilometre (133-mile) track in a desolate, baking hot corner of Punjab province for this year’s Cholistan Jeep Rally. The event, which began in 2005, has grown in popularity despite the remote location, about 400 kilometers southwest of Lahore, the provincial capital, with fans coming from across Pakistan to see the action. Officials from the Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP), which organizes the festival, say that the rally, which took place last month, is becoming more popular every year. “We estimate a total of 200,000 people from local villages and the major cities

Bizarre news

Gold embossed toilet roll sold for £150


roll of toilet paper is on sale for onehundred pounds. German designer Fritz Loibl created the £150 tissue paper by embossing each piece with 24-carat gold motifs. Mr Loibl customizes the made to order rolls for a staggering £148 and sends the personalized designs to a host of customers worldwide, reports The Metro newspaper. According to Mr Loibl the majority of his clients are businesses dealing with luxury hotels and goods, although many customers also buy the pricey products as gifts or to decorate their homes.

Austrian ambassador, made the trip with his 72-year-old mother. “This event is something positive in a country which is always known for negatives,” Wech told AFP. “People are very friendly here. More international promotion of this rally can bring international tourists over here.” — AFP

turned up,” a dust-covered Habib-ur-Rehman Gilani, the TDCP managing director, told AFP on the finish line. “It helps locals to improve their living. They rent out their houses and install food stalls to earn money from the visitors.”

Economic boost Life for those who dwell in the desert is hard, with limited economic opportunities and regular water shortages hitting livestock-the main source of income for many people. This year, a festival of music, dance, wrestling and camping events was held alongside the rally to entertain visitors-and bring work to local people. Drummer Ghulam Nabi, who lives in Liaquatpur, around 60 kilometers away, earned 6,000 rupees ($60) in three days-twice as much as he would normally make in a month. “There are not enough parties and weddings in my town which could help me to earn a living through drumming, so this was a very good event to earn a few extra thousand rupees,” the mustachioed Nabi told AFP after whipping up the crowd with his drum. The old princely state of Bahawalpur, of which Cholistan was part, was ruled for centuries by the Abbasi dynasty and was only fully merged into Pakistan in the 1950s, several years after independence from Britain. The elegant white marble tombs of long-dead Abbasi “nawabs” and their queens provide an elegant backdrop to the rally. Their crumbling Drawar fort was host to a fireworks display before the race a huge boost to business for Fiaz Ahmed Shirazi, who runs a fireworks business in the area. “I earned 300,000 rupees ($3,000) from the fireworks at this event,” he said. “There are other vendors who set up food stalls during the rally and earn thousands of rupees in a short period.” Rebirth of tourism? Back on the starting line, thousands of locals and tourists from the far-away cities of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad cheer the drivers, whipped up by musicians in colorful traditional costumes. “It’s awesome,” said Ameera Rao, 26, an event manager, who travelled from Lahore with friends for the rally. “The experience is very thrilling,” Rao, wearing glasses to

This photograph shows a Pakistani jeep driver driving past spectators during the Desert Jeep Rally in the Cholistan Desert in Drawar. — AFP photos A Pakistani jeep driver driving past spectators during the Desert Jeep Rally.

This photograph shows Pakistani folk artists as they dance during the Desert Jeep Rally. A Pakistani jeep driver driving past spectators during the Desert Jeep Rally. avoid scorching sun and dust, said. Foreign tourism in Pakistan is at a low ebb, badly hit by the country’s fearsome reputation for Islamist violence. After seven years of a homegrown Taliban insurgency, tourism officials are desperate to improve the country’s image to attract more

Man sells his tattooed skin on Ebay


man is selling his skin on the internet. Artur Mrozowski, who lives in Blackpool, north-west England, has placed an advert for his tattooed skin on the web marketplace Ebay after covering 90% of his body in a leopard-print design. Mr Mrozowski - who is originally from Warsaw in Poland - offered the ‘the smoothest, softest leather on Earth’ to the highest bidder, who he claimed would receive their purchase upon his death. With nine days of auctioning left the bid currently stands at £16, although Mr Mrozowski claims he wonít accept anything below £75,000. — Bang Showbiz A Pakistani jeep driver driving past spectators during the Desert Jeep Rally.

overseas visitors. “We have planned to take it to other countries through our embassies and 4X4 clubs in different countries,” Gilani said. “We are trying to bring international drivers in the rally. It will boost this sport and tourism in our country.” The event has a following among foreigners living in Pakistan. Axel Wech, the

3 Apr  

Kuwait Times

3 Apr  

Kuwait Times