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Kuwait gives $249.5m in Syrian relief aid

Egypt women’s rights on paper, not yet on ground

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Ming Dynasty ‘chicken cup’ sold for record $36m




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‘Conspiracy’ video sends shockwaves in Kuwait MPs, opposition demand full truth or PM’s resignation

Jet returns over leaky lavatories By Velina Nacheva KUWAIT: Kuwait Airways flight KAC101 bound to New York via London had to return to Kuwait three hours after takeoff from Kuwait airport yesterday morning after a technical glitch related to the lavatories. According to a source from Kuwait Airways, the Airbus 340 was at full passenger capacity including three ill patients who were being transported for medical treatment to London. The flight took off at 10.30 am yesterday morning, but following leaks in the lavatories, the captain “took the decision” to return to Kuwait, the source told Kuwait Times. “Safety is the main priority for us, even if there is a slight delay,” said the source. A retired pilot from another airline who is not familiar with the technical failure on this particular flight explained that usually a leak from the tanks full of what in aviation parlance is known as “blue juice” used in the lavatories can damage the plane’s electronics, because the tanks are located in a compartment under the passenger cabin. If this was the technical problem with the Kuwait Airways flight, the decision to return could have been prompted over safety concerns. In the worlds of the source from Kuwait Airways, “such a technical failure can happen with any airline and on any plane.” After returning to Kuwait, passengers bound to New York were offered the choice to be transferred to other airlines due to connecting domestic flights. The rest of the passengers were offered refreshments at the airport until the technical problem was solved. After the technical staff “did their best” to fix the problem, the plane had to be replaced with another Airbus 340, which departed at 8 pm yesterday night.

KUWAIT: Kuwait Petroleum Corporation and Egypt’s General Petroleum Corporation officials sign a deal to boost Egypt’s energy supplies. — KUNA

Kuwait boosts fuel to Egypt US output, low demand pose risks: IMF KUWAIT/DUBAI: Kuwait will boost its supply of crude oil to Egypt by nearly a third and increase shipments of petroleum products in a deal the oil minister said was an obligation to help Cairo through its problems. State-run Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) will provide 85,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil to Egypt, up from 65,000 bpd previously, state news agency KUNA said yesterday. It will also increase its supply of diesel and jet fuel to 1.5 million tonnes per year, up from 860,000 tonnes. The contracts run for three years and were signed on Monday, KUNA said.

Egypt has been relying on crude deliveries from the Kuwaiti government at favourable terms as well as on donations of gasoline and diesel from Gulf Arab states to help reduce the drain on its foreign exchange reserves and the heavy costs of government fuel subsidies. “We will overcome any difficulties Egypt is suffering from and we will not hesitate to help them,” Kuwait’s Oil Minister Ali Al-Omair told Reuters when asked whether Kuwait was concerned Egypt might have payment problems. Continued on Page 13

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KUWAIT: A highly sensitive videotape in the possession of former energy minister Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahd AlSabah has sent political shockwaves in the country, especially after more leaks were published about the “conspiracy” tape. The new development came after Sheikh Ahmad was interrogated for five hours by the public prosecutor on Monday as a witness and told reporters later that the tape relates to “local, parliamentary, (ruling) family, financial and regional issues”, and that he dealt with them “in accordance with my national duties”. He provided no further details about the exact content of the recordings. But some leaks from the public prosecution’s interrogation were published late Monday night. They cited Sheikh Ahmad as telling the prosecutor that former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah and former parliament speaker Jassem AlKhorafi appeared in the videos. They quoted Sheikh Ahmad as also saying that he had submitted the tape to Prime Minister HH Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, who warned him that his “foes were very powerful”. Sheikh Ahmad did not say on Monday who supplied him the tape. The issue began several weeks ago when a tweeter wrote on his account that Sheikh Ahmad had received an audiotape containing highly sensitive information about Sheikh Nasser and Khorafi. Khorafi took the case to the public prosecutor and asked him to investigate the issue and categorically denied the allegations made against him and the former premier. The prosecutor then arrested the tweeter, interrogated him and detained him for several days before releasing him on bail. Last week, the prosecutor decided to summon Sheikh Ahmad as a witness to hear his account. MP Ali Al-Rashed led the reactions to the video, which he described as posing a real danger to the country and its political institutions and urged a transparent response from the prime minister. He said available leaks indicate the video concerns highly suspicious financial transactions and highly dangerous political deals. Rashed later sent a lengthy question to the prime minister, inquiring if the premier has received the said video or audio tape and when. He asked for the legal and administrative measures taken by the premier after receiving the tape. Continued on Page 13

MERS fears prompt Saudi ER closure

Kuwait to sign US tax agreement

TUNIS: A young Tunisian couple walks along the banks of a lake on March 25, 2014. — AFP

Pressures force Tunisian women to fake virginity TUNIS: It happens every April ahead of the summer marriage season, says Tunisian gynaecologist Faouzi Hajri - desperate brides-to-be beg for surgery to make them “virgins” again for their wedding night. Fearing rejection as “used” women in a conservative Muslim country where premarital sex is nevertheless common, Tunisian women are increasingly opting for the sort of surgery offered by Dr Hajri. But it doesn’t stop them regretting the need to convince new husbands of their purity. “A woman’s honour shouldn’t be determined by a few drops of blood,” says Salima, a 32-year-old who admits she had the operation so that her “honour” was not in question on her wedding night. It is easy for a woman to have her hymen surgically reconstructed in Tunisia. The routine hospital operation takes around 30 minutes and costs from $550 to $960, with a less permanent version needing to be done within a week of the wedding, while the stitches hold. “The number of women resorting to

hymenoplasty or hymenorrhaphy (as the operations are known) has gone up a lot in recent years,” says Moncef Kamel, a doctor in the southern island of Djerba. The women he operates on - around 100 each year, aged between 18 and 45 - come with their faces hidden behind a scarf and dark glasses, “have a normal, active sex life”, and generally hail from working-class backgrounds. “It’s a taboo subject, which explains why there’s a lack of official statistics,” says Hajri. The Tunis-based gynaecologist says he also treats about 100 women annually, including from neighbouring Libya and Algeria. Since the 1950s, Tunisia has been considered the most progressive country in the Arab world in terms of women’s rights, and politicians enshrined gender equality in the new constitution adopted in January. Demographic changes have reinforced personal freedoms, with sex outside marriage increasingly common and more people opting to marry later. Continued on Page 13

KUWAIT: The Kuwaiti government announced yesterday its desire to sign the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) agreement with the US administration. In a press statement, the Finance Ministry stated the agreement stipulates the collection and submission of financial accounts of US institutions and citizens. It pointed out that FATCA obliges all financial institutions whether they practice their business in or outside US territories to submit annual reports to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on any US holding accounts that exceed $50,000. The Ministry of Finance has formed a committee including representatives of the Ministry’s Tax Department, Foreign Ministry, Central Bank of Kuwait and Kuwait Banks Association to prepare for signing the FATCA agreement. The committee has already notified relevant financial institutions to submit data of American clients to see whether they comply with the provisions of the FATCA agreement. Non-compliant Americans will be asked to register on the website of the Internal Revenue Service before May 5, 2014. FATCA was enacted in 2010 by the Congress to target non-compliance by US taxpayers using foreign accounts. FATCA requires foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to report to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) information about financial accounts held by US taxpayers, or by foreign entities in which US taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest. The financial institutions that do not both register and agree to report face a 30 percent withholding tax on certain US-source payments made to them. Nearly 26 European countries have already signed the FATCA agreement and 19 others are in the final negotiation stage. Almost all Gulf Cooperation Council states have started to take serious step towards signing the FATCA agreement before a July 1, 2014 deadline to prevent any US penalties on their financial institutions. — KUNA

JEDDAH: The main public hospital in the Saudi city of Jeddah has closed its emergency room after a rise in cases of the MERS virus among medical staff, the health ministry said yesterday. A Jeddah paramedic was among two more people Saudi health authorities reported on Sunday had died from the SARS-like disease, bringing the nationwide death toll to 66. On Monday, the health ministry reported four more MERS cases in Jeddah, two of them among health workers, prompting authorities to close the emergency department at the city’s King Fahd Hospital. Patients were being transferred to other hospitals while the department was disinfected in a process expected to take 24 hours, the ministry said. It reassured residents that the situation remained “stable” and “all precautionary measures are being taken to deal with the virus.” But the closure caused widespread public concern, fuelled by rumours on social networks. “I’m afraid to send my children to

school,” said Jeddah resident Bassem Ben Ali, 33. Jeddah accounts for just 11 of the 175 cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome reported by Saudi authorities since the disease first appeared in the kingdom in Sept 2012. Of those, two have died, six have recovered and three are still undergoing treatment. The MERS virus is considered a deadlier but less-transmissible cousin of the SARS virus that erupted in Asia in 2003 and infected 8,273 people, nine percent of whom died. Experts are still struggling to understand the disease, for which there is no known vaccine. A study has said the virus has been “extraordinarily common” in camels for at least 20 years, and may have been passed directly from the animals to humans. The World Health Organisation said at the end of March that it had been told of 206 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS infection worldwide, of which 86 had been fatal. — AFP

RIYADH: Saudi medical staff leave the emergency department at a hospital in the center of the Saudi capital yesterday. — AFP



KUWAIT: Pictures releasd by the Ministry of Interior on April 3, 2014 of the 3.5 million captagon shipment.

Customs under fire over Captagon smuggling Shipment cleared despite info available a month before KUWAIT: The Customs General Department opened an internal investigation into accusations of ‘carelessness’ that could have allowed a shipment of 3.5 million Captagon tablets to enter Kuwait. The move came after the Interior Ministry lodged an official complaint to the Cabinet accusing customs officials at Shuwaikh Port failed to do their jobs properly despite receiving information about the shipment nearly a month before it was seized. The Drug Control General Department (DCGD) announced on April 3 that an Arab national was arrested after he came to receive a shipment of ironing boards which contained the drugs. The official statement does not mention that the operation was in cooperation with Customs General Department officials, leading to speculation that the shipment was cleared into the country by inspectors at the seaport. A report published by Al-Rai yesterday con-

firmed those theories, as it states that local authorities informed the Customs General Department about the potential smuggling attempt on March 4. “ The Interior Ministry received information about the shipment from Saudi authorities, who obtained the info from a drug smuggler who said that a large Captagon shipment was on its way to Kuwait,” said security sources quoted in the report. The information provided specific details about the shipment, including the type of drugs, their numbers and the way they would be concealed inside ironing boards, the sources said. However, the information was not given proper seriousness, which allowed the shipment to enter Kuwait, said Khalid Al-Saif, the Acting General Director of the Customs General Department. He added that three customs department employees at the Shuwaikh Port, including a supervisor and customs inspector,

are likely to be suspended until the investigations are complete. “If negligence is confirmed, they will be referred to the public prosecution,” Saif told Al-Rai. “If not, they will be taken to the legal affairs department (at the Customs General Department) to face disciplinary measures.” The DCGD had indicated that the shipment was tracked since it embarked from a ‘nearby Arab country’ all the way until it reached Kuwait by sea. Saif confirmed meanwhile that the shipment came from Lebanon. Following the operation that ended with confiscating the shipment, the Interior Ministry forwarded an official complaint to the Cabinet against the Customs General Department. They accused customs officials of failure to carry out routine inspection which allowed the shipment to leave the port safely, despite the fact that they had information and specifications about the shipment beforehand.

Kuwaitis 2% of private sector manpower KUWAIT: Kuwaitis make up only two percent of the workforce in the country’s private sector, according to official statistics as of the end of last month. The 31,960 Kuwaitis registered in the private sector as of March 31, 2014 is slightly higher from the 30,344 registered last year. However, the numbers mean a setback in the government’s efforts to encourage national manpower to work in private firms, as Kuwaitis made a little bit over 4 percent of the private sector’s manpower in 2013. The number of expatriate workers increased by 2.5 percent between the end of the fourth quarter in 2013, and the end of the first quarter in 2014, according to the statistics provided by Samirah Mandani, Director of the Labor

Coordination Department at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor. In general, the statistics indicate that private sector employees increased by 2.6 percent in three months, or from 1,356,177 as of Dec 31, 2013 to 1,391,118 as of March 31, 2014. In comparison, private sector employees in 2013 reached 1,305,862. Visa exception Meanwhile, official statistics published by AlQabas yesterday indicate that a total of 163,686 visas were issued in 2013 for foreign labor forces recruited from abroad for jobs exempted from a visa issuance suspension. The same year saw 12,777 domestic workers transfer their visas to the private sector, and 9,492 commercial visit

visas transferred to work visas. On the other hand, the report highlights the problem of visa trafficking by indicating that 265,907 expatriates were classified as ‘light job workers’, a general term that lacks proper job description and can easily be used to obtain visas by fake companies. The report also suggests that the same problem is featured in other sectors such as street cleaning, where 46,255 workers are registered, and agriculture, where 35,591 workers are employed. These numbers arguably exceed the actual number of workers in these fields. The report also points out the number of workers registered as drivers of light and heavy vehicles reached 104,448 - which it suggest contributes to the state’s traffic congestion problem.

KIB participates in Talents Group exhibition KUWAIT: Kuwait International Bank “KIB”, ranked Best Islamic Bank - 2014, is participating in the fourth “ Talents Group” exhibition which is being showcased a wide selection of handcrafted items of the youth in a variety of fields at the Kuwait International Fairgrounds from April 8 to 12. Jasser Al-Najdi, KIB’s Marketing Manager, stated that the most attractive attribute of Talents Group is its unique ability to embrace the comprehensive array of talentsof Kuwait - both amateur and professional - under one roof. Its keen ability to do so each year has attracted KIB’s full support and participation. He added: “Al-Dawli Bank’s participation reflects our strongly-held belief that a nation’s future is built upon the minds and hands of the youth. From this standpoint, KIB works diligently to support the development of skills that will positively impact various sectors of our society.” Al-Najdi also stressed that events such as Talents Group highlight the importance of social interaction between all segments of society, particularly the youth. He then invited exhibition attendees to visit the KIB’s booth to learn more about the innovative products and services offered by the bank in accordance with Islamic Sharia. KIB representatives are available to answer questions regarding the various

Jasser Al-Najdi accounts, such as the “Shabab Al-Dawli” youth account which is tailored to the needs of young people aiming to build a foundation for their financial future. The public may learn more information about KIB offers, products and services by contacting “Al-DawliWeyak” at 1866-866, visiting their website at, or visiting their social media channels:, Instagram& Twitter: @alDawliBank

KUWAIT: Lt Israa Bouland from the security information department lectured on traffic at Shamiya kindergarten yesterday. She said that policemen exert their efforts in order to build the society and safeguard the country’s safety and security. She said that it is important to respect traffic rules to protect lives. She also told children to cross the roads at designated areas.

MPs fail to decide on judicial independence KUWAIT: The National Assembly Committee on Legislative Affairs has not given its final say on seve n s u g g e s t i o n s p u r p o s e d to ensure judicial independence due to a concurrent relevant meeting between the justice minister and the Supreme Judiciary Council. Emerging from a committee meeting held on Tuesday to discuss the issue, the head of the

co m m i t te e, M P M u b a r a k A l Herais, told reporters that seven bills bearing on judicial inde pendence and public prosecution were discussed in presence of a re p re s e n t a t i ve o f t h e J u s t i ce Ministry. But, no final decision was made on the suggestions due to the fact that more discussions had to be made and that the jus-

t i ce m i n i s te r m e t w i t h t h e Supreme Judiciary Council at the same time to discuss the matter. M e a nw h i l e, t h e co m m i t te e reflected on a suggestion authorizing a communication and information technology authority, saying that Ar ticle Two of the bill needed to be reviewed ahead of referral to the government, AlHerais pointed out. — KUNA



Domestic labor offices raided

KUWAIT: His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received here at Seif Palace yesterday Chairman of the Arab and International Relations Council Mohammad Jassem Al-Saqer and Council members. The reception comes on the occasion of holding the Council’s Board of Trustees third meeting in Kuwait.

Kuwaitis remain divided over GCC security pact KUWAIT: A Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) security pact is looming large again in Kuwait amid reports that it could be referred to the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the country. The agreement endorsed by the other GCC members - Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE - has been in the eye of the storm in Kuwait after it was supported by the government and some lawmakers, but rejected by other MPs. Last week, the parliament’s foreign affairs committee turned down the pan-Gulf agreement by three votes to two after a panel of constitution experts failed to present their views on it within a one-month time frame and asked for an extension. “The Cabinet looked into the possibility of resorting to the Constitutional Court to resolve the issue,” local daily Al Rai reported on Tuesday. However, the move is set to wade into controversy. “The security agreement cannot be referred to the court until the parliament votes for or against it,” MP Ali Al Rashed, the head of the foreign committee at the parliament, told Al Rai. “Cases are referred to the Constitutional Court only after they become laws or when there is a need to explain some provisions of the constitution,” the lawmaker who last week voted against the pact said. Kuwaiti officials have been insisting that the provisions of the agreement were in line with the constitution and that endorsing the pact would bolster the collective security of the Gulf

alliance. Several lawmakers made statements that they would vote against the pan-Gulf security agreement, insisting that it violated the text and spirit of the country’s constitution. The government has rejected allegations that the agreement violates the constitution and often stressed its significance for the country and the region. “Article One of the GCC security agreement does not clash with the Kuwaiti constitution, and there is no way that we endorse any law or decision that is against our constitution,” Shaikh Sabah Al Khalid, the foreign minister, said last month. Earlier, Oil Minister and Parliament Affairs State Minister Ali Al 0mair said that the government would not refer anything that contradicted the constitution to the parliament. “I urge the [parliament members] to read the articles of the Gulf agreement objectively,” he said. “The first article of the agreement is very clear about the significance of the national legislation of each of the member states. National legislation and international agreements take precedence over the Gulf agreement. The Gulf agreement clearly stresses the independence of each member state,” Al 0mair said. In March, the foreign affairs committee said that more studies and further consultations with experts were needed before the voting by the parliament should go ahead. “We have decided to postpone the voting on the security agreement,” MP Hamdan Al Azimi told the media following the meeting.

The parliament was scheduled to debate in March whether to endorse the pact amid calls from the government to the MPs to give their approval. A poll published by local daily Al Qabas indicated that 19 lawmakers were against the agreement, while only eight would support it. The report said that 21 lawmakers had yet to make up their minds on how to vote. Pushing for a yes vote, the government insisted that the pact was not unconstitutional, as some lawmakers who opposed it have claimed. Khalid Al Jarallah, foreign ministry undersecretary, said that the pact was in accordance with the Kuwaiti constitution. “People should go through the articles of the agreement cautiously in order to appreciate them,” he said. “It clearly states that the national legislation is always sovereign. In fact, the term of national legislation was mentioned five times, which means that they take precedence and that they cannot be abolished or ignored, particularly the constitution.” However, Al Azimi said that the Gulf security agreement was not in line with the Kuwaiti constitution. “The agreement cannot be accepted under any circumstance,” he said. “There is a need for pressure from the parliament to explain some of its articles, particularly the extradition of suspects and the definition of crime. There is a need for popular pressure to make sure the agreement is not endorsed. We cannot please some countries at the expense of Kuwait and its interest.” —Gulf News

Discussions on pan-Arab relations

KUWAIT: The conference of the Water Conservation Program in Arab Countries, organized by Kuwait Society for Environmental Protection, resumed its activities yesterday with several seminars. The conference’s training committee chairperson Jinan Bahzad said that the chairmen and executives of five Arab and GCC environmental societies were taking part in the conference.

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KUWAIT: The Board of Trustees of Kuwait-based Council For Arab and International Relations (CFAAIR) have thoroughly discussed, over two days, pan-Arab Gulf relations as well as the Arab League restructuring plans. In a press statement issued yesterday, the CFAAIR said that Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah had briefed the conferees about the latest development in the Arab and Gulf relations. Kuwait holds the rotating presidency of the incumbent Arab summit and Gulf Cooperation Council summit. The CFAAIR statement added that board and Kuwait Foreign Minister also scrutinized proposed initiatives and plans for ending GCC states diplomatic tension, restructuring the Arab League to enhance joint Arab action, and the foundation of an Arab court for human rights. The conferees reviewed the latest developments in Syrian crisis, Middle East peace process and the political and security developments in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Algeria. Established in August 2011, the CFAAIR is an independent Arab think tank that aims to provide technical support for Arab decision markers regarding regional and international issues. The Council’s board of trustees’ membership includes high-caliber Arab and international political, economic and scientific figures including former premiers, ministers, MPs, and head of regional organizations. —KUNA

All workers’ rights protected KUWAIT: Around 2,000 Bangladeshi cleaners working for a company executing a government contract recently went on strike in Jleeb, demanding being paid for working on weekends as well as overtime hours. A team from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor’s work relations’ department immediately rushed to the site to listen to the workers’ complaints and demands. The ministry’s assistant undersecretary for labor affairs Jamal AlDousari stressed the ministry’s keenness on protecting expatriate laborers’ rights and that it deals with strikes in accordance to law 6/2010 pertaining private sector workers. Dousari said that according to the aforementioned law, all workers’ rights are guaranteed and protected and that he immediately sent a team to contain the problem onsite, especially since the strike took place within a residential area. He added that the demonstrators complained that their employer had been withholding their passports, preventing them from going for umrah, and that they needed pay raises. “The strike was quickly contained after the employer’s legal representative vowed to meet the workers’ demands,” he explained.

KUWAIT: A team from the immigration detectives department recently raided several domestic labor offices and malls in Hawalli where 86 people were arrested for various violations. The force was supervised by MOI assistant undersecretary for passports and citizenship, Maj Gen Sheikh Faisal Al-Nawaf and headed by Hawalli immigration detectives chief Brig Ghazi Al-Mai.



In my view

kuwait digest

Kerry’s moment of truth

Thanks visa traffickers! Al-Anbaa

By Hassan Barari

By Abdullah Buwair


he Kuwaiti people would like to express deep gratitude to those who helped create communities representing all countries of the world in our beloved state. Thank you so much for your restless efforts, dedication and love for your country. If there is a fifth column in Kuwait, you are definitely it. Today we reap the fruits of what those people have done. They collected the price, and we are paying the tax. They built skyscrapers, and we have to pay high rents. A Kuwaiti man told me that he rented an office at a shopping mall that contained several other offices. However, he soon discovered that he was the only one who came to work regularly, while the others remained closed throughout the day. Those kinds of offices found everywhere around Kuwait are the source for the flourishing visa trafficking business, which according to recent estimates is practiced by 86,000 companies including 39,000 fake ones.

In my view

Suicide, mayhem on our roads By Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheg

Kuwaitis have become a minority in their own home. They are outnumbered by foreigners everywhere. Not only do labor forces brought through visa trafficking present a threat to national security, but also add to the mounting pressure on services that the state provides for citizens. Kuwaitis’ access to public services in their home country has become limited due to competition they experience from expatriates, whose numbers amount to two thirds of the population. On streets, expatriates drive 24 hours a day causing traffic jams, in addition to committing traffic offenses such as driving without a license, carrying passengers illegally, driving the wrong way, etc. In public and private hospitals, the competition resulted in prolonged doctor appointments and medication shortages. Kuwaitis have become a minority in their own home. They are outnumbered by foreigners everywhere, even in social occasions and gatherings specifically for citizens. All state departments contain a large number of expatriate workers, such as the Ministry of Education where foreigners determine the fate of our future generations. Even malls and entertainment venues have become overcrowded!

kuwait digest

Remittances of labor forces By Amer Al-Tamimi


ocal dailies recently published a study that indicated that remittances of labor forces in Kuwait reached $15.9 billion last year. What does that mean from an economic standpoint? If we suppose that the gross domestic product in Kuwait last year reached nearly $200 billion, this means that remittances are equal to 8 percent of the total GDP, or equivalent to the nonoil manufacturing share in 2013. On the other hand, the study which was prepared by UAE Exchange points out that the majority of money transfers from Kuwait went to India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. This means that remittances in general are by Asian labor forces who usually are not accompanied by their families. Furthermore, it indicates that those workers do not spend much of their wages on consumption inside Kuwait. The number of foreign labor forces in Kuwait and the Gulf region as a whole continues to increase, which makes remittances an important source of income for labor-exporting countries like India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Egypt. Despite the modest rate of wages that expatriates receive in Kuwait, many make sure to reduce consumption, even if it sometimes means limiting it to basic life requirements, and send the majority of their salaries to their families back home. This important information indicates that Kuwait can never depend on expatriates to improve consumption or commodity distribution, due to their humble contributions to the country’s consumption activity. Despite the fact that expatriates amount to two thirds of Kuwait’s population, any detailed study on family and personal consumption will surely confirm that their consumption level pales in comparison to Kuwaitis’. Several studies on wage levels of expatriate labor forces indicate meanwhile that more than 75 percent are paid less than KD 200 a month. That leads us to conclude that the majority of expatriates cannot save money inside the country. What needs to be pointed out in this issue is that $15.9 billion is also equal to 15 percent of Kuwait’s oil income, which means that Kuwait pays heavily for the widespread use of expatriate workers. It is normal to pay in return of expatriate laborers’ efforts that the state depends on, but can decision makers understand these facts in order to nationalize recruitment and improve national manpower employment? Or at least depend on more skilled, less costly labor forces who in return are more able to contribute to the GDP through spending in the local market? What is important is to understand these facts to come up with ways to improve the national economy and its mechanisms. — Translated by Kuwait Times from Al-Qabas


am a frequent road traveler, in Saudi Arabia and other countries. Sometimes by necessity, other times by choice. Although cars cannot compete with airplanes for speed or with trains for comfort, in many cases they are the only option available, especially in Saudi Arabia where we have virtually no train service and airline service is spotty to many destinations. Of course, cars have an advantage; they provide flexibility and unlimited possibilities to discover and enjoy the countryside. However, cars are the most dangerous mode of travel. In the United States, where they use all of those modes of transport, about 33,000 people die in car accidents annually, with over 250 million cars on its roads. Compare that to just 20 deaths in accidents on commercial airlines carrying 630 million passengers a year, and just four fatalities in train accidents out of 500 million rail passengers. Car accidents have become so common that we barely think about them, unless they involve relatives or close friends, or involve a large number of cars and fatalities. Around the world, about 1.25 million people are killed in car accidents every year. In Saudi Arabia, fatal car accidents have reached epidemic proportions and getting worse over time. According to official statistics, road fatalities have reached about 7,000 a year - several times higher than other high-income countries. Nearly 70,000 are injured annually as a result of car accidents on our

While speed has been identified as a major cause for road fatalities, a driver’s inexperience and carelessness have been shown in other countries to lead to more fatalities than speed. roads. Every day, around 20 people get killed in car accidents and 200 injured. Over the past 22 years, road accidents have killed around 100,000 people and injured nearly a million. 30 percent of hospital beds are occupied by accident victims. One police official called it a form of “terrorism on our roads.” Considering the magnitude and number of casualties, the phenomenon is more like a regular war that we have decided to wage against ourselves. Or mass suicide. Such shocking statistics cry out for a solution. It is easy to blame drivers, especially if they are dead. Or simplistically reduce the problem to speeding. It is much more complicated than that. What is even more alarming is that fatality rates are increasing over time, indicating the failure of the solutions that have been tried thus far to limit the hemorrhage of innocent lives. While Saudi Arabia does not have the highest rate of road fatalities, it is near the top. In a ranking of (183) countries made by the World Health Organization (WHO), Saudi Arabia was at No.15. However, the fourteen countries with higher road

fatalities were mostly poor countries in Africa. Comparing Saudi Arabia with high-income, industrialized countries, we see a different picture. First, fatality rates in those countries are much lower. After adjusting to the size of the population, the rate of road fatalities in Saudi Arabia equals six times Japan’s rate, five times Germany’s rate and eight times the UK rate. The country, some may say, is of continental proportions and sparsely populated, making it difficult to compare it to smaller-sized countries, as travel between its cities requires long-distance travel at high speeds. To take those factors into consideration, let us then compare it to large-area countries. Let us compare its road fatality rate to those of Australia, Canada and the United States, all substantially larger than Saudi Arabia; Australia is 3.5 times larger, Canada and the US 4.5 times. It turns out that Saudi road fatality rate, after adjusting for population size, is five times that of Australia, four times Canada’s rate, and 2.5 times that of the United States. Second, while road fatality rates are rising over time in Saudi Arabia, they have been steadily falling in other high-income income countries. In the UK, for example, the rate declined from around 5,500 in 1985, to about 1,750 in 2012. In Australia, it declined from nearly 3,000 in 1985, to fewer than 1,200 in 2013. Why have fatality rates kept climbing much more than other countries? I read papers written by specialists and they seem to be at a loss to explain the exact factors behind the phenomenon. Of course, as the specialists say, the reasons behind fatality rates can be found in the triumvirate: Driver, vehicle, and road, but those are true for every country; they do not explain the particular Saudi case. In fact the rise in road fatality rates demonstrates the inadequacy of the solutions that have been tried so far. Take seat belts, for example, which are credited in other countries with reducing fatalities, and where failure to wear them has been identified as responsible for about one sixth of all road fatalities. Although Saudi Arabia enacted a law in 2000 that made it mandatory to wear seatbelts for the drivers and front-seat passenger, compliance has been limited, as a recent study has shown. Furthermore, backseat passengers rarely put on their seatbelts. Similarly for airbags; not all cars come equipped with them. Backseats, in particular, are often not protected by airbags. While speed has been identified as a major cause for road fatalities, a driver’s inexperience and carelessness have been shown in other countries to lead to more fatalities than speed. We have devoted only a little effort to deal with those less quantifiable factors. As for the cars on our roads, they frequently travel without adequate lighting. Tires and even brakes rarely get checked, except every three years during the inspection mandatory for renewing a car’s registration. Some drivers have found a way to get around that too. They rent good tires for one hour to pass the inspection and then revert back to their old tires. Finally, road conditions and the quality of medical emergency services complete the circle of culprits in road fatalities. I will devote a future column to these two factors, as I observed them during my road travels, to see if they can explain part of our failure to stem the bleeding on our roads, beside driver and car conditions. — Arab News


t seems that President Mahmoud Abbas is trying to turn the table on US Secretary of State John Kerry over the current impasse in the peace efforts. The Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds reported last Wednesday that Abbas had threatened to thwart talks with Israel if the latter continued its obstructing policies. Last July, Israel pledged to release Palestinians prisoners. But a few days ago, the Israeli government has scrapped a planned release of Palestinian prisoners, a move that enraged Abbas and threw Kerry’s effort into disarray. In response to the Israeli move, Abbas is bidding to join some 15 international treaties and institutions. Implicit in Abbas’ decision is his frustration with the American hesitant role and Washington’s failure to be an honest broker. Not a while ago, Abbas turned down as “madness” the drafts stipulating Palestinian to approve Israeli conditions to recognize it as a Jewish state and enable Israel to maintain some 10 settlement blocs in any land exchange in the context of a deal. Contrary to the public impression, Abbas is in

Contrary to the public impression, Abbas is in no mood to beat around the bush. He feels that he was dragged for a long time for nothing. no mood to beat around the bush. He feels that he was dragged for a long time for nothing. For him, it is time to show the world that the Palestinians are not without options. “Enough is enough,” Abbas’ advisers said. The illusion of peace cannot be more obvious. To be sure, the Americans are not comfortable with the Israeli decision not to release Palestinian prisoners. And yet, Kerry is not going to give up. Jay Carney, spokesman for the State Department said, “There has been progress in narrowing some of the questions that have arisen as a result of the events of the last few days...neither side has indicated that they want to walk away from the talks. They both indicated they want to find a way to move forward.” Abbas is taking calculated steps. Sources close to him reveal that Abbas is taking a risk designed to push the American side to offer him a tangible concession in exchange for refraining from further moves that could thwart Kerry’s efforts. Seen in this way, Kerry may rush back to the region to rescue his efforts. It remains to be seen whether Kerry’s envoy, Martin Indyk, can do anything for the time being. He rushed to invite the Palestinians chief negotiator Saeb Erekat and the Israeli negotiator, Tsipi Livni, for an emergency meeting. The Palestinian negotiator sought to know if the Israeli and American sides are prepared to offer the Palestinians anything as a quid pro quo for suspending this bid to various treaties and institutions. Long time observers of the Palestinian politics argue that Abbas is confident that the US will not allow Israel to derail the process altogether. Hence, he seeks to set new conditions that improve the Palestinians status in future talks. Not surprisingly, Abbas may step up his campaign in weeks to come to make it perfectly clear that the old game no longer interests him. Abbas is most likely to add two conditions for extending the peace talks to the end of this year. First, Israel to release hundreds of Palestinian prisons. Second, Israel is to fully cease all kinds of settlement activities. While Abbas believes that he is taking the initiative and that the US needs him, his last move may convince the anti-peace camp within Israel that the Palestinians cannot be partners for peace. If anything, this anti-peace camp will step up pressure on Netanyahu to further intensify settlement activities. The logical conclusion will be a mutually hurting stalemate. Under these conditions, Kerry may find it difficult to continue with his efforts. Of course, he can blame any side he wishes, but this can hardly help change the dynamics of conflict on the ground. — Arab News

kuwait digest

NA ‘solving’ silly issues By Waleed Ibrahim Al-Ahmad


oor members of parliament! They were unable to pass the children’s allowance hike and postponed it to the next parliamentary term. And after the postponement, they said the Assembly will be dissolved if it passes the allowance! MPs see in themselves more than what there actually is, and believe the rumors around them that the Assembly will be dissolved! The issues being discussed so far are money, increases and fake appeasement, the “slingshot” of Safa Al-Hashem and boring foolishness that do not do anything while citizens are unaware of what their MPs are saying in statements or tweets!

Faced with the parliamentary situation, we see on the other hand how the government is squandering millions. Billions were granted to the military government in Egypt, and when attacked, it called it “loan with interest”, and continues to establish projects all over the world away from the country! We will not demand stopping aid if it has humane aspects, but supporting coup governments is what we reject! Members of parliament are currently going through silly issues that they present, and then fight over them when the government closes the door. The government then wakes up the next morning to open it and take whatever it selects from

their papers and tears those it does not like! So MPs return back to their study rooms, each doing his best with a new proposal or with words that include a threat to the government to name a street after someone from the group of the MP before submitting a grilling of the prime minister! Or they call for increasing the animal feed allowance, creating artificial speed bumps, oral demands to solve the housing problem, dealing with traffic jams and increasing the number of MPs. You made us hate anything called Assembly news! — Translated by Kuwait Times from Al-Rai

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Kuwait fulfills its pledges made at Syria conference Second part of $500 million donations

MUSCAT: Kuwait National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem and other officials pictured with their Omani counterparts yesterday.

Praise for Kuwaiti Omani relations MUSCAT: Kuwait National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem hailed Kuwaiti-Omani relations as a role model for regional ties and cooperation in different fields. “Kuwaiti-Omani relations are ever-developing and have become a role model,” Al-Ghanem told Oman News Agency (ONA) yesterday before concluding his two-day visit to Oman. Al-Ghanem stated his talks in the Sultanate have focused on discussing issues of common concern and unifying strategies for future action. “It is a part of a series of reciprocal visits that are paid within the framework of parliamentary diplomacy to help address challenges facing the Gulf countries in this critical stage,” he told ONA.

The Kuwaiti top lawmaker unveiled that he has discussed with Omani parliamentary officials that the start of the meetings of the joint Kuwaiti-Omani committee in charge of studying the required means to unify Gulf legislations. The talks with Omani officials have also tackled efforts to upgrade parliamentary ties, expand cooperation with Omani Shura Council, experience exchange and increase of reciprocal visits, he said. Al-Ghanem noted that they have also touched upon the latest regional and international developments of mutual concern. He underlined that Gulf ligatures’ cooperation and coordination of stances in regional and international events have remarkable developed. — KUNA

Kuwaiti official praises Sharjah Heritage Days SHARJAH: A senior Kuwaiti cultural official praised yesterday the activities of the Sharjah Heritage Days 2014, stressing Kuwait’s keenness to participate in such events. In a statement to KUNA Assistant Secretary General of Kuwait’s National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters (NCCAL) Bader Al-Duwaish expressed appreciation to Ruler of Sharjah Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, for sponsoring and attending this outstanding event. Leading a Kuwaiti delegation partici-

pating in the event, Al-Duwaish also praised efforts to organize such activities and festivals that are related to Islamic heritage and revival of Islamic cultural heritage in the Muslim world. The State of Kuwait displayed Kuwaiti heritage models in this event, AlDuwaish added. The event that was lunched on Sunday under the slogan of “Islamic Heritage is One Tent” and lasts until April 25, will also include art and photographic shows, in addition to seminars and cultural activities. — KUNA

NEW YORK: Kuwait has handed over all pledges made during the 2nd international donors’ conference to support the humanitarian situation in Syria last January to a number of UN agencies. Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations Ambassador Mansour Ayyad AlOtaibi delivered the amounts at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) here last night. The amounts included $34.5 million to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), $15 million to the Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), $3 million to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and $2.5 million to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). These amounts represent the second part of Kuwait’s total donations amounting to $500 million, where the first batch was delivered Monday morning to international organizations and nongovernmental organizations in the United Nations headquarters in Geneva. Ambassador Al-Otaibi expressed during the delivery appreciation of the State of Kuwait for the role of those organizations and hoped that those donations would contribute to the alleviation of the suffering of the Syrian people. He described the humanitarian situation in Syria as “very tragic”, saying that “conditions are going from bad to worse.” He pointed out that the Syrian authorities did not comply with Security Council resolution 2139 on the humanitarian situation in Syria. He expressed hope that the Council would take action as soon as possible to improve access of humanitarian aid to those in need in Syria. He pointed out that “We are dealing with the effects of the crisis and support the position of the United Nations,” adding that that a political solution is the only wayout to the crisis in Syria. Ambassador Al-Otaibi said after the handing-in that what distinguishes the contribution of Kuwait this year was the diversity of the beneficiaries of donations in New York and Geneva as they represent different streams within the United Nations and its specialized agencies, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and charities. He stressed that “Kuwait is keen on diversifying the beneficiaries belonging to different entities. Deep appreciation Addressing the ceremony in New York, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang expressed OCHA’s “deep appreciation” to the State of Kuwait for its “remarkable” efforts to help meet the humanitarian needs of Syrians inside the country and in the neighbouring countries.

CBK sponsors Department of Public Administration event KUWAIT: Commercial Bank of Kuwait announced its sponsorship of a threeday event for the Department of Public Administration in College of Business Administration of Kuwait University. Within the event’s activities, a seminar was held under the title “Public Administration in Private Sector” to stress the importance of Public Administration as a principal major and the opportunities that create for student. During the event the Bank’s sales department also set up a booth for three days at the university and were present to familiarize students with the current prepaid campaign “With Al Tijari Visa card ...... FIFA World cup is at your fingertips” where customers have the chance to win one of the three all inclusive trip for two persons to attend a quarter-final games of the 2014 FIFA world cup that will be held in Brazil by using their prepaid card locally or abroad. Additionally, sales

team marketed @Tijari account that is especially designed for Youth from the age of 15 to 21 where many benefits are offered in addition to great discount in several stores, restaurants and youth places. By sponsoring this event,

Commercial Bank of Kuwait confirms its continuous support for all activities and events that contribute in educating the youth community and focus on the importance of learning to develop better community with a brighter future.

Financial institutions urged to focus on development GAMMARTH, Tunisia: Kuwait’s Finance Minister Anas Al-Saleh, taking part in meetings of Arab Finance Ministers and financial institutions, said yesterday Arab funds and financial institutions should focus on development.

Speaking to KUNA on sidelines of the meetings, inaugurated earlier by Tunisian Prime Minister Mahdi Jumaa, Al-Saleh said they have discussed a number of pressing development issues like food security, and supporting the

KUWAIT: The Coast Guard Directorate General launched a surprise campaign to stop boats and jet ski violations in Kuwait bay. The campaign was under the supervision and presence of Interior Ministry Assistant Undersecretary for Borders Security Maj Gen Sheikh Mohammad Al-Yousuf Al-Sabah.

private sector to lead development and create more jobs. Al-Saleh said the meetings also touched upon importance of fighting illiteracy, boosting education services and small size enterprises funded by the Arab funds. He said the Arab finance ministers met with the Tunisian President Moncef Marzouqi and Prime Minister Jumaa and discussed development in the Arab world. Al-Saleh, meanwhile, commended the level of relations between Kuwait and Tunisia. During his opening speech, Prime Minister Jumaa said the finance ministers’ meetings would contribute to economic integration among Arab countries. He called for adopting a comprehensive development mechanism within a framework of good governance and transparency. Kuwait is also represented by Governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait Mohammad Al-Hashel, Director General of Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) Abdulwahhab Al-Bader, and Board Chairman and Director General of Kuwait-based Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD) Abdullateef Al-Hamad. — KUNA

NEW YORK: Kuwaiti Ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi presenting the amounts at the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “Kuwait’s contribution to the work of the United Nations and the international humanitarian system goes beyond monetary values,” she said, recalling that through the generosity of His Highness the Amir, Kuwait hosted two high-level international humanitarian pledging Conferences for Syria in 2013 and this year. She described the results of the two Conferences as “unprecedented,” with a total of $3.6 billion pledged in support of humanitarian operations in and outside Syria. She noted that the Kuwaiti “generous support” to United Nations humanitarian operations in Syria and neighbouring countries has enabled its agencies to continue to provide assistance to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people affected by this “terrible crisis.” She described the humanitarian crisis in Syria as the “biggest” the world faces today, with more than 9 million people are in need of aid and protection inside Syria; some 3 million of them in hard-to-reach areas; and up to 240,000 of those in currently besieged areas. She expressed regret that although member states again pledged generously at the second pledging Conference in Kuwait last January, “so far only 30percent of these pledges have materialized of USD 2.3 billion pledged, only USD 688 million so far have been committed.” With Kuwait’s contribution today, which came at a “critical” time, she said, this will make the

total committed funds to USD 988 million which is 44 percent of the pledges. Approximately USD 1.3 billion are outstanding.” “Timely funding, such as this donation from Kuwait, is essential to ensure that supply pipelines are not interrupted and we can use the most direct routes to bring these supplies in,” she stressed. “This generous contribution from the State of Kuwait will bring a message of hope to the people of Syria and make a real and tangible difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrians.” Speaking following the ceremony, Kang expressed hope that donors will look at Kuwait’s “excellent model and come forward.” “Kuwait set a very good model of what we expect of donors. Kuwait generously pledged $500 million last January, and two months later is here to give the checks. It is something we wish to see from all donors who have pledged. I hope today’s contribution sets an excellent model for others to follow,” she said. Addressing the participants after receiving the check, Jordan Ryan, Assistant Administrator and Director, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery at the UNDP thanked the state of Kuwait, the Kuwaiti people and H. H. the Emir “who has set the vision to act and act quickly.” The Kuwaiti contribution, he said, “brings a sense of hope to the people of Syria,” praising the Kuwaiti idea of pushing for development impetus. —KUNA



KUWAIT: Hawalli fire brigade yesterday conducted a drill on dealing with a mock fire at Hawalli center. The drill was supervised by Hawalli governorate fire director, Col Mohammed Al-Mahmeed and Hawalli center commander, Lt Col Mohammed Al-Khedher. Another drill was conducted by the capital fire brigade at Abyat Shopping Mall. The drill was supervised by the capital fire director Col Mohammed Al-Hadlaq and Abyat manager Talal Nayef. — Photos by Hanan Al-Saadoun

Minister meets envoys on media cooperation KUWAIT: Minister of Information Sheikh Salman Sabah Salem Al-Sabah met here yesterday several ambassadors on how to develop media cooperation between Kuwait and their countries. Sheikh Salman, who also doubles as minister of state for youth affairs, discussed with the ambassadors of Laos, Djibouti, Malta and Bhutan ways and means of promoting and reinforcing multilateral cooperation in media, youth and cultural domains, in addition to several issues of mutual interest. The Kuwaiti minister underlined the significant role of mass media in the reinforcement and

consolidation of relations among various countries, as well as the sharing of experience and visits. Sheikh Salman also stressed his country’s willingness to build cooperative and fraternal ties with these countries. On their part, the ambassadors lauded close and strong relations with the State of Kuwait thanks to the wise leadership of His Highness the Amir Sheik h Sabah AlAhmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. They also called for cementing relations between Kuwait and their countries in various fields, especially in tourism, investment, sports and youth. — KUNA

EQUATE continues cooperation with blind association

Gang smuggling Syrians to Europe busted in Kuwait 12 policemen fail drug tests KUWAIT: State security officers at Kuwait International Airport busted an international network that helped smuggle Syrian nationals with forged passports to Europe through Kuwait. The officers worked with Migration General Department detectives after receiving information about a Turkish national who helped fugitives and people looking to seek political asylum in Europe by providing them with forged Turkish and Bulgarian passports to travel, using Kuwait as a transit station. The man was detected at the airport and arrested with three Syrian men at the exit gate. Police found forged passports with the men, who said they each paid euro 10,000 to get the passports from the prime suspect. They added during questioning that they came to Kuwait through Iraq and Iran, with Europe intended as their final destination. Police found forged stamps and other tools used for forgery with the Turkish man. Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khalid Al-Sabah was reportedly informed about the case, and ordered that the four be held at the Farwaniya Prosecution Department on charges of smuggling, forgery and forming a network for smuggling people. Drug tests Twelve police officers are expected to face charges after they failed drug tests carried out on 150 Interior Ministry employees chosen randomly from various ministry departments. According to a security source with knowledge of the case, tests on samples taken from the 12

policemen showed that they abused narcotic and alcoholic substances. A list containing their names and other information was sent to Undersecretary Lt Gen Suleiman Al-Fahd in order to take necessary action against them. The tests were carried out by a team assembled from the Criminal Evidence General Department on direct orders of Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah. Driver assaulted A police officer was charged after he beat a family driver, placed him under arrest, and then falsely accused him of reckless driving. The incident began when the Bangladeshi man became involved in a traffic dispute over priority on his way to his employer’s house in Doha. The other motorist, a police captain who was driving a civilian car at the time, forced the driver to pull over. He then confiscated his ID, reached inside his car and switched the engine off, seized his car keys and then forced him out of his vehicle. The man then beat up the driver until he was knocked to the ground. He then picked him up, forced him inside his car and drove to Sulaibikhat police station where he told officers that the Bangladeshi was driving recklessly and risked his and the lives of others. Policemen informed their superior after the driver told them that the man beat him with a baton. Brig Gen Hussein Al-Sheerazi, the Deputy Director of the Capital Security Department, gave orders to summon the driver ’s employer and press

charges against the officer for abuse of power. The Kuwaiti sponsor helped his driver to Sabah Hospital where he obtained a report of his injuries. They returned back to the police station afterwards and pressed assault charges against the officer. The policeman was detained briefly and later freed on bail as legal procedures are ongoing. Man held for scam Kuwait City detectives arrested a retired man who collected at least KD 200,000 through scams. At least 77 expatriates had filed cases and gave similar descriptions of a man who drove a luxury car and carried a fancy pen in the pocket of his dishdasha to give the impression that he was rich. The man reportedly lured victims looking to invest in shops at co-operative societies around Kuwait. He convinced his victims that he was a member of the Kuwait Union of Co-operative Consumer Societies (KUCCS), and that he could use his influence to guarantee them rent contracts for the shops with high profit margins. The man collected between KD 400 and KD 1,000 from his victims as a ‘charge’ for his help, and would then disappear. Police identified the man, a 54-year-old Kuwaiti, and arrested him at his house. After his victims recognized him in a police lineup, the man admitted that he would look for expatriates looking for investment, then offer them help to win contracts for shops at coop societies under construction. The man reportedly used stolen cell phones in his dealings with his victims in order to avoid being identified.

Gulf Bank hosts students KUWAIT: EQUATE Petrochemical Company has continued its cooperation with Kuwait Blind Association (KBA). On this occasion, EQUATE Vice President for Technical Services Mohammad Al-Benali said, “To embody its ‘Partners in Success’ tagline, EQUATE has cooperated with KBA to launch and execute several initiatives relevant to sustainability in the Kuwaiti society especially of relevance to vision impaired individuals. As part of such collaboration, the two organizations have launched Painting Smiles 2 campaign under the motto ‘Because We Care’ due to the critical significance of blind persons as part of our society, as well as ‘Sharing Success’ between EQUATE, KBA and all relevant stakeholders being of utmost significance to EQUATE. Painting Smiles 2 is not merely an artistic expression, it is a partnership to form overall community awareness about blind individuals as they live with us, they are part of us, which makes fully integrating them with the society the cornerstone of this campaign, and an important element of sustainability that EQUATE aspires to implement within and outside Kuwait. This campaign with KBA is an extension of a previous initiative with Kuwait Association for the Care of Children in Hospital (KACCH), both of which have involved as many members of the Kuwaiti society as possible, Kuwaitis and expats alike. In conclusion, much appreciation and gratitude to all of our ‘Partners in Success’ in this campaign, especially KBA in addition to EQUATE employees and their family members for the great support they extended to this campaign. On his part, KBA Board Chairman Fayez AlAzemi said, “Overall collaboration with supporting business entities has been a key of success

for KBA at several fronts. Along those lines, EQUATE has played a critical role in granting blind persons the opportunity to use latest technologies through supporting KBA’s initiatives relevant to acquiring braille-based computers for the blind, which has greatly served in eliminating the technological illiteracy of several blind individuals and allowing them to freely and independently connect and use the internet. Such cooperation with EQUATE has also included supporting our art-related activities through holding an exhibition to display the artworks developed by the association’s members with all proceeds from the exhibition being dedicated to KBA. For that and all other forms of support, thank you EQUATE for such a partnership to ensure meeting Kuwait’s overall interests.” Since its inception in 1972 as a public society, Kuwait Blind Association (KBA) plays a critical role in supporting blind individuals in the State of Kuwait through various community and cultural activities. In addition to overcoming arising challenges that face blind individuals, KBA also continues to strengthen bonds with relevant Arab and international organizations. Established in 1995, EQUATE is an international joint venture between Petrochemical Industries Company (PIC), The Dow Chemical Company (Dow), Boubyan Petrochemical Company (BPC) and Qurain Petrochemical Industries Company (QPIC). Commencing production in 1997, EQUATE is the single operator of a fully integrated world-scale manufacturing facility producing over 5 million tons annually of high-quality petrochemical products which are marketed throughout the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe.

KUWAIT: Gulf Bank recently hosted 6 Job Shadow days as part of INJAZ Kuwait’s Job Shadowing Program. During comprehensive sessions held, over 180 students from Rawda, Sabah Al Salem, Mangaf, Qurain, Abdullah AlSalem and Farwaniya schools received presentations from Gulf Bank personnel about the banking industry and the skills required to succeed in the banking segment. During the visits to the various branches, students met with the Bank’s Learning and Development Team for a brief introduction about job functions at the Bank. Each student received a booklet about Gulf Bank’s history, vision, promises, and core values to help them better understand how the Bank operates. Following this initial session, students saw firsthand how the Bank interacts with its customers and delivers its services. At the end of the day, each student was rewarded for completing the session, and a fun competition was held where students were given the opportunity to answer questions about what they learned and prizes were handed to the winner. Gulf Bank’s partnership with INJAZ Kuwait on the Job Shadowing program is based on the Bank’s 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) strategy, which is focused on the two critical areas of youth and education. The Job Shadowing program gives the Bank an opportunity to present itself to Kuwait’s future business leaders, increasing their understanding of the banking industry and demonstrating the importance of operating as a team. Gulf Bank looks forward to a building a prosperous future for Kuwait’s next generation and by joining forces with INJAZ Kuwait the Bank is confident of achieving great results.

Students visiting one of Gulf Bank’s branches


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CAIRO: Loba El-Helw, the Middle East’s only female lion tamer, practices her routine at Egypt’s National Circus in Cairo. Women activists say they won a major step forward with Egypt’s new constitution, which enshrined greater rights for women. — AP

Egypt women’s rights ‘merely ink on paper’ Violence against women on the rise CAIRO: Women activists say they won a major step forward with Egypt’s new constitution, which enshrined greater rights for women. But months after its passage, they’re worrying whether those rights will be implemented or will turn out to be merely ink on paper. The causes for concern are many. Men hold an overwhelming near-lock on decision-making in politics, and activists say they are doing little to bring about equality. Violence against women in public space has grown over the past three years of turmoil since the 2011 ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak. And some activists say the increasingly repressive political climate is stifling chances for democratic reforms that would bring women’s rights. An incident in March underlined how far activists say they still need to go to change public attitudes. After a female student at Cairo University came under mass sexual assault by male students, the university’s president, Gaber Nassar, criticized her for the way she was dressed. A well-known TV presenter, Tamir Amin, went on a tirade on his show, saying the student was “dressed like a belly dancer.” She was wearing black pants, a long-sleeved pink shirt and a head-scarf. Amid an uproar on social media, both Nassar and Amin apologized for their comments. But Amin still went on to say women should wear “appropriate” clothing when they go out. Sexual harassment The following week, a law criminalizing sexual harassment was referred to the presidency for review, though the text has yet to be released. There have been multiple mass sexual assaults on women during protests the past three years. In one notorious incident in 2011, security forces dragged a female protester to the ground, pulled up her top to reveal her blue bra and stomped on her chest. Other female protesters at the time were forced to undergo humiliating “virginity tests” when detained by the military. Women have also been caught up in the violence since the military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last summer and security forces launched a heavy crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists. Last weekend, a 22year-old female journalist, Mayada Ashraf, with the newspaper Al-Dustour, was shot to death while she covered clashes between police and Morsi supporters in the Cairo district of Ein Shams. Police have arrested 20 protesters, accusing them of shooting her - but witnesses have raised questions whether it was actually security forces who killed her. Around 50 other women were among hundreds killed during clashes since the violent dispersal of the pro-Morsi protest camps on Aug 14, and around 240 are among the 16,000 people arrested in the crackdown on Morsi’s followers, according to security officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to journalists. Violence is a “very intimidating weapon” against women participating in public life, said Dalia Abdel-Hameed, gender rights researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, an independent rights group. Crackdown, criticism More broadly, the crackdown has fueled at atmosphere where criticism is not tolerated. Secular pro-democracy activists and prominent figures critical of the military-backed interim government have been jailed and are on trial for breaking laws barring unlicensed protests. In the media, critics of the government are muted, which has an impact on calls in general

for democratic reform, including for women’s rights. “If there is no democratic climate, how would you benefit from these beautiful laws?” said Abdel-Hameed. “It will be the same as under Mubarak: you have a beautiful law but it’s not implemented.” Women activists fought hard for gains in the constitution passed in a January referendum, which was a rewrite of a 2012 constitution largely drafted by Islamists during Morsi’s one-year presidency. The document explicitly enshrines equality between the sexes and women’s rights to education, work and high political office. It criminalizes violence against women and discrimination on any basis, including gender. It allows women to confer nationality on their children and holds Egypt’s government responsible for international obligations under treaties it has ratified, including the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination Against Women. “It’s not just more progressive than the 2012 constitution, it’s more progressive than the 1971 constitution from the gender perspective,” said Salma El-Naqqash, a member of the Nazra Institute for Feminist Studies. The provisions are already being tested. Women have only been allowed to be judges since 2007, and the new constitution guarantees their right to hold high positions in the judiciary. Yet a 2010 court decision barred women judges from the State Council, a powerful judicial body that regulates disputes between individuals and the state and reviews legislation. After several women were rejected for membership on the council, Mervat Tallawy, head of the state’s National Council for Women, said that in January she wrote to the State Council demanding it take on women judges in light of the constitution. The Council replied by saying her letter “violated appropriateness and manners” and it sought criminal action against the National Council for Women. Speaking to a conference last month, Tallawy said the “the mentality of the decision-makers in the current government and the future government as well” is the main obstacle to the carrying out the promises of the constitution. Discrimination She pointed to the low representation of women in government. Women, for example, held only two percent of the seats in the last parliament, the lowest in the Arab world. Past parliaments as well have usually seen single-digit percentages of women lawmakers. “We are angry with the government, with legislators, with the parties, with all officials. We want 150 women in parliament,” she said. “We’re tired of the government and officials. We’ll go to the street,” she said. El-Naqqash said there is a series of concrete steps she wants to see in the near future - the creation of a Commission on Discrimination with real judicial power, particularly to hold the state accountable, as called for under the constitution; more women judges; an electoral law that guarantees the presence of women in parliament and local council, through a party list system with alternating men and women on the list; and the nullification of the draconian protest law, which bars all political gatherings without prior police permission. She also says gender issues should be mainstreamed across all government bodies. For example, the Interior Ministry should activate a unit specialized in fighting violence against women and “the health sector should take into account reproductive rights. Health clinics should provide contraception and treatment for STDs (sexually transmitted diseases).” — AP



Iran’s ballistic missiles a hurdle in nuke talks West fears Iran could tip missiles with atom bombs VIENNA: Iran’s reluctance to discuss limits to its missile program in nuclear negotiations with world powers highlights the weapons’ strategic importance for a country facing US-backed regional rivals boasting more modern arsenals. But while it is not at the heart of the talks over Iran’s nuclear program, which centre on the production of fissile material usable in atomic bombs, Tehran’s longerrange missiles could become one of several stumbling blocks ahead. For the United States and its allies, they are a source of concern as they could potentially carry nuclear warheads. Washington wants the issue addressed in the quest for a comprehensive agreement in the decade -old nuclear dispute. The Islamic Republic denies accusations that it is seeking the capability to make nuclear weapons. It insists that the missiles are part of its conventional armed forces and rules out including them on the agenda for the nuclear discussions. Iran has one of the biggest missile programs in the Middle East, regarding such weapons as an important deterrent and retaliatory force against US and other adversaries - primarily Gulf Arabs and Israel - in the region in the event of war. “Iran will likely refuse to negotiate constraints on its missiles,” Michael Elleman, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) thinktank, said. “They represent one of Iran’s

few capabilities to deter attack, intimidate regional rivals, and boost military morale and national pride.” It was unclear whether the matter would come up during the latest round of negotiations between Iran and the six

tic missile issue in the context of what he called the nuclear weapons threat posed by Iran. “Given the inaccuracy of earlygeneration, long-range ballistic missiles, such missiles only have military utility if they carry munitions with a very wide

negotiating team, was in February quoted by state media as saying Iran’s defense issues were not negotiable and it had no intention of discussing missile capabilities with the powers. However, a senior US official noted that a UN

VIENNA: (Left to right) EU Deputy Secretary General Helga Schmid, Vice President of the European Commission Catherine Margaret Ashton, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Mohammad Zarif, and Iranian ambassador to Austria Hassan Tajik attend the so-called EU 5+1 Talks with Iran at the UN headquarters in Vienna yesterday. —AFP big powers - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia - that got under way in Vienna yesterday. Washington and Tehran earlier this year set out contrasting positions on whether missiles should be raised at all during talks on a long-term solution to Iran’s nuclear work that began in February and are supposed to yield an agreement by late July. Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, a senior member of Tehran’s

radius of destruction, mainly nuclear weapons,” Einhorn said in a new report. Iran makes no secret of its missile development program, frequently announcing and televising the testing of new models with the apparent intent to show - for domestic and foreign audiences - its readiness to counter any enemy attacks. Its efforts to develop and field ballistic missiles have helped drive billions of dollars of US missile defense

Security Council resolution adopted in 2010 banned all activity by Iran related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, and that “in some way, this will have to be addressed”. Gulf military spending Former senior US State Department official Robert Einhorn, now at the Brookings think-tank, said there was “considerable logic” to tackling the ballis-

expenditure, and contributed to Israeli threats of possible pre-emptive military action against Iranian nuclear sites. Shortly before the start of the nuclear negotiations in February, Iran’s military said it had successfully test-fired two new domestically made missiles, including a longer-range ballistic projectile with radar-evading capabilities. Defense expert Pieter Wezeman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said it was difficult to assess the missiles’ performance due to a lack of reliable information. He cast doubt on whether Iran had managed to make them accurate enough to turn them into useful conventional weapons to attack military targets, but suggested they could still play an important strategic role. Ballistic missiles, Wezeman said, can have “major psychological effects on populations and can compel an opponent to tie substantial military assets to efforts to find and destroy” them. “They are the only long-range weapons (Iran) could deploy against their much betterequipped Arab peninsula neighbors or Israel. The missiles still have a chance to get through, Iran’s rather old combat aircraft hardly.” Worried about Iran, Gulf Arab states have increased spending on sophisticated military hardware from the West. In contrast, Iran - although a much bigger country of some 70 million people - is largely shut out from arms markets due to sanctions.—Reuters

Pakistani nine-month old baby ‘on the run’ Baby Musa charged with attempted murder

BANGALORE: Chief Minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses supporters during the “Bharat Vijay” rally held on the outskirts of Bangalore yesterday. —AFP

LAHORE: Relatives of a nine-month old baby charged with attempted murder in Pakistan have taken him into hiding, one said yesterday, in a case that has thrown a spotlight on Pakistan’s dysfunctional criminal justice system. Baby Musa Khan appeared in court in the city of Lahore last week, charged with attempted murder along with his father and grandfather after a mob protesting against gas cuts and price increases stoned police and gas company workers trying to collect overdue bills. “Police are vindictive. Now they are trying to settle the issue on personal grounds, that’s why I sent my grandson to Faisalabad for protection,” the baby’s grandfather, Muhammad Yasin, told Reuters, referring to a central Pakistani city. The

Scandals dog top aide to Indian would-be premier NEW DELHI: For a politician running on a platform of clean government, having a key aide facing murder and extortion charges could be seen as a liability-but not by the man tipped to be India’s next prime minister. Narendra Modi, the hardline Hindu nationalist leading the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into elections this week, first met former stockbroker Amit Shah in the 1980s when both of them were volunteers. Over the years, Shah, a portly and bearded 50-year-old, has become his closest confidante and key political manager. He is widely expected to take a senior role in any future Modi-run administration. “Everyone in the party understands that the shortest path to Modi goes via Shah,” said one party insider, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity. The married father of a son was in the eye of a storm at the weekend after reportedly telling supporters to see India’s parliamentary polls as an opportunity for “revenge” against the left-leaning ruling Congress party. Speaking in an area torn apart by sectarian hatred last August, he will face a criminal investigation after branding the government as one “that protects and gives compensation to those who killed Hindus”. More than 50 people died in the district of Muzaffarnagar in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where several BJP members were already facing charges of inciting violence against Muslims. Modi is reviled by many of India’s Muslims due to religious riots in Gujarat in 2002 when he was chief minister. At least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. In May 2013, Shah was appointed chief strategist for Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP must triumph for Modi to stand any chance of emerging as India’s next prime minister when results are announced on May 16. Opponents, including Minority Affairs Minister Rahman Khan, accused him of trying to polarize voters and even deliberately stoking tensions in a state with a long history of sectarian killings. “What I can tell you is that there is a Modi wave not just in Uttar Pradesh but across the country,” Shah told AFP on sidelines of an event in Delhi in March. The latest polls show the party likely to win more than half of the 80 seats up for grabs, but it

has faced criticism for fielding two candidates linked to the Muzaffarnagar riots. “Obviously, he (Shah) is one of our wisest political heads and the man in charge of UP. He would be giving key inputs for candidates’ nomination,” a senior party leader told AFP on condition of anonymity. A master strategist Even those colleagues who resent his aloofness acknowledge Shah’s acumen and respect his unflinching loyalty to Modi. His patron has reciprocated, sticking by him through multiple scandals. The biggest of those stems from the alleged extra-judicial killing in 2005 of accused gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi in western Gujarat state, where Modi has been chief minister since 2001. Shah, then Gujarat home minister, has been charged with being a co-conspirator in what federal investigators claim was a staged shootout to eliminate Sheikh, who was part of an extortion racket. Gujarat police claimed Sheikh was a “terrorist” plotting to kill Modi. In 2010, India’s federal police charged Shah with murder, extortion, destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy. He insisted he was innocent, but immediately resigned. In a country where allegations against politicians are commonplace and police are widely viewed as corrupt, Modi weathered the storm by defending Shah as the victim of a conspiracy. Convictions in India, especially of politicians, usually take years if not decades to secure in the log-jammed court system. Amid a BJP election publicity blitz portraying Modi as a corruption-free man of action, the charges against Shah have gone largely unmentioned. Criminal or crime fighter? Shah gained a reputation during his eightyear stint as Gujarat’s home minister for a swift and often deadly crackdown on crime. In another controversial case on his watch, four people including two teenagers were gunned down in another alleged extrajudicial killing in 2004. In September 2013 a former top Gujarat policeman, DG Vanzara, released an explosive letter from prison accusing Shah of “dirty tactics”.—AFP

baby is on bail and due to appear at the next hearing on April 12 but Yasin said he was not sure if he would take him to court for the case. “There is immense pressure on me from various corners,” he said. At his first appearance in court last week, Musa cried while his fingerprints were taken by a court official. Later, the baby sucked on a bottle of milk and tried to grab journalists’ microphones as his grandfather spoke to the media. “He does not even know how to pick up his milk bottle properly, how can he stone the police?” Yasin asked journalists at the court last Thursday. The baby was apparently charged because an assistant sub-inspector complained in a crime report that Musa’s whole family beat him up and

injured his head. The case has once again highlighted dysfunction in Pakistan’s police and justice system. Poorly trained and underpaid police are frequently accused of corruption and human rights abuses. Many are not even qualified to write a crime report. Commanders say it is not their fault, pointing out that the this year’s federal budget gave the military about $6 billion and the police a paltry $686 million. The provincial law minister, Rana Sanaullah Khan, told Reuters that the provincial chief minister had ordered an investigation into the charges against Musa. One policeman had been suspended, he said. “He has directed police authorities to take action against the officials who booked the infant,” he said. — Reuters

Iraq violence kills 40 Soldiers ambush militants BAGHDAD: Attacks in Iraq left 15 people dead yesterday while security forces said they killed 25 militants near Baghdad amid worries insurgents are encroaching on the capital weeks ahead of elections. The latest violence is part of a protracted surge in nationwide bloodshed that has left more than 2,400 people dead since the start of the year and sparked fears Iraq is slipping back into the all-out sectarian conflict that plagued it in 2006-07. The unrest has been driven principally by anger in the Sunni Arab community over alleged mistreatment at the hands of the Shiite-led government and security forces, as well as spillover from the civil war in neighboring Syria. In yesterday’s bloodiest incident, soldiers killed 25 militants in an ambush southwest of Baghdad, the capital’s security spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan said. Maan said the fighters were part of the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and that they were planning to attack an army base that they had attempted to hit last week. Despite the tactical success, the killings illustrate the growing ambition of ISIL militants in seeking to breach into Baghdad, with analysts and officials worrying that they are seeking to derail April 30 elections. Elsewhere in Iraq yesterday, attacks north of the capital killed 12 people, security and medical officials said, including six members of the same family shot inside their home on the outskirts of the restive city of Mosul. A car bomb set off by a suicide attacker at a checkpoint in the restive city of Tuz Khurmatu killed a policeman, while attacks also struck against Baiji and Tikrit in Salaheddin province. Diplomats and analysts have urged the gov-

TUZ KHORMATO: Civilians and security forces inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Tuz Khormato, 130 miles north of Baghdad yesterday. — AP ernment to reach out to the Sunni community to undermine support for militancy. But with the parliamentary elections looming, Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and other Shiite leaders have been loath to be seen to compromise. Near-daily bloodshed is part of a long list of voter concerns that also include lengthy power cuts, poor wastewater treatment, rampant corruption and high unemployment. Clashes in Anbar Meanwhile, Iraq’s electoral commission said yesterday that there will be no balloting in parts of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province engulfed in clashes between securi-

ty forces and Al-Qaeda-inspired militants. Since late December, the western Anbar province has seen fierce fighting between government troops and allied tribal militias on one side, and militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an Al-Qaeda spin-off group, on the other. The militants have seized and are continuing to hold parts of the provincial capital, Ramadi, and nearly all of the nearby city of Fallujah. The exclusion of major Sunni cities such as Ramadi and Fallujah where most of the fighting is underway as Iraqi forces try to wrest back areas overrun by militants - from the April 30 voting for Iraq’s new

parliament could deepen Sunni fears of being marginalized by the country’s Shiite majority. In a press conference in Baghdad, a member of the Independent High Electoral Commission, Muqdad Al-Shuraifi, said the “commission cannot send its employees and balloting-related equipment, as well as logistics, to the areas where security operation are underway.” He did not specifically name the areas seized by the militants but assured families displaced by the fighting that they will be allowed to vote in areas deemed “safe” or in parts of the province where they found shelter or in other provinces where some of them ended up. — Agencies

Bomb blast on train kills 13 in Pakistan SIBI: A bomb blast on a train in Pakistan’s restive southwestern province of Baluchistan killed at least 13 people and injured 40 others yesterday, officials said, with the death toll feared to rise. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but a senior Pakistani minister said it may have come in response to a major operation against separatist insurgents that began on Monday. The explosion occurred after the train

had pulled to a stop and passengers were disembarking at Sibi railway station around 160 kilometers south of its destination Quetta, the provincial capital. Two carriages quickly became engulfed by a scorching inferno and smoke as passengers, some of whom were on fire, screamed and struggled to escape, senior police official Mohammad Nazar, who was at the scene said.

“We have recovered 12 dead bodies from the train. They have been burnt to charcoal,” he said, adding one of the injured had died after being taken to a military hospital in the same town. Sher Khan Bazai, a senior administration official, confirmed the incident. “24 patients are in critical condition, they will be shifted to Quetta as soon as they are stable enough to travel,” he said, adding that the injured included six

women and four children. The flames were only put out after fire fighters reached the scene, Nazar said. “I can’t say whether the dead are adults or children as they are beyond recognition,” he said. ‘Reaction to operation’ Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique told Geo News the attack “could be in response to

the ongoing operation” launched by paramilitary troops against separatist rebels. The Frontier Corps (FC) began an operation against insurgents early Monday in the Kalat district, around 300 kilometers southwest of Quetta. They said they had killed 40 insurgents belonging to the Baluch Republican Army (BRA) and Baluch Liberation Army (BLA) though the toll could not be independently verified. —Agencies



‘The forgotten souls’ One million buried in mass graves on forbidden NY Island

HONIARA, Solomon Islands: This handout photo shows flood waters in the streets of the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara. — AFP

Quebec separatist party suffers a crushing defeat OTTAWA: The anti-separatist Quebec Liberal Party won a majority government in provincial elections on Monday, eliminating the possibility of a new referendum on independence from Canada for several years and crushing the separatist Parti Quebecois. The election in the mainly French-speaking province had turned into a referendum on whether to hold another vote on separating from Canada, and the answer appeared to be a resounding “Non.” The Quebec Liberals had warned incessantly that the Parti Quebecois, which had called the election in a bid to turn their minority government into a majority, would launch a referendum if it succeeded. Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois, who is expected to lose her seat, announced she would resign as party head in view of the electoral defeat. Quebec Liberal leader Philippe Couillard will now replace her as premier of the province. The Liberals led in 70 of the 125 races, and the Parti Quebecois led in just 30, its lowest since 1989. The Parti Quebecois took the lowest share of the vote since it won 23.1 percent in its first election in 1970. With 98.8 percent of voting stations reporting on Monday, it had 25.4 percent of the votes, against 41.5 percent for the Liberals. It was nearly eclipsed by the upstart Coalition Avenir Quebec, a conservative party which also opposes a referendum. It won or led in 22 seats and took 23.3 percent of the votes. “The results clearly demonstrate that Quebecers have rejected the idea of a referendum and want a government that will be focused on the economy and job creation,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement. “We look forward to working with the new government of Quebec on those priorities.” The Parti Quebecois went into the campaign with a polling lead but this turned to dust after star candidate Pierre Karl Peladeau, a media magnate, pumped his fist in the air in saying how he wanted “to make Quebec a country.” Though sovereignty is the raison d’etre of the Parti Quebecois, party leader Marois had focused on other issues and played down the likelihood of a referendum, but Peladeau’s declaration returned it front and center. A first referendum in 1980 lost by almost 20 points but a second one in 1995 turned into a nail-biter for Canada, as the sovereignty option lost by just over one percentage point. Polls show that two-thirds of Quebec citizens do not want to go through that exercise a third time, and this election showed the dangers for the separatists of musing about leaving Canada. “Pierre Karl Peladeau was the worst nightmare for the Parti Quebecois in this election,” former federal Member of Parliament Andre Bachand, who served as senior Quebec advisor to Prime Minister Harper, said on CBC television. Peladeau is the controlling shareholder of media empire Quebecor Inc but had stepped down from management decisions as he entered the election. Separatists defiant Peladeau won his seat, and while he said in his victory speech that his party must accept the result with humility, he returned to the theme of Quebec independence as he said he would work to strengthen Quebec business and productivity. “To work to strengthen Quebec’s economy is also to work to make sovereignty more feasible,” he said. Bernard Drainville, a former CBC journalist who served as a Parti Quebecois cabinet minister, insisted the separatists would “never give up, never, never. We will rise again from this defeat this defeat.” He then told Parti Quebecois supporters in a chant: “We want a country.” French is the mother tongue for four out of five Quebec residents, and the separatists say they need their own country to be master of their own house. Quebec political lore has the phrase “neverendum referendum,” suggesting it will always be a possibility at some point, but this election takes it off the table for now. The province’s law on fixed election dates provides for the next election to be in October 2018. Monday’s election also means the end of the Parti Quebecois’ proposed secularism charter, which would have prevented public sector employees from wearing conspicuous religious symbols, from the Muslim hijab to the Jewish yarmulke on the head to large Christian crosses. The Quebec Liberals had strenuously opposed the charter, which had proved most popular in francophone areas outside the main cities. On the federal level, the separatists have also not fared well, being reduced to just four of 75 Quebec seats in the House of Commons in the last federal election in 2011. Their seats were mainly captured by the opposition New Democratic Party, which is against Quebec independence. NDP leader Thomas Mulcair said in a statement: “The NDP has taken note of the people’s desire to end the old quarrels.” — Reuters

USAID chief quizzed over ‘Cuban Twitter’ WASHINGTON: The administrator of the US Agency for International Development yesterday began a series of appearances before lawmakers asking questions about his agency’s secret “Cuban Twitter,” a social media network built to stir unrest in the communist island. First up in the questioning of administrator Rajiv Shah is Sen Patrick Leahy, D-Vt, who publicly called the social media program “dumb, dumb, dumb.” Last week, an Associated Press investigation revealed that USAID oversaw the creation of the text message-based service, dubbed ZunZuneo for the sound made by a Cuban hummingbird. USAID and its contractors went to extensive lengths to conceal Washington’s ties to the project, according to interviews and documents obtained by the AP. A key question for the hearings will be whether the program endangered its users by concealing that the US government was behind the program. The network was publicly launched shortly after the 2009 arrest in Cuba of American contractor Alan Gross. He was imprisoned there after traveling repeatedly on a separate, clandestine USAID mission to expand Cuban Internet access using sensitive technology that only governments use. Yesterday, Gross’ lawyer released a statement that his client was going on a hunger strike. The ZunZuneo story was “one of the factors” Gross took into account in connection with his hunger strike, the attorney said. “Once Alan was arrested, it is shocking that USAID would imperil his safety even further by running a covert operation in Cuba,” said the lawyer, Scott Gilbert. “USAID has made one absurdly bad decision after another.”—AP

NEW YORK: Most New Yorkers don’t even know it exists. But a million forgotten souls are buried in mass graves dug by convicts on a tiny, forbidden island east of the Bronx. Since 1869, still-born babies, the homeless, the poor and the unclaimed have been stacked one upon the other, three coffins deep, on Hart Island. Corpses are interned in great, anonymous trenches. There are no tombstones. Small white posts in the ground mark each 150 adult bodies. A thousand children and infants are buried together per grave. It is one of the largest cemeteries in the United States. And the least visited. The men doing the digging are convicts from Rikers Island, petty offenders tasked with carrying bodies to their final resting place. Nearly 1,500 fresh corpses arrive each year, says visual artist Melinda Hunt, who heads the Hart Island Project, which campaigns to make the cemetery visible and accessible. The authorities say nearly a million people have been buried here since 1869. It is forbidden to film and photograph the uninhabited, windswept island. Visits must be authorized by the Department of Corrections, which runs the island. First used as a cemetery in the Civil War, Hart Island has variously served as a training camp, a prison for captured Confederates, a workhouse, a mental asylum and even a Cold War missile base. The only jetty is closed to the public, hemmed in by railings, barbed wire and spikes. Notice boards warn people to keep out. Records long inaccessible For years, records of who’s been buried where have been patchy and negotiating access has proved challenging. Some have been lost, others burnt. Families sometimes cannot even find out if their loved ones were buried by the city. “You have a right to know where a person is. It’s very important not to disappear people. It’s not an acceptable thing to do in any culture,” Hunt said. The Department of Corrections says it doesn’t have the infrastructure to welcome visitors on an island where the buildings are dilapidated and abandoned. Under pressure, however, the authorities have allowed a few visits since 2007, albeit within a gazebo far from the graves. “You don’t see anything,” said Elaine Joseph, a 59-year-old nurse whose baby daughter died at five days old in 1978. “They check your ID, and ask you to hand over your cell phone, any electronic equipment and they put it in an envelope and lock it and then you get to the island, they ask for your ID again. “They treat you as a visitor of an inmate,” she said. In November, a small group of women who threatened to bring a complaint were given permission to visit specific grave sites. Joseph became the first to go on March 14. Once there, she broke down in tears. “I can’t say I found closure. When you lose a child, there really is never closure. There is a piece of you that is gone,” she said. “I did find solace in that there was water surrounding it and there was a lovely view.” She was even allowed to take a photograph. Laurie Grant, a 61-yearold doctor who gave birth to a still-born daughter in 1993, hopes to be the next. But on March 28, she waited in vain in the rain on the jetty. Due to unwillingness or miscommunication, those who were supposed to ferry her across the water left before she even arrived.

NEW YORK: The decaying abandoned prison workhouse on Hart Island is seen in New York. Each white plastic pipe near the building marks an infant mass gravesite, one plastic pipe per 1,000 babies. — AFP

Angered by Iran pick, US Senate OKs denying visas WASHINGTON: The Senate approved a bill Monday to bar a former hostage-taker tapped to be Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations from entering the United States. By voice vote, Republicans and Democrats united behind the legislation sponsored by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz that reflected congressional animosity toward Tehran and its selection of Hamid Aboutalebi. Iran’s envoy choice was a member of a Muslim student group that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days in the 1979 seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran. The “nomination is a deliberate and unambiguous insult to the United States,” Cruz said in remarks on the Senate floor in which he described Iran’s anti-Americanism since 1979 and added, “This is not the moment for diplomatic niceties.” The bill would deny entry to the United States to an individual found to be engaged in espionage, terrorism or a threat to national security. Cruz had proposed legislation last week to deny visas to a UN applicant if the president determines the individual has engaged in terrorist activity. He modified his measure, though it was unclear what entity such as an international court would determine an individual’s standing. Cruz won the tacit support of Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer for his legislation. The two shook hands on the Senate floor, a rare bit of bipartisanship for Cruz, a conservative tea party stalwart, and the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate. “It may be a case of strange bedfellows, but I’m glad Sen. Cruz and I were able to work out a bill that would prevent this terrorist from stepping foot on

Closed to public Over the years, Hunt said she has lost track of all the families she has tried to help, though estimates the number is at least 500. Most were Americans, but there have been others from France, the Netherlands and Poland, and one Irish woman looking for a grandfather. The Hart Island Project has so far managed to list more than 60,000 burials in the database. A bill has been introduced to the city council seeking to transfer the island to the parks administration, but has not been taken up yet. Joseph dreams of being able to return as often as she wants to what she calls “a public cemetery that the public is not allowed to visit.” She also dreams of flowers and a bench to honor her baby. “If I can put a marker on a bench, I’ll be happy,” she said. — AFP

Gunfights kill 24 in north Mexico MEXICO CITY: The death toll from two days of gunfights in Mexico’s northern state of Tamaulipas rose to 24 on Monday after authorities reported six more slayings in the drug violence-plagued region. Authorities said 15 men and two women were killed on Sunday in a series of shootings between criminal groups in the towns of Tampico and Ciudad Madero, on the Gulf of Mexico coast. A man’s body was found on a bench and two others on a street in Tampico early Monday, according to the Tamaulipas Coordination Group of federal and state security forces. The first shootout was reported in Ciudad Madero, where two gunmen killed two men and a woman on Sunday afternoon, the security group said in a statement. Ten minutes later, authorities in neighboring Tampico found the body of a man with a bullet wound to the head. Later, a carload of gunmen fired at a man whose body was found in a Ciudad Madero street. Ten minutes later, another body was found in a street corner of the town. After nightfall, five men and one woman were killed in front of a fuel station in Tampico. Moments later, another man was gunned down in an ice cream shop. Another body was recovered that evening in Madero. The statement did not say what gangs were involved in the killings. But Tampico Mayor Gustavo Torres told Milenio television that the shootings in his town were linked to “scoresettling” between members of the Gulf Cartel. Tamaulipas has been the scene of a turf war between the Zetas and Gulf drug cartels, former allies that have battled for control of lucrative drug trafficking routes to the United States since they parted ways in 2010.The Tamaulipas Coordination Group said in a separate statement that four suspected criminals were detained Sunday in two Tampico homes, armed with rifles and grenades. Further north, three more people were killed Sunday in clashes between criminals near the Rio Grande in Ciudad Mier, which lies near the border with the US state of Texas. Those killings were also reported on Monday. Soldiers recovered a pick-up truck, three AK-47 and one AR-15 assault rifle, one grenade and two bulletproof vests. The bloody Sunday came one day after a gun battle between soldiers and suspected criminals in Ciudad Miguel Aleman, which is near Ciudad Mier. Four armed civilians were killed in a skirmish after they opened fire on a hotel, the state prosecutor’s office said. Some 80,000 people have been killed in drug violence in Mexico since 2006. — AFP

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American soil,” Schumer said in a statement. “We ought to close the door on him, and others like him, before he even comes to the United States, and that’s exactly what this bill will do.” Last week, Cruz questioned the wisdom of holding talks with the Iranian government about its nuclear program in light of Iran’s choice for ambassador. The United States has objected to Iran’s anticipated selection of Aboutalebi, but the Obama administration stopped short last week of saying it would refuse him a visa to enter the United States. The State Department said it had raised the issue with Tehran. Hamid Babaei, a spokesman for Iran’s Mission to the United Nations, said last week, “It has been a usual practice in the Iranian Foreign Ministry to formally announce and appoint ambassadors - to all foreign postings - once all the formalities are completed.” Aboutalebi reportedly has insisted that his involvement in the group Muslim Students Following the Imam’s Line was limited to translation and negotiation. For many senior political figures in present-day Iran, the 444-day hostage crisis was a watershed moment. It thrust them into the world spotlight and still carries considerable political currency within Iran, but also shows the broad spectrum of views within the country since the Islamic Revolution. Some Iranians who were closely linked to the US Embassy seizure later moderated their views toward outreach to the US and the West. Prospects for the bill in the House were unclear, although the measure was likely to garner strong support. — AP



Rwanda frustration lingers amid France genocide spat When will they simply say ‘sorry’? KIGALI: As France digs in its heels and maintains it has nothing to apologize for when it comes to the Rwandan genocide, ordinary victims and survivors are unimpressed: the French authorities, they say, should say sorry. Lingering bitterness over the tortured relations between the two countries came to the fore again this week amid commemorations marking the 20th anniversary of the murder of 800,000 people, most of them ethnic Tutsis, at the hands of Hutu extremists. Feeling insulted by renewed allegations from Rwandan President Paul Kagame of French complicity, France’s Justice Minister Christiane Taubira cancelled her trip to Kigali for a memorial ceremony. Rwanda in turn decided that a downgraded French presence at the commemorations was not on, and told France’s ambassador to Kigali to stay at home. But aside from the official tussle, the issue is also one that resonates among many ordinary Rwandans. “It is 20 years, and still this goes on. When will they simply say sorry?” said Peter, a young man in his twenties who declined to give his last name. He said the diplomatic spat has been an unwelcome distraction from the solemnity of the commemorations and the theme of forgiveness and remembrance. “This time is about those who died, not a political game of football. Their leaders are behaving like children angry at being told off, when it is about facing up to facts of history of genocide.” The dispute centers on France’s role prior to the genocide as a close ally of the Hutu nationalist regime of Juvenal Habyarimana. The shooting down of his

plane over Kigali late on April 6, 1994 was the event that triggered 100 days of meticulously-planned slaughter. France is accused of missing or ignoring the warning signs, and of training soldiers and militia who carried out the killings. When the genocide was in full swing, France was accused of using its diplomatic clout to stall effective action. When it did finally send in troops-in Operation Turquoise-it was accused of only doing so to counter the advance of Kagame’s Tutsi rebels and allow the perpetrators to escape to neighbouring Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo. France, however, maintains its deployment stopped the killings and saved thousands of lives. And French officials insist that any guilt for failing to prevent the genocide is shared by the entire international community, and in turn accuse Kagame of only raising the issue to distract attention from what they say is his own poor human rights record. ‘Courageous act’ But Eugene Mussolini, a survivor of the genocide in his thirties, signaled that Kagame’s criticisms reflected the view held by many in the general public. France “was among the countries that were supporting militia and the former government... they had all the power and all the capacity to stop the militia and they didn’t do anything,” he said. “Maybe there is a bit of arrogance on the part of France,” added JeanClaude Nkulikiyimfura, a genocide survivor in this thirties. “It is the death of a million people we are talking about.” Bernard, 35, who fled as a teenager to Uganda during the genocide, voiced regret that the latest diplomatic spat

KIGALI: Relatives walk out of the room where ten Belgian Para comamandos who were part of the peace keeping mission under the UN flag were killed during a commemoration held in Kigali. — AFP went against the theme of forgiveness and reconciliation. “We’ve learnt to forgive each other, to live as Rwandans alongside those who carried out attacks,” he said, speaking in a chic Kigali cafe selling croissants and other French-style pastries. “It was not this government in France now, so why not move on? As a country, Rwandans have forgiven each other to live alongside each other.” Francoise Karangwa, a 25-year-old who has just finished studying accountancy, also backed the Rwandan government line that French authorities needed to swallow their pride and apologize. “Rwandans forgive even if you cannot

forget,” Karangwa said, who lost several family members in 1994. “We cannot force them to apologize, but it would be a courageous act.” Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said France had “missed a very important opportunity to make amends,” but also stressed it was an issue for the government and not the French people. “I remain hopeful that some of the leaders in France, some of the people in the military establishment particularly, who are often behind this denial, will realize that for our people, our countries, we are much better off moving forward,” she told reporters on Monday.—AFP

Ukraine ends pro-Russia rally; violence escalates LUHANSK: Ukrainian police cleared pro-Moscow protesters from a regional administration building in a lightning nighttime operation, but others held out in two more eastern cities yesterday in what Kiev says is a Russian-led plan to dismember the country. Shots were fired, a grenade thrown and 70 people detained as officers ended the occupation in the city of Kharkiv during an 18 minute “anti-terrorism” action, the interior ministry said. But elsewhere in Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking industrial heartland, activists armed with Kalashnikov rifles and protected by barbed wire barricades vowed there was no going back on their demand - a vote on returning to Moscow rule. In the city of Luhansk, a man dressed in camouflage told a crowd outside an occupied state security building: “We want a referendum on the status of Luhansk and we want Russian returned as an official language.” “We will not let fascism pass,” he shouted, leading the crowd in chants of “Russia! Russia!”. Ukraine says the seizure of public buildings in eastern regions on Sunday night is a replay of events in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula Moscow annexed last month after a referendum staged when Russian troops were already in control. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed Western accusations that Moscow was destabilizing Ukraine, saying the situation could improve only if Kiev took into account the interests of Russian-speaking regions. But Britain expressed fears that Russia wanted to disrupt the run-up to presidential elections next month in Ukraine, which has been ruled by an interim government since the overthrow of Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich in February. Ukraine, which was controlled by Moscow until the Soviet Union collapsed more than two decades ago, has been in turmoil since late last year when Yanukovich rejected closer relations with the European Union and tilted the country back towards Russia. That provoked mass protests in which more than 100 people were killed by police and which drove Yanukovich from office, leading to Kiev’s loss of control in Crimea. In Kiev, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov partly pinned responsibility for the Kharkiv occupation on Russian President Vladimir Putin. “All this was inspired and financed by the PutinYanukovich group,” he said. An aide said police went in when the protesters failed to give themselves up and surrender their arms. —Reuters

DONETSK: Community service workers sweep up cartridges in front of the Ukrainian security service headquarters in Donetsk yesterday, after Kiev regained control of the building from pro-Russian militants. — AFP

MOSCOW: Russia is getting out its chequebook to bankroll the region of Crimea, newly incorporated into Russia following its rapid annexation last month. Moscow has pledged to spend billions of dollars on everything from higher pensions to a bridge linking the region to Russia, with almost $7 billion earmarked this year alone. It isn’t all expenses. Russia also stands to save billions of dollars on rent it paid for the Sevastopol naval base of the Black Sea Fleet, and has acquired valuable property and natural resources in Crimea. But Ukraine is also counting the costs, and has vowed to hit Russia with lawsuits running into hundreds of billions of dollars. Below is a summary of the various financial costs and claims made by both countries in relation to Russia’s takeover of Crimea. End of gas agreement Russia has formally denounced the 2010 Kharkiv Agreements under which Russia provided a $100 discount per thousand cubic meters for Ukraine’s imports of Russian gas as rent for the Sevastopol naval base, home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. The deal, which extended the base lease until 2042, cost Russia’s budget around $4 billion a year, or around $40 billion over the period covered by the gas contract expiring in 2019. Russia says it is owed $11 billion already paid to Ukraine for the years 2010-13, when the discount was applied in advance for extending the lease on the base beyond 2017. Ukraine says it regards the agreement as still valid and has vowed to take Russia to court for violating it. It has also threatened legal action against Russia’s gas exporter Gazprom to lower gas prices, a step used successfully by other countries. Reducing the price to the average for European customers would in effect negate the benefit to Russia from annulling the gas-forbase agreement, as Ukraine pays around $100 more than the average following the end of its discount. Energy assets Russia’s natural resources ministry has estimated Crimea’s energy reserves as 165.3 billion cubic meters of gas and 44 million tons of oil. Analysts estimate the value of such reserves at around $800 million to $1.2 billion, based on how much such resources are typically acquired for in regional energy deals. However, Crimea’s natural resources wealth could in fact be significantly higher, with an estimated 2.3 trillion cubic meters of gas in unexplored offshore fields. Using similar valuation methods, such possible reserves are worth around $7 billion, but the value could double if the reserves are proven. Ukraine has estimated the cost of lost natural resources and related facilities at 127 billion hryvnias ($10.8 billion), including businesses, 198 active fields and 380 prospective ones. Military equipment Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has estimated the value of Ukrainian military equipment left in Crimea at 18 billion hryvnias ($1.7 billion). Russia has said it will return the equipment of military units that remained loyal to Kiev. However, Russia says most Ukrainian military units in Crimea defected to Russia and it is not yet clear how much equipment it will return. Ukraine says it is preparing a case against Russia in the international maritime tribunal over its ships in Crimea. Ukrainian state assets Crimea has nationalized other state property in Ukraine such as the buildings of government ministries and agencies, educational institutes and subsidiaries of state companies. The nationalized property includes 131 agro-industrial enterprises, including renowned vineyards, and 130 objects of tourist infrastructure, as well as seven ports. Ukraine’s parliament has said that in total there are 57,800 objects of state property in Crimea. No figure has yet been placed on the value of property besides military equipment and natural resources, but it is likely to run into billions of dollars.

KIEV: Communist lawmakers scuffle with right-wing Svoboda (Freedom) Party lawmakers during a parliament session of Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian parliament, in Kiev yesterday. — AP

In Crimea, reporters and activists still defy Russia SIMFEROPOL: Under mounting pressure from Moscow, a defiant group of pro-Ukrainian activists, journalists and minority representatives in Crimea continue to protest the annexation of the peninsula by Russia. “We know very well that we are being watched,” said Anna Shaidurova of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, an anti-Moscow news website based in the Crimean capital of Simferopol. “It’s become dangerous to work here,” said her colleague, Natalia Kokorina. “But we are independent and our priority is to tell the truth.” The truth for this 25-year-old, a Ukrainian flag on her desk, is that “Crimea has submitted to an occupation. We are not afraid to say it.” The journalists never speak about work on the phone, on which a “strange echo” can sometimes be heard. The pressure started in early March when they began to receive threats from pro-Russian militants. Since the peninsula’s annexation, the website has been effectively “blacklisted” with its accreditation at the Crimean parliament withdrawn. Despite the current

appetite in the Kremlin for media control, Shaidurova tries to reassure herself: “We are the last opposition site. If they close us, that will be a step too far.” Refusing to speak Russian In a hall of the Majlis, the parliament of the minority Crimean Tatar community, the talk is equally defiant. “The Crimean government is criminal, illegal in Ukraine and they operate against international laws,” said Abdurahman Eguiz, who was elected to the Majlis last year, representing a pro-Western fringe in the community. “I am one of those who says the Tatars should not take part in this puppet government,” he said. As a sign of resistance, he has refused to speak Russian in government buildings. He speaks only Ukrainian, he says, “because this is Ukraine”. There has been no pressure from the new Russian authorities “for now”, he says, because Russia “has something to prove to the world”. But he is certain that the threats will come “once all this is under control”. Such symbolic efforts have done little to arrest the rapid changes occurring all around

them. This week, the authorities began replacing Ukrainian street signs with Russian ones. For some, resistance comes in the form of helping those who want to flee. Ruslan Zuyev, a local pastor, has found himself moonlighting as a professional house mover in the past few weeks. He says he has helped at least 200 people pack up their homes and move, most of them Ukrainian soldiers who have felt forced into leaving the peninsula since Russian forces took over their militar y bases. In a glacial early morning cold, Zuyev is helping a colonel and his family leave their home in a Simferopol suburb and has just finished a 10th journey up seven flights of stairs. “Kiev is doing nothing for them, they have no money, no help to leave,” he said breathlessly. He says he is motivated by “love of his country”, but faces daily confrontations with pro-Russian locals. “They ask us what we are doing here and why we are helping the soldiers. Some take photos. “What we are doing is dangerous,” he added, but he shrugs it off and heads back up the stairs for another pile of boxes. — AFP

Indonesia’s ‘Elvis’ leads celebrity charge at polls JAKARTA: A white jumpsuit stretched over his bulging belly, an ageing crooner known as Indonesia’s Elvis launches into song ahead of elections today, one of a parade of celebrities standing as candidates or acting as cheerleaders. Rhoma Irama, who was seeking support for his own presidential bid and the Islamic party backing him, is part of a star-studded push for votes in the legislative polls, which set the stage for the presidential elections in July. The tactic seems to be working among some supporters-”Bro Rhoma I love you, bro Rhoma for Indonesian president,” screamed one woman wearing a purple Muslim headscarf at his Jakarta concert as she danced vigorously. But while the presence of celebrities adds color to the elections, analysts say the trend highlights the woeful state of political life in Indonesia 16 years after dictator Suharto left power. Parliament is regarded as one of the country’s most corrupt institutions, with several lawmakers having been jailed for graft in recent years and pictures of MPs asleep in

Costs, benefits of the Russia annexation

session regularly splashed across the press. Political observers say celebrities are filling a void left by more serious contenders who are disillusioned with the system. “Activists from civil society with the capacity to lead are not interested in taking part in the elections,” said Syamsuddin Haris, a political analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences. “They feel the political culture is still very poor and they will not be able to change the system even if they are voted in.” ‘Beautiful candidate’ The growing celebrity trend at this year’s parliamentary election has been the so-called “caleg cantik”-literally “the beautiful legislative candidate”. A former Miss Indonesia beauty pageant finalist, Soraya Hapsari, swimsuit model Destiara Talita, and dangdut singer Camel Petir are all hoping their high profile and good looks can propel them to office. Despite concerns over the celebrity trend, there is

little doubt that a figure well-loved by the public can boost a party’s popularity. At Irama’s recent outdoor gig, the hundreds of fans attending seemed overwhelmed as the man known as the king of “dangdut”, a popular type of Indonesian music, sang “the rich get richer, the poor get poorer”. While the presidency is likely out of the devout Muslim star’s reach, polls indicate the party backing him, the Islamic-based National Awakening Party (PKB), will increase its share of the vote to seven or eight percent. That would be a good result and buck the trend of falling support for Islamic parties in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, as voters move away from picking parties based solely on religious grounds. Observers also point to other factors in the PKB’s success, however. It received a boost when the head of fast-growing airline Lion Air, Rusdi Kirana, joined the party and got involved in planning and bankrolling its campaign.—AFP

Higher pensions, wages Russia has vowed to raise pensions and public sector wages in Crimea to Russian levels, which involves doubling pensions for around 600,000 pensioners and pay for around 140,000 state sector workers. Russian officials have put the annual cost of higher state pensions at 36 billion roubles ($1 billion) per year. According to an analysis by a Russian senator, the annual cost of higher pensions reaches 70 billion roubles ($2 billion) when military pensions are included, reflecting the large number of retired servicemen in Crimea. Raising the average pay of 140,000 public sector employees from the Crimean average to the Russian average would cost around 30 billion roubles ($840 million) a year, based on official pay statistics. Annual subsidy Even before the promised increases in public sector pay and pensions, Crimea’s budget received subsidies from the central government, which were projected at 3 billion hryvnias ($260 million) in 2014. Russia’s Finance Ministry values the subsidy at 55 billion roubles ($1.5 billion) this year, including the initial costs of raising pay and pensions. New infrastructure Russia has made various promises about building new infrastructure to bolster its links with Crimea and reduce the region’s dependence on Ukraine. A proposed road and railway bridge linking Crimea to Russia could cost at least 100 billion roubles ($2.8 billion), Russia’s transport minister has said. Three new power stations would cost up to 100 billion roubles, Russia’s energy minister has said. Depending on the route and capacity, a new gas pipeline to Crimea could cost between $200 million and $1 billion. Russia has also promised to spend generously on upgrading public infrastructure in Crimea such as schools, hospitals, roads, airports, the water supply system and a new university. It has pledged to support agriculture, including 80-100 combine harvesters for immediate dispatch. Russia’s finance minister has said Russia is preparing to spend up to 243 billion roubles ($6.8 billion) to support Crimea in 2014, including both recurring expenditure on higher pensions and wages, and one-off infrastructure spending. Ukrainian lawsuits Ukraine has threatened Russia with lawsuits worth “hundreds of billions of dollars” in response to Russia’s occupation of Crimea. The lawsuits will cover both the seizure of Ukrainian state property in Crimea, and also Russia’s breaches of international and bilateral agreements. The resulting legal battles could last decades, leading to huge uncertainty over the final bill and the fate of Russian property in Ukraine, which could be impounded. The risk of Ukrainian lawsuits also means that most foreign investors are likely to shun Crimea, increasing the economic burden on Russia. Less investment The international tensions around Ukraine have exacerbated a fall in investment in Russia and an outflow of capital that have already had a major negative impact on Russia’s economic growth. Russia’s Economy Ministry, which had originally forecast growth of 2.5 percent in 2014, now expects it will be well below 1 percent. The World Bank has warned the economy may shrink by 1.8 percent if the Ukraine crisis deepens. Each 1 percent reduction in gross domestic product costs Russia’s economy around $20 billion in lost output per year.— Reuters



Another jet-search unknown: How much it’s costing BANGKOK: It’s not a question most governments involved in the hunt for the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 care to answer: How much has the far-flung, month-long search cost? The US bill alone has run into the millions of dollars, and some countries such as China have devoted more ships and planes to the effort than the Americans have. Australia is spending more than half a million dollars a day on just one of the ships it has in the Indian Ocean. But governments and military experts say it’s difficult to come up with a full estimate for an ongoing search, especially since many of the costs are a normal part of maintaining effective search-and-rescue capabilities. “If I listed how many planes and boats are involved, I could confect a very large number, but it wouldn’t have much meaning, because we’ve got to pay for the boats and the planes and the pilots and the sailors anyway, and they’re out there doing some stuff which is good training and reflects well on us internationally,” said Mark Thomson, senior

analyst of defense economics at the governmentfunded Australian Strategic Policy Institute. More than two dozen countries have played some role in the long search, which Malaysia is overseeing. In the days since the search has shifted to remote areas of the Indian Ocean, several countries have deployed planes and ships for the effort, including China, Australia, Malaysia, the US, Britain, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea. Yesterday, nine military planes, three civil aircraft and 14 ships were combing a 234,000-square-kilometer search area, according to Australian officials coordinating the search. Malaysia has repeatedly declined to answer questions about the cost of the search. “Nobody, not the Malaysian government, none of our partners, have talked about dollars and cents. It’s all about trying to find the aircraft,” Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a press conference last month. The US Department of Defense allocated $4 million to help search for the missing Malaysian

jetliner. Between March 8 and March 24, it had spent $3.2 million, said spokesman Col. Steve Warren. As of late last week it had spent another $148,000. The Pentagon has allocated another $3.6 million to cover the cost of a towed pinger locator, used to detect underwater signals from aircraft black boxes, and an underwater autonomous vehicle, which can look for wreckage deep below the ocean surface. Australia’s defense department said its direct cost of using its ship the HMAS Success in the search is about $550,000 per day, and another vessel, the HMAS Toowoomba, costs about $380,000 per day. But it said there are not only direct costs such as fuel, servicing and crew salaries, but indirect costs such as general administration, building costs and depreciation of aircraft assets, so it is difficult to provide an exact total. Several Chinese ships and planes have been involved in the search, but China’s foreign ministry did not respond to questions about the expense of

the effort. Geoff Davies, a spokesman for New Zealand’s defense force, said much of his country’s costs will be covered by the existing budget for search and rescue operations, though there are likely to be some extra costs because of the extraordinary nature of the search. Japan’s defense ministry said it could not provide a figure because the search is continuing. The cost of the search operation is believed to fall within the 880 million yen ($8.8 million) budgeted for emergency relief for the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Extra costs incurred by the operation include fuel and a special allowance for the roughly 90 troops involved. Some Japanese civilians are also participating, and the government said their accommodation and transportation has cost about 28 million yen ($280,000) as of the end of March. Accommodation for the Japanese troops is free, as they use facilities at the Australian military under their defense cooperation agreement. — AP

Philippines top court approves controversial birth control law Catholic Church fumes, vows to fight ‘evil’ reforms MANILA: Millions of poor people in the Philippines will have access to free contraceptives for the first time after the nation’s top court yesterday approved a deeply controversial birth control law. The Supreme Court’s ruling was hailed by supporters as a triumph in the battle to ease crippling poverty, empower women and curtail a population explosion in the Southeast Asian nation of 100 million people. But the Catholic Church, which had led a bitter campaign for 15 years against efforts to introduce any form of family planning laws, expressed anger and vowed to continue fighting what it terms “evil” reforms. “The RH law is not unconstitutional,” Supreme Court spokesman Theodore Te told reporters as he announced the ruling, striking down more than a dozen petitions against the reproductive health law from church-backed groups. The legislation requires government health centers to supply free condoms and birth control pills, as well as mandating that sex education be taught in schools. It also requires that public health workers receive family planning training, while medical care after an abortion will also be legalized. The issues are so controversial in the Philippines because nearly 80 percent of the population are Catholics, an inheritance of three centuries of Spanish colonial rule. And while Pope Francis has recently urged a break from the Church’s obsession with its ultra-strict dogma, local Catholic leaders have sought to continue with deeply conservative social policies. The Philippines is the only country where divorce remains illegal and abortions are also outlawed. “This monumental decision upholds the separation of church and state and affirms the supremacy of government in secular concerns like health and socio-economic development,” legislator Edcel Lagman, the main author of the law, said after the ruling. Deaths in childbirth Women’s rights groups and other supporters of the law said the law would be a powerful tool in cutting the Philippines’ fertility rate of 3.54, one of the highest in Asia that has contributed to the nation’s brutal poverty. More than a quarter of the population live on the equivalent of 62 cents a day, according to the government, with many million housed in horrific urban slums and unable to afford contraceptives. “The full and speedy implementation of the law will be critically important in reducing maternal mortality and ensuring universal access to reproductive health care,” the United Nations said in a statement welcoming the ruling. It noted that the number of women dying while giving

US-Philippine pact highlight Obama’s Asian rebalance MANILA: An agreement on US-Philippine defense cooperation, expected to be signed this month during a visit by President Barack Obama, will be a clear sign of a US “rebalance” to Asia despite US preoccupations elsewhere, the Philippines’ top diplomat said. The deal will enable the sharing of Philippine bases, an increase in the rotation through the Philippines of US ships, aircraft and troops, and will reassure US allies of support against a rising China. “There is full resolve on the part of the US to fulfill their commitments on this Asia rebalancing, not only in terms of defensive security but also in terms of enhancing economic cooperation,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario told Reuters in an interview late on Monday. “This enhanced defense cooperation is a clear manifestation of that,” he said, days before the eighth and final round of talks on the pact between the old allies. “The situation in the Middle East, the situation in Ukraine this has been of some distraction in terms of their focus on doing this. But I believe that the resolve is very strong in terms of fulfilling their rebalance to Asia.” The deal will boost the Philippines’ surveillance capabilities in the disputed South China Sea, del Rosario said, as it strives to keep in check an increasingly assertive China. Even without the agreement, the Philippine military is getting more support from the United States. This year, the Philippines will get $50 million under US foreign military financing, the largest amount in more than a decade, and $40 million from a US global security contingency fund. The funding will be used strictly to boost naval capability, with the Philippines possibly getting a third Hamilton-class high endurance cutter, del Rosario said. The first two Hamiltons that the Philippines got from the United States in the last three years are the largest and most modern warships in the Philippine navy. “The South China Sea can be very rough, and smaller ships ... cannot manage the South China Sea in periods that are not summer, very few of our ships can withstand the waves there,” del Rosario said. Centre of attraction Military sources have said the United States plans to rotate to Philippine bases a squadron of fighters, P3C-Orion long-range maritime surveillance aircraft, and a littoral combat ship after the pact is signed. The United States has also promised to help install coastal radars to help the Philippines watch it its maritime borders. Apart from China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also lay claim to South China Sea, or at least parts of it. The sea provides about 10 percent of the global fish catch, carries at least $5 trillion in ship-borne trade a year and is believed to be rich in energy resources. —Reuters


in brief Russia confirms death of ‘most wanted man’

MOSCOW: Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said yesterday it had killed Moscow’s most wanted man, Islamist insurgency leader Doku Umarov, in a combat operation. A website sympathetic to the insurgency in the North Caucasus said on March 18 that Umarov was dead but the Russian authorities had not previously confirmed the report. Umarov’s Caucasus Emirate organisation has played a leading role in the insurgency aimed at creating an Islamist state in Russia’s North Caucasus and says it was behind attacks in Moscow in 2010 and 2011 that killed a total of 77 people. “As a result of a combat operation, the activity of the head of the terrorist organization Caucasus Emirate, Umarov, was neutralised,” Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the FSB, told a meeting of Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NAK). His comments were distributed in a video clip by the NAK, which he oversees, one day after President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech to the FSB in which he said there must be no let-up in the fight against the militants. Bortnikov gave no details of the combat operation in which he said Umarov was killed. The death of Umarov is a breakthrough for Putin in the fight against the Caucasus Emirate, which is listed as a terrorist group by the United States, although it already has a new leader who identified himself as Ali Abu Mukhammad in a video posted on You Tube.

‘Qaeda’ militants kill four Yemen soldiers

MANILA: Children play in a slum area in Manila. Millions of poor people in the Philippines will have access to free contraceptives for the first time after the nation’s top court yesterday approved a deeply controversial birth control law. — AFP birth in the Philippines had remained high over the past two decades, and the nation was expected to miss a 2015 development target to cut maternal deaths to 52 per 100,000 live births. Between 14 and 15 mothers die each day from complications during childbirth in the Philippines, according to the British medical charity Merlin. A spokeswoman for Philippine President Benigno Aquino, who defied church threats of excommunication to shepherd the law through parliament in 2012, said the government was ready quickly to start implementation. The government had been poised to begin implementing it last year, but the appeals to the Supreme Court led to a temporary restraining order. Nevertheless, the Church and other opponents insisted they would continue campaigning against the law, and potentially lodge an appeal. Decisions by the Supreme Court can be appealed, but the

tribunal rarely reverses its own rulings. Archbishop Socrates Villegas, head of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, rejected the ruling. “We cannot see eyeto-eye with our pro-RH (reproductive health) brethren on this divisive issue, but we can work hand in hand for the good of the country,” he said in a statement. “The Church can continue its mission even with such unjust laws,” he added. Church leaders have helped lead two revolutions that toppled unpopular presidents in recent history. However church-backed groups have not attracted massive crowds to previous rallies against the law. Polling over many years has also shown that most Catholic Filipinos have largely embraced less conservative views on social issues. A survey last month by the respected Social Weather Stations polling group said 72 percent of respondents were in favor of the law. — AFP

Hagel, Chang face off over disputed islands BEIJING: The defense chiefs of China and the US are facing off over Beijing’s escalating territorial disputes in the region, with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel telling China it doesn’t have the right to unilaterally establish an air defense zone over disputed islands with no consultation. And he said yesterday America will protect Japan in a dispute with China, as laid out in US treaty obligations. Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan said his country will not take the initiative to stir up troubles with Japan, but Beijing is ready to use its military if needed to safeguard its territory. And he warned that the US must “stay vigilant” against Japan’s actions and “not be permissive and supportive” of Tokyo. The US has criticized Beijing’s recent declaration of an air defense zone over a large swath of the East China Sea, including disputed islands controlled by Japan. In their remarks, the two men aired their countries’ well-known positions about the territorial disputes, although doing it for the first time in China, shoulder to shoulder after nearly two hours of meetings here. “Every nation has a right to establish an air defense zone, but not a right to do it unilaterally with no collaboration, no consultation. That adds to tensions, misunderstandings, and could eventually add to, and eventually get to dangerous conflict,” said Hagel, poking his figure toward the television cameras and photographers at the back of the room, as shutters clicked. For his part, Chang said China stands ready to resolve the disputes diplomatically. But he made it clear that China is always ready to respond to threats. On the issue of territorial sovereignty, Chang said, “we will make no compromise, no concession, no trading, not even a tiny ... violation is allowed.” On a broader scale, the meeting focused on how the US and China can build stronger ties, in the wake of years of frosty relations over Beijing’s military buildup, persistent cyberattacks against US government agencies and private industry, and aggressive Chinese territorial claims in the East China Sea. Beijing’s recent declaration of an air defense zone over a large swath of the East China Sea, including disputed islands controlled by Japan has raised complaints from the US, deepening concerns that it could spark a confrontation. Washington has refused to recognize the zone or follow China’s demands that its aircraft file flight plans with Beijing’s Defense Ministry and heed Chinese instructions. China has warned of unspecified retaliatory measures against aircraft that do not comply, but has so far taken no action. He also said the US and China must be more open with each other about their cyber capabilities, saying that greater openness “reduces the risk that misunderstanding and misperception could lead to miscalculation.” Hagel pointed to the ongoing threat from North Korea, which recently threatened additional missile and nuclear tests. And he said the US and China have a shared interest “in achieving a verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” In recent weeks the North has conducted a series of rocket and ballistic missile launches that are considered acts of

protest against annual ongoing springtime military exercises by Seoul and Washington. North Korea says the exercises are rehearsals for invasion. “Our vision is a future where our militaries can work closely together on a range of challenges, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions. However, to reach this objective, we must be candid about issues where we disagree,” Hagel said. Hagel also said the two countries have agreed to conduct a joint military medical exercise, although not date was set. And he said they will set up new formal procedures that will allow their armies to better communicate and also set

BEIJING: US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel (left) and Chinese Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan listen to the Chinese national anthem prior to their meeting at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters in Beijing yesterday. — AFP up an Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue between the assistant defense secretary for the Asia Pacific and China’s director of the Ministry of National Defense Foreign Affairs Office so they also can more easily exchange views. The United States’ campaign to encourage China to be more open about its military growth and intentions got a symbolic boost Monday as Hagel got a rare tour of the country’s first aircraft carrier, but efforts to get the Asian giant to be more transparent about cyberattacks and other defense operations has been less successful. In a speech planned for later, Hagel will point to cybersecurity as an area where the US wants the Chinese to be more transparent, said a senior US official, who was not authorized to talk publicly by name about the speech so spoke on condition of anonymity. Hagel arrived in Beijing after a stop in Japan, where he told reporters that China must be more open about its military buildup and better respect its neighbors - a pointed allusion to the territorial disputes. —AP

ADEN: Suspected Al-Qaeda militants in police uniforms killed four soldiers yesterday in an attack on a special forces’ checkpoint in southeastern Yemen, a security official said. The attack is the latest in a series of deadly operations against security forces blamed on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), perceived by Washington as the jihadist network’s most dangerous affiliate. The gunmen “suspected of belonging to Al-Qaeda” opened fire on the checkpoint at the western entrance to the port city of Mukalla, the provincial capital of Hadramawt, the official said. Two other soldiers were wounded, the official said, requesting anonymity. The assailants also stormed a nearby police station where they stripped officers of their weapons but spared their lives, he said. A military official said AQAP militants established hideouts and training bases in the vast Hadramawt province after the army drove them out of cities in the southern province of Abyan in 2012. On Friday, suspected Al-Qaeda gunmen killed eight soldiers in an attack on an army post in Hadramawt. Four militants died in the attack. It came after Al-Qaeda claimed a brazen assault Wednesday on an army headquarters in a highly secure area of Aden, which an official said killed six soldiers and three civilians, in addition to 10 assailants and a suicide bomber.

Japanese MP quits over $8 million loan scandal TOKYO: A senior Japanese politician has announced he is resigning as his party’s leader, despite insisting that he spent an undeclared $8 million loan not on politics but on personal items-including an ornamental rake. Yoshimi Watanabe, the latest lawmaker to be felled by a cash scandal, said he was stepping down from the helm of the small but influential Your Party to try to contain the fallout from the incident. Watanabe accepted 800 million yen ($8 million) from the chairman of a huge cosmetics company. Japanese law requires that all political donations be made public. Watanabe said earlier the money had been a personal loan that he had spent on “miscellaneous items” including a decorative “kumade”-a bamboo rake believed to confer luck on its holder. Announcing his resignation Monday, Watanabe said again he had done nothing wrong and insisted the cash had been unconnected to his electoral ambitions. “Although there is no legal problem at all, it is true that I caused trouble to the party. I bear all the responsibility for this,” the 62-year-old politician told reporters, adding he would stay in parliament as a lawmaker. Your Party plans to hold an election to choose his successor this week, Jiji Press reported, while prosecutors are reportedly looking into the cash transfer to see if charges should be laid.

German government outlaws ‘Hezbollah fundraising group’ BERLIN: German authorities banned a group yesterday accused of raising money for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and staged raids across the country on homes and offices used by the organization. Around 150 police officers searched premises across six states and confiscated cash, computers and around 40 boxes of files. Two bank accounts with a total of around 60,000 euros were frozen but no arrests were made, the German interior ministry said. The ministr y said it had outlawed the “Waisenkinderprojekt Libanon” (Orphan Children Project Lebanon) with immediate effect. “The name of the group masks its actual purpose,” ministry state secretary Emily Haber said in a statement. She said the organization based in the western city of Essen had raised 3.3 million euros ($4.5 million) in donations between 2007 and 2013 for the Lebanese Shahid Foundation, an “integral” part of Hezbollah. It said the funds were used to recruit fighters “to combat Israel, also with terrorist measures” and compensate the families of suicide bombers.



‘Conspiracy’ video sends shockwaves... Continued from Page 1 He inquired about the identity of the so-called “powerful foes” of Sheikh Ahmad and if they had access to the video, and asked if the video had been examined by an international company to establish if it is genuine or fake and when the meeting had taken place. Rashed asked if the video contained any indications of major financial deals that had happened or planned to take place inside or outside Kuwait and whether they were related to public funds. The lawmaker inquired if the video contained indications of political deals that had taken place or planned to happen between members of the Al-Sabah ruling family or public figures or both. Rashed asked if the video contained indications directly or indirectly on a plot hatched against the regime at present or in the future and if the videos mention names of people working at the Amiri Diwan or names of a former speaker and former premier. Rashed also asked if the video contains names of public figures, political activists or influential people who have received public or private funds to carry out events mentioned in the video, some of which allegedly relate to overthrowing the regime. Rashed then bluntly asked if the video contained a plot to overthrow the regime in Kuwait and if it contained any events related to the regime including any future arrangements for the

future Amir. He also asked if the videos contained a plot to dissolve the National Assembly and if a special committee has been formed within the ruling family to discuss the video and what its recommendations were. Several other MPs also called for transparency and telling the truth to the people, while others said they were planning to send other questions. And at a public gathering held by the opposition late Monday, several leading opposition figures and former MPs called for an urgent investigation into the video and for the prime minister to frankly inform the Kuwaiti people of its contents. Former Assembly speaker Ahmad Al-Saadoun said the prime minister must come out publicly to say that what he told Sheikh Ahmad about the video was true, and accordingly must resign or deny the report. He said that the issue of the video has been festering for the last five months and it is not the right of Sheikh Ahmad to keep the issue within the ruling family. Former opposition MP Abdulrahman Al-Anjari said that the Kuwaiti people want only to know the truth and that the prime minister is required “politically and morally to tell the truth to the Kuwaiti people”. He said the video contained very dangerous plots between sides whose concern is only to steal the wealth of the country and get involved in the political system. He added that if the leaked information is true, “this could be high treason”.

A Lebanese vendor takes out juice bottles from a refrigerator plastered with a sign that reads in Arabic ‘Please do not put explosives near the shop, because more than half of the merchandise is on credit. Thank you’ at the entrance of his shop on the highway of the Christian dominated city of Jounieh north of Beirut yesterday. — AFP

Kuwait boosts fuel to Egypt Pressures force Tunisian women to fake... Continued from Page 1 But conservative attitudes persist, and for many Tunisian men marrying a virgin remains a priority, hence the rising demand for hymen restorations. For Tarek Belhadj Mohamed, a sociologist, such male attitudes reflect the “hypocrisy” of Tunisian society, which he said refuses to recognise the change in behaviour of a large section of the population. Research by psychoanalyst Nedra Ben Smail indicates that just five percent of Tunisian young women are not worried about losing their virginity before marriage, while more than 75 percent of women appearing to be virgins on their wedding night have had the operation. “The Tunisian way of life seems

modern and open, but the reality is different: Our society and even our ruling elite is in theory tolerant on the question of virginity, but when it affects them personally, virginity is a primordial condition for marriage,” said Belhadj Mohamed. “Virginity certifies a woman’s validity in our society where her purpose is essentially sexual and reproductive, while men have to ‘train’ so that they are sexually mature when they get married,” he argued. He called the hymen operation a form of “discrimination towards women”. Salima agrees, despite having consented to the operation herself, saying she was forced into it by “the hypocrisy of men and of our society”. The young woman decided one day that she would be honest with her

boyfriend, whom she had not slept with, and told him she was not a virgin. “But as soon as he knew, he refused to marry and did everything he could to get me into his bed. That’s the way Tunisian men think. A woman who has had sex before marriage is just a slut and can’t be a good mother!” Another young woman, Sabra, believes unmarried women should have the right to a sex life just like the men, and that virginity is never a guarantee of fidelity. But the 27-yearold also chose to lie and yield to social pressures, rather than run the risk of remaining single. “If I had told my husband that I wasn’t a virgin, he would never have agreed to marry me. And it’s the same for many women in Tunisia.” — AFP

Continued from Page 1 The new contracts, signed with Egypt’s General Petroleum Corporation, are valid until the end of 2016 and based on global market prices, KPC official Nasser Al-Mudaf told KUNA. Mudaf, who runs KPC’s global marketing division, added that KPC was willing to sign additional contracts with Egypt to supply cooking gas and fuel oil within the next two months and that these would also be based on international prices. Kuwait is also considering using Egyptian refineries to process Kuwaiti oil as well as using shipping facilities in the country, Mudaf said. Egyptian Oil Minister Sherif Ismail told Reuters in February that Egypt would need to import an additional $1 billion of petroleum products and secure significant natural gas supplies to meet energy needs for the summer. The Gulf Arab states of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, war y of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, gave Egypt billions of dollars in aid, including oil, after the ousting of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. In July last year Kuwait pledged $4 bil-

lion to Egypt, with a $2 billion central bank deposit, a $1 billion grant and $1 billion in oil products. This was separate from oil supply contracts which Kuwait has had with Egypt for years and which were due for renewal. Separately, a rapid growth in US oil production combined with potentially weaker global demand present a downside risk to Gulf oil output and prices, the International Monetary Fund warned yesterday. But despite an expected drop in their current account surpluses, most Gulf Cooperation Council economies continue to have “substantial buffers” to cope with shortlived price shocks, the IMF said in its World Economic Outlook. And economic growth in most of the oil-rich GCC economies is to hover near the rates registered last year, with Saudi Arabia’s largest Arab economy expanding by 4.1 percent in 2014, compared to 3.8 percent in 2013, it said. “Faster-than-expected growth in the US oil supply and lingering risks of weaker-than-expected global oil demand because of a slowdown in either emerging markets or advanced economies present downside risks to oil prices and GCC production,” it said.




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Platinum strike will hasten restructuring By Ed Stoddard and Jan Harvey s a strike by South African platinum miners enters its eleventh week, the likelihood that employers will bow to demands for better pay is receding and a drastic overhaul of the loss-making industry is looking more inevitable. Faced with the tough bargaining stance of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the companies appear increasingly likely to close or sell mines that are bleeding cash while they lie idle. Before the strike began, around half of the country’s platinum shafts were losing money because of rising energy and labour costs and waning demand for the metal, used mainly in jewellery and in catalytic converters for cars. To pacify AMCU, Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin would have to double entry-level pay over the next three years to 12,500 rand ($1,200) a month - a demand they flatly refuse. The industry has idled some production to shore up margins, but held back from tougher cuts for fear of a political backlash that could compromise its wider interests. But the miners’ strike, the longest and most damaging in South Africa in decades, has now cost the industry over $1 billion in lost revenue and there is a growing sense that the companies have little to lose. Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) already reconfigured the five mines it operates near the platinum belt town of Rustenburg into three, but they were still losing money. Mark Cutifani, the chief executive of Amplats parent company Anglo American, told Reuters last week it could divest some of its South African platinum operations. Asked if Rustenburg faced a bigger risk of closure or potential sale than other Amplats mines, Cutifani said “Absolutely.” Their closure could see around 22,000 or more jobs lost. Amplats made a first attempt at restructuring last year, with planned cuts of up to 14,000 jobs, but it largely foundered on fierce resistance from AMCU and the government. Selling many mines to new owners could give the industry more leeway to cut the costs that make much of South Africa’s platinum unprofitable to extract. “The strike has the potential to have beneficial long-term consequences for the platinum industry as a whole,” Credit Suisse analyst Tom Kendall said. “It is steadily resulting in a drawing down of refined inventories and has the potential to lead, eventually, to a more settled labour environment and a supply base that is ‘right-sized’ to fit demand growth.”


Hardship Platinum may follow the gold industry, which used a three-week strike in 1987 involving 340,000 workers as the pretext to initiate a painful restructuring that resulted in tens of thousands of job cuts over the next two decades. In 1970, South Africa accounted for almost 80 percent of world gold production and on the eve of the 1987 strike it employed over 500,000 miners. In 2013, the country produced less than 6 percent, according to Thomson Reuters GFMS, and the sector now only employs around 140,000 workers. Platinum’s decline will not be as dramatic. The ore is not as deep and costly to reach and South Africa still sits on around 80 percent of known reserves of the white metal. But prospects for the sector’s mostly semi-literate migrant labour force look grim. The companies have offered pay increases of up to 9 percent, above inflation at 5.9 percent, and say they cannot afford more. The average miner has eight dependents, meaning even above-inflation wage increases often do little to end hardship. The workers are drawn mostly from rural, subsistence farming backgrounds with low skills that also hamper efforts to improve productivity in the mines. The strike has already led to 600,000 ounces of production losses. But platinum prices have remained depressed because of poor demand in Europe, where diesel engines which require a high platinum content in their converters are widely used. Prices of the metal are currently 1.3 percent lower than on the eve of the walkout on Jan 23. This is in part because producers built up stockpiles in advance, while end-users were well prepared after learning the hard way about South Africa’s vulnerability to supply outages. “It’s been a notable feature of the stoppage so far that automotive and industrial users have been apparently little troubled. We have seen no evidence of ‘panic buying’ so far,” said Credit Suisse’s Kendall. Most major European car companies have platinum supplies locked in until at least the end of 2015, industry sources say. Buying Opportunities Analysts forecast a smaller market platinum deficit this year than last, due to an expected drop in investment demand, which soared in 2013 with the launch of Absa Capital’s platinum-backed exchange-traded fund, NewPlat ETF. The platinum mining industry is already shrinking. Amplats, Implats and Lonmin collectively saw their labour forces fall to 134,000 at the end of 2013 from 145,000 two years earlier. Output fell over that period by 15 percent to 4.12 million ounces, according to refiner Johnson Matthey. —Reuters

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Northside feted in tour of poetry, song By Michael Roddy ot many city tours start off at what once was one of Europe’s most notorious redlight districts, then pass by a former sweat-shop laundry run by the Catholic Church, but all that and more fits in to a sightseeing jaunt on Dublin’s gritty Northside. The Five Lamps Festival bus tour gave a Northsider’s eye view of an Irish capital that has had its ups and downs but has always celebrated itself in song and poetry - in this case poems collected in a new volume called “If Ever You Go”. “It’s a different look at Dublin,” said Roisin Lonergan, who organised the one-off tour on Sunday that used one of the screaming-green “Paddywagon” tourist buses to ferry a busload of mostly Dublin residents from place to place. “The Paddywagon tours normally do backpackers,” Lonergan, who teaches in a Northside college and runs a local festival named for a fivelamped light fixture across from her school. “I thought it would be fun to have it full of ‘Paddies’ for once.” Singer-guitarist Macdara Yeates, 23, a Northside native, and piper Patrick


Cummins, 23, who is from the city’s posher Southside but is part of the band Skipper’s Alley with Yeates, making it all right for him to come along, provided the jigs, songs, banter and the poetry readings. The poems came from a volume published by Ireland’s Dedalus Press released under the auspices of Dublin’s “One City, One Book” programme which encourages everyone in the city, visitors and residents alike, to take part in discussions, readings and analysis of a specific book chosen for the year. Two years ago it was James Joyce’s “The Dubliners” volume of short stories, last year it was James Plunkett’s novel “Strumpet City” inspired by a famous lockout of 20,000 workers in Dublin in 1913, and this year it is poems collected in “If Ever You Go” that celebrate the city, warts and all. The Northside bus tour was just one of a year-long programme that includes poetry readings, walking tours, bike tours and even a walk through Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery to visit the graves of noted poets and writers. The tour of the Northside - so named because it is on the north bank of the River Liffey which bisects Dublin - focused on an area

known for its working class population and also for crime and drug use, but which has been home to many great Irish poets and writers, including the playwright Sean O’Casey. “Buying Winkles” by poet Paula Meehan captured the local colour and dialect as a girl describes buying winkles from a winkle seller, sitting outside the Rosebowl Bar, “with her pails of winkles before her”. “I’d ask her again to show me the right way to do ‘it’/She’d take a pin from her shawl/’Open the eyelid so, stick it in till you feel a grip/Then slither ‘im out, gently mind you’,” Cummins recited, reading the poem from the collection. “The language they use in Dublin is very specific, especially in inner city Dublin the language is almost poetic,” he added at the end. Colourful Past Yeates meanwhile had reminded passengers of the city’s colourful past when Montgomery Street, renamed Foley Street, was one of the most notorious red-light districts in Europe, serving dockworkers from the nearby port and British soldiers garrisoned in Dublin to keep the rebellious Irish in check. The area has

been leveled and rebuilt but Yeates sang a bawdy Irish ballad which celebrates “the Monto” not only as a haunt for dockworkers and soldiers, but also, in fanciful Irish fashion, as having been visited by the Tsar of Russia, the King of Prussia and the Queen of England. The strains of the comic song had hardly faded before the bus took a turn down a street past one of the infamous Magdalene laundries, where “fallen” women were made to work long hours for almost no pay. It also passed by the ruins of a synagogue standing as a reminder to a once thriving Jewish community that has vanished from the neighbourhood. “You can grow up in Dublin and still not know much about it,” said Kevin Conroy, 69, a retired Dublin businessman and a published poet who wished the tour had provided more history of some of the places, like the synagogue, along the way. But Cathy Power, political adviser to a member of Ireland’s parliament, said she’d come for the poetry but got a treat when the tour wound up in glorious sunshine in the vast Phoenix Park. “I’ve enjoyed it because I haven’t been in this garden for years,” she said. — Reuters

Tit-for-tat gestures to replace Mideast talks By Crispian Balmer f Middle East peace talks collapse this month, lawfare rather than warfare looks likely to fill the void, with the Palestinians set to confront Israel on the diplomatic stage rather than in any popular uprising. The Israelis will seek to retaliate in such a way as to avoid an international firestorm, analysts and diplomats say, still leaving open the vague possibility of a negotiated end to their seemingly perennial conflict at a later stage in history. After eight months of largely fruitless discussion aimed at achieving peace, the Israelis and Palestinians are at stalemate, prompting an increasingly glum US Secretary of State John Kerry to call for a “reality check”. The two sides have until the end of April to step back from the brink, with their row focused on how to proceed and not on the core issues which have stymied previous peace efforts, such as the status of Jerusalem or the fate of Palestinian refugees. But if the deadlock becomes a full blown failure, Palestinian leaders have already made clear they will seek to further their bid for nationhood via unilateral moves to join various international bodies and United Nations agencies. President Mahmoud Abbas signed 15 conventions last week, with around 50 others being primed, including a possible application to join the International Criminal Court. “Us going to the United Nations is a paradigm shift from our side, (a sign) that the bilateral talks might not be the only answer for ending occupation,” said Mohammed Shtayyeh, a senior member of Abbas’s Fatah movement. On Monday, Shtayyeh said moves to join UN bodies would be carried out in “phases”, suggesting the Palestinians would look to increase pressure on Israel and Washington in stages rather than in a single blitz.


Counter Suit Kerry said last month that if Abbas applied to join UN agencies, “he’s automatically in them tomorrow”. He added that if the Palestinians went down this path, they could “make life miserable for Israel”. The biggest threat for Israel comes in the shape of the ICC, with the Palestinians confident they could prosecute Israel there for alleged war crimes tied to the occupation of lands seized in 1967, including East Jerusalem and the West Bank. However, the legal fight might not be a one-way street. Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, head of thenationalist Jewish Home party, has threatened counter suits tied to rocket fire out of Gaza - a Palestinian territory which is ruled by the Islamist group Hamas, but which receives financing from the Abbas administration in the West Bank. “If (Abbas) intends to sue Israel, he needs to know that a personal suit on war crimes that are committed daily by him and his treasury awaits him,” Bennett told Army Radio on Sunday. Another minister, who declined to be named because of the sensitive timing, said that if the talks failed, the government should annex some West Bank settlements, which are home to 350,000 Israelis and are deemed illegal by most countries. Rapid settlement building on land Palestinians want for a future state has dogged successive talks and any unilateral Israeli annexation would send shockwaves around the world. The minister said such a move would only concern settlement blocs near the 1967 lines, adding that the land grab would be needed to prevent a single, JewishArab state slowly emerging from the rubble of decades of conflict and failed talks. “The most important thing for me is I do not want to live in a bi-national country ... Since there is no way to absorb four million Palestinians, we need to separate from them.”

Children of Palestinian prisoners pull iron shackles tied to men dressed as Israeli soldiers in a scene that alludes to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, during a march by Hamas supporters in solidity with Palestinian prisoners at AlAwda square in Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip yesterday. — AP Building Pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his government is readying retaliatory moves should the Palestinians walk away from the talks, but has not given precise details. “He has a wide range of options. Administrative, economic, you name it. None of these measures might be very dramatic by themselves, but the combination could be painful,” said Ehud Yaari, an Israel-based fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “I think he will try to resist annexations, but if the Palestinians declare open season on Israel in all forums, and go to the ICC, then he will face increasing Israeli pressure to do so,” he told Reuters. While opinion polls show more than 60 percent of Israelis support the “two state solution”, some senior figures openly back the creation of a bi-national state, or a confederation. “Sooner or later we will have a single state,” said Moshe Arens, a former foreign and defence minister, who also served as Israeli ambassador to Washington. “This really depends on the majority of Palestinians wanting to be a part of Israel.” An opinion poll last December by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey said 56 percent of Palestinians no longer believed a Palestinian state could be created, with 32 percent supporting a single state where Arabs and Jews had equality. Uprising The last time a concerted peace push fell apart, in 2000, violence soon spiraled out of control, coalescing into the second Palestinian Intifada. The uprising lasted more than four years, killing

more than 4,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis and wrecking the economy in Palestinian self-ruled areas. Kerry warned last year that failure this time around could lead to another outbreak of bloodletting. However Ghassan Khatib, an academic at Birzeit University in the West Bank and a former government minister, said polls for his Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre showed support for armed struggle stood at under 30 percent - its lowest level since polling on the issue started 17 years ago. By contrast, in 2001, some 85 percent of Palestinians supported military operations against Israel. As with the Israeli public, most Palestinians had little hope invested in the Kerry talks, meaning there will be no sense of wrecked expectations in the event of rupture. “The current leadership is not at all interested in resuming violence. What happened last time around was a big lesson for everyone,” said Khatib. Some Jerusalem diplomats have questioned whether an ageing Abbas might simply decide to shut down his cash-strapped Palestinian Authority in case of failure, forcing the Israelis to take over the costly running of Palestinian towns and cities. Such a dramatic decision could not be made alone by Abbas. He would need the endorsement of an army of officials whose livelihood depends on the Western-backed PA, meaning they all have a strong, vested interest in seeing it limp on. “We had three years without negotiations before this last attempt and I think we will simply go back to a similar situation. Life will continue more or less as it was,” said Khatib, a veteran observer of Palestinian affairs. — Reuters



Hat-trick hero Destro banned

Dynamo sack Petrescu

Lee to play on until 2016

MILAN: Roma striker Mattia Destro was handed a four-game ban by league officials yesterday, ending a dream weekend in which the Italy World Cup hopeful scored a hat-trick for the Giallorossi. Destro claimed all three goals in Roma’s 3-1 away to Cagliari on Sunday but fell victim to trial by television following a request by the disciplinary commission of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC). As Destro tried to tackle Davide Astori from behind, his hand came up to catch the Cagliari defender in the face. Astori was booked for retaliating, but video evidence suggested Destrowho escaped a caution-was at fault. A statement by Serie A officials affirmed Destro had been “caught by television” carrying out “an act of violence not seen by the referee” and would be “banned for three games”. The 23-year-old striker, who is hoping to be part of Cesare Prandelli’s World Cup squad, was handed a separate one-game ban after being cautioned for simulation in the box three minutes before half-time. That yellow card sparked an automatic one-game ban but Destro will now miss Roma’s next four league encounters, at home to Atalanta, away to Fiorentina, at home to Milan and away to Catania.—AFP

MOSCOW: Dynamo Moscow have sacked coach Dan Petrescu, the Russian Premier League side opting to end the 46-year-old former Chelsea and Romania defender’s 20-month spell in the capital following a poor run of results since the winter break. Struggling for consistency all season, a shock 4-0 defeat to bottom side Anzhi Makhachkala in Dagestan on Sunday left fourthplaced Dynamo eight points adrift of league leaders and city rivals Lokomotiv Moscow with just six matches remaining. “After the game against Anzhi, the Dynamo directors decided it was time to change the head coach,” club sporting director Guram Adzhoev told reporters yesterday. “At today’s meeting, with Dan Petrescu present, we told the team that we had ended his contract through mutual consent. We would like to thank him for his work and wish him all the best in his future career.” Adzhoev added that former assistant Nikolai Kovardayev would act as caretaker manager while Amkar Perm coach Stanislav Cherchesov had been earmarked as Petrescu’s permanent replacement. “We are negotiating with Cherchesov and I hope we can unveil him as our new coach in the near future,” Adzhoev said.—Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s world number one badminton player Lee Chong Wei has ruled out retirement and decided to carry on for two more years until the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The 31-year-old had hinted at retirement earlier this year after winning his 10th Malaysia Open title in Kuala Lumpur, saying it would be his last national championships. Lee said he arrived at the decision to play on after a chat with the country’s sports minister in the wake of his third Superseries triumph of the year at the Indian Open. “Our Sports Minister is very supportive of me and has asked me to persevere until the 2016 Olympic Games. I digested what he said and I gave him my word to keep on playing,” Lee was quoted as saying by the Malaysian Star newspaper. “This year, I will focus on the majors (Thomas Cup, Commonwealth Games, World Championships and Asian Games). “I will try my best to maintain my form and hang on for another two years.” Lee won his second Olympic silver medal at the London Games in 2012 after another titanic battle with his nemesis, Lin Dan of China. On Sunday, he beat another Chinese, world number two Chen Long, 21-13, 21-17 in the final at the Indian Open. —Reuters

Yankees down Orioles

ST. LOUIS: Cardinals’ Yadier Molina hits a three-run double during the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds. — AP

Cardinals see off Reds ST. LOUIS: Michael Wacha outpitched Tony Cingrani in a rematch of young power arms and the St. Louis Cardinals got a three-run double from Yadier Molina in the first inning to beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-3 in their National League home opener Monday. The Cardinals bunched three hits and a walk over the first five hitters to take the early lead against Cingrani (0-1), who allowed two hits in seven scoreless innings six days earlier against St. Louis at home. Matt Holliday and Allen Craig added RBIs in the seventh. Wacha (1-0) hadn’t allowed a run in 21 career innings against the Reds before back-to-back doubles by Brayan Pena and pinchhitter Roger Bernadina in the fifth. The NL championship series Most Valuable Player benefited from two double-play balls in six stingy innings and has permitted one run in 13 2-3 innings his first two starts. INTERLEAGUE ROCKIES 8, WHITE SOX 1 Jordan Lyles used his arm and bat to lead Colorado over the Chicago White Sox in his home debut for the Rockies. Lyles (2-0) pitched 6 2-3 effective innings, scattering five hits and walking two. He also had a career-best three hits and drove in two runs. He joined the Rockies from Houston in a trade for Dexter Fowler last winter. Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki homered for the Rockies. Chicago right-hander Felipe Paulino (0-1) allowed six earned runs on nine hits and four walks in 4 1-3 innings in his return to Denver, where he pitched for the Rockies in 2011 before being plagued by arm troubles the last two years. — AP

NEW YORK: Derek Jeter gave Yangervis Solarte some assistance with Yankee Stadium tradition, then the rookie helped make the captain a winner in his final home opener Monday as New York beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 in the American League. Jeter, who will retire at the end of the 2014 season, doubled high off the left-field wall and scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s single in the fifth. Hiroki Kuroda (1-1) went 6 1-3 sharp innings in the Yankees’ 112th opener in New York. Playing in his first game in the Bronx, Solarte needed Jeter to tell him to wave to the group of fans known as the Bleacher Creatures when they chanted his name during the pregame roll call. Jeter’s double-play grounder back to Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez (0-2) then scored Solarte in the third inning for the Yankees’ first run. Shawn Kelley pitched a perfect ninth for his first career save. After the game, the Yankees said closer David Robertson would be put on the disabled list with a strained groin. RED SOX 5, RANGERS 1 John Lackey pitched seven strong innings and Jackie Bradley Jr. singled in two runs as Boston ended a three-game losing streak with a win over Texas. The Red Sox never lost more than three straight last year when they won the World Series. They avoided dropping their first four home games for the first time since 1984. Lackey (2-0) allowed an unearned run and five hits in seven innings. Chris Capuano pitched the eighth and Koji Uehara escaped a ninth-inning jam in a nonsave situation. Tanner Scheppers (0-1) allowed Bradley’s runscoring hits in the second and fourth, and Boston added three runs in the eighth. Bradley, Mike Napoli and A.J. Pierzynski each had three singles for the Red Sox. ROYALS 4, RAYS 2 Jason Vargas took a shutout into the ninth inning and Alcides Escobar hit a three-run double as Kansas City beat Tampa Bay in a game that included two significant injuries. Rays starter Matt Moore (0-2) came out in the fifth inning with a sore left elbow. The Major League Baseball All-Star lefty grimaced after throwing a pitch to Norichika Aoki and was immediately removed by manager Joe Maddon. Two innings later, Royals second baseman Omar Infante was hit in the face by a pitch from reliever Heath Bell and also left the game. Vargas (1-0) allowed four hits in eight-plus innings, lowering his ERA to 1.20 in two starts. He lost his shutout bid when Ben Zobrist homered on his second pitch in the ninth. Greg Holland earned his third save, but not before giving up an RBI single to pinch-hitter Matt Joyce. Escobar was 1 for 19 before his bases-loaded double off the left field wall with two outs in the seventh. Evan Longoria had three hits for the

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NEW YORK: Yankees third baseman Yangervis Solarte hits an RBI single in the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium. — AP Rays, who have lost seven straight in Kansas City. ANGELS 9, ASTROS 1 CJ Wilson pitched eight solid innings and Howie Kendrick and Raul Ibanez each drove in three runs as Los Angeles beat Houston. The Angels took three of four from Houston after starting the season 0-3. Kole Calhoun homered off Houston starter Jarred Cosart (1-1). Wilson (1-1) yielded four hits and a run while fanning seven.

ATHLETICS 8, TWINS 3 Yoenis Cespedes proved he can play through a injured right heel, giving Oakland a spark with a pair of RBIs that helped spoil Minnesota’s home opener. Cespedes, who has been hobbling around the last few days with the injury, hit a double in the second inning for the first run against Kevin Correia (0-1) and later had a sacrifice fly. Moss added a two-run single in the third and Derek Norris homered in the sixth. Scott Kazmir (2-0) allowed three runs and six hits. — AP



Logano holds on for Sprint Cup win

AUGUSTA: Masters champion Craig Stadler (left) and his son, Kevin Stadler, who is playing in his first Masters, share a laugh while holding a joint father-son press conference. — AP

Father and son gearing up for historic Masters AUGUSTA: Kevin Stadler might be playing in the Masters for the first time, but he’s already showing his old man a thing or two. Such as the best way to get to the Augusta National media center. Craig Stadler went through the main door for a joint news conference with his son Monday, which is actually the long way to go. Kevin, meanwhile, slipped in through a back entrance, like most players who turn up for interviews at the building alongside the first fairway. “How’d you come in?” Craig asked his son, looking a bit surprised when he turned to see Kevin standing behind him. “Through the door,” Kevin replied dryly, very much the child poking fun at his dad. All kidding aside, the Stadlers are gearing up for a historic week at Augusta National. For the first time, a father and son will play in the same Masters - Craig, who says he’ll probably be teeing it up for the 38th and final time, and Kevin, making his debut in the opening major of the season. “If and when I do ... bow out, I can’t think of a better way to do it than playing with your son in the same tournament,” the elder Stadler said. “It’s awesome.” Sixty-year-old Craig won the Masters in 1982, beating Dan Pohl in a playoff, and has been back every year since. Kevin, now 34, used to come each year as a child to cheer on his dad Now, he’s got a spot of his own after winning at Phoenix two months ago for his first PGA Tour victory. “It’s going to be really, really fun to be on the inside of the ropes,” Kevin said. “I feel like I know this place pretty well but I’ve never, ever played it. So it’s going to be a blast.” Kevin, whose parents are divorced, has conceded the relationship with his father isn’t as close as it once was, and there were times Monday when he seemed hesitant to turn this into a totally feel-good story. But the pair went out for a practice round - which was cut short after only two holes when heavy rain brought a halt to play - and they’re planning to play together again Tuesday, when the forecast called for much-improved conditions. And if they’re paired together in the first two rounds, that would be just fine with Kevin. “I wouldn’t have any issues with that,” he said, smiling. Besides, the younger Stadler is making a name for himself, after a lifetime of being compared with his father (right down to their matching physiques, with both listed as 5-foot-10, 250 pounds by the PGA Tour).

Flames top Devils NEWARK: Karri Ramo made 31 saves to record his second NHL shutout as the Calgary Flames topped the New Jersey Devils 1-0 on Monday, dealing a huge blow to the Devils’ playoff hopes. Mark Giordano scored for Calgary, which has already been eliminated from the playoff race. Cory Schneider stopped 21 of 22 shots for the Devils, who are three points behind Columbus for the last playoff spot in the East. New Jersey’s loss allowed the New York Rangers to clinch a playoff berth. Neither the Flames nor Devils scored until Giordano’s power-play goal 23 seconds into the third as both teams were unable to take advantage of opportunities. DUCKS 3, CANUCKS 0 John Gibson made 18 saves to record a shutout in his NHL debut as Anaheim eliminated Vancouver from playoff contention. Daniel Winnik, Kyle Palmieri and Matt Beleskey scored for Anaheim, which is three points ahead of San Jose for first place in the Pacific Division. The 20-year-old Gibson wasn’t tested much but made a huge save on Niklas Jensen to preserve the shutout with about eight minutes gone in the third. Eddie Lack stopped 20 shots in his 19th straight start for Vancouver since the Olympic break WILD 1, JETS 0 Charlie Coyle scored in the second period and Ilya Bryzgalov made 24 saves for his fourth shutout of the season as Minnesota defeated Winnipeg. Coyle’s one-timer off a pass from Zach Parise at 1:05 of the second came just after a penalty to Winnipeg defenseman Mark Stuart had expired. The Wild closed in on a playoff berth in the Western Conference with the win. Minnesota would need to lose its final three games and Phoenix would need to win four straight for the Wild to miss the playoffs. The Jets’ Michael Hutchinson made 16 saves in his first career NHL start with regular backup Al Montoya still dealing with a lower-body injury. — AP

Kevin won four times on the second-tier Nationwide Tour and appears poised for a breakout at the highest level. He has made the cut in 10 of 11 events this year, is 14th in the FedEx Cup, and has already eclipsed his career high for earnings in a season with nearly $1.7 million. “He’s become just a wonderfully consistent player and has his own identity and everything else, which he should,” Craig said. “He’s worked hard for it and he’s earned it. Good for him, and I’m just going to kind of stand on the sidelines and watch, which is all I want to do, and just be supportive and root him on and hope more Phoenixes happen in the future. A lot more.” In fact, the proud father wouldn’t be at all surprised if Kevin made a serious run at the green jacket on his very first try. The younger Stadler is quite accurate with his irons, which should come in handy with all the dips and bumps on those tricky Augusta greens. “That’s why I actually love his game for this golf course,” Craig said. “You do have to hit the ball high with the irons a little bit. And as far as I’m concerned, and he might disagree, but I think he’s just a wonderful iron player. I think that’s definitely the strength of his game, and having your iron game down here makes this course so much easier.” Even after getting just a taste of their practice round, father and son managed to trade some good-natured jabs. “I bogeyed 1 and birdied 2 and he parred them both,” Craig said. “I was tied after two, so I was happy.” “That birdie I made on 2 doesn’t count, huh?” Kevin countered. “You didn’t make that putt,” Craig said. “Did you?” “Of course I did,” Kevin said, drawing laughter from the room. Craig, who hasn’t made the cut at Augusta since 2007 or been a serious contender in more than two decades, is certainly appreciative of the chance to end his Masters career with his son at his side. “Thanks to Kev here, I got back to the press room for the first time in about 20 years,” the elder Stadler quipped. “I’m so proud of the way he’s played the last three, four years. He’s been close a zillion times and finally got it done, so it’s a very special week.” Already, it seems, the Masters is smoothing out some of the bumps in their relationship. — AP

NHL results/standings Calgary 1, New Jersey 0; Minnesota 1, Winnipeg 0; Anaheim 3, Vancouver 0. Western Conference Pacific Division W L OTL GF GA PTS Anaheim 51 20 8 254 202 110 San Jose 49 21 9 239 192 107 Los Angeles 45 28 6 197 166 96 Phoenix 36 28 14 209 221 86 Vancouver 35 33 11 187 213 81 Calgary 34 38 7 201 228 75 Edmonton 28 42 9 197 261 65 Central Division St. Louis 52 19 7 245 177 111 Colorado 50 21 7 239 209 107 Chicago 45 19 15 259 207 105 Minnesota 41 26 12 196 194 94 Dallas 38 29 11 227 221 87 Nashville 35 32 11 198 231 81 Winnipeg 35 35 10 220 233 80 Eastern Conference Atlantic Division Boston 53 18 7 251 167 113 Montreal 45 27 7 212 199 97 Tampa Bay 42 27 9 229 211 93 Detroit 37 27 14 211 222 88 Toronto 38 33 8 229 248 84 Ottawa 33 31 14 226 261 80 Florida 28 43 8 188 258 64 Buffalo 21 48 9 150 234 51 Metropolitan Division Pittsburgh 50 24 5 240 197 105 NY Rangers 43 31 5 212 190 91 Philadelphia 40 29 9 220 220 89 Columbus 40 31 7 219 207 87 New Jersey 34 29 16 191 201 84 Washington 35 30 13 222 236 83 Carolina 34 33 11 196 215 79 NY Islanders 31 36 11 215 258 73 Note: Overtime losses (OTL) are worth one point in the standings and are not included in the loss column (L).

FORT WORTH: With a significant lead and the laps winding down, Joey Logano kept thinking about getting to the white flag. Less than a half-lap from finally seeing that wave at Texas on Monday, a caution changed everything - though only for a few extra laps. “My heart dropped. I got really angry instantly,” said Logano, who was in the third turn on the 333rd of 334 scheduled laps when the caution happened. “You’ve got to go out there and win at that point, figure out how to do it.” Logano still got the victory, just in a more exciting fashion. He passed Jeff Gordon on the last of 340 laps after a green-white-checkered finish in the Sprint Cup series version of overtime. When Kurt Busch slammed into the wall, spewing debris on the track, Logano’s 2.2-second lead over teammate Brad Keselowski was gone and he didn’t get to take the white flag that would have guaranteed no extra laps. On the ensuing pit stop, Gordon took only two tires and exited first. Both Team Penske drivers took four tires, and Logano got a splash of fuel. But Keselowski missed a chance to become this season’s first two-time winner when he was penalized for speeding on pit road and finished 15th. “I was just trying to get a little too much on pit road,” Keselowski said. “We’re in it for wins. We’re not in it for second. Second or 15th is the same for us.” The 23-year-old Logano got his fourth career victory, and Jeff Gordon took over the series point lead from Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had an early crash. “He crossed over and got into the back of me pretty good,” Gordon said of the last lap with Logano. “At that point, I was just thinking, ‘I just want to finish.’ Looked out my mirror, those guys were racing hard behind me. A great, great second-place finish for me.” Here are five other things that happened in the rain-delayed race at Texas: 7 WINNERS FOR 7 RACES: Logano became the seventh different winner in as many Sprint Cup races this season, when new rules for the championship Chase put an increased emphasis on winning. Team Penske joined Stewart-Haas Racing as the only teams with multiple winners this season. JUNIOR’S MISTAKE: Earnhardt finished last for the first time in seven seasons with an early mistake that also made a long day for Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson. Only 13 laps into the race, Earnhardt drove his No. 88 Chevrolet halfway into the rain-saturated infield grass before it

FORT WORTH: Joey Logano shoots off pistols celebrating winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway. — AP

shot across the track and slammed into the wall in a fiery crash. Debris and mud from that damaged Johnson’s windshield and front left side. “It was kind of surreal what happened,” said Johnson, who later had a right rear tire issue and finished 25th. Earnhardt tweeted: “That wasn’t fun. Sorry 2 the fans of the 88 team. Feel bad for my guys and the 48 team also. Made a mistake there that was costly for every1.” The last time Earnhardt finished 43rd was the 2007 fall race at Phoenix - a span of 222 races. HARVICK’S BLOWN ENGINE: Kevin Harvick has finished 36th or worse in four of the five races since winning at Phoenix the second week of the season. He started third at Texas, but completed only 28 laps because of a blown engine right after a restart and wound up 42nd. “It’s frustrating. I don’t know what else I can say,” Harvick said. “I didn’t get any indication that anything was going wrong.” FLAPPIN’ IN THE WIND: The race started with 10 caution laps to make

sure the 11/2-mile high-banked track was ready for racing after being postponed Sunday by rain. There were jet dryers on the track during those laps, and the high-pressure air from those affected the hood and roof flaps on several cars. Keselowski made four trips down pit road after his hood popped up and his crew made repairs. “It was one of those freak deals,” Keselowski said. Gordon said one of the jet dryers “about blew all of us over.” NASCAR put all the cars in their original starting spots. “I’m not sure what’s more odd, if that happened or NASCAR allowed those guys to repair that thing,” Gordon said. “Had a piece of concrete fly through my car once at Martinsville. I don’t ever remember them letting me repair the car.” STEWART LEADING: Tony Stewart was the polesitter and led laps for the first time season, and not only the first 10 laps during that competition caution to start the race. He 74 of the first 76 laps, and went on to a 10thplace finish. Those also made him the career leader for laps led at Texas Motor Speedway with 801. — AP

FRANCE: French swimmer Yannick Agnel (second right) poses with his gold medal as he celebrates winning the men’s 400m freestyle final, flanked by second-placed Tunisia’s Ahmed Mathlouthi (second left) third-placed France’s Anthony Pannier (left) and fourth-placed France’s Damien Joly (right) during the French swimming championships in Chartres. — AFP

Olympic call might fire Genia for Rio Olympics MELBOURNE: A tap on the shoulder might be all Will Genia needs to fire himself up for a bid to represent Australia in rugby sevens at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the Wallabies scrumhalf said. Rugby makes its Olympic debut at Rio in the sevens format and places on the Games squad are likely to be fiercely contested among regular team members and hopefuls in the 15-man game. The 26-year-old Genia, one of the world’s top scrumhalves in a 55-cap career with the Wallabies, would need to sacrifice regular rugby straight after the 2015 World Cup in England to train hard and make himself available for sevens selection. “If I got given the opportunity, I’d love to go to the Rio Olympics,” Genia told Reuters in an interview. “That’d be special. That’s unbelievable that the sevens will be at the Olympics. If I was ever lucky enough to have that opportunity, that would be pretty special. “If someone said to me something about it, yeah, I would (try). You’d become an Olympian. That’s pretty big.” Despite permitting himself a brief moment to fantasise,

the Papua New Guinea-born number nine is wary about talking too far down the track, knowing the twists, turns and temptations that seasoned players confront when pondering their long-term career options. In the engine room of a once-mighty Super Rugby side that has stuttered to three wins and four losses early in the season, Genia is more focused on helping the Queensland Reds get their campaign back on track rather than representing Australia in any format. The Wallabies’ first season under his former Reds coach Ewen McKenzie also gave Genia a new, if not very welcome, perspective of his place in the game, when he was dropped to the bench for tests against New Zealand and South Africa last year. Though out of form and battling niggles from a knee injury sustained during the British and Irish Lions series, the demotion was controversial for a player regarded a successor to Australia’s great scrumhalf George Gregan. Genia inevitably bounced back to be reinstated in the

Wallabies lineup for a successful season-ending tour of Europe, but says he has not been in touch with McKenzie since. “I haven’t thought about it at all. Ewen will pick who he feels is playing well at the time and is going to do the job for him,” said Genia, who surrendered the number nine shirt to the ACT Brumbies’ Nic White last year before wresting it back. “To be honest, I haven’t thought about it. At the moment with the Reds, we’ve got a lot of work to do to catch up on the competition but also start firing on all cylinders to give us a chance of pushing further in the competition. “If I get picked, I get picked. If I don’t, I don’t.” CONFERENCE BOOST Australia play France in a three-test series in June, meaning the time for hopefuls to impress McKenzie with provincial level form is now. Genia has been solid without hitting the brilliant heights of his 2011 campaign, when he and mercurial halves partner Quade Cooper drove the Queensland team to the

championship with some breathtaking displays of skill and creativity. The Reds forwards have also battled to match their Australian rivals in the southern hemisphere tournament which also features South Africa and New Zealand teams, cutting Genia and Cooper’s time and space to weave their magic. A crunch match against last year’s finalists, the Brumbies, looms at home in Brisbane on Friday and a loss to the conference leaders would put the Reds’ hopes of making the playoffs on a knife edge. However, the more competitive Australian conference, with three local teams in the top six as the season approaches the halfway mark, bode well for the Wallabies’ international season, Genia said. “It’s obviously good for Australian rugby. Australia’s always been seen as the weak conference but if you look at the top six as it stands now... I think we’re doing well,” he said. After the France series, Australia will renew hostilities with New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina in the Rugby Championship.—Reuters


S P ORT S Photo of the day

Mo Farah races into unknown territory

Abdo Feghali performs at the Red Bull Show Run in Salmiya, Kuwait. —

Sri Lanka triumph party marred by player dispute COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s team flew home in triumph yesterday to a huge street party after winning the world Twenty20 tournament, but celebrations were marred by controversy over the retirements of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara. Tens of thousands of fans lined the street from the main international airport to downtown Colombo, a distance of 35 kilometres (21 miles), causing traffic chaos across the capital as the heroes passed by in a motorcade. Sangakkara and Jayawardene, both former skippers, told reporters at the airport there were serious disagreements about their retirement from T20 cricket. Jayawardene said his remarks to a local newspaper, that the tournament may be his final T20 appearance, had been taken as notice of his intention to retire, and based on that he had been criticised by a cricket board official. “I am disappointed and hurt that an official went public criticising us without first asking us whether we actually made those remarks,” he told reporters shortly after landing. “I agree with what he says,” Sangakkara added. Both said they had been uncertain whether they would play in the World T20 tournament until a few hours before they were due to leave for Bangladesh. Sources close to the players said they did not finalise their employment contracts with the cricket board until the eve of

their departure, following disputes between players and the board over pay and conditions. There was no immediate comment from the cricket board, but an official had earlier criticised both senior players for allegedly going public about their retirement plans without prior notice to the board. On the eve of the finals with India, the board announced a million dollar bonus for the team if it could finally shed its reputation for “choking” in major tournaments. Sri Lanka hosted but lost the last World T20 tournament in 2012, and were defeated in the final of the 2007 and 2011 50over World Cups. Sangakkara was in celebratory mood despite grumbles with the board. “It’s going to be a massive day,” he tweeted, along with photos of fans who mobbed the airport and the streets to greet him and the rest of the team. “Rain gods be kind.” The met office had forecast thunder showers in Colombo, but the weather was holding up as the team was driven at a snail’s pace to meet President Mahinda Rajapakse. Fans waved national flags and cheered as the team bus escorted by hundreds of motorcycles and cars passed by. It was the biggest street party since government forces crushed Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009. The victory on Sunday night in Dhaka came 18 years after Sri Lanka’s triumph in the 50-over World Cup, which had been followed by a series of defeats in the finals of major tournaments. — AFP

LONDON: Like many of the 30,000 who will toe the line at the London Marathon on Sunday, Mo Farah will do so with a certain amount of trepidation, vowing to follow the amateur’s mantra of “respect the distance, be patient and see where it takes me”. Farah’s ultimate target, however, is some way removed from the rest of the field as, in his first crack at the revered 26.2 mile distance, he is planning to take on and beat one of the best elite fields ever assembled. Four of the 10 fastest men ever - seven of the top 20 including 2.03.23 world record holder and 2012 London winner Wilson Kipsang, will race at a pace that Farah hopes, but is not yet certain, he can live with. “It’s completely different, track to road,” the world and Olympic 5,000 and 10,000 metres champion told a Tuesday news conference held in the shadow of Tower Bridge, the iconic halfway mark of the race. “When I’m training normally I know I can do reps of 5km or whatever it is but for the marathon it’s so much harder as you just don’t run those distances very often. “But I’ve learned a lot and am really looking forward to it. Now is the time to test myself and find out if I’m good at it or not.” “Good”, of course, is a relative term for a man with a sound claim to be Britain’s greatest-ever athlete. Such is the progress he has made over the last four years, with his superlative distance double among the highlights of the London Olympics, that expectation levels among the public have rocketed. Farah gave them a taster a year ago when he ran the first half of the London Marathon in a bid to gain some experience and familiarise himself with the course and logistics of the race. That went well enough, but another half-marathon outing in New York three weeks ago was not so smooth as he tripped early in the race and then collapsed unconscious after crossing the line in second place behind Kenya’s Geoffrey Mutai - who is also racing on Sunday. Farah, 31, brushed off the incident yesterday, saying the extra effort he had to put in to recover from his fall, combined with the cold weather, left him completely spent. “When you go down in a race it’s hard,” he said, “You’re already tired and it’s hard mentally. I was just trying to finish hard but I was seeing stars at the end. “It’s happened before, I did it after a cross country in 2009, so I wasn’t worried and I’ve just got a few scratches on my hip from the fall.” On Sunday Farah could face a dilemma as he tries to run the pace he thinks he can handle while possibly being drawn into a potentially disastrous breakaway if some of the African favourites, as is likely, set off at world record pace. “I think I’ll just go with the group and see what happens but I’ll try to be patient,” he said. “I know with my confidence from the track I should be up there but it’s the distance that’s the challenge. You have to respect the distance.” LONDON CALLING Farah’s presence has delivered a real buzz for home fans, who have not seen a British winner since Eamonn Martin in 1993 and fully expect Steve Jones’s 29-year-old British record of 2:07.13 to fall. Farah certainly has that mark in his sights. “That’s my main target,” he said. “I want to go after that British record then see what comes. “It’s going to be an incredible race, whatever happens - just look at the field.” Farah said he had taken heart from Kenenisa Bekele’s 2:05.03 debut win in Paris last week as the man who preceded him as world and Olympic double distance champion chalked up the seventh fastest debut ever. “That was a great time for his first marathon and it gives me great confidence but this is completely different to Paris,” said Farah, who won London’s mini-marathon three times as a teenager based in the south-west of the city having moved from Somalia as an eight-year-old. “He had nobody there to worry about, he went in with a different mind than me in London, which is by far the toughest field.”

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s T20 cricket World Cup winning team members wave to supporters as they travel in an open top bus during their victory parade upon the arrival from Dhaka. — AP

Tendulkar: Don’t crucify Yuvraj for T20 final flop MUMBAI: Batting great Sachin Tendulkar has come out strongly in support of the beleaguered Yuvraj Singh after the left-hander’s poor performance with the bat during India’s loss to Sri Lanka in the World Twenty20 final on Sunday. Yuvraj has been made something of a scapegoat for India’s defeat after he used up 21 deliveries to score 11 runs, which robbed his side of momentum towards the end of their innings. The 32-year-old, who hit England’s Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over in the 2007 World Twenty20 and was the architect of India’s 50-over World Cup win in 2011, looked a pale shadow of himself, even struggling to rotate the strike. “It is the unpredictable nature of the game that makes cricket such an exciting sport,” Tendulkar, who retired from the game last November, said in a post on his Facebook page. “As cricketers, we always enjoy the applause when we succeed but it is the support and encouragement from fans, during tough times, that we appreciate the most.” Yuvraj was the focal point of all discussions in the cricket-crazy country after the Indian juggernaut in Bangladesh came to a screeching halt on Sunday with a six-wicket hammering by Sri Lanka at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium. There were even reports in the local media that Yuvraj’s house in Chandigarh was pelted with stones by angry fans. Tendulkar, the most prolific international run-scorer and one of the country’s greatest unifiers, reminded the fans of Yuvraj’s past contributions. “All of us took pride in the heroics of Yuvi when we won the T20 World Cup in 2007 and his outstanding contribution in the ODI World Cup win in 2011 will always be cherished,” he wrote. “Last evening (Sunday), Yuvi had a tough day and he can be criticised. But he should not be crucified nor should he be written off.” Yuvraj, who has not been part of India’s test and 50-over sides in the recent past, made an emotional return to the game in 2012 after a lengthy fight with a rare germ cell cancer in his lungs. The diagnosis came after he endeared the whole nation with his all-round performances in the 2011 World Cup, when he was named the player of the tournament as India triumphed on home soil. He later dedicated the victory to Tendulkar, his mentor.

Tendulkar backed Yuvraj to come out even stronger after the latest setback. “I have been an admirer of Yuvi’s indomitable Spirit which has overcome many challenges, both on and off the field,” Tendulkar added. “Knowing Yuvi’s determination and ability to fight adversities, he will emerge stronger, proving his critics wrong, yet again. “Yuvi, one off day cannot undermine your tremendous contribution in many sweet memories over the years. You may be down today but you are far from being out.” — Reuters

Zain announces second winner of World Cup Draw KUWAIT: Zain, the leading telecommunications company in Kuwait, announced Safia Abdulwahab Al Qalaf winner of two tickets to attend the FIFA World Cup Final match in the company’s second weekly draw, as part of its latest promotional draw for post-paid customers, giving them a chance to attend the FIFA World Cup Final match in Rio de Janeiro when they purchase any device with a data bundle. The winner announcement comes as part of Zain’s most recent promotional campaign which targeted technology and smartphone savvy customers. The promotion involved the purchase of any of Zain’s unique device packages with a data bundle. Upon the purchase, customers will automatically be entitled to enter the draw for a chance to win two airline tickets to Rio de Janeiro, two FIFA World Cup finals match tickets, and two nights stay in Rio, along with free transportation to and from the stadium.

Farah said he had no concerns about testing himself against the best, even if it meant potentially denting his reputation as a serial winner. “Every race is a risk for me,” he said. “I’ve gone straight in at the deep end - but that’s what champions do.”— Reuters

Sherone Simpson

Multi Olympic medallist Simpson banned for doping KINGSTON: Jamaica’s 2008 Olympic women’s 100 metres silver medallist Sherone Simpson received an 18-month suspension for doping from the Jamaica Anti-Doping (JADCO) Disciplinary Panel yesterday. The 29-year-old, who won 4x100m relay gold in the 2004 Olympics and silver in the same event at the 2012 Games, tested positive for a stimulant, oxilofrine, at the Jamaica National Championships in June 2013. Simpson, who was also a member of the Jamaican 4x100m relay teams that took silver in the 2005 and 2011 world championships, said the substance was found in a new supplement given to her by Canadian physical trainer Chris Xuereb. The decision doesn’t bode well for her team-mate and men’s former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell, who tested positive for the same stimulant as Simpson. He will learn his fate from the same body tomorrow. JADCO’s lawyer Lackston Robinson pushed for the maximum two-year suspension for Simpson, saying he was not convinced that Epiphany D1 contained the substance oxilofrine found in Simpson’s sample. He also questioned the “honesty” of the evidence given by agent Paul Doyle. In announcing the verdict, the chairman of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel, Lennox Gayle, said Simpson had been negligent. “Having listened and reviewed all the evidence and listened to the detailed submissions of councils, this panel is unanimously of the view that Miss Simpson was negligent in all the circumstances as an elite athlete,” he said. “As such, the period of ineligibility will be 18 months (to) commence from the date of the positive test on June 21, 2013.” Simpson, who was not present, is one of Jamaica’s most decorated female sprinters, having also won the Commonwealth Games 200m title in 2006. Meanwhile, discus thrower Allison Randall was hit with a two-year suspension by a separate Jamaica Anti-Doping Disciplinary Panel. Randall, 25, who represented Jamaica at the 2012 Olympic Games, tested positive for a banned diuretic at last year’s Jamaica National Championships. — AFP

Pistorius sobs while recalling shooting PRETORIA: Oscar Pistorius broke down in sobs and howls while testifying at his murder trial Tuesday, forcing the court to adjourn as the star athlete was describing the moments he said he first realized he had shot girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a toilet door in his home. “I sat over Reeva and I cried,” Pistorius said, telling how he broke open the stall door in his bathroom last year to discover his mortally wounded girlfriend slumped over in the cubicle. “I don’t know how long I was there for.” Pistorius has said he shot Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder in his bathroom. Tuesday marked the first time he has spoken publicly on the details of the fatal shooting. Prosecutors call Pistorius’ story an intricate lie and maintain he intentionally killed his 29-year-old girlfriend, a model and reality TV show star, after an argument.The Olympian, 27, is charged with premeditated murder in Steenkamp’s death and faces a life sentence with a minimum of 25 years before parole if convicted on that charge. On the witness stand, he began to cry loudly while testifying, forcing the judge to rule a brief adjournment. Pistorius didn’t stand up when the judge left, and also started to wail as he sat slumped over on the witness stand, his head in his hands. His brother and sister went over to him in an apparent attempt to comfort him and after a while he left the courtroom through a side door, still crying. When Judge Thokozile Masipa returned, she called an early adjournment. Pistorius had by that time had returned to sit, jaw clenched, in the witness box. Court was to reconvene on Wednesday. Pistorius pleaded not guilty to murder at the start of his trial and denied in earlier testimony Tuesday three other charges against him relating to firing a gun in public on two occasions, and illegal possession

of ammunition. On one of the counts two witnesses have testified that Pistorius recklessly shot a gun out of a moving car in September 2012, months before he killed Steenkamp. Pistorius said: “It never happened.” Led by defense lawyer Barry Roux for the second day of his testimony, Pistorius also said he wasn’t to blame for a shot going off in a busy Johannesburg restaurant because a friend handed him an “unsafe” gun with a bullet in the chamber under the table, Pistorius said. That happened weeks before he fired through the door in his home to hit Steenkamp in the head, arm and hip. Pistorius also said he wasn’t guilty of illegally possessing .38-caliber ammunition in his home because he was safekeeping it for his father and he had no

intention to use it. In a dramatic day, Pistorius had also left the room briefly at one point to change out of his dark suit and into a white shirt and shorts, with his prosthetic legs showing. He was then asked by Roux to take off his prosthetics in court and stand on his stumps by the bullet-marked toilet door, which has stood in the courtroom for much of the trial. It was a partial re-enactment of the fatal night, with Pistorius claiming he felt fearful and vulnerable when he shot his 9 mm pistol at the toilet cubicle while only standing on his stumps. Then, describing the moment he fired the shots, Pistorius repeated that he was filled with terror because of the possibility of an intruder in the cubicle.—AP

PRETORIA: Oscar Pistorius, leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa yesterday. Pistorius is charged with murder for the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentines Day in 2013. — AP



Rooney set to ignore pain to face Bayern

SPAIN: Barcelona’s Brazilian defender Adriano (left) and defender Dani Alves (center) take part in a training session on the eve of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match against Atletico de Madrid. — AFP

Atletico’s Costa in fitness battle to face Barcelona BARCELONA: Atletico Madrid hope to have talismanic striker Diego Costa back fit against Barcelona today when the La Liga leaders bid to pull off another Spanish surprise by reaching the Champions League semi-finals. Spain’s Costa has hit 33 goals for Diego Simeone’s side in a remarkable season for Atletico, where they have come out of the shadows of their more affluent neighbours Real Madrid and La Liga champions Barca. They picked up a 1-1 draw in a typically hardfought battle at the Camp Nou in the Champions League first leg last week, where Costa limped off with a hamstring strain in the first half. His replacement Diego hit a stunning shot from distance to give Atletico a valuable away goal before Neymar grabbed a draw. Costa has been receiving intensive treatment with the aim of being ready for the home leg and is progressing well. However, with further crucial games ahead, Atletico’s medical staff are wary of him coming back too soon and aggravating the injury. Arda Turan is also a doubt with a groin strain and if he does not recover then his place on the right wing would likely go to Diego with Adrian Lopez possibly replacing Costa. Adrian came on as a substitute and looked lively during an otherwise tired Atletico display in a 1-0 home win over Villarreal on Saturday that kept them a point clear of Barca at the top of the Spanish championship. “I am prepared, we are all ready for when we have to play. Any opportunity in this team is important and you have to be ready to take it,” Adrian told reporters. “It has been a great season so far and we are all pleased. We have done very well but we need to keep going game by game. Now we are up against Barcelona in the Champions League and we will play it as though it were a final. “The first leg was a good result but the tie is very open still. We know what Barcelona are capable of doing and we will have to have a great performance if

we are going to qualify for the semi-finals. We will have to fight from start to finish.” PIQUE OUT Barcelona were also below their best but beat Real Betis 3-1 at the weekend with two more goals from Lionel Messi and remain on Atletico’s shoulders with the two sides also still to meet at the Camp Nou in La Liga. Their main injury concerns are at the back where Gerard Pique is missing with a hip injury so Marc Bartra could again deputise with Carles Puyol out long term. Barca also have to finish the season with veteran goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto after Victor Valdes was ruled out with a knee ligament injury. “It was a tough game (at the Calderon) where we put in a great effort and now for the return leg we will be in perfect condition,” Pinto told Barca TV. “It is likely to be a tight game, the same as the first, and small details will make the difference. We hope that these small details will go for us.”— Reuters

Matches on TV

GERMANY: Bayern Munich’s Austrain midfielder David Alaba (left) and teammate French midfielder Franck Ribery joke during the training session ahead the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match against Manchester United. — AFP and Spain’s Javi Martinez both suspended, while attacking midfielder Thiago Alcantara is injured. Bayern haven’t won in their last three matches, and suffered their first Bundesliga defeat in 18 months when they were beaten 1-0 at Augsburg on Saturday. Guardiola, who took over from Jupp Heynckes last June, has guided Bayern to the Bundesliga title already but admitted failing to get past United would not be good for him. “If we don’t reach the semi-finals, that would be a big mistake by the coach,” he said. “I’m aware of that, I knew it from the beginning after Bayern won the treble last season.”

Guardiola said today’s match will ‘make or break’ Bayern’s season, but he expects them to be in Friday’s semi-finals draw. “It’s now life or death and we’ll still be alive tomorrow,” said Guardiola. “Of course, it is very important for a big club like this to be in the semi-finals.” The Spaniard dismissed both Bayern’s loss to Augsburg and United’s struggling Premier League form when asked if either were a yardstick for the Munich clash. “This is a different competition,” said Guardiola. “They (United) are fighting for a place in the Europa League, we are already German champions. “Our goal for the last two, three weeks has been (to beat) Manchester United.”—AFP

(Local Timings) UEFA Champions League Atletico v Barcelona beIN SPORTS 2 beIN SPORTS 4 beIN SPORTS 2 HD beIN SPORTS 4 HD Bayern v Man United beIN SPORTS 1 beIN SPORTS 3 beIN SPORTS 1 HD beIN SPORTS 3 HD



KARACHI: Pakistani street children footballers display their bronze medal after attending a reception in Karachi. Pakistan’s street children footballers returned home to jubilant scenes after clinching the bronze medal in Brazil, with captain Sameer Ahmed hailing the ‘once in a lifetime’ experience. — AFP

Pakistan’s street children return to rapturous welcome KARACHI: Pakistan’s street children footballers returned home Tuesday to jubilant scenes after clinching the bronze medal in Brazil, with captain Sameer Ahmed hailing the “once in a lifetime” experience. Competing for the first time in the Street Child World Cup, the Pakistanis hammered title-holders India 13-0 in their first match before beating Kenya and Mauritius and tying with the United States to top their group. They squeezed past the Philippines 3-2 in the quarter-finals before losing to Burundi 3-4 in the semi-finals, but beat the US 3-2 on penalties in the third-place play-off to cap a remarkable tournament for the rookies. Around 4,000 people gathered at Karachi airport to welcome the children back home in an overwhelming display normally reserved for the country’s cricketers, Pakistan’s main representatives in international sports. Folk musicians beat traditional drums as fans, both young and old, waved congratulatory banners and danced, though they were eventually denied the chance to see the players who were whisked away. “We were unknown kids before this World Cup, but after seeing such a big crowd I am very happy that people now know us,” said Ahmed. “We had never thought that we will go to Brazil, we just heard the name of Brazil which is famous for football. “Our representation in the event and finishing third has proved that there is enough hidden talent of football in our streets and the only need is to unearth that talent,” he added. For Pakistan’s leading goalscorer Raziq Mushtaq, 15, the win over rivals India was particularly sweet. “India beat us in cricket World Twenty20 but we exacted the revenge in football and that win over India gave us the

MUNICH: Manchester United’s England striker Wayne Rooney is set to face holders Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarter-final, second leg, aided by a painkilling injection after he trained yesterday. The 28-year-old missed United’s 4-0 win at Newcastle United on Saturday due to a toe injury, sparking fears that he could be forced to sit out today ’s return leg at Munich’s Allianz Arena with the tie delicately poised at 1-1 after the first match. However, he took part in a light workout at United’s Carrington training centre yesterday morning prior to the squad’s departure for Germany, appearing to have no adverse reaction. United manager David Moyes said Rooney is determined to play in a match they need to win to keep alive their hopes of any silverware this season. “He hasn’t trained the whole week, but he’s willing to have an injection before the game,” said Moyes during Tuesday’s press conference in Munich. “We haven’t done anything wrong medically. “He’s a character. If he’s determined to play, we’ll let him.” Rooney said that he had suffered no reaction during the training session. “Good training session with the lads ahead of the Bayern Munich match,” Rooney wrote on his Facebook page. “It’s a massive game for us against a top side but we’ll be going in confident and looking to progress into the semi-finals.” Other injury worries Patrice Evra (knee), Ryan Giggs (groin) and Ashley Young (hand) also took part in yesterday’s final training session before the flight to Germany. Bayern coach Pep Guardiola is certain Rooney will play. “He will play, I am 100 percent sure and I am willing to bet a large glass of beer on it,” the Spaniard quipped. “This is one of the best players I’ve seen play and the big players do not want to miss this type of game.” Rooney’s presence in Munich will be a boost for United with Dutch striker Robin van Persie sidelined with a sprained knee and Spanish star Juan Mata cup-tied. Bayern have a few concerns of their own with Germany star Bastian Schweinsteiger

confidence to do well in the tournament,” said Mushtaq, who hit the back of the net eight times against India and scored 18 goals overall. CASH FOR PLAYERS The children, many of whom were former drug addicts or members of gangs linked to Karachi’s ethnic and political violence, were rehabilitated by the nonprofit Azad Foundation. Coach Abdul Rashid praised the team’s commitment, and said the third-place finish was a result of the hard training they had been putting in since October. “They played with great passion,” said Rashid. “They proved they had talent and we groomed them for the World Cup.” He said the tournament also proved that Pakistan, currently ranked 158 in FIFA rankings, could do bigger things on the world stage. “It is now up to us to unearth the hidden talent which can go places and make Pakistan a bigger footballing nation,” he said. The team later met opposition leader Bilawal Bhutto, son of the slain former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who announced cash prizes of 100,000 rupees ($1,000) for each player. Bhutto also announced that he has invited Argentina’s legendary footballer Diego Maradona to coach the youngsters. The team was earlier taken to the provincial assembly where information minister Sharjeel Memon announced prizes of 200,000 rupees for each player. FIFA initiated the tournament in 2010, with the first edition held in South Africa and the second in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the World Cup that begins in June. — AFP

World Cup dream over for injured Rodriguez LONDON: Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez’s hopes of playing for England at this year’s World Cup finals were dashed Monday when it was announced he would be out for at least six months with a knee injury. The 24-year-old forward was one of several Saints players in the running for a place in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad for Brazil after scoring 17 goals so far this term. But Rodriguez, who made his England debut in a friendly against Chile in November, saw his season come to a shuddering halt when he landed awkwardly during Saturday’s 4-1 defeat by Manchester City and was carried off on a stretcher at Eastlands. It looked a severe injury and a Southampton statement on Monday confirmed the news the player had been dreading. “Southampton Football Club can confirm that, following his injury on Saturday against Manchester City, Jay Rodriguez has been diagnosed as having suffered a rupture to his anterior cruciate ligament,” said a statement on the south coast club’s website. “This will keep him out of action for six months and regrettably means he will not be fit for selection by the English national team at this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil. “ The 24-year-old has already been scanned and has met with a specialist knee surgeon. He will be having a routine operation shortly. “The club will post any further updates once Jay’s rehabilitation is under way.” Hodgson was in the stands at Eastlands to see Rodriguez’s agonising injury at firsthand, with the Saints man the second player he has lost to an anterior cruciate ligament injury following Arsenal forward Theo Walcott earlier this season. Southampton director Les Reed said: “Jay is naturally disappointed, but is determined to get back playing for Saints as soon as possible. “Everything will be done to return him to full fitness and deliver a speedy recovery. “Jay has asked us to pass on his gratitude to everybody who has shown him their concern and sympathy during the 48or-so hours since his injury. “Everyone at the club now wishes Jay well and we will support him, along with his family, to ensure that an international career plays a big part in his future.” — AFP

Spurs give under-fire Sherwood a boost Tottenham 5

Sunderland 1

LONDON: Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood received a much-needed boost as Harry Kane’s first Premier League goal inspired a 5-1 rout of struggling Sunderland on Monday. Sherwood had declined to comment on his future in the hours before kick-off at White Hart Lane after a report claimed he would be dismissed at the end of the season. The former Tottenham midfielder was only appointed to replace the sacked Andre VillasBoas in December, but his position has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks following a disappointing run of results. Holland coach Louis van Gaal, Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax boss Frank de Boer have all been strongly linked with the Tottenham job. Even this convincing win is unlikely to save Sherwood, but he looks set to go out fighting and fittingly it was a goal from England Under21 striker Kane that set the tone. Lee Cattermole had given bottom of the table Sunderland a shock early lead. But Emmanuel Adebayor equalised and Kane, one

LONDON: Sunderland’s Italian striker Fabio Borini (right) clashes with Tottenham Hotspur’s Romanian defender Vlad Chiriches (left) during the English Premier League football match on Monday. —AFP

of the promising prodigies Sherwood championed during his time as the club’s director of youth development, marked his first top-flight start by putting the hosts ahead after the break before late goals from Christian Eriksen, Adebayor and Gylfi Sigurdsson sealed the demolition. Tottenham climb back up to sixth place with the victory, while Sunderland lie seven points from safety and even their two games in hand may not be enough to save them. “I can’t talk about anything about my employment, you will have to ask my employers about that,” Sherwood told Sky Sports after the final whistle. “I don’t know if the talk does anyone any favours but we’ve just got to get on with it. All I was focused on was to win this game. “I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. It’s been a great opportunity to manage this club and my record in the Premier League is second to none compared to all the other managers who have been here.” Sherwood’s players initially looked distracted by all the speculation about their manager’s future and they fell behind in calamitous fashion in the 17th minute. Wes Brown had already headed just wide moments earlier when Tottenham got themselves into trouble from their own throw-in. After picking up a pass from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, Vlad Chiriches played a horrendous square pass well away from any of his team-mates and Cattermole gratefully accepted the gift to slot into the unguarded net from 25 yards. Togo striker Adebayor led the Tottenham response and curled an effort over the bar before equalising in the 28th minute. Eriksen drilled a low delivery across the face of goal and when Brown failed to get a clearing touch, Adebayor was on hand at closerange to deflect the ball into the net off his chest. Sherwood was keeping his cool on the touchline, but he finally showed the emotion that has made him such a volatile figure when Kane was denied a penalty following Carlos Cuellar’s challenge early in the second half. The Spurs manager was on his feet again soon after, but this time it was in celebration as Kane put the north Londoners ahead in the 59th minute. Once again Denmark playmaker Eriksen was the catalyst as he whipped a teasing cross in towards Kane, who timed his run well and stretched out a boot to poke the ball beyond Vito Mannone. Sunderland boss Gus Poyet sent on Craig Gardner and Ignacio Scocco for Cuellar and Cattermole in a bid to break Tottenham’s dominance. But man of the match Eriksen killed off the Black Cats in the 78th minute when he got the goal his superb display deserved, firing home via a slight deflection off Phil Bardsley from outside the area. With lacklustre Sunderland waving the white flag in surrender, Adebayor tapped in from Kane’s pass in the 86th minute to make it four and there was still time for Sigurdsson to lash home in stoppage-time. — AFP



Struggling Pacers still looking for way to rebound INDIANAPOLIS: Lance Stephenson shook his head in disbelief. All-Star starter Paul George repeatedly urged his Indiana teammates to get going, and AllStar center Roy Hibbert sat speechless on the bench during the final 30 minutes on the game. This wasn’t just another bad loss for the Pacers. It was another chapter in their shocking collapse as the NBA regular season comes to a close. “I don’t think it’s acceptable for any of us in our organization to play the way we played tonight and we’re just going to get back to work to fix it, to get back on track,” coach Frank Vogel said following Atlanta’s 107-88 rout of the Pacers Sunday night in Indianapolis. The Pacers missed their first seven shots and scored a team-record-low 23 points in the first half when they went 7 of 35 from the field. The league’s No. 1 defense gave up 55 points and seven 3-pointers in two quarters. This has been a problem since the All-Star break, with the Pacers allowing 95.8 points per game and putting up the lowest scoring average of any team in the NBA last month. The Pacers are 20-17 since Jan. 24 and 7-12 on the road.

Even their once-invincible home-court edge doesn’t look so imposing after losing to San Antonio by 26 points and Atlanta by 19. Are the Pacers in a free fall? They look listless at times, sure, but San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich noted that all teams go through these sorts of struggles during the season. Spurs guard Tony Parker said he still expects Indiana and Miami to meet in the Eastern Conference finals. But there’s no doubt this is not the same team that started 17-2, was 33-8 at the midway point of the season and made two February moves - signing free agent Andrew Bynum and sending injury-prone Danny Granger to Philadelphia in a trade deadline deal for Evan Turner - that made it clear the Pacers thought they could dethrone two-time defending NBA champion Miami. After losing for the fifth time in six games, the Pacers are now one game behind Miami in the Eastern Conference standings. Vogel benched Hibbert for the final 21/2 quarters Sunday because he thought Hibbert looked fatigued. Vogel noted afterward that his entire starting lineup looked tired,

though he played George and David West deep into the fourth quarter. Hibbert did not take questions after the game. There has been speculation about a growing rift between the Pacers’ young coach and their star center, who has publicly complained about “selfish dudes” and suggested the Pacers needed “group therapy.” Teammates deny there are any problems between the two. “Roy will settle down,” West said when asked how Hibbert responded to the benching. “He’s down on himself because he felt like he could have helped us, but coach made a decision. Coach has to make some tough decisions sometimes, and it was to get him some rest. ... Coach made the right choice.” There have also been questions about Stephenson’s body language and his untimely ejection in the March 26 win over Miami and whether the Pacers’ struggles can be blamed on a young team wilting in the spotlight. What can the Pacers do to fix all these problems before the playoffs start? “For one, we just can’t panic. I mean we can’t pan-

ic. We’ve just got to be loose about it,” George said. “We’re just putting too much pressure where it doesn’t need to be brought. We just got to do what we do. We’re in a great position right now.” At 53-25, Indiana has clinched its second straight Central Division title, still has the NBA’s best home record (34-6) and trails Miami by just one game in the East. Before the season, fans would have applauded the Pacers’ current position. On Sunday, they booed. “It’s understandable. You know we scored 23 points in the first half. That’s unacceptable and we know that,” George said. “But I don’t think we deserve to be booed. You know, all that we’ve done this year. I definitely thought it was uncalled for.” They have four regular-season games remaining, including a Friday night showdown at Miami. “We’re playing good basketball, we’re sharing the ball. We’re taking the shots that we’re supposed to, they’re just not falling right now,” a clearly frustrated Stephenson said. “We’ve just got to keep playing good basketball. The basketball gods will take care of everything.”— AP

UConn wins NCAA title

SPAIN: Team Omega Pharma’s Tony Martin celebrates after winning the second stage of the Tour of the Basque Country, a 155.8km ride from Ordizia to Dantxarinea. —AFP

Martin storms to second stage win MADRID: German three-time world time-trial champion Tony Martin claimed victory on the second stage of the Tour of the Basque Country yesterday. The Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider broke clear in the final stages of the 155.8km ride from Ordizia to Urdazubi to finish 30 seconds ahead of Britain’s Ben Swift (Sky) and Polish teammate Michal Kwiatowski in second and third respectively. Former two-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) maintained his lead in the overall classification, 14 seconds ahead of compatriot Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) with Kwiatowski back in third. Meanwhile, Welsh rider Geraint Thomas said he is happy to help Sky team-mates Bradley Wiggins and Edvald Boasson Hagen at next week’s Paris-Roubaix, despite finishing an impressive eighth at the Tour of Flanders. Having finished third at E3 Harelbeke 10 days ago and come 10th in Flanders three years ago, double Olympic track cycling champion Thomas showed he is in good form on the cobbles. Despite hurting his back in a crash Sunday, he climbed back onto the bike and kept up with the favourites until the last 15km, when he found himself in a fight for the minor placings. He had come into the race as an outside bet for the win but despite not quite matching that expectation, he is happy to take a back-seat at Sunday’s ‘Hell of the North’ race and take his turn working for others. “I’m happy to ride for the team, I’ve said it all winter. I’m happy to ride for (Ian) Stannard or Edvald. Obviously Stannard’s not starting (due to a fractured vertebrae) so now I’m happy to commit 100 percent to Eddy and do my bit for him,” said Thomas, who briefly forgot 2012 Tour de France winner Wiggins. “Obviously Brad’s got some great form, he’s physically one of the strongest in the race. “Positional-wise he was there (in Flanders, where he finished 32nd, 1min 43sec down). He did a great job for the boys. “Roubaix probably suits him even a bit more. Edvald, him, Bernie’s (Bernhard Eisel) good, it suits Luke (Rowe) a bit more than this as well. I think we’ve got a good team and we can get stuck into that.” As for his own performance in Belgium, Thomas said he had to be happy given how he felt after crashing. “I was feeling my back all day. I felt terrible all day but managed to just hang in there, it’s just frustrating,” he said. “I think I can still be happy with how it went considering how I felt because I didnt feel anywhere near half as good as I did last Friday in E3. But I managed to just hang in there. “My back is just real stiff and sore now; just the left side of it. From the bike it’s one of the places you don’t want to be weak because it’s one of the places you feel it.” Thomas, who was also a three-time world champion on the track, had nothing but admiration for Flanders winner Fabian Cancellara, although he believes Sep Vanmarcke, who finished third in Oudenaarde, will also be one to watch at Paris-Roubaix. Swiss rider Cancellara, known as Spartacus by his peers, won the event for the third time, to equal the record, and Sunday will be going for his second successive Tour of Flanders-Paris-Roubaix double. “He’s obviously the strongest guy here and to be able to follow him you’ve got to be good,” said Thomas. “I don’t think he was as dominant as he was before but he’s obviously the strongest and for Sep (Vanmarcke) to follow him (when Cancellara attacked on the Kwaremont climb) shows he’s got really good form and shows he’ll be in there next week.”— AFP

ARLINGTON: Coaches and players left them. Others told them to go away. The guys who stuck around at UConn ended up with the last laugh and a pretty good prize to go with it: The national title. Shabazz Napier turned in another allcourt masterpiece Monday night to lift the Huskies to a 60-54 win over Kentucky’s freshmen and bring home a championship hardly anyone saw coming. “You’re looking at the hungry Huskies,” Napier told the crowd and TV audience as confetti rained down. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when you banned us.” The senior guard had 22 points, six rebounds and three assists, and his partner in defensive lock-down, Ryan Boatright, finished with 14 points. The victory comes only a short year after the Huskies were barred from March Madness because of grades problems. That stoked a fire no one could put out in 2014. Napier kneeled down and put his forehead to the court for a long while after the buzzer sounded. He was wiping back tears when he cut down the net. “I see my guys enjoying it,” Napier said. “That’s the most special feeling ever.” UConn (32-8) never trailed in the final. The Huskies led by as many as 15 in the first half and watched the Wildcats (29-11) trim the deficit to one with 8:13 left. But Aaron Harrison, who pulled out wins with clutch 3-pointers in Kentucky’s last three games, missed a 3 from the left corner that would’ve given the Cats the lead. Kentucky never got that close again. One key difference in a six-point loss: Kentucky’s 11 missed free throws - a flashback of sorts for coach John Calipari, whose Memphis team blew a late lead against Kansas after missing multiple free throws in the 2008 final. The Wildcats went 13 for 24. UConn went 10 for 10, including Lasan Kromah’s two to seal the game with 25.1 seconds left. “We had our chances to win,” Calipari said. “We’re missing shots, we’re missing free throws. We just didn’t have enough.” Calipari said he decided not to foul at the end “because they’re not missing.” In all, Calipari’s One and Doners got outdone by a more fundamentally sound, more-seasoned group that came into this tournament a seventh-seeded afterthought but walked away with the program’s fourth national title since 1999. They were the highest seed to win it all since Rollie Massimino’s eighth-seeded Villanova squad in 1985. Napier and Boatright now go down with Kemba Walker, Emeka Okafor, Rip Hamilton, Ray Allen and all those other UConn greats. This adds to the school’s titles in 1999, 2004 and 2011. “When they say Ray, Rip, Ben, Emeka, Kemba - they’ll soon say Shabazz,” said their former coach, Jim Calhoun, who was in the crowd along with former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and a father-andson team whose dance to the “Happy” song got huge applause when played on the big screen at AT&T Stadium. The crowd was cheering for UConn at the end. A short year ago, the Huskies were preparing for their first season in the new American Athletic Conference after the Big East Catholic schools decided to move on and none of the so-called power conferences wanted them. Calhoun, who built the program, left because of health problems. And most damaging - the NCAA ban triggered an exodus of five key players to the NBA or other schools. Napier stuck around. So did Boatright. And Calhoun’s replacement, Kevin Ollie, figured out how to make their grit, court sense and loyalty pay off. “It’s not about going to the next level, it’s not about going to the pros, but playing for your university, playing for your teammates,” Niels Giffey said. “And I’m so proud of all the guys on this team that stuck with this team.” They were one step ahead of Kentucky all night, holding off furious rally after furious rally. Kentucky’s biggest push started when James Young (20 points, seven rebounds) posterized Amida Brimah with a monster dunk to start a three-point play and trigger an 8-0 run. In the middle of that, Boatright, who shut down Harrison’s twin brother, Andrew, most of the night, twisted his left ankle while receiving an innocuous-looking pass from Napier. He called a timeout. Got it worked on and came back out. “I’ve got a lot of heart and I wasn’t coming out,” Boatright said. “We put in too

much work all year for me to give up on an ankle sprain.” Napier and Giffey made 3s on UConn’s two possessions after the timeout, and that one-point lead was back up to five - fairly comfortable by this tight, taut, buzzerbeating tournament’s standards. The big question in Kentucky is what will happen to all those freshmen. Julius Randle (10 points, six rebounds) is a lottery pick if he leaves for the NBA. Young and the Harrison brothers could be first-rounders. The big question is whether they’ll want to leave on this note. “I think all these kids are coming back, so I think we should be good,” Calipari deadpanned, getting big laughs. He called his group the most coachable bunch he’s ever had. They were preseason No. 1, a huge disappointment through much of this season. They were seeded an uninspiring eighth for the tournament and came on strong in time for a run to the final. But they got outdone by a team on a different sort of mission - a team led by Napier, who stuck with the program even though he knew the 2012-13 season was for nothing but fun. But what fun 2013-14 turned out to be. Napier was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player and he earned it on both ends of the court, keeping a hand in Aaron Harrison’s face most of the night and holding him to a 3-for-7, seven-point, nodamage night. He could also shoot it a bit - including a 3-pointer in the first half when UConn was having trouble dissecting the Kentucky zone. The shot came from about 30 feet, right in front of the edge of the Final Four logo at Center Court, or, as Dick Vitale put it: “He shot that one from Fort Worth.” They felt it back in Storrs, where they could be celebrating another title shortly. The UConn women play for the national title late yesterday. If they win, it will be the first sweep of the titles since 2004. The last school to do it: UConn, of course. — AP

ARLINGTON: Kentucky forward Alex Poythress (22) goes over Connecticut guard Lasan Kromah (20) during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game. — AP

Thorpe in hospital fighting infection MELBOURNE: Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe is in a Sydney hospital fighting a “serious” infection and is unlikely to swim competitively again, his manager told Australian media late yesterday. The five-times Olympic champion had contracted “two bugs” after undertaking a series of shoulder surgeries, manager James Erskine told Australian Associated Press. “It’s serious but it’s not life-threatening,” Erskine said. “He’s quite sick but that’s the situation ... From a competitive point of view - he will not be swimming competitively again, I don’t think.” The 31-year-old was being treated with large doses of antibiotics, state broadcaster ABC reported earlier on its website ( Erskine said Thorpe had undertaken “two or three” operations on his troublesome left shoulder in the past two months, and suggested the injury, rather than the infection, would force Thorpe from the pool. “The shoulder operation was a major operation, he’s got as many plates as Barry Sheene,” Erskine said, referring to the late British motorcycling champion. Erskine had denied earlier Australian media reports that

Ian Thorpe

Thorpe might lose the use of his arm because of the infections, AAP said. The agency added that the swimmer had received a number of visitors at hospital and was said to be in “good spirits”. Thorpe’s management was not available to comment when contacted by Reuters. Australia’s most decorated swimmer with 11 world championship golds, Thorpe was admitted to hospital earlier this year to treat depression after he was found disoriented in Sydney. Police were called when a resident saw Thorpe behaving oddly near a vehicle and his manager Erskine later said he had been taking a mixture of anti-depressants and medication for his shoulder. Thorpe won three golds in his Olympic debut at the 2000 Sydney Games and clinched another two at Athens four years later, but surprised by announcing his retirement in 2006 at the age of 24, citing a lack of motivation. Thorpe announced he would return to the pool in 2011 in a bid to qualify for the London Games but he flopped at national trials the following year and failed to make the team in either of his targeted 100 and 200 metres freestyle events.—Reuters

After scandal, poker gets high-tech chips ATLANTIC CITY: A cheating scandal at a casino poker tournament has led to new security measures, including chips that are more intricate, have more colors and include an authentication element that can be checked under ultraviolet light. The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa told The Associated Press it was using new chips for its Spring Open poker tournament that began yesterday. “This was very expensive, but very necessary,” said Joe Lupo, the casino’s senior vice president. “In order to have the biggest tournaments in Atlantic City and as the market leader, we need to ensure the integrity of the games.” In January, the casino was forced to suspend an event at its Winter Open after suspicions that someone introduced counterfeit chips. A North Carolina man who won $6,814 during the tournament, Christian Lusardi, was arrested on charges including theft and rigging a public contest. Lusardi is still in custody awaiting trial. Calls to a number registered to him in Fayetteville were met with a constant busy signal yesterday, and it could not be determined if he has hired an attorney. Authorities said Lusardi, after suspecting the fake chips had been noticed, flushed them down the toilet in his hotel room at Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, where he had been staying. But the chips clogged the pipes, and guests on the floor below complained that water was dripping into their rooms. Maintenance was called, and they found the chips, with a tournament value of 2.7 million, although they had no actual cash value. A joint investigation by the New Jersey State Police and the state Division of Gaming Enforcement continues, and $1.5 million in prize money is still on hold pending its outcome. About $800,000 in prize money was already paid out before the fake chips were discovered. The event under scrutiny was the tournament’s Big Stack, No Limit Hold ‘Em event. There were 27 people remaining in the contest when play was suspended. The new, more sophisticated chips combine several design and technology elements in use in the industry. They were approved by New Jersey gambling regulators for use in tournaments. Part of the new security measures will include spot checks of chips in play during games. “We will be checking chips randomly throughout the day using a new process involving the UV lights,” Lupo said. He described the checks as “part of the new normal.” The Borgata also will add more staff and will do more chip counts each day during its tournaments. — AP

Multi Olympic medallist Simpson banned for doping


Rooney set to ignore pain to face Bayern



Mo Farah races into unknown territory

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GERMANY: Dortmund’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan fights for the ball with Real’s Gareth Bale (right) during the Champions League quarterfinal second leg soccer match. — AP

Real scrape into last four DORTMUND: Lacklustre Real Madrid edged past Borussia Dortmund 3-2 on aggregate after slumping to a 2-0 defeat yesterday to advance to the Champions League semi-finals and stay on track for their tenth European crown. Two first half goals by Marco Reus, both coming from Real mistakes, gave Dortmund a deserved lead as the Spaniards, who had a penalty saved in the 17th minute, were left mesmerised by the Germans’ frantic pace. Real, with top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo left on the bench due a minor knee injury, saw their 3-0 advantage from the first leg in Madrid almost evaporate in a disastrous first half for them. “That was too much suffering and I think it was deserved,” said Real keeper Iker Casillas. “But from time to time it’s good to have this kind of wake up call that reminds us it’s not always easy, and especially not in the Champions League. “It is better that it happened in this game than in the decisive matches to come. We had to show quite a lot of mental strength because going 2-0 down by the 37th minute there were a lot of things going through our

heads.” Real, who twice lost to Dortmund in Germany in last season’s competition including a 4-1 thrashing in the first leg of their semi-final, briefly recovered in the second half before the Germans, last season’s runners-up, again surged forward, missing half a dozen clear scoring chances and also hitting the post. The Spaniards’ first leg performance, however, carried them into their fourth consecutive Champions League semi-final, leaving Dortmund to rue their missed opportunities. “After our performance in the first half we felt we could score four or five goals against them,” Dortmund’s Oliver Kirch said. FIERY START The Germans got off to a fiery start, looking for an early goal that could set them on their way. Real, however, squandered a golden opportunity to take the lead and put the tie all but beyond the hosts when they were awarded a penalty for a hand ball by defender Lukasz Piszczek and Angel Di Maria had it saved by Roman Weidenfeller.

A minute later it was Dortmund’s turn to miss with Henrikh Mkhitaryan firing wide from close range but Reus made amends in the 24th, pouncing on a defensive mistake by Pepe to slot in for the lead. Mats Hummels almost added another as the hosts piled on the pressure but his well-timed header was palmed over the bar by Real keeper Iker Casillas. Germany international Reus crashed in his second goal in the 37th when he charged forward after another Real mistake, this time from Asier Illarramendi, fed striker Robert Lewandowski who hit the post, and was left unmarked to drill in at the far post. Real brought on Isco in the second half to control possession and they briefly succeeded as Dortmund lost some of their passing sharpness and pace. Dortmund were lurking on the break and almost levelled the tie when Armenian Mkhitaryan rounded Casillas but only managed to hit the post in the 65th minute. The Germans then poured forward, determined to score a third that would force extra time but could not find the back of the net, leaving the competition with their heads held high. — Reuters

CL leading scorers PARIS: Champions League leading scorers in the 2013/2014 tournament following yesterday’s quarter-final second leg matches: 14: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid/ESP) 10: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Paris SG/FRA) 8: Lionel Messi (Barcelona/ESP) 7: Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid/ESP) 6: Sergio Aguero (Man City/ENG), Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund/GER) 5: Gareth Bale (Real Madrid/ESP), Alvaro Negredo (Man City/ENG),Arturo Vidal (Juventus/ITA), Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund/GER) 4: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid/ESP), Edinson Cavani (Paris SG/FRA), Gonzalo Higuain (Napoli/ITA), Hulk (Zenit Saint Petersburg/RUS), Thomas Mueller (Bayern Munich/GER), Neymar (Barcelona/ESP), Raul Garcia (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Robin Van Persie (Man Utd/ENG)

Ba breaks PSG hearts LONDON: Demba Ba scored in the 87th minute to give Chelsea a last-gasp 2-0 win at home to Paris Saint-Germain yesterday that swept them into the Champions League semi-finals. Trailing 3-1 from last week’s quarter-final first leg in Paris, Chelsea trimmed PSG’s aggregate advantage through a 32nd-minute goal by Andre Schuerrle, but the French champions remained on course for the last four. The hosts hit the bar through Schuerrle and Oscar early in the second half, but with time running out, substitute Ba bundled home from close range to take Chelsea into the semi-finals for the seventh time in 11 years. Chelsea progressed on the away goals rule after a 3-3 aggregate draw, two years after pulling off a similar feat by coming back from a 3-1 loss to beat Napoli 4-1 in the last 16 en route to success in the 2012 competition. Ba’s goal preserved Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho’s unbeaten record in European quarter-finals and his glee was evident as he sprinted down the touchline in a manner reminiscent of his celebration when Porto eliminated Manchester United in 2004. PSG had been on the verge of the semifinals for the first time since 1995 and the only consolation for Laurent Blanc’s heartbroken side was that they remain on the brink of a successful Ligue 1 title defence. Chelsea’s need for goals prompted Mourinho to hand a start to

Samuel Eto’o, who had missed the previous three games with a hamstring injury, and he saw a snapshot blocked in the ninth minute. Branislav Ivanovic headed wide from the subsequent corner, but the hosts received an early setback in the 18th minute when Eden Hazard had to come off with an injury. Exacerbating the Chelsea fans’ unease was PSG’s assurance in possession, with the visitors popping passes around in midfield and threatening on the flanks through Lucas Moura and Ezequiel Lavezzi. Chelsea began to apply more concerted pressure, however, and after PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu produced a brilliant flying save to parry a deflected Frank Lampard free-kick, they broke through. David Luiz used his back to flick on Ivanovic’s long throw-in from the right and Schuerrle stole in to steer a volley past Sirigu from 10 yards. PSG SPURN CHANCES With Stamford Bridge rocking, the hosts flooded forward. Schuerrle saw a penalty appeal waved away after flopping over a challenge from Marco Verratti, while Gary Cahill miscued a volley right in front of goal. Chelsea resumed their onslaught after the interval and hit the bar twice in the space of two minutes, first through Schuerrle, from Willian’s

Ireland to host England

LONDON: PSG’s Marco Verratti (left) is airborne as he goes for the ball with Chelsea’s Samuel Eto’o during the Champions League second leg quarterfinal soccer match. —AP cut-back, and then via an arcing free-kick from Oscar. Blanc sought to shore things up by sending on Yohan Cabaye for Verratti and briefly PSG rallied, with Petr Cech touching a freekick from Lavezzi around the post and Cavani heading wide from a corner. Mourinho responded by introducing Ba in place of Lampard and the Senegalese striker soon made his presence felt, finding Schuerrle with a flick-on, only for Sirigu to field the German’s shot. With Chelsea pressing forward, they left themselves open to the counter-attack and PSG spurned a host of chances to make the

game safe. Cavani twice shot over from promising positions, while Maxwell skidded a low shot wide and Cech had to save a drive from Lucas. Those misses would have proved immaterial, but with three minutes to play, Cesar Azpilicueta drove a shot across the box and Ba outmuscled Maxwell to touch home and send Mourinho scampering down the pitch in delight. Cech preserved his side’s place in the last four with an injury-time save from Marquinhos and not even a booking for Ivanovic that rules him out of the semi-final first leg could dampen the mood at a jubilant Stamford Bridge. —AFP

DUBLIN: Ireland will take on England in a friendly in June 2015, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) said yesterday, the first meeting between the teams in Dublin since a 1995 friendly was abandoned due to crowd trouble. The sides, who drew 1-1 in a friendly at Wembley last year, were shepherded off the pitch in the old Lansdowne Road 20 years ago with Ireland 1-0 in front after some English fans began throwing missiles, including seating ripped from the stands. Martin O’Neil’s Irish side will be midway through a European Championship qualifying campaign that includes games against Germany, Poland and Scotland when the sides meet on June 7. England, who unlike Ireland will travel to Brazil for the World Cup in June, face an easier campaign to reach Euro 2016 with Switzerland and Slovenia putting up the main competition. “While inevitably the focus for Roy (Hodgson) and his team is on Brazil and the World Cup, we are always planning further ahead and we are delighted to announce this fixture,” Club England managing director Adrian Bevington said yesterday. “It will be a significant moment for England to play in Dublin again, and due to the hard work by both organisations on many fronts we fully expect it to be a fantastic occasion enjoyed by both sets of fans.” — Reuters


Quality issues emerge as Iraq sells more oil to Asia Page 22

UK economy basks in factory output growth


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Al-Sayer Group gears for huge tech-driven regional

New French PM Valls vows to cut labor expansion costs, taxes Page 26 Page 23

NEW DELHI: An Indian commuter rides an escalator as he exits a Metro station at dusk in New Delhi yesterday. India is part of a global trend that is advancing towards an increasing urbanization, according to which more than half of the world’s population is living in towns and cities. — AFP

World economy faces threats: IMF Russia growth forecast slashed over Ukraine crisis WASHINGTON: The global economy is strengthening but faces threats from super-low inflation and outflows of capital from emerging economies, the International Monetary Fund warned yesterday. The lending organization expects the global economy to grow 3.6 percent this year and 3.9 percent in 2015, up from 3 percent last year. Those figures are just one-tenth of a percentage point below the IMF’s previous forecasts in January. The acceleration is being driven mostly by strong growth in advanced economies, including the United States and the United Kingdom, and a modest recovery in the 18 nations that use the euro currency. By contrast, developing nations, particularly Russia, Brazil and South Africa, are now expected to grow much more slowly than the IMF forecast three months ago. Russia’s economy will likely suffer as a result of its fight with the US and Europe over the Ukraine. Others face high interest rates, which are intended to fight inflation but could slow growth. The IMF, in its World Economic Outlook report, sharply upgraded its growth forecasts for the UK, Germany and Spain. It expects the euro-zone to grow 1.2 percent in 2014 and 1.5 percent in 2015 after shrinking 0.5 percent last year. Both estimates are one-tenth of a percentage point higher than the IMF’s January forecasts. The IMF made no changes to its forecasts for US growth, which it estimates at 2.8 percent this year and 3 percent in 2015. “The recovery ... is becoming not only stronger but broader,” Olivier Blanchard, the IMF’s chief economist, said at a news conference yesterday. The US and European economies are benefiting from smaller government spending cuts and tax increases, Blanchard said. Banks are improving their finances. And investors are increasingly willing to buy European government debt. The International Monetary Fund cut its

growth forecast for Russia following Moscow’s takeover of Crimea and warned the Ukrainian crisis could have much wider global knock-on effects. The Ukraine crisis and the ensuing diplomatic confrontation between Moscow and Western powers have already plunged Ukraine into a deep recession and prompted major capital outflows from Russia after Washington slapped targeted sanctions against Moscow. In its World Economic Outlook report, IMF cut its GDP growth forecast for this year for Russia to 1.3 percent from 1.9 percent, blaming “emerging market financial turbulence and geopolitical tensions relating to Ukraine... on the back of already weak activity.” Japan, however, is forecast to expand just 1.4 percent next year, down from the IMF’s previous projection of 1.7 percent, and just 1 percent in 2015. Higher sales taxes are expected to weigh on growth. Growth in China, the world’s secondlargest economy, is expected to continue its slowdown from its double-digit pace of a few years ago. That will have repercussions for many nations that export raw materials and parts to Chinese factories. China is projected to expand 7.5 percent in 2014 and 7.3 percent in 2015, down from 7.7 percent last year. The 188-nation IMF and its sister organization, the World Bank, will hold their spring meetings in Washington this weekend. Finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 leading economies will meet tomorrow. The issues highlighted in the IMF’s outlook, such as alarmingly low inflation, will likely be high on the agenda. Yet the meetings will be relatively free of the crisis atmosphere that beset the IMF for several years after the global financial meltdown and European debt crisis. “Relative to previous years, the global economy is more stable,” said Jacob Kierkegaard, a senior

fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “This is going to be an annual meeting that will be more about process and medium- to long-run goals” than about short-term actions. Nevertheless, analysts expect European officials, particularly the European Central Bank, to come under pressure to fight low inflation. Last week, Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, urged the ECB to take “unconventional measures” to push prices up. Such steps could include the purchase of bonds or other financial assets. The US Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan have both made such purchases to tr y to stimulate their economies. Largarde’s comment drew a rebuke last week from ECB President Mario Draghi. He noted tartly that the IMF “has been ... extremely generous in its suggestions on what we should or should not do” and added that the ECB disagreed. Even so, the IMF “will reiterate the message that the ECB should be more aggressive,” said Domenico Lombardi, director of the global economy program at CIGI, a Toronto-based think tank. The ECB is behind the curve Inflation in the 18 countries that use the euro currency fell to an annual rate of 0.5 percent last month. Though consumers can enjoy flat prices, ultra-low inflation can stifle growth. People and companies postpone purchases knowing that prices will be little changed months later. Debts become harder to pay off. That’s a particularly severe problem in Europe, where many governments remain squeezed by debts. Super-low inflation also raises the risk of deflation - a decline in wages and prices that can cause a recession. At the meetings, developing countries will likely push for greater coordination of central bank policies. Many say they’ve been harmed by

WASHINGTON: International Monetary Fund Economic Counsellor and Director of Research Department Olivier Blanchard speaks during a press briefing on the world economic outlook at IMF Headquarters yesterday in Washington, DC. At left is Thomas Helbling, chief of the World Economic Outlook Division at the International Monetary Fund. —AFP the Federal Reserve’s pullback of its stimulus this year. The Fed has been paring its monthly bond purchases, which were intended to keep US interest rates low and spur more borrowing and spending. But the prospect of higher US rates has led investors to pull money from developing countries and reinvest it in the United States for higher returns. That exodus has caused currencies in Turkey, South Africa and other countries to plunge in value.

The United States could face criticism because Congress has refused to approve changes to the IMF that would give developing countries more influence. The Obama administration has sought the changes, which were dropped from legislation that gave $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine. The provisions would have given Russia slightly more influence at the IMF just as lawmakers sought to punish President Vladimir Putin. — Agencies

Dubai bull run continues, Egypt stocks pare losses DUBAI: Dubai’s main stock market posted its biggest gain in three weeks yesterday as real estate investment trust Emirates REIT listed on the smaller of the two markets, NASDAQ Dubai, following the emirate’s first initial public offer in five years. Shares in Emirates REIT closed at $1.44, up 5.9 percent from the IPO price, with 21.4 million shares changing hands out of a total of 128.68 million sold in the $175 million offer, which was 3.5 times oversubscribed. “I think it was a very good start,” said Sebastien Henin, head of asset management at The National Investor. “The company listed on NASDAQ Dubai and usually investors don’t really like that.” Dubai’s equity trading is heavily concentrated on the main exchange, Dubai Financial Market (DFM), but that market requires IPOs to offer at least 55 percent of a company, which discourages some potential issuers. NASDAQ Dubai has looser requirements but less liquidity and fewer listed stocks.

Emirates REIT’s IPO price was roughly equal to its book value, which Henin said was “a perfect approach” to valuation. “We should expect the price of the stock to be aligned with the net asset value,” he said. “The stock price shouldn’t be too volatile and its risk profile will be very different from that of developers. The successful listing buoyed sentiment on the DFM, where the index added 1.9 percent to 4,743 points. Lender Emirates NBD contributed most to the move, jumping 6.8 percent to 9.60 dirhams, its highest level since September 2008. “Emirates NBD has been doing well recently and for a number of reasons,” said Amer Khan, a senior executive officer at Shuaa Asset Management. In addition to offering investors a way to bet on Dubai’s booming economy and having an attractive valuation compared to other UAE banks, Emirates NBD may also post large one-off gains if it reclassifies its large exposure to the Dubai

World conglomerate as performing loans; an ENBD executive told Reuters on Monday that might happen this year. Some fund managers expect ENBD eventually to relax the tight 5 percent cap on foreign ownership in its shares, as other local companies have been doing. A few other property firms and banks also gained yesterday. Shares in contractor Arabtec rose 6.1 percent. Shares in bourse operator DFM added 3.9 percent after a top Dubai economic policymaker said on Monday an agreement to merge it with the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange had been reached in principle, though nothing had been finalized. Abu Dhabi’s index edged down 0.1 percent to 5,007 points yesterday but stayed above the psychologically important 5,000-point mark. Telecommunications operator Etisalat , down 0.9 percent, was the biggest drag as it continued to decline after paying out its 2013 dividend last Thursday. Qatar’s bourse snapped a 10-day rally, sliding 0.2 percent

to 12,190 points. Saudi Egypt Saudi Arabia’s bourse gained 0.6 percent, largely on the back of agricultural firms, food producers and banks. Banque Saudi Fransi climbed 2.4 percent after posting an estimatebeating 25.2 percent rise in first-quarter net profit on Monday. Egypt’s index rose 2.3 percent to 7,705 points, regaining some ground after a sell-off that began in late March. However, one-day recoveries have in the last two weeks been followed by even deeper drops. “At this stage it is very difficult to say whether that specific correction is overdone,” said Khan from Shuaa Asset Management. Profit-taking, which market players say was amplified by heavy leverage, started when former army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said he would run for president; local investors, who largely support him, had built up positions in anticipation of the announcement. —- Reuters




in brief

Iraq CB may buy more gold in coming months TUNIS: Iraq’s central bank may buy more gold in coming months depending on investment needs, the finance minister said yesterday on the sidelines of an Arab ministers meeting in Tunis. The Central Bank of Iraq bought 36 tons of gold last month, it said in a statement, in a bid to help stabilize the exchange rate of the Iraqi dinar against other currencies. That purchase was the first addition to Iraq’s gold reserves since it increased its holdings by 23.9 tons in August 2012, according to data from the International Monetary Fund. At the time of the purchase it was worth $1.5 billion. With the 29.8 tons which the World Gold Council says it already held, the purchase brings Iraq’s total gold holdings to 65.8 tons, making it the 43rd largest official sector bullion holder in the world, after Denmark and just ahead of Pakistan. Morocco 2014 borrowing needs at 2.5bn euros TUNIS: Moroccan Finance Minister Mohamed Boussaid said yesterday Morocco’s external borrowing needs this year will reach 2.5 billion euros to plug the deficit estimated at 4.9 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). It is not clear, however, when the government will issue foreign bonds, the minister added on the margin of the Arab finance ministers meeting in Tunis. Last year Boussaid said Morocco may raise 1 billion euros in international bonds issue at the start of 2014. Morocco plans to cut its budget deficit to 4.9 percent of gross domestic product in 2014 from an estimated 5.5 pct in 2013 by trimming spending. The North African kingdom is struggling to fix public finances that were hit by the euro zone crisis, Arab Spring revolts and drought, but it plans tough reforms in the next year on subsidies, taxation and pensions. Malaysia’s Maybank issues 1.5bn ringgit sukuk KUALA LUMPUR: Maybank Islamic Bhd, a unit of Malaysia’s Malayan Banking Bhd and the largest sharia bank in Southeast Asia, has raised 1.5 billion ringgit ($458.65 million) with its first Basel III-compliant Islamic bond. The sukuk has a tenure of 10 years and was priced at 4.75 percent, the bank said in a statement yesterday. It was oversubscribed by 2.9 times and increased in size from an initial plan for 1 billion ringgit. It is the first issuance under a 10 billion ringgit subordinated sukuk programme announced by the bank in March.

Saudi crude oil output drops to 9.566m bpd KHOBAR: Saudi Arabia produced 9.566 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil in March, down from 9.849 million bpd in February, an industry source familiar with the matter said yesterday. The world’s largest oil exporter and OPEC heavyweight supplied 9.533 million bpd in March to the market, down from 9.899 million bpd in February. Supply to market may differ from production depending on the movement of barrels in and out of storage. “The reason is because customers in different parts of the world are going to do refinery maintenance in the second quarter, normal maintenance,” said the source. He could not say what the trend will be going forward in terms of how much Saudi will be producing. OPEC’s oil output in March fell to its lowest since December, a Reuters survey found last week, as Iraq’s oil revival suffered a setback and outages cut output in African producers. Oil exports from southern Iraq dipped in March to an average of 2.424 million bpd. The previous month, an average 2.507 million bpd was exported from the south, where the bulk of Iraq’s oil is produced and shipped abroad. Exports were likely to increase next month, after Russia’s Lukoil began production at one of the world’s largest untapped oilfields. In Libya, the Zueitina oil port was preparing on Monday to load crude into tankers after the government reached a deal with rebels to begin reopening four terminals that insurgents have occupied since the summer. — Reuters

Quality issues emerge as Iraq sells more oil to Asia Basra Light output, exports improving SINGAPORE/BASRA: Iraq’s rush to pump more oil to Asia has coincided with complaints from some buyers about the quality of its crude, casting doubt on whether Baghdad can increase the volumes of its key Basra Light grade to the region by a third in 2014. The Gulf producer has managed to smooth out kinks in its supply chain that curbed Basra Light exports from southern oil terminals last year. The higher output has helped cap oil prices pushed up by recent geopolitical tensions and supply disruptions in Libya, Iraq’s own north and elsewhere. Since December, however, three buyers in north Asia, including two state oil companies in China, have complained about high water content in Basra Light that could mean more upgrading work is needed on Iraq’s oil infrastructure or that it needs to slow down loading schedules again. “Production is indeed higher, but the time needed for base sediment and water to settle down is not enough,” said one of the buyers who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media. “They are just shifting their problems to us.” The three buyers said water has made up 0.3 to 1 percent of several 2-million-barrel cargoes, resulting in losses of up to $3 million each assuming crude at $100 a barrel. The buyers have sought compensation on pricing from Iraq’s State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) but said they have not received any response to their requests. SOMO officials have not responded to e-mail and phone calls seeking comment and further information on the water issue. Basra Light Two South Korean buyers said they have not encountered high water content in Basra Light cargoes, while sources at Indian refineries could not say if they have received such shipments. Most refineries can tolerate up to 0.1 percent water content. Refiners would usually let crude with a higher water content settle in a tank to give time for the two fluids to separate, and then dispose of the water. It was not immediately clear why higher water content has turned up in some Basra Light cargoes since December, although Iraq has been bringing on new oilfields to boost its output. An official at state-run South Oil Company (SOC), which oversees Basra Light output, said there would have to be further upgrades of oil treatment facilities to resolve the issue. Current treatment stations for crude produced from Iraq’s southern oilfields were designed to process dry oil, not wet, the SOC official said. The water issue emerged just before Iraq’s exports from the south started hitting new peaks after years of struggling to meet supply commitments despite aging terminals and insufficient storage.

Volumes, though, remain erratic. Basra Light exports hit a 35-year high of 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in February up about a quarter from the previous month - before dropping back slightly in March. In April, exports from the southern terminals are expected to rebound to more than 2.5 million bpd. Russia’s Lukoil began commercial output from one of the world’s largest untapped oilfields at the end of March as Baghdad moves closer to this year’s production target of 4 million bpd. Output from the giant West Qurna-2 field - a Basra Light producer - is expected to reach 1.2 million bpd eventually, up from an initial 120,000 bpd. Upgrades at southern oil terminals to be completed later this year and other new output coming online will allow Iraq to ship more crude, potentially meeting contractual commitments of up to 2.8 million bpd of Basra Light in the second half of 2014. Somo marketing push Asian buyers led by China and India signed annual contracts to buy nearly 60 percent of Basra Light exports this year, or almost all of Iraq’s increase in production in 2014, lured by SOMO’s competitive pricing on the crude. Still, with

TOKYO: Trailer trucks queue before delivering containers at a wharf before they are loaded onto cargo ships in Tokyo yesterday. — AFP

Ghana FM defends steps to halt currency slide ACCRA: Ghana’s Finance Minister Seth Terkper defended steps taken by the government to halt a steep fall in the country’s cedi currency and told the Reuters Africa Summit the measures would soon start to take effect. The cedi has fallen 14.6 percent this year following a drop of around 20 percent in 2013 and many analysts argue the decline is not simply a reflection of strong dollar demand for imports but also a leading indicator of weakness in the macro economy. That weakness, seen in a 10.8 percent budget deficit last year, has tarnished Ghana’s reputation as one of Africa’s leading economies based on its record of solid growth, stable democracy and exports of gold, cocoa and oil. “We believe the measures are credible and, considering the efforts we’re making from the fiscal side, we should begin to yield the desired results,” Terkper said. Importers and traders complain the fall damages business. A prominent pastor made headlines in February when he prayed in his church for God to “resurrect” the currency. The following month the central bank issued a series of regulations designed to restore currency stability including a ban on the conduct of transactions in Ghana in dollars and a 200basis point hike in interest rates. Some critics argue the measures will have only a short

the water problem cropping up and with loading still slow sometimes, Iraq is having trouble shaking the reputation built up over the past few years. “Port conditions are terrible, it’s often they make us wait a week (for loading),” said an executive at a Japanese refinery who declined to be named due to company policy. SOMO’s terminal upgrades shortened some loading times to as little as five days in March, down from as long as two weeks earlier, traders said, although it is not certain how consistent that will be. “Iraq is saying that they are doing a lot more improvements, more production and less delays,” an analyst with an Asian oil company said. “They will still maintain a discount (to Arab Medium price) but it will not be as cheap as before.” SOMO has already narrowed Basra Light’s discount against rival Arab Medium from Saudi Arabia this year on growing confidence it will be able to meet contract obligations with fewer delays. But buyers still worry that political instability in Iraq and disputes between Baghdad and Kurdistan over oil could continue to disrupt supply of its other crude grade Kirkuk. OPEC’s overall oil output fell in March to its lowest since December, according to a Reuters survey, mainly due to lower shipments of Kirkuk crude because of pipeline sabotage. — Reuters

term impact and urge the government to take more radical action to reduce fiscal instability, which they say is the root cause of the slide. Loan deals Terkper said Ghana is also exploring alternative means of funding its debt. The government has delayed plans to issue a 2014 Eurobond given the high yields it would likely attract amid investor nervousness about the country. It has held talks with Brazil about a $1 billion credit facility for infrastructure, he said. The South American country has increased its support for Ghana in recent years, providing funds for military aircraft and related equipment including a hangar. Terkper said talks with Brazil aimed to “promote good governance and private sector business” but he declined to give further details other than to say talks were ongoing. The finance minister travelled to China in late March for talks over the delayed disbursement of the remainder of a $3 billion loan from the Chinese Exim Bank approved by parliament in 2011. Around $600 million of the loan has been disbursed so far and the government has used the money to finance a $750 million gas pipeline to connect the country’s main offshore Jubilee oil field to the coast. —Reuters

Tunisia offers Arab funds $1.26bn opportunities TUNIS: Tunisia is offering infrastructure and development projects worth 1.99 billion dinars ($1.26 billion) to various Arab funds during an Arab ministers’ summit in Tunis yesterday, a government official said. “It is a projects package in many sectors which we will propose to different Arab funds for financing to stimulate our economy,” said Noureddine Zekri, secretary for international cooperation. The package includes an investment of 660 million dinars to build a 600megawatt gas-fired power plant in Mornaguia, near the capital Tunis. The government is also planning to invest 758 million dinars in infrastructure and roads across the country, according to a government document seen by Reuters. Three years after an uprising that inspired the “Arab Spring” revolutions, Tunisia is on its way to political stability with a new constitution and the promise of elections later this year. The caretaker government, led by Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa, hopes to boost economic growth to stave off any social pressures and protests for more opportunities and over high prices. Tunisia’s budget deficit is set to grow to 8 percent of gross domestic product this year, mostly due to public worker wage costs and subsidies which are a hangover from former Tunisian autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali ousted in 2011. — Reuters

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

2.737 4.708 2.880 2.161 2.945 226.380 36.453 3.636 6.290 8.712 0.271 0.273 GCC COUNTRIES

Saudi Riyal Qatari Riyal Omani Riyal Bahraini Dinar UAE Dirham

75.430 77.721 734.800 751.300 77.033

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 264.56 260.21 323.32 392.17 282.00 473.37 2.77 3.633 4.621 2.158 2.940 2.881 76.85 750.57 39.83 401.36 733.38 77.87 75.33

SELL CASH 261.56 261.21 321.32 393.17 285.00 476.37 2.79 3.903 4.921 2.593 3.475 2.790 77.31 752.64 40.43 407.01 740.68 78.42 75.73

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

39.700 39.920 1.320 179.350 399.450 1.898 2.016 35.521

EUROPEAN & AMERICAN COUNTRIES US Dollar Transfer 282.750 Euro 390.760 Sterling Pound 471.770 Canadian dollar 259.880 Turkish lira 134.040 Swiss Franc 320.400 Australian Dollar 265.500 US Dollar Buying 281.550 GOLD 20 Gram 10 Gram 5 Gram

240.000 121.000 62.500

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 Syrian Pound Nepalese Rupees

Selling Rate 282.500 260.195 469.120 388.830 317.180 751.900 76.890 78.475 75.605 398.125 40.444 2.158 4.702 2.876 3.631 6.271 693.875 3.730 2.955 3.910

Malaysian Ringgit Chinese Yuan Renminbi Thai Bhat Turkish Lira

86.990 45.905 9.690 133.930

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

SELL CASH Europe 0.007349 0.461441 0.006087 0.047764 0.381493 0.043063 0.08094 0.008094 0.039045 0.310235 0.132776

SELLDRAFT 0.008349 0.470441 0.018087 0.052764 0.389493 0.048263 0.181094 0.018094 0.044045 0.320435 0.139776

Australasia 0.253658 0.236450

0.265158 0.245950

America 0.251923 0.278650 0.279150

0.260423 0.283000 0.283000

Asia 0.003251 0.044362 0.034360 0.004467 0.000020 0.002657 0.003256 0.000257 0.082651 0.002944 0.002619 0.006400 0.000069 0.220725

0.003851 0.047862 0.037110 0.004868 0.000026 0.002837 0.003256 0.000272 0.088651 0.003114 0.002899 0.006680 0.000075 0.226725

South African Rand Sri Lankan Rupee Taiwan Thai Baht

0.020747 0.001850 0.009226 0.008372

0.029247 0.002430 0.009406 0.008922

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

Arab 0.743544 0.036855 0.000078 0.000181 0.394580 1.0000000 0.000137 0.024394 0.001195 0.728383 0.076954 0.074763 0.001753 0.174650 0.132776 0.076001 0.001284

0.751544 0.039955 0.000079 0.000241 0.402080 1.0000000 0.000237 0.048394 0.001830 0.734063 0.078167 0.075463 0.001973 0.182650 0.139776 0.077150 0.001364

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

Rate (Per 1000) 282.200 389.450 469.150 258.100 4.700 39.910 2.158 3.629 6.288 2.875 751.400 76.850 75.350



Malabar Gold & Diamonds expands further in UAE Jewelry retailer to open outlet in RAK DUBAI: Malabar Gold & Diamonds, the leading jewellery retailer is all set to enter the Ras Al- Khaimah emirate. Their 112th showroom globally and 17th showroom in UAE will be opened in Al-Nakheel, Muntazir Road, Ras Al-Khaimah, which will be inaugurated by the young sensation of the Malayalam film industry Fahadh Faasil on 10th April 2014 at 5.30 pm. The showroom positioned at one of the best locations in the emirate features intricately designed international collection of classic, contemporary and quality jewellery crafted in gold, diamond and platinum. To add more glitter to this occasion, the group announced fabulous inaugural offers. The customers who purchase diamond jewellery will get a ‘Scratch N Win’ coupon, which will give the opportunity for the buyer to win guaranteed cash refund and also a chance to win up to 100 percent of the purchase, also a free gold coin can be availed with every purchase of gold jewellery worth AED 3,000. These offersare valid at this outlet till 20thApril 2014. The group expanding its operation plans by opening 8 more outlets in GCC & Far East countries like Malaysia, Hong Kong etc. in the second quarter of 2014, also

planning to mark their presence in UK and USA in the near future. The jewellery chain expands its presence in the GCC& Singapore in line with its aggressive expansion plans to extend their reach and to cater the growing customer needs. The group is planning to re open its upgraded showroom at Al Nahda in Lulu Hyper Market, in the coming week & also looking forward to open its second outlet in Singapore on April 18. The Group is in underway for upgrading their showrooms in prime locations in UAE and Kuwait such as Bur Dubai, KuwaithathAl Ain, Gold Souk and Al-Rai in Kuwait during this period to substantially enhance the shopping experience of the customers. With 37 retail stores located across the entire GCC region, 1 in Singapore and 111 outlets globally, Malabar Gold & Diamonds is one of the most prominent jewellery chains with its presence in 8 countries. The group has a strong focus in the GCC and Far East countries. With their dynamic expansion plans, the group fortifies their business in the areas of their operations and spread their operations into the key markets in the region. As a part of this effort, they will open more outlets in GCC shortly.

BoJ chief quashes stimulus hopes TOKYO: The head of the Bank of Japan yesterday quashed hopes of an imminent expansion to its massive stimulus scheme, and said the country’s first sales tax hike in 17 years would not derail a budding recovery. BoJ chief Haruhiko Kuroda-who also stuck to an ambitious inflation target despite growing doubts among analystsmade the comments came as the central bank held fire on expanding a multi-billiondollar asset-purchase scheme introduced in April last year. The decision yesterday followed a two-day policy meeting. The stimulus is a cornerstone of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wider bid to drag the country out of years of deflation and slumbering growth. Kurodathe former head of the Asian Development Bank hand-picked by Abe to help steer his growth bid-said Tuesday that the economy was pushing ahead despite fears the tax rise will dampen consumer spending. While it is seen as crucial to shrinking Japan’s mountainous debt burden, the higher levy has increased speculation that the BoJ will have to add to its stimulus sooner rather than later. The last time Japan introduced a higher sales levy, in 1997, it was followed by years of deflation and tepid economic growth that defined the country ’s protracted slump. “The sales tax hike is expected to shake growth temporarily, but the bank believes the positive cycle in the Japanese economy will not be stopped and the economy will continue to recover moderately,” Kuroda told reporters in Tokyo. “I am not considering taking additional easing measures at this point, because the economy is steadfastly moving towards reaching the stable 2.0 percent inflation goal and that I don’t think there is a need for additional easing measures.” But Kuroda repeated his view that the BoJ would not hesitate to expand monetary easing to reach its 2.0 percent inflation target by next year, a goal seen as key to reversing years of deflation. More stimulus likely Analysts have been increasingly skeptical about that timing, although recent inflation data have suggested efforts to reverse falling prices and lackluster growth are taking hold. “Nonetheless, we still think that inflation will continue to fall short of the BoJ’s 2.0 percent inflation target, which should eventually prompt the central bank to announce more stimulus,” Capital

TOKYO: Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda answers questions during a press conference at the bank’s headquarters in Tokyo yesterday. — AFP Economics said. “But this decision can wait until the second half of the year, perhaps until October.” In forex trading, the yen strengthened on Kuroda’s comments with the dollar buying 102.55 yen, compared with 102.90 yen earlier in the day and 103.09 yen in New York Monday. Easing measures tend to weigh on the currency. The central bank’s decision to pump billions of dollars into the financial system in an effort to stimulate lending and the wider economy-similar to the US Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing-has received mixed reviews. Some critics say it amounts to a moneyprinting exercise that will saddle Japan with even more debt but advocates have applauded the aggressive approach, a marked departure from previous administrations’ more hesitant efforts. Japan has seen a mixed bag of data lately, but surprisingly weak factory output in February and a cautious outlook among company managers have again raised concerns about the strength of Abe’s efforts, dubbed Abenomics. The BoJ’s easing, which sharply weakened the yen in a boost for exporters, was meant to jerk the economy out of its slumber and create lasting inflation in a country where falling prices had become the norm. While deflation may sound good for consumers, it means people tend to put off buying in the hope of getting goods cheaper down the road, hurting producers. Deflationary “expectations-a sense that prices would not increase -became entrenched”, Kuroda said in a speech last month. “In order to escape such a situation, it has become necessary to pursue a polic y that quick ly and drastically changes people’s sense that prices will not increase.” — AFP

Greek borrowing costs fall ahead of bond issue ATHENS: Greece’s finance ministry says the lower cost and stronger investor appetite for the country’s latest shortterm debt issue bodes well for a longanticipated return to bond markets in the near future. The yield investors demanded to buy regular issue of six-month treasury bills fell to 3.01 percent, from 3.6 percent in March. The issue was three times oversubscribed and raised 1.3 billion euros ($1.8 billion). Greece has been unable to sell longdated debt since it nearly went bankrupt four years ago, but has maintained a market presence through regular treasury-bill issues. It has survived on international bailouts conditional on stringent austerity measures and wide-ranging economic reforms. Deputy Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said yesterday’s auction shows Greece is on “a return trajectory” to global markets. Without specifying when exactly, the government has said it will issue about 2 billion euros worth of 3- or 5-year bonds by July, earlier than initially hoped as its borrowing costs have fallen in bond markets amid an improvement in public finances and progress in its talks with bailout creditors. “This has allowed us to re-establish lost credibility and place us in a position where we should be able within the foreseeable future to tap international capital

markets,” Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told yesterday. Media speculation has been high that the bond issue could be as early as this week, but Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras indicated on Monday that there is no hurry to bring out the bond before Greek Easter, on April 20. Greece sold its last long-term bond in early April 2010, a month before the bailout deal, when it paid 5.9 percent for a 7-year issue. Ten-year borrowing costs are now at the lowest since early 2010. However, major ratings agencies still list Greek bonds as below investment grade, and two years ago the country forced private investors to take a 75 percent loss on their Greek bond holdings. Unions have called a general strike today to protest the ongoing income cuts, tax hikes and record-high unemployment. Mitsotakis said the dissatisfaction is “only natural.” “We never promised miracles and we never said the situation is going to dramatically improve from one moment to the next,” he said. “Having said that, if you just compare Greece today to where it was two years ago when the whole topic of discussion was not Greece’s remarkable comeback but whether Greece would be able to stay within the eurozone, I think that the progress has been overall quite remarkable. — AP

PARIS: French prime minister Manuel Valls (left), delivers a speech at the National Assembly in Paris yesterday. — AP

New French PM Valls vows to cut labor costs, taxes Crunch time for Valls as he makes first policy speech PARIS: France’s new prime minister yesterday vowed to slash labor costs by 30 billion euros ($41 billion) and ease taxes in a bid to turn around the country’s struggling economy. Delivering his first policy speech to parliament since he took over as prime minister last week, Manuel Valls said the measures were aimed at boosting competitiveness and increasing the spending power of consumers. In a speech in which he vowed to “open a new chapter” for the Socialist government of President Francois Hollande, Valls laid out a series of measures aimed at reviving the economy. He said the 30 billion euros in reductions to employer payroll charges would be introduced by 2016. Under the plan, employers would not have to pay charges for minimum-wage employees, something he called “a true revolution”. Valls also promised 5 billion euros in tax cuts for “modest households”, including minimum-wage earners. He vowed to continue the “recovery” of the country’s public finances, confirming 50 billion euros in budget cuts by 2017. Valls said the cuts included 19 billion euros from state spending, 10 billion euros from health insurance and 10 billion euros from local governments. He did not specify where the rest

would be found. “Of course we must straighten up our public finances but not by destroying our social model or our public services,” he said. “I am for respecting our commitments, for budget responsibility, not for austerity,” Valls said. Valls, appointed by President Francois Hollande last week after the ruling Socialists suffered a drubbing at local elections, has been tasked with boosting growth, creating sorelyneeded jobs, cutting payroll taxes and slashing 50 billion euros ($69 billion) from public spending. The Bank of France said growth for the first quarter of the year would be 0.2 percent-higher than the figure of 0.1 percent expected by the INSEE statistics institute. Official figures also showed an improvement in the trade deficit in February in a tentative sign that the clouds over the French economy are thinning. Hollande has tasked Valls with implementing a package of pro-business policies known as the Responsibility Pact, which cuts taxes on firms that are widely viewed as hampering employment and growth, to be financed by 50-billioneuro spending cuts. His speech is expected to detail where those cuts will come from. Hollande also asked his new prime minister to set in motion a new “Solidarity Pact” that would

include steps to boost people’s spending power. Valls’s new government has also sent strong signals that it will try to obtain an extension of European Union deadlines for reducing the public deficit to 3.0 percent of output, a deadline which was already recently extended by two years to the end of 2015. The new prime minister, who replaced JeanMarc Ayrault following disastrous results at municipal elections, has been preparing the speech for several days and said yesterday morning that his message would be about “building trust.” After his speech to parliament, lawmakers will stage a confidence vote, which could potentially derail the new government if a majority votes against Valls. But while the left-wing of the Socialist Party and the Greens do not approve of Valls, a former interior minister considered to the right of the party, he is nevertheless expected to sail through with a comfortable majority. The government is counting on growth to reduce the political and social fallouts from enacting cutbacks, and other data published yesterday reflected to varying degrees an underlying improvement in the state of the economy. — AFP

Limitless asks creditors for more time to repay debt DUBAI: Dubai government-owned property firm Limitless is asking creditors for more time to repay a $1.2 billion debt facility, its chairman said yesterday. Limitless, a former property arm of Dubai World, restructured the Islamic debt facility in October 2012 after several maturity extensions by a syndicate of lenders including Royal Bank of Scotland and Emirates NBD. Under the deal, the company was given an initial grace period before scheduled repayments between 2014

and 2016. The revised loan carries an interest rate of 175 basis points over the London interbank offered rate, according to Reuters data. Although the Dubai property market has rebounded in recent months, with prices up 33 percent year-on-year according to consultancy JLL, Limitless chairman Ali Rashid Lootah said the company now felt it would need more time to make payments under the 2012 restructuring agreement. “We are revising our business plan. We need

Lufthansa to hold new talks with pilots’ union FRANKFURT: German airline Lufthansa said it would meet with its pilots’ union tomorrow to discuss union demands for an early retirement scheme and higher pay but had not revised its offer. The aim of the meeting is to lay the groundwork for further negotiations, a spokesman for the German flagship carrier said yesterday. “We will take up talks on the basis of the offer on the table. We are convinced it has enough substance to develop a solution,” the spokesman said. Union Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), which represents most of Lufthansa’s 5,400 pilots, confirmed that the meeting was due to take place but declined further comment. It had previously said it wanted to see a new offer from Lufthansa before starting talks. Lufthansa’s pilots staged a three-day strike last week - the longest walkout in the airline’s history - to underline their demands. The pilots want Lufthansa to reinstate a scheme that enabled them to receive 60 percent of their pay if they left their jobs before the legal retirement age. The retirement age of pilots was raised in recent years following a European court ruling and now stands at 65. Lufthansa terminated a previous transition agreement in the wake of that ruling. Shortly before the strike, the carrier made an alternative proposal that would still have allowed pilots to retire early but this was rejected by the union. Lufthansa is also negotiating with the pilots over a pay rise. The carrier is in the middle of a restructuring program, dubbed SCORE, which aims to improve operating profit by 1.5 billion euros ($2.1 billion) compared with 2011. It has already agreed pay deals with ground staff and cabin crew, leaving the pilots as the final major staff group with which it has to reach agreement. The cost of last week’s strike, which caused Europe’s biggest airline to cancel 3,800 flights in total, would be in the high double-digit million euros, Chief Financial Officer Simone Menne told journalists late on Monday. Previously, Lufthansa had talked of costs of between 35 million and 75 million euros ($48-$103 million). Menne said the real damage would be longer term because it could put passengers off booking with the airline. The CFO repeated comments that Lufthansa hoped to reach an agreement before the end of the Easter school holidays. So far, the pilots have said they did not plan any action during the holidays. The pilots’ strike was the third to hit Lufthansa within six weeks after industrial action by security staff and public sector workers also affected German airports. —Reuters

some more time. We are in discussion with banks and they are very cooperative,” Lootah told Reuters. “We have been talking to the banks for a while now and they know the situation. There will be delays. We have a payment plan but this may just be shifted slightly from the earlier schedule.” While Lootah wouldn’t elaborate on why the company was seeking a new repayment timetable, he said it was “still healthy and still in good shape”. —Reuters



Bruised stocks sag ahead of US earnings season LONDON: A three-day sell-off in world stocks slowed yesterday as investors settled into position for the start of US earnings season and gains in China added to signs of revived emerging-market demand. European shares and bonds were both dragged down by ongoing caution, amid renewed tension in Ukraine and signs the European Central Bank may not be as eager to begin large-scale stimulus as had been hoped. After some early resistance, the region’s main bourses buckled, leaving London, Paris and Frankfurt 1 percent lower and recent top performing Spanish and Portuguese indexes down more than 2 percent. Euro zone bond yields, a proxy for government borrowing costs, rose. The euro strengthened to its highest in a almost a week. “The QE (quantitative easing) talk continues to be very much in focus in Europe,” said Jan von Gerich, the chief developed markets

strategist at Nordea in Helsinki. “The ECB is clearly tempering the expectations, and I think the Ukraine news is also contributing to the weakness.” Earlier, Asian stocks had managed to shrug off the gloom of a third day of sizable losses on Wall Street. Chinese shares , particularly those of banks, rose on stimulus hopes and helped to take MSCI’s benchmark emerging market index to its highest since midDecember. Emerging markets have rebounded sharply in the past two weeks. Investors appeared to have largely put aside the worries about geopolitics, slowing US stimulus and China’s stuttering economy that had fuelled a turbulent start to the year. But Japan’s Nikkei fell 1.4 percent on concern over a decline by global tech stocks. The yen also rose as the Bank of Japan kept its policy steady on Tuesday and offered little to sug-

gest more stimulus was likely in the near term. Ukraine strains The latest Wall Street shakeout comes as investors prepare for the first-quarter corporate earnings season, which begins later when resources giant Alcoa reports results. All three of the major US indexes - the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average and techfocused Nasdaq - were expected to see little in the way of a rebound when trading resumes. Rising tensions in Ukraine also tempered investor appetite for risk. Police detained 70 people occupying a regional administration building in eastern Ukraine overnight, but pro-Moscow protesters held out in a standoff in two other cities, in what Kiev called a Russian-led plan to divide the country. Against the yen, the dollar fell about 0.5

percent to 102.56 yen, well off the 2 1/2month high of 104.13 yen it reached on Friday. The euro also bumped lower, down about 0.4 percent to 141.15 yen. But the cooling QE talk pushed it up against the dollar at 1.3769, rebounding from Friday’s five-week low of $1.3672. Gold, oil firm After ECB policymakers aroused expectations at their policy meeting last week, some of the more conservative members suggested on Monday the bank was not yet ready to begin the kind of mass asset-buying used in the United States, Japan and UK. “QE is definitely something that the ECB has been discussing, but we still think the bar to full blown-purchases of government bonds is still very, very high,” said Vasileios Gkionakis Global head of FX strategy at UniCredit in London.

World financial powers are set to gather this week at the IMF’s Spring Meeting. Washington engaged in some pre-meeting jockeying with China, warning Beijing that recent depreciation of the Chinese currency could raise “serious concerns”. Much of the focus is likely to concentrate on the Russia’s moves into Ukraine. They are being met with the threat of stronger sanctions from the West, though Russian stocks and the ruble seemed largely unconcerned yesterday. In commodity markets, safe-haven gold was trading around two-week highs, up about 1.2 percent from the previous session at $1,311.45 an ounce. US crude for May gained about 0.9 percent to $101.35 a barrel, pushed up by the renewed tensions over Ukraine, a major supply route for Russian gas to Europe. But the rise was capped by expectations US crude oil stocks were building up. — Reuters

TOKYO: A man points at an electronic stock price indicator as he speaks with his colleague in Tokyo yesterday. Asian stock markets were mixed yesterday after Japan’s central bank refrained from expanding its stimulus and declines in tech stocks weighed on prices. — AP

Oil rises above $106 on renewed Ukraine tension LONDON: Brent crude rose above $106 a barrel yesterday as fresh unrest in eastern Ukraine heightened tension between Russia and the West, but hopes Libya would soon resume oil exports kept prices capped. The gains came amid a broad retreat in global equity markets recently and a weakening of the dollar, with investors turning to oil for exposure to global economic growth. Brent crude for May delivery was up 63 cents at $106.45 a barrel by 0933 GMT. US crude for May rose 85 cents to $101.29 a barrel. “The geopolitical risk is increasing with increasing tension between Russia and Ukraine,” said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst for Norway-based SEB. Ukrainian police detained 70 proMoscow protesters occupying a government building in the Russian-speaking industrial heartland in the east of the country overnight as Kiev accused Russia of seeking to dismember the country. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned Moscow that if it were to encroach into eastern Ukraine there would be “grave consequences” for its relationship with the alliance. Russia is the world’s biggest oil producer, and any deep diplomatic rift between Moscow and the West worries investors. Crude prices dropped on Monday and remained under pressure on Tuesday due

to the prospect of additional Libyan supplies after rebels agreed to end gradually their eight-month blockade of oil ports accounting for around 700,000 barrels per day. “Hiccups can still develop on the way to a full return of supplies from Libya but this is nonetheless a bearish development,” said Oliver Jakob, an analyst at Switzerlandbased Petromatrix. Iran talks The bearish tone for oil was also underpinned by an easing of tensions between the West and Iran. Tehran said it hopes enough progress will be made this week to enable negotiators to start drafting by midMay a final accord to settle a long-running dispute over its nuclear program. The Islamic Republic and six world powers will hold a new round of talks in Vienna yesterday and today. “If the current round of discussion in Vienna confirms that the final agreement will be drafted in May ... then the market will again start to focus a bit more on the supply and demand for the second half of the year including higher flows of Iranian crude oil, in an environment where Iraq is also increasing production,” Jakob said. US oil stocks were expected to have risen last week, a preliminary Reuters poll of four analysts showed ahead of a weekly inventory report from industry group the American Petroleum Institute. — Reuters

Gold edges higher as dollar, shares drop LONDON: Gold rose more than 1 percent yesterday as the dollar and equity markets fell on signs the European Central Bank may not recur to more stimulus, while renewed tensions in Ukraine kept risk appetite subdued. The metal gained further support after Iraq’s central bank said it might buy more gold in the next few months, having bought 60 tonnes over the past two months. Spot gold touched a two-week high of $1,314.43 an ounce in earlier trade and was up 1.2 percent at $1,311.60 by 1156 GMT. Gold futures for June delivery gained 1.1 percent to $1,311.90 an ounce. The technical picture seems to have improved over the past few sessions after prices crossed the $1,300 mark, but a failure to break resistance at $1,322 could signal a restart of downward pressure, analysts said. The metal recovered 2.7 percent from a seven-week low of $1,277.29 early last week, when investors cut bullish bets on expectations that strong economic data out of the United States could prompt a quicker tightening of US monetary policy. The dollar fell 0.4 percent against a basket of currencies, mostly due to gains in the Japanese yen following the Bank of Japan’s decision to hold off from additional easing and a stronger euro after the European Central Bank (ECB) again played down the need for any immediate policy action. “Gold seems to be benefiting from both optimism about Europe’s economic future and pessimism about Europe’s geopolitical future,” Macquarie analyst Matthew Turner said. Ukraine has launched what it described as an “anti-terrorist” operation in the eastern city of Kharkiv and said about 70 separatists had been arrested for seizing

the regional administration building. Gold is usually seen as an insurance against risk in times of economic uncertainty or global political troubles. The next market focus will be the release today of US Federal Reserve minutes for the March FOMC meeting. The state of the US economy will continue to be the prime factor driving gold prices in the near term, while monetary policy by the Fed and the ECB should impact prices in the longer run, analysts said. Chinese demand The rise in bullion comes despite subdued demand in top buyer China, where prices have been at a discount for more than a month. “Physical demand from China has been weak of late,” Commerzbank said in a note. “This development can be attributed at least in part to the depreciation of the Chinese yuan ... and thus caused the gold price in local currency terms to climb noticeably,” it added. “In addition, Chinese banks scaled back their demand in view of negative physical premiums.” Chinese markets reopened after the Tomb Sweeping holiday on Monday, providing some support to prices. Traders said they noticed a small uptick in buying interest for gold, with Shanghai discounts to London prices narrowing from Friday’s $2 an ounce to less than 50 cents yesterday. Chinese gold prices have been at a discount to spot prices since early March, leading to lower imports. Among other precious metals, silver rose 1.3 percent to $20.07 an ounce, while platinum was up 0.9 percent at $1,434.25 an ounce and palladium gained 1.5 percent to $772.50 an ounce. — Reuters



Germany ushers in renewable energy reform BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet approved yesterday a reform of Germany’s renewable energy law designed to curb a rise in the cost of electricity in Europe’s biggest economy driven by the rapid expansion of green power. The reform will slow the growth of green energy, which accounts for 25 percent of Germany’s electricity, and force new investors in green power to take some risk. Although some industrial companies will have to pay more for power in future, the sector has managed to hang on to many of the benefits it says it needs to stay competitive. Household consumers, who have among the highest electricity bills in Europe, are likely to see power bills rise at a slower pace. The blueprint is a victory for Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel. The Social Democrat (SPD) leader has had to balance maintaining growth in renewables with the requirement to keep heavy industry happy with affordable power. “Some 100 days after the start of the new government we have given the energy shift a new start,” Gabriel told reporters. He stressed that he had seen it as his task to make sure Germany protected jobs by preserving its industrial base. Although Berlin is reducing exemptions from a surcharge which finances green subsidies and are granted to industry, the sector’s contribution will stay roughly the same, he said. Gabriel has also had to accommodate the interests of the European Commission and Germany’s 16 states, which have differing energy priorities. Germany’s shift to green energy and away from nuclear power and fossil fuels is one of conservative Merkel’s flagship policies but the cost of ballooning subsidies has threatened to undermine it. The reform is a centrepiece of her four-month-old “grand coalition” with the SPD. Subsidy cuts Under the draft law, the government plans to increase the share of renewable sources to 40-45 percent of total electricity production by 2025 and to 55-

60 percent by 2035. This is needed to offset the elimination of nuclear power by 2022. It will scale back green subsidies and upper limits will be placed on onshore wind power expansion (at 2.5 gigawatts in capacity per year), photovoltaic (2.5 GW per year) and offshore wind plants (6.5 GW to 2020). From 2017 green energy producers will have to compete more on the market with conventional power generators. The draft is due to become law in August. An original law on renewable energy was brought in by an SPD-Greens government in 2000, and

was designed to support new, green technologies but the subsidies were so generous that the cost of Germany’s renewable energy boom has become unsustainable. Since Merkel decided to speed up Germany’s nuclear exit after Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster, the energy shift has taken on a new importance. Environmental group BUND criticized the plans, saying they would slow the ‘green revolution’ and they favored industry. “Merkel and Gabriel are handing out gifts to com-

BERLIN: German Vice Chancellor and Economy and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel answers TV Journalists after a press conference to present the government’s reform of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) yesterday. — AFP

panies at the cost of ordinary citizens,” it said in a statement. Industry relieved After months of wrangling, Gabriel has also agreed with Brussels to continue some exemptions that protect some heavy industrial users of power from a renewable energy surcharge, worth about 5.1 billion euros ($7 billion) a year but which adds 6.3 cents per kilowatt-hour to the power bills of ordinary consumers. The European Commission - the EU’s executive arm - was looking into whether such discounts on surcharges were giving Germany’s industry an unfair advantage over rival companies in other countries within the bloc. The deal will be passed by the cabinet in May. The powerful industrial sector, which accounts for more than a quarter of the German economy, has warned that some 800,000 jobs would be at risk if companies had to pay the surcharge. “If we don’t want to lose jobs, we have to make sure that our companies remain competitive .. And we have to ensure energy and raw materials are affordable,” said Gabriel. “This is about hundreds of thousands of jobs.” He said households pay some 8 billion euros towards the green surcharge and industry about 7.4 billion euros. “In future it will remain roughly that size,” said Gabriel, even though about 400 of the 2,100 firms that enjoy the exemption will have to relinquish it. Germany’s powerful chemical branch said it was relieved at the plans for exemptions. “Many jobs in the third-biggest industrial sector have been secured, as extremely high additional costs have been avoided,” said Utz Tillmann of chemical industry lobby VCI. The BDI industry association and German Steel Federation echoed those comments. Germany’s wholesale electricity prices are among the lowest in Europe thanks in part to a surge in wind, solar and biofuel capacity in recent years. The boom in renewables also helped drive down wholesale prices in Europe as Germany has become a major exporter of green electricity. — Reuters

UK economy basks in factory output growth IMF upgrade doubles boost

NEW YORK: Trader Timothy Nick, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange yesterday. Stocks were mixed in early trading yesterday after a three-day slump. — AP

Indonesia CB keeps rates on hold as inflation eases JAKARTA: Bank Indonesia kept its benchmark reference rate steady for a fifth straight month, saying the current level was consistent with efforts to meet its inflation target this year. The policy stance will also help lower the country’s large current-account deficit, which unnerved investors last year when it climbed to record highs and sparked a sell-off in the rupiah. Southeast Asia’s largest economy appears to have turned a corner with its trade balance reverting to surplus in February and inflation easing. With confidence returning to the rupiah, Bank Indonesia has held rates steady this year while other major emerging economies were forced to raise them to fend off outflows. “Provided inflation falls back as expected and there is no renewed pressure on the rupiah, the next move in rates is likely to be downwards, but probably not before the end of the year,” said Krystal Tan, Asia economist at Capital Economics. All 15 analysts in a Reuters poll had expected the policy rate to be kept on hold as pressures had eased on both the currentaccount deficit and the rupiah. The Indonesian currency has rebounded, up 7.7 percent so far this year to become Asia’s best performing currency after being its worst last year. The central bank also held the deposit facility rate (FASBI) and lending facility rate at 5.75 percent and 7.50 percent, respectively. Singaporebased economist at OCBC, Wellian Wiranto, said the central bank may face pressure to cut rates on some views easing inflation should be followed with loose monetary policy. “Loosening the belt to allow more gorging may seem immediately gratifying but is hardly helpful to the economy’s long-term health,” Wiranto said. Bank Indonesia said the economy in the first quarter would grow 5.77 percent, a shade faster than the fourth quarter, bolstered by the global recovery. The central bank last month trimmed its growth forecast to 5.5-5.9 percent this year from 5.8-6.2 percent, despite an increase in spending for legislative and presidential elec-

tions. Indonesia has reaped from a recovery in commodity prices, mainly coal and crude palm oil, which helped turn its trade balance in February to a surplus of $790 million from a $450 million deficit the previous month. Inflation in focus The central bank has repeatedly expressed concern over core inflation, an indicator of the longer-term trend in consumer prices, and reiterated it would keep a close eye on prices. “Going forward, BI will remain vigilant on some risks ... such as the adjustment in administered prices and the potential of rising food prices due to the dry season in some regions, including the possibility of El Nino,” said central bank spokesman Tirta Segara. The central bank aims for a range of 3.5 to 5.5 percent for inflation in 2014, far lower than the 8.38 percent rate of last year, but remains watchful of factors that may push prices up. Indonesia’s consumer price index nearly breached 10 percent in mid-2013 after fuel price increases in late June. A Bank Indonesia survey on Friday showed that consumers were more optimistic about the economy in the next six months but remain concerned over the political and economic outlook after presidential elections in July. The survey also found that consumers see the possibility of further rises in fuel prices and electricity tariffs this year. The government plans to propose revising the budget in May, after a new parliament is formed, with possible cuts to allocation for fuel subsidies that may force the central bank to raise its policy rate to mitigate inflation from rising prices. Bank Indonesia has estimated that the current-account deficit will fall under 3 percent of gross domestic product this year, compared with 3.3 percent in 2013. The widest measure of the flow of goods, services and money in and out of the country hit a record of 4.4 percent in the second quarter of last year. — Reuters

Putin, govt to discuss Ukraine energy ties MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin will meet senior Russian government officials today to discuss Russia’s economic ties with Ukraine, including on energy, his spokesman said. The spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, gave no further details. State-controlled natural gas producer Gazprom says Ukraine missed a deadline to pay its March gas bill by midnight on Monday and owes the Russian company $2.2 billion. “A meeting is planned with the leaders of the government to discuss the extraordinary situation that has developed in economic cooperation with Ukraine, including in ... energy dialogue,” Peskov said. Gazprom has nearly doubled the price it charges Ukraine for gas, to $485 per 1,000 cubic metres since President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted by protesters in February and a pro-Western gov-

ernment was installed. Gazprom has not said whether it will punish Kiev for failing to pay the March bill but has suggested previously that it might ask Kiev to pay in advance for its gas if it fails to pay its bills. The Russian company halted deliveries to Ukraine during price disputes in the winters of 2008-2009 and 2005-2006, disrupting supplies to of Russian gas that is pipes to Europe via Ukraine. In December, Putin gave Ukraine a discount on gas and promised a $15 billion bailout after Yanukovich spurned a trade pact with the European Union and turned toward Russia. Russia, whose annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region has badly hurt ties with Kiev and the West, has since scrapped the gas discount and halted the bailout. — Reuters

LONDON: Britain got a double boost yesterday as its recovery from recession gathered more momentum and the International Monetary Fund raised the country’s growth forecasts by more than for any other major economy. Factories expanded production far more quickly than expected in February, UK statistics office data showed. Separate surveys showed a strong first quarter for companies and a long-awaited pick-up in wages. The signs that Britain is finally starting to put the financial crisis behind it are well-timed for finance minister George Osborne. He visits the IMF this week, a year after Fund officials urged him in vain to tone down his austerity program to get growth going again. For the second time in six months, the Fund sharply raised its forecasts for British growth, which it now sees hitting 2.9 percent in 2014 before easing to 2.5 percent next year. That was up from previous forecasts of 2.4 and 2.2 percent. But for all of its pace since early 2013, Britain’s economy is only expected to get back to its precrisis size in the second quarter of this year, significantly lagging other economies such as the United States and Germany. With the recovery still in its early days, Bank of England policymakers, who meet this week, are in no rush to raise interest rates from their record low of 0.5 percent, especially with inflation subdued. The Bank has signalled the second quarter of next year as

the most likely time for a rate hike. In its assessment of the British economy yesterday, the IMF warned of risks from the country’s “surging house prices” and said its big banking sector could take a hit if growth in emerging economies slowed sharply. Factories gear up The pound jumped yesterday when statistics showed manufacturing output expanded by 1.0 percent in February from January - its biggest increase since September. The annual growth rate of 3.8 percent was the highest in three years. Economists in a Reuters poll had expected a month-on-month rise of 0.3 percent and a 3.1 percent increase for the year. Overall industrial output climbed 0.9 percent on the month, recovering from a weak January when bad weather hampered North Sea oil and gas production. Osborne last month announced measures to help manufacturers, part of a long-standing attempt to make Britain’s economy less dependent on consumer demand. Several economists said the manufacturing and industrial output numbers meant Britain’s economy looked on course to grow by as much as 1.0 percent in the first quarter, speeding up from 0.7 percent in the last three months of 2013. Michael Saunders, an economist with Citi, said that forecast could be set back by upcom-

ing data, including a reading of Britain’s construction sector due on Friday. “But so far the signs are that the UK started 2014 with very strong growth,” Saunders said in an email note to clients. Companies buoyant, wages rising There were other signs of strength in the economy yesterday. A survey by the British Chambers of Commerce showed six key manufacturing balances, including investment plans, hit all-time highs in the first quarter and services were strong too with exports at a record high. A second survey showed British employers are raising the salaries they offer to new permanent staff at the fastest rate in nearly seven years as they struggle to fill vacancies. Britain has a way to go to recover fully from the effects of the financial crisis. Manufacturing remains 8.2 percent smaller than it was when overall economic output peaked in early 2008. The ONS said in the three months to the end of February - a smoother reading than the sometimes volatile monthly numbers - manufacturing and industrial production were both up 0.8 percent from the previous three months, picking up a bit of speed. It remains to be seen if the strength in manufacturing continues. A survey of purchasing managers published last week showed Britain’s factory sector saw its slowest growth in eight months in March. — Reuters

American, US Airways tweak fees, mileage rules DALLAS: If you use miles to get a free ticket on American Airlines, you may have to pay to check that suitcase. American and US Airways announced changes yesterday to their policies on checked-bag fees and redeeming miles for free flights. Passengers traveling on American on miles they earned or who paid full price for an economy seat won’t get free checked bags anymore. Some elite-level frequent fliers on both airlines will get one less free bag than before. When it comes to redeeming miles for free flights, US Airways is ending blackout days. American will change the number of miles to get an unrestricted free flight - more on popular travel days, fewer

on less-busy ones. And it’s making an array of changes to the miles needed for international trips. Suzanne Rubin, an American Airlines vice president who oversees the AAdvantage loyalty program, said the changes will increase revenue but she declined to give a figure. The two carriers merged in December and formed American Airlines Group Inc., and Tuesday’s changes are designed to bring the policies of the two closer together. Between them, they have 110 million loyalty-program members, Rubin said. Other changes: For US travel on or after June 1, American members can redeem miles for an unrestricted

Unemployment benefits bill headed to US House WASHINGTON: Election-year legislation to resume long-term jobless benefits is headed to the House, where a small band of dissident Republicans is leaning on Speaker John Boehner to permit a vote on resuming aid to more than 2 million victims of the Great Recession. The White House-backed measure would retroactively restore benefits that were cut off in late December, and maintain them through the end of May. Officials say as many as 2.3 million jobless workers have gone without assistance since the law expired late last year. If renewed, the aid would total about $256 weekly, and in most cases go to men and women who have been off the job for longer than six months. “As many Americans continue to struggle without benefits, we respectfully request that the House immediately consider this bill or a similar measure,” seven House Republicans wrote Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Monday. The outlook remains cloudy, though, for legislation that took three months to move through the Senate. In reply, a spokesman for Boehner said,

“As the speaker said months ago, we are willing to look at extending emergency unemployment insurance as long as it includes provisions to help create more private sector jobs.” The spokesman, Michael Steel, said Senate Democratic leaders had last week “ruled out adding any job measures at all.” Sens. Jack Reed and Dean Heller, the bill’s leading supporters, said they were willing to consider changes in hopes of securing passage in a highly reluctant House. Heller also said he was seeking a meeting with Boehner to discuss the measure, although the senator’s office did not respond to a request for further information about any session with the speaker. President Barack Obama, House Democrats and organized labor also seek a renewal of the expired benefit program for the long-term unemployed, but the bill’s prospects likely reside with members of the Republican Party. The Senate vote itself, seven months before congressional elections, capped a bruising three-month struggle. Fifty-one Democrats, two independents and six Republicans voted for approval. —AP

“AAnytime” award at 20,000 miles, 30,000 miles or 50,000 each way instead of the current 25,000-mile flat rate. The less-flexible “MileSAAver” awards will continue to start at 12,500 miles. Mid-tier elite members (platinum on American; gold and platinum on US Airways) will get two free checked bags; a reduction of one for the US Airways’ Dividend Miles elites. Lower-level elites (gold on American; silver on US Airways) will get one free checked bag, a reduction from two for the American customers. Removing a charge for second checked bags on trips to South America. Rubin said the company was not considering charging a fee for carryon bags, as Spirit Airlines does. — AP

Yemen’s oil revenue falls by over half ADEN: Yemen’s oil revenue, crucial to government financing, fell by more than half in February from January and from February 2013 to $89.4 million mostly due to attacks on its main export pipeline, its central bank said in a report. Yemen, one of the Arab world’s poorest countries, relies on oil exports to finance up to 70 percent of its budget. But frequent attacks on its oil infrastructure over the past two years have slashed exports. Revenue from oil exports was $214.8 million in January and $210 million in February a year ago. Tribesmen often carry out attacks on the pipeline to pressure the government to create more jobs, settle land disputes or free their relatives from prison. The central bank report said on Tuesday that attacks on the pipeline in February had also led to a cut in oil production to 800,000 barrels, compared with 1.8 million barrels in February 2013. Before the attacks began in 2011, the 270-mile pipeline carried around 110,000 barrels per day from the Marib oil field to the Ras Isa oil terminal on the Red Sea. Yemen had to import 1.4 million barrels of petroleum products worth $238.7 million in February to help cover its local needs, the report said. Yemen is a small producer with proven oil reserves of around 3 billion barrels, according to the latest statistics from oil major BP. — Reuters



Al-Sayer Group gears up for huge tech-driven regional expansion Wide-ranging deal with SAP includes mobility solutions KUWAIT: Al-Sayer Group, one of the largest and most respected conglomerates in the MENA region, yesterday announced that it has bolstered its regional expansion plans with a host of cutting-edge business solutions from SAP. The wide-ranging project encompasses all 32 of Al-Sayer Group’s companies, positioning it as one of the most tech-enabled and innovative entities of its kind in the region. The deal features a number of firsts. Al-Sayer Group will become the first company in Kuwait to implement Business Suite on HANA, which is the only solution in the world to combine transactional applications with analytics in-memory. It is also the first to adopt SAP Dealer Business Management for its automotive operations. Other aspects of deal include a full

range of mobility features, as well as solutions for Human Capital Management, Customer Relationship Management, Financial Accounting and Controlling, Supply Chain Management, Solutions Management, and Business Intelligence. KPMG will work as the project’s systems integrator. SAP is also in discussions with Dhow Information Systems Co, a subsidiary of Al-Sayer Group of Companies, to become an authorised SAP value added reseller. “We are expanding and diversifying rapidly in both Kuwait and the wider region. We have an ambitious, sustainable growth plan but its success is entirely reliant on data-driven intelligence in real-time, operational flexibility and, most crucially of all, innovation,” said Naser Mohammad Al-Sayer, Chairman and Founder, Al-Sayer Group.

“Innovation is in our DNA as a company, and we are always looking at new ways to improve our competitiveness and ability to the deliver world-class products and services our customers have come to expect. We are a big group but we need to move fast, with precision and without compromising on quality in any way. SAP gives us a new level of freedom, a distinct cuttingedge, and their solutions will be integral to our ongoing success across the region.” Gergi Abboud, Managing Director Gulf and Pakistan, SAP MENA, said: “Having worked closely with Al-Sayer Group’s management behind the scenes, we know exactly what their demands are and how focused they are for the future. We are automating their entire value chain over the next three years, significantly improving their abil-

ity to expand with speed and achieve new levels of business insight. Al-Sayer Group has as long history that has been driven by visionary leadership and a willingness to adapt to improve. SAP is proud to be asked to help play a part in what promises to be a huge exciting new chapter of expansion and success.” Now in its 60th year, Al-Sayer Group’s business interests currently include automotive sales and services, heavy equipment, foodstuffs, soft drinks, animal feed and financial services. The company took off when Al-Sayer became the first businessman from the Middle East to visit the Toyota Motor Company in Japan in 1954. A year later, he brought Toyota to Kuwait, and in 1956 the company became a Toyota distributor for several countries in the Middle East.

Wataniya Telecom launches first and only 4G/LTE tablet internet combo offer in Kuwait KUWAIT: Wataniya Telecom, a member of Ooredoo Group, continues to surprise customers with amazing data offers that best suits their needs. Now, Wataniya launches a unique, exclusive offer giving customers ultimate flexibility and comfort. The offer combines two data SIM cards in one 4G/LTE internet pack to be used indoors and outdoors. Along with it, customers will receive a free 4G router for use at home and a choice of 4G Samsung Galaxy tablets to be used outdoors. Wataniya gives all the reasons to customers to have a great internet experience everywhere they are: convenience and excellent quality network at excellent prices. Customers who want to enjoy the 4G/LTE internet service by the most advanced network in Kuwait wherever they go can now get this offer. Customers choosing the combo will not

have to carry their pocket routers anymore along with their tablets. While having internet at home, they will also be able to have access internet on tablets anywhere, without needing to buy an additional internet package. Now all Wataniya customers can share their home internet pack with their 4G LTE tablet, everywhere, at no extra cost! For the first time in Kuwait, this new product includes a 4G Samsung Tablet, FREE fixed 4G router, 2 SIM cards sharing 30GB or 100 GB starting at KD 19 per month. Customers can choose between different options which all allow having a free 4G router. Wataniya is proud to be the first to launch such innovative 4G offers in Kuwait and is restless to offer its customers more offers in the future to satisfy their wants and needs. This offer is available now at all Wataniya branches, Fono stores and authorized dealers.

Francois Goupil de Bouille, Infiniti Vice President, Europe, MEA DUBAI: Francois Goupil de Bouille has been appointed Vice President, Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), for Infiniti, effective April 1, 2014. In this role, he will be responsible for managing Infiniti’s entire business and steering its growth plan in this region. He succeeds Fintan Knight who has elected to pursue interests outside of the company. Goupil de Bouille is currently Vice President, Global Operations, for Infiniti based in Hong Kong. In addition, he has full market responsibility for the Asia & Oceania region. In his new capacity, he will be based at Infiniti’s EMEA headquarters in Rolle, Switzerland. He will continue to report to Johan de Nysschen, President, Infiniti Motor Company Ltd. “Francois Goupil de Bouille is a proven

automotive leader who has a wealth of experience in Europe. He is one of our most senior executives and has an impressive track record. I am looking forward to his leadership particularly as we prepare for the launch of the Q30 in 2015”, said de Nysschen. “Fintan Knight has played a key role in shaping Infiniti as a modern and young challenger brand with an attitude. At the same time, he transformed the EMEA organization in preparation of future growth. I am grateful for his contributions and wish him all the best for his future endeavors.” Infiniti is continuing to strengthen its product line-up across the globe and will launch Infiniti Q50 in the Middle East at the beginning of April.

KUWAIT: Chairman Amer Bazei Alyassinin addresses the general assembly.—Photo by Yasser Al-Zayyat

Hayat Communications posts 123% rise in 2013 profit KUWAIT: Hayat Communications held its ordinary general assembly on the premises of the Ministr y of Commerce in the presence of Chairman Amer Bazei Alyassin, executive management and shareholders. During the assembly, Hayat Communications revealed its financial results for the year ending on December 31, 2013 during which the company has scored a 123 percent growth in net profit recording KD205,447 in comparison with KD 877,796 loss in 2012. Commenting on the results, Imad Hayat - Vice Chairman and CEO said: “Year 2013 was a year full of challenges where we promised to walk the talk and bring in internal efficiencies to contain the failing results achieved over the previous two years. We’ve been committed to re-prioritize our plans in addition to customizing new growth for our operations which were the main drive which helped in our efforts to steadily overcome the challenges and growing competition”. “I’m pleased today to share with you the

results of these efforts and we do expect greater achievement by the end of 2014”. Addressing the shareholders and media representatives, Hayat pointed to the important development the company’s operations have witnessed during 2013. He said: “we have managed to overcome the negative impacts of the accumulated losses which would have prevented any positive results should they’ve remained”. Hayat attributed the profit increase to the reduction in costs policy implemented by the company during 2013 and led accordingly to reduce the overall cost base thereby allowing efficiencies to reflect on the bottom line. With a new management and an enthusiastic team, Hayat confirmed that the company will prosper with more new expansion opportunities to reinforce relations with current customers and simultaneously eying prospects. He added: “our strategy for the forthcoming period embeds a bundle of diversified products and services, maintaining the policy of cost

reduction and enticing the support of our professional management team which is playing a key role in attracting new opportunities and fostering our geographical presence”. On the same note, Hayat Communications aspires to lead the market by providing specialized solutions; it is currently working on implementing a new work prototype to increase the profitability. The company is taking effective measures with the prime aim to secure extreme benefits to shareholders. Hayat Communications’ prime aim during the coming period is to pioneer the provisioning of telecom infrastructure in the Middle East including design, implementation and services’ management. The company enjoys a rich reputation within operations of: Qatar, KSA, UAE, Oman, Bahrain and India. Hayat ended: “we dedicate our success to our customers for their trust in us, their confidence motivates us to exert more efforts to always meet their expectations and to our employees for their deeply appreciated efforts.”

All-new Chevrolet Silverado High Country defines rugged luxury KUWAIT: Yusuf Ahmed Alghanim & Sons Automotive, the exclusive distributor of Chevrolet vehicles in Kuwait, is proud to unveil the all-new 2014 Silverado High Country, a big, burly ride that boasts a high level of standard technology, unprecedented luxury, and a powerful performance. The All-New Silverado High Country is now available in all Yusuf Ahmed Alghanim & Sons Automotive showrooms. Like a finely crafted saddle or pair of custom-fitted boots, the 2014 Silverado High Country embodies rugged luxury - craftsmanship, authenticity and functionality rolled into a truck that is stronger, smarter and more capable than ever. It is Chevrolet’s first premi-

um truck and one of the industry’s most capable, backing up an exclusive package of distinctive design elements, comfort and convenience features with segment-topping capability - including the segment’s most powerful 6.2L, V-8 and a 9,800-pound trailering rating. Unique content includes a chrome grille with horizontal chrome bars, body-color front and rear bumpers - including Chevrolet’s CornerStep rear bumper - and specific 20-inch chrome wheels with all-season tires. Additional standard equipment includes halogen projector headlamps, along with chrome body side moldings, door handles and mirrors. Inside, Silverado High Country features an exclusive saddle brown interior. Heated and

cooled perforated premium leather front bucket seats with High Country logos on the headrests are standard, along with Chevrolet MyLink connectivity with an 8-inch touch screen, Bose premium audio and front and rear park assist. High country also comes with a sunroof, navigation system and a High Country Premium Package that includes heated steering wheel, driver alert package, adjustable pedals and integrated trailer brake controller. Silverado High Country adds a higher degree of capability to the premium truck market and broadens the all-new Silverado’s line-up with a unique combination of exclusive features and purposeful technologies. Its class-leading power is matched with the strong chassis and new suspension and drivetrain elements that make the 2014 Silverado 1500 the strongest, most capable and most refined truck in Chevrolet’s history. Complementing capability The Silverado High Country gives customers the capability they want with confident power to back it up, delivering a maximum payload of 1,957 pounds. The all-new EcoTec3 6.2L delivers is the segment’s most powerful V-8 engines, with an SAE-certified 420 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque. This engine feature direct fuel injection, Active Fuel Management and continuously variable valve timing, producing refined pow-

er and torque truck customers demand - and seamlessly switch to four-cylinder mode to save fuel during light-load driving. Each engine is matched with a six-speed automatic transmission featuring auto grade braking, which downshifts the transmission on downgrades to reduce brake wear. The brake system includes GM’s new Duralife rotors, which feature a hardened and strengthened surface to reduce corrosion, helping them last up to twice as long as conventional rotors and providing quieter braking with less vibration. Additional chassis and powertrain details include: • Electric power steering, which helps save fuel and enables a more consistent, crisp steering feel and plenty of assist for parking maneuvers • New, larger rear axles with the strength to accommodate the engines’ higher outputs • Standard locking rear differential with 3.42 ratio • Standard trailering package, with framemounted trailer hitch, seven-pin and four-pin connectors • Trailer sway control is standard and works with StabiliTrak to provide an added measure of confidence when towing a trailer. A fully boxed frame with the main rails and major cross members formed from highstrength steel provides a rigid base for maximum hauling capability, as well as greater noise and vibration isolation - contributing to

the Silverado High Country’s balance of segment-best capability and industry-leading refinement. The stiff chassis enables more precise tuning of the front and rear suspensions, giving the Silverado a more responsive feel with smoother performance and less vibration and shake, particularly on harsh terrain Chevrolet Care All customers who purchase the All New 2014 Chevrolet Silverado will receive the benefits of the Chevrolet Care program. Chevrolet Care is a high level customer service experience based on four pillars: To provide customers with the best in service pricing and cost transparency; booking service with same day delivery; quality service by certified technicians as well as a regional 3 year/100,000 km warranty and 24x7 regional roadside assistance.



High-tech items giving deaf-blind online access SANDS POINT, New York: Tanisha Verdejo loves to surf the Internet for online shopping deals. She chats on Facebook, learns about new recipes and enjoys sending emails to friends and family. Verdejo, who can’t see or hear, could do none of that a year ago. The 40-year-old New Yorker lives in a group home in Port Washington and is among the thousands of people with combined hearing and vision loss to have benefited from a pilot program called iCanConnect. The initiative provides low-income deaf-blind individuals with the most up-to-date telecommunications devices for free and special training to use them. “For me, it’s opened up my whole world,” Verdejo said through a sign language interpreter at the Helen Keller National Center in suburban Long Island. The center, along with the Boston-based Perkins School for the Blind, is working with state agencies and others around the country to distribute items like refreshable Braille displays, amplified telephones and computer programs that allow for large print displays for those who may be visionimpaired but not entirely blind. Much of the equipment is compatible with Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad and connect via Bluetooth. “Modern technology has rapidly progressed, and we are available to provide individuals with combined vision and hearing loss the best technology and telecommunications tools

for their individual needs,” said Thomas J Edwards, president of Helen Keller Services for the Blind, which has 11 regional offices around the country. For Verdejo and others, the changes have been dramatic. “I’m able now to access anything I want,” Verdejo said. “I mean, I have all these apps here and can see anything now. I see it through my Braille device. I’m just so thrilled and happy that I’m able to communicate with the world.” Established by the Federal Communications Commission, the pilot program allocates $10 million annually for low-income deaf-blind people to get the equipment. The program, which is in the second year of a three-year study, is open to individuals earning less than $44,680 annually, with income limits slightly higher in Hawaii and Alaska. An estimated 2,000 people have been served by the program in its first 18 months, said Betsy McGinnity, a Perkins spokeswoman. She said the program has received positive feedback and was confident it could be extended beyond the three-year study period. Dr Christian Vogler, director of the Technology Access Program at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, said because the deaf-blind population is relatively small - about 100,000 in the US, according to one estimate - the high-technology devices are very expensive to produce. Some refreshable Braille displays hand-held electronic devices that employ

a network of tiny pins that pop up and down through holes, scrolling letters that a blind person can read - can cost as much as $6,000. Software that enlarges text on computer screens can sometimes cost $800 to $1,000. “There’s not a lot of profit for these companies; the equipment is very expensive and most can’t afford it,” Vogler said. Other devices include amplifiers that assist those with limited hearing loss to know when a telephone is ringing or computer programs that accent certain colors that may assist the vision-impaired. Applicants for the technology go through a rigorous screening process to determine what specific devices could benefit them best, said Ryan Odland, the New York coordinator of the distribution program for the Helen Keller National Center. Once accepted, they are trained in the proper ways to use the equipment; the training is tailored to each individual. “We do not order equipment for anything other than to gain equal access to telecommunications,” Odland said. “We tend to be very thorough with our assessment to be certain what equipment our consumer wants is ideal for them.” He said there is no financial cap on what any individual may receive. “It’s based on their specific needs,” Odland said. Although many of those eligible for the devices are known to officials at the

NEW YORK: Ryan Odland, an official with the Helen Keller National Center, demonstrates the use of a specially designed keyboard that helps blind clients access the Internet, in Sands Point, New York. — AP Keller and Perkins facilities, the organizations are reaching out to others who may not be clients of either. “We want to get the word out to seniors who are experiencing age-related vision and hearing issues,” said Sue Ruzenski, the acting executive director at the Helen Keller center.

“And there are other groups of people that we may not always interact with that may be eligible for services.” Ruzenski said a $10 million annual allocation may not seem like much, but insisted: “We looked at it as a huge breakthrough for the deafblind community.” — AP

Nepalese pioneer inducted into ‘Internet Hall of Fame’ Over a decade of wireless Internet services

MADRID: Travel group eDreams Odigeo, Go Voyages, Opodo and eDreams founder Javier Perez-Tenessa speaks during a press conference in Madrid yesterday after ringing the bell in the Madrid stock exchange’s main hall to mark the start of trade in its stock. — AFP

Spain’s eDreams Odigeo skids on market debut MADRID: Spanish online travel group eDreams Odigeo’s share price tumbled as it listed on the Madrid stock exchange yesterday, a worrying sign for the richest new entry to the market in nearly three years. Javier Perez-Tenessa, founder of the group which includes Go Voyages, Opodo and eDreams, rang the bell in the Madrid stock exchange’s main hall to mark the start of trade in its stock. But within the first half hour of trade, the stock had skidded 5.89 percent to 9.599 euros. The sound of the bell announcing a new listing has barely been heard since summer 2011 when banking group Bankia arrived on the market, one year before it required a 20-billion-euro state rescue to avoid financial collapse. During two years of recession, from which Spain emerged gingerly in mid-2013, the stock market lured hardly any new players. That changed only in the past few weeks, with two more modest listings of real estate firms Hispania and Lar Espana Real. Meanwhile, the Madrid stock market has gained some strength: on Friday it hit the highest level since May 2011. On listing, eDreams Odigeo becomes the largest listed e-business in Europe in terms of profits. In its float, shares were priced at 10.25 euros each, valuing the company at 1.1 billion euros ($1.5 billion). Its main shareholders, Permira and Ardian (ex-Axa Private Equity), will hold between 54.4 and 59.5 percent of the capital. Remarkable performance -“With this listing, we will be the first European business to be in the top five of the world in sales of on-line trips, where previously there were only American and Chinese businesses,” Perez-Tenessa said in a recent interview. It is a remarkable performance for a business that started from zero 14 years ago and is now the world number one in online air

ticket sales, he said, thanks to the 2011 merger of Go Voyages, eDreams and Opodo. The group, which employs more than 1,500 people including 650 in Spain and 320 in France and also includes sites Liligo and Travellink, boasts more than 14 million customers in 42 countries. Its float was undertaken in two stages: the issuing of 50 million euros in new shares and the sale of existing shares for 376-433 million euros. “The group’s strategy is to consolidate its world number-one position in online air ticket sales, while increasing revenue from other products via partnerships with specialists in their fields,” Odigeo said, alluding to businesses such as hotel and rental car reservations. At the end of 2013, Odigeo reported 7.3 million reservations in the first nine months of its business year, with revenue up five percent to 3.26 billion euros. The group says its listing should allow further expansion and it has declared that it is ready to snap up interesting opportunities as they arise. At more than a billion euros, the group is highly valued, said Thibaut de Smedt, associate director at investment banker Bryan, Garnier & Co. “But that is not surprising because there is a premium in being the leader,” he said. “Odigeo has done a good job integrating the different brands and it is a benchmark in the European market,” he added, predicting that the online travel market would undergo some consolidation with smaller players finding it hard to survive. In a business with high marketing costs and small margins, especially in air ticket sales, “very few players make a profit”, Smedt said. Odigeo rival Rumbo Bravofly is set to list on April 16 in Zurich, with a value of about 600 million euros. — AFP

HONG KONG: A Nepalese educator who transformed the way of life in more than 150 remote Himalayan villages by connecting them to the Internet was yesterday inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame. Mahabir Pun spent more than a decade providing wireless Internet services to villages which had lacked even a telephone service, opening up access to education, commerce and health care. “I am a strong advocate of a free Internet, I want the Internet to be available to people living under the poverty line,” Pun said in an interview in Hong Kong, where the Internet Hall of Fame held its annual awards ceremony yesterday. Pun was inspired by the Internet in the US, where he studied for university in the early 1990s, and was able to connect his native village of Nangi using television dishes and homemade antennas in 2002. He has since built a network connecting 175 villages to free wireless Internet services, and plans to continue providing the service to other remote villages in the country. “I want to try my best to breach the physical divide that is there between rural areas and urban areas, rich countries and poor countries,” Pun said. The 59-year-old said villagers had no concept of the Internet when he introduced the network, but were still very curious and eager to use it. They now use it for communication, education and trade. “If they wanted to buy a buffalo, they could immediately find who was selling a buffalo.” Pun said. Villagers in the past had to walk for days to other locations to inquire about the availability of products they were seeking, due

HONG KONG: Nepalese Internet pioneer Mahabir Pun smiles during an interview in Hong Kong yesterday. — AFP tory with innovative ideas, groundbreaking to a lack of telephone lines. Now they even use his network to access technologies and collaborative work to connect medical expertise via real-time video connec- more people and countries to the Internet,” tions to clinics in cities. Pun was among 24 Kathy Brown, the chief executive officer of the Internet innovators inducted into the hall of Internet Society which launched the hall of fame, which has previously honored Tim fame, said in a statement. The Internet Hall of Fame, which recognizes Berners-Lee, inventor of the world-wide web, pioneers and innovators in the field, held its and former US Vice President Al Gore. Other inductees for 2014 included Eric Bina third annual awards ceremony in Hong Kong from the US, who co-created the world’s first for the first time yesterday. The southern widely-used website browser, and Brazil’s Demi Chinese city became home to one of the Getschko, a key player in connecting his coun- world’s fastest Internet connections in 2013, with speeds over three times the global avertry to the Internet. “They fearlessly forged into uncharted terri- age. — AFP

Web satire fosters change in communist Vietnam HO CHI MINH CITY: A critical blog post could land you in jail in communist Vietnam, but a satirical image of Cinderella which mocks the ruling elite? Likely to slip past the censors. The country’s roughly 33 million Internet users, armed only with laptops and a sense of humor, are driving broader social change in the authoritarian nation than scores of imprisoned firebrand bloggers, experts say. From their calls for the health minister to resign-a cause so popular that a state-run newspaper briefly took up the campaign-to amusing attacks on ham-fisted censorship, Vietnam’s ever-growing ranks of Internet users are finding their voice. “The kids creating and sharing these images don’t think of it as activism, for the most part. They’re not necessarily campaigning for anything. They’re just making jokes,” said Patrick Sharbaugh, a digital culture researcher who has worked in Vietnam. “An ersatz civil society is emerging out of this,” he said. Criticized over a spate of baby deaths after rou-

tine vaccinations, Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien was the target of hundreds of memes including unflattering photos of her with the words: “Without me, how would funeral services thrive”. In a one-party communist country where public loudspeaker systems still broadcast official news twice daily and all media are state-run, the space the Internet creates is important. At the forefront of the revolution is the “meme”an idea or piece of content, similar to viral content, but changed or remixed as it spreads. While still not as widely used in Vietnam as in the United States or China, “there’s a lot of growth to come,” said Ben Valentine, an American writer for The Civil Beat website which examines memes and viral media. “It’s very exciting,” he added. “While censorship is extremely harmful socially, it can breed intense creativity.” Cute Cat Theory It is difficult for Vietnam’s government to stop the spread of memes. Facebook is already is under a

partial unofficial block that is easily circumvented by some 22 million Vietnamese who have accounts, and shutting it down totally risks upsetting, and even radicalizing, otherwise content citizens. This is an example of the Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism, a term coined by academic Ethan Zuckerman in 2008. Tools like Facebook-used overwhelmingly to share “cute cat” pictures, baby photos or selfies-can also be used for political content. “Any tool that allows cute cat images to spread, is a tool that can allow activist messages to spread. So that is a challenge” for authoritarian regimes, said American artist and writer An Xiao Mina, who describes memes as the “street art of the Internet”. And under authoritarian regimes that use keyword search algorithms to delete messages, “the activist message becomes the cute cat,” said Mina. So to show support for dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, whose name has been blocked on China’s hugely popular Weibo microblogging site, people use photos of sunflower seeds-a reference to one of his works. — AFP

Sonar loaded underwater robot to hunt for MH370 SYDNEY: A torpedo-shaped mini-sub could provide conclusive proof that missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 crashed into the Indian Ocean, but the task is set to push the machine to its limits. The Bluefin-21, a 493 centimetre (16.2 feet) long sonar device is expected to be deployed to the ocean floor in the days ahead to look for debris from Boeing 777, which vanished on March 8. Angus Houston, who heads the agency coordinating the eight-nation hunt, said that after more work to detect “pings” consistent with those issued from aircraft black boxes the autonomous submersible could be deployed in the remote area off western Australia where the search is focused. Once in the water, if the device detects something unusual using the sonar, it can be brought to the surface and sent down again equipped with a video camera to provide the

visual evidence of a crash. “You can’t have the side sonar and the camera down there together, it’s one or the other,” the retired Air Chief Marshal Houston told the ABC. “We will continue sortie after sortie until such time as we pick up evidence that there’s something unusual on the ocean floor. We would then send down the camera. “What we’re after is wreckage, a debris field as people would say.” The device was designed for offshore surveying, search and salvage operations, archaeology and exploration, oceanography and mine countermeasures and its modest size makes it easy to transport. But it will be a smallish device operating in a vast ocean search zone, and Houston said it would take a long time to find anything without more information about a possible crash site. “It’s a long, painstaking process, particularly when you start searching the depths of the ocean floor,” he

said. The Bluefin-21 has not yet been sent down because it cannot be deployed while the US Navy’s towed pinger locator, the device attached to the Australian vessel Ocean Shield which had picked up the sounds, is in use. But once the batteries in the black box recorders expire, something which is expected to occur in coming days given they have a lifespan of about 30 days, the Bluefin-21 is expected to be deployed. The device, which weighs 750 kilograms, can operate at a depth of up to 4,500 metres-the depth of the ocean floor where the pings were detected. “It can’t go deeper than that, so it’s quite incredible how finely balanced all of this is,” Houston said. The US Navy has provided specialist Navy and civilian equipment operators who will join the ship’s crew and Australian Defence Force specialists to deploy the equipment, authorities said. — AFP

HANOI: In this photo illustration taken on March 28, 2014, a man uses his laptop to look at the Facebook page “Tuyet Bitch Collective” in Hanoi. The country’s roughly 33 million Internet users, armed only with laptops and a sense of humor, are driving broader social change in the authoritarian nation than scores of imprisoned firebrand bloggers, experts say. — AFP


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

Greece’s hot springs left untapped THERMOPYLAE, Greece: Hercules used them to regain his strength after his legendary labours, Hippocrates lauded their beneficial properties and even a famous Roman general, Sulla, said he owed his health to them. Their praise was for hot springs, a medicinal resource known and appreciated in Greece since antiquitythough regrettably less so nowadays. “Greece invented the therapeutic use of hot springs thousands of years before the birth of Jesus Christ,” says Zisis Aggelidis, a professor of hydrogeology at Thessaloniki’s Aristotelio University. In ancient Greece, healing temples known as Asclepieia-named after the god of medicine Asclepius-were popular with pilgrims. Greece today has some 700 hot springs known to have curative properties, but just over 100 are accessible and even fewer are commercially exploited. Many are still free of charge to the public, out in nature with minimal facilities, even on popular tourist islands such as Santorini, Milos and Kos. Evangelos Kyriazis, a barrel-chested man in his sixties, says he has not been to a doctor in years thanks to his

local spa. Kyriazis’ magic potion bubbles forth from a mountain in central Greece, near the town of Thermopylae. His self-styled treatment is to take 300 baths a year for half an hour in the sulphurous water, which has a temperature of between 30 and 40 degrees Celsius (86-104 Fahrenheit). “It detoxifies and oxygenates the body, regulates pressure, dilates the blood vessels, relaxes the muscles, clears the lungs, strengthens the bones and relaxes the nervous system,” says Kyriazis. “It even whitens the teeth.” ‘Hot gates’ Thermopylae, literally “hot gates” in Greek, has become synonymous with the ferocious battle in which 300 Spartans sacrificed themselves against overwhelming Persian odds in 480 BC. Few today, however, associate Thermopylae with the hot springs Hercules frequented in Greek mythology, except a few locals and a small number of connoisseurs. “These springs cured my aching knees and shoulder. The waters here are more natural than in Germany,”

says pensioner Alfred Weigel, who makes an annual pilgrimage from his native Bavaria for a dip here. To the uninitiated, the site appears inauspicious, close to an abandoned petrol station and a derelict hotel. Bathers change in their car, and step over a wobbly wooden pallet to reach the springs. “We have an exceptional product but it is poorly used,” sighs Markos Danas, secretary general of the union of Greek spa towns. He notes that across the country less than a dozen sites offer acceptable tourism infrastructure. “Hot springs are mostly run by local communities, and this has limited the scope of development,” he adds. Three of Greece’s best-known spa towns are Loutraki in the Peloponnese, Kamena Vourla in central Greece and Edipsos, on the island of Evia. The latter is known to posterity through the Greek biographer Plutarch as the site that cured Rome’s Sulla. For years much of the clientele were Greek pensioners on state-funded curative tours. However, in the wake of the economic crisis gripping the country for the past five years, demand has fallen

THERMOPYLAE: People bath at a hot spring of Thermopylae, literally ‘hot gates’ which has become synonymous with the ferocious battle in which 300 Spartans sacrificed themselves against overwhelming Persian odds in 480 BC. —AFP dramatically. The union of spa towns reports a 50-percent drop in paying customers since 2009. The spa towns are now hoping an EU directive that authorises reimburs-

ing citizens taking hot baths in other member states will revive interest. Greece’s state privatisation agency last year also offered four hot springs in central Greece, including

Thermopylae, for sale to private developers. But there were no takers-meaning more free visits for Evangelos and his fellow bathers in the foreseeable future. —AFP

Stem cell scientist readies to fight fabrication claim TOKYO: A young female researcher is preparing to fight claims that her groundbreaking stem cell study was fabricated, her lawyer said yesterday, as Japan’s maledominated scientific establishment circled its wagons. Haruko Obokata, 30, was admitted to hospital on Monday because her “mental and physical condition is unstable”, lawyer Hideo Miki told reporters. But an official at his office said she is planning to hold a news conference on Wednesday in the western city of Osaka despite advice from her doctor, Jiji Press reported. Obokata was feted by Japan’s media after unveiling research that appeared to show a relatively simple way to convert adult cells into a kind of stem cell. Such a cell has the potential to become differentiated into the various specialised cells that make up the brain, heart, kidneys and other organs. That could significantly help the search for a ready supply of transplant tissues, offering much-needed progress in the battle against all manner of degenerative diseases. A rash of magazine pieces and television shows celebrated a rare success for a young Japanese woman in a field largely dominated by middle-aged men. Journalists played up Obokata’s quirky feminine touches, including her shunning of the traditional white laboratory coat in favour of the kind of apron commonly worn by Japanese housewives. But weeks after her team’s research appeared, questions began to emerge over their methodology, with other scientists unable to repeat the experiments and

claims that images used in public presentations were doctored. The respected Riken Institute, which sponsored the study, launched an inquiry into the credibility of the data used to support the paper, which was also published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature. Phoney research Last week Riken declared the study was flawed and that results had been confected. This “amounts to phoney research or fabrication” by Obokata, Shunsuke Ishii, head of Riken’s probe committee, told a press conference last week. The institute this week announced it was launching a year-long study to try to establish whether or not the particular kind of stem cell can be created in the way Obokata had described. It confirmed yesterday that she had filed a formal complaint. Riken institute head Ryoji Noyori, who jointly won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2001, said in a statement he would “rigorously punish relevant people after procedures in a disciplinary committee”. Observers suggest Obokata is likely to catch the worst of any punishment, with her mentors-who have apologised for “not offering enough support to young researchers”-expected to receive no more than a slap on the wrist. The case has raised questions over the alacrity with which the young woman appears to have been jettisoned by the scientific establishment, amid suspicions she has been made a scapegoat. If her Wednesday press conference goes ahead, it would be Obokata’s first public appearance since the furore erupted. —AFP

Progress in electrical stimulus for paralysis PARIS: Scientists yesterday reported progress in a technique to stimulate the lower spinal cord in paraplegics to help them recover lost nerve function. Cautiously tested on a single patient three years ago, the technique has been trialled on three other young men who had been paraplegic for at least two years after road accidents, they said. After the patients were given an implant to stimulate nerve bundles in the lower spine, they were able to voluntarily flex their knees and shift their hips, ankles and toes, the team reported in a published study. The four were not able to walk but could bear some weight independently-a key phase towards this goal-and experienced a “dramatic” improvement in wellbeing, they added. Claudia Angeli of the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center (KSCIRC) said two of the men had been diagnosed not only as paralysed in the legs, but also lacking lower-body sensation, with no chance of recovery. “This is groundbreaking for the entire field and offers a new outlook that the spinal cord, even after a severe injury, has great potential for functional recovery,” Angeli said in a press release. Paralysis comes from damage to the spinal cord down which the brain sends electrical signals along nerve fibres to instruct limb movement. Decades of experimental effort have been

devoted to reconnecting severed fibres through surgery or regrowing them through drugs or stem cells. Electrical signals The new research takes a different route, exploring the idea that there are ways paralysed people can move without reconnecting the nerve link between the brain and lower extremities. It delivers tiny electrical signals to networks in the lumbosacral spinal cord that are relatively autonomous-they can follow through the commands for weight-bearing and coordinated stepping without input from the brain. “We have uncovered a fundamentally new intervention strategy that can dramatically affect recovery of voluntary movement in individuals with complete paralysis, even years after injury,” said Susan Harkema, a University of Louisville professor who was involved in the first study, in 2011. “The belief that no recovery is possible and complete paralysis is permanent has been challenged.” The implant went hand-in-hand with rehabilitative therapy, which aimed at getting the spinal network to learn and improve nerve functions with less stimulation over time. The participants enjoyed a range of side benefits, including improvements in muscle mass and blood pressure and reduced fatigue.— AFP

LOUISVILLE: In this undated photo provided by the University of Louisville, from left to right, are Andrew Meas, Dustin Shillcox, Kent Stephenson and Rob Summers, the first four to undergo task-specific training with epidural stimulation at the Human Locomotion Research Center laboratory, Frazier Rehab Institute, as part of the University of Louisville’s Kentucky Spinal Cord Injury Research Center, in Louisville. —AP

LONDON: Dr Michelle Griffin, a plastic research fellow, demonstrates for photographs seeding stem cells onto a synthetic polymer ear at her research facility in the Royal Free Hospital in London.

Dr Michelle Griffin, with a synthetic polymer ear at her research facility in the Royal Free Hospital in London. —AP photos

UK scientists make body parts in lab ‘It’s like making a cake’ LONDON: In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in the laboratory in a bold attempt to make body parts using stem cells. It is among several labs around the world, including in the US, that are working on the futuristic idea of growing custom-made organs in the lab. While only a handful of patients have received the British lab-made organs so far- including tear ducts, blood vessels and windpipes researchers hope they will soon be able to transplant more types of body parts into patients, including what would be the world’s first nose made partly from stem cells. “It’s like making a cake,” said Alexander Seifalian at University College London, the scientist leading the effort. “We just use a different kind of oven.” During a recent visit to his lab, Seifalian showed off a sophisticated machine used to make molds from a polymer material for various organs. Last year, he and his team made a nose for a British man who lost his to cancer. Scientists added a salt and sugar solution to the mold of the nose to mimic the somewhat sponge -like texture of the real thing. Stem cells were taken from the patient’s fat and grown in the lab for two weeks before being used to cover the nose scaffold. Later, the nose was implanted into the man’s forearm so that skin would grow to cover it. Seifalian said he and his team are waiting for approval from regulatory authorities to transfer the nose onto the patient’s face but couldn’t say when that might happen.

New initiative The potential applications of lab-made organs appear so promising even the city of London is getting involved: Seifalian’s work is showcased yesterday as Mayor Boris Johnson announces a new initiative to attract investment to Britain’s health and science sectors so spin-off companies can spur commercial development of the pioneering research. The polymer material Seifalian uses for his organ scaffolds has been patented and he’s also applied for patents for their blood vessels, tear ducts and windpipe. He and his team are creating other organs including coronary arteries and ears. Later this year, a trial is scheduled to start in India and London to test lab-made ears for people born without them. “Ears are harder to make than noses because you have to get all the contours right and the skin is pulled tight so you see its entire structure,” said Dr. Michelle Griffin, a plastic surgeon who has made dozens of ears and noses in Seifalian’s lab. “At the moment, children who need new ears have to go through a really invasive procedure involving taking cartilage from their ribs,” Griffin said, adding that taking fat cells from patients’ abdomens to add to a lab-made ear scaffold would be far easier than the multiple procedures often necessary to carve an ear from their ribs. Griffin added they plan to eventually create an entirely synthetic face but must first prove their polymer scaffolds won’t accidentally burst out of the skin.

Prof Alexander Seifalian poses for a portrait in his office at his research facility in the Royal Free Hospital in London. Correct structure “Scientists have to get things like noses and ears right before we can move onto something like a kidney, lungs or a liver, which is much more complicated,” said Eileen Gentleman, a stem cell expert at King’s College London, who is not involved in Seifalian’s research. “Where Seifalian has led is in showing us maybe we don’t need to have the absolutely perfect tissue for a (lab-made) organ to work,” she said. “What he has created is the correct structure and the fact that it’s good enough for his patients to have a functional (windpipe), tear duct, etc. is pretty amazing.” Some scientists predicted certain lab-made organs will soon cease to be experimental. “I’m convinced engineered organs are going to be on the market soon,” said Suchitra Sumitran-

Holgersson, a professor of transplantation biology at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. She has transferred lab-made blood vessels into a handful of patients and plans to offer them more widely by 2016, pending regulatory approval. Still, she acknowledged doctors will have to watch closely for any longterm side effects, including the possibility of a higher cancer risk. Seifalian estimated about 10 million pounds ($16 million) has gone into his research since 2005 but said he hoped lab-made organs would one day be available for a few hundred dollars. “If people are not that fussy, we could manufacture different sizes of noses so the surgeon could choose a size and tailor it for patients before implanting it,” he said. “People think your nose is very individual and personal but this is something that we could mass produce like in a factory one day.”—AP

Scientists regenerate immune organ in mice LONDON: British scientists have for the first time used regenerative medicine to fully restore an organ in a living animal, a discovery they say may pave the way for similar techniques to be used in humans in future. The University of Edinburgh team rebuilt the thymus - an organ central to the immune system and found in front of the heart - of very old mice by reactivating a natural mechanism that gets shut down with age. The regenerated thymus was not only similar in structure and genetic detail to one in a young mouse, the scientists said, but was also able to function again, with the treated mice beginning to make more T-cells - a type of white blood cell key to fighting infections. The regenerated thymus was also more than twice the size of the aged organs in the untreated mice. “By targeting a single protein, we have been able to almost completely reverse age-related shrinking of the thymus,” said Clare Blackburn from Edinburgh’s Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Regenerative Medicine, who led the research.

“Our results suggest that targeting the same pathway in humans may improve thymus function and therefore boost immunity in elderly patients, or those with a suppressed immune system.” She added however, that while the treated mice were making T-cells, her research could not yet establish whether the immune systems of the older mice were strengthened. And before the technique can be tested in humans, she said, researchers will need to conduct more animal experiments to make sure the regeneration process can be tightly controlled. The thymus is the first organ to deteriorate as people age. This shrinking is one of the main reasons the immune system becomes less effective and we lose the ability to fight off new infections, such as flu, as we get older. Repair mechanisms Regenerative medicine is a fast-growing area of research, mainly focused on stem cells - the master

cells that act as a source for all types of cells and tissues in the body. One of the central aims is to harness the body’s own repair mechanisms and manipulate them in a controlled way to treat disease. Blackburn’s team, whose work was published on Tuesday in the journal Development, said they targeted a part of the process by which the thymus degenerates - a protein called FOXN1 that helps control how key genes in the thymus are switched on. They used genetically modified mice to enable them to increase levels of this protein using chemical signals. By doing so, they managed to instruct immature cells in the thymus - similar to stem cells - to rebuild the organ in the older mice. Rob Buckle, the MRC’s head of regenerative medicine, said this success with the mouse thymus suggests organ regeneration in mammals can be directed by manipulating a single protein - something he said could have broad implications for other areas of regenerative biology. — Reuters

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


W H AT ’ S O N


ACK engineering students design and make Go-Karts


Mechanical Engineering Diploma students from the Australian College of Kuwait (ACK) have successfully fabricated 7 fully-functional Go-Karts as part of their graduation project. With the aim of truly equipping its students and graduates for the labor market and providing them with valuable practical knowledge and experiences, the Department of Mechanical Engineering at ACK tasked its Diploma students with the design and fabrication of motorized Go-Karts. Throughout the process, students had to learn and adhere to the college’s strict health and safety guidelines while applying techniques such as cutting, welding and drilling. The GoKarts were then tested on various performance parameters including acceleration, braking and endurance, fol-

lowed by a race held on campus. Upon finishing the race Dr Mohamed Gaith, Head of Mechanical Engineering Department at ACK, stated:” It is amazing to see our students implementing practically what they have been taught over the last four semesters. It also showcases their commitment and spirit of teamwork. I have always had a strong belief that our students could do it.” This graduation project gave ACK’s Mechanical Engineeringdiploma students the opportunity to apply themselves and what they have learned in a technical and challenging environment, falling in line with ACK’s aim of strongly contributing to the employment sector by continuing to produce knowledgeable, skilled and professional candidates for Kuwait’s growing economy.

Tempting flavor combinations sum up Ruby Tuesday’s new menu


uby Tuesday Kuwait has unveiled its new upscale Menu which the restaurant management touts as having more variety and one of the best menus so far. Top media personalities of Kuwait were invited to an exclusive New Menu food tasting at the relaxing waterfront of the Sharq branch next to Kuwait Towers. Among the shareable appetizers are varieties of flatbreads comprising of the Barbecue Chicken flatbread, California Chicken flat bread and the Four Cheese Bianca flatbread which was an instant favorite with Ruby Tuesday guests. Another pleasant surprise that awaited guests were the Spicy Fish Tacos and Baja Chicken Tacos served with different kinds of dressings was another new taste that became the guest’s hot favorite appetizer. One of the Ruby Tuesday lovers, gladly said, ‘this is indeed an awesome welcome for the hungry guest looking to pop in a tasty bite igniting his

appetite’ Amongst the other new entries that are on the menu this time are the Garden fresh combinations, the Hickory Barbecue Salmon and the Hickory Barbecue salmon. Another signature dish most popular in the United States Ruby Tuesday menu was the Smoky Mountain Chicken which is a grilled chicken smothered with smoky barbecue sauce and topped with cheddar and beef bacon and is served with two sides. Amongst the steaks the Black Fire New York Strip and the Petite Sirloin & Coconut crusted Shrimp soon became the guest’s premium choices for main course. The Pretzel burgers which were introduced last month have already become the guest’s favorite choice of burgers. Bringing back the good old times were the Fajitas, cheese fries and the Rib Teriyaki and shrimp which every Ruby

Tuesday lover demanded to be brought back into the menu. We listened to them and brought it back since we love to listen to our guests’ choices and fulfill their gastronomic pleasures. Constantly looking at enhancing the brand, Ruby Tuesday Kuwait makes changes to its menu by introducing new dishes and flavors. Since then it has continued to evolve from a burger-centric menu to one that features lobster tails & top Sirloins. The goal is to have a culinary influence on Ruby Tuesday’s menu that will showcase a restaurant with over 700 locations worldwide. With the weather favoring the way to be out with friends and family, you are cordially invited to try out the tempting flavor combinations of the new menu at Ruby Tuesday located at Sharq, next to Aqua Park, Salmiya in Laila Gallery Mall, 360 MALL, Shaab in Zone, Avenues Mall and in Abu Halifa.


W H AT ’ S O N

AUK Arabic Literature Club organizes Calligraphy Workshop


he Arabic Literature Club of the American University of Kuwait (AUK) organized a workshop entitled “The Art of Arabic Calligraphy” run by the calligrapher Jassem Al Nasrullah. The 5-day workshop introduced the participants to cultural and historical information about the different types of artistic Arabic fonts with special emphasis on the Thuluth font; a type of Islamic script developed around the 11thcentury. That was the first workshop of its kind to be organized by the Arabic Literature Club, and it was open to the public. The workshop started with Al Nasrullah providing the

15 workshop participants with explanations and descriptions of the ways of writing Arabic letters in Thuluth font while giving examples of how to apply the font to letters, words and punctuations. The aim of the workshop was to help amateur calligraphers to develop their calligraphy skills. Al Nasrullah’s approach in training the participants involved perfecting their letter-drawing techniques, which led to complete word development, and finally the creation of full sentences. By the end of the course, each participant was required to write a verse or quote from the Holy Quran on a final

poster to be evaluated by the Al Nasrullah. The workshop also gave Al Nasrullah an opportunity to share his personal experiences with calligraphy and how he managed to develop his skills through practice and training for years under the supervision of renowned calligraphers. The workshop ended with a ceremony in which the participants received certificates of completion and the calligrapher received an award of appreciation from the Arabic Literature Club. The Arabic Literature Club at the American University of Kuwaitis a student organization interested in different

aspects of the Arabic language and culture such as Arabic poetry and literature. The main purpose of the Club is to reveal the Arab identity and practice Arabic language at AUK. Most of the club events currently focus on Arabic literature and poetry. The Arabic Club aims to host more cultural events that would include Arabic music and hosting of famous experts in the Arabic language to share their experience and thoughts with the students.

British Paraorchestra performance strikes the right notes


asol, the global integrated energy and chemical company, hosted the British Paraorchestra for its first ever concert in the Middle East for a joint performance with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra entitled, ‘Souls in Harmony’. Held under the patronage of Muneera Bint Nasser Al-Misnad, Chairperson of the Board of the Qatar Foundation for Social Work, the Paraorchestra’s visit was part of Sasol’s ongoing ‘Definitely Able’ corporate social responsibility initiative. The concert took place at Katara Opera House on Friday. The concert was attended by H E Dr Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari, Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage; H E Nicholas Hopton, Ambassador of Britain to Qatar; H E Saad Cachalia, Ambassador of South Africa to Qatar and Saeed Rashid Al Kaabi, Executive President, Qatar Foundation for Social Work, among other dignitaries. The British Paraorchestra is the world’s first professional ensemble of disabled musicians. Founded by British conductor Charles Hazlewood in January 2012, the Paraorchestra became known internationally after its acclaimed performance at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London with award-winning British rock band, Coldplay. Speaking at the concert Marjo Louw, President of Sasol Qatar, said: “As a member of the Qatari community, Sasol is pleased to host the first-ever appearance of the British Paraorchestra outside of Europe. We thank the Paraorchestra for sharing their talents with us, and for the model they set for achievement. We extend our gratitude to the talented Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra for lending their able support to the concert and being such wonderful co-hosts. This ‘souls in harmony’ performance

is a reminder to us all that with opportunity, support and dedication, anything can be possible.” “The British Paraorchestra and I thank the patrons for the overwhelming response we received from the audience and the amazing hospitality extended to us by our friends at Sasol. Collaborating with the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and raising awareness of the talents of people with disabilities has been a truly phenomenal experience”, said Charles Hazelwood, founder and conductor of the British Paraorchestra The concert opened with the performance of the soundtrack ‘Time’ from the movie ‘Inception’ by film composer, Hans Zimmer. This piece was carefully chosen for its relevance to the cause.

As Mr. Hazelwood highlighted: “the movie’s plot is about entering people’s dreams and that’s what we are trying to do with our music; get into the minds of the audience and change their perceptions about disabled musicians.” To further the ‘Definitely Able’ message, the Paraorchestra visited the Al Noor Institute for the visually impaired, where they played music and interacted with students. The members of the Paraorchestra shared their talents with the students through the universal language of music. Students had the chance to hear, touch and feel different instruments to further understand the role of each instrument and musicians within the orchestra. The interactive session provided a true reflection of being ‘Definitely Able’ and encouraged the students to focus on their

abilities rather than their disabilities. This also provided an opportunity for the teachers and students to introduce traditional Arabic instruments to the guest musicians. They were mesmerized by the look and sound of the rababah. The British Paraorchestra musicians were described as: “Role models, a child’s dream, and providing a wonderful life lesson”, by a teacher attending the interactive musical session. On Thursday, the Paraorchestra visited Souq Waqif and surprised visitors on the streets with an impromptu performance. The crowd that gathered to experience the worldclass music was amazed to find that the musicians had a variety of disabilities with some on wheelchairs and others with impaired vision. The Paraorchestra’s musicians come from a

variety of backgrounds and bring a range of musical styles and influences to the ensemble: from drum and bass to Baroque recorder; from lute to Indian sitar and tabla; percussion to clarinet; laptops, iPads and specially designed software. The ‘Souls in Harmony’ concert aimed to expand on the success of ‘Definitely Able’, emphasizing the importance of offering equal opportunities to all citizens in society irrespective of their disabilities. Sasol is committed to creating and promoting a positive attitude without bias among all in the community. The ‘Souls in Harmony’ concert is supported by The Grand Hyatt Hotel, QMDI and the British Embassy of Doha.



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00:20 The Gadget Show 00:45 How Do They Do It? 01:10 Da Vinci’s Machines 02:00 Rocket City Rednecks 02:25 Rocket City Rednecks 02:45 Mythbusters 03:35 Sci-Trek 04:30 Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman 05:20 Scrapheap Challenge 06:10 Strangest Weather On Earth 06:35 Strangest Weather On Earth 07:00 Kings Of Construction 07:55 Mega Builders 08:45 Sci-Trek 09:40 Strangest Weather On Earth 10:05 Strangest Weather On Earth 10:30 Mighty Ships 11:20 Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman 12:10 Scrapheap Challenge 13:00 How Do They Do It? 13:30 Sci-Trek 14:20 Mythbusters 15:10 Scrapheap Challenge 16:00 Mighty Ships 16:50 Strangest Weather On Earth 17:15 Strangest Weather On Earth 17:40 Rocket City Rednecks 18:05 Rocket City Rednecks 18:30 Da Vinci’s Machines 19:20 The Gadget Show 19:45 How Do They Do It? 20:10 Mythbusters 21:00 The Long March Into Space 21:50 Moon Machines 22:40 Sci-Trek 23:30 Through The Wormhole With Morgan Freeman

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19:30 Sevens World Series Highlights 20:00 PGA European Tour Weekly 20:30 Inside The PGA Tour 21:00 Trans World Sport 22:00 Super Rugby

01:00 Bellator MMA 2014 03:00 AFL Premiership Highlights 04:00 NRL Full Time 04:30 Futbol Mundial 05:00 Super Rugby 07:00 Golfing World 08:00 PGA Tour Highlights 09:00 AFL Premiership 11:30 Sevens World Series Highlights 12:00 Premier League Darts 15:30 WWE This Week 16:00 WWE SmackDown 18:00 NHL 20:00 Bellator MMA 2014 22:00 AFL Premiership

‘Veep’ taps deeper into DC’s dysfunction for third season


00:00 Chelsea Lately 00:30 The Spin Crowd 00:55 The Spin Crowd 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!ES 05:05 Ryan Seacrest With The Kardashians 06:00 THS 07:50 Style Star 08:20 Fashion Police 09:15 Scouted 10:15 Married To Jonas 10:40 Chasing The Saturdays 11:10 The Drama Queen 12:05 Fashion Police 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 Kardashians 17:00 Hello Ross 17:30 Hello Ross 18:00 E! News 19:00 Fashion Police 20:00 Giuliana & Bill 21:00 The Drama Queen 22:00 Eric And Jessie: Game On 22:30 E! News 23:30 Chelsea Lately

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World’s Deadliest Animals Animal Autopsy Africa’s Deadliest Caught in the Act I, Predator Croc Ganglands World’s Deadliest: Jaws & World’s Deadliest Animals

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Psych Unforgettable True Detective Breaking Bad Emmerdale Coronation Street Emmerdale Coronation Street Scandal House Of Cards American Horror Story:

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Good Morning America Rescue Me Good Morning America Live Good Morning America 24 Red Widow Zero Hour Rescue Me Hemlock Grove

True Blood

00:00 Resident Evil: Damnation-18

02:00 Sudden Death-PG15 04:00 The Presence-PG15 06:00 Metal Shifters-PG15 08:00 Last Man Standing-PG15 10:00 Abandoned-PG15 12:00 Riddle-PG15 14:00 Last Man Standing-PG15 16:00 Special Ops-PG15 18:00 Riddle-PG15 20:00 Seconds Apart-PG15 22:00 Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter-18

00:00 Sightseers-18 02:00 Revenge Of The Nerds-18 04:00 Mad Buddies-PG15 06:00 Damsels In Distress-PG15 08:00 The Three Stooges-PG15 10:00 Today’s Special-PG15 12:00 Mad Buddies-PG15 14:00 Overboard-PG 16:00 Today’s Special-PG15 18:00 10 Things I Hate About YouPG15 20:00 Revenge Of The Nerds II: Nerds In Paradise-PG15 22:00 Mash-18

01:00 Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You-PG15 03:00 Flying Lessons-PG15 05:00 Another Harvest Moon-PG15 07:00 Reviving Ophelia-PG15 09:00 Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You-PG15 11:00 The Key Man-PG15 13:00 Atlas Shrugged-PG15 15:00 Darling Companion-PG15 16:45 The Next Three Days-PG15 19:00 Beautiful Creatures-PG15 21:00 Hesher-18 23:00 Puncture-18

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7 Days In Havana-18 Mad Love-PG15 The Iron Lady-PG15 Love Takes Wing-PG15 Stomp The Yard-PG15 The Trial-PG15 The Iron Lady-PG15 Love Finds A Home-PG15 Cool It-PG15 Strictly Sinatra-PG15 Not Without My DaughterFirelight-18

01:15 Celeste And Jesse ForeverPG15 03:00 One Life-PG15 05:00 Blue Lagoon: The Awakening-PG15 07:00 Dream House-PG15 09:00 Fastest-PG15 11:00 The Double-PG15 13:00 Thunderstruck-PG 14:45 Madea’s Witness ProtectionPG15 16:45 Fastest-PG15 18:45 Fast & Furious 6-PG15 21:00 The Baytown Outlaws-18 23:00 Mama-18

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Rewind-PG15 Haywire-PG15 Dr Seuss’ Cat In The Hat-PG From Prada To Nada-PG15 Now Is Good-PG15 Haywire-PG15

rmando Iannucci, the creator of HBO’s political satire “Veep,” remembers a visit he made to the US State Department for research on the show. Behind the imposing facade of the Harry S Truman Building, the furniture in the bosom of international power was pathetic, he recalls. “ The chairs don’t quite match the desk because (the government) went for the cheapest, so you can’t actually pull your chair in under the desk because the arms are too high,” the show ’s Scottish creator told Reuters in a recent interview. That incongruence of power juxtaposed with its foibles and imperfections lies at the heart of “Veep,” the send-up of political ambition in the Washington fishbowl that enters its third season on Sunday with Vice President Selina Meyer eyeing another run for the presidency. Selina has got to fend off rivals, take a concrete stance on abortion and court voting blocs, while still currying favor with the power brokers. The series on the Time Warner Inc-owned premium cable network stars Julia LouisDreyfus as Selina, the divorcee restless with her lack of real power and surrounded by a coterie of yes-men and yes-women who try to balance the demands of their job with their own agendas. There is Amy, played by Anna Chlumsky, the impatient chief of staff with tunnel vision, and Dan (Reid Scott), the deputy director of communications who is always looking for a better gig. Communications director Mike (Matt Walsh) can never clean up his boss’ messes or prevent them from leaking. Then there is Jonah (Timothy Simons), the young, gangly and arrogant White House liaison that everyone finds repellent. Chlumsky, best known for her roles as a child actress in 1991 film “My Girl,” said she learned the ins and outs of the DC staffer psyche after picking the brain of California Senator Barbara Boxer’s chief of staff, Laura Schiller. “They’re all no-nonsense, that’s all something they have in common,” said Chlumsky, who also took tips from Ron Klain, the former chief of staff to vice presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore. ‘Grounded’ in reality Louis-Dreyfus earned an Emmy last year as the best lead actress in a comedy series for the show’s first season. Tony Hale, who plays her ever-faithful body man, Gary, won the supporting actor Emmy too. “I think there’s something about showing the humanity of these people and their brokenness and insecurity that takes them off the pedestal,” Hale said. But Iannucci, who is also the creator of the British TV political satire “The Thick of It” and director of the Oscar-nominated spin-off film “In the Loop,” said that part of the key to the series’ comedy comes from its faithfulness to reality. “We start with what’s their position and then what makes them human, what makes them vulnerable,” Iannucci said. “Veep” has succeeded in making it to its third season, a rare feat for an American political satire. Comedy Central’s 2001 series “That’s My Bush!,” which imagined the George W Bush White House as a domestic sitcom lasted one season. So did NBC’s zany 2012 series “1600 Penn,” which settled a trade dispute with a tennis match. “If you don’t have points of grounded reality, it’s all like some big madcap,” added Hale, who is also known for the role of manchild Buster on comedy series “Arrested Development.” When Iannucci was drafting the show’s characters he said he wanted to know, not the hijinks of DC’s behind-the-scenes operatives, but the mundane details of the daily grind. “It’s an intense environment ... so morning, noon and night you’re meeting the same people and you’re talking about the same things. It’s a very gossipy town. Everyone frets too much over how something is going to play. How it’s going to look,” the Oxford-educated comic said. “I do want people watching the show thinking, ‘Oh my god, I bet this is what it’s really like,’” he added. “It’s very heartening and frightening when you get people in DC saying, ‘Yeah, I work with a Jonah or we’ve got two Dans in our office.’” — Reuters

Classifieds WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 2014



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I, Mohammed Abbasali Saifuddin, holder of Indian Passport No. J3969815 hereby change my name to Mohammed Saifuddin Merchant. C-204, Ashwini Palace, near Kedari petrol pump, Wanowarie, Pune, India, Pin code: 411040. (C 4691) 9-4-2014 I have changed my name from Vishal Tulshidas Ghadi to Vishal Tulsidas Pereira. Henceforth, I shall be known as Vishal Tulsidas Pereira for all purpose, holding Indian Passport No. K0626972 H.No. 376/5, Xetmalem, Carmona Salcete, Goa-403717. (C 4688) 6-4-2014



Senior accountant with five years of work experience in Kuwait seeking suitable position in reputed company. Contact: 97528519. (C 4690) 7-4-2014 Looking for job, 65 years Jordanian, 41 years in admin, insurance, HR, stores, marketing, organizing, company, training. Contact: 96653664. (C 4687) Indian female (MBA), more than 10 years experience in HR & Admin functions. Specializing in recruitment, payroll, indemnity calculation. Transferable visa 18. Can join immediately. Please contact: 60636328. (C 4685) 6-4-2014

Well employed Post Graduates/Engineers for Malayalee Christian Orthodox girl Microbiologist (M.Sc Microbiology) 27/170, Adan hospital (M4 Marry: 2187923). Send details with photo to (C 4686) 6-4-2014 ACCOMMODATION Abraq Khaitan full room and bed space available for decent Goan/Indian bachelor from May 1st with kitchen and Internet facility. Beside main road and bus stop. Contact: 97523316/24745162. (C 4689) 7-4-2014

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Directorate General of Civil Aviation Home Page (


Arrival Flights on Wednesday 9/4/2014 Flt Route 1084 Doha 239 Amman 267 Beirut 539 Cairo 637 Dammam 642 Amman 620 Addis Ababa 211 Bahrain 853 Dubai 403 Asyut 305 Abu Dhabi 576 Kochi/Abu Dhabi 764 Istanbul 067 Dubai 612 Cairo 643 Muscat 223 Beirut 1076 Doha 770 Istanbul 170 Bahrain 069 Dubai 412 Manila/Bangkok 529 Asyut 157 London 382 Delhi 204 Lahore 053 Dubai 302 Mumbai 206 Islamabad 1086 Doha 352 Kochi 344 Chennai 855 Dubai 362 Colombo 125 Sharjah 284 Dhaka 1186 Tehran 665 Shiraz 301 Abu Dhabi 055 Dubai 341 Damascus 1070 Doha 213 Bahrain 404 Beirut 157 Baghdad/Al Najaf 165 Dubai 1188 Mashhad 561 Sohag 871 Dubai 4815 Mashhad 610 Cairo 766 Istanbul 792 Luxembourg 826 Sanaa/Mukalla 672 Dubai 1078 Doha

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Dubai Sharm el-Sheikh Alexandria Bahrain Jeddah Jeddah Jeddah Sharjah Madinah Amman Dubai Riyadh Riyadh Doha Abu Dhabi Amman Dubai Riyadh Mashhad Istanbul Bahrain Dubai Jeddah Cairo Alexandria Doha Jeddah Paris/Rome Dubai Sharjah Doha Bahrain Riyadh Dubai Luxor Mumbai New York/London Muscat Dubai Frankfurt Beirut Abu Dhabi Kochi/Mangalore Tehran Colombo Dubai Doha Abu Dhabi Bahrain Bahrain Taif Dubai Chennai/Goa Dubai Dhaka Mumbai Amsterdam/Dammam Istanbul

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Departure Flights on Wednesday 9/4/2014 Flt Route 982 Ahmedabad/Hyderabad/Chennai 573 Mumbai 981 IAD 637 Frankfurt 773 Istanbul 621 Addis Ababa 404 Asyut 854 Dubai 068 Dubai 613 Cairo 306 Abu Dhabi 644 Muscat 1077 Doha 224 Dubai/Beirut 1085 Doha 560 Sohag 765 Istanbul 575 Abu Dhabi/Kochi 070 Dubai 643 Amman 771 Istanbul 212 Bahrain 164 Dubai 545 Alexandria 156 London 054 Dubai 1087 Doha 671 Dubai 126 Sharjah 787 Jeddah 480 Istanbul 856 Dubai 117 New York 302 Abu Dhabi 056 Dubai 1187 Tehran 664 Shiraz 342 Damascus 1071 Doha 561 Amman 541 Cairo 214 Bahrain 356 Mashhad 405 Beirut 158 Al Najaf/Baghdad 175 Frankfurt/Geneva 776 Jeddah 103 London 786 Riyadh 785 Jeddah 176 Dubai 1189 Mashhad 4814 Mashhad 611 Cairo 767 Istanbul 872 Dubai


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Hanoi Mukalla/Sanaa Dubai Doha Sharm el-Sheikh Bahrain Dubai Doha Jeddah Jeddah Riyadh Sharjah Tehran Madinah Dubai Taif Amman Beirut Doha Cairo Abu Dhabi Dubai Riyadh Bahrain Dubai Alexandria Amman Bahrain Alexandria Doha Dubai Sharjah Bahrain Alexandria Dhaka Mumbai Dubai Trivandrum Colombo Muscat Dammam Kochi Beirut Mangalore/Kochi Bahrain Abu Dhabi Colombo Sharjah Dubai Delhi Doha Dubai Mumbai Bahrain Riyadh Islamabad Kuala Lumpur/Jakarta

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s ta rs CROSSWORD 512

STAR TRACK Aries (March 21-April 19) Too many moves create in you the desire to become permanently organized and ready for anything that comes your way. The last thing you want is to slow yourself down from moving forward. The study and use of numerology could create some positive changes for you; you will feel more powerful and enjoy the rewards as well. You are probably able to find lost items, uncover the real meaning of problems, discover the thief, etc. This type of talent would put you in good, not only as a detective, but also as a team or group leader. This is your year for success but the energies are not necessarily going to do the work for you; you have to do the footwork. Good health and travel are within reach. Tonight is for fun and friends. Happy birthday!

Taurus (April 20-May 20) You may be surprised today by a compliment or by some recognition for a recent accomplishment. Perhaps you expected a little attention but you may have some recent kind act or achievement mentioned in the community newspaper. You are feeling good! Your slow and steady work behind the scenes proves profitable. There is a focused concentration now to work with and learn a new technology until you become an expert on the subject. Adaptability and clever talk will achieve great results for you. You are lucky in love and money today but do not overextend your good fortune-know when to walk away. You and your loved one can enjoy time together this evening doing something totally different.

Gemini (May 21-June 20)

ACROSS 1. Title for a civil or military leader (especially in Turkey). 4. A region of southern Italy (forming the toe of the Italian `boot'). 12. An enclosed space. 15. A small lump or protuberance. 16. A railroad depot in a theater of operations where military supplies are unloaded for distribution. 17. A loose sleeveless outer garment made from aba cloth. 18. Midwife toads. 20. Broad-winged soaring hawks. 21. A sign of assent or salutation or command. 22. Food mixtures either arranged on a plate or tossed and served with a moist dressing. 25. Small terrestrial lizard of warm regions of the Old World. 26. (Islam) The man who leads prayers in a mosque. 27. The cry made by sheep. 28. A flat wing-shaped process or winglike part of an organism. 33. An ancient Assyrian city on the River Tigris and traditional capital of Assyria. 36. A soft silvery metallic element of the alkali earth group. 41. A street of small shops (especially in Orient). 43. A small tent used as a dressing room beside the sea or a swimming pool. 46. The sign language used in the United States. 47. Hinge joint between the forearm and upper arm and the corresponding joint in the forelimb of a quadruped. 48. Having three dimensions. 50. A unit of length of thread or yarn. 51. A river in north central Switzerland that runs northeast into the Rhine. 53. Long-legged spotted cat of Africa and southwestern Asia having nonretractile claws. 55. A Dravidian language spoken in southern India. 59. A member of the Siouan people formerly inhabiting the Black Hills of western South Dakota. 60. A heavy silvery toxic univalent and bivalent metallic element. 62. A federal agency established to regulate the release of new foods and health-related products. 63. Move out of a curled position. 64. Not weaned. 67. Worn or shabby from overuse or (of pages) from having corners turned down. 71. Type genus of the Majidae. 72. Blockage of the intestine (especially the ileum) that prevents the contents of the intestine from passing to the lower bowel. 75. A case or sheath especially a pollen sac or moss capsule. 76. A former communist country in eastern Europe and northern Asia. 77. Tansy-scented Eurasian perennial herb with buttonlike yellow flowers. 79. An honorary degree in science. 80. (biology) Shed at an early stage of development. 81. United States singer and film actor (19151998). 82. Group insurance that entitles members to services of participating hospitals and clinics and physicians.

DOWN 1. Squash bugs. 2. A Russian prison camp for political prisoners. 3. A promontory in northern Morocco opposite the Rock of Gibraltar. 4. Of or relating to a creed. 5. An associate degree in applied science. 6. Being one more than fifty. 7. One or more recordings issued together. 8. A landlocked principality in the Himalayas northeast of India. 9. Desert shrub of Syria and Arabia having small white flowers. 10. The United Nations agency concerned with atomic energy. 11. A rapid bustling commotion. 12. The capital and largest city of Yemen. 13. Little known Kamarupan languages. 14. (of a young animal) Abandoned by its mother and raised by hand. 19. Small buffalo of Mindoro in the Philippines. 23. A heavy brittle diamagnetic trivalent metallic element (resembles arsenic and antimony chemically). 24. A Chadic language spoken south of Lake Chad. 29. The blood group whose red cells carry both the A and B antigens. 30. The capital city of the Chinese province of Gansu on the Yellow River. 31. (Roman Catholic Church) A book containing all the prayers and responses needed to celebrate Mass throughout the year. 32. A genus of Caltha. 34. The general activity of selling. 35. A member of a Turkic people of Uzbekistan and neighboring areas. 37. The capital and largest city of Ghana with a deep-water port. 38. The Tibeto-Burman language spoken in the Dali region of Yunnan. 39. A state in the eastern United States. 40. An Indian side dish of yogurt and chopped cucumbers and spices. 42. A landlocked republic in central Africa. 44. A soft yellow malleable ductile (trivalent and univalent) metallic element. 45. A small pellet fired from an air rifle or BB gun. 49. An agricultural laborer in Arab countries. 52. A habitual liar (after a New Testament character who was struck dead for lying). 54. Small Old and New World herons. 56. Regional and archaic. 57. A clay pipe with a short stem. 58. An associate degree in nursing. 61. Grind together, of teeth. 65. Having or prompted by wisdom or discernment. 66. (Norse mythology) Goddess of old age who defeated Thor in a wrestling match. 68. The 20th letter of the Hebrew alphabet. 69. Electronic warfare undertaken to insure effective friendly use of the electromagnetic spectrum in spite of the enemy's use of electronic warfare. 70. Panel forming the lower part of an interior wall when it is finished differently from the rest. 73. Fiddler crabs. 74. A chronic drinker. 78. A soft silver-white or yellowish metallic element of the alkali metal group.


Your way of explaining things is helpful today as there is some new equipment, technology or method in which all must learn to work. You may be upstaging someone else-pay attention to this possibility and back off when necessary. You may feel that you are in touch and in harmony with others and the lines of communication are open. You can expect a little boost from those around you. You could find that you are appreciated for your ability to organize and accomplish things in a quick manner. You may want to encourage a carpool effort in order to save on gas. You may offer to draw up a plan. This may get a sluggish response but could be considered eventually. There is a relationship that may generate heat this evening.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) Quick answers, great wit and a bounty of insights and solutions are available now. This combination works and is what it takes for a good round table discussion. This may happen before work or just as work begins. Many people have their own opinions about how a certain project should run and this includes you as well. This is a good time to suggest that a paragraph from each person might cause less confusion. You may go about gathering this information for the higher-ups to consider. This is a good time to write and communicate with real originality. Inventions and breakthroughs are possible. This may be a period of great mental activity and heightened communication with others. One of your secret goals is very close to a completion.

Leo (July 23-August 22) You are able to persuade others to invest their time in a project. Everyone seems motivated to work toward a praiseworthy end result. Looking at the overall picture is a talent very few can achieve and you are able to do this with a vision that belongs to no other. Clear decisions affecting others could be made now. Somehow you need to find a balance between your sense of duty to others and your sense of duty to yourself. In fulfilling your own deepest dreams and desires you will be happier throughout each day. In serving yourself you are more fit, able and ready to help others. Patience will seem easier as a result of taking care of your own needs. It is not the time to seek favors from a loved one; it is, however, the time to grant them.

Virgo (August 23-September 22) Relax your need to be in total control this day. A meeting room holds many different personalities within the room or around a conference table. A proposal made by you or someone else may have to be carefully studied before any action is required. Difficulties, blocks and all manner of hot spots can be understood and eliminated at this time. There is much communication with others, and the communication gives you an opportunity to insert some positive points regarding a particular proposal. You help to lighten other people’s thinking. You have inspiration for a new goal, and this time is positive for negotiations and contracts of any type. Verbal deals are good and have many possibilities. You are able to make a positive difference.

Word Search

Libra (September 23-October 22) Someone pays you compliments before you even punch the time clock today. Perhaps you have new clothes. You may enjoy talking about what your company produces or the job that you do. This ability to express yourself could enhance your professional outlook. There may be opportunities to speak in front of the public instead of coworkers and customers that are in the store. You will soon learn to be more confident when you speak, and you may find yourself conducting meetings and conventions regarding new and better technical or scientific equipment. You may enjoy being with a group of friends this afternoon and find yourself involved in several conversations in which you persuade others to see your point of view.

Scorpio (October 23-November 21) Your duties in the workplace may change today. You are encouraged to teach others and may want to give some thought as to how you can continue some new activity and be paid for it. You may be surprised at the results. Better pay and future advancements have been waiting for you and all you may need to do is ask; you have the talents that others need. Real estate comes to your attention today, and this could mean repairs as well as the availability of any sales. Consider the family before making any decisions. Some organizational skills are needed around the household and you may be surprised to find a young person with those skills. You should make it a point to be around family members this evening and find fun ways that will bring them together.

Sagittarius (November 22-December 21) Others will find you quick-minded and full of enthusiasm. Your comprehension of issues is broadened and you have a positive attitude. Your creativeness is unique and you could come up with new solutions. The judgments you make are good and will lead to positive outcomes in whatever you choose to do this day. Be careful of sensitive responses that you might feel like expressing this afternoon. Compromise should be considered. Engaging in serious conversations may create a healing between you and a sibling or close relative. Don’t be afraid to open up to a close friend. You may find yourself feeling private and in a stay-at-home mood this evening. This is a perfect time to spend with loved ones and family.

Capricorn (December 22-January 19) Let go of a losing situation. Someone close to you is difficult. Sometimes you just have to let someone wiggle in his or her own time period. There is a lot of energy behind your work this morning and much can be accomplished. You make quick and wise decisions that gain the attention of higher-ups. Faith in yourself and your future is emphasized as you begin a new path. A feeling that anything is possible leads to new ventures. At its best, this is a very positive and optimistic time in your life, but at times, overconfidence can create problems. Do not burn your bridges behind you! This is a good time to consolidate and organize your affairs-busy yourself with bill paying, chores, etc. An old friend will enjoy hearing your voice this evening.

Aquarius (January 20- February 18) There are indications that today will be extremely busy. Communicating with friends and colleagues should be direct and to the point. Say what you mean and leave it at that. There is plenty of energy for you to work with today. This is a good day to solve problems and make important decisions. You will find a way around most obstacles and are in control and able to guide yourself with ease. Your sense of inner direction is good and should lead to opportunities. A sociable, congenial, slightly frivolous orientation sets in as you talk and plan some future event with a friend. A little yard work or nurturing of flowers and then a visit to a nearby park may be in order this afternoon. If you look closely enough, you might see a rabbit.

Pisces (February 19-March 20) Some sort of temporary obstacle may appear. This may be one of those days when it is best to just play it cool. Discrimination is in knowing the realistic choices. Practice asking yourself if an idea or concept is realistic. The control you have over your own life now will help you to perceive realities correctly. Your personality takes on more power now, particularly when you are involved with creative activities. If you have not been involved in creative work lately, make a real effort to begin a project soon; planning is good. When you enjoy having created something from your own inventiveness, you can be successful in your other endeavors. You communicate well in most anything you do. Good luck is in your corner this evening.

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Yesterday’s Solution


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


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Chest Hospital


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

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lifestyle G o s s i p

Man charged with felony stalking of Gomez


man arrested twice in one week at Selena Gomez’s house was charged Monday with felony stalking and violating a court order to stay away from the singeractress. Che Cruz, 20, pleaded not guilty to the charges Monday afternoon, and his bail was set at $160,000. He was arrested Friday after he returned to Gomez’s home just hours after he was released from jail in a case in which he was ordered to stay away from her. The Los Angeles district attorney’s office said Cruz jumped the fence at Gomez’s home before his second arrest. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison. He is due back in court on April 17. Cruz was first arrested after breaking into Gomez’s guest home on March 30, and he acknowledged in court Wednesday that he trespassed

at her property. He was ordered to stay away from Gomez and her home, was put on probation, and was sent to jail for up to 45 days, but he was released two days later. Within hours of his release, sheriff’s deputies re-arrested Cruz at Gomez’s home in Calabasas. Gomez, the former “Wizards of Waverly Place” actress turned pop star, was at home when Cruz was arrested the first time after he broke into her guest house. It was unknown whether Gomez was home during Friday’s intrusion.

Depardieu drink driving fine upheld A

n appeals court yesterday upheld a 4,000 euro fine on eccentric French actor Gerard Depardieu for drink driving, as the star once again did a no-show in court. Depardieu did not turn up as he had left for China to discuss a film project, his lawyer Eric de Caumont said, adding that his client would no longer appeal. The 65-yearold actor was arrested in November 2012 after falling off his scooter while more than three times over the legal alcohol limit. He was summoned to court but hearings kept being postponed after he repeatedly failed to show up. Depardieu was eventually sentenced in absentia in June, fined 4,000 euros ($5,520) and had his licence suspended for six months. He managed to evade the suspension by exchanging the licence for a Belgian one and therefore can drive freely in France as well. Acclaimed as one of the greatest

actors of his generation, Depardieu starred in films including “Green Card”, “Cyrano de Bergerac” and the “Asterix & Obelix” series. But in recent years he has become as famed for his off-screen antics as for his acting talents. The star announced in November 2012 that he was moving abroad after President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government sought to impose a 75-percent tax rate on annual incomes over one million euros. He took up residency in Belgium and was granted Russian citizenship by President Vladimir Putin. The decision sparked controversy, as have his friendships with Putin and Chechnya’s strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

Beyonce was sick when

Brown’s bodyguard said

she recorded XO

he, not singer, punched man


eyonce admits she was “sick” when she record ‘XO’ but decided to keep the vocals. The ‘Drunk In Love’ singer wasn’t feeling well when she stepped into the studio to record the song for her surprise self-titled fifth album in December but decided against re-recording the track. She told Out Magazine: “When I recorded ‘XO’ I was sick with a bad sinus infection. I recorded it in a few minutes just as a demo and decided to keep the vocals. “I lived with most of the songs for a year and never rerecorded the demo vocals. I really loved the imperfections, so I kept the original demos.” The 32year-old star claims there were days she spent solely getting the “perfect mix of sounds for the snare alone” and wanted to make sure the music was the best it could be. She added: “Discipline, patience, control, truth, risk, and effortlessness were all things I thought about while I was putting this album together.” Beyonce also insists she is “definitely conscious” of all the different types of people who listen to her music and she set out to make the “most personal, honest, and best album I could make.” She added: “I needed to free myself from the pressures and expectations of what I thought I should say or be, and just speak from the heart.”


bodyguard for R&B singer Chris Brown told police that it was he, not Brown, who punched a man in the face outside a hotel in Washington last year, a detective involved in Brown’s arrest said in court on Monday. Brown and the bodyguard, Christopher Hollosy, are both facing misdemeanor assault charges for allegedly punching a man who was trying to board Brown’s tour bus outside Washington’s W Hotel in October. Police Detective Kimberly Metivier testified in Washington Superior Court that Hollosy yelled for officers to arrest him, not Brown, for hitting the man after he tried to board the singer’s tour bus. “He was yelling on his own accord that he was the one who did it ... and not to arrest Mr. Brown,” said Metivier, adding that Hollosy said, “I punched him-not Chris.” Hollosy’s attorney, Bernard Grimm, requested that the confession be sup-

pressed as evidence at trial because his client had not been read his Miranda rights. The judge presiding over Monday’s evidentiary hearing, Patricia Wynn, denied the motion. Wynn also ruled to have Brown and Hollosy’s cases tried separately, against protests from prosecutors. Brown, who did not appear at the hearing on Monday, has rejected a deal from prosecutors to plead guilty to simple assault. A lawyer for Brown, Danny Onorato, told reporters the deal had been turned down because “Chris Brown’s not guilty.” The 24-year-old singer was jailed last month after violating his probation when he was dismissed from a facility where he was receiving court-ordered treatment related to his 2009 assault of his then-girlfriend, singer Rihanna. In the 2009 case, Brown was sentenced to five years’ probation, community labor and domestic violence counseling.

Cyrus ‘free’ after split M

iley Cyrus has felt “free” since splitting from Liam Hemsworth. The ‘Wrecking Ball’ singer has confessed that although she found it difficult to deal with her engagement to ‘The Hunger Games’ actor being called off last year, she now feels a lot stronger, as she did when she got over her departure from Disney. She said: “When I went through a really intense breakup - you know, I was engaged - and when I was with him or when I was on Disney, the thing that gave me the most anxiety was not knowing what to do with myself when Disney wasn’t there to carry me any more or if I didn’t have him. And now I’m free of both of those things, and I’m fine. “Like I lay in bed at night by myself and I’m totally OK, and that’s so much stronger than the person three years ago, who would have thought they would have died if they didn’t have a

Johansson S

doesn’t like the name ‘ScarJo’

carlett Johansson feels “insulted” by the name ‘ScarJo’. The ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ star thinks the nickname given to her in the media makes her sound like a “tacky pop star” - such as Jennifer Lopez, who is considered to have started the trend with her title J.Lo - and is “insulting” to her as a serious actress. Scarlett told the May issue of Glamour Magazine: “I associate that name with, like, pop stars. It sounds tacky. It’s lazy and flippant. There’s something insulting about it.” The 29-year-old actress claims she is also irritated by the media’s obsession with how she looks and thinks it is completely unfair because it is something male actors don’t have to endure. Scarlett fumed: “Actresses get stupid questions asked of them all the time, like, ‘How do you stay sexy?’ or ‘What’s your sexiest quality?’ All these ridiculous things you would never ask a man.” Scarlett’s complaint didn’t stop there as she expressed her disappointment at not being recognized by the media for her entire body of work and not just her breakout role ‘Lost in Translation’ in 2003. She said: “When I made ‘Lost in Translation’, I was 17. Now I’m 29 ... That’s a normal side effect of being a young actor. ‘You’re captured in a certain time of your life, and it’s hard for people to move past that.”

boyfriend.” The former ‘Hannah Montana’ star has admitted that although she often wished she could have started her solo career without being known as a Disney actress, she is “thankful” of what it’s helped her achieve and is glad it didn’t make her “crazy”. She told the latest issue of Elle magazine: “I got the most intense training. There’s times where I wish I could have just started as a new artist, but the world has kind of allowed me to do that. I feel really lucky - a lot of kid stars get all crazy or stuck in what they were, so they can’t actually become what they’re meant to be.”


lifestyle M u s i c


In this Feb 23, 2006 file photo Bob Geldof is seen with his daughters Pixie, left, and Peaches at the NME Awards 2006 in London.

M o v i e s

Police officers and members of the media look on as a private ambulance leaves the home of Peaches Geldof in Wrotham, England.

Bob Geldof ‘beyond pain’ at death of daughter Peaches


ive Aid founder Bob Geldof said his family was “beyond pain” at the death of his socialite daughter Peaches at the age of 25 on Monday. Police were called to her secluded home outside Wrotham in Kent, southeast England, but she was pronounced dead at the scene. Her death was being treated as “unexplained and sudden” but non-suspicious, police said. Peaches, a mother of two young sons herself, was just 11 when her mother, television presenter Paula Yates, died of a heroin overdose aged 41 in 2000. In her last Twitter message to her 190,000 followers on Sunday, Peaches posted a photograph of her as a baby being held by her mother, with the words, “Me and my mum”. Her father Bob, who put together a huge live rock show in 1985 to raise money for the Ethiopian famine, said of his second daughter: “Peaches has died. We are beyond pain. “She was the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us. “Writing ‘was’ destroys me afresh. What a beautiful child. “How is this possible that we will not see her again? How is that bearable? We loved her and will cherish her forever.” Singers Lily Allen and Ellie Goulding were among the first to pay tribute on social media. “My thoughts are with Peaches’ family at this awful time,” fellow mum-of-two Allen wrote on Twitter. “I hope they get to grieve in peace. Peaches, rest in peace gorgeous girl” Singer Ellie Goulding added: “Even

if you think you’ve got it all figured out, some things still can’t be explained or understood. Two beautiful children. RIP Peaches”. Sharon Osborne later said it was “unimaginable” what the family was going through, while X Factor mogul Simon Cowell tweeted: “The few times I met Peaches she was a sweet, funny warm person. Much love to her family she has left behind.” ‘Beloved wife’ Peaches was the second daughter of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates. Their first was Fifi Trixibelle, and Peaches has a half-sister, named Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, her mother’s daughter with late INXS frontman Michael Hutchence. Peaches’ second husband Tom Cohen, the singer in the now-disbanded group S.C.U.M, said: “My beloved wife Peaches was adored by myself and her two sons Astala and Phaedra and I shall bring them up with their mother in their hearts every day. We shall love her forever.” She married her first husband, rock musician Max Drummey, in 2008 but they separated the following year. Peaches wed Cohen two years ago in the same church in Kent where her parents were married and where her mother’s funeral was held. On the day, she told Hello! Magazine: “I feel her (Paula Yates’s) presence all the time but especially today. “Mum loved family celebrations and she would adore Tom

and the fact that we’ve married here. I know that she is watching over me and feeling so happy for us.” Peaches had a media career writing for British newspapers and presenting celebrity-driven TV shows. Kent police said in a statement: “Police were called at 1:35 pm on 7 April 2014 to an address near Wrotham following a report of concern for the welfare of a woman. “A woman aged 25 was pronounced dead by South East Coast Ambulance Service. “At this stage, the death is being treated as an unexplained and sudden death. Officers are working to establish the circumstances around the death. “The local coroner has been informed and a post-mortem is expected to be carried out in the next few days,” the statement said. A black Vauxhall private ambulance left the house under police escort shortly after 8:25 pm. — AFP

In this Feb 26, 2014 file photo Peaches Geldof, daughter of Bob Geldof is seen at the NME Awards 2014 in London. —AP photos

‘Captain America’ socks box office, eyes titanic clash


(From left) A photo shows director Steve McQueen, actress Lupita Nyong’o and actor Chiwetel Ejiofor.

White men directed 90 percent of this year’s summer movies


ust a few months ago, Oscar statues went for the first time to a Mexican filmmaker for Best Director (Alfonso Cuaron), to a black British man for Best Picture (Steve McQueen) and to a woman for Best Animated Movie (Jennifer Lee), a landmark year for diversity in Hollywood. But this summer’s biggest releases are a throwback to another era, one you can revisit next Sunday in “Mad Men.” An analysis by TheWrap found that white men directed more than 90 percent of the summer’s biggest movies. White men are directing or co-directing 37 of the 39 major releases this summer, including a biopic of legendary black entertainer James Brown. (Director Tate Taylor, who last directed “The Help,” is doing the honors for “Get on Up.”) White men are directing intimate dramas (“The Fault in Our Stars”), comedies (“Blended”), horror fare (“Deliver Us From Evil”), action movies starring women (“Lucy”), action movies starring men (“The Expendables 3”), effects-laden spectacle (“Transformers 4”) and revisionist fairy tales (“Maleficent”). The exceptions are few: “Think Like a Man Too,” a comedy about a group of African-American couples, is directed by Tim Story and “When the Game Stands Tall,” a sports drama about De La Salle High School’s record-setting football team, directed by Thomas Carter. Both are African-American. The other two exceptions are co-directing jobs - “Sin City: A Dame to Kill for,” co-directed by Robert Rodriguez, a Mexican-American who just launched a cable network targeting Latino audiences; and “Jupiter Ascending,” another sci-fi epic by Lana and Andy Wachowski the brother/sister combination who made “The Matrix” and “Cloud Atlas.” Rare case of diversity For the purposes of this analysis we considered major releases by the six major studios (Universal, Warner Bros, Fox, Sony,

Paramount and Disney), as well as independent studios Lionsgate and Relativity. Dimension’s “Sin City” sequel - a rare case of diversity - is included as a major release but movies by the specialty arms of major studios, such as Fox Searchlight and Sony Pictures Classics are not. Their movies tend to be more inclusive, but the releases also tend to be on fewer screens. Searchlight, for instance, will release “Belle,” directed by Amma Asante and starring Gugu Mabatha-Raw, both black women, in May. The Weinstein Co will release “Snowpiercer,” directed by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, in addition to “Sin City 2,” but only “Sin City 2” will get the kind of national rollout major studios lavish on their biggest movies. Major studios are not giving minorities let alone women, a majority of the population - many chances to make the big budgeted movies they obsess over. (For more on the exclusion of women, take a look at this excellent report over at 538, Nate Silver’s new site). A major exception to this rule would have been “Fast & Furious 7,” which is being directed by James Wan, the Malaysian filmmaker responsible for “Saw” and “The Conjuring.” The release of that movie was delayed due to the death of Paul Walker. Instead, the studios will release more comic book movies directed by white men than the total number of movies directed by all women and by nonCaucasian males combined. — Reuters

erpow! “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” shot straight to the top of North America’s box office last weekend-socking rivals with the biggest US April opening of all time, figures showed Monday. And buoyed by the news, Marvel filmmakers announced they will release the Captain’s sequel on the same 2016 date as rival Warners’ Superman/Batman mash-up hits multiplexes. The scheduling sets up a superhero clash of the titans in the hugely lucrative comic book franchise field, which has already produced the biggest ever box office debut, in 2012’s “The Avengers.” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the latest superhero saga from Disney’s Marvel Studios starring Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson, pulled in a hefty $95 million, Exhibitor Relations said. The 3-D, $170million sequel to “Captain America: The First Avenger,” which is also the biggest debut so far this year, has made $303.3 million globally, it said. “Captain America’s massive bow is a sure indicator Marvel Studios is purring like the well-oiled machine it is,” said Jeff Bock, box office analyst at trackers Exhibitor Relations. Marvel is so confident, he said, that it announced that Captain America 3 will go head-to-head with Warners’ and DC Comics’ also so-far untitled Batman v Superman film on May 6, 2016.”Marvel v DC: the ultimate match-up,” he said, calling it “a date where universes collide.” The rival Warner Bros project meanwhile started life as a sequel to last year’s “Man of Steel,” a reboot of the Superman franchise directed by Zack Snyder with Briton Henry Cavill in the title role. But it is now set to bring in the caped crusader in a superhero mash-up, a formula which has had repeated success in recent years. Realistically it is difficult to see how two such enormous tent-pole films, as they

are called in the industry, will be released on the same day, potentially slashing audiences for each of movie by half. But clearly both studios want to flex their muscles. ‘Noah’ sank to second place “There’s no telling whether or not either film will budge. Someone probably will. Until then, sit back and enjoy the show!” said Bock. Before then, comic book movie fans can look forward to next year’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” a sequel to the 2012’s “The Avengers,” which scored the biggest US debut of all time with $207.4 million. “The Avengers” is the third

biggest grossing movie of all time, with $1.52 billion, after director James Cameron’s “Avatar” (2009) on $2.78 billion and his “Titanic” (1997) on $2.19 billion. This weekend, meanwhile, biblical epic “Noah” sank to second place in its second weekend, with $17 million in ticket sales, after topping the box office on its debut a week previously. In third place, with $13 million, was teen adventure “Divergent,” the dystopian tale of a young woman in a futuristic society, based on the popular young adult novel of the same name. Religiously themed “God’s Not Dead,” which tells the story of a college freshman who debates his atheist philosophy professor, climbed one spot to fourth place with $7.7 million. In fifth was “Muppets Most Wanted,” Kermit and company’s latest outing, which raked in $6.15 million. It was closely trailed by Wes Anderson’s quirky “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which earned $6.12 million for sixth place. The musical comedy caper was ahead of “Mr Peabody and Sherman,” based on characters from the 1960s television cartoon “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” which earned $5.1 million. Action flick “Sabotage,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sam Worthington was in eighth spot with a whisker under $2 million. Car-chase action movie “Need for Speed” moved down one spot on the box office grid, in ninth place with $1.8 million. Rounding out the top 10 was “Non-Stop,” the Liam Neeson action movie set on a long-haul flight, which added another $1.79 million to its earnings. — AFP

ABBA fetes 40 year since ‘Waterloo’ - near Waterloo


Swedish singer’s Bjorn Ulvaeus, left, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, of the pop group ABBA, pose on the red carpet for the band’s International anniversary party at the Tate Modern in central London, Monday, April 7, 2014.—AP

ithin strolling distance of the rail station bearing the name of their first international hit, Swedish band ABBA celebrated 40 years of breathtaking success with a party at London’s Tate Modern museum to mark their groundbreaking song “Waterloo”. Two of the four members of the band that made spangled jumpsuits and big boots a trademark attended the bash at the trendy London museum on Monday night, marking four decades since the catchy tune won the Eurovision song contest in April 1974 and launched them into international stardom. Bjorn Ulvaeus, who wrote many of the group’s songs with ABBA co-founder Benny Andersson, said he was stunned by the rise and rise of ABBA even after it effectively disbanded in 1983. The band not only lives on through its disco-friendly back catalogue, but also in the long-running hit show “Mamma Mia”, the film based on the musical, and in the latest offering, a new “ABBA: The Official Photo Book” launched last month. “It happened over quite a long period of time,” Ulvaeus told Reuters at the London event, noting that success had not come easily. “I mean, we didn’t have a hit after hit after hit, we had a hit and then we wrote another song, recorded it, released it and it was like that. It seems today like it was all happening at the same time but it wasn’t.” He was joined at the

party by Anni-Frid “Frida” Lyngstad, one of the band’s two lead singers, who attributed ABBA’s success to the right people getting together at the right time. “We knew a bit about the business and the mix of the talents was probably a wonderful thing and also being couples, being together and exploring that world, it was a new kind of thing for all of us,” she said. The partygoers sang “Happy Birthday” to the two band members, to which Lyngstad responded: “We really feel privileged, you have to know that. We feel privileged to be able to survive for 40 years and to stand here today and celebrate it with you. It’s pure happiness. Thank you so much.” The evening included a disco of ABBA songs, with various cardboard cut-outs of ABBA members for fans to pose with. The food served consisted mostly of hotdogs and beer, a tradition among ABBA fans, and the evening ended with a group called the ABBA Choir singing some of the group’s greatest hits - including “Waterloo”. — Reuters


lifestyle T R A V E L

In this photograph a Sumbanese tribesman participates in the annual ‘pasola’ festival, a ritual mock battle on horseback in Ratenggaro village located in Indonesia’s island of Sumba. —AFP photos

Age-old horseback battle in


wo teams of tribesmen on horseback charge at each other hurling bamboo spears in a thousand-year-old ritual on the Indonesian island of Sumba aimed at producing a prosperous rice harvest. Spectators, their mouths reddened from chewing betel nut, scream them on from the sidelines of the show in Ratenggaro village, reaching for their machetes when a rider is struck at close range and the referee calls foul play. The annual pasola - which comes from the word “spear” in a local tribal language - takes place over four weeks in February and March in western Sumba, an island in the centre of the sprawling Indonesian archipelago. Boosting the economy Traditionally it was a barely disguised form of human sacrifice in which tribesmen would aim to spill each other’s blood onto the fields. It has evolved into a mock-up of such battles and people are not usually badly hurt, although accidental deaths do occasionally occur. The spectacle attracts few foreign tourists - only around 10 were at the recent pasola in Ratenggaro and up to 100 normally attend larger ones. But now officials are hoping to use it to boost the economy of the desperately poor island, which is dependent on subsistence rice and corn farming and woven rattan goods that yield few profits. “It’s a major attraction and has

Sumbanese tribesmen gather around tombs in Ratenggaro village located in Indonesia’s island of Sumba, a day before the annual ‘pasola’ festival, a ritual mock battle on horseback. huge potential for development,” said Bona around 2,500 tourists - compared to more than Fantura Rumat, from the tourism board of East three million who visited the nearby resort Nusa Tenggara province, which includes island of Bali. Rumat said plans are afoot to promote the pasola more, improve infrastructure Sumba. Despite its pristine beaches, azure seas and by building better roads and start flights to traditional villages, last year Sumba attracted more destinations in Indonesia to make Sumba easier to reach, as well as to Darwin in northern Australia.

Sumbanese tribeswomen and children carry betel nut offerings during a procession in Ratenggaro village.

Sacrificed animals The ritual itself has already been adapted to make it more palatable to visitors. In the past it would typically end with a field drenched in human and horse blood, and it was a great honor for local villagers to die while taking part. At the recent Ratenggaro pasola, no one reported much more than a scratch and the villagers now use blood solely from sacrificed animals, instead of a mix of human and animal blood as they did in the past. Before the pasola, men in a darkened hut chopped off the heads of chickens, draining their blood into buckets as a mystic chanted. A dog and sheep whose blood had already been drained were roasted on a fire, to be shared and eaten after the festivities. The spears have also been blunted and metal tips removed. In Ratenggaro, policemen armed with rifles ensured that no one was hacked to death although a minor punch-up still ensued. There have also been changes in the plan-

Sumbanese tribesmen participate in the annual ‘pasola’ festival.

Sumbanese tribeswomen greet each other during a procession around the tombs.

ning of the event. It traditionally only began the day after a certain type of seaworm swam to the shore - which signified the end of wet season and the beginning of crop planting - but now elders decide on the date in advance so tourists have enough time to plan their trips. They still collect the worms, however - the more there are the better the harvest - and the slimy blue and green creatures are cooked into patty cakes. Full of love Despite the changes, many Sumbanese believe the pasola is still as spiritually rich as ever and have given a cautious welcome to the idea of increasing tourism. “If there is anyone who takes part in the pasola with an unclean heart, then harm will come to them,” said Ratenggaro village elder Agustinus Pandak, wearing a bright orange weaving wrapped around his head. “They might fall off their horse, be hurt when struck by a spear. But

Sumbanese tribesmen participate in the annual ‘pasola’ festival, a ritual mock battle on horseback in Ratenggaro village located in Indonesia’s island of Sumba.

Sumbanese tribesmen and women prepare food inside their traditional home in Ratenggaro village located in Indonesia’s island of Sumba, the site for the annual ‘pasola’ festival, a ritual mock battle on horseback.

Ancient Sumbanese horse figures carved from stone stand beside a rice farm in Waikabubak located in Indonesiaís island of Sumba. this won’t happen if the rider is at peace with himself and his heart is full of love,” he said. Pandak added he was happy for steps to be taken to attract more people to the pasola, “as long as it’s developed with respect to our culture”. For many foreigners who do make the journey to Sumba, the island’s underdeveloped tourism industry is precisely what they like about it. “If it develops, I hope they go for dirt-cheap accommodation and luxury resorts, because anything in between you’ll get a mass appeal and swift Westernization, pushing every ounce of local culture out the window,” said Swedish backpacker Christoffer Kullman, 26, who was at the Ratenggaro pasola. His travel companion, Linus Strandholm, experienced at first-hand that the modern version of the pasolais not entirely safe he was struck in the chest by a spear and hit in the head with a rock. “I’ve saved the rock as a souvenir,” he said, adding it was all part of the experience. — AFP


lifestyle F A S H I O N Models parade outfits by Australian designer Toni Maticevski during a showing of his label Maticevski at Fashion Week Australia, in Sydney yesterday. The four-day schedule will include a curated selection of Australia’s established fashion designers as well as a showcase from the brightest emerging talent the country has to offer. — AFP photos

Fashion Week


Bags with logos too last century for Paris craftsman Matthew Rubinger, Director of Luxury Accessories at Heritage Auctions, holds an Hermes special order Horsehoe 30 cm (12 inches) shiny braise and ultra violet Nilo crocodile Brikin bag with gold hardware at Heritage Auctions on April 7, 2014 in New York. This one-of-a-kind bag will be sold by Heritage along with other handbags on April 28 at their Luxury Accessories Signature Auction. —AFP photos

A photo taken on March 19, 2014 shows French designer of luxury leather goods Serge Amoruso posing at his workshop in Paris. —AFP


here’s something missing from the handbags that adorn the shelves of Serge Amoruso’s Paris boutique. It’s certainly not the hefty price tag or the top quality craftmanship. What you won’t find, however, is that universal badge of 1990s consumerism a logo. Amoruso’s message is clear. Exclusivity is what his customers-many of them from China and Japan-now want, and they don’t mind paying for it. Amid a feeling that some brands have become so popular they have lost their cachet, those with deep pockets are now looking to craftsmen like Amoruso to restore a sense of mystique to their purchases. For Amoruso’s customers the purchasing experience begins not with a queue in the rain around a department store but with a one-to-one meeting. Together they shape the bag, selecting everything from the style and the type of leather down to details like the clasp and the fabric for the lining. Amoruso, who also makes a range of other luxury leather items such as wallets and cigarette holders, goes to Japan at least twice a year where he does half of all his business. With his two apprentices, he makes around 100 bags a year with an average price of about 2,500 euros ($3,400). “Every piece is a story and my clients are looking for that,” he said. “One Japanese client came to me for an iPad case. He ended up asking me for a suitcase,” he said. “It took eight months to produce this item in buffalo leather... It cost the client dear but he knew that I was going to surpass all his expectations.” Chinese

clients often ask him to engrave the bag with a lucky number. ‘Marketing, not quality’ Amoruso’s passion for leather goes back to his childhood when he first experimented with a leather skirt that belonged to his mother and later realized that “with this material... you can do anything”. After school and a spell of specialist training he went straight to Hermes where he spent seven years. “I had access to fabulous materials. I discovered a universe, taste, elegance,” he said. Over the years, nearly all the luxury houses have asked him to create pieces for them. But he has always declined, insisting that he is “not a sub-contractor” and preferring instead to stamp his signature on each piece-albeit not in the form of a logo. In particular, Amoruso is known for his skill with exotic stingray leather. “We were always told we could not do a stingray bag so I worked to get there and succeeded,” he said. But he is keen to stress that he is not interested in technical mastery for its own sake, but only if it is deployed “in the service of beauty”. Everything must be about “the emotion which emanates from the object”, he said. And for the discerning customer, everything is possible at his workshop in eastern Paris where there are no machines and everything is done by hand. But logos will remain absent from his work. “We’d come to believe that luxury was to have a bag with a logo. But that was only marketing, not quality,” he said. — AFP


(From left) A rare Hermes 25 cm (9.8 inches) matte white Himalayan Nilo crocodile Brikin bag with palladium hardware , (center) an Hermes limited edition Noisette Gulliver leather Quelle Idole Kelly doll bag and (right) an Hermes Extraordinary Collection 25 cm (9.8 inches) shiny black Nilo crocodile Birkin bag with 18 karat white gold hardware and diamonds.


Signature Auction (From left) An Hermes 32 cm (12.5 inches) Vache naturelle and Vibrato leather sellier Kelly bag with palladium hardware and an Hermes 28 cm (11 inches) shiny poudre alligator sellier Kelly bag with gold hardware in a rare color.

An Hermes extremely rare shiny Vert emerald alligator, rouge Vif ostrich, violet Veau doblis suede and black calf box leather Sac Himalaya bag with gold hardware.

A Gucci by Tom Ford limited edition blue and black sequin enamel and glass pearl dragon closure clutch bag with bamboo strap.

Detail of an Hermes 35cm (14 inches) gold swift leather Kelly flat bag with palladium hardware.

Bob Geldof ‘beyond pain’ at death of daughter Peaches



Playmobil figures are seen during a preview of the exhibition “The World in a Game - 40 Years of Playmobil” yesterday at the Toy Museum in Nuremberg, southern Germany. From tomorrow to October 19, 2014, the museum dedicates a show to the small figurines that first appeared in the year 1974 and that are well-liked by children since then. — AFP

‘World’s oldest message in a bottle’ reaches granddaughter A

message in a bottle tossed in the sea in Germany 101 years ago, believed to be the world’s oldest, has been presented to the sender’s granddaughter, a museum said Monday. A fisherman pulled the bottle with the scribbled message out of the Baltic off the northern city of Kiel last month, Holger von Neuhoff of the International Maritime Museum in the northern port city of Hamburg told AFP. “This is certainly the first time such an old message in a bottle was found, particularly with the bottle intact,” he said. Researchers then set to work identifying the author and managed to track down his 62-year-old granddaughter Angela Erdmann, who lives in Berlin. “It was almost unbelievable,” Erdmann told

German news agency DPA. She was first able to hold the brown bottle last week at the Hamburg museum. Inside was a message on a postcard requesting the finder to return it to his home address in Berlin. “That was a pretty moving moment,” Erdmann said. “Tears rolled down my cheeks.” Von Neuhoff said researchers were able to determine based on the address that it was 20-year-old baker’s son Richard Platz who threw the bottle in the Baltic while on a hike with a nature appreciation group in 1913. A Berlin-based genealogical researcher then located Erdmann, who never knew Platz, her mother’s father who died in 1946 at the age of 54. Von Neuhoff said a handwriting compari-

son with letters penned by Platz later in life confirmed that he was “without a doubt” the author. Erdmann told local newspapers that the surprise discovery had inspired her to look through family scrapbooks to learn more about her grandfather, a Social Democrat who liked to read. Much of the ink on the postcard has been rendered illegible with time and dampness, von Neuhoff said. The discovery will be on display at the museum until May 1, after which experts will set to work trying to decipher the rest of the message. The Guinness World Records had previously identified the oldest message in a bottle as dating from 1914. It spent nearly 98 years at sea before being fished from the water. —AFP

Myanmar loans ancient treasures to New York

Ming dynasty ‘chicken cup’ smashes record in $36m sale


rare cup fired in the imperial kilns of China’s Ming dynasty more than 500 years ago sold yesterday for HK$281.2 million at a Sotheby’s sale in Hong Kong, making it one of the most expensive Chinese cultural relics ever auctioned. The tiny porcelain cup from the Chenghua period, dating from 1465 to 1487, is painted with cocks, hens and chicks, and known simply as a ‘chicken cup’. It is considered one of the most sought-after

The Meiyintang “Chicken Cup” from the Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is displayed during a press conference in Hong Kong, yesterday. — AP items in Chinese art, viewed with a reverence perhaps equivalent to that for the jeweled Faberge eggs of Tsarist Russia. “Every time a chicken cup comes up on the market, it totally redefines prices in the field of Chinese art,” said Nicolas Chow, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, after the sale. The last time a similar chicken cup was auctioned, in 1999, it fetched HK$29 million, around a tenth of yesterday’s price. With just 16 known Chenghua chicken cups surviving to the present day, most in public museums, only a handful have ever come to auction. Only four of

these remain in private hands. Prized by Chinese emperors and afficionados through the centuries for their quality, rarity and legendary silky texture, Chenghua chicken cups fired in the imperial kilns of Jingdezhen are among the most prized, and forged, objects in Chinese art. In a packed auction hall, bidding for the delicate, palmsized cup began at HK$160 million and drew steady bids from three parties, before being eventually sold to major Chinese collector Liu Yiqian for a bid of HK$250 million. The final price of HK$281.2 million, including fees, was a new world auction record for any Chinese porcelain, exceeding the $32.4 million paid for a Qing double-gourd vase in 2010. The cup had come from the celebrated Western collection of Chinese ceramics, the ‘Meiyintang’, accumulated over half a century by Swiss pharmaceutical tycoons the Zuellig brothers. With the purchase by Liu, a Shanghai-based billionaire with his own private ‘Long Museum’, the Meiyintang centerpiece is expected to become the only known genuine chicken cup in China. Over the past decade, prices of Chinese art have soared with the country’s economic boom, and while the market has moderated since 2011, demand for the highest quality Chinese art has remained undiminished. National pride and the cachet of historical relics such as chicken cups have fuelled Chinese buying both on the world stage and at home, where a slew of auction houses have sprouted up to ride the market. Still, some experts said China’s slowing economy and credit squeeze may have sapped some market enthusiasm for the chicken cup, with the price falling just short of its high estimate. “The price was OK, not so high, not so low,” said Robert Chang, a leading collector based in Hong Kong. “There were not as many bidders, which was kind of surprising,” said Richard Littleton, a Western dealer at the sale. “Where is all this big Chinese money we were expecting to see?” — Reuters

This photo taken on March 5, 2014 shows German fisher Konrad Fischer holding a message in a bottle from 1913 on the fishing cutter “Maria I” in Kiel, Germany. — AFP


landmark exhibition opens in New York next week exploring the ancient kingdoms of Southeast Asia and introducing to the outside world the first treasures from Myanmar seen abroad. The Metropolitan Museum of Art spent five years preparing the exhibition of Hindu-Buddhist sculptures from a region and ancient culture little known in the United States. It features 160 stone, terracotta and bronze sculptures of which 22 are from Myanmar, the first pieces of art loaned by Yangon after emerging from decades of international isolation. The rest from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Britain, France and elsewhere in the United States complete an exhibition that only the vast resources of the Metropolitan could pull off. “Most of these powerful works of art have rarely if ever been on view outside their home countries,” said the Met’s British director Thomas Campbell. “We are especially honored that the government of Myanmar has signed its first-ever international loan agreement in order to lend their national treasures to this exhibition.” The beautifully presented and painstakingly curated “Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia 5th to 8th Century,” opens next Monday and runs until July 27. The museum hopes that it will attract culture vultures keen to bone up on a little-known field, and backpackers and gap-year students who have enjoyed the beaches of Thailand and Vietnam. Around 6.2 million people visited the Met in each of the last two years, a new audience for these ancient treasures and for Myanmar, which only emerged from international sanctions in 2012.

Curator John Guy said Southeast Asia was dismissed by ancient geographers as “that place beyond India and before China,” but produced some of the greatest Hindu and Buddhist art to survive. The exhibition tracks the period when both faiths took root in the region from India, absorbed into local belief systems and giving rise to the nation states of today. ‘An enormous act of faith’ It took two years-a “long and rigorous process”-to negotiate the loans from all the countries, Guy told AFP. “Myanmar is new at this and I have to say they behaved in an extraordinarily professional manner,” he added. Before coming to New York, some objects had traveled only once: by cart from the ancient city of Sri Ksetra where they were excavated in 1924-26 to the local museum. As in the case of

several other countries, cabinet-level approval was required. “It’s appropriate,” Guy said. “We’re asking to borrow their national treasures and bring them half way around the world. This

is an enormous act of faith on their part.” Southeast Asian countries are emerging economies and Myanmar has embarked upon wide-ranging reforms since turning the page on five decades of junta rule that kept the country impoverished. Guy said the region could expect spin-off benefits such as enhanced tourism and cultural cooperation. When the exhibits return to Myanmar in August, for example, two conservators will go to work on objects that in the end were deemed too fragile to travel to New York. “As

The Head of Buddha from Western Thailand in the 7th century.

Reporters view the exhibit Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of including the relief termed Throne Stele from Central Myanmar.

Buddha in Meditation from Central Thailand in the 6th-7th century, part of the exhibit “Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia, 5th to 8th Century,” is seen on April 7, 2014 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. — AFP photos

important as the exhibition is, we would never put a single object at risk,” said Guy, an expert with 20 years’ experience and contacts in the region. While many of the masterpieces come from Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, the standout contribution from Myanmar is a sixth century sandstone slab that covered a relic chamber in Sri Ksetra. —AFP

9th Apr  

Kuwait Times

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